Mega Man X Dive Review


I downloaded this game as soon as it came out in America but I hadn’t actually reviewed it until now because I wanted to clear all of the story levels first. Well, I’ve done that and so now it’s time to give my thoughts on the game. Needless to say this one is a definite masterpiece. It’s a mobile game that will have you spending many, many hours on it. The game is highly addictive and just a whole wave of fun.

There is a story mode here although it almost feels like a formality at times as it doesn’t really go anywhere. Basically you are the “Player” someone from the real world who has played the Mega Man games and knows them well. It turns out that someone is ruining the data for each of the games and causing anomalies. It’s now up to the Player to save the day along with Rico and Via, two characters who mysteriously look like existing characters. Can we really destroy all of the corrupted mavericks and is there something more behind the scenes?

At the time of this review there are 14 chapters in the Global version. Each chapter has 6 levels so that’s almost 100 levels and the story hasn’t changed much at all. At this point it’s clear that Via is hiding a lot from the heroes but they aren’t able to do much of anything to stop him so those plot elements may as well not be around. It is nice to see the Mega Man characters so that’s cool but you feel like they could do so much more with the concept. It’s extremely formulaic and with this kind of character roster there’s a lot of experimentation that could and should be done.

It almost goes without saying that the graphics are excellent. Mobile games have been knocking it out of the park in that area for a very long time so there’s no surprise there. The soundtrack is also a 10/10 with all of the amazing Megaman tracks at the game’s disposal. It’s really fun to hear all of those nostalgic tunes one more time. You won’t have to turn the music off because it’s just so catchy.

If you want to talk replay value, well there is a whole lot of that. Now as a disclaimer, if you want to play story levels or boss battles those do require energy so you can’t play them for an unlimited amount of time. You are given a free 80 energy pack 3 times a day though and can get another 80 from friends each day so that’s an easy way to replenish. You also get full energy from leveling up.

Aside from Story Mode, you have 3 modes in Challenge. Boss Battles, The Ladder, and Race Mode. Each mode is important to play each day to grab the rewards. Then you have the event modes, you can complete each permanent event twice a day and then the limited ones have a meter as well so you can usually clear those 3-4 times. The Raid feature was also just introduced into the game and in that one you can fight a giant boss and hopefully contribute a lot of damage to the team. The more damage you land, the more reward points you will get in the end.

There are also the online arena battles and you can play an unlimited number of those. Just keep battling and keep winning to rise up into the ranks and maybe even make it up to GA which is the highest rank in the game. Trust me when I say that running out of content is unlikely. Even just trying to complete all of the daily tasks to maximize your rewards will take a while. I’m talking 3-4 hours a day which is a serious commitment. I make sure to at least get 100 points for the day to open all of the daily prizes but I still lose out on a bunch of rewards by not doing the ladder and various other modes each day. I just don’t have enough time.

But the game does reward your dedication. You will level up quicker and gain more power if you play a lot. Your power level is incredibly important here because that determines how much damage you deal with each attack and how much you take from enemy fire. My power level right now is 424,000 which is enough to clear all story levels even though they have a higher recommended power level but it’s close enough where I need to work on that. I’m at level 78 right now, I feel like if I can reach Level 100 then the sky’s the limit.

There are a lot of other things to keep in mind as well like ranking up your characters, weapons, chips, lab skills, etc. There are just so many mechanics and items in the game that I wouldn’t even know where to start on listing them all. The key thing here is to use your materials carefully. Don’t just start using them all at once. In fact, I would say to hold onto your metals and anything that looks precious until you really start to learn how the game works. Especially because at the beginning of the game you are given a ton of rewards which quickly start to dry up. Definitely keep that in mind.

Still, here are two quick tips to help you get started. One is to always complete the daily tasks as best you can. They add up quick and get you the most amounts of EXP in a short amount of time. This includes cranking your free gatcha every day. The second is to always upgrade your armor, weapon, and chips every time you level up because those have a direct effect on your power level. Keeping those at the top is a good way to keep making progress.

Additionally, you will want to keep working on completing your gallery by playing as different characters and using different weapons because that really makes a difference. Each bit helps after all. Also, you gotta be patient with your metals. That is how you spin the gatcha to try and get a new character. Let me tell you, it’s a very brutal system where you won’t always have great luck getting a new character. I’ve spun the wheel many times and still don’t get the new characters. If you’re patient enough to wait until you have 25000 metals and use them on a dive fest banner then you can guarantee a character but that’s a lot of metals. For context you will probably get around 100 metals a day after you’ve cleared all of the main content.

There are always events running around which give more though so the wait won’t be as long as all that. Personally I just wait until I reach 1000 metals each time and just try my luck. I like to see quick returns but am determined to also stay as a freemium player. Spending money on the app just doesn’t seem worth it to me and I’m having a lot of fun anyway. This is the kind of game where you can still do really well as a freemium player. You might not be at the top of the ranks but you’ll be close enough.

Final tip, I almost forgot to mention this but it’s huge. If you don’t have time to play the game much in a day, don’t worry about it. You can auto skip levels in story mode that you have already completed with 3 stars and it won’t cost any skip pass. The rewards are lower but that’s well worth it for beating 10 levels in a second. The key thing is that you don’t want to waste your energy since you can turn it into EXP. So if you know you won’t play for a few hours, just auto skip all the levels with the click of a button to get your EXP. Note that doing this for special events will cost you auto skip tickets but they are so plentiful that you should just do that. The number one rule for gatcha games like this is that you don’t want to waste your resources if you can help it. So keep on skipping and you’ll see your levels rise at a steady rate.

Overall, Mega Man X Dive is really the dream game for any Mega Man fan. You can play through the levels as many times as you want and you can even play as fan favorite characters like X, Zero, Proto Man, Bass, etc. The roster continues to grow and as long as people spend money, this game should keep on going for years. I certainly hope it continues to go strong without ever stopping at least. You can expect this will be the one mobile game where I am in it for the longhaul alongside Pokemon Go.

Overall 9/10

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies Review


It’s been many years since I first got this Dragon Quest title so it’s about time I finally cleared the game. It’s also the first game in the series that I’ve played so that’s also a big milestone. It’s definitely a great game and really nails all of the RPG elements that make the genre so much fun. The weak aspect of the game is the story which can feel really episodic the whole time instead of forming a big ongoing plot. That’s fairly unique for an RPG but I just like having the big story at the ready.

