The Lego Movie 2 Review

It’s time to dive into the Lego Movie game. I haven’t played a whole lot of Lego games. They’re fairly safe platformers that don’t try to be too ambitious and give you a good time but at the same time they never seem to really be able to match the big titles. There are so many of them that it could make for a good theme someday but as it is this would be the weakest one that I’ve played. It’s not bad by any means, but as I said it’s just rather basic.

The game starts off with the Lego world being invaded by all kinds of crazy enemies. Only the two main characters from the first movie can try to save the day since Batman and the rest of the heroes have all been scattered to different planets. They must be found and assembled before taking the fight to the villains but it won’t be easy. Do they really have what it takes this time? The game doesn’t go much more into the plot than that though and most of the story only appears very suddenly during the final cutscene which was an interesting move. I can tell you that I had not seen this before but ultimately it felt a bit lazy. They could have easily tried to throw in some more cinematics and a plot to this. The main character doesn’t even get to speak outside of grunts because there isn’t much to say although the heroine talks a lot.

Let me jump into my first main issue with the game which are the unskippable cutscenes. Right when you boot up the game you are greeted with a very long intro that can not be skipped and this happens every time you turn the game on. Then during the game whenever there is a tutorial you have to listen to a full speech and there are a lot of tutorials. This is an easy quality of life miss for the game since in this day and age there should never be so many moments that are unskippable. You should always give the player some way to get around that because if you don’t then that’s just going to be annoying.

It was a rough first impression. When it comes to the gameplay I can’t say that I have very many issues though. You use the legos to create objects and move through the stage. It’s all rather easy to understand and there are less characters with specific abilities than in other Lego games so that helps in keeping track of things. There are even some boss fights here which can be fun as you have to create specific objects to defeat them. They don’t always explain everything so get ready for some guessing but on the whole it’s handled well. I would have liked more bosses though.

The game is very short. You should be able to beat it in a few hours, maybe 4-5. There is some replay value in trying to get the Platinum trophy though. I’m not sure exactly what that entails just yet but I think I’m going to aim for that one. It seems like it would be a fun little thing to do that wouldn’t take very long. It does help to make the game a bit more worth it and the price is fairly low so you also have that to consider. If this was full price then I would be a little harsher but for the price it’s a decent value.

It’s hard to really gauge the graphics since the Lego style will never look amazing or anything like that but it’s clear enough. I was able to always know what was going on and keep moving from there. The soundtrack is more on the generic side and I don’t think that you will really love any of the tracks or even remember them to be honest. It’s very by the numbers in that respect and you can tell that the game is just playing it safe on every turn. Nothing wrong with that but you’ll never be a great game by doing that. You have to go a little farther and try something dynamic.

That sums up the game in a nutshell. You’ll have a good amount of fun the whole time if you just want a fun little platformer to play but there are so many better ones out there that you will never quite feel like this one is a title you would search out. For some things the game does well, I like the map/compass. It always tells you where you should be going and I appreciate that. The collectibles are clearly labeled and all of the menus are very easy to understand. You could put this game down for years and I bet you would still understand exactly what was going on after that. This is absolutely one of those games and some of the level designs are also decent. I actually liked the DC world where it’s just a bunch of houses and roads. It felt like something out of a classic Gamecube game which was great but other levels were more on the generic side.

Overall, The Lego Movie 2 is a decent game but it just doesn’t do anything special enough for me to call it very good. It ends up being stuck right on the edge instead of really going anywhere. If you’re looking for a little game to keep you entertained then you can’t go wrong here. That being said, you can do better so keep that in mind. Buying one of the main Lego games like Batman or Star Wars would also end up giving you a lot more content but hey maybe you should go and check them all out. The prices for the Lego games actually aren’t that bad nowadays.

Overall 6/10

Monkey King: Hero is Back Review

This game was definitely one of the more random ones that I ended up grabbing from Gamestop but when a title is just a few bucks you’re inclined to take a few risks right? Odds are that this would be worth the few bucks and naturally that was the case in the end. This is the kind of game that may not be great but it’s good fun and by the end you realize you had a good time with it. I’d definitely be down with a sequel to this one someday.

