Crash Twinsanity Review


It’s time to look at one of the classic Crash games from the PS2 era. I knew right away that it was going to be time to give this a shot after going through the newer Crash game. It’s always fun to take a peak at the classic games and Twinsanity definitely has that charm. In some ways I would even say that the plot may beat the newer one. It definitely has a lot of fun embracing the crazyness of the series and a certain guest star’s cameo at the end of the game was brilliant. It’s not something that can be topped very easily.

So the game starts with Cortex hatching another plan of his. He dresses up as Coco and is able to even trick Crash with his disguise. It’s not Crash’s best moment but you could also make the case that it’s pretty much par for the course with this Bandicoot. Unfortunately for Cortex there are other players at work here. A pair of aliens have shown up and they want revenge on Cortex for something he did to them as a child. They certainly don’t tend to forgive and forget the way that other characters do. Cortex is basically forces to work with Crash as a result so that he doesn’t get destroyed. Along the way all of Crash’s other enemies pop up including the iconic Dark Crash. Will the heroes be able to win?

The plot is pretty bonkers but that’s part of why the game succeeds so well. Things just happen out of nowhere and the story goes crazy. Dark Crash literally jumps out of nowhere to chase Cortex and vanishes as soon as he shows up. It’s almost like how Shadow just suddenly showed up in Sonic Boom the game. Dark Crash has a pretty terrifying final scene though so he’s still someone you don’t want to mess with. Cortex certainly does look very good here so I can see why he was a fan favorite. We learn a bit about his backstory like in his school days and more of his motivations for dealing with Crash. The guy may not be a very serious Crash villain most of the time but he is still a genius so you really don’t want to be on his bad side. He can deal out quite a bit of pain when he really wants to. Even by the end of the game he still tries his usual tricks.

For a villain like Cortex you do gotta find the right blend of comedy and action for his character to work. Cortex is just skilled enough where you can picture him destroying Crash but a nice enough guy where they could team up on the regular. I’m always up for a team up so that part of the plot was definitely a blast. The ending also leaves a lot of potential for future games even if it’s unlikely. Perhaps the most emotional part of the game is that Crash clearly still wants to be friends with Cortex. he doesn’t let any of this get to him personally as seen by his attempt to be Cortex’s friend in the end. The betrayal hits really close to home as a result and you may even shed a tear.

As for the gameplay, this is your classic 3D Platformer. You jump across obstacles and try to get to the end. While it’s a simple style, the execution wasn’t nearly on the same level as what I’m used to seeing in the series. Some jumps that should be very easy end up being quite tricky thanks to the various camera angles. It’s hard to see where you’re going and in the levels where you’re running towards the screen you better have lightning fast reflexes. The gameplay changes at times when you play as a different character. I was sad that the robot style gameplay only showed up for part of one level but that was certainly fun. Maybe it just comes down to the physics engine not being very good which messes with the jumps. I don’t know, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly but making the experience a little smoother would go a long way.

The graphics are excellent here. The character animations are often way out of model but I believe it’s on purpose. Sonic DX for example was very authentic in the graphics and it just so happened that it would become very humorous in the future. For this game I think they were trying to make it as out there as possible and I would say that it really succeeded. I love the designs and mixing that in with the dialogue is perfect. The scene where Cortex’s voice cracks as he talks to his teacher mixed in with the animation was brilliant.

The soundtrack can also be pretty fun. It’s a really crazy one for sure though. Sometimes you’ll have a very tropical theme and then you’ll quickly switch to something that’s pure rock. The changes happen quite suddenly and you can never guess what the next tune will sound like. The shock value may not be enough to make this one of the all time greats, but I would definitely call it a pretty solid array of themes.

There isn’t a lot of replay value here but enough to keep you going. Each level has some gems which look like Chaos Emeralds. So you can go back to the old levels and try to grab them. The hub world is also quite large so you can have a lot of fun exploring. I almost wonder why the game bothered with the hub world since you never really get to walk around it during the story. It was nice that they put in the effort to set it up though so that’s definitely pretty neat. I suppose I would recommend giving it a shot at some point. The game is pretty cheap so it’s well worth the purchase.

Overall, Crash Twinsanity is a pretty fun game. I do feel like the gameplay wasn’t very polished though and that’s what would keep it under the main 3 as well as the recent time travel story. You gotta have clean gameplay to accompany the rest of the title. Still, it’s a fun adventure. The game may be short but you should die enough times to stretch out the length a bit. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Crash fares in the next installments. It’s not like the enemies are going to be getting any easier so Crash will really have to focus himself. One thing’s for sure, this Bandicoot is never afraid of charging in since he can’t understand the danger.

