Friday, April 30, 2010

Kirby Super Star Ultra Review

In 1996, Nintendo released what became one of the many cult hits on the SNES: Kirby Super Star. Often regarded as the best game in the series, HAL decided to redo the game 12 years later on the DS, and what came out is arguably one of the Best DS games ever to be releaced.

Kirby Super Star Ultra's main selling point is its inclusion of multiple games. I'll be going through each games, telling you which ones are the best.

Spring Breeze: A remake of Kirby's Dreamland on the Game Boy. It's only 4 short levels. Once you play through it once, you'll most likely not come back to it.

Dyna Blade: Now you can walk around a world map and choose about 6 levels, each much larger than Spring Breeze's. There's secrets in each world, but once you complete this, there's not much incentive to go back to it.

The Great Cave Offensive: This is where the games get good. You're trapped in one HUGE mine and are tasked with collecting all 60 treasure chests. You can beat it without getting a single chest, but if you want to 100% the whole game (and trust me, you do), finding all the treasures can be a gruelingly hard task. It would've been nice if there was a more detailed map at the bottom screen a la Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, but this is still a fun game.

Gourmet Race: A collection of three races against Dedede. You can go for Time Trials and the highest score, but playing it with a friend is way more fun.

Revenge of Meta-Knight: You go through about 10 timed levels, and when you beat a level, you destroy different parts of the Halebird. It's fast and frantic fun, and the dialoge that spreads out on the bottom screen is often times humorous.

Milky Way Wishes: There are 7 levels you can choose from, but they're harder than previous ones and with a huge new gameplay mechanic: Kirby has lost his power to copy abilites, so he must collect various "Copy Cards" that allow him to use an ability anytime by tapping it on the bottom screen. This is a great mechanic and it's a lot of fun to test every single one of each abilities attacks.

Revenge of the King: A significantly enhanced version of Spring Breeze, now it is a lot harder, and more fun. The starship battle against Kabulla is especially fun.

Meta Knightmare Ultra: You play through Spring Breeze, Dyna Blade, Great Cave Offensive, Revenge of Meta-Knight, and Milky Way Wishes as Meta Knight, and try to beat them as fast as you can. Playing as Meta-Knight is a blast, and by defeating enemies he gains "Order Points", which can allow him to do simple things like calling out a Helper Knight to killing everything on the screen with an awe-inspiring Mach Tornado.

The Arena: You go through 19 bosses in a row with only one life and 5 Maximum Tomatoes as fast as possible. It's pretty hard, but nowhere near the challenge as the later arena.

Helper to Hero: Instead of playing as Kirby, you play as one of about 20 Helper friends, which are basically manifestations of his Copy Abilites. It is slightly easier than the Arena, and you get a top-secret video if you beat it as each of the Helpers.

The True Arena: Oh boy. This is without a dought the hardest challenge in the series, because you have to face all-revamped versions of the previous Arena Challengers, and they can inflict massive ammounts of damage. Add that to the fact that you only have 4/5 of a M Tomato to heal with, and only one ability to choose from between rounds, and you'll be throwing your DS across the room in no time. But it's hard in the way that's addictive, and you'll be playing it again and again even after you beat it.

There's also multiple smaller Mini-games, and these are great to play in a party atmosphere.

Gameplay: They improved on the original and refined it even more. Massive fun. 9.75
Graphics: The 2D animations look spectacular, and the 3D cutscenes look Gorgeous. 9.5
Audio: It's the Kirby standard: Brilliant. 9.5
Overall: If you love Kirby, Platformers, or like well-adjusted Difficulties, you must play this game. This is the little Pink Puffball at his finest.
9.5 out of 10

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mega Man Review

Fledgling game company Capcom in 1987 came out with a revolutionary game: Rock Man. His first game shot in popularity and soon Rock Man became massively popular. Capcom tried to duplicate it in America, and to rowsing success.

The premise was simple, yet addictive: Choose one of the 6 bosses, beat their level and get their weapon, and repeat. But the real charm came in the Boss Order: using certain weapons on certain bosses, they would fall incredibly easily. The Weapons were cool and effective: The Lightning Strike remains one of the best weapons in Mega Man history. The game played like a Metroid, minus the open world. It's also notorious for being insanely hard. Until Mega Man 9 came, this was the hardest game in the series.

The game also introduced another popular addition to the series: its awesome music. The soundtrack pushed the NES to its max, and is still a joy to listen to today.

