REVIEW: Super Smash Bros. 3DS

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted! I’ve been meaning to write this review but I was having so much fun with the game that I forgot to write it!

So, the new Super Smash Bros. game is out. While most of my friends in the competitive area of Smash aren’t exactly enjoying it, I am enjoying it a lot. Now that I have the full game let’s go into what I’m excited about and what I’m looking forward to with the Wii U version.
The Good:
 
Smash Run
 
I have to start here. Smash Run is probably my favorite mode of Super Smash Bros. I’ve ever played. Collecting power ups and duking it out in quite a few different varieties of mini games (including racing, climbing, and various versions of Smash) is awesome. I loved Kirby Air Ride’s City Trial (which is basically what Smash Run is), and so I instantly took a shine to this mode. I think the only problem is you can’t interact with the other players besides a bomb you can throw into their screen.
All-Star Mode
 
The new All-Star mode is really cool. Instead of grouping characters together by game, they’re grouped by time period. This makes some really interesting variety of characters and stages while fighting. The mode is a little on the easy side for me, but I really enjoy it nonetheless.
Music + Graphics
 
Super Smash Bros. 3DS (and the Wii U version) has the best music in a Smash game to-date. Really digging the remixes, and the game looks fantastic. I think the only problem here is you can’t change the music like you could in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but that’s a minor detail I can look over.
Teams
 
So you can now be whatever color you want in team battles. That’s the best. Now you have team outlines, which is way cooler and way better. Seriously, forced colors was never something I enjoyed about teams. I’m glad they changed that.
Stages + Items
 
These are, hands down, my favorite stages in the franchise. The Paper Mario stage is definitely my favorite. All the new stages offer something really cool, and I LOVE the new old-school Mute City stage! To add to the craziness of the stages, the new items are a blast. The Galalga Boss that sucks you up, Cuckoos, and the new Pokemon and assist trophies really make for a hectic item experience. It’s fun!
Characters
 
The new characters rock. I love them all. In fact, Villager is my main! I actually don’t mind Dr. Mario, Lucina, and Dark Pit, either. While I will never play Dark Pit, I really enjoy Lucina and would rather pick her over Marth, so I’m glad she’s in the game. Also Dr. Mario is a boss and actually has different moves so I wouldn’t consider him a straight-up clone.
Custom Moves
 
Are probably the best part of this game. I am loving some of the custom moves the characters have! They give the characters some much-needed flavor or just help their kit in general. For example, Luigi has an ice ball – how cool is that?!
The Bad:
 
Controls
 
I’m actually very used to the controls, but as a competitive player (who doesn’t really play Super Smash Bros.), I really miss the c-stick. Being able to do a falling Up Air is something I have taken for granted, and while I can still do it, it takes a lot of precise manipulation of the joystick, and to be frank, the 3DS’s joystick isn’t incredible. I wouldn’t say the controls are awful, but there’s definitely something left to be desired here.
Classic Mode
 
Is still kind of boring.
Online + For Glory
 
Okay, so every For Glory mode stage is basically Final Destination with the stages usual blast zones. Some of the have walls that go down to the blast zone. This is fine, but I really wish some of the stages (I’m looking at you, Paper Mario stage and Rainbow Road) had their original design in For Glory mode, just minus the hazards. It’d make some of the levels way more varied and interesting without it just being flat. This ties into online.
You see, Final Destination is a horribly balanced stage. It gives characters with projectiles a clear-cut advantage (unless you’re Little Mac), and that’s hardly fair to slow characters. I think Battlefield is the most balanced stage, but I’m digressing. It seems that the cast is balanced around Final Destination, and that’s…not great. Granted, I think the game is incredibly varied right now and a lot of characters have untapped potential, but it sucks that online every stage is basically Final Destination,  giving some characters inherent advantages. That’s not too bad if you’re really good, but I think a lot of players who want to become competitive aren’t going to enjoy their character suffering as they try to practice their character.
Also the lag can be dreadful sometimes. At least the game has decided to dish out “No Contest” where neither player receives a detriment or plus to their record if the game lags for too long. It can detect intentional DC’s though, which is awesome. Other than those few complaints, though, online is incredibly fun. I’ve played just about 100 1v1 games and a few 2v2 (both For Glory) and they’ve been really fun. I have yet to play the “For Fun” mode or 4 player For Glory, and I probably won’t for a long time. I enjoy 1v1 the most.
Equipment
 
