Tecmo Bowl Review


It’s time to look at a retro Football game that I got to play courtesy of Nintendo’s Switch online catalog. It’s definitely a pretty good bargain I must admit. You just can’t go wrong with something like this. The game is effectively free and so it’s a nice blast to the past. It’s a pretty fun game and reminds me of Backyard Football although the controls aren’t quite as precise. It’s naturally no Madden, but it’ll give you some reasonable entertainment for a little while.

Naturally you are playing Football so I would expect you to know the rules to really enjoy the experience. It’s like a sped up version of the game as most plays tend to go for big yards. Running the ball is pretty self explanatory as you run wherever you see an opening. There is no acceleration button here so it’s all about knowing when to make your move. Passing can be a little more difficult at first as it’s the most different from Madden. Your icon will be over one player initially. If he isn’t open then you quickly cycle through other options with the A button. You have to go in order though so if receiver 1 is open and you’re already on 2, then you’ll have to cycle through 3 before going back to 1. As such you’ll probably be sacked by then.

The defense is also relentless here. They don’t drop any picks so if you throw a ball and your guy isn’t open, it will 100% be intercepted. The computers don’t make mistakes and that’s something that you will be learning right away. The difficulty is refreshing but at the same time if really makes you not feel like passing. 90% of the time I’d just recommend running the ball or choosing a pass play and running it in anyway. Making the field goal kicks is pretty easy so as long as you’re in range then you’ll do fine.

The graphics aren’t bad. I don’t think they’ve aged all that well, but you’ll know what is happening at all times which is the important thing. There isn’t much of a soundtrack either but what is there is fine. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here as you might expect. The only mode here is to just keep playing more and more games. Without the visuals/stat tracking of the Madden titles you probably won’t bother to play too many games here. You’ll get the jist of the title before long and then it’ll be time to call it a day. Tecmo Bowl is a fun starter game and it really reminds you of he good ole Arcade Football days. It does a good job of that for sure.

Overall, Tecmo Bowl may be a simpler version of Madden, but it definitely will still take time to master the controls here. You really can’t afford to make a mistake here as this game is not forgiving in the slightest. Play your cards right and you can win, but if you don’t then you’ll probably get blown out. If you haven’t played this game yet then I recommend changing that and trying it out now. You’ll have a good time here and I wouldn’t mind a modern 2D Football game. There’s actually a lot that can be done with this style although I don’t see Madden testing out something so new like this anytime soon.

Overall 6/10

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Yoshi Review


It’s time to look at a very old Nintendo game. This one is so old that I’ve actually never heard of it before. If you told me that Yoshi got a game which was just called…Yoshi, I never would have believed you. I probably would have laughed and quickly explained that we already had Dr. Mario and Wario’s Woods. Surely Nintendo wouldn’t do a third Tetris type game right? Well…apparently they did! This Nintendo Switch Online virtual console has definitely been helpful for finding out about Nintendo games that I never played before. It’s actually reasonably fun, but there’s next to no content here so you’ll be done after about an hour or so.

The gameplay is pretty simple. You play as Mario who is holding two plates. There are roughly 6 different columns where you can put the plates and various Mario enemies fall down from the sky. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to quickly match these falling objects. For example, if you catch a Goomba on Column 3 and you see another one falling in Column 6, then you want to carry the one from 3 to 6. They will cancel each other out and you’ll have some free room. If you miss, then now both columns have a Goomba in them. The ultimate goal here is to survive as long as possible by making matches so that you can catch Yoshi eggs and hatch the little guys. It’s a tough job but someone has got to do it right?

It’s a fun enough game. It’s the kind of title that you would probably expect to see on the App Store. If anything, the only aspect of the title which holds it back is the lack of replay value. The game only has one level that keeps on going forever until you lose. There are 3 music tracks and you have now heard the extent of the game. After you’ve played it for a few rounds you will be ready to move on. For what it’s worth, it is a fun title, but it’s just one that has been easily surpassed by games like Dr. Mario. There isn’t much reason to play Yoshi at this point. So, it’s not a bad game, but it’s not a particularly impressive one either.

The graphics look pretty good all things considered. The colors pop and it actually was pretty ahead of its time. The music selection may have been severely limited, but they were all good tunes. The game also does help you practice quick decision making as you have to try and remember where you’ve got each minion. You don’t have time to sit down and deliberate so you have to get into action immediately. I could feel myself getting better by the end and I did make it to level 12 which I found pretty satisfying.

