Spongebob Boating Bash Review

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It’s time to finally delve into the world of Spongebob! I must admit that I actually haven’t played a great deal of Spongebob games before. This is one of the first ones for me, but it’s a pretty good way to get back into the franchise. This title is a racing game mixed in with a little vehicular warfare. It makes for a good dynamic and the game even has a plot which is an added bonus. Especially considering that this game goes for only a few dollars, you do not want to miss it!

The game starts off with Spongebob failing to get his license once again. It’s a pretty emotional moment since he had been doing so well in the training, but he randomly decided to accelerate and hit every obstacle. I feel like his short term memory had just ended when the exam started so he forgot everything that he learned. He feels bad about it, but then a shark comes along and offers Spongebob a chance to get a license through…other channels. He simply has to complete the Shark’s D.R.I.V.E. school which teaches you how to be a bad driver, that way you know what not to do on the real exam. Spongebob figures that this is easy enough and decides to pay the high entry fee to join. The rest of the characters get in on the action as well.

After you finish singing the Spongebob theme song to yourself and get back into the game, you’ll see that the DRIVE chapters have now opened. There are 5 chapters in the game along with a final chapter where you must use everything that you have learned. It’s graded report card style, but fortunately you don’t need all As. The levels are mostly pretty easy. A few of them may have taken me 2-3 tries, but ultimately you’ll have it down pat. The controls are easy enough as you just accelerate, turn, and brake. That’s it. You get to choose which vehicle you want as the game goes on and once you unlock the big boat, there’s no turning back. One good hit from that car can total just about any other. It’s only drawback is that it’s slow, but that’s not a problem in bumper cars. Just don’t pick it for the races.

The different game modes are: “Smash The Cars” “Race The Cars” “Smash The Cars and pick up the pieces.” My favorite is certainly the first mode, but they’re all reasonably solid in their own right. I haven’t played a great deal of car games with this gimmick so that was definitely a lot of fun. The gameplay is actually pretty smooth and I’d say that the game got a pretty decent budget for a title based on a TV show. There are even a lot of sound effects as you’re driving where the characters hurl some pretty personal insults at each other. Lets just say that their friendships will be a little strained after this event is all over. It’s the price that they have to pay for victory!

Graphically, Spongebob delivers. It may not look great, but the levels are very clear. If anything, the only part that bothered me was the loading screen as Spongebob would get a very weird facial expression. They also added too much color to his cheeks which was odd as well. So when you ignore the loading screen, then the whole thing comes together quite nicely. I should also mention that the game has fully animated cutscenes with voice acting which was a really good bonus to have along. The music is also pretty good. The main theme is very catchy and I still remember it which is a very good thing.

There is a little replay value to be found here. Once you obtain all A ranks in the game, you’ll unlock the final vehicles and game options. It probably wouldn’t take long to get the rest of them. I got a bunch of A ranks without even trying so it’s not like you’d have to redo all of the lessons. Still, I can’t say that I’m too tempted to get the rest of the cars since the ones that I already have are pretty good. I suppose it still does help to make the overall game longer and more worth your dollar though.

You definitely do need to enjoy the gameplay though since the game is very formulaic and can be seen as a little repetitive. There are roughly 35 levels sprinkled into the game and since there are only 3 game modes, you’ll be seeing them quite a lot. I guess you could say that it’s set up like Mario Kart, but with far fewer levels so you’re usually just on the same roads. The game did its best to shift things up a bit, but the level designs was certainly its weakness. There are no colorful levels as they all look the same.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out Spongebob’s Boating Bash. It’s a surprisingly fun adventure and one of the only underwater racing games that I can think of. What really gives it an extra boost is the story mode since it’s pretty engaging. Spongebob is definitely a little more naive than I remember, but at least he’s portrayed as a good kid. He’s always acting pretty modest and addresses everyone as Sir. His friends all seem a little more mean spirited though as they all join just to beat up Spongebob. I forgot how much the whole village resents his success. I look forward to trying out one of the Gamecube games at some point, but it’ll likely be a long while before then.

Overall 7/10

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Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review

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It’s time to look at a game that everyone was talking about a while back. Mutant Mudds was the next big thing back in the day, but there was no physical release. Well, now there finally is one and I can safely say that it’s a fun game. It’s pretty short and you can tell that it had a limited budget since there aren’t a lot of levels. That being said, the gameplay is solid and ultimately that’s all you really need to be a good game.

The story follows a young kid as he decides to save the world from mud monsters. There’s not much of a plot as you are just thrown into the action and there are maybe 2-3 text bubbles that pop up. Of course if you were expecting a long story, then you’ve come to the wrong title. The main experience here are the levels. There are 20 levels in the game and each one comes with a 3-5 minute timer. You will have to run and jump to get through them. Fortunately, the main character has a jet pack which lets you hover for a few seconds. It’s a very useful ability and you also have a blaster with can defeat enemies. Furthermore, you unlock 3 power ups as you go through the game although you can only activate one of them at a time. There’s the super hover, (I recommend this one) the vertical boost, (Fun, but only use it when you have too) and the Super Blaster. (No real purpose aside from bonus collectibles)

The toughest parts of the levels are typically when you have to make some real precision jumps. That being said, they aren’t all that hard when you compare them to real extreme titles like Mario Maker or even the DK games. Fortunately, the game does manage to increase the difficulty through the extra levels. Each of the 20 levels has a ghost counterpart where you play the levels again but this time you cannot let yourself get hit. It certainly raises the stakes since your platforming skills are really put to the test now. This works as part of the replay value in the game. It’s a bit of a forced time extender so if the levels had been longer I would have been a little upset. As it stands now, the levels aren’t very long I found it to be fairly reasonable.

Another form of replay value is the fact that all of the levels have 100 gems. You want to get all of the gems to complete the game and also to get closer to getting all of the game’s trophies. There is no Platinum unfortunately, but you can still get 100% completion to show off your true skills. To do that, you’ll have to beat the 40 levels as well as the 20 levels inside of the normal levels. To get to those final 20 levels, you have to use your power ups to get to the secret entrances. The tricky part is that you don’t know which one is in which levels so expect some trial and error here as you figure out what’s up.

The game also operates on a few different layers so you can jump from the front of the screen to the back at certain points. Always be careful that you don’t land right on an enemy. The trickiest parts of this are usually when you can’t tell if an enemy is next to you or on a different layer. It makes for some good mind games as you have to figure out what’s happening before you get slammed. You get 3 hearts and recover full health whenever you make it to a check point. Each level has a check point which is really helpful because even if you lose, you have somewhere to go back to.

