Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Review

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It’s time to take a look at the Crystal Chronicles. Final Fantasy has had a lot of different game lines over the years and they all seem to perform fairly well. You’ve got Tactics, Chocobo, Crystal Chronicles, The Rhythym music games, and the main line. By completing this game I have finally been introduced to another segment of the series but it certainly pales in comparison to the classic style.

There isn’t much of a plot in this game but I’ll give you the general premise. You start out by picking what kind of job you want to have and in turn what kind of creature you are. After that you travel with a little circus troupe as you purify the world of Miasma. To do this you must go to each area and take a drop from the Legendary tree. You get to the tree automatically by clearing the level and beating the boss. Eventually you will be able to reach the final stage where you must successfully defeat numerous phases of a final boss until you save the world. There are a bunch of subplots and lore that you will run across over the course of the game as you meet with new people. It’s luck based on when you encounter them so just keep running back and forth in the overworld until this happens. One such plot is a black knight who is going around beating people up. From what I could gather, the big boss known as Raem has been eating his memories which is making him go crazy. There’s also a mysterious little fellow who is always lying and stealing whenever he is around. Most of this is filler as you can guess. You never even get to fight the Black Knight even though he is mentioned and hyped up quite a lot.

The gameplay is that of a 3D action title. You hit opponents with your sword/staff or fire off some magic bolts at them in real time. This also means that you can dodge their counter attacks. By all accounts this should be a real good decision on the game’s part since who doesn’t like fighting in real time? Well, it is good but not all that great. Your hits never feel like they have a lot of weight behind them. It’s a more limited version of the .Hack style. Still, it works well enough in the game and nothing is more satisfying than walking into a room with a bunch of enemies and still managing to pick them all off. Divide and Conquer is crucial here.

I think what really hurts this game at times is how much the multiplayer aspect of the game is stressed. You’re meant to play this with a few others as everyone takes a different occupation and you go through the world. You can do this on your own but then it’s like playing the game 4 times over. You also better make sure your allies are as strong as you since the game stacks the difficulty up accordingly for each player. I played solo and can assure you that it took a lot of grinding to get through the final boss. I had to bear virtually every level twice and a few levels for a 3rd time before I finally got strong enough win. Part of the reason why it takes so long is because it doesn’t go by a traditional level up system like most Final Fantasy titles. Instead you obtain artifacts at the end of each level and you choose which one to keep. This will give you a +1,+3 for one specific stat. There are 3 stats in the game, Attack, Defense, and Magic. Alternately sometimes you can choose to get another heart or another command slot which is essentially a quick select for spells and Phoenix Downs. I highly recommend the latter 2 so unless it’s vs a +5 or something then it’s the best bet. You can’t get any artifact twice so only replay each level a few times. Eventually there will be no artifacts left so you’ll be wasting your time. You only get a new memory from each area once every 3 years so you could replay it for equipment, but it’s usually best to do both in one shot so switch up the areas as best you can.

Also, the equipment is very important here aside from the artifacts so try to get yourself a master class weapon and at least a Mythril level Defense & Belt. That’s like getting multiple upgrades so it will save you a lot of time. Getting to the final boss only took around 10 hours, but it took around 5 more hours to get to a level where I could beat him. As it so happens with many RPG games like this one, by the time I grinded high enough to beat him it seems like I went overboard so I didn’t even have to use any of my Phoenix Downs. I ended with about 20 extra, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry right? The bosses can be tricky so you just want to figure out what the best approach is. The game isn’t very straight forward so sometimes it will be handy to look online to see what you need to do. For example you need to use Cure on the memories in the final level to unlock your super attacks and the minions only respawn in the second last phase if you beat both so just take down one of them. Be warned in the final phase that you can accidentally heal the boss with your cures so definitely try to avoid that.

I dare say that the game’s biggest weakness here is the plot. You can make a case for the terrible level up system as well of course, but you really expect a dynamic plot from Final Fantasy. Sure, we get little cutscenes before each level as a narrator talks about how great the places used to be, but it’s just all very dull and boring. The actual characters have no personality and everyone is just going through the motions. There is never a sense of danger at all and the game simply isn’t cinematic, but at the same time it isn’t colorful like a Nintendo game either. It’s like playing a game full of exposition with nothing ever coming out of it. If you look really hard at the mini cutscenes and optional side quests then sure you’ll probably understand the lore, but there’s still nothing epic about it. I want a real plot, whether it be a slice of life one like in Sword Art Online or an end of the world adventure like Sonic The Hedgehog 2006. At least give me something.

There is a good amount of content here so I can’t really critique the game on that aspect. You can keep playing this game for a very long time if you want to get all of the artifacts. Especially since you won’t know what the level’s mission is until you beat it and that affects which artifacts you get. If you want to see the mission then you need to get your GBA ready and connect to the game. Again, they put too much of an emphasis on this connection part if you ask me. If the game had decided to be a little more self contained then I really think that it would have ended up being a whole lot better. Instead it just limits itself. I can’t see myself going back to the game for any of this, but if you really enjoyed the experience then go for it.

The graphics aren’t very good, but it’s mainly because of the artistic direction that the game went in than with the actual effort. The character designs are on the chibi design and none of the creatures look particularly threatening aside from the final boss. At least that guy seems pretty intense and it’s a monster design that is memorable. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t particularly good either. I can’t think of a single good theme in the game and that’s really a bad sign. Final Fantasy is known for its stellar soundtracks so I was actually rather surprised that this one didn’t hold up so well.

