Donkey Kong Barrel Blast Review

It’s time to look at Nintendo’s biggest mistake when it comes to the racing genre. A DK racer practically writes itself and just has a ton of potential. It’s a shame that the game squandered this so readily. Motion controls are what hold this game back and while it was an attempt by Nintendo it completely backfired. Sometimes just because an idea makes sense in concept doesn’t mean that it should be implemented. This is most certainly one of those times.

There is no story mode of course but we do have a few different tournaments at the ready. There are 4 main tournaments and 2 bonus ones. The bonus tournaments allow you to pick your own stages to have a tournament with friends and another one allows you to randomize the stages. Both are handy when playing with friends but you don’t get a trophy for clearing them so there is no single player incentive. The main tournaments start out at 3 races and eventually go to 5. There are multiple difficulty levels but you are forced to start with Rookie so I just stayed at that level. Even then the game is surprisingly difficult. You have to stay at top speed and use a lot of boosts if you want to come out on top here. Of course, the Mario Party luck factor is around here so sometimes you’ll just get blasted by other racers behind you which is out of your control. Not much can be done about that.

Each racer is using a pair of drums instead of a car. It is for this reason that instead of accelerating like normal you must beat the drums to keep going fast. You have to make the motion of hitting the drums constantly to stay at peak levels and just hit one drum to turn. Hit both at the same time to jump and hold down on the Nunchuk to activate your boost. Your boost is the most important skill that you have here. It can change a whole race and just know that you can extend your boost by hitting enemies or normal barrels. If you time the boost right you can keep it going for a very long time. Just focus on the combo and don’t use your boost unless you see something to bump into.

There are a lot of games that can be called painful while you are playing them, but there aren’t many which you can say that in a literal sense. Your wrists will be absolutely exhausted after playing this game and I am convinced that it wouldn’t be healthy if you played this game long term. You can even expect some neck and back pain if you were straining a lot and too rigid while playing. Naturally the trick is to simply not play too hard but that’s easy to say until one of the computers passes you. Then it’s back to hitting the drums as quickly as you can.

When it comes to the graphics then this game finally gets to shine. The character models are definitely on point and are appropriately high quality. The levels all look great and there is a lot of variety to be found here. Whether it be Jungles, Volcanoes, or even Space DK has you covered. The final level in the game is the hype space one and it is as cool as you may expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how much effort Nintendo put into some parts of this game, but maybe I shouldn’t be. In theory this was supposed to be their next big racer. The stage themes are pretty solid as well even if they aren’t all that memorable. I suppose you can’t have every game be quite as legendary as Mario right?

Aside from the tournaments which won’t keep you busy for very long, the game has other modes at its disposal as well. One of those is the challenge mode where you attack various missions and see if you can accomplish them. The missions are actually reasonably difficult as you can easily lose a stage if you’re not entirely sure how to approach it. Take one wrong shortcut and it’s time to retry. Between the various unlockables and the main tournaments, I think you’ll find that the game has a reasonable amount of content to back the pricing.

All of this is only if you can get past the gameplay though. None of the other stuff will ultimately matter if you wrists simply can’t take the pressure. The items are fun though and if you use them right they will help you take a break. Build up some good boosts and just use it when you know that you’ll be able to keep it going for a while. During this time you don’t need to beat the drums. You have other items like armor and missiles but you have to keep shaking the controllers during this. Interestingly enough, the descriptions in the game say that you can stop shaking once you’re at max speed, but they must have meant that you could stop shaking for a moment because after that the car will immediately start slowing down again. So much for that I suppose.

Overall, Barrel Blast really could have been a good game. It had a lot of the right pieces in place like the animation, soundtrack, and array of content to keep you busy. The one area where it went wrong was with the controls and you’d think that this wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just so drastic that it ends up bringing the whole game down with it and that’s the unfortunate part. You actually feel like the game isn’t healthy to play. If you want some exercise for your wrist and don’t think that it will end up having a detrimental effect instead, then I suppose you may want to give this game a chance. However, if you’re playing this game in the first place because you want to relax while cruising through the levels then this isn’t the right game to add to your collection. There is nothing relaxing about constantly beating the drums.

Overall 5/10


Mario Tennis Open Review

It’s time to take a look at a Mario Tennis game that was pretty much overshadowed the instant it came out. That’s because it’s basically the same as playing the Gamecube game except with no cutscenes and less games. As a result, there is little reason to buy this game unless you desperately want to play it on the go. Nonetheless, it was only 10 dollars so I figured..why not? It was basically free thanks to a coupon and I’m glad I got it. The game doesn’t do anything unique, but it still has good tennis fundamentals.

There is no story mode of course and so the closest thing is the traditional Tournaments. There are 8 tournaments and each tournament has 3 rounds. Complete the first 4 to unlock the star version of the character you are playing. The battles never actually get too tough. One thing I noticed about the AI is that if you let them get to the ball then you are unlikely to win a rally against them. Fortunately they can’t seem to handle your serve on any level so you can easily score with your return. If you don’t then you will most likely have lost the point. That adds a little extra tension to the rounds I would say.

You can complete all of the tournaments in a little under 2 hours. To help with the replay value, you can do that with every character in order to get all of their Star Forms and some more items for the shop. Every time you win a match a random item is unlocked for purchase. The annoying thing is that the tournaments don’t get you any money though. To earn money you have to play the minigames. They are surprisingly difficult though so clearing all of them could take some time. This way at least you are earning money and accomplishing at the same time. That’s a plus right? Before talking about the minigames, I suppose I should mention that we also have Doubles tournaments. I was never the biggest fan of doubles and didn’t really go into that mode, but it’s sure to add more length to the game. As per always with sport games, the true replay value occurs if you have someone to play with. Otherwise you likely won’t end up sticking with the game for very long. I find it telling that the game is only 10 dollars when Nintendo games rarely go down in price until a very long time has passed.

