Here's something I really love about the Wii U: games are cheap. It's crazy. When New Super Mario Bros U was re-released for the Switch and everyone was scooping it up at MSRP, I started looking around for a neglected Wii U copy. And I scored one for... free. A friend of mine literally gave me a copy of it along with New Super Luigi U. And so I figured, why not finally give it a go?
But let me back up. I have actually played all of the preceding New Super Mario Bros games. And while I've hated the "New" in the title, I've found the games to be pretty good. I played the first game on DS way the heck back when it was first released. A friend of mine let me borrow their copy and I remember beating it in a single day. In fairness, I was on the couch with a bad cold so I had time to kill. I remember feeling like it was a bit of a slight experience and not one that stuck with me like say... Super Mario World which remains my high water mark for Mario platformers.
My wife and I bought New Super Mario Bros Wii not long after it came out. The Wii was actually our first new console of that generation, and it lived on the main living room TV back then, so it was mostly used for games we'd play together. I never really loved this game, though. The big selling point of the Wii game was the co-op and I found it just felt too chaotic for me. A few years ago I attempted to play that game again solo once I had picked up a second Wii for my game room. I liked it a bit better as a solo experience, but honestly, it didn't really do much for me and I got bored before beating it.
New Super Mario Bros 2 on the other hand... now that was a good game. When it came out I was in a pretty serious 3DS mode and scooping up all the big hitters coming out at the time. I had a total blast with that game and beat it fairly quickly.
So here I am, still checking out all the cool Wii U games that I missed out on during its brief lifetime. I haven't played a ton of NSMBU yet - I'm just in the third world - but I'm having a lot of fun. It's a pretty low tension platformer. I've yet to find it challenging. I'm pretty sure I've only died once so far. And I keep getting asked if I want to post to the Miiverse because I've beaten levels without taking a hit. But that's fine. Sometimes a nice breezy game like this can be relaxing.
I tell you this - I vastly prefer NSMBU over the Wii game. If we're just comparing the two console games, then there's no contest. This improves over that one plenty. For one thing, those weird propeller helmets... ugh. I don't know. The power-ups in the U game just really feel like more of a throwback to Super Mario World, which again - best game.
I'm loving this game. As a huge Marvel fan this game rules. It does a really good job of mixing up the MCU (including TV shows) with the comics. And I mean, it rules seeing the X-Men right there alongside the Avengers in a 2019 game.
I've been basically mixing up my team at every SHIELD point just because it's fun to see the different team compositions. So far, my favorites to play as have been Scarlett Witch and Spider-Gwen. I thought for sure that Elektra was going to join the team after that boss battle against the hand, but nope. Bummer.
Right now I'm up to the fight against Ultron which I've lost 3 times. I never had a game over until that point. It's like... I know what to do but I'm just not doing it right. Current team is Scarlet Witch, Gamora, Wasp and Captain Marvel.
Beat the Ultron boss battle last night, but didn't have much time to play beyond that. It was all about being patient and methodical. Although, it was definitely a situation where I would have benefited from co-op. There were times I wanted to say to the three CPU teammates, "hey, dudes, we've done this battle a few times now. You know the pattern of those laser beams. How are you still walking into them?"
And this Ultron hurdle did bring to light my one real complaint about the game: while it's constantly throwing new characters at you, it doesn't do a great job at encouraging you to experiment with them. Given that any characters not currently in your party don't share experience, it means that at some point you get in a spot where you either need to stick with your leveled up ones in order to feel like you're scaled, or else you're using a bunch of un-leveled characters. I suppose that using those augment ISO8 things can help, or you could technically throw one low-level into the team with three high levels, but that definitely makes boss battles much more frustrating. I guess I could technically go back and replay levels to grind. If I felt like grinding. Which I don't right now, as it'll sort of kill the momentum of this rollercoaster.
Anyway, it's just annoying because I was enjoying constantly swapping out party members to experiment with different teams, but now I'm starting to feel like I need to mostly stick to one lineup. Scarlet Witch and Spider-Gwen are my two for-sure keepers. And it kind of sucks because I never bothered to level up Iron Man, Thor, Hulk or Captain America so now they're super under-leveled. Oh well.
