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Spongebob Squarepants is finally back! I gotta say that my experience with the Spongebob franchise as a whole is very light. Seriously I mostly know it from the memes and all but when it comes to sitting down and watching an actual episode I haven’t done much of that. It always looked like fun though and I do like me a good platformer so I had to jump in and have fun here. The gam elives up to the classic platformer formula. It’s perhaps a bit strict about how many Golden Spatulas you have to grab though. Fortunately you only have to get all of them if you’re aiming for the Platinum though because otherwise that would have been bad.
An army of robots is attacking the underwater country so Spongebob is called in to stop them. He is no stranger to crazy situations after all and wants Merman to be proud of him so Spongebob agrees to help. His friends will also be around as back-up support. The villain here seems like it might be Spongebob’s old enemy Mr. Plankton but he can’t prove that yet so for now we jut have to go in there and get as many quality wins as possible. Each robot destroyed is one less than can cause terror and destruction to the many.
The basic gameplay is that of a 3D platforming so you’re running and jumping as you go through the levels. You can attack and ground pound. In addition each character has their own special abilities. Spongebob can grab onto ziplines and so a super jump. Sally can glide and shoot out her lasso and finally Patrick can throw things really far. So the levels use all of their special abilities and have unique obstacles waiting for everyone. The objective of the game is to obtain 75 Golden Spatulas in order to enter the villain base so you get these at the end of every mission given to you by the other characters and others are also scattered around the worlds. Considering that there are 100 total Spatulas, you can see how beating the game actually comes rather close to 100% completing the title. Perhaps that will be enough to get me in here for the platinum at some point but right now I’ve had my fill of collecting.
The level layouts are good and there is a whole lot to do on each world. You never really feel confined and it’s so big that it’s part of why the collectibles are hard to find. At times the camera angles can get a bit wonky but on the whole it’s good. The worlds are all pretty different and stand out so no chance of mixing them up or anything like that. They always have a lot of variety. I will say that you should try to definitely get as many seashells as possible so you can buy lots of Spatulas from Mr. Krabs. Those will all come in handy towards the end of the game.
The boss battles are all fun here. They each have different rules and objectives towards beating them so none of these are copy and pastes. The developers really got to make the most of their creativity here. Meanwhile the animation is definitely sharp. This looks like a solid PS4 game. I won’t say the graphics are out of this world or anything but it’s all very clear and bold which is ultimately the objective. The soundtrack is a little less memorable though and doesn’t have the kinds of tunes you’d hear in Mario or Sonic.
So on a gameplay level this is very strong and I have no issues. The only part of the game that isn’t quite as solid is the story/characters. This is Spongebob of course so it’s more comedic but the characters can be a little annoying. There aren’t many sound clips here so you’re going to be hearing the characters repeat the same lines over and over again. They’re not exactly great lines either so you’ll mostly just be annoyed after a bit. Ultimately they are fun in small doses but I would say that the cast doesn’t hold up quite as well compared to other comedy casts.
Squidward is always good though and I root for the guy to go far. He really tries to stay out of trouble but it always has a way of finding him regardless. There’s not really a lot of crude humor or anything beyond all the underwear jokes so the game doesn’t go that far. I’d like a game that focuses on Merman back in his prime though. Now that would be really good to see.
Some quality of life updates would be fun like being able to warp to a specific point in the world instead of walking over and hopping into boxes. It’s probably something the devs felt just wouldn’t fit into the world I suppose. The game length is pretty reasonable and this should take you a few batches to complete. Throw in the opportunity to earn a Platinum trophy and that just makes the game even longer which is always good. I wouldn’t have minded if they added more racing levels though, they were some of the highlights of the game. It reminded me of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and I always like racing on slides and rail type surfaces.
Overall, Spongebob has a solid game here. It may not be Mario but it’s still pretty good around the board. I’d consider this to be a AAA platformer and the production values check out. Replace the cast with a more intense one and the game would be even better. At the end of the day if you’re a Spongebob fan then you should love this game and if you enjoy platformers then you should like the game regardless. It’s fairly easy to complete but you will need some talent to platinum it since getting the final Spatulas can be intense. There were a few I skipped over like the bowling ball balancing segment which was really intense. I suppose I’ll get to test my limits against that one when I ever get back to this title.
