I've actually dabbled with all of the Wario Land games in the past, but that was quite a while ago and all I really remember is that I thought they were good games. I spent the last three nights playing through Wario Land II via the 3DS Virtual Console, and I had a really good time with this one.
First off - it looks GREAT. I often think that the GBC is written off as just a colorized Game Boy, but in reality there's some truly excellent looking graphics on GBC and the color pallet is impressive when used properly. This game is a solid example of that.
I never really liked Wario as a character. He's just kind of goofy and bullish. I don't know. He's certainly not as elegant to control as Mario. But honestly, all of that kind of goes away when playing a game this good.
The whole conceit of Wario Land II - and its sequels - is that Wario can't die. This makes the games way more about puzzle solving than pure platforming. Call me crazy, but I tend to prefer this approach more than in the original Wario Land (AKA: Super Mario Land 3. Ugh. I hate when they can't just decide on a single title...). So like enemies can attack Wario and instead of hurting him it turns him into SOMETHING. Like there's a zombie Wario or a drunk Wario or a Wario on fire and so on, and all of these altered states can be used to your advantage to solve various puzzles. It's good stuff.
The game is a decent length. It probably took me like four hours to run through it on a blind first attempt. Apparently there's lots of alternate paths through the game, as well as a bunch of hidden levels and stuff. So that's cool. It means there's some decent replayability here. I don't really care much about collecting all the treasure or whatever.
But yeah. Definitely a very good game. One I'd play again sometime.
For a long time I was really hard on the N64. Perception, I guess. Back when it launched only one of my friends even bought one. We were in high school at the time, and it just seemed like Playstation was where all the cool edgy games were, and the N64 was for kids. And while I did play a fair amount of that friend's N64, it was basically three games: Mario Kart 64, Super Mario 64, and Goldeneye. Of those three, Mario Kart was the one I was really into.
We definitely did play Mario 64, though. It was the only game he had for a while. However, the issue was that he'd play it a ton and when I got to give it a go, it was just random parts - wherever he had left off. So I wasn't super attached to it. And because that was my full exposure to the game (and the console), I never grew all that attached. Instead, I moved on to Gamecube and felt like Double Dash and Mario Sunshine were better takes on the N64 formula. Like I said, unfair.
Over the past year I've become a newfound fan of the N64. My brother found a broken up console that he passed on to me and miraculously it worked. I fixed it up as best I could and started delving into the library. To my surprise, it's damn good. Even without an optical drive, I found that the games often eclipsed the quality of their PS1 counterparts.
My relationship with Mario 64 is trickier. Like I said, I had very little nostalgia for it - having only played bits and pieces. And instead, I was more drawn to Sunshine as far as 3D Marios go. Plus, I'm not a big fan of 3D platformers period. I actually attempted to play the DS remake years ago, right after I had run through 3D Land on 3DS. It wasn't a good way to attempt it, though. And I got bored quickly.
Over the weekend I found myself unsure what to play next, and started digging through the Wii U Virtual Console. I found that Mario 64 was cheap (compared to picking up an actual cartridge) and for whatever reason was kind of interested in giving it another go.
To my shock and horror, I'm having a good time here. Since the Coronavirus is preventing us from doing a lot of things, I managed to squeeze in about three hours of the game here and there. I've managed to beat the first Bowser, and gain twelve stars. I'm now just kind of working my way through the first floor and attempting to pick up more stars. Some, with the help of a walkthrough (how would you know which wall to break open to get a star?) and others with the help of save states (I can't imagine dropping to that platform from the owl over and over again in real time...).
I'm staring to be able to contextualize, though. Like, NOW the game isn't as mind-blowing to me. But had I gotten into it back then? It probably felt like a proper 3D follow-up to Super Mario World. Interesting.
I have no intention of going for all stars, as I'm not a completionist. But, I'm interested to see how quickly I can get enough stars to make it to the end. Or if I'll even keep my interest. We'll see.
Having played some more, I can say I like this game about as much as I can like a 3D platformer. Which is saying a lot. But I still don't love it. I APPRECIATE IT so much more than I did. But my main gripe is I don't love the loop of replaying the same levels over and over again to gain stars to unlock new levels. Ironically, this is exactly the complaint I had when playing Super Mario 3D World a while ago. While I think the platforming is sound, and the levels are neat, I'm just not a fan of the repetition of playing those levels over and over again so I can hunt for one more THING in order to move on.
