Team Sonic Racing Review

Sonic has returned with another racing game! I think that means he now has 7 which is really impressive. (3 Riders, Sonic R, 2 Sonic and Sega racing, then this one) He is all about speed though so in a way it does make sense. While I think the gameplay for the Sega racing titles is a little bit better, I appreciate that this one has a real story and full voice acting. It’s nostalgic seeing all of the old Sonic characters running around here.

The story starts with a new character inviting Sonic and friends into a big racing event he’s hosting. The guy even sent invites to the future and to other dimensions so that Blaze and Silver can compete. Most of the characters think something real funny is going on but Sonic is just interested in the cars. Now he can really test his speed skills so he goes to work on challenging Shadow. Will things end okay or has he underestimated this guy?

The story is surprisingly long for a racing game which is pretty nice. It took me two days to complete but I put in several hours of work on each day. There are 7 chapters so around 7 hours sounds right. There are a bunch of levels to play outside of the main story and they probably all have cutscenes so that’s good for replay value. Basically there are different routes you can take to get to each chapter and so I chose the most direct option each time. I figured that made the most sense right? It’s nice to see that the game has the replay value at the ready though.

There is also the matter of obtaining the PS4 trophies but those looked rather difficult to get so I don’t think that I’ll be spending too much time on that for a while. Maybe I’ll grab a few here and there though just to increase my overall average. The character roster is a little on the small side but we have Sonic, Shadow, Silver, and Metal Sonic so as long as I have my hedgehog squad then we’re set.

The graphics are really nice. The game definitely looks modern and they did not waste the budget here. This has the look of a modern Sonic title even if it doesn’t quite have the detailed story or length you would need to be a big one. Where the game really shines though is the soundtrack. There are a ton of great remixes here. The lyrical song at the beginning also sounds like the BioLizard track just with different lyrics. There are so many great songs to listen to here that you will definitely want to play them on Youtube afterwards. This way you can really listen to them since you don’t have to worry about the track.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s your classic 3D racer. You have to drive as fast as possible in order to get to the end of the stage. If you’re in first then you have probably won but it actually depends on your two teammates. If they finish too far in the back then it brings your average down and you could actually lose. Not much you can do to help them though so just focus on getting to the front. You can throw items forwards and back but one new mechanic is that you can give your items to a teammate.

Doing so increases your final smash gauge and then you can activate that to move at super speeds for a little while. It’s really a great deal so I recommend doing that as often as possible. I would just give all my items away to be honest because it’s not like they were helping me all that much on my end. The item are surprisingly weak so often times they won’t have much of an impact on the battle at hand.

Some levels will be a little different though like you have to smash robots or rings as you go to the end instead of it being a pure race. It’s an interesting way to shake things up I’ll give you that. In general I preferred the races but I understand how this could be seen as a fun change of pace. It does ensure that you are trying out different things. I took the chance to also switch characters a few times. Mainly I stuck to Sonic and Shadow but it was fun hearing the other characters from time to time.

I can’t stress enough how great it was to have full voice acting here. Even just hearing them talk during the races or in the mini cutscenes was fun. Voice acting is always a good way to take a game to the next level and it makes everything feel more grand. The story itself was rather low key but the voice acting made it a lot more fun. If I was the devs I would have made Super Sonic playable in the last level and made the villain a bit bigger but in the end I’m just glad we had a true story like this. We even had a bunch of old characters show up to have fun with the group.

My gameplay tip would be to drift as often as possible. You can get a ton of little boosts that way. Also, give all of your items to your partners so that you build up your meter as soon as possible. From that point, make sure to check where you are in the race. If you have enough time to get a second final attack then use it, but otherwise save it until near the goal. That’s usually the best way to ensure all 3 members of your team make it at good spots in the race.

Overall, Team Sonic Racing is a great racing game. It does get a little overshadowed by Mario Kart as with all racing games at this point but I’d say this one can still hold its own as a side game. I wouldn’t say that it actually beats Mario Kart or anything like that as that game is still way more polished but a good amount of effort was put into this one as well. It doesn’t just feel like some low budget clone or anything like that. The game went all in and I’d like to see more Sonic racing games in the future. In the meanwhile the game is rather cheap now so this is a good chance to pick it up.

Overall 8/10

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic Review

This was always one of the most well known Star Wars games. It’s pretty much a living legend and for good reason as it is a very detailed action RPG with a ton of mechanics and a detailed story. I would say it lives up to the hype as I had a blast with it. Get ready for a very difficult final level though, the more you train the better.

The game starts off by introducing us to the main character who has amnesia and is aboard a republic ship that is crashing for some reason. He manages to escape with Carth, a reputable republic soldier. They end up rescuing a Jedi Warrior known as Bastila and the three of them have a very uneasy alliance. The main objective is to stop the Sith and to do that they need to find out how the villains have amassed such an unending army. There has to be foul play at work here but finding the source of that won’t be easy. The only clue they have to go on is something called the Star Forge but what that is remains a mystery.

Right away one of the things I enjoyed about the game is all of the dialogue options. You can constantly act like a jerk, take the nice guy approach, or just go for pure chaos. The dialogue options also have a big impact on the game itself so it’s not like you’re just fluffing out the game length. I ended up not getting to recruit two members to the team because I didn’t say the right things. The ending was also very different because of the route I went. It helps to make the whole experience feel a lot more authentic to me.

