Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey Review


The Mario & Luigi series has been a fun one to play through. Bowser’s Inside Story has often been known as the best one in the series and I can see why. The story is a blast and it’s just nice to see Bowser getting a star role like how he is here. The game does have a few new mechanics in there that aren’t my favorite but for the most part this takes everything from Partners in Time and improves upon them. Making this a very complete Mario game that you’ve got to check out at some point. Then you’ve also got the new bonus game Bowser Jr’s Journey which is surprisingly substantial considering that it’s a bonus experience.

In Bowser’s Inside Story the plot starts with a pandemic going across the planet. Everyone is turning into Blorbs which is a fancy way of saying they are all swelling up like balloons. Peach calls an emergency meeting but did not invite Bowser. He isn’t happy about that and bursts in. Shortly afterwards he eats a poisoned mushroom and sucks everyone inside himself. Now there is nobody to stop Fawful from taking over the Kingdom and ruling the world. Nobody except…Bowser! Little does he know that Mario and Luigi will still be providing some help though from inside his belly.

There’s quite a lot more story to go through here but that’s the general premise. It’s nice to really see Bowser’s side of things here. Finally you have a lead going straight after the villains instead of going to a bunch of different castles the whole time. Bowser’s just a lot of fun. Mario and Luigi still can’t really talk here while Bowser constantly gets a ton of great lines and moments which really helps him out here. You have to love his confidence. A lot of things go over his head but the guy just seems very genuine. He’s a villain, but one who at least does care about his minions which is always good to see.

The gameplay is your classic turn based adventure. You can use special combo attacks (Which are much, much stronger than normal moves so you really need to use them) hammers, or jumps. You also can move around the overworld and enemies appear so by jumping on them or hitting them with hammers you can get a pre-emptive strike which is very useful in battle. The only parts of the gameplay that I found to be pretty weak were the moments in Bowser’s stomach when you have to jump up and down to make him wake up and blasting the orbs to make Bowser giant. These moments happened a little too often and always took forever. Not a big thing of course but a minor area where things could have been improved.

Beyond that, I had no real complaints with the game. The story was a lot of fun and the gameplay was smooth. I felt like leveling up wasn’t quite as daunting as the previous games. In part because this time I actually understood how the bonus multipliers worked this time around so I didn’t waste it all in HP. Definitely not a fun moment that time. Fawful also works really well as the main villain. I loved his catch phrase “I have chortles” as he starts laughing. Basically his grammar is majorly messed up but in a pretty fun way. He certainly enjoys mocking Bowser so you know the main character will get his revenge at some point. His second in command Midbus was also pretty impressive. A guy who can fight with Bowser toe to toe has got to be crazy strong. It also helps raise the stakes in the game which were already pretty high. Having an end of the world threat was great. Also quick shoutout to Peach for actually having telekinetic powers in this game. She only used this in one scene but it was impressive. I guess she has been training.

In Bowser Jr’s Journey we see the events of the main game from his perspective. Bowser Jr is a pretty ungrateful guy who really does as he pleases. He’s not here to make friends and all the Koopalings get upset as he continues to disregard their opinions as he searches for a very sketchy “cure” to the Blorbs. One by one the Koopalings leave until Bowser Jr’s group consists of him and Morton. When a trio of new villains working under Fawful appear Bowser Jr must rethink his approach. Is he really going to be able to save Bowser if none of the minions want to work for him anymore?

The story is pretty emotional in large part because we’ve already seen how polite and heart warming Bowser can be. The guy’s just fun to hang around and he does treat his minions well. Bowser Jr is the opposite and is incredibly unlikable. I was not expecting him to be quite so mean all the time so that did come as a bit of a shock. Regardless, I would definitely have to say that the game had some good story arcs going. The story was actually crafted really well which helped the game succeed.

The gameplay is pretty different as it’s more like an automatic game where you watch your minions fight. You can cheer them on and issue several special attacks/power their moves up but it’s not super interactive. Prepare to play old levels quite a lot here in order to get their levels up to snuff. Playing the elements here is most important. Flying minions beat ground minions. Ground beat throwers and throwers beat flyers. If you put your team in a good formation that makes the most of this then you will be in a good position to do a lot of good. Tactics are more important than level ups but if you really just want to skate by just find a level that you can beat without having to help out at all and have them run it over and over again. Before long you’ll have made it to the end of the game. It’s surprisingly tough but as with every game that has a level up system, you can ultimately persevere.

I liked the game. It’s a pretty simple title that doesn’t have a lot to it in terms of gameplay variation and such but that’s fine. It’s really just a side adventure you’re playing around with. If anything you could play it during the main game to try and keep them in sync. What was particularly impressive was the story since it was actually pretty engaging. I never would have thought Bowser Jr would be the one to be able to lead his own adventure but here we are.

The graphics are pretty good. The character models are very sharp and the backgrounds really stand out. The whole thing looks really modern. Then you’ve got a catchy soundtrack as well. The best theme in the game for me has to either me the final boss of Inside Story or the general Bowser encounter theme. Both themes are actually pretty intense. The final boss even sounds like a Kingdom Hearts theme. You can really hear the usual instruments and themes at least. It helped really make the game feel like a big deal. In terms of replay value, I’d say this game has a good amount. Keep in mind that the main stories for the two combined should take you around 40 hours. (It took me 43) If you then work on getting all levels ups and beating all levels then this would probably get you to around 47 hours.

Overall, This is a game with mountains of content. It’s clear why this has always been a standout game for the Mario series. I’ll be starting Dream Team pretty soon but it’s definitely got big boots to fill this time around. I have little doubts that it will be another good installment though as the series has been consistent. The fact that this is really two games in one just makes the whole thing even better. Jr’s Journey gameplay may take some getting used to but it can quickly become addicting once you’re into it. I almost went and 100% completed the game just because I felt like it so there’s that. Sometimes you just never know when a game’s going to just go off like that.

