Category Archives: Reviews

Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (PlayStation 4) Review – Everybody! Follow Me!

When going back to games released in the PlayStation One era of video games it’s hard not to notice the vast creativity and imagination that went into many of the titles. In a current era of gaming that is dominated by annualized franchises that basically offer the same game with different paint each year, it’s crazy to think back to a time where games with true imagination and ingenuity were plentiful rather than scarce.

That’s what makes it all the more welcoming to have a game from that era get the remake treatment. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysey came out for the original PlayStation and PC back in 1997, and today it has been completely remade from the ground up in a new version called Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty. The creators have, thankfully, left the core design of the game untouched, and instead focused on tweaking little gameplay elements and giving the graphics a much-needed overhaul.

This unique little side-scroller stars an alien named Abe, who is a pathetic little alien belonging to a race called Mudokans that are enslaved as workers in a factory called Rupture Farms. As Abe wanders the halls of Rupture Farms one night he stumbles across a conversation with the rulers of the factory, and in his eavesdropping he learns very unsettling information. The leaders of Rupture Farms plan to create a new kind of food to sell, and it will be made with the meat of Abe and all of his fellow Mudokans!

Oddworld 1

Alas, this leaves Abe with two options:

  1. become a meal
  2. run for his life

After careful consideration, Abe goes with option 2 and decides to flee Rupture Farms and rescue as many of his Mudokans as he can along the way. Of course, the environment of Rupture Farms and all other locations throughout the game are swarming with enemies waiting to shoot him, boulders waiting to crush him and swinging blades waiting to chop him up. Abe’s quest to save the Mudokans and stop Rupture Farms isn’t going to be easy, but he will soon realize that it is his destiny

New ‘n’ Tasty‘s main goal is to present Abe’s Oddysey as a game that keeps up, graphically, with the game’s of 2014, and developer Just Add Water performed wonderfully in that regard. This game’s artistic style is gorgeous in its own right, but utilizing the Unity Engine with full HD makes this one of the most visually-pleasing side-scrollers yet. There are plenty of great backdrops in the game, from the ominous factory to the lush forests and night sky in the world beyond Rupture Farms, and each environment is richly detailed.

It’s the level design in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty that makes it continually engaging and challenging to play the whole way through. From the very beginning you will have to do your best to tiptoe, jump and roll your way past obstacles and enemies, with many of these operations being time sensitive. Many of these levels are so challenging that they put a lot of modern platformers to shame, showing just how much more difficult games were back in the ’90s. This game will not hold your hand one bit, and that’s part of what makes it so enthralling.


Of course, just getting through the levels is only half the battle, as you also have the secondary objective of rescuing as many Mudokans as you can. As you proceed through the levels it is up to you to get the attention of other Mudokans and then command them to follow you if the coast is clear or wait if it isn’t. This is where the true challenge comes in, as ensuring not only your own safety but the safety of the others is always a tricky juggling act. If the enemies ever become aware of your presence they will often take it out on the other poor Mudokans, so you must time your actions very precisely to come out on the other side successfully.

Luckily for gamers who aren’t quite as adept at retro platfromers, New ‘n’ Tasty not only offers plenty of checkpoints but also a quicksave feature, meaning that you can save anywhere you want as long as you are on solid ground and not alerting other enemies. This was a vital feature for me in my playthrough, as many times I would have to get through a small section of a level and then quicksave to avoid having to do it all over again. Sometimes the game can have a very trial and error kind of feeling, which is remedied greatly due to the generous saving options that weren’t as present in the original version of the game.

The one aspect where the game isn’t so forgiving is the controls. Even though the game controls quite well, a lot of its challenges require pin-point accuracy, and being precise can be very finicky with the analog stick serving as your sole means of movement. The force at which you push the analog stick controls how quickly Abe moves, so when you are in very tight areas trying to avoid bombs and have to move quickly the controls will often do things you didn’t intend. Due to the fact that you will more than likely be doing over sections of a stage several times, it can be very aggravating when you failed because of an unexpected movement.


Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is as good of a remake of a classic game that any could have asked for. Just Add Water has breathed new life into this world with beautiful graphics and a respect for the original design that makes it feel the same and new all at once. The game is definitely more difficult than your average platformer, but thanks to the new generous save system and the sense of satisfaction you get from finally overcoming its many trials it never gets to the point where you just want to give up on it. This is a game that was designed in a much different era of video games that now has a modern polish on its surface, and its the balance of both that makes it an unquestionable success.


Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (3DS) Review – Transformers Meets Fire Emblem

When I was set to receive a 3DS version of Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, I was more or less expecting a dumbed-down version of the same game that would be coming out on consoles. The Rise of the Dark Spark that came out on consoles was an action-adventure video game that featured all the standard tropes of the genre and little else, so it would be safe to assume that something with such little ambition would get similar treatment on the 3DS. The 3DS is notably the weakest console on the market, so often times when a multi-platform title is coming out on 3DS it just gets a thrown-together version of a game that is almost certainly superior on any other console. That’s the same case with the 3DS version of Rise of the Dark Spark, right?

Wrong! The 3DS version, unlike the console versions that were developed by Edge of Reality, was developed by WayForward Technologies, who are known for developing many titles based on popular licenses. Where the console version is an action-adventure game, the 3DS version is a strategy RPG with turn-based combat that is very similar to the Fire Emblem series. You move around an overworld map and when you land next to a space that an enemy is on a turn-based battle begins. You have three rounds to do damage to each other and pick from a variety of moves that recharge after each turn, with the more powerful abilities taking longer to charge up.

Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark 3DS

Unlike the Fire Emblem games, the story contained within Rise of the Dark Spark is bare-bones. There is a powerful artifact called the Dark Spark that is capable of ripping holes in dimensions, giving its wielder unthinkable power. Of course, the Decepticons (the bad guys) are going after the Dark Spark to take over the world and the Autobots (the good guys) are trying to stop them from getting their big ugly robotic mitts on it. The problem with Rise of the Dark Spark being a strategy RPG is that strategy RPGs rely on an intricate and engaging story to keep the lengthy battles and overall game interesting , but all of we have here is a MacGuffin and everyone is racing towards it with no character development or well-written dialogue in sight.

Interestingly, Rise of the Dark Spark switches between the Autobots, Decepticons and mercenaries throughout its 32 missions, giving you different perspectives on the same story. Even though you’re controlling different teams they all control exactly the same and your mission objectives are just as similar. You will be asked to do things like defend a certain area for X amount of rounds, eliminate all enemies on the map and take down walls of defense, but it always comes down to just killing everything in your way. Considering these battles can be lengthy you would expect some more variety in the objectives, but unfortunately the game just cycles through these objectives tirelessly.

Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark 3DS

The types of transformers that you control in battle throughout the course of the game are limited, but they each serve an important purpose. The more powerful “hero” transformers have the highest HP, the strongest move sets and can transform into vehicles to move further than regular transformers. These are your tanks that you send out to the front lines to do the heavy damage and take the heavy damage that will soon be coming your way. Then you have the far weaker hackers and healers who are much better suited to stay in the background and hack objects to attack enemies or heal allies. If you play your cards right, as long as you keep your healers behind your “hero” characters you wont have to worry about losing hardly any units or battles at all.

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is surprisingly far more interesting than the games that showed up on all the other consoles, but at the end of the day it’s still a so-so game. As far as strategy RPGs go it’s mediocre at best, as the combat scenarios are repetitive and the story and dialogue are an absolute bore. People who enjoy strategy RPGs and have exhausted all other options will surely find some entertainment with Rise of the Dark Spark, but as you spend more and more time with the game it’s quickly revealed that there simply isn’t enough here to hold your attention for very long.