The story here is also very long so you can expect to be playing this game for a long while. There is a lot of time for the characters to develop and there are tons of side quests and extra content to play. For the most part I stuck to the main story beats but you could easily add several hours onto the play time if you want to go and explore. It can also be useful for EXP as this is one game where it’s not so easy to grind. Most worlds don’t allow enemies to respawn once you defeat them so you will be stuck after you have defeated them all. I recommend beating as many enemies as you can.

The gameplay is pretty much that of an auto battler where you keep changing the moves as they fight. Think of it like you’re the head coach and the fighters have to do whatever you tell them. I would have liked to actually do the battling myself so that part of the gameplay can be a little weak. The whole “Let the A.I. decide what to do” angle usually isn’t really my thing. That said, I would say the game has a good amount of polish to it so it works out well enough. There is definitely a whole lot of depth to this system as well.

Whenever you level up you get to decide which stats and skills to increase. It’s a bit overwhelming with the amount of options so usually I would do the auto level and just let the computer decide. This can make the end of the game even more difficult so it may be worth researching what the optimal build is. Of course it can be fun to just go with your gut so choose the option that seems like it will be the most enjoyable and you can’t go wrong there.

The graphics really hold up here. I like the designs of the levels and characters. Then the actual combat looks good too and it’s all got a very distinctive style to it. It really holds up while playing this port. I also liked the soundtrack well enough although it doesn’t stand out as it’s mainly the kind of Star Wars themes you’d expect to hear. Perhaps they are iconic but at this point you’ve really heard them all before.

The character cast is one of the biggest strengths here. The main character gets a lot of development and of course because you can decide how he develops then that makes the whole game more interesting too. In fact, your choices even determine how you will fight the final boss which is massive. I had to break out all of the cheese strategies for him including using some rather villainous tactics. Look, this guy was going to keep regenerating all of his health over and over so I had to put a top to that. I succeeded and then ran away a while to regain my strength. The final boss ended up being really long but I won in the end so that’s what counts right?

The game also has some quality of life features that I would highly recommend using. For starters you can save the game anywhere. I highly advise having several backup slots at different points so you don’t get stuck. There is one game breaking bug after all which I got trapped in but fortunately I had a backup save just a few minutes away. In one of the final temples just save a lot because the glitch room is the one where there are two light towers. I can’t say I remember the exact planet though so just keep your guard up.

Then for the final boss, don’t be afraid to just run a lot. It may take a while but you’ll win in the end and that’s what counts. The Star Forge itself is incredibly difficult but one thing you should know is that the enemies actually aren’t endless. After a bunch of waves they do finish so just heal up and save between waves. Eventually you will beat them and can move forward. It had to be one of the most challenging final areas I’ve played through in a long while so it felt nice knocking that one out.

As for the other characters, Carth was one of the big ones. I like how he can’t really trust anyone and always seems like he’s about to pick a fight. The guy may not use the Force but he can defend himself and knows how to fight. He was responsible for a lot of the great banter along with Bastila. Bastila is a Jedi who is very by the books so naturally she tends to have a lot of disagreements with the main character since I tend to be more on the impulsive side. I would say the script was always at its best when these 3 were fighting.

Then you also had characters like Canderous the Mandalorian who naturally didn’t get along with Carth due to their respective backstories. Malak also made for a good villain. He perhaps gets a little overshadowed by some of the heroes but he was a very imposing presence all the same. There are a lot of other characters who get big roles here so you’ll want to play the game to see them. The game is also long enough where you really feel like you’ve gone on a full adventure by the end of it.

Overall, This is a great Star Wars game that you don’t want to miss out on. You feel like you were watching a movie here and this could really be adapted for the big screen. It was definitely a lot of fun playing it on the Switch and I can also confirm that it’s the hardest one that I’ve played. An RPG with limited leveling up functionality is definitely not something to take lightly. That said, just fight smart and have a lot of backup saves. You’ll be just fine by the end of it and if you absolutely need to, you’ll be able to go back and level up. Just don’t use up all your saves in the final dungeon because then there really is no way out!

Overall 8/10

Backgammon Live Review

Backgammon is a board game that I didn’t really know anything about until recently. I’m more of a Chess guy but I do like a good game of Stratego, Parcheesy (I know it’s not spelled that way but that’s how I say it), Checkers, Trouble, etc. You name it and I like playing it. Board games are fun in general but someone challenged me to Backgammon so I figured I needed to get good on it real quick. So I downloaded this app and learned the ropes. The game is definitely a little complex and there’s a lot of luck involved but I had a good time with it. It’s definitely a game worth playing.

So the general goal here is to get all of your pieces to your side of the field. You move in one way and the opponent can move in the other. Neither player can move backwards which is where a lot of the strategy comes in. The map is divided into 4 squares and you have pieces that start out on every side. So as you try to get your pieces to the goal, you can land on opponent pieces which sends them all the way back to the start. Their starting area will be your side of the field and vice versa.

There are 6 columns on each side and any column that has 2 or more pieces cannot be landed on by the opponent. So you can probably guess that a good strategy is to fill up as many of your columns with 2 pieces as possible. Then when you land on an opponent square, they may end up being frozen without a turn to play. You can’t get a piece back on the board if there is no space open after all so if you freeze up all of the columns then you almost guarantee victory. No guarantees 100% of course since the luck of the draw is around but it’s the strategy you probably want to use if possible.