Overall, If you haven’t played Yoshi yet then you should give it a whirl. If you have the Nintendo Switch and are paying for online then you may as well try the game out right? It won’t cost you a thing and it’s a fun way to spend 30-60 minutes. After that, you realistically won’t be playing it again. Still, you can say that you’ve played the original Yoshi game and I don’t think that there are a whole lot of people who can say that. You should be proud.

Overall 5/10

Tetris 99 Review


With Nintendo finally having a new direct after such an extended absence of not having one, I was definitely ready to see what they would announce. They did not disappoint with their big title being Tetris 99. Right now we are in the era of the freemium games. Why pay 60 for something like Call of Duty when you can play Fortnite for free and still get all of the features? I think we will keep seeing a rise in these kind of games and that’s a good thing. Of course, that does mean that the shovel ware may start to come soon but we’ll tackle that issue when it arises.

The game is pretty simple fundamentally. You have a large board of columns and rows and blocks start to fall into it one at a time. Your goal is to keep the blocks from filling it up which means that you have to destroy the blocks. The way that you do that is by filling up a full row. Sounds easy enough right? There are only about 5 different kinds of blocks so you’ll want to memorize how they go.

It’s definitely a lot harder than it sounds though. The game assumes that you are already quite proficient with Tetris so there is no tutorial to be found or anything like that. You’re just tossed into the action and from there you have to learn these things. One thing that takes some time to get used to is the fact that even if a block looks like it should fit, you can’t put a block under a space that is filled. This is the single trickiest part that will mess you up over and over again until you finally master how that works.

By that point you will want to work on your speed. You’re able to cause the piece to fall immediately to the ground or you can go slow and take your time. The latter is only when you are unsure of what to do as the former is always better. Taking your time is just asking other players to attack you and cause the screen to fill right up. Of course, going fast when you’re not sure what to do will just cause you to lose so it’s definitely a tough choice. Right now I’ve only reached top 50 a few times and haven’t come close to winning yet so I still need some practice.

That’s all about Tetris though so let’s talk about the 99 part. This is a battle royale after all. There are 98 other players also trying to keep their jars empty. When you clear a row you get to send a piece of junk to the opponent. They can clear it away by also clearing a row. However, if they fail to do so on time then a bunch of blocks will fill up a few rows. With less rows to use you can see how this would make things difficult. You can choose who to attack for quick KOs, but it takes some time and in a fast paced game like this it’s risky.

The graphics are pretty nice I’d say. The levels are bright and everything is well defined. It may not be the next Kingdom Hearts, but you’ll always know what you’re doing with minimal confusion. (Well, not counting the mechanics as you’ll need to look those up) There isn’t much of a soundtrack that I noticed but the tunes that you hear in the background are all pretty fitting. There was clearly some good effort put into this game. I also hear that it’ll be getting some ongoing updates so that should make the game even better.

The replay value here is pretty self explanatory. You can just keep playing to get a lot better and more proficient at everything. The game keeps detailed stats including your Play Time and Wins. Your user level also goes up. I got up to around level 5-6 and I saw some people as high as 21. It’s the little things like that which help take this game to the next level.

Overall, Tetris 99 is definitely fun. The matches are quick so it’s easy to just keep on going. The loading times between battles are a bit long admittedly but I guess that makes sense considering how many people are playing in each battle. The aesthetic is nice and as the game is free there isn’t really a drawback to buying it. I’d definitely recommend getting this game ASAP as it will naturally be a lot more fun when everyone is playing it. It’s the kind of game where you want to have a full lobby to fully appreciate what the game should be like. There isn’t a whole lot of other stuff to say about this game due to the very nature of it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a title you should play.

Overall 7/10

Madden 16 Review


It’s time to look at a game that I forgot to review a long time ago. That game is Madden 16. I bought it ages ago but somehow I just didn’t write a review for it. Well, better late than never right? The Madden series is one that I’ve always considered to be one of the very best. There’s a ton of detail put into the game and while it may not change much from year to year, you can still see a noticeable difference if you skip a few games so the changes are there.

The gameplay follows the rules of the real life version of the game. It’s the kind of title that is fairly easy to pick up and play but hard to master. The series grew more difficult with each game as new mechanics are added each time. You used to be able to just throw the ball where you wanted and then tackle other players. Now you have multiple ways to throw and tackle to the point where you often are not sure which one to use. They all have their weaknesses and strengths. Personally I think the simpler style controls work better but that’s probably because I’m a casual player. I realize that more times than not, complicated controls are the way to go because it leads to a higher skill ceiling. There’s just a lot to take in.

