7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Little Big Planet 2 Review


It’s time to look at the second Little Big Planet game. I played the first one a while back and wasn’t particularly impressed. I found the story mode to be rather boring as nothing really happened. Platforming gameplay is fun enough but I do need some kind of story or at least bright graphics to get me through. The first game’s gameplay wasn’t the sharpest and the backgrounds weren’t amazing either so that left me in a spot. Fortunately the sequel greatly improved on all accounts and actually ended up being quite solid. I was impressed with this game and now I can actually say that I look forward to playing the third when initially I scoffed at the prospect.

Sackboy is thrust into another big conflict here. Some dark dragons/overlords have begun kidnapping powerful people and conquering multiple worlds. Sackboy must now team up with a comedian, an old man, a queen, a fighter in order to take these guys down. Sackboy may not look like the most intimidating character in the bunch but he has the power to interact with anything and he’s got a lot of determination on his side as well. He won’t be going down easy and with his friends at the ready maybe they can actually make a real change here. He won’t know until he tries so Sackboy is ready to defy all odds and get started here.

First off the fact that this game actually has a real story nearly blew me off my chair. I was pleasantly shocked to see real cutscenes with voice acting and everything. The story even has an epic feel to it with powerful opponents and a lot of scary designs. The purple monsters are excellent and they all look quite evil. These aren’t kid designs or anything like that, they’re just going in. The worlds all have pretty unique designs and gameplay strategies to them as well which is good and there’s a reasonable degree of difficulty here. This is a platformer that is actually trying quite hard. There was a lot of time put into this one.

The main gameplay is that of a 2D platformer. You run and jump past obstacles as you get to the end. There are a lot of extra details and mechanics at play here too though. For starters you’ve can grab onto objects which helps you jump across large gaps. You also throw objects to block some flames or throw them into enemies. You lead mini Sackboys over obstacles as well. Then you’ve got the possession levels where you use a stuffed rabbit or cat to blast your way through levels. There are also levels where you take control of a bee and these are basically sci-fi ship levels. You have an energy blaster and it’s all great fun. I wouldn’t have minded if we got more aerial levels like that. The important thing though is that the game succeeds in all of its different gameplay variations. They’re all pretty fun and well polished.

Graphically the game has come far from the first one too. The first game felt more experimental in a lot of levels as it would have odd looking live action graphics and things of that nature. This one still keeps some of the more disturbing imagery but it’s toned down to a great extent and feels a lot more mainstream. That’s definitely the way I like it and while it’s still not on the level of Mario or Kirby there are some really nice looking moments. The enemies and the final world in general are good examples of that. The soundtrack is a lot more forgettable though. There are no tunes from the game that I even remember.

The length is fairly reasonable for a platformer. I’d say it took 5-6 hours to complete. It’s definitely not the longest title out there but you don’t really expect games in this genre to be all that long. It’s mainly all about a quick experience filled with a lot of creative levels and fun times along the way. The main question is if those levels were fun and engaging to which I can confirm that the title did a good job with this. I was certainly kept well entertained throughout which was good. There also is a good amount of replay value to be found here even if the online may not be operational anymore. You can still collect a lot of items and complete side missions too.

Overall, Little Big Planet 2 brings in every element that I had wanted to see from the first game. It’s a big improvement in every sense and this may be the most improvement I’ve seen from game to game in a long time. If you like platformers then I can completely recommend this one to you. It’s good fun and while some parts of the game can be challenging I don’t expect you would be stuck for long. The final boss is probably the only part of the game that didn’t seem to be designed all that well. The fight just takes too long and there is a ton of waiting here since for most of the fight he is invincible. Eventually you defeat him but it’s a lot longer than it is difficult.

Overall 7/10

9 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokemon Black Review


It’s time to take a look at one of the most iconic Pokemon games of all time. Pokemon Black/White got a whole lot of hype and recognition when it first came out. It had one of the biggest stories back in the day and a massive postgame. Well, it’s all deserved. After playing the game I can definitely see why it is known as one of the all time greats. This game really had everything you could ask for and then some. The main campaign does feel a bit short though. In terms of play time it is the shortest Pokemon game I ever played with only 14 hours before being completed. Yes, that’s even counting Pokemon Ranger and Mystery Dungeon.

The game starts with Terry getting ready to be a Pokemon Trainer. He has two rivals in this game, Bianca and Cheren. Both of them want to be the best as well but of course the best they can hope for is second place at this point. Terry won’t let go of the 1st spot. One obstacle in his path though is Team Plasma. They are an organization that believes Pokemon battling is wrong and intends to separate all of the Pokemon from their trainers. While most of the members are radical and downright evil, it is a very interesting premise. The idea of Pokemon battling in any setting other than the Utopia Pokemon exists in would be quite sinister. I’d actually be on Team Plasma’s team to an extent but of course in this game they are the villains so don’t expect them to be too reasonable.

The most neutral character within the team is N. He really believes in the cause and tries to do things the right way. He takes down the Pokemon League including the Champion just to prove that he is the best. He’s not running around committing crimes or anything like that. At the same time he is helping Plasma though so you do have to acknowledge that he is at least complicit in what is going on. He’s effectively acting as an accomplice the whole time. He’s one of the best villains that I’ve seen in a Pokemon game though. The whole climax of the story is also great with a lot of difficult battles and they’re all back to back. I can’t think of another time where I actually felt such a sense of danger and tension while playing through a Pokemon game. It was really quite impressive.