There is a ton more to the rules beyond that so I recommend watching a few videos or studying up. This one’s not exactly a cakewalk to learn. As for the app itself, you can use it for local battles if you are next to someone but otherwise it’s mainly for online. You earn XP by winning, playing games, and eating opponent pieces. I was able to grind up to level 19 pretty quickly and 29 appears to be when you get the final unlockable so in a way it’s like I’ve almost beaten the game. I even won my challenge bout which was cool. The online battles are very seamless and I like the controls so the app is spot on there.

As for the dice rolls, I dunno it can feel a bit rigged to me. There’s no way to prove it of course but sometimes I’ll totally lock an opponent down and they get the perfect draw to move out of my trap. It happens just enough where it doesn’t feel like luck but of course that can be luck as well. It’s pretty funny that almost every review accused the devs of cheating as well but they respond to each and every review that they don’t cheat. I won’t actually make the accusation here but it always feels fishy to have luck in an online game.

I even dare say that a lot of the opponents I’m playing are bots and not real people. Supposedly they’re all real but a lot of them look so generic that I have serious doubts on that. Surely I’d be meeting more people without an avatar right? The game does have a lot of limitations though like not being able to change your profile picture. You would have to link your account to a Facebook account but can’t do that without resetting your progress. So my account just has an empty avatar which feels hollow but I guess I can put up with it.

There are no stats beyond your level to keep track of like play time or total battles. I’ve probably put in about 10-15 hours I’d say but there’s no way to know for sure. The final annoyance is that your collectibles are temporary. For example I’ve unlocked a lot of dice but you can only use them 10 times before they go away and you have to buy them again. Since I like to be a completionist what I did was I just don’t use them after I buy them. I use the default ones that never run out but the whole mechanic just feels annoying and pointless. I want to be able to actually use my stuff.

I’ve also got a few lucky shakers and items but doesn’t “lucky” imply that I’ll be given better odds for using them? That doesn’t feel very fair and sounds like pay to win. Hmmmm….there are definitely a lot of pay to win stuff you can do here like buying coins to help you level up faster and all. The prices are absolutely outrageous so I’d never even consider buying something but it’s there if you want to go fast I suppose. It doesn’t affect me as long as the dice rotations are still fair so I’m cool with it.

At the end of the day this is a fairly basic Backgammon app which is really just here to allow you to play people in real time at least in theory. So I’d say it succeeds in that area and I have a good time with it. It’s as barebones as can be but it lets me play the game which was my objective in the first place. If you want to play Backgammon then this is probably the best way to do it. It looks better than the other apps at least but I don’t know that for sure without playing them.

Overall, Backgammon Live is a fun game. Don’t expect any frills or extra features beyond the matches themselves though. So just do your best and win a lot of matches as you get used to the game. It doesn’t have any annoying ads or anything like that so I can pretty safely recommend it. I’ll probably have it around just in case I get any challenges but otherwise it’s not a game I’d be actively playing. I can now call myself a Backgammon pro though! Luck or not you can count on me to get the Ws heh heh.

Overall 7/10

MultiVersus Review

This game got a whole lot of hype when it was first announced. Finally someone was trying to make a true competitor to Super Smash Bros and it was a company that could actually keep up in terms of the big names. Lets face it, no platform fighter will ever beat Super Smash Bros but if you can get a game that’s at least at a high level on the PS4 and Xbox, then you can now get the money from those guys who don’t have a Switch. A lot of attempts have been made in the past but it’s fair to say that this is the best competitor.

So the game is in the free to play style which means that there will be a lot of updates as this will just keep on going from season to season. It can be tough to make time for a free to play game at times because you know in the back of your head that it never ends but this one is very user friendly. You can actually just pop in for 2-3 minutes a day to get your initial win bonus and then head out. You don’t have to spend any money to get all of the characters right now so it’s also a very good currency system.

How it works is you earn gold for leveling up your characters, your player level, and also for playing games. Every day you get 100 coins for your first win and after that it drops to more like 20. You can also give people toast after a match to grant them 20 coins and they can do the same for you. Each character is typically 2500-3000 coins with a rare exception being 1500 sometimes. At the time of this review I’ve unlocked around 5-6 characters but I’ve gotten to play as even more because they switch the character rotation every week. I thought that was a nice touch since it’s like you get a demo as the characters.

Additionally your progression saves which is really cool. So when you do unlock the character someday, you don’t have to start back at level 1 again. That would have been pretty annoying. There are several modes here like 1 on 1, 2 v 2, and free for all. I spend most of my time in 2 v 2 but I do a quick match against a bot to get my 100 coins for the first round. Right now I mainly just do the first match and call it a day but occasionally I’ll play a longer batch.

As this is a fighting game there is really no end to the replay value. There isn’t a real story mode or anything like that yet so this is all about the fighting. That’s why it’s good to have such big characters here because otherwise I think it’s difficult to survive only on the gameplay. The gameplay is really good of course but seeing the characters mix it up online is definitely where the real fun comes in.

The graphics aren’t quite at AAA level like Super Smash Bros but look pretty good for a free to play title. I don’t think the graphics here were really the main focus of the game and that makes sense because the gameplay is absolutely what you need to have on point if you want this to be the next big thing. The soundtrack is really fun though. I love hearing the DCAU Batman theme on his stage when it plays. I’m less familiar with some of the other series on here but having everyone bring in their respective tracks was a superb idea. The only stage that’s annoying is the music stage because they made the speakers so loud. I always have to lower the volume a few dials when this stage gets picked up.

Of course you’ve been waiting for the gameplay part. So right off the bat I can say that it is great, however it is still a full tier below Super Smash Bros. There are no grabs or blocking here so everyone is always attacking 100% of the time. It reminds me of Super Smash Bros 64 where the hit stun is really big so you can land a ton of really crazy combos. There is a ton of lag online so at times you feel like you are warping around. It’s super rare to see lag on any game that isn’t Nintendo so that took me by surprise.

