Balan Wonderworld Review

Balan Wonderworld is a game that got fairly infamous right after it came out. People had been expecting the next big thing but instead the game turned out to be a very sloppy production on all sides of the ball. Due to that I was able to find it for a really good price at 6 bucks though so was it really as bad as all that? In a lot of ways it is. There are some areas here where you see some potential but on the whole this just isn’t a good game and I can’t imagine dropping $60 on it. I’d be feeling pretty sad at that point.

The game starts by showing us two kids who are not having a good day. They end up getting taken into Balan’s world and now they have to help various people who are dying or have fallen into the darkness. They can do this by defeating the evil monster personified through the person and collect some statues along the way. Can the kids manage to achieve eternal peace or are they just doomed at this point?

Now the game doesn’t have much dialogue at all so this is my interpretation here but you can probably look at things a bit differently as well. Balan has an archnemesis running around who is causing these nightmares and monsters to appear so we have to take him down for the count as well. Along the way the kids learn what it means to have a good time and enjoy themselves. The game is clearly trying to have a moving story but without voice acting or better cutscenes it is just hard to get that across. At no point will you be particularly interested/engaged in the story. It just never pops out at you.

I really think of the game itself as Ninjabread Man but with a bigger budget. The actual platforming is even a bit weaker than Ninjabread Man, good luck on some of the jumps here! Balan Wonderworld’s main gimmick is that it’s a one button game. At no point in the campaign do you need to do more than press one button. That’s it. Whichever button you press allows you to jump or use whatever ability your costume has. It makes this game rather easy to master of course but there will be less depth within the title as a result so it’s really a true tradeoff.

So in each level the objective is to get to the end but you also have to try and grab some golden statues along the way. Each level has 7 gold statues and you want to average around 3 when you complete a level so that you don’t get stuck. That’s because every world has a statue requirement so if you beat the level without getting enough statues then it will definitely come back to haunt you. I never particularly appreciate having to go and grab collectibles so that didn’t do the game any favors either. The game also does everything it can to slow you down.

For example, some statues are only obtainable for a short potion of the level so if you miss it or beat the minions too quickly then it will disappear. Others are locked in areas that you can’t reach without a costume that you would unlock in a future world. As a result the game is really just doing its best to waste your time or at least it feels like that a lot of the time. The collectibles really were regrettable. Then you have eggs and gems you can grab in the level but they don’t do much of anything. I suppose they help you construct the clock tower in the hub world but there’s no benefit to doing so aside from a trophy and that takes a while.

You just sort of stand there and let the minions build the tower which gets old very quickly. It should have been a more active experience where you get to jump in and everything. The levels and bosses may have some annoying parts but ultimately the platforming gameplay is not terrible. It’s basic but you can have a calming experience just running around at some points in the game. The final boss was not developed well though. There is a glitch where if you bump into the final boss you end up losing all of your lives immediately and have to replay the whole climax from the start. Not a great look if you ask me.

Because of that the final boss took me more tries than it should have. Now I will give the game credit for having decent graphics. I thought all of the screens were colorful and the character designs were on point. There were actual cutscenes which is good and the main villain had a great design even if he couldn’t really manage to do anything. At no point do you ever think that he is a threat to Balan. Why would you when Balan humiliates him over 20 times before you reach the end of the game?

Each level has what are called “Balan Bouts” where you get to beat up the villain through some quick time events. Much like the rest of the game this is a section that has potential but is dragged out way too much. You have to go through the whole sequence in every level and you have to get a perfect score to get the gold statue. Mess up the sequence at all and you may as well close your eyes for the rest since it doesn’t matter. Each cutscene sequence is rather long and drawn out which doesn’t help matters either.

That brings me to the cutscene that plays after beating each boss. There are like 3 songs that cycle over and over as you dance with the characters. The character models do the same drawn out dance each time with the only changes being the character models. It feels rather lazy and if you want to do a celebration after each level then you have to make it quick or iconic. Kirby is an example of how you do this really effectively. It’s short enough where you find it fun rather than repetitive. I’ll give the game some credit for having a real soundtrack filled with songs here but the whole time you just know that it could have done better so as not to make you tired of the songs.

