Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Review


Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has to be one of the oldest games that I’ve had on the back burner for many years. It’s been patiently waiting it’d turn and now it was time to see what this game was all about. It definitely goes all in on the tactical gameplay and there’s a lot of customization here but other parts of the game have not aged well which ends up holding the experience back.

The game starts with our hero Marche having a snowball fight with all of the other kids at the school. At first glance it seems to be going okay but everyone is actually dealing with something. The kids are actually targeting his friend Mewt a lot. Marche’s brother can’t walk so he isn’t able to have fun with the gang and the main heroine Riza is very self conscious about her hair being white so she dyes it every day. There’s quite a lot of unhappiness in the air and for Marche the main point is that he’s a pushover and doesn’t stick up for himself.

Well, one day Marche wakes up only to find himself in a fantastic kingdom ruled by Mewt. It’s effectively a palace like in Persona as it is created by his wishes. Marche figures it isn’t healthy to life in a made up reality like this and he decides he has to destroy the world. The other kids are not in agreement though and will do everything they can to stop him. Can Marche finally find his inner confidence and take the win here?

Interestingly Marche can almost feel like the main villain here in some respects. Think about it, to the creatures living in this world, the place is very real. All of a sudden you have this guy showing up to try and destroy the world because he says its fake. You’d assume this guy is insane and I can see why they were all fighting against him. You also have to ask yourself on whether these guys have become sentient and in a way is Marche actually destroying everyone? If all of the monsters will revert to townfolk similar to how everyone here is a distortion then that helps with making it okay in the end but it’s definitely an interesting concept.

Not really one that the game goes into all that much but it does make you double think what you are doing the whole time. The main focus on the story though is Marche trying to convince everyone that this world isn’t better. Sure they have super powers and live a life of wealth and prosperity here but Marche says that since they know it isn’t real, it’s like they’re running away from the real thing. I thought the game did a good job of not having all of the kids suddenly agree with him or anything like that. It was handled as more of a slow burn which was good so the kids had a chance to explain their side. All in all it may not have been constant end of the world stakes or anything like that but things do get cosmic in the end and the story was fun.

As for the gameplay, it’s your classic tactics style with a few changes here. So if you know tactics gameplay then you remember that it’s all about getting the right angles. You want to attack from the sides of behind an enemy for better damage as well as a better percentage chance of hitting the opponent. You can attack, guard, use a special move, or an item. You can control up to 6 fighters here and the enemy team will typically have around as many. It’s fun to think out your moves and try to get to the win as efficiently as possible. If this was played straight with no gimmicks then there would be no issue.

The gameplay can be a little slow with all of the animations and everything being unskippable but it would still work pretty well. The main issue comes with the law system that is unique to this game. Basically when you start a level there will be a random law that says you cannot do something during the battle. Sometimes it will be that you can’t attack, can’t heal, can’t use fire, etc. As the game goes on there will be 2 laws at once and then three. The big issue with adding RNG into the mix like this is that you can’t just make a plan and stick to it. You have to adjust your combat based on the law for the battle and there is no way to see it before starting the level. What that means is that if it’s a law you can’t hope to overcome then you have to reset the game.

After that you can walk around a bit (Since each step counts as a day and switches the law) and then head back. It’s quite a few extra steps that aren’t needed. Additionally there are random minions running around all the time and if you bump into one then you have to start another long fight. The level up system is also a bit different than the others as each action gets you some XP rather than a total at the end of a level. This is fairly unique for RPG titles but for tactical fighters I’ve seen this in the past so it makes sense. It’s not my favorite style but it is what it is.

There’s also perma death which is active on any desert level. If any of your members dies here and you don’t revive them before the match is up, the member is lost forever. There goes your equipment and level ups. I’m not a fan of perma death in any game. It’s way too harsh and just serves as a big punishment if you end up losing. There’s also a jail system here in case you break the laws in a level. Two strikes takes you to jail while one acts a a fine and your character suffers a penalty. To remove the card you have to play a few battles without the character but at the speed in which the battles are, that’s a fairly long commitment so it’s often better to just reset the game whenever you do that by mistake.

Then you’ve got some quality of life features that aren’t present. One of the big ones is that it’s very difficult to see which equipment is the best one to attach to your character. You can only see the stats for one piece at a time and can’t compare it so you have to remember the numbers as you check each piece one by one. That just seems like something which should have been easier. It’s also odd that you have to actually set the items to your character’s ability slots or you can’t use any at all. I think that’s a bit much and there’s no indication of when they have learned a new ability so you have to manually check everyone every time there’s a level up. Same with ability mastery to learn new classes.

So what I’m saying is the gameplay is held back by a whole ton of features ranging from just about every area you can think of. It’s definitely a problem. The graphics are good though. I thought the character designs were on point and the levels were good. Meanwhile the soundtrack was more on the unimpressive side as none of the tunes were all that good. It was going for a rather calm feel to it but give me rock or metal any day so I can really feel the tunes at all times.