There isn’t a lot of talking in the 2 v2 battles but in 1 vs 1 it’s great to hear the characters banter and say their signature lines. There are even some character specific dialogue options that appear when two characters fight each other like Superman and Batman. The combos feel very satisfying to land and the hit stun for each blow is a big reason as to why. A lot of the other Smash clones couldn’t quite get this across which is why they didn’t work as well if you ask me. You want to feel the power behind each hit and that’s exactly what this game pulls off.

They can probably improve the game even further without changing any of the actual gameplay elements by finetuning some of the hitboxes. Overall I’m very satisfied though. Each match is a lot of fun and it’s great to see all of these character here. I’m sure there are still limits on who they can add but if the game can just get a few more big shot guest stars then that would be fantastic. In the meantime I’ll keep building my coins up. As a free to play player it’s going to be a very long time before I have all of the characters anyway so I’ll be ready.

I like all of the customizations here like putting on your own badge for people to see and the stats that it tracks. I think it’s a big mistake not to capture total play time though. I’m always curious to see that but the stats here are a bit limited. Maybe later on they’ll add some more but I’d be really curious to see how long I’ve been playing by the end. I know it’s definitely been many hours by this point.

Overall, MultiVersus really succeeds at being a true platform fighter that’s unique and does its own thing. There are no items, no final smashes, and not even any real stage hazards. The character roster is strong in its own right and should continue to get even better as the seasons go on. With the amount of players it has I’m sure that it won’t be in any danger any time soon of going away. Makes it easier to spend a lot of time on it since you feel like you’re in a good place doing so. Likewise if you do want to spend some money on the game. The beginner’s pack is not a bad deal as it unlocks all of the characters for you. It’s $40 so it really feels like you’re buying the game at that point and then you go free to play from there. It’s really a tempting offer but in the end I didn’t go for it yet. Meanwhile you should get the Platinum trophy for this one naturally after playing a lot of rounds. None of the trophies are unreasonable, they’re just meant to be a little time consuming.

Overall 8/10

Pac Man World: Re Pac Review

When I heard that Pac Man World was getting a remake I knew that I had to be there. Pac Man World 2 is still one of the best platformers on the block. It was a really memorable game with a whole lot going for it. Great level designs, a cool story, great characters, etc. Could the original World actually beat it? I had to know. Ultimately I would say World 2 still wins but this is a fun game. I’d even say it beats the two Ghostly Adventure games rather easily. The only thing holding it back is how short it is at under 3 hours. I know platformers tend to be more on the short side but this just felt excessive. There is bonus content to work on though.

The plot revolves around Toc-Man ordering the ghosts to kidnap Pac Man’s family. Pac Man is definitely not amused when he arrives home and decides to save all of them. No matter where they have been taken it will not be far enough to escape from Pac’s wrath. He will go to the end s of the Earth if that’s what it takes so Toc Man better watch out. Each world has a family member waiting to be saved. You technically don’t have to save them but it helps a lot for the final boss. In fact I only barely won on my final heart pieces so without having these guys at the ready I would have been doomed. It would have all been over for me.

I do think they nerfed the cutscenes from the original game though. After watching the original, it was just better in every way. Pac Man’s yell was just plain iconic and it showed how much the whole thing broke him. He was real upset at losing his family and the reaction made sense. Then you have the fact that everyone is talking normally in the original but then they changed it to random sounds in the remake. Definitely not a good decision imo. It’s not something that would hurt the game itself as you could only know that by seeing the original but it’s a really questionable decision.

Back to the levels though, the biggest aspect to any platformer is the gameplay. This is much more important than the story when you think about it. To an extent the gameplay is always the most important but to the degree of which that is true will differ from game to game. The levels are all really solid as I mentioned before. Maybe 1 or 2 of them will give you some trouble but for the most part you’ll be blasting through. If you want to grab all of the collectibles in a level then that will take you more time. So you either go the direct route to beat the game or you take all of the twists and turns as you try to 100% clear it. The game doesn’t try to force you to grab the collectibles which I think is always a good thing.

Your controls are fairly basic so you should have the hang of them right away. You can move, jump, ground pound, and do a dash. Between those moves it may sound easy but there’s still some good ways to really get good at it. You don’t use the dash too much compared to World 2 where I remember that being a big deal but everything has its moments. Of course you can also eat ghosts when a power pellet is around. This doesn’t happen too often but it’s always a cool attack to use.

That said, the story is still fun. Having Pac’s family get kidnapped is certainly an intense way to kick things off. This game’s got a happy tone to it of course so don’t expect things to get too crazy but it still works well. Then we have the big climactic battle at the end and you get to see if Pac-Man is holding a grudge or not. The ending’s humor definitely lands really well.

The soundtrack is also a lot of fun. The sound effects are all nostalgic and the stage themes have aged really well. The graphics are also really good here and a good amount of effort was put into the game on all sides. The story may be short but there’s a lot of replay value in trying to get the Platinum trophy as I mentioned earlier. That’s sure to keep you busy for a while. At the end of the day the game is a lot of fun and that’s always the objective of every title. Hopefully if this game does well enough they’ll make a brand new Pac Man game set in the World continuity. Surely there is still a whole lot you can do here.

