Tag Archives: 3DS

Mario Sports Superstars Review

Mario Sports Superstars Review – Written by jose Vega

Product provided by Nintendo for the purposes of this review.

Mario & sports games go hand in hand ever since the days of the Nintendo 64. It’s proven fact. However with the more recent sports games such as Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash not being up to par, Nintendo along with Camelot Software needed something to hopefully get people into it. The end result is Mario Sports Superstars. Similar to Mario Sports Mix, released in 2011 for the Wii, Sports Superstars is a compilation package containing five different sports games in one cartridge. The question is… does it carry the same feel as Sports Mix or is this one set players should pass up?

Similar to Mario Sports Mix, Mario Sports Superstars contains five different sports: soccer, baseball, tennis, golf and horse racing. They aren’t mini-games per se but rather full recreations down to the core. There is no story to the game. You can just pick up and play rather easily. Each sport offers a different experience and challenge. Elements from previous Mario sports games take full effect here. Soccer is 11-vs-11 gameplay with two teams battling to score the most goals. Soccer also has access to various options and strategies to accommodate the actual sports’ rules. Baseball has two teams of 9 characters playing against each other. Sadly it’s all pretty basic like the sport itself. Golf is just like every other Mario based golf game where you tee off for 9 holes to get the lowest score. There’s also a Ring Challenge mode for players where they can send the ball through large rings dotted around the course. It’s in training mode unfortunately.

Tennis is just like in Mario Tennis with various features taken from the more recent installments. Players can take part in either singles (1-on-1) or doubles (2-on-2). Many various shots such as Chance Shots, Jump Shots and the powerful Ultra Smash make a return as well adding for fast paced action. Horse Racing is one of the games’ new modes. You take control of a Mario character as you race against several opponents on horseback while dodging obstacles and leaping over hazards. You can choose your horse, what build it can be and even customize it in a variety of ways. They can also be groomed, petted or fed to boost bonds that can help in the races. All of this happens via Stable Mode done and controlled in first person. You can do many things in the stable mode and find rare items along the way. Competing in races and winning net you reward food that you can use to boost bonds along with moods. For a compilation, this is the best out of all the modes since it offers so much to do.

Mario Sports Superstars has both single and multiplayer for all game types. Tournament is the game’s single player, a 3-tier system where you and 7 opponents battle each other to reach the top. Beating one cup unlocks the other until you reach the highest difficulty, the Champion’s Cup. Beating it unlocks the character’s star version. Star characters are improved versions of them & it has to be done for every game. It can be very tedious and repetitive. Training Mode is also available. Each of the five games have a mode where you can practice and improve. Ring Challenge is available in all games and has four difficulty settings, offering a lot of time and fun. Length for the game depends on how much they want to put into it to unlock everything. There are characters you can unlock by winning 1st in the tournament modes. Multiplayer is also available via local or online. Depending on the game mode, you can have up to 4-6 players play local or 2-6 online. It’s acceptable but I wish in regards to local multiplayer that the option to Download Play should be included for people that don’t own the game. Overall, pretty standard stuff for Mario Sports games and I’m thankful it’s included otherwise the game would just be a bore.

The presentation is rather average at best. Nintendo took elements from previous Mario sports titles and integrated them into this one. There isn’t much to say about it. Controls are good, easy to work with and simple for people that want to pick up and play. The old adage still follows here, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Music is okay at best. Some tracks are good but not as much.

There are a few issues. Most of the games aside from horse racing don’t offer anything interesting, as in no gimmicky features that the previous Mario sports games bring. The tournament can be a repetition and the harder difficulties don’t help matters especially when you wish to unlock the rest of the characters, especially the star versions. It also doesn’t help that if you want to play with other players they need their own copy of the game. Another misstep, I say.

Like every Mario game, this has Amiibo support and they come in the form of Amiibo cards. Using these unlock star versions of specified characters. They can also be used power up characters to unlock superstar versions. It’s nice for people that don’t want to grind up so much to unlock them. Tapping three Amiibo cards accesses the Road to Superstar mini game. You need to defeat the boss in order to complete the game to unlock the superstar version. Speaking of which, the game has a collection and they need to buy packs of cards with coins to complete whole set. All this does is unlock the credits and sound test.