The game starts off by introducing you to the guardian angels. Each one watches over a part of the planet and collect the blessings and prayers from the people within. Effectively they provide protection and get energy in return. The main character who I named Terry is just finishing his time as a trainee when the game starts. He is now ready to guard the whole village on his own. Unfortunately the timing isn’t great as the holy realm is struck by some kind of comet/laser and Terry crashes back to Earth so hard that he loses his wings. He must now find a way back into the sky to see what is happening with his fellow angels but must live as a mortal in the meantime. His angel abilities are effectively locked. If he can capture the Frygg’s that fell to the planet then he can at least save the rest of the realm but each one is guarded by a fantastic creature.

The world in this game does not seem technologically advanced so if not for a magic train that shows up I think Terry would have been doomed. I do find it iffy that nobody went to look for him though. I know they were busy and some were getting kidnapped but at least send someone right? It’s hard to say how much time passes in the game but it must be at least a few days if not months since you have to travel a whole lot from town to town. Fortunately Terry keeps his a good amount of strength since he will need that here as the villains are going to keep moving forward until they’ve destroyed all of their enemies.

The combat is fairly straight forward here. It’s a turn based game where you use your attacks to take your opponents down. You have special moves and normal attacks so you will want to use them wisely as running out of magic meter is never a good thing. This is a game where you will definitely need to do some grinding though as the enemies get more powerful along with you. If you don’t watch your back then you’ll be stuck dying over and over again in a cave.

Fortunately the game has a lot of good features that make sure you never get truly stuck. Instead of having to rely on an item to escape a dungeon or fly to a town, you learn permanent skills to do so fairly early in the game. This was a really good decision since it can be annoying to have to be constantly buying items like this. It’s just a great quality of life update and a way for this game to stand out.

That means that navigating the world and going through the various areas is never painful and always goes over smoothly. Another good thing here is that it’s very easy to change your equipment and see how beneficial the next piece will be. The only thing that is misleading here is that the comparison sheet shows the best attribute so you may be tricked into picking something that will make your character faster at the expense of defense. Look at the small print carefully.

Another important gameplay aspect here is the class system. Each character can change their class at a specific town so you can go from being a warrior to a medic for example. While your skills don’t carry over, any character traits will. How this works is most of the time when you level up you are given skill points that you can put into an attribute. Each class has several attributes. Some are found in multiple classes while others are unique. You can choose to use these points or save them up and use a bunch in a different class. IF you pay some for a permanent upgrade like “Max Health +30” then this will transfer to all classes which is very handy.

It may sound complex but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. As mentioned before though, you will need to grind a whole lot in this game. It’s not an RPG I can picture anyone getting through without having to stop and power level at some point. The opponents are just way too powerful to beat otherwise. One thing to keep in mind though is that you can have a party of 4. The game never really mentions this so I was stuck on the first boss for a while as I was fighting him 1 on 1. What you have to do is go back to one of the first inns in the game and you can create 3 original characters to help you out. I recommend giving them all different classes and making sure at least one is a medic so you guys are fairly well balanced.

I know the medic came in handy for me on quite a few occasions. Without someone healing your party at all times you really end up being in quite the pickle. You should make sure you have a full party of 4 at all times because the game’s difficulty will jump straight up otherwise to the point of being nearly unplayable. Especially when the enemies gang rush you. Another thing to note is that the game has an anti grinding mechanic so if you bring in someone that is lower leveled than you out onto the field than he will get less EXP than your other fighters.

Personally I thought that was a bit of a low blow. I understand why a developer will do this but pretty much every other RPG I’ve played is cool with this so why would this game try and prevent this action? I think they should have just left it alone and that would have been great. Still, I’m a fan of the gameplay mechanics overall, it’s a large part of what makes the game great.

As I mentioned, the only weakness here is the story and characters. Well, you can take Terry out of the equation since by definition he has no character. He’s just the plot device you use to get through the game. You have the fairy who is always following you around. She’s not bad, there’s not a whole lot to her though beyond getting upset at everyone all the time. The conductor shows up near the end of the game and he seems like a nice guy but kind of out of nowhere.

The most interesting character is easily the final villain. There’s a bit of a twist about who he is, but the guy actually gets a good amount of screen time and even some development before the game ends. Now he felt like a true RPG villain and even had the crazy super form to boot. The story certainly does turn it up a bit by the end but if the game is around 25 hours in length, it felt like the actual story was only 3 hours or less. You could cut out every town in the middle and it wouldn’t affect the story which I do think is a bit of an issue.

Meanwhile the technical elements were definitely on point. The graphics are really impressive for a portable game. You’ve got full cutscenes here as well as a solid soundtrack. There are even fights within the cutscenes like the big dragon battle. It’s fitting that a dragon should get some of the cinematic moments here since the game is called Dragon Quest after all.

In terms of length the game is well over 20 hours so you’re getting a lot of value here. There is also a good amount of replay value between the post game content and leveling up your characters. You could easily be here for 40+ hours by the time you’re done with everything.

Overall, Dragon Quest IX is a great game. It’s known as one of the all time best RPG franchises and its easy to see why. The gameplay is very polished and there isn’t a lot to improve on that front. I imagine the story will be quite different in each of the games so we’ll see how that goes in the next adventure. As long as we continue getting those great cutscenes and big battles I’m sure there will be nothing to worry about. It may be a bit early to start comparing this to Final Fantasy or Tales Of but we’ll see how things go as the franchise continues.

Overall 8/10

Cris Tales Review


Cris Tales is an RPG I wasn’t super familiar with but happened to see the cover while I was at Gamestop. It looked cool and that was when I knew that I definitely needed to check this one out. It involves time travel which is always a win so I would definitely recommend this title. It’s a great game that has a pretty interesting plot and full voice acting which is always important.

