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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.

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World Review

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World – A Review by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by Nintendo.

In 2015, a little game called Yoshi’s Woolly World came out on the Wii U. It was a nice game that was fun for both kids and adults, following in the same way as Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Two years later, Nintendo decides to port this title over to the Nintendo 3DS and call it Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World. Despite being similar, the question is if the game has something that can stand out from its Wii U counterpart. The answer is yes.

Let’s start with the story and it’s straightforward. Life on Craft Island is peaceful until Kamek comes in and decides to turn all the Yarn Yoshis into wonder wool. Only a green and red Yarn Yoshi survived, despite their best efforts in trying to stop Kamek. So now the two remaining Yoshis must travel to stop Kamek and save their friends. It’s a pretty simple story and a good introduction for players to get into the game.

If you’ve played any of the Yoshi games, you will feel right at home here. You play as a Yoshi, traveling through six worlds each consisting of 8-9 stages. Yoshi can run, jump, ground/hammer pound and toss yarn balls at enemies. He can also absorb enemies and spit them out to form yarn balls. Collectibles are abounding in each stage such as Wonder Wool, pencil coins, hearts and Smiley Flowers. Wonder Wool is for acquiring new Yoshis and flowers help unlock an additional “S” stage at the end. Getting 100% completion requires you to find everything and the game do allow you to explore, which is good. The game also has badges where depending on a number of beads can add a bit of advantage for Yoshi. They range from having all big yarn balls to helping you find hidden stuff. It’s really cool. The controls are spot on and you have the option to customize them to your liking. If you plan on going for 100%, it can take you roughly 10-15 hours.

The worlds all follow a traditional pattern like grasslands, desert, skies, etc. but it’s all done pretty well and you can tell too. With the idea of yarn gives the game the opportunity to express itself. Design wise, it is exactly as the Wii U version. Nintendo should be commended for pulling off a port like this. I was surprised because the 3DS handheld can be quite limited but Nintendo has always provided games that push the potential of their systems to their limits. This is no exception. Also, the game runs a solid 30fps on regular 3DS/2DS and 60fps on New 3DS handhelds. Both handhelds run the game fine so no matter what you play, it is good all the same.

But despite this, there are several things that this game has over the Wii U counterpart. For starters, there is no co-op at all. A minor nitpick but the game is just as fun. Also, Amiibo functionality is aplenty here but expanded further giving Yoshi access to even more designs. The Poochy amiibo released for the game can also be used here to help bring Poochy to the game so you can use it to help find hidden goodies. Speaking of Poochy, this game also includes a Gold Rush mode, exclusive to the 3DS version, where you can ride Poochy along and collect beads. Using the Poochy amiibo turns it into a time attack mode as well. This game also has the option to switch between Classic and Mellow Mode. Think of Mellow Mode as an easy mode with Yoshi gaining wings and his yarn balls are replaced with Poochy-Pups. They are exclusive to the 3DS version as they can help you find hidden items and plus they don’t go away. After throwing one, they come back. If you feel the game can be difficult at times, Mellow Mode is the mode and the game doesn’t punish you for using it. Plus you can change modes at anytime.

I couldn’t find anything wrong with the game. The game’s pretty solid, the music is relaxing and nice to listen to and it offers plenty for your money’s worth. So yeah, the game is good. Very good with a high amount of replay value to boot.

Overall Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World took the Wii U version and added a few things that help make it stand out. It is the same but with more Amiibo functionality, the option to change modes on the fly and some additional modes make the game feel different and satisfying. If you were unable to try this when it came out for the Wii U, then this is a definite guarantee. I recommend this game. Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World is worth your money.

I give Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World a 9 out of 10. This game earns my personal Seal of Approval. Worth every penny.