No stats this time!
PS4 Trophies 11/24
Potion Bag Level Max
Brave Potion Level 1
Looks like it’s time to jump into the world of Beast Quest. After getting the game it was tempting to check out the books, but since there’s well over 100 of them I quickly backed out of that idea. This game’s got a very retro feel to it. It reminds me of the old PS2/Gamecube games from back in the day. It’s hard to describe as you just had to be there, but the platforming elements are basic and to the point. There’s no extra flash or specific techniques here. You’ll learn all there is to know about the gameplay within 10 minutes. From there it’s off to the races. It’s definitely the kind of game where you can also feel your progression right away.
So the plot of the game starts with an old wizard heading off to meet with the son of a legendary fighter. He tells the kid that only he can save the world from the evil which plagues it. This kid is eager to get started so he quickly gets ready with his sword and shield. The old wizard lets him know that he has to free the 4 legendary beasts which have been put under the control of an evil wizard. Along the way the kid meets up with a girl and her wolf. Together the group must accomplish this quest and make the world safe to live in once more.
It’s a humble plot but a solid one nonetheless. The accents are on point and the game has quite a few cutscenes. Voice acting is definitely important for the immersion in a game like this one so I was glad to see that. As I mentioned this is a 3D platformer so for most of the game you travel through the lands following your compass and fighting enemies that you run into along the way. When you meet up with an enemy the game turns into a close quarters combat style. You can use a horizontal slice or a vertical one. You also unlock other attack options like a flame slash or an ice blast. You can block attacks with your shield or do a crispy dodge which allows you to counter attack. As you attack you gain more meter which you can use for other special abilities. As you attack you fill up a second meter that you can use for final smashes. Additionally you have potions to heal yourself with. The game’s difficulty is pretty balanced. You’ll have a hard time at first, but then it gets easier from there.
You have an extensive level up system. You get orbs from enemies you defeat and you use them to increase various stats like attack, defense, critical, health, etc. I highly recommend going for attack first. See, in any game with an EXP system my first order of business is to increase the exp you get. Likewise in mobile games where you have to collect orbs to buy things I always buy the orb extender first. In this game attack translates into orbs and I’ll tell you why. Unlike traditional EXP, you get orbs by beating opponents without getting hit or landing a multi-KO. That means you need to be able to swing hard so you can beat them before they have a chance to counter attack. if you max out your attack then you can beat virtually any enemy in the game before they launch a counter attack which is absolutely crazy.
The attack difference is also incredibly noticeable. You do almost 4X the damage by the end and even bosses will go down in an instant. Also, if you want to grind EXP then go to the very first level in the game. Since they’re the weakest enemies that means they ironically give out the most EXP. It’s definitely an interesting system and one that I can get behind. Then with your coins you can also buy health upgrades from the shop. I recommend buying more space in the bag so you can hold up to 7 potions. Once you have that then it is very difficult to lose. The collectibles are handled really well.
The graphics may not be all that impressive, but again they have a very retro look bout them. It looks like a PS2 game. There are some glitches sadly like when the ground fell away during a boss fight, but it did make for a good view. That was a glitch that I can get behind. The soundtrack is less inspired and you’ll forget all of the tunes almost immediately. They’ll go in one ear and out the other.
There is quite a bit of replay value here. The reason for that is due to the game having such a short length. You can beat it in about 4 hours and the trophies are all surprisingly easy. After collecting everything you just need to beat the game on hard mode and then you’ll be all set. It’s tempting to go for this platinum. It’ll be on the top of my list once I become a trophy hunter again someday. It does really help cover the 4 hour campaign and since the game is fairly cheap it makes for a good value buy nonetheless.
As for the characters, they aren’t anything to write home about. The main character is your average hero, but he is very quick to let some secrets out while he is chatting with total strangers. Fortunately the heroine is here to keep him on the straight and narrow. She’s definitely a lot more on task and her pet tiger is definitely fun. The old wizard seemed shady the whole time and I was expecting a twist but it just didn’t happen. The main villain isn’t too smart though. He arrives to gloat at the characters but then you find out that he actually can’t fight. A single shove nearly destroys him and after that somebody finishes the job. It’s definitely a brutal end for the character. Maybe next time he’ll think of a good spell to use before walking into such a dangerous situation.
If I have one complaint with the game it is that its map function can break at times. By clicking on the right hand side of the PS4 controller’s touch screen you launch a glowing mine that shows you where you have to go. You chase after it like in Mirror’s Edge until you get to where you need to be. The problem is that it gets confused sometimes and just leads you in circles. At that point you have to use the master map and just find the next location the ole fashioned way. I don’t get why the map wouldn’t work at times. I’m thinking this part just wasn’t play tested the way that it should have been.
