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Mario’s Super Picross Review


It’s time to look at a puzzle game Nintendo released a very long time ago. Thanks to Nintendo releasing a bunch of these old games for free if you have the Nintendo Switch Online package, I’ve now gotten to try it out. It’s definitely fun. I’ve always enjoyed Picross and find it to be a whole lot like Sudoku. The idea behind it is the same at least and I wonder if it’s actually meant to be the same game. Either way you better make sure you know your numbers.

There isn’t really a plot of course so right away you can just jump into the levels. After you complete one world you unlock all of the Wario ones to play as well. There seem to be 8 in total. The Mario worlds are played with standard Picross rules. Every time you make a mistake you lose a good amount of time so you have to be careful in what you select. In the Wario game you aren’t told if you made a mistake so if you do manage to trip up then you could be in trouble. It can be very hard to tell where you went wrong, much less getting back on track. It’s better to take as long as you need here and just not make a mistake in the first place.

So how do the rules work? Basically you need to arrange the tiles so that the numbers in each of the rows and columns make sense. For example the first boards have 5 rows and 5 columns. If any of them have a 5 that means you can check off every box in that line. If a row has 0, then cross out everything there. Gradually you will have created a shape. Once you have filled in every square the level is complete and you will see the artwork. As the levels go on the stages get larger and larger which means you have a lot more variables to consider here. I jumped to the final world after a bit and there you have 15 boxes in each row and column. That results in a ton of boxes overall so you really have to tackle this point by point.

That’s what makes the game pretty fun though. There always is a way to solve the puzzles. You may have to look at the stage up and down a few times to really get it, but you will understand the way out eventually. You just gotta keep cracking down on it until you get to the bottom of this journey. Search for rows with the maximum or minimum amounts first. If none of them exist then look for large numbers and you can try to decipher the final areas based on the corresponding numbers. It works a lot like being a detective here. That’s probably glorifying it all quite a bit but it’s enjoyable which is really what I’m getting at. The levels are pretty quick and direct. You should have a good amount of fun here.

The graphics hold up pretty well. The whole game is in Japanese so you may not be able to read the text but it’s still cool to actually se Mario talking like this. It’s not like it has never happened before but it’s rare enough where it is still very notable. The style used here just holds up very well. The soundtrack is less impressive but I guess for a game like this they were never going to churn out a big soundtrack. That would have been impressive though and I think it’s never a bad idea to throw more themes in there. The bigger the soundtrack the better right?

In terms of replay value I wouldn’t say that there’s much here. The game itself is fairly short. I’d say you can clear around 2 worlds in a hour. So maybe 4 hours would have you completing the whole game and I dare say that you will likely beat it sooner than that. So this is definitely one of those games that you play the whole way through but don’t go back to. That’s just how some games are set up though so nothing wrong with that. I’d say the journey is worth it.

Overall, You don’t really see a lot of games like this anymore. It’s a shame because franchises should dive in and take some chances like this. Who wouldn’t want to play a Mario chess game or something like that right? As long as the game has a good amount of content and maybe even a fun story then you’re in business. If you’ve got the Switch Online then you should definitely check this out. It’s not so major that I would say you need to get the membership just for this game though. If you don’t have it, then I suppose you should hold off.

Overall 7/10

Natsume Championship Wrestling Review


It’s time to look at another wrestling game. I played one on the NES so it was finally time to try the SNES version. Unfortunately I definitely would not say that this game was very good. In fact, I thought it was fairly bad and has not aged well at all. There are a lot of little choppy animations thrown in and parts of the game where you have to watch what’s basically a small cutscenes. There are just too many breaks in the action and that ultimately ends up hurting the experience quite a bit.

There’s no story mode so right off the bat you can just jump into some exhibitions or the tournament mode where you fight off everyone at once. Definitely a pretty reasonable structure for a fighting game but then you need the gameplay to be on point and this one was not. You have 3 basic moves when you start to fight, you can punch, kick, or go for a grab. You can also try running blows but they are unlikely to land even when the computer is on easy mode. When you throw an opponent to the ground you can follow up by kicking them where it hurts, getting them into a submission, or picking them up to get a free hit in.