The game starts off with the Monkey King getting taken down by the gods so his powers have been sealed. A kid unseals him and the hero, Sun saved him but a girl gets kidnapped by the villains. The kid begs Sun to help out and at first this Monkey King can’t be bothered but as the adventure goes on he realizes that it is finally time to step up and be a hero. Without his famous powers will he really be able to win though? Only time will tell! One thing’s for sure, he will need to eventually find a way to remove those chains before it’s too late.

The story of the Monkey King is a classic one and this adaption does a good job of going through the motions. He gradually learns about empathy, kindness, and humility as the days go on. At first he is very gruff but gradually becomes a team player. It’s all handled rather well here even if it may come across as just a little generic. The story is fairly barebones as it is. Even the trio of characters have a fairly old dynamic with Sun being the gruff one, you have the guy who talks tough but is actually weak, and finally the kid who means well and is super cheerful but isn’t really cut out for tangling with the others even if he has the heart for it.

So you’re playing this one more for the gameplay which is fortunately pretty good. It’s a 3D action game where you take out enemies with hand to hand skills or use one of your attack powers. I highly recommend using a bench to fight most of your battles. Yes, you heard me right…. a normal bench. It’s surprisingly effective the whole time. It has a longer reach than your normal blows and also deals more damage so it’s kind of a no brainer right? Once you get hooked on it then you won’t want to use anything else. The only exception is a staff that you should unlock by the very end of the game. Once you have it, it is an immediate upgrade over the bench so you’ll never use it again.

You can upgrade all of your special abilities as you play through the game so choose the ones that you want to max out carefully since by the end of the game you won’t have enough points to max everything. Mainly if you go with a maxed out bench and staff then you should be okay. There are other fun abilities like your projectiles but they all just feel a whole lot weaker. Also, the game is more fun with those items because otherwise the game can feel a little too slow and clunky the whole time. I do have to say it’s a pretty valid complaint against the game. The core combat doesn’t feel super balanced or organic at times. Mix that in with how the game can actually be rather difficult and you can have a rough time here.

I only barely beat the final boss after a lot of cheesing and was nearly out of magic meter. Just one or two more hits and I would have lost. It makes for a spectacular story down the road of course and you feel good when winning a real nail biter like that but I can’t help but feel that I would have done better if the game was just a bit more polished. At times it can feel like you dodged an attack when you get hit or an opponent launches an attack with no real way to dodge it. The enemies also have a whole lot of health at their disposal and you feel like they would have calmed down on that a bit.

The free roaming parts of the game where you pick up collectibles and find things is okay but I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of effort put into that. The focus is definitely more on the combat. I do give the game a lot of props for making the final, final boss a blast though. There is a whole different gameplay style created just for that fight and it ends up making a real big difference. See, you can actually feel the power and high stakes behind the final boss due to this. It is worlds different from every other boss fight and that’s exactly the kind of feel and atmosphere you’re supposed to be going for with this. The game understood the assignment here.

Overall, The Monkey King is a fun game. I’ll admit that it gets off to a rocky start and you have to get used to the game so initially it was leading up to more of a 6 star slot but by the end the game came into its own and really surprised me. It’s still a fairly short game so you’ll likely have it beat in around 10 hours or less but it’s a complete title. It also helps that I got the game for around $5-10 which is a fair price for this title. If you see it for a price like that then I recommend grabbing it. There’s not a lot of replay value here beyond aiming for the platinum so I’d say to just enjoy the gameplay/experience and call it a day. At the end of the day that’s really all that you need/want here. The wii Monkey King game I played was more fun but this one still gave me a good time.

Overall 7/10

One Piece: Odyssey Review

It’s time to talk about Strawhat Luffy and the gang in their latest adventure. I remember thinking that Odyssey sounded like a lot of fun with how you would get to relive the old adventures in a new way. It was also bringing in the turn based combat system which is fairly rare for One Piece games as they usually go with a 3D action/beat em up style. It definitely does work well for this title even if I have some issues. Ultimately this is a great game but they really dropped the ball on the story itself which is unfortunate.