As for the replay value here, there are a ton of missions to complete so that’ll help on that end. There are 300 missions in the game and you’ll probably end up beating around 100 before you finish the game. The missions have several categories including combat and dispatch. Dispatch missions are ones your allies will complete on their own and either take a few days or just some extra battles without you. So choose who you send out on a mission wisely since you never want to be without your best fighter for very long.

Overall, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance would be one of the weaker Final Fantasy games. It has some pretty good ideas and so the story ends up being the strong point here but the gameplay mechanics are what ended up bringing it down. If anything the game’s just trying to be too intricate and having way too many things going on at once. We’ll see if the sequel can dial things back a notch, removing laws entirely would definitely be a great start. If not, maybe there’s a way to just make them better. This is a really long game so make sure you really enjoy the tactics style before picking it up.

Overall 5/10

Madden 21 Review


It’s been quite a while but I finally got the next Madden game! I’m still behind as there’s one more I need to get but it felt good upgrading. I’ve been playing a lot of Madden 20 so this way I was really able to see what had changed. On the whole I would say Madden 20’s a little better but it’s close and I still had a blast with 21. I ended up playing through an entire season and won the Super Bowl so I can really say that I got to experience the game all the way through. I won’t be forgetting Madden 21 anytime soon, that’s for sure!

There is a bit of a story mode with how you go from college to the pros but the cutscenes are still completely unskippable so it didn’t really seem worth it to go through this mode. I went through the normal Franchise mode instead and played a season that way. I then went into the only offense version since I don’t care for defense quite as much and it worked out pretty well I would say. I didn’t win every game and the system did well in making some teams tougher than others based on their record. So this really became apparent by the end of the season.

I found myself running the ball a lot because throwing always feels risky in the newer Madden games. The throwing mechanics definitely did seem to be a bit different now as you could actually miss some automatic type throws if you held your control stick too much in any direction. I get that it makes the game a little more realistic but I was not a fan of this. Just let me throw the ball and I’m set. I know you have to have a balance here but Madden 2004 and Madden 2013 should be the templates for that. They were absolutely perfect with throwing the ball. I would feel comfortable just airing the ball out.

That’s something that the newer Maddens haven’t encouraged in a very long time. Throwing slants is good but a deep shot up the middle? It’ll get picked off or blown incomplete pretty much every time. There’s almost no reason to even try attempting the pass which is a little disappointing. I love throwing the ball but it’s just smarter to run it in this game. I must have ran for over 60% of my plays in every game and it turned out well. I had Zeke run for over 200 yards on 4 different occasions and I’d usually run for close to 100 with Dak.

Running is fun too of course but not quite as epic as throwing the ball. To me that’s where the heart of Madden is as it’s all about making the right read at the right time. Most times there will be someone open but whether you notice that in time or after you throw the ball is really the deciding factor here. Still, I don’t throw much because the defenders can all jump 6 feet in any direction and just snag the ball out of anywhere. It’s crazy just how good they are and they have lightning fast reaction times.

Fortunately running the ball is still a blast so there’s that. The gameplay is just absolutely top notch so even if Madden were to keep on throwing out the same game every year, I would still have a blast with it. I just wish online play wasn’t an added cost or I would be having a lot of battles online. As it stands I don’t really get a chance to do that but if Madden 23 ends up coming out for the Switch that would be excellent and fix everything.

Outside of the normal games there are a bunch of other modes of course. We have an NFL street kind of experience as a new mode which is interesting. I don’t feel like you get a whole lot out of it compared to the normal games though so I wouldn’t say that it’s really a winner. More options is never a bad thing though and it doesn’t take away from playing the normal games. You’ve also got the story and all the online content so you won’t run out of things to do.

I will say that you might want to turn off injuries while playing through Franchise mode though. I decided to keep all settings as default but there were so many injuries during the games that it was crazy. I must have lost close to 10 people for the season which seemed excessive. Then there were a ton of injuries during the game that would hold them out til next week. It did make the playoffs a little more difficult but fortunately I got Zeke back for the championship and I never lost Dak. If I lost Dak then things might have really been curtains for me.

One feeling that the game really captures 100% is how some teams will stuff the run. There was one game where by halftime I had 12 rushes for 18 yards which is just sad. I eventually had to give up on the run and I ended up losing that game but for the most part I won all my games thanks to a very healthy blend of running and passing the ball. You need that kind of balance if you want to capture a win. Of course if you practice hard enough then you can probably win any which way. Fortunately there aren’t many fumbles going on either. That can feel cheesy since it’s an error that you couldn’t control so it should always be a rare event.

Naturally the game still puts a lot of effort into the graphics and how realistic the presentation is. I like how much detail is on the screen whether it’s your player’s stats or the team as a whole. You see a live sports ticket on the bottom of the screen as well and of course it’s fun to hear the commentators. Naturally they can improve and it’s no secret that EA has been very lazy with the series but it shows how good the fundamentals are. They could just keep copy and pasting the game over and over again and it would still end up being amazing. I would like to see what EA can do if they really try though. To date the best games are 2004 and 2013 so I’d like to see if they can ever be surpassed.

