Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic Review


This was always one of the most well known Star Wars games. It’s pretty much a living legend and for good reason as it is a very detailed action RPG with a ton of mechanics and a detailed story. I would say it lives up to the hype as I had a blast with it. Get ready for a very difficult final level though, the more you train the better.

The game starts off by introducing us to the main character who has amnesia and is aboard a republic ship that is crashing for some reason. He manages to escape with Carth, a reputable republic soldier. They end up rescuing a Jedi Warrior known as Bastila and the three of them have a very uneasy alliance. The main objective is to stop the Sith and to do that they need to find out how the villains have amassed such an unending army. There has to be foul play at work here but finding the source of that won’t be easy. The only clue they have to go on is something called the Star Forge but what that is remains a mystery.

Right away one of the things I enjoyed about the game is all of the dialogue options. You can constantly act like a jerk, take the nice guy approach, or just go for pure chaos. The dialogue options also have a big impact on the game itself so it’s not like you’re just fluffing out the game length. I ended up not getting to recruit two members to the team because I didn’t say the right things. The ending was also very different because of the route I went. It helps to make the whole experience feel a lot more authentic to me.

The story here is also very long so you can expect to be playing this game for a long while. There is a lot of time for the characters to develop and there are tons of side quests and extra content to play. For the most part I stuck to the main story beats but you could easily add several hours onto the play time if you want to go and explore. It can also be useful for EXP as this is one game where it’s not so easy to grind. Most worlds don’t allow enemies to respawn once you defeat them so you will be stuck after you have defeated them all. I recommend beating as many enemies as you can.

The gameplay is pretty much that of an auto battler where you keep changing the moves as they fight. Think of it like you’re the head coach and the fighters have to do whatever you tell them. I would have liked to actually do the battling myself so that part of the gameplay can be a little weak. The whole “Let the A.I. decide what to do” angle usually isn’t really my thing. That said, I would say the game has a good amount of polish to it so it works out well enough. There is definitely a whole lot of depth to this system as well.

Whenever you level up you get to decide which stats and skills to increase. It’s a bit overwhelming with the amount of options so usually I would do the auto level and just let the computer decide. This can make the end of the game even more difficult so it may be worth researching what the optimal build is. Of course it can be fun to just go with your gut so choose the option that seems like it will be the most enjoyable and you can’t go wrong there.

The graphics really hold up here. I like the designs of the levels and characters. Then the actual combat looks good too and it’s all got a very distinctive style to it. It really holds up while playing this port. I also liked the soundtrack well enough although it doesn’t stand out as it’s mainly the kind of Star Wars themes you’d expect to hear. Perhaps they are iconic but at this point you’ve really heard them all before.

The character cast is one of the biggest strengths here. The main character gets a lot of development and of course because you can decide how he develops then that makes the whole game more interesting too. In fact, your choices even determine how you will fight the final boss which is massive. I had to break out all of the cheese strategies for him including using some rather villainous tactics. Look, this guy was going to keep regenerating all of his health over and over so I had to put a top to that. I succeeded and then ran away a while to regain my strength. The final boss ended up being really long but I won in the end so that’s what counts right?

The game also has some quality of life features that I would highly recommend using. For starters you can save the game anywhere. I highly advise having several backup slots at different points so you don’t get stuck. There is one game breaking bug after all which I got trapped in but fortunately I had a backup save just a few minutes away. In one of the final temples just save a lot because the glitch room is the one where there are two light towers. I can’t say I remember the exact planet though so just keep your guard up.

Then for the final boss, don’t be afraid to just run a lot. It may take a while but you’ll win in the end and that’s what counts. The Star Forge itself is incredibly difficult but one thing you should know is that the enemies actually aren’t endless. After a bunch of waves they do finish so just heal up and save between waves. Eventually you will beat them and can move forward. It had to be one of the most challenging final areas I’ve played through in a long while so it felt nice knocking that one out.

As for the other characters, Carth was one of the big ones. I like how he can’t really trust anyone and always seems like he’s about to pick a fight. The guy may not use the Force but he can defend himself and knows how to fight. He was responsible for a lot of the great banter along with Bastila. Bastila is a Jedi who is very by the books so naturally she tends to have a lot of disagreements with the main character since I tend to be more on the impulsive side. I would say the script was always at its best when these 3 were fighting.

Then you also had characters like Canderous the Mandalorian who naturally didn’t get along with Carth due to their respective backstories. Malak also made for a good villain. He perhaps gets a little overshadowed by some of the heroes but he was a very imposing presence all the same. There are a lot of other characters who get big roles here so you’ll want to play the game to see them. The game is also long enough where you really feel like you’ve gone on a full adventure by the end of it.

Overall, This is a great Star Wars game that you don’t want to miss out on. You feel like you were watching a movie here and this could really be adapted for the big screen. It was definitely a lot of fun playing it on the Switch and I can also confirm that it’s the hardest one that I’ve played. An RPG with limited leveling up functionality is definitely not something to take lightly. That said, just fight smart and have a lot of backup saves. You’ll be just fine by the end of it and if you absolutely need to, you’ll be able to go back and level up. Just don’t use up all your saves in the final dungeon because then there really is no way out!

