MotorStorm Review

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It’s time to look at a racing game that I have had on the backburner for a very long time. I’ve always been a big fan of racing games although admittedly the one drawback to the genre is that the CPU racers can seem a little cheesy at times. On the other hand, it’s a little hard to see how to nerf that. It’s very hard to make the computers appear to be fair or they may seem too weak. Still, this one doesn’t do a bad job of it. I do think that the star requirements to unlock the various worlds are a little steep though so don’t count on unlocking all of the different tickets (worlds) unless you are prepared to play this game’s levels over quite a few times.

The gameplay is probably obvious from the cover but it’s a racing game. You try to drive to the goal as quickly as you can and lead the pack. Each race is 3 laps and the duration varies, but most levels are roughly 4-5 minutes. You have a boost which you can use quite regularly but give it a little time to recharge or it’ll overhear and effectively blow up. That’s really the only gimmick here as it’s a normal driving game otherwise. That definitely works for me. I don’t mind the boost and if anything it can be fun to have. Racing games with items have their place as well considering that Mario Kart Double Dash is probably still the best racing game. At the same time, sometimes it’s great to just hop in the car and use nothing but your skills to reach the end.

The main mode here is the campaign. There are a series of tickets which grant you access to a group of races ranging from 1-4. Winning each race will give you some points depending on if you placed in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Gain enough points and you unlock the next ticket. There are 21 tickets, but to unlock all of them you will need a significant amount of 1st place finishes. Most likely you may get around 10 tickets unlocked, but of course if you are willing to put in the time you can go farther. There are also free races and the like to play through.

Conquering all of the races will take a significant amount of time so the game has a lot of replay value. In general, I feel like racing games are often very good at this. You really get the value that you’d expect from a game like this one. The sequel looks pretty interesting as well, but at the same time I do think that the racing genre is often one that you don’t want to overstay your welcome in. Best to take it slow and simply enjoy the races that you’re in.

One thing that the game does to make itself stand out among the crowd is by having a full soundtrack. It has a wide range of lyrical songs and they are all loud, fast paced titles that really make you feel the intensity of the race. I can’t vouch for the lyrics of the songs, but at the very least the beats are pretty solid. The developers understood what kind of music would be really fitting for this genre. The graphics also look pretty good although there isn’t much to say about them. They look like what you would expect, but aren’t any better or worse than that. They are simply standard and I’d say that this is good enough.

Another area where the game did a good job was with making each vehicle feel different. You can play as a car, buggy, motorcycle, or a large truck. My favorite one is easily the motorcycle as you really zoom by there and the turns are really smooth. Of course it is sad to get completely knocked over if another vehicle so much as touches you. That’s the price for being light though and I’m used to it from playing Sheik in Super Smash Bros. It does make the campaign a little harder though since every other race has you switch styles so it is hard to get used to any one version. It’d be nice if they had separated them from the start so you could take your time and master each one.

The crashes are definitely a lot of fun in this game. Some racing titles certainly give more emphasis to the crashes than others and this is definitely one that had a lot of fun with the animations. You crash in slow motion and seeing the driver get slammed out of the car never gets old. Occasionally you do have to wonder why the cars are so weak though. Just going too fast on a muddy surface will cause you to tip over. The worst situations are where you don’t blow up though. At the very least you want to be eliminated right away so you can respawn. Sometimes you will simply be stuck upside down so then you have to try boosting to blow the car up intentionally. However, this takes so much time that you may as well give up the match at that point since you won’t really have a chance at first.

Finally, I enjoyed the level designs quite a bit. You have a lot of freedom to explore here. The levels are huge and there are many different paths to take. Part of the fun is picking a path and hoping that it is the optimal one. There is no way to find out except for trial and error so it encourages multiple playthroughs. I ultimately prefer linear tracks, but this makes it feel a lot more like a real outside race. I can certainly appreciate the attempt here since MotorStorm doesn’t exactly feel like a friendly Mario Kart kind of exhibition here based on how violently everyone crashes. It’s a bunch of races to the death for sure.

Overall, MotorStorm is pretty fun. The gameplay is really good and it’s just fundamentally a good game. There is nothing weak about it and there is a lot of content to stay busy with. A story mode would be nice, but I can’t say that it was expected. If you are a fan of the racing genre then there is certainly no good reason not to buy this game. It just has everything that you could possibly want with it. The game isn’t very forgiving though so prepare for a lot of tough competition from the computers. You may not win the races in one try, but find the fastest route and eventually you will be acing the competition. It’s all about practice, practice, and more practice.

