Vexx Review

Vexx is one of those platformers from a million years ago that nobody has really heard of. It should have become the next big thing but ultimately just couldn’t make it that far. While the gameplay can be really fun at times, there are some clear issues here and I suppose those were just big enough to keep this from being rated higher and selling more. Having more cutscenes would have also done wonders for the game if you ask me.

The game starts off strong as we see the villains show up and take over the world real quick. Vexx being forced to work in this cruel world where the villains currently rule. He ends up revolting after the villains murder Vexx’s grandfather. Vexx will need to uncover a bunch of demon hearts in order to put an end to this but will it really be so straight forward? Why does he have these incredible powers, why is there a witch who seems to be in the way and why is this old man so eager to help Vexx? All of these questions will have to remain on your side for a while as the game only has a few cutscenes in the whole game. For example, after that intro there is not another cutscene until very deep into the game and then you get some for the ending.

This was a bit of a missed opportunity as the intro hinted as a grand plot. It was going to be daring, emotional, and dramatic. Instead you are left to quietly play through the various levels until you get to the end. There are some good levels here and I’ll get into that in a second but the story ends up being more of a bust. There is a cool cliffhanger for the sequel at least but that’s probably never going to show up anyway. I mean, we have been getting a lot of revivals lately but I feel like Vexx would not be at the top of the list.

Gameplay is the most important part of a platformer though right? So lets get into that. The game is modeled after the Mario style, I would even say Mario 64 in particular. You have the various portals that lead into different worlds. Each one has between 8-10 hearts in it and when you get one, you are immediately taken out of the level. (Mario Odyssey did well to change that) You then go back in to get another one.

The tasks for the hearts are all different. Some come from beating a minigame, others are for finding collectibles, and then others are just scattered around the world. Ideally you want to grab around 7 of the hearts in each world so that you don’t have to backtrack later on. You only need 60 out of the possible 81 hearts in the game to reach the final boss so if there is a heart that you are having a lot of trouble with, I would say not to worry about it too much. Just keep on going to the next one and you’ll be just fine. I thought this was a good way to handle the collectathon part since you never feel too stressed as a result.

My favorite parts of the game were the minigames as they felt like something out of Mario Party. You could have made a good multiplayer mode out of that without a doubt. There aren’t many in the game so you should saver them. For the actual platforming, the jumping and combat are both good. Combat could be a little more balanced but you can cheese it in a lot of ways that save you time so it’s something I don’t mind overlooking a bit. The camera angles are certainly the weakest part here. It will sometimes just randomly change so you end up falling to your doom.

I think the game is a bit stingy with how it kicks you out of the levels the whole time. It’s rough to have earned 80/100 of the eggs only to be thrown out of the level because you cleared another mission. It’d be nice if you could just stay in the world after you got a heart and keep on going because some of these levels are long so getting 100 eggs can take a long while.

As long as you go with the hearts you find easiest for your particular style then I expect you will be progressing through the game at a fast rate. The toughest part of the game by far is the final boss. You have to beat 3 phases of the boss in one shot as losing at any point sends you to the beginning. The boss plays out like a beat em up as you have to fight numerous opponents and it seems partially luck based with how RNG the super fast fireballs are. That boss took forever to beat and I wouldn’t love to have to fight him again. My biggest tip is to defeat the hordes by doing constant jumps and striking the ground below you. Don’t try to fight them head on. For the second phase, don’t move. Let the boss circle you and only jump when he’s about to attack. You have to strike the head and then go to the back and flip him over and then strike from the top. You have to do this several times so good luck. I don’t expect you will be completing this battle on the first try, far from it.

Either way you can see the potential behind this game. Mix in a better camera and some quality of life updates and this really could be like Mario 64 or Mario Sunshine. The game’s really going for that angle with with a wide range of levels to choose from, I would say it succeeds for the most part. What holds it back is that some of the hearts are more annoying than fun and losing sets you back so long in some of these. Mario always ensured that every level was fun even if it took a while. SO if we get the level designs a bit more polished then this would be ready for the next level.

The graphics are also good here. I liked the designs and the worlds had a lot of uniqueness to each one. The attacks look good and the game just holds up well here. Then you have the soundtrack which is solid. There are quite a few solid tunes within the game and they have that old school rock feel to them. Something that I always like to see in any game.