I actually lost to the first few gym leaders a few times. Then when I hit the Elite Four I got slammed by the first member. Granted in part it’s because it takes forever and a day to get the two EXP shares in this game though. Once I obtained them grinding was a lot more efficient. It was fun to actually see wild Pokemon who were stronger than all of my characters except for the main one though. Even when I finally got Reshiram he was stronger than 5 of my Pokemon which was pretty crazy. The game doesn’t hold back in the difficulty and I rather enjoyed that. It made things fresh and kept you on the edge the whole time.

The gameplay is basically the same as always. It’s a classic turn based combat system where you assemble a team of 6 and work to defeat all of the other trainers. There are also caves and such to navigate around as you try to get to the end. Most of the HMs are gone in this game but you will still need Cut at some point. None of the others are mandatory for beating the game which is pretty cool. It’s always sad when you have to throw these moves on a Pokemon because they could have used the spots for something better. I do recommend using Fly once you get it though. It saves you a lot of the legwork. The game follows the usual formula for the most part as you obtain the 8 badges and then fight the Elite Four. The main difference is how you get to skip the Champion and having a real final showdown in the castle at the end. I don’t think Pokemon’s ever really changed things up at the last second like this before so it was pretty awesome.

The graphics look great as always. The sprites are on point and we do get a few cutscenes here. The scene of Zekrom shattering the windows and showing up was pretty cool. It’s always nice to see Legendary Pokemon actually looking legendary. This guy got a lot of hype and it was all pretty deserved. Meanwhile the soundtrack is one of the best that I’ve seen. Pretty much every theme is amazing and I even liked the Team Plasma jingle for whenever you fight one of their minions. This game felt really high budget and was probably around GameFreak’s peak. It takes the best out of the past Pokemon elements while ditching the unnecessary ones. Mix that in with a bigger plot than usual as well as extra rivals and you have a winning formula.

As I mentioned the story is only around 14 hours but when you mix in the post game and catching all of the Pokemon I’m sure you will be here for at least 30 hours. There is a lot to explore and based on the difficulty for the main game I’m guessing that the postgame will be quite challenging as well. It’ll take a while to get your team geared up to deal with all of the threats left. Especially since all of the limited edition Gamestop Pokemon are long gone by now. You won’t be able to rely on them to win you the day.

Overall, Pokemon Black is an excellent game. If you like RPGs at all then I highly recommend checking it out. Pokemon Ruby is ultimately still my favorite Pokemon main game of all time but I would certainly put this in 2nd place. It’s just a ton of fun and delivers a complete experience. I’m definitely pretty hyped to get the sequel at some point. Black 2 and Heartgold are now the only two big Pokemon games that I don’t have yet. Once I have them then I will have finally gone through the entire series which is pretty cool. I do aim to play some more Pokemon games in the near future though so it’s going to be time to dust off the spinoffs.

8 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Saint Seiya: Shining Soldiers Review


It’s time to look at a recent mobile game that I downloaded. Saint Seiya always looked like it would be another fun installment and I remember seeing a few articles about it. Mobile games are definitely on the rise as of late and it’s nice to see that the quality has stayed consistently high as well. I think that’s usually a pretty tough trick but with how profitable these games tend to be it makes sense to craft them really well. This is another great mobile game that will only get better with time.

When you launch the game be prepared for around 20 tutorials. It’s hard to keep track of all the information so I would usually head to Reddit if I want to know more. The game does its best not to be too overwhelming and I would say that the menu layouts are pretty solid. For a gatcha game like this you can only simplify it so much after all. You get free items every day which is always cool and it’s like a daily routine to start with. You then have an energy meter so you can play a bunch of matches and modes until you run out. You never have to worry about running out when playing levels for the first time though because they will recharge your meter automatically. This only comes into play when doing re-runs.

There are a ton of modes here of course. One of the big ones is online but I don’t recommend going there until you’ve played offline for a while and leveled up your characters. I’ve done pretty well for myself in most PVP options for these games but in Saint Seiya mine were too low level to bother with it so I skipped out on that part this time. You can also summon new characters with jewels or play through the story mode. As with most mobile games the story will be getting new chapters periodically. Surprisingly the story is very short at the moment. I cleared all of the levels in under 3 hours which is pretty much unheard of for a mobile title. Usually you launch with a ton of them. Just look at Seven Deadly Sins which had over 10 hours of story content at launch. Saint Seiya can learn a thing or two from that one.

Interestingly rather than go chronologically the game starts every arc with a few battles. The Golden Saints arc goes up to Ikki vs Shaka while the others all just have the opening fights. The Hades arc is another exception as it jumps right to Kanon vs the 3 Generals. It’s an interesting approach but there should have been way more story levels if you ask me. Then you have the temporary specials so you want to play those levels before they’re gone. There is one for Cassios and one for Mu. Most Gatcha games follow the same trends and this one is no exception. Since I played a lot of Dragon Ball Legends back in the day it was all pretty formidable.

The gameplay is a 3 vs 3 battle with 1 v 1 fights at a time. It’s similar to Pokemon so you want to switch out if you’re in a bad match up. You then choose your attack and the last team standing wins. The gameplay is very smooth and the attacks look quite solid. The graphics in general are definitely top tier here. The armors really stand out and everything feels high end and fresh. You couldn’t tell that this is a mobile game and that’s been true for so many lately that there almost isn’t even a point in saying so anymore. It’s just how it is at this point and that’s a good state for the games to be in.

