Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike Review


All right guys, this is a milestone game. It’s my final entry in the Star Wars series! There’s still one or two games I need to get someday, but now I have at least beaten all of the ones that I own. Rebel Strike is definitely a good one to ends things off with. It’s not the best Star Wars game by a longshot, but it’s definitely a quality title all the same. It’s a classic aerial shooter title with some ground elements thrown in as well. While those parts feel more button spammy than the rest it does help make the game feel more complete.

The game’s plot roughly covers the trilogy as per usual. It seems to start with the second movie rather than the first though, I’m guessing Rogue Squadron II probably covered that one. The Rebels are losing ground against the Empire so their only chance is for a young jedi named Luke and another aerial fighter to take back their home and win the war. During the game you get to pick your path as you progress through the story. Depending on which level you pick will determine which character you play as. It’s a pretty interesting way to go forward for sure.

There are around 10-12 levels in the game although if you pay through all of the routes then you can add a few more levels. (Only 2 routes and 4 levels are shared) Most of the levels have the normal aerial combat gameplay. It’s pretty fun as usual although definitely a lot less polished than the others ones I played which is almost odd. Good luck trying to lock on to anyone as the enemies move too quickly. There was a long tutorial level to start the game off so maybe I missed a few things, but it seems to be like there may not even be a traditional lock on. The enemies also camouflage into the space sky really quick. It’s hard to get a read on them so at times the best thing to do is to just blast wildly. You can also turn infra red on which helps but it doesn’t look quite as fun when used for long periods of time. That said, I’d give a thumbs up to the gameplay overall.

The next gameplay style in the game is the human combat. This is the best part of the whole game so it’s a shame that it only shows up 2-3 times. You basically play as Luke or Han and go around blasting people. It’s definitely a style where spamming the A button is enough to get you through, but it’s very satisfying. It’s extremely simple and feels like you’re back in the arcade. Just run around blasting everyone until you get to the end of the level. There’s nothing more that you need to get to the end and if you ask me that’s exactly how it should be.

Finally you have one level where you’re on a scooter. This is the worst level in the game so I’m glad it only popped up once. The goal is to ride to the end of the level and take out all of the scouts along the way. There are about 11 and then one that you can’t beat until the cutscene plays. The level is annoying for a bunch of reasons, but one of those is the fact that the level explicitly tells you to eliminate all of the enemies. It even gives you an attack to help with that. So what’s the scam? Well, if you attack them then they start attacking back and they’re a lot stronger than you. The best way to win this one is to actually not even try ramming into them. If you just fly peacefully to the end you can just turn right and left and the guys will fall into trees. It feels cheesy and I doubt it is really the intended option. This level just wasn’t made all that well.

The graphics here are pretty good. We actually get some scenes from the movie as well which is always pretty fun. The space levels are a little hard because of how everything is covered by the shadows. I don’t really think this was intended so I will say that this does hold the graphics back a bit though. As for the soundtrack, it’s all themes that you’ve already heard a few hundred times before. They’re still good, but there’s nothing really new to talk about here. Star Wars uses the old themes as a crutch so I look forward to hearing some new tunes once that EA game comes out in the near future.

There isn’t much replay value here, but it’s still a little better than some of the other games. You can go back and play the other paths to experience the full story. There are also some unlockables and you can try to earn a gold medal. Ultimately this may not be a whole lot so I would say to keep that in mind. The main campaign is only a few hours long as well so this is the kind of game that won’t really last very long. That means that the gameplay has to be tight and I thought it was. As long as you like aerial fighter games then you’ll be fine.

Overall, Star Wars Rebel Strike is definitely a good one to get. It’s to be expected though since it did come out for Gamecube. That console is still the ultimate gaming machine and I don’t expect that will ever change. It was really a pivotal moment in gaming history. Star Wars Rebel Strike may ultimately be lacking a little polish in some areas, but its core fundamentals are strong and that’s what counts. If you haven’t played this game yet then it’s worth buying, especially if you can find it for a good price. If it’s overpriced and out of print then I would just suggest getting a different Star Wars title. Most of them have a similar feel to this one so the price is key.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

American Chopper 2: Full Throttle Stats and Records

Stats time!

Paul SR Levels
Level 1 Bronze
Level 2 Bronze
Level 3 Bronze
Level 4 Bronze
Level 5 Bronze
Level 6 Bronze

Paul JR Levels
Level 1 Bronze
Level 2 Bronze
Level 3 Silver
Level 4 Gold
Level 5 Bronze
Level 6 Silver

Mikey Levels
Level 1 Gold
Level 2 Bronze
Level 3 Gold
Level 4 Bronze
Level 5 Bronze
Level 6 Bronze

Vinnie Levels
Level 1 Silver
Level 2 Bronze
Level 3 Bronze
Level 4 Bronze
Level 5 Silver
Level 6 Bronze

American Chopper 2: Full Throttle Review


It’s time to look at a driving game that I’ve had on the backlog for a long time. I’ve tried playing through it several times in the past but I could never get past the first level. I’m not really sure why since when I played it this time I didn’t find the level to be challenging. Ah well, I’m guessing I just didn’t understand the objective of the game. It’s a pretty decent title, but one with no real replay value and the lack of content holds it back a star.