Overall 8/10

Bonds of the Skies Review


I can’t say that I was familiar with this game before it came out but the fact that it’s from Kemco was a really good sign because they have quickly solidified themselves as one of the leaders in mobile gaming. Whenever their games get ported to PS4 you know you’re in for a treat. To date Asdivine Hearts is one of the gold standards for RPGs. I would put it up there with fellow titans Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy XIII. The sequel was a little weaker thanks to the story but the gameplay was still top notch with a lot of strategy. I’ve never played a game like that where I got all the characters to the max level 99 and still couldn’t beat the final boss without working on my magic some more. This game is on the shorter side next to those but still delivers a complete experience.

So in this world there exist a few Grimoa. These are the deities of the land. 3 of them decided to split their powers into a kid of sorts while the flame one decided not to do so. Well, many years later various towns start being attacked by a fire monster and all of the deities assume the fire one is responsible. This leads Nogard, the wind Grimoa to go to a small town and recruit the help of a man named Eil. Eil is a mild mannered guy who just wants to do the right thing. He’s not really much of a fighter but will absolutely help in order to stop these villains from having their way with the world. He suits up but this will be no easy quest. He must find two other humans to partner with the other two deities. Only then will they be strong enough to take on the Fire dragon and save the planet.

The story is pretty straight forward with a classic formula. You go to each town to find a new partner until you have a full team of 3. After that you go to different islands to find the kid deities and then you’re set for the final boss. There aren’t really any big twists or turns here beyond the usual although you do get a ton of dialogue. The game should take you between 7-10 hours to complete. There isn’t a whole lot of grinding necessary as your levels will do well for the most part but it’s also worth noting that grinding isn’t all that painful here for people who don’t like it. As I mentioned, Kemco is an old pro at this. The gameplay speed is incredibly fast. You can also put your guys on auto battle mode in order to take out the minions. Now, it’s a little less advanced than in their later games as auto mode means the can only fire off a generic strike so spells are off the table. It’s still a fair compromise for not actually having to control them. It means instead of running away from encounters you can fight through all of them in order to keep your level doing well. The EXP you can earn in the dungeon right before the final boss is insane so don’t be afraid to stay there and grind for a bit. In less than 10 minutes I got my guys from level 60 to 75 in this place and it was just enough to claim victory.

The gameplay is that of a turn based style. You have the option to use physical attacks, magic, or items. In general I recommend only having one skill equipped because then you can equip a lot of passive boosts which are far more useful in my opinion. You only ever need 1 real skill here. Perhaps 3 for Avi as the team’s medic you want her to have the main 2 healing spells as well. Fight like this and you’ll have a very balanced roster. In addition to the usual equipment you can also equip which monsters you want to have at the ready. I stayed with the default ones throughout the whole game but it’s a nice way to add more variety.

The graphics look pretty nice. I was surprised that only one of the Grimoa got a character portrait as the others talk so having one would make sense. In general you get the feeling that this game didn’t have a big budget the way some of the others had but they still did a pretty good job of getting all the fundamentals in. The animations are really smooth and the game does look quite nice. I definitely wouldn’t dock any points there. This is a game that’s aged really well. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s all nice and fast paced which works pretty well with how quickly the gameplay moves. Note that you can speed up the gameplay to 3X by clicking L1.

Aside from the story you do have some post game content to work on. There will definitely still be some quests around and I think there are two dungeons. The Platinum trophy is definitely pretty achievable. I don’t expect it should take you more than an extra 2-3 hours to get the rest of the trophies. It’s something that’s worth doing if you completed the game since you’ll already be so close to doing so.

As for the main characters, Eil is decent but not great. He’s a very timid character. Throughout the game everyone mocks him quite a bit for being too nice and always talking in a worried way. It’s a fairly interesting character arc at times but I never felt like he really came into his own. A little more confidence would have gone a long way. His ally Iks is a lot more outgoing by nature and isn’t afraid to stand up for himself. If anything you’ll feel bad for him a bit when Eil sets up a trick against him. Iks is a solid companion to have. Finally you have Avi who wants to do her part to save the world but has a hard time being straight with the group. She’s used to withholding her feelings at all times. She gradually becomes close with the group though and the 3 make for a solid team. I’ll give her props for being bold enough to walk up to the other two demanding they hand over their Grimoas at the time they met even if that’s probably not how transferring ownership works.

Overall, Bonds of the Skies is definitely a pretty great game. It’s like a pocket RPG that you can quickly blast through and get a feel for the genre. I can’t state enough how seamless the gameplay is here with all of the quality of life upgrades in. Even little things like speeding up the gameplay for grinding and auto battle are things that more RPGs should add but surprisingly this is one of the only companies to do so. Playing through it just never feels like a chore and this is a very balanced game. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that wants to check out an RPG title.

Overall 8/10

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Review


Hyrule Warriors was one of the best games I played on the Wii U back in the day. The game had a whole lot of awesome gameplay mechanics at its disposal and the levels were intense. To date I consider it to be one of the best beat em ups I’ve ever played. The whole thing was just so seamless and I do love me a good crossover plot. This one is a very worthy sequel though setting us in the Breath of the Wild continuity. Finally we can have a big story with these characters. The story is a pretty solid length at over 10 hours. It took me around 14.5 although I did a lot of the side missions and bonus content because the game was so fun.