Overall Mario Sports Superstars is a pretty decent game. It’s decent but not enough to get you hooked onto for hours at a time. The games are all right with horse racing being the best out of them and it has single and multiplayer. However the game does have its issues. With many being its repetitive grind in the tournament mode, lack of gimmicks and multiplayer woes. Does it hurt the game? A little but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a pretty good game. Nintendo should hopefully learn from this and maybe provide a better game, especially with the Switch now being out and all. Mario Sports Superstars is fun, just not for long sessions.

I give Mario Sports Superstars a 7 out of 10.

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Layton’s Mystery Journey Review

Layton’s Mystery Journey Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided by Nintendo for the purposes of this review.

For more than a decade, the Layton series has graces fans with challenging puzzles and stories that get people intrigued and on their seats. It is quite a franchise with 6 main games, an animated movie, a spin-off and a crossover with the Ace Attorney series. In 2016, Level-5 announced a new entry into the Layton series starring a new female protagonist. It would eventually be revealed as Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle & the Millionaire’s Conspiracy. The game would be released first on mobile devices in July with the 3DS not receiving it till October. It has been a month since the game’s release. Does this game deserve the title of being part of the Layton series?

The story centers on Katrielle Layton, daughter of the famous Prof. Hershel Layton, who runs a private detective agency along with her assistant Ernest Greeves. Meeting a talking dog named Sherl or “Sherl O.C Kholmes”, it asks Katrielle to help it regain its memories. Upon solving a case of one of Big Ben’s hour hands disappearing, Kat, Ernest and Sherl soon get involved in a series of cases related to the “Seven Dragons”, seven of London’s most rich and influential people leading to an unexpected conclusion. All the while, Katrielle hopes to find out what happened to her father who had disappeared.

This story got me hooked and intrigued from start to finish. Unlike previous Layton games, its story isn’t one continuous tale. Rather its split between 12 cases with each of them sharing an overarching theme. Its theme makes sense for the game and by the time it’s over, you’ll pretty much feel more of an appreciation for the characters.

If you played a Layton game, you will feel right at home here. Layton’s Mystery Journey has you investigating each case in various locations, trying to find information, solve puzzles and get clues needed to solve the case. It’s split into two sections: Investigation and Puzzle. Investigation is where you’ll spend most of the game on. You use the touch screen to look around and search every nook and cranny. It’s needed to find stuff like hint coins, collectibles and puzzles. Hint coins help when you tackle tough puzzles whereas puzzles themselves are what the Layton series are best known for. Collectibles are mostly for completionist purposes. There are also fashion coins that can be used to unlock many outfits for Katrielle to wear. It’s for cosmetic purposes but it helps give Kat a bit of variety in what she can wear.

Puzzles are the second section and each case has a multitude of them for you to tackle. Each puzzle will award you Picarats for solving them. The higher the Picarats, the more difficult the puzzle can be. But honestly, the puzzles aren’t that hard. The game does provide hints at the expense of hint coins but most players can figure them out without much difficulty. You do get penalized if you fail by means of reduced picarats but it’s not as bad. The game also has additional mini games you unlock as you progress through the story. They offer some variety and in turn, you unlock more puzzles for you to solve via Kat’s Conundrum.

Layton’s Mystery Journey isn’t a long game. Overall it’ll take you probably 14-16 hours to complete and the mini-games and added puzzles will add an hour or two more. The good news is that it gives you the option to go back to previous cases you completed to find any puzzles or hint coins you missed. It’s a needed relief for those that want to get full completion. Not much else to say about it since it’s a Layton game and all.

As far as its presentation goes, it’s exactly what you’d expect for a Layton game. Although it did come out on mobile platforms, for a 3DS port, it’s pretty good. It keeps the charm and feel of the Layton games to a T. The characters are easy to like, many having motivations that are relatable. I felt they helped the story out and there was a character that I didn’t like. Music is pretty good, with some carrying a sense of Ace Attorney familiarity. The voice acting is nice with the talent being well done for a Layton game. Cutscenes are aplenty here, courtesy of A-1 Pictures. It’s impressive to say the least.

If there is anything that I find to be negative, it’s that the game can feel a bit too simple and predictable. Since Layton’s Mystery Journey follows things in a case-by-case basis, the way in which it goes does get repetitive after a while. The puzzles are in some cases real easy to beat compared to previous games. Also the game has DLC and it’s in the form of unlocking additional costumes and puzzles. The costumes are cosmetic but fun while the puzzles are a step-up making them harder versions of puzzles you completed. Unlike the iOS version, you don’t have to spend much so that is a sense of reprieve. There are also free bonus puzzles, as Level-5 has stated that the game will provide a new puzzle every day for an entire year. Great for those that wants to try their luck.

