Friday, July 30, 2010

Thinking about going to magfest in 2011

has anyone gone and do they think its fun and such?

If i do go, would you all like to see me and ask me questions.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Retro Saga part 30: Kirby's Dreamland 3 for the SNES

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Kirby seems to have been forgotten for some reason. I mean, he has some of the best platforming games of all time on the Gameboy and on the SNES and N64. I just wonder what happened after that. I know there were a few games on the DS, Gameboy Advance, and Gamecube, but it’s like they don’t care about him anymore. Maybe it was because the creator of Kirby, Masashiro Sakurai just wanted to move on with his company, Sora, to do some new things. I won’t pan him for moving onto something different, but I wish they could have just finished the Kirby game that was canceled. I mean, I know there is proof that the new 3D Kirby game is going to be released, but it seems like it’s taking forever. For now though, let’s review Kirby’s last game on the SNES and literally the last first party game on the SNES, Kirby’s Dreamland 3. Often seen as a game that is not up to par with some of the other Kirby games, I think this game has a lot of great fun, and stands up to the rest of the best Kirby games, so let’s swallow up some enemies and take a look at Kirby’s Dreamland 3

The main story of Kirby’s Dreamland 3 is kind of like Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, but a little simpler. Kirby is hanging out with his weird Licorice gumdrop friend when they see an evil shadowy creature fly over their planet. It starts to spread its evil across his planet, and it is up to Kirby and his animal friends from Kirby’s Dreamland 2 to stop this evil force and save their planet. I don’t know why, but the look of the villain reminds me of the villain from Kirby 64. However, it’s a Kirby game and they both have similarities.

The game play in the first Kirby game was just Kirby sucking up enemies and spitting them out. As the games evolved, Kirby gained certain abilities from certain enemies. In his third game, Kirby Dreamland 2, he can use the help of animals, and use your swallowed ability with the animals with some interesting results. The game play in this game is basically no different than Kirby Dreamland 2, but in super amazing color. You swallow certain enemies and gain their power, then basically a quarter of the way through the level, you can gain the help of two different animals. You also have to do certain tasks in the game, like lick a caterpillar-like thing or find three shapes and such to get a special star heart thing. Kind of like in Kirby 64, if you get all of the tasks done in the game, you get a special ending that is different from the normal ending. It’s interesting, since most plat formers were either like Castlevania or Mario or Sonic knock-offs. It gives the game replay value since you want to see the different endings and such.

The graphics in the game are amazing. While not pushing the limit like Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, or Super Mario RPG, the game looks nice overall. It kind of has a watercolor look and it has a certain charm to it that few games had in that time. Ganbare Goemon had its weird and Japanese-looking character designs, Mario and Donkey Kong games had their unique charm, and now this game’s water-colored-looking graphics. Just like DoReMi Fantasy, it has a calming soundtrack that is really fun to listen to. I think that sometimes games don’t need a lot of music, but they do need environmental sounds and music from making the game designers look lazy.

However, there are some small, but noticeable flaws with this game that keep it from a perfect score. While I like the idea of tasks in the game that give the game replay value, it’s very vague as to what you need to do. Unless you have a guide or a walkthrough with you, you won’t know what to do. I think one of the tasks though, where you need to do a memory game-like thing is somewhat tedious because of the speed it can go at when you play through that task. The pattern of the tasks also seems to get repetitious since it’s the same kind of task, but with different characters for every world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to do the tasks, but from what I have seen, it’s the same for every world. Though it’s the same thing in Kirby 64 where you need to find three crystal shards in each level to get the real boss and real ending, I don’t really mind that, but modern gamers who want to get into retro games might find that a fault.

All and all though, I don’t see why people badmouthed this game so much. I don’t see why it was so bad for the very last first party game for the SNES. Yeah, you can say it’s a 16-bit remake of Kirby Dreamland 2, but I don’t think so, and that is my honest opinion. You could spend a lot of cash to find a solid copy of this game, but you can do the easier thing and go to the Virtual Console on the Wii and get it in the SNES section. Overall, I still like the Kirby games, and I hope they bring out a new Kirby game for the Wii since it NEEDS one.

This game gets a solid 9 out of 10

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hanheld Adventure part 7: Juka and the Monophonic Menace for the GBA

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The Gameboy Advance, in my opinion, had a pretty good run. It had its share of good and bad games, but there were a lot of good ones like the ports of the Final Fantasy and Super Mario series. It did have its own share of original titles, but from what I saw, they were mostly ports or remakes of games that were on older consoles. I decided to try an original GBA game that was made here in America that got somewhat positive reviews back in 2006. This game is called Juka and the Monophonic Menace. Now, if it doesn’t have Mario, Metroid or Zelda on the title, it usually means one of two things. The first thing is that it could be good. The other thing is that it could be bad. Let’s dive right into this game and see what we can find.

