Tales of Symphonia Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Bakuten Shoot Beyblade: Rising


It’s good to see the old characters back as Beyblade returns to full glory. A shame that the manga only updates every 4 months though as it has less than 10 chapters even after going for around 3 years. I’ll have a review for it up once the series finishes, but that certainly could be a while. Good to see the plot starting to return as well. That’ll help the series ascend to the next level!

Overall 7/10

Split Second Review


It’s time to check out a car game that I recently got. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a huge fan of the racing genre. There are few things more satisfying than nailing a crisp turn and sailing into first place. It’s why I used to play a car game on my PC for so long. Anyway, this is the first racing game that I’ve played in a while, not counting spinoff titles like Farmyard racing. This is probably the first pure racing game I’ve played since Asphalt 3D. (I think that was the title) This is definitely a really fun game and one of the best core driving games out there. It does have a gimmick and while I sometimes prefer my racing games not to have any (F-Zero) I don’t mind them if they’re handled well. Look at Mario Kart after all.

There are a few modes to play when you start the game. Online mode is around of course, but you’ll likely be heading straight to Season mode. (Honestly, I haven’t gone online at all) The season has 12 episodes in it and the general plot is that you’re starring in the show. Think of it as one of those reality programs on TV. You have to dodge all of the landmines and disasters to claim first and prove that you’re the best. Each episode has 5 events, with the final one being unlocked if you’ve earned enough points. Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the end and you can replay old levels to increase your standing and earn more points if you’re short. For the most part I was able to make it to the end naturally but I did need to replay a few. Once you unlock a certain car at the end of the game, you’ll be breezing through it with no problem.

There are different kinds of events. The main one is a race. You go through the stage and try to come in first. The gimmick that this game rolls with is that you can use your energy meter to set off traps. You can energy by turning and driving behind another car. The best way is to dodge an opponent’s trap, but they rarely spring any. You can activate traps as soon as one energy bar is filled or you can wait til they’re all filled and activate a massive one. I don’t recommend the latter since you’ll typically destroy yourself as well. If there’s going to be a gimmick, I typically prefer a quick booster, but I can live with this. It’s a pretty unique concept after all and I like the strategy behind it. You always have to decide if it’s worth using your energy now or later.

Another event is Elimination. You start with 60 seconds and have to ensure that you’re not in last. After that, another car is eliminated every 20 seconds. You must stay at the head of the pack or you’ll risk being eliminated. This is another pretty fun event and as it’s quite a bit shorter than a race, it’s a lot easier to keep on replaying. Another event is the Airplane boss. You have to attack it by shooting missiles using your action meter. In this case, I recommend waiting until the red one is ready to go since you can then deal massive damage. Next is Survival which is probably the weakest by default. It’s just you by yourself as you try to complete the stage while the A.I. activates all of the traps. It’s essentially a time trial so it’s not all that exciting.

Finally, there’s the Oil tanker battles. This is the best one by far. A truck ahead of you will be spilling barrels and you have to dodge them as you overtake it. The more trucks that you pass in a row without being hit, the more points that you get. It really tests your reaction times and takes you down if you dare to go too fast. It’s just a lot of fun and I would have loved to have seen more of it. The variety of events in the game helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

With 72 levels in the game, it’s certainly one that has an ample amount of content. If anything, I’m glad the game didn’t overdo it and throw in over 150 levels just because it can. As it is, most of the levels are the same. I think there may be 12 tracks total, with a few more if you count night versions. It’s not a lot although I suppose it’s a decent amount. You’ll memorize the layouts after a while which is certainly useful. There’s a lot of replay value here as well. If you decide to aim for the Platinum, you’ll need to get 1st place on every level which will be quite difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, but I’d expect you to be replaying the levels many times before you can finally ace them all. Multiplayer also guarantees that the replay value is basically unlimited.

The graphics for the game are quite good. All of the cars look shiny and new. I could have sworn that one of the cars almost looked as good as the Ford Focus. The levels are nice and bright and the rare night time versions are also quite crisp. The game has aged very well there. Furthermore, the soundtrack is also pretty nice. There are some really good action themes. The music fit in pretty well even if I didn’t notice it in some episodes. It would sort of pop in and pop out if that makes any sense. I suppose not every theme can be an instant winner.