There are 4 minigames. One has you relive some of the old 2D Mario levels as you try to keep a rally going while going through the level. It’s a fun concept, but a little too slow for my liking. The level goes by incredibly slowly so it’s more tedious than difficult. Ideally you want to have a good mix of both. It’s probably my least favorite minigame. Then we have Coin Mode. You have to shoot through the rings and gain as many coins as possible. This one is probably the most rigged as it will largely depend on your opponent. As a result I actually lost the Silver version of this game. It’s a decent concept, but I don’t care for the execution.

Time for the 2 best minigames. One is a Rally where you have to keep returning the ball without letting the computer touch it. This one’s actually pretty fun and it’ll definitely test your reaction times as the plants fire the ball at you. You won’t know which one is shooting until the very end. Finally, the best minigame is the rally one. You have to keep hitting a ball back and forth as parts of the stage vanish. This game is taken directly from the Gamecube one and so you can probably see why it is the best. It was just thought through very well and is the right blend of challenging and length. The time goes by slowly at first, but by the end you’ll barely notice. These minigames may not be much, but at least they give the game a little more content.

I haven’t talked much about the actual gameplay, but that’s mainly because there isn’t a lot to be said. It’s a very standard tennis game. You feel the power behind each hit and have different options on how to strike the ball. You fire off a high one, a low one, or a standard shot. You do seem to have special attacks, but I couldn’t figure out how to use them and didn’t even need them in the end so that’s why I didn’t try very hard. Perhaps I would have needed it against Ace level opponents at some point. The game has a dynamic camera view option, but I recommend turning it off. It’s distracting to suddenly have the game zoom in when you head to the net. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea, but it was probably the same person who doesn’t give the game the option to remember your choice. As such, you have to turn it off again after each match. It seemed really random though so at least you don’t have to worry about it happening after every match. Otherwise, I have no qualms with the actual gameplay, it’s what you would expect from a Tennis title.

The graphics look really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the effort went here although perhaps the character models were just grabbed from somewhere. As there aren’t any real cutscenes it probably wasn’t too hard to just focus on the models. Every character looks to be on point and the stages look sharp as well. The game delivers on this front. When it comes to the soundtrack, it’s fairly decent but forgettable as far as Mario games go. You likely won’t remember it all that well by the time you finish the game.

Overall, Mario Tennis Open is a good game. The Tennis gameplay is solid and that’s really what counts. There just isn’t any extra content to keep you busy. Your attention will only stay on this game for as long as you enjoy playing tennis. I suppose collecting all of the items could help if you’re really a serious collector, but there isn’t a whole lot of point to getting it all otherwise. If you see it in stores for a fair price then I recommend checking it out. I can’t imagine grabbing it at full price though. No matter how fun Tennis is, it just wouldn’t have been worth it.

Overall 7/10

Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Bros Review

It’s time to look at the Mario OVA which is so obscure that I wouldn’t blame you for not hearing of it before. There are 3 episodes in this OVA which each tell a story that shows why Mario is a true hero. They decide to mess with his origin a bit and each story is a stand alone, but it’s interesting to see Mario be used in a bunch of classic fables like this. It may not be the greatest Mario adventure, but they aren’t bad.

The first story starts with Peach and her Hammerbro parents. They are not able to protect her from the mighty Bowser. That’s where Mario comes in as he is born from a shooting star and grows up very quickly. He heads off to save her, but he will have to deal with many powerful threats like the King of the Koopas. Mario isn’t scared though and quickly gets ready to take them all down. This is a more vicious Mario than we are used to as he even wields a gun. It’s cool to see Mario fight like this. He actually uses some hand to hand skills which is something that never happens anymore. We seriously need the upcoming big budget Mario film to have some real fights. This is the Mario we deserve. The whole special is very surreal though, like how are Peach’s parents Koopas? I figured they would at least be Toads or something. Bowser doesn’t look very good as can be expected though. It’s a short little story and one that is fun enough.

The second story is about Mario but this time he is only 1 inch tall. Mario doesn’t care about this and wants to go check out the big city anyway. He knows that this will help him quickly become one of the all time greats. He meets Peach along the way and has a great time. Unfortunately, Mario’s plans are cut short when Bowser appears and decides to take Peach away. Mario can’t have this so he grabs his sword and then begins a fight for the ages. Mario may be small, but he has some serious moves and Bowser makes the mistake of swallowing Mario without chewing. I never quite get why the big villains do this since of course Mario will stab him from the inside. Bowser didn’t really think this plant through, but I suppose I can give him some kudos for the attempt. It’s a fun special as well although I prefer the first story. Mini Mario just doesn’t make for as endearing a character as his normal form.

Finally, the OVA decides to end with a bang on the last episode. This one is a Snow White homage as Bowser dresses up as an old lady and tricks Peach into biting the poison apple. Mario arrives too late to save her, but breaks into the castle in a rescue attempt. Surprisingly he wasn’t doing too well this time, but granted Mario was outnumbered. Fortunately Luigi comes in to save the day and the duo finally get to team up. It was nice to see Luigi actually show up for a bit since I thought the OVA had forgotten about him. This was the last special but probably also the best one so it was a good way to close things out. The action was on point.

So, it’s hard not to like this special as how can you not enjoy a Mario anime? Granted, the anime is fairly low budget. There is a lot of reused animation throughout the specials and they went for stills whenever possible. There’s not much of a soundtrack here either so on a technical level the OVA is pretty bad. That’s why you always want to have a good story to help counter balance these elements. If this wasn’t a Mario product then it probably wouldn’t rate quite as highly as it does. Still, it is great to see Mario on the big screen so I guess he deserves some props for that.

Even if you combine all 3 episodes the OVA isn’t all that long. You can fast blast through this with ease. The pacing for each special is pretty good as a result. It’s all pretty easily available online if you decide to check it out. Mario makes for a good hero and Peach is pretty consistent. Bowser isn’t a great villain though and you probably won’t be able to take him seriously for any of the specials. I think Bowser Jr/Baby Bowser may have been a better pick here or perhaps a made up villain. Bowser just seriously needs a better goal than constantly trying to marry Peach. It’s a futile mission and one that was doomed to failure from the start.