Overall, Beast Quest is more fun than you would expect at first glance. I definitely recommend checking it out. Once you’ve gone on the quest there is just no turning back. It’s a real page turner in video game format. I think one of the reasons why it works so well is because the layouts are all very clear. It’s got a clean interface and you actually feel like doing the side quests and such because they’re all just a lot of fun. So pick up this game and if you’re having any difficulty just make sure to upgrade your attack and you’ll be just fine.
It’s time to look at a platforming game that I’ve been aware of for a pretty long time, but just hadn’t picked up til now. I have to admit that the game didn’t look/sound amazing. It seemed like it was probably going to get bogged down by puzzles and such, but the price wasn’t bad so finally I got it. It’s definitely not the best platformer and the first world is one of the worst playforming worlds I’ve ever seen. Still, after that the game got a lot better so even though I wouldn’t call it great by the end I did think that it started to redeem itself. Hopefully the sequel will start on a higher note and soar to new heights.
The plot of the game is pretty basic. Laylee’s book is stolen by Captain B. who is going to use it to rule the world. Laylee decides to ask Yooka for help and together they now need to get all of the pages for the book. Why not just get the book right away? Well, B refuses to see them until they collect at least 100 pages. Rather than question this the heroes decide to oblige. This makes them about as smart as Crash and friends which isn’t great, but at least Laylee is pretty self aware about this. Yooka should be a little worried though. So begins the plot.
There really isn’t much of a story beyond this. Still, that’s pretty expected for platformers in general. Typically you just get a very quick story like that with minimal cutscenes. In many ways this game is trying to just be a normal platformer so of course it doesn’t want to have an elaborate story. That means that the gameplay needs to hold its own. In that sense the gameplay is reasonably solid. Running around and swiping at enemies is fun and you learn a lot of handy abilities. Flying is more annoying than it should be though as the camera just keeps on shifting. Simple turns take a lot longer and more effort than you would have ever dared expect.
I think the camera can be blamed for a whole lot. Also, you’ve got the level designs which aren’t so good. The worlds are downright huge and in part that is impressive of the developers but you have to take a lot of credit away for the fact that everything looks the same. You should never get lost in a world but that will happen many times. It’s why the game got off to a really stormy start since the first world is the guiltiest in this regard. There’s also the fact that most of the pages can’t be captured yet since you don’t have the necessary powers yet. You get 2 powers in each world and then one power after each one. So the game forces you to take the path of doing every world, going to the next one, and then going back to the first world with your new powers. What I did was I got the minimum amount of pages in each world to unlock the next one, rinse and repeat. Regardless you will definitely have to go back and get more pages at some point.
I made it to the final boss level with around 50 pages so I had a whole lot to try and catch after that. Going back to the old worlds isn’t a bad idea, but I don’t like being forced to do so. The page requirement for the final boss should have been considerably lower if you ask me. The final boss was pretty challenging though so the game did do a good job of making him a struggle. The boss is also pretty long since there isn’t a way to beat him much faster. You have to watch as he goes through his motions and if you lose then you have to start all over from the start. So I recommend not losing too often or the level is really going to start dragging.
One annoying part of the game is also how everyone just makes crazy noises to talk. It’s definitely a little dicey after hearing it for a super long time. It’s also pretty suspicious how everyone completely ignores Laylee. It’s almost like she was added into the game after the fact because aside from Yooka none of the other characters acknowledge her presence 99% of the time. It’s a shame because she gets all of the best lines in this game, but nobody reacts to her savage burns. That kind of takes away the point of her stings. She especially gets into it whenever we head to the shop owner. I guess he has to have a thick skin since he’s a professional scammer, but I wanted his conversations to be a little more interactive.
Ah well, ignoring Laylee aside I would consider the writing for this game to be really good. the script is clever and Laylee sees through all of the usual tropes and traps. Yooka is a little less aware and is basically your average protagonist. There’s nothing that separates this dinosaur from someone like Mario for example. I’d like to see Yooka get more personality in the sequel or if not then maybe it is time to join Team Yooka. Meanwhile the villains have even less character. B seems like a nice enough guy for a villain I suppose, but he is completely comic relief so it’s not like you’ll be taking him seriously. Then you’ve got his right hand man who may be more important than we could have ever guessed thanks to the ending. It’d be nice if the sequel game would expand on that, but I suppose that isn’t super likely.