The game starts by introducing us to Crisbell. She is a time mage who isn’t very powerful yet but serves the Mother Superior (Effectively the head priest of the church) and performs normal errands. One day a bunch of enemies storm the village and Cris only barely makes it out alive thanks to the help of a guy named Christopher. He’s a hero in training who wants to defeat the powerful spellcasters who are threatening the world. Another time mage named Willhelm shows up as well as a talking frog. Can these unsuspecting heroes actually band together to save the world or are they doomed?

The gameplay is a turn based combat style but with speed playing a big role similar to titles like Megaman X Command Mission. When it’s your turn you can attack or do another action and there are also techniques that will allow you to take extra turns. These are definitely very handy so I recommend using them whenever possible. This is probably the first game where I had a dedicated character just for status effects since usually I just power through everything. In this case powering through everything is rarely a viable strategy and will likely just end with you getting stomped.

There’s a good amount of depth to the gameplay too so get ready for a lot of strategy. Your equipment is definitely a big deal here and you can go for pure attack, defense, special abilities, or something else. Preventing the burn status is what I would lean towards since that effect deals a ton of damage in this game. It seems like it always deals a percentage of your health as opposed to a static number which is what really makes this one so dangerous. So if you get burned that’s pretty much it since you don’t want to waste a turn to heal yourself.

One of the main gimmicks in the game is time travel but surprisingly you will want to rarely use that ability. More often than not it won’t actually help you in a fight and just serves to waste a turn. For Cris just focus on healing your teammates or speeding them up. That should really be the only two things you’re using those turns for and that will go a long way towards helping you win levels. As soon as Zas joins the group then this is the perfect combo. Speed her up and Zas can crush almost any opponent with ease. Her normal attacks do massive amounts of damage and since this isn’t magic, nobody (aside from 1 boss) can block it.

For most of the game I ran a 3 man team of Cris, Christopher, and Willhelm. Once Zas came in though then my end game team was Cris, Zas, and Jkr721. You can really pick any variation of the group for your team though as they all have their own strengths. I’m absolutely a power type fighter though so I like going for the combos and just putting an end to these opponents as soon as possible. What better way than to overload them with full frontal attacks right?

The graphics are pretty solid. The art style’s fairly unique, it goes for a hand drawn look but also with an older fairy tail kind of vibe to it. There are even fully animated cutscenes at different points which is a lot of fun. It really makes this feel like more of a cinematic journey or a movie of sorts. With the voice acting throughout that just seals the deal. The length is also fairly good so this is an RPG that will last you around 20 hours or so as expected. The difficulty is manageable but you will probably need to train at a few different spots or you may find yourself falling to the bosses.

Where the game really shines is with the story. It involves time travel which is an automatic win but even beyond that I would say there is just a whole lot of depth to it. There are twists galore and you learn a whole lot about each character. The final act effectively introduces a whole villain group as well. I say “introduce” rather loosely but can’t go into much more detail than that. Needless to say, the game will keep you on the edge of your seat. It had a relatively slow beginning so I was glad to see it turn up. By the end it’s almost like a whole different game.

Cris also gets a lot of development. At the start of the game she isn’t very self confident and doesn’t know a lot about the world. By the end she is a very capable leader who makes the most of her team. The game also has two endings so you get to choose what you want to do at the end. It’s at the very end so not much about the game changes but I’m always up for giving you a choice like that. The ending is fairly resolute but I would be down with a sequel. Once time travel is involved you never really have to say goodbye to the idea of more games in the series.

Overall, Cris Tales is definitely a great game. One thing that’s always been a big positive for RPG titles is that you get to really enjoy the journey with the characters since you are with them for so long. This one is no exception and you’ll know the characters like the back of your hand by the end. For replay value you can also try to get all of the trophies as well. It seems like a very achievable Platinum as well so that’s something to think about. Whether you’re here for the story or for the gameplay you should have a good amount of fun.

Overall 8/10

Grandia II Review


It’s time to take a look at an RPG that’s a part of a series I know the name of but that’s about it. I certainly had no idea on the plot or anything like that. It’s certainly a great RPG and one that has lasted throughout time. You’ll have a good time with this one as there are a bunch of likable characters and solid gameplay throughout.

The game starts out by introducing us to Ryudo. He’s effectively a solo hunter/bounty hunter that nobody likes. His career choice isn’t exactly a popular one and Ryudo isn’t known for his winning personality either. Well, one day he finds himself in a village where his next assignment will be difficult. He has to guard a girl named Elena as she heads off to a mysterious castle to perform a ceremony. It doesn’t go well though and she ends up absorbing the Wings of Valmar.

Elena is now considered corrupted and must find a her way to the master church in order to cure her affliction. It won’t be easy though so Ryudo will have to stay on the job a while longer. He doesn’t believe in either Granas or Valmar as the two gods and just wants to live his life as best he can. The two heroes will ultimately run into several allies, enemies, and even a whole conspiracy. All they will have is each other as the group of heroes prepare for their ultimate confrontation.

The story goes through a whole lot of twists and turns so this is really more of a basic summary. The main thing to remember here is to always watch your back. Ryudo has a pretty good sense of danger about him and usually suspects everyone at first. It’s a wise policy since most of these characters always have some kind of agenda at the ready. It’s impressive just how antagonistic Ryudo is at first. He insults everyone and is clearly not having any fun.

As the game goes on we learn more about his past and why Ryudo is the way that he is. He gets a lot of memorable dialogue throughout the game including a variation of Bully Maguire’s famous line “You missed the part where that’s my problem.” Ryudo is a very different kind of protagonist and is written very well. He’s memorable and not a lead that you are likely to forget anytime soon.

As for Elena, she’s a bit of a weaker heroine. I wasn’t on board for her during most of the game as she always follows the bosses even when they’re acting rather suspect. She’s slow on the uptake in that front and just takes a lot of time to get used to the real world. She finally does, but not until the very end of the game so it took some time.

Her counterpart Millenia was a lot more fun. Effectively this fighter is the embodiment of the Wings of Valmar and one of the most powerful demons around. Naturally that means that someone like Elena who is incredibly focused on the church of Granas does not take too kindly to her. They are polar opposites in personality as Millenia is very forceful and takes what she wants while Elena is a lot more passive.

Roan is a kid who joins the group as well and he’s got quite a few secrets to hide. He’s a nice enough kid even if you feel like he’s too young for this adventure for a while. Ultimately he does end up helping out the group when it counts though. He was also one of the first characters to really trust Millenia which was great for her character arc.

