7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Wario Land Shake It Review


It’s time to take a look at a Wario game that I hadn’t gotten around to purchasing until very recently. It’s always nice to see him take the center stage. While Mario is certainly the more heroic character, Wario’s definitely a guy that doesn’t let everyone push him around. He just goes at the villains with all he’s got and makes for an entertaining lead. Shake It is a solid game that is slightly held back by the treasure mechanic, but does bring a breath of fresh air into the usual Nintendo platformer.

The basic plot is that a mysterious pirate has kidnapped a bunch of fairies. One of them manages to escape and convinces Wario to help in exchange for a bunch of treasurer. The fairy also heads to a local pirate for help as well and she decides to come along. Can this trio really stop such a powerful adversary or are their stories about to come to an abrupt end here? Only time will tell, but this could get dangerous.

The gameplay has your usual end goal. You have to get to the end of the level only that’s not where the level stops this time. You have to free the fairy there and then dash back to the beginning of the level with a 2-3 minute time limit. If you don’t make it then you’ll have lost. You get to keep whatever treasure you grabbed on the way to the start. You have a few different control options like the usual jumping and ground pounding, but also new ones like slamming into opponents or throwing them at obstacles. You’ll get the hang of these controls pretty quick and from there on it’s just a matter of plunging through.

Each world has 4 levels and there are 5 worlds here. You may think this sounds extremely short right? Well, it’s not a particularly long game, but it’s almost as long as the usual platformer. (Most platformers are around 6-7 hours) I’d put this game in at 5 hours personally. Each level won’t take you longer than a few minutes. So you may wonder why you can’t just beat this game in 2-3 hours or something right? Well, the game forces you to collect a ton of treasure in order to unlock each world. You’ll need 200K for World 5, 150K for World 4, etc. It’s around 700K in total I believe. I usually got around 20-30K per level so I only had to do a little grinding for the final world. If I didn’t have to worry about treasure I could beat the levels way sooner. As if the mock you each level has a very direct route from start to finish. However, if you want to get the treasure you’ll have to go through a bunch of alternate paths to get at it. The levels don’t become super long or anything like that, but you do realize the time you’re wasting throughout.

I’ve never been a big fan of forced items. I don’t like the idea of the game telling me how I have to play it because you are effectively being penalized for blasting through the game. As a bit of a speed runner myself I like conquering the games and just showing them what’s up. I can’t do that if the game is holding my hand the whole time and taking me down the various paths. Since the game does show enough restraint not to make the counts too obsessive it doesn’t hurt much, but it just limits the game from being quite as fun as it could have been. At least its upfront about how much treasure you’ll need for each world at the beginning so you can plan it out as you’re going through the game.

The graphics here are definitely really good. I was also impressed that we got a full opening anime movie to start the game off with and one at the end as well. Why does Wario get all this fanfare rather than Mario who is supposed to be the company’s mascot? It doesn’t make any sense to me and I was thinking about it for quite a long while. I’m sure there is some rationale to this and I’m thinking it’s that Nintendo can experiment more with Wario, but I’d love this treatment for the next big Mario platformer. The soundtrack for Shake It! isn’t quite as impressive as in Yoshi or Mario, but it’s a decent array of songs. None of them really stood out to me though.

Then we have the bosses which are pretty inspired. One of the final ones does get a little cheesy with the only way to beat it being a move that you were never formally taught to do in this situation. Ignoring that, all of the bosses have unique designs and ways to defeat them. There are no recycled fights like you would see in most of Nintendo’s other big games. In part this is because each world only has 1 boss instead of 2 and I think that makes sense to keep each fight fresh. They’re all a lot of fun, but the best boss has to be the final one. Not only does he have a proper two phases like a Mega Man villain, but his design and moveset are really something special. The guy can fire off giant energy blasts and makes it look easy. Additionally he just feels like a final boss. The guy has his own throne. I’d love to see him make a comeback at some point. He’s one of the few Nintendo villains I’ve seen who is played completely straight. He has no comedy moments to speak of.