The soundtrack is very limited, but effective. The opening theme is the old theme song which is really good because that one has aged quite well. During the cutscenes we have a nice danger theme and the music during the gameplay is solid. You won’t hear a lot more than that, but each theme is quite solid so the limited variety doesn’t really end up hurting you. You’re having too much fun with the gameplay to worry about it.

So my only issue with the game is the length, but unlike ARMS we have a lot of different modes to enjoy here. You can jump online as I mentioned or play in one of the many events. You will need to spend a lot of time upgrading your characters as well and grabbing materials. It can get very time consuming to build the perfect team and with new characters being added constantly you can’t really take a break. One thing about these kinds of games is that they are long term commitments if you want to be the best online. If the offline content is all you care about then you don’t need to worry so much as those battles rarely get all that difficult. In DB Legends it took a long time and tons of chapters to get to the point where you really needed to try.

Overall, Shining Soldiers is a great title. If you’ve got some time and want a good action packed mobile title then this is the one for you. It looks like it’ll be doing a good job of adapting the whole Saint Seiya series and it’s always nice to see Aiolos show up since the guy never got much of a role in the actual series. You’ll best enjoy the game if you’re not playing another Gatcha title right now. I’ve noticed that it’s always tough to balance more than one of them in part because they all tend to be the same game just repackaged a bit. Shining Soldiers can hold its own blow for blow with any of the others though.

Overall 8/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

ARMS Review


It’s time to look at a fighting game Nintendo churned out a while back. It was one of the big titles for the Switch since it utilized the Joy Con features a lot. That being said, it got quiet very quickly after it came out. It was seen as pretty gimicky but those who stuck around with it did enjoy the game a lot. Well, now it is currently free on the Nintendo Eshop for a few days so I decided to check it out. This way I’ll save myself 60 bucks from actually buying it. It is a great fighting game and there’s a lot of fun to be had here.

When you boot the game up you will notice one thing missing from the start. There is no Story Mode. I was pretty surprised to see that there wasn’t even an Arcade Mode to play through with unique openings and endings. There is 0 story in this game and I think that’s pretty inexcusable for a modern day fighting game. You have to at least do the bare minimum which is have some still images while there is some dialogue about the character. We don’t actually know anything about these characters as a result which is pretty iffy. We’re literally just fighting for kicks now.

So the main modes here are the offline tournament mode and battling people online. The former is fun enough for learning the controls of the game. You get to face off with the computer in traditional fights as well as some minigames like basketball and punching through the rings. The basketball game is very fun and it’s something people have made stages for in Super Smash Bros all the time. The fact that it’s an official mode here it pretty awesome. I can see people having a lot of fun with it here. The shooting though the rings is not quite as fun. It’s basically just a normal fight since the rings barely seem to matter. Landing hits on the opponent is still the best way to win.

As for the main gameplay, it’s a 3D brawler with a similar setup to Pokken. All of your attacks are long range though. You can punch from one side of the stage to the other. You can also try to grab an opponent which will go through the guard. It’s a pretty straight forward fighting game so you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Once you store up enough energy you can use a final smash as well. You’re also given the option to switch your punching equipment between every round. It affects the range of your punch and how strong they are. Test out each weapon until you find one that you really like.

With the points you earn you can then head to the shop and buy some new weapons. It’s a little different than most traditional shops though. You don’t actually pick the equipment that you want. You’re put into a level where you punch at boxes and such. Occasionally a big box will show up containing a random equipment. You have to punch it to obtain this piece. Based on the length of time you chose for this minigame will determine how many items you get. It’s a bit of a roundabout way of unlocking things but it’s fun enough. I’m fine with it as long as duplicates don’t show up. It’d be annoying to play through the whole thing and find out that you just got an old piece.

The character roster isn’t amazing, but it’s decent. It’s big enough where you can’t call it small, but at the same time it could have benefited from a few more characters. I can see how people would like using motion controls for this, but I definitely like traditional for the best. It’s still pretty interesting to use the mechanics since punching with one arm at a time isn’t something you usually do in fighting games. It helps to keep the game a little more fresh and that’s never a bad thing. Particularly since the gameplay is all you will be here for.

The graphics are top notch. It looks and feels a lot like Pokken to me. I wonder if some of the same people were behind this one. It’s all very vibrant and that’s a good thing. The soundtrack is also very lively although a little less memorable. It works well enough while you’re fighting which is the important part. You always want some fast themes to fight to since it helps you keep your speed and tempo up. A slow theme would absolutely defeat the purpose if you ask me.

Really the only thing holding this title back from being better is the lack of content. It really feels like there is nothing to do here beyond fight people online. While fighting people is the main draw in the first place you should really have something else to do as well. I’ve mentioned this a lot in the review but a quick arcade mode would have done wonders. The replay value here is technically limitless but it’s very narrow and as I result I can’t imagine spending 60 bucks on it. I would have felt quite ripped off. You just can’t make a game without any kind of story and sell it for 60 bucks. Even all of the sport games have stories and franchise modes nowadays.

