Split Second Review

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It’s time to check out a car game that I recently got. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a huge fan of the racing genre. There are few things more satisfying than nailing a crisp turn and sailing into first place. It’s why I used to play a car game on my PC for so long. Anyway, this is the first racing game that I’ve played in a while, not counting spinoff titles like Farmyard racing. This is probably the first pure racing game I’ve played since Asphalt 3D. (I think that was the title) This is definitely a really fun game and one of the best core driving games out there. It does have a gimmick and while I sometimes prefer my racing games not to have any (F-Zero) I don’t mind them if they’re handled well. Look at Mario Kart after all.

There are a few modes to play when you start the game. Online mode is around of course, but you’ll likely be heading straight to Season mode. (Honestly, I haven’t gone online at all) The season has 12 episodes in it and the general plot is that you’re starring in the show. Think of it as one of those reality programs on TV. You have to dodge all of the landmines and disasters to claim first and prove that you’re the best. Each episode has 5 events, with the final one being unlocked if you’ve earned enough points. Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the end and you can replay old levels to increase your standing and earn more points if you’re short. For the most part I was able to make it to the end naturally but I did need to replay a few. Once you unlock a certain car at the end of the game, you’ll be breezing through it with no problem.

There are different kinds of events. The main one is a race. You go through the stage and try to come in first. The gimmick that this game rolls with is that you can use your energy meter to set off traps. You can energy by turning and driving behind another car. The best way is to dodge an opponent’s trap, but they rarely spring any. You can activate traps as soon as one energy bar is filled or you can wait til they’re all filled and activate a massive one. I don’t recommend the latter since you’ll typically destroy yourself as well. If there’s going to be a gimmick, I typically prefer a quick booster, but I can live with this. It’s a pretty unique concept after all and I like the strategy behind it. You always have to decide if it’s worth using your energy now or later.

Another event is Elimination. You start with 60 seconds and have to ensure that you’re not in last. After that, another car is eliminated every 20 seconds. You must stay at the head of the pack or you’ll risk being eliminated. This is another pretty fun event and as it’s quite a bit shorter than a race, it’s a lot easier to keep on replaying. Another event is the Airplane boss. You have to attack it by shooting missiles using your action meter. In this case, I recommend waiting until the red one is ready to go since you can then deal massive damage. Next is Survival which is probably the weakest by default. It’s just you by yourself as you try to complete the stage while the A.I. activates all of the traps. It’s essentially a time trial so it’s not all that exciting.

Finally, there’s the Oil tanker battles. This is the best one by far. A truck ahead of you will be spilling barrels and you have to dodge them as you overtake it. The more trucks that you pass in a row without being hit, the more points that you get. It really tests your reaction times and takes you down if you dare to go too fast. It’s just a lot of fun and I would have loved to have seen more of it. The variety of events in the game helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

With 72 levels in the game, it’s certainly one that has an ample amount of content. If anything, I’m glad the game didn’t overdo it and throw in over 150 levels just because it can. As it is, most of the levels are the same. I think there may be 12 tracks total, with a few more if you count night versions. It’s not a lot although I suppose it’s a decent amount. You’ll memorize the layouts after a while which is certainly useful. There’s a lot of replay value here as well. If you decide to aim for the Platinum, you’ll need to get 1st place on every level which will be quite difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, but I’d expect you to be replaying the levels many times before you can finally ace them all. Multiplayer also guarantees that the replay value is basically unlimited.

The graphics for the game are quite good. All of the cars look shiny and new. I could have sworn that one of the cars almost looked as good as the Ford Focus. The levels are nice and bright and the rare night time versions are also quite crisp. The game has aged very well there. Furthermore, the soundtrack is also pretty nice. There are some really good action themes. The music fit in pretty well even if I didn’t notice it in some episodes. It would sort of pop in and pop out if that makes any sense. I suppose not every theme can be an instant winner.

The game’s difficulty level feels pretty fair. There was a very brief time where I felt the computers were a little too fast and strong, but once I got the super car it was all good. I never really mastered the drifting mechanic, but I’d say that it felt fair. The overall gameplay was nice and smooth. Towards the end there weren’t many opportunities to drive as fast as the title would suggest, but driving as fast as possible was always very satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the ending of the game. The voice acting was spot on and the way the game ends just begs for a sequel. Whether we get one or not, it works really well as a stinger. I was practically shaking by the end of the cutscene. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it, but I can safely say that I would be super hyped if they announce a sequel.

Overall, Split Second is definitely a great game. It’s one of those titles that you just don’t want to put down once you start it. You’ll find yourself wanting to play it constantly and you’ll be sad once it’s over. Once again, I do think the length was just right though. Extending it further might have felt artificial and they also got the right balance with the points needed to unlock the final levels. You had to do pretty well in the events (1-3rd place for the most part) but it wasn’t anything too crazy. You don’t want it to have to be a grind to beat the game, that should be left for the people who want the Platinum. The game was just solid on all accounts and I’d highly advise buying this title. It’s one of the best car games on the market.

Overall 8/10

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Alter Echo Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

Tom & Jerry in Infurnal Escape Review

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All right, it’s time for the 1st Game Boy Advance review in a very long time. I won this one over at a Super Smash Bros tournament at a Friendly’s restaurant. I can’t believe nobody wanted the prize earlier. As a major video game collector and a fan of the Tom & Jerry franchise, I knew that this was my big moment. It’s a fairly short game and tends to feel like a cash in for part of the adventure, but once you get going the adventure starts to get more fun. It’s just a shame that the game really leaves you in the dark to figure things out for yourself.

