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Yakuza Kiwami Review

Yakuza Kiwami Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the purpose of reviewing this game.

Back in 2005-2006, SEGA released a game called Yakuza or Ryu Ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon) to the world. It would go on to be a big success for SEGA and would spawn a franchise. Many sequels and spin-offs would soon follow from its success. A decade later, the franchise would celebrate its 10th anniversary by releasing two games in the Yakuza series. One was a prequel called Yakuza 0 and the other would be a remake of the original. The remake, Yakuza Kiwami is a retelling of the original Yakuza. Does this remake do the original and the series justice?

Being that it’s a remake of a PS2 game, its story is largely unchanged. The plot centers on Kazuma Kiryu, a Yakuza lieutenant who takes the fall for a crime his friend Akira Nishikiyama committed in 1995. Ten years later, he is free on parole to find that his home of Kamurocho has changed. 10 billion yen ($90 million USD) has gone missing from the Tojo Clan, causing an all-out war between various factions and the only one that has any answers is a young girl named Haruka. Kiryu now makes it his goal to not only find his childhood friend Yumi, the missing 10 billion yen but also to protect Haruka from anyone and everyone that’s after her, including his old friend Nishiki who has become his sworn enemy.

The story is great. Everything about it is just well done but at the same time, you can’t help but wonder what happens next for all the characters involved. It has enough twists and turns that make your head spin. Being that it’s a remake, SEGA has taken the opportunity to add more to the game. An additional 25 minutes of cutscenes were added focusing on Nishiki and how what happened in the beginning shaped him to be what would end up at the end. It’s well done and you can’t help but feel bad for him. It adds more to his character than just having him be like a traditional bad guy in the original. It was what the original lacked.

As for gameplay, Yakuza Kiwami is an action-adventure game with elements of the open world, RPG and a bit of beat-em-up on the side. The game follows a chapter format where within each chapter of the game, you can do many things. Doing the story is one option but there’s a plethora of activities and mini-games for players to do. Kamurocho is a town that offers various doings such as bowling, pool, darts, karaoke, mahjong and so forth. Players can go to Hostess Clubs and woo beautiful women that work there. If they’re lucky and do well, they can take them out to dates. It’s as if SEGA took a piece of Japan’s heart and soul and integrates it into the game.

Not only that but players will encounter trouble in the form of punks. Things shift into a beat-em-up. Kiryu has access to three different fighting styles: Brawler, Rush, and Beast. Brawler is balanced, Rush specializes on speed and quick punches and Beast is all about brute force. You use these three styles to take down anyone that gets in your way. Taking down foes give you experience and you use the experience to unlock new moves and techniques for your three styles. There is an additional fourth style: Dragon and that is unlocked with a new feature that’s exclusive to Yakuza Kiwami: Majima Everywhere.

Majima Everywhere is pretty much a mini-game where you must encounter and battle Majima in order to fully max out the Dragon style. It can range from a variety of activities but they all have one simple goal: building up the fourth style. Being that it is an open-world game, players will have to prepare themselves for survival. The city offers plenty of places to stock up on supplies for the trials ahead. The yen is the game’s currency and you get it by completing sub-stories and selling stuff. Not only that but the game also has various sub-stories that detail life within Kamurocho and it’s people. Completing them offers plenty of rewards like goods and experience. But overall the game really gives you a lot to do.

All of this is enough to drive players to spend hours on completing the game. If you focus on story alone, the game will take about 20-30 hours but to 100% the game, it extends to the hundreds. Beating the game also adds more replay value with the Premium Adventure and Legend difficulty. As far as presentation goes, the game is a step up from both the PS2 and PS3 versions. It’s seamless and fluid with no load times to get in the way. The game also is amazing at 1080p running at 60fps. The character models are good and show a variety of expressions to boot. As for the voice acting, SEGA decided to give it an overhaul dropping the English dub in favor of a Japanese one. It’s very good. Fortunately, there are English subtitles but for those that would want to see the 2005 dub come to this game, expect to be disappointed. The music has some remixed tunes that were in the original but it’s a bit mixed. Some are really good while others are a bit of a miss. It shouldn’t stop players from enjoying the game.

