7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics Review


It’s time to look at an old SNES game. This is one of those titles that I definitely had not heard of before and is certainly underrated. The game has quality platforming mechanics that can hold their own with the other big side scrollers. It’s really surprising that the game didn’t hit it big.

The plot of the game is that someone has kidnapped the legendary crown from the village. In order to get to him we will need to defeat the 7 dragons and gather all the gems so that we can create Rainbow Road.  This won’t be a cakewalk and the mastermind behind these attacks should not be messed with. That being said, our hero is ready and eager for the challenge.

The gameplay is pretty simple. Your goal is to make it to the end of each level where there is a boss waiting for you. You can swing your club to dispatch enemies and you can swing it forward or up. You can also pick up meet that the enemies drop which will replenish your health and also give you a special ability at times. One lets you shoot bullet seeds which is very handy thanks to the range. The best weapon in the game are the twin axes though. When you find these in a level you are basically invincible since you can shoot two energy blasts that cover a very long distance. You can also swallow water but that is only useful for one jump in the whole game where you have to put out a fire log. It’s pretty impressive that the game added a whole mechanic for one scene.

This is a difficult game though so you will really need those weapons. Touching anything will hurt you and you don’t have a whole lot of health. 5 hits and that’s it. The minions run and jump out of nowhere so it can be very difficult to react to them on time. Then the bosses have tough attack patterns that they mix up quite a bit in order to claim the edge. The toughest one is definitely the dinosaur that shoots out a bunch of rocks and energy blasts at the same time. I couldn’t figure out a way to dodge the rocks so you’ll be banking in RNG a bit here. Just rush in and hit the dinosaur as much as possible since a drawn out fight is the last thing you want.

You will want to take their fighting habits to heart since you will be fighting a boss rush of every dinosaur in the game in the final level. That would be absolutely brutal on the original console without the save states and rewind feature. Even with them you’ll have a bit of a tough time, but you will naturally learn the movements the more you battle them. By the end the final boss doesn’t even feel all that tough in comparison. His second form is easier than the first one and I’m guessing that’s because it would feel pretty impossible by the end if the second form was even stronger than the first one. This way you get to sort of wind down as you approach the ending.

The graphics definitely look pretty good and have aged really well. This is the kind of sidescroller that I could see doing really well nowadays if it ever got a sequel. There’s just a good world and setting that this game has made which will really serve it well. Naturally the story isn’t too deep at this point since this was such an older game but they could definitely flesh it out with a modern remake. There’s just a lot of possibilities here for sure.

In terms of replay value there naturally isn’t a whole lot. Once you’ve beaten the game that’s it. You don’t even get to go back to the main menu at that point because the game is 100% done. It’ll last you for about an hour or so and then you’ll be all done. Considering that the game is free if you already have the online service then that really isn’t half bad. If anything it’s a steal. The SNES Online really feels worlds apart from the NES titles as these are full fledged games in their own right. Joe & Mac 2 has definitely earned that respect.

Overall, This is a fun game. It’s really got all of the elements that you would expect in such a solid title. The gameplay is rock solid and the game actually has a structure. You’ve got an ongoing plot as you try to grab all of the gems and are rewarded with a nice payoff through the ending. The game is not all that linear so you can choose to get whichever gems you want in any order. It’s like a Mega Man game in that way. You can also spend your money at the local shops to fix up your home and buy meat. I don’t really get what half of the items over there do though. Some like the Melon just makes it feel like you’re wasting money for no real reason. I’m sure the items all have a purpose but the game can be rather vague on that front. Well, it’ll be tough for the next SNES game to pass this one but never count one out.

Overall 7/10

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7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kingdom of Paradise Review


It’s time to look at a pretty obscure RPG. I don’t think a great many people have played this and I dare say that it’s because of the cover. It just isn’t an interesting one and will do nothing to catch your eye. At the most you may just look at this game and shake your head. Still, if you do end up purchasing the game then you’ll have found a keeper. This one has some pretty tight gameplay and the story isn’t bad. The length is also pretty good. There are some issues which keep me from calling this a great game, but at the end of the day there’s a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows a warrior named Shinbu who was expelled from his clan a while back for breaking the rules. Well, he’s come to terms with this and is now eager to make himself a better man. He runs into a girl named Sui Lin who is heading back to his old clan with some dire news. He decides to follow her for a while before informing her that he is the one she is seeking. It turns out that their entire clan has been murdered and Shinbu’s parents were destroyed by a pair of orcs. With his life in shambles Shinbu agrees to help Sui Lin warn the other 4 clans. It appears that all 5 are in danger as a new kingdom is quickly approaching. Their ruler has tempted the second in command from all 5 clans to help him conquer the world. Will Shinbu be enough to turn the tides?

The gameplay is that of a 3D beat em up. There are a lot of enemies always crawling out of the woodwork and you have to slam them back inside. There is no rest for the weary and you have to stay sharp at all times. While you don’t always have to fight them, you’ll probably want to as you won’t be strong enough to fight off the bosses otherwise. One thing you’ll want to do is find a room where the enemies are close enough for you to enter battle mode but far enough where you can’t hurt them. Then just spam your energy attacks. See, the way your energy attacks level up in this game is to simply keep using them. Whether you hit the opponent or not doesn’t matter so it’s easiest in a situation like that where you won’t have to move. It can be a little dull since you’re literally standing in one place and using the same attack over and over. Still, that’s how you get the attack to improve its potential. Just keep on doing that for at least one element and you’ll have an attack that will still be relevant even against the final boss. It can one shot all minions up until that point as well.