So I don't know. Maybe I'm done for now. I played about five hours or so, and amassed 21 or so stars. So I'm not even THAT far into the game, really. But eh. This might be something I come back to later, but I can't see sticking with it for the long haul right now. Oh, but I will say that the ghost house level is awesome. I'm glad I played through that one!
I remember when this game was announced and it was like kind of interesting to me because it was a new turn based strategy game with a unique looking art style and the team behind it was responsible for such games as oh, I don't know... Fire Emblem and Advanced Wars! But soon after it was out I feel like nobody was talking about it anymore, and it was always $5 in the clearance section of Target. I shrugged it off, assuming it was NOT the next new Fire Emblem series or whatever. And besides, we were getting new Fire Emblem games regularly anyway. Shrug.
At some point I picked up a copy. I'm forgetting when that was. But like I said, it was always cheap. And it's sat on my shelf for a while now. I finally popped it in last night, and y'know what? I'm impressed.
The over-the-shoulder view takes a little getting used to. And at first I was annoyed that I had to use the touchscreen to control the camera. I was thinking, why can't I just use the little second analog nub? Turns out I can - which has made a huge difference in my enjoyment.
The battles play out sort of XCOM style. You've got these aliens running around the map. Actions take points (steam) and saving steam before ending a turn will put you into overwatch mode. And of course there's cover to take and all that.
The art style is very reminiscent of old comic books, which I like. And while there are aliens to kill, this won't quite replace XCOM for me. And now that XCOM 2 has been announced for Switch, I guess none of that matters. I'm no longer on a quest to find an XCOM replacement, and instead I can enjoy these stray strategy games on their own merit. Which is a good thing.
Well this is a fairly pleasant surprise. The Scribblenauts games are ones that I feel like I've always seen reviewed well, but just looked sort of too kiddie for me. That said, I decided to finally take a chance on the first game as it was super cheap and seemed like something kind of cute and light to play amidst all the craziness going on right now.
While it's not without its flaws, so far Scribblenauts is both really charming, and actually pretty neat, gameplay-wise. The conceit is simple: each level is a little puzzle and you're told what the win condition is. You then type in words that generate objects in game to try to beat that level. To use a very basic example from one of the tutorial levels, I was told to give a man something to eat. So I typed in "burger" and a hamburger popped up on the screen which I then dragged and dropped onto the guy. Boom. Level complete.
What's neat about this is that there's no one way to complete an objective. It comes down to how your brain works. How to you get something to happen? Like, in another level there's a cat in a tree and you have to get it down for a little girl. I chose to generate a ladder, climb the tree, and grab the cat. I suppose I could have cut the tree down with an axe, or maybe lured the cat down with something? I don't know. That's the interesting part. It's all about solving puzzles logically, but again, however you do it is up to you. That's cool.
Obviously the puzzles get harder. And you gotta use your head. You can combine objects together as well. And a lot of the fun comes from seeing WHAT you can generate - which is most things, really.
I will say that the camera's a little funky and controlling Max himself can be iffy because EVERYTHING is done via stylus. (I'll also say that the super short stylus of the New 2DS XL is the only thing wrong with that handheld. Luckily, I have my Wii U stylus which is way more comfortable). I had a heck of a time getting Max to just jump off of a ramp with a motorcycle because of this control scheme. But other than that, the game is definitely fun and interesting.
I'll keep at it. It does seem like the sort of logic puzzle game that I enjoy. And I also think my wife will love this game, so I plan to pass the cart on to her when I'm done with it. Luckily, there's two save slots and I look forward to comparing notes on how we completed certain objectives.
Scribblenauts feels like the PERFECT game to be playing right now. There's so much stress and anxiety associated with trying to live a normal life right now, and Scribblenauts really feels like a good way to blow off some steam and relax. It's all creative puzzle solving; and there's no right or wrong answers. Instead, it's about how do YOU want to try to solve this puzzle? It's pretty great.
