8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Review


It’s time to look at a fun action RPG. This game was on my radar for a very long time even though I ultimately did not end up picking it out when the game first came out on the Wii U. I just ended up waiting until finally it came out for the Switch and I knew I needed to pick it up. Cut to my video game backlog going under 70 for the first time and to celebrate I got this game along with a few others. The game is definitely a blast and I always love playing a big RPG adventure like this one. It’s definitely a very fun game that is also quite difficult. Without the Bloom Palace and it’s super grinding areas I dare say that I could still be playing this game right now.

The game starts by introducing us to the mass disappearance event. A show was being conducted by two mega famous idols but then suddenly everyone vanished. Cut to 5 years later and people still don’t know what happened. Our main character Itsuki is waiting at the mall for his friend when he bumps into a childhood friend of his, Tsubasa. She is trying to be an idol herself and is pretty close in the auditions to finally hitting it big. Unfortunately, that’s when tragedy strikes. The director is actually being controlled by a mirage and kidnaps her. Itsuki heads in as well and ends up harnessing the power of the mirages to save her. He is bonded with Chrome and Tsubasa also gets a Mirage of her own. They find out that there is a larger war between humans and mirages at play right now and they all have a role in it. Can the heroes find out why everyone at the concert vanished 5 years ago and stop any future threats? In the meantime they also have to work hard because they now work for an actual Idol company so Tsubasa’s dream of being a professional is almost complete.

While this is partially a Fire Emblem game to the loosest extent, it’s totally a stand alone adventure. It’s also a very character driven game so the main story takes a backseat for the most part. Each chapter will have someone get possessed and then the heroes head in to save the victim from going over to the dark side. In the final chapter or two we find out about the real main villain and that starts the climax. In between each chapter is an intermission where you get some dancing instructions and it’s also a chance for you to hang out and complete some side quests. The story may not be the deepest, but it’s still pretty fun. I’m always up for seeing the Fire Emblem characters even if they’re basically just ghosts here.

The game also shines with how it throws in fully animated cutscenes at times. It’s pretty epic when the transitions happen. The normal cutscenes are also pretty solid though as they go for more of a cell shaded look. There are quite a few cutscenes here to be sure so this really feels like a AAA title. The soundtrack is also pretty good I’d say. There are a wide range of themes here and they all work rather well. One of the things I like about RPGs is they are long enough where you get to really know all of the characters and enjoy the wide range of activities in the world. There is a ton of replay value to enjoy here after all and the main campaign is over 20 hours long. If you don’t take advantage of the Bloom Palace then it’ll probably be even longer.

So the main gameplay is that of a classic turn based RPG. When it’s your turn you can choose to use one of your skills or an item. The game has an elemental system so some attacks will be super effective on different kinds of enemies. A pretty fun thing the game does is make those elements secret until you use an attack. So if it’s an enemy you haven’t fought before then all of his elemental resistances will show a question mark. Once you beat him then for all future occurrences you will see the strengths and weaknesses. It’s something that could work well in Pokemon if you ask me since it would give more reason to actually fill out the Pokedex.

You can use 3 characters in a party and when you use a super effective attack then the others can jump in and get an extra attack if they have an applicable skill. As you level characters up and gather materials you can also unlock passive abilities for the cast. These can be quite helpful. For example, there is one passive skill that allows every character in the back row to get a turn as well. What this ultimately means is that you can have 7 attacks in a single turn every turn. You can see how much of an advantage this would be right? Ultimately I only unlocked one of these skills before beating the game though. You need a high bond level to unlock them and that requires fighting with the character for a while or working on their side quests. You also need materials and since I did all of my grinding in the dungeon I didn’t really have almost any materials.

It’s actually something that caught up to me by the end of the game. I got all of my characters to level 99 but without materials it meant that my characters still had really weak weapons. Surprisingly those make such a difference that even being level 99 didn’t help to balance things back out. So if you do decide to train up there then be sure to still go in and fight some real minions. Those materials are absolutely essential and I can confirm that you will be really glad to have them on hand. I really love how in depth the complex the game goes with the mechanics though. Each of your weapons also have passive effects you can unlock which encourages you to fight with the sub weapons as well. Then you can use dust to increase your stats. There are a ton of ways to beat each boss so the strategy is entire up to you. Choose wisely.