This game brings you back to the retro world of sprites when it comes to graphics. That’s always fun to see since sprites really were a lot of fun back in the day. We’ll always be sad to see them go since they were a big part of the gaming world. The graphics aren’t going to look like a modern game’s, but the actual sprite models hold up pretty well. The soundtrack is less inspiring though as the tunes have all already faded at this moment. They weren’t bad tunes, they just didn’t sound as good or unique as they could have been.

If I have any complaint, it’s that I would have liked a boss battle. At least one for the very end to help give the game a grand ending. I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to code one in. Send in a giant version of a minion if necessary and make the battle take place in a room where you can drop things on the monster. It will keep the fight a little difficult while not being insane either. It would be a nice middle ground for the game.

Overall, Mutant Mudds is a pretty solid game. It’s short so you shouldn’t spend 60 dollars on it, but for 30 or so it’s not a bad buy. Considering that you have to beat the levels more than once, it has enough content to last you for a few hours. It’s not quite ready to hang with the likes of Shovel Knight, Shantae, or Mighty No 9, but the fact that it got a physical release already helps to put it above many of its rivals. If you’re looking for a good side scroller, then I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. It’s like a Metroid game only without the puzzles and you can’t go wrong there. I can definitely see myself going back and grabbing all of the trophies one of these days and hopefully the next installment gets a Platinum. It’s games like this one that give Indies a good name so hopefully they can keep up the good work. I can also see why people really like retro games like this one. They’re simple, but easy to get invested in as you watch yourself play for long periods of time. I’ll always be more of a big budget AAA gamer myself, but I like to enjoy all the styles.

Overall 7/10

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

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It’s time to review the final DK Country game and possibly the final main DK game of them all. The Country series has been pretty solid for all of the installments so it’s nice to see what the Wii U can bring to the table. The game is a little shorter than Returns and noticeably easier as well, but it’s still a quality platformer. One nice mechanic that they added was the dash and now I can’t imagine playing a DK game without it. It makes the characters so much more versatile and deadly in the levels.I certainly had a blast spamming it and it’ll remind you of the 3D Sonic games.

The plot involves a group of ice creatures deciding to take over a mountain. This angers DK and his pals because they want more bananas and they don’t grow in frigid temperatures. Thus, DK and friends decide to beat people up along the way and eat what they can. Still, can they defeat this Bowser impostor or will the trials be too much for them? The story definitely pales in comparison to the last game though for one key reason…the first 4 worlds are filler. They have nothing to do with the plot and there aren’t even any ice levels in them. For a game that’s called Tropical Freeze, this was a little odd. Once you enter the final 2 worlds then the ice levels start to show up so that was neat. Either way, the level variety is always fun, but I wish the plot could have worked with that a little.

The gameplay is the 2D platforming that you would expect. That being said, as mentioned earlier we now have a dash mechanic. It is incredibly handy as you can cross large distances with the move. It’s also not too automatic or easy so it feels like a legitimate technique that you’ll want to master. If you learn it just right, you’ll find yourself blasting through the levels. The gameplay is very smooth and you can definitely know that this is a AAA game right off the bat. I was very happy to trade in the Wii remote controls for a more proper All Pro and Gamepad setup as well. It’s night and day comparing the two styles for this platformer.

While the levels are significantly easier than DK Country Returns, it’s not really fair to say that it’s too drastic. The main reason for this is that I just got done completing the former so it’s possible that I’m just more prepared for whatever the DK series throws at me right now. It’s like playing Dark Souls 1 and 2 back to back. 2 will probably feel a lot easier than 1 did initially. I do think that Tropical Freeze probably had the tougher bosses though. It’s a close one, but the last boss for example would certainly be rather difficult to defeat in one player mode. He has a lot of health and it’s hard to predict his horn attack. It almost feels purely random. I don’t think any of the bosses are inherently unfair though. They’re tough, but you just need to keep on going at them until you win.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There are no super hype themes like the Returns villain jingle, but they’ll get you through the stages. The boss theme that plays when a boss first shows up is similar to Mighty No 9’s main boss theme which is pretty interesting. There’s a good guitar/drum solo that works well for that. I don’t really recall any of the stage themes, but they were pleasant enough. The graphics also look pretty sharp for the title. It brought back the Shadow levels and the elements all look really sharp. The characters also look good in the cutscenes. Nintendo never disappoints when it comes to the technical aspects and they rarely do with the gameplay either.

There’s a good amount of replay value here as you’d expect. Collecting all of the puzzle pieces in the levels will certainly take a good amount of time. There are quite a few of them in each level after all. Most of the levels require repetition to really get them down so it’s more about the time than the difficulty. I believe you unlock an extra world if you do that so that’s a nice incentive. It’ll certainly give hardcore DK players a few extra hours to have fun with. The main game will only take you a handful of hours as well. 6-8 I’d imagine, but that’s a pretty decent length for a platformer. Having 8 worlds helps a lot, but 6 will do.

Overall, Donkey Kong has brought us another pretty solid game. If you want to really experience the difficulty as the true DK experience, make sure you choose to play as DK. If you want to coast through the levels a little easier, make sure to pick Diddy Kong or Dixie. They can cheese you through just about any obstacle. I look forward to seeing another Donkey Kong country game rise to the surface. Hopefully the plot will be a little better even though I know that is rarely Nintendo’s goal. As long as the gameplay is good, I suppose the rest doesn’t matter quite as much and Nintendo certainly knows how to handle gameplay. I never got to play as Cranky, but that’s fine. I get the feeling that his special ability wouldn’t have been all that great.

Overall 8/10

Digimon World Next Order Review

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It’s time for the big, hyped return to the Digimon franchise! I’ve been waiting for Digimon to make its return to the big screen for quite a while at this point. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the Digimon World series is my favorite from what I’ve heard. The idea of growing and raising Digimon just doesn’t strike my fancy. That being said, World 4 was pretty hype so surely this would be hype as well right? Unfortunately, it is the worst Digimon game so far. It has its moments, but the overall gameplay mechanics are just bad.

Lets start from the top since there is definitely a lot to discuss at this point. The plot is about a kid who finds himself in the Digi world for some reason. The actual reason isn’t important and the game doesn’t really address it either. “Stuff happens” is the best explanation really and it’s all because the kid entered a Digi tournament and came in the top 5. The other contestants also made it to the Digi World, but it seems like the top ranked fighter is evil. The other top fighter might also be a traitor. Luckily, Terry (That’s what I called the main character anyway) still has two other friends to help him out. The problem is that one of them is always bragging about herself and the other guy has self confidence issues. Terry basically has to defend the world on his own. To do that, we need to find a lot of Digimon and force them to move to our town. After we’re confident enough, then we can head for the villain stronghold.