Then you have Mareg who is the power member of the group. He wants to destroy Melfice no matter what due to a tragedy that happened in his origin story. Mareg is always speaking in riddles and trying to be fancy. It may make his dialogue a little stiff but I wouldn’t say they overplay this angle too much. He may not rank quite up there with some of the other characters but he gets the job done.

The final main hero is Tio and she’s an android who has to try and develop a heart. That’s not an easy tasks for anyone but she gives it her all. She comes a bit late in the game but makes the most of her screen time and quickly became one of the more enjoyable members. It always makes for a powerful character arc to have a robot truly become alive like this.

There’s also Ryudo’s pet bird Skye but he doesn’t do as much as you would expect despite technically being around for the whole game. He likes to tease Ryudo once in a while. Selene is one of the big members of the Church of Granas so she gets a sizable role here. From the start she comes off as very forceful in trying to keep people safe so you don’t want to be near her when the knights come strolling in. I’ll give her this, she was very dedicated to the cause.

Then you have Melfice, Ryudo’s long laost brother. This guy was a difficult fighter and certainly not someone to take lightly. He’s one of the more interesting villains even if he isn’t around for a big part of the game. Ultimately he chosse power over everything which is rarely ever a good decision. It was interesting to see how in his village this was a popular idea though in the sense that you can’t create justice without power. To an extent that is true but it’s definitely easy to lose focus and start obsessing over power too much.

Zera is a big player in the story for sure. I’d say he’s your classic old guys in one of these RPGs. He has big plans and will do anything in order to make it to the end. Not the kind of guy you want to trust and he loves showing off with his big speeches and everything. It’s just what he does.

Towards the end of the game things get rather cosmic. One of the best cutscenes is when we actually got to see the origin of the big battle between Valmar and Granas. Typically this is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear about but never actually see so I was impressed when the game threw me a curve ball and actually showed this on screen. That was very impressive and a prequel could easily work with this concept. There’s a lot you could do for that war.

Throughout the game the graphics are definitely impressive. We even get some good soundtrack themes during the game. I like the battle themes and boss music. It’s not surprising that a big RPG like this could have a solid soundtrack but it’s always worth noting. It makes the battles all go smoothly as you would expect.

In the end the game took me over 30 hours to complete which is a very solid length. I had to train for several hours before the final bosses because of how difficult they were though. Once I got a certain character back into my party then things eased up though. I’m not sure if there is any replay value here though as it seems it’s the kind of game that takes you back to right before the final boss when you load it up. So this will be a game you just aim to beat all the way through.

The only two areas in the game that could be improved are that the cutscenes can’t be skipped as well as the attack options. The latter may not sound like a big deal but quite a few of the attacks here are very fancy so during the final battles you’ll be having to wait for many attacks to go trough. I would usually have reddit open or a manga while I was waiting between attacks. So if the game is ever remade they should definitely add a skip feature in and that would be perfect.

It may go without saying but the combat system is that of a turn based combat mode. It’s a lot like Mega Man X Command Mission where your turns are based on speed as opposed to things always going in the same order. So that makes investing in quick equipment well worth your while. Each character can also equip 6 skills from the books you collect as well as an egg which grants you the ability to use magic. Leveling all of your techniques up takes time so I recommend saving your points for the abilities that you will really want to use.

Overall, Grandia II is a great game. It’s got a very satisfying story to it and a good cast or characters. It’s also fairly long at over 30 hours so this is certainly not the kind of game that you can just complete in an instant. You’ll really have to apply yourself here and I recommend fighting enemies as often as you can because it will certainly catch up to you by the end. I cleared the game at around level 57 and it was still fairly difficult. So I definitely recommend this to any RPG fan.

Overall 8/10

Madden 20 Review


It’s definitely been a long while since I played a Madden game. It’s always somber waiting for the next one because even if there aren’t any big changes, the series just has fantastic gameplay. To date it has to be one of the all time greatest series out there. This one’s certainly no different even if I wouldn’t say that it is quite able to compete with some of the older ones. Mainly I feel like scrambling has been nerfed and the deep ball is still nonexistent. Still, if you’re looking for a quality Football game you can’t really top this one.

Right off the bat you can jump into a ton of different modes like franchise, story mode, play now, online modes, or the skill trainer. Of course for me the first stop is just the quick matches to get a feel for the game. I always make sure to do one game on each difficulty level before I review the game so see how I stack up.

I was able to defeat most of the difficulties but I did get stomped in All Madden. I kept it rather close in the first half at 17-6 but as I got more and more desperate the A.I. would take advantage of that and ultimately go on to score a total of 40+ points. All Madden is as tough as it ever was but this time it did feel pretty legit. Usually I walk away shaking my head but in this instance I thought it was fine. I just got out played there.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as always. The goal in Football is to carry the ball across the goal line. At that point you will have claimed victory and will be in the home stretch. If you allow your opponent to do this, then you have to do it again as well. Whoever scores the most points at the end of the game is the winner and then that would be a wrap. It’s easy to understand if you’re familiar with the sport but otherwise Madden would not be the best place to start learning. I would recommend watching a real game first to see this in action.

Granted, you won’t be calling plays as if you were a real team but it’s still helpful for learning the fundamentals. As mentioned the game is a blast but there are a few aspects that are weaker than in most of the other titles. One of those is the QB scrambling which is when you decide to make a break for it instead of throwing the ball.

I can see how this could be a little overpowered in some of the games but I just love doing it. Often times I will make a break for it instead of throwing the ball because I don’t really have anyone open. Now you have to be a lot more careful because it takes a lot longer to actually start running and that’s an issue for when you just want to take off. I’m thinking it’s the game’s way of telling you that you should be throwing.

The QB throwing accuracy has also been given some more in depth features such as your ball not being thrown where you want it to be if you’re under pressure. You’ll suddenly throw in odd directions and while this is an interesting way to factor pressure in, I don’t think it’s needed. It should all go to your individual skill and where you throw the ball. That’s definitely a lot more straight forward.