As always, being on offense is the best part. You’re just really in control of the game when you’re playing quarterback. You throw it where you want and it’s not like the computer can force you to toss it. Sometimes a defender will make a crazy play to get at the ball but for the most part any play that goes badly is likely your fault. You’ll realize as soon as you threw the ball that it was a bad idea. Small things like that are what makes this such a legitimate experience. Running the ball seems a little harder than in the old days, particularly in breaking away for super long runs. However you will often pick up at least a few yard which makes for more realistic football.

There is one more realistic thing added although I could have done without this. There are a lot of flags in this game. At one point I thought I was watching the NFL because there were flags on almost every play. It always feels pretty iffy when it’s on your team. I had a long touchdown taken back because of a flag like that. Seemed rigged and I wasn’t playing in Cowboys stadium this time so maybe the developers added some extra Home Field Advantage in this one.

Playing defense isn’t my favorite thing in the world because you often feel helpless against the computer. It’s mitigated a little by the new mechanics of being on the line and trying to shake the offensive player but at he end of the day it still isn’t quite as exciting. I don’t think it’s an issue with the game though, it’s just a personal preference. At least I appreciate that it is easier to try and make a play on the b-ball instead of jumping helplessly like in previous games. Also you can use super sim to just skip all defensive drives completely. It’d be nice if you could have that feature as a saveable option. Meanwhile special teams is probably the least changed from all of the sections but there really isn’t much to change here.

As always the graphics in Madden are very impressive. There’s a lot of detail in every play and the facial expressions are on point. There’s even a nice pre game show and a lot of nice moments throughout that may slow the game a bit but ultimately make the experience that much more realistic. It all feels like a big production and I can say that you will be satisfied when you finally get to jump in.

The soundtrack is not very noticeable since the majority of the time you’ll be in the middle of a game where there really isn’t any music. What’s there is the typical EA mash. The tunes are very catchy and all but the lyrics aren’t always the best. It’s pretty much a non factor in the game but better to have it than not I suppose.

There are many ways to enjoy this game aside from normal matches. You can go through franchise mode and re-enact a bunch of seasons. You can also go online and prove yourself against a plethora of opponents. There are some rage quitters here which can get a bit iffy though. Sometimes it seems like you don’t get the points that you should have. There are also modes to practice and buy trading cards. The replay value here is basically endless.

Overall, Madden 16 continues the series on an elite level. There have been many great Football titles over the years but none have come all that close to Madden as the definitive Football product. It feels like an insurmountable hurdle for any company to hope to achieve. Of course that works out quite well for the players since it’s just such a complete product.

Overall 9/10

Need For Speed Underground 2 Review


It’s time to look at a Need For Speed game that I’ve been working on buying for many years. I beat the first Underground a while back, but I just hadn’t gotten around to buying this one. Well, recently I bought around 6-7 games in the series so now I can go on a little roll. This game was incredibly long so clearing the story was a daunting task, but one that I was prepared for. It’s definitely a great racing game with content that will last you a long time.

The story starts out with a bang as your character is ambushed by someone and your car as well as all of your money is stolen. People don’t remember you without the car so now you’ll have to start from scratch. Fortunately, a rich lady appears and agrees to help you out in exchange for conquering the Underground circuit. You decide to do so with one motive at hand, you want to crush Caleb, the guy who stole your stuff. Can you make it to the top or will he sabotage you before then?

I do like how the game continues from the first with this intro. It’s even a good in universe reason to explain why you’re back at the bottom even if people forgetting your name is a bit of a stretch. Still, the actual premise beats the execution. There aren’t a whole lot of cutscenes in this game and it’s not like the main character ever even appears. The cutscenes are done in comic book format and use moving stills rather than animation. So, the games have some room for improvement in the story, but at least this one did have a real story. I’ll give the title some credit there.

The gameplay is certainly on point. It brings you back to the simpler days of racing as you just drive to the goal using your skills. Eventually you are given the option to add a booster, but that’s as far out as it’ll go. As I’ve mentioned in the past, having a booster isn’t bad. It’s still pure racing and there’s a reason why Need for Speed is so well known. The franchise is just really good at doing what it does best, getting you into the zone. You’ll be dominating the rest of the cars by the end of the game as you master the controls and keep on improving your car.

