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It’s time for another platforming adventure. Joe & Mac is essentially the bargain bin version of Mario and Luigi but it actually holds up a little better than expected. I’ve played my share of caveman type adventures over the years and this one is a lot smoother than the competition. It’s fairly short and never really threatened the bigger players but it makes for a fun little playthrough.
The general plot is that a bunch of giant animals and a wizard have kidnapped all the cavewomen in the tribe. Joe and Mac must now head out to save them. Each level has you defeat a giant dinosaur/creature at the end and you save one person at a time. There are 10-13 levels in the game so it’s fairly quick since each level is around the length of your average platformer. Watch out also as you don’t get unlimited game overs. Lose all your lives too many times and there is no way back. Instead you will just have to endure your defeat.
Of course as this is on the Switch Online you are able to rewind as needed so you should never be in any true danger. Just be ready to back out at any given moment. Some of the bosses can be rather intense although at the same time I would also call them easy to exploit. Just hide under the head a lot of times and they just can’t reach you. Pretty good deal right? Occasionally they will mix things up a bit so you just need to be able to react and get out of there as soon as possible.
When it comes to the graphics the game certainly looks good as you would expect. The stages look solid and there’s a lot of variety throughout the game. The enemy bosses look good but they do tend to reuse the same bosses a few times. Since the game is so short this is very noticeable. The game probably won’t last you much longer than an hour so when you see the same boss it’s impossible to miss.
Now when it comes to the main characters I wouldn’t say they are very likable but this is the kind of game that’s not really character driven anyway. You should be able to just completely ignore them as it is. The gameplay is what you’re here for. Come to think of it, I haven’t really gone into the gameplay yet so I should do that now.
It’s a classic platformer where you have to jump and smash your way to the end. You have a club by default but you can unlock various power ups based on the items you pick up from a box. This includes boomerangs, stone discs, and even fire balls. The best item here is definitely the throwing stones. You can spam these and they deal a lot of damage. I highly recommend holding onto these as long as possible. That makes things tricky if anything because you will want to actively try to avoid the other power ups which is a little different compared to the other games.
It’s an odd feeling when you are trying to not allow yourself to get power ups. It’s not too hard to avoid them though so you should be good. As for the minions, it can be difficult to hit them without taking any damage so keep that in mind. Try to stay from afar or even skip them if needed. They don’t drop food all that often after all so a lot of times hitting them is really just putting unnecessary risk on yourself the whole time.
This is really why the game stands out. The gameplay actually feels like a big Nintendo game. The controls are very responsive. The only thing that takes some getting used to is how the characters keep their momentum when jumping. It can be a little difficult to stop on a dime or change direction. It’s not a bad thing per say, it’s just not quite what you’re used to in a platforming title. Once you get the hang of this then you are definitely set for the rest of the way.
Due to the straight forward nature of the game there isn’t a whole lot more to talk about with it. It would be nice to see this game get a sequel I suppose but at the same time since Nintendo can easily make a high quality game they may as well make a whole new franchise with this style of gameplay. The caveman era never really made for the most interesting saga if you ask me so changing things up would definitely be for the best.
Overall, Joe & Mac is definitely a game you don’t want to miss out on if you have the Switch Online. It’s a well balanced platformer that should keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. It’s definitely a short title so it won’t take you very long to beat it but you’ll have a good time. Considering that it’s free if you have the Switch Online, it’s a pretty good deal.
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Spanky’s Quest is one of the new SNES games that have finally arrived through the Switch Online. It’s a really solid start to the new wave I must say because it’s actually pretty fun. You go around fighting fruits with a really unique gameplay style. It could have easily ended up being gimmicky in a bad way but instead you can tell that the developers put a lot of heart and passion into the project. When that happens you always know that you are going to be in for a good time.
The plot is more on the interpretive side as the opening cutscene gets really cray but there are 6 monsters that are now ruling the world. Spanky will have to head out and take all of these guys down in order to save his home. Each boss represents a different fruit that must be stopped and they are also protected by a bunch of mini fruits. Spanky isn’t worried though.
The gameplay involves you throwing out little marbles. You throw the marble into the air and then you can press the action button again to break it into a little baseball. If the baseball hits an enemy then that enemy will be defeated so long as you time the explosion to occur on the enemy. If you do this too soon you will only stun them. Additionally you can bounce the ball on your head and it will get bigger. There are 4 stages to the ball and after that you can keep bouncing but it won’t get any bigger.
Level 2 is a Soccer Ball, Level 3 is Volleyballs, and Level 4 are Basketballs. The longer you wait, the more powerful the weapon and it makes sense that Basketballs would hurt more than the others. For bosses I always recommend using the Basketballs but of course it does take longer to charge up than the others so just be careful. Better to land a level 2 than to get hit after all.
