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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Review – Written by Jose Vega

Purchased product for the sake of this review.

Crash, Crash, Crash… for over 20 years, this Bandicoot has been in our hearts with games that offer a challenge while providing satisfying experiences. But after 2010 with Mind Over Mutant, no one ever thought that another Crash game would be possible. That changed. Last year, Activision announced that Crash would be playable in Skylanders: Imaginators but in addition, Vicarious Visions would be working on a remastered port of the original three Crash Bandicoot games, in the form of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Did Vicarious Visions do justice that Naughty Dog has done all those years ago?

For a remastered trilogy, the presentation is a huge step-up compared to the originals. It’s marvelous. I’ll be fair. The original three still hold a lot of memories to players but you can’t deny how this port did them justice. All the characters look amazing. The locations look vibrant. Even the voice acting is a step up from the originals. It’s a delight seeing many scenes, especially the openings of each game to find that they are just as good, if not better and I like it. I like it greatly. The music is simply amazing to listen to. Every single song from all three games has been given a facelift. Honestly what more can I say? I’ll be honest. I was blown away when I first heard it. It’s a delight. They are all very addicting to listen to, especially for the bosses.

Now for the gameplay, and if you played the originals back on the PS1, you will feel right at home here. Unlike the originals, there are some features the remastered trilogy has that set it apart. For example, Coco is a playable character in all 3 games. With Crash 1 and 2, you need to defeat the first boss to unlock her whereas, in Crash 3, she’s unlocked from the start. She’s similar to Crash if nothing else but it’s nice that his sister is playable in not one but all three games. I commend Vicarious Visions for improving on Coco’s design and like Crash, she is also expressive especially in her death animations. The games are similar to the originals, minus a few changes they made to make the game feel accessible.

The controls are similar to the originals so if you played the game before, you’ll manage. There are some things that make this feel different from the originals. One example is the jumping. The jumping feels heavier. It can have its issues especially on levels where platforming is key. Not only that but I feel in sections like Crash 3’s jetski, the controls for the ski feel a bit rough. I believe that Vicarious wished to add realism to how you actually ride a jetski. Personally, I prefer the original in terms of controls since the physics feel close to perfect. Guess some sacrifices have to be made huh?

Speaking of accessibility, the N. Sane Trilogy has some tweaks to make the game less of a pain, especially in the first game. Originally if you die on a level, you have to restart it in order to get the gem. Here, unless it’s a colored gem, all you need to do is break all the boxes. This is a much-needed change for people that just want to play and complete everything. With Crash 2, they made changes to the hub area by having the boss room included and the option for you to access the hidden area where the secret levels are. It’s pretty nifty. As for Crash 3, there are no added changes. The game also includes time trials for Crash 1 and 2 so you can now try to get the fastest time and collect relics. Leaderboards are also included so you can compare times with other players, as well as the requirements to get a specific relic. Saving the game is easier as you can pretty much save on the overworld or level hub. It’s another welcome feature.

It will not make a difference since each Crash game will take quite a while. Depending on what game you play, the length can take around 6-8 hours each, longer if you want to complete everything. With all of this, your skills as a player will be tested especially for new players that have never played a Crash game. Expect some trial and error if you wish to complete each game and get 100%. There is trophy support for all 3 games as well so that adds length to a complete package.

But if I were to have any nitpicks, it’d be this. Since this is pretty much an updated compilation of three classic games, the difficulty is one thing I find to be the most problematic, especially in Crash 1. Some levels like Road to Nowhere & The High Road can drive any player into madness. At least the sequels alleviate the difficulty by toning it down and making them less stressful. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that some levels will have you throwing the controller in a state of rage. My advice for players is to take it nice and easy. At least the game will not punish you if you lose lives or anything. The boss battles are still easy if you figure out their patterns. Some can be tougher than others. There is paid DLC in the form of a level that was never completed called Stormy Ascent. Stormy Ascent was a level that never got into the final game due to its intense difficulty. If you plan to tackle the level, be warned. It will show no mercy.

The N. Sane Trilogy does the original trilogy justice in so many ways while adding and refining them to make the games better. The presentation is amazing in all categories, the game feels familiar while challenging and it overall feels like a big improvement to a series that is considered classic. Though there are some issues, it shouldn’t stop anyone from picking it up and playing it. Whether you are a new player that wants to experience it for the first time or someone who wants to relive memories, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a package I feel that’s worth the purchase price. The best part is that this is $40. You get 3 remastered games that have been given a lot of love and respect at an affordable price. How can you say no to that? You can’t! Get this game now! Show Activision that we need more games like this and maybe we may get a remastered Spyro trilogy! Get this game now! It’s worth the full price.

I give the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy an 8.5 out of 10. If you haven’t gotten this game, you should. Do it. Now!


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!

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.