The main story of this game centers on this young boy name Juka, who is an alchemist in training and no, he isn’t anything like Fullmetal Alchemist or the wonderful book, The Alchemist. He returns after a mission-in-training to head to town to get some supplies for his frog-like sidekick. Sadly, he finds out something is wrong and people are disappearing and soldiers are appearing everywhere. He then goes off on a journey to save his land from someone who looks like Lex Luthor from Justice League. It’s an okay story, but it won’t set your socks on fire. If you want a good story, just play Heavy Rain or Darksiders.

The game play is rather odd, in my opinion. It’s an adventure game like Zelda or the first SNES Mystical Ninja game, but it also has stealth elements. It’s seen from a bird’s eye view, like Legend of the Mystical Ninja or Legend of Zelda, and you go through the levels using potions to take out organic enemies like soldiers and weird Dr Seuss rejects. Your other main weapon is a sound staff that absorbs colorful shapes that you can shoot back at the mechanical enemies. For most of the beginning potions, you mix different elements like yellow, green and blue elements that you learn from people, and ‘ruin stone’ things. It’s a weird world, let’s just put it that way. This does mean though that you have no other form of attack besides potions and returning fire. This kind of gives the game a certain difficulty. It isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy. There are some other elements, like climbing on vines and such, but it isn’t that important to talk about.

The graphics are surprisingly colorful and well done. While nothing special, they get the job done. I also like the design for some of the characters and creatures. It definitely reminds me of something from Dr Seuss and his weirdly entertaining books. The music isn’t half bad either. It’s very well done, going from calming and peaceful to somewhat threatening when you encounter mechanical enemies. Overall, the presentation is really well done. I mean, I know Orbital Media’s other game Scurge: Hive is, from what I have heard, another great game, but I will have to save that game for another review.

Now, I am going to mix the chemicals to find the bad parts of the game. I HATE how slow Juka is. Couldn’t they put in a run button on the L button? I mean, the other enemies mostly have shots that can home in on your position and you can’t move fast enough. I know you get musical instruments to make elements appear, but for the beginning of the game you have to keep shaking plants to get the elements. It gets annoying and tedious after an hour or so of just shaking plants for elements. The pace of this game feels somewhat sluggish, since you can’t move any faster than a snail on top of a crawling catfish. Another thing I have a beef with is the design of the main character of the game. He looks like one of those two-flavored Popsicles had a baby with Waldo. Plus, he looks nothing like he does in the cover art on the box. It’s more cartoonish in game. The worst part though is that after you play through the game for a bit, you kind of don’t want to pick it up again. It’s kind of sad. It’s like Dark Void in a way. I know I keep bashing Dark Void, but it was rather disappointing, kind of like this game. I know this game has gotten some popular reviews, but I don’t like it personally.

Overall, Juka is not a fully enjoyable ride to go on, but it is worth checking out for only a day or so. It’s disappointing to see the GBA have remakes or ports on the system with only a few special exclusives like the Castlevania Double Pack, Metroid Fusion, and the Goldensun RPG games. I don’t mean to offend anyone who does like this game, but I just don’t like it. I would rather play Advance Guardian Heroes again than play this game, and playing Advance Guardian Heroes was hard enough to play through. Don’t forget to leave comments of my reviews or send me an email of a game you want me to review.

This game gets a 6.9 out of 10

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Darksiders for the PS3 and 360 review




January was definitely a great month of games, wasn’t it? I mean, we got some big name titles like Bayonetta, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Of course, with any month of the year when games were released, we had some of the average games like Army of Two: the 40th Day. Then, we have the utter stupidity of stuff like Dark Void, which shouldn’t have been released during this year. However, there is one game I wanted to play in January that I wanted to play before Bayonetta, but couldn’t since I run by the laws of Gamefly.com. So, what game could have been on the top of my list of games to play this year? I mean besides No More Heroes 2 and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom? Give up? Well, it was made by a company here in my town of Austin, Texas. It was a very well written and well-created game simply known as Darksiders. Now, it’s funny since I know this company because they have made the Warhammer 40k RTS games, and this is the only action game they have made. So, how do I see it through my eyes? Let’s doom the whole world and find out!

The story takes place when the earth is thrown into the grasp of the apocalypse. When this is all happening though, one of the four horsemen, named War, comes down to Earth. He then goes and kills some demons and angels, and then gets to a giant monster that he almost kills. Sadly, he was doing all this on a false alarm. This high council that sets the rules for Heaven, Hell, and Earth then pulls War down to them and punishes him. War is stripped of his powers and is given the task of finding out who caused the whole thing. He gets his sword, is attached to a character called the Watcher, and sets off to destroy the evil that has destroyed the land. It’s nice to see God has a sense of humor calling in War on a false alarm. You won’t believe how many times I have done that, myself.