Here’s where the problems start off. The actual gameplay revolves around you walking through various habitats and recruiting Digimon. Some of them will join you instantly while others will have you find sticks and stones, or other materials. Others will have you fight them, but most will just tell you to back off and you have to wait until you’re progressed further in the game. The kicker is that you can’t progress further without getting more Digimon so you’ll spend a good amount of time just looking around. The exploration is big in this game like with Legend of Zelda. The problem is that you can’t actually take your time since you have Digimon partners.

The game really tries its best to make the Digimon like realistic kids, but they went too far. They can’t go 5 minutes without yelling at you to bring them food, take them to a toilet, or that they want to go to sleep. If you don’t have the items on hand, then they’ll refuse to fight in order to spite you or they’ll get sick. Once they get sick, you have to spend a bunch of money to make them better again and that’s only if the Hospital is open. You probably won’t get that for the first 20+ hours though so good luck until then. Another issue is that your Digimon are constantly dying all of the time which reverts all of their stats back and you have to train them from the beginning. The whole system is made to be as aggravating as possible.

Now, I think the intent of this game was to feel like Shantae or Breath of the Wild. Everything is difficult at first, but as you progress through the game it feels a lot better since you have upgrades which are effectively quality of life upgrades to the game. The problem is that the whole Digimon death system works against that to a solid extent. While you can get upgrades later on that extent their life a bit and help them regain some stats through each reincarnation, you’ll still have to waste hours in the gym powering them up. The gym is as tedious as you’d expect since it is just about mashing the X button. You also can’t train for very long before your Digimon get tired and take a break, get hungry, or get sleepy. You have to listen to them since you need their Digibond for EXE fusion.

Did I mention that this game does a terrible job of explaining everything? I learned about most of the techniques and tricks online. The game never even tells you about EXE fusion. I’m sure an NPC mentions it somewhere, but I never ran across it. Without EXE, beating the game would be really difficult. It is only possible when you have maxed out your bonds with both of your partners, have 1 Mega, and both have 150 Order Points. It basically makes you invincible. Granted, I only got to use it once, but it was awesome. For the final boss, I just spent a whole generation fishing until I had 3 million bucks and then I did the gym and bought food at the Restaurant for 10 days. By that time, the final boss went down without even putting up a struggle so I didn’t need to bother with EXE. It was a glaring change from how tough the rest of the game was.

Once you’re in combat, you have to watch as your Digimon try and attack. You can give them orders to attack or block which helps, but they don’t listen to you if they don’t feel like it. Also, they may obey your order once they’re out of range so the attack will miss or they’ll block, but let it go before the attack lands. I definitely prefer to control the Digimon myself or to at least have a proper turn based system instead. The gameplay is absolutely not my cup of tea. To be clear, it’s not bad though, it just could be a whole lot better. The game could have easily gotten a 7 in spite of it had the rest of the game been good.

The problem is that it isn’t. I can’t stress enough just how bad the Digimon death system is. It gets incredibly tedious during the early part of the game. You’ll also have to just let the Digimon die sometimes because you know that they won’t get strong enough in the end. At least one good thing is that your Tamer upgrades are permanent since he never dies. His EXP is based on how far you walk and for how long you stayed out. The best EXP trick is to then just walk in circles over and over again and you’ll be getting level ups in no time. It’s cheesy and feels cheesy as well, but you can’t deny the results.

Also, make sure that you pick the easy difficulty setting. It doesn’t actually affect the enemy strength or anything. The only real change is that training in the gym is a lot quicker so Normal mode is literally just in existence to make the game more of a grind. I don’t see any reason to ever even consider playing that mode. As it is you’ll be grinding a lot for materials, training, and just general walking around. This review’s been pretty negative since I want to make sure you understand what’s limiting the game. It’s hard to really do it justice even now as you have to play the game to really understand. Now let’s talk about the positives.

The graphics are decently good. They’re not quite PS4 level, but they don’t look bad either. I’m guessing they just couldn’t make the graphics look too good because of how many character models are in the game or something. Either way, they suffice. The levels all look pretty clear and the character designs are good. The soundtrack is okay. Cyber Sleuth certainly spoiled me on that, but it goes well enough with the scenes. I would have liked one hype lyrical song, but maybe for next time.

I do have to say that the plot ends in one of the worst ways possible. It always felt like the story was just something added so it could have one, but wasn’t the main focus. There’s not much to it, but there was always that feeling in the back of your mind that something hype was gonna happen. After all, most RPGs take a while to really get going. The problem here is that there’s no payoff. The final twists with the main villain don’t make any sense and actually just hurt the character. I didn’t want a sympathetic villain, I just wanted a tough one! It just eliminated the hype. The post story boss was pretty fun though. I wasn’t initially planning to do any of the post game stories, but my Digimon were so overpowered at the end that I couldn’t resist. I went and fought Diaboromon along with quite a few bonus quests to help out the stat sheet at the end.

That’s actually where the game comes full circle and I have to admit that it can be addicting. It’s strange since on the surface, it sounds like the game wasn’t all that good right? Maybe it’s just one of those “Time sink” issues but I did grow attached to it by the end. The beginning of the game was very brutal. Nothing’s worse than playing for an hour or two and not really accomplishing. On the other hand, once you do start to accomplish in the game, you don’t want to start. How I see it, the game really gets going once you are near the end of the game. That may seem to be a bit late, but from there on, the game works quite well. The quality of life improvements are just that massive. Your Digimon will finally get stronger at a rapid pace and you will be able to keep them alive for a very long time due to the new partners that you can recruit. The whole thing is time consuming and the game never stops being a grindfest but you can’t help but want to play the game again. I even briefly entertained the thought of getting the Platinum here. My Digimon are certainly strong enough now and I just need to keep extending their lives and they’ll live forever. Still, it’s not something that I’d be doing anytime soon, it would just take too long.

Overall, This is one of those games where you have to be prepared to invest a whole lot of time into it. You won’t be completing this game in under 40 hours or at least it’s not very likely. Of those 40+ hours, probably around 10 will be on the story and the rest will be side quests and grinding. You’ll want to keep completing the side quests though because every Digimon that you recruit has a unique ability and helps your city become a better place. Furthermore, you can’t beat the game without getting your town’s reputation to 100+. Each Digimon that you recruit gives you an extra 2-3 reputation. There’s enough replay value here to last you around 80+ hours as well so it’s certainly worth the money. Know what you’re getting yourself into and you’ll enjoy the game more. The final half and the post game segment isn’t enough for me to give the game a positive score, but it’s certainly a very deep game. I could play it for 20 more hours and still not quite understand all of the mechanics. You’ll have to tear yourself away at the end if you can survive the first 30 hours. I’d recommend just playing Cyber Sleuth if you want a game that’s dynamite from start to finish.

