Split Second Review

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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

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Alter Echo Review

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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

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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

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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

King of Fighters XIV Review

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The hype behind this latest installment in the King of Fighters series was definitely impressive. After Cashcom decided to release a very barebones rendition of Street Fighters, this was KoF’s chance to quickly show the fighting game community how it’s done. It does not dissappoint as there is a lot of content here to keep you satisfied without having to wait months for extra features. While SF V still wins with its final package and simply having the more interesting characters/smoother gameplay, King of Fighters holds its own and the series has come a very long way since the old PS2 title that I played.

The story mode is like the classic fighting game titles. Each team has an ending, but there is a story sprinkled in as well. Every character shares the same opening and then the big event where a cosmic being by the name of Verse shows up. You learn a little bit about Verse from some of the character endings, but either way, he means business! Taking him down is definitely going to be difficult, but the King of Fighter heroes are up to the task!

Some of the story endings are lacking a little. Since every team has an ending, it makes sense that not all of them would be hits. I mostly enjoyed the ones that delved into why Verse shows up and the ones that foreshadow events in King of Fighters XV. The ones that are more about day to day life like having a buffet at a bar or talking about animal names are a little less interesting. It’s partially due to the fact that I don’t know the cast too well yet though. I’m sure that they’ll get cooler as I pick up more of the games and get used to them. The story segments that the characters share is always pretty epic though. I do hope that these endings go somewhere though. There are a lot of hintings at plot twists and such which involve Verse, but if this never pops up in KoF XV, then it’ll be a bit of a waste.

King of Fighters did a great job with the soundtrack. The theme when Verse shows up is really good and I also like the main theme of the game. I can’t really tell what the singer is saying to be honest, but the beat is good and the liveliness of it all fits the game rather well. The stages also have good themes which is a must for a fighting game since you will be hearing them quite often. Likewise, the graphics are also very sharp. The cinematics that are present look very good and the character models are all on point. It’s all very clear and the actual gameplay will keep reminding you that this game is current gen. The interface and menus are also very good and I would have liked something like that for Super Smash. I’m still not crazy about the way that the menus work in that title. KoF XIV is similar to the PS3 in that sense as everything feels very new and modern.

Now, let’s talk about the actual gameplay. It’s a classic 2D fighter where you have standard attacks and power moves. You’ll want to throw, roll, and block as well. There is a lot of depth to be found in this title. If you aspire to be a world class player, you should expect to spend a lot of time in the training room. I’d say that the game has even more options than the various Street Fighter games. There are a lot of different ways to attack and dozens of variations so it will likely be overwhelming as you try to memorize the moveset from all of the characters. It’s easy to pick up as a beginner and hard to master, which is a good balance. I definitely like the gameplay, although I would put it under Street Fighter and Tekken. I think what holds it back a little is just that the character models are a little slower. Tekken makes up for this with how much damage you deal per hit. The fights in King of Fighters will always take a little longer. The 3 on 3 default mode is always a lot of fun though and if you’re going to have a long fight, then it may as well be in style.

I haven’t gotten a chance to test my skill against any actual players yet, but I’m sure that a free PS+ weekend will be occurring soon so then I’ll be sure to go online. I’m confident that my button mashing skills and experience with fighting games should serve me fairly well. After you’ve played story mode, you can also head to the Trials and Tutorials. Survival Mode is also at the ready. The tutorial mode goes very in depth and teaches you all of the concepts in the game. It can be difficult towards the end, but you’ll be glad that you played it. For a game this complex, you will need to actually think about what you are going to do. Button Mashing is heavily discouraged based on how it is set up, although you can make do if you know how.

The trophies seem tricky, but a little more achievable than some other fighting games like SF IV or SF V. I got a decent amount of them, although it’s a fairly low amount if you look at the game on the surface. A lot of the trophies are online based so I can’t really go for those quite yet. It helps add to the replay value that is found here. As this is a fighting game, that means that the replay value is automatically infinite. Whether you play locally or with friends online (If you have PS+) the gameplay should never get old. This is the kind of game that you can have fun playing for hours and hours on end as you try to improve your skills and rank. Grabbing all of the illustrations, movies, and sounds should also take some time.

Verse made for a good original villain here. I hope to see him return although I definitely want God Rugal as well. That guy was awesome in the old games. Terry was about as cool as I’d expect him to be and Kyo seems like a good main character as well. I’m still not sold on Iori, but maybe he’ll get cooler as he goes along. It’s pretty neat how there is a Freddy Krueger parody here as well and even a guy who looks rather similar to Ryu. The ice character is also cool since having someone with super powers is always pretty neat. As it stands, I do think that the cast is more interesting than Virtua Fighter. If we get more stories as the games go on, maybe it’ll continue to pass other video game series as far as the cast is concerned.