Overall, Madden 21 is definitely a blast. The series is as good as ever and you’re bound to have a lot of fun here. The content is almost literally unlimited and you can always try different plays and teams to freshen things up. Hopefully one day they can remove the unskippable cutscenes and also make the franchise mode a little more extensive. Do that and the series will just keep on getting better and better. I know Madden has the potential for even more greatness!

Overall 9/10

Earthworm Jim 2 Review


This is one of those games where I can’t say that I knew a whole lot about it but I definitely knew the name. Earthworm Jim is one of those names that just sticks around in your mind from start to finish. You can’t forget it because it’s just way too intense. The game lives up to the hype and is definitely a blast even if the ending starts to get a little on the crazy side. Certainly a very difficult game as well.

The game starts off with Jim on another adventure to save the princess or at least I think she’s a princess. Along the way he has to fight with a lot of different creatures. Get ready for some big plot twists by the end too. This is not a game that spells everything out for you. At times you will really have to connect the dots on your own and also decide how real the ending is. Personally I like to think the whole ending is completely real and just how it appears to be. It’s an ambitious way to end the game and I can definitely approve of that.

As for the gameplay, it’s Fairley standard for a shooter. You blast away at your enemies and keep on moving. Your ammo may not always be great but you slowly recover some if you’re ever totally out. I recommend not wasting your ammo though as it is extremely useful for every part of the game. You don’t want to be running low against a boss or you’re really in trouble. You have different kinds of guns around here too so try and learn how each one looks and feels. The best one is the machine gun style but all of the guns are useful for something or another. Mainly you also just can’t to be good at jumping and dodging so you don’t just eat every attack. Do that and then you’ll really be in a jam.

One level that gave me a lot of trouble is the final level so here’s something to keep in mind about that. You have to stay ahead of your opponent at all times here or you lose. If you make it to the end of the level but he was first then the level just ends with you being stuck until you run out of health. So you have to move really quickly here and it cost me a ton of tries to get that far. Trust me, it definitely was not easy at all especially because you’re never given any indication that the rules around this level were different than the rest. Seriously it just comes out of nowhere which makes the whole thing a bit surprising.

Aside from the gameplay, the soundtrack and graphics are all solid. This is what I would call the complete package because it looks and sounds good while also being a very satisfying play. It’s hard to go wrong here. It’s aged incredibly well for the SNES, you could probably get away with thinking this could even look like an N64 title. Throw in the fact that it had more of a real story than the others and it really seemed to be ahead of its time.

I’m a little surprised there weren’t more 2D platformer shooters back in the day. I suppose Mega Man cornered the market there but they always tend to be a lot of fun and satisfying. This one just proves that even more. It’s probably the last Switch Online game for a bit but I was definitely thrilled to get a chance to play this one. Hopefully the console keeps on updating with more and more solid games. Who knows what other gems are hiding out there just waiting to be played!

Overall, Earthworm Jim 2 is definitely a solid game. I had a lot of fun with it at least and the title really embraced how crazy the whole thing was. It was definitely not trying to be your average shooter game. I’d really be down with a remake of this game at some point. There’s a whole lot you can do here for the future. Some of the gameplay mechanics should be explained better so you aren’t walking around in circles or anything like that but those are easy fixes to make. (Finding out how to open up the flowers to throw around took me forever!) Pull that off and you’re in a good spot!

Overall 7/10

Dig Dug II Review


Dig Dug II is a pretty fun game. I wouldn’t say it quite holds up to the first one but it’s hard to say how much of that is just pure levels of quality and how much is nostalgia. If I were put to the ultimate test though I would still say the first just wins on merit. The underground levels worked perfectly for the series and same with how the gameplay was set up. There’s a reason why it became an all time classic after all. The sequel is still good though and it was certainly good enough where I kept going until I beat all 75 levels.

There isn’t really a story here though so just go in and start blasting all of the enemies. Your objectives will be clear from there. Now there is a tip I found out while going through the levels that will help you out. So you know from that start that you just press A to start plugging the enemies full of air so they pop right? Well, you may feel like pressing A as fast as you can is the way to go but that’s not quite right. It’s actually more effective to be pressing A while moving forward. For some reason that speeds everything up really quickly so you can potentially take out several enemies before they get to you.

The reason why this is huge is because in the latter levels you need every second. You have numerous enemies rushing at you and a single touch will mean that you lose a life. So every enemy you can knock out is one less that you will have to worry about later on. To clear a level you have to beat all enemies so it stands to reason that destroying them all as fast as you can is the way to go right? Beyond that you can also use your drill to make little barriers that the enemies will have to navigate around or try to dig under. Both options still buy you some more time as well.

Just play as fast and hard as possible. Your instincts will quickly catch up and then from there you will know what to do without an issue. The game is very intuitive after all. While I didn’t think the levels or gameplay style beat the original, it’s still a fairly high quality game here. There was a lot of dedication put into the title so you know from the start that this one’s a keeper. It is easy to just plug in and play plus it has a lot of replay value in trying to beat your high score. It may be a little more slow paced than some other arcade games so it can take a while to get to your turn if you’re sharing at an arcade but if you’re just trying to beat yourself then it’s perfect.