Overall 7/10

Neopets: The Darkest Faerie Review


It’s time to look at an RPG that actually had a pretty solid start. Unfortunately it quickly began to falter near the end and this took away from the beginning. The game lost sight of itself as an action platformer and tried to transition into being more of a Legend of Zelda dungeon type game. You can’t really switch like that without having a lot of gameplay mechanics at the ready. This game just didn’t seem ready for this. You don’t even get the hookshot until the final hours of the game and only have to use it a handful of times so why even bother right? I’d definitely still be down with a sequel as long as this game can learn from its mistakes.

The game starts by introducing us to Tor, a kid who’s always wanted to be a soldier. One day he is told to go into the castle and deliver a letter. Along the way he decides to apply to be a knight and actually manages to get the squire license. Unfortunately his sister goes missing, but after saving her his parents allow him to be a full knight. Tor isn’t able to enjoy this for long though as the Darkest Faerie revives herself and destroys the kingdom. Tor must now find a way to restore balance to the universe and defeat her, but her abilities are incredibly powerful. We’re then introduced to our second main character: Roberta.

Neopets handles this rather well as you play as Tor for so long that it’s pretty easy to forget there is a second main character. She doesn’t appear until Act 2. She’s a diplomat who wishes she was a mage instead. Unfortunately that’s just not how things work around here. Her visit is cut short when the Darkest Faerie shows up and conquers the kingdom, enslaving the residents within. Roberta is forced to beat a hasty retreat and ends up bumping into Tor. The two of them are protected from the mind control by their charmed necklaces. They’ll need to enlist the help of the legendary warriors but they’ve been dead for years so reviving them will be the first step.

Part of the issue for the game is that it’s a little too ambitious. As I said, Act 1 is quite long but it’s not very balanced. Acts 2 and 4 are quite short and then 3 is long again. I’m thinking they wanted to make this a grand epic, the size of the world is certainly big enough for that. Unfortunately there is no map system in place to help guide you along the way which is unfortunate. You’ll spend a lot of time stumbling around until you memorize where everything is. It’s not exactly ideal for traveling. Also, there should have been a quick movement system. Walking everywhere takes a very long time and what’s worse is the fact that there are endless enemies blasting away at you and it’s hard to repel their abilities. You can try but there is no point after a while because they revive almost instantly so it’s just a waste of your health. At the same time if you keep running then the damage will keep on adding up as well.

It makes walking around a bit of a chore as things go on. Then there are the puzzles which are not very good either. They really force you to run around and figure things out with little context. A lot of times you will end up hopelessly lost. It’s part of why I like linear games, you never have to worry about guessing. Of course a well made RPG knows how to make sure the instructions are clear so this is still more of a problem with this game. I’d also mention that it can be quite dark but I think that’s more of an issue with our TV so I won’t really count it.

Neopets just gets a bit aimless after a while. It’s a shame because the actual core story is pretty good. This is definitely the most serious Neopets game I’ve played. One character is murdered by getting stabbed and the body count here is reasonable. Everyone is slowly getting taken out or mind controlled so nobody is really safe. It makes for a very ominous backdrop and you have to give the game credit for that. I also thought the graphics were pretty solid as well. The character models were on point and the different levels were all unique. I’d give the soundtrack less points though because there weren’t really any notable music themes here either. You’ll forget all about them pretty quickly.

There isn’t any replay value here either. Once you complete the game you aren’t able to go back and do much of anything. There is some mild travel available as well but most places are effectively gone and without a post game boss to fight why would you even bother getting more equipment and such? It just won’t help for much of anything as it is. I suppose it is a good way to give yourself a little more to do in the game but that’s about it really. This game is also at a pretty decent length so I wouldn’t say it really need a lot of replay value either way. It’ll definitely take you over 10 hours which is always my bar of when I say a game is reasonably long. When you factor in that you’ll probably get lost a few times then that will definitely add to the time as well.

Overall, Neopets: The Darkest Faerie had a great start but couldn’t sustain it. At the beginning this was an action platformer at its core with a solid plot as you tried to save the kingdom. After this the game slowly became more of a quest title where you had to do a lot of dungeons and this ended up feeling like a ton of filler. We really didn’t need that and the game would have been better off without it. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t always make your game longer just so you can say it has a lot of content. Keeping this game streamlined and to the point would have been a really good idea. In that case the review would have been singing a much different tune.