Objectionable / Respectable

Murdered: Soul Suspect (PlayStation 3 Review) – A Ghost With A Mission

Imagine being given the chance to come back to Earth as a ghost after being murdered by a mysterious person, then being given the chance to figure out who it is to bring them to justice and move on to the afterlife. This is the ridiculously cool concept that Murdered: Soul Suspect introduces the gamer to, as you control detective Ronan O’Connor’s ghost following the events of him being thrown out of a window by a serial killer known as the Bell Killer.

As would be just about anyone in this situation, Ronan is pretty shocked as to what is going on and why, but a meeting with the spirit of his long-dead wife Julia gives him purpose. She tells Ronan that he can’t join her in the afterlife until he completes the unfinished business that is binding him to the living world, which sends him on a hunt for clues regarding who the Bell Killer really is. What’s to follow is a supernatural noir thriller with no shortage of brooding atmosphere and bizarre occurrences.

The setting of Murdered: Soul Suspect is immediately engaging, as we are thrown into a late 60’s era of Salem, Massachusetts. This is where the infamous Salem Witch Trials occurred, which serves as the backbone of the story. As Ronan wanders the streets of Salem in search of his killer, he comes across other ghosts who died and are usually unsure how they died or are completely oblivious to the fact that they are dead. Many of these characters are very interesting and add a lot to the lore of the game and town of Salem, and the game leaves it up to you whether or not you want pass them by or help them move on to the afterlife.


The core gameplay component of Soul Suspect plays out in a series of detective puzzles that must be completed to learn new information pertaining to the case. These will require you to search every nook and cranny of a particular area or room, and when you think you have found enough information to come to a worthwhile conclusion you are then able to progress the story. While definitely not the most action oriented gameplay, I really enjoyed snooping around the game’s gloomy environments, as it proved to further immerse me in the game’s world and made me more interested in its inhabitants.

However, those looking for a challenging detective puzzle experience will be disappointed, as the game is very straightforward with its puzzles and contains no penalty if you fail to complete its puzzles in the suggested amount of tries. There was one time when I picked just about every wrong clue when the game said it was giving me three tries to find the right clues, but it still kept going and then successfully concluded when I happened upon the correct clues by process of elimination. These scenarios definitely could have used some more time for polish, but even though they aren’t challenging it’s still interesting to see how the following occurrence plays out that the clues relate to.

The developers did add a sort of tense action element to the gameplay, but it seems more tacked on rather than fully fleshed-out. You will come across certain areas where poltergeists are present, and you must hide from them in certain locations in order to move on. If you are caught you will hear an ear-piercing scream and then poltergeist will hunt you down until you’re dead. These encounters can create some really tense situations, but I only wish they were a little more challenging. Most of the time it’s pretty easy to sneak past the poltergeists, and if you are spotted getting away from them isn’t much of a challenge.


Visually, the game looks solid as the game captures the creepy and ominous tone that the story calls for wonderfully. You’ll come across museums, police stations, cemeteries and abandoned buildings throughout the course of the game, and there’s always a sense of unrest in each area to traverse through. Sometimes it will be a bit of information you come across, a conversation you overhear or ominous imagery that will make you feel continuously uneasy, and that perpetual tension only builds throughout the course of the game.

Unfortunately, the game could have used a lot more polish. There will be graphical glitches, command prompts that fail to come up when you want them to and other matter of nagging issues that do hamper the overall experience. In a game whose main source of immersion is its setting, visual glitches are that much more noticeable and annoying. Considering developer Airtight Games just closed down after the game was released, it seems like they simply didn’t have the resources to completely finish what they started and that’s a shame.

Murdered: Soul Suspect comes up short in a few important areas, but the solid concept and well-realized setting and characters make up for it. Walking through the streets of Salem, Massachusetts in search of your killer is always endearing, and the characters (living and dead) that you come across along the way usually add a lot to the experience. It would have been nice if the game received a bit more polish both technically and mechanically, but even despite its shortcomings it’s able to deliver a solid ghost thriller experience. It may not be a complete success, but Murdered: Soul Suspect is nevertheless an engrossing tale of a murdered man searching for justice and closure.


Watch Dogs PlayStation 4

Watch Dogs (PlayStation 4) Review – Honey, I Hacked The City!

It isn’t every day where  an open world game comes along and truly feels like it is showing something entirely possible. Series like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row thrive on their own gleeful goofiness to create a world that is well-realized, yet still plainly fiction. Although Watch Dogs certainly falls in line with some of those very same tropes, its vision of a world that can be almost entirely manipulated by a push of a button is not something that is completely absurd in this day and age.

The game documents the life of Aiden Pearce, who is a man with a dark and mysterious past that eventually comes back to bite him in the butt. Though you never get a firm understanding of what this mysterious man is all about, you do get an inkling that he would rather put his questionable past behind him and live a normal life. However, that takes a turn for the worse when an old “friend” comes back and kidnaps his sister and nephew, and claims that he will only return them safely if Aiden helps him with a certain something. What follows is a rollercoaster ride that bounces between very questionable morality issues and super tense action stealth gameplay.

Although Watch Dogs‘ overall narrative may not be executed perfectly, what really elevated it for me was the very solid cast of supporting characters. Every major character that comes into the game feels fully realized and relatable; from the mysterious Clara to the legendary hacker T-Bone all the way to the games varied villains. It’s these characters that truly made me invest in the story, as even though the events themselves weren’t mind-blowing, I was nevertheless fully invested in them due to my interest in the entire cast.


The standout feature of Watch Dogs is that its core gameplay mechanic is that of hacking. Aiden Pearce has technology on him that allows him to hack into traffic lights, security cameras, barriers, steam pipes and a lot more as he rolls on through Chicago. Obviously, the fact that you can do all of this at a click of a button is frightening when you really think about, but used as the game’s main gameplay focus it almost makes the game feel like a real-life super hero story. Aiden Pearce may not have supernatural powers, but with the help of his trusty smartphone and hacking prowess he can basically control the entire city.

The process of hacking is often done with the simple click of a button, but the game also regularly throws a sort-of hacking mini-game at you for more story-focused and major aspects of the game. This mini-game shows you a screen of several interconnecting wires that you must connect by way of revolving pipe panels to connect the streams of electricity. The object is to get all streams of electricity to the final space which completes the hacking process. Sometimes the game gives you as much time as you need to complete this mini-game, though as the game ramps up the difficulty you’ll find situations where you have very little time to complete it. It’s these timed hacking scenarios where the mini-game truly shines, as they can be quite chaotic and filled with tension due to the time limit.

With hacking being used as the main gameplay mechanic, its a no-brainer that the core combat scenarios would favor stealth over all-out action. Ubisoft is no stranger to stealth games, having championed the Assassin’s Creed franchise for many years now, but this is the first time where they had to utilize it in a modern setting and I think they really succeeded in doing that with Watch Dogs. You’ll come across many scenarios where you will be in an area that is swarming with enemies that are unaware of your presence, and you have to hack into cameras to scope out the area, hack into objects to set them off and temporarily distract your enemies and doing everything you can to remain out of site. The game also allows you to go in guns blazing, but this makes each encounter relatively easy and pretty boring. This game allows you to tackle every situation however you want, but if you want the best experience possible then you’ll definitely want to focus on the stealth routes.


As you wander the streets of Chicago you are able to hack and profile each and every one of its residents, which gives you information on their name, income and interests. This gives the game a very unsettling atmosphere, as you have access to so much classified information as you are just walking down the street. However, this also gives some character and personality to random people that otherwise you wouldn’t give a second of thought to. When you’re given the option of hacking into someone’s personal bank account for some money, you just might think twice when you find out that the person has cancer and is preparing for an operation. All of this plays right into Watch Dogs‘ iffy morals, as knowing that kind of information about a stranger is wrong, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make the world of Watch Dogs feel more living and breathing than any other game of its kind that I have experienced.

