Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge Review


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.

Overall 7/10

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Rayman Origins Review


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.

Overall 6/10

Owlboy Review


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.

Overall 7/10

Rango Review


It’s time to look at a cash-in for a movie that I haven’t even seen yet. Rango is one of those games that I wasn’t initially planning to buy, but Gamestop had a B2 G1 Free sale and I needed a third game. The gameplay seemed reasonably fun and these titles are typically short so what’s the harm right? It’s a fun game even if there isn’t a whole lot to it. You can feel right away that this isn’t a AAA title and while the premise for the gameplay is good, it just isn’t very polished. It makes for a fun game for a one time playthrough.

The story involves a lizard who is the Sheriff of a village. One day, one of his friends runs into his bar and gets vaporized as he takes out a mysterious stone. Everyone at the tavern is shocked, but Rango calmly explains what has been going on. His story takes up most of the game as each level is a different experience that he had in the previous week. He doesn’t remember everything too well and likes to throw in some hyperbole so the viewers have to keep things real for him at times. Still, with aliens involved it does seem as if Rango is their best chance for survival. Can he do it?

The gameplay is pretty simple. It’s a 3D platformer game. You move and jump across the obstacles. You also have a gun on hand which you use to blast away at the enemies. Alternately you can engage them in hand to hand combat, but there is little reason to do that since the gun is simply better at all times. You’ll get the hang of the controls in mere moments. Jumping is important while shooting at all times to keep your counter combo up by not letting your opponents strike. You want the counter high because you get extra money that way and that’s how you get upgrades to all of your skills. The gun upgrades are definitely good to have. By the end you’ll be shooting so fast and the reload will be nonexistent. Of course, this game isn’t meant to be challenging anyway, but you’ll progress through the levels quicker which is always good.

There are around 9-10 levels in the game and most of them are quite short. You’ll be done with the game in 2-3 hours I’d say. It’s a pretty short amount of time, but at least there are trophies to obtain which helps a bit with the replay value. You’ll also be buying the game for a pretty cheap price at least which helps. I do have to still give it a thumbs down in the replay value department though. This is the kind of game that you play once, but typically won’t go back to. That’s just the way it’s built.

Naturally there isn’t all that much to say about the graphics either. It’s not as if they are downright bad or anything like that, but they just don’t stand out. They are as average as the graphics can get. Still, as long as the levels are clear that’s what counts. Likewise the soundtrack isn’t anything special either. It’s around, but you won’t remember any of the tunes once you have finished. Again, this is just a very average game, but I’ll take average over bad.

This review isn’t exactly all that positive, but you have to understand that I enjoy the average game. As long as a video game doesn’t make any big mistakes I’ll probably have fun with it. That’s the case with this game. Rango provides some fun levels with good gameplay. We also get a few racing levels and the fact that we get an actual story with cutscenes helps the game as well. It’ll keep you entertained throughout. One thing I have to warn you about is how often you shoot though. R2 is the trigger button which is normal but your finger will probably be sore by the end with how much you have to spam it. It’s because this is like in the Wild West so you have to keep pressing instead of holding the button down. I was ready for the game to be over by the end so my hand could get a break.

Overall, Rango is a good PS3 game. It is exactly what you would expect it to be like. These movie tie-ins rarely try to mislead you into thinking that they are something that they are not. This is a very basic 3D platformer game. It’s no Mario or Sonic nor is it trying to be. It’s just trying to earn some extra cash while giving you some good levels. If you tend to like these movie tie-ins then I would recommend checking it out. If you need something more from your gaming experiences then you can safely skip this one since it won’t give you any of that. At least we do get a retro arcade type level as a nice homage to the old days of gaming by the end.

Overall 7/10

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Crystal Bearer Review


It’s time to look at a Final Fantasy title. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous Crystal Chronicles title that I played so I was a little worried when I first realized that I had the next installment. I watched the trailer and quickly changed my tune though since this one actually looked pretty solid and promising. Fortunately it lived up to the trailer and is actually a spin-off that you can be proud of.