Without the magic abilities you’ll see what a tough fight the climax can be. I brought along 3 revives and 30 max potions and I had to use up almost my full supply at the end. Money doesn’t come easy but once you enter a long tower near the end of the game that is your chance to grind quite a lot. The room with the 5 bat creatures is your best bet since you can take them all down in one shot with no real effort. Rinse and repeat for a lot of exp and money. I got a ton of level ups that way which was really handy. Your skills and magic attacks all have elements and choosing the right one for each battle also helps a lot. You can switch at any time, but it can be hard to know what element your opponent is so I would usually just stick with fire.

The graphics aren’t bad. I am glad that we get full voice acting and cinematics. The faces don’t move much though which can make for interesting cutscenes where the characters are just staring at each other for a while. It can unintentionally be pretty funny. Some scenes just also seem like they end a little sooner than the developers planned. One such scene is when a confession is made and the other characters just stares in silence for a moment before the screen goes white and you walk away. I suppose you can make a lot of different assumptions about what happened there, but my guess is that he got overwhelmed and just walked away.

There are a lot of twists in the story. We meet two girls of cosmic nature who hold the keys and each of the 5 kingdoms have their own issues. At times it could be difficult to keep all of the names straight since there were just so many characters running around. There were multiple traitors and even mind control going on so not everyone who tried to destroy us was actually evil. It raises a lot of questions but by the end of the game I’d say that they’re all answered. It’s definitely not the happiest ending though as a lot of people didn’t get a happy ending once this had all concluded.

One plot that definitely didn’t go over very well was Shinbu’s parents. So, there’s a twist and one of them survived while the other one was murdered. Why? These Ogres don’t seem that tough so I can’t see how they won in the first place. Then there’s the issue of the survivor being generally emotionless and uncaring about the whole thing. The reunion with Shinbu is laughable as the dialogue amounts to a “hey” and then the characters part ways again. I think a sequel could flesh out some of these characters like the mysterious man in red who has a lot of skills, but chooses to hide all the time anyway. Most of these characters are pretty guilty of not doing anything since they definitely could have stopped the villain’s plans earlier. At the very least they could have slowed the villains down. Ultimately Shinbu has to do everything.

I liked the boss theme. It was pretty atmospheric and let you know that things were getting serious. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t too memorable though. Now for the parts of the game that weren’t great. For one thing, there is a lot of running around in this game. The hub world is huge and you are expected to traverse it multiple times on your way to the end. A lot of times the hint given in your quest menu is fairly vague and you may end up going to the wrong town a lot. From the 13 hours I was playing this game I dare say that 3-4 were just about running to where I needed to go. The boats don’t show up til near the end of the game and even then they don’t take you everywhere.

Then you’ve got the map which isn’t very helpful. Left in game doesn’t mean left on the map which just doesn’t make any kind of sense. The grinding is not handled quite as well as in other games. It’s very slow and the way that the magic levels up just doesn’t make any kind of sense. There are also parts of the game where you might really be in a jam if you don’t have enough magical abilities. I remember getting trapped in the tower room for a while because I didn’t have one of the elements. Fortunately using the sword worked in its place. Really the main drawbacks here are the map and unclear directions. The gameplay is fun though which is always the important thing.

Overall, Kingdom of Paradise is a fun game and one that I would definitely recommend. It brings you the top notch action that you would expect and then some. It’s definitely not super polished and the plot pales next to other RPGs, but it’s got enough fundamentals to keep you going. You will certainly be entertained and it’s always nostalgic going back to the PSP. The games on this console all had a certain feel about them that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Neopets Petpet Adventures: The Wand of Wishing Review


It’s time to look at a Neopets game that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while. It’s been pretty fun diving into these old games and I’m steadily closing out all of the PSP titles I own. This one definitely has its share of issues, but is ultimately a pretty decent game. It does get that RPG feeling across.

The game stars with a girl and her dog being cornered by a group of goblins. They want the legendary Wand of Wishing and unfortunately the heroine grabs it from the secret location and then lets it get taken into a portal. Her dog heads inside to grab it. The mission will be difficult though as the wand is now in a fantasy land filled with dragons and fairies as multiple factions wrestle for control. This pup is going to have to play hard ball.

I do like that the opening and ending cutscenes both have actual voice acting. I feel like the whole game should have had that instead of gibberish being used as the monster language though. The main heroine definitely isn’t ready for this action adventure though as she actually has a wand that can grant any wish and still lets the villains get the upper hand. There are hundreds of wishes she could have quickly made to make the villains stand down. That would have been a good way to play things. I would have actually been curious to see more of the human world since goblins apparently exist here. Is the world under siege and a sequel would look at that or is she simply in the wrong neighborhood? So many questions and so little time.

As for the actual gameplay, this is an overhead open world RPG action title. You walk from area to area fulfilling various quests and saving the king/queen of each realm. Your weapon can be a close quarters one like a sword or you can use a crossbow. I highly recommend the latter as their range is far greater and their power is better. Whoever designed this game must have had a very high opinion of this weapon because to have one that has better range and power is pretty unheard of. You will definitely want to have a high level of power because a lot of the bosses have Cheese abilities that will destroy you very quickly otherwise. One can freeze you as he lands multiple hits and others fire so fast that you can barely see the attack.

