I'll be honest, I've never really had a strong feeling about the Yoshi series. Yoshi's Island (Super Mario World 2) was certainly a great looking, and fairly excellent SNES era platformer. But after that, I'm not sure I've even played any of the other games in the series.
Reading through a Wii U era Nintendo Force issue recently, I had the itch to give Woolly World a shot, and realized that we already had a copy in our house in the shape of the 3DS port in my wife's collection. That 3DS re-release was confusingly re-titled Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, which makes it sound like it's an all new game or something. It's not. The inclusion of Poochy is actually just the easy mode in which Yoshi has wings and an endless supply of Poochies to use as yarn ball ammo.
Anyway, I played through the first two worlds last night which took me a fair amount of time. And I must say, it's definitely a solid little platformer. And I feel like that's been Nintendo's MO with these later era 2D games anyway. Think of the Yoshi games or the New Super Mario Bros series or I guess even the Donkey Kong Country revivals - they're all kind of in the same mold. They take the basis of the SNES era games and update them visually and... that's about it.
I think it works and it doesn't. It works on a nostalgic level. These games feel familiar - and don't get me wrong - they feel good. But nothing in them really blows me away, aside from maybe the visuals.
But I'm having a good time with this game. It's fine. It's fun. It's not overly challenging. It's semi-mindless if you've played a lot of platformers over the years. I don't love it, but I am glad games like these still exist. I look forward to showing my daughter games like these when she's old enough to start playing games.
As awesome as the SNES era was, I always hated the convention of adding "Super" to the beginning of titles for sequels. SUPER Metroid should have been Metroid III. And SUPER Castlevania IV didn't need that prefix. But that's neither here nor there.
The last time I played SUPER Punch-Out was well over a decade ago as an unlockable on Fight Night Round Two on GameCube. The takeaways I remembered from back then were that (1) it looked awesome, (2) it didn't feel as good to play as the NES original, and (3) I rage quitted when I got to the dude who is a Bruce Lee ripoff.
I fired up the game again recently on the Switch Online service and found that my bullet points were spot on.
1. It looks awesome. It does. Still. The colors pop. The sprites are huge. Everything is so richly detailed. It's really an impressive looking game, and I like that the wire frame on Lil Mac is reminiscent of the original arcade games.
2. It doesn't feel as good to play as the NES original. I don't know what it is. But that NES game is so perfectly controlled. It's so fluid. This feels GOOD but not as good. I'm not sure why, but it feels a little clunky to me at times. Like I don't have the same level of control over Lil Mac.
3. I rage quitted at the dude that looks like a Bruce Lee ripoff. Again. I admit there's some cool fighters here. Tree Hugger from the arcade games for instance. But this guy, UGH, THIS GUY makes me so mad.
Even as a defender of random licensed games, this is a weird one for me to be playing. I'm not a fan of the Pirates series of movies. I've actually never even seen one. I just don't have any interest to be honest. But I was recently going through an old Nintendo Power which had reviewed the GCN, DS, and GBA versions of this game (all different games, by the way) and they had a lot of good things to say about the GBA version. Namely, they compared it to the GBA Castlevania games. So that had me intrigued.
So yeah, I grabbed a cartridge for a couple bucks and was excited to play a sort of Castlevania knock-off that I can't remember anybody ever really talking about. Well, I mean... it's KIND OF like that. But, eh.
I'll say off the bat that this is not a BAD game. But it's not really good either. And in my mind, at least a bad game is interesting. A mediocre game is just kind of a waste of time. That's what this feels like.
So the stages themselves do feel like of Castlevania-y. You have a sword and sub-weapons. You gain new moves from collecting enough gold. So I can see it. But it's not exactly challenging, nor are the levels all that interesting. After a while, I started to wonder why I'd want to keep playing.
It feels pretty aimless too. You go to an island, play some levels, someone tells you to go to another island. You do it all over again. The controls aren't super responsive either. It has that Prince Of Persia issue where you lose some reflex because of animations. I don't like that.