I also just miss being able to toss the deep ball around. Find a receiver in a 1 on 1 matchup and just throw the ball over. Nowadays if you try that it will be incomplete 6/10 times and intercepted the other 3/10. Actually completing one of these balls is never worth the risk and that’s a shame because they’re the most fun to complete. Instead it’s often best to go for most short length passes and chip your way to the goal.

Running the ball is as solid as ever though. I don’t typically run a lot but it does make me feel like I’m using some real plays so I’ll do it here and there. You always get that feeling of being so close but so far away when running the ball because every time you get tackled you’ll think about where you should have run instead. It’s definitely a blast making your picks.

A lot of the modes also have the ability to skip all defensive drives which is pretty cool. Defense isn’t bad but I definitely do prefer being on the offense so that’s definitely more my speed. You have control of the ball and what you do with it at that point which is what makes the game fun. There is a lot amount of RNG in most of these plays.

As for the other modes, well there is a classic Story Mode once again but as always the cutscenes are completely unskippable. This has been the case for 3-4 years now and that’s unacceptable. Surely the devs have heard of the complaints before now so there’s no excuse for not being able to skip these. Especially since the story mode just isn’t all that engaging. You’ll really only be playing through the mode for the trophies.

Outside of the story mode the graphics are very solid though. It’s always great just loading up the game and seeing how nice the uniforms and backgrounds are. This is where 99% of the effort goes into so it makes sense that this part would look good. The soundtrack is very forgettable as while you’re in the games you won’t be hearing it anyway. You’ll just have the classic Football sounds at that point which is really what you want to have to focus on anyway.

Beyond that there is naturally a whole lot of replay value here. You can play games endlessly with a variety of different things to do. If you have the PSN subscription you can also take advantage of the head to head battles which is probably the most enjoyable mode. There’s nothing quite like battling others online. It’s why I would snap up a Switch version if that ever came out, but alas it doesn’t look like EA and Nintendo are ever going to mend the fence here.

Overall, Madden 20 is definitely a blast. While there are some specific changes that make it weaker than some of the other installments, ultimately it’s the core gameplay that you know and love. The series gets a lot of shots fired at it for not changing things up between years and keeping in every glitch which is valid. Still, you’re unlikely to see much of that while playing normally and it’s just too fun to put down. So ultimately the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.

Overall 8/10

Fast & Furious Showdown Review


Fast & Furious Showdown is one of those games that is easy to forget about. I didn’t even know it existed until I was on Ebay looking for the new game and came across it. That said, this should not be mixed up to say that it isn’t a high intensity title. The racing is solid and while the game is short enough, there is a tough level or two that should take you some tries. Ultimately it’s a good racing game that is hindered by its short length.

The game takes place before film 6 where the heroes had their big team up with Hobbs. So the campaign follows the introduction of his new partner who is trying to learn about Hobb’s objectives and enemies. To do this, the heroes basically talk about how great Dom and his crew are as well as Shaw and the villains. As they continue defeating us in each encounter, the partner gradually sees why Hobbs wants to recruit Dom and his gang since Shaw is unbeatable otherwise.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard racing game for the most part, but throw in a bit of Need for Speed type combat as well. After all, either the cops or the villains will always be trying to stop you depending on what side you’re playing as. So you have to move as fast as possible and always stay one step ahead. For the traditional driving levels, the gameplay is on point and you feel like you’re going rather fast. The toughest levels are when you have to win through drifting which is not a mechanic I use a whole lot in any title.

Then you have the double driver levels where one person jumps to the top of the car and blasts away at the others while someone drives. I would always switch myself back into the driver’s seat because I’m not the biggest FPS fan. Additionally, I found the A.I. to be a pretty bad driver in most instances so driving on my own was the best bet. Otherwise you’re just crashing all the time and at times it also feels like you’re just moving really slowly which was kind of odd. I don’t see how that would have an effect on anything as long as the A.I.is holding down the accelerator.

There is one level where the obstacle feels a bit odd though. That’s when there are these little bombs on the ground and the shockwave feels like it’s a whole lot bigger than the animation. It doesn’t matter where you are, the bomb will ultimately catch you. I thought this was a bit much and died numerous times but I suppose I eventually got out of there which is the important thing. That’s the only time I let the A.I. drive so I could snipe as many bombs as possible.

There are also some quick time events where you have to jump on a truck once in a while. I like quick time event type scenarios but this one does feel like there is no true purpose to even have it here. It’s a small instance once in a blue moon for something that will not actually affect the level since it usually ends at that point. I’ll give the game credit for coming up with new modes and all but I think you could have done more with it. Imagine quick time events for some hand to hand fights among the main characters? Now that would have been pretty awesome.

As for the graphics, well they’re fairly standard stuff. Not as good as you’d find in one of the big AAA titles but I would say they are good enough not to be called bad. So they’re fairly passable and better than what you would find in the Madden cinematic moments. The soundtrack is more on the bad side. It’s going for an EA kind of feel with a lot of modern lyrical songs but most of them definitely felt more annoying than good. They’re loud and all but the lyrics don’t work so well and I wouldn’t count this as a net positive.

In terms of replay value, there doesn’t seem to be much of anything here. No extra levels or big collectibles to grab at all. I suppose that means you will purely be here to re-experience the story levels again but the thing to note is that you cannot skip the cutscenes. So that will present a bit of an issue I imagine. There may have been some kind of challenge mode so hopefully that will help but for the most part this is definitely the kind of game that you play for the story and after that you’ll likely leave it around. The story’s around 4-5 hours so it’s good enough if you find this for a small price. For full pricing it would not have been worth it though.

Overall, Fast & Furious Showdown is a fun title. I’m always up for a good racing game and the combat part is also nice since it expands on the concept a bit. What’s more thrilling than trying to turn the corner as someone is blasting as you right? The A.I. uses a lot of rubber banding though so they tend to catch up to you no matter how far ahead you are. Definitely makes it difficult to truly get away without defeating them so you always need to be on the attack. It should have had more of an in depth story mode and more replay value though. I look forward to seeing how the new version plays out one of these days and if it’s able to improve on these areas. If it does then I think we will have a true winner on our hands.