I spent around an hour just trying to cross one room at one point because even the minions were taking me down in a single hit. Just equipping weapon and armor simply isn’t enough. You will quickly be taken down. Your only hope is to go to the gym and level up your core strength, speed, and other stats. Make no mistake, these skills are what’s really going to get you through the door. Using the gym costs a lot of money and you only get an upgrade once you beat the boss but it’s worth it. Soon the minions who were beating you in one hit will barely be able to hurt you. At that point you will have a much better chance at winning.

You can also wield magic but I never quite got the hang of that one. My magical abilities weren’t quite high enough to use most of them so I bought a healing spell and left it at that. I highly recommend the health regeneration spell by the way as you can keep it activated almost 24/7 and it doubles your health recovery speed. It’s incredibly handy in all situations.

One issue about all of this is the money. As I mentioned it is all quite expensive and the problem is that the resources are finite. Once you clear a world you cannot go back and enemies surprisingly do not respawn. This means that if you go too fast you may end up burying yourself in an unwinnable situation. Fortunately that didn’t happen to me but if you like speed-running a game just keep this in mind. You don’t want to skip too many enemies. Honestly they should have just left the worlds open. It also means that you can’t clear the side quests either which is no good.

In general the game suffers from menus that aren’t very intuitive and long loading screens. Going into any area triggers a long loading screen and the menus are slow. You have to scroll screen by screen to get anywhere instead of a quick click. It can be tough to figure out most of the game’s more advanced features on your own as well.

As far as the graphics are concerned, I’d give the game a thumbs up. It is certainly one of the weaker PSP games in that area without a doubt but it is good enough. You can always tell what is happening and at worst the game just can’t load up much beyond what you see so you’ll notice that your attacks don’t do any damage if they hide just out of view. The soundtrack is decent but has no noteworthy tunes. You’ll likely forget all about them by the time you have wrapped things up here.

The story was fun enough as I mentioned but there is one moment that doesn’t make much sense. There is a twist about who one of the villains is and it is ambitious since it is a character that we will need to stop the end of the world. She’s evil but when another villain shows up this quickly goes 180 as she asks for our help. So much for pride among villains. At the end she makes a half hearted attempt to get in our way again but you don’t feel as though it is a serious attempt. Hopefully the other guardians will give her a stern talking to after her antics.

Overall, The Wand of Wishing is a pretty good game. It may not have the depth or length of a standard RPG, but you can still tell that some effort was put behind this one. There are several areas where it could have improved for sure like the loading times I mentioned earlier. Clearer instructions would be good as well but once you figure everything out then you are sure to have fun. Just be sure to go to the gym and buy the best armor/long ranged weapon and you shall be fine.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Reviews

Pilotwings Review


It’s time to look at my next adventure into the SNES lineup. This one always looked like fun from the Super Smash Bros stage so I was ready to give it a whirl. It reminds me of the toy helicopter game I played for the Wii a while back. It’s about teaching you how to make rescues and perform tricks. Most of the game is a lot of tutorials like that until the very final level where we actually get a plot. Some villains have taken people hostage and we have to get past an entire army to save them. I’m not sure if any of you guys ever played Blackhawk Striker back in the day on the PC, but to this day it is my favorite game in that genre. This final level sort of feels like a chibi version of that and it works out quite well. I was definitely satisfied with the game by the end of my run. There is no replay value whatsoever in this game which hurts as having some kind of post game is pretty important. It’s a good one step playthrough but you’ll likely never play it again.

There are 4 different kinds of gameplay although they all have similarities. The objective of each level is to get a fairly high score like 220. You have 3 minigames to do so which means that on average you want to get a score of roughly 80. One of these minigames puts you in a plane as you fly through some rings and then attempt to make a good landing. It’s a lot trickier than you would expect as you have to land just right and with a good amount of speed to get a good score. This part also feels pretty realistic with how the plane will bounce if you attempt to land too quickly. It took me a ton of tries to get it right and this is probably the most difficult of the modes. It’s also the most fun one though.

Then you have the parachute version which is a free fall through some rings and then you aim for a perfect landing. With the wind and all the turning going on it can be pretty tough to get the landing just right. Then you have the hang glider which is basically the same thing only this time you’re on a parachute. It’s pretty fun as well and since the mechanics are the same for all of the games you should quickly get the hang of it.

The final level switches things up as you’re given missiles and have to fight actual enemies. I’m a little surprised that they went to the trouble of adding in new mechanics for a single level. It was a very nice surprise though as I was not expecting a plot to actually show up. The final level is easily the most epic part of the whole game. Trying to dodge and fire back was just epic.

My advice for this game is to always go full speed near the beginning. Time impacts your score quite a bit and there will always be time to slow down after you grab the rings. This is especially important in the plane levels since getting a perfect landing means almost nothing if you took all day to get there. You need maximum points and the way to do that is to just go full blast right from the start and slow down afterwards. For the final level, I recommend shooting all of the cannons down before even trying to register the hostages. One hit means death in this final level so if you let your guard down for even a moment you will end up regretting it.

As far as the graphics go, the game has aged pretty well. It’s still not the highest quality title out there, but by the SNES standards it has aged pretty well. I like the attention to detail with the character in the free fall turning around and the places to land are marked pretty clearly. I do think they should show up from farther in the map as you can totally miss it in some sections, but all in all that’s a pretty minor thing. The soundtrack is pretty nice. It’s definitely peaceful while still feeling like it has some energy behind it.