The story picks up right before the actual Calamity started. Link is a chosen knight of Hyrule whose mission is to protect Princess Zelda. He does so magnificently as he saves her from an enemy energy blast. Zelda needs to awaken her abilities foretold by prophecy in order to stop Calamity Ganon from wiping out the world. Her best bet in the meantime is to find the 4 guardians and have them awaken their machines of power. If they use these then the prophecy says they will win but has Ganon already accounted for them? We know that in Breath of the Wild the heroes lose so what can tip the scales here? We have a time travelling robot from the future who shows up in the first level so perhaps he will come in clutch.

There are quite a few twists and turns here as the game goes on so the story is always adapting. It’s a very engaging one and we have a lot of cutscenes here. As always Link proves himself to be an excellent main character. It’s hard not to like the guy because he really does have an incredible amount of skill and is always ready to jump into the fray. With Link by your side you can’t help but feel that everything is going to be all right. He’ll step up to the plate each time we need him to do so. Zelda is also a solid heroine. Her voice will take a little getting used to but as a character she is brave and does what she needs to as Princess. She can also fight on the battlefield alongside the others which I’d say is crucial. You’ve always gotta be able to fight, especially in a ruined world like this one. Otherwise you may just hold the others back.

Her father, the King actually gets a good role here as well. It’s rare to see him step up, but he does and it turns out that the guy can fight really well with a sword. I liked him quite a bit throughout the game. I can see why some may find him to be a bit harsh with Zelda but I don’t think he ever crosses any kind of line and had some good points. Zelda was quite nervous at that point and seemed to be dodging her duty. I wouldn’t say it was intentional and I don’t think he thought so either. He just wanted to get her back on track and the stakes were quite high because if they failed then that would be game over.

As for the villains, we have 3 main ones aside from good ole Calamity Ganon. The first is Master Kogha. He’s definitely trying for a charismatic comic relief kind of role here. He can fight decently well but doesn’t take things seriously a whole lot. He didn’t grow on me but I wouldn’t say he was bad. He may make you crack a smile once in a while but he’s not as funny as you need to be for this style of villain to truly work. Fortunately his sidekick Sooga is great and really holds up the villain side here. He’s a talented fighter who even gives Link a run for his money. The guy is incredibly loyal as well so Kohga is lucky to have him by his side.

The main villain here would be Astor though. It’s almost odd to call him the main villain because it feels like the guy doesn’t appear a whole lot here but he is the central focus. He wants to awaken Ganon and end the world. He doesn’t have much personality beyond that but he’s okay. I’ll definitely take most of the other evil Legend of Zelda mages over him. I did like his ability to conjure up shadow versions of the heroes to fight though. That’s a pretty handy trick especially if they are close to as strong as the real deals. Meanwhile Ganon doesn’t do much but it’s always fun to see the blight versions and the final boss has a pretty great design. I do look forward to having more of a sentient Ganon make his return at some point though. He’s just such an interesting villain when he can talk.

Meanwhile the graphics here are naturally top notch. The energy effects all look really good and you can feel the power behind each attack. It makes you have a blast while you’re running around each level. The cutscenes also look really good. In particular there is one cutscene where Link is in a 4 on 1 battle that is great fun to watch. It’s definitely as intense as it gets. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is also excellent. The soundtrack has a lot of different themes with a good range of action themes to emotional ones as well. In particular there’s one action theme I like a lot which tends to show up when the villains appear. It builds up the suspense quite nicely.

As for the gameplay, it’s sort of like the first game but a bit different. The game adds a new mechanic to the usual beat em up style which is the ability to use 4 skills mid-battle. Stasis, which freezes an opponent; Magnetism, which can manipulate metal; Freeze, which is pretty self explanatory but if you use it on the water it gets to be super effective; and Bombs, which blow stuff up. I really just used the bombs and stasis but both are incredibly useful. Bombs allow you to instantly chip away at an enemy’s stagger meter without having to worry about perfect dodges. Stasis freezes an opponent for a few seconds and you can use it every 10-15 seconds so I recommend spamming that one. It is useful in every different fight so not using it would just be a waste. This new mechanic is quite powerful though to the point where you will be using it incredibly frequently.

The game puts a bigger emphasis on this than your actual final smash which is probably why this is the first warriors game where it can be very hard to replenish your meter at times. I think they’re hoping you use the new mechanic a lot. Well, it’s definitely a fun one so no complaints here. All of the characters have very unique gameplay styles although that is the one area where I would say the game does falter compared to the first one next to the story. While it’s great that the characters have their own unique styles, some feel very difficult to use for battle. Zelda is the biggest character who’s like this. It’s hard to make heads or tails of what her attacks are actually doing in gameplay. Half the time it would be faster for me to just have Link cross the entire field to go and make a last second save rather than letting Zelda or any of the other characters fight in his place. I did like Goruk’s fighting style for example, but Link’s was easily the best.

As mentioned the game’s length is over 10 hours but there’s a lot of replay value that will extend this length. For starters there are over 100 quests to fulfill by gathering ingredients and rupees. Outside of that you will unlock shops where you can level everyone up and upgrade your weapons. These quests even boost all of your characters with more combos and hearts so I highly recommend doing some of these quests. They will help a whole lot when doing the campaign. I did just enough where I was able to go through the main story without dying but I came very close in the final level. If I hadn’t completed 100+ quests I am quite sure I would have died there. Not to mention that completing challenges also helps with increasing your level. There are a wide range of challenges to beat which are separated into categories for every 10 levels. I beat all of them for the first 2 sections and then randomly beat some in the next two. There are still a lot left for if I were to ever go back to these.