While I wouldn’t say the game is hard on the whole, the final boss is surprisingly challenging so you don’t want to let your guard down around him. I came super close to losing him. It’s really hard to land your bounce attack without actually getting hit at the same time. So I ended up going for a lot of trades there. I don’t believe it was the optimal way to win but a win’s a win right? As long as you can claim victory then you should be all set.

The platinum doesn’t look very hard so I’ll definitely work on it at some point but it could be a little while before that happens. I’ll probably work on the easy trophies first and then go from there. I do tend to mainly grab the Platinum trophies from all of the platformers though so this would be another good one to add onto the list. After all, how long can it take to beat all of the levels again right? Probably not too long I’d expect but of course I could be underestimating the difficulty a bit. If there’s any trophy for beating the final boss without getting hit or something then I’d really be in trouble.

Overall, Pac Man World: Re Pac is a very fun game. It’s nostalgic to play through this adventure and I would recommend it to anyone that likes to play a very wholesome title. You will get to learn a lot of the fundamentals about platforming while also just enjoying the scenery. There’s not a whole lot to say about the game because it’s so straight forward but that’s also part of why it’s easy to recommend. It’s hard to see anyone disliking the game. You’re able to pick it up and just start playing at any time.

Overall 7/10

Dusk Diver 2 Review

It’s good to have Dusk Diver back in action. I thought the first Dusk Diver was quite a bit of fun even if it was real short. Well this game continues with that action while also being longer so that’s a good thing. In some areas the budget does begin to show itself and I think the game could have masked that more but either way you’ll have a fun time here.

The game starts by explaining that Yang has somehow kept her abilities after the first adventure. Additionally her teammates can still turn into animals at times so clearly some ties to the gates have stayed in place. The heroes have to look into this but in the meantime a mysterious kid has appeared in the other world and the government is starting to act really shady as they create a lot of barriers. When you throw in another faction that wants nothing more than to destroy the world, the heroes know that they are going to be in for a tough time here.

I wouldn’t say the plot itself is amazing compared to the average RPG but there’s enough in here to keep you engaged. It has a bit of a slow start but once the dark diver shows up then the game really starts to cook. I’d say that it also went all out in the climax with the big villains and fights there. You can see all of the potential here and how this would make for a great anime. Throw a solid budget at it and there will be no looking back. There’s still a lot of comparisons you could make here between Yang and Yang from RWBY. Their personalities are different but the similar power set and character design will always be fun to note.

The gameplay is your classic beat em up style. You control one character and try to destroy all of the monsters. Beating all of them allows you to then proceed to the next area so you keep on repeating those steps. You can buy new moves as you earn ability points and you also upgrade your weapons. You can even control how you level up by personally picking the attributes that you want to increase. The max level is higher than 100 so you can expect to go very far here. I made it to around level 100 before beating the game.

My only critique on the gameplay style would be that the enemies have a lot of health so it can feel like they are damage sponges at time. You aren’t in any real danger but beating them can take quite a bit of time. The combat system is rather basic too so you’ll really spend most of your time spamming the same moves over and over again. Not exactly the most explosive gameplay style. I always like beating enemies so it works out well enough but they probably could have done more with this.

The graphics are definitely solid. There aren’t a lot of cinematics here but the ones that we do get are fun. I like the lyrical song that plays when you unleash your final smash during some of the big bosses too and overall I’d say the soundtrack is good. The game succeeds on those technical areas. One odd thing is how the text boxes can’t keep up with the game is in the middle of a cutscene. You have to turn auto off and manually click through or it’ll be as if the characters are constantly cutting each other off.

Throw in a typo or two as well and those are the kind of cracks you don’t see as much in a AAA game. There is a lot of content to go through here though so they didn’t skip out on all the bonus content. I even beat the game without getting a significant amount of the trophies here. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is a level select and a lot of the trophies are miscible so I would have to go back to the start anyway. I’m hoping New Game+ at least lets you keep the collectibles so you aren’t completely starting from scratch but I’m not sure exactly how that works.

It does add to the replay value though so you can bet that you will be here for quite a while. This is no longer a game that you can just pick up and complete in a batch or two. My advice when playing is to max out your power right away so you end the battles easier and then save your gems so that you can quickly level up your weapon as soon as you have beaten the chapter. It’s always a good idea to do this since the boost is big. Additionally, make sure you eat food as often as you can and always buy something different. I bought every food dish I could find in the city and it paid off with a ton of extra EXP.

You also get passive stat boosts so there are really no downsides to doing this. You want every advantage that you can get in a fight after all. While the game isn’t super difficult, you can still be given a good run for your money if you aren’t careful. There was a boss or two where I just won with barely any health left. It’s very cheap to buy items though so don’t be afraid to buy a ton of potions and revives. Those always come in handy.

Overall, Dusk Diver was a lot of fun. In some ways I absolutely think they could have done more with it and I really zoom in on this because my expectations for the series are quite high. The concept is just so good and I always like this kind of gameplay after all and the characters are fun so right off the bat that’s a lot of advantages for this title. With more of a budget I think they can take this to the next level but we’ll see if they do that for a 3rd game. The new concepts and characters were all fun to see. There’s a lot more you can do with this world as well now that it has gotten so much development and build up. Especially since you could say this game ends on an even more open note than the first. There’s no reason why the series would have to end when you take that into consideration. If you want to play through an action title with a lot of combat then this should be right up your alley.