Complaints aside, I think this is a fantastic game.
Played a bit more over the weekend. Really enjoying this game. I do think that you're fandom of Marvel will add or subtract points accordingly. For me it's like, "oh nice now we're at Xaviar's school!" and "haha! Deadpool's making tacos!" so it works in the game's favor. I glanced at IGN's table of contents for their walkthrough to get an idea of how far I am in the story. I'm apparently wrapping up chapter 6 of 10.
I've definitely found that getting a grip on the various special moves - especially team ones - is huge in this game. Staggering bosses is also a big thing to learn. My current team is Scarlet Witch, Spider-Gwen, Psylocke and Deadpool.
Alright so I'm at a boss battle at the end of Dr. Strange's area, and it feels like a bit of a wall. This is where my previous complaints feel like they're really coming into play. So the issue is really that just playing the story doesn't seem to scale you *enough,* especially if you've been swapping out party members. I suppose if you're only adding the newest (so highest level) characters to your party it'd be doable. Or if you stuck w/ the starting party and grinded them the full story, maybe? But REALLY it feels like in this game you HAVE to spend time outside of the story mode doing the Infinity Trials or replaying levels to grind for XP. And that's a thorn in my side.
My gaming time lately is super precious. And the story mode is like a really fun rollercoaster ride. To me, I don't want to break that momentum doing side stuff. I played a few Infinity Trials last night and it all felt really boring to me. It's mostly just replaying pieces of levels you already did but with conditions to earn a letter grade rating. From that you get stars and unlocks. But I mean, it just feels like going back and slogging through stuff you already did in a way to make the game longer. I'm not feeling that.
What I wanted - and obviously, developers need to cater to just ME (sarcasm) - is something like Diablo III where I can just level up as I go and always feel scaled to the game. So this roadblock is kind of turning me off right now. Which is a bummer because I actually love the story mode itself, probably more so than any reviewer I've read critique the game. I think I'll be taking a break for now.
I'm a fairly big fan of the Shining series. I say fairly big because it's beyond casual, yet I'm not obsessive. But I mean, I'm a big enough fan that I'm always defending the Saturn games and I even preordered the last game just because it was releasing on Switch and then I played it for a pretty long time even though it was pretty not good.
Anyway, the Shining game I love the most is the one that I loved first: Shining Force. That game blew me away. Of course I didn't play it until much later - around 2010 or I'd guess. But it was still mind-blowing that a Genesis game had done all these things that I ended up loving way later in series like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics. Albeit, a bit more archaically. But still.
I played Shining Force II a couple of years later and strangely, it didn't feel quite as awesome to me as the original game. With that in mind, I decided to fire it up again this past week on Switch and see if my feelings had changed.
But no. It turns out I still feel the same way. Shining Force II is a cool game. It's a pretty game. The music is good. The story is interesting. But somehow I just feel like it's not as perfect to me as the first game was. I THINK this comes down to the chapters. The original game is played in chapters while this one is more openly structured like a true RPG. And that might be the deciding factor for me.
So it's weird. I'm playing this game and I'm seeing all these qualities that I'd call "good" and at the same time I'm like, I'd probably rather just replay the first Shining Force, or just play a newer game like the upcoming Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Y'know?
So that's the verdict. Kind of a lame one I guess. Shining Force II is a good game, but I prefer the first.
Back in the day I was a proud owner of the Sega Master System. I picked up on deep discount not long after the release of the Genesis and scooped up any cheap games I could find. One of them was called Psycho Fox - not exactly a killer app, but I thought it was fun.
Psycho Fox was a colorful platformer where you played as a Fox who could punch or stomp on enemies. And you could find a power-up that was a bird perched on your shoulder. You were able to throw the bird at enemies and he'd return to you. It was fun enough. And it was unique for the time.
As it turns out, Decap Attack is sort of a sequel to Psycho Fox. Or I guess a spiritual sequel since there's no fox nor bird. Instead you play as a mummy and his face pops out to hit enemies and he can find a skull power-up that he can throw at enemies and it returns to him. So yeah, it plays the same. But man... Decap Attack is not as fun as I remember Psycho Fox being.