Overall, The Amada series may not have put Mario on the map, but they gave it a good shot. The special is reasonably fun, but there isn’t too much replay value to be found here. Watching it once is good enough to enjoy the surreal elements of the OVA. After that you’ll probably want to stick to the main Prince Haru movie. That’s where most of the Mario elements stayed after all. Of course, if you want to see Mario with a gun, then you have no choice but to run to this series. Either way, if you’re a Mario fan then I recommend checking this special out. If not, then I probably wouldn’t recommend it quite as highly as you could find better alternatives, but it’s a good adventure story for any viewer.

Overall 6/10

Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

It’s time to finally go to one of Nintendo’s most classic franchises. DK even started before Mario which is pretty impressive. I got to play most of the old games so it’s cool to see the Country series return. I never really played the music games for the GC, but they are barely even referenced here so I’m confident that they won’t be missed. I ended up getting Tropical Freeze shortly after this one so it’ll be cool to see how it stacks up. I can safely say that Country Returns is a fun game and it’s easy to see that it’s another AAA title from Nintendo.

The plot is that a mysterious being made of wood has shown up to take over the world. It mind controls all of the nearby animals and forces them to start stealing all of the bananas in the area. That’s diabolical if you ask me! They try to control DK, but it apparently doesn’t work on him. This may be a subtle shot at DK’s intelligence since he really looks…not too smart the whole time. Ah well, whatever works right? DK must stop these guys since they are insulting the bananas with their cruel schemes!

There are 8 main worlds. There is also a 9th, but to get to that one you’ll need a lot of collectibles. That’s good for the replay value though. There are puzzle pieces and 4 Letters to grab in every level. Obtaining them all will require you to master all of the levels and show the world that you are a DK pro. Even without this, the main game should take you a reasonable amount of hours. If you beat every world in an hour, then that’s around 8 which is pretty good. Even if it’s a little less than that, it’s much better than Star Fox Zero’s <4 hour play time or Into The Nexus 3 hours.

The game is reasonably difficult as well. I don't think I would say that it is quite as tough as Super Mario World, but it's been ages since I played that game so it's possible that it would be a lot easier nowadays. The gameplay is divided into a few different segments. You have the traditional platforming levels where you jump and dodge obstacles to get to the end. Where DK differs from Mario and the others is that you can roll into opponents to deal damage and you can shatter objects by slapping the floor. You'll grab onto vines to swing around and there are just many more elements than a traditional Mario game. It's made to be more complex and you have to consider a lot of variables.

A great deal of the level is interactive as well with most bushes and other suspicious objects containing bananas and golden coins for you to grab. Some of them are just trolls, but you should check them all out. Gold coins in particular are very valuable in the game. Other parts of the level will see you head into a mining cart. One hit will destroy you so you have to jump with great precision. There's also a blue cart which only appears twice in the whole game. It's slightly different as when you jump, you actually leave the cart. Thus, you have to jump and keep moving to fall into the cart again since it will speed ahead of you afterwards. It's a little easier in co-op since you effectively have two chances to survive this way. There is even a whole boss battle modeled after this style. Surprisingly I don't think there were any under water levels. No worries, Tropical Freeze fixed that.

The soundtrack isn't very lively or memorable for the most part, but I really like the villain jingle. Whenever their theme plays, you know that things are about to get real. It's a little cheesy/corny, but it's catchy and that's what counts. It is even used as the final boss theme which is pretty surreal. I can certainly say that I wasn't really expecting it when it occurred. The graphics are pretty solid. They're not amazing, but the character designs look sharp. It's fun to see a modern DK and there is something novel about seeing any Nintendo character on the big screen. Mario, Link, Kirby, DK, the games never look outright spectacular in the cutscenes despite the gameplay being super crisp, but just seeing them is really cool. Maybe it's because their series don't tend to have a lot of cutscenes, but it is more satisfying than seeing another franchise appear fully animated.

When it comes to 2D side scrollers, Mario's still got the edge over everyone. He's just impossible to beat. I'd probably give Sonic 2nd place although I mainly like it for the boss battles. The actual platforming can be a little tricky at times. Kirby would probably be third because I love cheesing levels. If we just talk about pure gameplay, Kirby even beats Sonic. Then I'd put in DK. It feels like Mario, but the extra complexities do slow it down a bit. If you count one shot games that had side scrolling like Klonoa then the list can get quite long so lets stick to Nintendo for now. I'll merge Yoshi with Mario since they're so similar. DK may be the lowest on this chart, but that just goes to show how tough the competition is. Plus, Nintendo owns 90% of those series which is equally impressive.

Really one of the best things about the game is how much content it has and how fun the levels are. It's a very high quality title that you can play for hours without getting tired. The plot may not be amazing, but the gameplay is sharp and that's really what you're looking for in a title like this. I didn't get to play the Gold Pyramid world since you need to do a lot of bonus stuff for that, but perhaps someday. It's really good to have DK finally return to the home console and maybe we'll get a game for the Switch at some point.

I don't really have any negatives with the game either. The levels all have a check point or sometimes multiple ones. If you die, you can always respawn close by. You can buy extra lives with the medals that you collect and the medals keep replenishing so getting them isn't an issue. The levels are challenging, but not unfair the way that Mario and the Lost Levels was or Mighty No 9. The levels are made to be difficult, but balanced. You'll get the hang of them with practice since the levels themselves never actually change. It's just really good game design.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is definitely a fun game. I can see why DK fans were so thrilled when it finally came back. The title does a good job of bringing back all of the classic DK elements that fans were expecting. It may have had less barrel launching than I was expecting, but I don't mind since the actual platforming is really the fun part for the game. You can get the game for a pretty good price nowadays so I'd highly recommend it. There is a lot to do here after all and the level variety is excellent. You also won't be forgetting the main jingle of the game anytime soon either. It's simply too awesome and catchy. Now, it's time to check out Tropical Freeze! So far, I'd actually say that it's easier than Returns, but I've only conquered 2 worlds so far. There's still plenty of adventure left!

