Samurai Warriors: Katana Review


Katana is a very unique Samurai Warriors game. The fact that it was for the Wii was already interesting and right away you can see that it’s nothing like the standard ones. The whole game is in first person view. I’ve never played a first person beat em up before so that was cool. The whole game also plays like an experiment or a tech demo as the game continues to change gameplay styles quite a lot. There aren’t many levels in each campaign scenario but a lot of different gameplays. It’s a fun enough game but best left forgotten as an experiment rather than giving it another try in the future.

In the game you are a mysterious soldier who has decided to help the cause of uniting the country under Nobunaga’s rule. You end up being the greatest soldier of all time and take everyone down. Each level has you defeating a ton of soldiers and even rescuing the leader. You get to battle with some of the iconic Samurai Warrior characters. The story isn’t the most ambitious or memorable, but it’s a fun enough journey. The plots for these games usually don’t take a lot of twists and turns anyway. I’d prefer to have played as a real character though.

As for the gameplay, like I mentioned it tends to shift a lot. The core gameplay has you pressing the A button to swing your weapon and you swing the Nunchuk for the super attack. Then the B button is to shoot your Gun at enemies. You also have a crossbow but the gun is just way better. It’s a little slow but the damage is on a completely different level so you definitely want to be using that one. Blocking is also very important in this game since it’s difficult to swing at all enemies before at least one of them swings back at you. There’s a good amount of strategy involved here. You don’t move as the enemies come to you.

Then you have the more traditional style where you run around to face off against enemies. This gameplay style doesn’t show up until the end of the game. It’s still in first person but the ability to move around in the large environment is definitely like something more out of the core Samurai Warrior games. There’s also another kind of style where you click on arrows to move your character one space in that direction. You keep on clicking until you are out of that maze/level. It’s a lot to take in but the actual gameplay isn’t very complicated at all so I don’t expect it will take you all that long to conquer this one and ace the opponents.

I will say that I did die several times in the game though. You can buy upgrades and items at the shop which are helpful. I maxed out attack power first and then worked on defense and health. The item shop’s healing items are also pretty good as they’re cheap to buy and even just being able to restore your health fully once is a big help. The final level has multiple bosses going after you so any advantage you can get will go a long way without a doubt.

In terms of graphics the game isn’t super impressive. It’s definitely not quite as detailed as the usual game but the illustrations are on point. There isn’t any lag in this one so that’s pretty good. With the in game graphics you always know what’s going on which is the important part. The soundtrack is largely forgettable. I can’t recall any specific theme here. So I think the bottom line in all of this is that the gameplay is solid but the rest of the areas don’t stand out. You should be playing this because you’re just a big fan of fighting gameplay or the series but it won’t beat any mainline entries.

In terms of replay value, the main campaign isn’t very long at about 3 hours. However, there are 3-4 other campaigns to play so completing them all should take you to around 10 hours. From there you can work on maxing out all stats and having a good time. Considering that the price isn’t too crazy on this one either it’s a pretty good deal I would say. You also have the added benefit of getting a bit of a workout with the controls as one level even has you run by shaking both controllers rather vigorously. If that doesn’t get you excited to rock out and have a blast then I don’t know what will.

Overall, Samurai Warriors: Katana is an interesting experiment in the series. It really feels like a one and done game but one that had a good amount of effort into it. The sheer amount of gameplay styles they squeezed in was impressive. It can even be a little difficult at times so you can’t just close your eyes and blast everyone away like you usually would. Still, when you have a core gameplay style that is already amazing, you don’t need to experiment like this. I would absolutely recommend any other Samurai Warriors game ahead of this one but if you’ve already played the others and want something fresh then this is a fun hidden gem to bump into. After having it on the backlog for almost a decade it was fun to finally knock it out.

