5 Star Games, Reviews, Game Reviews

MLB 08: The Show Review


It’s time to jump into the next MLB title. Baseball is next to Golf as my least favorite sport to play in a video game format. Neither one is all that exciting for me because I don’t really feel like I’m in control. In something like Basketball or Tennis, win or lose you know that you did everything you could. I feel like these games don’t give me the same amount of power. That may just be because I am not too used to these controls though. After all in Baseball I can barely pitch to save my life. The amount of balls I threw in this game was totally crazy. Then with Batting I could only manage a hit or two. Somehow I don’t think y skills will be ready for real opponents anytime soon. They’re all just too powerful.

There are a bunch of modes here of course, but I opted to start with a quick game. Little did I know there wouldn’t be anything quick about it. The other team quickly began running up the score. Before I knew it I was down 15-0 and I knew that I was doomed. The toughest part of the game for me is pitching. I was just trying to throw the ball straight across the base and yet each time the ref would say that the ball was out. A lot of the time I even felt like it was on target and somehow it wouldn’t go there. I’m thinking there is something I have to do with the directions, but it wasn’t too clear. In 09 I’ve decided that the first thing I’m going to do is look for a tutorial to try and at least get some fundamentals at the ready. Without those I really don’t stand a chance here.

As for batting, that is naturally all about reaction speed and being at the right place at the right time. There’s no magic trick here, you just got to be ready. The problem for me with this one is the fact that I end up taking swings at balls that are way out. As a result I can’t make the hit even if I time it perfectly. It’s just hard not to take the shot because then you run the risk of letting a perfectly good ball get right past you. I never want to lose that way so i just swing and hope for the best. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll land a good homer.

Now, while I’m not a big fan of the MLB titles it’s not that all Baseball is low for me. I really liked the Mario Baseball series. Those games were done extremely well. I don’t know why the real ones are so much more difficult for me. I just can’t seem to find my rhythm here and without timing what else do I have? Trust me, it’s no fun to be pitching for 20 minutes as they hit everything or you keep throwing out of bounds. After I hit one player I even ran an experiment to see how many I could knock down. I took down almost half the team and they were still playing and that’s when I realized that I was truly doomed. Ultimately, I did a few more innings but by the 7th I had to retire gracefully. It’s not like I could somehow get 14 more runs in.

The graphics are good. The character models are on point and the game is pretty clear. I have no real issues there and while there isn’t much of a soundtrack the sound effects are real good as well. On a technical level I have no complaints. Even the gameplay while a little confusing doesn’t seem bad. I didn’t notice any glitches and I’m sure there is a trick to playing the game a little better. It wouldn’t be so popular if there wasn’t. Unlike the other sport games this one still feels like getting good is a very far off dream. Never say never though.

In terms of replay value there is definitely a lot for Baseball fans here. You can play a lot of quick games or even get ready to launch a franchise. Each game is unique so you never have to run out of content. The presentation may not be as exciting as some of the other sport games, but it gets the job done and you do feel like you’re in a real game. Batting is the offense of Baseball and so I’d be cool with the game giving us an option to automatically skip the pitching. It’s actually an option in the game so even if it’s not automatic, you can still do that if you really can’t get the hang of throwing the ball like me. I may exercise that feature a bit in the future.

Overall, MLB: 08 The Show may not be for me, but I’m sure fans of the sport will get a real kick out of it. How can you not have fun playing the sport you watch on TV? I have quite a few other Baseball games on the backburner so you can expect more reviews soon.. My personal goal for the next game is to make the score a lot closer than this one was. That shouldn’t be too hard since I got blown out here. We’ll find out one way or the other very soon.

Overall 5/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review


If there was ever such a thing as a low budget Mario and Sonic game then this is it. We no longer have the intense campaign mode from the first game and we don’t even get to keep the tournaments. With all of the characters and games already unlocked as well you just have to wonder what the developers were thinking. It’s not a bad game but it doesn’t do anything to help the Olympics legacy. It would have gone over better if this had been the first title in the series.

We do have a new mode though and that is essentially Mario Party mode. Here you run around a board trying to get items and bump into one of the characters who is running around. This will trigger a mini game. You want to win the mini games to get cards that you can put in your sticker album. Once you’ve obtained 16 stickers (or more depending on the length you choose) you will have won the game. Inside your sticker board you have two random items as well which may steal stickers from other players or just give you extras. They’re pretty handy so use them wisely. If you want to blast through the party then simply seek out the NPCs as soon as possible. I’m not sure if there is even a point to delaying it to be honest since grabbing the items didn’t actually seem to be doing anything. There’s probably something that I’m missing though.

