Mega Man X Collection Review


Mega Man X Collection is one of those games that I have always wanted to get. Who wouldn’t want to play a collection of 6 titles all packed into one mega experience? The X Collection is a treasure trove of important moments in Capcom’s history and it’s fairly out of print so I had to pay a bit of a premium to grab it. It was worth the trouble though and ended up being a pretty masterful game. The titles are all about as hard as I remember as well. Good luck taking them down.

As I had already played X1 and X4 previously I didn’t replay those. The collection brings all of the games up through X6 and I already got X7-X8 on the PS2 a while back. It’s pretty fun to see how the games have improved over the years. There is a noticeable jump in the graphics as you go through. I would say the biggest jump was from X3-X5 in that it now looked like a fully modern experience. You could release that game today and nobody would bat an eye because it would not feel out of place. The core gameplay for each of these titles is largely unchanged though. They are 2D shooters with some platforming involved.

The goal of each level is to make it to the end and then destroy the robot master who is in your way. This won’t be an easy task of course but it is one that you will need to complete. Once you’ve beaten the 8 bosses of the game then you always head to the final stages is around 3-4 back to back levels of taking on new opponents as well as beating up the 8 masters once again. For each game I would focus on beating the 8 masters initially as my completion and didn’t go for the gold with the climax levels this time around. It was nostalgic enough going through those moments so I didn’t think I needed to go further.

Sigma tends to make an appearance in every game but the plots are very different. One of them has the Sigma virus going around and mutating everyone while another one has the Nightmare virus which even affects Zero. Sometimes you have Zero available to play with from the start and other times he is presumed dead so you don’t see him for a while. The various plots are always a lot of fun. X definitely goes all in with the stories compared to the classic Mega Man games. This is why we need an anime to adapt them at some point but in the meanwhile the manga has done a good job of this.

The game gives you the ability to customize the controls which is handy. I always switch the boost to R instead of X. I don’t see how you can boost efficiently with it there. You can also toggle the difficulty level and even start off with a super armor if you want. I like these little tweaks. They are good quality of life upgrades that you want to see in these games. Even with this the games are suitably hard so you don’t need to worry about that.

Naturally the graphics are really good here. The character models are on point and the stage designs are good as well. The soundtrack is also excellent. The X series has so many winning themes that you will lose track by the end. It’s just another reason why the X series is so good. It knows exactly how to deliver on its strengths. As for replay value, each game has some since you can look for power ups and new armors. Additionally each game is difficult enough where it should last you a good amount of time anyway. You won’t be finishing this game very quickly at all so content is the least of your worries. That said, the price is definitely excessively high right now so good luck finding it at a value price. Most likely you will have to shell out a lot for this one. It’s definitely worth it if you are a big fan of the series though.

It’s crazy to think that Capcom has completely ditched this series and yet they really have. I dare say Mega Man could still be a household name if Capcom had kept going instead of ditching it for other things. The storylines alone are enough to make this super engaging for future gamers. Just show them X and the other reploids who helped him out through the years like Zero and you’re set. Keep in the fully animated cutscenes for the games as well since they also helped to establish this as a very big game series with high stakes.

The collection also brings Battle and Chase but to get this you have to complete the first three games completely which is definitely difficult. I didn’t go back to the first one at all anyway but it is a really cool reward for the fans who managed to pull this off. What could be better than getting another complete game for your troubles right? Battle and Chase is also pretty obscure so this would likely be your first time playing it. The X Collection certainly didn’t go cheap with the content and it’s one of the reasons this became an eternal classic. It may not have as many games as the Mega Man Anniversary collection but that one has less story and cutscenes so I imagine it was easier to fit them all there.

Overall, Mega Man X Collection is a great collection of games. Each title here is a complete game from the original Mega Man X days and they all hold up well. Naturally the most polished ones are the final two but they were all developed well and without shortcuts. I don’t see you having any issue with any of the titles presented here. They will absolutely test your gameplay fundamentals though. With the exception of one moving spike level, I thought all of the levels were pretty fair as well. If you learn and memorize the villain’s fighting pattern then you should be all good to go here.

