Pokemon Unite Review

Pokemon Unite is the latest free to play Pokemon title out there. It’s loaded with all the microtransactions you want though so you can buy just about anything if you want to give some money to the gam. There was some potential to be had here for sure but ultimately I don’t think Unite quite lived up to it. The main issue with the game is how long each battle takes so I feel like you need a complete overhaul of the gameplay mechanics in order to go farther.

When you first start the game you get a pretty nice cinematic. The graphics are really on point and you can tell that you’re about to jump into the crazy world of Pokemon. I allowed my hopes to jump up as I told myself that this would be one of the greatest Pokemon spinoffs of all time. Then you’re taken to the main menu where you learn about the game. There’s a lot to the gameplay so it’s tricky to explain but here’s the basic rundown.

Unite is a 5 on 5 Pokemon battle that uses a real time overhead view. The goal is to knock out wild Pokemon or opposing team members to store up some energy. You then go to one of the opponent’s cores and use the energy to take it over. When you have accumulated enough energy to do so, you slam the energy down in a Basketball slam dunk of sorts and take over the area. Rinse and repeat until the time limit is up and the match is over.

Each match is around 10 or more minutes so that’s a lot of time to run around and explore. You will want to try and coordinate with your teammates but that isn’t easy in an online lobby. I’m not sure if you are able to connect your microphone but if you can then that is probably your best bet to get everyone on the same page. You can send generic orders using the control pad as well though.

Whether you run straight at the enemy or try and protect your own bases initially, it’s your call. There’s no best strategy I’d say, it’s really about how you execute it. Each Pokemon has their normal attack, two special moves, and a final smash. Yo want to master each ability so you’re ready for action. Of course, when the match is starting everyone has to scramble to choose which Pokemon they want to play so the odds of you getting to play the same one a lot is pretty rare. Unless you like playing as Slowbro or something since nobody seems to want to play as him.

Charizard is probably the best Pokemon from the ones that I played. Note that you start out as the Pokemon’s rookie form and gradually move up by defeating opponents. Eventually you will level up during the match and then you repeat the process for future rounds. So this all sounds pretty decent right?

Well, the gameplay is good in theory but it just didn’t really mesh with me. The time limit is too long for starters, I’d prefer a stock ruleset as opposed to time. Maybe do it by score instead but the problem with time though is that you will probably know if you are going to win or lose by the middle of the match. So you can either quit and live to fight another day or just stick it through. I’m not sure if you keep the EXP if you quit so keep that in mind. I didn’t put that to the test here.

The battles also feel repetitive very quickly. You don’t feel any real weight behind the blows. I think a 1 vs 1 battle or 2 vs 2 would have worked better than 5 v 5. This is really aiming more at the World of Warcraft/League of Legends crowd with the widespread battles. I can’t speak to those titles since I haven’t played them but for Pokemon it hasn’t yet worked. The game is a little too limiting.

So even though it’s free I don’t see you sticking with this one for very long. Ultimately it’s a fun game to bide your time with but that’s about it. Eventually you’ll be ready for the next thing. Still, I will say that the graphics are good even after the opening cinematic. The Pokemon character models are on point. Additionally, I’d say that the soundtrack is pretty solid as well. You get some classic Pokemon themes. Maybe nothing too exciting but it’s good enough as background music to keep you going.

Ultimately to move up this game just needs more content. Whether they add in a 1 vs 1 mode or maybe even a story mode, that would help immensely. You need that here to give the game an extra kick. Something to help it stand out in a crowd and give you reason to play it. Otherwise there are just too many good alternatives out there and you don’t want to miss any of those.

Overall, Pokemon Unite may not have lived up to the hype for me but it was fun to give it a shot. The game may appear very greedy with how it wants money for everything but it is still a true free to play in the sense that you don’t need to buy anything. Stick on the free path and you will still have every option available to you. Now that’s a good bargain if I’ve ever seen one right? What we need now is a free to play Pokemon runner game. Now that would have lots of potential.