Overall 5/10

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (VC) Review

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It’s time for a really retro Mario game! I typically don’t use the virtual console all that much since I’m a physical game collector, but when a title has no alternative then it’s time to take the plunge. I got this one on the Wii U Eshop and it works pretty well. One advantage that this digital copy has is the ability to save at any point in the game. I can’t really imagine completing this game otherwise since I died over and over again many times. That’s because of the controls though so more on that in a bit.

It’s a classic retro Mario game from start to finish. There are 8 worlds with 4 levels each. There’s also a 9th world if you really want to test your mettle, but you get to see the ending after World 8. Each level is fairly short so you could easily complete the game in a few hours if you don’t die all that much. Of course, not dying is far easier said than done in this game. I’m not sure if it’s just this version or not, but as I mentioned earlier, the controls are terrible. I’m talking Ninjabread Man levels of bad which is actually crazy. You just don’t expect something like this from Nintendo and it makes you wonder if the Emulator guys were able to make the controls smoother..not that I’d try it tho!

The VC is a nice re-release of the original Lost Levels as the graphics are as old as you can get. It feels nice and retro to look at the sprites. The soundtrack isn’t quite as inspiring as usual, but it’s not bad either. It’s pretty good for its time on the technical merits. The level designs are also on point and I like the game’s attempt to make a snow level by making the background white. I can definitely roll with that and it’s something that I’d do in one of my sprite videos as well. Whatever works right? I really need to make another sprite video….one of these days.

There really isn’t any replay value to be found here aside from playing the levels. Usually that would be enough, but Mario Maker basically invalidates this game. You can just replay the levels over there, but with superior controls and graphics. It’s fun enough and still worth the money since the game is pretty cheap, but you probably won’t be coming back to this one. I’m also not sure what happens if you get a Game Over. I didn’t risk it so I kept saving before I would lose, but if you go back to the beginning then that would be pretty tragic. I was under the impression that this was the case, but I don’t remember actually reading about it so it could just be an incorrect assumption on my part.

I heard that you’re better off playing Luigi in this game and I can see why. Jumping a little higher would definitely be useful a lot of the time although the controls getting even more slippery doesn’t sound like my idea of a fun time. To elaborate on the iffy controls, it’s like the game added a gravity mechanic. You have to time your jump at just the right point so that you can cover a good amount of distance. Too short and Mario will barely turn and if you’re too far then he’ll float too far and you’ll die. It’s just really hard to take everything into account and a simple jump can take up to 10 tries or maybe even more. It gets a little tedious after a while. Luckily, the actual gameplay style is something that I’m still a fan of so it’s not as bad as it could have been. Without the instant saves on the VC version, it’s safe to say that this game actually would have gotten a negative score.

That’s due in part to the fact that the game doesn’t play fair. There are a lot of Mario Maker tricks included here like invisible blocks right before a jump and poison mushrooms that will destroy you if you make contact. Blind jumps are also around and it really does feel like Mario Maker users borrowed from this game. I never expected to actually see this stuff in a real Mario game. It can be a little funny here since I just restart, but imagine starting the level all over again because of it? There are also never ending mazes that don’t end unless you complete a level in exactly the right way. A little ping sound will let you know if you’re doing it right, but the VC version seems to have cut that out.

As such, it would be just about impossible to have beaten the level without knowing the trick. There are so many paths and trying them all would drive you crazy. I don’t see why a maze should be added to the game either. It just feels cheesy and almost like cheating. The level is literally changing depending on where you go and that just doesn’t feel right. There are only two levels like this, but the fact that they pop up out of nowhere makes it just that much trickier.

Overall, I forgot the exact origins of this game, but I think America skipped it for a while. I can safely say that we made the right move in that case. This is easily the worst Mario 2-D sidescroller out there. The levels aren’t really fair and the controls are just painfully bad. I died well over 100 times during the course of the game but I feel like I would have only died maybe 10% of those times if the controls were smoother. If you’re a huge Mario fan then it’s probably worth buying this one. You should see the one time that Nintendo messed up the classic formula. Still, I can’t call it a bad game. It has a reasonable amount of levels and playing the game is still fun. Once I started, I couldn’t stop until I had completely taken it down. It still has that addictive feel to it, but with only a fraction of the usual Mario fun. Soon I’ll be playing Metroid on the Virtual Console as well so we’ll see how that one fairs. The controls are certainly better which is already a nice improvement.

Overall 5/10

Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

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It’s time to finally go to one of Nintendo’s most classic franchises. DK even started before Mario which is pretty impressive. I got to play most of the old games so it’s cool to see the Country series return. I never really played the music games for the GC, but they are barely even referenced here so I’m confident that they won’t be missed. I ended up getting Tropical Freeze shortly after this one so it’ll be cool to see how it stacks up. I can safely say that Country Returns is a fun game and it’s easy to see that it’s another AAA title from Nintendo.

The plot is that a mysterious being made of wood has shown up to take over the world. It mind controls all of the nearby animals and forces them to start stealing all of the bananas in the area. That’s diabolical if you ask me! They try to control DK, but it apparently doesn’t work on him. This may be a subtle shot at DK’s intelligence since he really looks…not too smart the whole time. Ah well, whatever works right? DK must stop these guys since they are insulting the bananas with their cruel schemes!

There are 8 main worlds. There is also a 9th, but to get to that one you’ll need a lot of collectibles. That’s good for the replay value though. There are puzzle pieces and 4 Letters to grab in every level. Obtaining them all will require you to master all of the levels and show the world that you are a DK pro. Even without this, the main game should take you a reasonable amount of hours. If you beat every world in an hour, then that’s around 8 which is pretty good. Even if it’s a little less than that, it’s much better than Star Fox Zero’s <4 hour play time or Into The Nexus 3 hours.

The game is reasonably difficult as well. I don't think I would say that it is quite as tough as Super Mario World, but it's been ages since I played that game so it's possible that it would be a lot easier nowadays. The gameplay is divided into a few different segments. You have the traditional platforming levels where you jump and dodge obstacles to get to the end. Where DK differs from Mario and the others is that you can roll into opponents to deal damage and you can shatter objects by slapping the floor. You'll grab onto vines to swing around and there are just many more elements than a traditional Mario game. It's made to be more complex and you have to consider a lot of variables.