The game starts off with Luffy and the gang having a good time at sea as always until a storm knocks them off their course and they land on an island. A girl named Lim shows up and steals their powers with her cube abilities. In order to get their powers back they will have to defeat 4 legendary colossuses on the island and additionally they must relive some of their most dangerous adventures. Lim will help them do this by unlocking the memory world and her friend Adio is also glad to help in any way that he can. The whole thing feels a little suspect but the heroes figure they can get stronger and have some fun so it’s a win/win. Are they embarking on their final adventure?

The story’s a bit forced there but hey it’ll be fun to see Luffy and friends utterly demolish all of their old opponents like Lucci and Crocodile now that they are so powerful…right? Well to get around that the film says that the villains have all gotten way more powerful in their memories and of course the heroes have lost all of their new abilities thanks to the cube. So what that means is…every arc basically plays out in the same way. It felt like the laziest way possible for the writers to not have to think of any new scenarios which was unfortunate. What’s even the point of not just making this a direct adaption then. It just felt like the biggest cop out imaginable. The only arc with any real differences is the final one in Dressrosa and even then it was just a small change by adding 2 characters in there.

So the game really didn’t deliver on its premise at all. In a lot of ways it’s sort of like the bait and switch that Sonic Forces did back in the day. The present storyline with the Colossuses and the mysterious Adio was good at least. That’s the part where you can at least get invested in. If the gameplay weren’t so good I would definitely get a bit more annoyed at that though. Odyssey tried to fumble the bag there a bit that’s for sure. We did get a full cinematic fight near the end which was cool though. For a minute there I thought we were going to get another phase to the final boss fight but when it was all a cutscene I thought that was cool. It’s not every day that you get to just watch a pure fight like that after all.

The game is fairly long too and took me over 25 hours. There are 9 chapters here but they each have a lot of battles. Each battle can take a while since you can’t skip cinematics and all special attacks have a full cutscene animation to them. It can make the fights a little longer than they need to be but I’m guessing the devs wanted to show off what a good job they did. I totally get it even if I always love how the Asdivine series lets you turn off attack animations for that exact reason. One mechanic I liked a lot here is that using normal attacks fills your special attack meter. It’s something I don’t recall any other RPG doing so that was cool. It’s better than having to use ethers every turn.

The game also has a customization aspect to it as you can power up your attacks and skills using your level up points. You can also reset the points at any time if you want to distribute them in another way. Additionally you can equip items to improve your stats and make foods/smoke bombs to get stronger or make your opponent weaker. There’s a good amount of options within the game and so you’ll find that unlike most titles it starts out rather difficult and gets easier as you go. This is because you unlock more and more items to use as you go through the game and they easily outpace the enemies you’re dealing with. For example a level up may improve your stats by 30 but then you can by an amulet that increases your attack power by 1400. It’s like you suddenly jumped up tons of levels. Whenever I would see an item like that I had to grab it.

Then later on you gain the ability to merge two equipments together to keep both of their effects in one shot. That made things even better. So there are lots of ways to power yourself up. Finally there is the old fashioned way of leveling up by fighting enemies. The final area has minions that each give you close to 200,000 exp points which is enough to level up twice in every battle. It was crazy how the exp skyrocketed since that’s more than just about every boss fight in the game. You could say the game wasn’t very well balanced by the end.

That leads to one of my issues with the game which is that there actually seem to be “dead spots” where you are trapped in a place with no enemies to fight and no way to escape. So in theory if I couldn’t find a way to beat the boss then I would be permanently stuck. Any good game always needs to leave you a way out so you can go and train so that was surprising here. I could see that being a real big issue if I played on hard mode or something. It’s something any RPG needs to really be careful of because that would just be incredibly disheartening. I’d probably have to put my controller down right then and there.

Meanwhile the graphics are very solid here. The character models can be a bit stiff but we do get fight scenes with them so the game does know how to use this pretty well. Then you also have the soundtrack which is rather limited but still good. What this all tells me is that the game’s budget wasn’t super high or anything like that but they still did a good job in making the game fun so I have to give them credit there. That isn’t always easy. With an even greater budget I’m sure there is a lot more they could have done here.