This game I’ve had in the closet for so many years. Earlier this year I finally bought the two previous installments so it was time at last to play this one. I greatly enjoyed the first game which is still one of the definitive driving games of all time but the last two were more standard. This one brings things back to a high point and is a great game. It certainly wins in plot but the original still has the best gameplay and at this point I think that will be tough to surpass.
The game starts with John Tanner putting a villain behind bars but unfortunately he breaks out almost immediately and gets revenge by putting John in a coma. Now here’s where things start to get tricky. So John wakes up back in the car but now he has super powers. He can possess anybody at will which is cool and then his real body becomes a quiet zombie on autopilot in the meantime. With these powers maybe he can stop the villain and save the city. There is a big bomb being created so there’s a race against time. But how come he keeps getting visions where he is still in the hospital and seeing weird signs? Well no time to worry about that now!
The Driver games are usually as realistic as they get so it’s a bit odd to see the game take more of a supernatural approach but it leads to one of the best driving game mechanics that I’ve seen in a while. The story is also fun with this. It plays out like a very interactive movie. In each level there is a lot of dialogue and of course there are a whole lot of cutscenes scattered throughout the game. That helps to make the whole thing feel really high budget. Another nice thing is they recorded a good amount of dialogue for each mission so when you die and try again, you’ll usually near some new lines as well. It’s a clever way to keep things from feeling too stale if you were to hear the same lines every time.
Now for the gameplay, mainly you’ve got the driving as normal. Unfortunately this part isn’t as polished as the average driving game. Turns are really difficult to make here as the cars have a very tough time turning while moving forward. You’re going to be bumping a whole lot and the car also tends to go unbalanced really quickly if you hit anything. Definitely something to keep in mind the whole time you are playing. You will really want to slow down for those turns, but fortunately there aren’t too many races. Mainly this just gets tricky when you are trying to evade the cops so instead of looking for the hidden paths, try driving into traffic and dodging the cars. That will help you lose them quick.
Now for the new mechanic. As a ghost you can fly out of your car and possess somebody. You can move around the field from a bird’s eye view and have 3 different zooms on this. It’s really fun to take over the cars and they come in real handy when attacking your enemies. You can take control of a car and just have him ram into the villain. You can do this at any point to any car so it makes it really hard for the opponent to even try to dodge. It also makes for some interesting boss fights later on in the game. You know a lot of times I’m not a big fan of new mechanics and gimmicks if they don’t work just right but this is one that actually was a success.
It enhances the game which is exactly what a gimmick should do and it was fun to use the whole time. I never got bored of it that’s for sure. There’s a trophy for doing that 1000 times and I made it through about 400 so I better get to work on grinding the rest out. The game’s length is fairly decent. I want to say the game is about 5-6 hours long. Maybe a little above that but roughly in that range. For most genres that probably sounds small but the previous 2 Driver games were about 90 minutes so this is still a big improvement. There is also replay value to get more trophies although unfortunately the servers are down so the Platinum is impossible to obtain now. It’s too bad that couldn’t have stayed up longer. Still there is some replay value here as a result.
The graphics are really solid here. This feels like more of a high end PS3 game in that area. The game loves showing off the big zoom ins as a result. While you’re in the gameplay everything is clear and you can always tell what is happening. The stages will sometimes have a fun visual effect like turning blue or yellow depending on what is going on with John’s psyche and that’s always a nice touch. The soundtrack has a ton of lyrical songs. For the most part they seemed pretty solid. I didn’t get any that were really obnoxious and it never takes over the sound of the dialogue coming through. Whoever did the sound mixing did a good job for this game that’s for sure.