Though there is a lot of good with Yakuza Kiwami, the game has some faults. The combat can get hectic at times when there are a lot of enemies. Fortunately, the game fixes some of the issues and lets you automatically attack the nearest enemy. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that at times, enemies can pack heavy artillery and you’d be really screwed. Also, the Majima Everywhere can be a repetitive grind, all for the sake of maxing out the fourth style, Dragon.

Yakuza Kiwami is a Yakuza game redone for the modern generation of gaming. With a stepped-up presentation, solid gameplay and plenty of content, what more needs to be said? Plus it has a story that gets you invested in the characters. SEGA put a lot of love towards the franchise and it shows with Kiwami. With SEGA announcing remasters of the other Yakuza games, now is a good time to get into the series. Want a starting point, go with either 0 or Kiwami but Kiwami is a good choice to see where the series began.

I give Yakuza Kiwami a 9 out of 10. It is a must buy game and earns my personal seal of approval.

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Shantae Half-Genie Hero Review

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased copy for the sake of this review.

Why do franchises survive? Why do they endure? That’s a question many people wonder about. How can a franchise be able to survive despite not having much recognition? Such is the case of one called Shantae. It began in 2001, released for the Game Boy Color that was well received but was released during the end of the handheld’s life cycle. Despite this, Shantae would continue to thrive with two more sequels: Risky’s Revenge and The Pirate’s Curse. Come 2013 and WayForward announced that a new Shantae game would come. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, they succeed and in 2016, WayForward releases the 4th entry in the series, Half-Genie Hero. Does Half-Genie Hero do what Mighty No. 9 could not?

Half-Genie Hero takes place some time after the events of the third game, The Pirate’s Curse. On one eventful night, Shantae gets word that the Genie Realm would be in danger. So she heads to town only for Risky Boots to invade and steal the design for the Dynamo. After driving Risky and her crew off, her uncle works on an invention that can help drive away evil threats. So Shantae goes on a journey to help her uncle get the parts needed for his invention, unaware that it’s all part of Risky Boots’ master plan.

It’s plot is what you would expect from a game like this and it’s alright in my book. It starts off simple enough but gets interesting when you reach the end. Pretty okay and a bit satisfactory to boot.

WayForward put a lot of care and love into the Shantae series and Half-Genie Hero is no exception. The game’s a platformer but has a few things that differentiate it from other games. Shantae still plays like she was in previous games and she has most of her familiar moves. Returning to the series is her morphing ability, allowing her to shape shift into one of many animals that she unlocks throughout the game. She does this by means of dancing and you can choose which animal to use. This time around, the transformations offer Shantae a lot of advantages and are necessary in order to beat the game. There are a total of 8 transformations for her to use. She also get access to additional dances that provide support.

Not only that but the game is more of a collect-o-thon than anything else. Gems are the game’s currency and you use them to unlock various abilities for Shantae. All of them are useful. There are also other items to find as well such as Heart Holders that increase your max health and a game like this wouldn’t be complete without trade sequences. Throughout the game, you will be tasked to return to previous areas to acquire items necessary for you to trade with others. All of it will culminate in access to the next area. It does get a bit tedious after a while but necessary if you plan on completing the game 100%. Boss battles are aplenty here with some requiring a lot of skill to win.

Half-Genie Hero isn’t a long game. If you just plan on beating it, you’ll complete it in roughly 6-8 hours and trying to reach 100% will net you about an hour or so more. The replay value is high here, especially for those that like to speedrun the game. For presentation, the game is awesome. WayForward did a fantastic job on it and it shows. Not only that but the game runs great at 60fps. A well done job if I do say so myself. The music needs no words. Jake Kaufman does it again delivering some great tunes. Some songs are just too good to listen to such as Tassel Town, Neo Burning Town and others. All of them are a delight to enjoy. There is voice acting as well. Christina Vee does a great job as Shantae but also as Risky Boots as well. Simply put, this game was made with a lot of love and respect and it shows.