The game has gotten several scars through the test of time, though. It's far too short, has little to none bonuses, and may turn people off with its insane hardness. Still, it's a solid play.

Gameplay: Fun. The Mega Man formula still shines. 8.5
Audio: As expected, Rock-awesome. 9.5
Overall: If you're a newb to the series, get Mega Man 2 first. But if you've already played or beaten another Mega Man, this is a great way to see where the series started.
8.5 out of 10

(And if you thought I would show the American NES boxart, well, you're crazy :P)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wario Ware: D.I.Y. Review

In 2003, Wario made a huge splash on the Game Boy Advance with a great new idea: a collection of microgames, each lasting 5 seconds. This proved so popular Nintendo releaced 4 sequels, but in 2010, they decided to take the already innovative concept even further: by allowing you to make the games.

Wario Ware D.I.Y. starts out by you playing a couple of microgames, then Wario assigns you a monster in his game: Wario Quest. The creativity barely starts there. If you try to create a game immediatly, the game forces you watch the tutorial. Trust me, you'll need it. The game's creation objects are nearly endless. You can create a game that's just about tapping one object, or make a game with graphics and gameplay that would make anyone else go into pure awe. Whatever you want to make, it's all up to you. The tutorials are not boring, and are filled with funny bits from impatient Wario.

The premade microgames are still pretty fun. They range from reflex games, sports games, retro games, and more. Orbulon's games are definitely the hardest, you almost feel like you're playing a Brain Age game when they're on. Probably the best part about the premade microgames is that you can see how they were made, and use those tips to help in your game-creating.

If you get bored of the Game Maker, DIY also offers you an extensive Music Maker, with a whole lot of note options. You can also make custom comics, which are more like still-frames from the Flipnote Studio due to the fact you can only draw in Black and White.

One of the biggest draws to this game is the Distribution Center, where you can share your microgames with friends and enter special design contests. And every week Nintendo allows you to play Superstar games, microgames made by world-famous game creators like Matt Bozon and Sakurai.

The game as a whole is pretty good-looking, and with the right effort, your games can look amazing, also. The music is nice, but no tracks really stick out. The audio is also Ok, but I still feel that Wario's friends deserve a little better voice actors.

Some minor flaws to this game are its color pallete isn't really that great, there could've been more pre-made microgames, the friend codes are still annoying, and you have to pay for Wario Ware D.I.Y. Showcase on WiiWare. C'mon, that should've been free if you have the DS game!
Gameplay: An insanely robust game, music, and comic maker spreads the longevity of this game. The premade microgames are pretty fun, too. 9.25
Graphics: It works. Nothing that spectacular. 7.0
Audio: Excluding the Music Maker, the Audio is fairly sub-par. 7.0
Overall: This game feels like Mario Paint for a new generation. Once you play this game, you can't stop. Easilly one of the best games on the DS.
9.25 out of 10

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bleach: Dark Souls Review

In 2001, Tite Kubo made a brand-new manga that would become one of the most popular in its history: Bleach. It was about Soul Reapers (Shinigamis in the Japanese version) that would deal with evil spirits called Hollows. To state the whole plot of Bleach would take a milenia, but what you really need to know is it is an awesome Anime/Manga definitelly worth your time. But with a popular franchise comes the inevidable licenced crappy game. But Sega knew this would come, so they hired one of the best action game producers, Treasure, to make a Bleach game. The first game, Blade of Fate, became a smash-hit on the DS, and Treasure handeled the sequel, improving it on almost every way.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead)
The game's main story takes place at the very end of the show's third season. A mod soul, Kai, is trying to release all of his bretherin, but ends up causing a massive Hollow invasion in the process. So, Ichigo and friends jump to the action to stop this chaos. The story is set up like Star Fox Command, with multiple branching paths. Treasure knew players would have to play through the game multiple times to get 100%, so they allowed the option to skip events you already played, saving a lot of time. (Though you won't get a money award like usual) The story mode is relatively short and can be completed in about 5 hours.

The big meat of the game, however, is its fighting mode. The game uses the DS's 4-button layout to shoot light, medium, and heavy attacks, as well as side-stepping, all features that are essential in a fighting game. Pressing L allows you to line-jump, and the R button makes you dodge an attack. This is an insanely hardcore button-masher through and throuout, but fighting newbies may feel turned off by this. To make sure anyone can be a victor, Treasure allows you to use special attacks the hard way (a rapid combo of buttons), or the easy way (tapping an icon on the bottom screen). The bottom screen also holds the Spirit Cards, allowing you to hold twice as much as in the first game. These Spirit Cards can be customized and organized in super-strategetic ways.