Overall 6/10

Rugby 2004 Review


I’m not a big Rugby fan. I barely even know the sport to be honest. Still, this was one of the only games I could find for under 5 on Amazon so I figured it was time for the plunge. It does feel a bit like Football even if it isn’t the genuine article. It’s close enough for me and that’s what counts. I had to figure out the controls on the fly as the practice mode here doesn’t actually teach you any of the controls. I’m not even sure I see the point of the Practice Mode here. It definitely could have been quite a bit better.

The game has no real story mode or anything like that so you’ll probably just be jumping into the quick “Play now” mode. Once you’re in you pick your team and the match settings like how long the game is and where you want to play. For my first match I made it very cold and overcast but sadly you couldn’t just pick rain ow snow like in the good ole days. I feel like those two should always be an option. How much harder could it be to program those into the match right? I played 3 games in total and saw a lot of rapid improvement. In the first game I lost 59-0.

Granted, I was still learning the controls at this point. I was figuring out how to run, pass the ball, etc. Even by the end of all 3 games I could never figure out how to lateral the ball back to someone else. It definitely made things pretty tough. The only play I knew how to run was what was effectively a delayed hand off. I did enjoy how the player would already start running before he grabbed the ball to pick up momentum. That’s a play I’d like to run more of in the Football games. I may have gotten blown out, but the gameplay was solid so I still had a solid time throughout. I think that speaks to how solid EA Games was at this point.

Then I jumped into my second round which went over better. I lost 8-7 in this one. I was finally figuring out how to play some good defense and of course I could run now. My play wouldn’t work very often but it worked once and so I was at least able to get on the board this time. My defense couldn’t stop them when it counted but I kept it close. Then we had the final match although for this one I toggled the difficulty level lower a bit so I’d have a calm experience. I ended up winning 3-0. Yeah, that’s a pretty low score but it oculd have been worse. At least I had the higher score so in the end I was able to claim victory. It was a pretty solid way to end the game I’d say.

Even now I don’t really get the rules. I do think it has potential though. If I ever did manage to understand how the game works I’d probably be able to enjoy this one about as much as Football or Basketball. It’s got a lot of solid fundamentals to it and that’s all I need. The matches don’t take very long either. I was able to knock out 3 games in about an hour which is a pretty good amount of time I’d say. 20 minutes for what I’d say was a complete experience. The game just goes very quickly since the clock never really stops. It’s just always active. I don’t understand how the end of the timer works though. It’s sort of like Soccer where even once the game ends the timer just stays there flickering for a little while. There’s probably some logic there that I just don’t get.

As for the graphics, I’d definitely say that those look pretty good. They may not be top of the ring or anything like that but for the PS2 era they have aged rather well. The whole thing looks pretty good. You’re able to leap into action and I have to give the game credit for having so many arenas and teams here. That must have taken a lot of effort. Additionally the game has a ton of replay value of course. You can enjoy playing quick games or jump into a franchise. Either way that results in a lot of playing time which is always a good thing. Of course this all depends on you enjoying the game a lot. Naturally if you’re not a big fan then this will probably drag on.

Overall, Rugby 2004 is a solid game. It would likely be higher if I actually understood how this all works. It’s too bad that Rugby didn’t get more installments but I suppose it never really got all that big in the US. Football dominated over here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. There aren’t a whole lot of other Rugby games that I haven’t played over here now so I’m one step closer to playing them all. Still, I don’t see myself getting another Rugby game for a long while so it could be a bit before I hit that milestone.

Overall 7/10

Phantasy Star Universe Review


It’s time to look at the very first Phantasy Star game I’ve had the pleasure of playing all the way through. The series always looked pretty fun and after playing through this one I can definitely confirm it. The story may not be quite up to par with the bigger RPGs as there are less characters to really get involved with but it could be because this game was trying to be more of an action game than an RPG. It’s a close one because of course you can have action games that are still considered RPGs like Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy. At what point does the action game make the jump? It’s an interesting discussion.

The main character here is Ethan Waber. He’s someone who strongly dislikes the Guardians after his father died in the line of duty. One day he and his sister are caught up in an attack by the SEED, mindless aliens who go around taking down planets. He ends up ironically being saved by a Guardian and decides that he had the wrong idea about them. We get a time skip and now he is ready to be a full time member. He will have to pass some tests to get officially acknowledged though. In the meantime the SEED have amped up their attacks and the government groups are split on how to handle this issue. The Endrun Collective wants to simply eradicate the SEED and the planets they have invaded. Effectively destroy everything. The Allied Army wants to destroy the SEED and the areas they inhabit so a slightly less extreme version of the Collective. Finally, the Guardians want to purify the SEED so that we can save everything. With none of the groups agreeing on procedure the stakes continue to ramp up.