First of all, the controls suck. Our mummy hero is a gigantic sprite who feels like he weighs a thousand pounds. He runs like he's on ice and his jumps are way too floaty. It just doesn't feel good for platforming. Luckily this is another game I'm only playing because it happens to be on that Switch Genesis compilation. I'm glad I didn't go out of my way to spend money on this particular game.
Considering how limited my game time has been lately, I'm giving games like this a pretty strict 30 minutes to wow me. Y'know what? Not even WOW me. They just have to at least be fun. At least Ristar is fun. This game, ugh. The levels are like mazes with a lot of verticality and I'm just getting annoyed even trying to navigate the stupid bouncy walls with these poor physics. So yeah. Not having fun here. Moving on...
This is why I love retro compilations. Ristar is exactly the sort of game that I'd never play otherwise. It's one of those games I vaguely remember existing when I was a kid, but had a cutesy mascot who we never saw again and I'd have no real reason to seek out on my own. But because it exists within a compilation that I own, when I recently read something mentioning it I was like "oh hey, I already own that game. I should play it."
I did actually play Ristar once in the past - same deal. It was on a compilation. A console compilation. But this time I was playing it on Switch in handheld mode and really, these sorts of games are perfect for that. To paint the picture: it was bedtime for baby. So I was playing in a darkened room with the volume real low, relaxing before bed.
I wouldn't call Ristar a great game, but I'd definitely call it an interesting one. Developed by Team Sonic and published between the onslaught of their 16-bit Sonic games but before Nights Into Dreams on the Saturn, this game totally feels like a missing link between those two things. The game has a very 'Greenhill' look to it with those lush greens and bright blue sky. Ristar himself (who's some kind of walking... star?) plays a BIT like Knuckles since he's kind of grabby and can do some wall stuff. And in swimming levels the controls are reminiscent of Nights Into Dreams. It's kind of neat to see that evolution.
The main gimmick of Ristar is his arms. He can grab stuff. So he grabs enemies; he grabs branches of trees above him; he grabs onto bars and can swing himself around them. It's not always the most intuitive playstyle, but it's cool to see Team Sonic trying some different things instead of what's just tried and true (see: Sonic).
Some of the level design is definitely fun, such as the early overtly Greenhill style stages. Some of them are pretty annoying like the later music-themed ones. It definitely feels like a "let's see what sinks and what floats" kind of game. For me the real joy is in the boss battles which often feel like puzzles built around the grab mechanic.
Like I said, it's not a great game. And as short as it is, I tend to tire of it pretty quickly. But from a purely historical standpoint, it's definitely a game worth checking out if you're a fan of Team Sonic.
I've been playing Ritual Of The Night off-and-on for weeks now. I got it the day it was released. It was one of my most anticipated games of 2019. But, my gaming time has changed quite a bit since the new addition in our family. And I've found that the brief windows of gaming time that I'm able to sneak in tend to favor shorter more immediate games right now.
Which is not to say I'm not enjoying Ritual Of The Night. Quite the contrary. I absolutely adore this game. I just haven't had a whole lot of time to actually play it. As I type this, I've probably sunk five or so hours in total, but this has all been accomplished through 15-30 minute chunks. And for a game so dependent on exploration and trial and error, this isn't exactly an optimal approach. Not to mention the reliance on save rooms. (Thank goodness for the ability to suspend the Switch!)
But as for the game itself: it's awesome. There's been a lot of talk about how poorly it runs on the Switch. I can't help but think that this is a bit overstated. Then again, I've only played it on Switch, so I have no points of reference to compare. But the only question I'm asking myself is IS THIS GAME PLAYABLE SO THAT I'M HAVING FUN? and my answer is wholeheartedly yes. Sure the loading screens are long and sure there are some blurry visuals in the backgrounds. But none of this is stopping me from playing it. And truthfully, if it weren't on a portable system I probably wouldn't have time to play it AT ALL right now.
It's probably too early to call it, but I'm pretty sure I love this even more than Curse Of The Moon. Maybe.
And this is a real deal Symphony Of The Night sequel in everything but name. (I'm purposely trying not to call it a 'Metroidvania,' except I just did). The map system, the RPG stats, the loot drops, the unexpectedly brutal battles when you stumble into a new area. It all feels so accurate. And I love that.