It's also neat because it gets your brain working. I had one puzzle early on where I couldn't figure out how to get up to a higher platform. I tried stairs, stacking stairs, making a bridge, but nothing I did could quite reach the top. I asked my wife to look at it. She suggested a ladder - not tall enough. Then a rope from the top of the ladder - nothing to affix the rope to up top. So we put a rock up there, and attached the rope to the rock, but the rock wasn't heavy enough so the rope pulled it down. Ugh. Then it hit me: I just made a helicopter and flew up there. Done.
As it turns out, there's a lot of problems that can be solved with a helicopter and some rope. Let this be a real world lesson?
I have plenty of "ollars" (in-game currency) that I could use to skip levels, but I'm not gonna do that. I'm really enjoying the flow. Some levels I fly through in seconds, others I get stuck on for ten or more minutes, and all of this is fun. I like forcing myself to stick with the ones that stump me.
I was driving yesterday and thought to myself, "a submarine! That's how I could probably get that penguin reunited with his friends without hurting the killer whale!" Which leads me to two thoughts...
1. This is a good game. Any game that has me working out its puzzles a day later while I'm doing something else is clearly a game that's clicking with me. I like that.
2. This is the sort of game that when I'm stumped, I need to step away from and do something else and let my mind work out the puzzles on a subconscious level. I fear that if I stick with a puzzle that I'm hitting a wall on, I might find myself frustrated. So this should probably be a kind of between-games game if that makes sense.
Back in the day when I was heavily into Gamecube, I asked for Super Smash Bros Melee for Christmas. It was right up there at the top of most lists of best Gamecube games of all time. And it certainly sounded like a cool idea to me. It was a bunch of classic Nintendo characters from various franchises all together in a single fighting game. I guess I expected something like the Marvel Vs Capcom games or something. But when I actually attempted to play the damn game... I had no idea what was going on. It was pure chaos. And the control scheme felt so foreign to me. My attempt to play Melee lasted all of a day. And for years I've just been assuming that I wasn't interested in Smash Bros altogether.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate launched this past year for Switch and it's remained all the rage since then. I've been sort of paying attention as a Nintendo fan, but for the most part just felt like I should avoid spending $60 on a game that I don't think is really for me. But I keep hearing all these good things. And finally I let my curiosity get the better of me... kind of. So instead of getting the new hotness, I decided to grab Super Smash Bros 4 instead.
(Note: the game is technically called "Super Smash Bros for Wii U" and "Super Smash Bros for 3DS" depending which system you buy it for. But that's stupid. There's a "4" right there in the logo on the cover. And regardless which format you're playing, it's the same damn game. Plus, you can even connect the two versions to share custom data or use the 3DS as a Wii U controller. So just... I'm calling it SSB4.)
I've been in a real Wii U collecting phase lately, so I had intended to grab the game that way (and I still do), but for now I'm playing on 3DS because it was something I could easily/cheaply get my hands on right away.
The thing about Smash Bros is that you have to basically unlearn anything you know about fighting games. There's basically two attack buttons (and a grab and a shield) and that's it. And there's no Street Fighter style quarter-circles or Mortal Kombat style sequence of inputs for moves. Instead everything is a combination of one of the two attacks, and a direction on the analog stick. On top of that, players don't have lifebars. This is more akin to like... karate or something. It's all about getting points. So you get a point for successfully knocking a player out of the battle area, while you lose a point for getting knocked out (or falling out) of bounds yourself. So yeah, it ends up feeling VERY different than the majority of fighting games that I'm used to. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though.
Because I really had no idea what I was doing, I decided to start by playing the brief-ish Classic Mode which presents you with various challenges. This mode feels a lot less chaotic than the proper main game, and is a nice way to get the feet wet. I started out by playing as Toon Link, because frankly he looks awesome. I do find it funny that this is his official Nintendo-sanctioned name. Not "Young Link," or "Wind Waker Link," but TOON Link. Weird.
But y'know what? I'm having a lot of fun using Toon Link. I played through the Classic Mode, and it took me a couple of tries to get a 1CC on that at the default difficulty. Like I said, I'm a total noob at this. But over the past few nights I've started to get the hang of the basics. I've dabbled in a few other characters as well like Mega Man (pretty fun), Sonic (fast attacks but tough to control), along with Zero Suit Samus and Pikachu. I've also managed to unlock a few new characters as well. I'm having a better time than I figured I would.
