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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.

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Star Fox 2 Review

Star Fox 2 Review – Written by Jose Vega

Borrowed a friend’s SNES Classic Edition for the sake of reviewing this game.

Star Fox 2… it’s a game that many thought never would see the light of day. It was originally supposed to be released in 1995 for the SNES but Nintendo at the last second canceled the game to put their focus towards Star Fox 64. Star Fox 64 would go on to be a huge success but Star Fox 2 would end up being lost to gaming history. The game would eventually be leaked out years later in the form of near-final builds but the true complete version never came to be. During E3 2017, Nintendo announced the SNES Classic Edition, including the completed version of Star Fox 2. Does it hold up or did Nintendo make a mistake by releasing it?

Before I continue, I am reviewing the game on its own merits. Later entries in the franchise used features from this game that were better implemented.

Taking place after the events of the first Star Fox on SNES, Andross returns with one goal: revenge. He would then unleash his space fleet to conquer the Lylat System. Gen. Pepper asks the Star Fox team for their aid against him. It’s a straightforward plot. Nothing special.

Star Fox 2 plays similar to the first SNES game. The controls are similar and you can choose between 3 different styles. However, this game incorporates a number of additional features. You can choose two out of six playable pilots to use. Along with the main team, there are two new characters: Miyu and Fay. They’re also categorized into three Arwing classes: Balanced, Defender and Interceptor. Fox and Falco are Balanced being in the middle. Peppy and Slippy are Defenders with more health but less speed and longer charge. Miyu and Fay are Interceptors with less health, fast speed, and quick charge. I like this option better than how it was in the first game. You also have the option to switch between your chosen pilots with the Select button. Useful in case one of your wingmen is near death and you need someone fresh. It makes me wonder why they never implemented this in future games.

As for the rest of the game, battles occur in a map similar to some RTS games. You have your mothership that can be used to repair your fighters. The objective is to retake planets captured by Andross while having to contend with his forces. At the same time, you must ensure that Corneria is unharmed since Andross will order all his forces to attack the planet. If you fall or Corneria falls, game over. You move from one planet to the next. When you cross paths with an enemy, the game shifts into a flight section where your job is to take out enemies before they get away. When you arrive on a planet, the mission shifts to activating switches to access the enemy’s base. Then you go into the base, reach the core and destroy it. Planets also allow the Arwing to turn into a walker for ground combat. A nifty addition that adds a change of pace. Some planets have bosses you need to take out to access them. They offer a bit of challenge to the game especially since you are timed. As you progress, so does the enemy. Skill and planning are needed to take down Andross and his forces. Along the way, you will encounter the Star Wolf team in 1-on-1 dogfights and they can be challenging.

Depending on difficulty, the game can take from 40 minutes to more than an hour. You start with Normal and Hard. After beating the game on both difficulties, Expert Mode is available. With each increase in difficulty, Andross raises the challenge by adding more occupations, ships, forces, etc. Expert is considered to be the ultimate test with Andross pulling out all the stops. The replay value is high as with up to six playable characters each having unique styles, three difficulties and a great amount of challenge, it’s a game that will test you. It will really test you but it also gives you this drive to keep going especially in the harder settings. The game also grades you for how skillful you are in completing the game. Beating the game in Expert skillfully in the highest rank nets a nice reward for future playthroughs.

Star Fox 2 also has its fair share of secrets with the Pepper Medals. Collecting them (depending on difficulty) will unlock a secret area that you can use to power up and take on the challenges aside. This, unfortunately, makes the game easier but it’s a reward for diligent players who put the effort in finding the medals. The music is good with some tracks being catchy. They don’t hold a candle compared to the original’s music but it’s acceptable.

Though the game offers a lot, it does have its flaws. The game can have a tendency to slow down when too many things happen on the screen. It’s similar to the original but not as much. Controls can be clunky especially when you operate the walker Being that it was a game that should have been released back in the mid-90s, it’s to be expected. Star Fox 2 also has its voice acting in the form of sound effects, similar to the original. Though they aren’t as memorable sad to say.

It took Nintendo 22 years to finally release it and does it hold up? Not really but it shouldn’t stop anyone from playing the game and finding out what they’re missing. Sure the game is flawed in some aspects but the game is an enjoyable one. Many features that were introduced in this game such as the Walker would be implemented a lot better in later entries and it feels similar to the original but with some additions. Regardless Star Fox 2 is a game that should have been released back then. Had they released it then, it would have been revolutionary but Nintendo felt otherwise or in some cases scared. It isn’t for everyone but for those who want to give it a chance, you should. Star Fox 2 is worth it. Good luck trying to get the SNES Classic Edition just to play it that is.

I give Star Fox 2 an 8 out of 10.

Mario Party Star Rush Review

Product provided by Nintendo. Special thanks to Nintendo for giving me this opportunity to cover this game.