A great deal of the level is interactive as well with most bushes and other suspicious objects containing bananas and golden coins for you to grab. Some of them are just trolls, but you should check them all out. Gold coins in particular are very valuable in the game. Other parts of the level will see you head into a mining cart. One hit will destroy you so you have to jump with great precision. There's also a blue cart which only appears twice in the whole game. It's slightly different as when you jump, you actually leave the cart. Thus, you have to jump and keep moving to fall into the cart again since it will speed ahead of you afterwards. It's a little easier in co-op since you effectively have two chances to survive this way. There is even a whole boss battle modeled after this style. Surprisingly I don't think there were any under water levels. No worries, Tropical Freeze fixed that.

The soundtrack isn't very lively or memorable for the most part, but I really like the villain jingle. Whenever their theme plays, you know that things are about to get real. It's a little cheesy/corny, but it's catchy and that's what counts. It is even used as the final boss theme which is pretty surreal. I can certainly say that I wasn't really expecting it when it occurred. The graphics are pretty solid. They're not amazing, but the character designs look sharp. It's fun to see a modern DK and there is something novel about seeing any Nintendo character on the big screen. Mario, Link, Kirby, DK, the games never look outright spectacular in the cutscenes despite the gameplay being super crisp, but just seeing them is really cool. Maybe it's because their series don't tend to have a lot of cutscenes, but it is more satisfying than seeing another franchise appear fully animated.

When it comes to 2D side scrollers, Mario's still got the edge over everyone. He's just impossible to beat. I'd probably give Sonic 2nd place although I mainly like it for the boss battles. The actual platforming can be a little tricky at times. Kirby would probably be third because I love cheesing levels. If we just talk about pure gameplay, Kirby even beats Sonic. Then I'd put in DK. It feels like Mario, but the extra complexities do slow it down a bit. If you count one shot games that had side scrolling like Klonoa then the list can get quite long so lets stick to Nintendo for now. I'll merge Yoshi with Mario since they're so similar. DK may be the lowest on this chart, but that just goes to show how tough the competition is. Plus, Nintendo owns 90% of those series which is equally impressive.

Really one of the best things about the game is how much content it has and how fun the levels are. It's a very high quality title that you can play for hours without getting tired. The plot may not be amazing, but the gameplay is sharp and that's really what you're looking for in a title like this. I didn't get to play the Gold Pyramid world since you need to do a lot of bonus stuff for that, but perhaps someday. It's really good to have DK finally return to the home console and maybe we'll get a game for the Switch at some point.

I don't really have any negatives with the game either. The levels all have a check point or sometimes multiple ones. If you die, you can always respawn close by. You can buy extra lives with the medals that you collect and the medals keep replenishing so getting them isn't an issue. The levels are challenging, but not unfair the way that Mario and the Lost Levels was or Mighty No 9. The levels are made to be difficult, but balanced. You'll get the hang of them with practice since the levels themselves never actually change. It's just really good game design.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is definitely a fun game. I can see why DK fans were so thrilled when it finally came back. The title does a good job of bringing back all of the classic DK elements that fans were expecting. It may have had less barrel launching than I was expecting, but I don't mind since the actual platforming is really the fun part for the game. You can get the game for a pretty good price nowadays so I'd highly recommend it. There is a lot to do here after all and the level variety is excellent. You also won't be forgetting the main jingle of the game anytime soon either. It's simply too awesome and catchy. Now, it's time to check out Tropical Freeze! So far, I'd actually say that it's easier than Returns, but I've only conquered 2 worlds so far. There's still plenty of adventure left!

Overall 8/10

Ratchet and Clank Full Frontal Assault Review

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The Ratchet and Clank marathon continued as I dive into the big anniversary game. Full Frontal Assault decided to take a gamble and completely switch up the game design. It didn’t work if I’m being honest although this is the kind of game that would be perfect for online death matches. A nice Call of Duty kind of mode where you have to breach your opponent’s network of weapons and security could be awesome. After all, Full Frontal Assault is essentially a capture the Flag game and those are always best with a multiplayer option. Still, the game is fun enough.

Someone has finally grown tired of Captain Qwark always betraying the universe and being accepted back so gracefully. This kid decides to do something about it and sneaks out of his basement to hatch his evil plan. He has a wide array of tech at his disposal and also has a lot of resources. None of this makes any sense, but lets roll with it. Qwark asks Ratchet for help and the duo have to quickly defend the universe against this new nemesis. Can they do it!?

So the gameplay is a mix of the usual Ratchet and Clank games with the Locke’s quest dynamic. You start the level in your stronghold. Once you obtain money from nearby crates and enemies, you can set up landmines, cannons, and barriers to protect yourself. You then go out into enemy territory and conquer all of their forts. You’ll want to go back to your base from time to time to keep it strong and prevent enemies from destroying it all. No worries, you are given alerts when enemies are approaching and even a graphic that shows how close they are. Since you have your rocket boots, catching up is never a problem. Still, I wouldn’t cut it too close if I were you. No matter how many defenses you have, the enemies will certainly bust through them at some point. Luckily, taking them down is fairly easy tbh.

Naturally, the 3D shooting is as good as ever. I’d actually say that it’s significantly better than the last game so that part’s fun. The weapons are limited again, but all of the good ones are back. I naturally went for the machine gun weapon right away since it’s so good, but you should definitely check out the rest. Apparently the metal blades are really handy as well. Having the boots from the start is definitely another great asset to have.

The graphics are pretty good as always. Ratchet and Clank has always had a good reputation in that area so I’m glad that they aren’t slacking off. The explosions are a treat to see and while it may not have the best graphics in the series, that just speaks to how good the older ones were. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is fairly mild and I can’t think of any good tunes. Ah well, so it goes.

One problem with the game is that it is very short. I beat the game in around 2.5 hours which is a little sad. The levels weren’t downright easy, but I did clear them without any real difficulty. As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to beat the enemies to the base and at that point you’ve as good as won the whole set. They just won’t be able to deal with your skills. Even the wrench is surprisingly powerful in this game although you’d have to be really desperate to take that out. The guns are just so much more effective. I was able to get 2/3 medals in just about all of the stages and all 3 in one of them. I’m definitely going to gun for the Platinum at some point since it really seems achievable. There aren’t many trophies as it is and the Platinum is supposed to only take another 6-8 hours. Probably less since I already have a bunch. The replay value will help justify the current price, but I would have been pretty disappointed if I had bought it at launch.