Overall 8/10

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift Review

I had quite a few issues with the first Final Fantasy Tactics game. I thought the whole laws system was pretty bad because it really disrupted the flow of the game and the penalty for breaking the law was too steep. You had to reset the game a whole lot. This game was evidently keeping the laws in so I was a bit concerned but fortunately it’s all been overhauled. My issues from the first game have all been greatly reduced. I won’t say the game is without issues but when you improve the gameplay, it stands to reason that the game itself will almost always be better.

The game starts with the main guy being pulled into the world of Final Fantasy. Now he has to try and find a way out but in the meantime he’ll meet some friends and try to stop some villains. It’s a classic save the world story where at the end you figure the kid will go back to Earth. Yes, this is virtually thee same exact plot as last time. I was surprised that there wasn’t a different angle here. If anything the main character has less character than last time so I would actually say that the plot is a bit weaker. Considering that you usually play RPGs for the plot as much as the gameplay, that was a bit of a heavy blow.

I wouldn’t say the story ever really gets to be all that engaging. There are a lot of sub plots thrown in like a treasure thief who is always rather crafty so you don’t know if you can trust her. Then you’ve got the mature right hand man who seems to have a shady backstory where he may have worked with the villain group. Some interesting tales in there but nothing that really stands out. It doesn’t help that the game uses a day system with tons of optional missions so after a wile it feels like most of the game is filler. There are 300 missions in the game but I believe less than 30 of them are actually the story ones.

The majority of these missions are dispatch types which you send out your minions to go and complete. As a result there is no story to be had in those. Some are hybrid missions where you could dispatch or beat in person. If you go in person I’m sure there would be some bits of story in there but why do that when you can send your minions off? It’s a lot quicker to do it as a dispatch and just walk back and forth to have the days go by so the mission is auto completed. Tactics gameplay is always long by definition so dodging battles this way is what you will want to do.

So lets talk about the gameplay. If you’re unfamiliar with tactical gameplay, the idea is to move all of your characters across the gameboard so they can either make it to the goal at the end or attack opposing players. Everyone has a set number of tiles that they can move across and then you either attack or use an item. You win when everyone is bumped off. When the level starts you can activate a bonus like extra power but a law will then appear and you must follow it. If you break the law then the bonus will go away for the rest of the match. This is a big improvement over how it used to be. In the first game if you broke the law then your character was sent to jail and you have to break them free which took multiple fights. You had to actually fight people in order to free the captive which was no good. It was such a big waste of time whenever that happened and it’s why you would ultimately just reset the game instead of going through all of that work.

So here the law system can actually be ignored entirely because losing the bonus isn’t a big deal. It’s also one less thing to worry about because the gameplay is super detailed as it is. For example, there is a class system here outside of the level ups and you can unlock new classes by fulfilling requirements. This is really difficult and I barely unlocked any by the end. It’s definitely not for the casual players but at the same time, you will then come to a real hurdle by the end of the game because the difficulty level just spikes up. I was barely able to beat the final boss and that’s mainly because I found a cheese strategy.

Basically the boss can’t see you if you’re far enough so you have to get just close enough to hit her with arrows. She will gain full health infinitely whenever she gets too low so the trick was to get her down to about 30% health and then rush her after her turn. This way you beat her before she fully heals. Otherwise I couldn’t find a way to get around that move. Also, aside from getting full health each time she would also put a lot of curses on your characters which really made things tough. Then there’s a second phase which was also intense. I’m not confident I could win again if I had to do a rematch since it came down to the wire.

Tactics gameplay feels very satisfying to win but also very annoying to lose because of how long each round is. I put many hours into the game as a result of how long it was. I definitely advise you to do as many dispatch missions as possible to level up your crew. Whatever you can do to get stronger for the final bosses is well worth it. You need to be strong if you want to clear it.

The graphics are okay, I wouldn’t say they really take advantage of the newer gen portable consoles though. This doesn’t look much different from the GBA game and there are no cutscenes here. You’d think that this game should have some nice looking cinematics by now but it wasn’t to be. The soundtrack is also more on the bland side. I couldn’t really recall any specific tune from the game because it’s all just standard fare. The kind of music you would have heard many times before but without a nice twist.

The game does have a ton of content to get through though so no matter what price you got the game for, it will be a fairly good deal here. Outside of the main plot there are a lot of side content missions and such to complete which will further extend the timer as well. There’s no way to really speedblitz through this game on your first shot so just enjoy the full experience and have fun. It is a game that was made with a lot of effort, that’s for sure. While the story may not be all that exciting, I appreciated that the game fixed a lot of my issues with the first title through quality of life features.

Overall, Tactics 2 is a big improvement over the first one. It’s still not ready to take on the mainline games or rivals like Pokemon, but I would be up for playing a third installment some day. Lets just get a different story in one of these days. This game was on my backlog for a super long time so it feels good to finally have this one completed. Now I’m one step closer to being fully caught up with the whole franchise.

Overall 7/10

Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 Review

I had this game on my list for so many years before finally taking the plunge and buying it. The TV show wasn’t great to say the least but the series always had a lot of potential in video game format. How can you mess up a solid platformer experience right? In the end this one’s not great by any means and just goes through the motions but I would say it’s a smooth experience and a title you’ll want to check out.

The story starts with Betrayus plotting a whole new scheme. This time he really may take over the entire planet. Pac Man and his friends will have to try and take this guy down a few steps but when it turns out that Pac’s parents may be hostages that changes things. Pac will have to handle some fairly high stakes here and make difficult decisions but whether he makes the right ones remains to be seen.