As it is there is still a good amount of replay value here. There are plenty of bounties to be completed and collectibles to grab. At the end of your journey you can even grab the Platinum trophy which would certainly be fun to have. I’m not sure just how difficult this one would be to grab but if it’s not too high then I may go for it. I have already gotten the platinum for a few One Piece games in the past after all. Either way you can see how the game gives you a whole lot of content for your purchase so you can definitely buy the game at full price and feel good about it.

The game’s original characters in Lim and Adio do a good job of being very memorable. Lim may not be much of a fighter or anything like that but she has a classic character arc of slowly learning to enjoy the journey with Luffy and friends more instead of always being so analytical. Adio’s mystery gradually unfolds as you play through the game but ultimately he’s not really someone I liked all that much. Maybe in part it’s because the game was too obvious with where his story was going to go but whenever the guy was on screen you knew that nothing good was going to happen for him at least.

Overall, One Piece: Odyssey is a great game. At times the lack of budget starts to seep through but ultimately it’s a good chance to hang out with Luffy and the gang again. I think it did have some ambitious mechanics within it like every character having their own special ability. The game just could have done a little more with it. Mainly I’d just like them to follow their own premise a bit better and not just sabotage it right away. It’s just a very strange move narratively. Still, if you like One Piece or want to play a fun RPG, this one should be right up your alley.

Overall 8/10

Nickelodeon Kart Racers Review

I got this game almost for free thanks to some Gamestop points and a gift card so now I finally get to see what Nick is up to in the racing circuit. Unfortunately I can confirm that they weren’t up to a whole lot because the game is really not as impressive as you would expect. There just isn’t a whole lot to this game so it ends up feeling rather barren the whole time. There isn’t any real personality and it’s lacking in proper sound effects and replay value. Ultimately it doesn’t seem like it was quite ready for the challenge of trying to be the next Mario Kart but there is potential for sequel games.

When you jump in you’ve really just got two main options, free racing and the grand prixs. The gameplay is your classic 3D racing environment and it’s very much like Mario. You can drift with the R2 and L2 buttons and you pick up items along the track. Use them to smash up the competition and get to the goal. Of course the objective is to finish the race first and then you get the maximum amount of points. There are 4 races per cup but the final ones go up to 8. Each race is fairly quick though so you should blast through them. The difficulty level is also fairly basic. There is a lot of rubberbanding here though so when you’re ahead of the opponents be prepared for them to suddenly make a historic comeback to reach you.

I recommend keeping a boosting item on hand but don’t actually use it until you are close to the goal. That’s the best way to make sure that everything works out. It will work against any sudden surprises. The items have a decent amount of variety so I’ll give the game credit for having a ton of different items at the ready. It would have been real easy to have just had a few items so I appreciate their going the extra mile. I will also say that there are a reasonable amount of different stages here although they do tend to blend together a whole lot. I think it’s because of the slime that hits you in every level, it’s easy for the stages to start all looking the same once they’re covered in slime like that.

In terms of replay value I would say there is a good amount here because aside from the cups you also have unlockables in the form of each car part. You can get engines, wheels, tires, etc. There are a whole lot to buy and it takes a while to earn any money. The easiest way is to level up by winning a lot of races and I imagine that this will get more difficult the more you do it as well. So I expect this would be a fairly long grind by the end of it but it is nice to equip the parts and really feel the boost by the end. Each speed part definitely makes a difference when going up against the computers.

What this game is really lacking though are character voices, more cars, and more content in general. Customizing parts is nice but how about just giving us brand new cars each time instead? I think that would end up feeling a lot more fulfilling. Additionally I would also be on board with some kind of minigame mode similar to Mario Kart where you have another objective besides just the race. That could be do a lot to just make the game feel a little more expansive. Of course another big one is having more than 12 characters. That’s just not a big roster, particularly for a PS4 game. You feel like they could have done a whole lot more with this. I’d say Spongebob and TMNT individually could easily have way more than 12 characters when you think about it.

I think that would really be enough. At its core a racing game doesn’t have to be super fancy after all. Just put some wheels on the car and get us moving. That’ll be enough to do the trick in the end and everything else is about making it stand out. As a developer you want to be able to answer the question of: “Why should I play this instead of another racing game?” with some kind of definitive mechanic. It can be characters, fun levels, etc but you have to have something and right now I don’t think this one does have much of anything. I’ve played car games on the computer that felt like they had more depth but of course that could be my nostalgia goggles.