Overall 8/10

Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom Review


Kemco has delivered quite a lot of amazing hits over the years and this one is no different. It’s definitely very different from their other titles in a few ways which I’ll get into, but it nails it. This is really trying to cross the classic RPG style with more of a gathering game you’d think of for mobile or online gaming. It works really well in doing so.

So the game follows a kid named Volker. His father died in an accident a while back and so he had to start running the blacksmithing operation on his own. At the same time he always wanted to be an adventurer though and is at a cross roads. Fortunately his best friend says she will man the shop while he is away and a fairy also shows up to help out. Now Volker can focus on being the best in both fields and along the way he may uncover some conspiracies. At the end of the day he wants to keep his kingdom safe, whether it is through creating equipment for them or by clearing quests. Will he be able to do this?

The game’s hub world has several areas including the shop, mission area, infirmary, food store, the arena, the dungeons, and the workplace. Each area has tasks that you can do once a day. For example you can enter a dungeon once a day and you can eat once a day. When you are ready to go to the next day you can head home and build a lot of equipment to sell which triggers the end of the day. The typical flowchart here is that you will complete a bunch of ordinary missions which involve building things for people until you get a story mission. The first story mission is always to investigate a dungeon which means getting to the final floor. The second story mission will be to fight a boss at the end of it.

The story missions are unlocked by completing a lot of normal missions. There are 296 missions in the game and you need to complete almost all of them in order to unlock the final story mission so prepare yourself. While combat is important, just as important is having a lot of materials at the ready so that you can build things as needed. Each time you complete a dungeon you unlock new materials. Also be sure to stop at every store each day in order to trigger cutscenes that move the story forward.

As you can probably guess, this means you will be moving around a lot. You will also have to spend a lot of time crafting weapons and shifting materials from one form to the next. There isn’t a lot of downtime here, you’re always just pressing on to the next thing. You gotta be ready for that without a doubt. It’s more fun than it sounds though so you’ll like it. At the very least I get a kick out of it. You usually have to do this kind of thing in mobile games and it can take hours sometimes as you have to allocate resources and then just wait it out. If you’re not used to that kind of thing then it may seem tedious. I would go as far as to say that this is the tipping point of the game. Whether you love it or not will depend on how much you enjoy crafting objects.

Trust me, you’ll be crafting a lot too. I nearly completed the 100% secret gallery (Made it to 97%) by the time I beat the game because I had to cook so much. Also, the game is difficult. I had all my guys maxed out at level 99 and I still barely beat the final boss. In a sense this is because I didn’t fully master the different concepts in the game. There are just so many from the prayers you use before battle to the orbs you equip to each piece of your equipment. Each character can choose 2 classes out of 12 in order to build a solid formation and each formation can be altered. There are also active and passive skills that you have to choose.

That sounded like a lot? Well it’s even more imposing while playing. So I did my best and crafted a team strategy that I thought sounded good but if there had been any more bosses then I may have had to rethink that a bit. They really were quite difficult and the final boss took over 30 minutes. It doesn’t help that a lot of the bosses like to heal themselves or summon an infinite amount of minions. You often have to decide whether to go for them or the minion first. Each strategy has its ups and downs in that respect.

Also, they love going for the paralyze option and if that happens then your character can’t attack for 3 turns. Definitely watch out for that since it gets really tricky. The challenge never feels unfair or broken though. You’re always left with the thought that you could have assembled your team better in order to win. So as you can tell I liked this game quite a lot. It’s just a very great all around experience and there’s so much to have fun with. I very nearly got all the trophies along the way.

Now if the game has a weakness it’s that there isn’t much of a story for about 90% of the game. There are hintings at one for a while of course but it never really happens until you’re at about the climax. Then we get a cosmic being and some nice action but it’s all at the very end. It’s clear that the story wasn’t really the focus here. The focus was definitely on the whole harvesting/gathering aspect of the game. It’s a fun aspect of course so I’m glad that they handled it well but a nice story would have been fun to have too. As it is the cast is incredibly small since the rest of your party is made up. Because of that there are just a few characters around the hub world and a villain or two.

Finally, the way the equipment works is a bit too time consuming if you ask me. So here’s how it goes, when you want to change equipment you go to the screen as normal except you can’t see your current weapon’s stats compared to the one you are equipping. As a result you have to switch screens a lot to make sure you’re getting the right one. Upgrading a weapon or transferring effects also takes you to a screen with tons of weapons so you have to make sure that you’re grabbing the right one. The equipment part could be a bit of a pain so in the end I just ended up going for the ones that had the highest stats and called it a day instead of always looking to optimize. It just was not very user friendly.

Naturally the graphics are solid here. I like the illustrations and the levels look good. I wouldn’t say it feels as dynamic or polished as the Asdivine Hero titles but it still looks good enough. Meanwhile the soundtrack is good. There are some solid tunes here although a lot of the battles are so fast that you won’t get to hear it much. I tend to have the team set to auto battle in most fights because manually battling takes forever in this game. If they can’t handle the battle then I take the wheel as needed. Another small thing I like about the game is that there are keyboard shortcuts for everything and you move faster than the villains. So if you don’t want to fight some minions then you don’t have to. It’s the quality of life features like this that always put Kemco at the top.