The story’s definitely not going to be the selling point here. I mean it’s cool that the cutscenes are fully animated and all but at the same time it’s still going for the show’s vibe which is a comedy that’s not super funny. At times it can be just campy enough where it turns into being funny though. This may not be the proudest version of Pac Man for his fans but at least he’s a good kid at heart. If he was just a little smarter then things would have been easier for him. At least one credit you can give to the guy is that he’s always ready to jump into action.

There are 5 worlds here and each one has about 10 levels. Then you have challenge levels in most of the worlds and also a hub world where you can talk to people. So there’s a reasonable amount of gameplay here but I still wouldn’t call the game very long. I beat it in about 2 batches. Each level is bite sized so even though there are a lot of them, you shouldn’t have too much trouble here. At most the glitches might slow you down. I ran into level ending glitches 2-3 times where I was caught in an eternal death loop and just had to quit out. Another time I jumped far enough where I made it to the next checkpoint but I bypassed the power up I needed. So with no way to go forward or backwards I was just stuck.

I would say the gameplay is very smooth outside of the glitches though so you could say I just had a little case of bad luck here. The various power up forms do help to spice up the gameplay. I’m not a big fan of the magnetic form as I felt like it would just slow things down whenever it appeared but the rest are fun. The bosses all have actual strategies and unique features to them so those were handled well. You may even find yourself losing a life or two here and there.

You’re never in danger of a game over though as you accumulate lives faster than you can lose them. In that way I think the game was a little too generous. I’m sure it was aiming fairly young given how the story is but you could ramp up the game’s difficulty level just a bit if you ask me. The Platinum trophy looks easy to obtain though which I’m glad about. One day I see myself going back to this one to get that Platinum.

In terms of graphics I would say the game holds up well. It has a colorful atmosphere to it that just tends to age well. The character designs are good and the levels are on point. Then for the soundtrack it’s a bit limited but you’ll remember the songs from the show which is certainly nostalgic. The series really did well on a technical level, it just wasn’t able to ultimately seal the deal and that’s why it works better as a game. There is less to mess up you could say.

At the end of the day this is a fairly simple platformer and not one that you would buy over Mario and Sonic. That said, it is certainly a good game and if you can find it for a good price then it’s worth it. I’ll never forget seeing it compared to Mario Galaxy way back in the day. I wouldn’t say this one is quite as good and polished as Mario but it’s a platformer that should be able to hold its head high. Throw in a more engaging story and I dare say it could have really started to do some numbers. At the end of the day the story just wasn’t super engaging here.

Overall, Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a period in time that is pretty much forgotten at this point. Now Pac has gone back to his roots with the World series and I don’t see the Ghostly Adventures ever playing much of a part again. I’m afraid that this era is probably completely over and technically that’s a good thing. It would have been nice if we could have gotten just one more game to end the saga though. That would have been enough to tie everything together instead of the loose ends. I suppose you can always imagine how it would have played out though.

Overall 7/10

The Legend of Zelda Review

After all these years I’ve finally played through the original Legend of Zelda thanks to the Switch Online. I don’t tend to be a big fan of the original games because a lot of them don’t hold up for me but LoZ wasn’t bad. I would put it in the middle. I can’t imagine playing it without today’s modern features though because it seems like it would be an extremely long process without a lot of quality of life features. With the Switch Online enhancements it does help the game to an extent but I certainly am glad that the modern titles have added a lot to the experience.

The general plot is that it’s dangerous to go alone so Link grabs his sword. He has to stop the demon king and save the princess so he’s in for a busy day. To do this he will have to find all of the pieces of the legendary Triforce and only then will he be able to save the world. Don’t underestimate a hero that is on a journey! Link will never give up and never surrender until he has his day. That is why he’s so legendary.

The gameplay style uses the overhead format. For the most part you slice the enemies that get in your way but additionally you can also get other weapons later on like a laser blaster, arrows, and bombs. For the most part you don’t want to waste ammo so you’ll stick to the sword but the laser is an exception as the ammo is limitless. Using your gadgets wisely is the only way you can come out on top here because if you squander them then you will be easy pickings for the monsters. You have to be very careful because you take heavy damage just for bumping into them.

Also it’s easy to miss an item and have to backtrack a lot so watch out for that. This is definitely a puzzle game first and foremost, not to mention that it’s also an unforgiving one. If you don’t watch your step then that’ll be curtains for your time. It definitely took me several hours to beat this game because I would get lost a whole lot. I don’t know how you would be able to navigate the final dungeon straight through. That one is extremely long and filled with shortcuts. There’s no visual indicator of any kind on which walls can be blown up so I just had to try on all of them. Each room had at least 3 corners to try and there could be over 20 rooms so that was a lot of options. I should mention that you can only carry 8 bombs unless you find a secret upgrade so without rewinding to replenish your stock…that would have been absolutely brutal.

The actual combat can be fun but expect to get hit a whole lot. At times the game turns into a bullet hell title where everyone is blasting you at the speed of sound. There’s one particular enemy that is super tough to deal with because he emits a full barrier with a lot of little attack nodes that are super hard to dodge. If any of them hit you then they will deal an incredible amount of damage. I would avoid them when possible but a lot of times you would have to fight in order to move forward.

If I were to take a stab at trying to improve the game it would really boil down to one thing. I would add some kind of indicator that a shortcut was nearby like a crack in the wall or something. That takes the guesswork out which I think is a good thing. Why should you be wasting bombs everywhere when you can just place them tactically? There is a sort of map on the top right of the screen but it’s an empty void that only shows your location. I would put in landmarks and such so you at least know where you’ve been. It’ll be like Link was filling out the map along the way.