I think the low content is enough to chop a star off of the score. That in turn with the weak plot and tower system. The Capture the Flag concept was still a good idea. It may need a little fine tuning, but since you got to keep the 3D combat, I was pretty well satisfied. The game could have messed up by making the opponents too durable. As it is, the tank perfectly fulfilled its role as taking that thing down is incredibly difficult. Man, it sure does have a lot of health doesn’t it?

Overall, You have to keep in mind that this is a spinoff game. It’s not nearly as packed with content or as engaging as the others. The main villain is complete comic relief and there’s barely even a plot. Still, it’s a fundamentally sound game when you look at the gameplay and the graphics. I had a blast during the game which is why I was able to beat it all in one playthrough. It’s just that kind of game and it can still hold its own against any platformer…you know…until it ends. I’d recommend checking this game out and since it is only around 10 bucks you won’t be losing a lot of money anyway. They better work on making sure that the next games are longer though. At the very least, I saw that All 4 One is back to a more standard length of 12+ hours so that’s a good thing. I’ll try to play that one soon, but the disc kept freezing on me. Ah well, then it might be time for Jak!

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild Review

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It’s time to take a look at the latest Legend of Zelda game. It’s a very iconic series but one that I have never found quite as critically acclaimed as most. Wind Waker was phenomenal and my personal favorite game in the series. It’s the only one to have lived up to the hype of being one of the best games of all time though. I didn’t care much for Majora’s Mask with the time gimmick and overdone puzzles. I only got to play the portable version of Ocarina of Time, but it was still pretty fun. I never played Twilight Princess since the game was too extreme and would probably give me nightmares. /s Skyward Sword was actually pretty great and I’d probably put that second to Wind Waker. See, the reason why Wind Waker and Skyward Sword were so good was due to the fact that they didn’t really have any gimmicks. It was just a standard Link adventure. You didn’t get lost or have to run around aimlessly for a while. They just got straight to the point.

Now we cut away to BoTW and it has many gimmicks. First of all, there isn’t much of a plot. Zelda is being held hostage in Hyrule Castle (We turning into the Mario series?) so Link must break in and stop her. That’s essentially the entire plot. One of the big selling points of this game was the freedom that was marketed. You could speed off and go save her immediately or gather up some allies and power ups to ensure victory. I naturally sped off to save Zelda immediately since that should be Link’s top priority instead of leading on a sea mermaid, but unfortunately I was unable to win. The speed ruins of people beating the game in under an hour are certainly impressive. It ended up taking me 26 hours.

There are 4 main dungeons to complete in this game and each one that you complete will give you an ally who will take care of one of Ganon’s forms. This makes the final boss infinitely easier and you’ll also get extra Heart containers as well. Aside from the big dungeons, there are also dozens of smaller ones. Every time you complete four of them, you can get a quarter of a heart or a big more stamina.

The gameplay is like your standard LoZ game for the most part. You slice and dice away at the villains. You can also find a horse if you’re lucky and use that to save on travel time. One new innovation for this game is the dreaded stamina meter. This means that you can’t run for more than a few seconds without slowing to a walk for a few seconds. It’s a rather tedious mechanic that only serves to drag the game out. You don’t see Nier Automata bothering with such a gimmick do you? I definitely would have liked for this to have been kept out since it makes climbing in particular a little tedious.

There’s a lot to cover here so lets get started. I usually go with positives than negatives or vice versa, but it’s hard to plan it all out ahead of time in this case so I’ll be going all over the place. First off, I have to say that the concept of a free plot is pretty intriguing. I like being able to go where I want whenever I want to go. The problem is that the game only half committed to this. Since you need certain equipment to go to some areas, the freedom isn’t as extensive as you’d think. I was able to cheese my way into the Goron stronghold by having a lot of fruit and eating it every other second to combat the damage, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t how you were supposed to do it. I also forgot to talk to the old man at the beginning so I missed out on my early chance to get the snow armor. The concept was good, but the execution was bad.

Another part of this that didn’t pan out so well was how slow Link is. In real time, it can take around 20-40 minutes to get somewhere. This gets mitigated as the game goes on since you can activate dungeons that are used as teleport points, but the first trek is always tedious. You’re supposed to be impressed with the backdrops, but a lot of the time they’re pretty empty anyway. There’s nothing to look at so you just want to keep going. Giving Link a good run speed (coughlikeNierAutomatacough) would have definitely been a really good idea. He doesn’t even need to have full turbo speed where you’re rocketing through the world, but being able to permanently run would have been a very good idea.

Now, it’s time for the worst mechanic in this game…the broken weapons. I thought we were done with those after Dark Cloud, but I guess not. This mechanic is terrible because constantly trying to find new weapons is tough. Especially since your storage is so small and after 10 it won’t let you pick something up without discarding a current weapon. I had to fight Ganon with some terrible weapons which significantly prolonged the battle. Just give me the Master Sword and let me swing forever. How I see it, only extra weapons should break, but you should always have at least one sword that is completely permanent. I can’t express enough just how terrible this was. It’s never been a good mechanic nor will it ever be one.

Breath of the Wild’s graphics are pretty good though. They may not be as impressive as Wind Waker’s, but they look good considering that this is a sandbox game. I think the graphics were probably limited to keep the world so large so it’s not quite as detailed as you’d expect at times. Still, it’s AAA quality and I really like the blue lightning effects. I also got some nice Transformers flashbacks from being knocked off a mountain and bumping into everything possible during my long slide down. Sure, it was a little annoying having to go back up, but that was still fun to watch.

Those aspects of the game were handled well. I do like how realistic the gameplay engine was with respect to falling and bumping into things. You don’t just die instantly because you fell a long distance, that was never realistic. The glider was also extremely handy and pretty fun. The game also made the 4 super skills very useful. One of them allowed you to quickly fly for a second straight up which helped a lot with climbing. Another one gave you a full revive which easily makes it the best ability in the game. A third one made you invincible for 3 hits while also stunning all enemies, even the final boss. The final skill was a thunder bolt which I didn’t find to be very useful until Ganon, but that’s reason enough to get it.

They were all quality of life upgrades that didn’t outright break the game, but made it a lot more fun. The developers certainly got that aspect right and it felt like Shantae. The journey to beating the final boss was reasonably difficult, but once you got there, you could now go back to early areas and easily get the bonus collectibles. I feel like that is definitely how a game should play out. For Breath of the Wild, it’ll be a lot more convenient to trek around and find things now that the campaign is done.