Overall 5/10

Super Bomberman R Online Review

It’s time for the latest game in the classic battle royale style. At this point there are quite a few that have tried this our such as Mario, Tetris, Pac-Man, and now we have Bomberman. Unfortunately this one may be the weakest of the batch. It has some interesting ideas but it does feel like they put less effort into it compared to the others. The menu layouts aren’t great and the tutorial doesn’t even cover a lot of the controls. There isn’t a practice mode where you can try this out for yourself either. So at the end of the day what that means is this one just doesn’t hold up.

The main mode of course is to jump in and start a 64 man free for all. You run around the map and drop off some bombs in order to knock the other players out. You have two health points so if you get hit twice then that’s it for you. When the match starts you are effectively boxed in and have to blow up crates to get out of there. Each bomb destroys some tiles on all 4 sides of it. You want to stay out of range since your own bombs can certainly hurt you. After a while the stage will start to explode so you have to go and run into a different room. Once the blocks fall again you restart the process.

It may sound simple enough but you also have to factor in the special abilities. Each character aside from the main Bomberman fighters have a special ability to watch out for. For example, Solid Snake is in this game and he has the ability to turn invisible. That way you can’t see him until he throws the bomb and it is too late to dodge. Another character seems to have some kind of magnet. A lot of the characters need to be purchased so I didn’t try their abilities out but this is an interesting twist.

In most free for all games each character has the same abilities. Changing your character is purely cosmetic in order for everyone to have the same playing field. Well, that’s not the case here. Your characters all have way different stats. Another example is how many bombs you can put down. For example the average character can only drop one at a time but some characters can drop more than that. Then you have characters with bombs that have a longer reach, can throw farther, etc.

Due to each of the characters having different stats, I definitely expect we’ll see characters belonging to different tiers before long. Not every character is equal this time around so I imagine this game will be less balanced than all of the others. That being said, we’ll see if enough people are playing the game for that to become a big concern.

On one of the first days of the game it was already taking a while to get a match. I suspect that’s more an issue with the servers that they’re using and not a lack of player base though. It just seems like it would be way too soon for that to really become a factor just yet right? It does make it a little harder to really get into the action as well. There’s just a whole lot of waiting each time which gets old. You’ll want to be reading something as you wait.

The graphics are good though. It all looks pretty modern and you can really feel the energy behind all of the character designs. The levels look nice as well and the game reminds me a lot of the Mega Man Powered Up game from back in the day. It’s got that kind of a vibe/look at the very least. So I have no complaints with the graphics. The music seems a bit limited but it’s not bad either. You won’t have much time to think about it to be honest.

It is rather odd that the game doesn’t properly teach you how to play the game though. Figuring out what each of the power ups do will be up to you. Additionally the same is also true for learning how and when you can pick up and throw bombs. If anything I think the game could have done without that. It makes the strategy aspect a little more intense if you have to run around and dodge as opposed to just throwing the bombs away. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the labyrinth?

In the end, the game just isn’t nearly as fun as it could have been. Pac-Man was hype with how the gameplay worked and Tetris was absolutely stellar. The shooter games like Fortnite and Call of Duty have the style on lock of course. I don’t think any of these will be passing those but at least you want them to put up a fight. Tetris did that really well by adding a ton of bonus content through the years and the gameplay just really works.

Bomberman feels more like a cash-in with no real content to speak of. You have a battle pass so eventually you will unlock some costumes and such but it takes forever. I played 5 battles but with all of the waiting between levels that wasn’t as quick as I would have liked. It’s not a bad game but it does feel like one that is just trying to grab ahold of the battle royale trend. The problem is, with so many others to choose from I don’t see why you would stick with Bomberman for more than a few days.

Overall, Super Bomberman R definitely underperformed. I would have to say that it just couldn’t quite keep up with the others. It really didn’t feel like it was trying either. There’s not a lot of heart to this game. There would need to be some big fixes/patches to really get this one back on the right track. If you’re a huge Bomberman fan then you should check this one out, but otherwise I’d say to give it a skip.

Overall 5/10

Panzer Paladin Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut Review

While the first Shantae game felt a little more experimental as it worked with the mechanics that would one day become legendary, this one immediately feels very modern. It’s got a lot of the classic character illustrations from later on along with the great music tracks. It’s aged quite well as this looks and feels a lot newer than the GBC era. If you like platformers or Shantae then this is definitely one that you don’t want to miss.