Overall, Driver was a lot of fun to play through. If the driving was just a little smoother it would make the game even better. After all I love pushing through tight corners and really styling on the opponents but with the controls like this I couldn’t quite do that. Still the story is a lot of fun and I give the game tons of credit for having full voice acting for every single cutscene. Whether it was a story mission or one of the side ones, everything had the voices on point and I think that’s great. It’s not something that you see everywhere even if you would expect that to be the standard at this point. So the game has to get a lot of credit for that all around. If you haven’t gotten this game yet then you definitely should. The story alone is worth the purchase as this would make for a great movie. You can also get a good price for it nowadays.
PS3 Trophies 11/37
Gallery Completion 39%
Universe Rank 8
Kanata Level 83
Etna Level 77
Tsubaki Level 81
Pamela Level 74
Rizelea Level 3
Prinny Level 7
Mizuki Level 8
Lucius Level 1
Flonne Level 8
Violet Level 8
It’s been a fun marathon through the Time Crisis series but we have now made it to the end. I’ve owned this game for many years so it’s nice to finally play it. I’ll say this, the game is considerably better than the first 3, there’s no question about that. First person shooter games still aren’t really my thing but this one adds a bit to the mix. Instead of being a pure rail shooter you can actually move around during some of the levels so that was nice.
There is the normal arcade mode here but also more of a complete mode. This one adds in levels for the American agent which are fully 3D and add to the story. So in the usual rail shooter levels you play as the VSSE agents and then you play as the secret service guy for the others. The game has 15 levels as a result which is definitely longer than the others. Now if you had to beat this in one shot that would be crazy so fortunately this one actually has a save feature!
That was a game changer. No matter how fun the other games could be, it was always annoying to not be able to save. Until you got a bunch of game overs you knew that you would effectively be spinning your wheels for a while. The levels here can still be tough but there is less pressure since you can try again. Additionally the levels are also quite a bit shorter so when you die it’s not like you have to play large portions of the game again.
There are some new mechanics here like the insect battles and fort fights. The insects are more on the annoying side so I’d be cool with the series dropping this for the sequel. It could be really difficult to deal with them and they take up a ton of bullets. Then for the fort battles there is a lot of moving around and it feels almost a bit random. Good thing the girl lets you know what direction to check because otherwise that would be really difficult. The normal shooting sections tend to be a lot more solid if you ask me.
I really liked the new 3D sections though so those are easily the highlight. You still do need to use some real strategy here though. Don’t just run in and expect everyone to go down immediately. You have to conserve your bullets and keep on moving forward. There are checkpoints and all but you don’t want to have to lose and see how far back you go. The game isn’t quite as hard as the last two though so you should be okay. Those are still really hard to match.
Naturally the graphics are really solid here. We’re finally in PS3 world and we keep the big cinematics that the last game had. You can be guaranteed some kind of cinematic before each level and some have more after the level as well. The story may be a little dry as you’re just out to stop another criminal organization but I’m not exactly sure what the best way to spice it up would be. I don’t think the plot itself is the issue but it doesn’t really stand out. Maybe have the villains get a little more colorful with their designs? I thought that the 3rd game had the best villain designs personally.
There isn’t a ton of replay value here. Even if you really like the gameplay, it’s going to effectively be the same experience each time. I suppose you could just work on getting a better high score but there are probably other games in the genre you could play instead. Still you should be able to find the game for fairly cheap and so then it’s a good value. You’ll have fun playing through the story and it is the longest game in the series which is impressive in its own right. You should always strive to be longer and longer right!?
As the end of the day whether you like it or not will depend on if you like the genre. So long as you do then the high production values will carry the day. The good characters and cinematics help to hold their own. My advice here would be that in some of the levels the timer is generous so just hide when the insects show up. It’s hard to react quickly enough to hit them before they hit you. So instead wait until they have finished their attack and then go for the win. That would be the ideal way to handle this and you will not be looking back.
Overall, Time Crisis 4 is a pretty good game. It’s certainly my favorite game in the series. At the end of the day I can’t guarantee that I will really remember these games all that often since they’re more the type of game that you play through and then it goes back in the closet but it still is good. If they ever brought another one to consoles over here then I’d be interested in playing it. Perhaps the ole muscle memory would kick in and I would start dominating it. That would be ideal at least. In the meantime it’ll probably be a while before I play another FPS so we’ll see which game comes next.