Overall 8/10

Super Monkey Ball Adventure Review


Monkey Ball is a series that has always been pretty important to me. It’s got great gameplay and a whole lot of dynamic puzzles. To an extent you can say that it’s a very safe series which should never go wrong. How can you mess up such tight gameplay right? The Wii one wasn’t particularly impressive though and this one’s really underwhelming so maybe the series is just over the hill. The problem is that these titles are messing with the core mechanics which really didn’t need to be altered at this point in time. it’s a shame, but I guess it’s just the way it goes.

The basic plot here is that a wedding is being planned between two characters. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t want to attend the wedding. For starters, the wedding is against the rules of the land currently and people are just too busy. There are robot invasions in some lands, monkeys turning evil in others, and some just can’t be bothered. Aiai and the crew decide that they are going to have to force everyone to come to the wedding by eliminating any possible excuses that they might have. So that begins their tough journey through the wilderness to set things straight. Can the monkeys do it or is this really game over for them?

The plot isn’t terrible I guess but it’s definitely not particularly engaging. the real problem here is just the fact that the gameplay is not good. So, in most Monkey Ball games the idea is to make it to the goal while balancing inside of your little plastic ball. This s tough because the levels are just really difficult and controlling the ball is tough. Still, it’s a fair challenge that is a lot of fun and each level is shorter than 60 seconds so the trial and error doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately this is only a small part of the Adventure gameplay. You only play these levels on occasion to unlock new areas to explore. that’s it.

The rest of the game acts more like a platformer. You have to help the villagers with whatever challenge they are having like bringing people balloons or catching a car. Unfortunately the Monkey Ball gameplay really does not work particularly well with this style. The game is all about moving and performing these difficult maneuvers but when you fall prepare for big set backs. The game will take you to the nearest area exit which is sometimes quite far from where you died. This means it will be a long journey to get back to where you were which is never fun. That’s the case for a lot of the quests here, they’re very tedious and take the joy out of the equation.

The basic structure of the game is that each world has around 20 missions to complete. Each mission will bump you up 5%. Once you reach 60% you can challenge the boss of the world and by beating him you get one more guest to the wedding. Rinse and repeat for all 4-5 worlds and then you’ve made it to the ending. Interestingly the game doesn’t really let you know any of this so you may end up doing more missions than you actually need to as a result. Pretty slick of the game if you ask me. I was just ready to head out as soon as I had the required completion% in the game. My total completion% was around 74 which is pretty good I must say.

Fortunately, since you don’t have to beat literally every mission, if you find out that’s a little too cray just skip it. No reason you have to punish yourself by trying to knock it out. In particular there were a few aerial missions I just couldn’t handle. The air missions seem to be the worst ones in general since the gameplay just isn’t as finetuned as the ground combat parts which have been fine tuned over many different installments by this point. The aerial part is new.

The graphics are okay I suppose. They aren’t particularly impressive but you know where you are going which is the important thing. The level designs are pretty bad though. The hub worlds are just too huge and as a result you can get lost or just have to retrace a lot of old ground all the time. As for the soundtrack, well it’s pretty forgettable. I don’t expect you will remember any of the tunes by the time you’re done with the game. It’s just one of those adventures.

For replay value I suppose there is a decent amount here. There are quite a few missions to do and extra minigames. Gathering all of the bananas in order to unlock all of the bonus content would probably be pretty intense too. The game took me a long time as it is so there is a lot of content here. It’s just not particularly entertaining content. If you do end up liking the game though, you can at least be content to know there is a lot to do here including an expansive multiplayer mode with lots of games to try.

Overall, Monkey Ball Adventure just isn’t good. At the end of the day the core problem here is the gameplay and that’s pretty much a killer for any title. The fact that the story is pretty much nonexistent doesn’t help either. You have to deal with a lot of loading times and since the game just isn’t fun in general either, there’s no real reason to play this one. One thing that could have solved a lot of problems would be the ability to teleport to missions or at least re-spawn there when you lose. Without that and the fact that chanting to go into each special skill mode takes too long results in a pretty sad experience. I don’t see myself going back to this title. Hopefully Monkey Ball gets a proper new game at some point though.