Overall, This game is certainly worth the full price. It has a very large cast so many of your favorites should be here and finding a character who fits your play style should come naturally. The graphics and soundtrack are solid as well. The only weakness in the game would be the story to an extent, but I still did like the animated cutscenes and ultimately, you’re playing the game for the gameplay more than anything else. If the new Super Smash could be a big success without a story, there’s no reason why King of Fighters can’t do the same. I definitely recommend checking this game out and then we’ll see if you ultimately agree that Terry Bogard is the most intense character in the game.

Overall 8/10

Tom & Jerry in Infurnal Escape Review

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All right, it’s time for the 1st Game Boy Advance review in a very long time. I won this one over at a Super Smash Bros tournament at a Friendly’s restaurant. I can’t believe nobody wanted the prize earlier. As a major video game collector and a fan of the Tom & Jerry franchise, I knew that this was my big moment. It’s a fairly short game and tends to feel like a cash in for part of the adventure, but once you get going the adventure starts to get more fun. It’s just a shame that the game really leaves you in the dark to figure things out for yourself.

The plot is fairly dramatic as Tom finds himself in Hell. To escape, he’ll have to save some souls and defeat the King of Evil. This will be tricky, but Tom’s no stranger to facing overwhelming odds. Unfortunately, Jerry is also here to get in his way, but Tom will not falter until the day is saved. This title is fairly short at 6 levels and it can be completed in around an hour. That’s part of what hurts this game’s chances of getting a 7. I can’t imagine buying this game for its full retail price. There’s no replay value either as there are no collectibles to be found. There isn’t even a continue as it is all password based. I recommend taking a picture of the password or writing it down after each level just in case.

The difficulty tends to fluctuate quite a bit and typically it can only be difficult because enemies escape your punches at times. You only have 3 health points at a time and once they are gone you have 2 minutes to find some souls. If you can’t do that then you get the game over screen. Typically it shouldn’t come to that though since souls are very easy to find. The game can get a little annoying when you have been searching for a while only to not actually find anything. The level won’t end until you’ve found most of the objective. (Typically a prisoner or a Dog Bone) The problem is that you don’t know most of the controls at first. For example, I didn’t know that you could climb the flagpoles until about 20 minutes had passed and you can’t complete the early levels without doing that.

Tom & Jerry is your average 2D side scroller game. It is also part puzzle as you have to go back and forth as you press switches since previously inaccessible areas become open as you go on. The game won’t tell you this, but you can throw your baseball bat and you can climb various objects. Make sure you fight carefully since getting hit by an opponent is typically very dangerous. You can also light your stick on fire by holding the R button which is also necessary to complete some levels. I learned that one through trial and error as well. The gameplay’s nothing special, but it’s not bad either. It serves its purpose as a side scroller.

The graphics are fairly decent for the GBA. I was also impressed with the cutscenes as I was not expecting a whole lot of those here. The cutscenes are shown through illustrations which is always a good way to go about this for the GBA. They all look sharp as a result. In game, the character models are fairly solid as well. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of. There is really just one theme which keeps on repeating over and over again. It’s not a particularly catchy tune either so the game loses out in this area. The developers certainly could have put in some more effort and thrown in more tunes.

There is only one boss in this game, which you fight at the very end. He is extremely easy so you should have no trouble with him. You simply punch him twice to make the boss fall down and then you go for another punch. Rinse and repeat around 5-6 times. It’s a lot quicker than it sounds and the whole thing will likely just take you a handful of minutes. The final boss design is quite good as well and it makes sense that a dog would be the final foe to stand in Tom’s way.

The ending is not surprising, but still rather odd. Tom is given a choice as he can spend eternity with a cat friend that he is always chasing around or going back to his life of getting beaten up by Jerry. Tom oddly chooses the latter. I’m not sure what the rationale there was. Maybe deep down he simply wants to catch Jerry more than he wants to hang out with the other cat. Tom can be quite competitive so I suppose that this decision isn’t completely out of the question. Still odd though.

Overall, This is a game that I certainly didn’t expect to be playing, but I’m glad that I got the chance too. It may not be revolutionary or even all that good, but it’s a decent way to spend an hour. I can add it to my game collection and that’s bragging rights enough. It definitely could have been longer and that’s really the main complaint that I have with it. Along with the fact that the game doesn’t bother to mention most of the controls either. If you’re looking for a fun little side scrolling adventure, then this game is for you. That being said, you’re better off getting the legendary Super Mario World. Now That was a very fulfilling video game and it has a lot more replay value as well.