You don’t need to have played the first one to get into this title since Crystal Bearers takes place 1000 years after the first. Additionally the first game didn’t really have a conventional plot so you weren’t gonna miss much either way. The plot follows a kid named Layle who is a Bearer. This means that he has special abilities (In this case Telekinesis) and is also built to be a lot more durable than the average human. There are only a few Bearers left since humanity hunted them down and they don’t get along with the humans. Layle is a mercenary who takes whatever job he and his partner are given.

At first this is a simple task but on one protection mission he is attacked by a mysterious robot. This robot is a part of the Yuke tribe which was eradicated years ago. She wishes to bring them back and Layle isn’t even sure if that is a bad thing. The government definitely doesn’t want that though since it would mean conceding power and territory. Either way both sides need the 3 legendary jewels to meet their objectives so regardless Layle is tasked with obtaining them. He will have to outwit a mischievous Selkie in order to do so though. Once he gets the jewels, who should Layle give them to?

I thought the game did a good job of making the plot engaging right from the start. The opening cutscene is a lot of fun and gives more action than the entirety of the last game. This title has fun with the motion controls and uses them for a bunch of different mini game style levels. You could be sure to find many different gameplay styles which always kept the game fresh. Naturally I still prefer traditional controls to motion based anytime but this one was definitely smoother than many others that I’ve tried.

The graphics are pretty solid. The characters appear to be on point and the energy effects look good. The hub world is nice and bright and makes for a pretty good forest kind of landscape. It’s not going to go down as the best looking Wii game but is definitely solid enough to be noted. As for the soundtrack, it is mostly low key, but we do get two hype boss battle themes. I’d also say that the soundtrack never feels dull outside of the hub world so it definitely works well.

The game is reasonably long at around 10 hours. It may not sound all that big for a Final Fantasy type game, but I did skip all of the enemies and certainly didn’t get any powerful equipment. I actually didn’t buy anything at all since naturally I didn’t have enough money for anything good. It did feel satisfying though to just coast through the game at the equivalent of level 1. The reason why this is feasible is because aside from the initial tutorial enemy mob he rest are all completely optional. Aside from them there are only two bosses. That will be the most difficult obstacle to overcome and it will take you many lives but the bosses keep whatever damage you dealt so eventually you will find a way to claim victory.

As per Final Fantasy tradition the final boss does suddenly become rather high tier and cosmic. It’s always a nice treat to get a flashy climax like that as not only does it make the game more memorable in the long run, but it’s always fun to have a space battle like that. It’s good that Layle was so powerful since he could take it in stride. It’s also a fun change of pace to be the overpowered character for a change. You’ll notice right away that he seems a lot stronger than the rest of the cast and you’d be right. By the end only one character can actually give him a real fight and even then Layle still has the edge.

The only real flaw that the game has is the map. It’s one of those maps that is really zoomed out the whole time so you never truly know where you are. Honestly I still fail to see the point of it in general since it certainly won’t be helping you get to your objective. You will likely end up wasting some extra time during these moments but stick with it and you’ll be just fine. Of course when the map is the only serious issue that you have you know that the game is quite solid.

The controls may not be amazing but they get the job done. To use your TK abilities you have to point at the screen and then twist the remote in the direction you want to throw someone. This does allow the TK abilities to be a little more intricate than someone like Silver, but I’d certainly be cool with just having one button be what activated the power. Then based on what you press next is where you will throw them. There are also racing levels where you will really want to make sure you turn effectively. The toughest mini game is certainly the one where you have to help the heroine win a game if volleyball though. Those bullies were tough!

I didn’t really touch on the characters so let’s look at the big ones. I didn’t trust Layle’s friend the whole time since you just got the feeling that he would end up being a traitor. Well, it didn’t happen so I have to say that he was quite good. He risked his career for Layle and even held his own against a Crystal user. The guy is often out of the loop but still helps out whenever he can.