Overall 4/10

Defender Review


Defender is a game I’ve had on the shelf for a very long time. It’s a game that is also extremely difficult and the developers did not pull any punches with the game. I had it frozen on the backlog for a long time but with the numbers continuing to drop it was time to put this one back into play. Currently we are down to 35 games left so that’s pretty good. Defender is a good title and far better than something like Battlestar Galactica. Now that’s a game that could use a bunch of work.

The general plot is that the aliens have taken over Earth as well as the entire solar system. The humans have been forced to move out of the system entirely to regroup which has not made them very happy campers. Well, we’ve now got a good amount of ships and mechs at our disposal so it’s time to reclaim our planets. The game has you go from world to world as you exterminate the aliens with Earth naturally being the big prize at the end. It hasn’t been easy but now it’s the humans’ turn for a counter attack. It’s a pretty nice plot and I like the idea of the humans having to invade Earth since it has already been taken over.

There are some cutscenes here and there which get pretty emotional. For example there was a mechanic just minding his own business and suddenly an alien appears and takes him away. The graphics hold up really well for both the cinematics and the gameplay. At most it can be a little hard to follow along with what is going on at times but I’d guess that is a little unavoidable with how many enemies are running around at all times. If you want the skies to be cleared then you’ll have to do it yourself.

The soundtrack is okay. It’s not particularly memorable but works well enough with the the levels. It’s a fitting ost which is all that you can ask for. In terms of length I wouldn’t call the story all that long but the difficulty should help to extend that quite a bit. I would estimate the game is maybe around 5-6 hours long. It can also be longer if you do the bonus levels. See, each world has 2-3 levels but you’re always able to just go to the next one after beating the first mission. The others are totally optional but note that if you skip to the next planet then there is no way to go back so that’s definitely something to keep in mind. You have to be absolutely sure of yourself when making the decision.

For the gameplay, this is a 3D shooter. You pilot your ship around the surface of the planet as you blow up all of the enemy fighters and installations. The actual goal of the level will vary heavily so always pay attention to the objectives which are shown at the beginning of the level and also explained through the dialogue. For example, one mission may have you simply blow up all of the fighters while another one may have you protecting a base until everyone is able to be evacuated. With the title of the game you won’t be surprised to hear that quite a few of the levels are protection missions like that.

In general protection missions never tend to be my favorite ones. Your ally’s health goes down so quickly and it’s hard to protect everyone. One level I really had some issues with was where you had to protect a series of satellites from robotic suicide bombers. That one was really tough in part because the level was so big and aside from the bombers you had to worry about the rest of the crew as well. Definitely puts you in a tough spot.

Fortunately you have more than one ship to choose as an option. Each ship has a different array of weapons. Personally I used the second ship for almost the whole game and then used the second to last ship for the final few levels. The reason I switched was because the new ship has an laser which has no limits for ammo. You can just keep on using it although you do need to let it recharge for a few seconds here and there. Each ship can be updated by using your points which can improve all of the weapons on board and even add another life to your ship. I would say that the extra life should be your lowest priority since most of the levels have a strict time limit anyway which ends up being more important than having another life which you may not need.

Overall, Defender is a pretty decent game. It’s a basic sci-fi shooter game where you’re blasting away at aliens. You can’t really go wrong there right? I would say that one area which would improve the game though would be a way to play old levels and earn some more money. Much like Armored Core 2 you could be in a tough spot if you spend your money on the wrong ship and have none left for the final level. It’s why I stuck with one of the default ships for almost the whole game just in case. Last thing you want it to be trapped without money in a level that’s just too difficult to conquer. If you see this game in stories somewhere somehow, then I would say to pick it up. It’s old school but has aged pretty well. The plot’s fun and the gameplay is pretty smooth which is really all that you need in the end.

Overall 7/10

Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup Review


Quidditch was a lot of fun to play through in the first Harry Potter game so it was fun to see it make a return here. I definitely missed it when the latter games were cutting it out. Of course with a whole game built around this concept that means that you really need to have tight gameplay. Fortunately it is quite good and a lot of fun. I just think the game should have had a bit more of an ending to be honest.