As mentioned, there is just a whole lot of things that went wrong here. Ultimately it’s fair to say that one of the biggest problems is how the game just goes about wasting your time. Having to re-enter a level to grab a statue if you messed up the Balan bout is pretty bad. The statues being required to enter each world is unfortunate and so when you beat the game and unlock a bunch of new levels there is no anticipation on you side. There’s no drive to go and complete the levels because you just aren’t interested enough. Obtaining the platinum is very achievable but it’s a time consuming one so I don’t see myself going back for it anytime soon.

Overall, Balan Wonderworld is about what I expected if not a little worse. It’s really known as a bad game and when a title drops in price so drastically you know that you have to pick it up. Ultimately I would say it’s a little better than the reputation. I mean, it’s not good but it’s not all that bad either and so I’d put it in the middle. You can absolutely play this for a while as a way to pass the time but there are countless platforming titles that are better which you should spend your time on instead.

Overall 5/10

The King of Fighters XV Review

Reaching 15 games is a great accomplishment for any series. Of course when you count spinoffs then this series already passed that number but 15 in just the main-line is even more impressive. While the story isn’t as big as in some of the other games, everyone has their classic Arcade Mode here so you’ll be playing a lot of stories. With solid gameplay at the ready you can bet that this game is a full success.

The story is that the next tournament has been announced so everybody is invited. Most of the characters share the same intro this time around so you might not know the reason they are all entering but you can make good guesses based on the endings. The main teams here are the ones led by Isla and Shun’ei. They both still need to work on mastering their psychic abilities and there may be something more to this tournament. When a mysterious cosmic being known as Re-Verse appears, the teams will have to fight hard to stop her. What if she is even more powerful than Verse from the last game? The heroes can’t let their guard down for a moment!

I have to admit that I would have liked a bit more of a story though. Even the classic opening and ending routine would have felt a bit better since everyone gets two shots. With most of the teams only getting the ending it felt like the story may have been rushed a bit. Make sure you check the gallery before playing though as it will let you know which characters get different versions of the cutscenes aside from the ending. Usually you will have your character rival cutscene during the story as well so be on the lookout for those.

Re-Verse makes for a cool villain and she even has a super form. The battle is also quite difficult in her final form when you’re playing on standard mode. I always start with standard mode but for the rest of the stories I made the settings as quick as possible to get through them. If you are fighting her, make sure you block a lot. It’s a 3 vs 1 fight against the boss so it may sound easy but her attacks hit like a truck. You can’t underestimate her or it’ll all be over. You get unlimited continues but you still want to win as soon as you can.

Isla’s group makes for a solid rival team. Isla herself is a good rival and she even gets some solid development in her own story. She isn’t quite ready to take the main character spot away from the others but I’d like to see her appear more in the sequel. Shun’ei is also a good lead even if he’s no Kyo. I like his confidence and he is getting better at mastering his abilities so he is no longer a novice at this point. Kyo and Terry are still the two big powerhouses to watch out for though.

Aside from the story mode you’ve got a lot of other content like the tutorials, vs modes, online battles, etc. Multiplayer automatically gives a game unlimited replay value as far as I’m concerned because you can always have fun playing more rounds. Without PS+ the online option may not be applicable but there’s always local in that case. The gameplay is also very solid and I started to get the hang of the combos by the end. I had to learn a lot of the different techniques to obtain the PS4 trophies which was handy for the matches.

Obtaining the Platinum would take a while here but it’s certainly something else you can shoot for. Especially if you have PS+, then a lot of these trophies will be more obtainable. Naturally the graphics here are really quite solid. Everything is in HD and the attacks are all very bright. It definitely feels good landing big attacks for that reason. The soundtrack is solid and we get a new main theme which plays during all of the endings. I’d say that it’s pretty good. It’s got a catchy beat to it and raises the tension since it’s the perfect cliffhanger kind of theme. The lyrical song from the last game also returns and of course I like Re-Verse’s themes that play during the game.

There is an album feature here so you can go back and listen to the songs at any time. There’s even an option where you can pick what song plays for each stage like in Super Smash Bros. It may seem like a little thing but I’m really glad that you can do that. This way you make sure that the best song is playing at all times which is always a good idea. When you can choose like this, why would you choose anything but the best right?