Overall, Pilotwings is definitely a fun game. It’s also a very challenging one. Without the SNES Online features it would probably take a little while longer to complete it. The controls are just hard to really master because of the angles. You’ve also got to pull it off 4 times in a row as one bad score can set you back a whole section. It does help to compensate for the short length of the game though as beating them all in one shot would probably result in you completing the game in 30 minutes. We’ll see which SNES game I play next, but I have to say that it will have a bit of a difficult time taking down Pilotwings.

Overall 6/10

3 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

ESPN Sports Connection Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent Wii U game I got to play. I haven’t had a chance to play a true cash-in title in quite a while so it was nostalgic to an extent. That being said, the game was pretty underwhelming and falls for most of the traps that the Wii U games tend to sink in. The Gamepad and Wii Remote are both mandatory which is an issue since the Wii U should be able to play the game with its own controls. It’s like asking you to have a Gamepad while playing a Nintendo Switch game.

There are 6 games here and they range from okay to downright bad. It’s really something that Wii Sports has aged a lot better with the controls and pure gameplay. ESPN is just not on the same level and that’s really a bad sign. None of the games feel like they had any real care in them and they were simply slapped together for a quick profit. There is barely even a main menu as the only options are to click into the games or look at your in-game achievements. Those are your only options so the game is incredibly quick as you have probably already begun to suspect. Well, lets look at the games.

First up is Football which should have been great, but unfortunately the game messed this up by making it all motions controls. Throwing the ball is actually very difficult because the game won’t read your commands and by the time you are able to toss the ball it is usually too late so your guy will drop the ball. A lot of the game also boils down to luck as you pick 1 of 4 directions and hope that the other player picked a different one. If you pick the same one then the defender ends up stopping the attacker. It just doesn’t feel like Football, especially since you can’t run the ball at all even after catching it. All you can do is throw the ball which doesn’t even work well. Thumbs down on the first sport.

Then we have Tennis which has controls that are worse than the Balls of Fury game for the Wii. It’s made to be like Wii Sports as you swing your arm around and try to connect but the sensors aren’t perfect for this one either. You’ll have a very tough time hitting the ball and an even tougher time trying to get it to go where you want it to. The points all last way too long and so do the matches. It may be fair to say that this is the worst version of tennis that I have played in a game.

Not to be outdone, the Golf game here isn’t any better. In fairness to this minigame, it’s no worse than most Golf titles. It’s just that Golf isn’t for me and this is not the game to change that. You will have a hard time hitting the ball just right because you’ll end up swinging too hard to compensate for the sensor not reading your light hit. That means you can expect to get a Bogey instead of a Birdie.

Then you have Karting which is the best game almost by default. It’s not great or even that good, but at least it feels like a real game. You can actually accelerate accurately and the stages had a little effort put into them. By now it’s a pretty small bar, but I’ll take what I can get. This was probably the best game out of the 6 and it shows that racing games are still the foundation upon which everything tries to get built. It’s just easy to at least give you the impression of being in control here.

Next is Baseball and this one has the same issues as the Football game. It doesn’t feel much like Baseball because so much of the game is completely out of your control. There’s just no fun to be had here which is a real problem. Pitching feels pretty OP while batting isn’t satisfying. This leads to a poor balance for sure. Finally we have Soccer. Admittedly this one isn’t too bad. It’s up there with the Kart game for at least being entertaining. The controls are simple and you can actually score. It feels like soccer which is the important thing. So, all in all the game got 2/6 of the games right. I can’t really give it a ton of praise for that, but I’ll at least give it some credit.

Not enough to recommend the game though. When you see the name ESPN slapped onto something you expect a certain level of quality. This game did not fulfill that at all. It just went through the motions and ultimately gave you a title that you can’t really be all that proud of. The graphics are okay, but nothing special. They’re going for an art style like Backyard Football, but with less of a budget. It’s all colorful, but not very impressive. The soundtrack and presentation are basically nonexistent here so that isn’t doing the game any favors here either.

There is some replay value through the achievements that the game gives out. Each sport has 40 achievements and there are 28 social ones. Completing all of these achievements will be very difficult unless you have another player to cheese them with. I got a reasonable amount of achievements, but since they don’t unlock anything there really isn’t much point to them either. There isn’t even a mode to play all of the sports at once. It’s like playing Mario Party but without the party mode and knocking the dozens of minigames down to 6. Even if these minigames were amazing (which they aren’t) it would be tough to hold my attention for very long with such a limited selection.

Overall, ESPN Sports Connection is not a good game. It’s probably the most disappointing game since Star Fox Zero. There just should have been so much more to this title but it could not deliver on anything. Even the karting, while okay ends up making Mario Kart Tour look good. You could just buy a game that specializes in one of these 6 sports instead of buying the mini version. It can be done well like Wii Sports, but for the most part I tend to see a pattern of these kind of games being low quality. The game is only 2-3 dollars so it’s not a big loss if you buy it, but I would recommend going for something else instead. This one just won’t last you very long at all.

Overall 3/10

7 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Mario Kart Tour Review


It’s time to look at Nintendo’s latest venture into the mobile world. Despite their rhetoric about not jumping into the pay to win biz it was always just a matter of time. Mario Kart Tour does take this to an extreme level with how many pay to win mechanics there are though. You don’t need any of them to I want to stress that you can still play this game at a satisfactory level without paying any money at all. You will be at a distinct disadvantage, but that is typically the case with almost any mobile game.