Overall 7/10

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Family Game Night 3 Review

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It’s time to look at an old party game I have for the PS3. Oddly enough, even though I played the games back in the day I never bothered to actually upload it to the site or anything. Well, it was a good excuse to go back and replay the game for the review, but unfortunately it isn’t as good as I remembered it and I already knew that it was a bad game. I dare say that this could be the worst party game of them all and that’s saying something. At the very least it gives the bottom tier ones some competition.

There are 5 minigames total. That’s already a pretty sad number when you consider that this is a PS3 game. I mean, you could have a little excuse for this if it was for an older system, but for the PS3 I expect more. There is nothing else to do in this game so if you’re looking for some good replay value look elsewhere. I mean, I suppose you could go after the Platinum trophy, but you’ll have to sink in a decent amount of hours for that and with how many luck based trophies there are it could be a while. I think you can cheese most of them through two player mode if it helps. You will also be gathering some Potato Head costumes along the way which I guess should be interesting.

Lets look at the actual games though as a party title lives or dies on those. We’ll start with 2 of the good ones. The first is Twister. It’s pretty self explanatory except they misspelled Dance Dance Revolution. After all this Twister game is nothing like Twister. You hit the right buttons as they pass the screen. It’s the exact gameplay of a DDR game, but without having to actually dance and hit the buttons yourself. It’s an easier way of doing it, but less engaging. Still, on its own I actually like this minigame. There was a reasonable amount of effort put behind it and the core gameplay is just fun. Not to mention that there is less waiting on this one since I believe each player tries to match the notes simultaneously.

The next minigame is Yahtzee. This one must be easy to develop or something since it seems to be the old standby for pretty much all of the party games on the block. Well, that’s not a bad thing I suppose since the gameplay isn’t half bad. The problem is that they add a Hands Down! mechanic where you have to get a certain combo and then fight someone with the same one. I don’t get the point of this and it just takes away some of the fun. It drags the games out more than they should be since it forces everyone to keep going until 2 people have the exact card combination. Of course dragging things out is exactly what this game likes to do as you’ll see in the next 3 games.

Next up we have got Mouse Trap which is basically a movie. You roll the dice and move through the board that has no ending. The goal is to pick up a lot of cheese which you get by landing on a cheese spot. Thing is, you can’t control anything except for dodging some traps by pressing x at the right time. Beyond that, you just follow the dice and keep on rolling until you get your cheese. This can take over 15 minutes, likely longer if you play multiplayer. The problem is that the cheese traps take your cheese away and the odds of getting a lucky roll to land on the cheese 6 times is quite low. At least, it’s low if you want to finish at a reasonable time. I think my problem with this is that you aren’t really doing anything so is it really a game at that point? It’s 100% luck and that’s not cool. There is absolutely no point to the game and it takes too long to finish. Making it more interactive would have helped a lot.

Life falls into the same traps. This one has you on a long, straight board without any real mixups or elements to make it interesting. You want to retire and whoever does so first wins. So, to do that you spin the dice and watch where the road takes you. You do get some slight options like choosing 3 cards out of 9 but they are all random so you can’t see what it is anyway and then you pick your favorite card which will give you some effects. You won’t know which effect you’ll be getting though since you have to wait until you roll the dice for that. Everything is just so random and nothing is explained properly. It’s another really boring auto game where nothing is happening.

Finally we have Clue. This one is a slight improvement over the last 2 but not by much. At least you are trying to solve a case and you can choose in what direction you move. On the other hand, a lot of time is wasted for the many special effects that happen every turn. Whenever someone turns on the lights we get a cutscene and either a suspect is eliminated or one of the players will lose a turn. Either way it takes up time and if someone rolls a house party effect then everyone is reset back to their original positions. This is the longest cutscene by far as it’s almost a full minute and the computer activated it multiple times during our encounter. The minigame is pretty faithful to the board game, but it’s nowhere near as fun.

Family Game Night just didn’t realize how to make the board games fun in video game format and that is the big problem here. The game could and should have been a lot of fun, but instead it is just too drawn out. There are also loading times between every game that take up a lot of time. It’s the same cutscene for each loading time as well which doesn’t help matters. Each game also gets an unskippable intro that isn’t as amusing as it seems to think it is. The game is definitely not optimized.