These quality of life updates are what I would add to the mix and I think it would work really well. Then you can focus more on the actual combat and just taking out the villains. I’d also say maybe they shouldn’t let you exit a dungeon without taking every key item there. It would help prevent issues like not taking the raft in world 4 and then having to search every dungeon until you find it. That’s definitely no fun because you never want to have to go back. It just isn’t fulfilling. The only time I really enjoyed backtracking is when there is a power up system so you get stronger or the levels are super convenient. Like going back in Shantae is fun enough because you get the ability to fly and do other kinds of things that makes the old levels a breeze. If you’re about the same level of strength then it’s just not quite the same.

The soundtrack really holds up quite nicely though. You hear a lot of classic LoZ themes that are still used to this day. Nintendo really never held back in this area and the graphics also look pretty good for the NES. It’s clear that a solid budget was put into the game for back in its day and it shows. Good effort never goes to waste after all and they can look back on that and be proud. We’ll see if the next Link game can match it in that respect.

Overall, Legend of Zelda ended up becoming a big thing so clearly the game succeeded. I can see the appeal back in the day in that there was so much to do so you could easily spend months playing this game and figuring everything out. That would definitely be a rewarding experience but I wouldn’t say it holds up quite as well nowadays. It can really toe the line between being annoying or being fun at times. Still, you can’t go wrong playing it for free on the Switch Online though. Give it a whirl and see what you think. Either way you get to experience one of Nintendo’s most historic titles so that alone should be an incentive to give it a whirl. That said, if you take the nostalgia goggles off, I would argue that Skyward Sword still leaves this one in the dust.

Overall 5/10

Odin Sphere Review

Now this is the kind of game I’m talking about when thinking about hidden gems on the PS2. This one is similar to Oni and Eve of Extinction in that I hadn’t heard of the game before randomly seeing it at a video game store. Then after playing it, the game turned out to be great. This title has a superb cinematic story with several different focuses and then a final chapter that brings all of the characters together. It’s something you don’t see too often and it works quite well here. I don’t have very many complaints at all.

In general the plot here involves the Demon King Odin who is trying to use the Cauldron for his own evil ambitions. He’s not the only one though, every faction on the planet wants this from the Underworld, to the Fairies, and even the fire demons. There are 5 main stories so you really see the POVs from just about every side. The fire team is the only one who doesn’t have a champion to represent them. Each character is ultimately fighting for different things, honor, love, revenge, etc. At the end of the day they will have to decide whether their mission is more important than saving the world as a whole. It won’t be an easy decision.

The gameplay is a 2D beat em up. An interesting angle here is that all of the levels are in the shape of a full circle. So for example if you run to the right then eventually you’ll be back where you started. Each area has a bunch of enemies to defeat or one mini boss. After beating them you can go to the next area. You have shop areas where you can buy food and other items, and then a big boss at the end. Defeating the big boss will end the chapter and move you to the next stage. If a boss is too difficult you can click to go home where you start the chapter again but you keep your EXP and items.

You’ll find yourself needing to do this quite a few times. This is one game with a heavy amount of grinding so definitely be prepared for that. This is a very hard game and the level ups are absolutely needed in order to move forward. There are two kinds of levels that you have to increase too. First is your health level and then you have your psypher level. The latter increases your attack while the health one is fairly obvious. You increase health by eating food and the psypher by absorbing energy from villains. That energy is what grows the food though so you always have to decide which area to level up.

For the final bosses you want to have each character close to level 40 in psypher and 30+ in health. You will have to use every character in the end by the way so make sure you level them up and have a lot of food before beating their story. This leads to the only annoying part which is that if you did end up beating the game with a character (And why wouldn’t you right? That’s the whole point of playing in theory) then you are penalized by being sent all the way back to the first chapter. So if you aren’t strong enough at the end then you have to beat the game again with each character. I had to go to the end with all 5 again in order to train which took a lot of time.

In the end this bumped the play time almost all the way up to 40 hours which is really long. Most of that time is earned but it did feel a bit iffy to have to replay so much of the game. They should have had a stage select or something. So if you know this ahead of time maybe you’ll at least be able to plan or something. Also, be warned that the game has multiple endings. If you beat the final chapter in the wrong order then it won’t work out and you’ll need to try all over again. It’s not as long a replay as the others but with how difficult the bosses are, it could be a bit annoying.

So in the end what this game is missing are some quick quality of life updates. With those then this game would be even better without a doubt. The graphics are really nice and fit the game’s style. Each design is memorable and the world designs are cool. I also thought the soundtrack was pretty good. You will hear a lot of the tunes repeat themselves as it isn’t a huge amount but they’re solid which is what counts. There is full voice acting here as well and a lot of cutscenes which is a winning combination here.

It’s got a true RPG plot and a lot of the characters are great. Gwendolyn and Oswald tend to steal the show here. You’ll definitely be drawn in to the story right away so no matter how hard the grinding is, you’ll want to see it through to the end. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a really fun game with a great story. The game is just very impressive and you’ll be glad that you played it.

Overall, Odin Sphere is a great game that you should check out. Just be warned that it is no walk in the park. This is a game that will test your focus and combat gameplay skills throughout the whole adventure. You won’t be able to just coast by here as you’ll die very quickly. Using your abilities at the right time and carefully approaching your opponents is absolutely crucial. Once you’ve got that down then you will really be ready. Use the first character story to get the hang of things are there are a lot more to the mechanics than what I’ve mentioned above.

Overall 8/10