I’m not really a big fan of equipment, and that’s because they only give out stat boosts. I’m okay with the changing stats of characters. It’s a cool concept and it’ll make your Amiibo CPU’s way more fun to watch. However, it’d be nice if there were some pieces of equipment that only gave effects, no stats. I’m a big supporter of custom moves for official tournaments with this game, and I would’ve loved to include equipment in there, but alas. Equipment will be no more than a side tournament option.
And that’s about it. I could rate this game on my usual criteria but there’s so much content in the game I won’t do that. With that said, my rating for this game is a solid 8/10. If you’re a fan of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, you will love this game, even if it’s on the 3DS. I wouldn’t wait for the Wii U. Having Smash on the go is incredible.
Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Super Mario 3D World

Apologies for last week; school has just started and so I was a little preoccupied with transitioning into school mode. But, enough of that, it’s time to review Super Mario 3D World!

I won’t bore you with the plot or characters. It’s standard Mario fare, except Peach is a character you play and the victims are a group of fairies. What’s really important is the gameplay.

Gameplay:

If I were to sum up the gameplay of Super Mario 3D World, it’d be “wow”. With this addition each character (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad) has different properties – Mario is the most balanced, Luigi jumps the highest (but is a little slippery), Peach can float (but is the slowest), and Toad is the fastest (but jumps the lowest). This allows for some pretty interesting gameplay choices within each level, as some characters have a vastly easier time with certain platforming elements depending on the level.

Speaking of levels, the level design is fantastic, and you can see the thought put into the 4-player co-op with each level. While the worlds are pretty standard (Grassy, water, desert, lava, etc…), I loved most of the designs, some of them proving to be quite challenging.

Because each level doesn’t brutally murder you for having 4 players (like New Super Mario. Bros), playing with friends is very fun. The twist to playing with multiple players is that, instead of everyone having their own lives, the players are share them. That means that playing with friends, while more fun, is also much more dangerous. Expect game overs, even if you’re experienced with Mario games. My brother and I probably accumulated 3 or 4 game overs throughout the main portion of the game due to us sharing lives.

Thankfully, unlike in New Super Mario Bros., you cannot bubble in the air. This is great because it means you can’t just haphazardly attempt to make a jump and just bubble to safety. I always hated that feature because it decreased the game’s difficulty while playing multiplayer. I like how punishing it is now, because it forces cooperation. The ONLY problem with bubbling is that you can get out yourself, and sometimes, the bubble will hover above an abyss and you’ll pop out yourself and die again (I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me). Even near land, the bubble would literally hover just off the ledge and so you had to wait until you popped out. I would rather get back to the action as fast as possible, not wait 10 seconds for the bubble to be over land so I don’t die again.

Oh, and let’s not forget the new power up, the Cat Bell, which transforms Mario and co. into a cat that can dive and climb walls. This is, without a doubt, the best power up Mario has ever used. Platforming is a breeze once you master how to use the cat suit. It’s an awesome power up, and the little “meow!” that Mario and co. say after beating a level is absolutely priceless.

Atmosphere:

There’s not a lot to say, unfortunately. Pretty standard Mario fare, although I liked a lot of the level designs and the art. Nothing really captured me, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

———

All in all, Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic game, especially for co-op. If you’re a Mario fan that still loves the series or even someone who’s been a little bored with the series, I recommend it. It’s a breath of fresh air to the Mario franchise co-op wise, and that’s something, I think, a lot of Mario fans have been yearning for since New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Final Score: 9/10

Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Mario Party Island Tour

I apologize for this being late, I was busy Friday and Saturday. Onto the review!