Overall, ARMS is pretty fun. It’s the kind of fighting game that has a lot of potential and automatic replay value. You can keep on busting people online and have fun learning new tricks and strategies. It can be a bit bare bones in terms of offline content though which keeps it from being further up on the list. If you don’t have the Nintendo Switch Online then you need to avoid this game. There is almost literally no reason to buy it if you can’t go online. Still, I do love fighting games and on a technical level this one succeeds quite well. Hopefully when we get a sequel Nintendo remembers to add online this time.

Overall 7/10

4 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

30 Great Games: Winter Fun Review


It’s time to look at the latest installment in the 30 Great Games series. The franchise has definitely not been known for its high quality standards or anything like that but when I see it in stores I can’t help but give it a shot. Party games are just nice to give a look at even if you know they won’t be very good. This game clearly had some effort put into it but being on the Wii didn’t help matters. The motion controls are just terrible heavily hold the title back. Even the games with the best of ideas ultimately aren’t able to do anything to save themselves.

When you get into the game you can see right away that there aren’t a lot of options. I’ll just defend the game here as in a party game you really only need two options, a main party mode and a minigame mode with friends. This title has both of those so it doesn’t technically need any more than that. So long as the games are fun then this isn’t a problem. There are 5 worlds and each one has 6 games. The idea is to clear them all and you will have played 30 “great” games. That’s not a bad approach right? Well, the game fumbles the ball on the execution a bit. How it should work is you just beat all of the worlds one at a time. Instead the game has you replay them.

When you first enter a world it only has 5 games. You have to complete the world once and then complete it a second time to play the 6th game. When you beat the first 3 worlds twice then you unlock the next world and the games that accompany it. This is an awful lot of replaying for a game like this though. You really just want to go through the worlds once. It’s better than in another Wii party game I played though where they had a bunch of different worlds but they kept re-using the minigames to pad out the length. This is still better than that.

The game has a winter theme so naturally all of the games follow that path as well. They can be pretty similar but I’ll quickly mention some of the games that weren’t that bad. One that I enjoyed was trying to climb down a mountain. The idea is you let go of the rope and free fall for a few seconds but then you have to grab again or you’ll plummet to your doom and waste a lot of time. If you land on ice that will also waste some time. Then you’re got a minigame where you have to try and sink your claws into the mountain as close to the edge as possible without falling over. It’s pretty fun to see how close you can get. We even get a Bomberman type game where you have to drill through and blow up some blocks as you try to get treasure. While I like the idea, I don’t like the fact that this game is 100% RNG. You never know if you’ll get treasure or a bear.

The worst games are easily the ones that have you racing. Whether you’re snowboarding down the trails or using skiis, these games just aren’t fun. They suffer the most from the motion controls. You’ll find yourself bumping into the edges quite a lot and the computers will just leave you in the dust. It’s no coincidence that the best games in the collection used minimal motion controls. I can’t stress enough that this could have actually been a pretty good game if it had been for a different console. Imagine it on the Gamecube with a solid set of controls. It actually might have been pretty fun because I did appreciate the creativity behind some of the games.

The graphics for the game aren’t honestly all that terrible. This looks like a reasonable party game if you just take a look at the graphics. The levels and minigames all appear very clear and the character models are good as well. I had no complaints in this area. The soundtrack on the other hand is basically nonexistent. I can’t think of a single theme in the game. They’re all very forgettable so hopefully you are too engaged in the activities to notice this too much.

In terms of replay value it will completely depend on how much you like the actual minigames. There are literally no other options for things to do outside of that. You just play the minigames and try your best to see why this game had potential. If the game were to explain its minigames better the first time around and didn’t use motion controls then this could be a very different review. Part of the problem that I didn’t go into earlier is aside from the minigames having terrible controls, the rules aren’t explained very well either. Usually you won’t win a minigame the first time around because you just aren’t really sure of how to play it.

As a little aside, the game did have a fun start though. Nobody could cross the goal in time so we timed out. Keep in mind that I was playing by myself so the other 3 players were A.I. and they couldn’t win either. I think that speaks to the overall game design because there’s no way that should ever happen. After that first level the A.I. went back to normal and started clobbering me though so it was a one time thing. I thought it was pretty funny though.

Overall, This is one title you should avoid. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst game in the series which is kind of sad in itself, but it’s just not a good game. Even though the going price is only around 2-5 dollars there is no reason to buy this game. There are far better titles to be obtained in the same genre or even in any other genre. You’d need to be really desperate to pull the trigger on this one and if you do just be prepared for those motion controls. Some of the games have good ideas at least. I think if you play this with a few friends with the intent to have fun it can certainly happen. Since this is a party game maybe it still ends up succeeding in its objective even if in an ironic way.

Overall 4/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Battle of Giant Dragons Review


It’s time to look at a game that I’ve passed by in stores on many occasions. The game has been dirty cheap practically since it first came out. The reason why I didn’t get it was because the gameplay didn’t look particularly engaging. Still, there was a lot of good games on sale and I needed an extra one for the 4 for 2 deal so I finally took the plunge. The game is about what you expect. The gameplay is actually pretty fun but the game is quite bare in terms of content. There’s not enough to keep you busy for very long and I would say that it is a weakness for the title.

The basic plot seems to be involving humans taking on dragons and such. There is a short prologue to this effect but there are no more real cutscenes after that so the story itself ends up fading away. Even when you beat the game there is absolutely no ceremony. The game just tells you to pick another dragon and beat the game again. Perhaps after beating the game with the main 4 dragons you would get some kind of extra ending or something but that shouldn’t really be necessary if you ask me. You deserve at least a normal ending for clearing the game.