As for the graphics, they hold up pretty well. The game is nice and colorful with good minion sprites as well. You always know what is happening nd I wouldn’t say anything is blurry. It’s just a solid experience. The soundtrack is less memorable though. While you’re playing you probably won’t notice a thing because you’re just concentrating so hard. Not necessarily a bad thing though, just means that you’re really invested into the game the whole time.

If there’s something I would have liked to have seen in this game, it would be boss fights. I think a solid boss fight would have been really fun and if you spread them out to once every 10 levels or something, it would be a nice way for you to feel like you’re really making progress. I’m not exactly sure how you’d program the boss fights but feel like there is a lot of potential with how the gameplay is. That may have been the thing to help this one beat the original.

Overall, Dig Dug II is a fun game. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it because of how straight forward the game is. You either get it or you don’t but it’s not like there is a lot to learn or describe. It’s really just the same move that you used over and over again to get to the end of the level or to block off the enemies. Once you’ve learned the ropes then it all comes down to your reaction times and planning. I want to say you’ll get pretty far even without using the access points but defeating all 75 levels without restarting or rewinding once would be extremely difficult. Definitely not a challenge for the faint of heart.

Overall 6/10

Mappy-Land review


Mappy-Land is a fun game and one that manages to have a fairly unique gimmick to it. Instead of jumping on all of the enemies or heading to the goal, each stage is a mini collectathon. You have to grab all of the parts in each level to proceed. Some levels even have a second set of collectibles to grab as well so you’re always on the move here. At times the level’s goal can be a bit too vague for my liking but on the whole this is definitely a fun game that you should enjoy. It’ll be over in a breeze but the level designs are all solid and I have to imagine that if this was before the Switch Online version it would have been extremely difficult to complete. I would have died so many times if not for being able to alter my fate.

There’s not much of a story here but what we do have is told through little cutscenes like Pac-Man. It even follows some of the same story beats as we meet the wife and kid. Definitely an emotional kind of moment right there but it’s safe to say that you’ll really be here for the actual gameplay either way. So with that as the main hook you should have a good time. My advice would be to learn the attack items right away since those help when you’re in a pinch. Also, you can actually jump over the minions which is extremely handy.

At first I would just run away from them whenever they showed up so being able to keep going where you wanted was a game changer. Naturally the risk is a lot greater since if your timing is up even by an instant you will lose a whole life there. You definitely gotta be careful about that but otherwise you’re all set. When you’re on the balloon for the aerial levels, just try not to get too close to the enemies. You can blast them from afar and then move forward. Your weapon has a lot of range.

This tricked me a bit at first so once you get the usual collectables you need to go inside of the Church. That’s where you will find the key item that will let you go further. Without it you will end up being essentially stuck in place so you definitely want to keep that in mind. I remember wasting a bunch of time on the train in one level because I wasn’t sure what to do next.

When you wait too long, an unbeatable enemy will appear. It’s like a floating plate that keeps going after you and any contact means defeat. Of course, that is true of any enemy in this game since Mappy has 0 durability but this thing is extremely fast and can fly so jumping won’t cut it. If you see this enemy in a level it’s fair to say that it may already be over for you. Dodging it or staying our of the way are both incredibly difficult and nearly impossible to actually pull off.

Meanwhile the graphics are pretty fun here. I thought they were nice and colorful and the art style really holds up even to the modern day which I find impressive. It’s not easy for a game to hold up over decades but it is absolutely possible if you play your cards right. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side though. Not bad…just good luck actually remembering any of the tunes. It’s not as iconic as Pac Man or as energetic as Mario which leaves it in a bad spot. It just doesn’t excel the way that it could have.

The game is reasonably short so you’ll probably beat it in a day or 2 if you’re focused up. Either way there is some replay value. This game keeps going on loop after you beat it so you can still try to work on your high score as you go through. That’s at least something to aspire to right? I don’t see you sticking around for too long on this one as there are just so many other big titles to check out but all in all it’s just a well balanced title.

Overall, Mappyland is definitely a game that I can recommend. It’s just a fun little experience and one of those games that is extremely easy to plug and play at any time. I certainly had fun with it at the very least. A modern remake of this game could be a lot of fun and it’s also a good way to show people how to do a collectathon. A proper one should have the collectibles built into each level so you can’t proceed without them. That way you aren’t suddenly blindsided by having to go back and grab them later. I feel like this series is so forgotten that a remake is unlikely but never say never right?

Overall 6/10

Driver 2 Advance Review


I don’t recall how old I was when I was first told that I was the Wheelman but it was definitely a while ago. The original Driver game was a blast as you drove around town in the huge open world environment. It was fun to work on the story but it was also neat to just have fun in free roam. I’d spend hours following the law there and then hours running from the police. It was really an ambitious game with a really intense final level involving the president. This game is a lot more low key and a step down in all areas but still a good title in the end.