As far as the graphics go, it’s certainly not PS3 level. I doubt that a lot of serious effort was put into this game. It was probably slapped together very quickly and rushed out to stores for the $$$. Hopefully it didn’t work as I can’t imagine buying it for full price and then realizing how terrible it was. At least Game Night 4 heavily improved upon this game but there is still no excuse for starting out this badly. At least give us a good soundtrack!

Overall, This game is brutal. I’m not going to mince words here, the game is terrible! There’s no heart behind the game and the actual game selection is bizarre. You shouldn’t have 3/5 of the games be all about rolling the dice and hoping that you get the right number. It probably saves on production costs since the games are so similar, but it’s not great from a player perspective. There won’t be any point where you are actually enjoying this game enough to justify buying it. I highly recommend avoiding it and if you want a decent party game check out the Mario Party series. That one gets in a proper balance of skill and luck while also making sure that no minigame overstays its welcome. That’s how you make a party game.

Overall 3/10

Little League World Series Baseball 2010 Review

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It’s time to look at a Little League game! Typically you expect to be playing with the pros so this was certainly a change of pace. As a result the gameplay is a little less realistic and aims to just be a lot of fun. I had a good time with the game even if it feels like there is a lot of luck at play when you are up to bat. There is an actual campaign so that is fun even if there isn’t much of a story. The goal is what you would expect, conquer the season and win the World Series. There are around 26 matches to go through so do your best to go all the way.

As I mentioned the gameplay can be a little suspect. It got better by the end though and I couldn’t tell if it was because I spent a lot of upgrades on batting or if I was doing a better job of aiming where I wanted to hit. From what I gathered, you typically want to aim up and start charging at the last second to hit the ball when the bat is blue. This still isn’t full proof but it seems to be your best bet. Aiming low never worked at all for me and I don’t recommend bunting either. When it comes to fielding you don’t need to worry because it’s basically automatic. The fielders will run and retrieve the ball for you. All you have to do is throw to the bases if it’s a clean hit. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the kind of game you can play while reading a book. Of course you will want to take the last few games a little more seriously since if you lose it is all over.

One thing to make a note of is your original character has a special ability. Each team has one player called the Star Player. By using all 3 sections of his Talent Gauge the bat will turn blue and just hitting the ball will make it a home run. I recommend saving your gauge for this moment every time because the normal gauge hits barely change anything. At least this way you’ve got a guaranteed run which could be the difference between victory and defeat. There are also items in the game known as cards but I played without them so I can’t say that I know too much about how they work. Based on the card summaries they seem like they will certainly make the game more explosive.

There are also a few other modes like multiplayer exhibitions and even a training mode thrown in. The multiplayer mode helps the replay value at least along with all of the trophies you need to collect. They aren’t all that hard but they certainly are time consuming so I can’t say that I plan to grab all of them anytime soon. The main story is around 6 hours long which is fairly decent. All in all, there is a good amount of content to keep you busy here.

There are also a lot of advanced techniques you can use in the game which are sure to make you a better player. I played through all of the tutorials at the very end for the trophies and I definitely didn’t know about 80% of the techniques there. If you utilize them all then it’ll make the game feel even more complete and well rounded. Good luck pulling it all off against some of the trickier opponents, but it’s still nice to have.

Then we have the graphics. The game looks pretty good. The character designs are on point and I like how my original character Terry came out. The visual effects for the hits were solid as well and in general the game was just very clear. I can’t say that I had any complaints here. As with most sport games, the soundtrack was fairly bland. Aside from a catchy main menu theme, you won’t hear much music during the actual games. I do understand this as it probably would overshadow the commentary and the grunts, but more music is rarely ever a bad thing.

Overall, Little League will take a little while to grow on you. It may have a slow start, but once your team is upgraded you will be hitting like a champ. As always pitching is really the stressful part as sometimes the opposing team will suddenly go on a roll. I found it helpful to already do a low charged pitch to the side where the player is holding the bat. They seem to have a lot of trouble with that. If I get 2 strikes in a row like that, then I would throw a slow pitch which usually trips them up. Use my sips wisely and you too can be a champ. If you don’t own a whole lot of Baseball games or you simply want a change of pace then this is a good one to check out. Little League does a good job of differentiating itself from most others in the genre.

Overall 7/10

Pac Man and The Ghostly Adventures Review

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PAC Man is a legendary icon and one of the most recognized characters in all of media. It’s no exaggeration to say that more people know about him than heavy weights like Luke Benson or even the great Parappa The Rapper. Surprisingly he hasn’t had dozens of games to exploit this fact and at one point he went for such a long time without a game that it felt like the franchise was cancelled. This led to this game, a reboot in which PAC Man the Family Man was transformed into PAC Teen, a revel who breaks the rules and can’t control his urges for food. Would it be a success?