There is no doubt that Breath of the Wild has a significant amount of replay value. I could probably platy this game up to 50-60 hours and still have more to do. There are probably around 100 dungeons left and hundreds of wood chimps to find. If I went after the 100% mark it would certainly keep on proving why the game was worth the money. At the same time, Nintendo stubbornly refuses to add a trophy achievement system so there isn’t much point to doing it imo. I’d probably settle for getting the Master Sword and finding the lost memories.

Speaking of the Master Sword, it’s a real shame that you can beat the game without it. I really wanted to see it in action, but I likely never will at this point. It should have been made mandatory if you ask me. Ganon shouldn’t be able to be defeated without it. The final boss was still pretty fun though. Particularly the final phase as I was fairly stressed out. I only had 1 heart left from the first phase so I was running around like crazy trying not to get hit. I do love when final bosses are dramatic even if I’m sure that I would have rage quit for a day if I’d lost. No way was I going to replay the first phase again!

I can’t say much for the soundtrack though. LoZ’s never really been my style when it comes to music which is odd since Metroid, Star Fox, F-Zero, and even Mario have had some really good tunes. The final boss theme isn’t bad even if it’s a little generic. Most of the time, you won’t even notice music playing (If any is actually playing) which is a little unfortunate, but you can’t win them all I suppose.

Another strike against the game is that a lot of the dungeons tend to be very similar. The game is very repetitive in that respect as the 4 major dungeons are almost identical. One of them in particular was very tedious and took me almost 3 hours. It was the low point of the game for sure. Luckily the other 3 weren’t as bad and it’s still a step up from Majora’s Mask. Still, this is the problem with having all weapons from the get go and getting to decide where you want to go. The developers have to make all of the dungeons beatable from the start so it’s hard to make any of them more or less difficult without getting cheesy.

I didn’t really care for the cooking mechanic either. I never really got it and only made random stuff during my playthrough. My cooking failed each time so I blame the game on that…totally. Either way it’s not as if you really need the food. I did like the survival aspect of the game though. As I spent most of the early part with almost no hearts, one hit could KO me from any enemy. Even by the end of the game, the minions were serious threats. It was cool to see them KO me in one hit as it would usually involve a pretty large fall for Link. It really made you fight strategically and that was cool. Again, it was nice to see the progression since once you were a lot stronger, you could theoretically mow them down. At least if you had the super abilities.

Overall, Breath of the Wild is a good game. What it does really well is offer you a ton of replay value and also give you a lot of quality of life upgrades as you play through the game. It rewards you for playing it more and more which is great. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t say that it is one of the best games ever made or even that it is a great game. It’s a good title that had significant problems but enough strengths to get it by as well. I’m still glad that I ended up pre-ordering it and experiencing the journey day 1. It wasn’t disappointing the way that Star Fox Zero was. Hey, I did play it for 26 hours right? It’s the kind of game that I think I may have given a much higher score back when I was a kid and a completionist for games that didn’t even have trophies. At this point though, the game has to have a phoenominal reward for me to do that since I have so many games on the backburner. I recommend checking this out if you like 3D games or are an LoZ fan. Of course if you’re the latter, then you probably already own the game. I’m hoping that the next one goes back to its roots though. All I’m asking for is a classic LoZ game with a good plot and not a whole lot of gimmicks.

Overall 7/10

Ratchet & Clank Into The Nexus Review

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It’s been a while since I really got to enjoy a Ratchet and Clank game. I tried playing All 4 One a while back, but the game kept freezing on me. I suppose it’s bound to happen when you buy as many games as I do, but that one along with Rayman advance not working definitely stung a little. I get the chills just thinking about those games. Into The Nexus was always notable for being very short and I can see why. You really breeze through the game. Considering that I took it down in a few hours while managing to die at least once in every level…it’s very short. I mainly just kept dying because I would forget about certain gimmicks. There were a lot of controls and no manual in the game so if you forgot how to do something…it becomes button mashing time. Still, it is a very solid game despite the length and there is a reasonable amount of replay value to be found here as well.

Ratchet and Clank are serving as escorts for a pair of dangerous villains that need to be brought to jail. Unfortunately, they break free and murder two of Ratchet and Clank’s friends as they head off to destroy the universe. Ratchet decides to disobey orders to retreat back to home base and pursues the villains. This time it’s personal and Ratchet isn’t playing games. He’s armed to the teeth and is ready to make the hard calls. With the whole universe in the balance, Ratchet may learn that sometimes you need to have a backup weapon at the ready. Luckily, Ratchet always has a bunch of guns.

While the gameplay appears to be the same as always on the surface, it’s less polished. You’ll quickly get used to the 3D shooting style as it’s made to be easy to pick up and play. I love 3D games and Ratchet & Clank has always nailed it. That being said, this one is missing a lock-on feature. You can use L1 to “focus” which is like locking on, but it won’t follow the enemy. You always have to manually aim while fighting. It’s not a big deal, but it can be a little inconvenient if you’re used to having a lock-on at the ready. Due to the size of the game, the weapon selection is also a lot more limited. You have less than half of the weapons that an average Ratchet & Clank game has along with half the gadgets. They each only have 3 base levels as well so you’ll max out the weapons quite easily. It seems like there are an extra 3 levels that pop up later on though so that helps. This makes the Platinum Trophy easier I suppose, but it still sounds reasonably difficult.

The weapons that we do get are pretty good though. They’ll all old I believe so don’t expect anything new, but all of the good weapons made it back. All you’ll really need are the bombs and machine gun, but I do recommend buying the missiles and metal discs once you are able to as well. Earning money certainly isn’t hard in this game and just enter a few tournaments if you want some quick cash. It’s definitely worth the trouble. There are 5-6 worlds in the game and each one can be completed in under an hour. The tournament planet was probably the shortest plot-wise, but since there are bonus tournaments, it ends up lasting a little longer.

As always, the graphics were definitely on point here. The animations were very smooth and the character designs were as sharp as you could expect. The energy attacks all look really good and I enjoyed the level designs as well. The game did a good job of grabbing the classic stage traits like a City level and a forest one as well. That’s definitely a good thing since every Ratchet game should have at least one City world. Those always look fantastic. The soundtrack never really stood out to me though and I couldn’t recall a single tune afterwards. Music is probably one of the only areas that isn’t a strength for this series.

As mentioned, there is some decent replay value. Getting all of the trophies will take some time and that helps make the game worth the price. Even without the replay value, I think the game goes for around 10 dollars now. That’s certainly not a lot of money for an AAA title. The plot may not be as grandiose as the others, but it’s still engaging. As far as the platformers go, it destroys most of the competition. Only Jak can really keep up with it consistently and I’d still give Ratchet and Clank the edge.