The main gameplay revolves around driving and trying to reach the end. Most of the levels are fairly straight forward so you shouldn’t have a difficult time getting to the end. There aren’t many areas where you can fall either. However, this means that more than ever you will need to make sure that your driving skills are polished so you can make the right twists and turns. Every second saved is quite important and also because the score makes a big difference here. Your score is ultimately what decides how many Grand Stars you earn in a race. Obtaining first place gives you a lot of points but it is totally possible to ace a level without coming in first depending on how well you do.

There are a lot of items at play here though so doing well doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win. I had quite a few races where I lost due to a lot of cheesy circumstances at the last second. A Paratroopa slammed me near the end and then there was also the Red Shells that would get me. There’s a considerable amount of RNG here, but that’s always at play in a Mario Kart game. If anything you really need that or this would become just another racing game right?

The graphics are very nice. You can tell that this is a 2019 game with how vibrant all of the character models are. The stages are incredibly nostalgic and have also aged well with the graphical enhancements. There’s nothing to complain about on a technical level. The stage themes are also really good. I feel like for most mobile games the developers spend a ton of time on presentation since that’s what will really attract players and ideally get them to stay.

The gameplay is quite good. At the end of the day that part holds up pretty well. There’s quite a bit of auto assist so you can even play while you’re not by your phone, but don’t expect to get a good placing. This is actually discouraged compared to other games as well since there is an energy limit that you will hit very quickly. Once that happens your karts and characters won’t get EXP with each win which is a big drawback. You can keep playing, but it will feel like you’re losing out quite a bit.

That’s one limitation that holds the game back and another is how tough it is to get the characters you want. That’s true for many Gatcha games, but some are better than others. One problem with this one is that Karts and Gliders are included as opposed to it just being Drivers like in most other games. I’d really rather not get another car when I could just get more characters. You’ll also get a lot of duplicates since right now the pool is very small. Getting a duplicate feels like a waste because it takes multiple duplicates to get a single rank up so you’ll be here for a while.

The game’s definitely got quite a grind behind it which isn’t too surprising, but it could have definitely been handled better. Then the game also has a Gold Pass option which doubles your rewards for each box but it is quite pricey. I believe it’s around 5-6 a month which is absolutely crazy for a game like this. Honestly, there are almost 0 games I would even pay something like that for. Even Super Smash would have to get declined on this one. I get paying for a console’s online, but individual games?

I got Daisy near the end so that was good, but I wish I could have gotten her a little earlier. I can’t complain much on that end though. Then you’ve got the Cups and by-weekly challenges. I cleared a good chunk of them and apparently new ones are cycled in. It hasn’t happened yet so it’s speculation, but I’ve heard that they might all cycle in and out which would be annoying. I like to be able to play any level at any given time. All mobile games have the themed events which leave, but there should always be a good chunk of permanent ones.

Mario Kart Tour definitely makes a lot of odd decisions. It’s a good game and I think you can get a lot of mileage out of it, but you’ll need to really like the racing. You’ll also have to accept that it will be difficult to be at the top of the rankings for any month since the only way to increase your score on the gliders/karts/drivers is to level them up and it’s tough to get the resources for that without spending money. You will level up, but slower than the others. At the time of this review there isn’t even an option to race against other players which is crazy since that’s what Mario Kart is known for. The game is supposedly adding it in a day or two, but that’s a day or two too late.

Overall, Mario Kart Tour is a good game despite having a lot of negatives. At the end of the day it does succeed in being a good way to drive on the go and to hone your Mario Kart skills. It’s just not good enough for me to keep it long term. These kind of games are addicting for a little while, but you definitely end up burning out after a while. It’s rare that a mobile game will hit the big times and I don’t think this one will have what it takes for me at least. If you do stick around, then just have a blast and enjoy the features!

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 2K10 Review


It’s going to be a little emotional finally being done with the hockey games. After this one there is only one title left that I own. This is the first 2K NHL game I’ve played and it does play quite differently from the main title so I had to get used to the controls from scratch. Surprisingly the controls actually seem a lot more straightforward here than in NHL, at least to me. Also, 2K is usually more of a simulation title while the main games are the arcade version but this one switches things up quite a bit.

One big change is that the games were fairly high scoring. In the first round I lost 5-3, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen so many points on the board when I’ve played. Honestly this probably is the highest scoring NHL game I’ve been in at all. Then in the next round I lost 7-5. No matter how much I scored the other team was always right behind me. Still, I have to admit that the scoring did make the game a whole lot more fun. I felt like I was actually causing serious damage and that’s considering that I didn’t really get a chance to learn most of the movement options. I’d just keep dashing around until I punched the ball in. That was the secret to my success.

On defense they did make picking a fight a little more obvious. You’ll see an indicator on the top of the screen asking if you want to initiate a fight. Now I’m not sure how you trigger this or if it’s random. If it’s the latter then NHL does have the edge since you actually have a button to start fights. I lost the actual brawl here though, I’ll have to work on my punching skills.

My defense is also a little sloppy compared to NHL. I think that’s because I was trying to swipe the puck more than just slamming the opponent. The latter is usually a lot more effective for making a play and you rarely get penalized for it anyway. I was good with penalties here though, my guys only got a penalty once or twice as the game went on. Still, I can’t be letting this many goals through so I have to button things up for next time.