Overall 8/10

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild Review

It’s time to take a look at the latest Legend of Zelda game. It’s a very iconic series but one that I have never found quite as critically acclaimed as most. Wind Waker was phenomenal and my personal favorite game in the series. It’s the only one to have lived up to the hype of being one of the best games of all time though. I didn’t care much for Majora’s Mask with the time gimmick and overdone puzzles. I only got to play the portable version of Ocarina of Time, but it was still pretty fun. I never played Twilight Princess since the game was too extreme and would probably give me nightmares. /s Skyward Sword was actually pretty great and I’d probably put that second to Wind Waker. See, the reason why Wind Waker and Skyward Sword were so good was due to the fact that they didn’t really have any gimmicks. It was just a standard Link adventure. You didn’t get lost or have to run around aimlessly for a while. They just got straight to the point.

Now we cut away to BoTW and it has many gimmicks. First of all, there isn’t much of a plot. Zelda is being held hostage in Hyrule Castle (We turning into the Mario series?) so Link must break in and stop her. That’s essentially the entire plot. One of the big selling points of this game was the freedom that was marketed. You could speed off and go save her immediately or gather up some allies and power ups to ensure victory. I naturally sped off to save Zelda immediately since that should be Link’s top priority instead of leading on a sea mermaid, but unfortunately I was unable to win. The speed ruins of people beating the game in under an hour are certainly impressive. It ended up taking me 26 hours.

There are 4 main dungeons to complete in this game and each one that you complete will give you an ally who will take care of one of Ganon’s forms. This makes the final boss infinitely easier and you’ll also get extra Heart containers as well. Aside from the big dungeons, there are also dozens of smaller ones. Every time you complete four of them, you can get a quarter of a heart or a big more stamina.

The gameplay is like your standard LoZ game for the most part. You slice and dice away at the villains. You can also find a horse if you’re lucky and use that to save on travel time. One new innovation for this game is the dreaded stamina meter. This means that you can’t run for more than a few seconds without slowing to a walk for a few seconds. It’s a rather tedious mechanic that only serves to drag the game out. You don’t see Nier Automata bothering with such a gimmick do you? I definitely would have liked for this to have been kept out since it makes climbing in particular a little tedious.

There’s a lot to cover here so lets get started. I usually go with positives than negatives or vice versa, but it’s hard to plan it all out ahead of time in this case so I’ll be going all over the place. First off, I have to say that the concept of a free plot is pretty intriguing. I like being able to go where I want whenever I want to go. The problem is that the game only half committed to this. Since you need certain equipment to go to some areas, the freedom isn’t as extensive as you’d think. I was able to cheese my way into the Goron stronghold by having a lot of fruit and eating it every other second to combat the damage, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t how you were supposed to do it. I also forgot to talk to the old man at the beginning so I missed out on my early chance to get the snow armor. The concept was good, but the execution was bad.

Another part of this that didn’t pan out so well was how slow Link is. In real time, it can take around 20-40 minutes to get somewhere. This gets mitigated as the game goes on since you can activate dungeons that are used as teleport points, but the first trek is always tedious. You’re supposed to be impressed with the backdrops, but a lot of the time they’re pretty empty anyway. There’s nothing to look at so you just want to keep going. Giving Link a good run speed (coughlikeNierAutomatacough) would have definitely been a really good idea. He doesn’t even need to have full turbo speed where you’re rocketing through the world, but being able to permanently run would have been a very good idea.

Now, it’s time for the worst mechanic in this game…the broken weapons. I thought we were done with those after Dark Cloud, but I guess not. This mechanic is terrible because constantly trying to find new weapons is tough. Especially since your storage is so small and after 10 it won’t let you pick something up without discarding a current weapon. I had to fight Ganon with some terrible weapons which significantly prolonged the battle. Just give me the Master Sword and let me swing forever. How I see it, only extra weapons should break, but you should always have at least one sword that is completely permanent. I can’t express enough just how terrible this was. It’s never been a good mechanic nor will it ever be one.

Breath of the Wild’s graphics are pretty good though. They may not be as impressive as Wind Waker’s, but they look good considering that this is a sandbox game. I think the graphics were probably limited to keep the world so large so it’s not quite as detailed as you’d expect at times. Still, it’s AAA quality and I really like the blue lightning effects. I also got some nice Transformers flashbacks from being knocked off a mountain and bumping into everything possible during my long slide down. Sure, it was a little annoying having to go back up, but that was still fun to watch.

Those aspects of the game were handled well. I do like how realistic the gameplay engine was with respect to falling and bumping into things. You don’t just die instantly because you fell a long distance, that was never realistic. The glider was also extremely handy and pretty fun. The game also made the 4 super skills very useful. One of them allowed you to quickly fly for a second straight up which helped a lot with climbing. Another one gave you a full revive which easily makes it the best ability in the game. A third one made you invincible for 3 hits while also stunning all enemies, even the final boss. The final skill was a thunder bolt which I didn’t find to be very useful until Ganon, but that’s reason enough to get it.

They were all quality of life upgrades that didn’t outright break the game, but made it a lot more fun. The developers certainly got that aspect right and it felt like Shantae. The journey to beating the final boss was reasonably difficult, but once you got there, you could now go back to early areas and easily get the bonus collectibles. I feel like that is definitely how a game should play out. For Breath of the Wild, it’ll be a lot more convenient to trek around and find things now that the campaign is done.

There is no doubt that Breath of the Wild has a significant amount of replay value. I could probably platy this game up to 50-60 hours and still have more to do. There are probably around 100 dungeons left and hundreds of wood chimps to find. If I went after the 100% mark it would certainly keep on proving why the game was worth the money. At the same time, Nintendo stubbornly refuses to add a trophy achievement system so there isn’t much point to doing it imo. I’d probably settle for getting the Master Sword and finding the lost memories.

Speaking of the Master Sword, it’s a real shame that you can beat the game without it. I really wanted to see it in action, but I likely never will at this point. It should have been made mandatory if you ask me. Ganon shouldn’t be able to be defeated without it. The final boss was still pretty fun though. Particularly the final phase as I was fairly stressed out. I only had 1 heart left from the first phase so I was running around like crazy trying not to get hit. I do love when final bosses are dramatic even if I’m sure that I would have rage quit for a day if I’d lost. No way was I going to replay the first phase again!