But what really got me was the boat sections. See, between islands you need to sail and undoubtedly you will encounter other boats you need to fight. It's sooooo tedious. I hate these sections.
So yeah, I played MAYBE two hours of this and that felt like more than enough to know that this game isn't great and I doubt I'll stick with it.
Ikaruga was an important game for me. Back in the day, I was super into GameCube - it was my preferred platform during that generation. And while the GCN's library couldn't keep up with the PS2, it led me to really investigating games from genres I may have overlooked. That's how it was with shmups. I wasn't really into shmups at the time. They seemed too "simple." But Ikaruga was my introduction to bullet-hell (not that I'm really sure I'd call Ikaruga a bullet-hell). So it was super important to me at the time.
Eventually I got other GCN shmups - namely Chaos Field and Castle Of Shikigami II - both of which I loved way more than Ikaruga. And eventually I even played Ikaruga's predecessor, Radiant Silvergun. Although the truth is, I don't really love Ikaruga or RS. I like them. I appreciate them. But...
I should probably explain that this is how I seem to feel about EVERY Treasure game. I like them, and I appreciate them, but I don't love them. Treasure's design philosophy seems to really hang onto a gimmick. And often these gimmicks don't jive with me.
Case in point, Ikaruga revolves around switching polarities. If you're ship is white then you can absorb white bullets and do extra damage to black ships - and vice versa. This is COOL and it makes for some really strategic gameplay. But I'm terrible at it. My brain has a hard time keeping track of which polarity I am in, and eventually all bullets - even the ones I should absorb - just feel like a nightmare.
And yet I seem to replay Ikaruga every few years. I've owned a bunch of copies of it on various systems since the GCN release. And here I am now playing it on Switch. I was going to wait for the physical edition that's been promised for like a year or two, but eh. The eShop version was $15 and I had some gold coins to spend.
The Switch port is pretty excellent by the way. It's got tate mode and online leaderboards and replays and button remapping and all the stuff you could want. I've been playing it in tate mode using my Pro Controller and it feels responsive and everything. But yeah. I suck at this game. Best I could do on one credit was make it to the second boss. Ah well.
What's a good game to play when you have a long weekend at home and everyone's in quarantine? Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, of course. If ever there was a comfort game for me, it'd be Pro Skater. Really any of the first four games in the series would fall into this comfort zone. But I tend to gravitate towards 2 and 3 most of the time, and I've been trying to give my N64 some more love lately, so I've been playing through the first cart this weekend.
When it comes to the series, there's no doubt that the first game is slightly rough around the edges. It's certainly not as refined as the follow-ups. But it's no slouch by any means. Sure, the manual hasn't been introduced yet. But it's still a damn fine game. FUN as ever.
I'm amazed that after so many years I'm still able to pick this one up and remember where most of the hidden tapes are or things like that. Though I'm a bit rusty. Getting those high score tapes are taking me a little longer than they would in the sequels.
The game LOOKS great, though. It looks a lot better than the original PS1 game did, that's for sure. Though it can still play a little choppy at times. I find myself under- or over-shooting some landings. Oh well. Growing pains, I suppose.
The soundtrack was always a high point, and these tunes are forever iconic to me. It's weird that a Primus song would be so fitting in a video game, but here we are.
I'm currently up to the Burnside skate park and having a blast. I never cared much for the Downhill Jam level, but beyond that I feel like the levels are really solid.
Namco's Klonoa series has always been sort of interesting. It started as sort of a cult hit on PS1 and has kind of limped along for decades. There's been random sequels and spinoffs over the years, but it's always remained a slow trickle. And it's always been low key. Klonoa never had the mascot cache that Mario or Sonic or even Crash Bandicoot had. He's the quiet one.
I've played a few Klonoa games over the years. And I've always thought they were GOOD. Nothing mind-blowing, but good. I'll be honest, until recently I'm not even sure I was aware that the GBA had a Klonoa 2, or that it was a completely different game than the PS2 Klonoa 2. But it looked nice enough - I recently read a review of it in an old Nintendo Power - so I figured I'd give it a download on Wii U.