In conclusion, Layton’s Mystery Journey is a worthy addition to the Layton franchise, despite a few issues. The story is easy to get into, the characters are likeable and the gameplay feels like a Layton game should. Despite some negatives, the game is an enjoyable experience and I recommend this. If you are new to the series then this is a good place to start. However if you have played a Layton game then you’ll find it to be a bit too simple. Regardless it’s one mystery you should solve. I only hope we get a sequel.

I give Layton’s Mystery Journey an 8 out of 10.

Monster Hunter Stories Review

Monster Hunter Stories Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review was done by Nintendo.

Monster Hunter… known to be a series where players team up to take down monsters that would normally tear them apart. It’s one of Capcom’s profitable franchises and is been going strong. A spin-off of the series titled Monster Hunter Stories, was released in Japan last year to great success. Its success would lead to an animated adaption called Monster Hunter Stories Ride-On. A few months later, Capcom brings the game overseas. Now that it’s released, does it carry the tradition that the main series has always had?

Let’s start with the story. The story is set in Hakum Village, an isolated place where riders coexist with monsters. You play as Lute, a child living in the village until a monster infected by the Black Blight attacks the village causing much tragedy. Now much older and having earned the right to be a Rider, Lute must venture the outside world, alongside his companion Navirou to seek out and befriend monsters known as “monsties” and find a way to deal with the threat of the Black Blight.

The story is basic but easy to get in to. Most of the stuff can be a bit predictable but it’s not in a level that’s considered bad. It’s more light-hearted but it does have its dark moments. Personally, it kept me intrigued and I wondered how things turn out so the story is a positive for me.

Monster Hunter Stories is a departure from the main series in terms of its gameplay. For starters the game is an RPG adventure. As a Rider, you battle monsters, explore Dens to steal eggs, hatch eggs and train Monsties to make them stronger. The game splits between two sections: Field and Action. On the field you can explore and do many things like travel to towns, find items, accept side quests and so on. It’s standard stuff. Sometimes you find eggs in Monster Dens and you head to towns to hatch them. In turn you can choose up to 6 Monsties to have in your party, similar to Pokémon. But you only have one to have with you and you can change at any time. Monsties also have skills that help in various areas. With Quests, they come in two varieties: Story and Side Quests. Story Quests are accepted automatically and they’re needed to continue the game. Side Quests however can be done anytime and they depend on the request. They can be accepted via bulletin boards or by the NPCs you meet in towns. Completing them nets you money and experience, which can be used to buy gear and strengthen your party.

Battles however are where the game differentiates from the main series. The combat is traditional RPG-based with you and your monsties fight opposing monsters, sometimes up to 3. You can attack, choose a kind of attack and see what happens. You can also choose Skills to have your character do various things. As you battle, you have access to three kinds of attacks: Power, Speed and Technique. The game follows a rock-paper-scissors on how battles go with each type having an advantage over another. Sometimes using some attacks can result in combos dealing more damage. Getting the advantage in battle is a necessity especially for your side because you get a boost in damage and kinship. The fights also have quick time moments, depending on the monstie, where motions or button presses are needed to win the fight and deal damage. There’s a lot to do and they help make the fights feel intense.

Speaking of which, the Kinship Stone is an important feature. As you battle against monsters and succeed in clashes, the kinship gauge fills and when it’s full, you can ride on your chosen Monstie boosting your attack but making you susceptible of falling off if you fail too many clashes. Succeeding levels up the Kinship and when the time’s right, your monstie can let off a powerful Kinship attack that can deal major damage, especially in boss fights. It also has a secondary use and it can be leveled up so you can be able to befriend Monsties of higher levels and rarities. The game has its fair share of boss battles with many having more than one section to attack. Focusing on each part and taking it down can help make the battles less stressful.

