7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pursuit Force Review


It’s time to look at a pretty exciting PSP game. This is definitely not a title that I had known about until I received the second game as a gift. Naturally this meant I needed to hunt down the first title. It’s sort of like Need For Speed only this time you’re actually on the side of the law. We also have quite a few different gameplay styles which is interesting. It’s a fun game, but one that is relentlessly difficult. Completing the final levels will likely prove to be some of the toughest racing you’ll have to do and should give you F-Zero GX flashbacks. It’s definitely a game I’d recommend checking out.

There isn’t much of a story here. There are 5 different chapters with each chapter having 6 levels. Completing them all lets you see a quick cutscene as you put the boss away. The main character never talks or anything so you have to sort of think about what the guy’s character is really like. His boss does all of the talking as he takes constant shots at you and always threatens to fire you when you lose. The gangs range from the Mafia to Ninjas, to Jewel Thieves so there is a good amount of variety here. With 30 levels there’s a decent amount of content to get around here but the game shouldn’t take you a super long time. You’ll have it done in under 10 hours for sure and then I suppose you can work on getting higher scores. Unfortunately there isn’t really anything in the way of replay value so the main campaign needs to be what hooks you.

Let’s take a look at the gameplay. The main style is the car sections of course which makes sense. Usually these missions are about blowing up all of the enemy cars or recovering an artifact. The idea is you drive after the cars and start blasting at them with your gun. There is a strategy aspect to this as well though. You can choose to finish them off from your car or jump over and take control of it by taking out the drivers. Usually it’s better to take over the cars but near the end of the game you have to be careful about it. You have two different health bars, one for the car and one for the pilot. If you just finished blasting the enemy car to near death and then jump over, you’re about to take over a car that is severely weakened. Additionally, their guns pack a punch and when you leave your car you are pretty defenseless.

Sometimes it’s better to avoid a confrontation a bit so you can get some health back since it regenerates over time. You also want to build up justice meter as fast as possible since it recovers all of your health and is really good to have when you’re in a jam. Trust me, this will help you out of a whole lot of sticky situations. The time limit will be your biggest enemy in the boss fights though. In those levels you have to beat the boss before he/she escapes so you’ll have to adopt more of a risky style here. I haven’t played combat racing games quite like this one so it was a lot of fun. I could see Need For Speed borrowing some ideas from this someday.

Then you have the first person shooter levels where you are riding in a helicopter and have to blast away at the boats and cars that the villains are using. These levels don’t show up often so they were a fun change of pace. I would say that the car levels were still better of course, but I’ll give the game some props for deciding to switch it up like this. Finally you also have the levels on the ground where you have to strike your enemies down. These are pretty fun even if it feels like not a lot of time went into them. The controls are not quite as smooth as in the other two areas but it does give this more of an arcade kind of feel. You basically run around blasting everyone. If you get close to someone you can also activate a quick cutscene where you knock them out and put on the handcuffs. That’s always pretty satisfying and I actually had the most fun in this mode. I just love a good third person shooter gameplay and you just don’t see a whole lot of those anymore.

As for the graphics, those are pretty good. The PSP always was pretty ahead of its time in terms of the graphics it had. I’d make the case it can hold its own with the 3DS despite that console being a lot newer. As a result you definitely won’t be disappointed at the visuals here. They’re all on point for sure. The soundtrack is a bit more limited since each world seems to only have one main theme but they’re still solid. My favorite theme is probably the one that plays all throughout the Vixens chapter. It’s very fast paced and really gets you ready for the high speed race that’s about to start. For any game it’s important to have a good soundtrack, but especially for a racing/battle title because you need quick tunes to stay in rhythm.

Overall, Pursuit Force is a pretty solid action game. It’s a little on the short side but the difficulty level helps to ensure you won’t beat it so easily. You really have to master each level so some may take you quite a few tries. No worries though, you’ll get the hang of it the more you play. The gameplay is pretty tight and the music themes are also good. There’s not a whole lot more to ask for here. I’m looking forward to playing the sequel shortly and we’ll see if it’s able to match up to the first. I like to think that a sequel should always be better than the original so I’m expecting some big things here.

Overall 7/10

Game Records

Pursuit Force Stats and Records

Stats time!