Overall, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles really wasn’t for me. The gameplay isn’t bad, but I did have an issue with the level up system and the sheer amount of grinding to beat the game. I’m not usually opposed to grinding, but when your upgrades depend on luck and the game doesn’t tell you much then it can be rather annoying. It becomes a bit of a chore to play the game once you enter the end game as even the old levels get buffed to the point where the enemies are stronger than the ones in the final dungeon. Throw in the fact that the plot was so weak and there isn’t much reason to play this RPG. If you want a good action game then check out Legend of Zelda. If you want a big plot experience then play a main Final Fantasy title. There’s just no room for the Crystal Chronicles and I’m hoping that the Wii game is a little more fun.

Overall 5/10

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Family Game Night 3 Review

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It’s time to look at an old party game I have for the PS3. Oddly enough, even though I played the games back in the day I never bothered to actually upload it to the site or anything. Well, it was a good excuse to go back and replay the game for the review, but unfortunately it isn’t as good as I remembered it and I already knew that it was a bad game. I dare say that this could be the worst party game of them all and that’s saying something. At the very least it gives the bottom tier ones some competition.

There are 5 minigames total. That’s already a pretty sad number when you consider that this is a PS3 game. I mean, you could have a little excuse for this if it was for an older system, but for the PS3 I expect more. There is nothing else to do in this game so if you’re looking for some good replay value look elsewhere. I mean, I suppose you could go after the Platinum trophy, but you’ll have to sink in a decent amount of hours for that and with how many luck based trophies there are it could be a while. I think you can cheese most of them through two player mode if it helps. You will also be gathering some Potato Head costumes along the way which I guess should be interesting.

Lets look at the actual games though as a party title lives or dies on those. We’ll start with 2 of the good ones. The first is Twister. It’s pretty self explanatory except they misspelled Dance Dance Revolution. After all this Twister game is nothing like Twister. You hit the right buttons as they pass the screen. It’s the exact gameplay of a DDR game, but without having to actually dance and hit the buttons yourself. It’s an easier way of doing it, but less engaging. Still, on its own I actually like this minigame. There was a reasonable amount of effort put behind it and the core gameplay is just fun. Not to mention that there is less waiting on this one since I believe each player tries to match the notes simultaneously.

The next minigame is Yahtzee. This one must be easy to develop or something since it seems to be the old standby for pretty much all of the party games on the block. Well, that’s not a bad thing I suppose since the gameplay isn’t half bad. The problem is that they add a Hands Down! mechanic where you have to get a certain combo and then fight someone with the same one. I don’t get the point of this and it just takes away some of the fun. It drags the games out more than they should be since it forces everyone to keep going until 2 people have the exact card combination. Of course dragging things out is exactly what this game likes to do as you’ll see in the next 3 games.

Next up we have got Mouse Trap which is basically a movie. You roll the dice and move through the board that has no ending. The goal is to pick up a lot of cheese which you get by landing on a cheese spot. Thing is, you can’t control anything except for dodging some traps by pressing x at the right time. Beyond that, you just follow the dice and keep on rolling until you get your cheese. This can take over 15 minutes, likely longer if you play multiplayer. The problem is that the cheese traps take your cheese away and the odds of getting a lucky roll to land on the cheese 6 times is quite low. At least, it’s low if you want to finish at a reasonable time. I think my problem with this is that you aren’t really doing anything so is it really a game at that point? It’s 100% luck and that’s not cool. There is absolutely no point to the game and it takes too long to finish. Making it more interactive would have helped a lot.

Life falls into the same traps. This one has you on a long, straight board without any real mixups or elements to make it interesting. You want to retire and whoever does so first wins. So, to do that you spin the dice and watch where the road takes you. You do get some slight options like choosing 3 cards out of 9 but they are all random so you can’t see what it is anyway and then you pick your favorite card which will give you some effects. You won’t know which effect you’ll be getting though since you have to wait until you roll the dice for that. Everything is just so random and nothing is explained properly. It’s another really boring auto game where nothing is happening.

Finally we have Clue. This one is a slight improvement over the last 2 but not by much. At least you are trying to solve a case and you can choose in what direction you move. On the other hand, a lot of time is wasted for the many special effects that happen every turn. Whenever someone turns on the lights we get a cutscene and either a suspect is eliminated or one of the players will lose a turn. Either way it takes up time and if someone rolls a house party effect then everyone is reset back to their original positions. This is the longest cutscene by far as it’s almost a full minute and the computer activated it multiple times during our encounter. The minigame is pretty faithful to the board game, but it’s nowhere near as fun.

Family Game Night just didn’t realize how to make the board games fun in video game format and that is the big problem here. The game could and should have been a lot of fun, but instead it is just too drawn out. There are also loading times between every game that take up a lot of time. It’s the same cutscene for each loading time as well which doesn’t help matters. Each game also gets an unskippable intro that isn’t as amusing as it seems to think it is. The game is definitely not optimized.

As far as the graphics go, it’s certainly not PS3 level. I doubt that a lot of serious effort was put into this game. It was probably slapped together very quickly and rushed out to stores for the $$$. Hopefully it didn’t work as I can’t imagine buying it for full price and then realizing how terrible it was. At least Game Night 4 heavily improved upon this game but there is still no excuse for starting out this badly. At least give us a good soundtrack!