You better make sure your car is on point because there are over 200 races in the game and if you have to replay all of them a few times to win…then you’re going to be here for a long while. You can clear the game after around 150 races at least, but that’s still a lot. The game is around 20 hours long and 100% completing it will take significantly longer than that. To help ease the repetition you can also go to shops and spruce up your ride a bit. Switching up how it looks should help quite a bit in the long run since it’ll feel like you’re racing an entirely different vehicle.

One thing to watch out for is the game’s visual reputation gimmick. There are 5 stages in the game and to get to the next one you always have to increase your car’s star value. The max is 10 and you typically need to increase it by 2 for every stage. So if you have run out of levels on a stage that is probably why you haven’t been able to go forward yet. Speaking of which, there are several kinds of races. First are the standard Circuit ones. Just drive to the goal to win. Then you have the best ones which are Drift. Just keep on turning to wrack up points and you’ll usually win the races by a rather huge margin to be honest. Street X races are sort of like mini races. You have to out drive the other cars on a very narrow track. Drag races are the toughest ones as you have to manually switch gears at the perfect time to win. The best thing to do is leave these til the end where you can cheese them with your booster.

The races that advance the plot are the URL ones which are typically a series of 2-3 races. Once you beat them then you move on. I do think it’s a little annoying how the game makes the races so long by the end though. Some races can go on for 6-10 minutes straight so when you lose them you’ve just lost a lot of time. I think a good race should always be 3-4 minutes tops. If you get beyond that then the race is too long. It’s almost a case of having too much content, but it’s under the same logic of how save points should be frequent and easy to access.

The graphics definitely look very solid here. It was definitely an interesting move to have the whole game take place at night. Honestly by the end I was hoping for some daylight levels, but the screens still look good. The cars are quite sharp and I always like the boost effect. It’s safe to say that these areas hold up. Unfortunately the soundtrack does not. I ended up having to turn off most of the music themes in the game and the ones that I left on aren’t exactly great. It’s a very weak soundtrack which isn’t all that surprising as EA in general tends to overdo it with their selection. Still, you don’t hear the tunes quite as much when you’re playing Madden and in general I think that series was better at it.

Overall, Need For Speed Underground 2 is a great racing game. You really can’t ask for much more out of the genre. It’s got a story and over 200 races. There is also a multiplayer mode to have fun with. I see this as being the definitive Need For Speed title, but we’ll see if it can hold on to that. Next up is Most Wanted which seems to have a better story and it finally brings in the pursuit mechanics, but it may come at the expense of a multiplayer mode. Either way I’ll start on that one soon, but with Kingdom Hearts III coming out it may take a little longer to complete than I would have expected otherwise. If you haven’t played this game yet then you should change that. It’s definitely a title that you will want up your sleeve.

Overall 8/10

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge Review


I’m not too familiar with Banjo-Kazooie despite hearing the name a whole lot. The problem is that most of the games never came out for a console that I’ve owned. This is the first installment that I get to play. The lead duo seem fun enough and I’m always up for more platformers. I may have joined this franchise late, but better late than never right? It’s a fun title and one that you won’t want to miss on for the GBA. You don’t have to worry about playing previous games to understand what is going on here.

The plot starts with Gruntilda escaping her rocky grave to enact her revenge on Banjo and Kazooie. She succeeds in kidnapping Kazooie so now Banjo must do whatever he can to get his pal back. Fortunately his friends are around to give him useful tips and transformation techniques so he can succeed at this goal. Once the duo is together again, they vow to put an end to Gruntilda’s plans once and for all. Let the villains try to stop them, nobody can mess with their teamwork!!

The plot is fairly direct as you’d expect. There are 6 worlds and each one has a certain amount of objects to obtain. Grab enough and you can head to the next world. You’ll need 50/60 of them in order to fight the final boss so you can effectively skip a world if you collected them all. I don’t think it is possible to skip the entire world since some orbs can’t be obtained until after you get some other power ups but you can skip a reasonable chunk of them. Each world is connected through a door so by the end of the game the hub world is quite huge. You’ll probably get lost a few times, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and then it’ll all be cake for you.

The levels use an overhead camera and you move as you would expect. You start the game only being able to jump and roll but by the end you can glide, use super jumps, and have an array of other abilities at your disposal. You better make sure your L and R buttons work well because if they’re damaged like mine then the latter levels could be a little tougher than you might expect. Always keep your guard up. None of the levels feel cheesy and there aren’t any bugs that I came across so the game is designed well.