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I remember when the first trailer for this game came out I knew that I had to get it. It looked like a really fun 3D action game with a cool plot and everything. Something just out of the blue that had a super amount of potential. Well, I got it day 1 and it was a lot of fun. I do think it could have maybe been a bit longer to really go into the tory here but all in all it was still a quality title. I could see myself going back to grab some more trophies at some point and the battle system was crafted well.
The story starts with the game introducing you to the Valkyrie Nora who is sworn to fight under the command of Odin. Odin and Fenrir had a powerful battle that nearly reduced the planet to ashes and both of them sustained absolutely massive damage. Fenrir is now returning and Odin fears that he will need to move quickly to regain the advantage. He tells Nora to go and cleanse as many souls as she can since each one will power Odin up. Additionally she needs to find the 4 artifacts of power and as a bonus, destroy Fenrir if she can. This is a really tall order but Nora will do her best.
Right from the start you can see how Odin is rather shady and he keeps on throwing more and more tasks at Nora. When he mentions that she needs to destroy Fenrir as well you can see how crazy this is. If Odin himself couldn’t defeat her, then what hope does a Valkyrie have? He gives us a trusty rope that can in theory take Fenrir down but that’s still not a whole lot to truly change the tide of battle. At best it’s a confidence booster I suppose but you still feel like that could never possibly be enough.
Fortunately Nora meets with lost souls along the way that she uses to aid her in battle. By the end of the game she has 4 souls who help her and they each try to get Nora to act more like a human. Initially Nora is virtually emotionless and just following orders but as the game goes on she starts to question things more and also show more empathy. So the character arc here is pretty solid. Nora even gets emotional to the point where she has an outburst by the end but fortunately apologizes for it.
The way the gameplay works is it’s a 3D fighter where you attack with your sword mainly. You can eventually switch weapons as well but there aren’t a ton of them and I mainly stuck with the sword since it handles so well. You can summon one of your 4 fighters for 30 seconds which then changes your weapon to that character’s element. You can summon all 4 of course and keep summoning them but they all take up some of your energy meter. When it runs out then you can no longer summon anybody so keep that in mind.
It’s actually possible to get completely stuck in the tutorial as a result since you need them to get past one of the obstacles but there is no way to replenish energy in the tutorial. It was a rather odd oversight from the devs that I fell for but it was interesting all the same. Part of the strategy in the game is constantly changing your element to deal with the enemies in front of you. Additionally you can also equip up to 4 spells and use them to back you up with the various elements. I personally would have 1 heal, fire, thunder, and holy as my 4 spells. It’s easy to switch though so feel free to experiment.
Aside from combat you can also level up your character’s stats and the weapon itself. They all use the same energy currency so choose wisely. Typically I would upgrade the character and my weapons were purely a backup option. I figure having Nora as powerful as possible was always the best bet here. I feel like the game isn’t super easy to just pick up and play because of how much is going on but it does feel good once you’ve got the whole system down. You’ll be seamlessly transitioning from opponent to opponent.
That said, the final boss is still super tough though and gave me a real tough run for my money. For a minute there I thought I was going to have to go back and train but fortunately I was able to just barely clutch it out. I didn’t run from a single enemy in the game so I like to think that I was at exactly the level the devs intended me to be at for the final boss. The challenge is real but it feels fair and I do think that I could have mastered the mechanics a bit more to make things easier. I sort of learned it to the bare minimum needed to beat the game.
The game felt a little shorter than I expected though. Not saying it’s super short but you can likely beat it in under 10 hours. Each chapter tends to be around 30 minutes or less and there are less than 20 chapters in the game. So just keep plugging away and you’ll be at the end in no time. There are trophies that you can obtain to help with the replay value though and a lot of side missions and such. So there’s still a lot to do here including getting the true ending. Now this I’m not positive about since I haven’t looked it up but the way the game ends just feels a bit odd so I suspect that I needed to do more side missions. I was certainly taken by surprise though so it was effective if this was the game’s intent.