Overall, This game is brutal. I’m not going to mince words here, the game is terrible! There’s no heart behind the game and the actual game selection is bizarre. You shouldn’t have 3/5 of the games be all about rolling the dice and hoping that you get the right number. It probably saves on production costs since the games are so similar, but it’s not great from a player perspective. There won’t be any point where you are actually enjoying this game enough to justify buying it. I highly recommend avoiding it and if you want a decent party game check out the Mario Party series. That one gets in a proper balance of skill and luck while also making sure that no minigame overstays its welcome. That’s how you make a party game.

Overall 3/10

Dark Angel Review

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It’s time to look at a PS2 movie tie-in to a TV series that I never actually got around to watching. It seems like a cool premise though. It’s basically Maximum Ride but taking place in a futuristic setting. I can get behind that. The actual game mixes stealth with the beat em up genre for interesting results. Honestly I think it would have certainly been sufficient to have just been a beat em up, but I suppose the stealth aspects make sense with the actual plot of the game.

So the story follows Max (You won’t be able to forget her name since it is mentioned a few times for every single level) as she wants to rescue the other people who was kidnapped by the I-Corporation and experimented on. Among those were her sisters. Max broke out (In the show I’m guessing) but now she must head back to face her fears once more. Logan helps her from the sidelines as he tries to shut off some security cameras here and there. He’s basically tech support and I suppose he does go into the field once in a while. Can Max really save her family?

One thing to note here is that in the future the government fell apart thanks to some kind of nuclear situation so now corporations run the world. I-Corp is one of those along with a second one that I’m forgetting. Both sides are evil and do experimentation so you have to decide who to root for. In this case we are going after I-Corp, but apparently Max destroyed a good chunk of the other side prior to the game so she has done a good job of taking out any corporation that stands against her.

The gameplay is very straight forward when it comes to combat. You can punch, kick, and throw. Jumping is also useful even if the jump isn’t very high. You can run and then jump+kick to unleash a devastating tackle that will knock any opponent over. This is really useful for when a bunch of enemies are after you as they have no real counter to this. If you don’t mind taking a little while you can bear all of the enemies this way. To prevent you from cheesing the game for each level though, some will have a time limit for which you can beat the enemies. Just keep mixing up your punches and kicks to resist enemy throws and you’ll be okay. Whenever possible I would ignore the stealth option and just barrel into groups of enemies. Some groups I just barely beat with 1 second left, but that’s the kind of intensity that you want to see. Also, I didn’t quite understand the stealth part for a little while since the game never explains it.

Basically if you crouch from behind an enemy and attempt to throw them it will result in a one hit KO. This is really useful if there are a bunch of enemies. You can take them all out one at a time this way. Otherwise if you just attack one then every enemy in the room will rush at you which can be around 6 and they can take a lot of health out of you if you aren’t careful. 2 of the last levels mix this formula up a bit though as stealth isn’t optional. If you are spotted then you are sent back to the very beginning. These levels can be a little on the long side so I can definitely confirm that it’s in your best interest to proceed with caution. A good technique for mixing the enemies up is just randomly jumping and then running off to hide. It will change their current pattern into one that may be easier. Of course it could get harder so proceed with caution.

To help in your stealth missions you are given some stealth gun ammo. This is a one hit KO to any opponent so it’s a good way to cheese these stealth missions. It is a tactical gamble though as you don’t get a whole lot of ammo. I believe you get around 20 shots for the duration of the game or something like that. Use your ammo wisely. I had already spent all of mine before the last big stealth mission, but I’d say that I did a good job of making it last when you consider how many levels there are. You also have other gadgets like a walkie talkie to lure the enemies closer and health packs which are self explanatory. As with many stealth games you just want to make these items really count.

As far as the characters go, we have a good cast here. Max is definitely a great main character. All of her dialogue is basically mocking all of the minions as she beats them up. She certainly isn’t above hitting someone who’s down as we even see that in a cutscene near the end so it isn’t just gameplay mechanics. She’s had a tough past but has definitely gotten past it and turned into a good hero. Logan is all right. I’m not a fan, but I guess he is useful. I can’t say much about the sisters as they don’t appear until near the end, but Beka was cool. She’s probably the best character after Max. She can certainly fight pretty well too.

The graphics look pretty sharp. A good amount of budget probably went into the cutscenes as they are full cinematics so no text cop outs. I mean, you get a text cutscene at the beginning of each level as well, but so long as you get both that isn’t an issue. The visuals are quite nice and I just wish we could have gotten more outdoor levels as towards the end they all feel a little cramped. The game had reasonable variety though. The soundtrack is definitely pretty solid. A little on the generic side, but nonetheless the combat themes were quite fast and really suck you into the moment. It makes the battles more fun.

There is no real replay value here though. There’s no level select and no collectibles to acquire. Basically once you complete the game that is it for your adventure. You have no more reason to play at all. With 22 levels I’d say that this game should last you around 4-5 hours. It will depend on how long some of the tougher levels take you as one took me around an hour before I finally had it beat. It’s no walk in the park and the game’s difficulty is pretty fair. It’s just enough to make you try but not too crazy either.

Overall, Dark Angel is definitely a fun game. The TV show definitely sounds pretty interesting if it’s like that. Max is basically a super soldier after all so that should make for some good action scenes. Hopefully the special effects were on point for that. Considering that I got the game for a few bucks I would say that this was a bargain. If you are looking for a quality action game to get for cheap then this is definitely the one for you. It’s just such a solid action game. Who knows, maybe it’ll get a sequel someday.