When the game starts you are told to pick a team. I naturally went with Griffindor because you just can’t go wrong with that group right? The first few levels are about taking down all of the other schools. Then you can enter the World Cup where you have to go up against the other countries. Once you’ve done that then you’re done. The game loops for extra matches and you work on getting the rest of the cards. I ended up with 33/104 so I suppose that’s not too bad. It would be nice if the game could save your spot in a tournament though. While you can save your title at almost any time, it always takes you back to the menu when you boot it up again to start a tournament from scratch.

I should quickly talk about the gameplay since Quidditch is a pretty unique sport. So the goal of the game is to pass the ball to your teammates to earn points or to shoot the ball through one of the 3 hoops. Each time you do so you get 10 points. Once the meter is fully charged an event will start where you and the opponent try to grab the Quidditch ball. Whoever grabs it first gets 150 points and then the battle ends. So this keeps the hoops points from being meaningless or anything like that but at the same time the points don’t matter much. I was beating an opponent by around 400 before I realized this match wasn’t ending. That’s why scoring shouldn’t be your top concern. It doesn’t build the meter much at all.

The best way to win a match is to use combo passes. Hold down the L button and keep on passing the ball around. This will build the meter very quickly and the more meter you have, the more time you have to boost your broom in the final chase. Be careful about turning the ball over though as that will negate any meter build up you had amassed from the current combo. Clearly there are a lot of variables to consider here and you really want to try and take them all into account. Of course if you want to be really safe you can still score around 200 points so that way even if the other team grabs the Quidditch you would end up winning. You should always be able to grab the Quidditch first though, at least I found that part to be pretty easy.

You also have some special abilities but they aren’t all that necessary. Often times I found it easier to just do a basic tackle with A to knock the ball away then to get into the fancy stuff. For example, if you press B you get a mini cutscene where you take the ball away. Y allows you to gain a quick boost that lets you go forward and there’s X which lets you fire off one of the balls to hit the opponent with. I don’t mind the abilities but in a way they have 0 impact on the game. Whether you use them or ignore them they will not affect the entire match at all in which case I wonder why they are even around. You’ve also got the final smash attacks for a team which give you instant goals but it takes a while to build up enough energy for this. I got to see the computers use it a few times but I never had enough energy for it unfortunately.

The graphics are pretty decent. I wouldn’t say they are anything special but the character designs are on point and the whole thing looks pretty nice. The only time you may have some trouble is with navigating the turns during the final chase but that’s not really a graphics thing so much as it’s just about the gameplay. On the whole I would say the gameplay is pretty legit but those turns are just rough. I wouldn’t say any of the game’s tunes really stood out though.

In terms of length this game will probably last you around 2 hours to beat every opponent I suppose. Outside of that the only replay value is in collecting all of the cards by completing specific challenges. It’s a reasonable incentive to at least add a bit more punch to the usual gameplay but I’m not really sure if that would really be enough to get you back to play a bunch of extra matches once you’ve already won. I feel like it would be a hard sell at least.

So the game is pretty fun but I do have to emphasize that it is just very short. You need to make sure that you pick it up at a good price or you may end up with a few regrets there. There is multiplayer mode as well though which should also increase the replay value. As long as you find the gameplay fun then I suppose that’s really the most important thing here.

Overall, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is a pretty fun spinoff. It’s nice that this sport got an entire video game to itself even though the sport itself does not yet exist. It just makes for a very original game. A bit of a story mode would have been nice but I suppose it’s not something that would have been expected. Hopefully the new PS5 Harry Potter game coming out will include some Quidditch gameplay as well. I look forward to seeing how it looks with the modern technology backing it up.

Overall 7/10

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review


Now it’s time to look at the Prisoner of Azkaban. This Harry Potter game changes things up quite a bit from the first two. For starters the animation has changed entirely. The same is true for the voices and even the gameplay is a bit different. This one is going for more of a teamwork angle sort of like Sonic Heroes. Unfortunately this is easily the weakest Harry Potter game. It feels the last story based as the game spams you with dungeons and the gameplay isn’t nearly as smooth. Still, a decent game but not on the same level as the others.