Much like in Frogger, a single hit will cause you to lose a life so you want to make sure to stay at a safe distance at all times. As this is on the Switch Online you can rewind as needed though which should take some of the stress out of the equation. You can also jump which is handy when dealing with some enemies. After all, landing the baseball can be difficult so if you miss then you will want to jump out of there.
There are 10 levels in each world and 5 main worlds. After that, you go up against all of the bosses again before facing off with the final boss. I would say the game should last you a little over an hour or close to 2 at most. It’s a fairly decent length for an SNES game and of course since it’s free I can’t complain much about the length. I cut these things a little more slack for old time games but if this was a modern one then I may not be quite so lenient.
The graphics look good and hold up well. It’s an example of why going for a colorful artstyle like this can really work wonders. The fruits have a lot of personality and the stage designs are memorable. I wouldn’t say the soundtrack is exactly top notch but it does fit in with what’s going on screen and has more personality than other games I’ve played. It makes for a pretty complete experience.
There isn’t any real post game content to speak of so the replay value here is basically 0. This is a game where you will be playing to complete the story but won’t really stick around after that. Fortunately the gameplay is very smooth so you will certainly enjoy your main playthrough here. That’s the important part to be sure.
You also aren’t likely to forget this game anytime soon. The gameplay may be a little hard to describe entirely but hopefully you got the gist of it from what I wrote above. It’s just fun to time your throwing so you hit the enemies as you jump your way to the goal. The way to conquer each level is to open the locked door by grabbing keys from various enemies. You get keys either by defeating the enemy holding them or trapping lose keys in a ball and then exploding it.
Strategy is key here since you don’t necessarily have to defeat every enemy. If the enemy isn’t holding a key then you can probably skip him although it could put you in more danger if he is running around a lot. Also, you can’t wait too long in each level or a bird shows up. The bird is completely invincible to all attacks and moves quickly. Touching it for even an instant means instant death so that’s something to consider as well. Keep your guard up or you will surely fall.
Overall, Spanky’s Quest is a fun game. It certainly exceeded my expectations and is a nice way to spend a night. I’d be cool with this series getting a revival someday. If you have the Switch Online service then this is definitely a game you should check out. It sets a high bar for the other new additions so we’ll see if they are able to hold up as well. It won’t be very long until I try those out.
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.
Play Time 3h 38m
Frogger is back in action for yet another whirl at trying to be the best platformer in town. It’s a pretty solid title and I would say it’s probably the best Frogger yet. There are no gimmicks or anything crazy. It’s really just a solid game of Frogger even if some of the bosses occasionally seem to have a bit of a luck factor going in for them. As always the game does feel incredibly short though. It would be nice if they could bump that up just a bit next time.
The game starts with Frogger relaxing at home when he is suddenly startled by the arrival of a spaceship. The game’s intro really jumps but effectively the villains have kidnapped Frogger’s girlfriend, injured his uncle, and they’re threatening to blow up the world. Only Frogger stands in his way since the rescue team isn’t all that skilled. In fact, they quickly ask for Frogger’s help and essentially please with him to do all of the work. Well, no matter. Frogger is used to doing the heavy lifting and he will do whatever he can to save the world.
At the very least you have to give the game credit for trying to establish Frogger as more of a hero this time around. Usually he’s the more reluctant character type who grumbles about having to save the world the whole time. He doesn’t do it out of justice but out of obligation. Here he’s definitely more all in on being a hero. That said, don’t expect a huge plot either. We have more cutscenes than the average game as there is one after each world but the plot’s pretty direct. Save the girlfriend and stop
Bowser the enemy.
The gameplay is as you would expect it to be. You can move one space at a time in any direction. Press the A button to go 2 spaces which is useful for jumping over pit falls. The goal of each level is to make it to the end safely. A single hit from any enemy will cause you to lose a stock so make sure you take that into account. This is a game all about dodging so you need quick reflexes. Patience is key here since there is no time limit.
I wouldn’t say the game is particularly hard although at this point this is around the 4th Frogger game I’ve played in a row so I’m pretty used to the gameplay style as it is. The bosses on the other hand will give you some trouble. Part of the problem with these guys is it is very hard to read their movements. Keep in mind that a single touch will cause you to lose your life so there isn’t a whole lot of room for error. They do tend to follow the exact same attack patterns though so if you lose enough times then you will have it memorized. It’s just more fun to win right away of course. Each of the bosses are different and have to be fought in a different way so a good amount of effort was put in here.
In terms of length each world has 3 levels and then a boss arena. There are 7 worlds so you should have this completed in a matter of hours. There isn’t any post game content in single player mode, however this game does have a multiplayer option which will definitely come in handy. That’s something to certainly give this game some staying power so it’s greatly appreciated. Yet another thing this Frogger game has over some of the other ones.