The game’s difficulty level feels pretty fair. There was a very brief time where I felt the computers were a little too fast and strong, but once I got the super car it was all good. I never really mastered the drifting mechanic, but I’d say that it felt fair. The overall gameplay was nice and smooth. Towards the end there weren’t many opportunities to drive as fast as the title would suggest, but driving as fast as possible was always very satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the ending of the game. The voice acting was spot on and the way the game ends just begs for a sequel. Whether we get one or not, it works really well as a stinger. I was practically shaking by the end of the cutscene. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it, but I can safely say that I would be super hyped if they announce a sequel.

Overall, Split Second is definitely a great game. It’s one of those titles that you just don’t want to put down once you start it. You’ll find yourself wanting to play it constantly and you’ll be sad once it’s over. Once again, I do think the length was just right though. Extending it further might have felt artificial and they also got the right balance with the points needed to unlock the final levels. You had to do pretty well in the events (1-3rd place for the most part) but it wasn’t anything too crazy. You don’t want it to have to be a grind to beat the game, that should be left for the people who want the Platinum. The game was just solid on all accounts and I’d highly advise buying this title. It’s one of the best car games on the market.

Overall 8/10

Alter Echo Review

This is one of those games that I knew next to nothing about, but decided to buy on a whim. Lets face it, a cool cover and solid gameplay is enough to warrant a purchase. It’s why I like surfing Amazon’s retro games once in a while to find the hidden gems. Alter Echo’s definitely quite a lot of fun. It’s not quite on the same level as Eve of Extinction and Oni as those games were phenomenal, but it’s another good entry for the PS2 that holds up really well. The plot is certainly original.

So, humanity has gone pretty far. We now have telepaths to an extent who can reshape things. One day, a group of humans stumble upon a planet where they had sent a few others many years ago. It seems like their time in space has turned Paavo’s expedition evil so they now want to wipe out humanity. Our 3 proud heroes decide to stop them, but they are split up when landing. Nevin decides to find them and get off the planet while he can. He meets with an artificial intelligence that is the actual planet and it begs Nevin to help him stop Paavo. Nevin declines whole heartedly and gives this entity a hard time throughout the game, but it finally gets personal when the body count starts to rise and he realizes that there will be nowhere to escape to if Earth is destroyed. He reluctantly agrees to help and fortunately, the entity gives him a power suit and an assortment of weapons to bolster his abilities.

The plot is definitely going all in with the science fiction. That’s a smart move since it makes everything cooler. The opponents that you’re fighting are technically entities made of telepathic energies and all, but you can think of them as aliens. The designs are really cool and Nevin’s suit is also like something out of Iron-Man. The gameplay is pretty straight forward. It’s a 3D action title where you’ll be doing a lot of fighting. In standard mode, it plays out like a Link title. You swing at anything that moves. You have a beast mode which lets you climb onto objects and enemies alike. Finally, there’s Gun mode, where you turn into a large mecha and start blasting away. You’ll find that human mode is the most reliable, but you’ll have to use them all since some enemies are impervious to your different forms.

There’s an aspect of platforming to this game as well. You’ll need to activate nodes across the levels at times or get from one place to another with your acrobatics. There are also some puzzles for when you are deciphering a node. Don’t worry, they’re the good kind of puzzles. It’s all about reaction times as you must make the right turn. This also happens when you use your time manipulation to strike at enemies. It’s a really handy ability that I recommend using whenever possible since it gives you extra currency to spend on upgrades. I maxed out all of my powers and bought some combos as well, but you won’t really find yourself needing the combos. Button mashing works well enough on all of the opponents.

The game is fairly easy although the final boss will give you a run for your money. He has two phases and if you lose at any point, you must start again. Luckily, while I did die against the first phase 2-3 times, I never lost to the final one. That would have been demoralizing. It was very tense though since I won at the very end of my health bar. I always give my clutch factor some credit there along with the developers since nothing is more satisfying than winning at the very end like that. The same thing happened to me in Breath of the Wild and Kingdom Hearts II. It’s a good feeling. For the final boss phase 2, I recommend just baiting out his attacks and then punishing them. It’s a fool proof plan.