The plot is fairly dramatic as Tom finds himself in Hell. To escape, he’ll have to save some souls and defeat the King of Evil. This will be tricky, but Tom’s no stranger to facing overwhelming odds. Unfortunately, Jerry is also here to get in his way, but Tom will not falter until the day is saved. This title is fairly short at 6 levels and it can be completed in around an hour. That’s part of what hurts this game’s chances of getting a 7. I can’t imagine buying this game for its full retail price. There’s no replay value either as there are no collectibles to be found. There isn’t even a continue as it is all password based. I recommend taking a picture of the password or writing it down after each level just in case.

The difficulty tends to fluctuate quite a bit and typically it can only be difficult because enemies escape your punches at times. You only have 3 health points at a time and once they are gone you have 2 minutes to find some souls. If you can’t do that then you get the game over screen. Typically it shouldn’t come to that though since souls are very easy to find. The game can get a little annoying when you have been searching for a while only to not actually find anything. The level won’t end until you’ve found most of the objective. (Typically a prisoner or a Dog Bone) The problem is that you don’t know most of the controls at first. For example, I didn’t know that you could climb the flagpoles until about 20 minutes had passed and you can’t complete the early levels without doing that.

Tom & Jerry is your average 2D side scroller game. It is also part puzzle as you have to go back and forth as you press switches since previously inaccessible areas become open as you go on. The game won’t tell you this, but you can throw your baseball bat and you can climb various objects. Make sure you fight carefully since getting hit by an opponent is typically very dangerous. You can also light your stick on fire by holding the R button which is also necessary to complete some levels. I learned that one through trial and error as well. The gameplay’s nothing special, but it’s not bad either. It serves its purpose as a side scroller.

The graphics are fairly decent for the GBA. I was also impressed with the cutscenes as I was not expecting a whole lot of those here. The cutscenes are shown through illustrations which is always a good way to go about this for the GBA. They all look sharp as a result. In game, the character models are fairly solid as well. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of. There is really just one theme which keeps on repeating over and over again. It’s not a particularly catchy tune either so the game loses out in this area. The developers certainly could have put in some more effort and thrown in more tunes.

There is only one boss in this game, which you fight at the very end. He is extremely easy so you should have no trouble with him. You simply punch him twice to make the boss fall down and then you go for another punch. Rinse and repeat around 5-6 times. It’s a lot quicker than it sounds and the whole thing will likely just take you a handful of minutes. The final boss design is quite good as well and it makes sense that a dog would be the final foe to stand in Tom’s way.

The ending is not surprising, but still rather odd. Tom is given a choice as he can spend eternity with a cat friend that he is always chasing around or going back to his life of getting beaten up by Jerry. Tom oddly chooses the latter. I’m not sure what the rationale there was. Maybe deep down he simply wants to catch Jerry more than he wants to hang out with the other cat. Tom can be quite competitive so I suppose that this decision isn’t completely out of the question. Still odd though.

Overall, This is a game that I certainly didn’t expect to be playing, but I’m glad that I got the chance too. It may not be revolutionary or even all that good, but it’s a decent way to spend an hour. I can add it to my game collection and that’s bragging rights enough. It definitely could have been longer and that’s really the main complaint that I have with it. Along with the fact that the game doesn’t bother to mention most of the controls either. If you’re looking for a fun little side scrolling adventure, then this game is for you. That being said, you’re better off getting the legendary Super Mario World. Now That was a very fulfilling video game and it has a lot more replay value as well.

Overall 6/10

Pokken Tournament Review

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Nintendo has churned out another winner folks. The Wii U has gotten a lot of heat over the infamous Gamepad as well as the lack of third party games, but it’s always very easy to forgive these oversights when you look at the first party titles. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the greatest game of all time and Mario Maker is an all star title as well. Pokken continues to set the bar very high and isn’t afraid of those other titles. In fact, I’d say that this game beats Mario Maker and it’s automatically my 2nd favorite Wii U game. It has a lot of replay value and I can definitely see myself playing it for a very long time. This one’s a keeper all right.

Pokken is a mix of 2D and 3D fighting. There are two phases which have different rules and strategies so the game is deeper than you would expect. In 3D mode, you want to either overwhelm your opponent with projectile spam or quickly hit them with a close attack. 2D mode plays more like Street Fighter and you have to really think about which move you are going to use or it’ll all be for naught. The game has a bit of a rock paper scissors mechanic so it’s all about out thinking your opponent.

Your standard attacks beat out grabs. Grabs beat out Focus Attacks. Focus Attacks beat out Power Modes. Power Moves usually beat out strong moves and strong moves are basically pointless, but I’m guessing that they beat out standard ones. String them together for combos and then you also have the Burst Mode at your disposal once you have enough meter. That mode essentially gives you super armor on just about all of your attacks as well as a great final smash which can eat through just about every single attack. I highly recommend using it after performing an unsafe combo, the opponent will try to punish you and that’s when the final smash really comes through.

I’m not usually a fan of the classic Rock Paper Scissors for fighting games, but it’s implemented well here. It doesn’t feel like luck and it’s really more tactical than anything else. Conditioning an opponent feels more important here than in Super Smash as you want to lead an opponent to your destination. (For example, spending the first 2 rounds of a set always going for a Focus Attack when getting up to set up the grab for the third round where you’ll go for a strong combo instead.)