The Selkie is a nice character to have around as well since she always provides a lot of witty banter. She may not have powers but she gets by well enough with her wits. You almost feel bad for her by the end since she is searching for someone who doesn’t care to be found. That’ll probably feel like a big let down. I can’t say that the main villain was all that inspired but he isn’t bad. At worst he is just rather generic and doesn’t stand out as much as the others. His abilities are definitely very good though and the guy is persistent. He is absolutely not backing down without a fight. The Princess felt like a waste in comparison though so nothing really needs to be sad about her. She didn’t add anything to the story.

Layle was a fun character as expected. He’s definitely not the nicest chap around but he is certainly very direct and to the point. Layle knows that he is ultra strong and just rolls with it. Nobody ever pushes him around and he only does what he wants to do. He’s certainly not your average main character and that’s a good thing. This guy’s definitely got quite a lot of personality to him. I certainly found him to be a more engaging character than the mysterious Yuke. He will end up going down as one of the more likable Final Fantasy leads alongside Cloud and Lightning.

Overall, Crystal Bearers was a lot of fun. It’s definitely the kind of game that is certainly going to age very well long term. While the map is a bit of a hindrance at least you have the moogles who do their best to put you back on the right path to victory. The gameplay is fun and the story is on point so you really can’t ask for much more than that. You certainly don’t need to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy this game and I’d recommend it to any platforming fan. Even though I played without beating any enemies I would probably recommend beating a few just to stay on the safe side. That final boss is no joke.

Overall 8/10

Bubsy The Woolies Strike Back Stats and Records

Stats time!

PS4 Trophies 3/11

Level Stats -Unlocked bonus level, Beaten level without dying, ?/8 Shirts Collected

Level 0 –
Level 1 N, N, 1/8
Level 2 N, N, 1/8
Level 3 N, N, 1/8
Level 4 Y/Y/1/1
Level 5 N, N, 1/8
Level 6 N, Y, 2/9
Level 7 N, N, 3/10
Level 8 Y, N, 1/1
Level 9 N, N, 2/10
Level 10 N, N, 0/10
Level 11 N, Y, 3/11
Level 12 N, N, 3/11
Level 13 Y, N, 1/1

Bubsy The Woolies Strike Back Review


It’s time to greet the return of Bubsy! I admit that I never got to play the original games back in the day but this one looked fun enough. Plus, it was the only game where I could make the most out of my Amazon mobile app. I’m definitely glad that I didn’t get it for full price since it’s only around 1 hour long, probably even less than that. It is a fun game and the sad part is that the gameplay is actually completely on point. What ends up hurting it is really just the length.

The plot starts with Bubsy’s favorite yarn getting kidnapped by some aliens. He decides that it’s up to him to get it back and gives chase. You then fight through 15 levels of platforming and boss fights as you make it to the end and get the yarn back. It’s a pretty low key plot when you think about it. There are only two real cutscenes, an intro and an ending. After that it’s just about making your way through the levels.

Each level is around 2 minutes long. You can glide and double jump which means that you are able to enter Kirby levels of cheese here. You can just glide past everyone and you’re set. You rarely have to ever stop so just go full speed through it all. Bubsy is really overpowered but to make it fair you also die in one hit to anything. The main advice I can give you is simply don’t get hit. Even if you do, there are checkpoints every 5 seconds and you get 10 lives per level. The odds of you actually getting a game over are incredibly slim. So it’s fair to let you know that this game’s difficulty level is at rock bottom. There are no challenges to be had here, it’s just about enjoying the game.

In that sense it’s very much like Snoopy. For the record, this game is better than Snoopy. Both games are at a similar length, but the gameplay is smoother here. The levels are very high so you have a lot of freedom to run and jump. Too much freedom probably but the landscapes do look nice. Jumping on the enemies is always the way to damage them so the game doesn’t make you learn much. If the game was longer this would be an easy 7. With a hype plot/cool characters it would be an easy 8. Alas, smooth gameplay isn’t enough to reach the big leagues, especially when you’re only 1 hour long.

While the gameplay is very fast, the title does force you to slow down quite a lot when the boss fights occur. That’s because the bosses are only vurlnable after they do a combo of attacks and the villains aren’t in any kind of hurry. As a result you just keep dodging and dodging until you can counter. These opponents are easily longer than the level and the 4 bosses that you face are likely longer than the 11 normal platforming levels in the game. Food for thought. The bosses are long, but not difficult though so you’ll mow em down.