The graphics are very bright. They aren’t quite as detailed as the main game but they certainly do the job. You’re able to really just jump into the action and go from there. The presentation isn’t quite as fancy so this one really just throws you into the game. Since I’d say that the gameplay is better than the main games it is a pretty good tradeoff if you ask me. I didn’t really notice a soundtrack. If there was music then it was pretty faint as you played. I feel like the main NHL themes pop out at you a little more, but music is never really a big part of the sport experience.

In terms of replay value you can make this game last a very long while. There’s no shortage of things to do and as long as you like the gameplay you can enjoy an unlimited amount of unique matches. There is no longer online as far as I know and while there may be trophies here, I didn’t get any during the game so they definitely sound like they’re gonna be pretty tough. It’s a good incentive to really learn the controls in and out though. If you intend to play the game seriously, then it’s probably worth going into the practice mode at least briefly. I just skipped it entirely since I probably wouldn’t be playing it much after the initial games. Realistically with how many games I’ve got to get back to I probably won’t ever play this specific NHL again even if I will probably play the newer ones.

Overall, NHL 2K10 is a great start to this spinoff series. I’m assuming that there is probably a 2K for all of the years in which case I am definitely quite behind. That being said, the games are probably pretty cheap by now so grabbing them shouldn’t be too difficult. Next time I’ll be taking a look at 2K7 so we’ll see how that one goes. If you don’t own a hockey game yet, this is a reasonable one to start with.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

NHL 13 Review


It’s time to venture back into the world of hockey! After I managed to secure a win last time I’ll admit that I walked into this one with a lot of confidence. It wasn’t a question of if I would win this time, but rather by how much would I claim victory. Turns out that the CPUs didn’t like this and they fought extra hard. Unfortunately I was not able to claim victory over them this time, but I put up a good fight. They just had an extra tight defense this time and their offense wasn’t bad either.

I can’t say that there was much of a difference between 13 and 12. I jumped right into the match and got my best hockey swings in. As a quick recap of the rules the goal of Hockey is to hit a puck inside the enemy net. They have a player standing watch over it at all times and they will do whatever they can to stop the puck. Their team was quite successful at this. Usually my plan is to either pass the ball to a nearby teammate who will punch it in or I’ll do some quick jukes as I approach and try to aim it at the opposite corner. I did manage to score a goal, but unfortunately they got 2 so I was not able to stop them. I had more success with direct shooting than passing this time, but it seems to vary from match to match.

I quickly tried a rematch which I came close to tying, but they scored a goal near the end so I was stuck. After the quick matches I figured I should also try one of the other modes because I don’t do that very often. I went into the shootout mode and managed to win that one. For some reason that mode is always a little easier than the actual game. I suppose because it’s 1 vs 1 there are less distractions so I can just walk up and do my best. There weren’t a lot of other modes that I could see. The others seemed to be variations of the main one so you could jump in and start a franchise or be a GM for example. You could probably spend a ton of time there.

NHL is the kind of game that never really has to end. The amount of replay value it has is equal to how much you enjoy the game. You can sink dozens/hundreds of hours into it if you wish but if you’re that hardcore of a player then you’ll probably be playing NHL 18 rather than 13. Considering that the game is only around 2 bucks it is really a steal to grab this one. This is the final mainline NHL game I’ve got, but I do have 2 spinoffs coming soon so my hockey marathon isn’t quite over yet. I still have more chances to try and secure a win.

Meanwhile the graphics are definitely as sharp as ever. The game looks very nice and you always have a good feel for what is happening on screen at all times. There isn’t much of a soundtrack that you will notice, but once you’re in the game it’s not like you’ll be worrying about that for long anyway. You really get absorbed into the match and the presentation is definitely on point. NHL always delivers there.

In terms of difficulty I imagine that hockey will be one of the more challenging games. All these reviews are on the Pro difficulty level although I’ve dabbled with others in the past. The rookie level is pretty easy to win on and anything above Pro is almost impossible to score with so you gotta hope for a 0-0 deadlock. Pro seems just right to me even if I very rarely get any wins on it. It just seems balanced and while the defense is almost unbreakable, it never feels unfair. I think that’s a subtle distinction that you always want to keep. In some games it feels like the A.I. is totally cheating by breaking the mechanics or teleporting, but I haven’t noticed that here. Of course it could just be that the computers are being extra slick.

Overall, NHL 13 is a fun hockey game. It really keeps up with the others and feels more natural than some of the older ones. While you don’t notice the difference much on a game to game basis, I can definitely say that it was more enjoyable than some of the older ones. I think a case could be made for it just feeling like that because I’ve been playing so much hockey though. I won’t deny that this could be true, but either way I’m definitely glad about that. The higher the games go the better right? Stay tuned for my next voyage!

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Kirby Clash Review


I certainly wasn’t expecting a new Kirby game to drop during the direct but here we are. Super Kirby Clash may not be brand new as it is effectively the 3DS game with some changes but as I had not played that one it is a fresh experience for me and I was quite impressed. The game really nails the fundamentals and it is addicting as all mobile-esque games should be. This one’s a keeper and you could even mistake it for a main line Kirby title.