Overall, Blacksmith of the Sand Village is definitely a great game. The way the very game is developed does mean that it won’t be for everyone though. I just get the feeling that not everyone is going to want to be spending some hours crafting equipment over and over which is understandable. It’s just so smooth and enjoyable though that you don’t even notice. I ended up having a very good time with the game without a doubt and would love to see a sequel. Just give us more of a story next time.

Overall 8/10

Miden Tower Review


Miden is the latest Kemco game and goes back to the roots of their original rpgs. It has all of the solid gameplay customizations at the ready like skipping battles you don’t need and things like that. I’ll go into it more later but mix that in with one of the best plots I’ve seen in a while and you definitely have a winner here. This is one of those games that would be nice to see a sequel for.

The story starts with a village being burned to the ground as most of these RPGs seem to start off with. The government in this game appears to be on the evil side as they slaughter everyone and so the last remnants of humanity quickly build a tower and hide in there. Using teleportation technology and magic to prevent people from warping in, the people have lived in peace for a while now. Well, one day the villains start appearing in the tower. Peace is no longer a guarantee and so the heroes must find the villains and the source of their entrance to put a stop to this.

We then cut to our main character who is quite unique. Valen had to personally watch his friends and family get destroyed, he has sworn revenge on the army. Every day he heads out to destroy a bunch of them and head home. His entire motivation and reason for existing is revenge which is definitely not healthy. One day he bites off more than he can chew and comes near death only to be saved when he summons a sentient wall to save him. Her name is Leila and she is different from most magic creatures in this land. See, most of them have to listen to the summoner at all times and don’t have creative thoughts or the ability to resist. None of that applies to Leila though. She has control of her own and makes her own choices. Still, she does want to protect Valen even if she does not agree with his whole quest for revenge. She aims to get him to mellow out by the end of all this.

The graphics are classic Kemco from start to finish. You have a lot of bright character designs and different level designs. They all appear very familiar so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are starting to reuse assets from previous games. I can’t really blame them if that is the case though since it’s efficient and ultimately it doesn’t affect the story. As long as the story is good that’s the important thing and the graphics are solid either way.

As for the soundtrack it’s nothing all that special but the tunes are always fun. These games always have a very specific style to them where you can recognize the music immediately. That’s the case with this game as well so you feel rather pumped to be starting on the adventure. The soundtrack isn’t large but we do get a new theme for the final boss which was nice. All in all the game succeeds massively on the technical side as expected.

As for the gameplay, there isn’t a lot to explain here. It’s your classic turn based RPG. You attack with physical blows, magic, or special skills. You keep on fighting until you take the opponents down. On the hub world you run around until you get to the very end. You also have a pot where you can throw ingredients in to get other items from time to time. There are several trophies for making a lot of items so I recommend always having a bunch cooking at the same time since it helps a lot for later on. Ultimately you’re doing this more for the trophies than for its effects.

Now I mentioned the gameplay customization before. So here’s how it goes, first off you can turn off battle effects. When you have to level grind, it can feel a bit long to see the attacks over and over again in each battle. When you turn the effects off, you just see a flash for every attack but they keep on attacking. That saves a lot of time right off the bat. Then you can also increase the speed of combat from X1 all the way to X3. That makes a difference too. Following up on that, you can turn off battles against enemies that are weaker than you. You know how in most RPGs you have to keep getting encounters with level 1 monsters and beating them is only a formality since the victor is never in doubt? You don’t have to worry about those here.

These are gameplay improvements I’d like to see more games pull off but Kemco seems like the only ones who have done this to date. It’s why I consider them as masters of the RPG genre. There are also orbs in each area that you can activate after beating it to stop encounters all together. Need to back track for treasure chests? Well at least you won’t have monsters jumping out at you all the time. Considering that one trophy is for walking 50,000 steps, I thought this was a very considerate option of the game since it at least makes this feat rather painless. Otherwise that would just take forever. Even now that is one of the only trophies left that I haven’t obtained for that reason.

Then what really helped the game get to the next level for me was the solid story. Lately some of the Kemco games have had more down to Earth stories with slightly smaller stakes. Well, this one goes back to being a grand story. The character development for Valen is good as he goes from only wanting revenge to being more of a reasonable guy. It’s an effective character arc. Now some scenes can be a bit cheesy with him but at the end of the day he does his best. The origin is also quite sad so you can see how he became so revenge driven.

Leila is also a good character and I thought she handled the situation well. She didn’t suddenly jump in and tell Valen to start saving everyone but gradually got him to escape from the cycle of violence. It’s very Naruto style with how the characters point out that murdering people will just continue the cycle. Ultimately this allows Valen to be the bigger man here and look the other way when it comes time to make a choice.

As for length, the game is a bit on the shorter side. I would definitely say it is one of Kemco’s shorter titles as you should blast right through it. There isn’t much of a post game as you should have that beaten in about an hour or so. Granted, it went by so fast in part because I grinded my character levels to over 500 so I was able to beat most opponents in an instant. The secret ending is good though and way more satisfying than the normal one. That wouldn’t have been a great way to end the adventure. The platinum trophy is quite easy to get so I recommend trying to give it a go.