The cast also isn’t bad although they’re fairly weak compared to most RPG titles. Itsuki for example is a reasonable main character, but he’s borderline an avatar character because the guy has no real character. He’s a nice guy who’s super humble and always does the right thing. That’s nice and all but he never really shows much personality. Tsubasa is also a fun heroine but shows a similar level of energy. Her thing is that she tends to mispronounce words. It’s a reasonably solid gimmick I’d say. The best character here is probably the rival who shows up a few times to get in your way. He’s definitely not someone to be trifled with.

Overall, Tokyo Mirages is a game that lived up to the hype. The story may not have been the greatest compared to other big RPGs, but I was still entertained the whole way through. The most important thing is the gameplay of course and that was definitely on point from start to finish. I’d certainly be up for a sequel at some point. I’ve definitely got more RPG titles to work on as well so I’ll be ready for another big adventure soon. In the meantime if you haven’t picked this game up yet then you should. Just don’t go in expecting a whole lot of Fire Emblem characters. They help a bit with the lore but that’s about it, no Roy or Ike or anything like that. If you remember your Fire Emblem elemental types for the weapons that should help you quite a bit with guessing what attacks to use off the bat though.

Overall 8/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Mario Bros Review


It’s time to look at the classic Mario Bros game. I remember playing this one a lot back in the GBA days because it came as a special feature along with Super Mario World. It’s definitely a fun title to spend some time with. It’s also nostalgic seeing the level layout since the stage usually makes it into the Super Smash Bros titles or at least it’s been there for 2-3 of them I believe. The game uses the good ole jumping gameplay from the 2D adventures while switching things up a bit as the levels don’t have you going after a goal. It’s definitely a lot of fun and I’d recommend giving this one a look.

So the gameplay involves a bunch of enemies appearing out of pipes on the top layer of the stage. Your job is to jump and hit the ground they are walking on. This will cause the enemy to flip over. At this point they are vulnerable and you can jump onto the layer and kick them off. It’s definitely the tactic I would recommend here. The earlier you knock them off the better because once there are a lot of enemies on the map it can get difficult to isolate them. Additionally there are fireballs that roam through the levels and touching any of them means instant death. You also have a Pow Block that will hit all of the enemies at once but you should really only save that for when you are being completely overwhelmed. It’s not a resource that you just want to bust out at any ole time. Think of it as your secret weapon.

I made it pretty far here into the 20s. I don’t know how many levels there are but that seemed like a reasonable push. At latter levels you get to fight with minions that are a little faster than the original ones. You have to choose your jumping spots carefully because if they get past you then it may be all over for your chances of success. There are also little ice minions who will freeze the ground which makes it a lot more difficult for you to move around freely. You’ll end up skidding or stopping in your tracks whenever you try to change directions.

The graphics are definitely solid. This is also a game where the main theme is pretty catchy and memorable. It works well when you’re taking down the enemies. I didn’t see an option to play as Luigi but since this game is called Mario Bros I assume that there has to be some kind of way to choose him. Otherwise the title just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and I’d have to question why the game called it that. This is a very peaceful game but also so different from the other Mario games. The series really shifted gears after this one. It would be interesting to see more of a homage to this game in a future Mario installment. After all, this game did serve as a stepping stone to launch the franchise.

In terms of replay value it’s really all just about trying to see if you can beat your high score. Whether the levels have an end or not, there isn’t really an actual story here. You just jump right into the game and work on defeating the minions. It’s got that arcade feel to it where the levels are just a lot of fun to play through. You shouldn’t have any problem getting the hang of the controls and just diving in. Nintendo’s always done a good job of making the first levels pretty easy which gives you time to get comfortable with the controls. Then slowly but surely they start giving you some real challenges to work with.