Overall, This was a good racing game but a bit more basic than I expected. It’s closer to the level of M&M Racing than Mario Kart which is a bit odd since you would expect this to be a big AAA title. That being said, I still did have fun. It’s just the kind of game that you would be having a lot of fun in short term rather than long term. If I bought this one day 1 then I’d probably have been far less pleased with the end result. For a few bucks though you can race as your favorite characters and earn a few trophies. I know there are 1-2 sequels out there so at some point I’ll grab them to see how they go. Who knows, if one of those adds a story mode it could really end up being the next big thing and that would be a lot of fun. Give me a quality story!

Overall 6/10

Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia Review

Trollhunters is a game based on a series that I never watched which always makes for an interesting way to play a game. That said, gameplay is always the most important factor here and it looked solid so I figured that I had a winner here. This is a fairly short game. There’s nothing amazing about it and it doesn’t stand out in some kind of special way but it still had something that I needed…a fun experience. Yeah this is just a very retro kind of platformer with no frills to it. You just jump in and have a good time.

The plot starts with a villain managing to steal a relic that allows him to cross space and time. The main character needs to put a stop to him so Merlin lends us a time map that can also allow me to time travel. Pretty handy right? With this I knew that I had a chance. You dash across the various worlds in order to find this guy and repair the damage to the timeline but be warned, he may not be working alone. Time for the biggest sci-fi battle of the ages!

I’m not sure exactly how long I’d say the game is but maybe around 4 hours or so? It felt really short as I was blasting through and that’s considering that I even managed to grab most of the collectibles along the way. In part I did this because they were pretty easy to spot so it wasn’t a big deal going back to grab them and also in part because I was worried that if I didn’t grab them then I would need them to unlock the final level. There are 4 socks and 3 trolls hidden in each level so I recommend grabbing them whenever you can. You definitely won’t regret doing so. They really add up. You can also obtain items for doing this.

Once you complete the game then the platinum trophy is within reach. I dare say you can platinum this game in well under 15 hours. You just have to replay the game a second time and get a few miscellaneous trophies but nothing that is particularly difficult. Just give it the ole go and you’ll be just fine. Now I haven’t talked about the gameplay much so let me take a step back here. It’s a 2D platformer as I mentioned earlier and you defeat any enemies in your way with the sword. Now you will also be doing a lot of jumping as you would expect here. You have assists which let you activate special abilities like making a statue to jump on or a skateboard to ride. You absolutely need these in order to proceed so you should try to get used to them right away.

Beyond that there isn’t much else to describe about the gameplay. It’s made to be as easy as can be so you just jump in and it’ll come naturally to you. Some of the bosses surprisingly don’t have a hurtbox so you can run right up to them and start smashing away with your sword. Most opponents go down in seconds as a result of this but for the final bosses just be prepared to dodge the slow attacks once or twice. Do that and you should be fine and well on your way to claiming absolute victory. There just won’t be any stopping you because this game is really not very hard at all. At the end you even get a random healing power-up which is completely broken so that’s why it didn’t appear until the end. If you had that the whole game then it would have just been plain unfair.

As for the graphics, I wouldn’t say they are anything particularly special. The colors are on point and it all looks good. It’s just your average TV-tie in kind of graphics. The soundtrack is also more on the bland side. You’re definitely playing this more for the impressive gameplay and level designs than anything else. It’s all crafted in a fun way where no levels have boring spots or poorly designed moments. Instead it all flows together really well so you can allow yourself to be drawn into the hype right away. The levels are also fairly short so none of them ever really drags on.

This is where the game shines. It’s simple but knows this and takes that to its maximum benefit. Sometimes it’s good to play a game that is scaled back where you can just relax and have fun. The story is also decent as well. The characters seem fun enough from what I’ve seen of them. Naturally I’d have loved fully animated cutscenes and all but I suspect the budget for this game wouldn’t be nearly high enough for that. It would probably be asking just a little too much out of this title.