Overall 7/10

Samurai Warriors: Katana Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 2h 48m

Stage Rank

Level 1 A
Level 2 A
Level 3 S
Level 4 B
Level 5 D
Level 6 A
Level 7 B
Level 8 C
Level 9 S
Level 10 S
Level 11 C
Level 12 A
Level 13 A
Level 14 A
Level 15 B
Level 16 B
Level 17 B
Level 18 C

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review


I have to give Nintendo props for finally adding some full free games to their menu. Now, it’s not quite the same as with Sony or Microsoft where they give you a slew of games that stay completely free every month. This one was time limited so it was only free for a week or so but it’s nice to have this. It also adds a level of urgency since you have to try to clear the game in that time. It was awful close but I did manage to clear this game right at the very end of the trial period so I have to admit that I felt pretty clutch at that point. Crash Team Racing is a lot more difficult than you would expect so you definitely don’t want to underestimate it.

The game’s story involves an alien showing up on the planet and deciding that he will destroy everything. He will give the heroes a chance though. they must all compete in a bunch of races and once we have determined who the strongest racer in the world is, then the villain will fight that guy. It’s a fairly basic story that’s just so we can have some context for the races. You can tell that it wasn’t exactly top priority to have a big involved story or anything like that. I do appreciate the game giving us several cutscenes though because it does make the story feel more authentic. Each world has 4-5 races that you have to conquer before fighting the boss of the world.

The gameplay is that of a 3D racer and of course the objective is to get to the finish line first. As you drive through the maps there are items you can grab which will help you in this endeavor. Most of the items you should recognize from Mario Kart like the Paratroopa, Green Shell, etc. They are all slightly altered of course so it’s not literally the same weapons but they have the same effects. The main difference here that makes the game more difficult than your average racer is how the boost system works. In order to attain your boost you have to intentionally drift while on the map. Keep on drifting in order to boost as well as increase your base speed. So for example, if you are just driving straight in a normal way then you will be moving fairly slow. If you keep on drifting over and over as you race then your overall speed will be greatly improved. So the more you master drifting the better.

In fact, winning the game would be 100% impossible based on my experience without drifting. Even with it some races would take me over 20 attempts to conquer. I can only imagine what the game would be like on hard mode. I was impressed with the difficulty setting although at the same time it does feel like the A.I. tends to cheat at times as their cars are naturally faster. I do understand programming a racing game like this is no small feat though as you would have to either have the A.I. be too weak or too strong. I suspect it’s not a super adaptive learning process here as that would be a lot of work for a racing title.

The graphics look very good. It’s definitely a very modern game with all the trimmings. The character designs are on point and the level backdrops are all different and have a striking look to them. We also have a hub world which is a nice idea although it could have been handled a little better. You have to manually drive to each world and there are no real big checkpoints so expect a good amount of driving between worlds. It’s a super small thing to note but one of those times where a fast teleport system would have been a good quality of life upgrade.

As for the soundtrack, that part is fairly forgettable. All of the tunes are super standard to the point where they could pretty much be free domain music in a racing game. Part of this is due to the fact that most racing games do have good soundtracks though so the bar is already high. To be standard for a racing game isn’t a bad thing but I do feel like they could have added an extra tune or two that you could really sink your teeth into. Now that would have been really good.

There’s a good amount of replay value although it could definitely be in an annoying way. There are tons of characters to unlock here. The way to buy them is to use your coins at the pit shop but only a few characters are displayed a day. It’s not like the classic shops where everyone is always there to be purchased. So you may have the coins but it could take a while to get everyone. I am impressed with the scale of content though. It may not be easy to get them but there is so much to buy. I’m not even familiar with half of the Crash characters in this game, they just squeezed everyone in here. Between doing all of that and trying to unlock the secret ending there is a whole lot to keep on doing here. Naturally the online multiplayer is a factor as well.

Ultimately what holds the game back when compared to the other big racing games like Mario Kart and the Sonic ones is that the gameplay being so heavily reliant on the constant boosting can hurt. You don’t want to always have to be turning at every moment and that’s what this mechanic forces you to do. It’s a lot less peaceful than the game could be and between that with all of the items it feels like you aren’t getting to actually “race” for a good chunk of each level. This is still a good game, but I could have done without the boost mechanic.