Even for 10 bucks this doesn’t feel like it has a lot of value. For replay value you can go back and try to collect all of the gems/beat every level without dying. I’ll give the game credit for not making this mandatory, but I just don’t see myself going back and doing all of that. It just doesn’t seem worth it but it’s nice for people who are huge fans I guess. It’ll make the length at least a little more reasonable.

The graphics are really good though. It looks like a PS4 game. Granted, the game goes for a very simple look intentionally so it’s hard for it not to look great. With few character models to come up with, they can work on making them all sparkle. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t quite up to snuff. The tunes are very generic and I heard the complete OST after completing the game. It just won’t do anything for you and will be forgotten almost instantly. It’s a shame but not every game puts a lot of effort into this area.

As for Bubsy himself, he’s a reasonable character I suppose. He definitely does talk a lot throughout each level but since recording time was limited prepare to hear the same phrases over and over again. It can be fun in an ironic way I suppose. There are also references to other series like Mario and Sonic during the levels which is nice to see. At the end Bubsy hints that a sequel could come out someday. I’d probably get it, but like this one I’d wait til I could get it for a good price. Especially if it’s this short.

Overall, Bubsy is technically a pretty fun game. If you just want a fun experience and don’t care about the length then go for it. However, I can’t really recommend it all that much because of how short it is. You’d be better off getting one of the Mario games instead as those are fun and long. It’ll be interesting to see how this one compares to Yooka Laylee since that’s another modern revisit to the old era. This one seems like it would win in gameplay but if that one wins in everything else then either way Bubsy is doomed. If only Bubsy had invested more time into coming up with cutscenes to pad the length.

Overall 6/10

Paper Mario Color Splash Review


It’s time to look at a big Mario game from back in the day. This was the finale for the Paper Mario franchise and Nintendo wanted to end it with a bang. Crossovers and the like would still happen but we weren’t going to get another Paper Mario game for a long time. Supposedly the ending was so sad that you would be crying in the end. Well, I knew that this wouldn’t be the case, but I was hopeful that this meant we would be getting a super crazy awesome story. Unfortunately that was not the case and the game started off better than it ended.

The story begins with Mario and Peach deciding to take a vacation since their last outing in Mario Sunshine did not go so well. Unfortunately Bowser shows up and kidnaps Peach. He also steals all of the paint from the world. Mario meets up with a Paint Can named Huey who explains that the only way to bring the color back into the world is to grab the 6 legendary Paint Stars. Once they do that they can worry about saving Peach. Mario isn’t thrilled about putting off his quest to save Peach, but he quickly gets on board just in time!

As you can see this game probably has the weakest plot among the Paper Mario games. The 3DS game gives it some competition but considering that this game basically ripped the plot from it, I’ll have to give the original the edge. The thing is, Paper Mario’s usually been solid because it could have ambitious plots and threw in things that you would never see in the main series. It’s just a shame that this has been taken away from it and now it’s just like the main games, but with the gameplay not being as good.

Yes, this game decided to follow Sticker Star’s example. The only difference is that instead of using stickers you have stamps in this game. For all intents and purposes they are quite similar but the main difference is that obtaining the stamps is a lot easier here which is good. We even have the “Things” back from the 3DS game which are large objects that you use to interact with the levels. You better grab them all since the game forces you to put them to use right away.

What wrecks the boss fights in this game is that they each have a moment where it is impossible to hurt them. The only way to clear each boss fight is to have a very specific thing in your hand to overcome the villain. If you don’t have it then you are doomed to lose and the game will never tell you that you need it until you are near the end of the fight. That can be a little annoying since by then you’ve already spent quite a lot of time on it. The levels suffer from this as well since the same thing happens a lot. You spend a great deal of time in the game just travelling back and forth among the old levels when you just want to proceed. Some also force you to redo obstacles whenever you go back which throws you into a bunch of extra fights.