Overall, Miden Tower is definitely a very solid game. I think it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a game on the Asdivine Hearts series. That is still my all time favorite from Kemco but this would certainly be in second. It’s just got a great story and of course a lot of amazing video game mechanics. Kemco certainly brought out the A team here and I look forward to seeing which adventure they churn out next. If you don’t have this game yet, I’d recommend purchasing it asap!

Overall 8/10

Alphadia Genesis Review


Kemco has returned and this is easily the best story they’ve churned out since the original Asdivine Heart games. We’re back to having a lot of twists, a grand end of the world story, and a colorful cast of characters. The game certainly gets rather serious and the heroes are put to their limits but at the end the day you know teamwork is what will be the decisive factor here. The game’s only main weakness is there are still less customizable game options than in the Asdivine games and there are quite a few dead spots. More on that later.

The game starts off right away by explaining that the two kingdoms of the world are getting ready to come up with an answer to the clones issue. Right now there is a debate on if all clones should be put in stasis since they are too dangerous or to continue to allow them free roam. Recently there have been instances of clones attacking and even murdering people. An investigative team is created using two people from each kingdom. Fray and Aurra from one with Walter and Corune making up the other group. They run into a clone named Enah and add her to the party as well. Is someone deliberately making clones look bad or is there a real security risk?

I can’t say I was expecting a game about clones, it is a much more futuristic world than I had expected. It’s a fun change of pace though and the Kemco games really are all quite unique. Naturally when it comes to this debate I’m immediately against the idea of putting everyone into stasis. It seems like an overreaction to me and you’d have a very hard time of ever convincing me that every clone should be taken down for the actions of a few. The dilemma here is interesting though as the clones are cybernetic meaning that they can be hacked. So the heroes need to find a way to prevent that from being possible but don’t even know if that’s the cause.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the cast here quite a bit. Fray is the main character and he’s your classic RPG hero. He can be oblivious a lot of the time but always tries to do the right thing. He’s not quite as intense as Zack from Asdivine but Fray has a lot of good moments and a solid character arc. He does go through a very rough patch during the second half of the game but that doesn’t last too long.

Aurra is Fray’s little sister and she’s a scientist but can still fight when needed. Without her the heroes would have definitely been in a bit of a jam on more than one occasion. She certainly enjoys trolling Fray a lot of the time. Enah is the clone who joined the group and as she literally woke up yesterday she doesn’t know a whole lot for most of the game and learns with the characters. I’d have liked her to have known more about the world but as it stands her character was executed well.

Grande is a tough gang leader or at least so it seems at the start but for the most part he seems like a good guy. The town likes the group and it seems like they’re a bunch of people who do good things but don’t want to take credit for it. Grande looks out for his men and makes for a good addition to the cast. Then you have Corune as the main heroine. With her title as the War Princess you can bet that she fights quite a lot. It’s always good to have another fighter on board and she does well.

Finally you have Walter who loses so many times in the game that it might be a record. His thing is that he likes Corune but she likes Fray so he is always jealous. He probably makes 50+ attempts to get her to notice him but this always fails. His streak of losing is so exaggerated that it becomes funny after a while. Naturally this is leading up to a character arc but don’t expect things to ever go very well for him.

From all of the Kemco games this one may have had the most romance. You have Aurra and one of the villains who shows up, the triangle with Fray, Corune, and Walter, then Fray and another girl who shows up near the end. I was glad the final one didn’t really go anywhere (As of the normal ending) though because that would have felt like a very big rebound. There are some circumstances that make this unique but I still don’t think it would have been a good idea. The main romance isn’t too bad I suppose, at least it’s given a whole lot of time to develop. It’s why Aurra’s romance with the villain isn’t nearly as good since it doesn’t have that kind of development.

Now when it comes to the gameplay you have the excellent turn based system that Kemco games are known for. It certainly does not disappoint here. The fights are fast and the attack animations are on point. You can’t turn them off this time around but you can still use auto battle which is good at least. The A.I. is a step down from other games though so you won’t want to rely on it too much. There isn’t a whole lot of grinding needed to complete the game this time around though so that’s not much of an issue. You will just need to use a lot of good tactics as you decide how to play each battle.

I found the status effect moves to be really helpful in this game. I would usually run a status combination for my first 4 turns. (Attack up, Defense up, Enemy attack down, Speed up) That would set me up really well for the next attack. As for the hub world, your characters move really quickly which is good. You can also set a speed formation which lets you run away from pretty much any battle because your character should always move first. Now that is what I’d call an extremely useful formation.

Now what did I mean about dead zones? Well, there are quite a few times in the game where a cutscene will end and you know a boss fight is coming up. The issue is that at this point in the game you cannot leave the castle to go train. So your only option is to fight the boss but if you aren’t strong enough to win then you will be stuck. Your only option is to start the game over from the beginning. That’s what a true dead zone is and this game has quite a few of them. I ended up having 3 files going on at the same time as backups just in case. On one occasion this saved me because there was no way I could have possibly beaten the boss without a lot of level ups.