Tanner is still as involved in the underworld and mafia business as ever. It’s definitely not the safest job and you’ll see a lot of people getting shot all the time. Well, some big gangsters have run off with more money than their fair share so Tanner is going to take them down. It won’t be easy since these guys have a lot of connections but that isn’t scaring the lead here. He’ll still jump right into action and take down anyone who stands in his way. He has the skills to back it up so the villains better be worried.

There are around 30 levels here and most of them are pretty short. You can easily beat this game in around 2 hours if you don’t lose but I think it’s safe to expect that you will lose sometimes. I wouldn’t say the game is super hard or anything like that but it’s not a cake walk either. You will occasionally get defeated by RNG a few times as well.

See, the gameplay initially starts off like your average driving game. You have to get to the destination located on your map to beat the level. Other levels will have you trying to take down an enemy car instead of running to a different car. The levels where you have to go out on foot are few but they do happen. It’s a mechanic that doesn’t seem to have had any point being here by the end though. You could take it out and things wouldn’t really change.

Now where does the RNG come into play? Well, the police cars will randomly appear at times to get in your way. If they happen to teleport right in front of you then you’re doomed from the jump. Sometimes they would appear as soon as the level started and I had to quickly restart because there was no chance of making it through. I wouldn’t say this is an issue too often but you always feel a little fear when turning the corner because a car may suddenly be there. It’s clear that this one did not have a whole lot of processing power. Things would disappear right when they are out of sight and a lot of times what you see isn’t really there. There are countless times you will see the ocean ahead before the buildings load.

The game is also quite glitchy in general. I lost 2-3 levels because of glitches. One involved the computer being unable to move and since it was one of those “Tail the villain” missions, that meant I couldn’t win. In another one the enemy fell into the ocean which counted as a loss for me since I was supposed to take down all of the health points myself. Those glitches would always be quite unfortunate. The game’s fairly short so at least even with all of that I didn’t have to replay too much of the game but there should have been more polish here.

On a technical level the game just isn’t very impressive. The GBA graphics are some of the weakest ones I’ve seen in quite some time. Definitely on the weaker side for the console, no doubt about that. The way the story cutscenes go is also not very inspired. The text is very slow as it auto scrolls and it just follows still images which aren’t stylized at all. The story isn’t super engaging but the way they put this in did not help matters at all. The only thing I could say that’s really good about the game from a production perspective is the soundtrack. I actually thought that was really catchy the whole time. I had a good time with it at the very least and while they tend to replay the same tunes a lot, they still really get to you.

The gameplay is also pretty good. It’s nowhere near the level of the first game but it does still manage to capture the essence of what this is all about. The game is short so you won’t get to enjoy this for long but while you’re playing you will have a good time. So in the end what does this really mean? Well, Driver 2 is a game that I can recommend if you really like driving around but there’s no real good reason to pick this one up in particular. There are countless amounts of better titles in the genre to pick up after all so no reason to stick it through here. In a vacuum it can hold its own but it won’t be winning any awards.

Overall, I think Driver 2 could and should have been a little better. At the very least the story should have been more engaging since the first game had its fun moments. There is absolutely no replay value in this game which is unfortunate. That could have at least been a way to spice things up and keep you here for the long-haul. Instead that also shows how this game will be one that you complete and then forget forever. I’m hoping Driver 3 will be the game that really takes things up to the next level because I know the potential is here for the franchise. It just needs to live up to it and soon.

Overall 6/10

Claymates Review


Claymates is the next platformer in line and this one always looked like fun. You get to turn into different animals and run through a variety of levels. Who wouldn’t enjoy that for a while right? Well, it’s a good game but one that is limited by some questionable decisions like a whole bunch of puzzles that you have to play through. Cut those out and this would be even better if you ask me. I guess we do have to roll with it in the end though and it’s still not bad. You should be able to have some fun with this one for a few hours.

The game starts with the main character being turned into clay by the villain who kidnaps his father. The lead must now master his abilities before it’s too late. The gameplay here is your classic 2D adventure as you have to run through and take names. You get to the end of the level and then you’re taken to the hub world where you have to clear a puzzle and then start the next level. There are 4-5 worlds to conquer here and each one has a few levels. It’s not a particularly long game but I would say that some of the levels can be a bit longer than what you might be used to. They aren’t always linear too so sometimes you will have to go backwards.

It’s not one of those games where you can hold right and go all the way until you beat it. You will actually have to change directions at times and the game won’t hold your hand so bring your best. Any big mistakes can definitely cost you some time like some teleporters that take you back to the beginning of the level. Now those are really hard to deal with so make sure you dodge them as best you can. The 10 minute timer for each level is generous but you still want to try and minimize how often you have to go back and replay portions of the level right?

Each animal form has a different attack/ability although all of the offensive moves tend to work the same way. One of them has a projectile instead of a close range attack which is good. The others mainly alternate between bites and scratches so you’ll have the same effect. You can also run really fast in these forms. 9 times out of 10 this will cause you to get hit but it’s still fun to just run all out real quickly. It temporarily feels like a Sonic game that way.