Graphically the game has aged quite well. The character models are on point and the level layouts are nice. There isn’t much to say about the soundtrack, but the themes aren’t bad. On a technical level the game succeeds. I also naturally have to mention that the sound effects used for whenever a character would talk are naturally a blast as well. It reminds me of Yooka Laylee which is likely a homage to this title. Everyone sounds like they’re gargling under water and over the top effects like that are always fun. The only area where the game does get a bit iffy with the replay value though. You’ll be able to easily 100% the game in under 10 hours. At that point there won’t be anything more to do. Still, it’s a fun play through and if anyone ever asks you what a platformer is you can redirect them to this game. It contains everything you would expect to be in a title of this genre. It’s a solid all around title.

I also appreciate how Banjo and Kazzoie both have unique personalities. It feels like some platforming protagonists don’t have a whole lot to say or express during the game. These guys are not like that. Kazooie is the kind of guy who is constantly throwing insults around and he keeps everyone on edge. While getting kidnapped may prevent you from taking his tough talk seriously, it’s always good to have a character like that. Without him the villains would probably walk all over Banjo. In comparison, Banjo’s a very nice guy who is always doing his best. He stays polite through it all and I suppose that this is admirable although he isn’t nearly as much fun as Kazooie.

Aside from the main platforming levels you also have a few minigames which are always fun. One of them is a fishing game where you have to reel in some fish. The timing of it can definitely get tricky and you’ll need to grab a lot of them but it’s a satisfying side mission to grab your attention. Then you also have the slides, there seems to be 1 per world. These are easy but also a nice detour as you try to grab a lot of energy pieces. I’d be game for more little side events like that.

As for the villains, we have two of them in this title. The main villain is Gruntilda who is a witch with a lot of hype. She seems reasonably tough and I do like her confidence. She is a lot better than her sidekick who is a very smart King K Rool type foe, but one who doesn’t command her level of respect. I can see them returning for most if not all of the games in the series.

Overall, Banjo-Kazooie is a fun game. I can see why the series was well liked in the past. The levels are well designed and the gameplay is pretty smooth. It has some unique gimmicks to complement the adventure and you’ll get to use all of your skills as the game goes on. It’s a little on the short side, but I imagine that the main games would have had a lot more content to wrap things up. If you get this game for a good price then it’s certainly worth it. I don’t think this series will be ready for the big hitters quite yet, but I look forward to a modern remake some day.

Overall 7/10

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review


It’s time to look at the recent Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Collection. I’ve played all of the Kingdom Heart games previously but this collection brought a new adventure featuring Aqua and also has a movie which serves as a prequel to the series. As a result, I played those, but didn’t play the Dream Drop Distance remake so my review will not be addressing this one. I also won’t count it towards the score to make it fair despite knowing how the game works. Just a slight disclaimer up front.

Following the events of BBS, Aqua is now in the shadow realm. She been here for many years to the point where she had lost track of time and is slowly falling into the darkness. Still, Aqua has not given up and continues to try to find a way out. Can she escape this place?

0.2 is very short of course as it’s more of a prologue than a full game. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was initially going to be included in KH3 as the intro. It would be an ambitiously long one which would fit the series. It’s a lot of fun and also works well as a preview of how the next KH will play. It has a lot of polish in the gameplay and it’s fun throwing out the ole combos. A new mechanic or a least one that I didn’t remember is that you can now charge up a flurry of energy blasts to send at your opponent. It came in real handy during the final boss. The game is actually fairly difficult as you can’t really grind your level up to make it easy. You’ve just gotta roll with the level that is pre set. There did seem to be at least one cluster of heartless that you could maybe stay with to gain levels but it would take a long time and since the game isn’t very long it wouldn’t be all that worth it.

The graphics are definitely excellent and could pass for being a movie. 0.2 still has the best opening out of all the KH titles as well, managing to beat out KH2 from the top spot. The song is definitely on point and I think it works as a good recap to BBS. These openings have always been very recaps and I look forward to seeing KHIII’s. As expected the soundtrack is also very good. I’ve heard the final boss themes many times as it played during the modded Smash 4’s final destination. It’s a 5 star ost to match the rest of the game.

As far as replay value goes, there isn’t much here but you could try to grab all of the treasure chests and such to make sure you get all the trophies. Beating the game on proud mode will also probably be very hard and time consuming. The game thrives on quality over quantity.