Ethan is a solid lead here. He’s definitely quite confident and is ready to pick a fight with anybody. I always appreciate a lead who isn’t afraid to get in there and do what needs to be done. He may mellow out a bit as a Guardian but at the end of the day he still makes all of the right moves which is good. At the end many of the characters start to be okay with allowing for some possible casualties except for Ethan who stands strong. He refuses to lose a single person and that’s really what it means to be a hero. A lot of people can sacrifice the few to save the many but saving everyone is what you should really be doing.

The story is solid even if it’s slightly underwhelming at times. The game lasts for over 20 hours which is a long time to get used to the cast. Despite this, I wouldn’t say that the cast ever really grows on you outside of Ethan and Karen. Everyone else can range from uninspired to a bit annoying. I still don’t get what the game was going for with the plot about Ethan’s sister. It ultimately didn’t amount to anything and just sort of got dropped. The game doesn’t think about this plot so much that you can’t forget how her wallet got stolen by the rogues and they never get it back. This is especially important because Ethan is paling around with them by the end of the game and they presumably still have her stuff. I would have liked a scene where he finally got it back. I lost hope of this happening after the first few chapters but the whole thing was rather odd.

You’re also kind of waiting for the SEED to either reveal that they have a leader or for the Collective to explain their plan a bit more. As it stands, I still don’t fully know what they were going for here. I suppose they just wanted to blow up the planet or something. Their leader definitely knows how to come back to life over and over again which is admirable. At the same time, coming back to life with no real plan isn’t a very smart thing to do. Ethan even takes him out in a cutscene instead of a boss battle which I found to be a bit humorous even if that may not have actually been intended.

The gameplay is solid though. This is a 3D action title where you can choose from a few different weapons. I went with the single bladed sword for my main weapon and a short saber/gun for the back-up. I highly recommend having the gun at least as the back-up. It has to worry about ammo while swords don’t but deals a good amount of damage. I maxed out my gravity bullet early on and it was very helpful. The game is like a beat em up to an extent as you have to beat all of the enemies in an area before you can proceed. Rinse and repeat until you get to the end of the area and trigger a cutscene. It’s fairly formulaic on that point.

Universe has a ton of options on how to fight. Your weapons are determined by your class and you can change your class at headquarters. You don’t unlock the ability to change for a while though so by the time I did I was already pretty comfortable with my current standing. It’s never too late to change though and I recommend training a lot for the final battle. The game makes it rather difficult to train at times. If you die in the middle of a dungeon watch out. I was able to barely squeak through at times but otherwise I would really be in trouble. There’s no way out of some dungeons and you can’t grind and then save. The save point gets shut down once you leave so if you find yourself in such a pickle the only thing to do is grind a ton and then hopefully you’re strong enough to beat the boss or you’ll lose that data each time. I think the game should have allowed for you to forfeit story missions so you could go train if needed. It didn’t quite happen to me but I can definitely tell you that I would be pretty nervous at times.

The graphics are pretty sharp. It’s got that fun PS2 feel about it. It’s a retro style that has aged really well. It has the proper amount of colors and styles throughout the game and makes for a visually unforgettable environment. The soundtrack is also fun enough even if it’s pretty limited. I’ll give the game extra props for actually having an opening like an anime, an ending for every chapter, and then a general opening. That’s quite a lot of cinematics and we get more during the levels. This title clearly had a pretty considerable budget. Mix that in with the vast amount of replay value here and you’ve got a game that will last quite a while. It’s a solid sci-fi game for sure and there’s a lot to like here.

Overall, I may not have been super impressed with the story but it’s still not bad. After 20 hours you tend to get used to what’s going on and will be more invested than you could be in a short game. I think other Phantasy Star games will likely surpass this one but it still doesn’t quite take away from this one either. It’s been sitting on my backlog for an incredibly long amount of time so it feels really good to complete it at long last. If you’ve got a PS2 then I’d definitely recommend playing this one. There aren’t a whole lot of RPGs that take place in space so it’s a pretty unique environment. There’s also so much to do here that you are unlikely to get bored. I personally recommend doing a good amount of training before the final few chapters though.

Overall 7/10

Dynasty Warriors 4 Review


Time to take a look at the next Dynasty Warriors entry. I wouldn’t really say that it’s very different from 3 in this case. The graphics are about the same and the story is pretty similar too. In terms of changes from entry to entry I feel like the gap between 3 and 4 is probably one of the smallest that I’ve seen. It’s just as fun as the last game of course, but if you swapped them out it would be pretty hard to tell so I feel like this one came out really quickly after the last one in terms of development time.

