Rygar Review


It’s time for the newest addition to the NES Online selection. Rygar had an interesting look to it. You don’t really play a lot of games where the main character uses a weapon like this. It’s sort of like a spiked shield. You do get other weapons as the game goes on though. This title had a lot of potential but does falter early on. As with some old games the main issue here was the lack of a map and how you had to solve puzzles to get through. That’s a bad combo because solving puzzles is difficult enough so throw in the fact that you’ll be lost and it gets even trickier.

This is one of those games where there isn’t much of a plot unless you check the booklet. You are thrown into the action and must now try to complete each level. Each level has a ton of enemies chasing after you so you have to beat them back and keep it moving. It’ll be tough but your attacks move very quickly so as long as your reaction times are on point you should be fine. Additionally you can jump on all of the enemies as well which helps a lot since that’ll stun them for a little while. I highly recommend jumping if the enemy numbers start to get a little too crazy.

What ended up stumping me is that I eventually reached a point where the mystical statue told me that I could not get any farther without some new weapons. The problem is that I could not find any new weapons. I back tracked my steps and ran all around but no dice. Without a map this ended up being a pretty futile mission. The game wasn’t quite big enough where I was about to check online and see where I should go. I searched for a long time and after I found no results I called it a day. It definitely was not the most impressive way for things to start on my end.

It’s a shame because the actual platforming is pretty fun. It’s very smooth both in how fast you move as well as in how strong your attacks are. It’s a pretty good blend. I could see myself really enjoying the bosses that would appear. It’s almost like a beat em up to the extent of how well you can fight while keeping in the platforming elements. I don’t understand why so many games want to throw in some puzzles anyway. This game just didn’t need them and would have been better off without these weapon limits.

The graphics are pretty solid. Everything looks to be on point which is certainly good. I like the enemy designs as well as the weapon. It’s all very clear and I didn’t notice any lag either. The music is okay from what I recall. The length is pretty hard to say but it’s likely around an hour or longer depending on how often you get lost. I believe that will end up impacting the replay value of this game but ultimately it will last you for a little while which is definitely a good thing.

Overall, Rygar has solid gameplay. It’s really some of the smoothest that I’ve seen on the NES. That said, it’s ultimately hindered by needing to switch weapons at certain points and not knowing where to switch the weapon. That really did the game a disservice. If you like that sort of thing then I’d recommend checking this game out. Otherwise this is a title that you should skip. Other games are on the NES that are just better platformers. In fact, one game coming up is a good example of that. When you just focus on platforming and ignore the gimmicks and extra stuff then you can ultimately end up having a terrific game on your hands.

Overall 5/10

Donkey Kong 3 Review


It’s time to look at the third Donkey Kong game. This one brings yet another new gameplay style into the mix. It’s pretty impressive how Donkey Kong would keep switching things up. It definitely ensures that the players will always have a new experience. I liked the style, but as with the first two games it is extremely short and it’s really hard to even say what the general plot is. The game starts looping before a plot can even really begin which does make things tricky.

Well you’re playing as a guy with a blaster. You have to blast DK back up into the trees when he tries to get down. That sounds easy enough right? Just keep blasting and you’ll have the levels over in a snap. The main obstacles that try to get in your way here as little insects that are running around. They try to jump in front of your shots to protect DK. The key is typically to blast them before they get close or ignore them and try to beat DK first. That’s really it. You can jump of course and I recommend it to get the blasts in a little quicker. That’s the extent of the gameplay though and before long you will be all done. Then you can just keep replaying the levels til you get bored or lose. The levels do continue to get more and more difficult with each cycle so you don’t have to worry about lasting forever.

As mentioned, I did like the gameplay. It’s interesting to see Nintendo come up with more of a shooter gameplay style since most of their games don’t work with that as much. They did have Metroid though so it’s not like it is completely unheard of. It’s definitely on the repetitive side though because there aren’t very many different enemies to worry about and the levels are so short. After a little bit you’ll feel like you’re in the cycle so it’s not surprising that this game never got quite as big as the first two.

As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely pretty good. It has that old Nintendo feel about it. The graphics are also good. I like the colorful enemies here and the nice backdrops. Nintendo always delivers here. It’s just a shame we couldn’t get more of an ending cutscene or something to make the game feel like it had a proper conclusion. Without that the loops feel a little more on the pointless side because you never see anything end which is pretty unfortunate.

One thing that would have made a real difference here is one extra level in the loop. In this one maybe there would be no insects and it would just be DK throwing barrels at you. The goal would be to to blast away at him while dodging his attacks until he is all the way up. That would feel more like a real end to each cycle and increase the stakes quite a bit. Trust me, doing that would definitely go a long way to making the game more memorable as well as more enjoyable.