There is a basic plot in the game. There is a big motorcycle contest coming up and the 4 main characters each want to build a bike to win the contest. Naturally none of them get along which leads to a lot of bickering among them. This contest is the way to prove who has the best plan and strategy towards winning. Will it really be that simple though? There are little cutscenes before most of the levels which is pretty fun. I like the voice acting here as all of the characters are a bit over the top with their monotone voice, but it’s really what stitches everything together quite nicely.

One thing that will take you out of the plot a bit is the fact that the final contest is apparently a team one. So this means that everyone gets to win and team up together. That kind of defeats the purpose right? At least to me it felt that way. I guess it gives us the happy ending this way though as now they all get along and look forward to the next season. I do admit that I probably wouldn’t watch this kind of show, but maybe I would pick up a sequel game if the price was right.

So for the gameplay it’s your classic driving title. You’re on a motorcycle and you either have to win a race, collect objects, or make it to a specific destination in time. You don’t have to worry about falling off the bike unlike most other game of this genre so that is appreciated. It lets you focus a little more on the actual driving and just having fun. That’s always the preferred option if you ask me. The driving is very simplistic so you should have it mastered pretty easily. The levels are never all that difficult and the only times you will have trouble is when the directions are vague.

One point against the game is the fact that you can never look at a full map. This will result in you taking the wrong path sometimes in the level and then you’ll lose. One annoying thing about how the levels are set up is that if you lose a mission in the level you have to start the whole thing from scratch. Some levels are fairly short so it’s not really an issue but others can be up to 10 minutes. You never want to have to restart such a large portion. It would have been a lot more annoying if I had actually been losing. Since I only lost a few times it wasn’t too bad, but it’s one of those design choices that I can’t say I’m a big fan of.

The graphics are definitely pretty good. It’s got that classic Gamecube feel to it which has always aged well. The character designs are on point and I like how the bikes look. Once in a while you’ll get a character model that doesn’t load in time so you have to count on your reaction times to dodge. That’s to be expected I suppose. The soundtrack is definitely not great though and the songs aren’t even properly set up to last for the whole level. As a result you’ll come across parts of a level that are completely silent which is always a bit iffy. Music should always last for as long as it needs to.

There are 24 levels in the game as each of the 4 characters gets 6. After that you will end up playing the “Final” level where you have to play as all 4 characters in the game. I’m thinking this story will take you around 2-3 hours tops so that’s not very long. After that there really isn’t anything to do. Sure, you can go back to replay the old levels again and have fun doing that, but is it really what you want to do? It’s not like you’ll be unlocking any more stages or any of that so there isn’t much point. That’s what hurts the game, there is 0 replay value so the question is simply whether you even want to buy this one when you can get Need For Speed.

Again, I do have to stress that the gameplay is pretty good. The racing controls are on point and even if the game may seem a little too easy, I do think some good work was put into the controls. The story is pretty entertaining and you’ll like all of the characters pretty well before long. It’s a quite solid game, but I just wish there was a little more to it. Throw in a map and more specific instructions and then you’d have really had a winner here.

Overall, American Chopper is definitely a pretty wholesome experience. It’s better than some of the other motorcycle games that I’ve played and I am glad that it does actually have a story. Some of the missions are so outlandish that it makes them work even more than you’d expect. You never really know what the main characters are going to do next and maybe that is how it should be. They keep you guessing all the way through even if you ultimately might end up rooting for someone else instead. Can’t root for the heroes every time right? With this game done I don’t think I’ll be playing another racing game for a bit. Then it’s probably time to delve back into the world of Need For Speed!

Overall 6/10

Need For Speed Underground 2 Stats and Records

Stats time!

Game Complete 70%
Bank 221,031
Race record 155-3
Circuit Wins 35
Sprint Wins 28
Drift Wins 25
Drag Wins 17
Street X Wins 26
URL Wins 24
Magazines Won 6/20
DVD Covers Won 10/10
Hidden Shops Found 18/18
Parts Unlocked 100%
Stage 1 Reputation 1,600
Stage 2 Reputation 5,100
Stage 3 Reputation 7,700
Stage 4 Reputation 12,500
Stage 5 Reputation 13,900

Need For Speed Underground 2 Review


It’s time to look at a Need For Speed game that I’ve been working on buying for many years. I beat the first Underground a while back, but I just hadn’t gotten around to buying this one. Well, recently I bought around 6-7 games in the series so now I can go on a little roll. This game was incredibly long so clearing the story was a daunting task, but one that I was prepared for. It’s definitely a great racing game with content that will last you a long time.