Of course, it wouldn't be a fighting game without multiplayer, and this game delivers, for the most part. Playing Multi-Card works fast and fluid, but playing with one card can take a LOOOONG time to load. At least in Single-Card you can choose any of the characters. The Wi-fi requires a good router, because playing with a bad one will cause matches to lag like crazy. Still, this is a great multiplayer game.

The sprites in this game are great, as you would expect from Treasure. The Audio is also very faithful to the show, using all the anime's original voice actors. Unfourtunatelly for harcore Otaku, you can't change the language to the Japanese original.

The game also includes a plethora of bonuses, like alternate colors, cards, songs, sounds, and much more. It even includes a dictionary and encyclopedia of all things Bleach, so if you ever wanted to know when Chad's height is, here's your place. The game allows custom avatars, backrounds, and announcer voices.

Gameplay: Fun. Controls well and is good enough to stand out in a crowd. 9.0
Graphics: Awesome. Treasure's mastery at Pixel art is still at large. 9.25
Audio: All the show's original actors are here, but the music feels a little lacking. It definitelly isn't as good as the show's eerie ballade. 7.5
Overall: This is a game that stands out from the norm: a lisenced game that doesn't suck. It's a great starting game for fighting newbies, and good for the fighting vets too, and definitelly pays a perfect fan service to the show.
9.0 out of 10

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

In 1992, Sonic had become a full-blown phenomenon. His first game was causing the Genesis (Mega Drive to Europeans), and he had his own popular cartoon and other merchandise. So Sega made the release of the sequel unlike any other event. They called the event "Sonic 2sday", and the game sold several million copies. And it improved on the original in probably every way.

Sonic 2, first of all, includes a new feature: Tails. He follows you around (but never affects you), collecting rings and being your living shield. He even helps you in battling Robotnik's crazy machines. Another new feature is the Spin Dash. Now you can get a boost at anytime by holding down and jumping. The game still feels like the original Sonic, but it feels smoother and faster. In fact, this might be the fastest speeds ever on the Genesis, or any system. There's absolutely no sense of slowdown, making it still feel as fast today as it was 18 years ago.

The levels in this game are extremelly well-designed. Unlike the first game, there's only two acts per world, but the levels are so huge that it's not a problem. Some examples of levels are a giant Chemical Plant, a giant Casino, a City, and much more. There's tons of secrets in each level for you to explore. It's the perfect length for any platformer.

The music in this game is absolutely breathtaking. Seriosly, listen to this soundtrack on Youtube sometime; It's the single-greatest soundtrack for any game. Period. Words can't describe how good it is.

There are some bad spots in this game, though. Weird glitches sometimes may kill you, Tails feels kinda useless in some areas, and the Sky Pop levels aren't all that fun. Still, ignore these, and this is a great game.

Gameplay: Fun. Speeds developers are still trying to match. 9.75
Audio: Perfect. Still impresses 18 years later. 10
Overall: It's a great game, and the best you can buy for the Genesis. Buy it on the PS3, Wii, or 360 today for a low price, or play it on the Sonic Mega Collection.
9.75 out of 10

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Super Mario Sunshine Review

When the Gamecube launched in 2002, it launched with a rather peculiar game: Luigi's Mansion. In the game, you had to save Mario as his titular sibling by sucking up ghosts in a vacuum. There was absolutely no platforming involved at all. It was a good game, but a year later a true follow-up to the N64 masterpiece appeared on the GCN, and thus Super Mario Sunshine became the most controverial game ever made.

It starts off that Mario, Peach, and Toadsworth are on a royal vacation to the tropical island of Isle Delfino. Things don't look well as soon as you get there, for a giant pile of goop is covering the tarmac. Down the runway you find the Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device(FLUDD for short), and that's where the game's main gimick sets in. The cops come and assume you're the culprit behind this goopy mess, and charge you to clean the whole island. Luckily, your FLUDD can help you with that. By holding R you can spray water, which besides cleaning up goop, can weigh down objects and defeat certain enemies.

The controls are nice and fluid, and actually feel much better than SM64's setup. You can focus the Camera behind Mario easily by just pressing L. Now you would think a game about cleaning up an island would have little platforming, but Sunshine is chock-full of it. Despite certain upgrades to your FLUDD like a Rocket and a Jetpack, some of the jumps in this game are maddengly hard. There are even some levels where you loose your pack completely, and are forced to do Mario 64-style platforming.