The core gameplay isn’t bad, it’s just that these puzzle aspects really hold it back. Running around the levels is fun enough as it’s just like a traditional 3D Mario game. The turn based combat also works as well as ever. The paint is what’s unnecessary along with the stamps. I just want to be able to fight like the good ole days of the Thousand Year Door. There are too many limitations in the newer Paper Mario game and the puzzles punish you for moving too quickly and not finding every possible Thing in each level.

Now, what I will give the game a lot of praise for is its stellar soundtrack. This is easily the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a Mario game and it can hold its own against any title. The boss themes are a lot of fun and so are the various remixes like the one Bowser gets as well as a certain Kaiju one. The music is always very fast paced and works well for what is happening on screen. It’s just very lively and is really what you want to see in such a game. The graphics are also fairly good. They’re not great since the game is made to look like paper so everything is slightly worse than it could be, but it’s intentional. The character models as well as the stages are still quite clear.

Huey is the game’s original character, but he’s definitely no good. He’s essentially given the personality of a very little kid and is Nintendo’s way of trying to play to the audience. He always exaggerates every emotion and seems to be feeling what you are supposed to feel during the game. When something bad happens he gets super upset or he’ll start crying when it’s something sad. He’s just unrealistically emotional and is just annoying the whole time. He can’t even be straight with everyone at the end of the game. Huey is super dramatic and not in a good way.

How about that super sad ending Nintendo talked about? I wouldn’t say that it was very sad at all. Again, it’s ripped off from the 3DS game, but not even handled as well. Sticker Star’s ending was more emotional but also a lot better and still kept in the sad element while not being overly tragic. This one was just less emotional and also came across as rather forced. It also makes Peach look pretty bad because she doesn’t care at all and Mario’s the only one who shows any emotion the whole time. The ending should have just been the gang inviting Bowser over for tea and biscuits.

At least the dialogue can still be pretty fun like in the other Paper Mario titles. There are a lot of parodies or homages to old Mario titles throughout. The characters all have more personality than normal and the writing can be clever. As I mentioned some of the writing is just a little too obvious with Huey but everyone else seems pretty reasonable in comparison.

After completing the game there is still a bunch of stuff to do. There is one more star you can obtain and there are also the 8 Roshambo temples. Since those temples are purely luck by the end you’ll need a lot of tries to complete them. You can also build up your paint meter in the meantime as well. Actually, I guess the replay value isn’t amazing when you think about it, but it’s a start and since the main story is so long you don’t need much of a post game.

Overall, Paper Mario is really just held back by its gimmick. If you take away the Things and the paint then this would be a very solid title. As it stands, those aspects make it very hard to enjoy the game. Every time you have to go back to an old level to find something it completely destroys any momentum you may have had. The game is over 20 hours long which is usually great, but instead the game seriously starts to drag on in the second half. You’re just ready for the gang to claim the win already. I’d recommend checking out the Thousand Year Door before this one. That game will be more fulfilling in the end.

Overall 5/10

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse Review


It’s time to look at one of the latest Kirby games. It has been quite a few years since it came out by this point, but it feels fairly recent to me. This Kirby game took the unique approach of acting like a DS game. The Wii U does have a stylus after all, but it’s easy to forget since most games wisely stayed as far away from this mechanic as possible. Unfortunately Nintendo didn’t learn this lesson quite as readily which meant game over for them. I’m afraid that this is easily the weakest Kirby game that I have played and it just fails to capture the charm and essence of the series. Kirby himself does look fairly good though.

The game starts off with Kirby relaxing and just trying to have a good day when a villain appears and blasts the entire planet with an energy attack. Even Kirby couldn’t react quickly enough to dodge and at once time stopped for everyone. Fortunately a fairy freed Kirby and our protagonist returned the favor in the next scene. The two heroes decide to team up to save the planet and that begins our adventure. Enjoy the opening cutscene since we don’t get another one until the very end of the game. Was this game fairly low budget? I would say absolutely!

