Review – Mighty Gunvolt Burst

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Mighty Gunvolt Burst is the sequel to 2014’s Mighty Gunvolt, a short crossover between the good Azure Striker Gunvolt games, and the not-so-good Mighty No. 9. I never played the original Mighty Gunvolt, but I can vouch for this game being a good throwback to the classic Mega Man games. Developed by Inti Games, the developers behind the excellent Mega Man Zero series on the GBA, Burst elegantly packs enough nostalgia for those who crave a new Mega Man game, while carrying enough unique ideas to set it apart.

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Review – Splatoon 2

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The first Splatoon on the Wii U was a pleasant surprise at the time. On the Wii U, a console that was lacking in “fresh” games, as it will, it was thrilling to see a game that was so original, deep and fun as that game was. On top of that, Splatoon‘s popularity made it an obvious choice for a quick sequel on Nintendo’s new Switch system. So, does Splatoon 2‘s obvious similarities to the first game make it lack the freshness of the first game, or does it still wow with its squiddy goodness?

Well, fortunately, Splatoon 2, for the most part, is good. It takes the excellent foundation of the first game, and builds upon it to deliver a game that is doubtlessly better than what came before. While there are no huge changes from the original, there are big additions and smaller changes that make this more than worth the purchase for any returning squid, and a must-purchase for any new fish out there.

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Review – Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Fire Emblem Gaiden is considered by many to be the “black sheep” of Nintendo’s turn-based strategy franchise. When it was released on the NES in 1992, the game touted many changes to the underlying mechanics, much like with some other NES sequels of the time, like Zelda II, for example. Gaiden introduced an explorable world, dungeons and more complex character progression. Like Zelda II, Nintendo ultimately back pedaled when it came time to make the third entry, returning to the roots of the first Fire Emblem game. Since then, the Fire Emblem series has progressed in other forms, ultimately reaching its own excellence in games such as Fire Emblem 7 on the GBA (The first game in the series to be released in the west), and Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a full remake of this NES game that does not attempt to hide the quirks of the original, nor impose the mechanics of the newer games. The series’ staple rock-paper-scissors weapons triangle? Nowhere to be found. Marriages and love? Look elsewhere. Instead, Echoes sets out to take the mechanics of the original game and improve on them in order to make them the best that they can be.

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Review – Crash Bandicoot

NOTE: This review is for the remaster of this game that is included as part of the recently released remake collection of the first three Crash games, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy.

If it’s not apparent from this blog, I was always a Nintendo kid in the 90s. That said, even I had some experience with Naughty Dog’s break out platformer, Crash Bandicoot, and hell, I even feel some nostalgia for it. Unlike most other games though, Crash is a game I never beat, since I didn’t actually own a PlayStation–I just played a lot of it because my cousin owned it. By extension, I also haven’t revisited the game since, which makes playing this remake (Don’t let them trick you, it’s not a simple “remaster”) all the more interesting, since I don’t really remember much about the game.

Crash Bandicoot was a headliner in PlayStation’s early days, taking advantage of the vacuum in the still fledgling PlayStation lineup for mascot platformers like your Sonics and Marios. Crash, however, took a very different approach to translating the experience of a platformer into a 3D space. While Super Mario 64, which came out in the same year, totally reworked its core game mechanics, Crash plays like a 2D platformer dragged kicking and screaming into a 3D space.

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Review – Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World

Yoshi’s Wooly World is a Wii U game that I never played. At the time, I was kind of frustrated with Nintendo’s Wii U offerings, and was burnt out of 2D side-scrollers from Nintendo, even if Wooly World‘s art style was absolutely gorgeous. I’m glad Nintendo chose to have the game ported to the 3DS, since I got the chance to go back and play this version of the game. Especially so, since this game is a true joy, and is easily the best Yoshi game since Yoshi’s Island on the Super Nintendo.

The original Yoshi’s Island on the SNES was a masterclass in platforming. It eschewed the structure of the typical Mario game, where the levels behave like obstacle courses, and instead gave us levels that felt more like fun playgrounds that you can explore. The mechanics of “eating” enemies to create eggs and to then use them as weapons was a ton of fun. And then, there’s the visual art style. Yoshi’s Island was, and still is, a visual feast, employing a hand-drawn art-style that pushed what was possible with a 2D game.

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Replay Review – Metroid Prime

Note: In honor of the long overdue announcement of Metroid Prime 4, I will be playing and reviewing all three titles in the series! For context, I am replaying it via the 2009 Wii compilation Metroid Prime Trilogy, which features all three games with “enhanced” Wii pointer controls.
Metroid is a magnificent series of games. Even before Metroid Prime brought it into the 3D world, Metroid had made its mark, so much so that its name has come to define an entire genre of games (“Metroidvania”). However, after the release of Super Metroid, the series would go dormant for eight long years. In 2002, the series would return in full force with not one, but two new games, Metroid Fusion, a sequel that plays in a 2D perspective similar to the classic games, and Metroid Prime on the GameCube, which featured something surprising for a Nintendo title: a first-person perspective.

It would be Metroid Prime that would have the most impact on the series. Developed by a rookie developer from Texas, Retro Studios, Prime is today what we consider to be the equivalent of Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time to the Metroid series. Prime elegantly elevated the mechanics of its predecessors into a three-dimensional space, staying true to its roots, but simultaneously modernizing the series and making it achieve more than anyone thought was possible.

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Review – Yooka-Laylee

NOTE: This game is available on PC, PS4 and XBox One, and a Switch version is incoming. For the purposes of this review, I played the PS4 version of the game.

If you haven’t heard somehow, Yooka-Laylee is the work of Playtonic Games, a group of developers made up of former members of Rare, the developers responsible for games such as Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark. This game began its life as a kickstarter campagin, and it was billed as a revival of Rare’s work on the Nintendo 64 with fantastic platformers such as Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, Banjo-Tooie.

For much of its opening hours, Yooka-Laylee actually does recapture a lot of the great things about those games. I got butterflies in my stomach while discovering its many quirky characters and worlds, as well as compulsively collecting the game’s collectibles. However, along the way, the game doesn’t just hit snags–it totally derails. One moment you’re dazzled by how fun this game is, and the next you are cursing it to hell and back. This cycle repeats itself from front to back in Yooka-Laylee.

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