Since this game was made possible via Kickstarter, the game also has DLC and there are several. First is Risky Boots’ Quest, taking place during the events of the game. You play as Risky Boots as she goes on her own journey to acquire what she needs so that he can rule Sequin Land. Next is Friends to the End, focusing on Sky, Bolo and Rottytops. In this mode, the three of them head inside Shantae’s mind to save her from her dark counterpart, Nega-Shantae. Last is a special costume set giving players access to three modes; Ninja Mode, Beach Mode and Officer Mode. These are what-if stories that detail Shantae in different situations and offer different gameplay. Basically this game has a lot to do and WayForward even added a harder difficulty called Hardcore Mode that will push players’ skills to their limits. You can buy all of it as DLC but for anyone that wants it all in one, they released the Day-One Ultimate Edition that contains all of it and more. The Day One Ultimate Edition is a major recommendation.

There aren’t many flaws in the game and yeah, the game requires a lot to do if you wish to complete 100% but overall, it’s a fun experience. Having played the game many times, it’s still fun. It really is though it makes you wonder if their Kickstarter did better so WayForward can bring out even more content. Imagine the possibilities.

Half-Genie Hero does everything that Mighty No. 9 could not. The game looks great, it plays great, it has great music and it offers a lot for your money’s worth. For the franchise’s fourth game, WayForward, Matt Bozon and Jake Kaufman delivered. The best part is that it’s not expensive but if you want to have everything in one, the Day One Ultimate Edition is a definite recommendation. It’s worth the full purchase price. Let’s hope these guys can keep at it and hopefully give us more… instead of ports of older games.

I give Shantae: Half-Genie Hero my highest rating… a perfect 10 out of 10. It earns my full on seal of approval.

Ratchet and Clank PS4 Review

Ratchet & Clank (PS4) – A Review by Jose Vega

Product provided by Insomniac Games for the sake of this review.

Ratchet & Clank… one of Sony’s many franchises that have had success on PlayStation consoles for almost a decade. Insomniac had plans to bring the franchise to Sony’s next console, the PlayStation 4. How do they do it? They did it by bringing Ratchet & Clank to the big screen as an animated movie. It garnered a mixed reception but Insomniac also brought the movie in the form of Ratchet & Clank for the PS4. A game based on the movie based on the game… does this duo deliver on Sony’s newest console?

The story serves as a reimagining of the original Ratchet & Clank but with some differences. It still centers on the team of Ratchet, a lombax and Clank, a small robot. Together the two head on a journey to save the galaxy from the likes of Chairman Alonzo Drek and Dr. Nefarious.

Ratchet & Clank’s story is enjoyable for what it is. It isn’t the best but it does give us a tale of good and evil in its own way. Not only that but they took liberties in changing things up by bringing villains such as Dr. Nefarious, reimagining many characters that appeared before and in some instances, replacing familiar characters with others not making appearances. Not that all of this is a bad thing. The story is still enjoyable and good.

If you’ve played any game in this franchise, you will feel right at home with this one. The game is a 3rd-person action adventure where you control Ratchet and use him to explore various areas while dealing with anything that’s in his way. Controls play just like any R&C game but Insomniac decides to take it one step further. The controls are overhauled while giving Ratchet access to many new and familiar weapons and gadgets from the series. Health can be upgraded via nanotech while weapons can be leveled up the more they are used. Once they reach V5, it evolves into a stronger weapon. Clank also gets upgrades that improve Ratchet. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it but in a case like this, they simply made it feel familiar and better.

As for travel, Ratchet & Clank travel via space cruiser moving from one planet to the next. The main exploration occurs in the planets they travel in where you go in, defeat enemies, solve puzzles, help people and collect rewards that can be helpful on the journey. Most of the game you will get to play as Ratchet but some parts will have you playing as Clank. Here the Clank sections focus on puzzle solving in order to progress further. They can be head scratching but they aren’t anything too difficult. Some planets have mini games you can do to earn more Bolts and sometimes items. Bolts are the game’s currency and they’re needed to buy new weapons to use or in some cases gadgets. Raritanium also make a return and they’re used to add modifications to weapons. The game has a lot to do and a lot to conquer.