I don't know that I'll ever be HARDCORE with this game. Not sure I'd understand what was even happening in a pro Smash tournament stream. But I'm having a lot of fun as a total casual. I'm just playing the standard solo mode and trying to learn the ropes a bit. Who knows when I'll even get around to playing online. I'm just not ready to be embarrassed yet. But this is a good game. I'm glad I picked it up, and I'm glad that after so many years I'm finally starting to see what it is that people like about these Smash games.
What a stupidly confusing name for this game. "Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U" is just a dumb mouthful. Why didn't they OFFICIALLY call it Smash 4? Or give it a cool new name? We had Melee and Brawl and then... "for 3DS" or "for Wii U"? Really? UGH! Dumb.
That said, I'm still playing this game nearly a year later. I know that Smash Ultimate is the new hotness. I know that it's exciting to see all the new character reveals. But truth be told, I still haven't even spend time with all the playable characters in 4. So I don't know why I'd need a new Smash... yet. And really, something about SSB4 kind of hits a good balance for me. There's way more characters than in the original or Melee, but there's not so many that it's completely overwhelming.
Nowadays I gravitate toward the Wii U version. It looks better and has more stuff. And I can use a legit analog stick here. It's good. But I also have a special nostalgia for the 3DS port. I can't get rid of that one either. So yeah. It's stupid, but I have two versions of this game.
I'm not good by the way. I'll probably never be good at Smash. But why let that stop me from having fun?
My biggest "gripe" with Smash 4, if you want to call it a gripe, is I'm never really sure what mode to focus on. I guess just playing pure Smash is the best way to practice. But there's so many other things I could do like the little events or whatever. And those are fun as they force me to try new characters. That's the other thing - do I spend time learning a character, or do I just hit random and try new ones? I don't know.
Here's something interesting, though. Right now, in the year 2020, people are still playing Smash 4 on Wii U online. Crazy right? It's not just me. There are others. And I guess it makes sense. Like me, there's probably other people who can see the appeal of playing a MUCH cheaper Smash game than the current one. There's also the fact that Smash 4 is really really good. And there's even the thing that the Wii U is still a bit of a cult console. It has its fans.
I'm really into playing as Shulk right now. Having played Xenoblade Chronicles X recently, I'm a bit of a Xenoblade convert, so he seems cool to me. His sword's reach is awesome, too.
When I was a kid, Mortal Kombat was all the rage. The original game was so infamous. EVERYONE had it. Everyone played it. It was like a badge of honor. You either convinced your parents that you were old enough to have it, or you got your hands on it by any means necessary.
But Mortal Kombat II was where the series got great. Strip away the brutality and hype from the original game, and you had, well Pitfighter. But the second game was fantastic, and one of the defining games of the SNES library for me. At least back then.
After that I sort of dipped out of the series. I'd dabble back in once in a while I guess. I remember borrowing MK3 from a friend for a while and it was cool. But I never even bothered with MK4. Until now. A buddy of mine is moving cross country and decided to sell off a chunk of his collection, so I scooped up some N64 games for myself.
MK4 is kind of an odd duck. It seems like a step-down from MK3 in a lot of ways. The roster is smaller for one thing. And the new quasi-3D graphics make it feel almost instantly dated compared to second or third games in the series. Add to that that it just feels... clunkier to me. I don't know. Something feels off. It's not quite as fluid as I remember the series. Then again, it's certainly possible that I'm super rusty. Because I am.
Anyway, I have no nostalgia attached to MK4. The truth is that the series just isn't that great to me anyway, but at least I have nostalgia for MK2, which helps elevate its status in my mind. But MK4 just feels like a rather middling fighting game that came out in that weird purgatory between 2D and 3D fighters. Meh.
Prince Of Persia is one of those classic early 90's PC games that I somehow never got around to playing. And now I fear that the window has been closed on my ability to enjoy it. This was one of those cinematic platformers. Y'know, like Flashback or Out Of This World? Only it was the first of those games. I think. I'm not in the mood to google it, but my mind remembers the history that way. Anyway, I definitely praise Jordan Mechner for the LOOK of the game. It's truly incredible for the time. But...