For the combat I would recommend playing through the tutorials. Not only is it good because of the trophies that you get but there are a lot of different concepts here and you want to know them all. Gone are the days where you would just punch and kick your way to victory. Now you’ve got a bunch of other techniques up your sleeve and you won’t even know the names or how to use them if you haven’t properly learned how to do it. Button mashing and spacing can only get you so far after all. Find your 3 main characters and then you’ll be all set. For me that would be Kyo, Terry, and Shun’ei, the 3 main characters across generations in a sense. Perhaps the obvious picks but their gameplays were all very solid to me.

Overall, The King of Fighters XV is definitely a great follow up to the series. It brings back everything you like about the series like the great gameplay and a solid story mode. I think the story could have been more expansive/included more unique cutscenes but at the end of the day it’s more like a bonus than the focus here. The character roster is a good size so no issues there and I’m sure the game will be getting DLC for a while to include some bonus fighters. It’s always fun to see what the cast will look like by the end since if we get enough waves it can almost double.

Overall 8/10

Beast Quest Update

At long last I have obtained the Platinum trophy for Beast Quest!! While this is a great accomplishment, the somber part is that means I’ll probably never pick this game back up again. There’s just no reason to play it since everything has been done. Time to work on getting some trophies from other games.

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered Review

I was never all that familiar with the Ni No Kuni title. I had heard of it since Level 5 games always get a good amount of publicity but I can’t say I knew anything about the plot. Well, it was definitely a very satisfying RPG and a rather long one as it took me a full 30 hours. After playing it I can definitely say that this is a winner and a really solid title. It’s also unique enough where you can’t call it quite like any others. I would certainly like to see more games in this series.

The story introduces us to a kid named Oliver who decides to go out one night to try out his friend’s car. Unfortunately he ends up crashing and while Oliver’s mother is able to save him, she dies in the process. Now Oliver is broken inside as he blames himself for this happening. One day his stuffed animal Drippy becomes sentient and lets Oliver know that there is still a way to save his mother. See, there’s a parallel world where everyone has a double. If Oliver can save his mother’s double then he will also be able to save her. Oliver agrees to do this and stop the evil wizard Shadar. Along the way he meets several allies and friends who will help him out. If Oliver can spread joy to many, he can begin to save lives and souls wherever he goes.

I will say that from the start this does seem a bit suspect though. So as we play through the game you see that if one person is sad then their double in the other world is sad as well. Emotions and everything transfer. If you die in one world then you die in the other. Wait a minute……lets focus on that last part. So if Oliver’s mother died in the real world then she would have died in the other world too so there’s nobody left to save right? Oh nooooooooooo. I mean it’s impossible not to be thinking about that immediately. The question is just if Drippy is intentionally misleading Oliver or if there’s some reason why this would be an exception. Naturally you’ll have to wait until the end to see what is really going on here but I remember thinking about this right from the start. If both souls are linked throughout then that’s bad news for Oliver’s chances.

The gameplay is classic turn based although you are able to move while attacking. In that sense it’s the most similar to .Hack which also had turn based combat but you could move around to gather energy, items, and try to make the other player miss. It’s a good way to add some energy to the usual turn based combat although I tend to enjoy it either way. You can fight as Oliver or you can play as one of up to 3 creatures you control. You can switch in and out at any time though which is really good for strategy. Let me tell you now that you will want to be switching in and out a whole lot here. You can’t stick with any monster for too long anyway since there is a time limit. So I would usually go to my monster for the fighting and would switch back to Oliver when it was time to heal.

You can also capture monsters later on to add them to your team like in Pokemon. For about 80-90% of the game I didn’t use Oliver almost at all aside from healing but then towards the end you learn 2 spells that are extremely powerful. At that point I stopped using the monsters and would play as Oliver exclusively. Trust me when I say that the spells are that good. Use your two allies to draw enemy fire while you charge them up though as the spells take a while to work. Your allies will probably lose a lot though as they have a hard time blocking. You can tell them to go on defense mode by pressing square but they’ll ignore you half the time since they’re already in the middle of a spell.