There are a lot of little arcade games held within this platformer and most of those are good. They don’t have much of a middle ground though as the first ones are excellent, but too easy and then the latter ones are challenging, but way too drawn out. You just can’t win I suppose. Well, if we’re talking overall value then this game definitely does give you a lot of bang for your buck. The story will take you at least 10 hours since it forces you to grab a lot of pages. There are also a lot of trophies to nab and for the most part they’re actually pretty easy. This is definitely a Platinum that you can grab if you put your mind to it.
Overall, Yooka-Laylee is a game that gets better as you play it. The more abilities you get, the more the levels become convenient and less of a chore to travel through. This especially applies once you are able to fly as that is a true game changer all the way through. It’s always risky to make a game feel so limiting at the beginning even if it is to show you how useful the upgrades are at the end. Some games do it really well, but I wouldn’t consider this to be a great strategy either way. Still, there are enough things wrong with this game to keep it from getting the solid 7 score. The level designs aren’t good, the plot isn’t that good, and in general the game isn’t super interesting. You’ll complete the game, but then you likely won’t go through it again. It’s a solid one time playthrough so I guess you should buy it, but I’d recommend just about every other platformer first so definitely keep that in mind. I hear that a new Yooka-Laylee game is coming out so I look forward to seeing how that one stacks up.
It’s time to look at a sequel to a game that came out quite a long time ago. I know the name of Toe Jam & Earl because of how crazy a title that sounds. Beyond that I can’t say that I know almost anything else about the franchise. You don’t really need to know much else though because the plot isn’t all that expansive. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not you played the other games as you’ll quickly understand what is happening anyway. The gameplay is definitely pretty unique, I wouldn’t say that it’s all that good, but I suppose I can see the appeal if you’re playing with friends or something.
The basic plot of the game is that Jam and Earl are on a spaceship with the two heroines. They’re ready to finally head back to Earth, but by mistake they press the black hole button and end up sending themselves and the planet into another dimension. They must now recover all of their rocket parts in order to head back home, but that will not be an easy ordeal. No, if anything it may just be the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do, but the toughest choices require the strongest wills. They will have to be careful as the humans would like nothing better than to destroy the aliens who messed up Earth.
Now I’ll describe the gameplay so follow along as best you can. The game starts you off on a level with an overhead view. On the level you have a bunch of interact-able objects which include humans, demons, creatures, bushes, trees, houses, phones, etc. To get off of the level and onto the next one you have to hop in an elevator. It will take you to the next level. Also, keep in mind that the levels are used much like in the real world so by “Level 2” I’m saying that you are one floor higher. The game has 25 levels and the goal is to reach the end while obtaining 10 rocket parts. If you don’t have the 10 rocket parts by the time you reach the top then you have to go back down to find them. To get back to an earlier level just keep jumping off the level and one by one you’ll get down. You can also take an evil elevator to go down by one, but that’ll hurt your health a lot. Keep in mind that villains can also knock you back down floors so then you have to run to the elevators again.
The levels each have a map which automatically appears when you start, but it is all covered in fog until you move around. Every square of the map that you explore will give you 50 XP. When you level up you randomly get an increase to 3 of your stats from the local wiseman. These stats include speed, (Easily the most important stat) health, luck, present skill, and a few others. You get 300 XP every time you open a present, but they are always risky. One present is a bomb that will cause you to instantly lose a life. Another one is a thunder cloud that will follow you around for a long period of time until you lose a life, etc. Others are good as they give you a speed boost or some health back.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the gameplay mechanics. It’s a lot easier to understand once you’re actually playing compared to when you hear about it. Basically the goal is to go through all of these levels and dodge the enemies. You can’t fight back except for when you have certain items so really it’s like a stealth game. Just dodge everyone and try not to get hit. Problem is that you’re slower than just about all of the enemies so you need to always be prepared to jump into the water to avoid them. Don’t drown though as your air meter goes down real quick.
There’s not a whole lot to do here though which is the big issue for the game. As I mentioned there are 25 levels, but that’s it. Some levels can take you seconds to beat while others are significantly longer. I managed to beat all of the levels in what’s considered the tutorial arrangement, made it to 13 in Fixed Mode and 15 in Random. Still, even as the names switch it is the same levels each time. It has the feel of an arcade game as you just play it over and over to get a high score. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the game feels a lot more like a free to play than a modern PS4 title that you would pay for. You can potentially finish this game in around an hour.
There’s no real replay value unless you really love the gameplay style. Your progress is always deleted once you get a game over so aside from remembering your level or how quickly you beat them all there isn’t even a record to try and break. That’s one of the things you would at least expect to have when you’re playing the same campaign over and over. After the opening cinematic the plot is also over so you won’t see anything else until you beat the game. You also won’t see the ending unless you beat the game in Fixed or Random mode. Basically, it would be fair to say that the game doesn’t really have a story.