That said, I still think the story mode needs to be longer. Not saying you should drag the game out for more reason, but maybe add in another 2 worlds so we have more levels or something. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this style of gameplay but it’s just over so fast. I’ll give the graphics a thumbs up though. The cutscenes are fun to watch and it gives the story a lot more depth than it would have otherwise.
For example the villain actually looks pretty cool. The girlfriend doesn’t get to do anything though so hopefully she will in the next game. We’ll see if the whole group returns for the next title or if they’ll all fade away as with most Frogger casts. The soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable though, I couldn’t really tell you of any specific tunes that left me nodding my head. It’s mostly going for a lot of free domain kind of themes. The only exception is the final boss theme which is absolutely the Ridley theme just completely ripped and put into this one. It was quite bold.
Overall, Frogger still has more games in the future that I need to check out but it could be a little while before I get there. It was definitely a fun ride though and if you like the concept of Frogger or the franchise in general then you should definitely check this one out. The gameplay’s a lot of fun and it’s why I applaud when the developers don’t just add random gameplay styles for kicks. Make a whole game with this style like Rescue did and then you’re all set. It’s quite fitting that the Gamecube would be the place to check out the definitive game in the series so far. Hopefully the next game is able to keep up the momentum.
Frogger returns with another installment here. This one isn’t quite as solid as the last one but I’ll give it some credit for trying to have more of a complete story. You’ve got a whole ninja clan here to wreck havok on the world and a villainous mastermind. At the very least this feels a little grander than the usual Frogger experience although it’s a little less epic than it may sound.
The game starts with Frogger enjoying a good time at home when he is roped into another adventure. His grandfather has gone missing after working on another excavation. Unfortunately nobody knows where he is but it all seems to tie into the mysterious relics being found around the island. Maybe if Frogger finds all of these then he will find the answers? Along the way Frogger will encounter truths about this island and its inhabitants that he may not be ready for.
While there is a story here it doesn’t feel like the game is especially interested in it either. It all goes by pretty quickly with twists thrown at you but then you go right back to the levels. In terms of design I thought more time could have been spent in making the game a little more seamless. You have to constantly walk between two houses on the opposite sides of town to talk to someone. Often it will be a very small cutscene were you feel like you could have saved time if it was put into the other one. Alternately just have the game auto jump you to each house as if it’s all a long scripted cutscene. Surely that’s the better option right?
The gameplay is good though. It brings us the classic Frogger experience where you have to really think about where you’re going and how you will handle the next obstacle. For the most part the levels are fairly easy though and I would say the Gamecube levels were a lot more difficult. At the same time though those levels were sometimes hard not for the best of reasons though. At least this one is focused completely on Frogger. In fact, the worst level in the game is the underwater one where it goes away from the classic gameplay which is quite telling. The gameplay’s not bad there or anything, it’s just a lot more sluggish and doesn’t feel as natural as the others.
I’ll give the game credit for the various bosses though. They’re fairly unique and do have you try a lot of different things. One that was good in particular was the final boss. You have to move really fast if you don’t want to be caught unprepared. A single change in trajectory and suddenly you’re on the back foot. You have to jump across lava while dodging the attacks which really takes a lot of concentration. It took me several tries before I was able to take this guy down for good.
The graphics are fairly decent. Nothing to write home about but the levels look good and the character models are on point. For the GBA era this was definitely as good as you would hope. The soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable though. It all felt like rather generic tunes so you’ll forget them all almost instantly.
I suppose the main gimmick for this game is how you can use the various relics at your disposal. They give you new abilities in the game although most of them aren’t all that helpful. Instead of being able to use your tongue to grab items from afar like in previous games Frogger relies on the backpack to do that now. The best relic though is the one that temporarily stops time. Now that is handy even if the charge runs out very quickly. It doesn’t take too long to charge if you’re patient enough.
The downside of this mechanic is that you can only equip two items at once. Jumping counts as an item by the way so for the most part you’ll probably just be holding one other item. I would have preferred each item get a button so you could equip them all. Although, I suppose in that case one item may have gone to the L button which I am unable to use on my old DS so perhaps that is for the best. It’s not the most intuitive feature but at least it adds some sci-fi to Frogger.
In terms of replay value you can go back through the levels to get a bunch of coins and buy all the collectibles at the shop. They’re quite expensive though so you may end up spending even more time in the post game than on the story. Hopefully you at least get a bonus cutscene or something. Admittedly I haven’t looked it up although the game is so obscure it’s possible that nobody has posed the results of that online anyway. So in case there is no reward, proceed at your own peril. If you like the game a lot though I suppose it may be worth it.
