Tag Archives: Return to the Review

Return to the Review: Mario Kart DS

Back in 2005, the DS was finally picking up steam in the game department as better games got released. Back then I wrote a reader review for Mario Kart DS. It was a pretty good game, that and it’s focus on Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, made playing Mario Kart online fun, despite it’s flaws and easy exploits. It’s a shame that the 3DS game didn’t interest me in the slightest…

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Return to the Review: Gunstar Super Heroes on the GameBoy Advance

I wrote this for IGN’s reader review section back in 2005. I was actually excited to play this game, as I loved the first game on the MegaDrive. Turned out that what was advertised as a sequel to the game, would turn into a so-so remake with a dusting of GBA quality 2D graphics minus the awesome gun combos from the original. It’s an all-right game, but the original is superior! Which you can now download on the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.

In the US and Japan it’s called Super Heroes, and in Europe it’s called Future Heroes.
I own both the Megadrive/Genesis game and now the new Gunstar Future Heroes (Gunstar Super Heroes in the US). Playing this game has brought back some good times, however in some cases it’s not as I though it would be. First off I’ll give some Pros about this game so that I don’t sound like I’m biased…
First off, there are some added extras levels that haven’t been seen in the old game. The first level is Earth, although the old game was meant to be based on Earth anyway, it felt like something new, as the rest of the game I felt were just copies of the old Megadrive game. New stuff on the GBA game also includes levels where you’re on top on an aircraft shooting enemies; crazy little mini games were you collect chicks that felt very much like the classic Sega arcade game “Flicky”. And you fly in a helicopter in a top-down arcade shooter style with controls similar to Xevious where you can drop bombs to enemy ground vehicles. 

Another thing I found that was cool in this game was that you can play as either Red or Blue independently, unlike the Megadrive game where Red was always Player 1 and Blue was always Player 2. This gives people the opportunity to play as both characters. However despite the game being several decades after the old game, all the characters still have the same name from the old game, would’ve been nice to see something new.
And now onto the bad things…
Regrettably the game really isn’t to much of a sequel, it’s more of a remake. The Game itself pretty much has the same levels, characters and bosses from the previous game (all except the first level). This is a same because I really wanted to see something new, after playing the first level with the huge mecha, it just seemed to play in the same way as the old game did. Onto bosses again, if people remember, the second mid-boss of the Pyramid level, Braavoo Man, was generated out of polygons on the Megadrive game, OK so they were all cubes, but for a Megadrive game that was impressive. However in the GBA game, even though the intro uses some polygons, Braavoo Man is just a collection of 2D sprites, Yet again is a shame because I was expecting Braavoo man to use the same 3D polygons he did back on the Megadrive game.

The old game had the facility to mix and match weapons, for example you can Mix a force beam with a chaser or a Chaser with a blaze beam. You can also mix two of the same beam to give yourself a really powerful weapon. However in the new game, it doesn’t exist. Depending on who you play as, you only have the ability to swap weapons, you can’t mix them. If you play as Red you get Force, Blaze and Chase, and if you play as Blue you get Lighting, Chase and Blaze. Again, as I played the old game before, I’m disappointed about this because I had loads of fun experimenting with the mixed weapons in the old game.
On to my conclusion…
The game is very fun to play, however if you played and loved the old game, you may be disappointed. However some aspects of the game still makes it fun to play, and even if it is a remake, I still love Gunstar. It would’ve been nice to see new stuff in the game. If you haven’t got the old game or haven’t played the old game, you really should get this game so you get a taste of the Gunstar game. It’s just that if you’re a hardcore Gunstar fan, don’t expect fireworks to go off.
Bright or Dull? Well lets says it’s a fluorescent bulb at best…