Based on the trophies it does seem like the game is mostly geared for multiplayer though. You can play the levels online which allows randoms to join your game. That should make the levels a lot easier to beat even if it will make things more chaotic. I wonder how the screens would work there like if the 4 players have to stay on the same level or if you can divide and conquer. I’m sure that would add a little more flavor to the game, but multiplayer can theoretically do that with any game.
I think at the very least there are 3 main improvements I would have the game do to really make a difference. One it to get rid of the auto death from the presents. The presents shouldn’t have the risk of destroying you in one hit for using them. Why make the presents that risky? It’s very hard to live without them especially since they are your main source of XP, but completely dying from one seems unfair. (Yeah, I died from one…) Another part that is lacking a bit is the constant loading screens. This may be unavoidable depending on the budget, but every time you go inside the elevator you have to sit through a long loading screen as the elevator goes up and the hero makes some snarky comments about it. These are unskippable and while they aren’t quite Sonic 2006 level, they happen a lot more frequently. Put it this way, every playthrough you are guaranteed at least 25 loading screens minimum. That’s a bit much. For number 3, I would add actual save points. I don’t think dying should erase all of your progress. I understand that this is a game decision though, but it’s one that I would have changed.
As far as the graphics go, they look like the online computer games you would play as McAfee. (Probably spelled a little different) You could easily see these kind of graphics in online computer games form 10-15 years ago and definitely can’t compete with modern ones. To an extent the graphics are likely intentionally old to mirror the retro style the game is going for though. It’s extremely undetailed and looks more like a NES game than a PS4 title, but as an artistic choice it’s not terrible. It won’t take you out of the game or anything. The soundtrack is pretty limited, but the tunes aren’t bad. It definitely gives you the feel of the game right away.
Overall, Toe Jam & Earl is definitely a unique game as I mentioned. The name is still a little hard to actually say with a straight face so I’ll mostly be sticking to calling it Jam & Earl IRL. It feels more like an experience game or one of those really old arcade style titles but without the high scores. The gameplay is fun enough, but there wasn’t a lot of incentive to keep going. At least it’s not really my cup of tea but if you want a shot of nostalgia and grew up with the series then I’m sure you’ll like it. While there isn’t a whole lot of content the game can still last you for quite a long while if you just keep replaying it a lot. I’d sooner recommend Asdivine Hearts and Owlboy though. I’ll wait for the next re imagining of Jam & Earl to see if this franchise can really make its mark on the industry.
It’s time to look at the final Ratchet & Clank game. (Not counting the movie adaption) All 4 One is definitely a very different game in the series as it focuses on the multiplayer aspect and naturally had to switch the gameplay a bit to set this up. I think they probably could have still pulled it off with the normal gameplay if you ask me, but I don’t know the full details of how that would work so it’s just speculation. Either way, while the gameplay is a bit weaker it’s still a solid all around game with a fun plot and good fundamentals.
Ratchet has retired from the hero gig and Qwark is now the President so everyone has achieved their goals. This is all thrown out the window though when the planet is invaded by an army of robots. Ratchet & Clank must get back out there in order to save the universe and Qwark tags around to help give his approval ratings a boost. They are even joined by their old enemy Dr. Nefarious who is only working with them for now. He warns the heroes not to get the wrong idea. Who can possibly stop this group of all stars?
The gameplay is your classic 3D blasting platformer. You are given an array of guns and other weapons to use as you rampage through the various levels. You’ll gain many weapons through the game by going to the shop and purchasing them. There aren’t a whole lot of weapons this time so you should have enough money to buy em all well before the final level. It also won’t take a whole lot of grinding post game to get the rest of the upgrades to be honest. The main difference here compared to usual is the team gimmick as I mentioned. There are a bunch of obstacles in the level that you can’t get by without a partner. If you’re playing by yourself then the A.I. will help you but it’s probably one of the worst A.I. I have seen in a very long time. Clank will literally jump off the stage to intentionally die just to make sure you lose.
You don’t actually lose a life unless both characters die, but with a computer ally more times than not that means both of you will die if you do. The game isn’t all that difficult and there are save points constantly so that’s not a big deal, but it will get annoying when you’re counting on your partner. Some parts of the gameplay are also just a little less polished than usual as well. For example, switching between weapons can be pretty rough as you need to cycle through 2-3 screens to get to the one you want. Sometimes it will result in you picking the wrong weapon as well. Then you’ve got the target aiming which will actively switch targets on you if there are a bunch of enemies. Small things like that keep it from being quite a solid as some of the others. It feels a bit more like a cash-in.