I can’t say much for the soundtrack though. LoZ’s never really been my style when it comes to music which is odd since Metroid, Star Fox, F-Zero, and even Mario have had some really good tunes. The final boss theme isn’t bad even if it’s a little generic. Most of the time, you won’t even notice music playing (If any is actually playing) which is a little unfortunate, but you can’t win them all I suppose.

Another strike against the game is that a lot of the dungeons tend to be very similar. The game is very repetitive in that respect as the 4 major dungeons are almost identical. One of them in particular was very tedious and took me almost 3 hours. It was the low point of the game for sure. Luckily the other 3 weren’t as bad and it’s still a step up from Majora’s Mask. Still, this is the problem with having all weapons from the get go and getting to decide where you want to go. The developers have to make all of the dungeons beatable from the start so it’s hard to make any of them more or less difficult without getting cheesy.

I didn’t really care for the cooking mechanic either. I never really got it and only made random stuff during my playthrough. My cooking failed each time so I blame the game on that…totally. Either way it’s not as if you really need the food. I did like the survival aspect of the game though. As I spent most of the early part with almost no hearts, one hit could KO me from any enemy. Even by the end of the game, the minions were serious threats. It was cool to see them KO me in one hit as it would usually involve a pretty large fall for Link. It really made you fight strategically and that was cool. Again, it was nice to see the progression since once you were a lot stronger, you could theoretically mow them down. At least if you had the super abilities.

Overall, Breath of the Wild is a good game. What it does really well is offer you a ton of replay value and also give you a lot of quality of life upgrades as you play through the game. It rewards you for playing it more and more which is great. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t say that it is one of the best games ever made or even that it is a great game. It’s a good title that had significant problems but enough strengths to get it by as well. I’m still glad that I ended up pre-ordering it and experiencing the journey day 1. It wasn’t disappointing the way that Star Fox Zero was. Hey, I did play it for 26 hours right? It’s the kind of game that I think I may have given a much higher score back when I was a kid and a completionist for games that didn’t even have trophies. At this point though, the game has to have a phoenominal reward for me to do that since I have so many games on the backburner. I recommend checking this out if you like 3D games or are an LoZ fan. Of course if you’re the latter, then you probably already own the game. I’m hoping that the next one goes back to its roots though. All I’m asking for is a classic LoZ game with a good plot and not a whole lot of gimmicks.

Overall 7/10

Mario Kart: Super Circuit Review

It’s time to review the first of the Christmas games! I ended up obtaining 9, which was a pretty solid amount. For the first time in many years, there were more portable games than home console at 6-3. It’s good to go retro once in a while and this was one of them of course. I’ve always been a big fan of the Mario Kart franchise. While none of the other games will ever come remotely close to taking down Double Dash, the other titles still have a lot of heart. This GBA installment is a rather simple and small version, but it gets the job done. It’s fun for on the go or just to unwind and relax.

As always, the main emphasis will be on Grand Prix mode. You can also play Time Attacks, but most players will probably be going right to the tournaments. There are 4 standard tournaments for each of the 3 difficulty settings and then a 5th that you can unlock by completing the first four. With 4 stages in each cup, that comes down to 20 stages in the game. It’s a pretty decent amount and debatably it is better to have 20 unique stages than 50 color swapped ones. Some of the Wii racing games tried that, but it’s very obvious. Nintendo’s never stopped to such tricks. Each race is only around 2-3 minutes so they go by really fast. Of course, that also means that you’ll be breezing through the tournaments at a very rapid pace.

I completed one tournament on Christmas and then did the next 4 the day after. I also completed one tournament in the other two difficulty settings so I could get a feel for how different they were. The main difference is definitely the fact that your opponents will rarely ever use items on 50CC, but they will use them a lot in 150. Their adaptability also gets a lot better and their cars were already unnaturally fast so it’s tough to stay ahead of them. I imagine that it would be very difficult to come in first on the snow level or the sand one. A bunch of them would be really difficult come to think of it.

Nintendo did a good job on the difficulty with this one. It can also be a little “cheap” at times since you should all be at the same speed, but I guess it’d be hard to program the difficulty in otherwise. As good as the computers drive, getting hit by items would probably mess them up a bit. It doesn’t feel unreachable either though and would probably just take some extra tries. Since the stages are all very short, the replay value is high. Even if you lose, it’s not as if you lost a bunch of time right? I think they should have added some extra incentive to beating the tougher level tournaments though. As it is, you don’t unlock any stages or characters so why would you do it? I believe you get a new title screen or something which is fine…but it could be better. This means that the replay value here mostly just comes from the personal satisfaction of taking down all of the variations of the tournaments. I would mention the multiplayer mode, but a lot of people don’t have GBAs anymore so I don’t expect you’ll find a match. Furthermore, I’m playing this one on the DS myself so I couldn’t play it that way even if I did find someone. The tournaments are enough of an incentive to ensure that you’re not ripped off though. I can’t imagine paying 30 for this, but 5-10? That’s definitely not bad at all.

The gameplay is pretty smooth. Some of the turns can be a little tricky, but it’s the kind of game where you just have to learn when to turn. Once you play enough, you’ll be nailing every aspect of the stage. It is very skill based and with less items being thrown around, you barely feel the gimmicks at times. I know that I need to work on my turning to be a better Mario Kart player in this game. I feel like I lose a lot of speed because I just hit the brakes for every turn. It seems to be the most efficient way to drive, but I somehow just don’t think that this is the case. There’s got to be something that I’m missing. Being able to jump is another fun feature in the game although it’s not all that useful. My L button started to act up towards the end so I couldn’t use the items as well as I wanted to, but you can still get past that with solid driving.