In terms of replay value I guess there’s a bit. You can try to get the two bonus suits in the game which give you fire and thunder abilities. They are even needed for grabbing some of the hearts. I just couldn’t figure out where to find either one of them so I was glad that I could skip those missions. Apparently the fire suit is somewhere in level 1 but I ran around that place for ages and never saw it so I wonder where it is. As you play through the game the hearts get a bit easier since you know what to expect so maybe the same would have been true of the suits if I could have found at least one of them.

Overall, Vexx has good gameplay but it could have been better with just a little more polish. Throw in more of a story mode as well and that would have really been a winning combination. It’s a shame that it couldn’t be better but in that case I probably would have played it years ago. The platforming genre is one that always has a lot of competition so if you aren’t first then you might end up being last. You can get this game for a fairly cheap price so I would say you should make a play on it. It’s still worth the price and I had fun with it. The game is fairly short at well under 10 hours long but that’ll do the job.

Overall 6/10

Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix Review

This is one of the only Mario games I had never managed to get my hands on before now. It’s certainly well known but usually hard to obtain. Well, I can say that it was worth the wait. The story itself is a lot shorter than I would have hoped but you can tell that there was a good budget behind this game. The effects and graphics are just way too solid to overlook and of course the soundtrack is a blast. If you want to play a solid rhythm game then you can’t go wrong with this one.

The story starts with Toad asking Mario for help because someone has stolen the legendary music orbs. Waluigi, Wario, Blooper, and more villains have united to take these away. Now the whole world is being forced to dance because of how the music magic has gotten free. Can Mario out dance everyone who gets in his way or is this possibly game over for the entire Mushroom Kingdom? Luigi and Peach are not here to back him up this time so Mario is really on his own this time.

There are 4 worlds here which each have 4 levels and then the final world that has 2 levels. Each world ends with a big boss at the end which is always fun and of course you have music tracks from across the Mario franchise. Some of the songs are hard to recognize from their original versions but they’re definitely catchy and work well with the fast paced levels. I played the game without a dance mat so then it’s all about timing as you push your control stick in the right direction at the right time. It’s all about having perfect timing and that sounds good to me as timing is what I’m all about. It works out rather well although the game is also quite easy. I picked the most challenging difficulty level and even then the villains could never get more than a D rank. That’s just how it goes I suppose so you’ll still want to give it your all just to prove to yourself that you can achieve the best.

Without the dance mat the toughest part is when you have to click both directions at once. Of course on the mat you can have one foot in two place at once but that’s not possible with a control stick. You have to quickly hit both sides as quickly as possible but you never get the perfect scores that way. As a result maybe it’s for the best that the A.I. wasn’t too good or that could have started to get a bit tricky. Playing this game reminds me of how the Kingdom Hearts melody game could end up being fun.

Where Nintendo went the extra mile here is by adding all kinds of visual elements and extra minions to the levels. They incorporate Goombas, Boo, Bullet Bills, Koopa, and all sorts of enemies into the mix. They affect how you have to use your control stick and it makes for a fun variety in the levels. Then you have the boss levels where you see both of the characters dancing the whole time. Mario is certainly confident in his skills and its well earned considering how well he does here.

I’ll also give the game props for having a real story mode. It certainly would have been tempting to have just side stepped that entirely but that’s not what happens here. The game takes itself seriously and there are cutscenes as we face off against everyone. Even Bowser steps in at one point which is always hype. The whole story is rather crazy from the jump with how the music magic works but you can just roll with it the whole time.

The graphics are also very nostalgic with how this reminds me of the Mario Party 4 game. The character models have aged well and so have the stage designs. This feels like one of the better depictions of the Mushroom Kingdom. You really get a feel for how daily life would be like in this place. On every technical level the game went above and beyond. The only thing that would hold this title back is the super short length and even with that you’ll have had fun during the journey.

Plus there is a multiplayer mode so that’ll help with the replay value. You could end up playing through the game for quite a long time as long as you have someone to play it with. That’ll really test your skills although I hope that there is a way to speed the levels up further than you could in story mode or it’s possible that both you and your opponent will be absolutely dominating the matches the whole time. I’m sure there is some kind of tiebreaker and you guys won’t get perfect scores all the time so that helps out a bit but speeding things along would certainly help to make it all a bit more exciting.