Mario Party has always been known to be a game where you and a few friends can sit back, have fun and see how much hilarity can ensue amongst each other. The franchise hasn’t had much success in recent years. It started being a turn based game and has stuck from the first game all the way to Mario Party 8. However the game went in a different direction with the use of vehicle based movement in Mario Party 9 and the overreliance of Amiibo functionality in Mario Party 10. The franchise wasn’t limited to consoles. They tried their luck with handhelds. After the mixed reception of Mario Party Island Tour, Nintendo and Nd Cube try their luck with Mario Party Star Rush. Will it suffer the same fate as its previous entry or have they got something up their sleeve that’ll make it a well-needed hit?

Mario Party always had a formula that worked while adding little things to improve the game experience. In the case of Star Rush, the turn-based gameplay that has been a staple since the beginning has been removed completely. Instead once everyone roll the dice, they all move at the same time. You can also determine where you go before you move. This adds a layer of strategy but at the same time you need to be aware of what your opponents will do. It’s a matter of predicting the best course of action on the playing boards. If you want to make sure to have an advantage, careful planning is key. At first I didn’t like that they removed the turn-based gameplay but it grew on me over time. I like it. It saves me a lot of time while providing something fresh, new and fast paced. Future Mario Party games should implement this style. Imagine the craziness that can ensue with everyone moving at the same time, trying to reach where they need to be.

Star Rush has multiple modes for you to tackle with Toad Scramble as the main mode. Up to 4 players can play as a Toad and trek through various boards, gathering Mario characters as allies and taking on bosses in mini games to recover Power Stars. Each character has their own unique ability and dice and it can help turn the tide. You can have up to 4 ally characters in one time and having more allies mean more of an advantage. Bear in mind that it can be a disadvantage if your opponent has more allies than you so be careful.

Items are aplenty in this game though not as big as in the previous games but they do add something to the game that can be good or bad. It’s random and it’s what Mario Party boils down to in a nutshell. Mini games are also the name of the game in Mario Party and there are many. They depend on the control scheme. Some are simple using buttons and an analog stick (or d-pad) while others take advantage of the touch screen. It works, giving it variety. However some mini games can be a bit of a pain to do than others and depending if you either have a regular 3DS or a New 3DS XL then some can be without a doubt annoying due to the microphone.

In addition to Toad Scramble, there are other game modes. Coinathlon is a race where up to four players collect as many coins as they can in minute long designated coin mini games to progress through three laps. They get hectic and it comes in two modes: Free Play and Rival Race. Mario Shuffle is a two-player game that uses Amiibo functionality. Using Amiibo figures, players race across a one-way board to the goal with one going right, the other left. If you don’t have Amiibo, cardboard cutouts are used. Balloon Bash is like Toad Scramble but you collect coins and stars in a mini board with a turn limit and mini games. You can also play as any Mario character so that’s a plus. Rhythm Recital is where up to four players work together and play classic Mario tunes using the Touch Screen. Challenge Tower is a single player game where you have to climb a tower with LED Spaces on it. There are varying difficulties with some being harder than others. Last but not least is Boo’s Block Party, a puzzle game where you spin sides of a number block to earn points. If you move enough of the same block, they get sent to the other player. It’s addicting and challenging if you want to get the high score.

There’s a lot to do in the game and let’s face it. Half of the time you’re going to be spending it trying to complete the modes to level up. Star Rush has a leveling system where as you play, you earn points. Once you gain enough, you level up and unlock either a new mode or a new character. It’ll take hours trying to unlock everything and it can be quite a challenge. It can get a bit repetitive too having to do it over and over just to unlock everything. The game offers a lot but I wish there’d be something to alleviate things. But if I had any issues with it, it’s that most of the time you’ll be playing it in single player. If you want to play multiplayer, each of you must have your own 3DS and a copy of the game or the free Download Play that you can get on the eShop. It’s like Smash Bros. for 3DS.

Overall, I can say that Mario Party Star Rush improves the formula in some ways. Having a fast paced style where everyone plans their moves adds layers of strategy. Various modes add replayability plus with 4-player co-op equaling insanity. What else can I say? I know games should try to implement new things but this is a step in the right direction. If you have friends and a few 3DS handhelds, then you will have a fun time.

I give Mario Party Star Rush an 8 out of 10. It earns my personal SEAL OF APPROVAL.

Star Fox Zero Review

Star Fox Zero – A Review by Jose Vega

Special thanks to Nintendo for providing a review copy of the game.

In 1993, Star Fox was released for the SNES, the first game that specialized on polygonal graphics with the use of the Super FX chip. It would be the start of a franchise that would span more than two decades. Four years later, Star Fox 64 was released taking the franchise to the third dimension all while providing a satisfying experience. The series chugged on, from the adventure based Star Fox Adventures, the vehicle and ground based Star Fox Assault to the all-range shoot-em up, choose your path style of Star Fox Command. Not counting the 3D remake of Star Fox 64, there have been a total of 5 games in the franchise and all of them have delivered. It’s 2016 and the newest game, Star Fox Zero is here. But will it hold up well or will it crash and burn?