Harry is back in Hogwarts and he is determined to have a good time. He’s an expert Quidditch player after all and his friend Hagrid is finally getting to teach a class. Everything is going well until Draco spreads word around that Hagrid’s pet is dangerous. Now the pet is slated to be executed and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop this. Harry and his friends will have to think fast in order to stop this. Meanwhile they have to go through a bunch of dungeons in order to earn new spells.

The game is absolutely not playing when it comes to the dungeons. They’re just everywhere and around every corner. No matter where you look there are more dungeons at the ready. Each one has a bunch of puzzles so the game was really trying to channel its inner Legend of Zelda. It’s certainly a worthy attempt I will grant them that. The puzzles aren’t all that bad but it just feels like the game is stalling quite a lot. You go large portions of the game without a lot of big story developments and then suddenly the narrator will show up and fast forward the story for you. A lot of it is told through exposition instead of your actually getting to experience it. In my mind this is definitely a mistake.

Unfortunately the controls are back to being very sluggish again as well. They don’t respond to you very well. In particular turning can be quite the challenge. You just don’t go where you want to go which is pretty tough. It’s often easier to run off into the distance and then return because a simple turn is just that broken. Likewise with aiming as you’ll often shoot straight into the dirt instead of at an enemy. Additionally when you defeat an enemy instead of locking onto the next one as you would expect, the character just loses the lock entirely which is pretty unfortunate.

The graphics are a big step down as noted with the animation change earlier. The character designs just aren’t on point now and the whole thing looks pretty low quality. In general this game just feels like it’s a true tie-in as opposed to being a classic platformer that just happens to be based on the movie. There’s a world of difference between the two styles. At the same time it’s not enough for me to call this a bad game. It’s just inconvenient a lot of the time but not bad.

For example, this is the first game where you can play as Hermione and Ron as well. The issue is that doing all 3 characters can still only equip 2 spells and they all know around 4. Most of the spells are unique to each character as well so there’s a lot of switching and pausing going around which means double the interruptions from gameplay. There should be a much more intuitive way to switch out spells than by going through all of these steps. It just doesn’t feel quite right.

The game also adds a lot of new stealth levels to the mix. I think the developers were likely proud of how well it came out with how frequently they appear but it’s not a good match with the dicey gameplay. If the trolls or prefects see you then unlike the last game where you start from the beginning of the room, you’re actually booted out entirely so you have to enter again. Have I mentioned that whenever you enter a room there is a long loading sequence? Each room has to be loaded for some reason. The stealth levels could have been a little better if not for that but it definitely ended up hurting the experience.

In terms of length I would say this game is also around 6-7 hours long. I’m sure you could beat it quicker if you put your mind to it though. For replay value there are some cards to grab I suppose. I think if you get enough of them you may get some extra health but it’s not like it’ll be very useful to you by then since you’ll have already beaten the game. I’ll give this one kudos for actually coming up with a fishing minigame as well. It’s not very fun or anything like that but the more content the better. The team mechanics also could have been fun if they had been smoother. Perhaps upgrading the A.I. so the partners actually follow you without you having to call them at times. Sometimes you have to wait way too long for them to arrive. I got stuck/lost in the courtyard for a super long amount of time before the gang finally caught up to me.

Overall, The Prisoner of Azkaban is more interested in throwing you into long dungeons than actually following the story. The whole thing is really glossed over by the end. Even all of the Quidditch matches are played off screen. I miss being able to just jump on my broom and start giving opponents the work. In this game I’m not able to do so and it just feels like a missed opportunity. I think this game would fare a little better if I didn’t play it immediately after the other two which really highlights how it couldn’t match up. It just really paled in comparison to the last two. They had a lot of heart and great gameplay mechanics at their disposal. This one never really felt natural like that. We’ll see how the Goblet of Fire performs since its turn is quickly closing in.