The upgrade system with its "shards" reminds me of um... I guess Order Of Ecclesia? I think that's the one I'm thinking of. But it's awesome to play around with different augments and powers and familiars. All this customization really opens up the game to play it however you feel most comfortable.
I wish I had something more interesting to say than "man, I love this game! It's surely one of my favorite games of 2019 right now!" but I just haven't had the time to put into playing it ENOUGH to say something super interesting. But, it's a great game and I'll be playing it for a while to come, most likely in 15-30 chunks.
Sometimes after a feeding, my daughter will fall asleep on me in an upright position with her head on my shoulder while I'm burping her. And I discovered last night that I can squeeze in a quick gaming session on my Game Boy Advance SP when this happens!
I had gotten it into my head that I wanted to play the Game Boy port of Star Wars recently. This is the 1991 game that was also on NES and was later ported to SNES under the title of - you guessed it - SUPER Star Wars. Anyway, the reason it had popped into my head was because Limited Run Games recently struck a deal with Lucas Arts to reprint a bevy of old Star Wars games and first up was the NES and GB game. I thought for a brief moment about pre-ordering the new-old GB cart for $40 before realizing that wait... this is the same game I can buy used all day for like $5. And that's what I did instead.
When I powered up the SP it was promising. The familiar music was there. The big text crawl explaining the events of A New Hope popped up. I saw some familiar faces in static cut scenes. I figured that between the Lucas and Capcom names in the credit, that this was going to be good.
Not so much, though.
Star Wars on GB is not a very good game. It's an interesting game, and one that does show a bunch of promise. But that promise feels wasted to me. The platforming is fine. The levels - at least in the early game that I played - are all just caves that you platform through and shoot some stuff and I guess the goal is to collect various THINGS in each cave because the menu screen tells me that I'm at whatever percent done with the game after each cave.
But nothing is really explained. There's no 'next level' since you exit a cave and drive around and look for another cave. There's no order or anything. And maybe they were going for a Zelda style exploration. I don't know. But it feels very confusing.
Combat is meh. There's smaller enemies that are no problem, but most anything your size is just going to wreck you fast. Oh, and spikes kill you fast. OH! And if you're driving around there's creatures that will just one-hit-kill your ship. It's rough. It feels punishing in a very unforgiving way.
Ultimately, Star Wars starting off with a boom of nostalgia but then quickly dissipated into a confusingly disappointing mess that I didn't feel like continuing to play. It was fine enough for my daughter's half-hour nap, I guess because now I can say I've tried it. I'm certainly relieved I didn't jump on the LRG bandwagon to pay $40 for this, though.
My wife and I have been trying to make an effort to give each other "a night off" during the week. The idea being that once a week if she wants to go sit quietly and read a book or if I want to just veg out and play a game, the other can tend to the baby during that time. Of course, the best laid plans...
But we're trying.
For some reason, I had been really in the mood to play Ducktales Remastered again. This is a game I've played and beat many times. I was a huge fan of the original NES game. Like, it's possibly a top ten NES game for me from my youth. And for the last decade, I've been a big fan of Way Forward who developed this remake.
From what I can recall, the critical consensus of Remastered was mixed at best. I don't care enough to research why that was. I think there were complaints about the overuse of dialogue. Which I guess could be a complaint. Except you can skip all the cut scenes. That, and much of the voice cast from the original Disney Channel cartoon reprise their roles here, which is super awesome in my opinion.
For those of us of a certain age, that Disney Afternoon cartoon show was mandatory. All those shows were: Chip N Dale's Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck and Talespin. But Ducktales was probably the best of the lot. The voice acting was great; the music ruled; and the animation was top notch.
And then there was the NES game. My goodness! Capcom absolutely killed it. They took the property and kept all the charm of the cartoon characters and put them into a Mega Man-esque game with levels that had branching paths. Oh, and Scrooge McDuck had a friggin' pogo jump! It's brilliant stuff.