A dead zone is really a design issue. I think it means this game could have used a little more playtesting. I definitely would have been dismayed if I had to restart the game after being near the end but fortunately that didn’t happen. Beyond that, one element that’s a bit weaker than the other games is that you can’t land your airship just anywhere here. You have to land in the water so you will often have to walk a bit more than would usually be necessary. Not a big deal or anything but it just feels like a really random change. I don’t see why the airship was changed from all of the other games.

As always the graphics are definitely on point here. The level designs are great and I like all of the different attack animations. The character designs are good too so I have no issues here. Naturally the soundtrack is also great with all of the usual catchy beats you find in these games. This one definitely doesn’t falter and you will really enjoy the boss theme.

As for replay value, well the game does have a post game story for the true ending. The main campaign took me almost 20 hours so I imagine the post game will probably be around 1-3 hours of bonus content. I’m sure it will be difficult as well so throw in some extra time for grinding and this is a game that should last you for quite a bit. A lot of story happens throughout so you should be satisfied. You can also go after the Platinum which doesn’t look all that difficult for this game. That would be a fun way to get some extra play time in.

Overall, Alphadia Genesis is definitely a great game. The story is engaging and really tackles some pretty intense themes. The story can be happy, dark, light, serious, etc. As an RPG it succeeds in really telling a complete story from start to finish. Throw in a likable group of characters and you have an adventure to remember. While the dead zones get tricky and parts of the gameplay aren’t quite up to Asdivine level, it’s close enough where it doesn’t hurt the title. Even if it’s not a 100% replica, Kemco games are so far ahead of the curve that this one is as well. I’d definitely be up for a sequel to this game regardless of how the true ending plays out. Seeing the characters again would be fun.

Overall 8/10

Alphadia Genesis Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 18h 7m
PS4 Trophies 24/34

Character Levels

Grande 52
Fray 52
Corune 51
Walter 52
Enah 51
Aurra 52

Total Steps 242718
Enemies Defeated 1331
Energi used 2037
Break Skills 1871
Assists 45
Max Damage Dealt 15645
Max Damage Received 7280
Max Hit Count 29
Max overkill 8
Total Money Spent 1884050
Treasure Chests Opened 113

Double Dragon IV Review


Double Dragon IV is a fun game and definitely does a good job of being a very retro experience. You’ve got all of the classic sprites here and the levels feel like something out of an SNES game. The gameplay is on point and you’ll enjoy blasting away at the enemies. The game is a bit on the short side but throwing in the survival mode and multiplayer aspects will help with the replay value. Now I’m ready for a Double Dragon V someday.

The game introduces a new villain group in the Renegades. They want to cause a lot of trouble but most importantly they want to defeat the Double Dragons. They have a whole army of minions and allies to help them accomplish this goal and even kidnap the main heroine. This forces the two heroes into action once more. They don’t care how many minions they will have to beat up, they’re going to put a stop to these guys and fast! Are the Renegades going to regret getting on the heroes’ bad side?

As you’d expect the gameplay is definitely on point here. The combat is very smooth and feels like it’s a little more diverse than your average 2D beat em up. You have a little more control and don’t feel like it’s pure rng when you get up close to an opponent to land some blows. I found the best thing to do in a lot of cases was to get right next to the opponent once they were down and just start throwing some punches. It should work most of the time. That’s the fastest way to do it if you’re trying to burst through the levels. There is a much safer way to go about this though even if it is a bit slower.

That’s to walk up and down a bit. The enemies can only strike out at you if you are directly in front of them and the same is true for you. So the trick is to be a bit above them so when they get to your point of view you can immediately strike. You can do this quicker than they can so it’s foolproof in a one on one battle. Of course it’ll be a little more difficult to gain position when there are a bunch of enemies running at you so you will want to keep that in mind.

In a way it’s pretty realistic because in the game if you get jumped by a bunch of minions there isn’t a lot that you can do. It’s like being jumped by a group of thugs, if you’re just a normal guy with a baseball bat then it’s going to be really tricky. Even if you know what to do in this game, you’ll have a hard time getting out of that situation. It’s cool though as it adds to the danger. Just make sure you’re never trapped in the middle of two groups and you should be fine. Always stay on the offensive and get the enemies in the corner if you can.

Aside from the combat you also have some platforming sections where you have to jump on or over some obstacles to get to the end. These can be some of the toughest spots in the game since falling once will take out a whole life. Make sure you go slowly in these levels or the computers will just keep pushing you off. Fortunately you do get a lot of lives. You have around 15 before you get a game over but keep in mind that the deaths carry over. So I got my full game over on level 11 out of 12 which was pretty good. For a minute there I thought I would have to start all over which would have been rough but fortunately the game does give you a checkpoint at the last level you completed. So if you got a game over on level 11 then you have to go back to level 10 which is a fair penalty for losing. The game is no walk in the park either so it’s good you get this many levels. As a challenge you can try to complete the game without needing a game over although I warn you that this will be a difficult challenge. I went 6 deaths over the limit if I was doing that challenge.