Aside from the lack of cutscenes (Because Nintendo isn’t exactly known for them anyway) this game takes a lot of shortcuts. The most obvious one is the reused bosses. There are 7 worlds which each have 3 levels and then a boss fight. Worlds 1,2, and 3 have the same bosses as 4,5, and 6. It’s not something that you would expect from a AAA Nintendo game, but maybe this one was only AA. What supports this theory is the game is only 3 hours and 32 minutes long. That’s considering that I left the game on while grabbing lunch and I would pause it whenever I had to leave the room as well. It’s just a very short game and you could probably decipher that yourself. Each level is around 5-6 minutes tops with some being shorter. It’s a fairly easy game so not dying will also speed things up.

A game being short isn’t really a bad thing, but if I had bought the game at its original retail price then I certainly would have been a little disappointed. Maybe Nintendo has just thrown in the towel though. Star Fox Zero was also incredibly short and likewise for Star Allies. I guess unless you are Mario or Link you can’t expect too much. Still, it would probably still get the usual 7 stars as with most Nintendo games, but what really hurts this one is the gameplay.

You can’t actually move at all. To control Kirby you have to draw a path for him with controls that bring you back to the Wii days. Kirby will refuse to get on your path unless it is perfectly straight and even then he has a tendency to lose his balance and momentum. He has a few different forms like a Tank and a Rocket, but those all use the same controls. I didn’t buy a Kirby game to draw, I bought it to cheese the levels by floating over all of them. That isn’t an option in this game and I have to question the rationale behind this. It just doesn’t seem like a good gameplay idea if you ask me. It gets old after a level or 2. Then you’ve also got the fact that a lot of the levels are auto moving levels which hurts a bit since you have to wait at their pace. Some of those levels I could play with one hand for a bit or do some stretching while I was waiting.

I did die a handful of times during boss fights thanks to the controls though. It never feels earned though and just cheesy. I would proudly blame the gameplay style for each of my deaths. Even though we got the solid cosmic battle at the end as in most Kirby games I couldn’t enjoy it as much because the design of the fight was no good. You have to rely on a lot of RnG to take him down for the count. All right, I think that’s enough about the gameplay so lets go into some of the more positive aspects of the game.

There is a reasonable amount of replay value here to make up for the short length. You can play Challenge Mode which gives you a reason to replay most of the stages. There are also treasure chests in each level which allow you to get the collectibles. There are a bunch of figures and music themes to grab as well as Diary pages which will tell you a bonus story. Grabbing all of the collectibles will take you a reasonable amount of time without making the mistake of being a big grind. All in all, if you decide to 100% the game then it will have awarded you enough content to justify the purchase.

The soundtrack in the game is also pretty good. It doesn’t have any themes as iconic as Battle Against Nightmare, but was still as good as a Nintendo title should be. The final boss theme is solid and the normal level themes are engaging. The graphics are also nice and bright as they should be. They are certainly a step down from some of the previous Kirby games thanks to the dicey decision to make Kirby a ball the whole time and the stop motion esque effects for most of the cutscenes, but beyond that you can tell that it’s a modern title.

I also have to give some kudos to Kirby himself and his role in the story. He looks pretty brave and strong throughout the opening as he dodges a laser blast and saves the fairy. You can also feel the emotion behind his character as he glares at the final boss. Kirby is definitely a fun lead and while some games can play up his childlike nature too much, this one didn’t. He took all the plot twists in stride. Kirby is all business in the climax. I didn’t care about the fairy plot much, but it’s not like it got almost any screen time to be honest so she was just around to jump start the plot. I didn’t even realize that there was something in the plot for a twist until it happened, but I guess it was good so that we could get a true final boss.

Overall, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is a fun game in every area except the gameplay. Unfortunately the gameplay is tedious and repetitious. It completely gets in the way of what the Kirby games are usually about and I do have to take a star away. One thing that I love about the Kirby games is just flying to the top of the screen and getting to the end of the level. You can’t do that here since the game controls where you go and your paintbrush runs out very quickly. It’s unfortunate, but if you don’t mind the idea of drawing or even like the concept for a Kirby game then this is the one to check out. Regardless it isn’t a bad game, but I would sooner recommend grabbing the rest of them.

Overall 6/10