The game play featured in Darksiders is a mix between God of War’s combat combo system, Zelda’s adventure and weapon themes, and Zelda’s targeting. At the beginning, you basically get a huge sword that War can of course wield with one hand and that’s it. During the game, you gain multiple weapons like a huge horn that can send back enemies, a large pistol, a boomerang cross blade, a scythe, a large gauntlet, and other very interesting weapons that can be used like normal, but here is what I think. If you think cleverly enough, you can use these weapons to get through enemies faster. For example, during the Twilight Cathedral run-through, I was using the horn to blow enemies into the lava-filled floors, which cut down on time that this game demands. Then again, if you ever played a Zelda game, you know how long it can take to get through the entire game. There are some unique areas, like when you get to ride on a griffin, and summon your horse that you once rode when you were the mighty horseman. You can also use enemy weapons and some of your own weapons in a third person view, which works pretty well and is much easier when you have a chain gun to shoot down angels…never thought I see myself type that. You can also find multiple things like shards to combine into extra “heart tanks” or to increase your wrath meter, or to make new armor items that you can wear when you replay through the game again. There are a few quick-time events thrown into the game, but don’t expect anything like God of War 3 or Resident Evil 4 and 5.There is a lot to do, and it’s going to take hours to beat this game if you’re one of those completist. The boss fights are huge and are set up just like the Zelda bosses, where the first boss Tiamat requires the use of the throwing inert bombs at the giant bat, then making them explode with your cross blade. They are all very creative and are fun to go through. There are some simple dungeon-crawling areas like in Zelda, so don’t expect anything different than games like Zelda of God of War 3, where you have to backtrack to certain areas to solve one puzzle. The puzzles however, are mostly easy, with some of them taking some time to get used to, which varies from level to level. I like this since it gives me a good familiar feel for the levels and environments around me.

The graphics for the game are outstanding. I mean, they won’t push the PS3’s or 360’s limit, but they are nice-looking overall. It helps that famous comic book artist, Joe Madureira who is famous for his own comic series, Battle Chasers and his work on the Uncanny X-Men comics, is the creative guy behind the whole look of the game. Though is it just me, or could a majority of these enemies and bosses fit right into the Warhammer universe? I mean, War could be part of the Chaos Space Marines, and some of the demons could be Tyranids and such, but that is just my own opinion. The music is also very well executed with tracks fitting in just right. This is due to the help of Cris Velasco, who worked on games like God of War 3, and games based off of TV shows and such. The second composer, Mike Reagen, worked on stuff like Rise of Kasai, Darkwatch, and Bruteforce. The third composer is Scott Morton, but I couldn’t find anything about him. By far though, the best part of the game is the incredible voice acting. War is voiced by Liam O’ Brien who is known for his works in Devil May Cry 4 as Sanctus, Eternal Sonata as Lord Waltz, and other video game, anime, and documentary roles that you can find on Wikipedia. Though my favorite voice actor so far in the game is the person who does the Watcher, Mark Hamill. Now, if you all know me, I am just a huge fan of Mark Hamill’s voice talent, and think he is one of the best voice actors in the industry. We also get the talents of Phil LaMarr as Vulgrim the merchant, Fred Tatsciore as the charred council, and the rest of the voice talent is very well done.

However, this game does have a few bumps that I feel like I need to address as a reviewer. If there is one major gripe that I have with this game, it would be when you travel through the desert area. There is this one specific area where you need to travel from platform to platform without getting caught by the giant worm that travels through the sand. It’s just tedious, and took me a good two hours or so to get it right, since you can’t double jump or move any faster than a snail riding on top of a sloth. It just wasn’t fun to go through this specific section of the game. It is hard to fault this game for this one section though, since every action game has that area where it is just not fun to go through. I would complain that there is no multi-player, but I don’t think THIS game needs it. You get a lengthy adventure that takes days or even weeks to get every single little thing. Besides, there weren’t enough characters to have a multi-player component. I do like the level designs, but sometimes it isn’t clear enough where you need to go and what you need to do. I was actually stumped a few times until I looked up a walkthrough on some of the areas, but it doesn’t happen often. My final complaint comes from the tedious currency system. It always seems like the first game in an action series has that issue, God of War, Dante’s Inferno, you get the idea. This one is no different since it’s like “oh boy, I can buy this scythe!” then you can’t buy anything else.

In my opinion, Darksiders was a fun game to play through, and I would recommend checking it out. I might pick up a copy of the game when the price drops, but I think it was a fun game to play through, and it was smart for Vigil Games to start making a sequel for this game. Overall, check out Darksiders and lose yourself in a world of chaos. Make sure to send an email to moonstone140@gmail.com if you have any comments or recommendations of games to review.