Don’t worry about them so much but make sure you end up blocking the attack. It reduces the damage by around 90% and also causes the enemy to drop some health/mp bubbles and sometimes even a full recovery that gives you a final smash. You don’t want to miss out on that. There is a lot of strategic elements to keep in mind here but you’ll have all of the mechanics down before long. The game is rather difficult either way though so don’t expect to just breeze on by it. I had to grind out a lot of EXP throughout the game and even then the bosses were challenging. On the final boss I lost on the final phase when the health was in the red the first time which stung. You just have to keep going at the enemies though and get your guys into the mid 50s for level. If you go higher then even better but I wouldn’t really try if your guys are too low. Just hang back and train for a bit longer.

The graphics are really solid here. We have full anime cutscenes, cgi rendered cutscenes, and then classic text boxes with voice acting. The game is very well polished and it’s clear that a lot of budget went into this one. The world looks really good even when you’re not in a cutscene. I definitely had no issues with how the visuals looked at all. This is a winning title. The soundtrack is also good even if it’s not super memorable. It does the job of getting you through the game. I do have a bit of an obscure issue with the sound mixing though. There are 3 styles of cutscenes as I mentioned and each one has a different volume level. The problem with that is that it’s hard to have the volume set up since some cutscenes will be too low one way or too loud the other. It’s a rare issue that has only popped up in a handful of games but it’s worth mentioning. It’s not something that should really hurt your experience at all though, especially considering that all of the cutscenes are subbed.

After completing the game there is a good amount of post game content to challenge. More islands, enemies, missions, quests, etc. Additionally you also have the PS4 trophies to grab and those seem to be reasonably challenging. I expect you will certainly have to take a while to conquer those. Considering that the base game with no sub quests is 30 hours, this game will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

As with most RPGs, the story is also really good. The benefit of a story being long is that you really get to hang out with the characters for a while and get to like them all. Naturally as always I wouldn’t mind if Oliver was older but he does well by the end. His team did well in protecting the universe. It was fun to see everyone with british accents as well since you don’t see that so often. The main heroine Esther is good and always has solid banter with Swaine. Droopy has a lot of confidence and his manner of speaking always makes his sentences memorable.

For the villains, we had Shadar of course who is a tough threat. All of his dialogue is rather intense and the guy is not lacking in confidence. The battles with him are suitably tricky. The White Witch takes a while to actually take the stage but the wait is well worth it. I also liked her design. The game gives out a lot of plot twists before things are over and they all help to really change the experience. Each twist is a rather big deal and none of them felt pointless. While I would have handled the ending a bit differently, you’ll have a satisfying ride from start to finish.

Overall, Ni No Kuni is definitely a great game and I would recommend checking it out. It’s a difficult RPG that will require more grinding than in others but by the same token, the extra level of detail means that this could be the reverse for you. If you really master the mechanics and type advantages then perhaps you could beat this at a much lower level than I. Of course I’d like to see you try though as I would argue I did really well with the mechanics. It does mean that there are countless ways to approach each boss though so feel free to experiment. Always buy the latest equipment and you will be in a good spot here.

Overall 8/10

Jumanji: The Video Game Review

I’ve completed my first game from the Christmas batch! Jumanji was quite a bit different than I had imagined. There is no story mode to be found in this game and the offline content is minimal. Ultimately I can’t imagine buying this game at launch but at least I got it for cheap so it wasn’t a big loss here. You probably won’t be coming back to this one after you beat it though.

So the game has 4 levels which you can play online or offline. That’s the extent of the game which….is quite small. So offline you play with 3 A.I. controlled characters while online you play with 3 other people. Unless you really love the gameplay that means you’ll be feeling that repetition almost immediately. There is no challenge mode, minigames, or anything like that. It’s just 4 levels that you can play by yourself or with friends. I’ve seen mobile games with a whole lot more content than this one. Jumanji definitely ended up falling under expectations here.

Lets talk about the gameplay though. So this is really a third person shooter where you go around blasting away at the enemies who try to take you down. Each stage is divided into several areas. Each area has you either protect a totem pole from the enemies or gather 4 relics. For the relic levels, you just run around until you find them. The levels are just big enough where this can take a few minutes so try to really look around so you don’t miss any and have to run backwards. For the totem levels, you have to stand around the amulet to power it up and the idea is to stay near until the meter fills up. If the enemies chase you out of the area then no more energy will go through until you get back in there.