That being said, making the game multiplayer is no small feat. It’s definitely always a great idea to have that as a feature and in this title’s case you can team up with people online or offline. Your character also gains levels throughout the game so for example I got Ratchet to level 7. I’m actually not sure what the levels do, but they must have some kind of benefit I’d imagine. There are 9 chapters in the game and each one can take close to an hour or so. It’s a pretty good length for the title and nowadays you can get the game for cheap so you’re getting good value for your purchase here. Only thing to watch out for are glitches. They happened to be twice where I had to die to get the boss to appear again after he vanished. Definitely an odd one.
I also definitely did enjoy the story. The series never fails to deliver on that front with a lot of crispy dialogue. It’s one of those games where characters are constantly talking. There are big cutscenes after every chapter, but with all of the mini ones thrown in there the game stays very cinematic like the rest of the series always is. The plot may not be quite as long or deep as previous games (particularly the time travel trilogy which got real serious) but it still brings across the ole charm of the series. Seeing Qwark and the gang is always fun. Nefarious is probably the weakest member of the group when it comes to the humor, but he rarely gets to be part of the team so it was nice to see him. Ratchet also finally remembered why he became a hero in the first place so I expect that development will probably stick for the sequel. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the story goes in that one. The only boring part of the story would be the main doctor villain and his good counterpart. They don’t add a whole lot to the story although the twist about who the real main villain was definitely worked really well.
The soundtrack isn’t all that memorable, but I did like the credits theme. That one definitely worked really well to wrap the game up. The graphics also look real good, especially the cutscenes. It holds up really well over the years and I think it will continue to look good many years from now. While the gameplay may not be the sharpest in the series that isn’t to say that it isn’t good either. It’s still very good and I love this style of gaming. Mixing 3D platforming with gun skills is always a recipe for success. Just look at Fortnite or Star Fox Assault!
Overall, All 4 One is definitely a title that I would recommend. Naturally you’ll enjoy it the most if you’re actually playing as a full group, but you’ll still be able to progress through the game very smoothly on your own. The fact that there are save points every minute or so is always good since you won’t feel like you lost a lot of progress when you die. I’m pretty surprised that we haven’t gotten an announcement for another game in the series by now. I thought they always sold really well so Sony would want to have it back soon. Maybe they’re just waiting and are going to unveil a huge sequel one of these days. Either way, I can definitely say that the series had a great run.
It’s time to look at another Limited Run game. The company’s been on a roll with their releases. Asdivine Hearts has probably been my favorite thus far and even holds its own against most AAA rpgs. Dust certainly ranks very highly as well though as it mixes the classic 2D platforming with some good sword gameplay. Throw in a solid plot and you’ve got a winner.
The game’s premise revolves around a reign of tyranny that has enveloped the planet. Moonbloods are hunted by the evil empire across the planet and most have been exterminated. That’s where the main character steps in. He has complete amnesia and is unsure of how he got here. Based on his uniform it seems like he was a member of the villains but of course he can’t know for sure. This character meets up with someone named Fidget who decides to call him dust. Dust then meets up with a legendary sword that can talk and seems to know more than he lets on. Together with his new companions, Dust sets out to find the answer to his past as well as to stop the empire. Can he pull this off?
Right away you’ll see how there is a lot of heart put into the game. We have full voice acting and even some hand drawn cutscenes which was pretty cool. Additionally the graphics were pretty solid throughout the game as well. The character designs are on point and the levels are all very striking. There’s a good amount of variety to be found here. If anything, it’ll make you miss the minor characters like the first boss who had an awesome design but of course did not appear after that. The music throughout the game is also pretty nice. While the themes may not be ones that you’ll automatically remember as you finish the title, they’re all pretty original and fit in with the gameplay.
Dust isn’t afraid to be an emotional game either. Most of the bosses are characters who are being mind controlled by the main villain. Alas, it is tough to break this spell and Dust doesn’t even know about it at first so there is at least one casualty. The ending is also pretty intense and I’d say it wraps things up quite well. I’d certainly be down for a sequel. There’s definitely a lot more that can be done in this universe even if the empire plot wouldn’t return.
Meanwhile the character cast is strong. As I mentioned, the one shot bosses are pretty solid. Then you have Dust who is pretty similar to Link. He may not remember his past but that doesn’t stop him from jumping in to try and help everyone else out. He’s very skilled with a blade and his design is good. Fidget is not quite as exciting as the other characters, but she’s actually helpful which is good. For the little sidekicks like herself, the goal is always to try and have them support the main leads. That means Fidget should be strong enough to be helpful while still being weak enough where she doesn’t overshadow Dust. The game achieves the balance well. If anything the sword is the weak link here. He basically knew everything from the start, but plays dumb for the duration of the game. I question how he knew everything and I could see that being a plot for the next title. He probably has some dark secrets of his own.