Overall, Donkey Kong 3 is a game that has pretty much been forgotten to time. If you don’t have the Switch Online then chances are that you’ll never come across this game. It’s a shame but sometimes that is just how the ball bounces. I’d say you should give this game a quick play if you have the Switch. You should be able to beat it in about 15 minutes or less and then you can say that you’ve played one of the original Donkey Kong games. Pretty sweet deal right? I’d say it is at least. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll get a proper Donkey Kong 4 or something like that. It’s been a long time since the games used these various styles.

Overall 6/10

Pokemon Black Review


It’s time to take a look at one of the most iconic Pokemon games of all time. Pokemon Black/White got a whole lot of hype and recognition when it first came out. It had one of the biggest stories back in the day and a massive postgame. Well, it’s all deserved. After playing the game I can definitely see why it is known as one of the all time greats. This game really had everything you could ask for and then some. The main campaign does feel a bit short though. In terms of play time it is the shortest Pokemon game I ever played with only 14 hours before being completed. Yes, that’s even counting Pokemon Ranger and Mystery Dungeon.

The game starts with Terry getting ready to be a Pokemon Trainer. He has two rivals in this game, Bianca and Cheren. Both of them want to be the best as well but of course the best they can hope for is second place at this point. Terry won’t let go of the 1st spot. One obstacle in his path though is Team Plasma. They are an organization that believes Pokemon battling is wrong and intends to separate all of the Pokemon from their trainers. While most of the members are radical and downright evil, it is a very interesting premise. The idea of Pokemon battling in any setting other than the Utopia Pokemon exists in would be quite sinister. I’d actually be on Team Plasma’s team to an extent but of course in this game they are the villains so don’t expect them to be too reasonable.

The most neutral character within the team is N. He really believes in the cause and tries to do things the right way. He takes down the Pokemon League including the Champion just to prove that he is the best. He’s not running around committing crimes or anything like that. At the same time he is helping Plasma though so you do have to acknowledge that he is at least complicit in what is going on. He’s effectively acting as an accomplice the whole time. He’s one of the best villains that I’ve seen in a Pokemon game though. The whole climax of the story is also great with a lot of difficult battles and they’re all back to back. I can’t think of another time where I actually felt such a sense of danger and tension while playing through a Pokemon game. It was really quite impressive.

I actually lost to the first few gym leaders a few times. Then when I hit the Elite Four I got slammed by the first member. Granted in part it’s because it takes forever and a day to get the two EXP shares in this game though. Once I obtained them grinding was a lot more efficient. It was fun to actually see wild Pokemon who were stronger than all of my characters except for the main one though. Even when I finally got Reshiram he was stronger than 5 of my Pokemon which was pretty crazy. The game doesn’t hold back in the difficulty and I rather enjoyed that. It made things fresh and kept you on the edge the whole time.

The gameplay is basically the same as always. It’s a classic turn based combat system where you assemble a team of 6 and work to defeat all of the other trainers. There are also caves and such to navigate around as you try to get to the end. Most of the HMs are gone in this game but you will still need Cut at some point. None of the others are mandatory for beating the game which is pretty cool. It’s always sad when you have to throw these moves on a Pokemon because they could have used the spots for something better. I do recommend using Fly once you get it though. It saves you a lot of the legwork. The game follows the usual formula for the most part as you obtain the 8 badges and then fight the Elite Four. The main difference is how you get to skip the Champion and having a real final showdown in the castle at the end. I don’t think Pokemon’s ever really changed things up at the last second like this before so it was pretty awesome.

The graphics look great as always. The sprites are on point and we do get a few cutscenes here. The scene of Zekrom shattering the windows and showing up was pretty cool. It’s always nice to see Legendary Pokemon actually looking legendary. This guy got a lot of hype and it was all pretty deserved. Meanwhile the soundtrack is one of the best that I’ve seen. Pretty much every theme is amazing and I even liked the Team Plasma jingle for whenever you fight one of their minions. This game felt really high budget and was probably around GameFreak’s peak. It takes the best out of the past Pokemon elements while ditching the unnecessary ones. Mix that in with a bigger plot than usual as well as extra rivals and you have a winning formula.

As I mentioned the story is only around 14 hours but when you mix in the post game and catching all of the Pokemon I’m sure you will be here for at least 30 hours. There is a lot to explore and based on the difficulty for the main game I’m guessing that the postgame will be quite challenging as well. It’ll take a while to get your team geared up to deal with all of the threats left. Especially since all of the limited edition Gamestop Pokemon are long gone by now. You won’t be able to rely on them to win you the day.

Overall, Pokemon Black is an excellent game. If you like RPGs at all then I highly recommend checking it out. Pokemon Ruby is ultimately still my favorite Pokemon main game of all time but I would certainly put this in 2nd place. It’s just a ton of fun and delivers a complete experience. I’m definitely pretty hyped to get the sequel at some point. Black 2 and Heartgold are now the only two big Pokemon games that I don’t have yet. Once I have them then I will have finally gone through the entire series which is pretty cool. I do aim to play some more Pokemon games in the near future though so it’s going to be time to dust off the spinoffs.