So the gameplay is a lot of fun and I don’t really have any issues there. The platforming parts are handled well and with care. The plot is also pretty good and the cutscenes we do get help to show their personalities better than the titles with no cutscenes. It’s not a lot or anything like that but every bit helps. So that’s taken care of but the biggest tricky thing here are the puzzles between levels. Basically you have to help navigate 2 robots over to the end where they can use a bomb or a hammer to get rid of the obstacles. You can’t move the robots directly so you have to move obstacles to guide them there. At first they are fun enough but as this goes on you end up needing more and more complicated ways to move them which can be a bit tedious.

You’ll make it through eventually but once the puzzles start taking longer than the actual levels you feel like it’s gone too far. It just doesn’t make sense since the main gameplay is presumably why you are here in the first place. Also, I seemed to get caught up in a glitch near the end of the game where one of the cars vanished so I couldn’t use it to manipulate the robots. That felt really cheesy especially since I was so close to the end of the game. Sure, there’s probably a way to fix the glitch like going into an old level and completing it again but I didn’t know that for a fact and wasn’t sure I wanted to go back and replay anything.

So instead I figured that would be where I ended things. At least I did save the father so I ended up beating most of the game. Perhaps it wasn’t 100% but it was close enough. Glitches just take the fight right out of you. I want to assume it’s a fairly rare one though so hopefully you shouldn’t be affected by it if you decide to play the game through. Then you can really enjoy it.

As for the soundtrack and graphics, those are good enough. The game’s got a good amount of energy going for it and you can tell they put some effort here. Visually the game holds up quite well and the music was catchy enough from what I remember. So in the end this is one I could recommend as long as you have the Switch Online. It’s free that way so you may as well right? While the puzzles take away from the fun, the actual levels are crafted well and the length also isn’t bad for the SNES. The transformation gimmick works well. Between Kirby and Jelly Boy it seems like I’ve been running into that a whole lot lately.

Overall, Claymates is an interesting game with a fun premise. A modern remake with some more dialogue and cutscenes would absolutely be a full win if you ask me. Just keep those puzzles out of this and focus on it being a platformer. Let me speed through the levels like I did here but maybe give some opportunities for me to run without being hit. It’s not like Sonic has the exclusive copyright on going fast so lets get this job done. Bring back the big villains and boss fights to make the whole thing feel authentic. We’ll see if the next SNES game can beat this one but ultimately I would say this was still a good title. It gets the job done, glitch or not.

Overall 6/10

Bleach the 3rd Phantom Review


Now this is a game that I’ve owned for generations but never went around to beating it. The game’s just so crazy long and back then I wouldn’t have made it. Well, I finally got to play the game from start to finish now and it’s a lot of fun. Be prepared to be here for a while though as the game definitely takes its time with you. Be prepared to grind out some extra level ups and use some cheese as well. Without that you will be in for a rough time here.

The game starts off by introducing us to two siblings named Fujimaru and Matsuri. They grew up in the rough part of Soul Society but get taken in by Captain Seigen and his sister Konoka. They decide to look after the kids and eventually they grow up into fine Soul Reapers. Their time together is cut short when they disappear into a time portal through to the future. Now Seigen is on the side of darkness along with Matsuri while Konoka is no more. Can Fujimaru find out exactly what happened? Also…why is Aizen poised to be the greatest threat that the heroes have ever fought?

The game has 25 chapters and each one can take over an hour so you’ve got a lot to do here. I dare say that you may even spend over 50 hours here by the end of its run. The game does not hold back on how long the levels can be and even some of the cutscenes can be on the long side. So this isn’t a game that you can rush through and as a result we also get quite a lot of story to discuss. That’s for sure. A lot happens here across the two time periods.

First we should talk about the gameplay style here. It’s a tactics game so the idea is to maneuver your pieces around the board and attack the enemy when you have a type advantage. Don’t get greedy here and just take what they give you. You will be moving up to 9 characters at a time. Once you have moved everyone once then it is the opponent’s turn so you have to wait as they attack. The idea is to pick your moment so that you can attack and take the opponent down without eating a counter attack.

There’ a whole lot to describe here if I was going to go into detail on how to play a tactics game but I’ll let you look that part up. It’s fairly self descriptive anyway. You just have to find out exactly how to move everyone and what combination of moves to use. Once you have that figured out then you’ve already won half the battle. Each character can move, attack, use a skill, use an item, or raise spirit pressure. Raising your pressure lets you recover spirit energy quicker which is used to activate your skills or bankai. So naturally you want to have a lot of that at all times.

I didn’t take advantage of the items much until the end but I can definitely tell you that they came in handy. One key thing to always remember here is to keep your healer in the back. Healing usually takes up a lot of health if you’re Orihime or isn’t versatile if you’re using someone like Shiho. You have to take all of that into account when playing through the levels.