The graphics hold up well for the GBA. The character designs are all fun and retro. It’s cool how they haven’t changed all that much over the years except for Bowser. I have to say that he looks quite different. Between the CD-I games, the Mario comics, and this title, it really goes to show how this style completely died out. The old design was fun, but I probably do prefer the new one. Both have their moments though. The soundtrack is great as always. The tunes are fun to listen to as you play and Nintendo is still at the top of the line when it comes to this. Most Game Boy Advance games did have a soundtrack, but a lot of them were either very limited or only had a few catchy songs. This is a bit of a bold generalization since we do have quite a few RPGs and other franchise titles with fans who are ready to tell me differently, but aside from Sonic Advance and the Pokemon games, what other GBA title has such a solid all around soundtrack? I may be forgetting something myself, but this game is certainly up there.

Overall, Mario Kart: Super Circuit is a solid game. It’s also cool to see some of these old stages for the first time in a while since they were present in Mario Kart Wii as part of the crossover appeal. I like to think that I kept my skills from those other titles which is why I was dominating the computers here for the most part. It’s clearly not as expansive or awesome as Double Dash, but this was a nice way to keep the series going. I’m now one step closer to being caught up with Mario Kart. I just need MK7 and MK8 and then I’m back in biz. It’ll be fun to play those as they’re a lot more modern so it’ll be a very large contrast. If you haven’t gotten this game yet, then it’s still not too late. You’ll have a blast, regardless of how long it’s been. Good gameplay doesn’t feel the same wear and tear that other mediums can get blasted with. Just look at Galaga or Pac-Man.

Overall 7/10

Star Fox Guard Review

After the interesting Star Fox Zero experience, I walked into this game with slightly leveled expectations. Luckily, Guard accomplishes what it set out to do and plays out like a fun little minigame adventure. It is similar to the Captain Toad game in the way that it doesn’t feel like a full title, but is still fun. It even has a little plot which is always fun to have and there are actually some online features which add to the replay value. Need I also mention that the game’s main story is longer than Zero’s campaign? Zero took 2 hours and 52 minutes while this one took 3 hours and 9 minutes. Close of course, but Guard took the win here.

You play as an original character who has been hired to help defend some mines. Slippy and Grippy offer some “helpful” advice once in a while, but in the end your skills are the only thing keeping the alien robots from conquering your precious metals. Are you up to the task? There are 50 Story Mode missions with there being 10 per world. Each world has a cutscene for the very first level and for the last one, which is typically a big boss fight. There are actually one or two cinematic cutscenes as we see Team Star Fox arrive to lend a hand. It is always pretty hype to see the main characters. “Fox here” never gets old as Fox’s opening line to the other characters. I still don’t understand why he was so quiet in Zero for most of the game though. In most titles you would expect some banter, but Fox likes to just tune out the villains I suppose.

The gameplay is fairly original. You have the Gamepad for the aerial display of your cameras and the TV lets you actually see what is happening. Your 12 cameras all have laser guns inside of them and you have to blast away all of the enemy robots before they can reach your generator. If they hit it even once, then it is all over for you. Each stage is similar to a Pac Man maze and the generator is always in the center. You can choose to start the level with the default camera layout or move them around to your own preferences. Typically I recommend moving them a little since the A.I. intentionally leaves a blind spot or two, but you should be fine either way. The game isn’t all that hard, but does require a good amount of concentration.

As you progress through the game, you’ll get level ups, which unlock new cameras. For example, you’ll have a camera that can stop time and one that can lock onto a few opponents at once. These really come in handy and especially the time slow one. That one is almost overpowered against bosses if you ask me. The time slow lasts for so long and recharges so quickly! Level ups also allow you to access more bonus levels. There are 50 levels total and I made it to 20 by the end of the game. You’ll definitely need to grind a little to make it to 50, but it should be a fairly painless endeavor.

Surprisingly, the Gamepad is actually utilized rather well in this game. The rest of Nintendo’s titles should take some notes here. The Gamepad screen shows you the cameras as mentioned earlier, but you still need the TV screen to accurately shoot at the enemies. It’s not tedious and it doesn’t feel forced. This gimmick is something that the Gamepad can naturally make use of and while you can theoretically complete the levels with only one screen, using both of them helps a great deal.

I like the look of the graphics. They are at the same level as Star Fox Zero so even though Guard is really a minigame, it looks and feels like a big budget title. There aren’t a whole lot of character models and levels so the ones that are there can have quite a lot of detail. It’s all very flashy and the cinematics that show up from time to time look quite good as well. As far as the music goes, it is all decently catchy I guess. None of the themes will be all that memorable, but we have some good heroic themes and some tense ones as well. It helps complete the experience.

As for the villains, I enjoyed the boss designs. The first boss was a King and he fit into the lore pretty well as Mario 64 had quite a few of those as well. There was a giant bird that was intense and the final boss was a blast to fight as well. It is tough to design a boss like this, but there is nothing more thrilling than facing off against a boss and just barely managing to take the win. That’s how the final boss of Guard was as I just barely beat him, only to find that he had another form. I kept on clutching the win through his 4 forms and it always felt satisfying. The bosses weren’t “cheap” or artificially difficult. They were just right.

Guard also has a good amount of replay value at its disposal. Aside from the 50 main levels, there are an additional 50 bonus missions which are harder than the story based ones. They will test your mastery over the game. There is a level system as well with the highest level being 50. It’s always fun to get some level ups and I could see that being a good incentive to replay levels until you max out. There is even some online capabilities which always helps out a little. That’s because there is one aspect of the game that I haven’t even touched on yet.

You can build your own levels sort of like Mario Maker. You don’t touch the actual design or layout as far as I know…although it is certainly possible. I sorta skipped the tutorial for building a level and haven’t gotten around to making one yet. I uploaded a tutorial level which is actually doing well online, but I need to sit down and really try to make something glorious one of these days. You can also go online and play other people’s levels which is always fun and competitive. You even have a global rank sort of like Street Fighter which is awesome. The downside is that when someone defeats your level you end up losing points. I’m not crazy about that and would prefer if each side (Building and Playing) had different ranks. I suppose you could just decide to not make a stage if you’re worried about that, but it’s not really a big deal. Just a slight suggestion for Nintendo.