An interesting choice that the game made was to include a level up system. I suppose that this is a feature that has always been in the Pokemon games so getting rid of it may not have gone over well with the older fans, but it does give you a bit of an advantage online. It actually applies to your online “For Glory” mode and that means that the person with the higher leveled fighter has the edge. The level caps at 100 and you should have that after 2-3 days, but until then you better watch out. You can choose to use your level up points on Attack, Defense, Synergy, or Support I believe. I put everything into attack so my Final Smash is truly awesome now!

The bulk of your playtime will likely go towards the local multiplayer mode or online to fight with friends and rivals as you rise through the ranks. I really like how the leaderboard rankings are set up because it’s less discouraging than some other games. For example, a loss won’t get rid of any of your points until you make it to C rank. That’s when the true struggle will begin. This differs from a game like Street Fighter where you’ll lose points each time you lose and one loss can force you to have to make up a lot of ground and you can even lose your rank. That can happen here, but it’s a little safer and going on a losing streak is just as tricky as going on a win streak due to the solid matchmaking algorithms in place.

Right now my For Glory Win% is around 80% and I’ve made it to E1. I expect to be in the D ranks by tomorrow and my progress will likely start to slow around that point as the opponents will get a lot tougher. The rounds are short and fun so it’s easy to play this game for hours and hours. It’s easy to see how streamers can keep on playing in front of their audience for so long. It’s the kind of game that has unlimited replay value.

The offline modes are not quite as brilliant. There’s a nice tutorial/practice mode, but you may not want to spend much..or any time there. I recommend at least giving it a quick stop, but you should use Story Mode to practice your moves since it’s so long and the opponents in the first league won’t really fight back anyway. The plot of the story is that a mysterious Shadow Mewtwo has been challenging players and defeating them all. He continues to get stronger, which is a problem since it’s draining synergy, the life force of the planet. If he’s not stopped then the planet will blow up so the main character has to get strong enough to end this.

The plot shows up at the end of each tournament before finally coming into play after the third one. The plot is actually pretty enjoyable. The exposition was a little unnaturally long, but for the most part the characters were interesting and the universe was nicely developed. Shadow Mewtwo’s boss themes were also incredible and I’ll never forget the very first time that he showed up. It was such an epic moment and easily the best part of the whole story experience. Unfortunately, the gameplay of the story is what I’m not crazy about like with DBZ’s Budokai 2.

There are 4 (Possibly 5 from what I’ve heard) tournaments. Each tournament has you start by moving up the ranks as you face 5 opponents. You must then fight them again and again to move past that part and enter the 8 man tournament. After you win that, then you fight the Promotion Battle and then you rinse and repeat after a quick cinematic fight. It gets longer and longer and according to Reddit/Gamefaqs calculations, the story is around 110-120 fights long and that number will vary if you happen to lose during the run. I completed the first 3 tournaments so far and I’ll admit that I’m not too crazy about the prospect of going for the next 2. I will do them, even if only to get Mewtwo and the final support Pokemon, but the story didn’t have to be artificially extended quite so far. There was just no reason for it.

The short part that is actually the story is quite interesting though and I really would have liked the whole story mode to be about that. Maybe next time I guess. The voice acting has been chuckled at a lot online and I can see why. As one guy said for the first big promotion battle master, he sounded like he was eating while talking. The voice was very muffled. Still, it’s pretty funny and I’d say that the voice acting is pretty well done depending on how intentional it all is. I actually like Nia as she constantly rubs the losses in your face and takes credit for your wins. “You’re like a Magikarp out of water” “They made you their punching bag that time!” Those are epic quotes that may seem mean spirited, but that’s just who Nia is. It’s not personal, even when she gives you advice like “Keep your guard up” right before the opponent grabs you. You have the option to turn her off, but I can’t bring myself to do that. The constant dialogue is hype and she’s much better at her role than Navi. Mewtwo’s owner is also a pretty cool character. She’s a mysterious figure and even her ending is rather sudden so I guess that’ll leave some room for the sequel. Hopefully the main character gets to talk if there is a Pokken 2.

The gameplay is great, which is lucky for me because it makes this a lot more bearable than it would have been otherwise, but it’s still really long. My recommendation is, don’t lose when you’re in the main tournament phase. Trust me, it’ll make the whole cycle even tougher. You can cheese most of the opponents though, but make sure that you are truly good by the time the last tournaments roll around because the cheese tactics won’t be nearly as effective.

Each round earns you up to 20K and winning tournaments gives you significantly higher amounts. I’ve earned almost 10 million already, but the money goes very quickly. I don’t even know how many accessories and clothes you can buy, but it’s a lot and I’m nowhere near rich enough to purchase them all. That’ll come with time since the game is quite generous with the money. Local battles and friendly matches still give you the 20K so just play a lot and eventually you’ll have all the money that you could ever want. I can’t say that most of the clothes are anything that I would want to use for my avatar, but to be honest I haven’t looked through most of the choices yet.

The graphics for Pokken are very well done. It has the semi realistic look of Tekken while still being very bright and fancy. As you may know from the Brawl days, I’m not a super big fan of darker, more live action esque designs, but these stay colorful enough that they still feel like Pokemon and it does leave a trail of epicness for the fights to escalate to even greater heights. It’s part of why I like maining Blaziken so much, his fiery attacks look so great when you’re in the middle of a good ole fashioned fist fight. Blaziken was the very first Pokemon that I ever got in Pokemon Ruby, my first Pokemon game so he has a lot of sentimental value for me. He may be a low tier fighter next to most of the others in Pokken, but he’s currently my main and he’s taken me pretty far.