I don’t really have a problem with the gameplay itself. It’s actually rather fun and I’ve always liked third person shooters. The gameplay has no real glitches or bugs in it. You do have to reload a lot which can hurt your momentum but as long as you grab ammo a lot then it won’t be a problem. Aside from your blaster you also have grenades and your character’s signature attack. The attacks don’t seem all that balanced though. There are 4 characters here. One has a stomp which destroys all nearby enemies. It’s easily my favorite attack in the arsenal. Another character has a boombox which deals damage to all nearby enemies and lasts for a while. Now that’s another pretty good attack.

The third character has a little healing ray that builds up health…this is a pretty bad one. There are health packs everywhere so you’re either at full health or dead during a battle. There’s no real need for this ability at all. Then you have the 4th character who has a monkey of sorts and I’m not even sure what it does. It might help lead you through the map but it’s not like you would really get lost so I don’t think this is all that good either. Perhaps there is another skill that I was missing when playing as him but I was not impressed.

Likewise, the graphics are nothing to make you look at twice either. It looks like something from the PS2 era and even then it has much less personality than a lot of those games. The level designs are decent but nothing is all that detailed and it just looks as generic as possible. There doesn’t seem to be any real effort put into the graphics here. The soundtrack is also pretty much nonexistent. I mean it’s okay but it’s just not very good or anything like that so I would still not put this as a big thumbs up. It’s not a thumbs down but I doubt you will remember any of the tunes by the end.

The game does have some unlockables so I suppose I should say that there is some replay value here. If you play each character long enough you will unlock alternate outfits and weapons. Each character starts at level 1 and by completing levels and earning exp you will get them to higher levels and each unlockable is blocked by a level requirement. The 4 characters each have their own level requirements. It’ll take a while to get everyone maxed out so that offers you something to do…if you are playing this game that long.

I can’t stress enough how little the content is here. There’s just nothing to do before long and it’s pretty much unheard of that there are only 4 maps. I feel like they were planning DLC if the game did well to add more stages or something but otherwise you’re going to have played all the levels in a single day. There’s not enough progression rewards to keep you going here. So even though I enjoyed the gameplay, it loses a lot of points for just not putting anything in here. The levels are decently long at around 20 minutes but that still means you will have beaten all of the levels in under 2 hours. From there on you are just replaying the same levels over and over again which is no good. It’s too bad because there is really a lot you could do with this franchise otherwise.

Overall, Jumanji is really not a good game. In fact I would go as far as to say that it’s a bad game. This could work as a free to play mobile game or something but certainly not to purchase. There is no incentive to buy this game at all. Even if the gameplay was amazing, 4 levels is not enough to do anything. Certainly not without a fighting mode. See, the game would completely change if there was a vs mode both offline and online. If even either of those styles of play had a vs mode that would help a lot. That’s where you get a lot of replay value but bashing enemies over and over will get old extremely quick. I would say to skip out on this game for sure.

Overall 4/10

Miden Tower Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 13h 54m
Total Steps 524330
Total Items from Cauldron 200
Enemies Defeated 8006
Physical Skills 2829
Magical Skills 1775
Hyper Arts 39
Max Hit Count 474
Overkill Count 38
Damage Dealt in 1 turn 1666322
Quests Cleared 20/20
Memos seen 77/77
Treasure Chests Opened 214/376

Miden Tower Review

Miden is the latest Kemco game and goes back to the roots of their original rpgs. It has all of the solid gameplay customizations at the ready like skipping battles you don’t need and things like that. I’ll go into it more later but mix that in with one of the best plots I’ve seen in a while and you definitely have a winner here. This is one of those games that would be nice to see a sequel for.

The story starts with a village being burned to the ground as most of these RPGs seem to start off with. The government in this game appears to be on the evil side as they slaughter everyone and so the last remnants of humanity quickly build a tower and hide in there. Using teleportation technology and magic to prevent people from warping in, the people have lived in peace for a while now. Well, one day the villains start appearing in the tower. Peace is no longer a guarantee and so the heroes must find the villains and the source of their entrance to put a stop to this.