Overall, Age of Calamity is a fantastic game. There is a wealth of content here to play through and that’s always good to see. It’s clear that there was a lot of effort put into this game. The story is engaging and the characters are fun. The gameplay is top notch and the same is true of the graphics and soundtrack. When you have a game this balanced there just isn’t anything to bring it down. I do hope they continue making more Nintendo Warrior games because so far they have all been quite excellent. It’s a formula that you can’t go wrong with. If you haven’t bought this game yet then you should definitely change that.

Overall 9/10

Need For Speed Rivals Review


Well, at long last the Need for Speed marathon is now over. Rivals was the last one I owned that I had not yet played so this was quite the milestone. It’s been a lot of fun racing around and Rivals definitely does feel like a lot of effort was put into it. The graphics are definitely top notch and there’s a whole lot to do here. You have fast travel here which is always a must for games where the hub world is so huge. The story may be a bit weak but you’re here for the gameplay and definitely will not be disappointed.

The game starts off by asking if you want to play as the rebels or the cops this time around. I went with rebels since I played as the cops last time. Please note that you can switch sides at any time. Ideally the game is hoping you’ll go ahead and complete both stories. As it is, each side is fairly long so the game did a good job of really making sure the purchase was worth the money. I don’t think it would be possible for you to beat this game in under 10 hours for example. On the Rebels side the plot is basically that the main guy is trying to prove that it’s best to live life on the edge getting your 15 minutes at a time as he breaks all of the rules. The cops begin getting more and more desperate to catch him. Then you have the cops who are doing everything they can to take this rebel down but it’s proving to be difficult. They’re also having to deal with a lot of copycat racers so all of those guys need to go down and fast.

The game has a lot of different ways to race. You’ve got the standard races, time trials, pursuit races which is a race while being chased by the cops, and Interceptor which is a 1 on 1 battle with you and a police car. Each chapter is divided into missions and each mission is divided into a few tasks. For example one mission might be to win 3 races, clear one time trial, and earn 100K. Once you do all of that then the mission is completed and you will move onto the next set. I like the clear plot progression here as well as the fact that none of them feel all too crazy to me. The tasks are all pretty achievable even if they may take some time. The toughest set always seemed to be the drifting ones so I didn’t even try those. Typically you’re given 3 options on which set of tasks you want to complete and I would go for the racing focused ones. They just seemed the most direct.

I’d say the game took around 12-15 hours but I suppose it’s hard to say exactly. The final race in particular was a really tough one that took me quite a few tries. You have to drive over 30 miles nonstop in order to reach the end and if you made a wrong call or had a bad bump then there’s a chance you would lose and have to start from scratch. Let me tell you, starting from scratch is never fun. Still, since it’s the final level I can give it a pass. None of the other levels are nearly so long and it does make sense that you would want the final level to be a challenge. This game actually had far better pacing than most other Need for Speed games with how the levels go so I have to give a lot of kudos there. I also liked the variety. This was just a really well balanced game.

Part of what makes it work is how interactive the hub world is. It just feels alive with cars moving around at all time and the cutting edge graphics. As I mentioned earlier the game looks amazing. Definitely what you would expect form a next gen title. The soundtrack was also not all that annoying this time around which is great. The franchise is not usually known for having a good amount of solid themes so it’s something that can always be a bit concerning. This way there wasn’t really anything to worry about. When you pack on the replay value then you’ve definitely got a bargain here.

At its core what makes Rivals so good is of course the gameplay. It’s all very smooth and you feel in control of the car. I like that you unlock cars which you can use and buy them with cash but there isn’t the crazy level of customization that other titles have. I don’t mind a little customization of course but after a point you want to be able to just jump into a car and start driving instead of always wondering how you can optimize it. This one leaves things reasonably automatic as well which I think is a great middle ground. The game also has a lot of items at the ready here as you can attack with mines and shockwaves as well as protect yourself with Jammers and stuff like that. Items can work quite well when used the right way. For racers I really don’t mind not having any gimmicks but I won’t complain about them either.

Overall, Need For Speed: Rivals is a great game. It really captures the essence of the series and executes on every angle quite brilliantly. There is no part of the game that I would shake my head at. Even the story which can be a bit overdramatic as you follow a lead who is so far from being a hero that you can’t root for him, is okay in the end. At least it doesn’t drag on which I appreciate. You don’t get to see a whole lot of cutscenes but at least each one has a direct purpose. If you’re looking for a good racing game to pick up then I would definitely recommend this one. You really can’t go wrong with Rivals.

Overall 8/10

Digimon World 4 Review


This has been a game I had on my backburner for an incredibly long time. I remember playing this for the Gamecube so many years ago but never got past world 2. Well, I went back and played the game from start to finish. It’s a pretty fun title but I do have to say that the story was a little on the disappointing side. There are a lot of moments where the story feels like it was skipped or was off screen. There is just barely a plot holding this together so much so that when you beat the final boss the credits just roll. There’s no final cutscene or any final dialogue. The game’s just over and it shoos you away to the next one. I feel like maybe it got a bit rushed.

The basic plot of the game though is that a virus is spreading and going to destroy the entire Digital World soon. The heroes naturally have to stop this so you’re sent out to finish them all. That’s about it for the story. Go to all 4 worlds and blow up the enemy Digimon. Doing so will be a good move and you’ll also get to feel heroic so that’s not a bad deal is it? It’s what you’ve always wanted to do. While there are only 4 worlds I would say the length of the game is still pretty decent. I’d estimate about 8 hours of gameplay more or less. The difficulty of the game is definitely what could extend this one. It’s clear that the game was made with multiple fighters in mind since the game supports 4 player co-op. You can counter the fact that the EXP goes at a slow rate by overwhelming the enemies with sheer numbers. In particular I found the first and last levels to be very tough. I had to do a lot of leveling up and retries in order to clear the final hurdle.