I also have to point out that the mini games are starting to randomly get convoluted here. You should always be able to get a basic understanding of the game from the rules section before it starts. That wasn’t the case for the Dream Bike mini game. This one is a team game of 4 vs 4. You have to try and stay in a perfect line and shake your way to the goal. The problem is that you have to switch places during the race and the controls for being in the back were not clear. I struggled as best as I could but I just couldn’t form a line and I ended up losing the mini game and nearly the whole party map. I actually did lose the first time I played the mode, but I got them the second time.

Even the really solid games suffer from dicey instructions. Take the Nintendo/Sega trivia. The questions were solid and with prep time I could probably even get them right. However the game tells you to hold the Wii Remote horizontally when in fact you are supposed to hold it vertically. This cost me the very first question which I knew I would have gotten right. So the main point here is to read the rules carefully and be warned that you may not be able to win some of these games on the first try because you will have to figure out how it works.

One of the new games that is pretty solid is the throwing darts one. You essentially have to hit the bullseye as quickly as possible and try to get others. Essentially I don’t know if you go for all of the bullseyes but that would make sense. I hit 2 and won the mini game so just aim for the center and you will be all set.

We’ve also got some games that I believe are old like Table Tennis and Soccer. Table Tennis is the same old same old so I wouldn’t expect too much more out of that one. It’s a fun game as always but it didn’t take much effort to port it over. I forgot if soccer already existed or not but it doesn’t look good for this game either way since the soccer gameplay is probably the weakest I’ve ever seen in the genre. I know low budget Wii games with better soccer gameplay. Your passes always go too high so it is usually safest to take the bell through the whole field yourself before shooting. That’s just not good gameplay and teamwork is supposed to be the name of the game here. I just don’t know how you can possibly mess up a game like soccer this way.

100mm Swinming is another mini game that doesn’t even try to hide how recycled it is. It’s the exact same controls as always in what appears to be the same background. It’s a good mini game so I’m fine with it coming back of course, but we just should have had more games. Reusing minigames is like bringing back old fighters in a classic fighting game. It’s a great move and one that I stand by 100%. However, if the cast is unchanged then there is no point in upgrading as in the case of Godzilla Save The Earth to Godzilla Unleashed on the PS2.

What this Olympics should have done was have close to 40-50 events. They could easily have brought back events from the previous games in addition to a bunch of new ones. The only reason why I could see this being a bad thing is if they are trying to perfectly emulate the games that will be at each Olympics. If that is the case then I suppose they will need to find another solution (have the old mini games be unlockable) but either way we definitely needed more games than the rather limited amount that we got.

The graphics look nice as always at least. It’s about the same as the last game only without the cinematic cutscenes so maybe it is actually a downgrade. Those cutscenes strike me as being the hard part after all but maybe the gameplay is just as difficult. Either way the last game did manage to do both so I’d give it the edge. When it comes to the soundtrack there is no contest that the last one was better. It blended together a bunch of brilliant themes from both Mario and Sonic which made the games even more fun. While this game has a lot of those songs in the music player, don’t expect to hear them very often.

As far as the replay value goes I suppose that there is a lot to buy here. You can use your money to buy clothes which boost your stats and you can try to earn medals for all of the various mini games. That could take a little while and then you also have a lot of challenges to complete for the bragging rights. Complete all of the challenges and you will really be an Olympics champ. Considering that the game is pretty cheap I’d say that this is already enough value to justify the cost.

Overall, This is one of those games that may have been more acceptable if it had been the first in the series. However it is the third and after seeing what this series could really do with the second game it feels like a total downgrade. The game just lost all of its heart and it felt like the developers just cashed it in this time. There wasn’t much effort put behind this game as far as I could see and even though this is a decent game I would recommend going back to buy the Winter Olympics instead.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Cars Review


It’s time to look at one of the more well known Pixar films. This film got a bunch of comics, games, several movies, spinoffs, etc. It just got really big and that’s definitely cool for the series since this film is pretty good. It’s a fun adventure with some nice racing scenes and is essentially Barakamon’s plot, but with cars. I can’t say that I’ve really seen a whole lot of car racing films, but I’d definitely put this one very high on the list. I can also admit that I did not miss the humans.

The film starts with Lightning McQueen in the biggest race of his life. He is a rookie, but has ascended through the ranks thanks to his legendary speed. While he doesn’t win the big Grand Prix, he makes it into a 3 way tie for first place. A tiebreaker race is announced, but on the way there Lightning gets lost and lands in an old, abandoned town. Only a few cars live here now, but their businesses are dying thanks to corporate interference. A new highway has been built now and so nobody actually uses this one anymore. I feel bad for them, but if you can save 10 minutes then there really isn’t much of a reason to stop there. Will Lightning learn a few lessons about humility and not always taking the fast track through life or will he escape this town at the first opportunity?