Wario Land Shake It Review


It’s time to take a look at a Wario game that I hadn’t gotten around to purchasing until very recently. It’s always nice to see him take the center stage. While Mario is certainly the more heroic character, Wario’s definitely a guy that doesn’t let everyone push him around. He just goes at the villains with all he’s got and makes for an entertaining lead. Shake It is a solid game that is slightly held back by the treasure mechanic, but does bring a breath of fresh air into the usual Nintendo platformer.

The basic plot is that a mysterious pirate has kidnapped a bunch of fairies. One of them manages to escape and convinces Wario to help in exchange for a bunch of treasurer. The fairy also heads to a local pirate for help as well and she decides to come along. Can this trio really stop such a powerful adversary or are their stories about to come to an abrupt end here? Only time will tell, but this could get dangerous.

The gameplay has your usual end goal. You have to get to the end of the level only that’s not where the level stops this time. You have to free the fairy there and then dash back to the beginning of the level with a 2-3 minute time limit. If you don’t make it then you’ll have lost. You get to keep whatever treasure you grabbed on the way to the start. You have a few different control options like the usual jumping and ground pounding, but also new ones like slamming into opponents or throwing them at obstacles. You’ll get the hang of these controls pretty quick and from there on it’s just a matter of plunging through.

Each world has 4 levels and there are 5 worlds here. You may think this sounds extremely short right? Well, it’s not a particularly long game, but it’s almost as long as the usual platformer. (Most platformers are around 6-7 hours) I’d put this game in at 5 hours personally. Each level won’t take you longer than a few minutes. So you may wonder why you can’t just beat this game in 2-3 hours or something right? Well, the game forces you to collect a ton of treasure in order to unlock each world. You’ll need 200K for World 5, 150K for World 4, etc. It’s around 700K in total I believe. I usually got around 20-30K per level so I only had to do a little grinding for the final world. If I didn’t have to worry about treasure I could beat the levels way sooner. As if the mock you each level has a very direct route from start to finish. However, if you want to get the treasure you’ll have to go through a bunch of alternate paths to get at it. The levels don’t become super long or anything like that, but you do realize the time you’re wasting throughout.

I’ve never been a big fan of forced items. I don’t like the idea of the game telling me how I have to play it because you are effectively being penalized for blasting through the game. As a bit of a speed runner myself I like conquering the games and just showing them what’s up. I can’t do that if the game is holding my hand the whole time and taking me down the various paths. Since the game does show enough restraint not to make the counts too obsessive it doesn’t hurt much, but it just limits the game from being quite as fun as it could have been. At least its upfront about how much treasure you’ll need for each world at the beginning so you can plan it out as you’re going through the game.

The graphics here are definitely really good. I was also impressed that we got a full opening anime movie to start the game off with and one at the end as well. Why does Wario get all this fanfare rather than Mario who is supposed to be the company’s mascot? It doesn’t make any sense to me and I was thinking about it for quite a long while. I’m sure there is some rationale to this and I’m thinking it’s that Nintendo can experiment more with Wario, but I’d love this treatment for the next big Mario platformer. The soundtrack for Shake It! isn’t quite as impressive as in Yoshi or Mario, but it’s a decent array of songs. None of them really stood out to me though.

Then we have the bosses which are pretty inspired. One of the final ones does get a little cheesy with the only way to beat it being a move that you were never formally taught to do in this situation. Ignoring that, all of the bosses have unique designs and ways to defeat them. There are no recycled fights like you would see in most of Nintendo’s other big games. In part this is because each world only has 1 boss instead of 2 and I think that makes sense to keep each fight fresh. They’re all a lot of fun, but the best boss has to be the final one. Not only does he have a proper two phases like a Mega Man villain, but his design and moveset are really something special. The guy can fire off giant energy blasts and makes it look easy. Additionally he just feels like a final boss. The guy has his own throne. I’d love to see him make a comeback at some point. He’s one of the few Nintendo villains I’ve seen who is played completely straight. He has no comedy moments to speak of.

There’s a good amount of replay value here after beating the game. You can work to find all of the treasure chests or even complete all of the bonus missions. Then with that treasure you can buy some extra heart containers or the opening movie to re-watch at your leisure. I don’t think the game will still last for much longer after all of this, but it’s a fair amount of content that really helps justify the price even further. The game goes for around 15-20 nowadays which is a fair price in my opinion. It’s rare that Wario gets his own game so I’m glad Nintendo put some real effort into it.

Overall, Wario Land Shake It! is a pretty fun game. It was more enjoyable than I expected as the motion controls were actually handled well here. You don’t use them much at all except for aiming and it was pretty responsive. Wario makes for a fun lead and the game just feels very unique. It can’t be compared to Nintendo’s other titles so easily. Hopefully we get a new Wario Land game at some point, I think there is still a lot that can be done with it. I also think Nintendo should consider a crossover game someday with Mario, Yoshi, DK, and Wario mixing and matching all 4 of the styles. That would have the potential to be Nintendo’s best platformer yet!