Stage Stats (Rank)

Capelli Family

Stage 1 B
Stage 2 C
Stage 3 C
Stage 4 A
Stage 5 A
Stage 6 C

Warlords

Stage 1C
Stage 2 B
Stage 3 A
Stage 4 A
Stage 5 A
Stage 6 A

Convicts

Stage 1 A
Stage 2 B
Stage 3 B
Stage 4 C
Stage 5 B
Stage 6 A

Vixens

Stage 1 A
Stage 2 A
Stage 3 A
Stage 4 C
Stage 5 B
Stage 6 C

Killer66

Stage 1 C
Stage 2 B
Stage 3 B
Stage 4 A
Stage 5 C
Stage 6 C

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

VS. Excitebike Review


It’s time to look at the next Excitebike game. This one is actually very similar to the original to the point where you could basically call it an enhanced remake. It gives you the classic mode like in the original but you also have the new vs option. It’s a pretty fun addition since you can finally have a true 1 vs 1 battle against someone else. That’s basically the only big new feature though so we’ll have to see if it’s enough to keep you playing for long. If you already played the original a lot then I doubt you would stick around here, but otherwise this is the game you’d want to start with. The gameplay is still pretty fun and the game has a reasonable amount of content so ultimately I would say that this helps take the game pretty far if you ask me.

The gameplay is that of a 2D racer. It’s almost overhead style but not completely from that view. The idea is to make it to the end of the stage within the timeframe in order to break records and win. You keep on doing this as you go through all of the races. You can also do the vs mode of course where the only objective is to stay ahead of the other racer. It’s a pretty fun game and it’s always fun to try and knock the opponents off of their bikes by going in front of them. Honestly it seems like landing a hit here would be pretty much fatal as there would be no way for the other racer to make up the distance at that point. From there their only hope would be for you to make a mistake. In that sense I suppose the game could be a little more balanced but it certainly does help the stakes.

The graphics are just as good as in the original title. The bikes all look pretty solid and the level designs are good as well. The game is able to keep up with your speed at all times. I do find that 2D racers like this can be a bit rough since you don’t really see the obstacles ahead of time and have to completely rely on your reflexes. It is an interesting option though and while 3D racers are my favorite I’m always game for trying these out as well. The soundtrack is less memorable though to the point where I can’t really remember any tunes. It’s a shame but that definitely doesn’t hurt the score, it just doesn’t help it.

In terms of replay value all I can really say is that you can keep on racing and try to beat your own records. Up to a point that’ll be fun but there are only so many different methods you can try. There are no shortcuts in the levels or anything like that so once you are good at consistently dodging the obstacles that are present I fear that you will plateu quite quickly. The replay value here just won’t last you for very long in the end so this is the kind of game you pick up for a day or a weekend. It’ll be fun during that period though which is important.

Overall, Vs. Excitebike is basically the original game but with an extra feature so by default I would recommend this one a little higher. It’s pretty interesting that the NES Online has both. I really wouldn’t have expected that so it’s a pretty nice surprise. If you like racing games then you owe it to yourself to try it out. This is one of the original racers after all and spawned a bunch of spinoffs. My favorite game in the franchise is definitely Excitetrucks. I remember playing that in the very early days of the Wii and it was a really nice way to start off the console.

Overall 6/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Excitebike Review


It’s time to look at another classic NES game. This one’s very retro, but I’m sure many of you are familiar with it. Excitebike is one of those racing games that you just tend to see everywhere despite not getting a lot of sequels. Excitetrucks for the Wii is the game in the franchise that I know the most about by far. That was a really fun game. This one has some pretty solid gameplay at its disposal but there isn’t much content even for a NES game so you won’t be here for very long.

There are 5 levels in the game, 10 if you count the reverse levels. Each level is around 1.5 minutes long so you can beat the game in about 7 minutes or 14 if you play them all. That’s really not a lot of time and there are no more modes to play. The only other option is a level that goes on forever which is neat I suppose, but there’s no real replay value to it because it doesn’t keep track of a score or anything. You can’t die, you just keep on driving forever. So if you spent any coins on this in the Arcade I get the feeling that you would be disappointed. Likewise if you bought a physical copy on the NES. You just need something more to do if you ask me.