Another important feature is Monster Genes. Each monster has a 3×3 grid that contains various abilities. To add them, you can channel genes from one to another offering a plethora of different combinations. Matching three of the same kind causes a Bingo effect that boosts the Monstie’s stats. It provides unlimited possibilities for your Monsties to have all sorts of abilities and advantages, adding more to an otherwise huge game. Your player character can also be customized with various weapons and armor. With armor there’s a lot of different kinds. Weapons however, you are limited to four: Greatsword, Sword & Shield, Hammer & Hunting Horn, each with advantages and disadvantages. They can also be upgraded in exchange for money and materials just like in the main series.

All of this adds up to a game that offers a lot for your money’s worth. The game will take you a really long time, upwards to around 40-50 hours if you plan on completing every story and side quest. So there’s a lot to do and there’s more even after beating the game. You can also battle other players either via local, online or by Streetpass so you can put your skills to the test against others. The game is a wonder to look at. It’s presentation is to the point with each area being different to set themselves apart whether it be the plains, inside a volcano or even on a tropical island. Characters are expressive more in scenes where they talk with Navirou and the main character being very expressive. Cutscenes are good as well. The monsters are faithful to how they look in the main games with the Monsties being cute. Music is good to listen to and can get you pumped, especially in battles. There’s no voice acting but the cast like Navirou speak in a gibberish tone. It’s all right since their expressions can pretty much speak for them.

If there were any negatives, I’d say that the game doesn’t have multiple save files like in the main game. There’s only one file and if you want to try again and start differently, you got to delete it. In addition there isn’t much else in terms of post-game content aside from a tower you must trek making the replay value stagnant. Sometimes the game can get hard but grinding and leveling up can help. Like most Nintendo games, Monster Hunter Stories comes with Amiibo support. Tapping Amiibo from this game can net you bonus items and materials that can help with your quest. However they are only available in Japan and Capcom hasn’t decided on whether they’ll bring them overseas. Thankfully they are region free so if you are lucky to get them, they can be usable.

Overall, Monster Hunter Stories may feel like a Monster Hunter game but it offers a different experience. With RPG elements thrown in along with the ability to hatch and train Monsties, it offers a lot. The presentation is solid, the challenge is there and though there are some faults, Capcom did a stellar job providing a game that anyone can jump into. For anyone that’s new to the Monster Hunter series and want a first hand experience, this is the game for you. Be prepared to spend hours upon hours on this as once you start, it won’t stop until the journey is over. This game is a journey that’s truly well earned.

I give Monster Hunter Stories a solid 9 out of 10. It’s worth the purchase and you will not be disappointed.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions Review

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided by Nintendo for this review.

14 years ago, Nintendo and Alphadream released Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance. It focuses on the Mario Bros. as they journey to rescue Princess Peach’s voice from an evil sorceress. It launched a franchise with each sequel stepping up to deliver a satisfying experience, mostly. During E3 2017, Nintendo announced that the game that started it all would be getting a remake, with a twist. It came to be known as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, with the addition focusing on Bowser’s entourage of mooks seeking their master. On a handheld like the 3DS, does this remake stand tall alongside the original GBA classic?

The story centers on Mario & Luigi on yet another adventure. What starts as a goodwill meeting goes south when an evil sorceress named Cackletta and her assistant Fawful steal Princess Peach’s voice and replacing it with an explosive vocabulary. But they aren’t alone. They get help from Bowser who also wants in. Together the three head for the Beanbean Kingdom to recover Peach’s voice and deal with Cackletta and her cohort.

It’s the same as the original and I have no complaints with it. The story is just as enjoyable and in some cases, hilarious.

The game plays exactly like the original in both field and battle phases. On the field, Mario & Luigi play the same way with the D-Pad (or analog stick) moving them and both A & B buttons have the two do various actions such as jumping, using hammers or various other abilities. It’s needed to solve the many puzzles you’ll encounter in the game. In battle, it’s the same way. You use Mario & Luigi respectively in turn-based battles against enemies. As you progress and get stronger, you’ll have access to a slew of different abilities that can be used in both field and battle. They can also be upgraded to Super (Advanced) versions that are stronger, giving players a variety of ways to take down foes. With the 3DS hardware, the game offers a lot more features. The touchscreen, for example, provides a map of the areas you visit as well as shortcuts for the commands they can use on the field. In battle, the bottom screen details your characters’ stats and when you do moves, they provide instructions on how to use them. It’s great for beginners but an afterthought for those who have already experienced the game. The game also includes an Easy Mode for those who feel the main game is hard and it can be turned on and off at any time. It’s good for new players but for those who already played it, it’s an unnecessary addition.