Overall 7/10

Brawl Brothers Review


The SNES classics continue thanks to the Switch online. This time I’m looking at one of the old beat em ups for the console. I still think that beat em ups work best in 3D, but 2D ones still have their charm. The quality will naturally also vary with how much effort was put in and how new the title was. This one is a pretty reasonable game, but the fact that there are no save points and you do eventually run out of lives holds it back. You never want to have to try and beat a whole game in one batch. The rewind feature and access points mean that you can beat this game if you really want to, but it’ll certainly take some time.

There was a plot in the booklet I’m sure but the game just jumps you right into the action. Every time you beat a level someone joins your team so just keep going til you save everybody. Each level contains several areas. You have to defeat all of the enemies and reach the end to get to the next level. You have a standard attack which is your best move, but you can also dash attack and jump attack. Finally your character also has a special attack, but I don’t recommend using this unless you are completely desperate. That’s because this attack actually drains your health. Yes….your health actually goes down here. I can’t really see how that would ever be worth it here since health is a very rare commodity and your special attack isn’t even that good. It’s basically a flurry of quick punches.

All of the levels are pretty straight forward except for one where I really have to question the level design. It’s a maze and you never want to see any of those in a fighting game. You’re in the sewers and the goal is to get to the end. The problem is that all of the doors are fake except for one and they have you going through 4 different areas that all look the same. Without looking up a guide online you’ll be here for a very long time. I was beating enemies for about 20 minutes before realizing that something wasn’t right with how the level was still going. Sure enough I was going in circles over and over again. That definitely didn’t feel very legitimate especially since the level never gave any indication that it was going to be a maze. In a game like this you really can’t afford to have a level like that.

Beyond that level the game was good though. I do still like a solid brawler game even if this one definitely does feel dated with how many mechanics it is missing. A simple save feature and the ability to re-start at the level you’re up to would be a game changer. The graphics are pretty solid for its time. The levels look good and so do the character designs. Each level is different the game has a lot of different character models. The soundtrack isn’t memorable though, but you can’t win em all.

The game’s length seems to be about 2 hours since I beat the first half in under 1. It’s a tough game though and if you intend to beat it without save states or the rewind feature then you will be here for an incredibly long time. This title is no cakewalk and it will do everything in its power to take your lives away. The mechanics often make it easy for the villains to get cheap shots on you even if it feels like you were in the right spot at the right angle. Sometimes I would rewind up to 10 times just to get the hit because they would somehow move too quickly. It’s probably unavoidable I suppose. There’s not a whole lot of replay value here since after beating the game there is no post game content. That’s it, you’ve cleared the story and that’s its own reward. Considering that the game is free there is still more than enough content to satisfy you here.

Overall, Brawl Brothers is a game that may not have gotten very well known nowadays, but it did show us what a beat em up could do back in the day. Of course there were many others like Double Dragon which were more popular so this wasn’t quite the one that would change the genre forever. I’d recommend giving it a play. There’s a lot of fun to be had here. You may not clear the game but I think you’ll appreciate the setting and effects. I’m also getting closer to clearing the SNES and then it’ll be time to take a look at some of the other NES games that I skipped.

Overall 6/10

Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics Review


It’s time to look at an old SNES game. This is one of those titles that I definitely had not heard of before and is certainly underrated. The game has quality platforming mechanics that can hold their own with the other big side scrollers. It’s really surprising that the game didn’t hit it big.

The plot of the game is that someone has kidnapped the legendary crown from the village. In order to get to him we will need to defeat the 7 dragons and gather all the gems so that we can create Rainbow Road.  This won’t be a cakewalk and the mastermind behind these attacks should not be messed with. That being said, our hero is ready and eager for the challenge.

The gameplay is pretty simple. Your goal is to make it to the end of each level where there is a boss waiting for you. You can swing your club to dispatch enemies and you can swing it forward or up. You can also pick up meet that the enemies drop which will replenish your health and also give you a special ability at times. One lets you shoot bullet seeds which is very handy thanks to the range. The best weapon in the game are the twin axes though. When you find these in a level you are basically invincible since you can shoot two energy blasts that cover a very long distance. You can also swallow water but that is only useful for one jump in the whole game where you have to put out a fire log. It’s pretty impressive that the game added a whole mechanic for one scene.

This is a difficult game though so you will really need those weapons. Touching anything will hurt you and you don’t have a whole lot of health. 5 hits and that’s it. The minions run and jump out of nowhere so it can be very difficult to react to them on time. Then the bosses have tough attack patterns that they mix up quite a bit in order to claim the edge. The toughest one is definitely the dinosaur that shoots out a bunch of rocks and energy blasts at the same time. I couldn’t figure out a way to dodge the rocks so you’ll be banking in RNG a bit here. Just rush in and hit the dinosaur as much as possible since a drawn out fight is the last thing you want.