The soundtrack’s decent for the most part. I’ll admit that most of the stages are fairly unmemorable when it comes to the music and I tried to listen to a few of them on Youtube, but some of them just aren’t that good. Luckily, Shadow Mewtwo makes up for that with his incredible themes. I could listen to those for hours and the tunes are great enough to raise the whole soundtrack for me. Still, that’s reason enough for me to just call the soundtrack decent, it doesn’t really live up to my expectations of how good it would sound. Most of the handheld games have a better overall soundtrack.

As possibly mentioned earlier, there are 16 fighters. This is a really low amount and I’ll admit that a few of the choices were pretty underwhelming. Chandelure and that Fire Fox? Really? I don’t think they’ve earned a spot on the roster to be honest although I support Shadow Mewtwo and Pikachu Libre so..my opinion is a little unique. Unlike Super Smash where you’ll have memorized all of the attacks for all 50+ characters right away, it’s tricky to do that in this game since there are 4 different attack types for each character and then you have to double that for 3D mode + 2D mode while also accounting for their attacks in both modes while in Burst Mode. Simply put, it’ll take a while unless you make this game your top priority.

I’m going to be spending a lot of time with this game, but it’ll never be my top priority the way that Smash Bros is. I’ve put in well over 100 hours on that game just watching gameplay footage from the top players around the world. I’ve maybe put in 2 hours for that with Pokken, but I’ll really just spend my time playing it as opposed to watching. I am entering the Pokken event at Apex 2016, but I’ll see how far I can go as I am. Back to the main point, the 16 characters limit doesn’t feel as bad as it could. As it is, it’s very hard to pull out another fighter once you’ve chosen a main and do well enough to win the fight. I have pulled it off with my classic pockets, Pikachu Libre and Chandelure, but it’s tricky since I’m relying on pure fundamentals and button mashing.

Blaziken’s definitely my guy right now. He unfortunately has a very tough time against projectiles though. If I see any strong Gengars or Chandelure players, I can probably count the match as a loss although I’ll try to keep it real. I like Pikachu since he really has a lot of good projectiles and Libre’s command grabs make him a real threat. Each of the characters have their strengths with the only one that just feels weak is Charizard. He’s just soooo slow, although I pulled off a nice win with him online, I doubt I will play him again for a while. I still haven’t even tried out around 5-6 of the characters so I have to get around to that. This is the kind of game where you don’t spend much time choosing different characters since there’s not much merit to it. Just pick 2 characters to cover your matchups and you’re set.

By the way, you’ll want to stay active online or your ranking will plummet. You won’t lose points, but people will just leapfrog you. I made it into the 8000s on my first day, but then I took a break from online for a day to focus on the story. When I got back I was in the 14000s. I’ve since made it back to the 10000s, but it just goes to show how many people are playing it right now. I kind of want to make the top 1000, but that’s unlikely unless I really play it a bunch. I’ll probably look at the overall sales figures and then I’ll try to stay in the top 10% or 5% by the end. That’s a reasonable goal I’d say.

Overall, Pokken is a fighting game that you’ve got to get right away. The gameplay mechanics can be a little complex and overwhelming at first, but put in an hour or two of just fighting normally in Story Mode and you’ll start to pick up all of the little rules. It’s not a game like Virtua Fighter where you can play for days and still not pick up most of the terms. Once you’re in, you’ll see how much fun the game is. There may only be 16 fighters, but you’ll still have a tough time learning all of their attacks and now you can really prove your stuff with your main. The replay value is endless and you also unlock a lot of titles from time to time, which are fun to use online. There are so many choices that it’s tough to decide on one. Aim to become the world champ with your character and I’ll see you at the top!

Overall 9/10

Madden Mobile Review

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I don’t play mobile games all that often, but when I do you can bet that I take the experience as far as it can go. Pokemon Shuffle was a FTP game that was a lot of fun for a while and I probably did around 50 levels before deciding to go away from it. It’s hard to say how long I played Madden Mobile, but it was for quite a while. It’s very fun and well done for the most part, but eventually its limitations wil start to show. That is the fate of all mobile games at some point I’d say unless they start to actually have endings or are some kind of multiplayer experience like Super Smash Flash. I’m not positive, but I believe that I read somewhere about the data being deleted at some point so you’d start the next season fresh. Hopefully that’s not the case and the data is still here at the moment so I won’t deduct any points there. Just keep in mind that if this is true, it really does hurt the overall score.

I found out about Madden Mobile through a commercial and quickly figured that it would be a fun game. The gameplay as you would expect is a replica of the normal Madden games, but drastically simplified. You can choose from a variety of kicks and passes as well as go for the occasional field goal. You can also play defense, which really makes this feel like a complete game. There are 2 different control types to be found here. I choose the control stick type to further the realism of the simulation compared to the real Madden. It was fairly smooth and as this is apparently a new feature, it was handled very well. Once in a while your stride would go past the stick, which would lead to an unfortunate play, but that was rare once you got the hang of it.

There are several modes to be found here. The main one is Season mode, which pits you against 16 opponents and then the Playoffs start. It’s very easy, but a good way to learn the controls, earn money/exp and knock out some achievements. I had fun clearing a season. There is also the daily challenges, which will give you all of the rewards as Season mode, but in smaller chunks. They also cost more energy points to use so they are less efficient. Of course, The card rewards may be worth it at times since a lot of the daily challenges are special events towards the end of the series. You will want to grab as many level ups as possible before that happens to have more energy at your disposal.