In addition to the main game, you also have Minion Quest, a side-story that tells the story from the perspective of Bowser’s minions as they journey to seek their fallen master. It’s a mix between RTS and RPG as you lead a squad of minions to battle against enemies. You take control of a Goomba who becomes Captain and the objective in each fight is to take out the other captain before he takes the Goomba out. After completing each stage, you get experience used to level up your units. You can have up to 8 units in your group and hold up to a total of 40 units. It also follows a rock-paper-scissors mechanic in terms of advantages. You have three types of units: Melee, Ranged, and Flight. Melee beats Range, Range beat Flight and Flight beats Melee. Limiting your army to 8 units requires players to plan well for each encounter and if things go bad, you can retreat and try again. It’s a nice and enjoyable side game that adds to the story of the overall game. Plus you can go back to previous levels to strengthen your units.

Length-wise, the remake of Superstar Saga will keep you busy for some time. The main game will take around 15-18 hours to complete while Minion Quest is a 6-hour romp. You’ll have a lot to do in this game. Presentation-wise, the game is a step up compared to the original. The many areas of Beanbean Kingdom are amazing to look at. In addition, the same can be said for the characters and enemies. They look good and faithful just like the GBA version. Battles are especially funny when it comes to the characters and when Bros. Attacks fail, they lead to some hilarious stuff. There is some voice acting but most of it is simply gibberish. It makes sense since it’s a Mario & Luigi game and it does fit well. Music is just as good as the original. Being that it’s on a 3DS, it’s a step up from the original giving us familiar yet good tunes. The game also has Amiibo support, using figures from the Super Mario line. They can be used to get stamps that can be exchanged for prizes. Pretty nifty.

From my experience, I couldn’t find anything that is deemed negative about the game. There are times where the game throws a curveball and make it hard but honestly, it’s a game that can be challenging if you allow it to be. Items are plentiful and by the time you reach the end, you’ll be more than prepared. Also, the game plays in 2D by default and it’s a good thing since it’ll be easier on the eyes. Fitting since the GBA game is the same way.

For a 3DS remake, Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions is a very good remake. The game feels and plays familiar. Minion Quest offers a nice side game. What else is there to say? Nintendo and Alphadream brought the GBA classic to the 3DS and they did it well. If you were unable to play the original GBA version, this is your best choice. It’s a good starting point for people to get into the series and for those that want to relive it. Nintendo didn’t disappoint. This game is a certified winner.

I give Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions a solid 9 out of 10. It’s worth your money, I mean it.

Metroid: Samus Returns Review

Metroid: Samus Returns Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by Nintendo.

It surprises how in one year a franchise can go from having an uncertain future to a ray of hope. Last year, Nintendo released Metroid Prime: Federation Force to commemorate the franchise’s 30th anniversary. It bombed, bringing with it a cloud of uncertainty and worry that Metroid won’t have much of a future. That changed in E3 2017 when Nintendo announced not only a sequel to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption but also a reimagining of an old classic. Metroid: Samus Returns is a retelling of Metroid II, released for the Game Boy in 1991. Did Nintendo learn their lesson from Federation Force and delivered something that would bring the franchise from the brink of death?

Since Samus Returns is a retelling of Metroid II, the story follows exactly as the original. Chronologically, it is set after the events of Zero Mission, the Metroid Prime series, and Federation Force. In the year 20X5 of the Cosmic Calendar, the Galactic Federation dispatches a squad of elite soldiers to investigate SR388 only for them to disappear. Upon receiving info, the Federation realizes that the Metroids would continue to pose a threat to all life in the galaxy. By unanimous decision, they contact Samus Aran with one simple objective: Travel to SR388 and exterminate the Metroids once and for all.

Unlike the original Metroid II, the game delivers the plot in style. There’s impressive artwork that details the events, setting up the game with great music to back it up. I’m happy this game provides something that sets things up. But once the game begins, the story takes a backseat until later on but it won’t stop anyone from enjoying this experience.