Alter Echo also ends with a big cliffhanger although a sequel is unlikely. Spoilers are present for this paragraph to skip it if you must. You ready? Well, it would appear that the entity is also evil and the heroine lives after all. She had seemingly died a while back so it’s good to see that she survived. That being said, she’ll probably be turned evil or not given a choice so that’s too bad for her. The other villains are also alive as well. The sequel probably would have been a blast so it’s a shame that it didn’t happen. The plot wasn’t particularly strong, but it still would have been enjoyable.

The graphics are good. They aren’t anything special, but the levels are fun to look at since the space theme is good. I will admit that all of the levels look the same though. There is no real variety to speak of since all of the levels are on the planet and in the caverns. This was a little lazy on the side of the developers so that’s something that could be fixed in a sequel. The time stop attacks look really good with purple energy all around. As for the soundtrack, it’s also really good. The themes are all really fast paced and increase the intensity of the levels. I’d definitely like to see the tunes return in a sequel.

Unfortunately, there is no replay value here. Once you beat the game, you cannot replay the levels to get the extra power ups. Your only option is to replay the game and that would purely be just to have fun. It’s a game that you complete and then put back on the shelf. The playthrough is good though so this isn’t a bad thing, but I always like to have some replay value. It gives the game an extra boost if you ask me.

While the game is good, there are clearly some negatives since I’m only giving it a 7. As I mentioned, the story isn’t great. It’s not bad and showed signs of promise like whenever the two friends would appear. It just suffered from some slow parts where nothing would really happen during some levels. The gameplay could also be a little repetitious since you would have to keep shifting forms to deal with various enemies. It wasn’t a big deal though and I still enjoyed the gameplay. These are just elements that hold it from being an 8. I did enjoy the puzzle system for the time stop attacks though and I’d definitely keep that for the sequel.

Overall, Alter Echo is a solid game and one that I would definitely recommend. It’s fairly short and won’t last you too long, but the gameplay is on point. The soundtrack is solid and the plot isn’t bad either. It’s the kind of game that nobody has heard of so it’ll also earn you some brownie points with other gamers when you mention that you’ve played such an obscure game. It had some issues like the levels being repetitious along with the gameplay to an extent, but that’s where the short length actually came in handy. Hopefully we get more space games soon, but I doubt that’ll be a problem. Space games are always going to be seen as cool.

Overall 7/10

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box Review


After finally finishing the last Professor Layton game, I quickly jumped onto this one. I was pretty close to wrapping up Little Big Planet, but Layton is one of those elite series that takes precedence over just about anything. It also helps that the game is fairly short so it’s not as if it’ll be holding onto that spot for a long time. This sequel is very good and while the first one is certainly the better game in my opinion, this one had the better plot.

Layton and Luke head onto a train, but their adventure is quickly derailed when they find out that someone was murdered over a mysterious box. The heroes dig up some dirt on it during the first town they stop in, but the real evidence starts to appear once they hitch a ride to a ghost town. They infiltrated the royal deluxe suite in order to get in and the only problem is that they might not be able to get out again. That’s fine, they’re prepared for the dangers that may arise, but will their intellectual skills be up to the task?

It’s certainly a solid follow-up to the last game and it acknowledges the first one by having their new partner Flora show up. We also get the big villain from the last game to appear again although the main villain here is a big improvement. There are a few new characters along with some old ones like the Inspector. One of the main reasons why I found the plot here to be better than the last game is that it gets to the meat of the story right away. The first game gave you a lot of time to get used to the characters and the plot didn’t start until you were well into the game. Since people are dying from the box, the stakes are higher than the first game from the get go. Things really heat up during the climax as well since we get a sword fight through one of the cutscenes and the heroes actually get kidnapped.

I have to say that the whole kidnapping plot was pretty odd. The heroes hallucinated about a large gang and then the butler acted as if everything was normal. I suppose that the hallucinogens got to the heroes, but it was still an odd scene. It was an epic one as well though so I’ll take it. The game was just very entertaining and exciting from start to finish and you won’t want to tear yourself away. As always, the game paces itself pretty well. It is noticeably shorter than the last one though as I beat this game in a little over 9 hours while the last one took me around 16. Granted, I got stuck on a puzzle for a while in the last game so it should have been a lot shorter.