The game has an overhead combat style similar to Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance. You can choose from a few weapons such as a sword, axe, spear, or a gun. I highly recommend the gun. Attacking with the swords is just really dangerous because of how close you have to get to the enemies and how they keep moving while you are hitting them. You get a lot of attack power from close combat weapons but I don’t think it’s really worth it. The drawbacks are still too numerous next to the gun which really has no big weakness. You can spam it from afar and that will take care of the enemies no sweat. You can hold onto 3 weapons while you’re on the field though so feel free to bring one of each.

In this game you do need to improve your weapon levels to use them though. For example, if you have a gun level of 100 you can only use guns up to that level. So you couldn’t equip a level 105 gun. Then if you only use guns your sword level will be at 1 so even if you find an amazing one it’ll take a while to use it. TO improve your weapon level you need to keep using your weapon on enemies. Pretty self explanatory eh? There’s not a whole lot to explain on it so you’ll just get it right away. One thing to note is this is one of the first RPGs I’ve played where you can’t just use weapons you pick up. So if you pick up a weapon on the field then you will need to go back to base and go to the Digi Lab in order to equip it. that means you can expect a lot of back and forth trips. Additionally, you can’t hold too many items so get ready to sell some. You can only sell items one at a time though.

I think that’s really at the heart of the issues for Digimon. The game doesn’t seem all that polished. A lot of the elements here just take up way too much time. We’re just talking about small delays but they’re actions you have to repeat over and over again so the time starts to quickly add up. This occurs whenever you need to change a weapon, equip a mod, etc. It gets to the point where you don’t want to bother with equipment all that much. Just get a good loadout and then get ready to head out. The Hub World is also quite huge with 3 different areas one of which has 2 floors. There are various shops and such to be found here so you should memorize which area has which shops early on so you don’t go to the wrong place too often.

The game is at its best when it’s focusing on the actual dungeon exploration gameplay. You take out all of the enemies in your way and evntually head to wherever the boss Digimon is. Each world has 4 dungeons in it except for the last one which has 3. The dungeons typically have scores of enemies that will try to get in your way until you meet the boss to take him out. The boss is usually a lot easier to deal with than the minions so I don’t expect you will have any real issues there. The final boss is a handful though so my recommendation is a lot of run and gun tactics. If he hits you with the thunder palm it’s game over. If he hits you with the shadow balls then it’s game over. You really can’t let him hit you at all so just keep on running. If you think you can squeeze in another attack…don’t. It’s just not worth it at that point. You want to live because dying means you have to go through the entire dungeon again which can take a little while.

Also pro-tip, don’t trust the quick save. You have the ability to use a gate card to make a shortcut deep in the dungeon that takes you home. Thing is, the shortcut expires as soon as you quit the game so if you save and exit then that’s it for that. I got burned on that once. I guess it’s meant as just something fun to have on hand for long play batches but it’s definitely not something you want to take chances with. My other tip is to really use the healing attack a lot. You cant to have it keep improving since you recover more health that way and eventually you’ll never even need to use potions. It’s a great help not having to depend on the items. You can use that space for something else.

The graphics here are pretty good. It’s definitely got that nice Gamecube feel to it and looks very nostalgic. The boss designs are on point and the stages all look pretty different. The soundtrack is fairly standard and not too memorable but it works well enough I’d say. As mentioned the game length is fairly decent. There’s not really much in the way of replay value though. I suppose you could go and learn all of the evolutions to have fun with. I believe they take you back to level 1 though and since leveling up isn’t very fast in this game I’m guessing you won’t want to put so much time into doing things all over again.

Overall, Digimon World 4 is a fun game. It’s just one that feels like it was rushed quite massively towards the end. A lot of the gameplay mechanics take longer than they should and the story was nonexistent. The actual dungeon gameplay was fun though and having to go up against such large numbers of enemies can be pretty thrilling. You know that you can’t lower your guard for an instant or it’ll be over. I also appreciate the fact that this was made as a 4 player co-op game as you don’t really see that anymore. If you want to check out a Digimon game this is a good one to get but I would sooner recommend Cyber Sleuth or Rumble Arena.

Overall 6/10

Midnight Club: Los Angeles Review


Midnight Club is a pretty big racing series in its own right. It has long been overshadowed by the Need For Speed games but it has still lasted a while. In effect it’s like a Grand Theft Auto mixed with Need for Speed game or at least that’s the kind of vibe you get from it. The open world may be even bigger than what NFS usually brings. It’s a pretty great game with a ton of content at your disposal so you really can’t go wrong here.

The basic story is that you’re a new racer who is trying to gain reputation and move up the ranks. You know that you’re the best racer on the block but in order to challenge the best racers you will have to go up the ranks slowly but surely. You make some friends along the way like Karl and Annie as well as some rivals and enemies like Hugo or the 4 Champions. You’ll have to defeat them all, friend or foe in order to claim the title.

One thing I always appreciate in a racing game is having an actual story. You can’t take these for granted because a lot of games in the genre don’t have one. It’s not like this story is particularly unique or ambitious but it’s a story nonetheless. There’s a lot of fun banter between the lead and everyone else which ends up being the best part to me. They never stop with the burns, especially the lead and Karl. There are a lot of great lines like “Face me if you want a real challenge” “I’d love a real challenge but I’ll settle for racing you Karl” and a lot of lines like that. The burns and insults just keep on coming.

I played in over 200 races during the course of the game and I would still have needed to play a bunch more in order to unlock the final events. You’d think that taking down the city champions was the final battle but after that there is a champion for each kind of vehicle which is the part I didn’t finish. To unlock them you would need to play a lot of races in each car type and that was definitely not going to be done
anytime soon. I put in over 20 hours on this game s you definitely don’t need to worry about content here. There’s enough to tide you over and then some. With replay value on the other races and getting more cars I’d estimate this title to be around 30 hours.