As a main character Nora is solid enough. She doesn’t have much of a personality for most of it but that’s part of the point really. Her evil counterpart Hilde is more interesting but also more annoying because she refuses to say much of anything. What good is it to know a lot of secrets and taunt Nora about being a pawn when you won’t fill her in? I thought Hilde handled the whole situation quite poorly and was really not all that smart. For all her tough talk, she was being manipulated just as much as Nora.
As for Fenrir and Odin, I thought the game did a good job of showing them as two sides of the same coin. They both really just want absolute power to dominate the masses and show what they’ve got. Neither one of them are heroes in the slightest and in fact you could just call them villains straight up. It would certainly be accurate which is part of why the ending is a bit funny. They don’t even disguise their sinister intentions the whole time either. They just do what they want when they want and can get away with it since they’re so powerful.
Overall, Valkyrie: Elysium is a pretty good game. It may have been a bit different than I was expecting in terms of length but I was still satisfied and would be interested in a sequel. I do think it’ll end up being a game that is largely forgotten to time though as it doesn’t do anything to really stand out in a genre that is brimming with tons of games at this point. The story is fun and all though so they should just keep on going with it and eventually this will be a home run hit!
Trinity Universe is a game that I had on the backlog for many years. It’s a long visual novel/rpg title so I had to wait for a good opportunity to check it out. Well, the future is now as they say and I finally got to take it out. This is definitely a game that has a high difficulty level so be prepared to grind a whole lot if you want to make it to the end. Fortunately the level ups come quickly and there are a ton of mechanics involved here so eventually you’ll be in a good spot.
There are two story modes here but I opted to play Kanata’s story. He’s known as the Demon Dog King and he has decided to rebel against his destiny. See, he was supposed to become the Demon God Gem but doing so would mean that he would lose his humanity and become…well a gem. So instead he wants to be a great adventurer and figures he can save the planet another way. Becoming the gem would have stopped the countless falling objects from obliterating the Netheruniverse but he figures he can stop them one at a time instead. Doing that would allow him to keep his humanity while also having a lot of fun. It’s the best of both worlds you could say but of course that means everyone is after him now.
It’s a fun story but the game doesn’t take it all that seriously. At its core this game is still part parody so the characters break the fourth wall and there are some jokes about the budget and everything. I wouldn’t say that any of the characters are all that great either. For the most part they’re good but if you pit them against any other RPG they’re probably getting taken out pretty easily. The humor is mainly the characters repeating their gags over and over so it doesn’t have the same energy and focus as a mainline Disgaea game. Now those would really have a lot of great dialogue throughout.
I also think they could have done a little more than the simple character portraits for all of the dialogue. A little movement or animation would have been nice but this is something that mainly comes with the genre/territory so I can’t go in too hard on that. The graphics look pretty nice once you’re actually playing the game so that’s definitely a plus. Meanwhile the soundtrack is a lot of fun too. I think they could have had more variety in the hub world though since there is only a single track that just plays on loop over and over again.
Fortunately the dungeons have a lot of solid themes. The encounter theme is good and there’s a solid rock one for the bosses. A good soundtrack is always important for these things. The game is also fairly long so when you mix in the difficulty level then you know that you will be here for quite a while. The gameplay mechanics are a bit complicated so it’ll also take you a little time to get those down. Don’t expect that you’re just going to wake up and start cranking out those wins.
So the main flow of the game is that you’ll watch a few events and then you’ll head into a dungeon. You run through the rooms as minions attack you until you get to the boss at the end. Beat him and the chapter will usually end before taking you to the next one. It’s a fairly straight forward approach but my advice is to always save when you go back to the hub world. Sometimes an event will trigger an instant boss fight instead of waiting for the dungeon and you don’t want to be caught with your guard down. Now that would be tricky.