The story starts out with a bang as your character is ambushed by someone and your car as well as all of your money is stolen. People don’t remember you without the car so now you’ll have to start from scratch. Fortunately, a rich lady appears and agrees to help you out in exchange for conquering the Underground circuit. You decide to do so with one motive at hand, you want to crush Caleb, the guy who stole your stuff. Can you make it to the top or will he sabotage you before then?

I do like how the game continues from the first with this intro. It’s even a good in universe reason to explain why you’re back at the bottom even if people forgetting your name is a bit of a stretch. Still, the actual premise beats the execution. There aren’t a whole lot of cutscenes in this game and it’s not like the main character ever even appears. The cutscenes are done in comic book format and use moving stills rather than animation. So, the games have some room for improvement in the story, but at least this one did have a real story. I’ll give the title some credit there.

The gameplay is certainly on point. It brings you back to the simpler days of racing as you just drive to the goal using your skills. Eventually you are given the option to add a booster, but that’s as far out as it’ll go. As I’ve mentioned in the past, having a booster isn’t bad. It’s still pure racing and there’s a reason why Need for Speed is so well known. The franchise is just really good at doing what it does best, getting you into the zone. You’ll be dominating the rest of the cars by the end of the game as you master the controls and keep on improving your car.

You better make sure your car is on point because there are over 200 races in the game and if you have to replay all of them a few times to win…then you’re going to be here for a long while. You can clear the game after around 150 races at least, but that’s still a lot. The game is around 20 hours long and 100% completing it will take significantly longer than that. To help ease the repetition you can also go to shops and spruce up your ride a bit. Switching up how it looks should help quite a bit in the long run since it’ll feel like you’re racing an entirely different vehicle.

One thing to watch out for is the game’s visual reputation gimmick. There are 5 stages in the game and to get to the next one you always have to increase your car’s star value. The max is 10 and you typically need to increase it by 2 for every stage. So if you have run out of levels on a stage that is probably why you haven’t been able to go forward yet. Speaking of which, there are several kinds of races. First are the standard Circuit ones. Just drive to the goal to win. Then you have the best ones which are Drift. Just keep on turning to wrack up points and you’ll usually win the races by a rather huge margin to be honest. Street X races are sort of like mini races. You have to out drive the other cars on a very narrow track. Drag races are the toughest ones as you have to manually switch gears at the perfect time to win. The best thing to do is leave these til the end where you can cheese them with your booster.

The races that advance the plot are the URL ones which are typically a series of 2-3 races. Once you beat them then you move on. I do think it’s a little annoying how the game makes the races so long by the end though. Some races can go on for 6-10 minutes straight so when you lose them you’ve just lost a lot of time. I think a good race should always be 3-4 minutes tops. If you get beyond that then the race is too long. It’s almost a case of having too much content, but it’s under the same logic of how save points should be frequent and easy to access.

The graphics definitely look very solid here. It was definitely an interesting move to have the whole game take place at night. Honestly by the end I was hoping for some daylight levels, but the screens still look good. The cars are quite sharp and I always like the boost effect. It’s safe to say that these areas hold up. Unfortunately the soundtrack does not. I ended up having to turn off most of the music themes in the game and the ones that I left on aren’t exactly great. It’s a very weak soundtrack which isn’t all that surprising as EA in general tends to overdo it with their selection. Still, you don’t hear the tunes quite as much when you’re playing Madden and in general I think that series was better at it.

Overall, Need For Speed Underground 2 is a great racing game. You really can’t ask for much more out of the genre. It’s got a story and over 200 races. There is also a multiplayer mode to have fun with. I see this as being the definitive Need For Speed title, but we’ll see if it can hold on to that. Next up is Most Wanted which seems to have a better story and it finally brings in the pursuit mechanics, but it may come at the expense of a multiplayer mode. Either way I’ll start on that one soon, but with Kingdom Hearts III coming out it may take a little longer to complete than I would have expected otherwise. If you haven’t played this game yet then you should change that. It’s definitely a title that you will want up your sleeve.

Overall 8/10

Disney’s Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

F1 2002 Review


It’s time to look at a more modern video game in the form of F1. I tried out this game a bit a very long time ago but I quickly fell behind the curve. I believe this is because of the gameplay and after playing it again I am more confident of this fact. It just doesn’t play like a racing game really should. The controls are way too stiff and without the core racing aspect of this title it just feels rather empty.