Lightning is essentially like Tony Stark. He starts out the film as a very arrogant guy who only cares about himself. He wants to win at all costs and believes that he can do everything by himself. During the course of the film he learns that teamwork is important and that helping people out can be fun. Naturally I liked his more arrogant self quite a bit, but he’s a well developed character and nice Lightning is still a good character as well. He’s still as fast as ever and now he has a real team behind him. I do think this will make it tough on the sequels since I really wouldn’t want his character to regress. We really shouldn’t have too much drama with him because now he’s learned to be a team player and gets along with everybody. Well, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this in the future installments.

The town is also fairly nice. I do like the fact that they have a court room with lawyers and everything. The court room scene is one of the better parts of the film as Lightning almost gets out instantly but then his plans get ruined by the main heroine of the film. Sally. She convinces the judge that Lightning should pay for the damage that he did to the roads and so the main character is stuck fr a while. He does have the good idea of trying to get out by quickly dashing off, but the town is too clever for this and makes sure not to give him enough gasoline so he runs out in the middle of the desert. These cars turned out to be a lot more clever than Lightning gave them credit for.

There are quite a few characters in the town, but lets talk about the main ones. Sally naturally gets a pretty big role. She has the biggest impact on turning Lightning into a nicer person and gives him a chance. She can race fairly well and apparently is good in the courtroom so she’s a very balanced character. Doc is the judge and an ex racer. He’s a decent character although I do have to question his backstory. He claims that after he was injured people didn’t care about him and it was hard to get back on the track, but couldn’t he simply win his way to the top again? If nobody thought he could do it then it was on him to prove them wrong. As a result I really couldn’t sympathize with this guy. Still, he wasn’t a bad character.

Mater is Lightning’s comic relief sidekick. He is falling apart, but he means well and is a nice guy. There’s nothing really negative about him, but he doesn’t add anything to any of the scenes. He’s really just here to be here. I preferred the truck that drove Lightning around. He seemed like a nice guy and so I’m glad that Lightning stuck with that crew. They may not be rich or anything, but they do seem to care about Lightning and are a group of fun cars to be around. They should get along with the townsfolk based on their personalities.

Of course, Lightning had the two meaner rivals to deal with as well. The King seemed like an all right guy though and his skills are pretty good. He stays at the front of the pack for about 90% of the race and always plays fair. Unfortunately, I guess he expects everyone else to play fair as well since he seemed unprepared for the others to crash into him. He’ll have to improve his skills, but since he’s retired I guess he won’t really need too. The other rival is essentially like Lightning, but a little more extreme and he never got converted. He’s definitely the most serious threat to Lightning and gets a lot of burns in. The film definitely did a good job with the two rivals. It makes the races a lot more fun for sure. Lightning’s visions were also correct since his rival really made the most of the head start while Lightning was busy at the village.

The animation looks pretty solid. I’d say that the movie probably put most of the budget into the first race as it definitely is the most impressive part of the film. The character designs are on point throughout and the final race also looks pretty good. I would have liked more than two races, but I suppose it would have been tough to squeeze more in. As it stands, the two races definitely gave us a good bit of action. Pixar is definitely known for their quality and this film is no exception.

I would have liked to have seen more of Harv though. He never actually appears, but still ends up being one of the most influential characters in the film. The guy knows what he is doing so it’s easy to see why he became an agent. Lightning could learn a thing or two from him since I wasn’t thrilled with the ending. Everything about the ending was good except for one part. In a moment of kindness, Lightning decides not to cross the goal line and instead pushes a crushed car to the end himself. That’s nice of him, but Lightning was right outside the goal line so he should have quickly touched it and then saved the guy. It wouldn’t have even taken a full second and so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Why let the rival win when you don’t need too? It’s supposed to be a powerful scene of Lightning finally realizing that winning isn’t everything, but when you’re that close you’ve really just got to grab the win.

Overall, Cars is a very fun film. It’s a very peaceful movie despite the quick car scenes. Fortunately the dialogue is strong and the cast of characters are interesting. It’s a film that is carried along by the quality of writing. This transforms what could have been a mildly interesting film about a bunch of cars talking into a really enjoyable experience. When you think about it, not much happens for the majority of the film since it’s just Lightning hanging around the town, but the film never ends up dragging on. It just keeps on going slow and steady to the finish line. That’s when you know that a film is good. A good film needs action scenes to keep it on top. A great one can be good with dialogue alone. It’s not as if I’m calling this a great movie, but it’s a very good one. It has a lot of replay value and gets a good mix of action and comedy. The humor here isn’t too forced or out of place. It’s given in nice, small doses that work well. If you haven’t seen this film yet, then I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Hopefully the sequels can be as good.

Overall 7/10