Speaking of difficult, this game is pretty hard. Some of the Shine Sprites (this game's equivalent to Stars) are hidden in Hard-to-reach locations, but the real challenge comes in collecting the game's Blue Coins. There are 240 Blue Coins in the whole game, and they are hidden in some of the scariest locations ever. The Red Coin Challenges return, also.

The game's graphics are nice to look at. Despite the slightly slow frame rate, everything moves at a fluid rate. The Bosses are bigger and badder than ever, and showcase some of Nintendo's best designs. The most impressive part of the game is at the Amusement-themed Pinna Park, you have to ride a high-octane Roller Coaster while shooting rockets at a Giant Robotic Bowser. The game's audio doesn't fail to impress either. It may sound like the same theme's being repeated over and over, but they remix it enough for each world. It sounds perfect for a tropical setting. Speaking of each world, there are 8 of them. Sure, that's less than 64's 15 levels, but these worlds are massive areas with plenty of secrets in them. And the game's hub-world, Delfino Plaza, definitelly feels more alive than Peach's Castle.

This game has its problems, though. The camera can sometimes feel buggy, the Underwater parts don't control very well, and the voice acting is a little cheezy. But these are minor issues. The game as a whole controls and feels very good.

Gameplay: Fun. Better than 64's, and more natural than Galaxy's. 9.75
Graphics: A little frame rate issues aside, this is a fine-looking game. 9.25
Audio: Enjoyable. You'll be humming it in no time. 9.5
Final: I really don't get why this game gets so much hate. As a Mario game it's really not that bizzare (Look at Super Mario Bros. 2 and then you'll see bizzare). If you come in with a mindset for a good platformer, you will not be dissapointed. Great game, and, in my opinion, better than 64 and Galaxy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mega Man 10 Review

In 2008, Capcom stunned the world with their revival of their Blue Bomber Mega Man, with 8-bit style. It didn't just feel like a Mega Man game: It felt like a total revival of the glory days of gaming. The game itself played and felt better than any of the Mega Man games before it. But one thing about the game put gamers off: its insane difficulty. The challenge was enough to make anyone except the Mega Man Masters throw their controllers in rage. So its sequel, Mega Man 10, made the game far more axcessible.

Mega Man 10 starts out that a rouge virus, Roboenza, has infected most of the robots. So Mega Man sets off to once again save the day (All these cutscenes are presented in 8-bit fashion.) One thing is different this time: from the get-go you get to play as Proto Man. He make the game harder by taking Double damage and knockback, and can only fire two shots when stationary, but can activate a Shield by jumping and Slide across the ground. (Plus, his running animation is awesome) If you've mastered Mega Man 9, play as him first. Otherwise, play as Mega Man. Another feature is included: Adjustable difficulty settings. Now there's an Easy Mode which puts platforms over spines, makes Enemy attacks weaker, and makes the attacks slower. If you're new to the series, play through this first. But, what you really came for was a Mega Man game, which are always hard challenges. So if you came with that intention, play the Normal Mode, which isn't as Brutally hard as MM9, but close.

The same classic MM formula is still intact: You can play any of the stages in any order, but there is a certain pattern to beat them in that makes the bosses far easier. The Robot Masters this time aren't as creative as previous instalments, but still have pretty cool designs (like Nitro Man). Heck, even Sheep Man has a good design, with his computer-themed stage.

The weapons in this game are pretty cool. My favorites are the Triple Blade (brings back memories of the Metal Blade from Mega Man 2), and the Water Shield (Identical to the Jewel Shield). Admitedly, some are just average (like the Commando Bomb), but they work well overall.

The Music in this game, however, is phenomenal (the Capcom Standard). All the themes fit their designated areas, and never get old. My favorite has to be Commando Man's Desert theme. You really feel like you're in a War in a Barren Wasteland.

There are some blemishes in this package, though. There's no middle ground in the Difficulty settings. Easy is too easy, but Normal is very Hard. Also, in the Time Attack mode, why does the clock still keep ticking in the Pause Menu?

Gameplay: Fun. Despite a few flaws, the Mega Man formula still works to this day. 9.25
Graphics: Terrible by today's standards, but these 8-bit graphics back in the day would be considered goregous. And there's no flicker. 9.0
Audio: One word: Excellent. 9.75
Overall: This is a worthy addition to the fabled franchise. Definitelly worth your 10bucks.
9.5 out of 10