You will want to take their fighting habits to heart since you will be fighting a boss rush of every dinosaur in the game in the final level. That would be absolutely brutal on the original console without the save states and rewind feature. Even with them you’ll have a bit of a tough time, but you will naturally learn the movements the more you battle them. By the end the final boss doesn’t even feel all that tough in comparison. His second form is easier than the first one and I’m guessing that’s because it would feel pretty impossible by the end if the second form was even stronger than the first one. This way you get to sort of wind down as you approach the ending.

The graphics definitely look pretty good and have aged really well. This is the kind of sidescroller that I could see doing really well nowadays if it ever got a sequel. There’s just a good world and setting that this game has made which will really serve it well. Naturally the story isn’t too deep at this point since this was such an older game but they could definitely flesh it out with a modern remake. There’s just a lot of possibilities here for sure.

In terms of replay value there naturally isn’t a whole lot. Once you’ve beaten the game that’s it. You don’t even get to go back to the main menu at that point because the game is 100% done. It’ll last you for about an hour or so and then you’ll be all done. Considering that the game is free if you already have the online service then that really isn’t half bad. If anything it’s a steal. The SNES Online really feels worlds apart from the NES titles as these are full fledged games in their own right. Joe & Mac 2 has definitely earned that respect.

Overall, This is a fun game. It’s really got all of the elements that you would expect in such a solid title. The gameplay is rock solid and the game actually has a structure. You’ve got an ongoing plot as you try to grab all of the gems and are rewarded with a nice payoff through the ending. The game is not all that linear so you can choose to get whichever gems you want in any order. It’s like a Mega Man game in that way. You can also spend your money at the local shops to fix up your home and buy meat. I don’t really get what half of the items over there do though. Some like the Melon just makes it feel like you’re wasting money for no real reason. I’m sure the items all have a purpose but the game can be rather vague on that front. Well, it’ll be tough for the next SNES game to pass this one but never count one out.

Overall 7/10

Star Soldier Review


It’s time to look at the next title I was able to play in the NES Online collection. Slowly but surely I’m getting around to all of them. It’s definitely been fun to play these classic games. Star Soldier is similar to Galaga although I’d argue that it’s less refined. Certainly a good sci-fi game to dabble around with (especially when it’s free) even if it probably won’t hold your attention for very long. It gets the job done.

There isn’t really a plot although I’m sure one came with the booklet or something. The general gameplay is that of your average space shooter. You’re in a ship and the screen is always moving down. You have to blast away the enemies in front of you so it’s important to keep moving the ship so they’re never out of your range. You can collect power ups from breaking objects or blasting enemies which increases the amount of blasters you possess. After a time you will also get a shield as otherwise a single hit will destroy you. There are a few checkpoints in the level but the downside is that you lose all of your blasters so when you re-spawn it is very hard to stay alive. Best of luck!

It’s definitely one of those arcade games that you would have a very hard time trying to defeat in one shot. Of course, at the arcade you could probably just keep plugging tokens in until you won and on console you’ve got the access point equivalent. Otherwise I suppose you’d need to really memorize all of the attack patterns. Part of what makes this exceptionally difficult compared to other shooters is the fact that it’s hard to tell what is in the background and what is in the foreground. It’s like the Smash Ultimate Stage Builder in that respect as you can be tricked into jumping towards a cannon that isn’t really there. It’s the same with these objects, some of them aren’t there so you can shoot through them and others will block your blaster. Since just making contact with an enemy is fatal here that makes this a pretty dangerous gamble. It’s hard to avoid these objects as well since they take up a good chunk of the screen.

The soundtrack is pretty decent. Honestly you won’t remember most of the tunes, but the main menu theme is definitely memorable. Then you’ve got the graphics which are pretty passable all things considered. I’m assuming the background part wasn’t intentional so maybe that part should have been better, but perhaps that was the intent. Either way you will be able to see enough to be able to follow the action with relative ease and that’s definitely a good thing.

There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here since you’ll likely be dying around level 2 each time. As a result it won’t be quite as super exciting as it would be otherwise and you’ll not want to play for a very long time. After about an hour or so you’ll probably be ready for whatever the next challenge is. Still, it is a fun game at its core so maybe you’ll be engaged for longer than that. Star Soldier is a fun game.

I can’t speak to the various bosses here since I only ever beat the first one, but the enemy designs do seem promising. There’s one level where a mysterious head shows up to follow you around. It’s invincible, but touching it will make you lose a life. Then there’s a big robot that has a lot of blasters which I promptly took down. I don’t imagine there are a bunch of bosses since I saw on Youtube that someone beat the game in 30 minutes, but with that length I imagine they’re all unique which is good. Recycled bosses is the definition of laziness.

