8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Golden Sun Review


It’s time to look at a fairly legendary RPG from back in the day. While Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest tend to have most of the popularity right now, Golden Sun used to be pretty big back in its day. It’s only got 3 games, but the series still got quite a lot of fans. I’ve had this game on the back burner for an extremely long time so it’s good to finally be able to jump in and experience the story in all its glory. It reminds me why I love the RPG genre. Fighting games will ultimately still reclaim the top spot, but RPGs are always fun to play with. It’s partially because the idea of grinding your stats up is always a good one and the games last long enough for you to really enjoy the characters.

So in this world there exists a few select people who are called Adepts. They are able to harness elemental powers like fire and water to increase their strength or to be used as projectiles. Some already had these abilities while others are triggered once a meteor storm occurs. There is a group of enemies who want to light all 4 of the lighthouses. Isaac and the other heroes don’t exactly know why they want to do this, but they can’t allow the villains to do as they please. They decide to stop them, but along the journey they end up finding out that there is more to their plan than meets the eye. Is stopping them from lighting the lighthouses really the best move?

The game is fairly long and it took me around 22 hours to beat it. This is partially due to how big the map is, but also how difficult the enemies get. Golden Sun’s no joke and the difficulty really spikes towards the second half of the game. Suddenly the enemies are able to take you out in a few hits and that’s just the minions. The bosses basically one turn KO you so you need to level up a lot if you want to beat them. I got everyone up to Level 30 and that made the battle pretty manageable. I think if you want it to be a little calmer getting up to level 32 would probably be a good bet. Also, a big part of the game revolves around the Djinn so you are going to want to grab those guys.

There are 28 of them in the game and they are like power sources that allow you to summon. There are 4 types and 7 per type. The strongest summon of each type is worth 4 orbs so you can summon 4, 4 level summons in one match and then 4 level 3s. I only got 25/28 of the Djinn, but I can guarantee that without them I would not have been able to beat the final boss. Initially I didn’t go after them and even avoided obtaining them unless they were directly in my way. I figured that they weren’t all that important, but they are crucial. Aside from the summoning just owning the Djinn increases all of your stats as if you got multiple level ups. So once you have 25 you’re way stronger than if you didn’t have them. For example one of my characters went from having 200HP to over 500 with them equipped. I can’t stress enough just how useful these guys are.

Golden Sun is definitely an RPG with a pretty intricate gameplay system. The turn based combat is pretty much the same as always, but then you’ve got the element system. This also ties into the Djinn. Depending on which ones you’ve got equipped and your element ratio, your attacks per character will be different as well. Likewise they will also change depending on if you have your Djinn set or on standby. There’s a whole lot to consider as a result and it does make you have to re-think how you want them arranged on the board for each fight. You’ll want to think over every fight very carefully. Even by the end of the game I can’t say that I really understand the system perfectly. It’s also hard to tell which attacks are best to use since the type advantage system isn’t always obvious. By the end of the game using a normal attack is typically better than using almost any of the magical abilities which is pretty interesting.

The game definitely holds up quite well with the visuals. There’s a lot of nice backgrounds here and the game even gets a nice 3D effect during the credits. The attacks are all a lot of fun to look at and in general everything is pretty bright. Then the game also has a dynamite soundtrack. There are a lot of great themes to listen to here that range from being fairly heroic to setting up a moody atmosphere. It’s all exactly what you want to see here. Golden Sun just holds up well in every area. There is almost nothing to dislike about the game.

While the story may not be quite as exciting as some other RPGs, I did like it overall. You can tell that there’s more to this story than your usual heroes vs villains story. The villains definitely have their own reasons for doing things and don’t seem to be inherently evil. Of course there are many villains who believe they are the hero, but since the heroes don’t know what will happen if the lighthouses are activated, it’s possible that it is the right thing to do. Of course, it would be easy to tell the heroes this, but none of the villains ever feel like talking. The heroes also get lucky quite often as the villains could have easily won on a number of occasions. They just prefer to split up rather than fight as a team.