Overall, it’s clear that a good amount of effort was put into this game. It’s nice that we have a real story and the amount of characters in the game is crazy. The gameplay may not have been my favorite but it’s still a racing title and the kind of game which will be amplified when you play with others. If you’re looking for a good racing game to check out then I would recommend buying Crash. It’s not exactly my top recommendation in the genre though so if you want an even grander title then I would recommend Mario Kart. Of course…I have yet to buy the latest game in that series myself but it’s on the list.

Overall 7/10

Nightshade Review


We have made it to the final new NES game added to the service by Nintendo. It’s definitely a very complex title with a whole lot of mechanics and such to learn. Unfortunately the idea was a little ahead of the technology in this case. It’s just not easy to seamlessly use your many items and the puzzles just don’t work as well as you would hope. The game isn’t all that fun and I would ultimately have to give it a fairly low score here. I just don’t see it being all that fun even if you were to progress further.

The main plot of the game is that you’re a detective on the trail of a villain. Unfortunately he caught you and tied you to a chair. I will admit that the opening of the game is intense as you literally start out strapped to the chair and have to slowly try to escape. The way to do this is to back up and cause a candle to burn through the ropes. It’s pretty interesting and not really something you see a lot. From there you work on escaping the castle and once you’re in the town it’s time to find where the villain is. I played the game for around an hour as I looked for the elusive villain. Let me tell you, that guy’s not easy to find. There are a lot of areas to explore and items to inspect.

The main gameplay style here is a 2D platformer but you are able to move up and down so I suppose it’s close to 3D. If you press the A button you can move a magnifying glass to inspect all kinds of objects. From there if you have a good hint of an object looks useful, press the B button to take out your other magnifying glass and inspect again. You get a different message that way. At this point if the object is even more interesting then click the select button to take out one of your items and try it out on the object. You can also pick it up if the thing you are inspecting is a loose pipe or something like that.

You’ll have a ton of items at your disposal by the time you finish getting out of the castle. The game doesn’t really explain any of this though so I recommend looking up the guide online for the controls. It makes a big difference knowing what you are supposed to do next as opposed to just stumbling through the levels hoping for the best. Not that’s a scenario that can get pretty dicey pretty fast. So I do applaud the fact that the game crammed so much in but I do think it comes at the expense of the actual user experience. At the end of the day you want these levels to be fun and you just don’t get that feeling of excitement from the game.

There’s even combat elements thrown in and I don’t feel like they were all that fun. It was pretty surprising though as a cop ran into me and then suddenly the game turned into a 2D fighter. The controls are really difficult though. It took me around 20 minutes to beat a female ninja that showed up. Apparently there are combos though so if you master those then that may make a good difference in the long run. Normal blows are easily blocked and countered by the A.I. here.

One more touch that the game added which was pretty nice is what happens when you die. When you lose a life you suddenly find yourself on a conveyer belt with the villain mocking you. Based on how interactive the whole time is I suspect that there is a way to break free but every time I reached for the lever the game told me I was too far away. I figure it was worth a shot at least. Then we get some images of the villain hanging out at a rooftop as some sad music plays. It’s all very atmospheric and works rather well.

When it comes to the graphics I would definitely give this game a thumbs up as well. It’s aged quite beautifully with the character designs being on point and the backgrounds looking quite nice as well. The music is good and so on that level the game succeeded. At least those background elements help to offset the gameplay. I think this is the kind of game that could do really well if it were ever remade in the modern day.

Overall, Nightshade is a very different kind of NES title. It’s a game that wants you to do a great many things. The fact that it originally came out with a part 1 in its title shows you just how ambitious the game was to start with. Clearly the developers had a really good plan in store for the series even if it ultimately didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t recommend this game. It’s just not really any fun and that’s definitely one of the biggest negatives I would hold against a title like this. At the end of the day you have to be fun.

Overall 3/10

Pokemon Go Update


I have now reached Level 43! That gap definitely wasn’t so bad with the challenges being pretty doable. Next up, time to keep on launching to Level 44! At this rate my trainer level has exceeded all of my Pokemon so I’ll need to see if they can make a comeback or who should lead the charge.