The gameplay here is pretty direct, you drive through the stages and try to reach the goal first. Simple as that, that’s what you need to do in order to score a win here. There are other racing types in the game as well like time trials and trying to ram people off the road. The delivery events were likely the trickiest if you ask me because usually you would at least need to know where one or two of the shortcuts were in order to progress further.

As for my car of choice, it wasn’t even a car. As soon as I had enough money to buy a motorcycle I grabbed one and never looked back. The stats are off the charts and the only drawback is that an enemy attack can instantly knock you off your bike and your durability is very low so there is a good chance that you will get “damaged out” during the race and lose by default. Essentially you’ve got ultimate speed at the cost of your defense and that’s a fine trade off for me. I figure durability won’t be a concern as long as I stay ahead of the other racers and that’s exactly how things played out. It was really hard to go back to a car after that for the events where one was mandatory.

One issue I have with the game though is the fact that there is no fast travel. The main world is quite large so at times you would be driving for whole minutes to get to the next event. I’d much rather just be able to jump into the next event. I suppose the reason this game was designed that way was to prevent such things from happening. Admittedly if fast travel was an option I would have skipped most of the hub world experience and jumped straight into the duels.

The graphics here definitely look really good as expected. The game had aged quite well from the PS3. It’s naturally under some of the more high budget experiences like Need for Speed but I’d say it did good with what it had. The soundtrack is not very good though. I spent the majority of my play through constantly switching through songs to find the few gold ones. I would definitely have liked the ability to remove songs from the lineup so it would only cycle through a few that I would give a thumbs up.

Overall, Midnight Club is a great racing game. There is just so much to do here between all of the cars to collect and events to complete. 200 races is quite a lot so there’s no way to beat them all too quickly. In fact I even managed to make it to the maximum driver level which was a lot of fun. That’s not something that I can say happens every time. It was a pretty rare event and one I won’t soon forget. If you like racing games then I highly recommend this one. See how it stacks up for you compared to the famous Need for Speed franchise.

Overall 8/10

Marshawn Lynch Pro Football Review


Time for another mobile game but unfortunately this one isn’t much better than Pac-Man Geo but for completely different reasons. This time we do get a nice sense of progression in each level with scores being tracked and your level improving. That’s all well and good but my main issue here is really just the fact that there are so many advertisements. That’s one thing that utterly ruins a game. I don’t want a full video ad suddenly playing after I complete a level. It was at that moment that I knew this game was doomed.

The plot of the game is that you’re a new recruit trying to make a splash in the NFL. To get there you first need to win a College tournament then head to the Practice Squad and work your way to being a starter. You are a running back in this game which is definitely a bit of a change of pace from most Football games where you do a little of everything. That’s just not the case in this title. So as a running back the objective in each level is to score. You do this by running straight forward and using two techniques as needed. One is the Bulldoze technique that lets you break through walls. Then you have the Accelerate which lets you go really fast. You also use the two juke buttons to dodge incoming defenders. The gameplay’s pretty simple but it works quite nicely.

You’ll need pretty good reaction times though. If you move too quickly then you’re gonna get slammed and if you’re too slow out of the gate then you also get hit. It’s all about really reading the defenders and moving once they are about to make the lunge. Of course it’s definitely not an easy task by any means. There are well over 200 levels in this game so get ready for a whole lot of juking and moving around. I like the fact that there is a lot of content to be had here though. A lot of the levels do seem to be pretty similar so you do need to enjoy the gameplay a lot. It’s the kind of game that would feel really repetitive otherwise. That said, there are a healthy amount of cutscenes here so it does feel like you have a real story. That’s something I would not have expected here.

The graphics are pretty solid. There isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of but at least the game looks really good which is always important. It’s definitely got a modern feel to it and I’d say there was a good amount of effort put into the game. Really what it all boils down are the advertisements here. I enjoy the gameplay and the game’s visuals look nice but it definitely takes you out of the immersion with advertisements playing after every level. Even clicking around on the main menu can trigger ads as well. You are not able to skip them until after a good portion of the ad has already run through. That’s definitely not a good thing. It really encourages you not to play the game for long or even to not look at all the features of the game because clicking on the wrong one will waste a lot of time. This has got to be one of the greediest games I’ve seen in a while with all of this going on.

Overall, I definitely did not expect that Marshawn Lynch would have his own game. It’s definitely pretty impressive that out of all the players he was one of the first to get one. At least when surfing the app store I didn’t see any other individual player games. There are cool concepts here and the gameplay is executed well but at the end of the day what really hurts here are the advertisements. It’s just not a trend that you want to see appearing in games going forward and is the only thing holding this back from being a positive review. No matter how much content and polish a game may have, it is ultimately wasted here. You can do much better with other Football games so I would definitely advise giving this one a skip.

Overall 5/10

Pac-Man Geo Review


PAC Man has had a lot of games over the years but it’s been a while since he had anything fresh and different. While this app game may not be the homerun hit fans have been waiting for I would say that it’s not terrible or anything. It’s got a lot of missed opportunities and flaws inside of the package of course but at the end of the day it has some interesting ideas. With a little polish this can be a really good game in the future. Unfortunately for Pac that day isn’t now.

The idea of the game is that you can have a lot of custom Pac-Man maps based on real world locations. You can zoom around New York or London. Eventually I imagine they’ll want to grab all of the levels although right now it’s just a limited amount that cycle through. You eat up the ghosts and prove to the other players that you have what it takes. There are also limited tournaments that are run from time to time where you can get a higher score. They all boil down to the same issue that I have with the game in general though. I’ll get to that in a minute but I have to say that the game has some deep flaws if you ask me.