So once again I went with the Wu faction to save China and unite everyone. The gameplay is completely unchanged from the last one with the core mechanics. It does seem like you know more of your super moves without leveling up this time which is handy. I also do like that you just have one weapon this time so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to equip it or something like that. That was one thing that could be tricky in 2 because it was hard to always be remembering something like that. This way you can focus on just getting into the action. You still have items to equip though and I recommend doing that since their extra stat boosts do help.

The levels try to have a little more variety in this game with new objectives. One of these is the “Find the Seal” level but the idea was better than the execution. This one took me almost the entire stage time not because of enemies but because the seal wouldn’t show up in any of the boxes. I broke over 80 and scoured the stage over and over but it just wouldn’t show up. It wasn’t really fun, but just tedious. Fortunately that level only showed up once and the rest were more standard. I much prefer just having to take down a bunch of enemies.

I gotta say that the final level really went all in though. It seemed like no matter which faction I tried to help I was left alone pretty early on. It was pretty thrilling in its own way though because the meter was all the way in the red meaning I had no support. I had to slowly encroach on their territory from all sides. There were many times where I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I ultimately was able to survive. I got to test my skills under duress and they weren’t lacking. The computer A.I. in this game is pretty impressive. They don’t let you split them up very easily and even utilize traps of their own. You don’t want to underestimate these guys.

Even on the Easy difficulty this game could be pretty crazy. The final level is my proof of this but even the other levels would be difficult at times too. This is definitely not quite like any other Easy mode that I have experienced. This one is determined to give you a challenge under any level and I can definitely respect that. There is no easy walk in the park to be found here. My main gameplay advice here is to pick your battles carefully. Just because you can go into enemy territory and take all of the fighters down doesn’t mean that you should. If you leave your allies alone then they may end up getting crushed by the forces that remain. It may feel heroic to invade the enemy base but that’s why it’s so risky. Additionally in this game the enemy generals are a lot more likely to just gang up on you which makes them a lot more difficult to handle. At least one of them will probably block or parry your blow and then you’re in a bad spot.

There are also 1 on 1 duels in this game and I recommend turning them down. The enemies often have cheesy combos that take a lot of damage out of you and they also have access to potions. There’s no real reason to fight them except that your army will lose morale if you turn them down. On the flip side if you accept and lose then you get a game over so I really don’t think that the risk is worth the reward. It seems a little lopsided but maybe that’s just me.

On the graphical front the game looks good. As I mentioned it is basically the same as the last one. I liked 3’s graphics so I enjoyed 4’s as well. The soundtrack continues to bring us a lot of different rock themes so that was a lot of fun. These games are really super impressive with the tracks and I hope to see that continue in the newer games. Music is a big part of the gameplay experience after all and if I could ask for any enhancement it would just be to make the music a little louder during the actual gameplay. Amidst the sword swinging and yelling I really can’t hear the music and it may even stop during the levels. You really hear it a lot during the menus.

It goes without saying that the game has a lot of replay value. The main campaign will probably last you a few hours and then after that you can try beating the game with the other teams. Additionally you can max out all of the characters and get the items. It will take an extremely long amount of time to do all of that so you can really just keep playing the game until you get to the point where you are tired of the gameplay. When you couple that with the fact that the game goes for a very low price at this point then you’ve definitely got yourself quite the deal here.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 4 is a fun beat em up game as with the last one. If you have enjoyed any of the previous DW games then you will definitely like this one. There’s really nothing to dislike here and everything to enjoy. It’s got a ton of content and solid gameplay so you can’t ask for much more. Right now I’m working on Dynasty Warriors 5 and that will end my little marathon. It’s pretty impressive how many installments this series has gone which really shows what a solid fanbase it has. The games have earned it with the solid gameplay over the years.

Overall 7/10

Dynasty Warriors 4 Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 2h 32m

Stage Stats

Stage 1

KO’s 67
Clear Time 5m 58s
Points 3522

Stage 2

KO’s 83
Clear Time 13m 50s
Points 4364

Stage 3

KO’s 196
Clear Time 27m 45s
Points 1722

Stage 4

KO’s 111
Clear Time 14m 22s
Points 3581

Stage 5

KO’s 101
Clear Time 7m 57s
Points 3451

Stage 6

KO’s 66
Clear Time 8m 18s
Points 3571

Stage 7

KO’s 106
Clear Time 14m 11s
Points 3246

Stage 8

KO’s 11
Clear Time 6m 14s
Points 2400

Stage 8B

KO’s 496
Clear Time 54m 16s
Points 6270