The graphics are nice and retro. As mentioned, it’s definitely going for a very old school look. Naturally as a result it isn’t touching games from the PS1 era or beyond but as a faithful SNES type look it works well. I think the game could have gone for a more modern aesthetic and it would have been a lot of fun like the newest Streets of Rage but the graphics are an intentional art decision so I can roll with that. The soundtrack is also fun, definitely has that very high tempo, upbeat kind of feel to it.

The only real strike against the game is that it’s super short. You’ll have the complete game beat in around an hour. After that your replay value will mostly be from survival mode and multiplayer. That will give you a good amount of activity to play with. You can test your skills to see just how high up you go and as long as you’re getting the game for a good price then this shouldn’t be any kind of issue either way.

Overall, Double Dragon IV is a fun game. It has a nice story and the cutscenes give the characters a lot of personality. You just know how everyone acts right from the jump. The level designs are all very distinct as well. The battle gameplay is on point and the platforming elements can actually be rather difficult. It’s a nice blast to the past and continues the saga well. I think there’s a ton of potential for a big AAA title in this franchise someday. You don’t see a whole lot of the Double Dragons nowadays but stopping gangs and saving your friends is always a good formula. I have quite a bit of confidence that the series can go places.

Overall 7/10

Monster Viator Review


Time for the next Kemco game. This one may not be in the Asdivine series but otherwise it looks like it could be in that franchise. As always Kemco delivers with a quality game here but the gameplay is a noticeable step down from the other titles. Mix that in with the game not really having a big villain this time around and it isn’t quite ready to be challenging the other titles. Still, you’ll have a fun time playing through this one.

You start off as a kid who has complete amnesia. He has no idea how he got here or even what the world is all about. Fortunately he ends up near a fairly nice village. In this world, some people can talk to monsters and if they have a strong enough bond, the monster will be your pal for life. Most don’t have a whole lot of skill in this arena though so it’s considered a really rare skill. Well, Terry (That’s what I called the kid) seems to be a natural and can talk to any monster with ease. Is it possible that he was the world’s greatest monster trainer back in the day? It’s hard to say but he will need to gather his skills to stop a rather spoiled prince from causing trouble for everyone.

The prince will end up being the main antagonist by the end but for most of the game you’re really just travelling a lot and meeting new monsters. You help people at every place you go to and uncover some memories little by little. By the end of the game you get the full picture of what happened here. You’ll understand why he is always getting a lot of de ja vu and it works well as a final twist. The ending of the game also delivers with a classic final boss that’s super over the top. In an RPG the final boss always has to be some kind of deity with immense power after all and that’s an aspect I’m glad that the genre has continued to use.

The cast here is fairly small. There’s not much to say about Terry since he doesn’t really talk. He’s a lot more expressive than most of the prior main characters though as this guy will jump in the air, grin, do a spin move, etc. He’s having a lot of fun on the journey which is a good thing. After all, you have to enjoy the journey or else what fun will the resolution be right? It would all be futile if the whole thing wasn’t fun.

The main heroine here is Aira and she’s fun enough. She doesn’t have as much skill as Terry yet but she is training hard. Her flute allows her to still train her own monsters up and she is very determined to get Terry into fighting shape which is good. He at least has one ally who won’t rest until he gets all of his memories back. Then you have the villain Biscute who is more of a petty villain. He really just likes to show off and wants to own the most powerful monsters out there.

You have to give him credit for being skilled though. He actually did capture quite a few powerful monsters with no real tricks or sneaky tactics. It was just pure skill and you feel kind of bad for him by the end of the game. Things didn’t quite go as expected that’s for sure. So the story may not have been mind blowing, but it was entertaining enough to get you through the adventure.

The gameplay is a turn based style where you take turns slamming away at each other’s health points. You win by getting the enemy down to 0. You can use physical attacks, magical attacks, or skills. There are some unity moves too but I never got the hang of it. The gameplay itself is good even if it is a bit long. There’s no way to speed up gameplay or turn off encounters here. In fact, a lot of the big quality of life features I praise Kemco’s games for have been removed in this one.

I have to assume it’s because they brought another company in they decided to use that as an opportunity to test new things. It’s not as natural though and makes the gameplay more like any other RPG rather than really standing out like the other ones did. This one is more interchangeable with a classic RPG because there are no extra features. The biggest flaw here though would have to be that there is an extensive amount of grinding needed to beat the game. This is one of those games where it isn’t properly balanced so you go from a group of enemies being a little strong to suddenly being ultra powerful. Well over half of my gameplay experience was pure grinding.

The actual story was very short, likely under 10 hours. It’s the grinding that really stretches this out as you have to spend hours beating up on the minions to be strong enough to take these guys on. That’s really my only issue with the game. It just felt really excessive and then it also feels a bit sneaky when you realize that they sold a DLC pack where you could get triple damage and triple EXP permanently for the rest of the game. Seems like they intentionally made the end of the game difficult so you could buy the pack eh? I mean, it doesn’t even sound conspiratorial because that makes a lot of sense. Why else would you be selling a pack specifically for the two things that would help reduce the grind and allow you to beat the game?

There’s also a trophy for dealing 100,000 damage in a single blow which is incredibly hard without the DLC pack. It’s like a variation of the pay to win tactic and usually Kemco doesn’t go with that. Their other games have had DLC packs as well but you never felt like you absolutely had to get it. If you don’t have a lot of time, this would be one game where it is very tempting to just hunker down and pay the fee. I’ve got time though and knocked it out, but it felt extremely excessive.