Overall 7/10

Crash of the Titans Review


It’s been a little while since my last Crash game but it’s time to get back into the action. This Crash game is also a little different from the others in that it has more of an emphasis on the combat. It’s part beat em up this time as opposed to being a pure platformer and that certainly works out well enough for me. I love some good battling after all.

The story starts with Cortex attacking Crash and the gang once again. This time he’s serious so the heroes have to really watch out or they may be taken down for the count. Coco is kidnapped though and Crunch is encased in ice so it’s all up to Crash as per usual. What will make this a little more difficult this time is that Nina is taking over the role as main villain instead of Cortex. In fact, Cortex has now been imprisoned so deep down he may be rooting for Crash as well. Crash will have to get through many different dungeons and castles in order to get to Nina but he won’t stop until he has saved the world.

It’s easy to describe the gameplay since it’s what you would expect in a beat em up. You try to take out your opponents with standard moves and power blows. In a lot of circumstances you have to defeat all of the enemies in order to proceed and other times you can skip through. While the gameplay is simple, that also makes it difficult to go forward in other cases. For example, there are a bunch of slime minions that show up in a few levels and the only way to even damage them is to use your power moves.

The issue is that the power moves take a lot of time to load up. Additionally, these minions can use parry skills to dodge your attack and land a pretty solid blow. I would really just beat these guys with luck half the time and the other half I would just end up getting wrecked. There is an item that allows you to use a one hit KO attack so I recommend saving it for whenever you see one of these guys. Keep in mind that the item does not reappear if you lose a life so be careful when you use it.

A prominent mechanic in this game is that you can also take control of an enemy you defeat. This is crucial to completing the level. When you take control of a monster, do not allow yourself to be defeated and always hop into a new monster if you’re losing health. Most of the monsters are incredibly powerful so while you have control of one of those you should be really safe.

It’s not full proof but it’ll help you out in most circumstances. Otherwise I just couldn’t find a good full proof strategy against these guys. You won’t have a problem against most of the other enemies though, just button mash as best you can and you should be all good here. It’s a fun combat system and the ability to jump into monsters reminds me of Mario Odyssey. The boss fights make good use of this as well with the final boss being rather difficult to deal with. Most of the other bosses you should breeze through.

One pro tip here is as I mentioned, sometimes you don’t have to beat every enemy. Remember those moments well because it can be the difference between winning a round and losing. There was one really intense moment when I was nearly out of health and had to deal with a lot of the fire monsters. So what I did is I just ran right past them. Just barely mind you, but I was able to jump into the tunnel leading into the next level right before they slammed me. Losing can be intense here because a game over means you go back to the very beginning of the level no matter how many sections you completed. So if this tip helps you even avoid one game over then it’s definitely worth it.

In a way because this is not a platformer it does feel a lot easier than the usual Crash games. In terms of length I’d say it’s similar. You should beat this one in under 10 hours. In terms of replay value I don’t recall running into any collectables but there are probably some things you can do with to increase the play time here. Either way the game goes for a fairly low price nowadays so you should be able to get good value here.

The graphics have aged pretty well too. The character designs are on point and the art style is really colorful. It’s all expressive and taps into that Crash energy well. I may not be a fan of the character himself but the universe always had a lot of interesting level designs. That remains true for this game as well. The soundtrack is less memorable but the tunes work well enough within their contexts.

As for Nina, she works well as the new main villain. You do feel bad for Cortex though since she is absolutely roasting him throughout the entire game. You’d think he would get a little more respect since they’re related and he was a main villain for so long but that’s not the case here. Nina is played straight but the rest of the villains tend to have their comedic moments as well.

Meanwhile Coco spends most of the game being mind controlled and kidnapped so this isn’t exactly her biggest role. It does allow Crash to step in and do the job on his own…or with a little help from the mask I should say. Crunch stays frozen so don’t expect any help from him. The game has a lot of cutscenes/cinematics so it’s a good chance to see more of the characters. All in all, it makes for a satisfying story mode.

Overall, Crash of the Titans is definitely another solid Crash installment. It’s a nice change of pace having Cortex on the sidelines even if I still prefer him to Nina. Nina gets her hype though and puts up a good fight here. If the games were to ever revamp Crash’s personality just a bit I dare say that the series could end up being even bigger than it is currently. There are just a few more Crash games I haven’t played yet so now I’m really close to the end. It’ll definitely be a milestone getting that far.

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons Review


Legend of Zelda is a series where the main games tend to be terrific but some of the older ones don’t work as well. It’s a little bit like Metroid to that extent where I didn’t care for the first couple much but then they got better. This game plays out like a very old school LoZ title where you are really left to your own devices. It ends up making for a game that is pretty annoying to play.

So someone has decided to mess with the 4 seasons. The global climate is out of whack now and nobody really knows what to do. Fortunately Link is on the case. He will have to use the staff of seasons in order to put the world right again. It’s the only way to bring peace and prosperity back into the land. We don’t know exactly who the villain is, but he will certainly regret getting in Link’s way.

The main gameplay style here is that of an overhead adventure. You travel across the world as you look for different essences as well as the 4 seasons themselves. You can use various weapons in the hub world like your sword, boomerang, and other weapons. Talking to civilians will help you get past obstacles that can’t be overcome by brawn alone. There are also portions of the game that simulate the Mario experience as the game turns into a side scroller. It’s always pretty fun to go through those segments as a change of pace.

I played this game as a virtual console port on the 3DS. I can say right now that I can’t imagine playing this game without the access points. I use those quite a lot. Without them there are obstacles that will take you back to the beginning of a dungeon. If you make a wrong step you may find yourself in a room that you can’t back out of and you have to take the long way around. The game has many anti quality of life features that stack up.

On the plus side, I do like the graphics. They’ve aged well and this is a colorful style that just really works well. It’s why a lot of people like sprites since they transition into the future really easily. The soundtrack’s also pretty decent. It’s all catchy and works well for the various dungeons. So on a technical level this game was on the money.

The actual gameplay is pretty smooth as well. You never feel like the weapon is hitting too late or you miss something that you’re aiming for. The core gameplay is solid so I don’t expect you will really come across any issues. So this pretty much wraps up the good parts of the game. They are considerable of course but the negatives do outweigh them this time.