The graphics are pleasant enough. It’s a colorful game and I especially like when the other racers get involved. It’s always more fun when you’re racing with actual opponents. You can knock them down if you bump into them while you are mostly ahead. Otherwise if you bump into them then you will just be knocking yourself over so it’s all about timing. Only knock them off balance when you have the lead. Beyond that just drive while going between lanes to dodge obstacles. Jumps can be tricky and if you don’t balance yourself right then you go into a tumble animation and can’t move for a few seconds.

In general I do think 3D racing beats 2D though. I always like to see where I’m going to better anticipate the obstacles. In that sense I would consider 2D racing to be the hardest form of the genre. It can also be tough when you’re running towards the screen since you really have to react quickly. If you don’t then be prepared to suffer defeat although in this game there is no such thing as defeat so you don’t really have to worry about that. Considering when the game came out I’d say they did a good job with the gameplay. I personally found it fun enough, I just don’t think I would be playing it for very long. After even 20 minutes you’ll have played every level twice already so you’ll be ready for the next conquest.

Overall, Excitebike is a game with solid gameplay and animation for its time. It’s reasonably fun, but there is just nothing to it. Even for a NES game this is pretty low on content. I’d like to see a modern reboot of the game because I think you could do a whole lot with this on the Switch. In the meantime if you have the Switch Online then this is a pretty good pickup. It’s free anyway so you may as well play it for a few minutes right? I see that there is another Excitebike type game on the list so I look forward to checking that one out pretty soon.

Overall 5/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Eliminator Boat Duel Review


It’s time to look at another classic NES game. This is another title that I was not familiar with before. I’ve never heard of any game quite like Boat Duel but the premise looked interesting. I am planning to try all of the NES games after all so it was only a matter of time before I got to this one. It’s definitely pretty reasonable although some parts of the game have aged better than others. I’ll give it props for the mini cutscenes and trash talking during the game though.

The basic plot of the game seems to be that you are an up and coming boat driver and so now you’ve decided to take down all of the previous bosses. This will be tricky since none of these guys plan to go down without a fight. That’s fine by you though. So you go through the levels and keep on beating various opponents. At least to the point I had gone up to they didn’t reuse any character models so that was pretty good. There was a reasonable amount of effort put into the game and I always applaud effort like that. The gameplay switches between 2D and 3D. I personally enjoyed the opening phase of the 3D levels more than the second.

How it works is you quickly accelerate when the judge gets you the signal. The trick is to actually start right before she tells you too, but the timing for this is very precise since if you go too soon then you’ll end up incurring a yellow flag which will cost you 1000 bucks. Once you get this head start you go to phase 1 of the gameplay. Essentially what happens here is that you have to outdrive the other boat to the goal so try not to bump into things. Then you head into phase 2 which is more of an overhead view than 3D and the same rules apply. You can boost to gain a little speed and even jump. Then there’s also the interesting mechanic where bumping into bombs and other obstacles is actually good as it speeds you up. It’ll cost a bit of damage but you can repair it later. You get to face the next opponent after you beat the current one 2-3 times.

After each race you are taken to an upgrade screen where depending on how much money you have you can upgrade various things. I recommend maxing out the damage each race since it’s super cheap to do this and then you can allow yourself to bump into everything. By the point I stopped I had nearly every upgrade maxed out so I feel like I was pretty close to winning it all. The opponent racers are incredibly fast so if you make one mistake then it could be game over. My main advice here is to use the rewind feature but otherwise I’d say just try and memorize the stage layouts. The stages actually are re-used quite early on so after a while you’ll probably start to remember where the next turns are and such.

The gameplay is pretty interesting but not quite as exciting as your average racing game. There’s just only so much you can do while you’re on a boat so it’s not quite as thrilling. as being in a car. The opponent car also feels a little too powerful at times even when you can see that they haven’t put any real upgrades into the speed while yours is maxed out. I suppose it’s to be expected to an extent but you’ll probably shake your head a bit at that. It just feels like you should be steam rolling the guy. As mentioned though, the trash talking between levels is pretty fun. The graphics are also pretty sound. The sprites have aged pretty well so you always know what is going on. The levels may be a bit repetitive but they are well designed.