Let me start by saying that I decided to hunt this one down because of an old Nintendo Power review. I've been collecting NP magazines lately and sort of diving into a variety of games from the 80's to now. Some are familiar replays and others are things I missed out on. Anyway, after reading a review of the SNES port in NP, I dove further down the rabbit hole and read an HG101 article saying that the SNES port was THEE version to play. Well, I figured I'd track down the SNES port, but then found out that Forgotten Sands - the Wii Prince Of Persia sequel - featured "the classic 1992 game" as a bonus. Now in my mind, the original game came out in 1989, and the Wii is a Nintendo console, so the "1992 game" must be the SNES version which WAS released in 1992. Turns out, not so much.
For some odd reason the Wii game features a port of the 1992 Mac game. I don't know why, but it feels kind of weird to me. Anyway, this was kind of a bummer to me. The SNES version has better graphics, better controls, and two hour time limit instead of the original (BS) one hour. But y'know what? None of that really matters because I cannot find any fun from playing this game. I get that it was super impressive in 1992 and in 1989 even more so. I get that the fluidity of the Prince's animations is really a work of art. But as a game? Not fun for me. At all.
I can't remember the last time I felt so furious just trying to START a game. This is rough. And I do not have the patience for it now.
I remember back in the day I stumbled upon Mega Man Network Transmission for GameCube and bought it without knowing what it was. In my mind, HEY there was a new Mega Man game on GCN. But when I fired it up, what the heck? This wasn't Mega Man. This was some kind of weirdo Pokemon game with Mega Man in it. I lost interest really quickly and haven't even thought about the series since.
But lately I've been into collecting issues of Nintendo Power and going through them and making a list of various recommendations. Sometimes I'm reminded of a really big and awesome game I should play, and sometimes my eye is caught by something random. Take for example Mega Man Battle Network 6, the final game in the series which was released on GBA way back in 2006.
To my surprise, the entire GBA series of these games was released on the Wii U's Virtual Console. And I'm a big fan of the Wii U's Virtual Console. There's something really satisfying about playing old games on that gamepad. I mean sure, the Switch is an amazing console. But I have a soft spot for that hefty gamepad. I can't really explain it.
Anyway, this game is weird. I don't know if I like it yet. But maybe I do. Like many games of its time, it basically follows the Pokemon pattern. You've got two versions of each game and you can trade stuff with friends if you have a link cable; you're a kid in a town and you send in your thing to do battles. This time it's Mega Man rather than a Pokemon. And you collect "chips" which are basically cards you use as attacks, buffs, etc. The battles themselves are fairly interesting though. It's not a turned based thing, but instead kind of a real time strategy deal. It's fun enough.
One thing I don't love is all the jargon. It feels really silly and forced and so many words are being thrown at you at once that I feel like I don't know what the heck they're talking about. Navi's and Nets and Chips and Jacks and whatever. I get the distinct feeling that the developers were just skimming old issues of Wired Magazine looking for cool internet buzz words. Of course by 2006 those buzzwords had to sound rather dated. Never mind trying to play the game in 2020.
The future is now!
It's crazy to think that Shovel Knight has been around for six years now. I played the original game way back then and loved it. I then picked up the Plague Knight expansion when that dropped... and it didn't really do it for me. I'm blanking on what the next expansion was, but I never played it.
But I'd still consider myself a fan of Shovel Knight, the character. Oddly, he was the very first amiibo I ever bought. This was before I even owned a Wii U. I just thought that it was an awesome looking amiibo. And I've loved the fact that he's become a sort of indie game mascot, often making cameo appearances in other games. At this point, I can't even keep up with all the games that Shovel Knight has appeared in. But I mean, you know he's made the big time when he showed up in Smash Ultimate.
Anyway, I'm a pretty big fan of the Wii U, so I tend to pick up games there when I have the option. As a plus, Wii U versions of games tend to be pretty dirt cheap. I think I've resigned the idea of collecting a complete Wii U set, but who knows. It's a smallish library.
I did however finally pick up Treasure Trove on Wii U, and I was thrilled to see that even though the system is "dead," it's still getting the added DLC released as recently as this past December. So I decided to spend some time playing the King Of Cards expansion.
The reviews for King Of Cards have been great. Nintendo Force gave it a perfect 10 score in their most recent issue. That's high praise, of course.
It's an interesting expansion so far. King Knight's move set is not especially easy to master. At least not at first. I'm still kind of wrapping my brain around his attacks and movements. And I admit, there's been some areas of levels that take me MANY attempts to successfully traverse.