The gameplay is the same as your classic Pac-Man experience. The goal here is to collect all of the pellets. By absorbing the larger ones you can quickly eat up the ghosts that get in your way and prevent them from launching a counter attack. It’s a pretty good strategy if you ask me and it’s a fun gameplay style. There’s a reason why the original game is so iconic after all. Lets talk about why this game lacks compared to that original: Progression. In the original game a lot of the fun is in seeing your high score and trying to top it. Unfortunately you don’t have that here. There is no high score that the game saves. Worse, you can’t tell which levels you have already completed after exiting. That to me is a huge problem with the game. I absolutely need to know what levels I have beaten because nobody wants to play the game levels more than once if they don’t know it.

I’d like to beat old levels again to improve my score of course but right now there is really no benefit to doing so. If you don’t know what your score is then there’s no point. I’m just puzzled as to how the game would launch without this. It’s such a core concept to any game like this where you are trying to complete levels and improve your standings. Without a sense of progression then it’s like you’re just spinning your wheels and not going anywhere. I expected better out of Pac-Man Geo. I’m hoping it’ll add some new content soon but this is something they really should have had at launch. Due to that I’m certainly not keeping this game around.

The graphics aren’t bad, but they’re definitely nothing special either. It’s basically standard fare of what you would expect and the game doesn’t feel particularly high budget. It’s basically Pac-Man just in mobile format and for that you can play the normal game. The soundtrack is okay, the theme is pretty true to form for the series and fairly catchy. At least on a technical level I wouldn’t take any credit away from the game. That’s good since poor visuals and music would have definitely done some extra damage.

Overall, Pac-Man Geo is not a game that I would recommend. I’d give it a middle score because at the end of the day I don’t think it’s a bad title. It’s just lacking in a whole lot of content and I don’t see the point in really playing through it. That being said, if you’ve never played Pac-Man before then you may get drawn in simply for the gameplay. The gameplay style itself is fun, I just need more of a reason to play. Hopefully they’ll give Pac-Man a more impressive title the next time one of his big anniversary milestones rolls around.

Overall 5/10

Casper: Spirit Dimensions Review


Casper is one of those characters that I don’t know nearly as well as I should. The ghost’s a bit of a mystery to be honest but I do know that he’s about as friendly a guy as you’ll ever meet. The game was sitting on my backlog for an incredibly long amount of time in part because the first few levels weren’t great and also because the old TV had a really hard time with loading up old graphics. Well, now I was finally ready to give this another go. The game isn’t very long at all and makes for a decent playthrough. I’d say the game still has some gameplay elements holding it back but you should still have a good time for a few hours until you complete it.

The game starts with Casper noticing that the house is rather empty. Wendy shows up and lets him know that a powerful being known as Kibosh has appeared and taken all of the ghosts down. Casper is the only ghost left who is not enslaved or now working for the villain. She pleads with Casper to help but the young hero is reluctant since he believes that a friendly ghost won’t be enough for this mission. He keeps bringing up the fact that he is a friendly ghost as if it was a weakness. If only he knew that this was what made him strong. Still, in the end he does decide to help. Can Casper take this guy down?

The game has 4 worlds. Most of the worlds are pretty quick. In general you can even beat the game in around 2 hours based on videos that I’ve seen. It took me considerably longer than that though, I want to say around 5 hours or so. Mainly it can always be tough to find some of the collectibles. This game is a 3D platformer but at its core a lot of emphasis is put on collecting things. Whether it’s buttons, cannons, or something like that you’ll always be trying to find something. Keep on searching long enough and eventually you will be able to get at it. Usually the final collectible is hidden in a rather unique place like through a tunnel or past a gate somewhere. So just don’t give up.

Each level has a similar formula like that. Someone will tell you to locate the 5 pieces and once you do then he’ll give you a piece of the next collectible. Once you get the rest of the items then you’ll be able to challenge the boss of that world. Most of the bosses are pretty straight forward. Just spam your energy blast and you’ll be okay. Alternately some bosses will have you focus on a weak spot first. That’s the case in the final boss. Make sure you blast at him so he drops some energy which will power Casper up and allow future blasts to hit him.

As Casper you have quite a few attacks. You can charge into enemies to deal some pretty solid damage that way. You can fire classic energy blasts, fire blasts, and ice moves. You can also use some energy to shoot a charged blast or an electric move. Then you’ve got the ability to turn intangible for a few seconds which will prevent enemies from hurting you. It’s pretty handy in the final boss but otherwise you’ll just be using this for puzzles and to find more collectibles. The fact that you can fly without any time limits is nice. It feels like a lot of games don’t let you do this so I’m glad Casper didn’t think of some crazy reason for why we wouldn’t be able to do this. It absolutely would have felt very forced, I can guarantee that.

The difficulty is pretty reasonable. I wouldn’t say the game is all that hard but you can’t be sloppy either. If you just fly into the opponents and start blasting at random then you will absolutely be defeated. You have to go in with a certain degree of caution. The best thing to do in the game is strafe around the opponents. Hold R as you move and you won’t get hit in a 1 on 1 battle. You’ll always be around the corner and that’s pretty key here. If you keep that in mind and also the bit about the collectibles then you’ll be good. Please note that if you fall into a portal during a mission then you have to start from scratch so don’t let that happen to you. I’m guessing it saves the game some memory doing this but it can be pretty easy to fall into one, that’s for sure. Slow and steady wins the race here.