There’s a good amount of replay value here after beating the game. You can work to find all of the treasure chests or even complete all of the bonus missions. Then with that treasure you can buy some extra heart containers or the opening movie to re-watch at your leisure. I don’t think the game will still last for much longer after all of this, but it’s a fair amount of content that really helps justify the price even further. The game goes for around 15-20 nowadays which is a fair price in my opinion. It’s rare that Wario gets his own game so I’m glad Nintendo put some real effort into it.

Overall, Wario Land Shake It! is a pretty fun game. It was more enjoyable than I expected as the motion controls were actually handled well here. You don’t use them much at all except for aiming and it was pretty responsive. Wario makes for a fun lead and the game just feels very unique. It can’t be compared to Nintendo’s other titles so easily. Hopefully we get a new Wario Land game at some point, I think there is still a lot that can be done with it. I also think Nintendo should consider a crossover game someday with Mario, Yoshi, DK, and Wario mixing and matching all 4 of the styles. That would have the potential to be Nintendo’s best platformer yet!

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Yoshi’s Woolly World Review


I have conquered my first game from the Christmas batch! Of course it had to be Yoshi because this game was supposed to be quite solid. I may not be a fan of the yarn aesthetic but that has no real bearing on the actual gameplay so either way this was going to be a blast. It’s definitely a pretty good game and delivers on everything you could want here. My only gripe is that some of the level designs aren’t great with invisible blocks everywhere which I find to be a bit tiresome. The final level in the game is also the worst one which is a bit ironic, but these issues are fairly minor and ultimately do not prevent the game from reaching its potential.

The story starts with Kamek showing up and stealing most of the Yoshi’s. Since they are made of yarn this isn’t really a difficult thing to do. Fortunately the main Yoshi escaped and now he wants to save all of his friends. To do that he will have to travel to all of the worlds and stop Kamek at every turn. This magic koopa may not be all that powerful, but he is fast and always manages to scamper off. You’ll quickly be able to see what the formula is here so you’ve always got a good idea of how long the game is. It should last you a good 6-7 hours I’d say.

We should jump right into the gameplay which is naturally pretty good. You have to get to the end of the level by jumping and running through various obstacles. You can eat just about anything and then you can turn them into eggs which you throw into switches and use to attack enemies. While there is a little bit of motion controls thrown into this equation it’s not nearly as intrusive as you would expect. While I am of the opinion that motion controls almost never help a game, this one didn’t particularly hurt it either. Half the time you won’t even remember that it’s here.

One area where the game really excels is in the boss battles. True, they do re-use quite a few of them, but it’s nice to have some bosses with actual moves and creative ways to defeat them. I think this is the main area where Nintendo tends to soar above the competitors. Their 2D platformers have way more strategic elements in play to keep things interesting while the others tend to be rather basic. Some of these will actually take you a few moments to determine how to injure them and each boss typically has 2 different points at which they are vulnerable. For the first instance you can take advantage of it if you are ready and quick. Then they have a second opportunity for players who may not be at that level yet. It’s all good boss design.

As expected the graphics are nice and pleasant even if they are some of the worst that I’ve ever seen in a Yoshi game. I’m sorry to say that the yarn aesthetic just doesn’t work for me. It reminds me of Kirby’s Epic Yarn where it just doesn’t hold up as well because the graphics were trying to be so experimental. Sometimes being experimental just isn’t a good thing and it’s something that can be hard for video game companies to wrap their heads around. I think this phase of Nintendo is over though and if you like this style there’s no problem. It just struck out for me.

The soundtrack is solid though. You’ll recognize a lot of the classic Yoshi themes, but then you’ve also got a new one for the lava level that is surprisingly epic. It feels like something you’d hear in a Sonic game, not a fun Yoshi game where you’re weaving yarn. Part of its effectiveness is in the fact that it comes out of nowhere like that. I was certainly impressed and have to give the game high marks for this showing.