But the really interesting thing about King Of Cards is the cards part of it. So while the base game is still platforming and boss battles and all that, there's also card houses to battle at, and decks to build and cards to collect. It's like a mash-up of a platformer and Pokemon TCG.
Of course we've seen these sorts of card games mixed into other games before. Be it Gwent inside Witcher 3 or that other card game from Final Fantasy IX or many other examples. But I can't think of a platformer that did this.
The card game here is... fine. It's pretty basic. I was expecting a sort of Hearthstone kind of thing. But really, it's more of a sliding puzzle game than a true card game. Just you're using cards to slide around. It's not bad by any means. Though it feels a bit basic. That said, I still find it fun enough.
Okay, so I've decided fairly quickly that I don't like the King Of Cards expansion AT ALL. It genuinely feels like a chore to me to attempt playing. Part of it may have been expectations, and that's on me. I THOUGHT I was getting a card game set in the Shovelknight universe. Not really. Instead it's a platformer that I hate (I really don't like playing as King Knight) that has some card game elements shoehorned in. And I don't find the card game all that compelling. So in short - I'm all set with this one.
For some reason I've never payed much attention to the Boxboy series. Here it is in its fourth entry, and I've just now decided to give it ago. It's weird, because I do like HAL as a publisher. And I can't lie - I sometimes dream that I'll stumble upon that super cute and super expensive Boxboy amiibo in someone's garage sale. But for whatever reason I've just never been too interested in checking these games out.
But alas, I was still sitting on some Amazon giftcard credit from Christmas, and not really sure what I was in the mood for playing (between my usual binges of Overwatch) and having just thumbed through a back issue of Nintendo Force, decided that the glowing review of Boxboy + Boxgirl was just glowing enough for me to spend $10 of said Amazon credit.
So how is it? So far, so good. I mean, my impressions aren't nearly as through the roof as Nintendo Force's. They gave the game a 9.5 out of 10. Side note, if you're going to use decimals, why not just make it a scale of 100? We can all do the math right? This a 95%. Anyway. Sorry. I'm pedantic sometimes.
It's a HAL game, which means it's going to be charming and adorable. Of course. Boxboy is of course a little box with legs and he platforms around and has to do some puzzle solving to get to the exit of each level. He can generate new boxes. There's a limit to how many per level. Meaning, in some levels the limit is three, which means he can make three connected boxes at a time. If he tries to make another set the original set disappears. It's simple enough that you get it right away, which is good.
I played for an hour or so and made it to the fifth world if I recall. Each world has its own little gimmick. None of the worlds have enemies, but there are new obstacles. So one set of worlds has electric spark things you can't touch; one has springs that send you flying; one has barriers that need to be opened by hitting switches; and so on. They're all crafted nicely enough, but it's not exactly brain-crushing. I've pretty much coasted through no problem so far.
Of course the puzzles are the metric to judge puzzle games. On that front, this seems fairly easy so far. Which is fine. It's a chill game, and more of a pallet cleanser for me right now. I think it's fun and cute, but I don't see myself running out to pick up the older 3DS titles right away or anything.
There are things to collect in each stage. There's crowns that you can trade in for new cosmetics. I got "sleepy eyes" on my first attempt and just kept that. I don't care enough about cosmetics in a game like this to care. So now I'm not even really going out of my way to grab the crowns. You also earn stars based on how well you performed. IE: There's sort of a par for how many blocks you use in a level. I'm sure completionists love trying to get the best rating on each level, but that's not my style of gaming. I just don't care enough. Getting through each level is satisfying enough for me.
I will say that the true draw here is probably the "+ Boxgirl" part. This is the first game in the series to feature co-op, and it has its own unique campaign. So once I'm done playing through solo, I can totally see this being a game that my wife would enjoy playing with me. So there's that.
I've been playing this on and off between things, and it's weird. I don't really like it. But I keep playing it. I think that ultimately it feels to me like some kind of phone game. Meaning, it's a decent enough time killer but it's not like I'm actually into it. I'm in world 16 or so now, and I keep THINKING that I've beaten the game and then more levels open up. If I was into this game, I'd be happy about that, but I feel like I keep pushing through to feel like I'm done with it. Which isn't a good sign. I might just be done, though. I'm not really having fun. Again, it just feels like a way to kill ten minutes before bed right now.