The game starts with Risky attacking town once again and Shantae is unable to stop her from getting away with a magical lamp. As a result the Mayor fires her from her duties of being a protective genie of the town. It’s definitely a pretty rough day for her, but Shantae won’t let herself get down in the dumps. She still intends to save the day and to do that she will need to find 3 seals/artifacts. Her uncle won’t tell her why they are needed though. Is it possible that Shantae is actually putting the world in more danger now?

I do think the Uncle is being rather shifty with not just telling her what’s up. That would very easily put everyone on the same page and it would just make more sense. I mean, why all the secrecy right? Risky clearly knows what is going on so now the villains have an edge in information. Shantae’s other friends may not be super helpful either for the most part but she does have one useful ally. Sky is able to help her with a lot of missions here that are needed to complete the game like making a frappe.

Rottytops also makes her big debut in this game and she’s a fun character. Not exactly the most heroic one out there of course but as a zombie she is always expected to be rather unpredictable. She’s just a fun character to have around. Then you have Risky herself who is always a great villain. She really has fun mocking you if you end up losing the level which is a nice touch. The cast of characters in Shantae is fun. They’re a colorful bunch who always have a lot of energy.

I think that’s part of what has always given the series a lot of charm. Throughout the game all of the characters are bouncing with energy thanks to the exaggerated idle animations and the art style. The graphics look excellent and I’d say a big part of that is how well crafted the art style is. The soundtrack is also ahead of its time with the solid themes. The music themes have been remixed a lot over the years and they always land well.

As for the gameplay, it is greatly improved from the last one. The hair attacks have some real range now which is pretty huge. You feel like you can hit opponents without having to take a counter attack at the same time. Everything’s a lot faster. The only part you can tell hasn’t been fully finished is the dance transformations. Instead of a shortcut for each dance, you have to let the dance linger on longer for each transformation. Later games would add a button shortcut which is quicker.

As with all Shantae games, there is a good amount of strategy here as well. Each new form allows you to access new areas so it’s important to keep on back tracking to where you used to be each time to see if there are more collectibles to get. The hub world is rather large so make sure you wake up every teleporter you can. It’s not exactly instant travel but it will save you a lot of walking. There is a map but it’s definitely not the most helpful since it doesn’t show you your position on it most of the time. There’s also one point in the game where they get the directions wrong so you end up having to run around the hub world a bunch.

The main game isn’t very long. You should have it beat in 4-6 hours I’d say. In terms of replay value, you can always go back and try to get all of the collectibles and health upgrades. I believe the ending illustration also changes based on how quickly you complete the game so that’s fun as well. I wouldn’t say there is a huge amount of replay value for these things with the post game content but the game is fun so you should have a good time exploring the levels.

Unlike the first game you aren’t able to keep on rewinding and using access points. So in that respect you might expect the game to be a lot harder but I would say it’s easier either way. That’s probably why they felt that rewinding wasn’t needed. Thanks to your extended range you should be able to get through most areas without an issue. The only time you’ll be dying will be for particularly difficult platforming moments or if you’re trying to rush through an area since you’ve already been through it many times before. As long as you take your time then you’ll be good.

Around town you’ll see various side things you can do like joining the battle tower or buying upgrades at the shop. The tower’s a really good idea for earning a lot of gems. For the shop I would recommend maxing out your hair’s attack/speed since this comes in handy quite a lot. After that I guess maxing out your fire and the pike ball are good. Also you should buy the 9 pack set of health bars. Each drink completely restores all hearts so that means you can fight a boss while essentially having 10 health bars. Even with that the final boss did take me a pair of tries so this is definitely not someone to underestimate. As with most platformers the key is to figure out first how to hurt the boss and then you’ll be good from there.

Overall, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge definitely feels like the point where the series really became modern. All of my big issues from the first game were addressed here. Ultimately I would still put Half Genie Hero as the best Shantae game of course but this one holds its own. I definitely recommend checking it out if you can still get a copy from Limited Run Games or you can always go the digital option.