Metroid: Samus Returns is just like the original but the gameplay has been streamlined, following later entries in the series like Super Metroid, the Prime series, and Metroid Fusion. If you’ve played any of the games then you will feel right at home. They feel familiar, refined and just so satisfying. Samus still has access to most of her skills & abilities but there are a few new ones that give her some needed leverage. You can shoot in all eight directions but you can also go into a precise aim with the L button. Useful if players wish to use precision to shoot down enemies. In addition, there’s the Melee Counter. Many enemies will rush in to deal damage to you but with the Melee Counter, you can parry the rush and follow up with a damaging blast. It’s especially useful in fights against Metroids, as they lead to a cool cinematic where Samus goes in and deliver multiple missiles at them. I find it to be extremely useful, helping the flow of the battle and at times can turn it to your favor. However, expect to use it a lot. This game is a challenging one. Samus also gets access to Aeion, an energy source that adds additional abilities to her Power Suit, such as the Scan Pulse and Lightning Armor. They do take up energy but the unique skills offer Samus various functions to help with her exploration.

I mentioned that Metroid: Samus Returns is challenging and it’s no exception. The game will put your skills to the test as you travel through eight different areas within SR388’s confines and wipe out the Metroids. Like in the original, there are Metroids and they can evolve becoming more dangerous with powerful attacks, forcing you to plan and strategize to ensure survival. Metroids are also needed in order for the player to advance further down. New to the game is a Chozo gate that shows how many Metroids that need to be eliminated before you can progress. If you played the original, you get the idea. However, unlike the original, the remake also adds a few challenging bosses. This helps add a bit of variety and it’s better than going from one area to another taking down Metroids. Samus Returns can take around 6-10 hours, depending if the player wishes to collect all the items and upgrades. Yes. It isn’t Metroid without collecting and the game has plenty. The map thankfully details where the item can be but finding it will require skill from the player. Save points are aplenty along with recharge stations for health and weapons. Elevators are used for Samus to head up or down and if that isn’t enough, there are also warp stations. Warp Stations are useful to travel to an area real fast. Load times are minimal and acceptable at best, around 8-10 seconds.

As far as the presentation, the graphics are a big improvement compared to Federation Force. Being able to play as Samus is satisfying and she controls real well. The locations, characters, enemies and bosses are really detailed and expressive. Music in the game is amazing. Some of the songs are remixes from previous Metroid games but it doesn’t matter. They are just awesome to listen to. There isn’t much in terms of negatives but I feel the game is real challenging. In fact, Samus Returns is harder than the original Metroid II but it’s a good kind of challenging. It shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the game. Metroid: Samus Returns is awesome and I am happy that the series has a chance to shine once more. The game is also compatible with Amiibo. Scanning either the Smash versions of Samus or Zero Suit Samus can net some added firepower but scanning either of the new Amiibo will unlock some additional content after completing the game such as concept art and a harder difficulty mode. I am bummed that a harder difficulty mode is locked behind a figurine but I wish that Nintendo would give those that can’t get the Amiibo an option to unlock it without having to waste money for it. Replay value is very high if you want to complete it 100% with the fastest time, just like in every Metroid game.

What else is to say regarding Samus Returns? For a remake, it is a big step up from the original, offering a challenge while providing new features that add to the experience. It follows the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to a T. It delivers in so many ways and personally, it seems that Nintendo got the message and realized they dropped the ball. Federation Force nearly brought the Metroid franchise into uncertain doubt with many say that there’s no hope. Nintendo proved them wrong and delivered a game that is awesome on all fronts. Samus Returns is an immediate recommendation and I hope Nintendo sees the demand for more Metroid. If you haven’t gotten this game, do so now! You will not regret it.

I give Metroid: Samus Returns my highest rating ever… 10 out of 10. It earns my Seal of Approval and this game is a DEFINITIVE MUST BUY!

Hey! Pikmin Review

Hey! Pikmin Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by Nintendo

Nintendo has a knack for providing franchises the exposure they need and they do so via consoles and handhelds. Sometimes they work and other times can lead to a franchise dying out. The results vary but when it was announced that a new Pikmin game would be coming to the Nintendo 3DS, people were curious. Pikmin has had a few successes with its three main games with a strong reception, but the idea of a spin-off game seemed questionable. Eventually Hey! Pikmin would arrive but the big question is this: Does this spin off game hold its own compared to its main series? Or will this be another case of a franchise that ended due to an unexpected flop?

The story centers on Capt. Olimar, who is returning back after completing another assignment. During his trip, his ship gets struck by an asteroid and ends up crashing on an unknown planet. He learns that in order to fix his ship and get back home, he needs to seek out an energy source called Sparklium. But he won’t do it alone. The planet that he crashed in is home to Pikmin, little plant-like creatures that Olimar can use to complete his mission. With these helpers, Olimar heads off to find what he needs to fix his ship and head home.