Overall, Star Soldier is a game that I hadn’t heard of until I played it, but I’m definitely glad I gave it a whirl. The NES Online has definitely helped me play a bunch of games that I feel like I probably wouldn’t have gotten to play otherwise so that’s definitely neat. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve got the NES Online as well. I don’t know which title I’ll be checking out next. Maybe it’ll be another alien shooter game or this time I’ll go for a longer title. Either way the review will be popping up here before long.

Overall 6/10

Kid Icarus Review


It’s time to look at my next journey into the NES ONLINE collection. This time Kid Icarus was my next conquest and it’s definitely one of those games that is reasonably fun but held back by a lot of dated mechanics. Fortunately the save states do help make up for these aspects.

The basic plot is that Pit has to stop the ultimate evil known as Medusa from destroying his world. Lady Palutena has gifted him with many skills and now it’s up to him to put them to use. The gameplay is pretty basic as you jump from platform to platform as you deal with monsters by shooting your arrows. You can shoot your arrows in a straight line facing forward or up. Typically the levels will ask you to either climb very high or go all the way to the right. Each world has 4 levels and there are 3 full worlds with 1 final level. The 4th level in each world is the boss level which also serves as a huge maze.

The normal levels are pretty fun and will really test your platforming skills. A single misstep can mean the end of you. Your health also depletes quite rapidly so you’ll want to keep an eye on your health bar at all times. You do get a few lives so you won’t go all the way back but these levels are quite difficult so you would be wise not to underestimate them. You obtain hearts by defeating enemies which you can trade for health potions or temporary attack upgrades.

What holds the game back is the 4th level of these worlds. The mazes are quite frankly way too large. You’ll be lost with no end in sight here. It works like Metroid where if you don’t have a guide you will need to draw a map of your own. I can definitely acknowledge the time and dedication you would have had to spend to do such a thing back then. Games are really tricky back then…maybe too tricky. After all, this is more tedious than challenging after a point. You can easily waste hours going through this just as I used up a bunch of hours in Metroid. Some games just really haven’t aged well to be honest. Others have continued to excel though so that’s a good thing. Kid Icarus is kind of in the middle. It’s not bad, but this does prevent it from being truly good.

The final level is a nice look at what the game could have been like though. It’s an aerial level where you blast away at enemies in a level where the camera is constantly scrolling. It takes a lot of skill to blast your way to the end but it also doesn’t feel tedious. The final boss is also quite inventive as you have to blast at the enemy while blocking her attacks. You can only pick one option at a time so you have to constantly time your attacks just right. Mess up and then it’s all over for you. Definitely not a final boss to be taken lightly either. This whole game is one that is more challenging than it may appear at first glance.

As for the graphics, those are pretty good. The game uses the classic sprites as were the norm back then. The sprites do a good job of giving the characters clear designs. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is pretty basic but effective. The main theme has certainly become iconic over the years. I can’t say that I really recall any of the other themes off the top of my head, but it’s pretty soothing and fits in with the levels. After all, this game is a pretty calm platformer in the sense that there is no timer. You can take as long as you need to in order to fully process the enemy movement patterns. Slow and steady will win the race here.

A unique gimmick this game also has is the fact that a certain enemy can transform you into an eggplant. If you are hit with this curse then you need to try and find a healing station to cure you. Until that happens you can’t attack anymore which puts you in a very vulnerable spot. It can definitely be annoying when it hits you since that’s most likely it for that life, but it’s a fun little feature that’s just so random that it really works.

Overall, Kid Icarus has its fun moments, but its downsides as well. You gotta take the game as a mixed package and likewise I gave it a pretty mixed review. Honestly there isn’t much reason to play it as this point though. If you want to experience the Pit adventures then just check out Uprising. It’s an improvement in literally every way and is a very satisfying experience. The original Kid Icarus is a good title to play for the novelty, but you won’t be missing out on much by skipping it. I’m sure it was fun for its time, but there are just better platformers to play nowadays like CupHead or something like that. Of course if you already have the online Nintendo Switch membership then you may as well check the game out since it’s free. It’s only a few hours long and you can use the save states as much as needed in order to secure your win.

Overall 5/10

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword Review


It’s time to look at another one of the MyNintendoReward games that I got recently. With this, the only one that I haven’t completed yet is the Legend of Zelda one which admittedly could be a while. It’s been a fun ride and these small games have been a nice break from the big ones. To say that this game is short would be an understatement, but since it was only 2-3 dollars that really isn’t bad. Naturally it isn’t quite as spectacular as Freedom Planet, but it’s a very unique game with a gimmick that works quite well.

The plot is fairly basic as the princess is kidnapped by some villains. The poor Kappa is the only one who remembers her getting kidnapped, but he isn’t a fighter so he waits until someone can back him up. Hundreds of years pass and no one is worthy, but finally a samurai shows up. The Kappa gives him petal powers which allow him to slice and dice the zombies. Finally, a hero has emerged. Still, will this kid really be able to stand up to the evil armies that are before him?