Overall 7/10

Shantae Review

I’ve played all of the newer Shantae titles but I hadn’t gone back to play the older ones before now. Well, Limited Run comes in handy with these remakes/ports so now I can experience the original game with the full Nintendo Switch experience. The game holds up pretty well. There are definitely some areas where you can tell it isn’t quite as polished as it would be for the future games but the core essentials are all already there.

The story follows a half genie named Shantae who is the guardian of a village. One day everyone is attacked by a pirate known as Risky Boots. She is trying to assemble 4 mysterious rocks that each have a lot of power. Shantae will need to try and grab them first to avoid calamity. Still, it’s unknown exactly what these rocks do so Shantae will have to be careful. She’s also effectively on her own with this mission since nobody else dares get in Risky’s way.

One difference with Shantae compared to other platformers is that the entire world is connected. In a way it’s like Metroid but it’s more of a straight line. The world is essentially flat in this title. If you start out at Oasis town for example, you can run to the left and eventually you will make it back to Oasis Town. It goes without saying though that the game won’t let you do this until near the end since you would need the flying ability to pull that off and it’s the final power up that you get. Makes sense though because otherwise you would be blasting through the areas a little too easily.

There is no map in the game so proper navigation can be a little difficult at times. The characters technically give you a hint when you’re trying to figure out where to go next but the hints are always not very helpful. They hype up the place itself more than giving straight advice. You’ll see them say something like “The mountain is pretty cold up ahead” but that doesn’t really help you out since there are exits to the town from left and right so you can’t be sure what ahead means. At times I basically travelled across the whole world and back when looking for the right spot. Fortunately the world isn’t huge so you can do this but it will take a little extra time.

The game has access points though which is great since you’re going to need them. If you aren’t sure which way to go, just leave yourself a backup save so instead of walking all the way back you at least have a checkpoint. It’s also helpful just when you’re walking around or for boss fights. The enemies can be rather tricky and the spikes come out of nowhere so having regular access points will help you get through without a hassle. Access points are something that I’m always quite glad to see in these games. It’s a great way to add a modern twist to the more retro styled games.

As for the gameplay, it definitely feels a lot like your classic Shantae experience. You use your hair to smack enemies out of the way. You can also dance to turn into animals like a monkey, elephant, and even a bird to get past obstacles. The dances definitely get very handy when you are trying to get to the next point of the game. Your hair’s length is pretty short though so timing your attacks is absolutely critical if you don’t want to get countered right away. You can find upgrades to your health along the path as well as new attacks so search each area carefully.

The soundtrack is also a lot of fun and you should recognize the tracks from the newer games. They may have been remixed a few times since then but the core beats and energy still remains the same. The game definitely sounds really good particularly considering how long ago it came out. It just goes to show that good music is quite timeless. The graphics are a lot older since they’re from the Game Boy era but they work well. The stage designs especially stand out and I liked Risky’s design here. She looks like some kind of evil vampire with the way the graphics look here.

In terms of length the game should last you around 6-7 hours I’d say. It’s a pretty decent length especially considering the difficulty level. If you are able to not get lost or shred your opponents really quickly then you can probably shake that timer down just a bit. In terms of replay value you can work on getting all of the power ups so that you really destroy that final boss but there isn’t a post game in this case so for the most part you are just focusing on playing through the main campaign. There are minigames and such you can find along the way though and if you gather enough squids you won’t have to walk quite so much since you can teleport from town to town. Now that’s a great incentive to grab collectibles if you ask me.

Overall, It’s good to finally have gotten to play the original Shantae title. It’s definitely a solid platformer that I would recommend. It’s considerably more difficult than the newer Shantae games since you can’t amp up your speed and attack into broken levels but you do have access points which really evens the playing field. Just be smart where you save it and you’ll be good. Also, note that losing a life doesn’t reset a boss’s health so having multiple lives is a great way to prepare for the boss. In particular the final boss is really tough. Even now I can’t say that I figured out a strategy for her beyond just getting hits when you can and staying far away so she doesn’t counter.

Overall 7/10

Kirby Star Allies Review

This game has been on my list for a while at this point and now I’ve finally gotten to give it a whirl. Nintendo always delivers when it comes to quality platforming and naturally this game is no different. Kirby has a lot of solid level designs here and there definitely aren’t any real issues or glitches to speak of. The game is quite short though so you’ll be done with it very quickly. While there is a lot of replay value to be found here through other modes, it does keep the game from reaching the next level.