It’s a pretty short game so you should have it completed within a few hours easy. There are 4 worlds and each one has 3 levels. The objective in each level is to collect 2 gems. 1 gem is obtained by beating a dragon located somewhere on the map with a dragon head symbol. The other one is achieved by defeating a dragon that can only be fought after completing a lot of different objectives. Usually this includes tasks like melting a bunch of gem stones, and navigating a maze. Once you have obtained both gems you tap on a device that gets you out of the level. These levels can be pretty quick as long as you don’t bump into any random dragons by mistake. They all trigger fights that are exactly the same as the boss fights. They’re extremely easy but it will take more time.

The gameplay style is a turn based combat style to an extent but it’s all based on speed. You tap on one of the squares to choose which attack you want to use and then flick forward. You can also block and dodge. After you attack you are given the option to absorb some energy from the opponent to power up your next move or use a quick super attack. Personally I usually just pick to absorb an attack once so you can use your final smash on the second round. Then absorb two more turns and another final smash on the third round is guaranteed to beat the opponent. I naturally chose the fire dragon and went on a rampage with his powerful attacks. The fire dragon seems to be the best one in my opinion since all his attacks boost his attack power even further so the odds of you not taking down your opponent in a few turns is slim at best.

The gameplay isn’t particularly balanced though. You never need to actually block or dodge. Just keep swiping up and the opponent will never be able to attack before you do. Even if they block it just delays the inevitable since they can’t counter attack. I assume this wouldn’t work quite so well in a multiplayer match or something like that but 1 on 1 it’s quite easy to take the win. The game is extremely easy as a result with no real challenge to be had. You’ll dominate the game without any real effort. That’s also part of why the game is so short I suppose. If you never lose then it’s like you’re playing the game full steam ahead.

In terms of graphics they aren’t bad but you can see how the game is pretty lazy. Almost all of the dragons are re-used assets. The lord of the first world has the same exact design as all of the minions you fought earlier after all. That’s just sloppy and it makes the boss feel a whole lot less special since he could be just about anyone. The game had a little fun with some random side bosses at least which was fun. One such boss was a cop car that came out of nowhere and another was a drum set. You don’t have to fight these guys but they’re super weak so you might as well. The game should have embraced this part a little more and it would have made the game a lot more memorable.

Overall, Battle of Giant Dragons is a pretty forgettable game. It’s incredibly short and the gameplay is 1 dimensional. These two things could have been forgiven if the story was really good, but that’s not the case either. When you’ve got nothing going for you other than a fairly enjoyable gameplay style it’s going to heavily limit your potential. The game is still fun enough for what it is I suppose and it’s cheap which means you can get a good value here. Gameplay is the most important factor so I’d still put this one in the green in the end, but just barely. I don’t really see myself seeking out the other games in this franchise but I suppose if I happen to be in store you never know. I may pick up a game like this at some point. If you want a good game with big enemies to topple though, I recommend checking out Budokai Tenkaichi 3 instead.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Diddy Kong Racing DS Review


It’s time to look at a Nintendo racing game from a while back. Considering how successful F-Zero and Mario Kart are you may wonder why Nintendo would have another franchise right? Well, everywhere I go people seem to love Diddy Kong racing so maybe it really did tap into another part of the market. I will say that it is definitely pretty fun. Personally I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the other two titles, but it’s still pretty fun. The game isn’t particularly long but with a racing title the main incentive is the replay value here.

There is also a basic plot. A mysterious pig has broken an amulet and is causing a lot of terror around the planet. Diddy must now conquer four different areas in order to foil this plan once and for all. It may not be an easy task, but it’s one that he knows he must accomplish. Each world has 4 main levels and then you fight the boss. Once you beat the boss of the world then you unlock 4 more races which have you aim at balloons in the level. The first 4 levels are traditional races while the other four play out like an FPS as you don’t control the car, only the blaster. This lets you fight the boss again and then claim the amulet. So effectively each world has 8 levels and 2 bosses so you’re got 40 levels here if you count bosses. It’s a pretty reasonable amount but you’ll still have the game beat in under 3 hours.

The levels aren’t particularly difficult for the most part and naturally the levels aren’t too long either. The average race will take you around 2-3 minutes. There are 3 kinds of races. You’ve got the standard car races, the awesome plane races, and the sluggish hovercraft ones. The car races play out about how you would expect. You try to cross the finish line first and grab items along the way. There are 4 different items triggered by hitting a balloon. You know which balloon spawns which item so part of the fun is choosing what you want for each scenario. There’s also an incentive to not using the item right away. If you store away say a red balloon and then hit another one you get the second ranked version of the item. It’s worth experimenting until you find your favorite item. My favorite was double red since it gives you around 6 rockets.

The plane levels are the same way but you’re in the air which is a lot of fun. It feels like this kind of race is the fastest in the game in terms of how fast everyone is moving. There are a lot of boosters everywhere so use them as much as possible. Finally you have the Hovercraft levels which are just really slow and kind of clunky. It’s hard to turn in these and it is just not nearly as much fun as the other two. Something had to lose out I suppose, but I was glad that there weren’t a lot of these levels.