All of this is going to have players be spending quite a while to complete the game. Clocking it at around 8-10 hours if you just simply want to beat it but for completionists, it’s extended by about 2-3 hours. The game also has a Challenge Mode that is unlocked after completing the game. It’s pretty much Hard Mode but with a few advantages such as bolt multiplier and more powerful weapons, extending it’s length even further. Boss fights are there but they can be easy to deal with if you know what your doing. Regardless, you get a lot for your money’s worth and for a single-player game it nails it.

The game excels in its presentation and comparing it from the older games back on PS2 and 3, it’s a huge step up. It is amazing to look at. Each planet offers something different, providing a pleasant experience. The music has this orchestrated feel that does well on all fronts. Voice acting is still just as enjoyable, although some changes were made since not all the voice actors could reprise their roles from the game. But for what they have, it’s still good with many delivering great performances like James Arnold Taylor.

But as much as this game has a lot of positives, there are only two drawbacks. In previous Ratchet & Clank games, players are allowed to go back to previous worlds to grind for bolts and experience. In this instance, it doesn’t happen. When a player returns to a world they explored previously, they can find nothing. Just empty areas. A bit disappointing for those that wishes to take the time to make them stronger. The other negative is that the game has a pre-order bonus, a weapon called the Bouncer. That weapon is impossible to obtain unless you have an unused preorder code. Why Insomniac decided to do that, I’ll never know. But I feel that Insomniac should consider having this weapon as free DLC for those that couldn’t get it when it came out. It would be a good compromise.

In conclusion, Ratchet & Clank on the PlayStation 4 is a game that pays tribute to the franchise while offering a pleasant experience. Despite it’s negatives, the game is fun. It looks great, it plays great and it feels like you are experiencing the film in game form. Personally the game is the better choice because you won’t feel disappointed in the end. You will feel satisfied that you get to experience the series on the PlayStation 4. Let’s hope that Insomniac Games can give us a sequel to follow things up. It did do well sales-wise so why not.

I give Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4 a solid 9 out of 10. It is worth your money.

Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Review

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the review.

In 2014, Nintendo along with Koei Tecmo, Omega Force and Team Ninja teamed up to give us a little game called Hyrule Warriors. Taking the Dynasty Warriors (or Musou series) formula and incorporate Legend of Zelda characters has made the game a must-buy for anyone who had a Wii U. Two years later, Hyrule Warriors goes to handheld territory with Hyrule Warriors Legends. It was all right despite many problems that plagued it. Now in 2018, Nintendo announced that they were bringing Hyrule Warriors to the Switch in the form of Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition. Taking all the content from the previous versions and putting it into one big package, does it deliver? Is this the best version of Hyrule Warriors? Let’s find out.

The plot details Link and his allies trying to save Hyrule from a sorceress named Cia. Cia ultimately uses the Triforce to bring out areas from previous Zelda games in an attempt to resurrect her master, Ganondorf. Eventually it all culminates in a fight to save Hyrule from this evil and many others who threaten them.

It’s a simple Zelda story at best and it makes sense. All players would prefer to do is get into the action. The story at least follows at a good pace from start to finish. Not only that but this game also includes additional tales that focus on other characters such as Cia and Linkle. It helps make the game feel complete and I like it.

If you’ve played a Mosou game then you will feel right at home with Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition. The game is still fun to play and easy to get into. Legend Mode is the game’s story mode where you complete the story using various characters from the Zelda series. Definitive Edition includes every scenario from the previous games. It also comes with multiple difficulties for players to challenge themselves with. Free Play is the same as Legend but you can choose any character you wish. Adventure Mode has you taking part in battles to earn Rewards for your characters. Some rewards can only be found after using an Item Card on it. All the content from the previous Hyrule Warriors games are in here, giving players a lot to do and acquire. With Definitive Edition, you can buy item cards once you find one in the world making things a lot easier and less of a grind. Challenge Mode lets you test your mettle with various battle scenarios. The game also has a “My Fairy” Mode where you can check out any fairies you find in the Adventure Mode and customize them however you like. It was a mode that was in the 3DS version but now incorporated here, meaning the fairies look a lot better in HD.