This game is definitely pleasing on the old eyes. And it's a pretty chill experience for the most part. Levels are constructed more like puzzles than anything else. So its' mostly about HOW to complete each level. While I generally hate collecting stuff to proceed, this game does it pretty well. There's three stars per level you need to open the exit. Luckily, holding L or R will let you move the camera thru the level so you can quickly find where they are. Then it just becomes about the puzzle of how to access them.
Klonoa's move set is weird. He can jump and grab enemies. That's it. He can either throw an enemy as an attack, or he can use the enemy to double jump and access higher areas. This is where the strategy comes in. Oh, and he can also kind of float for a short time - almost like Knuckles in the Sonic games but not as pronounced.
So far I like the game. I'm in the second world now, almost done with it. The first boss battle was kind of a pain in the ass, but otherwise I'm having fun.
I'm now in world 3 (of 4?) and it's starting to feel repetitious. Like, it's good. It is. But it just also feels very samey from world to world. Grab a dude, use him to double jump over this thing. Repeat. I don't know. There is some puzzle solving, and there is some action. But none of it feels great. Just... good.
I guess that's why Klonoa never really caught on. I mean, the series has its fans. But for the most part, I feel like these are good, but not quite great games. So while I don't hate playing this one, I can't help but think about better platformers I could be playing instead. Maybe I'll stick with it for a bit longer, though.
Having recently played through Wario Land II, it seemed like a fitting time to try Wario Ware: Touched. I don't think I've ever played any of the Wario Ware games. All I knew going in was that it was a series based around mini games. And that's all been done before. But whatever.
I ended up grabbing the game on the Wii U Virtual Console. Truth be told, it was about the same price as a loose DS cart. So I felt like it was a good deal at the time. Also, DS games look great on Wii U. You have a lot of options for the screen presentation. I went with holding the gamepad sideways for this one, since it's played entirely with the stylus.
The game itself is incredibly charming and honestly funny. Like I actually laughed at some of the things that happened. Most of it was the absurdity of it all... Wario on a motorcycle and the weird pop band playing in a club and whatever. The mini games are all super weird, too. And they're extremely mini. Like you have a couple seconds to figure out what to do and do it. Stuff like petting a dog or mapping a ski trail or tickling someone. All kinds of weird stuff. Who knew that Wario was the Mushroom Kingdom's Andy Kaufman?
The best levels were the ones based on actual video games. These were like super quick beats from old NES games that really seem to be the precursor to NES Remix (which I love).
My one complaint about the game is its brevity. I beat the story mode in a little over two hours, without much difficulty. I understand that there's harder versions of the levels to play through, but I'm not much of a completionist. So while I had fun the entire time I played the game, I'm not totally certain that I feel like I got my $10 worth of fun. I'm not mad, though. It's a fun game, and I think my wife would like it too. I just don't see myself playing through it again. Ultimately, it feels like a very good and fun and funny demo for all the things you can do with a DS stylus. This is not an insult, but it is what it is.
I know Sunsoft has its fans. Looking back at some of their 8-bit titles somewhat recently, I don't think I can count myself as one of those fans. One of their biggest hits (or at least, cult-hits) was Blaster Master - a game that I really couldn't get into even after enjoying it as a kid.
Gremlins 2 for Game Boy reminds me of another Sunsoft game I played in the past year: Batman The Video Game. Both were licensed games based on pretty cool properties. And both feel like really subpar platformers with horribly frustrating boss battles. Oh, and both are games that I quit in annoyance in about a half hour.
Like the Batman game, Gremlins 2 has decent graphics and some surprisingly cool static cut scenes. The platforming itself feels fine, and there's some neat little power-ups scattered through levels. But the levels feel really generic. And actually the first level feels a lot like the first level of the Batman game. It's like they just cranked out these middle-of-the-road platform games and threw in whatever licensed sprite that had to. Meh.
It's too bad. But this really isn't for me.
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!