Overall, Mario Bros is a solid NES game. As with most of Nintendo’s original titles it has a lot of character. You can feel the effort that went into this game. It’s just a very well designed one and so you won’t get bored here as you play it for a while. Ultimately the lack of content will prevent it from getting a higher score but I imagine it is always tough to add more content like that back in the day. The games could only hold so much space in them after all. I’m one step closer to completing all of the NES games which will be a cool milestone.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Wrecking Crew Review


It’s time to look at a game I never really got to try back in the day. It’s a fun one though and there are 100 different levels in the game as well so it’ll definitely last a while. None of them are super hard to the point where it’ll take you a while thanks to the rewind feature but the level designs are pretty well thought out. You will probably need a few resets to beat some of the levels. They just aren’t the kind that you can glance at and figure out the answer right away. As there are puzzle elements you also have to be careful what item you break first or it’ll become impossible to clear the level.

How the game starts off is you have to break everything in the level. This ranges from doors to ladders and everything must go as if this is some kind of mega sale. You just can’t afford to leave anything intact and that’s actually what stumped me for a little while on the first level. I just couldn’t figure out how to clear the level and it took a lot of running and smashing things to figure out that ladders counted as well. The gameplay is very simple. You press A to break the object in front of you. You can run from left to right as you go through the stages and climb ladders. You can’t touch any of the enemies or you die in a single hit. Eventually fireballs will also show up so make sure you avoid those as well. You can actually walk off stage so do that in order to avoid the enemies. It’ll at least buy you some time in that way.

It shouldn’t take you very long to master this gameplay. From there it’s just a matter of thinking things through. None of the levels are particularly long either so it’s easy to just boot up the game and start conquering some levels. With 100 to choose from this should definitely take you a few hours. The levels are similar enough where you may want to take some breaks though. Playing through all of them in one shot sounds like a way to get yourself bored of the gameplay style and that’s definitely not a good idea. The game is fun after all. You just need to pace yourself here.

The graphics are pretty solid as well. It’s pretty nice to see all these old versions of Mario. He really got around back in Nintendo’s original days. The enemies are also pretty interesting. It’s like a sort of creature but hard to say exactly what it is. The looks have definitely aged pretty well as with the gameplay. I can’t say quite as much for the soundtrack. It’s a very peaceful background kind of theme but not one that you are likely to remember for very long. It’s so quiet that you may not even hear it at all while you’re so focused on getting through the level.

Overall, Wrecking Crew is a pretty fun Nintendo game from their past. While I always remember Mario Bros and Donkey Kong, this is one game I tend to forget exists at times. It’s got a pretty unique gameplay style though and this is yet another Nintendo franchise that could use a modern revival. I think there’s a lot you could do with a modern take on the Wrecking Crew. Think of everything you could break in a more modern city environment and this time you’d have Goomba and Koopa minions to fight against. In the meantime I’d recommend checking this out on the Switch Online. It’ll at least buy you a few hours to have fun with.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Bakugan: Rise of the Resistance Review


It’s time to look at a Bakugan game I’ve had for quite a long while. This one I would have beaten ages ago, but I got stuck in a bit of an odd glitch at one point in the game and couldn’t move forward. Ultimately what I did was cleared out the save data and started from scratch. It’s been so long since I played the game that it felt new anyway so I can’t really say that it was a chore to get through. The gameplay was just as fun as I remembered and the story is pretty good. It’s just a solid DS title that reminds you of the good ole days. They don’t really make quick portable adventures of this style nowadays.

The game starts with Dan’s Bakugan warning him that a new threat is approaching. Before Dan can say anything Drago transports the two of them to a new world where aliens are trying to take over. Dan saves a robotic girl named Eva who was under attack and decides to help out. Eva explains that these villains are after nothing short of total global conquest and so Dan will have to utilize all of his skills if he wants to win this match. Fortunately he is one of the best Brawlers on the planet so this shouldn’t be hard. Along the way his other friends show up to try and get a piece of the action. Teamwork makes the dream work after all right?