The main villain is also pretty decent. His name is General Gaius and he leads his fleet to conquer the world. The game plays him up to be a bit more sympathetic than you might expect, but at the end of the day he’s definitely still a villain. He’s the kind of antagonist who doesn’t really see himself as being evil, but evidently he stepped down the wrong path at some point. The final boss fight is definitely a challenging one as he keeps on getting up no matter how many times you put him down. I had to go back and train for a while although I probably overdid it because when I came back he was a breeze. It’s why grinding pays off in these titles.
As for the gameplay, I’ve already talked a bit about it. Dust really shines with how fast paced the gameplay is. You can really choose how to approach a match. You can run into the enemies and go for big combos or you can blast them from afar. The larger the combo the more exp you get though so try not to get hit. Obtaining EXP is pretty easy here so if you’re ever stuck just go back to fighting minions for a while and then you’ll be fine. The toughest part is deciding which power ups to go for. The game does force you to keep the stats within reach of each other but you still have some control from within. I personally liked upgrading attack the most as beating enemies quickly is the best, but of course that does hurt your combo chances so it’s a double edged sword.
The main story will take you around 7 hours so it’s a pretty reasonable length. There are also a lot of side missions you can do and you’re certainly welcome to continue leveling up your character as well. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here after the initial adventure, but if you did everything on the way to the ending then that should buy you a few extra hours. You’ll probably be extremely overpowered by the end if you get the best equipment and max out the level.
Overall, Dust is definitely a very fun game. I would definitely like to see more 2D platformers where you use a sword instead of the classic buster. This one shows how you can do it effectively. The story was also pretty engaging and having voice acting always helps push the title into the next level. If you haven’t played this game yet then I definitely recommend changing that. It’s a title that I would recommend to any and all gamers. You just don’t want to miss out on this one. It’s another big hit for the Indie circuit. I’ve had pretty positive experiences with them so far and expect that to continue.
I’m not too familiar with Banjo-Kazooie despite hearing the name a whole lot. The problem is that most of the games never came out for a console that I’ve owned. This is the first installment that I get to play. The lead duo seem fun enough and I’m always up for more platformers. I may have joined this franchise late, but better late than never right? It’s a fun title and one that you won’t want to miss on for the GBA. You don’t have to worry about playing previous games to understand what is going on here.
The plot starts with Gruntilda escaping her rocky grave to enact her revenge on Banjo and Kazooie. She succeeds in kidnapping Kazooie so now Banjo must do whatever he can to get his pal back. Fortunately his friends are around to give him useful tips and transformation techniques so he can succeed at this goal. Once the duo is together again, they vow to put an end to Gruntilda’s plans once and for all. Let the villains try to stop them, nobody can mess with their teamwork!!
The plot is fairly direct as you’d expect. There are 6 worlds and each one has a certain amount of objects to obtain. Grab enough and you can head to the next world. You’ll need 50/60 of them in order to fight the final boss so you can effectively skip a world if you collected them all. I don’t think it is possible to skip the entire world since some orbs can’t be obtained until after you get some other power ups but you can skip a reasonable chunk of them. Each world is connected through a door so by the end of the game the hub world is quite huge. You’ll probably get lost a few times, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and then it’ll all be cake for you.
The levels use an overhead camera and you move as you would expect. You start the game only being able to jump and roll but by the end you can glide, use super jumps, and have an array of other abilities at your disposal. You better make sure your L and R buttons work well because if they’re damaged like mine then the latter levels could be a little tougher than you might expect. Always keep your guard up. None of the levels feel cheesy and there aren’t any bugs that I came across so the game is designed well.
Graphically the game has aged quite well. The character models are on point and the level layouts are nice. There isn’t much to say about the soundtrack, but the themes aren’t bad. On a technical level the game succeeds. I also naturally have to mention that the sound effects used for whenever a character would talk are naturally a blast as well. It reminds me of Yooka Laylee which is likely a homage to this title. Everyone sounds like they’re gargling under water and over the top effects like that are always fun. The only area where the game does get a bit iffy with the replay value though. You’ll be able to easily 100% the game in under 10 hours. At that point there won’t be anything more to do. Still, it’s a fun play through and if anyone ever asks you what a platformer is you can redirect them to this game. It contains everything you would expect to be in a title of this genre. It’s a solid all around title.