The basic plot of the game is that a hooded villain is causing chaos across all the lands. Villains from Kirby’s past are appearing multiple times around the world and they mean business. Fortunately, Kirby will be able to team up with alternate versions of himself from across the multiverse. Perhaps there is still a chance to stop the wave of darkness.

The game is effectively a boss rush with some of the usual Kirby mechanics. There are four character roles to choose from which are Doctor, Sword, Hammer, and Mage. Don’t worry about changing your mind because you can switch roles at any time. I would recommend not doing so for a while though because each role has different equipment. If you switch roles then you’ll be stuck with starter equipment unless you go buy some. The problem is that the currency can be a little scarce which I’ll go into more in a minute. I personally recommend the mage the most. His charge attack stops time for an instant each time you use it and once the circle is complete then time will stop for a little while. It’s an incredibly useful ability particularly if you are aiming for platinum ranks. The downside of course is that it’s a little weaker than the others but I think it’s worth the trade off. The Doctor role is my least favorite one because I feel like it’s hard to go on the offensive. Of course I’m always happy to see one on my team though.

I feel like my gameplay paragraph focused more on the roles than how the game actually works, but if you know the other Kirby games then it will all be old hat. You can jump and float and you can use a few different attacks. Some roles have a barrier that they can activate as well. If one of your teammates goes down then you have the ability to revive them. Each boss will give you 2 status updates as you fight them. The first message will say that they’re furious which is how you know that you are halfway through the fight. They become invincible for a moment so this is a good time to charge your attack. Then near the very end of the fight a message will say that the boss is almost defeated. At that point victory is basically assured. The only thing that can possibly stop you then is time. If time runs out on a stage then you are able to revive everyone by spending 3 apples. If you’re close then this is probably worth it. If you’re online then you should wait until the timer is near the end because most likely one of the other guys will use their apples and you can save yours.

The graphics are top rate which is something I have noticed a lot with these free titles. I’m not going to say that they look better than the paid ones, but there is a surprising amount of effort behind them which I think is definitely pretty awesome. You certainly will not be disappointed here. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which may not be quite as expansive as the main games, but is still quite good in its own right. On a technical level the game is as solid as you could hope for it to be.

Now lets talk about the freemium aspect of the game. Naturally Nintendo has to make money somehow and one of those ways is through the apples. When you play the game you get around 15 apples for logging in each day. The apple tree replenishes every 12 hours with 10 new apples. If you may money you can expand that up to 2000 apples every 12 hours for 40 bucks or even more if you pay the top limit. I didn’t spend a dime on the game and still completed it so it’s fairly reasonable as is. 15 apples may not sound like a lot, but there are 900 missions in the game and every time you complete one you get some free apples. Then Nintendo does events to give you apples like the recent Tetris one and some online passwords. You won’t be beating the game quite as quickly without playing, but you’ll get there. It’s a pretty good way to get people to pay money and my motto has always been as long as it isn’t mandatory I’m pretty okay with it. It isn’t as tight a squeeze as other titles.

The main campaign took me quite a few hours so there is a lot of content here. In terms of post game content you can work on finishing up the rest of the 900 missions which definitely won’t be easy. Leveling up is key here as your stats really rocket up once you’re in the final stages. I beat the game at around 40 so I still had a ways to go. Leveling up takes a little longer than you would expect although using the EXP orbs speeds things up a lot. It doubles the EXP you get for each battle which can allow you to even get a full level up after one fight. It costs a lot of apples but long-term I think it’ll save you some time. Of course you always want to buy the current weapons to stay on top of the game. I would typically do it in 2s. (I’d buy the grade 1 weapon, then 3, then 5, etc. If you buy each time they’re available you won’t have enough apples to finish the game. Keep in mind that you unlock levels by using apples as well so you always want to have some on hand. The game has an energy meter so you can’t really play for too long in a row but each level up restores the meter which usually ends up evening things out.

I’d say that the best way to level up is to jump online. Not only do online matches give you 1.2X EXP per match but you can jump into stages above your grade and let your teammates carry you. I don’t think it’s good to go too far above your weight class since having dead weight on the team is a bit selfish, but a few levels over isn’t bad. For example I jumped into a level 47 fight at level 30 multiple times and held my own pretty well. You’re still contributing but the EXP gains are massive. The only downside here is that sometimes there will be some pretty bad lag. Fortunately as you level up and tackle higher levels you typically won’t get as much lag. It seems to mainly be prevalent in the opening levels. It is annoying when you have an EXP orb and you lose valuable time when someone rage quits, but the online could be a lot worse.

There are some quality of life updates I’d like to see like being able to leave a room, but I guess this does prevent people from messing everyone over by leaving. I haven’t really seen another game do this so it’s different. I suppose I should give it a chance so lets not say that this is a “mistake” but something that certainly could be improved a little bit.

Overall, Super Kirby Clash is just a really great game. It’s telling that even after I completed the game I was tempted to keep on going. It’s the kind of title where I can’t imagine why Nintendo didn’t release it on mobile. It would work so perfectly and I could definitely see people doing crossplatform play with the Switch sort of like Fortnite. There’s a lot of potential here and if Nintendo keeps making games like this they’re really going to elevate the free to play market. If you haven’t played this game yet then I recommend changing that. The beginning may be a little tricky since you’ll be so underleveled, but keep on going and soon you’ll be the one carrying the party.