Each energy replenishes itself in half an hour. Each activity will likely cost 3-4 points with super special ones costing 10. I got over level 20 so energy wasn’t a huge factor by the end, but this is where the FTP part comes in. If you want to just keep on playing the game instead of constantly stopping to let the energy come back, you will have to cave in and just pay out some money. Obviously, I’d personally recommend just waiting it out. As it stands, I did form a very impressive team by the end and made it quite far.

I also did well in the Head to Head mode where you battle other users. I moved up a few ranks and gradually just stopped when I stopped playing the game. The ranks are easy to climb through so you can easily get to the final rank if you want that achievent. Especially considering that I didn’t start the game until around half of the season was already over. It’s too bad that you can’t actually fight someone in real time though. Instead you alternate drives and whoever scored the most by the end wins.

The graphics are fairly good. It’s a mobile game, not a AAA title so don’t expect Madden console graphics here, but the animations are clear. The soundtrack can be a little sad though. There are barely any tunes to be found and more effort certainly could have been placed here. Sport games aren’t known for their great soundtracks, but Mario Strikers pulled it off.

Unfortunately, the servers are not all that great. You will find yourself being disconnectes from the game many times and the servers will refuse to operate at other points as well. It happened a lot more than I would have expected so that was a disappointment. Part of the point about having a game like Madden Mobile is that you can play it on the go or when you have a few minutes of empty time. If the servers aren’t working once again, then it makes the situation a little less ideal.

Overall, Madden Mobile was a fun mobile game. Apparently it continues to improve year after year so I look forward to seeing where it goes from here. I still hope that the data isn’t deleted for the next season though. The exp and level ups should just be a sign of dedication from the hardcore Madden fans who have been sticking around with the series for quite a while. The hours will go by very quickly as you play the title, although eventually the nature of this FTP game will start to be a little taxing. You’ll be less willing to wait until your energy replenishes and you will want to just play a console Madden. I got burned out towards the end although it’s been long enough that I could easily get back into it. It’s easy to see how these mobile games can get to addicting. You’re technically doing the same tasks over and over, yet the game never stops making it feel fresh. It’s hard to describe exactly what makes it so appealing, but either way my Madden Mobile experience has come to an end, but yours may just be starting!

Overall 7/10

Deca Sports Stats and Records

Stats Time!

Badminton 60 Points
Kart Racing Beg 1m 8s
Kart Racing Int 1m 21
Kart Racing Adv 1m 29s
Curling 78 Points
Snowboard Cross Beg 34s
Snowboard Cross Int 1m 9s
Snowboard Cross Adv 1m 52s
Archery 160 Points
Supercross Beg 46s
Supercross Int 1m 28s
Supercross Adv 1m 21s
Beachvolleyball 70 Points
Figure Skating 370 Points
Basketball 100 Points
Soccer 6 Points

Mario Pinball Land Review

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I’ve played most of the Mario games at this point so it’s always neat to finally play one of the elusive ones. I love pinball and I’ve had fun playing many variations of the game. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of Pokemon pinball and the Metroid Pinball game that I bought never actually worked. It’s the risk of buying used games, but only 1 in every 100 doesn’t work so it’s been a fair trade off. I’m happy to say that Nintendo once again showed that the extra effort they put in can pay off big. Mario Pinball Land isn’t your average Pinball game and chooses to alter the core gameplay a bit to make this more of a complete game. It comes at the expense of the old style where you would try for high scores, but that’s fine since it ends up making Pinball Land feel like more of a full Mario game.

Peach is kidnapped by mean ole Bowser so Mario makes the hero call and turns himself into a pinball. He’s taking the fight to Bowser now, but since he’s a ball and his friends launched him to a circus instead of the castle, it’ll be a long journey. Mario must now gather the four star keys to open the doors to the areas where he can really deal some damage to big bad Bowser. Can he make it in time or is he toast?

The gameplay is essentially pinball. You have two flippers and you must try to bounce Mario around. Unlike an average game of Pinball, there are typically 2 or more exits in the levels, which you can use to get to other parts of the world. When you want to leave, you must go to one of the pipes in the level. That part can be a little annoying as you can’t just pause and escape to the next world. You must make it to the pipe or die trying. Meanwhile, the pipe only shows up once you beat the boss of that world, which can be tricky. Your only other recourse is to get a game over, which takes you to the first world, where you should have a pipe since you must have beaten the first boss…right?

There are around 35 stars to obtain in the worlds, but you only need 15 to go and fight the final boss so that’s pretty lenient. You should get that amount as you wander through the levels, but don’t underestimate the doors. You’ll find yourself getting rolled to the next room whether you want to go or not, which can definitely get sad at times. I was actually surprised at the merciless difficulty within this game. It may be a Mario game, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s an easy ride. This will require patience as the final boss took me around an hour or so. At one point, it took me 2 hours to get 4 stars because of how many times I would shoot past the enemies and have to redo the battle.

Each star is won by achieving certain feats. Typically, this involves defeating each of the enemies in a room or something like that. You’ll know if a room has a star because a star will glimmer for a split second as you enter. The enemies aren’t tough and the risks of falling through the level and losing a life are slim so it’s really just a matter of time. Eventually you will be able to secure the win and the whole game is auto save ready so that’s a nice plus.

The graphics are surprisingly good and Nintendo did a good job of giving each character 3D models. It’s sort of like playing Mario 64 portable with a different control scheme. Everything seems to be based off of that game and why not right? Mario 64 is still the ultimate Mario experience. So, the graphics aren’t just good, but very good. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is decent, but certainly less remarkable. I probably couldn’t tell you any of the themes from the game because they definitely were not all that memorable. It’s Pinball so that’s to be expected and the constant sound effects would distract you from that anyway.