The graphics are solid as always though. The game has a very colorful feel to it that works really well. The monster designs are on point and I liked the level layouts. Once you are able to fly, navigating the world isn’t too bad either. The enemies don’t spawn a crazy amount either which is good. So the terrain and gameplay outside of battle are good too. The game is also good with directions for the most part. Through beating the game I was able to beat pretty much all of the EXP monsters around the globe and felt like I almost 100% beat most of the game. The Platinum looks like it would still be really difficult but at least most of the trophies are straight forward. There is naturally a lot of replay value to be found here as well so you definitely don’t have to worry about that.

Overall, I thought Monster Viator definitely could have improved in some aspects. It really should have kept in the gameplay features that made Asdivine so much fun like being able to fast forward or even skip fights against enemies that were super weak. The story also won’t grip you quite as much even if this one’s going for more of an emotional feel. That said, this game may live in Asdivine’s shadow but if you look past that and consider this game as a stand alone experience, then you will definitely be pleased. It’s still a fundamentally strong RPG.

Overall 7/10

Wizards of Brandel Review


Wizards of Brandel brings us back to the world of high quality RPGs. The Asdivine Heart titles will always be legendary for their various quality of life upgrades to the genre and this one follows closely in its tracks. It may not be going as cosmic in is setting as those games but it’s got a fun story and you’ll have a fun time running through the game. It’s a bit on the short side but there are some post game elements that will help you run the length a bit more. I think I beat it at around 14 hours or so.
The story starts with Darius being evicted from his house since he hadn’t paid the rent in a very long time. All they left him is his bed so he now lives in the middle of a forest. One day he is approached by an immortal wizard named Mark who says he will allow Darius to live at his mansion as long as the hero does chores. Darius agrees but little does he know that Mark is a legendary demon lord who is wanted by the entire world. Is he really safe at this house?

The core cast is fairly small but each character is memorable. Brandel does a good job of giving each character a lot of character traits early on. First off you have Darius who is fairly emotionless most of the time although it’s very easy to tease him and cause the guy to blow up. He has a lot of different magical spells. Darius is obsessed with learning as much as he can but unfortunately none of those spells get him a lot of money. As he gets roped into this latest quest to save the world, he stows his fear and does his best.

Then you have the heroine Erica who is an agent of the government and was originally here to hunt Mark. Gradually she realizes that something isn’t quite right about all of this. Mark doesn’t seem like a villain and Darius is an upstanding guy so she aims to get to the bottom of this. She’s a good character and the game has an interesting dynamic with her and Darius. Usually you have the oblivious guy but the heroine likes him. In this game both of them only see the other as a friend so the supporting characters keep trying to push them together since that’s how it’s supposed to be…but the two main characters are both oblivious and just keep it moving. That was a fun twist and it must have been intentional.

Then you have Phelia who is a little girl that was kidnapped and experimented on until she turned into a plant monster. She has a lot of cool abilities now and may even be immortal but at the same time you never want to voluntarily have to go through experiments. The main characters decide to help protect her and ensure that this doesn’t happen again. It takes us back to our main plot where there is clearly someone evil in the world but it doesn’t appear to be the immortal wizard Mark. The heroes have to clear his name and find the main villain before too long.

In this case, the game is short enough where there aren’t many suspects so you’ll probably figure this out pretty fast. That said, the game does its best to still throw a few curve balls your way so it won’t be too easy to figure out what is going on. The story is interesting so you should be on board the whole time. The post game is more about tournaments and not really plot but there are some cutscenes to give closure to the characters as well. You can’t help but feel like Erica got the short end of the stick though.
Finally you have Mark who joins the party near the end. He has some kind of tragic backstory involving how he became immortal but the game doesn’t go into it. Every time someone asks him about it, Mark refuses to talk about it. It’s kind of neat that we don’t find this out, leaves a little mystery and room for your head canon here. I wish he would fight a little more since it seems like he should be pretty powerful but unfortunately that never ends up happening.

Then you’ve got Veldt who is the leader of the Guild. He seems pretty reasonable but the guy just looks like he’s a little more powerful than he should be. You’ll want to give him a second look to be sure and don’t let your guard down. Then there’s Cloney who is here to help the heroes. He will be King if our plan works out so that’s a pretty nice incentive for him to help us right? Not a bad prize for being a good citizen. There’s also the Warriors 3 who are pretty interesting antagonists. They are the best of the best in the kingdom and since they are after us, that means things will be tricky.

The gameplay is that of a turn based RPG. As I mentioned though, the game is light years ahead of most other titles in pretty much every way. You are able to speed up gameplay, go into auto battle mode, and use all kinds of tricks. You can turn animations on and off and so at all times you can play the game how you want. You may need to grind up some levels to beat the game but with auto battle turned on it’s not really much of a problem. It goes by very quickly and it’s just a lot of fun. I’d like to see more titles just make a game as smooth as these always turn out.