Overall 7/10

Domino’s Piece of the Pie Pursuit Review

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After a lot of procrastinating I finally got around to playing the new Domino’s game. After all if it’s something that will help you earn Pizza points how could I refuse? It’s definitely got a little effort put into it but I wouldn’t say that the game is all that amusing. I don’t see myself ever replaying it after all. Still, if you’re looking for a motion game where you have to move carefully through the obstacles then this will be right up your alley.

There are 6 levels here and each one is a little different. For example one of them plays out like a Monkey Ball level as you try to avoid the holes in the ground and roll to the goal. It’s probably the most well thought out level. I’ve always liked that game series as it can get quite difficult but never unfair. Some points in this level are incredibly difficult but fortunately there are constant checkpoints so you never have to go too far back. That’s something that I definitely appreciated from the game. Without the checkpoint I’m sure that the game wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

Another level has you controlling a balloon as you glide from place to place. It’s a pretty interesting concept as you use the fans to keep it on course. It seems difficult to win this level without dying though as the balloon has a tendency to get into bad angles but fortunately the checkpoint fixes that.

Next to we have a level where you manipulate really small balls to try and go down the tunnel. You have to get 10 balls into the correct hole in multiple phases. It’s a pretty fun level although it’s also rather easy as you appear to have an infinite amount of balls. The level is less interesting than the last 2.

The most bland level in the game is probably one where you have to roll sideways from platform to platform. You’ll certainly get there eventually, you just gotta keep going. There’s also a 3D roller where you move from side to side. It’s pretty similar to the Monkey Ball level but with less control so it’s not quite as good. Still not a bad level though.

As far as the graphics go the game looks okay. It’s like what you would expect from a tech demo or something. The colors are clear and everything looks as it should but the actual objects are super basic. Nothing wrong with that but of course it does make it fairly easy for the graphics to look good so don’t go thinking that it’s because this is a AAA game or anything.

There isn’t really a soundtrack here. There is one static theme that keeps showing up a lot but that’s about it. It’s fairly calm and peaceful though so it fit the levels well. Let’s talk about the real trouble here though. There is basically no replay value to be found here. That’s because the 6 levels is all the content in the game. You can’t earn any extra rewards either so the only possible reason to play the games again is to increase your star rank. I don’t know about you but I don’t think that is a good enough incentive to keep me playing. The game is free so it’s not like you lose any money but make no mistake, you’ll only be playing around for about 10 minutes and then after that the game will be over.

Overall, It’s cool that Domino’s made their own game. All things considered I think that they put a decent amount of effort into it. As most people will be playing it for the coupon I’m glad that it doesn’t take too much effort to get it. It’s not a game that I expect I will ever play again but I’d recommend downloading it. Pizza doesn’t get much better than Domino’s so this coupon is definitely pretty handy.

Overall 5/10

Kirby & The Amazing Mirror Review

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I have wanted this Kirby game for a very long time. It always looked like a lot of fun since the cover was so exciting and that’s how I judged games back in the day. Alas, the title was 25 dollars and that’s not exactly chump change when you’re a kid. Still, I saved up and over 20 years later I was finally able to snag it. Unfortunately this game does not live up to the hype. Nintendo messed around with the gimmicks a little too much once again and as a result this game is rather messy. There’s a great final boss as always, but the game is just lacking that wholesome feel to it.

The plot of the game is that Kirby has been thrown into the Mirror World and split into 4. He must now team up with himself to save the planet and stop the darkness from consuming it. I do like the plot as teaming up with yourself is always the smartest possible move. You just can’t go wrong there. Of course, you have to take the plot at face value as there will be no more cutscenes at all until the climax of the game. Clearly you are supposed to be playing this game for the gameplay and not the riveting story. Certainly not a bad thing, but worth pointing out.

The gameplay is your typical Kirby experience as you run and jump while going through the levels. You can absorb all of the enemies and most of them will give you super powers. You can only use one ability at a time though so don’t try and overdo it with absorbing everybody or you’ll end up with a weaker move than the one you already had. If you are playing on single player mode then you can use the R button to call in the other 3 at the expense of 1 Wifi Bar. They are extremely OP in this game so if you want to beat a boss really quickly just call them in. Typically they will restore you to full health and also beat the boss in under a minute. Even the final boss is no match for the Kirby crew. Meanwhile you can use the L button to leave a level. Why would you possibly want to leave a level? Well, that’s where things get a little interesting.

This game doesn’t have typical start to finish levels like most Nintendo games. Instead it went the Metroid route (Why would you do that?) and the level just segways into a bunch of others, but they are also connected. Unlike Metroid you do get a bunch of different teleport areas which will take you from place to place so that’s a start. At first the game will be a rather tough experience as there are dozens of entryways to explore. Once you find a portal and activate it you can use it from the hub world. Naturally this does mean that the game will get a lot easier as you go through it. The first 2-3 world keys took me forever to get, but the last 3 were done in a snap because there just weren’t many paths left. It’s not really my cup of tea though. The intro would have certainly been a lot easier if I had realized the perks of each special ability though. Fire Comet lets you break metal blocks in front of you while stomp handled the ones beneath. Most abilities have some kind of purpose to them so just remember where you can find the enemy with the ability that you need. If not, each teleport chamber has 2 abilities so the more that you find, the easier access you have to them. I spent a ton of time just running around without a clear direction because I couldn’t find out how to get past the blocks. If you know which abilities to use from the start that should help considerably.