Overall, Dance Dance Revolution has always been a fun genre for games. I don’t participate in them too much myself nowadays but it was a good way to burn some calories and get a good workout. Throwing in the Mario characters was brilliant and I almost feel like they should bring that back in the present. I think it could absolutely sell super well if it was marketed right. I’m not sure if the Switch has any compatible dance mat at the moment but if not that’s something that could be changed really quickly. Playing through this game is like digging up a lost piece of your childhood. If you like the Mario games and grew up with the Gamecube era then this is a title that you’ll want to get. It’s a title that has aged too well to pass up. There’s not much to it but the game’s a lot of fun and you’re always reminded that Nintendo made that their top priority when making games and it definitely shows here.

Overall 7/10

SpyHunter Review

SpyHunter is a game that always looked pretty interesting. When I saw it, I figured this would be something kind of like Pursuit Force. Well, it plays out a little differently from that one. See, this game never lets you leave the car and you’ve got to perform the objectives while driving to the end of the level. It’s a different take on the usual kind of car game. It’s a decent enough title and yet it trips itself up with the need to force you to grab every collectible. I thought that was a pretty bad idea personally.

The game starts with a villain organization talking about how they are going to take out the world. They have their weapons at the ready and the only one who can stop them is the mysterious agent you are playing as. Unfortunately that’s effectively where the story ends. The rest of the game has you tackling a bunch of missions that have some text for context but that’s pretty much it. If you were looking for a big story here then you have come to the wrong place. The gameplay will have to be enough.

So how does the game play out? Well, it’s a 3D driving title where you are given 5-7 missions to complete. One of those is the primary mission so you have to complete that in order to beat the level and then you have a ton of secondary missions to try and complete. They’ll range from things like “Avoid civilian casualties” to “Blow up 8 trucks”. As you’re driving in the level you will usually see the objectives flagged in little circles. The color of the circle will help to remind you if you’re to blow up the object or stop it with an EMP. If you really forget you can also pause the screen which will quickly show you all of the missions.

The term “secondary” may make you think that these are optional but most of them are not. The game has 14 levels and each one is protected by a points requirement. Each mission gives you a point per mission so you have to complete a lot of them. The game as a whole has around 65 possible points and you need 57 to unlock the last level. If you discount the 4 objectives in that level, that means you need 57 out of 61 possible points prior to the final level so you can’t allow for many mistakes. This means you will be replaying each level a whole bunch of times.

That part’s what is really unfortunate about SpyHunter. You should not have to go back and play old levels like this. I always feel that doing something like that should be absolutely optional. Otherwise it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to call it secondary. Just bake it all into the level at that point and at least you now what you’re getting yourself into. I also didn’t like the fact that you have to re-clear the other missions. For example, let’s say you beat 5/7 of the level’s missions on the first try. You’d assume that you could just go in and complete the other 2 right? Unfortunately that’s not the case in this one. You have to actually go in and complete all of the other missions again in order for this to count. It makes the process a little extra tedious so I recommend just trying to complete all of the missions right away and restarting until you do. Otherwise you’ll have to go back anyway and at least this way you will be super familiar with the level.

It’s certainly possible that the developers only did this to buy time because otherwise the game would have been incredibly short. Each level is only 3-5 minutes long so you can easily complete the whole game in about an hour if you didn’t have to go back and replay them each time. As a result there is not a ton of replay value on the single player side since you’ll have had to 100% complete almost every level. There is a multiplayer mode though and since the gameplay itself is solid, I could see that being a lot of fun. Multiplayer is always a good way to keep the player around for a while.

The graphics aren’t bad. I liked what we got in the opening cutscene but at the same time there isn’t a lot else to base it off of. The levels have very distinct designs and I like the various effects for the blasters and explosions so all in all I would give that area a thumbs up. The soundtrack is much more forgettable though. You’ll quickly forget any tune that you heard during the game without a doubt. I can’t say I expected any really good tunes but it definitely would have been a pretty nice bonus. Maybe next time I suppose.

As you play through the game you will unlock more weapons for your car. It’s important to note though that these weapons only work for levels after which you’ve unlocked them which I found a bit odd. For example, when you get the triple missiles, you can’t use them for the first level and you are automatically downgraded there. Usually part of the fun with upgrades is going back and winning with extreme ease now. This seems like one of those times where the game just had a big miss again.

The best weapon in the game is definitely the missile though. Whether you’ve got 1 or 3, it is the best way to have the upper hand against the villains. Relying on your gatling gun is not as good because it takes so many hits to defeat the opposing cars. The only time it is worth it is if there are a lot of civilians around and you want to make sure you don’t hit the. The missiles deal a lot of damage and have large explosions so it is tough not to hit someone when using that kind of weaponry.