Overall 6/10

Dragon Ball Z Budokai 2 Review

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This is one of those games where you have to ask yourself…is more content always a good thing? I’m going to be honest, I’d like the game a lot more if it didn’t have the story mode that’s present in the game. It’s a shame that more modes can actually be bad for once and it’s a lose-lose situation since I’d be sad if there was none included as well. So I ask…does a bad story mode hurt the game enough for me to deduct a star or should it stay high?

The Budokai series is quite different from Tenkaichi in the sense that it is a 2D brawler. I always enjoy those although it’s safe to say that I still prefer Tenkaichi even though I’m going through a 2D fighting crisis right now. Tenkaichi just revolutionizes 3D gameplay and I never get tired or playing it. Budokai, on the other hand, feels a little limited at times. There’s only so much that you can do as your options are a little limited. It’s not as polished as something like Street Fighter, but the fundamentals are there and the controls are easy to grasp. The problem is that a lot of the game is locked out unless you complete tedious grinds.

For example…you start the game without signature characters like Vegeta and Frieza. I’m really curious to see how the character select screen looked at the beginning and I really should have checked when I had the chance. If you do not defeat them the right way in story mode, then you’ll continue to have to play the game without them and that can be a shame since there’s no way you’ll want to play Story Mode again. Just about everyone is unlocked through Story Mode or with the Dragon Balls, but the unlocks are not easy or quick. They take time.

Let’s go back to why Story Mode is no fun. You start on a Mario Party map and your goal will either be to make it to a location or defeat enemies multiple times. For a fighter like Frieza or Cell, you may have to win 3-4 times and then do that against some of the minions as well. Each turn feels like it takes a long time and you can imagine how sad it is to lose a level after going so far. It shouldn’t sound that bad in theory, but the fights really add up. Even the fact that the story takes a lot of new twists and turns cannot save the final product. You’ll end up just wishing that it was all over after a while. Without the unlockables at every corner I may not be as harsh on the Story Mode. As it is, it’s definitely one of the worst fighting game ones out there.

Aside from that you have other modes like Good ole multiplayer and Tournament Mode. Multiplayer is where you will spend the bulk of your time of course since fighting games like this one are best enjoyed with friends. That’s how it’s always been for the genre and it’s why nothing can beat a truly good fighting game. Tournament Mode should also be decently fun and you’ll earn some money out of it so you can buy some skills. Speaking of which…that’s another unlockable that is rather unnecessary.

Your characters actually don’t have their iconic attacks at first. Mind Blown right? It puts you at quite the disadvantage in Story Mode at times. Imagine playing Goku and being unable to use the Kamehameha. You can find the skills throughout the stages and get them at the shop, but locking a character’s moveset is unprecedented and certainly not in a good way. I really don’t know what they were thinking with this one and it’s a prime example of what I like to call “artificial replay value.”

The graphics are fairly solid. Goku’s voice acting is certainly great as he sounds a lot like Sonic. I feel like this started to change as the games got newer, but the retro ones still have this effect. The blasts are fun to watch and while more effort could have been put into the stages, they look good. The opening cinematic is also a blast and those always added an extra touch to the DBZ series. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable and I can’t actually recall any tunes at the moment, but I remember them being fairly good. Not every game can be the next Sonic right?

Budokai is a little on the old side and it shows, but this still did start the legendary franchise off right. If you like the gameplay here, then you should check out Shin Budokai. It’s a modernized version of this one and naturally it’s been greatly refined. Tenkaichi also came out due to this game so we owe it a lot. I also feel bad for the title since it didn’t ask to have such a terrible Story Mode. It just happened and the game ended up paying the price. We’ve asked the tough questions, but this DBZ title still beats some of the newer ones…sorta. It’s a closer fight than I’d like to admit.

Overall, This review may have been a little on the negative side, but this game is still a good one. When you take away all of the fluff, gameplay is still the most important feature in any game and that part is still done well here. Learning how to block and fight effectively is what will make you a true DBZ warrior. Part of why Story Mode was so difficult was because I didn’t know how to charge my Ki. I still have no idea how to do that even though it’s usually very easy to figure out. Still, the extra difficulty made everything a little more intense so that’s good. I definitely recommend getting this game, but don’t play the Story Mode as it will sour your experience. Despite this game being on the legendary Gamecube console, I actually prefer Budokai 3. The amount of in game lockable content is just too much. It would be good if you could unlock them naturally, but otherwise….I don’t think so. In closing, ignore everything about the game and just head straight to Vs. Mode. That’s the best way to have fun, but good luck with that since you won’t have Vegeta or a number of other cool characters. Maybe they could animate Story Mode and then take out the gameplay when they do a remake someday. That would be the best of both worlds.