Return to the Review: Wii Classic Controller

I wrote this back in 2006 for NerdBlurb when the Wii was released. Bare in mind this was before the better Classic Controller Pro came out. It was just weird at the time that Nintendo forced the GameCube controller to have it’s buttons A to A, B to B, etc-etc, when they were in the position compared to a SNES controller. So having a Classic controller helped. Though it felt really weird to play with one for N64 games.
So… you’ve downloaded a few games onto your Wii, and you want to get playing, you could use a GameCube Controller. However you can buy a Wii Classic controller for £15/$20. So why should you buy it when you can use a GameCube controller?
First off, playing SNES games with the GCN controller is awkward, back then, the “B” button became the new “A” button to jump, and the new “Y” button became the new “B”. The thing is, Nintendo has been literal about what the buttons, so A on the GCN is A on the SNES pad, which mean if you’re playing Super Mario World, you’ll be spin jumping instead of normal jumping, plus have you ever tried pressing B and Y together on a GCN pad? It’s quite awkward to pull off unless you’re holding the controller in an odd way.
The Controller itself is very comfortable, think of it as a SNES pad, but a tad thicker. Just like the SNES pad, it features the Dpad, A, B, X and Y face buttons and the L and R buttons; however an additional Z buttons (ZL and ZR), two analogue sticks and a home button are available on the pad for N64 and Wii Home options. The L and R buttons are sprung just like the GCN pad’s triggers, including the digital click. This could be used for original download games for the Wii. There’s a button in between the ZL and ZR buttons that controls a sort of lock on the back of the pad; there are two slots that looks like something can be attached to the back of the Classic controller.
So, why should you buy a Wii Classic controller? Well it really depends on what games you’re going to get, the GCN pad feels OK for all the other consoles (NES, N64, MD/Gen and TG-16), and it’s just a pain for SNES games. I’d say buy it if you’re going to get a lot of SNES games from the Wii Shop, if not, you might not really need it. Otherwise it’s a very nice controller that guarantees to work on all VC games, although the GCN controller at the moment works on all VC games, Sega and Hudson have mentioned that the GCN may not work on up coming MegaDrive/Genesis and TurboGrafix-16 games.
Pros:
  • Guarantees to work on all VC games.
  • Comfortable.
  • Button layout matches SNES pad.
  • Wireless (connected to the Wii Remote).
Cons:
  • Isn’t necessary for other VC games (NES, N64, MD/Gen and TG16).
  • The two sticks a little too close to each other.
  • Requires a Wii remote to work.

So… That was my review and analysis of the Wii Classic controller in 2006. As I said above, Nintendo later on would release the Classic controller Pro that would be bigger and a lot more comfortable than the original classic controller. Shame it didn’t come with rumble or made better for N64 games, but it was a good controller for virtual console, and Wii disc based games that used it. I’ll review the Classic Controller Pro later on…