It’s a simple story, traditional since it’s almost the same in every Pikmin game. Sure the previous games add a little bit here and there but in Hey! Pikmin, the plot is bare bones. Sadly it also takes a backseat in favor of the game and it doesn’t be any relevant until at least you collect 30,000 Sparklium. But for a Pikmin game, what can you do?

Now since this is a Pikmin game, your job is to find Pikmin and use them to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and find treasures. Olimar can’t defend himself. He doesn’t have anything that can provide offense. All he has is a whistle and a jetpack that lets you hover for a short time. The only form of offense that you have is the Pikmin. They come in different varieties and each of them provides a different advantage for your journey. Red Pikmin is immune to fire and are strong fighters. Yellow can be thrown farther and can withstand electricity. Blue Pikmin are agile swimmers and essential for underwater combat. Rock Pikmin pack a punch and can destroy crystalized walls and Winged Pikmin can help you float through dangerous hazards and can reach high places. Unlike the main Pikmin games, this one you are only limited to 20 Pikmin in each area. This adds a bit of strategy but also a bit of micromanaging since you need to make sure everyone is safe from harm. Carelessness will lead you to defeat.

Hey! Pikmin has you traveling through 8 Sectors, each with 5 areas. As you trek, you need to seek out Pikmin and use them to survive what lies ahead. This also relates to finding Sparklium. You do that by collecting Sparklium in each area. Finding treasures also count because they net a high amount of Sparklium and each area has at least 2-4 treasures to find. Finding them is the challenge. They can appear where you least expect it. Exploration is a definite must and the game offers a lot of it. If you’re lucky, you may find a hidden exit that can lead to an Area X. Those areas put your Pikmin playing skills to the test. Sometimes they can be a cakewalk and others can be a test of skill. At the end of every sector is a boss fight. If you know how the bosses behave, then they won’t be much of a challenge. One good thing about it is that the game really does a good job showing them before the big fight.

In addition to exploration, there’s also Pikmin Park and using all the Pikmin you gathered, you can order them to head to specific areas to excavate more Sparklium. It’s a neat addition and offers more to an interesting game. As I said before, getting Sparklium is needed to reach the end and you’ll have to do so in this 10-12 hour game. Going for 100% will have you clocking in at about 16 hours since you need to complete every stage, find every treasure and do so with all Pikmin unharmed. This game will test you.

For a 3DS game, the presentation is well done. The characters and environment are vibrant and colorful. Each world has a unique theme that offers something different as you progress. Olimar and the Pikmin I feel is the best thing since they express themselves in the form of short cutscenes. Some are rather humorous but it’s to be expected for a Pikmin game. The game has some great music. Unlike other games where music doesn’t reflect the game, this does and it’s done very well. Some songs like the cave areas have a bit of a Metroid vibe to them. It’s pretty good and it helps make the game feel enjoyable. The controls are good. You just tap with the stylus on the touchscreen and you can fling your Pikmin to where they will go. It can help with some tricky puzzles. The touch screen is also used for the whistle to get your Pikmin in line as well as the rocket backpack. Movement is done either with the analog stick or the D-Pad. The D-Pad is a safer bet if you feel analog isn’t your thing.

Though I do enjoy some of the good things, there are a few things I find problematic with the game. First, the puzzles are too simple at times. Understandably since this game is meant for kids but for others, they may find them to be too easy. The same can be said for the bosses. Many of their patterns are simple to figure out, making some of them be a joke. Thankfully each boss provides a different challenge, requiring you to use the Pikmin you have to take the boss down. Replay value is there if you want to go back and beat every level with all Pikmin intact but other than that, there isn’t much. It’s pretty much a one & done game when it comes to finding everything. Speaking of which, the Pikmin is another flaw I have with the game. They’re only useful when they see anything of interest and are pretty much brain dead. Sometimes they don’t follow fast enough and you can end up either losing Pikmin or getting killed and forced to restart. Oh, and there are no checkpoints. If you die, you have to start the level all over again. That is an issue especially in tougher levels where you are forced to redo a lot of progress. That’s upsetting.