Mario & Luigi Dream Team Review


Mario & Luigi has been a fun series to play through. Each game throws in some new elements and adds in another villain for the heroes to go up against. Dream Team doesn’t manage to capture the amazing dialogue of Bowser’s Inside Story though and the plot isn’t quite as hype as Partners in Time. It gets close at times and the climax is great but ultimately the game drags itself a little too long to reach that elusive next level of gaming.

We start out with the Mario bros and Peach being invited to a resort for a vacation. It sounds innocent enough but it turns out that there are some shady circumstances at work here. On the island all of the Pillows around are actually sentient creatures from hibernation. A villain known as Antasma intends to bring the world to darkness and cause everybody to go into an endless slumber. Clearly he is not the kind of villain you want to mess with. Starlow is back to help out but the heroes will need more than that if they are to win. This villain manipulates dreams but fortunately Luigi is good at going to sleep. Now the heroes have a fighting chance.

It’s a pretty interesting plot at face value and this is also a perfect way for Luigi to contribute. In the real world he may not be as skilled as Mario but there is nothing to say that the same would be true in the dream world right? There Luigi’s power is matched only by his imagination and he gets some pretty solid moments. At times you have “Mega” boss battles like in Inside Story. Only this time instead of Bowser turning giant it’s Luigi who does this. It makes for some fun visuals like when Luigi and Bowser have an actual fist collision. Luigi’s also a lot more confident in his dream world as he consistently steps up to help Mario out. Imagine if he was always this secure, I think Luigi would be a great ally to have around.

In the real world he is still as nervous as ever though, but at least this allowed him to showcase some more of his skills. In the dream world Luigi also has a lot of extra skills such as the ability to turn into a wrecking ball, tornado, etc. The game uses this as extra gameplay mechanics as you use these abilities to solve puzzles. The gameplay in the real world is a straight forward platformer with turn based gameplay while the dream world adds a lot of different styles like the ability to slow down time roll over enemies, and things of that nature.

It’s pretty fun how both worlds have such different gameplay methods. Both are pretty enjoyable to be sure. The actual combat is also as good as ever. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of were the motion control aspects of some of the attacks. You can’t exactly play lying down when you have to be spinning around. Still, it’s not very often and you can always choose not to use those attacks and stick to non motion ones. The game’s difficulty level is considerable though so you may not be at liberty to do that. Dream Team does not pull any punches, especially with the final bosses.

This is where you really need to make sure you are good at dodging, have a good badge setup, and are at a high level. I had to do quite a bit of EXP grinding near the end of the game and it still got close. The best badge set to have here is either the one that makes you invincible for several turns or the one that just freezes Bowser for multiple moves as well. He can’t go on healing himself if he isn’t able to move after all so it’s definitely a tactic that works nicely.

As with previous Mario & Luigi games my one main negative here is just that leveling up can take so long. I wish the enemies were a little more balanced with the EXP. It’s something that the game series has always struggled with next to most other adventures. Not sure why but the pattern definitely stuck so leveling up can definitely hurt to an extent. At least you’ve also got the Beans to collect which amp up your stars permanently. Also, there are some extra variables to consider because when leveling up you are given the option of advancing one stat in particular by a few points. Depending on what you focus it on will be key. Even the equipment have a lot of variables since you can choose to wear items that boost attack, defense, or something else.

I do like the fact that there is so much to think about. The gameplay is also very smooth for travelling the worlds. I had fun running around and trying to locate all of the beans and Pillows. I nearly completed the game 100% as I was close to grabbing them all but it wasn’t to be. The various warp pipes around definitely help for convenience and I also like that you can save at any point now. That’s a big positive. The game also has some bonus activities which were pretty fun like the puzzle assemblies. It’s been a while since I had to try and connect puzzles together so that was definitely a blast.

The soundtrack is also dynamite. There are a lot of great tunes here. Danger themes, villain themes, and the whole thing feels like an RPG. The boss themes go all in and you can easily forget that this is a Mario soundtrack early on. It would fit right in with something like Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. Additionally the graphics certainly look very good. You can definitely tell that this is a modern adventure with all the trimmings. It’s a fitting way to continue the series.