The plot is pretty light as the game prefers to let its gameplay do the talking. An evil ghost from the Netherworld named Betrayus has kidnapped PAC Man’s two friends and also threatens the entire world with a new weapon that he had developed. Our young hero decides to stop him but he will have fun along the way because he never recognizes Betrayus as a legitimate threat. Honestly that is probably pretty humiliating for the guy and I’m tempted to feel bad for him. That’s the plot in a nutshell and trust me when I say that the game never wants you to take it seriously either. It’s pretty much all played for laughs.

Fortunately the gameplay actually is pretty smooth. Each stage will typically have an assortment of objects to jump or walk around as you progress. You can eat ghosts or even cause objects to open so you can eat the power pellets that come from them. Along the way you will obtain various Super forms like fire and ice which each have their own special ability. Defeating the ghosts is easy no matter what form you use so I recommend making the most of them since most of the forms come with Silver trophies for eating 100 ghosts. You will get the hang of the controls pretty quickly since they are fairly limited while the levels vary in design and difficulty, the basics carry over. It is funny how some skills don’t pop up until near the very end of the game but I suppose it had to end at some point so it’s nice that they gave us more powers.

The game’s length is reasonable although definitely erring on the short side. You’ll have it beat in a matter of hours. Part of why it is so fast is because it is so easy. You likely won’t lose many lives during the game unless you get hit by glitches or try to rush a little too much. The bosses are easy and even a novice to the platforming genre should pick up on what to do before the levels get difficult. There is some replay value in the game though like obtaining all of the trophies. This will require you to complete the game twice which automatically doubles the play time. The rest of the trophies will take some time as well like clearing all of the arcade games you unlocked but they aren’t too difficult either. It’s a very achievable Platinum and one that I would recommend going for in consideration of that.

Graphically the game holds up quite nicely. The colors are vibrant and the level designs are solid. PAC Man’s design will certainly cause you to take a step back though as you wonder what the animators were thinking. His eyes are always half closed as he gives a nervous smile. Everyone else has a decent design so PAC sticks out. The rest of him is good though so it’s a relatively minor detail. There isn’t a wide variety for the music but the main theme is always fun and certainly holds up well. It’s fast paced and is a good remix of the classic theme. You definitely won’t be bored as you play through the game with the fun levels to look at and listen to.

Now the game does have some issues. Uninspired plot aside, the game can be rather glitchy. You will suddenly be stuck and unable to move at some points and you will fall through objects as you plummet to your doom. I’ve certainly seen and played glitchier games but considering that this is for the PS3 it is definitely noticeable enough to mention. It was the cause of a few deaths for me and the moral is always to slow down a little to let the game catch up to you.

Now, was PAC Man himself as bad as they say? Well, the burping gimmick does get old very quickly. He burps at the end of every single levels. Sometimes he is proud of it and other times he does seem to regret his actions. He does this in the show as well, but with no remorse and burps several times each episode. That’s his worst quality but beyond that we don’t see his other negative traits from the show so he comes off as at least a decent main character. At the end of the day he just wants to eat a lot and save the day along the way. He may not be as heroic or selfless as the original PAC Man but as far as edgy redesigns go it wasn’t half bad.

Overall, PAC Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a fun title. The plot may not be particularly good, but the gameplay is surprisingly solid and that makes quite the difference. PAC Man can move really fast which makes the platforming fun and the game did a good job with his powers. You always feel very powerful against the ghosts which should always be the case when you’re playing a PAC Man game. The soundtrack and graphics are good so that makes for a very complete package. The cover and the idea of a reboot for PAC man may put you off the title but you’d be missing out on what is actually a really good game. I’m definitely hyped for the sequel since I’ve heard it’s even better and can be compared to the legendary Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Overall 7/10

Ducktales: Remastered Review

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It’s time to look at a retro game from the good ole days. It’s pretty nostalgic when you start the game up as you still hear the classic Capcom logo and all of the sound effects are very retro. It’s like getting that arcade feeling while still having the polished graphics from a modern game. Ducktales is a solid adventure for fans of the series as well as fans of the genre and is reasonably challenging as well.