Overall 7/10

The Invincible Iron Man Review

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After all these years, I finally got the classic GBA Iron Man game! I’ve always wanted to get this since this would essentially complete my Marvel collection and side scrollers are a blast. That being said, the game is even shorter than I would have thought. I knew about the length about a day before I purchased it, but it was still surprising. The game is easily under an hour and you’ll beat it right away. There’s not a whole lot to do post game either, which makes for an interesting concept.

The plot is that one of Tony’s relatives has broken into Stark Industries and stolen all of his armors. Tony is a little puzzeled at how easy this all was, but he takes it in stride and breaks out one of his original armors. Will it be enough to take back his armors and take down the likes of Crimson Dynamo and the Blizzard? One thing’s for sure, this will not be easy!!

As I mentioned, the game is quite short. There are 8 levels plus two bosses. Each level can be beaten in a fairly short amount of time, but rushing through the game is discouraged to an extent. There are moments where you can cheese the levels by running and jumping a lot, but sometimes that will lead you to tun in a circle and just waste time. The enemies are surprisingly powerful as well. There are no power ups to be found in the game so your health bar is very small. A few good attacks are enough to knock you out so slow and steady is typically the key here. Do that and you should be fine.

The bosses are fairly simple. The final one is just tricky until you figure out his gimmick. Once you do, he becomes one of the easiest bosses of all time. Just hit him with the Uni beam, jump over him and do it again and again and again. He will not be able to do anything and you’ll have beaten the final boss. Blizzard was a little more tricky since his ice attacks are no joke, but as long as you stop his regeneration, you’ll be okay.

The gameplay is fairly similar to the Spider Man games, but you can keep on shooting indefinitely. It’ll remind you of Vectorman at some points. You can store up some energy by holding the B button or you can just keep on pressing it to shoot the little beams. Make sure to duck a lot since that will help you evade a lot of enemy fire. It won’t be enough to stop them all, but a lot of them at least. You’ll expend energy whenever you fire a blast so expect your energy to be at 0 most of the time.

You can double jump and then boost, which lets you cross a large distance in a very short amount of time. It’s handy and if you get two power ups, you can emit an energy wave that destroys everything on the screen. It’s handy, but you won’t get that power up until about halfway through the game. That’s still a good 20 minutes though so not bad.

I’d say that the graphics are pretty good. These are GBA graphics that survive the test of time. Iron Man’s design is quite good and most of the enemies look like fun Terminators. Everything is clear and you can easily follow the action. The cutscenes are essentially illustrations with a little movement so I’m guessing that this had more of a budget than you may have suspected at first. Unfortunately, that didn’t equal into a very large soundtrack. Typically, you can expect to hear the same tunes many times, although they are not bad by any means. They’re fairly inspiring and at the very least, work well with the gameplay. The sound effects can be a little loud at times, but that’s just how it goes.

Really, the game’s a blast, but it does bring up the age old issue of whether length is really a factor. This game’s an easy 7 no questions asked if it had a decent length, but only 8 levels and it being under an hour is a little iffy. I always have a section for replay value, but it’s basically empty in this game. You can get the 7 pieces of artwork if you want I suppose, but that’s literally it and at most it can buy you a few hours, but if you search each level carefully, it could be less. I got one of them, but the other ones are typically hidden in little nooks and crannies. Not really worth it for me, but sometimes I do have fun with this kind of thing. Even without any other game in the back burner though, I can’t picture myself going back for the art pieces.

Overall, Iron Man was fun, but it is one of the shortest games that I’ve ever played. There are a few titles that are shorter like Rudolph, but this game is scary short. I can’t imagine buying this at the full retail price when it first came out back in the day. I can only imagine that a lot of people were very disappointed with it. Considering that I got the game for a few dollars, it’s not all that bad. I actually get thrilled when a game is short since it helps with the backlog, but naturally, length does typically make a game better as long as the levels have a good amount of quality. Take classics like KH II, FF XIII, or even Sonic Adventure 2 Battle to an extent. I still recommend this game, but you may be better off getting the Iron Man PS3 game.

Overall 6/10

Deca Sports Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Badminton 60 Points
Kart Racing Beg 1m 8s
Kart Racing Int 1m 21
Kart Racing Adv 1m 29s
Curling 78 Points
Snowboard Cross Beg 34s
Snowboard Cross Int 1m 9s
Snowboard Cross Adv 1m 52s
Archery 160 Points
Supercross Beg 46s
Supercross Int 1m 28s
Supercross Adv 1m 21s
Beachvolleyball 70 Points
Figure Skating 370 Points
Basketball 100 Points
Soccer 6 Points