In terms of graphics the game is quite solid. We actually got some voice acting in the intro and the cutscenes flow really well. In game the assets load up promptly and everything looks clear. You certainly won’t be bumping into things just because you didn’t see them or anything like that. That would be understandably a bit iffy so I was glad that the game managed to avoid that. The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as Mario Kart’s but it was still pretty fun. There’s a good amount of variety based on what world you’re in and the level. The final boss theme was also very catchy although I got to hear it quite a bit.

While the game isn’t very difficult for the most part, the final boss is extremely tough. I don’t see how it would even be possible to defeat him without buying upgrades to your car. The guy is too fast and he pounded me into the ground many times before I was able to beat him. Ultimately I had to max out my car’s speed and acceleration and then I was able to keep up. It’s not like the level is all that complex. It’s pretty straightforward so I don’t see how you can play it any differently. You’re either able to out speed him and claim victory or you can’t.

As I mentioned the game is around 3 hours but there is a lot to do after the game. You have extra levels in each world where you need to find a key or do various achievements to unlock. The hub world is quite large so you can explore for a while and buying every upgrade will also take a super long amount of time. I wouldn’t say that there are any huge unlockables to look forward to, but at the same time if you enjoy the gameplay a lot then the game is giving you a fair amount of opportunities to keep on going. The value here definitely justifies the cost.

Overall, Diddy Kong Racing DS is a fun racing game. To me it felt fairly standard but with that Nintendo seal of quality. Just having 3 different options of racing does mean you have more options than your typical racing game and it’s a complete package. If you want to enjoy some good racing then you will definitely have fun here. The ending will also give you a nice challenge which is always good. If we do get a sequel to this for 3DS or Switch someday I’d definitely be down with that. The ending is also pretty fun as Pig gets one last laugh against the heroes.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross Review


It’s time to take a look at a fairly recent mobile game that came out. The Seven Deadly Sins game got quite a lot of hype because it looked to be very high budget for a mobile title. We have seen a trend of companies actually putting a lot of effort into these games because the free to play model works so well. I hope this game ends up succeeding because it really is quite impressive. I played through around half of the game and it was definitely very fun.

The game’s story follows that of the manga. It’s hard to say how far along the game is right now, but I’d expect it is still early on. Typically mobile games like this want to go very slowly, especially since in this case the manga actually ended so there is a tangible goal in sight. Most mobile games want to survive for 5-10 years so expect them to drip feed content soon. That being said, it’s important to launch with a lot of content and this game did exactly that. You’ve probably got 15-20 hours of content here already and that’s a very conservative estimate. That’s also only counting the story and there are countless other things to do here. I didn’t even make it to the more exciting parts of the story and I was hooked. The presentation and interface in the game are quite seamless. Grand Cross has a lot of energy throughout and it really brings out the best of the adventures.

Mobile games can almost be a bit overwhelming with how much content there is to absorb. First of all you’ve got the online battles you can jump into. Then there are the limited time events. You will also want to replay old levels to farm equipments and materials to level your characters up. There is no need to ever run out of things to do in this game with all that you’ve got going on. That’s why the key here is if the gameplay is fun and fortunately I can confirm that it is. The gameplay is your typical turn based mobile style. You get a few cards in your hand during every turn and you play them to trigger different attack animations.

The game’s pretty easy at the start and it’s built in a way where your level will rise with the opponent’s so you should rarely be in trouble. That being said, you can have fun experimenting with attacks. It’s easy to learn the controls, but significantly more difficult to master them. Using proper strategy will help you a lot in the competitive aspects of the game. The gameplay is very flashy with a lot of really cool animations. Fortunately you can skip them though. As nice as they are to look at you won’t want to see the same thing 1000 times. You can also turn on auto battle so the A.I. takes care of things for you. I understand why some people are hesitant to use such a feature since it’s like you’re not playing but it helps with grinding. The A.I. isn’t that good either so for the more difficult levels you’ll need to beat them yourself anyway. It’s just a nice quality of life feature.

As mentioned the graphics are stunning. We get a lot of solid cutscenes with actual fight scenes in them. It’s a similar cell shaded style to something like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm and then you get a lot of great screen grabs from the show. The soundtrack is a lot more limited with the same tune showing up over and over but it’s a great theme so I can see why it was selected. For a mobile game you want a catchy track so it was selected quite well.

So far this review’s been super positive so you can tell that I’m a pretty big fan of it. If I had less games on the backlog I’d probably stick around with this one long term. It’s definitely one of the best mobile games I’ve played. The only boring part in comparison is maintaining the inn and wandering around town on side quests. Making a beer and the food dishes is easy but you don’t really feel engaged. I suppose it adds to the realism but I’m always ready to jump right back into the combat. Fortunately these tasks don’t last long so as long as the game doesn’t go down that route in the future I don’t expect that it will be a problem.

Overall, Grand Cross really does a great job of taking the Seven Deadly Sins into video game format. It takes the best aspects of the series while dropping the weakest elements. If you’re looking for a fun mobile game to play then this is one I would recommend. It’s free so it’s not like you have to worry about spending money. You can spend money to get items and such, but the game is quite generous so you never feel like you need to do so. You’ll be able to clear the game just fine without doing anything like that. I look forward to seeing mobile games continue to improve. At this rate they will really feel like AAA console games before long. This one for example could easily be ported to PS4 or the Switch and pass itself off as a home console game from the start.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness Review


It’s time to look at a pretty big RPG that I’ve had on the backburner for quite a while. Disgaea always looked like a blast and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Most RPGs tend to languish for a while though as I focus on the shorter games, but it was time to finally just jump in and this game was worth the wait. The game definitely takes a lot of strategy and grinding levels to get through but it always feels like you are making good progress here.