Meanwhile there is a lot of replay value as you would expect. Each level has a lot of collectibles and it’ll actually take a good amount of time to grab them all. This will allow you to access extra levels and content which is always nice. Completing the game 100% will take you a very long time so expect to be here for quite a while. As I mentioned, this is just a very complete game and one I expect you’ll have a lot of fun with. It’s like one last hurrah for the Wii U.

Now lets talk about some of the weaker aspects of the game. There really isn’t much to talk about here. There isn’t really much of a plot but that’s to be expected. No, what I’m talking about here are the core level designs. One personal gripe is in the fact that the level designs have a lot of invisible areas. You can’t actually see things unless you shoot an egg wildly and hope it hits something. I didn’t think this was a good thing to do. Sure, it requires you to spend more egg shots and grab more enemies, but it’s not something you would find out otherwise. A good puzzle needs to give you a shot to solve it from the jump. Then you’ve also got the fact that the game will soft lock you in some sections. Sometimes you need to have an egg to throw but there are no enemies around so you’ll have to back-track quite a bit to get them. You should have the ability to always summon at least 1 egg to prevent this.

Then there’s the final level where you have to light up the statues. This level was pretty dreadful because it’s incredibly hard to find the enemies. I was probably on that level for a good 30 minutes or so. We never had anyone hidden under the water before so it comes out of left field. Most of the levels were quite good, it’s just that these things stick out and ultimately prevent the game from being higher up on Nintendo’s impressive list of platformers. Not every game can rise to the top though.

Overall, Yoshi’s Woolly World is a game that I would recommend buying. I was definitely pretty late to the party here with how many years it took for me to get to this one, but it was worth the wait. It really sticks to the Nintendo formula of high quality games and it’s hard to imagine playing this one and not having fun. I’m definitely ready to play the next Nintendo game, but I admit there probably will be another long gap before I play the next Yoshi title. There are a lot of other games to play in the meanwhile and you can certainly expect a Wario title soon enough.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Trine HD Collection Review


It’s time to look at the Trine HD Collection. Unlike most collections this game actually brought 4 whole titles in it which was pretty cool. I wasn’t too familiar with the games before although I did know the name. Now that I’ve played all four of the games it’s like I’ve gone from novice to expert in one shot. The games are pretty fun side scrollers and I can see why the series got so many games. They’re fun and will test your problem solving skills while giving you a fun little plot. Lets look at this one game by game.

The first Trine introduces us to the 3 main character. You’ve got a third, a warrior, and a mage. The Trine brings these three together and gives them immortality. The catch is that they must stick together now. None of the characters are thrilled about this so they all set out to find a cure. There isn’t a whole lot of plot in the first title. The gameplay is also the toughest out of all 4 of the games with not too many advanced features being added yet. Each of the three characters have their own unique talents and you can switch at any time. The brawler is a good fighter and he can slice ropes or beat up enemies. The mage can create squares out of thin air and levitate objects. The thief can swing across pitfalls and connect objects together with rope. You’ll have to learn how to master each character to deal with the puzzles.

Some of the puzzles here can be quite difficult. The levels are all pretty straight forward as you go from start to finish so the puzzles aren’t about figuring out where to go. They’re about figuring out how to get to your destination. For example you may see an extra large hole and you need to get across it. You may try swinging across with the third of creating a path there. Most of these puzzles have more than one way to get across which is fun. I would always try to cheese it with the mage by creating something and jumping across as it falls away. I feel like a lot of the time this wasn’t the intended route, but as long as it worked that was good enough for me.

You’ve also got upgrades here. You can re-distribute the upgrades at any time which was handy. Typically I would give them to the mage because his let you create up to 2 extra objects which further helps with the puzzles. A fully powered mage on your team is really all that you need in order to clear most level. The gameplay was really quite sound. Some parts could be rather difficult, but never too crazy. This is easily the toughest game in the collection so it really starts you off on a hard note.