In conclusion, Hey! Pikmin isn’t a bad game, far from it. It’s an enjoyable game that offers a lot of charm and a pretty acceptable challenge. For a handheld, Nintendo did well in bringing Pikmin to the small screen. A good presentation with simple yet effective controls added with an acceptable amount of challenge makes this a worthy addition to the franchise. If you want something to keep yourself busy before Nintendo makes an official Pikmin sequel, this is it. Trust me. You’ll enjoy it.

I give Hey! Pikmin an 8.5 out of 10.

Pokemon Sun & Pokemon Moon Review

Pokémon Sun & Moon Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by Nintendo.

There’s an old adage we always say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Pokémon has always been like that for over twenty years, providing the same concept through multiple generations. Now we reach Generation 7 with the arrival of Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon. It has been said that the game is going to be different than the previous generations. Will the game carry the same enjoyable experience or will the changes make this be something else?

The story is set in the region of Alola, based off of Hawaii. It focuses on a young individual who just moved from Kanto with his mom to Alola. With help from his uncle Prof. Kukui, the trainer embarks on a journey to become the strongest trainer in the region. There’s also another plot revolving Lillie and a Pokémon of hers named Nebby who’s on the run from a shady organization. Most of the story’s told through scenes that occur during your journey. It’s done well though I feel the story regarding Lillie can be improved a bit, not that it’s a bad thing.

All Pokémon games have had the same gameplay since the beginning. But this time, Nintendo & the Pokémon Company decide to take a gamble and provide a different experience for players. The gameplay is the same where you travel all over a region to catch Pokémon and use them to battle, other trainers. If you’ve played previous Pokémon handheld games, it’s straightforward. In the case of Sun & Moon, how you go about your journey is different. Gone are the usual gym leaders and in its place comes the Island Challenge.

In the Island Challenge, you travel from one island to the next completing various Island Trials. The Island Trials are missions where you tackle specific objectives before you take on the Island Totem Pokémon in an SOS battle. The Totem Pokémon will sometimes bring ally Pokémon to fight alongside it. After beating the Totem Pokémon, you complete the trial. Some islands will have more than one Trial and they need to be completed in order to reach the Grand Trial. Grand Trials are like gym battles where you take on the Island Kahuna. Beating them will complete the trial and you will move on to the next island.

I personally love the Island Challenges. Instead of battling, you have to do objectives to move on from one trial to the next. It helps the game feel fresh and different while keeping everything the same and I hope that future Pokémon games can follow this style. Not only that they have removed gyms but also HMs. Replacing HMs is the Ride Pager, giving you access to Ride Pokémon that can help trek through Alola. A welcome addition to the game and one that is quite fun to have.

Another addition is Z-Moves. As you journey through Alola, you’ll acquire Z-Crystals that give your Pokémon access to super powered moves that can turn the tide of battle. However they can only be used once per battle, so be careful. A neat addition and can be helpful in a moment’s notice. You can also take pictures of Pokémon with your Pokedex and send them to get results. You get rewarded for it to boot.

The game is a long one and depending if players want to complete their Pokedex and have all the Pokémon, it can take a while. But for an estimate, the game will take roughly 30-40 hours, even longer especially when you can also trade and battle online adding the length to unbelievable levels. Speaking of which, the online has changed. You still have the usual GTS but the addition of the Festival Plaza allows players to meet other people and earn coins so they can use them to improve their plaza to make it better.

Presentation-wise, the game is a big step up from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. The characters look a lot better and the environment itself is vibrant and colorful. Battles are intense and though it reuses stuff from the previous game, I won’t complain. The Z-Moves themselves do look great. But if I were to find any nitpicks with the game, I feel the story needs a bit of work. Also the game can have a tendency to slow down when double battles occur. It mostly happens on a regular Nintendo 3DS but if you’re playing on a New Nintendo 3DS, the slowdown doesn’t happen. Considering that the game is pushing the 3DS hardware to its limits, it’s to be expected.

Pokémon Sun & Moon has breathed new life into the franchise, providing a familiar feel while also adding new features and innovations. Sure the story can be hit or miss but overall, it’s a satisfying experience. So much to do in the region of Alola that you can spend weeks or even months and with updates that allow players to transfer Pokémon from previous games to this one adds it even more. The franchise’s 20th Anniversary was a huge celebration and this game’s release certifies that this game franchise will be around for a long time to come.

I give Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon a perfect 10 out of 10. Legendary status and it’s worth your time and money.