Being an open-world game, there is definitely a lot more that you can do outside of the main story. You can do things like prevent other crimes from happening by tracking down criminals, hack into ctOS systems to get full informational reign on a particular city district, play chess, purchase new weapons to take down your enemies in new ways, and a hell of a lot more. What makes all of this variety work is that none of it feels like filler – just about everything that Watch Dogs offers you ranges from enjoyable to all-out crazy fun. Much like the information overload world that we live in today, the game is constantly throwing new stuff at you to play around with, and it’s easy to simply lose track of the actual main storyline and just get lost in the myriad of optional stuff the game has in store for you.

This leads us into the game’s online mode, which is surprisingly one of the game’s strongest features. The online mode offers a variety of different things to do, and it all loads and takes place in the game’s city. This means that you can be playing an offline mission while the game is searching for opponents to play with, which makes the transition between offline and online modes near-seamless. This is made even more smooth by the fact that other players are able to “hack” your game, which results in you receiving a reading of their general location on your in-game map and then having to find and take them down. It’s an absolute blast and reminded me a lot of the tension that would arise from suddenly being invaded in the Dark Souls series.


As far as more traditional online modes, Watch Dogs offers plenty of fun times through a few well-created modes. You have the option to hack into other players games and try and steal data from them without being caught, racing a bunch of other players and utilizing hacking to get an advantage, and an excellent mode called Decryption where two teams face off to collect and decrypt a file. All of these modes utilize the game’s unique features really well, and will definitely be the part of the game that I and I’m sure countless others will be returning to for the foreseeable future.

All of this talk about optional things to do in Watch Dogs and I haven’t even talked about the best one of all: Digital Trips. The game describes Digital Trips as an app that uses binaural frequencies from the smartphone to put Aiden into an unconscious dream state where he can play crazy virtual games inside of his head. There are 5 Digital trips to pick from; and they are called Alone, Madness, Spider-tank, Conspiracy! and Psychedelic. These modes ask you to do various ridiculous things like sneak past robot sentries, run over demons in hell and fuel your vehicle with their souls, stay airborne by bouncing off of groovy flowers, and even controlling a giant spider-tank and wreaking havoc on Chicago. I can’t begin to describe how much fun some of these modes are, as some of them could warrant being stand-alone games all on their own.

Watch Dogs is a huge game that is always offering a bunch of things for you to do, and it always feels like something worthwhile. The main story is very enjoyable in its own right and will last you a solid 15-ish hours, but it barely taps the surface of all the other great things you can do. The game is certainly questionable when it comes to what it wants to say and how it says it from a moral standpoint, but there is no question that the Watch Dogs universe is not something that seems *too* out of the question in the world we live in today. It’s this sense of immersion of the game’s world and its constant reminders of what could be coming in our own world that makes Watch Dogs truly shine.


Enemy Front Banner

Enemy Front (Xbox 360) Review – Someone Please Shoot ME!!!

The World War II genre is one that has been milked for many years now, with just about every interesting style of gameplay or vision being utilized by several different series. Call of Duty was one such franchise that found so much success with it that it is now the biggest franchise in gaming and has 3 different developers making sequels on a 3-year cycle. There are countless imitators out there trying to find even a sliver of juice left in this machine, because they know that it will sell due its pedigree alone. Has developer CI Games found something with Enemy Front to breathe some fresh air back into this genre? The simple answer is no.

The concept of Enemy Front is pretty simple: you are a war correspondent named Robert Hawkins that is right in the middle of World War II. You will journey across many levels containing wave after wave of enemies and it is your job to get to the end in one piece. In the midst of this you will come across some characters that will help you along your journey, and the occasional flashback sequence will shine some more light on the big picture of the war. Really, though, this is a no-nonsense FPS game that requires little more than you to shoot, shoot and shoot some more.

That isn’t to say that it doesn’t attempt some other things to liven up this otherwise stale formula, as Enemy Front presents several scenarios where you can take a stealthier approach rather then going in guns blazing. However, in my experience with this game I found that just about every time I played that stealth made things take much longer and was really unnecessary due to the fact that just firing wildly will work every time. The enemies also seem to have cat-like senses, so when I even tried to be stealth-like I found that it would eventually result in the whole area becoming alert anyway. I’d like to think that this is due to my own incompetence with stealth mechanics, but due to my success with the genre in other games I don’t think that is the case.

Enemy Front

Although straight-forward gunplay is something that I have no problem with on paper, the way that Enemy Front implements it is like watching paint dry. Every scenario you find yourself in is relatively the same, with the level design, objectives and methods of getting through the level being pretty stagnant. You have to deal with this formula over and over and over again, making the game overstay its welcome far before you get to the credits. Plus, you have to deal with all of the little mechanical flubs along the way that make the experience even more infuriating. I found that there were times when I was completely behind cover and found that I was still getting hit by bullets and ultimately getting killed. Other times I would be shooting enemies directly in the chest, but the first couple of shots wouldn’t register at all.

Graphically, Enemy Front is pretty sub-par. While the environments are decent enough from a distance as most locations are outside in lush environments, the closer you get to any objects the ugly details become more clear. Very ugly textures mar just about every surface and character models are about as dull as can be. The cinematic sequences are even worse, as we are given close-up shots on speaking characters and notice that the lip-syncing with the dialogue is atrocious and the characters display little to no emotion at all. Couple that with just as unimpressive voice acting and you have a presentation that lacks any kind of appeal.

The game also has an online component, where you have the option of taking on people across the entire world in 3 whole game modes. The game modes you have to select from are Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Radio Transmission, but I am unable to report how any of these game modes perform as I could not get one single match going. I tried 5 different times on all 3 game modes and waited around 4 hours in the pre-game lobby in total, but could not find enough people to get a match going. This close after release, that is not a good sign at all. The only information I can give you here is that it is incredibly difficult to find a match on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Enemy Front

It’s rare that I come across a game where I am continuously dumbfounded by the rate at which it’s coming up short. It’s par for the course for any game to have some faults here and there, but usually they are easy to overlook thanks to a core mechanic that the developers really get right. The problem with Enemy Front is that it drops the ball in pretty much every area imaginable; never doing anything so badly that it’s unplayable, but never coming anywhere close to a point where the experience could be enjoyable. The World War II genre hasn’t been interesting in years, but Enemy Front has given us what is easily one of the worst examples of the genre yet.


Tomodachi Life

Tomodachi Life (3DS) Review – This Is The Craziest Island EVER

What if I told you that Nintendo had created another game that was ridiculously addicting like Animal Crossing, but in completely different ways? When I first popped in Tomodachi Life, at first I was pretty unimpressed with what it had to offer. Instead of having a world that I could create and fully interact with like in Animal Crossing, i’m more or less a God-like spectator who watches over all of the town’s citizens. However, what at first seemed boring quickly transformed into a world with a bizarre sense of humor and zany scenarios that I couldn’t get enough of.

When Tomodachi Life begins you are asked to create a Mii that is your look-alike. This Mii will be the first resident of the town and thus will begin the life on this little island. What’s fantastic about the creator mechanics in this game is that you can pick what your Mii sounds like, which is fantastic considering the game has full voice-support for all dialogue. When I heard my Mii say back to me my name, birthday and favorite color I was beaming. I’ve always been a fan of Nintendo’s simple-yet-expressive Mii’s, but actually hearing mine talk was another experience entirely.

It isn’t until you start creating other residents of the island when the true fun begins. You have the option to create other Mii’s manually or scan them in through QR codes that you can find online. This is what I ultimately ended up doing, as I was able to find QR codes for Batman, Master Chief, Harry Potter and a bunch of other awesome characters. Soon enough, I had an island overflowing with characters that you would never expect to see in the same game and watching them interact and become friends is awesome. In my particular game, Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite and Woody from Toy Story are best friends, which never fails to make me laugh whenever I see them hanging out together.