Then you’ve got the second game. The heroes are called back into action as a kingdom is being overrun by darkness. The princess may not be what she seems and there are goblins everywhere. The heroes will have to stick together and use their abilities as a team once more. From all 4 of the games the stretch between 1 and 2 is the only one where the gameplay doesn’t change all that much. It’s pretty similar to the first one but the game is a bit easier. The controls have been ironed out further and you won’t be cheesing quite as effectively with the mage but there is less of a need to. You’ll be able to blast through this game pretty well.

With the third game things get changed up quite a bit. For starters the game is in 3D now. It’s a 3D brawler with quite a lot of fighting involved. As a result this is definitely the easiest game of the lot. It also felt like the shortest, but I suppose they’re all close. The goal is to get to the end of the level as always, but this time you will want to make sure that you stop and grab as many of the collectibles as possible. You’ll need a great chunk of them to be able to unlock the final level. I’m never a big fan of games forcing you to grab all these things. I like being able to just blast through a level and I’ll pick up the pieces for the Platinum trophy later on if I feel like it. Fortunately the collectibles are pretty easy to grab and they aren’t super out of the way. As long as you know to grab them right away then you should be good.

The plot here is the most ambitious. Someone has stolen the Trine and we have to get it back. We’ve got a character who may be related to the thief and people running around with dark energy. The story opens up a lot of questions, but unfortunately it ends rather abruptly. It seems to me like it was cancelled early on or funding ran out and they just had to release the game. It’s too bad that the fourth game didn’t continue the plot either. At this point it’s just not likely to ever get resolved. I don’t believe the 3D part was a big hit with fans either which was also too bad. 3D is just so much fun for any game. It takes the experience to the next level if you ask me. It’s hard to say that this is absolutely the best game in the series but it was a lot of fun. You’ll miss the puzzle aspect but you’ll love the combat.

Then we’ve got the final game. This one is a return to form as it plays like the first two. The gameplay has been further streamlined though and some of the abilities you initially started out with in the first two games have to be unlocked gradually as you go through the story here. The puzzles are back and there is a much larger variety of them than the last few times so you’ll have to be extra careful. There actually were some pretty tricky puzzles here so you can’t sleep on them. Approach the puzzles carefully and then you should be okay. One change that was probably inspired by the third game is there are now beat em up sections where you have to beat all of the enemies to proceed. You can expect them in each level so I wonder how the people who aren’t crazy about combat felt here. I always like a good battle though so I was definitely fine with this.

In this game we learn that a prince’s powers are going out of control. He’s able to turn dreams into a reality and unfortunately one of his nightmares created a shadow version of himself. The heroes need to get his powers under control or the whole kingdom is doomed. Alas, they aren’t strong enough to beat an unlimited imagination so they will need to go and find an item that can aid them in this quest. The heroes are pretty well experienced by this point so they are definitely ready for this challenge.

It’s really tough to rank these games, but I think this is the best time to do it. So ultimately I’d rank the games as 3>4>1>2. 3 wins the tiebreaker because I really enjoyed the hub world and the 3D gameplay was just really good. I like to see a clear progression as well an the checkpoints/easy level access was great. Game 4 is the most polished of the 2D titles and 1 beats 2 because I did really like how the puzzles were constructed.

As for the soundtrack/graphics, those areas are a little less impressive. I remember the main menu themes really well, but not much else. The games are going for a very old look so it’s intentional that this game doesn’t pop out the way that something like River City Girls does. I think the 3rd game looked the most impressive to me though. I think that’s because the game could show off more of the backgrounds this way. It all just looked so fresh and new.