The game follows the demon prince Laharl. His dad died when choking on a pretzel and Laharl nearly got assasinated in his sleep, but the assassin messed up and didn’t give him enough poison. Laharl is now determined to prove that he is the Overlord as the rightful son of the former king, but he will have to earn this respect by beating up all of the other demons. An angel named Flonne is sent to assassinate him but she can’t go through with it because it doesn’t seem like a holy thing to do. She is determined to prove that even demons can experience love and other emotions so she tags along with Laharl.

There’s a lot of plot in the game, but needless to say it involves a lot of big battles with the humans of Earth, the Angels of Celestia, and even other Demons. Along the way Laharl, Flonne, and Etna gradually become more like actual friends and we meet other party members as well. Can Laharl ensure Flonne’s safety through all of this or will he see this emotion as weakness and ultimately leave her on her own? He’ll have to face his many insecurities along the way in this journey.

The story’s definitely solid here. The game has a lot of fun with the various accents that the characters have. The Dark Adonis (Or Mid-Boss as the characters call him) definitely has the best voice. He’s a very quirky character but one that works quite well. A lot of his scenes are pretty fun. I like how he laughs with such confidence and you can always count on him showing up in various chapters. He’s also one of the most deadly bosses as losing to him will cause you to go all the way back to level 1 and have to replay the whole game. Just reset the console at this point, resetting the game is not worth it if you ask me. There isn’t really any benefit to going through multiple cycles.

The Defender of Earth, Gordon is also pretty fun. He has that very over the top hero voice that most shows use as a parody nowadays. He may not be very smart but his heart is in the right place. Some of his decisions towards the end of the game are questionable though and do hurt his character. Jennifer was fun, she’s definitely the real brains behind his team. She certainly likes to mess with Laharl a lot though. The only weak part of their trio and one of the weakest characters in the game is Thursday. He’s not nearly as entertaining although he has one or two good lines. He just takes way too long to get to the punchlines.

There are a solid array of villains here. I really don’t get the Seraph’s plan though. I can’t talk about the ending much so as not to give spoilers here, but the test wasn’t very good. It’s all a bit convoluted on his end and you can’t really justify any of it. The game has multiple endings so things will change a bit based on how you play the game. I got the standard ending which is definitely pretty emotional. I wasn’t expecting such a sad ending considering that there are a few sequels. So far they don’t seem to tie into this one very much though. It was a good emotional ending.

One side character that is a lot of fun is Kurtis. He doesn’t get a huge role but whenever he appears you know that something hype is about to go down. In general the game really turned up during this part of the game although all of the chapters were pretty fun. From the main 3 characters Flonne is the weakest one although she’s still reasonable. She’s definitely a bit on the naive side and can be quite pushy but she’s a nice friend to have. While I didn’t have a proper mage she was still reasonable for healing a bit at times.

Etna was another main character and she’s a blast. She narrates the next episode previews for most of them and likes trolling everyone. She’s completely unhinged so you never know if she will help out or stab you in the back. I suppose that makes sense for a demon though and Laharl always seems proud of her for that reason. She’s pretty entertaining and a good example of how to properly make a crazy character. Finally we have Laharl. He’s a bit whiny and self conscious because nobody ever pays him any respect but I liked him overall. He’s definitely quite powerful even if there are some enemies who are clearly above him in power. He may be the Overlord but that doesn’t make him the strongest. He gets a lot of development as the game goes on and we also get glimpses into his tragic past.

The gameplay is quite smooth. The levels can take a little while because of the nature of the game though. You command up to 10 characters at a time and levels can have up to 15 enemies. That’s 25 character turns you have to watch each time with unskippable animations for their attacks. It’s not as long as it sounds but that’s part of why you will be playing the game for around 30-40 hours. The game is quite long and there’s a huge post game to consider as well. This game can really last you just about forever if you stick around.

The level cap is 1000 which gives you a good indication of what to expect. One thing to note here is that equipment is more important than levels. Your top priority is absolutely getting the best gear you can. If you get stuck for a while on the final boss as I did then I recommend capturing some enemies and selling their equipment. It’s a great way to earn cash. There’s a lot of features I haven’t even touched on here like the Dark Assembly where you bribe senators. There’s a ton of things to do in this game but there are a lot of tutorials to help you out. It’s easily the most complex game I’ve played in a while and the best part about that is you really have a ton of freedom to play it however you like.

The graphics are pretty solid here. The animations are really good and some of the attacks get quite out there. It’s like you’re watching DBZ at times. Then the soundtrack is pretty catchy too. You’ll know the themes quite well by the end of the game but that doesn’t make them any less exciting. This is really a very well balanced game. There are no weak links to be had and it’s part of why I jumped right into the sequel. I’ll have a review for that one up as soon as I complete it.

Overall, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was really a great start to the franchise. It’s a pretty long RPG so you really have time to get used to all of the characters and master your Xcom skills. This kind of strategic gameplay is really satisfying to get through. You do need to really enjoy the gameplay to really get the most out of this game because replaying levels is effectively mandatory here. There’s no way you can beat the game without getting some good level ups and equipment. I probably spent almost half of my play time replaying levels and the final boss was still a real challenge. How difficult the game is will depend on how you build your team though. The best part of Disgaea is that you can play it hundreds of different ways with some loadouts being better than others. My mistake was not having a mage on my side which I made sure not to repeat in the sequel.