I also appreciate how Banjo and Kazzoie both have unique personalities. It feels like some platforming protagonists don’t have a whole lot to say or express during the game. These guys are not like that. Kazooie is the kind of guy who is constantly throwing insults around and he keeps everyone on edge. While getting kidnapped may prevent you from taking his tough talk seriously, it’s always good to have a character like that. Without him the villains would probably walk all over Banjo. In comparison, Banjo’s a very nice guy who is always doing his best. He stays polite through it all and I suppose that this is admirable although he isn’t nearly as much fun as Kazooie.
Aside from the main platforming levels you also have a few minigames which are always fun. One of them is a fishing game where you have to reel in some fish. The timing of it can definitely get tricky and you’ll need to grab a lot of them but it’s a satisfying side mission to grab your attention. Then you also have the slides, there seems to be 1 per world. These are easy but also a nice detour as you try to grab a lot of energy pieces. I’d be game for more little side events like that.
As for the villains, we have two of them in this title. The main villain is Gruntilda who is a witch with a lot of hype. She seems reasonably tough and I do like her confidence. She is a lot better than her sidekick who is a very smart King K Rool type foe, but one who doesn’t command her level of respect. I can see them returning for most if not all of the games in the series.
Overall, Banjo-Kazooie is a fun game. I can see why the series was well liked in the past. The levels are well designed and the gameplay is pretty smooth. It has some unique gimmicks to complement the adventure and you’ll get to use all of your skills as the game goes on. It’s a little on the short side, but I imagine that the main games would have had a lot more content to wrap things up. If you get this game for a good price then it’s certainly worth it. I don’t think this series will be ready for the big hitters quite yet, but I look forward to a modern remake some day.
It’s time to look at one of the recent Rayman games. You could make a strong case that this is the one which finally put Rayman back on the map. His games had ceased for quite a bit, but this one made him mainstream again. Although, since the character has vanished once more we will need more games like this one. It’s a fun enough title. While lacking some of the charm of other side scrollers it is nonetheless a solid title for all fans of the genre.
The game starts off with Rayman and his friends lounging around on someone’s tree. The poor old lady can’t even think straight with how much noise they are making so she grabs her buddies and goes to confront Rayman. Rayman quickly turns this into a battle, but the senior citizens defeat him and his friends. Rayman must now save his friends and stop whatever heroic/evil plan the old lady has in store. The question you must ask yourself is if you should root for Rayman…or the old lady?
Naturally the gameplay is pretty fun. It’s your classic 2D platformer with a few unique items thrown in to match Rayman’s style. You can throw punches as well as hold for a charged hit. You can glide with your head that functions as a helicopter and in general have a lot of good movement options. You must get to the end of the level and free whatever fairies are trapped. However, just beating the levels will not be enough as you’ll quickly figure out.
There are a lot of roadblocks in the story that serve as a way to artificially extend the game. You need to collect a great number of spirit orbs in order to beat the game. This means that you must either replay most levels at least once or grab a bunch of them during the level. The latter is easier, however you may enjoy each level a little less with how much longer it takes to complete them. I never like when a game forces you to explore like this. You’re effectively penalized for being too good at clearing the levels. I will say that this does enact a heavy toll on the game and is one of the reasons why it falls short of the other platformers.
The other reason is that the story is just pretty bad. I’m talking Crash levels of bad. Rayman is actually not as likable as Crash which I’m shocked about. He’s quick to violence and the guy doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself. It really doesn’t help you think that he is even remotely heroic. I have my doubts after this game. You never get invested into the plot because it is virtually nonexistent and Rayman is too annoying to root for. The game also gets a little iffy with the character designs, adding some fanservice to the fairies that Rayman is saving. I can certainly say that this was not quite how I pictured Rayman to play out.
Still, as I mentioned the core gameplay is fun which is good. The levels are actually pretty solid. If you don’t care about reaching the ending and just play each level straight through you’ll enjoy them a lot more. They only drag on when you have to explore them. As a result, you’ll really look forward to the boss fights which show up during the final levels and the aerial stages. Those are always very short and are fun to get through. It’s the optimal experience if you ask me. Adding in a secondary gameplay style almost always works out for the best so Rayman did a good job there.
Another good thing Rayman did was add the unlimited lives feature. I feel as though this is immensely helpful for the levels given how long they are. You’ll probably die quite a few times so you’ll be glad that you don’t have to backtrack too far. That would get very old very quickly.
I thought the graphics were pretty good. The character designs are on point and the levels are good looking. It’s not as colorful as other games, but that’s likely intentional to get that slightly grittier. I gotta give the soundtrack a thumbs down though. I’m not sure what the game was going for with the various lyrical themes that showed up but they really didn’t mesh well with the game. It got worse whenever you would die since you’d have to hear the theme yet again.