This game gets an 8.9 out of 10

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Import Surprise part 3: Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa for the Famicom





I love Japan. I love their weird way of pop culture and their old traditions, which are just fun to learn about. One thing, though, that I can’t deny is that I love the video games they make. They are just fun. I mean, we’ve got Mario, Zelda, Shadow of the Colossus, and so many other great games, but weirdly enough, a good chunk of the games have not been able to come out in America. Some reasons could be that they aren’t good, they are too difficult, just something that America wouldn’t like, or they are just plain weird. I can understand that because some import games I have seen I don’t think I would like, though I would love to see the Ganbare Goemon series come on the VC or something. I think one import game I have recently enjoyed came out on the VC back in 2008. It might not be the most well-known import game on the VC, but I think it’s a fun game, and if you like the old Mario and Megaman games on the NES, then I think people would like this game. It’s called Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa. In English, it’s called Bio Miracle Hey I’m Upa. It was released on the Famicom Disc system and was also released on the Famicom. It did come out here in America, but in pirated form. Luckily. you can be cheap and get it off the VC on the Wii.

Now. it took me awhile to find the story for this game since it’s not even explained in the game. You can’t really blame it for not having a good story on the Famicom. I mean it was a Famicom game. After a bit of research, I actually found the story for the game. From what I understand, Upa is a prince of some weird magical land that is made of food. I guess people liked to eat in the kingdom…anyways. One day, he accidentally breaks open a vase that contains an evil spirit named Zai. who kidnaps the souls of the adults and babies. Why baby souls I do not know. Upa is the only survivor and is given a magical rattle to fight against the evil and save his kingdom. Now. I don’t mind the story for a retro game, but why a rattle? That’s like giving Rambo a rubber knife and a small plastic squirt gun. Oh well. I guess I need to see if I can find one of these magical rattles for my kids if I ever have any. By the way, Konami made this game. You know the company that only makes Metal Gear and Silent Hill games? Yeah, they actually made something else during their time. Okay, I’m joking, they also made stuff like the Contra, Mystical Ninja, Castlevania, Gradius, DDR, and other little games like Jackal. I just wish Konami would focus on other things besides what will make them the most money. I actually found some people who want a new Mystical Ninja game, and I am one of them! Oh well, let’s get back to the review.

The game play in Bio Miracle is an action platformer like Super Mario or Megaman. This was back in the day when platforming took pixel-perfect landing or else you would die a horrible death. Like I said, and what I will say again, if you like platforming styles like Mario and Megaman where the longer you press the jump button the higher and farther you jump, then Bio Miracle has the same mechanics. The main gimmick in my opinion is the magical rattle. If you hit an enemy with the rattle, they expand into silly looking balloons. The main gimmick that I mentioned is that you can hit an enemy and turn them into a floating platform. Sometimes, this is required, and it has helped me to get through some of the platforming segments. During boss fights where you fight pigs who have huge mouths, they will shoot out enemies that you need to turn into balloons, bump into them, and ricochet them back at the boss. You can, of course, do the same thing to hit other enemies, but I think you should just hit enemies and turn them into floating platforms. You do get power-ups, like bottles of milk that will heal your health bar, hearts that increase your health bar, and a box with your face on it where you can get up and run around like a baby on speed and be invincible.

The 8-bit graphics look nice for a 1988 game. I know a lot of people would rather play games like Gears of War 2 or Modern Warfare, but here is what I think, forget those games. Retro games can be just as fun. I think Dark Void Zero and Megaman 10 have proven that. I could possibly add the Bionic Commando Rearmed and the new Rocket Knight game, but they are 3D and not 8-bit like Dark Void Zero and Megaman 10. The music is also very fun to listen to. It’s very cheerful and fun. It does get a little annoying, but I will explain later. The difficulty is just right. It isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy. Just perfect difficulty.

I do have a few things wrong with this game, but it’s only because it’s a retro game and I am a gamer of today. The platforming can be very tricky since you basically need to jump perfectly or fail trying. While I enjoy the music, it can get repetitious. I’m not asking for a soundtrack like God of War 3 or Final Fantasy 6, where you have multiple different songs, but it would have been nice to make the soundtrack bigger.

Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa is just a fun, little 8-bit game that should be enjoyed by new and old gamers alike. Of course, you could get the Famicom Disc or cartridge of the game, but it’s very expensive, but hooray to cheapness, and get it on the Virtual Console on the Wii. I wondered why this never came to America, and someone at Nintendo said it wasn’t good enough for the American market. Well, I think it is, and I say, go check it out. Thanks for reading and email me at moonstone140@gmail.com if you have any comments or suggestions of games you would like to see me review.

This game gets an 8.9 out of 10