The gameplay is a reaction game which is the first of its kind that I’ve played. I don’t even know of any others. Basically you are in a 3D environment surrounded by enemies in each level. You have to wait for them to attack you and then you either dodge to the left/right or backwards. After you dodge you rush in and land a counter blow. If you time the dodge right you will get to strike back twice. However, if you attempt a second strike but didn’t dodge quickly enough then your sword will take damage instead. Mess up too many times and your sword will quickly become worthless. Sharpening the sword is pricey so if you aren’t sure about going for the 2nd strike just be satisfied with 1. The more you fight the enemies the more you will master the timing.

You can also buy kunai which you can use to preemptively attack with or a frog that distracts the enemy while you strike. The best items in the game are the rice balls and revive though since they can help back you up against the stronger enemies. There is also a gold cloth that works the same way as in Saint Seiya and it will give you absolute protection against any attack. It won’t last forever though so use it wisely. Each level typically consists of around 5 enemies, but the boss level on each land is comprised of 6-8 rooms with the same amount of enemies so bring a lot of health items for those.

The final boss is definitely very tough and the game jumps a few levels there. The game is never easy but that’s likely the only part where you will have serious trouble. I had to do some minor grinding to quickly stock up on enough gold to buy the maximum amount of every item. Even then I just barely won. If this doesn’t work out for you, try to complete a bunch of the side missions in town to increase the amount of health items that you can hold. This game is pretty fair in how it rewards repetition so as long as you keep playing you will definitely be able to vanquish the boss sooner or later.

The graphics aren’t the best, but they’re not bad. I just don’t care much for the main character’s design as it has the crushed nose look which hasn’t aged well. The villains look reasonable even if none of them are all that memorable. I do like the petal effects whenever you hit an opponent. I can’t really recall the soundtrack all that well either so you’re mainly in this for the gameplay. Of course, at the end of the day that’s the reason you’re playing any game right? The gameplay holds up quite well and makes the 3 hours fly by. I ended up playing the whole game in one sitting except for the final boss where I had to put the game down for a bit.

There isn’t much in the way of replay value though. You can beat the challenges as I mentioned, but that’s about it and it won’t take you very long at all. You also unlock some survival modes in the main menu which can be handy. They’re pretty simple tasks like beat 30-100 enemies and shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for you. Maybe the 100 one depending on how strong they allow your sword to be. Pro tip, upgrade your sword as soon as possible whenever you get the chance. It makes slicing through the armies a whole lot quicker and in general it is just more convenient. It’s a permanent upgrade so it’s better than buying something that will just go away. Don’t be afraid to lose either, whenever you fail the Kappa appears to help you earn some gold.

Make sure to go into town and save from time to time as well. I couldn’t figure out how to save the first time around so I made it to the castle and then ended up losing my progress. It won’t delete your data unless you attempt to go to the main menu, but that’s still not something you want to risk. Going into town is always handy in general as well. If you land a good combo without getting hit you can sell the combo to the local shop for some money as well. It’s a good way of rewarding your dodging skills.

Overall, Sakura Samurai was a pretty fun game. It’s definitely short, but at a rate of an hour per dollar that’s not bad at all. I’d recommend checking it out even if just to test your reflexes. Are they as sharp as you think they are? If so then this game will be a breeze, but if not then you could be in for some trouble. Now it’s going to be time to finally check out the critically acclaimed Sonic Mania. I’m ready for those fast paced levels!

Overall 7/10

Freedom Planet Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent side scrolling game that I was able to nab for free on the Wii U thanks to the MyNintendo Rewards. I can’t say that I had ever heard of the game prior to getting it, but it’s considerably better than I expected. It’s not that I expected it not to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for the game to have such a satisfying plot with so many cutscenes. The voice acting also helped it excel to the next level. It’s a very complete game that has a solid amount of difficulty while always remaining fair and balanced.

The game starts off by assuming that you are familiar with the characters and the setting. That’s always a good approach and even though it would be impossible since this is the first game in the series, it shows that the writers already have a pretty good idea on the background behind the characters. I’m sure we’ll be learning quite a lot about them in the sequels. For now, what you need to know is that Lilac is the main character. She’s a powerful dragon who has the ability of super speed at her disposal. In an instant she can cross large distances like Sonic. When an alien crash lands on the planet and warns her that an alien invasion is coming Lilac prepares to help. The problem is that both kingdoms on her planet refuse to co-operate and her friends aren’t strong enough to help her. It’s time for Lilac to save the world!

The gameplay is your classic 2D side scroller. You run and jump as Lilac as you attempt to get through the level. These stages aren’t always linear though as you may have to go back and forth to find card keys or find where the true path is. Most games of this style put in a lot of pit falls to trip you up and that’s actually the main area where the 2D Sonic games tend to falter. This one makes no such mistakes and the only level where you even can fall is the final one. The rest are fine so you can just focus on speed blasting through it. As far as attacks go you can trow out a slicing attack, skyward uppercut, ground dive, and even a super charge. The charge gives you invincibility against almost any kind of attack and is really handy against bosses.