Isaac doesn’t really have a personality in this game as he is just the player. Garet is a good ally who basically acts as the leader of the team even if he is a bit impulsive. Mia’s a solid medic who joins on later. We don’t get a whole lot of time to develop her personality but she seems nice. Then you’ve got the young mage who seems really nice even if lacking in experience. The childhood friends are all suspect though with how they don’t tell the heroes much. They basically miss the entire game as they just get a few scenes after being kidnapped, but they seem to be taking it in stride. It seems like the villains ultimately start to convert everyone.

The game ends with quite a lot of loose ends for the sequel. While there are probably one or two that you could finish through side quests, there are definitely some that can’t be. There’s a scene after the credits for example which shows that the adventure isn’t quite over yet. It makes sense since there’s a big villain who doesn’t show up in the climax. Also, in general it just doesn’t feel like a conclusive ending because there are more lighthouses left and more villains so the heroes can’t rest easy now. As I already own the sequel you can bet that I’ll be jumping on that one pretty soon.

If there’s anything that’s a bit iffy here, it’s that the game isn’t always clear on where to go next. It actually has a map with town labels on it so that’s a big upgrade from something like Final Fantasy VII, but at the same time there are usually multiple routes to choose so you end up wasting a lot of time looking for the right one. The good news is that it gives you more time to level up though. Once you’ve gotten strong enough then you can also just flee the battles, but it takes quite a while to get to that level. Another thing I do like is that if you die you are taken back to the temple, but don’t lose any data. It costs money to revive your teammates, but that’s a fair price. A lot of little things like that help the game overall because it takes away the irritating nature of a game over. Dying and being forced to restart the area is very fair if you ask me.

Overall, Golden Sun is definitely an excellent RPG and deserves to be known as one of the greats. It’s aged really well and made for a very fun 20+ hour experience. I look forward to seeing how the sequel goes since it should feel pretty similar. I’m also ready for Isaac to talk since that would be awesome, but even if he doesn’t I’m sure the story is going to be really good. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend changing that. It’s just a great all around title with no real weaknesses. You’ll be engaged from start to finish even if you might end up with a slight headache from how complex the gameplay mechanics are. The important thing is that you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment because this is definitely one of the tougher RPG titles out there.

Overall 8/10

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6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Tecmo Bowl Review


It’s time to look at a retro Football game that I got to play courtesy of Nintendo’s Switch online catalog. It’s definitely a pretty good bargain I must admit. You just can’t go wrong with something like this. The game is effectively free and so it’s a nice blast to the past. It’s a pretty fun game and reminds me of Backyard Football although the controls aren’t quite as precise. It’s naturally no Madden, but it’ll give you some reasonable entertainment for a little while.

Naturally you are playing Football so I would expect you to know the rules to really enjoy the experience. It’s like a sped up version of the game as most plays tend to go for big yards. Running the ball is pretty self explanatory as you run wherever you see an opening. There is no acceleration button here so it’s all about knowing when to make your move. Passing can be a little more difficult at first as it’s the most different from Madden. Your icon will be over one player initially. If he isn’t open then you quickly cycle through other options with the A button. You have to go in order though so if receiver 1 is open and you’re already on 2, then you’ll have to cycle through 3 before going back to 1. As such you’ll probably be sacked by then.

The defense is also relentless here. They don’t drop any picks so if you throw a ball and your guy isn’t open, it will 100% be intercepted. The computers don’t make mistakes and that’s something that you will be learning right away. The difficulty is refreshing but at the same time if really makes you not feel like passing. 90% of the time I’d just recommend running the ball or choosing a pass play and running it in anyway. Making the field goal kicks is pretty easy so as long as you’re in range then you’ll do fine.

The graphics aren’t bad. I don’t think they’ve aged all that well, but you’ll know what is happening at all times which is the important thing. There isn’t much of a soundtrack either but what is there is fine. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value here as you might expect. The only mode here is to just keep playing more and more games. Without the visuals/stat tracking of the Madden titles you probably won’t bother to play too many games here. You’ll get the jist of the title before long and then it’ll be time to call it a day. Tecmo Bowl is a fun starter game and it really reminds you of he good ole Arcade Football days. It does a good job of that for sure.