We then cut to our main character who is quite unique. Valen had to personally watch his friends and family get destroyed, he has sworn revenge on the army. Every day he heads out to destroy a bunch of them and head home. His entire motivation and reason for existing is revenge which is definitely not healthy. One day he bites off more than he can chew and comes near death only to be saved when he summons a sentient wall to save him. Her name is Leila and she is different from most magic creatures in this land. See, most of them have to listen to the summoner at all times and don’t have creative thoughts or the ability to resist. None of that applies to Leila though. She has control of her own and makes her own choices. Still, she does want to protect Valen even if she does not agree with his whole quest for revenge. She aims to get him to mellow out by the end of all this.

The graphics are classic Kemco from start to finish. You have a lot of bright character designs and different level designs. They all appear very familiar so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are starting to reuse assets from previous games. I can’t really blame them if that is the case though since it’s efficient and ultimately it doesn’t affect the story. As long as the story is good that’s the important thing and the graphics are solid either way.

As for the soundtrack it’s nothing all that special but the tunes are always fun. These games always have a very specific style to them where you can recognize the music immediately. That’s the case with this game as well so you feel rather pumped to be starting on the adventure. The soundtrack isn’t large but we do get a new theme for the final boss which was nice. All in all the game succeeds massively on the technical side as expected.

As for the gameplay, there isn’t a lot to explain here. It’s your classic turn based RPG. You attack with physical blows, magic, or special skills. You keep on fighting until you take the opponents down. On the hub world you run around until you get to the very end. You also have a pot where you can throw ingredients in to get other items from time to time. There are several trophies for making a lot of items so I recommend always having a bunch cooking at the same time since it helps a lot for later on. Ultimately you’re doing this more for the trophies than for its effects.

Now I mentioned the gameplay customization before. So here’s how it goes, first off you can turn off battle effects. When you have to level grind, it can feel a bit long to see the attacks over and over again in each battle. When you turn the effects off, you just see a flash for every attack but they keep on attacking. That saves a lot of time right off the bat. Then you can also increase the speed of combat from X1 all the way to X3. That makes a difference too. Following up on that, you can turn off battles against enemies that are weaker than you. You know how in most RPGs you have to keep getting encounters with level 1 monsters and beating them is only a formality since the victor is never in doubt? You don’t have to worry about those here.

These are gameplay improvements I’d like to see more games pull off but Kemco seems like the only ones who have done this to date. It’s why I consider them as masters of the RPG genre. There are also orbs in each area that you can activate after beating it to stop encounters all together. Need to back track for treasure chests? Well at least you won’t have monsters jumping out at you all the time. Considering that one trophy is for walking 50,000 steps, I thought this was a very considerate option of the game since it at least makes this feat rather painless. Otherwise that would just take forever. Even now that is one of the only trophies left that I haven’t obtained for that reason.

Then what really helped the game get to the next level for me was the solid story. Lately some of the Kemco games have had more down to Earth stories with slightly smaller stakes. Well, this one goes back to being a grand story. The character development for Valen is good as he goes from only wanting revenge to being more of a reasonable guy. It’s an effective character arc. Now some scenes can be a bit cheesy with him but at the end of the day he does his best. The origin is also quite sad so you can see how he became so revenge driven.

Leila is also a good character and I thought she handled the situation well. She didn’t suddenly jump in and tell Valen to start saving everyone but gradually got him to escape from the cycle of violence. It’s very Naruto style with how the characters point out that murdering people will just continue the cycle. Ultimately this allows Valen to be the bigger man here and look the other way when it comes time to make a choice.

As for length, the game is a bit on the shorter side. I would definitely say it is one of Kemco’s shorter titles as you should blast right through it. There isn’t much of a post game as you should have that beaten in about an hour or so. Granted, it went by so fast in part because I grinded my character levels to over 500 so I was able to beat most opponents in an instant. The secret ending is good though and way more satisfying than the normal one. That wouldn’t have been a great way to end the adventure. The platinum trophy is quite easy to get so I recommend trying to give it a go.

Overall, Miden Tower is definitely a very solid game. I think it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a game on the Asdivine Hearts series. That is still my all time favorite from Kemco but this would certainly be in second. It’s just got a great story and of course a lot of amazing video game mechanics. Kemco certainly brought out the A team here and I look forward to seeing which adventure they churn out next. If you don’t have this game yet, I’d recommend purchasing it asap!

Overall 8/10