Naturally the story will take you a long while. It took me close to 40 hours and if you intend to grab the rest of the beans and pillows then this will easily take you over that milestone. It’s a long game and that’s definitely pretty admirable. You will not be finishing this game in the blink of an eye so you’ve got a lot of content. As mentioned, the story is a bit weaker than the last two though so that part might make you shake your head a bit. Until the climax occurs it can just be rather boring. Bowser steals the show whenever he appears so you’ll be waiting for him to arrive. He gets a ton of hype here so the writers must clearly like the character a lot.

Overall, Dream Team takes a major step back in terms of story but the rest of the game’s areas are all handled quite strongly so this one is still a great title that I would recommend. While Antasma gets consistently outshined by Bowser, I would still say that he is a pretty solid game. His best appearance was probably in a dream near the beginning of the game. I was glad Peach also got to contribute in the climax. She’s done well in this series. I’ve already talked about how Luigi and Bowser look really good here and Mario’s a solid lead as always. If you want to see the Mario gang fighting it out in a pretty serious context then this is definitely the title to check out. You won’t be forgetting the ultimate dream team. I’m hoping Paper Jam can keep up the great gameplay even if the story ends up faltering as well.

Overall 8/10

Mario & Luigi Dream Team Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 38h 16m
Total Pillows 41/52
Total Beans 106/143
Mario Level 35
Luigi Level 35
Excellent Rate 83%
Block-recovery Rate 75%
Enemies Defeated 1757
Escapes 90
Times KO’d 27
Times Damaged 526
Mushrooms Eaten 208

Super Valis IV Review


With this title out of the way I’ll have played all of the new additions to the SNES online service. Super Valis IV is definitely a good way to end off though. It’s a pretty fun platformer with a solid plot and good all around gameplay. It’s a title you’ll enjoy playing through and it’s also got a good amount of difficulty. The final boss for example has a health bar so large you’ll think the game has glitched out on you.

You play as a warrior who is fighting to save her planet. To do so she will have to go through several realms and fight all manner of creatures from demons to skeletons and other such creatures. Each land is guarded by another powerful fighter but she won’t let anything stop her from reaching the the red moon. The game is fairly linear although some levels have a few different paths you can take which can turn you around in a circle. It’s hard to say how you should know where to go, just make sure to always keep going right whenever possible and you should be fine.

For the combat you have a blade that you can fight with as well as an energy blast that you can spam. It’s quite handy in some boss fights like against one guy who has a pet leopard. If you go to the very edge of the right side screen, he cannot hurt you. The only thing to watch out for is the occasional fireball which you can just jump over anyway. Outside of that you’ll pretty much be all set. The other bosses don’t have such easy counter measures though so you’ll have to learn them as you go. The toughest one to deal with is probably the guy who can make clones of himself. It’s extremely hard to react to his attacks because of how fast he is and the amount of raw power. Just touching the guy will deal you a bucket of damage.

The final boss is easier to dodge but the tough part with him is the large health bar as I mentioned. For the first dozen or so attacks you won’t even see the health bar go down because it spills over the meter so much. Eventually once it starts to go down then you’ll see that you have a lot more hope in store for you. You can also grab different power ups throughout the level that will help you when you’re in a pinch. I highly recommend using these items as long as possible. At the very least the transformation is a must have as it temporarily makes you completely invincible. No attack will be able to break through the barrier. For offense it’ll just depend on how much you like the item. I admit that the normal blaster and sword are so good that you may not need anything else.

Graphically the game definitely holds up really nicely as well. The character illustrations are solid and the fact that we got both an opening and an ending is really good if you ask me. It means that you actually feel like you’re making a lot of progress through each level. The character designs are also excellent. The bosses all look really unique and you can tell that none of the designs were just slapped together. A good amount of work went into them. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side but still pretty solid throughout. I don’t expect you will have any complaints as you go through the game.

There isn’t really any replay value though. Once you beat the game there is nothing left to do. The credits roll and then you can play through the game again if you like. The actual game is about an hour long give or take. So this is a short one but at least it’s free with the online service so that helps. I don’t ask for much more of the SNES era. Just having a story and smooth gameplay already makes it fairly high end. It’s a nice way to pass some time and hopefully someday we can get a proper reimagining of this title.