Overall, SpyHunter is a good game but is heavily held back by all of the sub missions here. Just let me focus on driving and going through the levels. If the game did that then it absolutely would have been so much better. The concept of a driving game where you are blasting with your weapons and everything is quite sound. I guess the developers didn’t have enough confidence in its overall premise though. If you don’t mind the collectathon type elements here then you should pick this game up. It’s fairly cheap and the gameplay itself is polished very well.

Overall 6/10

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan Review

Ty and friends are back for another big adventure as we conclude the trilogy. This one takes elements from the first two games which is neat and I would even say that this is the best game in the trilogy. It’s really a good way to end things off and while there is one big quality of life update I would have liked to see, it makes for a very fun adventure all the way through.

The game starts with Ty and friends taking down a big alien invasion and it’s a very climactic opening. Just when it seems like the game is ending before it’s truly begun, Ty gets trapped in the wormhole due to an outside attack. By the time he returns to the real world, 6 months have passed. Bush Rescue is disbanded and the villains have basically taken over the world. It’s a shame how everyone has absolutely no heroic instincts without Ty. One of the members went off to be a professional racer while the world is falling apart! Well, Ty has to bring the band back together one last time to stop the Quinkan from taking over the world. Can he pull this off or is it already too late?

So from there you might expect a really focused plot with constant action but it turns back into game 2 where you have a bunch of stand alone quests from there. Where the game improves from game 2 though is that the missions feel far less like filler this time around. Usually they all end up tying into the story in some way or another. You’re always getting closer to the truth of the invasion and finding a way to stop the Quinkan. The hub world and map appears the same from game 2 so get ready for a lot of exploring. They’ve also brought the shop back but fortunately this time there are mobile vans where you can buy the upgrades at instead of having to go all the way back to base each time.

That does lead into my one main complaint though which is that we really should have had fast travel here. I guarantee that would have been an amazing quality of life update. See, you have to drive back and forth along a really big hub world after every single mission which can get old. The car isn’t super fast so you’ll be driving quite a bit and quick travel would have solved that entirely. I suppose you’d spend less time on the hub world but that’s fine by me. This just makes sense for any game with a hub world this big.

Not a super big deal and the game’s pretty short as it is so you’ll still be finishing quickly. The gameplay has some more combat moves this time around so aside from throwing the boomerangs you can also smack opponents. This does mean that sometimes you’ll punch an opponent instead of throwing your weapon by mistake since it’s the same button though. I would have put the different attacks to different buttons personally but you should be good since both attacks are strong anyway. I found the actual combat gameplay to be rather weak but fortunately it is rarely necessary. You can almost always just skip the enemies. There’s no level up system in the game so fighting them doesn’t really matter much.

The game is split up into several gameplay styles so you have the levels where you are in the ground but you also have plane levels and mech suit ones. For the plane levels, you typically have to bomb enemy installations and shoot at others. Then in the mech suits you have a lot of fights and powering up generators. My favorite levels were probably the mech suit ones, it’s just a lot of fun to be in the suit and spamming lasers the whole time. Now that’s a good way to just barrel through the levels.

The graphics are solid as expected. Some of the night levels can get a bit dark but the game knows how to build the atmosphere up well. The action in the cutscenes is really good too. I question how someone was able to outrun a laser in the final part of the game but sometimes adrenaline will help you pull off some really good feats I guess. Either way it worked and that’s the important thing. The soundtrack is good too, it’s really got that retro platformer feeling to it.

I also enjoyed the story. I think it would be even better if you would just continue the story each time without having to go through the missions structure, but at the same time it is really nice that every single cutscene is voice acted. I can’t state enough how impressive that is and it always makes me feel like the game had a good budget behind it. This makes the whole game so much more immersive than if there was no voice acting like that. Ty’s parents also get to step in near the end of the story but their role is super small so I wouldn’t blame you for wanting something more this time.

So in all this was just a fun all around game. The gameplay is fun and while the combat may not be the best, it is almost never necessary so you don’t have to worry about it. The level designs are fun and I liked the various bosses. The final boss in particular is quite a bit of fun even if I bluffed my way through most of it. I would definitely be up for a new Ty game someday. The boomerang gameplay would lend itself really well to some modern mechanics with that. I think they would be able to do a tremendous job of taking things to the next level.

Overall, Ty 3 is my favorite game in the trilogy and even has an emotional ending. If you are looking for a fun platformer or just want to see Ty and the gang again then you can’t afford to miss out on this game. It’s really got everything you could be looking for here and then some. There is also some replay value as you can buy the rest of the boomerangs. There aren’t a bunch of other levels to play but still enough where you can have fun running around the island and checking out all the sights.