Of course we also have the movie which is about an hour. This serves as a prequel to the whole franchise which is cool. Of course we learned about the Great Keyblade War from BBS, but the movie shows what got the war started. There was a mysterious being who could see the future and he quickly got some pupils. He gave them all different tasks which nobody else could know. Then the master vanished. The prophecies quickly start to create a gap between the pupils and by the end you feel as though the war is inevitable. It’s definitely one of those fairly mysterious films where it doesn’t answer too many of the questions you may have. It’s more about understanding the basic premise of the origin and how we got to the war than exploring the timeline.

It does a good job of doing that and each of the characters got a good amount of personality in this stretch in time. Prophecies can make people paranoid so it’s no surprise that everyone started to turn on each other by the end. They definitely don’t have the bonds that Sora and the others possess. The film is pretty fast paced and it will keep you entertained. I think showing it all at once like this is better than just giving bits and pieces through a game as it would probably be jarring to be fighting Sephiroth and afterwards you are suddenly in a flashback.

Overall, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is definitely a great game. 0.2 is another excellent expansion to the Kingdom Hearts series and the movie was pretty interesting. It is fairly short which just barely keeps it from the 9 but keep in mind that this is all by not counting the first game. For those of you buying the game and haven’t played the first one, then this quite easily jumps up to a 9. Either way I highly recommend buying this game and you better hurry since Kingdom Hearts III is right around the corner.

Overall 8/10

Disney’s Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse Review


It’s time to look at a retro Mickey Mouse game. The moment you boot it
up the game has a nostalgic feeling to it as the graphics are the kind
that you could only find on GameCube. It just looks really hype, alas
there isn’t much gameplay to support that.

The game starts with Mickey going to sleep but then his ghost wakes up
before his body does. Seizing the opportunity, Mickey jumps out of bed
and heads to the world of the ghosts. Unfortunately, the mirror that
he used to leave his human world had been broken by some tricky
ghosts. He will now have to find all of the pieces before he can
leave…or will he?

This game actually had two endings which is pretty interesting. There
are 12 mirror fragments scattered throughout the mansion. Your
mission, should you choose to accept it is to find them all. That will
unlock the good ending. Alternatively you can find most of them,
enough to piece the part of the mirror together with a gap big enough
to jump through. Then you unlock the “bad” ending.

Naturally when I saw that the portal was open after getting most of
the pieces I jumped through. Keep in mind of course that at this point
you aren’t given any indication that the game will end if you do this.
The cutscene starts and you quickly realize that there is no turning
back. The ending is actually a little tragic, almost dark. As you head
through the portal, the ghost begs you not to go but you decide to
leave anyway, all the while wondering if maybe the ghost wasn’t so bad
and just wanted a friend. Either way it’s too late now as there is no
way back.

There isn’t much of a story but what we do get is pretty emotional I
suppose. The whole world is definitely creative as the house has a lot
personality. Think of any classic room you’d expect to have in a
mansion and this place has got it. The levels are fairly large. The
game is very short but the time can be extended a bit if you try to
100% the title. There isn’t much replay value though as beating the
game locks you out of it as a lot of older games used to do.

As I mentioned earlier the graphics are very solid. The art style is
on point and the game just pops out at you. It’s the kind of title
that you just can’t forget. There isn’t much of a soundtrack though so
the graphics have to hold the game up on its own but it is more than
ready to do so.

So this is all well and good, but what about the gameplay? Well,
that’s the part that sinks the game. It’s effectively an I-Spy game.
As a result you aren’t doing a whole lot of actual playing here. In
fact you can’t even move. You click on parts of the screen to try and
move there. Then you click on objects to interact with them. You get
trick points for scaring Mickey which you can then use to attack the
ghost and get a fragment. There are a few issues with this. The first
is that while at the start you will be able to remember which objects
you’ve already tried out, that will be very difficult by the end of
the game where there are a ton of them. This is a problem because the
object interactions never go away so each time is treated as the
first. Some objects have more than one resolution as well. Some need
specific items to activate but you don’t know which item or how to
find them.

The game has a lot of rooms to explore which is good as it shows that
the developers put some effort into making the game as big as
possible. On the other hand, this makes the game feel a lot slower
than it should have been. There is no way to quickly go from room to
room and you better memorize where each of the rooms are because if
you go through the wrong one there is a chance that you won’t be able
to turn back. Some doors only work one way which is definitely not
what you want to see.