So when you start the game you have to run to the training room. That’s because most of the other modes such as Tournament mode are locked until you get a lot of medals in training. The more medals you get, the more proficiency points you obtain. If you try to go for a perfect 100 you will certainly be here for a while. The good news though is that if you do this you will definitely have mastered the game since the training is incredibly thorough. It does do a good job of prepping you for the tournies but the irony is that by then you may not even see that point and you will put the game down. It’s like having to play a 5 hour tutorial before playing Sonic Racing. After 5 hours you’ll be burned out and ready to leave. Especially if the training is an accurate showing of what the gameplay will be like.

In F1 if you touch the outside of the track at all then you take a hard loss and have to repeat the level. If you accidentally drive on the right side during a certain portion of the map then you will be taken to the pit where you will lose almost a minute of time and it will effectively be impossible to win the race. I also think the gimmick of having to stop in for repairs is going way too far in trying to be realistic. This game does cross the line into being a race car simulator which I was not a fan of.

Simulators can be fun but they aren’t generally my cup of tea. I want to play a simplified version of the activity, not perform all of the steps. Another example of this mechanic is that as you drive through the stage your turning abilities will gradually get worse and worse until you can no longer pull off these maneuvers. This also makes it hard to learn the game because the gameplay won’t stay the same. If even that is constantly shifting then it’s yet another thing that you are going to have to worry about in the end. The game was too technical for its own good.

The graphics aren’t bad at least. EA has always been consistent in that area and so I’m not particularly surprised. The levels pop out at you and when blasting through the course at 100 miles an hour you are reminded that sometimes you need to just embrace the speed and head for the goal. Unfortunately the soundtrack is far less impressive and you will forget it almost immediately after hearing it. This is the opposite of the graphics as EA rarely has a good soundtrack going. The only one that is typically solid is Madden’s and that’s only because it uses iconic themes from the outside world for the games. I could go for a good Madden game right now, but lets stay focused.

There is a lot of replay value here technically since there is so much extra content. After doing all of the tutorials and beating the tournaments you’ll likely have spent over 10-20 hours in the game easily. The only question is really if you want to do that or if it’s time to take a step back. I do think you’ll be heavily burned out by this game very quickly but maybe I’m underestimating how many sport car fans there are. If you really like these extra mechanics to appear in the game then by all means you should try this game. Perhaps it will end up being your cup of tea.

Overall, F1 2002 is definitely not a game that I would recommend. It simply isn’t particularly good as a racer and I just don’t need a car simulator at the moment. I can see why the game series died while others like FIFA, NBA, and Madden are still going. That’s definitely a sign that something went wrong here. It’s a shame because the game has potential. If you want a good race car game that is built similarly to this one just look at Speed for the Wii. That game tries to have a similar approach but you don’t lose the race for going off the track and there certainly isn’t a pit where you can perform repairs. To this day I will still go on record to say that Speed did the best job of illustrating how fast you can go. No other racing game has ever matched that or even come close to be honest. It’s just a fun feeling when you’re playing Speed so go check that one out.

Overall 5/10

Metal Arms Glitch in the System Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 9h 48m
Total Chips 38

Level Stats Secret Chips Best Time
Level 1 0/2 5m 35s
Level 2 0/3 17m 49s
Level 3 0/3 10m 13s
Level 4 2/4 21m 6s
Level 5 0/0 4m 19s
Level 6 0/4 8m 45s
Level 7 0/3 10m 19s
Level 8 0/0 1m 44s
Level 9 0/1 9m 49s
Level 10 1/5 18m 16s
Level 11 1/2 14m 37s
Level 12 1/3 9m 45s
Level 13 0/0 10m 14s
Level 14 2/5 11m 37s
Level 15 1/3 40m 16s
Level 16 0/0 7m 45s
Level 17 1/6 34m 48s
Level 18 0/1 5m 12s
Level 19 1/3 11m 27s
Level 20 0/2 10m 10s
Level 21 1/4 9m 28s
Level 22 0/0 11m 17s
Level 23 0/4 43m 50s
Level 24 0/3 11m 32s
Level 25 0/1 12m 4s
Level 26 0/4 13m 51s
Level 27 1/4 10m
Level 28 2/4 20m 49s
Level 29 0/4 31m
Level 30 0/3 22m 54s
Level 31 0/4 28m 2s
Level 32 1/2 14m 2s
Level 33 0/1 5m 17s
Level 34 1/2 3m 48s
Level 35 0/1 4m 15s
Level 36 0/0 5m 6s
Level 37 0/2 4m 16s
Level 38 3/5 21m 20s
Level 39 1/2 13m 7s
Level 40 0/0 16m 41s
Level 41 0/0 19m 17s
Level 12 0/4 3m 56s