There isn’t a lot of replay value though. I guess you could go back to try and gain some more gems to improve your overall completion% but I don’t see how it helps at all. There don’t appear to be any rewards for doing so which definitely seems like a mess. If you really enjoy the gameplay then it’s still something at least. The campaign is around 4-5 hours since I don’t think you’ll be able to crack all of the puzzles immediately. I certainly wasn’t able to at least. You can typically find this game for really cheap nowadays so that’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, Casper: Spirit Dimensions ended better than it began. I do think the gameplay was rather ambitious. It may not have been super polished and little things here and there like the collecting mechanics not being explained very well or the portals erasing progress can be pretty annoying but the core gameplay itself was good. Kibosh definitely made for a decent villain and I dare say that he may have been Casper’s deadliest opponent. It’s hard to top that guy at least. Make sure you stick around for the ending as well. It was definitely leading up to a sequel but I suppose we never quite got that one. Too bad, it could have been really interesting if you ask me. If you see this in stores I’d recommend checking it out if you want to play a nostalgic platformer.

Overall 6/10

The Operative: No One Lives Forever Review


This is another game from my past that has finally re-emerged. One of the benefits of finally getting my video game backlog down from 100+ to under 50 is that these games are finally crawling out of the woodwork. I had made it decently far in with this game but got stuck on a stealth mission (Man of Influence) for an incredibly long time. Well, I finally made it out. The rest of the game was still surprisingly difficult. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is easily the most difficult stealth type game I’ve played and I would put it up there as one of the most challenging ones in general. The story is good but I didn’t care for how the stealth was incorporated.

The game follows an organization by the name of UNITY which keeps the world safe and secure from the shadows. They have been doing this for a long time to great success but now they have a new threat on the horizon. The name of this terrorist organization is HARM and they have already taken down most of our operatives. They have some big plans for the world and we can’t wait to find out what they are. This forces us to mobilize our fairly new recruit by the name of Cate Archer. She used to be a thief but has since turned into a dependable field agent. One of the higher ups is pretty convinced that she will fail so we have to prove him wrong. This leads to a whole lot of missions across the globe as we get closer to finding out the truth behind this organization.

The story is quite cinematic and feels like a 007 adventure. Each level introduces more and more characters as well as new gadgets. The villains have quite a few generals at their disposal all of whom get their own levels. There are a lot of twists and turns to the story as well. You even have multiple choice based levels where your answers will determine if you win or lose. There isn’t any gameplay in them aside from answering questions. The gameplay varies rather dramatically from stealth to full on action to dialogue. There were even a handful of levels that were purely cutscenes so it was like watching a mini movie. By the end of the game you’ll really have to re-evaluate everything you’ve seen up to that point. It’s hard to trust anyone but such is the life of being a secret agent.

So the story is absolutely great but as I mentioned I had some problems with the gameplay. Ironically it is in a similar case to Pryzm at times. You gain new gadgets in many levels but the game doesn’t tell you how to use some of them. For example towards the end of the game you needed to use a blowtorch to get through. The way to do this is to take out your lighter and then switch its mode so that you have the more powerful flame item at your disposal. The game ambitiously tackles a lot of different gameplay options such as even adding in levels for driving cars but because of that each mode is less polished than it needs to be.

Take the stealth levels, not only are they extremely difficult to get through but when you die there are no checkpoints in sight so you’ll be sent back as long as 15 minutes. Other times there will be a camera around but you can’t check where it is facing without running out of your cover so if it’s looking at you then it’s game over. The only way to get through these levels is to muscle through them at times after dozens and dozens of attempts. You’ll be tired of the levels after a while. I never like having to wait in a level but in these cases you need to. For example, in some stealth missions you have to wait until the characters are properly arranged for you. That can take a minute though and the minutes add up every time you die. I’d love to have seen what the play time looked like by the end because I imagine it must have been pretty high at the end of this.

It’s not all bad though. When you’re allowed to just go in and start blasting then the game can be quite fun. Make no mistake, the game is still incredibly difficult but it doesn’t feel as bad because you know exactly where you went wrong and how to correct it. Perhaps you tried taking on too many of them at once or something like that. You may die a lot but you don’t have to wait for anyone either. You just dive in. This does lead me to one more issue though. Each level has multiple acts in it so if you turn off the game you can continue from the latest one so long as you remembered that there is no auto save here and manually got it through. The tricky thing is if you win an act with low health then you don’t actually want to continue to the next one or you may be stuck in a loop. For example there was one level I completed with only about 1 health point left and in the next level there were a ton of enemies to defeat. I ultimately had to restart the whole level again from the first act because you can’t just pick an act to start off of. You either go to the latest one or the beginning so take that into consideration when you save.

The graphics are definitely solid though. Everything looks pretty impressive here which is important since there are so many cutscenes all over the place. You need to have a good looking game or these will probably really get to you by the end. The soundtrack isn’t quite as noticeable, I don’t recall any themes outside of the main menu. That one is pretty catchy though so as a whole I’ll give the game some kudos there. I suppose with all of the shooting it would be hard to hear the songs anyway. The length of the game is pretty good and there’s a ton of replay value as you try to assemble all of the Intel. When you put all of that together then you’ve definitely got a complete experience here.

Overall, No One Lives Forever is a mixed bag. At its best the game is quite brilliant and at its worst it can be painful to get through. That’s why at the end of the day I’d give this a score right in the middle. Even if you enjoy playing games that are super difficult you only might enjoy this game based on how it’s handled. It’s always rough having to figure things out on your own especially if you’ve already played the game many times over. After a while the level will just lose its charm. Stealth games always have a hard balance to try and attain but this game could take some notes from Carmen Sandiego or Barbie Secret Agent, both top notch games from back in their days with how they handled the stealth elements.

Overall 5/10