The game’s not very glitchy at least but for some reason one trophy didn’t pop for me when I beat the game. I’ll be completing it again soon for a different trophy so I hope it pops up there. It would be a shame for it to have just been lost in the void like that. Just wouldn’t make sense and it must have been a fluke. Glitches are okay as long as there’s a way around them but when it interferes with my trophy hunting then we have a problem.

Overall, Trollhunters is a pretty good game. The gameplay is smooth and there was real effort put into this one. The only thing holding it back is that the game is very short. You will be done with it right away so make sure that you get a good price for it. This is not a game that you should be spending $30 or $40 on. It may have a fairly easy platinum which makes the game more tempting but you should be able to find it on a great discount. Trust me on this one, it’s worth waiting until you find the perfect price and then nabbing it. Hopefully they make a sequel to this at some point. I’d definitely check this out, particularly if the gameplay sticks around as this style.

Overall 7/10

Redout: Lightspeed Edition Review

Redout is definitely a game that I can’t say I knew a whole lot about before getting it but it ended up being quite solid. It’s effectively an F-Zero type game. Granted there is no story mode here so you are really going to be focused on the races and going as fast as possible. There is a whole lot of content to be played through here so you’ll have a lot of bang for your buck. Especially considering how cheap the game goes for now. It’s definitely a title that you won’t want to miss out on.

The main mode you’ll be sticking to is Career Mode. Basically you will start off with a bunch of race options for class 1 vehicles. You will start to race on those and as you obtain medals you will earn EXP to level up. Once you have enough EXP then you will make it to the next level and then you gradually unlock more classes. There are 4 classes in total and the final one is unlocked at level 22. So at that point you can say that you have all of the content here ready to play. You don’t have to actually complete all of the stages in order to unlock the final class as it’s all about EXP. You could theoretically keep on playing the same level to grind out EXP although it would take much longer so there would be no point. Additionally I think the game is wise to that plan because I was farming gold on one level and then I suddenly started receiving 0 gold from there.

The reason gold is important is because that’s the only currency in the game so you have to budget out what upgrades to buy. An upgrade is around $10,000 for example, then power-ups are around $9,000, and a new car can go from $9,000 to $90,000. Everything gets more expensive based on the class of car/power-up you want and money gets scarce quickly. Each new car for class 1 and class IV get you a trophy so you’ll probably want to buy those right away. I ended up still needing to buy around 2 more cars by the end so maybe I’ll head back one day just to grab those silver trophies.

Ultimately if you want the platinum then you will need to beat all of the levels though. At least the base game levels. You will see some for the Mars DLC on the screen and you don’t need to worry about those unless you end up buying the DLC. So that’s one thing to keep in mind here. Beating all of the levels would definitely be really challenging. I played some of the tougher ones and kept on dying because it feels like you can just never move fast enough no matter what you do. It’s really tough to keep pace with the other racers but I suppose in the end that is part of the fun. Trying to keep outdoing yourself as much as possible.

The racing controls are fairly basic but one difference is that you use your right joystick to strafe which helps with the turning. This is the part of the game I likely didn’t master and feel like if I understood that mechanic better then I would hold my own a lot better. You also have the power-ups which are different based on which ones you equip but I have to admit that I never understood those so I intentionally chose passive ones. That way I wouldn’t have to even worry about activating them. In my races against opponents I never really got hit by anything so the whole thing’s a mystery.

This game could serve to have a real tutorial. I feel that’s pretty rare to say but that way I could be sure that I was playing the way the game expected me too. Instead I was sort of just driving as best I can which is good enough for the lower levels but really mastering the game’s specific mechanics is probably the only way I would be getting anywhere near the top. The graphics are really good though. Everything is colorful and vibrant the way you would expect for a sci-fi racer like this. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. There are some decently emotional songs in there but for the most part it’s very fast and techno the way you would expect it to be. It matches up well with what the game is going for.

There is also a lot of replay value because of all the purchases that I mentioned and the levels here. There really are quite a lot of levels so you should have plenty to do for a very long time. Just keep on plunging ahead to the goal and you’ll be at the end in no time. Even when you lose you earn a good amount of XP and Gold which I like because then it never feels like your race was a waste. There was always a purpose to entering each event and some other games can definitely take a few pointers from this one in that regard. You should always get something for your trouble.