Additionally, be careful when you have to split up your team. If you put everyone on one side then the other team will end up being in a tough spot. Try to keep it as balanced as possible. Worst case if you forget you can quickly grind by using free battle. You can do this while at the character selection screen through the options. This lets you raise everyone’s level in the bonus stage. Still, you need to be careful because hypothetically you could find yourself in a position where your team is unable to beat the practice level. If that happens then there is no way to train and you’d have to start the game again. I can definitely say that I did get a little nervous during some levels in the game due to this.

Also, one tip for the final boss. The final level is a really long one and the final boss has 8000 health points while more enemies only have about 1000. That means you’re going to be in for 30+ turns of trying to take him out. The thing to know is that he can attack in any row he is facing and can seal your attacks if you get too close. He cannot hit you at a diagonal angle though so that’s how I got him. Slow and steady was my measure as I gradually drained the energy out of him while he couldn’t retaliate. It’s a tough strategy but one that saved my bacon there. I highly recommend having a strong projectile user like Uryu at the ready to pull this off. Also make sure that you upgrade each character between levels.

I’m mixed on if you should upgrade your sword or go with pure stats. I went with the sword but there were a lot of times where it didn’t seem to help much and I wondered if I should have just paid more attention to health and attack points. Those were the 2 main stats I would raise aside from the sword. Personally that’s probably a better deal than the sword so keep that in mind. I could talk more on the gameplay but I do think you get the general idea here.

The graphics are pretty solid. I would have liked some true cutscenes though instead of images all the time. I feel like the DS could have pulled this off. Ah well, the story is a lot of fun either way and I do like the visual effects here. Activating Bankai always feels fancy in a very good way. You can tell that the technique will make a difference in combat. Some Bankai are better than others but they’re all still better than not having one. I didn’t unlock Fujimaru’s though so I ended up playing without it.

The soundtrack is surprisingly good as well. There are some fun tunes here and the game knew how to get that danger feeling across. There’s a good variety of tunes here as well so you don’t have to worry about hearing the game one too often. In terms of replay value, the main campaign is so long that you don’t even need it. Still, there is a lot since you unlock the Bleach Tower where you get to go through all of the floors and take out a bunch of enemies. Apparently the main campaign is short next to the tower so take that as you will. I can’t say I would be too tempted to try my might up there. It would just take too long plus having the story is definitely a good chunk of the fun.

It was nice to see Aizen and friends here to take some names. He definitely gets a lot of respect in the game as you’d expect. Fujimaru is the main character here and I thought he was okay. He’s not really my kind of character as he slacks off/goofs off way too much but he tries his best by the end. Matsuri is way too gullible which hurts her character. She doesn’t have a lot of conviction of her own which ends up putting her in a sticky situation. Seigen suffers from the same issues to an extent. He gets suckered a lot but the guy does have conviction. Unfortunately he just tends to join the wrong side which isn’t a good look. You absolutely understand why he’s so upset but even so, he’s just going to the wrong side here.

Konoka is more on the side of reason. She’s a fun character through and through who tries her best. Finally you have Shiyo who is a bit too clumsy for her own good. This holds her back considerably. I would have liked to have seen Ichigo be the main character here and I suppose he already gets to be the lead all the time but it would have been nice to see him take names. Now he’s got to share the spotlight for a change.

Overall, This is a game that will require a lot of patience because of how long every match is. Tactic type games really are meant to have you focus on every play so it’s hard to go too fast. I would often be reading while playing because of how long every turn takes. I think there should have been a way to turn off attack animations or something like that but it’s not the kind of thing that would end up hurting the game’s score. I would still say this one was great. There is a lot of attention to the Bleach mythos so you really shouldn’t be disappointed here. It did everything it could to be one of the definitive Bleach titles and it was also cool to see the Wii game’s villain return. That guy was always pretty fun even if he couldn’t match up to Aizen. If you want to check out a tactical game, this is the one for you!

Overall 8/10

Jelly Boy Review


Jelly Boy is one of those games that very easily could have been a really good one. Instead it made the big mistake of trying to force collectibles onto you instead. Let me tell you, that was not a good move. By the time you finish the first world you’ll need to turn back and nobody wants to do that. It’s a bit sloppier than other platformers but I wouldn’t call it a bad game. You’re just not likely to go back and finish it.

You play as a little Jelly guy and can go around punching your opponents. Along the way you can turn into a variety of items like a hammer which will certainly keep your opponents on guard. This helps to ensure the gameplay is always adapting since you’re never in any one form for too long. Turning and jumping can be a bit more on the annoying side here but you do have some features like the rewind to help with that. It’s not exactly Mario in terms of how smooth the game is, but few titles are right? It’s not exactly a knock against the game because nothing should be expected to go toe to toe with Mario like that.

As mentioned earlier though, the biggest issue here is really the fact that I could not get into world 2. Seemingly this was because I didn’t have the piece of the puzzle from every level but they’re really hidden. I only happened to come across one of them so the rest are probably buried deep into the levels. This really goes against the concept of a platformer in the first place since it’s supposed to be a very calming experience where you have fun with the levels and keep it moving. By giving you something to look for, the game is no longer than leisurely experience you once craved. Quite a few platformers seem to make this mistake.