Overall, Star Fox Guard is a blast. It remembered the most important quality that all games have to possess in order to be successful. Guard has the fun factor. It’s the kind of game that you can easily just boot up and start playing at any time. There is a lot of replay value here so I would actually say that it’s worth more than Star Fox Zero although neither are worth the 60. Even with Zero as a combo pack, I don’t think this is all that worth your money for 60, but 40 would be another story. It is certainly a blast though so you don’t have to worry about completely regretting your purchase. If you get the game look up Terry20 and prepare yourself for a dangerous level!

Overall 7/10

Super Mario Sunshine 4-Koma Manga Kingdom Review

So, apparently Nintendo has a Manga Kingdom lineup (Or had) where various Nintendo games would get some little 4 koma anthologies. It’s a neat concept. I don’t care for 4-Koma all that much and it’s basically the equivalent of stop motion for TV shows, but it can be entertaining if handled right. Considering that the whole “series” for Mario Sunshine is only about 20 comics long (20 pages) it goes by quickly and I didn’t grow tired of the jokes. Mario could be a little out of character at times, but that’s simply how things are supposed to work here.

Mario actually talks in one or two of the comics, which is intriguing. It turns out that Mario isn’t actually very smart as seen in many of the comics. He takes everything literally and gets himself into a whole lot of trouble this way. You will also feel bad for Fludd since Mario really puts the squeeze on the poor guy. Fludd wasn’t ready for this and now he won’t get to really enjoy his vacation time. It was probably the most emotional part of the series.

Back to serious matters for a second, this manga still illustrates the problem with 4 koma. As mentioned earlier, this is about as short a 4 Koma “series” as you can expect to find. And yet…..they already reuse some jokes. Mario spraying people who don’t want to be sprayed because he misinterpreted what they said happens a few times and likewise with the Fludd squeezing jokes. I mean..if you’re already reusing jokes during a 2 chapter title, just imagine what would happen if this was a whole volume long like Shugo Chara Chan. You can end up reusing the same joke dozens of times over and over again. You don’t want that and you know what…the fans don’t want it!

Luckily the jokes were good though. This wasn’t another Rock Lee or the disgraceful Sasuke series. Another factor to consider is that Mario Sunshine is still one of the greatest Mario games of all time. It’s very nostalgic to see all of the old elements and I’m definitely ready for the rumored Sunshine 2. If it ended up coming out the same day as Galaxy 3, I’m not sure which one I’d pick up. It would be a very tough choice, but Sunshine 2 would have to win out on principle.

The art is nice and clear. It’s not world shattering of course, but I like the art and it holds up well. Mario is typically drawn accurately unless the gag is for him to look tall. The artist got to draw a lot of various Mario elements and while they were not all that detailed at times, clarity of art is always important and definitely what I am looking for in a title like this one.

Overall, Good Job Nintendo. I’m satisfied with this 4 Koma Adventure and would definitely recommend it. After all, you can read the whole thing in about 8 minutes so if you can’t spare that much time for a Mario manga, you need to reevaluate your lunch break. Hopefully we’ll get some more Mario 4 Koma adventures since I believe most of the other games got some. Who knows, they may already be online somewhere. It’ll be tough to beat Mario Sunshine though since that game had it made. Too bad Bowser didn’t appear in any of the comics, but maybe next time!

Overall 6/10

We Ski Review

I rarely ever give video games a negative review. I’ve played hundreds of them in the past and have probably only considered around 10 of them to be downright bad. That being said, I’m afraid this game earns that. While it may have some redeemable features, it’s not enough to break even and I really won’t be missing this title. It was quite the challenge playing it for as long as I did.

There’s not really a story mode here. You’re launched into a very snowy island and have to fend for yourself. It’s tough, but your Mii is ready for whatever obstacles he may face. Prepare for a lot of not very helpful NPCs as they will tell you to be careful, but not much more than that. You can run around taking photos and doing side quests like that or just tackle each of the Ski trails. The one sad thing about the Ski Trails is that you’re just trying to get a solid ranking. You’re not actually racing or competing with the other racers in any shape or form. That’s a bit of a let down since I can tell you that the racing is the best part of the game and I only got to experience that through multiplayer mode.

For the Ski Trails, you get ranked on how fast you completed the level, how quickly you were moving, how many tricks you did, and how good you were at turning. If you get 3 S+ rankings and 1 D, your ranking for that stage ends up being a D. It’s a very dicey way to score a section and will make you wish that it was more like a regular video game which gives you a nice average. It doesn’t help that the game isn’t all that fun so you may not bother trying to get your ranking any higher after a while.

Why is the game simply not fun? It all comes down to the controls. This game is very unresponsive and you will find it accepting your commands after a delay at times, which can destroy you in the tricks category. Turning in this game is broken as the game wants you to do a lot of really small turns to get a passing grade, but it’s extremely difficult to do so while still getting a good ranking on speed. It’s just hard to get any traction in the snow and your character will simply refuse to move from his spot. It can get quite annoying and makes you restart the level once again.

Naturally, the game uses motion controls so you’ll be tilting your controls every which way to try and move, but it will be to no avail. You’ll quickly realize that it’s all futile, but at least you’ll understand the controls right away. You simply won’t be able to win with them…that’s a shame. As mentioned earlier, there are various modes here like racing and Moguls, but they all play exactly the same way. You’ll be riding down a slope with your Skis and it’s a fight to the finish!

On the bright side, the graphics are actually fairly decent. They’re not amazing, but they get the job done and the game is certainly very clear so you always know what is happening. The soundtrack is also fairly good. You can actually hear some Pac Man music if you strain your ears. I can’t prove this, but it certainly sounds like the classic theme, although it may have been slightly remixed. Either way, that’s reason enough to play the game right? Wrong!

There’s not a whole lot of replay value to be found here unless you actually like the game. If you do, then you can have fun in multiplayer or completing all of the quests in Single Player. Unlocking everything at the shop should buy you some time and getting all S ranks will be no small feat. You can probably spend lots of hours just owning all of the events as long as the controls are doable for you. The game is deceptively difficult thanks to the controls though so that really extends the game’s length. Seriously, it’s just unreal, but I did get an S rank or two myself so that was neat.