Overall 8/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Starlink: Battle For Atlas Review


Now it’s time to look at a game that I technically got a long time ago but didn’t get to play until recently. Part of the reason for the delay is because my Switch didn’t have enough space so I had to buy an SD card in order to correct that. I got the SD card for my Birthday so now it was time to check it out. I still can’t believe Best Buy was selling this game for only 5 bucks. Considering that it brings a whole figure as well that’s pretty crazy. I didn’t get to use the Arwing controller since the Joy Cons are busted but it was still cool to look at.

Star Links starts you off with a mission as the team is fighting off some aliens. The commander gets captured by the mighty Grax and so now the team must try to rescue him and save the universe in the process. Are they really up to the task without their leader? The crew isn’t exactly the well oiled machine you’d expect from most other sci-fi teams but if they can put their differences behind them then they will be unstoppable. Also they’ve got the legendary Star Fox team behind them. I can’t imagine playing this game without Fox to be honest, he’s just too awesome of a lead and talks tough the whole game. When someone asks him the whole “are you sure Fox?” He responds “I’m always sure” which is a really excellent response to that question.

The gameplay is that of a 3D shooter where you take to the sky in some levels and stay on the ground in others. I haven’t seen many games utilize both features like this since Star Fox Assault. This is also a good place to note that Star Links is the Star Fox game I’ve been wanting. It’s much better than Star Fox Zero and the controls/gameplay are better. Aside from Assault it blows the other Star Fox games out of the water. Back to the gameplay. You can equip two weapons at a time. The Arwing normal lasers are very good so I highly recommend keeping one of them active at all times and using the ice cannon on the other side of the ship. The ice blast locks in on an opponent which is handy and t seems like almost every enemy has fire type opponents so the ice blast is super effective. The fire blast is a straight shot and rarely ends up doing much. Definitely use it if you’re on an ice planet but otherwise the ice gun is the way to go.

Those are the only 4 guns you get in the game since the rest you have to unlock via the Eshop. I’ve never seen paid dlc in a space shooter game like this before although I’ve seen it done with characters like in Star Wars Battlefront II. The same goes for any extra ships beyond the main two and fighters. I wonder if all of these dlc items ever even came out. I imagine this would certainly make the game a lot easier since you get to respawn every time you have another ship available. More guns would have been cool for variety though. I did like the initial ones but having more options is never a bad thing especially as the game encourages you to use a stasis weapon for many levels even when they don’t give you one.

I think what really makes the gameplay work so well is how in control you feel the whole time. You can move very quickly throughout the land and in the air. You can use evasive maneuvers with the boosting option and you’ve even got a cool shovel to block attacks with although it runs out of energy really quickly. The game uses a proper open world system so you always have the option to quickly beat a hasty retreat away from the fight to recover your energy. Your energy recovers pretty quick so if you stay out of the action for a few seconds you will be okay.

There are also a lot of upgrades to be found here. You can upgrade your pilot to learn some skills or you can upgrade your ship and weapons. As you progress through the game you will notice yourself getting stronger so the game’s progression is pretty good. As a result the game should be pretty challenging for most of the campaign. The final planet in particular was very challenging and even more so than the climax of bosses. (Since when respawning during the final boss he wouldn’t regain health from previous phases) Defeating the tower took a whole even with my ally boost skill. You really have to mix in some good tactics and evasive maneuvers. The game always felt fair though, this is a title that I didn’t mind having to restart some fights.

One mild complaint I would have with the game is the planet ally gimmick. As you land on planets you have to try and defeat the various villain bases so you can 100% control the planet with your allies. Building bases and defense areas will help you keep control. What I don’t like is if you leave a planet for a whole you lose control so it can be a bit endless. I’d say that once you beat a planet you shouldn’t have to keep going back to save it. Fortunately the game doesn’t make this mandatory in the slightest so it’s not something that will really hurt the experience. This is how such gimmicks should always be. If they’re not mandatory then I really don’t have a problem with them.

The main campaign should take you around 10-15 hours. After that you have a lot of options on what to do next. You can go around liberating planets, filling up your database, or completing the side quest missions. Either way completing everything will probably take you closer to 20-25 hours by the time all is said and done. Replay value is not a problem for this game. The graphics are pretty top notch and hold their own with any game at least where gameplay is concerned. I have to admit that the cutscenes do see a noticeable drop in quality compared to the gameplay which is a little odd since it’s usually reversed. As for the soundtrack, it’s pretty small but the tunes are good. There are a lot of high energy themes to be found here which work well with the gameplay.

Overall, Starlink is a very good game and also a challenging one. You won’t be running through these levels unless you have some kind of a plan. It’s one of the best sci-fi shooters that I’ve played. There’s just so much to do in this game and the graphics hold up. The story isn’t the most original out there so it probably won’t leave much of an impact on you, but I wouldn’t call it bad either. It goes through the motions and at the very least you have team Star Fox here to carry things. Without them it would probably be a bit of a tougher road for sure. If you’re going to get Starlink then I highly advise getting it for the Switch. You may not be able to find it for 5 bucks anymore, but I’m sure the price will still be quite reasonable.

Overall 8/10