Now the graphics are good at least. I thought they did a good job with the artwork for each of the characters and the color schemes as a whole. The game looks good even though it’s so old. The soundtrack is also okay. Nothing super memorable but it is catchy enough and so the game flows rather well. On a technical aspect I do think they did their best here and you can tell that some effort was put in.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this one. It’s always fun to play the more retro games but in some cases like this one, it just reminds you how far we have come. Nowadays a game like this would probably still be a little bit better because either there would be more of a real story or the gameplay would just be smoother. This one hasn’t aged particularly well and that’s probably why you wouldn’t have heard of it before Nintendo announced that it would be in the next online wave. A title like this just would not have stood out for very long at the toy store. Not when you had bigger titles always coming out to overshadow it.

Now if you could remove the collectibles and tighten up the gameplay a bit, then I think this would have really had some potential. The gimmick of turning into objects and other people is one that would work really well. Right now that’s still a big thing like how Odyssey let you control others with the hat and Kirby would transform in the latest game. People like to have different gameplay styles and that’s where Slime Boy would come in. Who knows, maybe one day they will make a sequel or a full remake. The odds seem slight but you never know.

Overall, Jelly Boy is okay at best. You can see some promise in the game as you go through it but it just made too many mistakes and that’s why this one never hit it big. The biggest thing to remember is you never want collectibles to be mandatory. Perhaps there was another reason I couldn’t get into world 2 but if there was then that’s just as bad because there was no indicator of that. All in all, it just means that accessing the rest of the game is more difficult than it should be. You’ll probably want to avoid this one but if you need a new platformer to check out then I suppose this one will do the trick at least for a little while.

Overall 5/10

Bombuzal Review


It’s been quite a while since I went back to play the old SNES titles so this was certainly nostalgic. Can the new ones possibly beat the classics though? Bombuzal has an interesting concept that reminds me of Bomberman to an extent. It’s an interesting puzzle game but one that ultimately could have benefited big time from actually having more of a story or at least some kind of illustrations between the levels. It would make the whole thing come alive because otherwise you don’t see the point of continuing after a while. There are a ton of levels here so you’re absolutely getting a lot of bang for your buck but it all starts to feel the same after a while.

The gameplay has you starting on a field with a bunch of bombs. The idea is to set them all off without being caught up in the explosion. Initially this just means setting them off and walking away. You can only move 1 space after setting off a bomb so you would go in the opposite direction. The levels quickly get more difficult though as you have to set off multiple bombs and stay out of the way. You can even cause a ripple effect where everything blows up except your square.

If you pick the wrong spot then it’s all over though. Additionally some levels will have switches and other gimmicks to help you move the bombs around. There are even teleportation squares and naturally ones that disintegrate so you can’t use the same route to go back. The puzzles are impressive here because the levels are really not that big and the controls are simple so you’re surprised that you don’t find the right answer right away.

With the game being on the simple side, you really feel like the difficulty is earned and nothing about it is cheesy. If there’s a level you aren’t able to beat then that’s on you and not the developers. Yeah some of the controls may not be made apparent at first but you’ll certainly get it after some trial and error. Some bombs even move around so you have to time it carefully on when you want to detonate them. Do it too quickly or too late and it will wreck your chances at clearing the level.

The soundtrack’s okay. The game feels like it has one main theme but it’s a catchy one that works for the levels. I’d also say that the graphics aren’t bad and hold up fairly well for their time. The explosions are nice and the controls are smooth so you don’t feel like you’re just stuck. If you lose it’s because you didn’t interpret the level correctly, not because you slipped or something like that.

With over 100 levels this game will last you quite a while. As mentioned earlier, I just think it could have used more of a story or something to break up the monotony though. Now if a gameplay is good enough then you don’t need anything else. You can play endless levels because it’s just that fun like Lollipop or Fruits Mania. The problem is that Bombuzal just isn’t in that league. If I had to guess on why that is, I would say it’s because the puzzles are a bit longer but less active. You’ll spend a lot of time thinking about what to do as opposed to just doing it. In other puzzle titles you are always moving things around to try and get a clearer picture. So in a way this one has you in the backseat for a bit. It makes all of the levels a bit longer.

There’s not much bad to say about the game except that it’s just very limited. There really isn’t a whole lot to do here and so you’ll probably grow bored of it long before you end up beating all of the levels. I would say it’s one you can just pick up and continue in the future but it’s not an easy one to plug and play since you’ll have to remember how each of the bombs work through the level designs. Otherwise you’re just going to be dying a whole lot.

Overall, Bombuzal is a reasonable game but one where the limitations really show themselves. This is an example of an old game that feels old. It couldn’t pass for more of a modern title and needed some other options to improve its replay value. If you have the Switch Online this is free so you should definitely check it out for a little while. I don’t think you’ll be going back to this one though so it’ll likely end up being forgotten after that.

Overall 5/10