First off, there’s not much of a story. It’s not the kind of thing that will lower a score but when bosses show up without any dialogue or cutscene, you know something is up. Yeah there is still a story overall but it’s fairly barebones. I will give the game credit for having a cliffhanger ending though. It flat out tells you to go and buy Oracle of Ages as the game ends. There is a caveat to that though.

It looks like you have to buy both games to effectively link them and unlock the true ending. If you just buy one then you will really be playing through almost the same story. So…this seems like a really crafty way to get people to buy both titles. I also wonder how that would work through virtual console. I’m guessing I wouldn’t be able to transfer save states like that and if so that would be awful. I don’t know for sure though so just keep that in mind if you want to see the true ending.

No, the real issue with the game is the puzzles. LoZ loves its puzzles but the problem is that the series is often not as good at it as the real puzzle titles like Professor Layton. Half the time you are given no clue as to what to do next or have to use your weapon in a new way that was unexplained. I spent 20 minutes blasting one enemy with elemental attacks only to find out that it wasn’t actually causing damage. (Why have the boss glow as if you landed a hit when the hit didn’t work?)

Between dungeons you often have to do tasks in the hub world but there is no way to know what you are supposed to do. Additionally the hub world is huge so running back and forth is incredibly time consuming. The game took a lot longer than I expected it would in order to conquer it and this was why. I spent hours just spinning my wheels when I could have been at the next dungeon already.

I never cared much for that aspect because if I got a game then I want to be playing it. I want to feel the gameplay and just go all in but this really slows things down. I ended up needing a guide for many parts and I don’t see how I would have ever guessed what to do in some of these cases. There are some places you can teleport to in order to save time but not nearly enough of them. You still have to walk large parts of the world map on your own which is not ideal.

At the heart of it, the game just isn’t very fun to play for this reason. Sure, some of the dialogue can be fun, you can enjoy the boss battles but anytime you’re having too much fun the game slams you down with a dead zone where you have to figure out where to go next. It leaves you in a tough spot but not a fun one as you’re running through areas you’ve already been to a million times already.

At least because of that the length is considerable. If you get this game for the going rate of $10-$15 bucks then this is really not a bad deal. There’s also the replay value of getting the true ending but if you do need two copies in order to get to it then that may not be applicable in the virtual console version anyway. Definitely do your research before buying the game.

Overall, The overhead Link games aren’t really my style and this one was no exception. If it focused on more combat and less wandering around then I think it would have fared a lot better. Link games always have solid combat after all and that would have aged really well. So if you’re in the mood for a Legend of Zelda game, I’d recommend checking out Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, or Breath of the Wild instead. At the end of the day this one just wasn’t fun and is best left to history.

Overall 4/10

The Island of Dr. Frankenstein Review


When you venture onto the Island of Dr Frankenstein you figure that you are going to be in for a pretty hype experience. Well, at least the concept of it. When you actually see the cover of the game you will probably begin to have some doubts and they will only continue to grow as you play through the game. It ultimately had a good idea of two but ended up squandering it all away.

The game starts off immediately with a kid named Franky being woken up by a pair of legs that are not attached to anything. The legs can’t talk of course but Franky can understand them anyway because he is just that good. Basically the mayor wants to see us because the island is sinking. We have to fix it fast or everyone is going to die.

I should add a little context here. So the main characters all live on a floating island which is powered by 50 generators. This is the land of monsters so all of the inhabitants are popular creatures like Dracula, The Mummy, Werewolf, A Floating Head, Frankenstein’s monster, and more. This is a way for them all to live in peace but the problem is that none of them are particularly tech savvy which is why Franky is around.

He fixes the generators so that the island doesn’t end up falling down on everyone. So that’s the setting and the main issue is that someone appears to be sabotaging the generators/engines so everybody is doomed. We have two missions, fix the various generators and also find out who the traitor is.

The game isn’t nearly as epic as that might sound though. The gameplay is really just about walking around the island and talking to people. You find out what they all want and get it from someone else. There is no way to run and the island is fairly large so be prepared for a while lot of backtracking and going to the same place like 20 times or more.

The characters add new demands at random points and you have no way to know this except to talk to everyone again after each mission you complete. It’s definitely not very efficient but you will have the island memorized by the end. There is one action you can take while moving around which is to use your Luigi’s Mansion vacuum cleaner. You suck up these little cosmic dust clouds which you then give to people when they ask for them.

It also leads to the game’s “danger” mechanic. If you let the dust clouds pile up too much then the island will crash. So you have to be sucking these things up the entire time as you go through the island. It adds an extra task to you just walking which is okay I guess but I don’t like mechanics like this where you are forced to just waste time and do something you wouldn’t do otherwise. It feels like it was just tacked on to mask the fact that there isn’t much to do.

Finally, there is the puzzle aspect of the game. Characters want you to fix their equipment so they’ll launch you onto a board of two pipes. One of them shoots out a laser and the idea is to add gears onto the map which will redirect the lasers to hit the other nozzle. This part could actually be pretty fun at least. It’s the kind of puzzle that I can get behind as it’s really about problem solving and you don’t have to worry about the game forgetting to give you context clues.

Here’s the issue though, you can only complete these puzzles by putting gears into it. To summon a gear, you have to use 10 cosmic dust clouds and 1 meteorite. The way to get meteorites is to open chests around the island or to dig them up. It costs 30 clouds to dig up a meteor so you can see how even now the game is trying to really wring some extra play time out of you. It makes you wish that the game would relax a bit and let you do your own thing. Don’t even attempt a puzzle if you don’t have enough gears since any that you use in the puzzle will be destroyed if you leave. Also be careful of how you spin the gears because if the laser hits you then you also lose all of your gears.

The motion controls are pretty difficult on that front so you can expect it to happen at least a few times by accident. Unfortunately at the end of the day that means that there is really no escape for you. Even the best part of the game has annoying mechanics which speaks volumes about the game as a whole. It’s not as bad as it could be since most of it is pretty harmless but I still expected better out of this one.

As far as the graphics go, the game certainly doesn’t hold up. I’m not sure if it was intentionally trying to look bad but that might be giving the game too much credit. There are only 2 musical themes in the entire game so you’ll be hearing them on loop for a long while. Definitely could have used more music but what is really missing here are the sound effects. There are none so when the characters are talking it’s like they are lifeless.