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning Reviewv

This game started Spyro off on a whole new adventure. I’ve certainly had this on the list for a very long time and now I can say that I’ve finally checked it out. It doesn’t really stack up to most of the other Spyro games though. While I do enjoy the combat aspect of it, the game ended up being really repetitive most of the time so even the story doesn’t totally make up for that. Still a good game in its own right, but I’m not ready to put this at the top.

The game starts off with Spyro being raised at the dragonfly village. He is the legendary dragon foretold by the prophecies but he doesn’t know that and so he just hangs out with Sparx and has a good ole time. The two of them are goofing off when the area is attacked and we find out that the entire world is in danger. There’s no time for the dragon elders to explain everything to Spyro just yet but he needs to awaken all of the elders so that together they can stop Cynder from waking up the ultimate evil. Is Spyro really ready for such a tremendous responsibility?

Right away there is one thing I do like a lot about this game and that’s the banter with Spyro and Sparx. Sparx is a character right out of an old, cheesy kind of film where every line has to be a joke about something. It’s a huge change from how he acts in the old games and it’s an improvement. This time Sparx is actually rather memorable. In general the game’s dialogue is a lot more fun than usual and that’s good since this game was all about having a deeper story than the rest. The big voices they got for the game were used well and it enhances the story. I would say this has the best story for a Spyro game.

That said, there is something which keeps this from matching up to the other Spyro games and that’s the gameplay. Initially I was pretty happy to see that this was going for more of an action approach. Gone are the collectathon days. At the same time, this means that the levels feel a lot more constricting as there isn’t free roam around the place now. Additionally, the gameplay is very limited. It’s more repetitive than you’d expect as you use the same two moves over and over. You either smack opponents in close range or you use your breath to attack them. You can level up by beating enemies but I would always skip the ones I wasn’t forced to fight because of how many there are.

At one point I thought I was stuck or not supposed to be fighting the enemies because I beat dozens and new ones kept spawning. I had to check online and it wasn’t a glitch I just had to keep fighting. After a long time they all went down. It just seemed to pad out the time for no real reason. That said, you’ll still have enough energy to max out at least two of your elements by the time the game is through. I would recommend maxing out electricity first because then you can cheese almost the whole game. See, the electricity allows you to throw enemies like telekinesis and almost every level has a ledge where you can fall off. Just park yourself by it and throw every enemy over. They instantly lose all health and that speeds up a lot of these never ending fights.

Additionally, even a small fall will destroy most enemies so if you see some stairs or small drops you can use them as well. Just keep on throwing the enemies and you’re good. As for the bosses, each time you take out a third of their health it’s considered a check point so if you lose one of your unlimited lives then they don’t recover that health again. So just make sure you land some hits and you’re good. Most of the bosses will end up being easy as a result. The only really tough one was this fire train you have to fight. It moves so quickly and there are so many constant explosions that it can be tough to even see what is on the screen half the time. It just all blends together as explosive smoke which makes it difficult to aim. That boss took me several tries to defeat before I was able to get a win out.

It would have been even more difficult without having the fire attacks maxed out so focus on fire and thunder in the game. You’ll never need the other elements that you get. A little more variety in the gameplay would have just been nice or more depth to the combat system. With a good combat system you can have me fighting enemies for hours and I’d be good. Of course while this doesn’t match up to the other Spyro games I would still call it a pretty good one. I had a good amount of fun and the game isn’t all that long anyway so you’ll be done in a flash.

In terms of replay value it doesn’t seem like there’s much. I suppose you can try to get more exp but there’s no post game or anything. This is really the kind of game where you are playing for the story experience and you probably won’t pick it up again. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable but I thought the graphics were really good. I liked the artstyle here as it really pops out at you from the start. The colors are sharp and this has aged super well in that respect.

Overall, I’m looking forward to the sequel. Even if the gameplay wasn’t perfect, the story was a lot of fun. I’m hoping they can keep the good writing and solid enemy threats at the ready. It’s a shame that Cynder won’t be as powerful in the next installment but I’m hoping she will still get some action here. I don’t know how long it’ll be until I get the sequel but it’s definitely a title that’s on my list so I will get to it. The Spyro legacy cannot be left uncompleted. If you have not played this game yet then I would definitely recommend it!

Overall 7/10