Tomodachi Life Island

As life on the island progresses and you add more and more Mii’s you will find that new places will appear for your Mii’s to hangout in. Places like coffee shops and amusement parks all provide unique ways for the Mii’s to interact with one another, potentially providing you with another zany scenario for you to witness. One of my personal favorite places is the Mii News station, where one of the island’s Mii’s will report the latest major happening on the island, which is always something completely insane. One particular news story talked about how Thor bought a Power Disco Ball, and suddenly he had a string of good luck that he credited entirely to the purchase of said Power Disco Ball. He reported that he found a tooth brush in the street, his laryngitis went away in 5 days and his acne cleared up by 10%. Who thinks of this stuff?

The true depth of Tomodachi Life comes in the form of you interacting and assisting the island’s Mii’s when they need your help. When you do something good for the Mii, their happiness level will increase and you will get some money. This money is used to purchase all matter of food, clothes, furniture and a bunch of strange items that your Mii’s will be begging for. Sometimes a Mii will be hungry and you will have to go and buy their favorite food, and other times they will be bored and ask you to play with them.When playing with a Mii you are usually given one of several very simple mini-games, such as trivia, card games and reflex-based games. While there is really nothing to these games, they are less about providing actual gameplay then they are providing brief bursts of humor. Sometimes you will come across one of your Mii’s sleeping with a dream bubble above their head, and you can tap on the bubble to see what it is they are dreaming about. The last time I played Master Chief was having a dream about him and a bunch of the islanders dancing around a dish containing a fried spring roll, and all of them were chanting, “All hail the fried spring roll!” I wanted to laugh so hard, but I feared I might wake the Master Chief from his slumber.

The only true fault of the game is that it’s one that really has no purpose or goal. Unlike in Animal Crossing where you are constantly improving your home and paying off your debt, Tomodachi Life‘s only true purpose is to check in and see what’s going on. This will be a bummer for some, as if you’re not in tune with the game’s style of humor then you will probably get bored with the game rather quickly. However, taken in small to medium bouts of gameplay I found that the game always held my attention and made me laugh more often then not.


Tomodachi Life is yet another kind life simulator game that is able to stand on its own feet thanks to its charming style and bizarre humor. It’s a game where you feel like you have little to no control of what is going on, and depending on where you’re sitting that could be very good or very bad. In my opinion, though, this game never fails to provide consistent displays of greatly charming and humorous scenarios when ever I pop it in to play. It may not be an Animal Crossing replacement, but it’s a game that I can confidently say is its own unique experience that should be checked out by anyone looking for some light-hearted and goofy life-simulation.


Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) Review – They Did WHAT To Battle Mode?!

It’s no secret that the Wii U has been struggling pretty severely ever since it launched a couple years ago, which is largely due to the fact that the system simply had no great games to push the system. Nintendo desperately needed a game like Mario Kart 8 to come along and help get the system off of the shelves and into gamers homes, and now that game is finally here. So, is Mario Kart 8 the game that will turn everything around for the Wii U? It will definitely be a game that a lot of people will flock to, but there are a few simple issues that keep this game back from being the home run it could have been.

First up, the gameplay is fantastic. The racing has never been tighter or more fun, and all of the gameplay elements that have been gradually added to the series over the years all feel great. However, the big addition to the gameplay is the anti-gravity sections, which have you driving sideways, upside-down and all over the place. These sections are always incredibly fun, because there is always a sense of awe when you see a huge vertical wall coming up and knowing that you will soon be racing across it. As an added twist, when you bump into people while in anti-gravity it gives you a speed boost, giving you more incentive to race a little more aggressively.

Like with any Mario Kart game the tracks are what determine how much or little fun the game can be, and Mario Kart 8 brings a fresh set of great tracks while also bringing back some classic ones. You have the option to pick from 16 new tracks or 16 classic tracks like in previous installments in the series, but they are all mostly very well designed and look gorgeous. I was particularly impressed with how phenomenal the classic tracks look, as Nintendo really went all out to make them look brand new while also retaining the charm they had on their respective systems.


Of course, as you’re zooming down the game’s 32 tracks you will come across a bunch of items that you will be able to use against your enemies, and this time you’ll have four new items to use. These new items are the Boomerang Flower that can be tossed up to 3 times and hit your enemy coming and going, the Piranha Plant that chomps nearby enemies while also giving you speed boosts, the Super Horn that sends out a shockwave that knocks over nearby enemies and destroys all incoming items (even the Blue Shell!) and the Crazy Eight that generates eight items for the player to use. These are all great items, and I especially love the fact that you can finally do something against that damn Blue Shell!

Like in recent Mario Kart games you have the option to drive a Kart and a Motorcycle, but the new addition to this game is the option to drive ATVs. ATVs have a similar feel to Karts, with the main difference being that you pack more weight that lets you knock around other drivers more easily. Each vehicle has their strengths and weaknesses, so it all comes down to player preference on what type of vehicle will be best for you. They all control quite easily, as well, which is mostly due to the fact that you can utilize the Wii U’s gamepad, which is a huge step-up from the lackluster Wii remote.

You also unlock new vehicles, tires and gliders as you complete more races and collect coins contained on each track, which adds a lot of customization to the game. You can play around with things like overall speed and control, but I mostly ended up just picking the combinations that looked the coolest and still found success. No matter what combination you pick you will have a solid shot at winning the race, so you don’t have to stress out too much on which combinations go best together.


There are 30 playable characters in Mario Kart 8, with the game starting you off with 16 of them and having you unlock the other 14 through successful tournament completions. All of the usual cast of characters are here, though the biggest addition this time is the 7 members of the Koopaling Clan. The addition of these characters is a little disappointing, honestly, as they are all basically the same and aren’t characters that are all that memorable. I would have much rather Nintendo gone into the archives and dug out some classic characters that we don’t see as much, but what can you do. My favorite unlockable character is Metal Mario, simply because… well… he’s Metal Mario! Mario in metal form!

Another cool little addition to Mario Kart 8 is MKTV, which allows the player to go back to the previous race and view it in a variety of different ways and upload the footage directly to YouTube. This is kind of cool, as watching some of the biggest moments of the previous race in a montage of sorts is always funny, but I do wish that they had let you go a little deeper with the actual editing. It would have been sweet if you had the option to edit together several clips of footage to show off a string of specific moments in a row (say, a montage of just Piranha Plant chomping?), but this new feature is still fun to play around with, regardless.

Other game modes outside of the Grand Prix in Mario Kart 8 are Time Trial, VS Race, Battle and Online. Unfortunately, this is where Mario Kart 8 really drops the ball, as there is a shocking lack of depth and polish to them. Time Trial and VS are pretty standard modes that have been in the series for a while and are decent diversions, but the biggest bust is the game’s Battle Mode. In previous installments in the series you battled against other players in unique arena-style courses that were separate from the game’s main race tracks. In this game, however, Nintendo took the lazy route and just throw you into a handful of regular race tracks found in the main game. Not only is this incredibly lazy on Nintendo’s part, but it makes the Battle Mode very dull and frustrating. The point is to be able to drive around and attack other people, but when you are on a narrow and linear track that is much bigger it becomes much more of a hassle to keep a fluid battle going.


Fortunately, the online mode of Mario Kart 8 is very solid, as the connection remains solid and playing with others around the world is as fun as ever. The Mario Kart experience is meant to be played with others, so obviously the online portion of the game is the one that will get the most use, and rightly so. You have the option to do regular races or start a tournament, which is a cool way to compete in something a little more intense than a one-off race. You can do battle mode online, as well, but who the hell wants to do that?

Mario Kart 8 is another very solid entry in the series, bringing back all of the great features the series is known for while also throwing in a few twists to spice up the formula. The HD graphics are absolutely beautiful and the new anti-gravity mechanics are a lot of fun on any course. If Nintendo had just delivered the Battle Mode that everyone loves and brought more depth to other modes then this would have easily been the Mario Kart game to beat. Still, this is another game in the series that will, regardless of shortcomings, provide many hours of entertainment for anyone who owns a Wii U.



Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One) Review – Finally, Another Shooter With BALLS!

Anyone with a good education knows the events of World War II. Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, threatened to wipe out just about anyone that stood in their way of having complete control. Fortunately, thanks to the Allied Forces, the Nazi supremacy was stomped out of existence and life was able to continue on in relative peace. But what if that didn’t happen? What if the ruthless Nazis won and eventually did take over the world? That horrifying reality is the setting of Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Even in the most hopeless of situations, though, there is always a glimmer of hope and for the Wolfenstein series that hope is a man named William “BJ” Blazkowicz. This man has taken down more Nazis than any other man in existence since he started in Wolfenstein 3D back in 1992, though in this game the odds are against him more than ever before. When the game begins it is 1946 and the Allies are losing and Blazkowicz leads a last-ditch attack on the headquarters of the Third Reich to try and turn the war around. It all goes wrong, however, and Blazcowicz takes a piece of shrapnel to the head and spends the next 14 years of his life in a vegetative state recovering in a mental institution. When he awakens in 1960, he finds a world clutched by the throat by Nazis.

Blazkowicz is able to scrounge together the last of the remaining resistance members from Nazi captivity, and they all form a truly last-ditch effort to take down the Nazi stronghold and turn the world’s despair into one of hope. Blazkowicz is definitely the brawn of the operation, as those more technical and knowledgeable are the ones who plan and discuss what needs to be done to take down the Nazis. Blazkowicz, however, is the only one who can execute those plans, because he is a walking tank of Nazi destruction just like he was in 1992.


Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s gameplay mechanics are that of a 1990’s FPS game, which is something that works to its advantage greatly. In an era of regenerating health and a limitation on how many guns can be held at once, The New Order puts us right back in a time when these game’s didn’t hold our hand. Instead of a regenerating health system you have an armor and health system that needs to be monitored at all times to sty alive. Also, you can hold all of the guns in the game at once (most of them single or dual-wielding), which gives you many more options in each situation. These guns are big and powerful, and they are all a blast to use (no pun intended).

However, it’s the enemies in this game that make this huge weaponry not only necessary, but vital. You won’t just be taking on Nazi soldiers in a typical fire fight, but also huge mech warriors, flying robots and mechanical dogs will be trying to remove you from the realm of existence. This makes every scenario in the game intense, because you need to use your entire arsenal to come out of the other side in one piece. Some of the enemies (like the mech warriors) won’t go down with straight fire and you must instead attack their weak spot on their backs, while the viscous dogs are so quick that you’ll find yourself having to whip out your knife and stab them while they have you pinned down. The combat is always big and loud, making each battle extremely exciting and fun.

While much of the game is spent in huge battles, there are several situations where you have the unexpected option of going the stealth route. You’ll access many big areas swarming with Nazis, and if you play your cards right you can move through and take many or all of them down stealthily to avoid any alarms from going off. These sections work surprisingly well, as thanks to your laser cutter gun you are able to zap through certain walls and move through vents, tunnels and all other matter of hidden areas. This creates really tense scenarios as it is very hard to make it through an area completely undetected, and once you’re spotted all hell breaks loose.


The New Order has a perks system that allows you to customize your abilities to varying degrees. The game will have you take down a certain amount of enemies in a certain way, which will grant you perks that do things like slightly increase ammo capacity or weapon power. While this system is nice to have it’s pretty inconsequential due to the limited gains you receive, which resulted in me ignoring it entirely. Outside of perks you come across weapon upgrades that make many of your weapons even more lethal; such as adding rockets to your assault rifle or a scope to your laser cutter. These are the upgrades that truly matter, as they are all extremely useful and open up different ways to go about a particular scenario.

Narratively, The New Order tells a pretty straight-forward story of the underdogs overcoming the odds to take down the evil empire, but it works really well here because the game has characters that you truly care about or truly detest. They might not be fleshed out quite as much as you would like, but the dialogue that they are given is well-written and has personality. It might seem average in just about any other genre, but in a no-holds-barred FPS it adds a lot to the overall experience. You grow to love the resistance and hate the Nazis and that is exactly what a game like this *should* do.


Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection (PlayStation Vita) Review – Oh Dear Lord…

Throughout my experience as a gamer and especially a game writer I have never had to deal with something like Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection. It’s essentially a game of stats, where you must make the right decisions in order to get the optimum stat increases with each given opportunity. Done the right way, this could be a really zany and funny type of game along the lines of the Nintendo DS’s Elite Beat Agents. Unfortunately, this game was not done the right way.

The concept of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is simple (and strange): you are a student who is just about to embark on a summer vacation that will be filled with nothing but gaming when you are suddenly summoned to a world called Gameindustri (clever) by 4 goddess-like Console Patron Units (CPUs). These 4 CPUs rule the realm of Gameindustri and each represent one of today’s major consoles, though they are in a bit of deep water. An idol group called MOB48 has passed the CPUs and taken the most shares of Gameindustri, as a result. So, the goddesses want to become idols with your help to win back the shares and return everything back to normal. Got that?

The 4 ladies you have to deal with all feature firm-yet-super-naive personalities as there is no question in their minds that they are going to be pop idols with your help. I ended up with Vert as my “idol” and her character ended up being someone who was a confident and hard worker that had a hardcore gaming attitude. As a result, I had to make sure that she stayed focused on her work and still had the amount of time she wanted to go on gaming marathons. This is the part of the game that I liked the most, because the characters (for the most part) are pretty likable and it’s entertaining to see what they have to say.

Producing Perfection

Unfortunately, the majority of the game has you performing the same actions over and over again which makes everything very tedious. As the producer you have the the following options to perform with your idol: work, lesson, relax, move and concert. Work increases your fanbase while lesson increases personal stats like vocals and rhythm. When you have done too much working and stress has built up you need to make sure that you choose the relax option to bring those stress levels down, as high stress levels result in diminished returns in both work and lessons. Move allows you to relocate to one of the other Gameindustri nations in order to reach new audiences, which brings up new scenarios for the characters to go through. All of these scenarios are implied, however, as you don’t get much more than a quick bit of dialogue showing that the event took place.

The most hands-on option is concert, in which you actually witness your idol performing a song. You get to chose the stage, what your idol wears and stage effects that all effect the audiences engagement in the show. However, your main job is to control the camera and come up with dynamic camera angles for the audience, but the game’s registration capabilities seem really limited in this area. Most of the time I just kind of moved the camera angle around wildly like a nut job and it resulted in me doing better than I did when I was actually trying to get good angles. Thus, the one aspect of the game that has true gameplay is broken.

And you must repeat this process day in and day out to increase your idol’s stats and rise her to the top of the charts before 180 in-game days pass. A day passes after one action has taken place, so the days pass rather quickly. I had no problems getting my idol to the top of the charts way before the 180 days passed, though it still felt like a complete grind because of the lack of depth in these events. You’re basically just selecting one of the 5 options, checking out which stats go up and repeating that process… over and over and over again.

Producing Perfection

Apart from the main mode you also have a Viewer Mode, which is perhaps the most weird part of the game. You are just given a screen of an idol of your choosing that you can touch and watch them react in a bunch of random and disturbing ways. It’s one of those things where you really just kind of scratch your head wondering why it’s in the game at all. I guess in a game that has literally no gameplay engagement something like this can pass as an actual “mode”, but on planet Earth this is completely lame.

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection can offer slight entertainment in very short bursts, but playing the game any longer than that results in extreme frustration and boredom. There is no true interactive gameplay to speak of and the little that you actually do control must be done far too many times. The game’s likable characters make some of this tedium easier to swallow, but for the most part this is a game that should be avoided by just about everyone.