The only part of the game that shines through would be the writing. It’s very disjointed but the game is certainly going for a parody type of atmosphere for the most part. None of the characters are heroic and even Franky just wants to go to sleep. Even with the end of the world right around the corner, the characters can’t really dredge up the motivation to do anything. It’s pretty surreal but really works when you get down to the meat of things. At least it adds a little humor to the game or it would truly be soul less otherwise.

Overall, The Island of Dr. Frankenstein plays out about as you would expect. It’s a very short game with absolutely 0 replay value. You have to 100% complete all missions and collectibles in order to beat the game so there is nothing left to do. The game itself is around 3-4 hours tops so it won’t last you very long either. You can get this game for around $1 not counting shipping so it’s not a bad one to check out. That being said, you can definitely find better games on the Wii or basically any other console. This is an example of a title that really could have been so much better with some quality of life updates.

Overall 4/10

Wizards of Brandel Review


Wizards of Brandel brings us back to the world of high quality RPGs. The Asdivine Heart titles will always be legendary for their various quality of life upgrades to the genre and this one follows closely in its tracks. It may not be going as cosmic in is setting as those games but it’s got a fun story and you’ll have a fun time running through the game. It’s a bit on the short side but there are some post game elements that will help you run the length a bit more. I think I beat it at around 14 hours or so.
The story starts with Darius being evicted from his house since he hadn’t paid the rent in a very long time. All they left him is his bed so he now lives in the middle of a forest. One day he is approached by an immortal wizard named Mark who says he will allow Darius to live at his mansion as long as the hero does chores. Darius agrees but little does he know that Mark is a legendary demon lord who is wanted by the entire world. Is he really safe at this house?

The core cast is fairly small but each character is memorable. Brandel does a good job of giving each character a lot of character traits early on. First off you have Darius who is fairly emotionless most of the time although it’s very easy to tease him and cause the guy to blow up. He has a lot of different magical spells. Darius is obsessed with learning as much as he can but unfortunately none of those spells get him a lot of money. As he gets roped into this latest quest to save the world, he stows his fear and does his best.

Then you have the heroine Erica who is an agent of the government and was originally here to hunt Mark. Gradually she realizes that something isn’t quite right about all of this. Mark doesn’t seem like a villain and Darius is an upstanding guy so she aims to get to the bottom of this. She’s a good character and the game has an interesting dynamic with her and Darius. Usually you have the oblivious guy but the heroine likes him. In this game both of them only see the other as a friend so the supporting characters keep trying to push them together since that’s how it’s supposed to be…but the two main characters are both oblivious and just keep it moving. That was a fun twist and it must have been intentional.

Then you have Phelia who is a little girl that was kidnapped and experimented on until she turned into a plant monster. She has a lot of cool abilities now and may even be immortal but at the same time you never want to voluntarily have to go through experiments. The main characters decide to help protect her and ensure that this doesn’t happen again. It takes us back to our main plot where there is clearly someone evil in the world but it doesn’t appear to be the immortal wizard Mark. The heroes have to clear his name and find the main villain before too long.

In this case, the game is short enough where there aren’t many suspects so you’ll probably figure this out pretty fast. That said, the game does its best to still throw a few curve balls your way so it won’t be too easy to figure out what is going on. The story is interesting so you should be on board the whole time. The post game is more about tournaments and not really plot but there are some cutscenes to give closure to the characters as well. You can’t help but feel like Erica got the short end of the stick though.
Finally you have Mark who joins the party near the end. He has some kind of tragic backstory involving how he became immortal but the game doesn’t go into it. Every time someone asks him about it, Mark refuses to talk about it. It’s kind of neat that we don’t find this out, leaves a little mystery and room for your head canon here. I wish he would fight a little more since it seems like he should be pretty powerful but unfortunately that never ends up happening.

Then you’ve got Veldt who is the leader of the Guild. He seems pretty reasonable but the guy just looks like he’s a little more powerful than he should be. You’ll want to give him a second look to be sure and don’t let your guard down. Then there’s Cloney who is here to help the heroes. He will be King if our plan works out so that’s a pretty nice incentive for him to help us right? Not a bad prize for being a good citizen. There’s also the Warriors 3 who are pretty interesting antagonists. They are the best of the best in the kingdom and since they are after us, that means things will be tricky.

The gameplay is that of a turn based RPG. As I mentioned though, the game is light years ahead of most other titles in pretty much every way. You are able to speed up gameplay, go into auto battle mode, and use all kinds of tricks. You can turn animations on and off and so at all times you can play the game how you want. You may need to grind up some levels to beat the game but with auto battle turned on it’s not really much of a problem. It goes by very quickly and it’s just a lot of fun. I’d like to see more titles just make a game as smooth as these always turn out.

In a way you may get a little sloppy with the actual gameplay if you rely on this too much though so make sure you fight a bit on your own just in case. It shouldn’t be necessarily if you get a lot of level ups though. You have physical skills, magical ones, unity moves, and of course your physical attacks. Then you have the shop where you can trade in gems to buy incredibly powerful weapons, permanent EXP upgrades, and things like that. As a rule of thumb I always say to get the permanent upgrades first since they will come in handy for a lot of other things as the game goes on. By the end you will be really OP. A good way to grind is to click on the statues in each dungeon which let you run a gauntlet of 3 battles in a row over and over again. You get guaranteed gems which is huge.

The graphics are very good as you would expect. The art style always pops out for all the games from this company. The level designs are on point and the whole thing is just so colorful. Meanwhile the soundtrack is on point as well with a lot of tunes that sound just like something out of Asdivine Hearts. It’s all very fast paced and pretty hype. On a technical level the game really holds up.

Overall, Wizards of Brandel is great. It’s a relatively simple game as far as RPGs go but the execution in each area is just so good. You won’t be bored for a moment since there is always something happening here. The character cast is good and while the length isn’t very large, there’s enough content to keep you satisfied here. I’d definitely be down with this game getting a sequel and I hope the company continues to churn out more RPGs. I’d recommend getting this game if you like the genre or if you’re curious about starting this kind of game since this is a perfect entry point.

Overall 8/10