Overall, Frogger’s Journey is a fun game. I always tend to enjoy this kind of gameplay style since it really makes you think and strategize. It’s not quite as good as the last GBA adventure but it’ll hold your attention all the way through. This is not a particularly long game so you can probably beat it in a weekend. It took me around 4 hours to complete and I did die quite a bit on the final boss. Also, make sure you don’t spend any coins on the collectibles until you beat the game since you will need a lot of them to unlock the relics. As long as you have money you will not need to replay any of the old levels.
Play Time 4h 55m
Curio Bags 18/147
Max Life Items 0/7
Mini Game Max Life 0
Hearts Lost 106
Yooka Laylee may not be a big series yet but you’re always guaranteed to have a good time with the sound effects in each title. At this point it’s just hard to forget them even if the sounds are really just nonsense that’s repeated a lot. It shows what good sound direction can really go for you right? The game is pretty fun and also has a cool concept with the whole lair aspect.
Basically, Chief B is back once more to reign terror on everyone who opposes him. He has defeated the Bee squadron and taken over the whole kingdom. The queen is forced to call in Yooka & Laylee to take this guy down. Everyone knows where his lair is so the heroes can attack right away bus his fortress is guarded extremely well. The queen feels it would be best if we go and find the royal guard members first. There are 48 bee members in the game so you can have a maximum shield of 48 hits. Each bee you save is another hit you can endure so you can see how these guys would be really handy.
The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You can use a sort of spin dash to barrel into enemies and also to cross some of the larger chasms. You can spin attack enemies if they get too close or to stay in the air for an extra second. Due to this, you have a whole lot of aerial mobility which is always good. Each level has 5 golden coins which are also helpful since they’re how you take down the various paywalls scattered across the world which hide extra bees and levels behind them. Make sure you grab a lot since you will want to have at least 100/200 of the coins in the game. This will ensure you can max out your shield.
As I mentioned, part of the fun is that you can try to tackle the level without any shields but I can safely say that this is incredibly difficult. The odds of pulling it off are really not in your favor. Even the best of players will not breeze through it, but of course you will get a lot of satisfaction for pulling it off. Surprisingly there is no trophy for doing this so even the developers may have felt that it was too steep a challenge. The level itself is over 20 minutes so it would certainly be rough to lose near the end since there are no checkpoints either.
I did give it a shot but without bees the best I would make it was around 5% into the level. Now that I’ve cleared the game I’m confident I could probably bump that up to at least 10% but beating all of it still does sound pretty impossible. The game throws every kind of obstacle and challenge at you so you’d need to play basically perfect to pull it off. It would truly be one of the most impressive showings that I have ever seen. Number 1 would probably be some kind of speed run but I’m not really sure which one I would choose for that title.
There’s a good amount of content here. The game will certainly last you over 10 hours. There are 20 main levels in the game plus the lair. Each level has a second level you can play by reversing it so effectively there are 40 levels. When you’re not having fun in the stages you can also investigate the hub world to find special items, and extra bees. It’s a very immersive hub world where you are actively reshaping the levels and changing things so that’s pretty cool.
Now, I do think the game is a little too intentionally harsh on finding the items scattered around. There are 69 potions in the game and they can be anywhere on the hub world. By anywhere, I mean you can find some by randomly ground pounding during the level. I think this is a bit much because it takes forever to do that so without a walkthrough or something, you’re probably not going to be able to get all of them. Not unless you want to waste a few hours trying every spot you can think of.
I also wasn’t a huge of how you have to grab so many coins to make it through the paywalls. Mandatory collectibles are still something I’ve never been a fan of. I feel like it defeats the entire purpose of a collectible if you have to locate it no matter what instead of just being able to relax and enjoy the level. You’ll see what a big difference it is to be able to just blast through a level once you have enough coins to clear the game. They finish so much quicker since you don’t have to check out every passageway.
As for the graphics, I would say they look very good here. The character models are solid with the levels being nice and bright. It all pops out at you well enough. I can’t say I particularly remember any of the tracks though so I wouldn’t call them very impressive. They do the job but that’s about it. In general that’s why I would say this is a fairly standard platformer. It’s fun and will last you for a while but there’s probably nothing here that you are really going to take home with you. At the end of the day you’ll just move onto the next adventure.
Overall, The Impossible Lair is a fun platformer that has some good ideas. I really like the idea of being able to challenge the Lair whenever you want. Additionally, the gameplay is solid and the hub world being so interactive was cool. Pro-tip, when using your spin dash you can float on the air for a second which is really helpful for many jumps. It’s basically mandatory in the lair. On the minus side, the forced collectibles certainly got old and the game is practically cheating with how it hides the potions. All in all the game certainly has ways to improve but it will hold your attention. Also make sure you stick around for the stinger leading up to the next game. After playing this you can tell that we absolutely need a third game to complete the trilogy.