The graphics are pretty solid and do the Kirby characters justice. The sprites have aged really well and the colors are very easy to look at. You won’t have to squint at the screen and wonder what is happening at any point in the adventure. Likewise the soundtrack is also pretty solid as we get some nice boss themes and level music. It’s really no surprise as Nintendo excels in these two categories, but always nice to see nonetheless. Of course, since the game was so light on cutscenes that probably did free up the budget for everything else.

As far as the length is concerned, I was certainly satisfied. Thanks to the maze like structure of the game I doubt you will be speed blitzing through this title. A lot of the levels involve trial and error as you choose one way the first time and a different one on the second try. Once you get the maps for each world that eliminates such an approach but the irony is that you probably won’t find them until you are nearly at the end anyway. I ended up beating the game while still missing 4-5 of the maps so ultimately they weren’t a huge factor. As far as replay value goes, collecting the rest of the collectibles is naturally the main incentive. That should take a reasonably long amount of time.

Overall, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror is probably the weakest Kirby game. It’s very close between this one and the Rainbow title, but the latter did have a better story. Still, the game holds up decently. It’s just one of those titles that has a really dicey start so you just have to endure it until you’re in the second half. It’s the same situation as Digimon World Next Order for example as your Digimon have to constantly use the bathroom and everything at first, but by the end it’s better. Still, you can certainly find better platformers so buy this Kirby game only if you’ve already played all of the others.

Overall 6/10

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Review

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It’s time to look at the Terminator game. This one is based on the 3rd film and also acts as a prequel. It’s a story that naturally takes place in a rather dark environment since Skynet broke the lights. I was a little worried since my tv can’t handle the darkness all that well. Level 2 was incredibly difficult for that reason but after fiddling with the settings for a while the levels were finally bright enough to see. It’s a fun game that may not do everything right but succeeds in enough areas to be called a success.

The game starts off with you playing as the Terminator and blowing up a bunch of robots. The humans have reprogrammed you to be on their side. Then they learn that Skynet is sending their best assassin to the past to eliminate John Conner and his wife. They send the Terminator in pursuit but can he really defeat what is essentially a more upgraded version or himself?

As you might assume this is a 3D shooter. You grab various weapons over the course of a level and blow up all enemy robots on your way to victory. Each level will have a series of objectives and upon completing them you will move on to the next level. It’s important to realize that the mission is the priority so you never have to worry about defeating all of the enemies. If you are supposed to destroy a building and are about to die then quickly destroy it anyway as the success will sometimes override your death. That helped me out once or twice.

If you ever run out of ammo you can swing the base of your gun or throw some punches but that shouldn’t happen with how much ammo is usually going thrown around. Just remember to pick it up every time you defeat an enemy and you should be fine. My favorite weapons are the ones that leave a nice explosion as even if they don’t defeat the enemies they will knock them over which gives you time to finish the job. What you don’t want is to be put in a situation where all of the robots are blasting at you since your health bar will be torn to shreds. One of the weapons allows you to equip two at once which is handy since you knock them down with one while you blast them with the other. Finally, if you’re about to die anyway I recommend using the missile launcher since it will beat any enemy in a single hit and even a lot of the large robots will go down in 2. The catch is that it only has 3 ammo and fires really slowly so don’t use it if you are surrounded.

The gameplay changes into a 2D brawler for boss fights and that was a real highlight. The levels are few, but you can tell that some effort was put into them. You can toss the enemy around and can mix up your punches and kicks for various combos. It definitely got me thinking that a Terminator fighting game would be really good. There is just so much that you can do with the concept and I’m sure it would be a success. The boss fights aren’t particularly tough for the most part, but I did come close to dying in the last fight.

The graphics are pretty solid. The energy effects are nice and vibrant while the levels are nice recreations of the movie. The character models are a little more on the humorous side to be honest but they still at least resemble who they are supposed to be. Assuming your TV is on point you will definitely be able to appreciate the effort here. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a soundtrack but what was there was pretty sound. It works pretty well for the action scenes.

The main campaign should take you a few hours. There are 22 levels in the game and their length varies significantly. Some levels can be around 10 minutes or longer while others are barely a minute. In some cases a level will just take longer than it should because you might end up getting lost as the compass isn’t always 100% reliable. The toughest level in the game is certainly the escort mission where you have to protect John. He has the A.I. of a level one computer as he will walk into the line of fire without a gun and will die to a pair of bullets. That stage must have taken me at least 20 tries. Another aspect that makes this level tough is how you aren’t allowed to destroy any of the humans firing at you. This means you can only shoot each human once which is tougher than it sounds as it isn’t always obvious that you have already hit them once. The best advice I could give here is just to take it slow.

There isn’t a great deal of replay value after beating the story. All that I can think of is trying to find the second mini game to unlock. I don’t know about you but that isn’t a huge incentive for me to be honest. Still you can probably get this game for a cheap price and if so I would definitely recommend it. Yeah, the game is basically a cash in but it’s a fun one that put in some effort. You won’t regret the purchase.

Overall, Terminator has always been a really fun franchise. You don’t have to stretch your imagination to see how it would lend itself well to a video game. Hopefully a new Terminator game comes out soon because now there is only one modern title that I am missing. Ah well, I still have that one to look forward to at least. That was likely my last mech game for a while so at least the genre ended on a high note.