Overall, Redout is a pretty fun game. The racing gameplay is on point and while I may not have understood part of it, the overall experience was still on point for me. There is a whole lot of content to enjoy here so you certainly won’t be bored all the way through. It may not stand out compared to other titles but it’s so cheap that you should really give it a chance. After all at worst you may just think it doesn’t stand out but at best it could be the next big racing game for you. It makes no real mistakes and I do like the simplicity of the level up system. Get stronger to race better cars. It’s extremely straightforward and so when you lose you just have to take a look at your car and rethink how you play the stage. There aren’t any big gimmicks to worry about.

Overall 7/10

Madden 23 Review

Madden is back!! Yesssss. Now I’m caught up and of course this has always been a thrilling series from cover to cover. In many ways it is completely unchanged from Madden 22 so you can really just jump right back into the mix without learning any new combos or things like that. As always to test the game out I played a full season. Only difference from usual is that I decided to play the season as a custom made QB in face of the franchise instead of doing a normal season. I have some issues with the mode but at the end of the day it is an elite game as you would expect.

First off the graphics are top tier as you’d expect. A whole lot of work goes into the visuals and it was certainly worth it. Everything just looks very modern and the presentation is really nice while playing. You get highlights, stats, and announcers talking the whole time. It feels like a very genuine Football product. Then the soundtrack may never be my favorite for the menus but the sound effects while in the game are on point. Those are the ones that you want to watch out for after all to make sure it feels real and it does.

There are a ton of modes to play here. If you have PS+ then you can jump online for some games which is absolutely what I would do if I had it but otherwise playing offline will still get you unlimited enjoyment. The fun never has to stop while you’re here and you can quote me on that. Switch things up by changing your position or playing a different mode. You can even mess with the camera angles now to change things up.

The gameplay is fantastic as always and the games go fast so lets talk about the small things that I didn’t like. One is what I’d consider to be a major oversight. In the face of the franchise mode there is no way to see the league standings. You can look at each individual schedule one by one and calculate this or pick apart the records but the fact that there is no league standings to view is really crazy. It’s the kind of oversight you just can’t believe you’re seeing because it feels so obvious. I cycled through the menus so many times before finally googling it and saw people came up with the same issue all over the place. That’s just crazy, I’m still pretty shocked about it.

Then the other one is that the camera tends to break down randomly during the franchise mode. I’ve noticed this usually happens on the first play of your possession if the glitch triggers. Basically the camera goes in front of you so you can see your backfield but nothing in front. This makes passing the ball impossible because you literally cannot see where you’re throwing. I would always audible to a run and calling a time-out works but it’s a very odd glitch. I didn’t really know what to make of it.

The Madden series definitely still has a bunch of kinks to fix. It seems like most glitches just stick around year to year because they don’t want to fix the source code. It’s something fans have complained about for a long time now and you absolutely get it. That said, fortunately these bugs are not ones that you are likely to run into on your daily adventures. While playing through the game I didn’t encounter anything crazy outside of the camera after all.

In terms of gameplay the only thing I would like to see if the receivers get more aggressive. It’s very impractical to throw any deep ball unless your receiver is massively wide open because otherwise the cornerback starts sprinting and just jumps for the ball while the receiver waits for it the whole time. It’s not a great look for the offense and it means you will usually be throwing small slants and screens. It works but it doesn’t feel like the most realistic way to play the game. You don’t want to be gunning it every down but it’s something that really separates the older Maddens from the newer ones. It’s why I loved Madden 2004 so much and still consider it to be the best.

As always scrambling is a blast though. I absolutely recommend playing a team with a fast QB because nothing beats just getting out there and running a lot. It’s why with my self made QB I prioritized speed over power and accuracy. I wanted to be able to get a 1st down with my legs when I had to. Unfortunately I didn’t make the playoffs as I finished my year 9-8 and lost out due to a tiebreaker but I got it close. There was just one losing streak early on that hurt me a lot as I was getting used to the 3D camera. Once I went back to the standard view then I started getting the good wins again. All Pro is a very fair difficulty to use where you have a challenge but it’s not too crazy.