My favorite option was the free hit because it seems like a no brainer to me. You get the free hit and then knock him down to repeat the cycle again. It can be tough to time the first punch though so that you are in a position to grab again after that. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds after all. The annoying part is when you go face to face with an opponent and they grab you. There’s basically nothing you can do about it and I tried many different options. I would rewind and take just about any action but it wouldn’t matter. Once the opponent wants to grab you they won’t stop until they do. It triggers a cutscene of sorts where they make you run back and then forward into their punch. They then follow it up with all of the counters I described above.

Eventually they will try to pin you. With good button mashing you can break free almost every time but it’s still annoying to have to keep doing this over and over again every round. Then when you pin them they also break free so each match drags on for an incredible amount of time. You spend more time messing around on the ground then you do actually fighting and that just feels like a mistake to me. It takes away from the entire point of wrestling doesn’t it? I want to actually be interacting with the game. The problem is that while you’re on the ground and they jump on you there’s nothing you can do for a little while. Dead time like that doesn’t work in game format.

At least the graphics are okay I guess. They’re clear enough. The game is very down to Earth so it’s not like they’re going to be able to show a whole lot anyway. What we do get works well enough I suppose. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though. It’s to be expected as Wrestling isn’t about the music anyway but I still would have liked to have had a few good themes. I think it would have been a good idea. Anything to give this game a bit more life. As it stands there isn’t much in the way of replay value aside from fighting more people in wrestling matches I guess.

Overall, Natsume Championship Wrestling just isn’t fun. At the end of the day that’s one of the last things you want to hear about a game. When you pop a title in to play a few rounds you’re expecting to have a fun time and to be entertained. This game just doesn’t let you do that and I would sooner go back to the NES version which was at least a bit more fast paced. I don’t really buy wrestling games in general but I’m confident that the Gamecube ones would have better gameplay. Just call it a gut feeling but I think it definitely is a reasonable assumption.

Overall 3/10

Super Metroid Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Metroid title. It feels good to have finally knocked all of these titles out of the way. I was not a big fan of the first two titles in the series that’s for sure. This third one is considerably better than the first two. It’s still not good enough where I would have been a big fan of the series back in the day but the improvements are quite massive so you can tell that a lot of effort was put into this one. My main issues with the first two games were definitively resolved here.

The game starts off with your ship crashing which was pretty intense. You now have to travel the planet and slay all of the big monsters in order to find the Metroid that you saved from game 2. I like the idea that there is some real continuity here and you also have an opening skirmish with Ridley as he kidnaps the Metroid. The stakes are high and it’s also personal now. Fortunately Samus is ready for the adventure and as soon as she grabs all of the scattered power ups in the world then she will really be ready to take the fight to the dragon.

Here’s the biggest improvement that Super Metroid made, we finally have a true map system! You add to the map as you walk around and if you find the map station in the world then you will unlock the whole area at once. It really makes a world of difference to actually know where you are instead of guessing. You are still responsible for finding all of the secret passages on your own of course but since you have something to go on that makes it a lot easier. When you had to blindly guess you could be stuck for hours just wandering the dark caverns. I couldn’t ask for much more out of a map system than what we have here. Mind you, the game is still pretty tricky with how it hides power ups and such though. You’ll still have to go through a lot of trial and error here so don’t expect to beat the game very quickly.

It took me around 8 hours so even though the speed runners tend to beat this very quickly, I wouldn’t expect to complete the game much quicker than that on your first shot. The gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, and shoot as you go through the levels. You will also obtain more and more skills are you go through the game like bombs while rolling, missiles, and even x ray vision. They help a lot in the platforming efforts. It seems like the x ray vision is the only one that’s not mandatory but you absolutely need the bombs and missiles if you want to clear the game.

One nice thing about the setup is that it does feel very satisfying when you finally get the next power up. You’ve suddenly opened up a whole new range of possibilities for yourself which is always good. It may not be fun to be stuck for a while but it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than the last few games where it would feel purely annoying. I think a good deal of this is due to 3 main factors even aside from the map. The first is that we have more of a real story here. I’m not going to say that the first two games didn’t have a basic plot, but this one has more of a narrative. You have to save the baby Metroid you rescued in the second game. Right away that makes the stakes much more personal than in the first two games so you’re willing to do what you have to in order to win.