Since the game is so tough, the duration isn’t as short as you would expect. Getting the 15 stars will take you some time unless you’re some kind of Pinball whiz. It’s a complete game and there’s a good amount of replay value as you can go back and try to get the rest of the stars. One important aspect of the game that will help you during the tough fights are the power ups that Toad gives…for a price. You pay him in coins and he can give power ups like Mushrooms, Lightning, or 1 Ups. Lightning is the best power up in my opinion as it destroys all enemies on the field. A perfect way to instantly get a star. The Star power up is also good since it makes you invincible and sometimes you can injure bosses that way instead of going through the actual fight.

Speaking of which, I actually believe that Mario Pinball has the toughest Mario final boss from any Mario title. That fight was seriously hard and I could not beat it at will. It may take less grinding than the final boss of a game like Mario and Luigi or Paper Mario, but once you get the level ups, then you’re set. In this fight, even though I know what to do, it would still probably take me a few more shots if I tried to complete it once more. Luckily, the second phase of the boss is pretty easy, which helps to balance that insane first part.

Aside from the replay value, I also feel like mentioning that Mario Pinball Land has difficulty that is fair. Some games (Finding Nemo) are tough, but for all the wrong reasons. Poorly explained puzzles, bad graphics, etc. Mario Pinball Land is tough, but the mechanics are all solid. Your reaction times just have to be on point and eventually you will be able to hit the ball where you want it to go. It’s all about player skill and none of that luck or puzzle nonsense. This is a game that leaves you feeling satisfied.

Overall, Mario Pinball Land is a great pinball game and probably the best one that I’ve played. It easily beats the Pokemon version and the Metroid one has not worked yet so I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that it beats that one. I finally got it to work earlier today so I may play it a bit for a review later on. I definitely recommend Mario Pinball Land. It’ll give you a nice challenge and it’s still close enough to the real Pinball game so that Pinball fans can enjoy it. It’s a very unique Mario game and one where you can feel proud of yourself upon completing it.

Overall 7/10

Pac Man Fever Review

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Nothing gets you hyped quite like a new Pac Man game right? That’s what I thought when I first bought this game, but after playing it once, I put it in the backlog with a lot of other games and I figured that I probably wouldn’t see it again for a very long time. Years later, I ended up taking it out once more to play it with my brother and my cousin as a party game always has the potential to be a blast. It’s much better with multiple people, I can tell you that for sure. That being said, this is still a game that needs a lot of work and should have been much better, but terrible decisions on the developer’s part limited the title.

There’s no actual story mode, but that’s all right. I wasn’t expecting one. You can go into the main Party Mode or have fun in Minigame Mode. That’s the only thing to do here so the game is going for quality over quantity. Party Mode has 4 worlds I believe and each world has its own set of minigames inside of it. The actual stage has long loading times though and each turn takes forever. This is one of my big complaints and it’s a little sudden, but let’s dive into this issue right now.

The main drawback that keeps this game from being very good is the fact that playing a single board will take a very long time. After each turn, each character will do a little dance, strike a pose, and then slowly walk up to the final area of where to go. Rinse and Repeat for all 4 characters, play the minigame at the end of the level…and then do it all over again. This is why I was bored out of my mind when I played the game on my own the first time. If you aren’t playing with anyone else, it’s a very boring experience.

I’m not saying that the actual minigames are bad though. I actually enjoyed them and the ideas were quite good. There were kart minigames and even some classic “Press A as fast as you can” ones in there. Minigames about timing and memorization…just a lot of options. There are a very good amount of minigames in the title even if you will inevitably playing them more than once. It’s why I don’t think it was a good idea to limit the minigames to each world. Combining them all into one world would give you more variety. Still, I did enjoy them and the minigames help save this game from being downright bad.

It does bring up another issue though, which is that the minigames aren’t available for free roam mode. In Mario Party, once you play the minigame once, you unlock it. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in this one. You have to use lottery points that you earn during the stage and that will typically come at the expense of actually winning the level, which is always disappointing. As a result, you’ll have enough coupons to maybe…maybe buy one minigame at the end of the level. So, you need to spend about an hour or 2 per minigame and there are quite a lot to unlock. It’s just not an efficient system and it takes forever to make any actual progress in the game. That’s not even counting the fact that each player’s coupon section is separate instead of merging the coupons from all players. It’s just terrible honestly and as a result, you’ll never want to play Minigame Mode since there are no good minigames to play. Better stick to Party Mode then.

The actual Party Mode is very much like Candyland or Trouble. You move along the course and the goal is to get to the end. You play a minigame and your rank in that battle determines how far you move. 5, 3, 2, or 1 step forward. Once you are near the end, you will need to come in 3rd, 2nd, and then 1st to finally win, which is actually a very good mechanic to even things up. This prevents a player from simply walking up to the goal line thanks to a few lucky rolls of the dice. It is sad to win a bunch of minigames only to find out that it still isn’t enough because you’re landing on bad spaces. It’s just not right!! I highly recommend playing the short version of each board to give yourself a nice estimate of how long the full version would take. Trust me, it does take a considerable amount of time so keep that in perspective.

I like the graphics to an extent, but I have to admit that they seem to be a little bad on a technical level. Everyone is very small, compact, and practically chibi. It’s very intriguing to see and it can be amusing, but the Gamecube can do better. The graphics are very dark and don’t seem to be very inspired. It’s possible that my Gamecube’s lighting is just starting to fade, but games like Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and Mario Sunshine still look great so it may have to do more with the fact that nobody can stop Nintendo’s powerful graphics. These were good times!