Overall 7/10

Phalanx Review

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It’s time to look at an old GBA game that decided it would be a good idea to get rid of the continue option. It tries to go for a very authentic arcade feel as you have to try and go through the whole game with one shot of lives. Granted, it does autosave your progress so if you die on level 6 with and used up 2 lives in the attempt, that’s how you’ll spawn. Ideally you will get so good at the game that eventually you would clear the game and reach the ending. That would be impressive because I can assure you that this game is no walk in the park. It will take quick reaction times and a whole lot of heart.

The plot is rather vague and you only get about 3 cutscenes in the whole game. It seems that alien machines are trying to destroy the worlds and you have to stop them. Fortunately that won’t be too much of an issue for our hot shot pilot Rick. He is willing to risk his life to save his planet and that’s what it takes to be a real hero. You have to appreciate the guy’s passion through and through. Still, it’s as cookie cutter a plot as you can get so you will be playing this game for the gameplay.

It’s a traditional 2D shooter. You are always in the air and the screen is constantly moving so you can’t take your time. On the other hand, this also means you can’t go too fast as you wait for the screen to catch up. The only time it will typically stop is for a boss fight. Then you maneuver as you please to dodge the attacks. There is usually a good amount of room so you don’t have to worry about bumping into things. The average level is around 5-7 minutes long and there are 8 levels total. The game will last you about an hour if you’re a whiz at the gameplay and a little longer if you die a lot. It’s not a long time, but you don’t expect much more length out of this genre.

You have your primary weapon which is a typical energy gun, but you will pick up a bunch of other weapons along the way. Rockets, Energy Balls, etc. When you get hit by an enemy you lose one of your 4 health points along with your current weapons. You can stock up to 3 weapons I believe so choose them carefully. You will likely think that some weapons are better than others so if you see an enemy drop a bad one sometimes it is best to just leave it. You also get bombs which wipe the screen of weak enemies and weaken the tough ones. Your 3 bombs are refilled whenever you get a health item so quickly spam them before making contact with it. I also recommend stocking up on lives during the earlier part of the game since you will need them for the end.

Another thing to watch out for is the ceiling. The game’s lighting can be quite deceptive so it’s possible to be ramming into a cliff and not know it. You’ll quickly be tipped off as you take damage and die though. I think the visual effect is intentional because the cliffs shouldn’t camouflage so well. That’s just mean to the player if you ask me. The gameplay is quite sound all things considered though. I enjoyed playing through the game. It’s the kind of title that I wouldn’t stick around to try and complete without being able to use a continue, but still a good arcade title nonetheless. I probably would give it a try at one of the ole machines.

There isn’t much replay value as you can probably expect. After all, Story Mode is the only thing to do and it’s simply an hour. Fortunately I got this game for about a dollar so that’s a good bargain. I did think that the soundtrack was far better than I had ever expected it to be. The fast paced rock theme really gets you into the levels. The visuals are on point as well and on a technical level the game even looks worthy of the DS. I’d say that they spared no expense here. While there are no bonus features, you can’t say that the developers didn’t treat this game with a whole lot of care and grace.

Overall, Phalanx is a fun shooter. It is not the best in the market nor will it ever be, but it doesn’t make any real mistakes. It is a fun experience for however long it lasts you and I’d recommend picking it up if the price is right. It’s not a game I will forget very soon even if it was one of the shortest games I’ve played in ages. If it ever gets a big sequel/remake I would be interested in seeing how they enhance the plot. Adding in a continue feature would also help the game considerably.

Overall 7/10

Little League World Series Baseball 2010 Review

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It’s time to look at a Little League game! Typically you expect to be playing with the pros so this was certainly a change of pace. As a result the gameplay is a little less realistic and aims to just be a lot of fun. I had a good time with the game even if it feels like there is a lot of luck at play when you are up to bat. There is an actual campaign so that is fun even if there isn’t much of a story. The goal is what you would expect, conquer the season and win the World Series. There are around 26 matches to go through so do your best to go all the way.

As I mentioned the gameplay can be a little suspect. It got better by the end though and I couldn’t tell if it was because I spent a lot of upgrades on batting or if I was doing a better job of aiming where I wanted to hit. From what I gathered, you typically want to aim up and start charging at the last second to hit the ball when the bat is blue. This still isn’t full proof but it seems to be your best bet. Aiming low never worked at all for me and I don’t recommend bunting either. When it comes to fielding you don’t need to worry because it’s basically automatic. The fielders will run and retrieve the ball for you. All you have to do is throw to the bases if it’s a clean hit. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is the kind of game you can play while reading a book. Of course you will want to take the last few games a little more seriously since if you lose it is all over.

One thing to make a note of is your original character has a special ability. Each team has one player called the Star Player. By using all 3 sections of his Talent Gauge the bat will turn blue and just hitting the ball will make it a home run. I recommend saving your gauge for this moment every time because the normal gauge hits barely change anything. At least this way you’ve got a guaranteed run which could be the difference between victory and defeat. There are also items in the game known as cards but I played without them so I can’t say that I know too much about how they work. Based on the card summaries they seem like they will certainly make the game more explosive.

There are also a few other modes like multiplayer exhibitions and even a training mode thrown in. The multiplayer mode helps the replay value at least along with all of the trophies you need to collect. They aren’t all that hard but they certainly are time consuming so I can’t say that I plan to grab all of them anytime soon. The main story is around 6 hours long which is fairly decent. All in all, there is a good amount of content to keep you busy here.

There are also a lot of advanced techniques you can use in the game which are sure to make you a better player. I played through all of the tutorials at the very end for the trophies and I definitely didn’t know about 80% of the techniques there. If you utilize them all then it’ll make the game feel even more complete and well rounded. Good luck pulling it all off against some of the trickier opponents, but it’s still nice to have.