In a way you may get a little sloppy with the actual gameplay if you rely on this too much though so make sure you fight a bit on your own just in case. It shouldn’t be necessarily if you get a lot of level ups though. You have physical skills, magical ones, unity moves, and of course your physical attacks. Then you have the shop where you can trade in gems to buy incredibly powerful weapons, permanent EXP upgrades, and things like that. As a rule of thumb I always say to get the permanent upgrades first since they will come in handy for a lot of other things as the game goes on. By the end you will be really OP. A good way to grind is to click on the statues in each dungeon which let you run a gauntlet of 3 battles in a row over and over again. You get guaranteed gems which is huge.

The graphics are very good as you would expect. The art style always pops out for all the games from this company. The level designs are on point and the whole thing is just so colorful. Meanwhile the soundtrack is on point as well with a lot of tunes that sound just like something out of Asdivine Hearts. It’s all very fast paced and pretty hype. On a technical level the game really holds up.

Overall, Wizards of Brandel is great. It’s a relatively simple game as far as RPGs go but the execution in each area is just so good. You won’t be bored for a moment since there is always something happening here. The character cast is good and while the length isn’t very large, there’s enough content to keep you satisfied here. I’d definitely be down with this game getting a sequel and I hope the company continues to churn out more RPGs. I’d recommend getting this game if you like the genre or if you’re curious about starting this kind of game since this is a perfect entry point.

Overall 8/10

Panzer Paladin Review


Limited Run has returned with their next big game. Panzer Paladin is a run adventure that feels a lot like the recent Blaster Master. It has a similar style of letting you control the machine and the human but the actual gameplay I’d say is more similar to Megaman Zero. It’s very smooth and you can really go at the enemies. There are a few other mechanics which also help this game to stand out.

The main character of the game is Flame. She is a robot who wasn’t built for war but is forced to quickly prepare for it as evil forces are running rampant on the world. The villains are all monsters and mythical figures from around the world such as Medusa, an evil Snowman, Baba Yaga, Lilith, and many more. Flame decides to suit up and stop them along with her Paladin machine. Faced with no other alternatives, the government agrees to this and sends her off. The characters all warn her that evil is quickly approaching so she must not be tempted but the heroine realizes there is little chance of that as she has a world to save.

The story here is pretty fun. The visuals are all rather intense and the sprite style is used really well. You have a very apocalyptic vibe to the whole thing and it feels like even if you do win, it will come at a great cost. These machines have ravaged most of the planet at this point. Then you have a mysterious Protoman type figure and he even gets a catchy tune similar to how a tune would play whenever Protoman would show up in the original Mega Man games. This definitely had to be a homage of some kind.

As for the gameplay, it introduces a few new twists as I mentioned. Lets start with the basics which is that this is a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and swing your weapon as you go through the levels. The goal is to get to the end of the level where you will take out the boss. You can also jump out of your mech and into your pilot form. There is a few seconds where you are invincible when doing this so it’s certainly a good way to dodge some enemy attacks. There’s at least one boss where I think this is what you are supposed to do in order to block their attacks.

Then for your blades you can hold 4 of them at once. You can switch depending on what you need for the situations. Some collectibles are hidden behind a specific blade for example while others are under a different one. Then there is also the fact that each blade holds a special ability. For example, one may have “Attack up” as its ability. If you intentionally break your weapon, it will give you a status boost for a while. Additionally if you don’t want to break a sword, be careful how often you use it.

Each weapon has its own health bar which goes down whenever you land a hit on an enemy or destroy a block. When it goes all the way down the weapon will break but you won’t get the special ability that way. So if you want to use the ability then you need to make sure you break the weapon yourself or you’re going to be in some trouble.

A lot of times you will want to strategically switch your weapons out. For example, if you are already holding 4 swords and then pick up a 5th one it will be automatically taken to your inventory. So you want to hold 4 swords as long as possible. The reason is you can fuse swords in your inventory so that they power your mech up to the next level. Additionally once you have it maxed out, you can just store them for their special abilities.

One sword I was saving for the final boss because it would heal all of my health. It was the only sword like that I saw in the whole game. In the end I didn’t need it for the boss but it definitely felt good having it with me. It’s the kind of thing that just brings you a good amount of comfort.

The graphics are pretty solid. The sprite art style works really well as mentioned before. A good amount of effort was put into the game on this front. Meanwhile the soundtrack is definitely on point with a lot of fast paced Megaman type tunes. They’re catchy enough where you’ll want to look them up after completing the game.

I should mention the game seems to have more than one ending based on what decision you take. I wasn’t totally sure there was a decision at the time so I kept going as normal but in the end I still think the move makes sense. As long as you have a strong will, then taking this would only be an asset. I won’t spoil what the decision is though so you can have fun choosing your ending. That also should give some replay value in case you want to see what the other ending is like.

Overall, Panzer Paladin is definitely a fun game. It’s a platformer that holds up really well and has an engaging story. It’s a bit of a short title that you should complete in under 4 hours. There are a decent amount of levels after completing all of the story ones though. The various extra modes will help in terms of replay value. Gathering all of the awards definitely won’t be easy and will keep you going back to the levels. If you want a fun platformer to play through then this is the one to pick.

Overall 7/10