Overall, Boat Dueling seems like it has a lot of potential. I’m sure you could make a pretty interesting remake of this at some point. While it’s a cool concept I guess the reason most probably wouldn’t make a game like this is because for that you could just make one about cars and it would probably do a lot better. You just can’t top cars after all. Still, I think you’ll have a reasonable time here and it’s worth a quick check. What’ve you got to lose other than time right?

Overall 5/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Diddy Kong Racing DS Review


It’s time to look at a Nintendo racing game from a while back. Considering how successful F-Zero and Mario Kart are you may wonder why Nintendo would have another franchise right? Well, everywhere I go people seem to love Diddy Kong racing so maybe it really did tap into another part of the market. I will say that it is definitely pretty fun. Personally I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the other two titles, but it’s still pretty fun. The game isn’t particularly long but with a racing title the main incentive is the replay value here.

There is also a basic plot. A mysterious pig has broken an amulet and is causing a lot of terror around the planet. Diddy must now conquer four different areas in order to foil this plan once and for all. It may not be an easy task, but it’s one that he knows he must accomplish. Each world has 4 main levels and then you fight the boss. Once you beat the boss of the world then you unlock 4 more races which have you aim at balloons in the level. The first 4 levels are traditional races while the other four play out like an FPS as you don’t control the car, only the blaster. This lets you fight the boss again and then claim the amulet. So effectively each world has 8 levels and 2 bosses so you’re got 40 levels here if you count bosses. It’s a pretty reasonable amount but you’ll still have the game beat in under 3 hours.

The levels aren’t particularly difficult for the most part and naturally the levels aren’t too long either. The average race will take you around 2-3 minutes. There are 3 kinds of races. You’ve got the standard car races, the awesome plane races, and the sluggish hovercraft ones. The car races play out about how you would expect. You try to cross the finish line first and grab items along the way. There are 4 different items triggered by hitting a balloon. You know which balloon spawns which item so part of the fun is choosing what you want for each scenario. There’s also an incentive to not using the item right away. If you store away say a red balloon and then hit another one you get the second ranked version of the item. It’s worth experimenting until you find your favorite item. My favorite was double red since it gives you around 6 rockets.

The plane levels are the same way but you’re in the air which is a lot of fun. It feels like this kind of race is the fastest in the game in terms of how fast everyone is moving. There are a lot of boosters everywhere so use them as much as possible. Finally you have the Hovercraft levels which are just really slow and kind of clunky. It’s hard to turn in these and it is just not nearly as much fun as the other two. Something had to lose out I suppose, but I was glad that there weren’t a lot of these levels.

In terms of graphics the game is quite solid. We actually got some voice acting in the intro and the cutscenes flow really well. In game the assets load up promptly and everything looks clear. You certainly won’t be bumping into things just because you didn’t see them or anything like that. That would be understandably a bit iffy so I was glad that the game managed to avoid that. The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as Mario Kart’s but it was still pretty fun. There’s a good amount of variety based on what world you’re in and the level. The final boss theme was also very catchy although I got to hear it quite a bit.

While the game isn’t very difficult for the most part, the final boss is extremely tough. I don’t see how it would even be possible to defeat him without buying upgrades to your car. The guy is too fast and he pounded me into the ground many times before I was able to beat him. Ultimately I had to max out my car’s speed and acceleration and then I was able to keep up. It’s not like the level is all that complex. It’s pretty straightforward so I don’t see how you can play it any differently. You’re either able to out speed him and claim victory or you can’t.

As I mentioned the game is around 3 hours but there is a lot to do after the game. You have extra levels in each world where you need to find a key or do various achievements to unlock. The hub world is quite large so you can explore for a while and buying every upgrade will also take a super long amount of time. I wouldn’t say that there are any huge unlockables to look forward to, but at the same time if you enjoy the gameplay a lot then the game is giving you a fair amount of opportunities to keep on going. The value here definitely justifies the cost.

Overall, Diddy Kong Racing DS is a fun racing game. To me it felt fairly standard but with that Nintendo seal of quality. Just having 3 different options of racing does mean you have more options than your typical racing game and it’s a complete package. If you want to enjoy some good racing then you will definitely have fun here. The ending will also give you a nice challenge which is always good. If we do get a sequel to this for 3DS or Switch someday I’d definitely be down with that. The ending is also pretty fun as Pig gets one last laugh against the heroes.

Overall 7/10