Then we have the graphics. The game looks pretty good. The character designs are on point and I like how my original character Terry came out. The visual effects for the hits were solid as well and in general the game was just very clear. I can’t say that I had any complaints here. As with most sport games, the soundtrack was fairly bland. Aside from a catchy main menu theme, you won’t hear much music during the actual games. I do understand this as it probably would overshadow the commentary and the grunts, but more music is rarely ever a bad thing.

Overall, Little League will take a little while to grow on you. It may have a slow start, but once your team is upgraded you will be hitting like a champ. As always pitching is really the stressful part as sometimes the opposing team will suddenly go on a roll. I found it helpful to already do a low charged pitch to the side where the player is holding the bat. They seem to have a lot of trouble with that. If I get 2 strikes in a row like that, then I would throw a slow pitch which usually trips them up. Use my sips wisely and you too can be a champ. If you don’t own a whole lot of Baseball games or you simply want a change of pace then this is a good one to check out. Little League does a good job of differentiating itself from most others in the genre.

Overall 7/10

Mario Hoops 3 on 3 Review

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It’s time to look at a relatively obscure Mario game known as Hoops 3 on 3. Basketball and Football are the two big sports that never got a home console game to themselves and at this point I’m wondering if they ever will. Nintendo has been moving away from sport titles after all and maybe they just didn’t know how to pull it off in a satisfying way. Ah well, at least when I get Sports Mix, I’ll get a taste of what a basketballl game would have been like. Hoops does do a good job on the DS though and is a lot of fun so I’ll take what I can get.

The game really focuses on tournament mode and vs mode. I believe that there may be a mini game mode as well but I didn’t end up trying that one. There are 4 tournaments to play through and each of them have 3 rounds except for the final tournament which is 4 rounds. This is less than most Mario sport games which tend to have 6 tournaments but I suppose it’s because the developers wanted to make sure it didn’t get tedious. 4 tournaments is a fine number I suppose.

The game is definitely meant for those who are right handed as you use the control stick/pad to move and then you use the stylus to shoot or pass. You can also dribble faster by tapping the screen a lot which I did for fun a lot, but never in a way that was particularly useful. It was just a lot of fun to tap away. You are able to use super attacks which can’t miss and can’t be blocked, but I couldn’t figure out how to use it. I chalked it up to cheesy A.I. game mechanics and called it a day. There are a bunch of techniques that I didn’t learn here and I suppose I could have finished the tutorial, but why bother right? I can beat these guys using pure fundamentals!

Each game is 5 minutes long which is divided into two halves. For the first 2 tournaments you will probably want to consider just holding onto the hall and not scoring after you take the lead to make the game go quicker. After all, scoring just prolongs the game so if you have a safe lead then you don’t need to go further. Do make sure that it’s a safe lead though as a normal shot is worth 20 points and any coins that have been accumulated by the enemy are added to the total. You can easily see a 40 point lead get wiped away with a single shot. For my gameplay tip, I would recommend running to the bottom side of the court and just running back and forth. The computers usually can’t catch you and if they get bold and try to undercut you, just head up. This strategy is close to full proof for 50% of the game.

The game definitely went all out when it comes to the visuals and the sound. The graphics are on point and have aged really well for the DS. The character models are sound and a nice amount of effort went to the gameplay elements like the actual basketball and the courts. Everything is very vibrant which is nice to see. Same goes for the soundtrack. It’s fun to hear all of the iconic Mario themes like Bowser’s Airship. We even get a brand new song which talks about how they are all heroes. It’s definitely catchy and I hadn’t been expecting a lyrical song like this one to pop up. I’m certainly glad that it did though as the song gives the game more personality. Then we’ve also got Mario’s sound effects. He talks a little more than usual here like even speaking during the song. Most impressive for the usually silent main character.

As far as the length goes, that is naturally less impressive. The tournaments will take you a little less than 2 hours. This means that the game will live or die on its replay value. You do unlock the tournaments for a second time which you can try clearing on hard mode. I’m sure that would be a reasonably fun challenge. Then the rest of the replay value is in fighting other players in vs mode. Definitely a longer experience back when the DS servers were still functional. Still it will be a fun 2 hours so if you can get the game for a good price then you will be set. 25$ is certainly pushing it though so I’d recommend thinking long and hard about it. I suppose it beats most other 25$ purchases if you look away from the medium though.

Overall Mario Hoops 3 on 3 may be a very short title but it is quite polished. A good amount of effort was put into the game. The basketball gameplay is on point and it could be used exactly how it was here in a new Switch game at some point. I do like how they made longer shots a little more realistic to score as you can shoot a ball from very far away and then jump after it go force the ball in. It wouldn’t have gone in without your intervention so that’s why jumping after it is extremely important. Against a real opponent you will definitely have to huddle since they will have the same idea. In this game you feel powerful on both offense and defense which is important. There are also quite a few advanced gameplay mechanics that will help you out once you take the time to learn them. When you buy the game, prepare yourself for the intense secret final boss!

Overall 7/10

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Review

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The famous Professor Layton has finally found himself on the 3DS. While the last game may have not been quite as good as the others the series has never disappointed with its puzzles. This game is no exception and is a fine way to continue the story. At long last we are even introduced to the tragic past of Layton and 5 games in you could say that we were about due for it. This is the first Layton game to have fun switching up the gameplay style as well as we get a 3D racing level and also some overhead Mummy fights. I think Level 5 definitely has the right idea here as throwing in an occasional level like this is pretty fun.