When Way Forward was announced to helm the remake, I was thrilled. These guys had already made a name for themselves pumping out some awesome retro-style throwbacks like Shantae and Wendy: Every Witch Way on GBC, Godzilla: Domination and Sigma Star Saga on GBA; and Contra 4 and Alien: Infestation on the DS. I was a fan!
And Ducktales Remastered rules, you guys. No matter how many times I play this game, I'm always blown away by how smooth the animations look. It's really like playing the cartoon. And the remixed music? Brilliantly executed by Jake Kaufman. So good.
Anyway, the point is that this game is pure comfort food for me. And even though my night off ended up being about an hour since the baby is dealing with some acid reflux issues and I just felt too bad playing a game instead of helping out with comforting her, an hour with Ducktales Remastered was a nice little bit of downtime for me.
It's not a long game by the way. I mean it is just a remake of the original NES game. So it's the sort of game I can probably beat in just a couple of hours, really. So last night I really only got to play three levels, but that's fine. This game just always puts a smile on my face. And right now, short joyful experiences are pretty much what fit into my gaming life.
A little while ago I tried to play Startropics, but I forgot to write about it at the time. I guess that's because it really didn't make a big impression on me. Which actually kind of surprised me. See, back when the game was released I remember reading about it in Nintendo Power and thinking it looked completely awesome. It was an action-RPG like Zelda, but it was based in the modern world. There was a kid and he had weapons like yo-yo's and things like that. I don't know. It seemed like it would be pretty rad.
And maybe it would have been if I had played it back then. I'm not sure. But in 2019, it's pretty far from rad for me. Over the years, I think I had sort of expected Startropics to be something like Earthbound. I guess I had built it up in my head as this sort of cool cult classic or something. So when it hit the Switch Online service, I was thrilled to give it a go.
Startropics is not a good Zelda clone for me. I've played good Zelda clones. Stuff like Crystalis comes to mind. But this, ugh. It just feels so clunky. Everything about it feels clunky. The talking to the same NPC's over and over to trigger events; the way combat moves; the switching items and weapons; even the way you move. Like, I can't explain it properly but there's a "hopping" mechanic that just feels terribly antiquated to me and I can't seem to enjoy playing the game at all.
Like I said, maybe I could have been into this one as a kid, but now I just don't have the patience. I was able to give this game about an hour of my attention before moving on to something else.
Wait, I forgot. There was ONE other game I had played when I took time off with the baby. Or at least I TRIED to play it. But I just could not get into it at all. So Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales (how's that for a title?) is... a game... for the DS. I'm not even sure where to begin.
Okay, how about if I go back a bit. I'm a fairly big fan of the Final Fantasy series. I like some games more than others. And I haven't played them all. But I've played more than my fair share. Like, I've ventured out into the Final Fantasy spin-off games over the years plenty. And I've enjoyed a lot of them. I LOVED Final Fantasy Legend on Game Boy. And I played the entire Final Fantasy Legend trilogy as well. The first one was my first import game EVER. I'm even one of those nuts who swears that Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest on SNES is totally a game worth playing, and is a bit of a misunderstood gem that deserves a modern remake. So yeah. Oh, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was totally my jam on GBA.
So when I had heard that Chocobo Tales was a kinda-sorta card game, I was intrigued. That's the other thing - I like card games a lot. So I scooped up a copy via trade a while ago and when I was home hanging out with the baby I figured that it'd be convenient to just keep the 3DS on me, and that a slower card game would be good for pick-up-and-play sessions. But...
Yeah, I don't even get what this game is.
Or rather, this game doesn't even know what it is. So it's sort of like an RPG, but one where you control everything with the stylus. (Strike one). It has some kind of weird inane plot, which isn't really anything new for a Final Fantasy game. But do I really need that in my card game? Nah. But the thing is, it's not JUST a card game. It's also some kind of wacky mini-game thing. An early example found me using the stylus to try to guide a turtle up a mountain by making circular motions and taking the stylus off the screen caused the turtle to go in its shell and avoid taking damage AND ALL OF THIS WAS WITH A TIME LIMIT and ugh. Yeah. This game is just definitely not interesting to me.
I'll be honest, I probably didn't even give it a fair shot. I probably played about thirty minutes and just tossed the DS aside on the couch. I'm way too tired for this.