As for the soundtrack, that part of the game was pretty decent. There’s a nice Pac Man remix and a few other tunes scattered throughout the game. Unfortunately, the main theme that plays during your walk through the board is very boring and doesn’t make you excited for the games. It’s essentially just elevator music and I expect more from my Namco games. It had such possibilities, but couldn’t live up to the potential.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of replay value here. The actual games take way too long and you can’t even have fun just playing the minigames on your own because they are just too expensive. Buying them is simply not worth putting the time into the games so the only form of replay value here is to grab a few buddies and have a quick game. As a group, it’s decently fun and that’s the only reason that it barely manages to pass a 5, but if you’re on your own, the game turns into a 4. It’s a shame that the game missed these opportunities since there’s no reason it should have even gotten under a 7. This was no cash in party game in terms of how the minigames went on. They all had heart and it felt like the developers put some effort into them. This was just nullified by the bad system of unlocking minigames.

Overall, Pac Man Fever is no Pac Man. I gained some respect for the game after playing it as a group, but that’s still not a good sign for any video game. You can buy it for a terrific price so that at least helps you to get your money’s worth, but there are better party games to get. Buy one of the older Mario Party titles and experience a true party game. Mario Party was and likely will always be the greatest party game on the block. (Smash Bros doesn’t count!) Everything that Pac Man Fever can do, Mario Party can do better. So despite the positive score, I don’t recommend picking up Pac Man Fever as long as better options exist on the market.

Overall 6/10

The King of Fighters Ex 2 Howling Blood Review

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This is one of those games that has a story behind it! I actually purchased the game quite a few years ago. The problem was that I had to wait until I purchased the first game. It took a while, but I pulled that off about a year ago….only this game would not work. Since it had been so long since I purchased it at Gamestop, I couldn’t get a refund. That was all right, Game Boy Advance games are some of the greatest of all time. They will eventually start to work and I would be ready! Finally, that day came…and I was ready!

When the game started to work I knew that I had to seize my opportunity. I quickly beat the game with the first team. There’s not really much of a story mode here of course as it’s your standard Arcade Mode. It uses a 3 on 3 system (Not at once of course. It’s 1 on 1 and you move on when your teammates are defeated) and there are 21 fighters, which makes for 7 teams. That being said, just about all of the story modes play out in almost the same way. The first game was infamous in that fashion as I beat it well over a dozen times only to see the exact same cutscenes and identical dialogue from the villains. No matter what the new hero would say, the villain would just go on a tangent. I don’t know if it was that similar here, but definitely close to that.

That being said, it didn’t even matter. See, the game had to have the last laugh. The cartridge was in Japanese for some reason and there’s no way to switch the language setting. It’s safe to say that I was mind blown as I could not actually read any of the dialogue in the “story mode.” The game must have been laughing a little too hard as the next time I put it in, the game had stopped working. I could probably try to revive it once again, but there’s no real reason to do so. I got what I came for as I beat Arcade Mode once. There’s little reason to beat it 6 more times, especially considering that the dialogue is in Japanese.

There’s no real replay value here except for just battling computers or hoping that someone else has a GBA with the game. Beating Arcade Mode with the 7 teams should take you about 3 hours or so. The game’s definitely not a long one so you will be done with it in no time! Since it only goes for a few dollars or so in person and a little more online, I’d say that it’s still worth the purchase. Just make sure that your game has the right language setting or you’re toast!

The graphics and soundtrack are essentially identical to the first game. This is one of those games that you could really believe is just a recoloring of the first title as they are that similar. The sprites are just about the same and likewise with all of the combos. I’d say that the graphics have aged decently well and I’ve always been a good fan of the classic sprites. They really made you feel involved in the game and the fast soundtrack makes the fights more enjoyable. The soundtrack isn’t very memorable, but it gets the job done and you’ll be ready to crush the competition!

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard Street Fighter styled way to fight. You can throw out some quick attacks or just more powerful ones that are easier to dodge. Every character has some special attacks and you can also have an ally jump in to help you out when you’re in a pinch. The gameplay is fun and very easy to get used too. It’s hard to picture myself ever going up against experienced fighters in this one though as I find the controls to be a little hard to grasp. It’s a pure button masher for me so I just press everything and wait until I win. If that doesn’t work, then rinse and repeat the process until it does!

There’s not much more to say about this game. As I mentioned, there’s really nothing to do after Arcade Mode except to maybe enter Vs and have a little fun there. Beyond that….it’s basically Game Over. Still, I definitely won’t be forgetting this game anytime soon thanks to the epic story behind it. The game may have had its laughs, but I still managed to beat the game before it powered down again so I count this as a perfect victory. I haven’t played many King of Fighter games at this point, but I look forward to challenging more in the future. I’m always up for a fighting game after all and sometimes trying out a classic with no real gimmicks like this one is the thing to do when you need to get back into the genre! (Of course, Super Smash Bros literally blows the genre apart on its own)

Overall, King of Fighters Ex 2 Howling Blood is a solid game. If you bought both of the GBA games at the same time then you would probably be a little disappointed as it is essentially the same game in a new wrapper. I don’t even think that they increased the character count all that much and it may have even gotten lower. That being said, I certainly haven’t unlocked anyone so there are probably 1-2 more guys to unlock. If you want to play a fighting game from the old days, then this is definitely the title for you. There can be unlimited replay value if you really like the gameplay so it all rides on that. With this game down, it’ll be time to go back to the Legend of Kay and maybe some MnM’s as well.