This Layton game starts out with the hero receiving a letter from his old friend Angela. She wants him to hurry over because a villain known as the Masked Gentleman has popped up and is performing dark miracles on the town like turning people into horses and warping people away. Layton heads over but the place brings bad memories. The past that he had hoped to forget had finally caught up to him and he will have to face his fears head on!

The game plays out like some of the recent superhero shows as we jump from the present to the past a lot. For example one chapter will be in the present while another is in the past. In that sense, you could say that Layton solved the present mystery a bit quicker than usual. I suppose the number of viable suspects wasn’t too large so that helped his case. There were really 3 Big suspects here. First is the childhood friend Angela who seems obsessed with the Mask of Order and seems eager to give it to the gentleman. Next is Randall, the kid from Layton’s past who seemingly died, but his body was never found. Then there is Randall’s butler Henry who snagged his treasure and best friend after he died. With the whole town at stake Layton can’t afford to just sit around.

It’s a pretty solid story for sure. Layton’s backstory is definitely rather tragic. He did give up hope even while the other two friends kept looking for Randall, but I guess from a scientific point of view his odds weren’t great. He has been gone for a while after all. Layton chose to forget about the place for around 18 years until now. Layton did do everything that he could though. He would have been able to save Randall had the kid only let go of his treasure. Instead we saw that it was worth his life. It’s just hard to feel bad for him especially since he never had his priorities straight in life. Even if it made everyone worried he wanted to be rich so he would lie to everyone and take huge risks. It was only a matter of time before this caught up with him.

As with the last game we get a teaser for the next one. It’s the biggest teaser yet and that makes sense since the next game ends the trilogy. One last Aztec adventure for the heroes. In the clip we see the main villain of the prequel trilogy be defeated by a new villain. The new villain now has all of the locations needed to destroy the world. This next installment is definitely going to be a blast! The series has mostly been realistic with you just having to suspend disbelief for a bit at times. It’ll be interesting to see if the villain defies that in the next movie. After all, the villain that he defeated was able to contend with rapid bullet fire and that’s no easy feat.

The game has a great cast as you would expect. Layton is just as solid as ever and always reminds us that he can fight as well as he can think. Taking down the Mummy swordsmen was pretty impressive. Luke is a good sidekick as well and I do like the rivalry between him and Emmy even if it is rather one sided. Luke just never really stands a chance when it comes time to start trading burns. Emmy is the main reason why the team dynamic is better in the prequels than in the main game so I’m definitely happy to have her around as a main character. Her role is rather small here, but she still does get some puzzles of her own.

As for the new characters, Randall is annoying as you can guess. He isn’t reasonable at all but I already talked about him so we can move on. There is also Henry who may be rather loyal but quick to take everything the wrong way. He gets upset rather easily and makes himself look very suspicious this way. I guess he isn’t a bad character, but he could have been better. I actually preferred the Dalston character. He wanted to be rich while everyone was having fun adventuring and he accomplished his goals. He is now one of the richest men on the planet, you just can’t beat that. He also talks tough to the coppers and in general felt on the ball.

Angela is a good character if you view her more as a subtle antagonist. She definitely isn’t hear to make Layton feel any better as she spends the majority of her time making him feel even worse. It’s not always intentional, but at the same time in the past it seems as if it was. It’s hard to really understand her character at times, but she will always keep you guessing. Agent Bloom is a fun detective. He is very intelligent and the only police officer who is able to keep up with Layton step for step. He doesn’t appear very much, but it does seem like he will be in the sequel so that’s good. Layton doesn’t really have a rival so having this guy fit that bill would be fun. There are a slew of other supporting characters in the game that are all very solid as well. In particular look for the guy with the big, curved chin. His scenes are always amusing and his rigged puzzles are a blast.

As always the graphics are pretty solid here. It’s great to see fully animated cutscenes as always and we get some CG ones as well. The levels are all pretty clear and the puzzles aren’t too misleading. I still think it’s slightly cheating when the puzzle gives you 5 possible answers and they’re all wrong so the only way to beat the puzzle is to tap on part of it to make the whole thing break. I mean, technically I guess that works, but the false answers is barely legit. If the graphics were a little darker or more unclear then it would be tough to see the tiny cracks that serve as a hint. The controls are on point as well and basically this game does nothing wrong on a technical level. The soundtrack may not have any real new tunes in it, but that’s fine as the usual ones are pretty good.

The actual story is reasonably long as it’s over 10 hours and then we’ve also got a bunch of extra puzzles to try and conquer after the game is over. After all, it’s not like you have to complete all of them to clear the game. As with the previous titles in the series you can tackle any quest that you have not completed yet in the little house at the hotel. There are also a bunch of minigames that you can try to complete all of the levels in. By the time you have done all of this the game will likely be at 20 hours or maybe even longer. There’s definitely no shortage of content here.

Overall, This was a pretty exciting Layton game with a fun story that will keep you engaged the whole time. It starts out quite fast and never really loses steam. The only way you may not enjoy the game is if you don’t care for Layton’s past and I think the game handled it rather well. It’s the best of the prequel trilogy so far, but we’ll see how it holds up to the next game. As that is the final main Layton game I expect it to end with a bang. It certainly got a considerable amount of foreshadowing in this game. In case it’s not obvious, I would definitely recommend picking this game up.

Overall 8/10