As far as replay value goes, Rayman has quite a bit at its disposal. As you collect orbs new levels open up and you get more unlockables. You get new costumes, characters, etc. Naturally you can also go after all of the PS3 trophies to really try and put yourself at the top. As the story itself is already longer than many platformers this makes for a game with a great amount of content that will last for quite a while.
Overall, Rayman Origins is a mixed bag. As a game it fulfills it’s job of having quality gameplay but aside from that it ends up faltering in the home stretch. It’s not the most complete game so you just have to decide why you are playing it. If you are here for the gameplay then you are all set. If it’s for the overall experience then you may want to look elsewhere. Either way I’ll look forward to the next Rayman title as I feel like it should improve upon the flaws of this one.
It’s time to look at another one of the Christmas titles. Owlboy is a classic side scroller that you may or may not have heard of. It’s an indie title that managed to make a pretty good name for itself. In this era of nostalgia it’s easy to see how this game could succeed, but even without that element it’s just a sound game through and through. The gameplay is solid and the plot is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients in making a solid video game.
The plot starts with an owl named Otus. He’s had a pretty rough time of it as his mentor constantly puts him down with insults. Otus tries hard, but he just can’t seem to get anything right. He is put on watch duty one day but leaves his post and then invaders show up. The kingdom is quickly taken down and naturally Otus is blamed. To be fair, he does deserve some blame here, but based on how quickly the kingdom went down it would not have mattered much anyway. Now Otus must try to secure the 4 relics before the villains do or the entire planet may suffer the consequences. Otus isn’t really a go getter but fortunately his best friend is here to help. Together, along with a few more allies along the way, Otus is ready to finally make a name for himself and prove that anyone can make a difference.
The gameplay is sort of like your typical 2D platformer, but with a twist. The twist is quite massive as you can fly. As Otus, you can zoom across the stage and your main attack is a spin move. You can also carry your partner around which will give you a new attack based on who you are carrying. Whether you obtain a gun, fire, or another attack it definitely increases your options. You can quickly switch from one partner to the next throughout a level based on who will be the most effective to use. The controls when flying are quite smooth and you definitely won’t hear any complaints from me. I will say that the town is a little hard to navigate with how huge it is though. I couldn’t find the shop to get my health upgrade after the tutorial so I had to fight the final boss with the default stats. I still won of course, but the health would have been nice. My game ended up freezing at the end, but fortunately it was after winning so I could end without any doubts.
As the game is named Owlboy you’d probably assume that it is referring to Otus right? Well, that ends up not being the case and it’s interesting to see who the Owlboy really is. With a limited number of characters you’ll probably be able to guess before long, but it’s a good twist nonetheless. The cast is reasonably solid. The best character for me was certainly the main villain. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame that you never get to take him on. He ends up getting his plot resolved through a cutscene so the final boss is someone else who isn’t quite as cool. The main villain’s design was just so solid so maybe he’ll show up again in a sequel or something.
I was less impressed with Otus though. As you may know, I’ve never been a big fan of the more timid characters. I like the aggressive fighters who rush into danger constantly and are always ready for some big fights. That just doesn’t describe Otus even if he does get his big moments at the end. His best friend is also a bit sketchy since he was quick to ditch the cause and tends to panic a lot. I won’t go as far as to say I was rooting for the villains, but I do admit that they were the more interesting characters. Nonetheless, the game will keep you entertained with its story.
Owlboy is fairly short so the plot starts up very quickly. The enemies waste no time in attacking and the plot is always moving. The main game will take you 4-7 hours I’d say but if you try to get all of the gems and such along the way you can extend the time a bit. As a result, there isn’t a whole lot of replay value though. Grabbing all of the trophies in the game will naturally help though and grabbing all of the gems will take a good amount of patience. The game doesn’t sell for $60 though so the reduced price helps complete the package and make it worth the purchase. A good, but quick game is better than a long, but tedious one.
The graphics look pretty nice. The sprites are very clean and polished while the level designs are varied and original. It’s easy to keep up with what’s happening on screen. I thought the soundtrack was decent as well, perhaps not the most memorable but it worked well enough. Owlboy succeeds in its technical merits and as I mentioned the character designs could be quite good. Some nice lighting techniques were used for the main villain to really show how intimidating he was.
Overall, Owlboy is definitely a fun game. While it may not be quite as loud and energetic as something like Shantae, it has its own charm. It’s a very peaceful game to have fun with and the gameplay is pretty unique. Being able to fly almost indefinitely is always tough for the level designers and I think they did a good job of not letting it become too OP. They definitely deserve some kudos there. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend changing that. This is a solid game that I could recommend to anyone.