I do think this game was easier than the last one though. Perhaps some of the test players said that the first one was too hard so they fixed it here. It’s still not extremely easy to the point where you will be bored, but now a lot of the puzzles have limited answers. This means that instead of figuring it out rationally, you can just guess all 5 or 6 of the possible choices until you get it right. The final puzzles are surprisingly easy as you will be able to solve quite a few of them at a glance. I’ve heard that the post game quests are quite challenging though so that will probably bump things up a notch. On the other hand, I do think this is possibly a smart move if the developers wanted to get more kids to play. I still don’t think a kid would be able to solve some of the puzzles from the first game.

On a technical level, this game is quite solid as expected. The graphics are very clear so everything stands out nicely. You can always see a puzzle with absolute clarity so you can focus on figuring it out as opposed to thinking about what it is supposed to be. The fully animated cutscenes look really good as well and I feel like there are more of them this time around than in the first game. Having a fight in one of the cutscenes was also a blast to see. The music is also pretty catchy. It’s fairly simple, but that’s what makes it effective for the puzzles. There also is a good danger theme which plays during some of the game’s more tense moments.

There is a lot of replay value here which should more than make up for the 9 hour story mode. I only beat around 90 of the missions which means there are still almost 50 left to go. That’s a lot of puzzles and naturally the ones that I left are the trickiest ones of all. I never had to stop at any point in the story mode to solve more puzzles to get to the next chapter because I had fun beating a lot of the quick n easy ones in the mean time. This does mean the toughest ones will take longer and unless you’ve got a lot of hint coins stashed away (Which is feasible since this game was really generous with them) you’ll find that this game could get to an RPG’s length very quickly. I don’t personally plan to go back and beat the rest of them soon, but maybe someday.

Another aspect that helps the series is the colorful cast of characters. The Inspector is a nice ally to have around. He may not correctly guess who the culprit is most of the time, but he does try his best and is a likable enough fellow. Luke is a good kid who continues to improve when it comes to riddles. Flora is a good heroine as well and while she’s not much of a detective yet, she does like finding new riddles. Layton steals the show whenever he appears and managed to basically be a perfect lead. The recurring villain is rather bland and won’t leave an impression on you, but they can’t all be winners. I did like the voice that the game gave him when he was coming out of a disguise. The new villain was great and Katia was good enough. Poorly written characters could have held the game back so I’m glad to see that this was not a factor here.

Overall, Professor Layton is a series that I’m glad to finally be apart of. I’m definitely going to get the third game as soon as possible and will probably order it once February hits. This series is just so much fun and in a way it’s good that I took so long to start it because it means that there are more games to catch up on. I believe there are 6 at the moment so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. It makes me realize that if the Switch had gotten a Layton game for launch, that could have made things very interesting. Ah well, it’s never been a big console title anyway, but that would be fun to think about. If you played the first game then you already know what to expect. If you haven’t, you can still get into this game easy enough, but I’d recommend playing the first one first since this one builds off of that. Not to the extent where it is unplayable, but it’s nice to see the characters reference the past events. At this rate, I don’t see how a Layton game can get under an 8 so long as they don’t mess something up with the formula. It’s just a really fun and exciting game that you can play whenever you want. The controls are easy to pick up and you’ll be a whiz in no time.

Overall 8/10

Shantae Half-Genie Hero Review


It’s time to take a look at another one of the Christmas games. Shantae was definitely a lot of fun to play through and it’s an indie game done right. It’s not super long or anything since it’s a game that is made to be speed runned, but it’s still long enough for you to feel like you got your money’s worth. The level designs are all on point and the game just looks and sounds good in general. I can also finally say that I’ve played a game in the Shantae series!

Shantae was trying to enjoy her beauty sleep when the village has need of her services once again. As a half-genie hero, Shantae protects a village and in exchange they pay her or at least give her a place to live. Unfortunately, the mayor has a habit of firing her. The village is attacked by all sorts of villains, including Risky Boots. Shantae will have to take them all down and save the genie realm, but can she do it?