The story is very direct with the characters not opting to waste any time. The heroes got their development in the show and none of the villains get any kind of sob stories. Our mission is just to take them out and nobody bothers with any small talk. As a result the game goes by in a flash. You’re thrown into fight after fight until the game just ends. You’re able to pace yourself pretty well because the game follows a strict formula. You fight a few bosses and then rescue an ally. Rinse and repeat until you have all 6 allies and then you fight against the final boss. I always like to know how far along in the game I am so that’s a nice little touch if you ask me.

As for the gameplay, it’s actually a tower defense style game. I haven’t played a whole lot of these in the past. I played Locke’s Key and a RWBY game on mobile but that’s about it. It’s a gameplay style that I find fun enough. It probably wouldn’t work in super large doses or anything like that but for a short game it’s a fun change of pace. The idea is that you’re protecting a core and you have to set up fighters to attack the enemies coming your way. You can also actively intervene with your Bakugan to attack invaders. Part of the fun is choosing whatever setup you want. You have 6 different Bakugans to choose from and also 6 different kinds of guardians to summon. As a result, you’ve got a ton of creative freedom in choosing how you want to go about doing this.

Personally my ideal set up for the first 70% of the game was to use Dan’s Bakugan. His fire attack is incredibly powerful plus he also powers up any Bakugan he is next to. This really helps for your army of attackers. For a while I just used an all fire team. However, that changed when I got the Light Bakugan and I never went back. His final smash is he makes a barrier around the core which even blocked the hit from the boss of the level. As far as I could see this attack is incredibly overpowered. So long as you don’t get sloppy and start letting everyone cross, it’ll block the few enemies who escape you. As far as I’m concerned, that makes him a winner in my book. The Shadow Bakugan is also good because of how powerful his slashes are. If you’re going to pick a leader Bakugan, I recommend one of the main 3 but the light one is the best if you ask me.

From the bodyguard Bakugan fighters each one has a different special ability. I recommend the Time stop Bakugans to start the level out with. Post 2 of them by every entrance into the castle. Then summon the missile ones everywhere you can. You don’t unlock them til near the end though so during the early game I’d say to use the fire ones since they can spam their fireballs and later on you can add the light ones since they blast multiple enemies. I’d advise putting one aerial Bakugan by each entrance as well to deal with the flying enemies. There are a lot of strategies to use of course so this is just mine. The biggest key fact to remember is that the time stop Bakugan is the most OP. It slows them down to a crawl which gives you more time to make your move.

The graphics are pretty solid. I like the sprite style used here and all of the attacks look solid as well. The special effects are all on point and I wouldn’t really say that there are any points that look sloppy. In terms of soundtrack the game is very limited. There are probably 3-4 themes in the entire game so get ready to hear them on loop after a while. Every character only has 1 sound effect as well so get ready to hear the same one spammed to death over and over again. It may not be the highest budget game but it’s all pretty endearing. I do think they could have put more of a budget into the soundtrack at least though. Why not grab the tunes from the show?

The campaign is around 4-5 hours I’d say. It won’t take you very long to complete. Each battle can’t really be sped up though since they’re timed with how the waves keep coming. That being said, there isn’t a lot of platforming to do between battles so those parts go by very quickly. My playtime by the end was 11 hours but that was between the two playthroughs which is why I’d say that it’s around half of that. There also isn’t really any replay value. You can easily have almost all of the characters close to being maxed out by the end if you alternate them. You can also grab all the cards in the hub world to unlock them, but the cards barely help much anyway and it’s not like you’ll need them since this game isn’t all that difficult.