Next, the graphics are worlds improved from the last two games. This really wouldn’t look bad on the N64. The graphics are quite solid for sprites. They’re very bright and there’s a lot of details in everything that’s going on. I was pretty impressed at least. Finally, you’ve got the soundtrack as well. A lot of the themes in this game would go on to become quite iconic. The game starts you off with some pretty ominous music and it just keeps on going as you go through the film. It really makes this feel like a very legitimate Metroid experience and one that is not dated. There may not really be any replay value after beating the game but the campaign is long enough where that’s not a problem.

The gameplay is smooth and the technicals are on point. The only thing keeping this game from being higher is that there is a lot of backtracking and it can get dull after a while. If you don’t know where to go next then you have to explore the darker parts of the map. Pick the wrong one and it could take 15-20 minutes to get back to where you were and try another route. I would have liked some kind of fast travel option in this game. I think that would have been a fantastic quality of life upgrade that would have made the game a lot more fun. Make it like Breath of the Wild where you can only go to places you have been. It stays fair while also keeping you engaged the whole time.

Overall, Super Metroid is definitely a big improvement and I would call it the first quite solid Metroid game. The series would only go on to bigger and better things from here like Zero Mission and Fusion. It’s been a very long time since we had a Metroid platformer so I’d be up for that returning at some point. I feel like this franchise has a ton of untapped potential and it shows. Even in Super Smash we still only have 3 reps from the series despite it being about as old as the Legend of Zelda and Mario. What we need is a big budget Metroid game that introduces a lot of new characters. I’ll definitely be there ready and waiting for when that day finally does come.

Overall 6/10

Demon’s Crest Review


Now it’s time to look at the final SNES title currently available in the Switch Online outside of the RPGs. Demon’s Crest is a really fun game and I was surprised at how good it was. Not to say that I expected the game to be bad or anything like that but it’s way ahead of its time. The gameplay is extremely smooth and it has a real plot with solid cutscenes. The main character is pretty strong which makes for a pretty unique style of combat. The levels are straight forward and you always know where to go. There’s even a bit of a hub world as you fly around a planet that looks like Final Fantasy. This game was way ahead of its time to be honest and so it’s great to be able to play it.

The game starts with Firebrand being chased by a Dinosaur/Dragon hybrid. We take him out and then decide to take out the King. In order to get to him we’ll have to go across the opening 3 worlds and take down the various bosses. After that we’re ready for the final battle, but will taking this guy down actually help the world or will it doom us all? Firebrand isn’t exactly here as a hero after all. You’re effectively playing as a demon and just hoping that he is the lesser of two evils. It makes for a very interesting dynamic. The ending also feels a bit like a cliffhanger so either there is a sequel out there/will be a sequel or there’s some kind of true ending you can get.

This is a sidescrolling game first and foremost. The goal is to make it to the end of the level and get past all of the enemies and obstacles. You can run and jump as normal or you can fly. Yes, you can fly permanently in the game. The one catch is that you can’t go higher once you start flying but you can go lower. A lot of times I would use the Kirby tactic where I would stick to the top of the stage and it would really work out quite nicely for me. It’s just hard to beat that. You can also shoot fireballs which I highly recommend doing because they deal a lot of damage. The enemies don’t have a whole lot of answers for that.

The game still isn’t easy by any means although it’s not nearly as difficult as Ghosts n Goblins. You feel like your character is a lot stronger from the jump which is very helpful. In the boss battles the main thing to watch out for is how quick they are. The enemies can be startlingly fast to the point where you see them coming but are still unable to dodge. I would usually recommend pre-emptively dodging but that will possibly end up cornering you. You also have to be ready to run under one of the bosses who will try jumping at you and so if you move too quickly it will be impossible to do this. It’s all about strategy and reaction times so just stay on guard and you’ll be fine.