Much of the gameplay from the previous Hyrule Warriors games are in this one so players won’t have to worry about anything new. Not only that but the game’s presentation is a step up from the original. Compared to the Wii U and 3DS versions, this game runs at 1080p in 60 fps in TV mode. Multiplayer is also in this game with 2-player split screen and it can be done on one Switch console, both in TV mode and on the device. A big step up from the Wii U version so now both players can play the game on one screen instead of relying on the screen and gamepad. Legend Mode will take players 10-12 hours to beat and with multiple difficulties, Gold Skulltulas to collect and a Very Hard mode after completing it raises it even further. Adventure Mode will take the length and raise it up to the hundreds. It’s a game that you won’t put down.

The game is still great to look at and with the increased resolution makes it better. Like the previous games, there’s no voice acting. The game’s cutscenes are good to watch and the music is still stellar. I honestly have no complaints with the game. Sure there will be instances where grinding to get materials can be a bother but it alleviates since you are going to kick butt with Zelda characters. Opinions, I know but from my personal experience, I enjoyed this game.

Nintendo made the right choice in bringing Hyrule Warriors to the Switch. A game that is a lot of fun to play but has so much to do that people will spend hours on to make it possible. Plus with 1080p resolution and 60 fps, it’s an amazing game. If you missed out on this game and you have a Switch, this game is a definitive recommendation. It’s worth the full $60 price and with all the content it has I can’t say it enough. This is the true Hyrule Warriors experience hands down. I highly recommend this.

I give Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition a solid 9 out of 10. It is a must-buy game and earns my seal of approval.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided by Nintendo for the purpose of review.

In 2010, a little game called Xenoblade Chronicles was released for the Nintendo Wii. It was a game that wouldn’t come to America until 2012. It met with not only critical acclaim but also commercial success. Last January, Nintendo announced that a new Xenoblade game would be coming to their new console, the Nintendo Switch. It would be known as Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It would come out 11 months later, serving as a sequel to the first game. The question now is this… does it hold up well against its predecessor?

The game’s story centers on Rex, a 15-year old salvager who is offered a job to recover a large, ancient ship. Accompanied by several Drivers, he wanders off only to find a strange sword and a mysterious girl. Approaching it, he is killed by Jin but then the girl, Pyra offers him a second chance. The only catch is that he takes her to a place called Elysium. He accepts and soon become Pyra’s driver. After a clash, Rex and Pyra go on a journey. They meet many friends, foes and people in their travels, culminating in a fight against good and evil for the fate of their home in Alrest.

Games like this offer much in terms of plot and this is no exception. The game’s story was intriguing, intense and it had me wanting more. From start to finish, it was great. By the time it’s over, you’ll be shedding tears. From my personal experience, it already had and then some.

Xenoblade 2’s gameplay is similar to the original in many aspects. You control a party of three characters traveling through the world of Alrest. It’s split between two styles: field and battle. In the field, you travel around many places where you can accept quests, go to town to buy supplies, find treasure, salvage and in many cases encounter monsters. Sometimes when you explore, you unlock areas that you can be able to travel to quickly. The game has fast travel and it’s a welcome feature in case the journey becomes a slog. Battle is where things play out similar to the original. Your party attacks anything automatically but you have to manage how your character performs. Since you have a total of five party members, Monolith Soft decided to compensate by giving each party member, or Driver, access to specialized being called Blades.