Let’s begin with the plot and for the sake of things, it’s sort of a retelling of Star Fox 64. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing but it’s done in a way that is familiar while not deriding from what it was. People may complain about it if they wish but honestly, I kind of like it. I’m nostalgic, to let you know.

One of the main things about the game is the controls. People wonder if it’ll be like Star Fox 64 where you use the analog to move and buttons to shoot. Not in this case. Here, Nintendo decides to bring the feel of being a pilot by means of motion controls. People may complain that the motion controls hinder the game overall but from my experience, that isn’t the case. Sure it took me a while to adjust since this felt different at first but overtime, it grew on me. Now I love it and I feel that helps the game out greatly. Though you’ll have to do double duty as you not only have to contend with what’s on the TV but also ensure that the motion controls help you deliver a sharper shot. The good news is that a simple button press helps calibrate it, making things easier and less of a strain on the player.

Also, you can play the game two ways: single player or co-op. Co-op is interesting as one player uses the tablet to aim and shoot, the other uses either a Wii U pro controller or the Wii remote and nunchuk to move and steer the ship. It’s awesome and you know what they say, teamwork is what will win the day no matter what.

You have access to three different vehicles: Arwing, Landmaster and Gyrowing. Arwing and the Landmaster are pretty straightforward. Whether in the sky or in the ground, you just aim and shoot at anything that’s in the way. However with this game, they take it one step further. With the Arwing it has the option to transform into something called a Walker, borrowing elements from the cancelled Star Fox 2 game. Design-wise, I like it though the controls for it can take some adjusting. Just a small nitpick. As for the Landmaster, it has the option to hover and become the Gravimaster. In some ways it’s like a smaller arwing but with heavier firepower. About that, it can lock onto three enemies at once. Helpful for getting higher scores in some levels. Last but not least is the Gyrowing, a new vehicle introduced for this game. It’s not like the other two as its slower and has an onboard droid called Direct-i. Direct-I is a small robot that can access data ports and hack them. Not to mention it can enter through small spaces. People may not like the Gyrowing because of its controls but they aren’t as bad. Fortunately it’s only used on two stages so no problem there. Also once the Walker obtains the upgrade that lets you hack like Direct-I, the Gyrowing would be more or less unneeded.

It’s not a Nintendo game without Amiibo support and this game has it. Using either the Fox or Falco amiibo will provide you some really nifty stuff. For example the Fox amiibo gives the Star Fox team access to SNES style Arwings called Retro Arwings and the Falco Amiibo gives Fox the Black Arwing. The Black Arwing makes the game a little harder so if you want a challenge, this is it.

Level wise, the game is like Star Fox 64 as you go from point A to point B. How you reach it depends and there are many ways. When you play it for the first time, you go through a set path that’s provided for you. Afterwards you have the option of going back to previous levels to discover alternate paths. This adds replayability to a game that many say is short, for those that want to not only find new levels but also to get the highest score. There are rewards for it but I won’t say what they are. You just need to find out for yourself when the game comes out. Knowing Platinum Games, the company behind many games that are difficult and challenging, this is one I feel you will have to spend a lot of time on to do so.

Star Fox Zero looks amazing on the Wii U. The presentation is great. Everything feels lively to look at and when the game gets intense with the battles, you know you’re in for a heck of a ride. Want to know what makes it better? The game runs at a rock solid 60 frames per second. It’s awesome and it makes the game look and run so well. The voice work is good, many of the people that did voice work for Star Fox 64 (as well as the 3D remake) reprise their roles here. It makes the game feel familiar. However I have a nitpick with it and its that you don’t hear the voices on the TV. They are heard on the gamepad. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing but I wish that the game had the option to let you have the voices on the TV screen. It would make things feel familiar. I hope Nintendo considers adding this option. Music is a different story because the game has many memorable tunes that add and fit to the overall game’s aesthetic. Some songs in it will remind you of Star Fox 64 but they’re done with much more finesse. It makes me wish the game had a soundtrack cause I’d buy it. I love the music for Star Fox Zero. Truly one of the best I’ve ever listened to!

Nintendo and Platinum Games have delivered an experience unlike any other. It feels familiar but also feels fresh as well. Sure some people may not like the game’s controls, the fact that it’s somewhat of a reboot of Star Fox 64, some vehicles may not be up to par like the Gyrowing but would it really hinder your overall experience? No. Of course not! Star Fox Zero is an amazing game and I can’t say it enough. If you’re willing to invest time in learning the controls and how the game works, you’ll be in for a heck of an experience. Team Star Fox is ready to soar once more on the Wii U. It’s one that I feel will leave you satisfied.

My final score for this game is an 8 out of 10. It’s an excellent game that is worth your money. You will not be disappointed.