However, the best attack in the game is certainly your helicopter move. Just double tap the jump button to activate it and deal heavy damage. The move does have a lot of end lag though so against the final boss use it with caution. The bosses are all quite diverse with a lot of different attack patterns to memorize. The game doesn’t bother with recycled animations or levels the way that some games do. This one has a lot of heart and you can tell that the developers did everything they could with what they had on hand. The gameplay is just a blast and it’s easily one of the best 2D games I’ve played in a long time. In terms of sheer gameplay it even dominates popular franchises like Sonic, Kirby, and Yoshi. Mario’s still the best in the genre, but I dare say that this has a solid shot to be 2nd. Of course, it’s a little soon to be saying that after one game so we’ll see how the sequel holds up. Hopefully it is ported over to the MyNintendoRewards shop soon.

The graphics are very solid as well. The character designs are on point and the sprites are very polished. It’s the kind of game that is easy to look at and everything is clear so you always know where the obstacles are. The enemy designs are also a lot of fun. Even when there are a bunch of enemies on screen the game rarely lags which is quite impressive as well. We can’t forget about the soundtrack and that holds up just as nicely. The themes are all very fast paced and really get you into the heat of the moment. On a technical level this game doesn’t falter.

Then we get to the length of the game which is reasonable. It’ll take you around 4 hours to complete the game. Of those 4 hours around 1 hour will be comprised of cutscenes. As I mentioned earlier the story is quite extensive to be honest. Some levels have huge breaks in between them with the multiple cutscenes and they do a good job of getting you invested in the characters. There’a good amount of replay value here as you can play as Lilac’s two friends who have unique levels and a different story perspective. Maybe it would help you like them as much as Lilac although that seems doubtful. You can also try to collect all of the badges and cards which would likely take quite a long time to do.

Time to quickly talk about the characters. Lilac is a selfless hero who is always charging into danger. She feels that by jumping into the fray like this her friends won’t have to, but they aren’t happy about this since they have to bail her out. I agree with Lilac’s logic here even if the friends aren’t really on board. Every time they try to help they get taken hostage or something so Lilac taking point makes sense. Her dragon abilities also make her considerably powerful. She’s definitely the best character in the game.

Then we’ve got her best friend Carol. Carol is more about having fun than saving the world, but she’ll tag along with the lead to keep her out of trouble. Carol’s a decent character, but she does crack midway and basically ends up proving Lilac’s point about why she shouldn’t be involved in this. Carol can fight reasonably well though and makes for a good assist when she has finally calmed down. The only member of the trio that I didn’t care for was Milla. Milla is more of a kid than the others and gets rather scared by what is happening. The game may have plans for her, but she doesn’t have as much potential as the other two.

Torque is the alien who crash landed in the first place and I can’t say that I’m a fan of him either. The guy is constantly yelling at the natives to work together, but his planet was the first to lose so he can barely talk. He always seems prepared to destroy anything to stop the villains as well so I can’t really call him a hero. Add that to the fact that he isn’t useful in a fight and the guy is basically just around to slow everyone down.

Spade doesn’t get to do much here, but considering that he is the big rival I’m sure he will do more in a sequel. He seems to have a history with Lilac and his speed is on her level. I look forward to seeing him appear again soon and he is probably the only character who could possibly surpass Lilac. Finally we have Brevon who is the main villain. He’s certainly a brutal antagonist as he rips his opponents to shreds. I even feel bad for the prince that he mind controlled since the heroes never actually find this out so they end up beating him up and possibly destroying the prince since they thought he was just another villain. Brevon is certainly thorough when he conquers planets and is a very legitimate threat. He made for a great final boss, but getting on Lilac’s bad side was probably a big mistake here. There are other characters like the two governments but they weren’t quite as noteworthy. The body guard who was always talking back to Lilac seemed cool though. She would have made for a solid boss fight.

For one last point on the gameplay, I also liked the game’s continue system. Some games force you to restart the whole level when you get a game over, this one just sends you back to the check point. That’s definitely a good thing if you ask me since some levels are over 25 minutes long and doing the whole thing over again would have been quite the chore. Likewise if you die to a boss’ 3rd phase when you come back that’s the phase that you will start with. It helps make the difficulty a fun challenge as opposed to a tedious chore. With no huge punishment for losing you are able to experiment more.

Overall, Freedom Planet is definitely a really fun game. The plot is a lot of fun and I’m still impressed that there was full voice acting. Admittedly the sound did fluctuate quite a lot though so sometimes it was rather difficult to make out what was being said, but fortunately there are subtitles. Learning how to beat a boss through repetition is fun here and the game rewards defensive play in the meanwhile. If you rush in without a plan you aren’t very likely to succeed. Slow and steady wins the race. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend doing so. You will never look at the genre the same way again.

Overall 8/10