The game has a nice retro feel to it as the game uses sprites the whole time. The levels are all pretty bright and cheerful. Even the villain levels and burning remains are still bright enough for you to see where you’re going at all times and breeze through. The game has that simple fun factor that the Mario and Sonic titles of the past possessed. It’s something that some games tend to lack nowadays with their artificial length and unnecessary quests. This one had a few riddles that needed to be deciphered, but they weren’t anything too crazy. I found them all in a reasonable amount of time.

Ironically, I managed to find most of the bonus collectibles in the mean time. By the time I was able to get to the next story level, I was very overpowered. I had a large heart collection by then and a lot of power ups that made the rest of the game a breeze. Naturally, all of these collectibles help the replay value section. The main game should take around 5 hours or so, but in order to get the Platinum Trophy, you’ll need to play the game again and complete it in a mere 4 hours. Certainly doable, but it’ll take some practice and a nice plan in mind. This is a game where I actually do plan on getting all of the trophies sooner than later so stay tuned for that. I’ve already got 72% of the trophies and more are on the way.

The music selection in the game was certainly enjoyable. The song that played during the first level was definitely a lot of fun and so was the boss theme and the burning cafe. They helped make the game more exciting for sure. This game definitely really succeeded on a technical level as well as when it comes to the pure gameplay. The creators definitely put a lot of heart into it and I can see why the kick starter people would feel good about their contributions.

As for the gameplay, it starts out like a classic Mario game, but with her hair acting as a sword of sorts. As you play through the game, you’ll get gradually stronger to the point where the old levels will suddenly be a piece of cake. You’ll learn how to fly, swim underwater, grab onto ceilings, and also multiply your attack power and speed by 4x. It’s fun to see the contrast to the start as you really begin to breeze through all of the levels. It’s hard to believe just what a difference the power ups make, but they are well worth it.

As mentioned before, the level designs are really good, which help to further make the gameplay shine. The only part of one level that seemed a little overly difficult was the Flappy Bird homage in part 3 of the last level. Luckily, you can cheese it out by falling on the very left of the final spike platform and then turning into a Bat. I somehow think that this wasn’t intentional, but we certainly take those. Anything goes when it’s time to complete the game right?

Shantae makes for a good main character. She reminds me a lot of Lina Inverse from Slayers, but less obsessed with money and riches. Shantae’s just a noble hero who tries to do the right thing and save the day. She even takes time out of her day to chat with the villains when they’re not busy trying to rule the world or resurrect old pals from the previous games. There are a lot of references to the older games, but it’s certainly not necessary to purchase them to understand what’s going on. You’ll be able to get into the game rather easily. Shantae’s grandfather and two friends aren’t that charismatic so I don’t mind that they got a rather small role. This is one of those games that really leans on Shantae as she has the most personality by far.

Risky Boots does the same for the villains. She seems to be the only villain who is totally evil and doesn’t have time for niceties or cracking jokes like the others. Her plan was actually pretty intense and if you get the bad ending, she does succeed in destroying quite a few people. Naturally, I went for the bad ending since the good one needed me to grab more collectibles. I’ll probably see that one when I attempt the speed run at some point. If not, well..I can probably tell what will change anyway, but you’ll just need to find out for yourself.

The sheer fun factor of the game ends up putting it ahead of Shovel Knight and Mighty No 9. There is a lot of backtracking here and helping people out with side quests, but they were all fun to play through. The levels are also short enough where it isn’t a bother to go back and forth as you look for collectibles. It’s just a very well made game and if I were to have any complaints, it would be that you can’t skip the credits, but I suppose that’s cool for the people who pledged to this project.

Overall, Shantae Half-Genie Hero is definitely a good PS4 game and I’d recommend picking it up. It’s certainly not the longest game on the block, but it’s long enough and has a good amount of replay value. If we do end up getting some free DLC for it soon, that’ll be even cooler, but there’s enough base content to make it all worthwhile. Sprites also work perfectly for the game since otherwise the dancing and attires could be a bit much in this desert land, but sprites make everything 20% better. Hopefully this game did really well so we can get a sequel at some point. Of course, if Shantae is added into the Switch version of Smash, then she’ll have enough publicity to last a life time!

Overall 8/10