I think ultimately what this game was lacking was quality of life
enhancements. 2 simple things that would have increased the game quite
a lot would have been to have added a map so you know where you’re
going and to remove interactions from items you’ve already done. That
way you know which items you’ve done already because they won’t give
you an option to click them. Put these two in and I think I’d give the
game another star. It’d be a lot easier to complete the game that’s
for sure. Difficulty isn’t a problem, but this is really more of a
developmental flaw than a difficulty issue. After all, you can
eventually beat the game, it’ll just take longer. Even if you have to
see the sad ending you’ll probably think it’s worth it to escape the
house of mirrors.

Overall, Mickey’s Mirrors is a pretty nice game. It’s definitely
something that would be easy to have a kid pick up and play. The
concept of I-Spy isn’t that hard after all. I do think kids would get
lost after a while though. I-Spy type gameplay can work pretty well,
but typically it would need to be for a horror esque game or something
like that. Likewise, visual novels work because it’s like you’re going
through a movie. However, you can’t go with this strategy if there
isn’t much of a story to follow. It’s not a bad game, but you can
barely call this a “game” because there is no movement or actions to
take. All you do is click a button and hope for the occasional mini
game to show up. If you can get a good price then go for it, but
otherwise this isn’t the platformer that you might have been
expecting.

Overall 5/10

Rayman Origins Review


It’s time to look at one of the recent Rayman games. You could make a strong case that this is the one which finally put Rayman back on the map. His games had ceased for quite a bit, but this one made him mainstream again. Although, since the character has vanished once more we will need more games like this one. It’s a fun enough title. While lacking some of the charm of other side scrollers it is nonetheless a solid title for all fans of the genre.

The game starts off with Rayman and his friends lounging around on someone’s tree. The poor old lady can’t even think straight with how much noise they are making so she grabs her buddies and goes to confront Rayman. Rayman quickly turns this into a battle, but the senior citizens defeat him and his friends. Rayman must now save his friends and stop whatever heroic/evil plan the old lady has in store. The question you must ask yourself is if you should root for Rayman…or the old lady?

Naturally the gameplay is pretty fun. It’s your classic 2D platformer with a few unique items thrown in to match Rayman’s style. You can throw punches as well as hold for a charged hit. You can glide with your head that functions as a helicopter and in general have a lot of good movement options. You must get to the end of the level and free whatever fairies are trapped. However, just beating the levels will not be enough as you’ll quickly figure out.

There are a lot of roadblocks in the story that serve as a way to artificially extend the game. You need to collect a great number of spirit orbs in order to beat the game. This means that you must either replay most levels at least once or grab a bunch of them during the level. The latter is easier, however you may enjoy each level a little less with how much longer it takes to complete them. I never like when a game forces you to explore like this. You’re effectively penalized for being too good at clearing the levels. I will say that this does enact a heavy toll on the game and is one of the reasons why it falls short of the other platformers.

The other reason is that the story is just pretty bad. I’m talking Crash levels of bad. Rayman is actually not as likable as Crash which I’m shocked about. He’s quick to violence and the guy doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself. It really doesn’t help you think that he is even remotely heroic. I have my doubts after this game. You never get invested into the plot because it is virtually nonexistent and Rayman is too annoying to root for. The game also gets a little iffy with the character designs, adding some fanservice to the fairies that Rayman is saving. I can certainly say that this was not quite how I pictured Rayman to play out.

Still, as I mentioned the core gameplay is fun which is good. The levels are actually pretty solid. If you don’t care about reaching the ending and just play each level straight through you’ll enjoy them a lot more. They only drag on when you have to explore them. As a result, you’ll really look forward to the boss fights which show up during the final levels and the aerial stages. Those are always very short and are fun to get through. It’s the optimal experience if you ask me. Adding in a secondary gameplay style almost always works out for the best so Rayman did a good job there.

Another good thing Rayman did was add the unlimited lives feature. I feel as though this is immensely helpful for the levels given how long they are. You’ll probably die quite a few times so you’ll be glad that you don’t have to backtrack too far. That would get very old very quickly.

I thought the graphics were pretty good. The character designs are on point and the levels are good looking. It’s not as colorful as other games, but that’s likely intentional to get that slightly grittier. I gotta give the soundtrack a thumbs down though. I’m not sure what the game was going for with the various lyrical themes that showed up but they really didn’t mesh well with the game. It got worse whenever you would die since you’d have to hear the theme yet again.

As far as replay value goes, Rayman has quite a bit at its disposal. As you collect orbs new levels open up and you get more unlockables. You get new costumes, characters, etc. Naturally you can also go after all of the PS3 trophies to really try and put yourself at the top. As the story itself is already longer than many platformers this makes for a game with a great amount of content that will last for quite a while.