The game starts off with Uncle Scrooge’s home being broken into by the Beagle Boys. They capture Scrooge’s 3 nephews, but the old Uncle is more than a match for the thugs. Scrooge then comes across a painting which works as a map and points to some legendary treasures. He decides to go and snag all of them, but the convenience of this map does make you wonder. Is Scrooge merely dancing to the tune of an unseen manipulator or is he simply leading the charge and got a lucky break? Our fearless main character is about to find out one way or the other!

When it comes to the gameplay, Ducktales has a very simple control scheme that is easy to pick up and play, but rather difficult to master. You move and jump as you go from one stage to the other. The main gimmick that Scrooge has is his cane which you can use to jump on enemies or even on spikes. You hold the O button to take out the pogo stick while in the air, but if you decide to play on Extreme Mode then it’s a two button combination of Down and O. You typically have to find a few objects which are labeled on the map. Once you find them, then you can head to the end of the stage and face the boss. I should mention now that I’m glad the objects are clearly labeled. It would just add unnecessary duration if I had to actually search for them all and get lost a few times. It’s not as if the levels are huge, but I think that this is a reasonable accommodation for the player.

There are 6-7 stages I believe. You can choose any of them to start out with first after the tutorial level and not counting the actual final. I went in order from top to bottom but the difficulty will really depend on which boss you find the most intimidating. They are all pretty tough the first time around, but gradually you’ll learn the patterns and do better the next time. Quite a few of the bosses took me two tries. It’s hard to sit back and memorize the patterns without getting hit, but this way it’s a life well spent. Surprisingly the final boss is one of the easier ones as out of Dracula’s 3 special abilities, one is really easy to dodge and the other two are pretty manageable. He does have more health than the other bosses which helps to balance that though. It’s a good amount of difficulty that tests your strategic thinking without being overly grindy. It’s a good balance.

You start the game with 3 hearts, but there are 5 upgrades that you can find in the levels. Grab all of them and your health will really be ready for the boss fights. Upgrades are really key in this game and the last parts would have been a lot tougher without them. I found 3 on my way to the goal, but I’ll look for the other two someday. The toughest part of the game actually isn’t a boss though, but the running challenge after it. In a scene much like a Mario game, you have to outrun the lava that is quickly creeping up on you. I died quite a few times during this part as the level is quite difficult. Make one mistake and you’re done. Even if you don’t make any mistakes you can still lose if you weren’t quite moving fast enough. Just keep on doing the level and eventually you will be able to clear it.

The main campaign is pretty short so you’ll have it beat in around 3 hours or so. Add in a bit of time depending on how often you die. There is replay value as you can keep clearing levels to buy all of the collectibles and earn trophies. The trophy collecting may lose some incentive since there are no Gold or Platinum trophies in the game. It’s a little surprising. Also, you have to beat the Game on Extreme, which means beating the whole game in one siting with only 3 lives. That sounds crazy hard so I already know that I won’t be getting all of the trophies in this game. Still, I got most of them so I’m still pretty satisfied in the long run. This is really a game that you complete once or twice and move away from it so it’s just important that you enjoy the initial run.

Fortunately I can say that I did enjoy the game. The story is quite solid and the writing is great as Scrooge has a lot of witty dialogue. He’s certainly a quick talker and always has a quip for the situation. His rival also made for a good antagonist. His constant insults during the last level are enjoyable for sure although Scrooge still gets the last laugh. The witch was a good villain, but a little overpowered. Since she can just stop time whenever she likes, I don’t see how the heroes can ever truly defeat her without plot hax. She just seems to be way stronger than the rest of the cast since everyone else is powerless. They’re just ducks. Count Dracula had a nice appearance even if he was completely used as a pawn here. He didn’t even get any lines in defiance!

The soundtrack is pretty solid. The level themes are memorable and in particular the final level has a great theme. It’s definitely a soundtrack where you can tell that a lot of effort was put into it. I do miss these retro soundtracks from back in the day and Ducktales definitely hit all of the right notes. The animation also looks really good as it’s about as HD as you can get for an old side scroller. The levels all look very clear whether they are in the light or in a dark cave.

Overall, Ducktales Remastered is definitely a very fun game. It’s a short one, but an enjoyable game nonetheless. You’ll have fun mastering all of the levels and making your way to the end. It’s a game that rewards your effort and each death will only lead you closer to victory. I’d love to see another game with Uncle Scrooge since he’s such a lead. The game’s ending just proves that point all the more as he’s just a nice uncle. He helped the nephews feel like the celebration was their own as well. Just don’t ask him for any money and you’re all set!

Overall 7/10