Overall, Super Valis IV is a pretty solid platformer. It’s a simple game with proper execution and an engaging story. You really can’t turn down such an adventure. I definitely recommend playing through it if you have the Switch and a little time. There’s so much they could do with the concept if they were to keep going with the series. I look forward to the SNES Online adding in some more games at some point. Right now it’s definitely been updating at a rather slow pace so I’m hoping that can change soon. If we are going to add more consoles soon then why drag out the releases right? Well, when we do get some new games I’ll be sure to start them right away.

Overall 7/10

The Ignition Factor Review


When the SNES Online added a firefighter game I figured that it had some potential but unfortunately this game’s not very good. I will applaud the fact that it has a lot of different gameplay mechanics going on at once and tried a bunch of things. It’s definitely not your average classic game. There’s a ton of different items to worry about as well and so it ends up being a complex game but one that forgot the fun factor.

The general premise is that you’re a firefighter getting ready to go into burning buildings to save a bunch of people. In order to do this you are going to need to check each floor. In each level there are around 5-6 people to save and you have to decide at the beginning of the level which items to bring with you. You can bring all of them but then you’ll be super heavy and barely able to move at all so that can be a bit of a trade off. Typically I would choose to just bring the axe and the main fire spray. If during a level you find that you cannot progress without more items you need to locate another firefighter and ask him for the extra gear. With that then you’ll be able to go forward.

Of course this will take some time so you’ll need to keep that in mind as well. If you don’t get out of the burning building in time then you lose. Of course, if you escape with less than the required amount of people then you also lose. It’s worth noting that there are extra people in the building as well so you can also save more than the minimum amount of people for extra points. You can also grab objects that are important to the people you save for extra money but break or lose them and the points are deducted from your score. Once you’ve cleared the level then you get to do it all over again.

The levels do seem to have different layouts though so at least you won’t be replaying the same one each time. There’s also a bit of a basic plot going on as at the end of one level we recruited a new firefighter who’s known as more of a hot head. I’m sure he’ll definitely cause some drama depending on how many cutscenes we get. I don’t expect there would be a whole lot of them but you never know I suppose. So why wasn’t this game a lot of fun? Well, constantly having to switch out gear felt more tedious than interesting. Finding the fireman could also take some time.

You want to be able to just go in and save people but with the system set up this way it isn’t possible. Seeing some green fire or a window around just meant that your game would be delayed as opposed to it being a lot of fun. Extra gameplay mechanics can be good when utilized correctly but when they’re more of a burden like this then you know that something went wrong. The game has a lot of depth to it but in the end I guess I’d say that it had too much depth. More of a simple arcade firefighter game where you put out fires would have worked out better.

The graphics are pretty solid though. The level designs all appear to be on point and the character models are solid. I would say that the mannequins look too much like people but based on the hints provided in the level that was actually intentional so that’s a pretty neat diversion. I’d like to see what the in universe reason for this would be but maybe we’re actually in the future where the mannequins are all super realistic. The soundtrack is also decent even if a little forgettable. I don’t expect you will remember it at all by the time you complete the game.

There isn’t a whole lot of replay value but with the different stage variations I suppose you can keep playing through those. I expect there has to be an ending of some kind by the end unless it’s an infinite loop like Pac-Man. For now I would assume that is not the case so playing until you get there makes sense. That should buy you some time especially since the game is actually rather difficult. The people you are trying to save always end up running around the place and if you don’t move fast enough than they burn up so you really can’t afford to take your time.

Overall, The Ignition Factor is a pretty unique game. You don’t get a lot of firefighter type games around after all and for being back on the SNES it was actually rather sophisticated. I just think it’s an example of a game that was overdeveloped and it’s really any fun. For that reason alone I would not recommend this game. You can find tons of better SNES games to play on the Online service so I would recommend checking those out instead. This one is best left forgotten to history. Now I’ll be eager to see if the HELP Wanted game for the Wii does a better job with the firefighting gear. It could be a while before I get that one though.

Overall 5/10