One thing that I can definitely get behind for this game is that the level up system is so smooth. Aside from your weapons, you can also level Ratchet up. It’s not particularly long or time consuming to power up, but you still don’t have to unless you want too. The bosses are definitely beatable if you want to go straight for them. There are also constant check points so even if you lose, you never have a long way to go. I think the phrase that I’m looking for is “Quality of Life” mechanics for this game. You never get lost for hours and hours like LoZ and you never have to go back through a long area with unskippable cutscenes like Orphen. Into The Nexus is a game that’s made with the gamer’s needs as top priority and it’s something that I’d like to see more games achieve. It’s easy to see why the series is known as one of the all time greats.

Overall, This felt like a little treat for Ratchet & Clank fans to hold them over until the next full installment. I’d think of this as more of a spinoff than a full fledged game. Think of it as the mini adventure to keep you ready for the next big title like what Kingdom Hearts does. Of course, KH spinoffs are still typically at least 20 hours long, but we’ll let that slide for now. It’s short, but that doesn’t mean that Into The Nexus is any less of a good game than you’d expect. While it’s not as polished and complete as the others, I still had a blast playing it. The time really flies when you’re blasting the opponents. I’m definitely looking forward to playing the next game although I hear that it switches up the format a little. Hopefully it keeps in the fun and intensity of this game.

Overall 8/10

Alter Echo Review

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This is one of those games that I knew next to nothing about, but decided to buy on a whim. Lets face it, a cool cover and solid gameplay is enough to warrant a purchase. It’s why I like surfing Amazon’s retro games once in a while to find the hidden gems. Alter Echo’s definitely quite a lot of fun. It’s not quite on the same level as Eve of Extinction and Oni as those games were phenomenal, but it’s another good entry for the PS2 that holds up really well. The plot is certainly original.

So, humanity has gone pretty far. We now have telepaths to an extent who can reshape things. One day, a group of humans stumble upon a planet where they had sent a few others many years ago. It seems like their time in space has turned Paavo’s expedition evil so they now want to wipe out humanity. Our 3 proud heroes decide to stop them, but they are split up when landing. Nevin decides to find them and get off the planet while he can. He meets with an artificial intelligence that is the actual planet and it begs Nevin to help him stop Paavo. Nevin declines whole heartedly and gives this entity a hard time throughout the game, but it finally gets personal when the body count starts to rise and he realizes that there will be nowhere to escape to if Earth is destroyed. He reluctantly agrees to help and fortunately, the entity gives him a power suit and an assortment of weapons to bolster his abilities.

The plot is definitely going all in with the science fiction. That’s a smart move since it makes everything cooler. The opponents that you’re fighting are technically entities made of telepathic energies and all, but you can think of them as aliens. The designs are really cool and Nevin’s suit is also like something out of Iron-Man. The gameplay is pretty straight forward. It’s a 3D action title where you’ll be doing a lot of fighting. In standard mode, it plays out like a Link title. You swing at anything that moves. You have a beast mode which lets you climb onto objects and enemies alike. Finally, there’s Gun mode, where you turn into a large mecha and start blasting away. You’ll find that human mode is the most reliable, but you’ll have to use them all since some enemies are impervious to your different forms.

There’s an aspect of platforming to this game as well. You’ll need to activate nodes across the levels at times or get from one place to another with your acrobatics. There are also some puzzles for when you are deciphering a node. Don’t worry, they’re the good kind of puzzles. It’s all about reaction times as you must make the right turn. This also happens when you use your time manipulation to strike at enemies. It’s a really handy ability that I recommend using whenever possible since it gives you extra currency to spend on upgrades. I maxed out all of my powers and bought some combos as well, but you won’t really find yourself needing the combos. Button mashing works well enough on all of the opponents.

The game is fairly easy although the final boss will give you a run for your money. He has two phases and if you lose at any point, you must start again. Luckily, while I did die against the first phase 2-3 times, I never lost to the final one. That would have been demoralizing. It was very tense though since I won at the very end of my health bar. I always give my clutch factor some credit there along with the developers since nothing is more satisfying than winning at the very end like that. The same thing happened to me in Breath of the Wild and Kingdom Hearts II. It’s a good feeling. For the final boss phase 2, I recommend just baiting out his attacks and then punishing them. It’s a fool proof plan.

Alter Echo also ends with a big cliffhanger although a sequel is unlikely. Spoilers are present for this paragraph to skip it if you must. You ready? Well, it would appear that the entity is also evil and the heroine lives after all. She had seemingly died a while back so it’s good to see that she survived. That being said, she’ll probably be turned evil or not given a choice so that’s too bad for her. The other villains are also alive as well. The sequel probably would have been a blast so it’s a shame that it didn’t happen. The plot wasn’t particularly strong, but it still would have been enjoyable.

The graphics are good. They aren’t anything special, but the levels are fun to look at since the space theme is good. I will admit that all of the levels look the same though. There is no real variety to speak of since all of the levels are on the planet and in the caverns. This was a little lazy on the side of the developers so that’s something that could be fixed in a sequel. The time stop attacks look really good with purple energy all around. As for the soundtrack, it’s also really good. The themes are all really fast paced and increase the intensity of the levels. I’d definitely like to see the tunes return in a sequel.

Unfortunately, there is no replay value here. Once you beat the game, you cannot replay the levels to get the extra power ups. Your only option is to replay the game and that would purely be just to have fun. It’s a game that you complete and then put back on the shelf. The playthrough is good though so this isn’t a bad thing, but I always like to have some replay value. It gives the game an extra boost if you ask me.

While the game is good, there are clearly some negatives since I’m only giving it a 7. As I mentioned, the story isn’t great. It’s not bad and showed signs of promise like whenever the two friends would appear. It just suffered from some slow parts where nothing would really happen during some levels. The gameplay could also be a little repetitious since you would have to keep shifting forms to deal with various enemies. It wasn’t a big deal though and I still enjoyed the gameplay. These are just elements that hold it from being an 8. I did enjoy the puzzle system for the time stop attacks though and I’d definitely keep that for the sequel.

Overall, Alter Echo is a solid game and one that I would definitely recommend. It’s fairly short and won’t last you too long, but the gameplay is on point. The soundtrack is solid and the plot isn’t bad either. It’s the kind of game that nobody has heard of so it’ll also earn you some brownie points with other gamers when you mention that you’ve played such an obscure game. It had some issues like the levels being repetitious along with the gameplay to an extent, but that’s where the short length actually came in handy. Hopefully we get more space games soon, but I doubt that’ll be a problem. Space games are always going to be seen as cool.

Overall 7/10