Blades are Xenoblade 2’s main focus. You obtain them from using special items called Core Crystals. When you use one, it goes into a lottery-like system where some cases you get a common Blade and sometimes, you can get a Blade that is rare. Rare Blades are beings that not only have personalities but also provide in terms of battle and on the field. They come in three categories: Attacker, Healer and Tank. They provide support for Drivers and in some cases assist in delivering powerful attacks. Players who devote time in building Trust with the blades can unlock improvements to their respective stats via Affinity Chart but also access to quests that go deep into each Blade. Blades also have a use on the Field with various techniques that help their Drivers do a variety of things like solve puzzles, find hidden areas, etc. They’re also helpful when Blade Combos and Chain Attacks go into play. Blade Combos are powerful attacks that can deal heavy damage and with the right combination can seal away effects that can be beneficial to the party. Chain Attacks return from the previous game but it also integrates into Blade Combos. Dealing the right elemental damage can lead to an Orb shattering and causing an Elemental Burst. This extends the chain attack and it can lead to serious damage if used well enough.

Blades also have another use and it’s in the form of Merc Missions. You can send out Blades that are not in use on missions where they can go and complete jobs. They lead to not only good rewards but also boosts toward their stats. Missions also depend on a town’s development level so if you want access to more missions, you need to do more things in the town you’re in.

A game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is going to take players hours to beat. Truth be told, expect to spend more than 100 hours, maybe more. DLC is included as well but unlike other games, the DLC for Xenoblade 2 offer not only more quests but also items that can be helpful on your journey. New Game + extends the length even more, offering players even more to do to the point where players can get special Blades. Xenoblade 2 offers so much for a $60 game and that’s saying a lot.

As far as presentation goes, the game is truly amazing. Although the game doesn’t run at 60fps, only 30, it’s still just as good. The transitions from field to battle are seamless and immediate. Characters look good with some though feeling like they cater to people who like anime and such. Not that it’s a bad thing. Voice acting is good in some areas though sometimes it can lead to some questionable things. Thankfully the game also comes with dual voice acting, English and Japanese. Japanese came as a free DLC. Again, not a bad thing but if you feel the English isn’t your liking, there’s an alternative. Where do I even start with the music? The music is awesome. Yasunori Mitsuda along with ACE, Kenji Miramatsu and Manami Kiyota deliver a soundtrack that is gold. Pure gold. Some tunes are outright addicting to listen to and gets you pumped for more. I personally love it.

But for as much as I enjoy the game for all its positives, there are also a bit of criticisms. This game will make you grind to get stronger… a lot. The game’s difficulty can go from being normal to difficult at the drop of a hat. There are many instances where it happens and for players, it can turn them off. Sure a bit of planning can help but yeah, that I feel is one thing that disappointed me. Also the game kind of follows some of the many tropes that are seen in stuff like anime and manga. It’s not bad but I feel it hampered the game’s plot a little. This shouldn’t stop players from enjoying a game as grand as this.

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 took everything that made the first game great and multiplied it ten-fold. The story intriguing, the gameplay and battle system are easy to get into and in some cases really addicting, it’s presentation is solid with bonus points going to its rocking soundtrack and then some. Had it not be for its criticisms, I would say the game would deserve all the praise and more. Regardless if you own a Switch, this is one journey you don’t want to miss out on. I promise you that.

I give Xenoblade Chronicles 2 a 9.5 out of 10. This game is worth the full purchase price and then some. It earns my personal seal of approval hands down!

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Review

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the purpose of this review.

The Nintendo Wii U may have been an utter failure but it was home to games that were pretty good. In 2014, Nintendo and Retro Studios released Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. The sequel to 2008’s Donkey Kong Country Returns, the game had a mixed reception. Not only that but it was hampered due to being on a console few people were interested in, as well as some controversy. In recent times, Nintendo has been on a roll releasing updated ports of Wii U titles in the hopes of garnering interest. It paid off with games like Bayonetta 1 & 2 as well as Pokken Tournament DX. Now another game joins the Switch library as Tropical Freeze makes a return. Will the addition of Funky Mode make the game any better than it already has?

Since the game is a port of a Wii U title, the plot hasn’t changed. On DK Island, Donkey Kong is celebrating his birthday with his family. Everything’s going well until the arrival of a threat that brings in the chill. The Snowmads arrive, driving the Kongs out of their home and turning the island into a winter wonderland. Far from their home, it’s up to DK and his family to travel from island to island in hopes of driving the Snowmad tribe away and restore their home. It’s a simple plot that serves to get the game going. Nothing special.