Overall 7/10

The Amazing Spider Man Review

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After looking at the cover in Gamestop for a very long time, I finally took the plunge and bought this title. There was no chance that the game would be under a 7 due to the style of gameplay and how fun the Spider Man games are so it was a safe investment. While the graphics and plot may not have been the greatest, the solid gameplay ensured that Spiderman has hit it out of the park once again. Spiderman may not be the best in all forms of entertainment, but when it comes to video games, no superhero consistently dishes out such great titles!

The plot of the game takes place after the first Amazing Spider Man movie. Smythe has taken over Oscorp and is developing a lot of robots to protect the city. Unfortunately, a virus gets out from one of the old human/animal hybrid experiments that had been going on. The city quickly becomes infected and Smythe orders the robots to destroy everyone. The only way to protect the human race is to eradicate it of course! Spiderman breaks The Lizard out of jail so that a cure can be developed. Will Connors be able to make one in time or is the city doomed!?

So, the plot is rather standard and I wouldn’t call it that engaging. It does try to play out a little like a movie, which is commendable, but probably utilizes the first person camera angle too much. We rarely get to see Spiderman on camera except for when you’re doing the Xtreme challenges later on. It’s also interesting to note that most of the bosses have nothing to do with the plot either. Spiderman just randomly runs across them while going from place to place. Just about every boss is a hybrid in this version so they are basically immune to the virus. The other bosses are typically robots.

The cutscenes do provide some unintentionally funny scenes though like when Peter and Connors are yelling at each other after the first cure doesn’t work. They keep spinning each other around trying to be menacing, but failing epicly and then Peter just faints. That was certainly not his best moment although I’m sure that he gave it his all. I felt bad for Stan Lee’s apartment though as Peter allows Connor’s to trash the place and also use up a lot of Stan’s money. The poor guy can’t catch a break right?

As for the graphics, I can safely say that they haven’t aged too well. It’s mostly that I don’t really like the style/colors that were used. Everything looks detailed, but in more of an unattractive/ugly way than the polished Spiderman 1/2/3 games for the Gamecube/PS3. Those games as well as the original PS1 titles just look better than The Amazing Spider Man. That’s just how it goes sometimes I suppose, but I expect better from a PS3 title. The soundtrack is really good though and the fast paced themes will really make web slinging around the city a lot of fun. The bosses and minions are also more engaging as a result. It may have the best themes in a Spiderman game as most of the other games were not that memorable in that respect.

All right, time to talk about the gameplay! That’s the aspect where the game really hit it out of the park. The hand to hand clashes have never been better as you are really in full control of when you want to dodge, web out of the fight, web the opponent, or throw some punches. The way that the controls are set up makes it so easy and so enjoyable. You could really just have fun beating up the opponents for quite a while, but if you are in a hurry then you can just throw something to stun them. Of course, the point is that you will rarely want the fights to end! Naturally, the boss battles are an extension of this and you will have fun laying into them. If you want to crush them all with ease, my favorite strategy is to punch, punch, punch, web away when the spider sense flashes, then immediately web back to them and punch some more. It works quite well for most of the bosses.

The web swinging part got a lot of mixed to negative reception back in the day and it is quite different. I’ll certainly admit that it’s weaker than it was in the older games. Webbing higher and lower is more difficult than it should be here and you also feel like molasses at times. Luckily, that’s what we have Web Zipping for. Also, it’s still not bad though and just doesn’t live up to the older games. I also like the free fall aspect as I have fun free falling for the lolz. It’s a nice effect.

Everything’s just so smooth and that’s a good thing because the game has a very nice amount of replay value. Naturally, collecting all of the trophies ensures that and I am actually aiming for the Platinum in this title at some point. For starters, there are 700 comic book pages to collect. No matter how fast you are at completing the levels, this is bound to take you some time. Playing the game in the night setting is the best way to go about this. There are also 20 Xtreme challenges to complete although those are rather short. There are a lot of people to rescue on the streets, Getaway Cars to snag, Police Copters to Assist, and many other missions throughout the city. We can’t forget the classic “Stop the muggers” missions that are a staple in the Spider Man series. The missions aren’t excessive, but they will definitely bump up the play time. You’ll also need to beat the game on hard mode to get some of the final trophies while also taking a lot of photos. The post game content is long without feeling over the top in terms of how much grinding you will have to do.

While it’s essentially been mentioned, I can’t stress enough how great it is for the city to be back here. Just web slinging across the city for no real reason can be a lot of fun and I missed that feature when they took it out for Edge of Time and Shattered Dimensions. Seeing it back in its full glory was great and the game did a tremendous job of recreating the place. You may even recognize some areas as you explore the place. I also liked the twitter feed that the game added during the loading screen. It’s cool to see what everyone’s saying as the disease spreads. I think it was a bit of a missed opportunity as there were no guest stars there are hidden references, but it was still a blast.

Overall, The Amazing Spider Man is a really good game for the PS3. It really keeps in all of the core Spider Man features that you have come to expect over the years. The plot isn’t as engaging as any of the older games (Friend or Foe not counting) and especially pales when compared to Edge of Time. Still, the gameplay will always be the most important factor for a game and it’s so much fun that the game will really pass by before you know it. The replay value just adds to the excitement! I would have liked some bonus costumes to wear though as those were fun in older games. Maybe I just haven’t found them yet. I highly recommend buying this game and you can experience the city like you used too!

Overall 8/10