Star Allies starts off with a new threat attacking the world. Everyone is being mind controlled at the moment so they can’t help but embrace the dark power of a shadow heart. Kirby is the only one who can resist so he now has to go through various worlds to stop all of the corrupted. Along the way he will mind control a bunch of villains so that they help him in this quest. Will that really be enough to turn the tables though or will his quest end as soon as it has begun?

You get to see a lot of the familiar faces of Kirby such as Whispy Woods and the thunder cloud. It does remind you that Kirby has had a lot of enemies over the years but at the same time I do think the game could have had a little more fun with this and introduced some new characters. No reason you have to stick with the tried and true opponents right? One addition I liked was seeing Whispy’s father show up to take some names. The boss battle goes in much the same way as the first but it was a change of pace.

Like most Kirby games you can choose to run your way to the end of the level as you absorb enemies and use their abilities or you can cheese things by flying to the top of the level and staying there until you reach the end. It is encouraged to grab some abilities though as they come in handy for the boss fights. Additionally you can mind control up to 3 other characters at a time so that you have some backup going into boss battles. If you die that’s it but these guys can die as many times as needed and you will always be able to revive them. Their attacks do as much damage as yours so they can really be a good help in this game. Ironically the only boss fight I didn’t have them for was in the final level since they all got squashed by a block earlier. Those guys would have been pretty handy.

The graphics are definitely on point as you would expect. This is definitely a Switch game that feels like it’s modern gen. Nintendo doesn’t tend to spare any expense for how good their AAA titles look after all. The game goes all out here and especially in the final level we get some great cosmic backgrounds and even a bit of an energy battle. Meanwhile the soundtrack is definitely on point as well. You should definitely recognize some of the Kirby remixes and of course there are also new tunes to enjoy as well. When you factor all of this in together it makes for a very complete product.

As for the length, as mentioned this game is around 4 hours. You shouldn’t have a problem beating the levels because the game is pretty easy for the most part. I wouldn’t say you’ll see any difficult levels until the final boss which should actually give you a bit of a challenge. Not to much the final, final battle since we go into 3D so that’s more of a cakewalk but the final 2D battle goes all in. There is a good amount of replay value though like the various extra modes you can unlock. Effectively this allows you to play through the game in a lot of different ways to spice things up. There have also been a few free DLC patches since the game came out so this helps with the character roster.

I’m now one step closer to getting all the way through the Kirby series. I still have a few more I have to get but I’m definitely ready for Nintendo to start coming up with some more titles because I am absolutely ready for them. The end of the game has some interesting ideas with a quick villain trio forming their own group as well as their boss. The game feels like it’s just about ready to crossover with LoZ with the final boss’s name even being directly related to Hyrule. I’m always up for crossovers so that would be fun someday.

They were pretty fun villains and I can see why they may get pretty big among Kirby fans. The thunder minion from the main 3 was definitely the best one for me, even surpassing the fire opponent. The sheer speed was quite impressive. As for the main villain himself, his final form has some Undertale vibes there. He was a very interesting opponent and in a way it’s a look at what could happen to the world should Kirby ever turn to the dark side. There definitely wouldn’t be a whole lot that humanity could do at that point and that’s probably what scares them. Kirby is absolutely instrumental to the safety of the universe to the point that there are no other defenses. No Kirby and there is no hope left.

Overall, Kirby Star Allies is a pretty fun game. You’ll be through it in a flash but the platforming is on point and Nintendo definitely has this system down. If you were buying this for 60 you may think that the content is just way too small and that’s fair but now if you can get it for around 30 that’s not too bad. At the very least you’ll enjoy the boss battles and it reminds me of why the free to play game was so fun with all of those endless bosses running around. Experimenting with Kirby’s abilities is always cool and he has so many to choose from that it just works out pretty well. I do hope Kirby keeps up the tradition of every climax suddenly getting super high tier and cosmic, it helps the titles standout and who doesn’t want to save the universe at the end right? It just makes the experience that much more satisfying in the end. We’ll see how the next Kirby game stacks up to this one.

Overall 7/10