——

I haven’t really played any of the recent Mario Party games. Mario Party DS I played a bit, but not too much. The newest installment into the series, Mario Party Island Tour, however, is shaping up to be a Mario Party I will play quite often.

Mario Party Island Tour, like Mario Party 9, completely offs the classic gather stars and circle a game board. Instead, they’re replaced with “race” boards, as I call them, where the first player to reach the finish line wins. However, unlike Mario party 9, where everyone rides that dumb vehicle together, it hearkens back to the classic style of moving, where everyone takes their own turn and uses dice…or cards on certain boards. Because of this style, there are no blue and red spaces that give out coins, instead having item spaces, move back spaces, and other various spaces that switch places with opponents, summon Bowser, etc… It’s actually pretty refreshing, and I find myself not missing the old style because, really, I can play the old ones on the virtual console.

So that’s all great, but what really makes this game awesome are the mini games, which are surprisingly great. I didn’t think the mini-games would be spectacular, but they’ve all been really fun and I haven’t been disappointed by one yet, and I’ve played through almost every board.

That’s really it. The music has some cool throwbacks to old games, and the graphics are pretty good (the Mario Galaxy board is awesome!), but there’s really nothing else to write about.

If you’re looking for a Mario Party experience not quite the classics, but refreshing and new with some awesome mini games, consider picking up Mario Party Island Tour. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Final Score: 7/10

Just Sayin’.

REVIEW: Sonic Lost World

After seeing the trailers and getting incredibly hyped for Sonic Lost World, I have finally beaten it. That means it’s time for a review! Before we begin, note that I’m reviewing the Nintendo 3DS version.

Plot:

I can’t say too much about the plot. It’s a standard Sonic vs Eggman with some extraneous other enemy thrown in. The Deadly Six are just, well…there.

Characters:

This part surprised me. The relationship between Sonic and Tails is actually very well done – at one point, Sonic recklessly kicks the device Eggman was using to control the Deadly Six without heeding Tails warning, and after running from the ensuing fight due to the Deadly Six controlling all of Eggman’s robots, he laments that he should’ve listened to Tails, and Tails almost replays with a sarcastic, “You think?” It’s cool to see that Tails has some backbone as opposed to other games where he just plays the sidekick. I was impressed. Even Eggman has some real personality when interacting with Sonic and Tails. It’s almost comedic.

On the flip side, the Deadly Six are awful. They’re one-dimensional and boring.

Gameplay:

Sonic Lost World really steps up the “Sonic Formula”. Instead of gradually reaching max speed, Sonic has two speeds – walking, and running. You simply hold the R button and you will always be traveling at max speed. It’s an incredible mechanic, allowing Sonic to blaze through the parts of the level where he should without gradually reaching max speed, and when he needs to platform he has the option not to go full speed and go for some precision. Switching between the two is seamless and – I must stress – quick. Accelerating to max speed takes less than a second, and it’s very satisfying to go from precision platforming to max speed so quickly.

Sonic still has his old tricks – spin dashing, homing attack, etc… but with some new twists. Sonic can now very quickly homing attack a series of enemies with the homing attack, making for a very satisfying string of enemies defeated. It’s very flashy looking.

Sonic has also acquired some new abilities, most noticeable his newfound love of parkour. Running up and on the side of walls looks very cool, and gives a more realistic way for Sonic to traverse the levels. A lot of animation videos of Sonic show him flashily moving around his environment with jumps, spins, wall kicks, and vaults, and while it’s not exactly parkour, the vaults and jumps that those who parkour utilize is definitely something Sonic should be using. I think this style is a step in the right direction, and I’d love to see Sonic start to free run.