See, I just can’t get past the controls. Try as I might to like the game, it simply didn’t work for me. The game didn’t grow on me like the MnM’s game did. That being said, I’m still planning on getting the sequel at some point. It may just be the power of a good trailer, but the sequel actually looks really good and the gameplay seems to have sped up quite a bit. That’s what I’m talking about and the excitement/hype is very real now! I can’t guarantee that the sequel will be a good game, but I certainly hope that it can rise to the occasion.

Overall, We Ski can proudly show itself off to the world as one of the only bad games that I have ever played. At its core, We Ski still shines as a game with potential. The multiplayer mode is actually quite fun after all and the Skiing can be all right when the controls are actually working smoothly for a change. These things are just inconsistent at best and dicey at worst so you can’t really count on the game. A game should never be frustrating to play and I don’t really see myself playing this game again. It’s time for it to build up dust in the game collection area, but at least it had its moment. If you manage to get all S ranks in the levels for this game, you’re a true warrior!

Overall 4/10

Excitebots Trick Racing Review

excitebots trick racing box art
All right, let’s check out another game from the legendary 5 dollar bin! It’s games like this that make the bin so worth it for me because this is a hidden gem that I likely would have never played otherwise. It’s certainly not going to be the next Mario Kart of F-Zero, but Excitebots ended up being pretty fun and certainly worth the 5 bucks.

There is no plot so you are free to jump into the grand prixes. There are 5 different cups and each one has 4-5 different races in it. This title is a little different than most racing games as getting to 1st place is heavily encouraged, but there are other aspects in place. See, this game is also a bit of a stunt racing game as the amount of stars that you have in the end is what ultimately matters. Coming in first gives you an extra 55 as opposed to the 15 in second so that’s a good reason to get to 1st place, but you also want to do a lot of tricks along the way. No worries, they come rather naturally.

You get stars for drifting and bumping into other cars. If you decide to drive into a forest, you get a star for every tree that you dodge. The stars add up quickly there, but it is typically much more dangerous than the normal path so you have to decide if your driving skills are up to par. If you hit something, then you’ll quickly be taken back a little bit, which can eat up your time although it’s not all that bad. You’ll still be okay even if you crash a few times. Just make sure that you get the stars first. Naturally, you also have a nitro boost that you can activate quite often. You just can’t use too much of it at once or you will overheat so make sure to use it gradually and in bursts.

All of what I just mentioned was already in Excite Truck so let’s get into the new features for this title. This game placed a lot more emphasis on the Motion Controls than the older game. For starters, you’ll see various poles throughout the race. You will then have to make a motion with your Wii Remote depending on what color the pole is. Typically it will require you to make a sudden push forward or to act as if you are making a circular motion. To be honest, this is an addition that I definitely would have preferred to not have made the cut. Getting the motions can be as tough as you think considering the Wii Remote’s dicey reputation and it doesn’t add anything to the game. I can guarantee that the game would be even better without this gimmick although it certainly doesn’t hurt the game all that much. It was just a little unnecessary.

One of the new additions that I did like was the item boxes and tools that would appear. You can get items like some teeth to throw at enemies or a fishing rod to get some fish/stars. The items are typically fun and if you get a wrench, then you can turn into your true robot form. This was a good addition to the game and I’m glad that they added it. I certainly would like to play without any nitro or items as an option as well, but if you’re going to have some gimmicks, then you may as well add them all in right? You can play a lot of the individual minigames in minigame mode in case you really like one. There’s also a Poker Mode, but I decided not to try it out. It didn’t really pique my interest.

There are many other ways to search for stars during the race, but I’ll allow you to find those on your own. The actual gameplay is very smooth, which helps to negate the Wii Remote’s handling. The Wii Remote actually works well enough here. I would still prefer almost any other remote, but it’s passable as you have to hold it sideways to play this game, which has always been the best way to use the Wii Remote for a racing game. Each race is only about 2-5 minutes so they’re short, which helps to make them very exciting. Nothing’s worse than playing a really long race only to discover that you’ve lost and have to play it all over again.

The graphics are sound and the robots all look good. This is certainly no Mario Galaxy, but it’s still a big step above titles like Casper and Rudolph. The graphics are not bad, nor are they very good. They’re simply caught in the middle, but that’s not a bad thing. The designs still compliment the races rather well, which is all that I could ask of the title. The soundtrack is great, but I would expect no less from such a solid racing title. All of the themes are fast and intense, which lets you really feel like you’re in the race. Racing games have had a superb track record when it comes to the music included in them and this game does not disappoint here.

Completing the cups won’t take you very long. There are 24 courses and all of them are short, but you have to consider that you will be getting this game for a bargain price. Also, there is a good amount of replay value. If you get S ranks on all levels, then you can unlock the Super Excite difficulty so that you can play the stages yet again. Moreover, there are many things to buy with your stars. That’s where it gets to be a bit much though.

For starters, you have to actually buy the alternate colors for your vehicles. You have to buy the vehicles and then you also buy avatars for your profile and statues of your cars. This gives you a lot to buy, but earning stars isn’t so simple. For example, you will earn around 200-300 per race, but most of the cars are 2500-5000. I ended up with around 5000 stars when I beat the game so I bought one car. Imagine how long it would take to buy the 20+ profiles, 20 statues, colors, and cars. Certainly longer than I’d really be willing to play this game. I actually did bother to do the S ranks for Excite Truck, which shows how much fun these games are, but it’s not the kind of thing that I’d probably do now. Nowadays, Super Smash Bros is probably one of the only games where I’d actually go that far. Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay here is still a lot of fun, but I’ve got a lot of games to play so it’s best that I move on while I can.

Overall, Excitebots is a fun racing title. It’s certainly a lot better than you would expect upon looking seeing the cover and you should certainly give it a chance. It’s a short, but fun experience and the actual gameplay is quite good. It’s fairly unique for a racing game and you’ll have fun earning those stars as you beat the levels. The soundtrack is really good and the graphics are sound so this game really has no weak points. There’s also a multiplayer mode to boost the replay value a little higher. Yes, this is one of those 5 dollar bargain bin titles that is really tough to top.

Overall 7/10