Once the battle starts, the game becomes a turn based title. You have a certain amount of energy that you can use for different moves. Lets say you have 50 energy. Your standard attack takes up 10, special takes 12, and your power blow takes 15. You can use any variation of those until you run out of energy or skip your turn so next time you start with 100. The benefit to skipping your turn is that there are several combinations which turn into combos and deal mega damage. For example, 5 special attacks in a row would cost 60 energy but it would trigger a combo. Personally I always skipped a turn with all 4 players and then launched into big moves.
You can look up some combos on the pause menu but a lot of them don’t show up so just memorize them as you play through the game. You can also press R1 to try and launch a team combo right when you’re running out of energy. You then have to press the right button while the meter is in the green which can be surprisingly difficult. This only triggers if you’ve landed multiple solid combos already. There’s also a final smash with R3 but that one is tougher to use because it doesn’t always work. Once you’ve started one attack, the energy starts dropping automatically so make sure you don’t take too long to think.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to it but you can see how this game is really detailed the whole time. When you’re not battling you want to grab as many minerals and resources as possible. These are later used to synthesize new weapons and equipment. Those are super helpful so you’ll want to have them. The game does suffer from missing some quality of life features though like being able to directly compare the stats to something that you already have so be prepared for pausing and unpausing the game a lot.
Once you reach chapter 11 then you finally get the meteorites which is super helpful for grinding. The best thing to do is to grab a bunch of the ones that increase your souls so that you can beat one enemy and get 99 souls. Leverage that into creating a monster that will drop an AttackX3 which you can use to increase your attack power by close to 500. Rinse and repeat with every other stat until your guys are absolutely overpowered. The stat increases are way better than leveling up which is probably why the game locks them until the very end of the game.
This is a game where you will want to write a lot of notes or just look up a guide on the best places to grind and where each mineral spawns. Otherwise you’re going to have a tough time finding what you need and that can take a while. Also, be warned that the game does have a “dark” ending if you haven’t done enough. Based on the text it seems like you’re supposed to clear a bunch of side missions which I never really bothered with. It certainly makes for a unique ending though, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting things to play out the way that they did at all so it really took me by surprise.
As for the story, well it boils down to fighting Rizelea a bunch of times before finally uniting against a common threat. It’s a classic kind of plot that works well enough but the game is just going through the motions most of the time. As a lead Kanata is okay but rarely knows when to actually get serious. He’s also so strong that almost nobody is a threat to him. Rizelea is fun though and probably one of the highlights here. You can always count on her to steal the stage when she appears and get everyone to focus up.
Etna is always fun for just how over the top evil she is. She makes it quite clear to the others and to the audience that she is still a demon through and through. Flonne’s role here is interesting as she’s still in her more evil appearance from the end of Diagaea. I thought that was a nice nod to the continuity and it’s fitting that the guest characters would be some of the best here. Lucius is the dark hero and has a cool voice. I like the concept behind his character. He may not do a lot but he always talks tough which is appreciated it.
Tsubaki is incredibly loyal to Kanata and always takes his side even if she doesn’t agree with it. I suppose you have to admire her loyalty but sometimes it can hurt her character as I would like her to call him out more. Throughout the game she is hinting at some kind of secret plot but that doesn’t really go anywhere so either it’s in the true ending or was for a sequel. Finally you have Mizuki who tries her best to be the very hyper heroine but often falls flat. Half the time there is nothing for her to do so she’ll just make a random comment. The game’s very self aware about this and so I would say the concept behind her character was better than the execution. The script in general for the characters could be fun at times but really could have benefited from more actual animation.
Overall, Trinity Universe is a fun game. Mainly it’s solid because of the gameplay and how much effort went into that. It does come to a point where I think the game overcomplicates some things and could have gone for a more simple route but it’s still fun. The story also holds it back from taking the next step to an 8 because it can be a bit repetitive and never gets quite as emotional or intense as the average RPG. On that front it just can’t keep up but you should still find the characters amusing enough. I do give the title props for being almost fully voice acted even with so much dialogue and characters here.
Play Time 2h 41m
PS4 Trophies 10/41
Game Completion 56%
High Score Total 198940
5/6 Residents saved
Play Time 3h 27m
PS3 Trophies 14/51