Overall 8/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Psychonauts Review


It’s time to look at a PS2 classic that I’ve had for quite a while. The sequel finally moved forward in production with a trailer that came out a while back so I definitely needed to get through the original. It’s certainly an odd title that really thinks outside the box the whole time. It’s pretty impressive and I gotta say that the game nails it for the most part. It does have some issues revolving around some random grinding sections, but for the most part it’s a game that’s aged pretty well. The craziness of the plot is really a good thing in differentiating the game from others.

The title starts off with a lot of kids heading to a psychic boot camp to work on their powers. Raz decides to crash the camp because he wants to learn how to improve his abilities as well. He’s already stronger than most of the kids, but his father doesn’t like psychics and as a result Raz had to go here in secret. The teachers decide to allow him to stay for a little while although they ultimately don’t know if they want to let him take the classes. There isn’t much time to think about this though as several kids begin losing their brains. Someone is stealing them and Raz has to find out who the culprit is before it is too late.

It’s definitely easy to lose your mind here as just sneezing really hard is enough for your brain to get knocked out. That’s part of the surreal nature of the game and a big chunk of it involves literally jumping inside other peoples minds and defeating their inner demons. It’s all very creative as I mentioned and you definitely feel like you know the characters quite well by the end of the adventure. The game plays out like a 3D platformer that is a little similar to Ratchet and Clank as you’ve got a double jump, barrier, and a slew of other abilities like levitation and invisibility. You obtain new powers as you level up during the game.

The level ups don’t run on EXP though and instead you have to collect little pictures to improve your rank. There are hundreds of pictures scattered throughout the game and the screen will always let you know how close you are to your next level up. You can also see how many are left in the current world you’re at. I highly recommend grabbing as many as you can because the game will force you to stop at several points if your rank isn’t high enough. That happened to me and I had been getting most of them so even if you feel like it’s slowing you down, grab as many as you can.

This is one area where the game could have used some improvement. Collecting is a little tedious and I never like being forced into doing it. You should only have to collect the items if you want to do so. The pictures are also transparent so it can be very hard to see them through the background depending on what stage you’re in. The game doesn’t even load them up until you are very close so it’s not like you can scope them out from a distance. I don’t think you’ll have any issue getting enough to make it to the final level once you are aware of this though. Other collectibles include mobile safes and emotional baggage which can only be opened with the right key. The rank ups are the only ones that will super charge your character though. Learning the latter abilities helps your offensive power quite a bit although minions are never much of a concern either way. You can also try to collect the brains that were stolen and those give you extra health points. By the end of the game your HP bar will be massive if you got most of them.

The graphics are definitely good. The character designs are all made to be a bit gritty which is an interesting artistic choice. I don’t think that part worked out so well, but all of the level designs and the general atmosphere definitely get a thumbs up. Those areas definitely aged quite well. One ambitious level was this happy town where the laws of physics have been disturbed so you’re jumping side to side, up and down, etc. It was pretty intense. Some of the final levels are incredibly dark but that’s more on my TV than on the actual game. It really happens to all of my PS2 games so after a while I can’t reasonably blame the game for it. In terms of music the game is okay. None of the themes are all that memorable so once you finish the game you won’t recall them for very long. I’m hoping the sequel will throw us some more sci-fi/horror tunes.

Raz is a fun lead. He’s definitely very confident and stands up to the bullies. I’m glad that he never loses any of their verbal fights and the game makes it pretty clear that he could clobber them if he wanted to. The plot with his Dad was a little odd though. He was convinced that his father couldn’t stand psychic powers and it seemed like they had a history but when the Dad actually shows up this doesn’t add up. I’m expecting the sequel to deal with this. Could Raz really have just made a ton of assumptions on this? I don’t think that’s likely so maybe someone was messing with his mind.

Meanwhile the heroine is definitely quite different from the norm. She speaks her mind sometimes, putting things very bluntly to Raz even if he’s too slow on the uptake to notice. Afterwards she goes back to being her grumpy self. I wasn’t expecting the game to have a serious romance plot by the end, but I guess Psychonauts really is just a different game. It’s not all that bad I suppose and at least the characters are fun, but I’m ready for the friend zone in the next game. The rest of the characters are solid as well and with the mystery being about figuring out who the evil character is, it’s fun to try and make the connections. Some characters don’t appear until the very end of the game which felt a little late, but the cast was well rounded by the end. Just beware the Milkman! He’s easily part of the longest/most tedious part of the game.

Psychonauts gives you quite a bit of content to have fun with. The main campaign should take you around 10 hours and after that if you want to get all of the collectibles it will likely stretch to 15-20. There’s a lot to get after all and if you’re just missing 1 or 2 pieces of art in a level it will be quite the trick to locate them. Buying upgrades from the shop will help, but digging up the arrowheads (currency in the game) takes time and they run out pretty quick. The game doesn’t explain how to use it very well, but the dowsing rod is absolutely critical. Just follow the light and dig things up because you may dig up 100 arrowheads in a single pile. Otherwise you only collect 1-2 at a time.

Overall, Psychonauts is definitely a fun game. The story was really enjoyable and had a colorful cast of characters. The climax really went all out with actual beam fights and the like and the game was really inventive with all of the boss fights. The game also ends on a big cliffhanger so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the sequel. The grinding at some points and the game’s unclear instructions might get to you to an extent, but at the end of the day the game does a lot more right than wrong. If you haven’t played this game yet then you should definitely check it out. It’s certainly a creepy look at summer camp.

Overall 7/10