Overall, Rise of the Resistance is a pretty basic game. There’s not much to it outside of the battle system. That said, it’s the kind of basic game that you just have a lot of fun with. It’s all pretty smooth and since not many games use this combat system it ends up being pretty fun to play through. Who doesn’t like a classic alien invasion story right? I do think one way the game could have helped itself out a bit would be to have the characters move a little quicker. Walking from one part of the hub world to the next could take a whole lot longer than it should. I don’t really have any other negatives than that though. I’d definitely recommend picking up this game, you’re guaranteed to have a lot of fun playing through it.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Wild Guns Review


It’s time to look at one of the newer SNES game to be added to the Nintendo Online Service. Wild Guns looked good right from the jump. It’s a shooter that was well ahead of its time and the gameplay feels like it is N64 level at the least. It’s really a blast and definitely one of the strongest games I’ve played in this catalogue. I’d highly recommend it and while the game is still pretty short, it’s longer than some of the others I’ve checked out.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a plot but basically a bunch of robotic villains have taken over various towns. Your mission is to take down all of these bandits and robots with your trusty gun. The gameplay is a pretty fun. It’s a third person shooter where you have to take down enemies until a time limit runs out. At that point the boss will show up. The more enemies you take out, the quicker the timer will run out so you want to keep fighting at all times. When the boss shows up you defeat him and move onto the next area. There are 3 areas per level and around 5-6 levels in the game. You should have this taken care of in around an hour I’d say. You’ll get the hang of shooting and moving a lot as the game goes on.

A single shot takes you down which is pretty realistic so part of the strategy in the game is never getting hit. You can jump from side to side as well as use basic rolls. What you typically want to do is fire off a few shots and then run a bit. If it’s 1 on 1 with a villain then you can just start blasting since they can’t counter but there will almost always be a ton of enemies shooting at you. The final levels are especially difficult with this as it can be hard to find a single moment’s rest. If you get yourself into a bad situation is can be virtually impossible to escape unharmed without rewinding a bit. So an important thing to factor here is your current position as well as the next few. Predict their moves and all that.

One of the reasons why this game is so impressive is because of the boss designs. They all look quite good and are very creative. As I mentioned, the game seems pretty ahead of its time in this respect. The level designs are all unique and the gameplay is just so smooth. This is the kind of shooter video game that I can really get behind. There’s clearly a lot of thought and development time that went into this one. Even aiming the guns is pretty interesting since you sort of have to move while firing until you got the cursor just right. Then you have to get ready to move again since by then the villains will be starting to shoot at you. That’s where all of the strategy comes in.

It pretty much goes without saying that the graphics here are quite good. Even taking the designs out of the equation, everything just looks so modern and solid. This is an SNES game that has really aged well in that respect and I’d be up for a sequel to this game. I heard something about an Unloaded version so maybe the game already got a sequel or some kind of big remake. Either way until you check that one out, this is the one you’ll want to look into.

Overall, Wild Guns is definitely a solid title. Hopefully Nintendo doesn’t wait so long for the next batch of games but at the very least this is already shaping into a very strong batch. It’s going to be very difficult for the other SNES games to quite match this one. There may not be any real replay value after beating the game but the campaign is strong enough to hold its own. The game is pretty difficult and it’ll take time to get used to all of the different weapons. Once you have managed to pull that off then you’ll really be a pro at this game and can hang your head high.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

VS. Excitebike Review


It’s time to look at the next Excitebike game. This one is actually very similar to the original to the point where you could basically call it an enhanced remake. It gives you the classic mode like in the original but you also have the new vs option. It’s a pretty fun addition since you can finally have a true 1 vs 1 battle against someone else. That’s basically the only big new feature though so we’ll have to see if it’s enough to keep you playing for long. If you already played the original a lot then I doubt you would stick around here, but otherwise this is the game you’d want to start with. The gameplay is still pretty fun and the game has a reasonable amount of content so ultimately I would say that this helps take the game pretty far if you ask me.

The gameplay is that of a 2D racer. It’s almost overhead style but not completely from that view. The idea is to make it to the end of the stage within the timeframe in order to break records and win. You keep on doing this as you go through all of the races. You can also do the vs mode of course where the only objective is to stay ahead of the other racer. It’s a pretty fun game and it’s always fun to try and knock the opponents off of their bikes by going in front of them. Honestly it seems like landing a hit here would be pretty much fatal as there would be no way for the other racer to make up the distance at that point. From there their only hope would be for you to make a mistake. In that sense I suppose the game could be a little more balanced but it certainly does help the stakes.