Gameplay in Tropical Freeze is similar to the Wii U version except with the Switch, you have access to three different control options: Switch Pro, Joycon Controller and individual Joycon. The controls are similar in all three so you don’t have to worry about any additional changes. It’s simple to the point where you can just pick up and play. Co-op is also in the game. The good news is that each player can use any of the following three control options to play. Way better than how it’s done on the Wii U in my opinion.

Funky Mode is this game’s exclusive mode. Since Tropical Freeze is a very hard and challenging game, Nintendo decides to ease up on the difficulty by having an entirely new mode. It’s similar to the 3DS port of DKC Returns where they added New Mode. Funky Mode adds a bunch of changes along with the addition of a new playable character: Funky Kong. Funky serves as a jump in for new and experienced players. He has so many abilities that he pretty much serves as an Easy Mode. From my experience, he’s really fun to use and helps alleviate some of the difficulty the game has. Funky Mode isn’t just limited to a new character. Similar to DKCR 3D’s New Mode, you can still play as DK and his family but they’ll not only have an extra heart but you get access to use items while in a level. For anyone who feels like the game is too difficult, consider this a needed reprieve. There is still the Original Mode for anyone that is interested in playing the original Tropical Freeze.

The game isn’t long, clocking in at about 6-8 hours if you just want to beat it, with a couple more hours thanks to Funky Mode. For those who want to beat it 100%, expect it to be longer by a few more hours. This also includes hard mode as well. The game offers a lot not only for single-player but for co-op as well.

Compared to the Wii U version, this is a step-up. The game goes from 720 to a solid 1080p at 60fps when docked. Its presentation is incredible. The visuals are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game. Retro Studios really took great care in keeping the game, as it should be without making sacrifices. The load times are faster too. On Wii U, it takes 20-30 seconds to load but on the Switch, it’s reduced to 8-10 seconds. It’s a big improvement. The music is still just as great to listen to. David Wise delivered on the soundtrack and he should be praised from now to the end of time.

But although there is much praise on the game, there are a few flaws. The game is still hard. Even if you are on Funky Mode, the game will push players to their limits. Not only that but Retro decided to give players a bit of leeway. Should you lose more than 9 lives, you have the option to move on to the next area. But there’s a catch: should you choose to move onto the next level, the level you exited counts as incomplete. It’s a risk/reward but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be included. It’s a simple nitpick… a minor one at best.

Tropical Freeze is still just as good as it was in the Wii U. The addition of Funky Mode adds something new to a familiar experience. Not only that but bringing the game up to 1080p gives it more clarity. Everything else is just as you remember but better. Despite the increased difficulty, the game is still fun whether by yourself or with a friend. For anyone who had played this, you will feel right at home but for those who didn’t, it’s a game you don’t want to miss out on. I guarantee it

I give Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze a solid 9 out of 10. It’s worth your money!

Kirby Star Allies Review

Kirby Star Allies Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the purpose of review.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s an adage that the Kirby series has stood by for more than two decades. Whether on a Nintendo console or handheld, this franchise never disappoints and each game brings something new while having the same familiar style. One year after the release of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo brings us a new Kirby game onto the new console: Kirby Star Allies. Does this game still follow the adage or does it decide to try something different to set it apart?

Let’s get the plot underway. The story involves a ritual gone bad, sending strange dark fragments, Jamba Hearts all over the cosmos. Some end up on Planet Popstar, affecting many of its inhabitants such as King Dedede & Meta Knight. It affects Kirby but in a different way. Sensing trouble, he heads off, making friends along the way. Eventually they learn that Popstar isn’t the only place that was affected by Jamba Hearts. Kirby and his friends travel from planet to planet, taking on anything that’s in their way, as they must fight to save the universe against a dark force that threatens everything.

Kirby games aren’t always best known for their stories and it’s no exception. It’s pretty much a good vs. evil plot. Evil force threatens the world and it’s people, good guys go on a journey, they take down the bad guys and save the day. Not much to say on it. Compared to previous Kirby games, this story is a bit tame and traditional. Power of friendship huh?