Overall, Tecmo Bowl may be a simpler version of Madden, but it definitely will still take time to master the controls here. You really can’t afford to make a mistake here as this game is not forgiving in the slightest. Play your cards right and you can win, but if you don’t then you’ll probably get blown out. If you haven’t played this game yet then I recommend changing that and trying it out now. You’ll have a good time here and I wouldn’t mind a modern 2D Football game. There’s actually a lot that can be done with this style although I don’t see Madden testing out something so new like this anytime soon.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Mario Kart Review


At time for a new title courtesy of MyNintendoRewards! Super Mario Kart is one of those games that is so iconic you are almost afraid to play it. After all, the game was a living legend for a while but since then we have gotten many more Mario Kart games, all of which have improved on this one’s formula. Still, it’s a game that needed to be played and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you will still enjoy it. The game holds up mighty well and is a good game to add to your virtual collection.
There is no plot of course and there are really two main modes for single player. They are the Grand Prix and time Trial. For multiplayer you also have races and then even battle levels which is cool. There is a reasonable amount of content her all things considered and local multiplayer always ensures that the game will retain a considerable amount of replay value.

For the grand prixs there are 4. The cups have become iconic at this point as you always see the Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special cups kick in. While most of the newer games limit the cups to 4 races each this one goes with 5. That’s likely because each individual stage is quite short here. For that reason all races are 5 laps each as opposed to 3. A lot of the levels will seem familiar to you if you’ve played the newer Mario Kart games since they usually pay homage to them by including the levels in the games. This one definitely thought of a considerable amount of creative levels. In particular I liked the Boo stages as well as the Bowser ones. Those are definitely very atmospheric while racing.
Naturally this wouldn’t be a Mario game without having a dynamic soundtrack as well right? The level themes are all quite solid and have held up pretty well over the years. No expense was spared here. Then the graphics are also pretty bright and nice for its time. They’ve also aged well and it’s never hard to see where you’re going. At most pipes may appear to be farther than they actually are but that’s why you can’t trust the rear view mirror.

I would have to say that this is probably the most difficult Mario Kart game that I’ve played as well. Mainly this is due to the controls which are naturally a little rougher than in the newer games. I couldn’t quite understand the drifting feature all too well as my car would go too fast. Ultimately when I had to turn I would either slam on the brakes or let go of the acceleration button. There are workarounds like that but of course you will lose speed so be careful. Since you need to win the first 3 cups to unlock the last one failure is not an option! Harness the access points that the Wii U gives you and you’ll be fine.

Aside from the Grand Prixs you will probably spend most of your time in multiplayer mode just enjoying a bunch of racing games. You’ll likely want to move on to the newer ones at some point, but it’s also nice to just experience the game in its original form. There is also Time Trial mode, but there isn’t a whole lot to do there. I suppose if you really enjoy the levels a lot then that is a good way to play them and also to hone your skills.

Naturally there isn’t a whole lot of other things to say about the game. It’s a really good way to spend 4-5 dollars though. You really can’t go wrong with that price and while the MyNintendo Rewards can certainly be a little larger, they have gotten better than where they were. Since obtaining points is rather easy thanks to their apps, you are basically guaranteed a 50% off deal on any game from the list that you want. When you see a good game on the site just be prepared to snag it!

Overall, Super Mario Kart isn’t just a game, it’s a racing game! It’s a title that really changed the genre as we know it and is still regarded as one of the all time greats. While I tend to really enjoy racing games like F-Zero which have no items so it’s just you and your boost, these can be a lot of fun as well. Double Dash will always be the best Mario Kart but this one certainly keeps up the quality that you would expect from such a storied franchise. If you haven’t downloaded it yet then I recommend doing so.

Overall 7/10

5 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (VC) Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10