Return to the Review: Metroid Other M

Here’s a review I wrote for the Game Gavel Forums back in 2010 about a month after the launch of the latest Metroid game: Other M. It has a very different “feel” to most Metroid games, as it actually has drama in it this time, and to some fans of the franchise, and to some over-paid reviewers, they don’t like the game so much. Me personally, I didn’t mind it too much, though it’s not the best in the franchise, but if you hunt on the inter-webs you’ll find overly passionate (paid) individuals that hate on the game a little too much. So here’s a reasonable review of Metroid Other M…
One Nintendo franchise I really enjoy is the Metroid series, it’s dark secluded caves, the claustrophobic environments, and more importantly, video game’s first real heroine, Samus Aran. Truth to be told, with the Metroid series being 24 years old, there’s not much we know about Samus. We closest we ever got to was the mention of Adam Malkovich in Metroid Fusion, and even then, Adam Malkovich was an AI in Metroid Fusion. Metroid Other M takes that part of the story of explains it in bigger detail, for the first time in 24 years we begin to understand who Samus is as a person rather than a bounty hunter in cybernetic suit. As Metroid Fusion took it’s first baby step into a story line for the franchise, Metroid Other M does a full-on running jump! 
First thing first to expect from this game, cut scenes, something that the series rarely sees, there were some in Fusion and a few in Prime 3 Corruption, but cut scenes in this game are plentiful. However this not a bad thing, if we’re going to compare this with something like Metal Gear Solid 4 for example, yes MGS4 is still boring with it’s long and derivative cut scenes that can ruin the experience, whilst Metroid Other M uses cut scenes properly and neatly, only putting them in parts of the game where it needs to be, in parts where it makes sense, and more importantly, to make a story. There are plenty of cut scenes in this game, however it’s done right and doesn’t ruin the tension of gameplay or make you get bored, they snappy, short, and to the point, never allowing itself to go off course and wander off into some silly tangent, or in MGS4’s case, a guilty case of product placement (Sony Bluray and Apple iPod). Speaking of story, you’ll notice that in this game Samus appears to be a bit more submissive compared to her “lone wolf”, hyper independent personalty of old. This is mainly because of her rendezvous with Adam Malkovich, her old Commander in the Galactic Federation; he was a like a Father to her, so it’s clear to see that her personalty would suddenly change, however the many joys of the internet show many girl gamers get upset that Samus is taken orders from a man, Heavens Above! But despite the plentiful cases of internet whining, this is to show how much Samus respects Adam, as a Father figure and a superior, there’s a part of the story that tells how Samus felt guilty because she left the Galactic Federation to become a Bounty Hunter, as if she left her job as being a soldier to do her own thing, something that she feels now was a selfish thing to do. Regardless of what people say on the Internet, I personally feel that the story fits the game quite well, and puts a perceptive on Samus that we haven’t seen before. 
Gameplay wise, this is where it might go a bit off course, especially if you’re expecting something. A noticeable thing I saw on the internet are people complaining about the game because it wasn’t “Metroid” enough. In my honest opinion this is case of that they were thinking that is game was going to be another Super Metroid or something more on the lines of Xbox Live Arcade’s Shadow Complex. No, Metroid Other M is nothing like these, and it’s whiny people on the net that should be guilty of “assuming” that a game they see in video and picture on the internet should be anything like another game until they play it. Before you mention it, no, Metroid Other M is not a game were it plays on rails and more Samus left or right on a two dimensional plain. Rather, it’s still a three dimensional game where by you can move Samus in all directions, and yes you’re doing this with a dpad rather then an analogue stick, just like the early Crash Bandicoot games. As you may have seen, the game is played using the Wii remote like an NES controller, the “1” button shoots, the “2” button jumps, and the “A” button puts Samus into her morph ball. To add to that, Samus does have a first person view by pointing the Wii remote to the TV and pointing at enemies to shoot at, shooting missiles at breaking walls (if you’re wondering, missiles in this game can only be used in first person, something I didn’t like too much), and scanning objects. Another form of control is the new recharge system the game has, you do this by point the Wii remote up towards the ceiling, twisting it 90 degrees and pressing the “A” button, this recharges your health and missiles, now you’re thinking, “hold on a minute, you can recharge health?”, Yes and No, firstly enemies in this game do not drop any items, the only ever item drop I’ve seen in the game in an optional beam you can get in the game that isn’t necessary to beat the game with; but no, there are no health items or spare missiles to collect from enemies in this game, you use the recharge to get more missiles when you’re low, and you recharge health when you’re getting very low, you can’t do this until you only have 30 HP left, if you’re over 30 HP you can’t refill health until you reach a save point. Combat in this game is both similar and different at the same time, and this is where you can feel where Team Ninja got involved in this game. Another new feature to this game is something called Sense-Move, really it’s just a fancy name to call “dodging”, but it works by tapping the dpad in a direction just before being hit by a melee attack or a laser. It can be tricky at first, but you’ll start to notice that different enemies react to the Sense-Move differently, almost in the same way to something like Punch-Out, once you work out their weaknesses and timing, you’ll be an invincible force, though in my experience of the game, I already got the plasma beam before I got used the majority of each enemies timing and weaknesses. Whilst shooting your gun, Samus now auto targets, it may sound like a bad idea, however when you’re playing a third person shooter that doesn’t have it’s camera behind the shoulder, you need auto targeting, especially when you’re jumping around and have enemies in every direction. That’s not to say that it always work out to be the easiest way, sometimes it doesn’t work, however I’m great-full to have this feature, because I can imagine that it’ll be a lot worse without the auto targeting. 
In certain parts of the game, in most cases these happen right after a cut scene, you go into first person and you have to scan for something, difference being you can’t get out of the first person mode until you find it. This to me in the most disappointing part of the game, mainly because what you’re looking for it something that appears on your TV very very small and/or so dark you won’t notice it. A great example of this is a part where Samus finds herself inside a large hive, and you have to play this “spot something” game, the problem was I had to look up on GameFAQs to find out what the hell I was meant to look at, but there are these larvae that you have to scan, that are pretty far away, and in a really dark spot! If you’re going to play this game, make sure you have a TV with a really good contrast ratio and brightness because you’ll need it! 
Something in the game I did like though is this new feature where by once you clear a room of it’s enemies, you get a hint on your map where the closest missile or health upgrade is kept, what’s even better is that when you beat the game the first time round, you can return back to the game and the hints stay there, allowing you to track down more upgrades you couldn’t get before. One thing I will say though, for you complete-ists out there, it’s impossible to beat the game first time with 100%, you need to at least beat the final boss first before you can do it, there are parts at the very beginning of the game that get blocked off that have upgrades inside that you can’t get with ordinary weapons, it only opens up once you beat the final boss. 
In conclusion, the game is pretty good, and can be classed as one of the better Wii games this year, however as a part of the Metroid series, it isn’t quite up there with the likes of Super Metroid and Metroid Prime; however it’s defiantly not as hollow and mediocre such as Metroid 2 and Metroid Prime Hunters. The controls are a little debatable, however it’s a case of getting use to, and it’s not quite an easy learning curve. Metroid fans should defiantly pick this game up and play it, however there’s one thing to make clear about this game, don’t play it with ANY EXPECTATIONS, no it isn’t like Super Metroid, and no it’s not like Shadow Complex, because with that in mind there’s bound to be something small and worthless that you’ll dislike that will ruin the experience for you. Just take the game as an understanding behind Samus’ history, and an example of what to expect in future Metroid titles.
…So, be it if you like it or not, I liked it, not because I’m a Metroid fan, but because it’s a good game, sure it’s not the perfect game, but it’s worthy of anyone’s Wii game shelf!