Overall, Rayman Origins is a mixed bag. As a game it fulfills it’s job of having quality gameplay but aside from that it ends up faltering in the home stretch. It’s not the most complete game so you just have to decide why you are playing it. If you are here for the gameplay then you are all set. If it’s for the overall experience then you may want to look elsewhere. Either way I’ll look forward to the next Rayman title as I feel like it should improve upon the flaws of this one.

Overall 6/10

Owlboy Review


It’s time to look at another one of the Christmas titles. Owlboy is a classic side scroller that you may or may not have heard of. It’s an indie title that managed to make a pretty good name for itself. In this era of nostalgia it’s easy to see how this game could succeed, but even without that element it’s just a sound game through and through. The gameplay is solid and the plot is good. At the end of the day those are the key ingredients in making a solid video game.

The plot starts with an owl named Otus. He’s had a pretty rough time of it as his mentor constantly puts him down with insults. Otus tries hard, but he just can’t seem to get anything right. He is put on watch duty one day but leaves his post and then invaders show up. The kingdom is quickly taken down and naturally Otus is blamed. To be fair, he does deserve some blame here, but based on how quickly the kingdom went down it would not have mattered much anyway. Now Otus must try to secure the 4 relics before the villains do or the entire planet may suffer the consequences. Otus isn’t really a go getter but fortunately his best friend is here to help. Together, along with a few more allies along the way, Otus is ready to finally make a name for himself and prove that anyone can make a difference.

The gameplay is sort of like your typical 2D platformer, but with a twist. The twist is quite massive as you can fly. As Otus, you can zoom across the stage and your main attack is a spin move. You can also carry your partner around which will give you a new attack based on who you are carrying. Whether you obtain a gun, fire, or another attack it definitely increases your options. You can quickly switch from one partner to the next throughout a level based on who will be the most effective to use. The controls when flying are quite smooth and you definitely won’t hear any complaints from me. I will say that the town is a little hard to navigate with how huge it is though. I couldn’t find the shop to get my health upgrade after the tutorial so I had to fight the final boss with the default stats. I still won of course, but the health would have been nice. My game ended up freezing at the end, but fortunately it was after winning so I could end without any doubts.

As the game is named Owlboy you’d probably assume that it is referring to Otus right? Well, that ends up not being the case and it’s interesting to see who the Owlboy really is. With a limited number of characters you’ll probably be able to guess before long, but it’s a good twist nonetheless. The cast is reasonably solid. The best character for me was certainly the main villain. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame that you never get to take him on. He ends up getting his plot resolved through a cutscene so the final boss is someone else who isn’t quite as cool. The main villain’s design was just so solid so maybe he’ll show up again in a sequel or something.

I was less impressed with Otus though. As you may know, I’ve never been a big fan of the more timid characters. I like the aggressive fighters who rush into danger constantly and are always ready for some big fights. That just doesn’t describe Otus even if he does get his big moments at the end. His best friend is also a bit sketchy since he was quick to ditch the cause and tends to panic a lot. I won’t go as far as to say I was rooting for the villains, but I do admit that they were the more interesting characters. Nonetheless, the game will keep you entertained with its story.

Owlboy is fairly short so the plot starts up very quickly. The enemies waste no time in attacking and the plot is always moving. The main game will take you 4-7 hours I’d say but if you try to get all of the gems and such along the way you can extend the time a bit. As a result, there isn’t a whole lot of replay value though. Grabbing all of the trophies in the game will naturally help though and grabbing all of the gems will take a good amount of patience. The game doesn’t sell for $60 though so the reduced price helps complete the package and make it worth the purchase. A good, but quick game is better than a long, but tedious one.

The graphics look pretty nice. The sprites are very clean and polished while the level designs are varied and original. It’s easy to keep up with what’s happening on screen. I thought the soundtrack was decent as well, perhaps not the most memorable but it worked well enough. Owlboy succeeds in its technical merits and as I mentioned the character designs could be quite good. Some nice lighting techniques were used for the main villain to really show how intimidating he was.

Overall, Owlboy is definitely a fun game. While it may not be quite as loud and energetic as something like Shantae, it has its own charm. It’s a very peaceful game to have fun with and the gameplay is pretty unique. Being able to fly almost indefinitely is always tough for the level designers and I think they did a good job of not letting it become too OP. They definitely deserve some kudos there. If you haven’t played this game yet then I’d recommend changing that. This is a solid game that I could recommend to anyone.

Overall 7/10