Kirby Triple Deluxe Review

Kirby Triple Deluxe (3DS) Review – Triple The Content, Triple The Fun

The Kirby series is one of Nintendo’s most enduring yet often-overlooked franchises that they have going. It all began in 1992 when Masahiro Sakurai (who is more known for creating the Super Smash Bros. series) directed Kirby’s Dream Land, which spawned countless critically-acclaimed sequels. This is the first game in the series to pop-up on the 3DS and Kirby’s first game since 2011’s 1-2 punch of  the DS’ Kirby Mass Attack and the Wii’s Kirby’s Return To Dreamland. So, how does it shape up? In a nutshell, it offers just about everything a Kirby or platforming fan could want.

The story starts with a giant beanstalk called the Dreamstalk showing up while Kirby is sleeping and taking both his house and King Dedede’s castle into the sky. When Kirby wakes up the next morning he is suddenly in a new land called Floralia, which means that he must fight his way through several worlds that all contain many levels in order to make it to King Dedede’s castle and right the wrong’s of everything that has transpired.

Kirby Triple Deluxe controls like many of the other 2d Kirby games, as you traverse from left to right as you suck up your enemies and adopt all of their different powers; such as bombs, swords, boomerangs and a hell of a lot more. You’ll also be tasked with collecting Sun Stones and Key Chains throughout each level, which help you unlock more levels and drive up the completion rating, respectively. The one major addition to the gameplay is an item that transforms Kirby into Hypernova Kirby, which allows Kirby to suck up humongous monstrosities and lay absolute waste to everything in the level.

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Of course, this being a Nintendo 3DS game, the 3D element comes in with full force and actually makes great use of the system’s capabilities. Sometimes you will come across instances where you will move form the foreground to the background of the screen, which allows you to discover hidden goodies or keys that must then be brought back to the foreground. These sections truly shine when you come across a giant beam that extends to both the foreground *and* background, allowing you to reign destruction on two different areas at once. Elsewhere the 3D is simply used to make things appear as if they are coming out of the screen; such as enemy attacks, items or text.

The enemies in Triple Deluxe all vary greatly and force you to utilize different strategies to come out in one piece. Some enemies will be extremely fast and require precise timing to take them down, while others will be flinging bombs or shooting arrows at you. How you decide to take down these enemies is entirely up to you, as Kirby has a plethora of different skill sets that he can absorb that give him a huge variety of abilities. The game always gives you many different options in each level, making each new level feel fresh and exciting.

A platformer of this ilk would be nothing without great boss fights, and that is definitely one area where Triple Deluxe knocks it out of the park. Throughout the course of the game you will come across both mini and regular bosses and many of them put up quite a fight. They have large amounts of health which requires you to be patient and time your attacks, otherwise you’ll find yourself taking big amounts of damage very quickly. I won’t spoil the finale, but the final boss sequence is one of the most intense and rewarding finales that I have played in a long time.

Kirby Triple Deluxe

All of this and we haven’t even delved into the other modes that this game offers! Outside of the story mode you also have access to the Kirby Fighters and Dedede’s Drum Dash modes, and once you complete the game you unlock The Arena and Dedede tour modes. Kirby Fighters is a Super Smash Bros.-esque mode that pits you against a variety of different Kirby’s all contained in a handful of Super Smash Bros.-esque stages. This mode is an absolute blast, as all of the chaotic mayhem of the smash series shines through brilliantly as all matter of items, environmental events and more all add up into a consistently exciting experience. The fact that this game packs its own Super Smash Bros. mode is worth the price of admissions, alone. It also has a multiplayer feature, making this a mode with infinite replay value.

Dedede’s Drum Dash is a rhythm-based game in which you must jump from drum to drum to the beat of the song. The better you time your beat the higher that Dedede will jump, which allows you to collect more coins and improve your score. You can also clap to the beat of the music to get bonus points, but mastering this while also timing jumps and avoiding obstacles is truly challenging. It’s not the most in-depth of modes, but the core mechanics are so addicting that I find myself coming back to it a lot.

The two unlockable modes are more standard affairs that you come across occasionally in other platformers of this type. The Arena is essentially a boss rush mode, pitting you against both mini and regular bosses in a row with a hub world in-between that gives you a breather and limited health regeneration. Dedede tour lets you play through the story mode as none other than King Dedede, who controls a bit differently and has to take down more difficult enemies and bosses. Make it through this mode and you will even face off against a new boss at the end and witness new scenes.

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Kirby Triple Deluxe offers so much content that is all insanely fun to playthrough. The main story mode is a solid length that has great level design, enemy variety and challenge that would be more than a solid package all on its own. However, the fact that the game also packs in Kirby Fighters, Dedede’s Drum Dash, The Arena and Dedede tour make this a game that is impossible for me to not completely recommend. The Kirby series has always offered consistently high quality games, but Kirby Triple Deluxe mixes that high quality with high quantity to results in yet another must-have game on the 3DS.


Dangranronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PlayStation Vita) Review

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PlayStation Vita) Review – *Sound Of Jaw Dropping On Floor*

The genre of the visual novel definitely isn’t one that I or many gamers see a whole lot of these days. The last visual novel that I played was Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the DS, and that great game came out back in 2007. However, it was an incredibly engaging game due to its unique mechanics and ability to suck you in and really make it feel like you exist in the setting of a mystery.

If Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc reminds me of Hotel Dusk, it’s only in that they are both visual novels that control similarly and involve mystery. That’s really where the similarities end, because the ride that Danganronpa takes you on is far more strange, twisted and demented than just about any other game that I have played. As soon as you turn this game on, you know that you are in for an experience like no other.

The game begins with our main character Makoto Naegi arriving at an elite High School called Hope’s Peak Academy, which is a school that only accepts the best of the best students. Makoto is simply average in every way possible, but he got picked to join the school as a result of a raffle in which he was chosen to join the school as the ultimate lucky student. However, when he arrives outside of the gates of school everything turns south very quickly.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc Hope's Peak Makoto

When he regains consciousness, he finds that he and 14 other students are trapped inside the school with no way out. A demonic teddy bear named Monokuma informs them that they will be spending the rest of their lives inside this school, and that if anyone resists they will be killed. However, the one way a student *can* leave the school is if they murder another student and get away with it. If they do get away with the murder, then they “graduate” and the rest of the students are punished.

Thus, throughout the course of the game you and the other students will be doing anything they can to find a way out of the school, while also trying to keep in high spirits and trust each other. As the game goes on the evil Monokuma will introduce incentives for killing someone, and that is when things truly hit the fan and several deaths follow.

It’s not a spoiler to say that many people will die in this game, and it is up to you to figure out who killed them in a trial that takes place at the end each chapter. This aspect of the game is similar to the Ace Attorney series, as you have evidence that you have discovered over time that you must use to prove or disprove the scenarios of the case. These trials are lengthy and intense, and every single one of them left me in awe at how intricate and devious they were.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc Trial

Writing is extremely important in a genre such as the visual novel, and Danganronpa‘s writing is nothing short of phenomenal. Every character is so well-written and fleshed out just to the point that you can understand them without knowing too much about them. The characters have so many layers that will be revealed (or not) throughout the course of the game, ultimately leaving you with a much different opinion of them at the end of the game compared to the one you had at the beginning.

The visual style is that of an anime that you will find in many Japanese titles that gives everything a bright and deceptively friendly look, but that is exactly what makes the horror within so much more shocking. The visuals are only appealing on the surface, as when you get close enough you will see that just about everything in this game is twisted and horrifying. My only gripe with the visuals is that developer Spike Chunsoft decided to go with pink blood and this made many of the murder scenes less shocking, in my opinion. I often times wondered why the blood was pink rather than completely being mortified by the murder, and the color of the blood should have been just about the last thing on my mind in that situation.