Return to the Review: Galaga Legions

OK, here’s a section I’m going to introduce, “Return to the Review”, this is where I pull out a review I wrote back a few years a go. So here’s a review for XBox Live Arcade’s Galaga Legions.

Galaga was one game that I remember when I was very small, and to hear that it would get a proper sequel sound awesome considering that all the other versions of this game were just ports or remakes of the classic arcade game. 
The game feels like Geometry Wars in which you can move across the whole screen; however you can only shoot up. This is where the satellites come in; you can place a satellite to shoot up, down, left and right with the right analogue stick, however the satellites stays static in that place until you go back to it and pick it up by moving over it. This is where I felt a little put off by this game, the original Galaga was nothing like this, it was more like a beefed up version of Space Invaders, where you can only move left and right and just shoot upwards. 
Another part of this game that I was disappointed with is it’s method of shooting, there’s two ways or doing this, Automatic and Manual mode. Automatic mode shoots lasers without the need to press the right trigger, whilst Manual mode needs the player to pull the right trigger in order to shoot; but the shooting it more like a modern Sh’mup where you create a horde of lasers rather than shooting individual lasers with multiple button presses. Plus the point to the original Galaga game was all to do with how accurate you gun down the aliens, but this is gone in this new game. In general the game doesn’t really feel like a Galaga game at all, and more like a new game that sports sprites that match those seen in the Galaga arcade game. 
However I did find some things in the gameplay that I did enjoy. In certain points in each area of the game, a possession item will appear, the idea to this is that you keep on shooting it until it breaks, and it’ll cause a black hole that consumes all enemies on the screen. After a few seconds the consumed aliens will come back out, but they’ll be on your side and will allow you to shoot a huge barrage of lasers against the enemy, plus they can attach themselves to the satellites meaning that the added fire power can be shot in each direction. 
As for the graphics, the game is presented in a cool updated mode, which is pretty to look at. At the same time there are two different style modes, Original mode, where you get the updated looking ship, and Vintage mode, where you can play with the original ship seen in the arcade game; however in Vintage mode you’ll only get a sprite change, the background is the same like in Original mode. The game has a look that matches itself with Pac Man Championship Edition; Smooth, Updated, yet at the same time not totally over the top; which is good considering that we all know what happened to Sonic the Hedgehog. I wished that I own an HDTV to really see what this game is like in 720p. 

Sound? Well the game features the original score heard from the arcade game, yet it remixes it into an awesome soundtrack. What’s nice about the music is that just like the graphics; it’s updated, but not totally over the top, and will leave you humming to it. Sound effects on the other hand are a little lack-luster, rather than coming up with new ways to update the classic sounds of lasers, alien swoops and explosions; it sticks to more of an Ikaruga style sound effects where the lasers and explosions match that of modern Sh’mups. It’s not a bad thing, but since PacMan C.E. managed to keep all the sound effects in place, you’d think they would do the same here. 
In conclusion, this is an OK game; it’s not bad, but it’s not amazing. If I was to compare games here; Pac Man C.E. is better than Galaga Legions, and so is Space Invaders Extreme. Space Invaders Extreme is a great example of how you reinvent an old game; Galaga Legions though isn’t quite there. As I mentioned above, it’s more of a new game that inherits graphics from an older game. I could easily think of plenty of ways to improve this game and make it feel like Galaga, just like how Pac Man C.E. was to Pac Man, and how Space Invaders Extreme was to Space Invaders. In my opinion Namco should have worked on this game a little longer and work in ways to make it feel a lot more like the classic arcade game. In the long run it’s not bad, and I’m not saying it totally stinks, but as I’ve played the original before, I was expecting more of the same, but it turns into something a lot more different. 
Should I recommend this game? This is where it gets tough… like I said, it’s not a bad game, but retro gamers may feel put off from its new gameplay mechanics. However the “Halo” crowd may enjoy this game, but will have no idea what its legacy is. For 800 Microsoft points, the game does feel a little steep considering that it feels like another twin stick shooter; its best that you download both demos of Legions and the Original arcade game onto your hard drive and personally decide which game you like better. In this case I would’ve chosen the original game, but hey, I wouldn’t be able to write this review without getting the full version of this game!