If the game has any weaknesses it is that the characters aren’t very interesting. The same can be said for the plots of the first two as they didn’t really pick up until the third game. Even though Zoya is a thief and you can sort of tell what they’re going for with her character, she doesn’t get a lot to do. You don’t really buy into the mystique around her. Pontius is your classic strong but not very smart guy. He also doesn’t look too impressive most of the time. Being able to fight is great of course, but you need more than that to be a really likable character. Finally you have Amadeus who is always having a lot of trouble with his magic. He can’t perform the fireball which is still his lifelong dream. Hopefully some day he will be able to do it. In the meantime he does his best to help out, but is fairly timid.

It goes without saying that there is a lot of replay value in a collection like this. Lets say you beat the 4 games in about 20 hours then you can probably double that for the platinums. The Platinum trophy requirements actually aren’t that crazy here but they will still take some time. You’ll have to really master each level and if you’re going to get them all I’d recommend starting with the 3rd game. That way you can then focus on enhancing your 2D platforming skills for the other 3 games. You’ll be in good shape at that point.

Overall, The Trine HD Collection is definitely a title you will want to have. Being able to attain 4 games for the price of one is really a steal. It’s also pretty cool that you can get the entire series in one shot. While the games aren’t particularly long on their own, they end up being a pretty good length when you combine them. You won’t just be beating this one in the blink of an eye. If you aim to get all of the trophies then you can extend the time even further. It’ll be cool if we ever get a 5th game. If we do then I want them to finish up the story from game 3. The cliffhanger there was too good to just let go. The game easily had the best plot.

Overall 8/10

Game Records

Trine HD Collection Stats and Records

Stats time!

Trine 1 18/47 PS4 Trophies

Level Stats (XP)

Level 1 8/15
Level 2 33/45
Level 3 18/35
Level 4 24/45
Level 5 31/55
Level 6 23/40
Level 7 34/50
Level 8 34/45
Level 9 30/50
Level 10 22/35
Level 11 28/55
Level 12 28/45
Level 13 26/50
Level 14 30/60
Level 15 16/25
Level 16 –

Trine 2 23/51 PS4 Trophies

Level Stats (XP)

Level 1 18/30
Level 2 84/155
Level 3 48/135
Level 4 69/135
Level 5 54/110
Level 6 58/110
Level 7 53/130
Level 8 43/80
Level 9 12/45
Level 10 71/170
Level 11 42/120
Level 12 69/130
Level 13 –
Level 14 71/220
Level 15 77/210
Level 16 57/200
Level 17 44/205
Level 18 59/215
Level 19 –
Trine 3 20/28 PS4 Trophies

Level Stats (Orbs)

The Three Heroes -Pontius 49/50
The Three Heroes – Zoya 50/50
The Three Heroes – Amadeus 46/50
A Forgotten Parchment 25/25
The Astral Academy 127/150
A Lonely Knight 19/25
The Quest for Cake 47/50
A Tumble Down 17/25
Academy Outskirts 113/150
A Dangerous Outing 25/25
A Whisper of Evil 25/25
The Redwood Forest 115/150
A Wizard’s Epiphany 17/25
The Chronicles of the Guardian 138/150
A Brush with Death 19/25
An Academic Invasion 25/25
A Wizard’s Nightmare 19/25

Trine 4 20/40 PS4 Trophies

3/14 Letters
1/14 Treasure
1/19 Knicknacks

Level Stats (Orbs)

Level 1 22/25
Level 2 25/25
Level 3 25/25
Level 4 95/160
Level 5 40/120
Level 6 44/110
Level 7 30/110
Level 8 96/160
Level 9 40/150
Level 10 73/160
Level 11 43/150
Level 12 46/130
Level 13 37/100
Level 14 41/140
Level 15 46/120
Level 16 72/160
Level 17 72/160
Level 18 12/75

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Beast Quest Review


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.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Yooka-Laylee Review


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.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Toejam & Earl Back in The Groove Review


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.

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Ratchet & Clank All 4 One Review


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.

Overall 7/10