Exploring Hope’s Peak Academy is also very engaging, because after each chapter a new floor of the school opens up that contains more secrets for you to unravel. Sometimes the things that you will find will be relative to the upcoming trial, but other times you will find things that will help uncover the secrets of the school, itself. There is so much detail in every room inside the school, making the search of every nook and cranny extremely exciting and imperative.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc Students

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is easily one of the most jaw-dropping games I’ve ever experienced, and is a definite contender for game of the year. It doesn’t have the gameplay of a typical game you come across today, but the writing, visual style and immersion factors are so riveting that it more than makes up for it. This is a game that completely sucks you in, forcing you to question just as much as the other characters are about what the hell is going on. If you own a PlayStation Vita and are looking for an experience that will continually shock you, then look no further than Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.


Mario Golf World Tour Review

Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS) Review – Glad To Be Back On The Green With Mario

When it comes to the sports genre in gaming, I tend to avoid it all together. I’ve owned many of them in the past, but there’s only so much that can be done before the whole genre gets very stale. Sure, you get your prettier graphics and your annual roster update, but if you’ve played one game in a particular sports genre then you’ve basically played them all.

There is one exception to that rule, however, and that is the Mario sports series. When I hear that I will be able to do all kinds of crazy stuff in a typical sports genre, that’s where I get interested. My first foray into the Mario sports series was with none other than Mario Golf 64. It was a pretty simple game, as you just picked a player and you were off to face other golfing rivals on a variety of different courses, enter a tournament and what not. It was a golf game that was ridiculously fun, and as such kicked off my love for the Mario sports series.

Which brings us to Mario Golf: World Tour. This 3DS game is the first in the Mario Golf series in about 10 years, so I was obviously excited as heck to hear that Mario would be hitting the green again. The major thing that World Tour adds to the series is the online function, which allows you to play with others all around the world in vs matches or tournaments. This gives the game a lot of replay value, as the gameplay is so sound that it’s always a blast to face off against others.

Pretty much everything else that is on offer by Mario Golf: World Tour is essentially a new version of what we usually see in the series. Like the portable titles, you are given a hub world that is full of many of the characters from the Mario world all standing around just waiting for you to talk to them so they can tell you relevant or completely irrelevant information. The hub world is a feature that I’m glad to see back, as it adds some meat to the typical sports formula and the Mario world is always full of charm.

At the start of the game it is your mission to begin a practice round so that your handicap can be calculated. Once your skill has been tested you are then eligible to enter the first of the 3 major tournaments that the game has to offer. The first one is pretty straight-forward and contains courses that lack any major wind, obstacles or uneven terrain. It’s essential that you master all of the intricacies of the gameplay here, though, because it won’t be long before the game throws everything and the kitchen sink at you.

World Tour offers noobs of the series a pretty forgiving swing mechanic that only requires you to press the button once when you’re swinging the club. This means that you won’t have to worry about missing the marker when the meter comes back and your ball goes flying off target. Though you can use this feature and do relatively well, I find that the traditional style is the most rewarding, as it also allows you to add some spin to the ball and control what it does when it lands on the green.

Outside of the traditional 9 or 18 hole scenarios there are challenges that ask you to collect as many coins as you can, hit the ball through all of the rings in a course or complete each course in just 2 shots. They add a nice amount of variety, but none of them are as fun as the traditional mode. They do allow you to unlock new equipment for your characters, though, so it is important to give them a shot at some point.

Speaking of equipment, World Tour allows you to unlock and purchase new clubs, balls and gear by completing challenges or spending coins at the shops. This equipment will improve various stats like power, control and trajectory, which is definitely important if you want an edge once you hit the online world.

Mario Golf: World Tour doesn’t do much to really re-invigorate the franchise and the online function is pretty bare-bones. However, the gameplay continues to be very addicting and rewarding as you improve your game and master the effects of wind, obstacles and angles, making it an extremely satisfying experience. It may be a little light on features, but Mario Golf: World Tour is definitely the place to go if you’re looking for a non-traditional golf experience.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (PlayStation 4) Review – Oh Well, It Tried

Whenever you have a game coming out that is an adaptation of a movie, you’re more than likely in for a steaming pile of cow dung. It’s painfully obvious that everyone involved are only looking to cash in on the huge movie that is also coming out, and don’t really have the passion or time to put anything really impressive in the game.

So, you really can’t blame me for looking at The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game and thinking, “Well, this will probably suck.” However, while it certainly isn’t anything special, the game does have some bright spots that fans of the Spider-Man series will more than likely eat up.

The game picks up where just about every Spider-Man origins story does; Peter Parker (Spider-Man) lets a criminal go as a means of getting back at a guy that wronged him, and that very criminal ends up murdering his uncle Ben. As a result of this, Peter Parker swears to protect his city from bad guys as a means of making his uncle proud and honoring his honest teachings. Pretty much everyone knows this story by now, but I guess it’s to get newcomers up to speed.

What follows is very different events compared to the new movie. The game has many different villains that are thrown at you almost like an arcade game, and through it all you get some semblance of a narrative. Peter Parker’s best friend Harry Osborn is suffering from a disease that killed his father, and he wants Spider-Man’s blood to study in order to better understanding a potential mutation he is considering. Of course, Harry Osborn is also mixed in with some bad people, mainly Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin) who joins forces with Harry in order to fund a privatized police force called Enhanced Crime Task Force meant to contain the big criminals.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The combat in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is very basic. Essentially, it’s a dumbed-down version of what is found in the Batman: Arkham games, with far less precision and fluidity. It’s also very easy, meaning that even if there are swarms of enemies around you, as long as you don’t do anything stupid you will have nothing to worry about. Some of the fight animations look pretty cool, like when you’re finishing off a foe and Spider-Man unleashes a cool punch-kick combo that ends with the enemy flying across the room. Most enemies in the game can be defeated with the exact same formula of mashing the attack button, but occasionally you’ll come across aerial or armored enemies that require a bit more thought.

The bosses in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 do all have a unique feeling to them, requiring you to employ different tactics than you are used to in regular combat. One such boss fight has you using your spider-senses to pinpoint exactly where the boss is hiding before he attacks you unseen. However, once you reveal the bosses weakness you just mash away at the attack button the boss will be taken down rather quickly. There was also one boss that I found ripped off another boss fight from Batman: Arkham Asylum pretty much exactly, which is not cool!

When it comes to gameplay progression in this game, you are given a pretty-basic leveling system. As you complete missions you are given points to put towards enhancing attacks, web-slinging or spidey-senses. Since the game’s combat is so easy, leveling up your stats just makes the combat more easy and tedious. It’s cool to have the options to improve your character, but when they really aren’t necessary then there isn’t any sense of accomplishment you get for acquiring them.

As with any Spider-Man game worth its salts, web-slinging around the big city is one of the main selling points, and in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that is no different. Swinging from buildings, trees and lamp-posts is an absolute blast, allowing you to cover huge distances in a very short amount of time. It’s always a thrill making your way up some of the tallest buildings in the city and then diving off and seeing the city zip past your eyes. You can also climb and run up the side of walls, making just about any area in the city accessible. The game offers some sidequests that involve collecting comic books, beating up thugs and rescuing civilians, but they all follow the same formula and come up so frequently that you’ll probably end up avoiding them.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

As far as video game adaptations of movies go, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could be a lot worse. Unfortunately, it could also be a lot better. The graphics are merely average, the combat is fun but too simplistic and the narrative is all over the place. If you’re a fan of the Spider-Man brand than you will no doubt find something to enjoy here, but if you’re looking for a third-person superhero game with deep mechanics and lots of polish, you are not going to find them in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Objectionable / Respectable

Dark Souls II Review PlayStation 3

Dark Souls II (PlayStation 3) Review – No Pain, No Gain

Do you ever find yourself feeling a bit bored with modern video games? Perhaps you’re finding that there really isn’t all that much of a challenge being offered and that you can make it through just about any game with little to no pain? Well, if you don’t know by now, then let me inform you that developer From Software’s Souls series is for you. The series takes the tried & true role-playing hack and slash formula, and gives it a modern-day sheen with a difficulty that makes most games today seem like a piece of cake. Here we have Dark Souls II and, with no surprise, it is just as good as its excellent predecessors.