Overall, There’s not a ton more to say beyond that as this is still the Madden that you know and love. It hasn’t changed much but that’s part of what keeps the appeal going for so long. I do hope they sit down one day and really try to optimize this as the best game it can be but in the meantime I’ll still be around and ready to buy the game whenever the new title comes out. There is no better game to simulate the Football experience after all. It may have some issues but it’s still supremely entertaining to watch and I do feel like there is a good budget here for the technical elements. I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Overall 9/10

Armed Emeth Review

I wrapped up the next Kemco game just in time with the big Christmas batch coming up. This one has a lot of the fun parts of the Kemco formula but it also dropped some of the fun quality of life features that had always made these games stand apart. As a result I would not call this the strongest title in the lineup but you’ll still have a good time with this one. You’ll also feel the RPG horror of maxing all of your characters to level 99 but still being unable to defeat some of the bosses. Whenever that happens you know things are getting tricky.

You play as a guy who is a golem bounty hunter. Basically it’s like being a normal bounty hunter but he also goes after golems and will use them in order to fight. Think of them as old time mech suits that you can use to dish out a whole lot of damage. Well one day he comes across a Golem/Human hybrid who says that the hero’s mother has been kidnapped by an evil organization. The two weren’t particularly close but the hero still can’t let this stand. He will have to trust this golem for now and head out. Along the way he will meet a bunch of allies who are here to help him out for when the going gets tough.

The game does utilize the golems into the gameplay which I thought was a good idea. It helps make the story hit a bit more since you actually see what it’s like to be fighting in a mech. As you can probably guess the mechs help you deal a whole lot more damage than when you are out of it. One thing that I liked is when you r mech is destroyed you can keep fighting as a human rather than instantly dying as well. It is almost like having a second health bar. The golems also have their own equipment and everything so you want to train for them in addition to your actual character. They don’t have level ups though so you don’t need to worry about that.

As I mentioned, getting to Level 99 is not enough for you to win every fight. It helps a lot but the best equipment on the block is something that you will need in order to get further. Additionally it helps to buy items from the store that increase your stats. It takes a while to earn the shop currency though so make each purchase count. I recommend buying the double EXP items as soon as you can though, you can worry about the rest once you’re actually level 99 and not before. You have your basic attacks, supers, and combo moves here as well. It’s a classic turn based combat strategy and you should pick it up before long.

The game is reasonably long although there is a bit less replay value than usual. I ended up platinuming the game right after beating it which is certainly rare. There were still a few more guild missions to complete that weren’t needed for the platinum though so that’s always something that you could do for the championship. Just saying, it is definitely an effective way to go about it! Not like you need that though, the main game is still long enough where you’ll feel the value was worth the price.

One thing that’s missing here is unfortunately the characters don’t have illustrations for the cutscenes. Usually you see a character portrait which is nice because it stands out and you get to see how the characters are meant to look outside of the sprite. This one just goes back to normal text so there are no cinematic cutscenes like that. I feel like they’re a benefit so I would have liked to have kept that. In some ways this one just feels a bit older than some of the others. The map is unlabeled so sometimes it can be extremely difficult to know where you are going. I got lost on several occasions which was unfortunate.

A map is really important in any big adventure game like this so I was hoping it could have been better. Ah well, most of the other quality of life features were here like the auto battle and speeding up effects. So it’s not like it lost all the charm or anything like that, it could have gone a bit higher but I can’t really say much in the end. The gameplay itself is still a lot of fun after all.

The graphics are good even f they’re missing illustrations and of course the soundtrack is great as always. These Kemco games always have incredible soundtracks so I was not surprised that this one was also really good. There are a ton of great fast paced themes all throughout the game. So you’ll never find a slow moment here. The game’s story always feels like something is happening so you’ll be engaged all the way through.

Overall, I may have had some issues with the game like removing the illustrations and having a map with no locations marked on it but it still had all of the core fundamentals that I would expect from a Kemco game. I appreciated the smooth gameplay here and the series in general is always just very enjoyable to read. I’d recommend picking this one up if you’ve liked the other games by them. These are almost like light novels where the titles may be shorter than a normal RPG but they still pack a punch regardless.

Overall 7/10