If you have played a Kirby game, then the gameplay for it is straight to the point. For anyone who hasn’t, this is a platforming game where you take control as Kirby and you go from start to finish completing stages while dodging enemies, solving puzzles and taking on bosses. Kirby plays as you expect as he can run, slide or float. He can suck in enemies and acquire their powers to provide versatility, giving him access to 28 different abilities. New ones are introduced such as Water, Artist, Spider and Festival. He also has access to the game’s nifty gimmick. The gimmick is of course Allies and by throwing a Friend Heart at an enemy, they become their ally. It’s similar to Kirby Superstar where with a button press, Kirby can create an ally to join him. Here, you can have up to 3 allies at your disposal with each enemy having different advantages & disadvantages. Not only that but depending on what allies you have, with a simple press of the Up button, Kirby can also change whatever power he has and enhances it, boosting attack and its properties. It’s not limited to Kirby as certain allies can also access this as well. This offers players a lot of options to choose from and having the best set of characters can help make some parts of the game a cakewalk. You can even jump on allies to do team-up attacks that can really hammer it home.

In addition to regular friends, you have access to Dream Friends. They are special allies that can be unlocked as you progress through the game such as King Dedede, Metaknight and Bandana Waddle Dee. You can obtain one by entering a Dream Palace and using a Dream Rod. Of course you can have Kirby form a party of all Dream Friends. How you go about it is up to you. With the release of the 2.0 update, new Dream Friends are added, offering players even more allies to choose from. Characters such as Marx, Gooey, Rick, Coo and Kine add more to the overall game and pay tribute to the franchise that still goes strong.

Kirby Star Allies isn’t a long game. It’s story mode will take roughly 4-5 hours but it goes up to a minimum of 6 if you plan to complete it 100%. The game has a lot of unlockables in the form of paintings. You find puzzle pieces scattered in each level with the big pieces ranging from 1-4 pieces. Completing the puzzle unlocks the picture for you to see in the game’s Gallery. This raises the length to a couple hours more since there are many ways to acquire pieces. In addition to the story mode, there are mini games as well such as Chop Champs & Star Slam Heroes. They’re mostly fun short games and they include different control options. Guest Star Allies lets you choose an ally and complete it all while facing off against familiar and new bosses. With over 20 different characters, including the Dream Allies, this adds a lot of replay value especially if doing it with friends. The Ultimate Choice is this game’s version of The Arena, a boss rush mode and it has multiple difficulties with the hardest being like The True Arena in every other Kirby game. For a $60 game, the game offers a lot.

Presentation-wise, the game is well done. For a Kirby game on the Switch, it’s great. However it runs at about 30 frames per second. Not that it’s a bad thing. Whether you play this game solo or with friends, it’s still enjoyable. Although you can play the game by yourself, up to four players can play all this game has to offer. Not only that but it’s easy for a friend to jump into a game without interrupting. The AI for the allies is very good and responsive and they can handle situations fine. But personally if you plan on playing this game, do so with friends to get the most fun out of it. The music is good. Most of the game uses music from previous games on certain occasions, but it does have original tracks that are nice.

Although this game is fun, there are some flaws. The game is too easy. You can get extra lives rather easily meaning a game over is just pointless. Skilled players can fly through the game in one sitting. Having the right combination of allies and powers can even make the game be a joke. Most of the bosses you face aren’t as hard but there’ll be that one who can take you out. Personally there should be an added hard mode to give players a challenge. Hopefully in the future Nintendo adds it in.

For Kirby’s first outing on the Switch, Nintendo decided to play it safe. That’s not a bad thing mind you. This game is enjoyable and does provide much to do. It’s presentation is solid and charming, the gameplay has a familiar feel and it does give players much to do. But its flaws kind of hinder it a bit from being a great game. Kirby Star Allies is really fun and with friends is a blast but do expect this to be a cakewalk if you go in alone. The power of friendship truly triumphs over all.

I give Kirby Star Allies a 7.5 out of 10. It’s a good game and I do recommend it.