When you first dive into the world of Dark Souls II, you’re in an unknown place and you’re only real goal is to explore. You enter a house filled with creepy old ladies that tell you all about how important souls are, and scare the crap out of you by telling you that you will die again and again and again. This is where you are given the ability to choose your class and perks, ranging from the usual classes that will give you varying degrees of strength, magic, endurance, speed and so on.

The world in Dark Souls II is known as Drangleic, which is the home of a kingdom with a truly dark background. As you move on it isn’t long until you come across the first town of Drangleic, Majula, which serves as the games hub world. It’s here that you will use the souls found by enemies to upgrade your weapons, armor and stats, purchase new items and equipment and much more. The world of Dark Souls II is presented in a similarly open-world manner like the original Dark Souls, so it’s nice to have a place to come back to to stock up on supplies and beef up your character. This reminded me a bit of the hub world that was in Demon’s Souls, which is a very good thing, in my book.

Dark Souls Review 1

Like previous Souls games, the main focus is on exploration and combat. You have a vague idea of the story and what you need to do to complete the game, but the majority of your time will be spent cautiously treading through new areas and taking on unthinkable amounts of deadly monsters. While there may be some that would like a bit more story and cutscenes, I think that this is one of the main things that makes the Souls series stand out. In a world where games are becoming more and more like movies and more emphasis is being put on production values and big sequences, Dark Souls II constantly has you immersed in its world thanks to its constant gameplay mode that doesn’t even allow you to pause.

As you make your way through the game you come across new areas, and when you get to a new area it is your mission to get to the end of it an face the boss (or bosses) that reside at the end. Some areas will have environmental traps or dangers like lava, arrows, fake treasure chests, hidden pits and more. The enemies are all truly viscous, as even the smallest of foes can kill you quickly if you’re not careful. The bosses of the game, (which there are more of than any other Souls game) will also test your sanity and make you utilize trial & error before you finally vanquish your foe. Thus, every aspect of the Dark Souls II world is created to make your life living nightmare.

The beauty of Dark Souls II is that you have little to no idea about where to go next. You are simply thrown into a terrifying world with a very vague idea of what to do, but after that you are on your own. This makes the tensions and sense of awe that much more tangible as you progress through the game, because you truly never know what could be lurking around the corner. It’s up to you to dive in head first and take on all of the game’s trials in order to grow stronger. This is done largely by the collection of souls, which are acquired from fallen enemies, bosses and treasure chests. You want to make sure that you have a solid idea about what kind of character you want to build, as souls are precious and, if used incorrectly, could get you in a lot of trouble.

Dark Souls Review 2

The mechanics of Dark Souls II remains similar to that of previous games in the series. You have a health meter and a stamina meter, and both can be improved by equipment or by leveling up with souls. Stamina is very important because it dictates how many times you can attack before your character is winded and needs to recharge. The total understanding of how much stamina your attacks take is vital to know, because if you take one swing too many then you leave yourself open for what very well could be a quick death. This isn’t a game that you can get through by just charging through, and if you attempt to play it that way it will only bring you a lot of frustration and a lot of death.

There are a few tweaks that have been made to the formula, and they are all to make the game even harder than previous installments. First up is the fact that there are limited enemy respawns at each bonfire. This means that when you kill the enemies in the area a certain amount of times they will no longer respawn. You may think this is a good thing, but in reality this now means that you can’t stay in one spot and farm souls infinitely any more. Another major tweak is that you can be invaded by other players at any time, regardless of your characters human or hollowed state. These things add enough of a wrench into the gameplay to make the experience feel even more brutal and unforgiving than ever before.

Being invaded by other players in Dark Souls II continues to be as much of a gut-wrenching experience as it was previously. As you wander through certain locales and see the message pop up at the bottom of you screen, it never failed to make me stop in my tracks and become legitimately scared. Not only does this game allow invasions happen at any time, but it also adds a twist to the circumstances in which said invasions take place. For example: if you utilize a certain item in the game, you summon an enemy player into your world where your world’s monsters will focus there attacks on them. When this happens, it’s safe to say that you feel utterly helpless and wish all kinds of bodily harm on the sick SOB that did this to you.

Dark Souls II Review 3

Dark Souls II is phenomenal across the board. Like its predecessors, it consistently enthralls you in its world and constantly asks you to overcome insurmountable odds. The world of Drangleic is filled to the brim with personality and secrets, which all beg you to come and discover them in a quest that can easily last you well over 60 hours. It may not introduce anything strikingly different compared to previous games in the series, but when the execution of ever facet of the game is done so well I can’t fault it. The Souls series continues to be a breath of fresh air in an industry that is increasingly becoming one about holding your hand and flashing pretty colors in front of you, and Dark Souls II is yet another game that kicks that notion (and you) in the balls.


LEGO The Hobbit

LEGO The Hobbit (Xbox One) Review – Charming, But A Bit Too Familiar

The LEGO series is one of the most highly-regarded franchises that specializes in taking popular licenses and putting the LEGO spin on them. Travelers Tales have been helming the LEGO series of video games for a while now, bringing beloved series such as Star Wars and Harry Potter to LEGO form with great results. However, the amount of LEGO games that have been coming out lately has increased A LOT, and LEGO The Hobbit happens to be smack in the middle of these seemingly-endless LEGO games. Is the LEGO formula getting stale? Well, a little bit.

For those of you not in the know, The Hobbit tells the story of the peaceful and reserved Bilbo Baggins (the eponymous hobbit) who suddenly finds himself thrown into a huge adventure when the wizard Gandalf comes knocking on his door. He brushes the old wizard off at first, but when a crowd of dwarves end up coming to Bilbo’s home, eat all of his food and talk of the home that they are trying to get back form the evil dragon Smaug, he ends up caving in and going along.

I can’t state enough how wonderfully the LEGO visuals and Tolkien’s world mix together in this game, as it has a light-hearted charm but also a sense of epic scale and wonder. Even though almost everything is made out of LEGOs, the environments look lush and detailed, always making the world seem truly vast and exciting. The character models are also very nice, with all of our favorite hobbits, wizards, dwarves and elves looking fabulous in their new LEGO forms.


Accompanying the visual charm is the dialogue’s charm, with every character interaction being absolutely precious and often hilarious. The sense of humor in this game is perfect, as many of the more serious and dramatic moments from The Hobbit movies are parodied in a way that made me laugh many times. The game is able to balance these tonal shifts very well, as I never thought that the comedy was forced or the sense of conflict too overbearing.

Like in just about every LEGO game, the gameplay is rather simple and to-the-point. You run around collecting LEGO pieces that you can use to purchase or upgrade things, and you get those LEGO pieces by laying waste to just about anything that is in your way.You also get them from defeating enemies, of which you will come across many of in the game. This is probably where LEGO The Hobbit stumbles the most, as the combat scenarios quickly get repetitive due to their lack of variety and difficulty. Luckily there are enough impressive locales and characters to make these situations not as problematic as they otherwise would be.

The world of LEGO The Hobbit is impressively large, offering you plenty of things to do outside of the main game. As you make your way across Middle-earth you will come across a variety of interesting characters that will need your help in some way or another, and it’s up to you to lend a helping hand. Some of these characters will ask you to help them find a missing person, while others will be looking for a particular LEGO piece that you need to hunt down. The rewards for completing these quests are nice enough, but due to the game’s very easy difficulty they aren’t very necessary.


LEGO The Hobbit presents a beautiful world that blends both LEGO and Tolkien together in an amazing way, but it’s the series’ lack of gameplay variety and difficulty that keeps it from being a true knockout. Luckily, even if you have the slightest interest in either LEGO or Tolkien you will probably be more than happy to overlook its flaws and get swept away in this charming adventure. LEGO The Hobbit may not be as perfect as it could have been, but it nevertheless is an enjoyable adventure that just about anyone can find some value in.