The graphics are just as good as in the original title. The bikes all look pretty solid and the level designs are good as well. The game is able to keep up with your speed at all times. I do find that 2D racers like this can be a bit rough since you don’t really see the obstacles ahead of time and have to completely rely on your reflexes. It is an interesting option though and while 3D racers are my favorite I’m always game for trying these out as well. The soundtrack is less memorable though to the point where I can’t really remember any tunes. It’s a shame but that definitely doesn’t hurt the score, it just doesn’t help it.

In terms of replay value all I can really say is that you can keep on racing and try to beat your own records. Up to a point that’ll be fun but there are only so many different methods you can try. There are no shortcuts in the levels or anything like that so once you are good at consistently dodging the obstacles that are present I fear that you will plateu quite quickly. The replay value here just won’t last you for very long in the end so this is the kind of game you pick up for a day or a weekend. It’ll be fun during that period though which is important.

Overall, Vs. Excitebike is basically the original game but with an extra feature so by default I would recommend this one a little higher. It’s pretty interesting that the NES Online has both. I really wouldn’t have expected that so it’s a pretty nice surprise. If you like racing games then you owe it to yourself to try it out. This is one of the original racers after all and spawned a bunch of spinoffs. My favorite game in the franchise is definitely Excitetrucks. I remember playing that in the very early days of the Wii and it was a really nice way to start off the console.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Donkey Kong Review


It’s time to look at the original Donkey Kong game! This is definitely a title that really helped to put Nintendo on the map. It really had just about everything you could ask for from a classic arcade title. The gameplay was simple but effective and the game actually had a bit of a plot. It’s rather short with only around 3-4 levels but then the game loops so you can keep going to really test your abilities. It’s a solid all around title and definitely a good one to take a look at if you haven’t played it before.

The concept of the game is that you have to climb to the top of the DK level. To do this, you run back and forth across the stage and use ladders to climb up to the next level. DK will throw barrels at you so you have to jump over them as you make your way to the top. Be careful when doing this because a single slip-up will cause you to lose. As you get to the end of the game actual minions will also show up and you can’t touch them unless you have a hammer activated. This does force you to go with a slower, more concentrated approach. Don’t make any move without being absolutely ready for what’s going to come next. Also, you can’t fall from a great height or you’ll die. This got me in the level with the elevators. If you want to make it to the next place make sure that the distance is very short so you will be able to cross with ease.

The graphics are definitely very nice here. It’s got that classic Mario look throughout the game and the colors are pretty vibrant. It definitely looks considerably better than a lot of the other NES games I’ve played. I think what goes a long way to getting this look across are the level designs. It just helps make everything stand out. As for the soundtrack, the main theme is definitely quite iconic and works really well. You definitely aren’t likely to forget it anytime soon. I can’t say the same for most games on the console so that’s another win for Donkey Kong.

Ultimately what does hold this game back from a higher score is really just the fact that it is so short. Of course you do have replay value here for things like increasing your score and such but ultimately that’s it. The gameplay isn’t that different or difficult so it would likely get repetitive quite fast if you’re just trying to stick to this game. It’s free if you have the Switch Online but otherwise I can’t really imagine paying for this game. As such, it is a good title but these factors are holding it back from being a great one.

Overall, Donkey Kong is a game that lives on in the Nintendo legends. Without this game the video game industry would be quite different that’s for sure. It is pretty fun and I had a good time with it. It may not be a game that will last for very long but more importantly, it is a game that you will remember and that’s always a good thing. If you have the Switch Online then you should definitely go and check it out. I’d be game for a modern remake of this someday. I think you could actually make a full fledged game out of this style. You’d just need to add some more stage layouts and minions/obstacles but it could certainly be done. I’d definitely be interested in seeing what ideas they would come up with for that.

Overall 6/10