Overall 6/10

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Review


We continue our Harry Potter marathon with the next game in the series. Chamber of Secrets really takes a lot of what made the first game good and then improves on them. So that’s exactly what you could have hoped for from a sequel. There aren’t any really weak parts to the game although at the same time I wouldn’t say it’s great or anything like that. It’s just a fun follow up to the original. The hub world isn’t quite as large as the first game but is still quite large.

The game starts with Harry having a good time in town as he gets some shopping done before heading back to Hogwarts. As much as things change they also stay the same. Draco Malfoy and the gang keep picking on the weaker mages. The stakes are a little higher this time around as a fabled Chamber of Secrets is somewhere in the school. Harry needs to track it down because in the meantime a monster is on the loose and it may end up murdering a bunch of the students if it isn’t taken care of and fast. Harry will need all of his skills if he is to take this guy down.

It’s a pretty solid story here. The Potter games have been consistent with giving a lot of cutscenes throughout. Just from the games I can quickly remember how much fun Snape is. He certainly gets a bad rap but at least the guy is always around unlike Dumbledore who vanishes when things get tough. The whole twist about Tom Riddle is pretty interesting and he makes for a pretty great character. The guy’s just a lot of fun. Meanwhile Harry and the crew are pretty solid although Ron never tends to grow on me as much as the other two. He needs a little more skill to back up his confidence.

Gameplay-wise this one is pretty basic. You have a few different spells at your disposal and use them in order to take the opponents down or to solve various puzzles. The spells are largely the same as in the first game. You are still only able to equip two at once so get ready to have to pause the game a lot. The save feature is also still manual so just try to remember to save every now and again or you may have to replay large chunks of the game. It’s pretty impressive just how similar to the first game this one is. Even the menus all look very similar. Same with the levels but that makes sense since it is still the same school.

The graphics aren’t bad and look pretty similar to the first game. I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one was better. Th soundtrack is also decent. None of the tunes will stand out in particular but I wouldn’t say they hold the game back either. They have just the right amount of pep to add to the fights. I feel like that describes the game pretty well as a whole. It’s a very standard game that feels like you’re picking up right where the first game left off. There are some improvements like labels on the map so you know where you’re going and the controls themselves are a lot smoother. Those are the two main improvements here and I would have to say that they are fairly key.

The gameplay one alone is really nice to have. In the first game it wasn’t uncommon for you to just fall off of a box or something because the character refused to move in the right direction. That should not happen here. The game isn’t all that long though. You should have it conquered within around 6-7 hours I’d say. Of course if you aim to grab all of the cards then that will probably take you a little longer. There are a bunch of them scattered all throughout the place. The toughest part is that you have no way of knowing which ones you have already collected which naturally makes things pretty tough. Still, it would definitely add a few hours to your overall play time.

Chamber of Secrets does end up hitting you with an extremely easy final boss though. The way to beat it is pretty simple, you just dodge the attacks by moving side to side for a bit, knock it with your main weapon and you’re good to go. Rinse and repeat around 6 times until you claim victory. The main thing that makes this fight pretty easy is just the fact that the way to dodge the boss’ attacks is simply to move from side to side. You don’t even need a true strategy to beat him, that’s really what is pretty crazy about all of this.

The game is fairly light with bosses though. Another fight has you go up against a giant spider but it’s not so much a direct boss as it’s more about you running around to burn all the webbing. That allows you to gain the upper hand and escape. It’s a pretty nice level set up I’d say. The game stays quick paced at all times except for when you have to find some potion ingredients for Professor Snape. That’s when things can get a little tedious as you figure out how to do this. In the third game you would eventually be given pillars of light so you can see the ingredients once you’re within range but there’s nothing like that for this game.

Overall, The Chamber of Secrets is a pretty fun follow up to the first game. It’s been pretty nice to see the old Harry Potter adventures in video game format. You can’t help but feel that the points system is pretty rigged though. No matter what you do you always end up in first place when it comes to total points. That doesn’t seem totally fair or balanced if you think about it. You feel bad for the other groups because it feels like Dumbledore is determined to pick Griffindor no matter what. I suppose our class is the best one though. If you want to play a fun little game on the GCube then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 7/10