Unsurprisingly the graphics are quite amazing here. The character models really stick out and a whole lot of work was done on the backgrounds and enemy designs. This would not be out of place on the N64 or even as a modern indie game. Demon’s Crest is very polished and definitely deserves its respect. The soundtrack is decently good as well. The real power is definitely in its cutscenes which are quite impressive. The game’s length isn’t anything special as it’s around 30-40 minutes but it manages to capture a good story in there which is the important part.

Overall, I highly recommend Demon’s Crest. It’s easily one of the best games available on the SNES Online which is pretty impressive considering the competition there. One thing that works in its favor is I imagine a lot of people never got to play Demon’s Crest back in the day. Well, now’s your chance to do it. It’s never too late to go in and try out a new game. Now I just need to wait for another update so we can add more SNES games to try out. I know there are definitely a ton left to go.

Overall 7/10

Operation Logic Bomb Review


It’s time to look at a game that seems to have borrowed some inspiration from Wolverine. I don’t really know which one came first though so it’s possible that the reverse happened. Either way Logic Bomb is a pretty solid SNES game and one that has aged quite well. It’s a lot of fun and the bosses are pretty unique and challenging. If I had an SNES back in the day this is definitely a game I would have been glad to have owned. It’s got all of the solid gameplay that you could ever need.

The game starts with a lot of vague cutscenes but they seem to amount to a guy being fitted with metal into his bones. You are now a super soldier and you’re ready to save the world. Some scientists seem to have created powerful machine hybrids that naturally turned evil and are breaking the place down. You’re sent in to take these monsters down. As the game goes on you are able to access various computer terminals which give you a better understanding of what’s going on here. It’s definitely a dangerous place but you’ve got a lot of skills so you should definitely be okay. The key here is to destroy all of the monsters and advance to the end of the facilities.

The gameplay is that of an overhead shooter. Think of Centipede Infestation or Alien Syndrome and that’s the gameplay you have here. You have a standard gun with you but as the game progresses you unlock more like a flamethrower and a gun that bounces off walls. You have unlimited ammo so you never have to worry about finding any. I definitely liked that since it meant I could really go all in and not have to worry about anything. The gameplay is tough enough as is since the enemies deal out a whole lot of damage. At times you will need to pace yourself as you go in because the enemies will just completely overwhelm you due to sheer numbers. You have to hit them at an angle or trick them into approaching you one at a time.

One ability that you obtain later on is a shadow double and it is without a doubt the most useful ability you will learn. It tricks all of the minions and keeps them out of your hair as you take them out. That’s another positive about the game. I always like feeling as if the power ups are making an active difference. You should always feel like you’re at the next level with a new upgrade. If you get a weapon that’s weaker than your current one, then what’s the point right? That’s basically the same concept here and the game handles the situation well. That’s not to say that the game gets less challenging. It just has to offer up new enemies and such to try and slow you down. The final boss was certainly tough to deal with and took me quite a few tries.

If there’s something that can hold the game back it’s that it can be easy to get a little lost. The teleport pads take you to different places in a set loop but because of that you might stay in the wrong room for a while before finally trying the portal out. Once you’re free then it definitely feels satisfying to be out. A better map system would go a long way to helping out here. Still, it’s far better than something like Metroid in that regard so you still wouldn’t be lost for too long. The puzzles aren’t too crazy. The game is also a little longer than the other retro games I’ve been playing. It should last you for about 2 hours which really isn’t that bad.

The graphics definitely look pretty good here. The game handles the sci-fi backdrop rather well. The blasters are on point and the enemy designs are also good. The soundtrack also works really well and is fitting for the overall game experience. It’s all pretty ahead of its time. There is also a real story which is nice. There aren’t any text bubbles or anything like that though so you have to get the context from the little cutscenes and animations that go on. There’s more than enough context for you to put the pieces together and gets what’s going on though. Even if it may not be what the creators ultimately intended, you will still have a general story which is good.

Overall, Logic Bomb is a really fun game. It’s got solid gameplay, graphics, and a good soundtrack. The premise is really interesting as well and I’d like to see more games of this in the modern era. Nintendo’s been slowly feeding us more and more SNES games and this latest batch was definitely a very good one. I’d like to see more in the next few batches and hopefully we have more hidden gems like this one. After all, I definitely didn’t know this game existed before and now I’m glad that I got to check it out.

Overall 7/10