He can also send a slice of air out by doing an aerial backflip. It’s mainly for combating certain enemies. He also has new “Color” powers, meaning new wisps powers to use. There are some classics like Lightning and Drill, with some cools one like one that lets you latch onto magnetically charged bars and enemies, one that’s literally a moving black hole, and one that turns you into a giant iron ball. They’re all really cool.

Atmosphere:

The levels are very well designed. I didn’t get bored once with them. As with many of these kinds of platforming games, you have your grass world, laval world, water world, desert world, etc…but what’s working for the levels are the Super Mario Galaxy-esque level designs. Although not as sharp as the aforementioned platformer, Sonic Lost World does a pretty decent job incorporating gravity into their levels. It’s an interesting experience after having played both games in the Mario Galaxy series, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. It didn’t feel like some cheap rip-off design. There was definitely thought put into how Sonic world interact with gravity.

The music is surprisingly unmemorable for most of the game. I can recall only the first world’s music clearly. I’m a little disappointed; as a Sonic fan, I’ve played through some of the not-so-great games in the series, but there was always some really solid and memorable music.

——

If you like Sonic games, you’re sure to love this. As with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, this is a big step in the right direction for Sonic games, and I hope this uphill trend continues.

Score:

Plot: 5/10
Characters: 7/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Final Score: 7/10

Just sayin’

REVIEW: Mario & Luigi Dream Team

Finally, after weeks of not being able to, I have been able to play through a significant chunk of Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, possibly one of the best Mario RPG‘s I’ve played so far. Let’s not waste any time and jump on in!

Plot:

Mario and company travel to Pi’llo Island to vacation and, of course, something goes wrong. Antasma, a villain hellbent on taking over the world, kidnaps Peach and forces Mario to venture into the Dream World via Luigi once Luigi opens the Dream World accidentally and frees Antasma from his dreamy prison. Dreambert, the prince of an ancient race called the Pi’llos, asks of the help of the Mario Bros. to save his people and stop Antasma, to which they agree. I won’t spoil anything (because, well, I haven’t finished the game yet. I’m close!), but Bowser does get involved, and some of the stuff gets crazy!

But, a typical Mario plot. Nothing to be laugh at, though, as the Pi’llo history is actually quite complex, and the plot is pulled off in dreamlike (ha!) style.

Characters:

So, let me get this out of the way: I never played Bowser’s Inside Story. I will, I swear, but I haven’t yet. So I didn’t know who Starlow was when she was introduced here. However, she’s a little nagging. She’s not an awful character, but I’m definitely not a big fan. The new characters are great, especially since Dreambert is very serious and has to interact with the goofy world of the Mario & Luigi series. It’s very funny.

Mario and Luigi themselves are great, as usual, and the random characters the bros. encounter are fantastic. The dialogue in Mario RPG’s have always been fantastic, and this game is no exception. The dialogue is crisp and witty, and I found myself laughing on more than one occasion!

Also oh MY GOD POPPLE IS IN THIS GAME IT IS INCREDIBLY HYPE!

Gameplay:

The gameplay is the BIG seller, here. In the over world, you are either in the real world as the Mario Bros., or in the dream world with Mario and Dreamy Luigi, a version of Luigi conjured up by Luigi as he sleeps. This Luigi is more Mario-like thanks to the dream embodying Luigi as Luigi wants himself to be. In the dream world, Luigi can also manipulate his dreams through Dreamy Luigi, able to conjure up hundreds of himself to perform certain actions and movements (such as stacking to make a tower of Luigis or like a top to spin into the air). But that’s not even close to the best part.

The combat is where it’s at for this game. In the over world, you battle with Mario and Luigi in classic Mario & Luigi style. Again, the battle animations and timing for the hammer are from Bowser’s Inside Story, and so they looked really cool to me. The badge system is also from there, and while it’s cool, I wish it was more like the original. A small complaint, however, completely negligible once you get to dream world combat.

In the dream world, Mario fights by himself against a small army of enemies with Dreamy Luigi powering him up. That means when Mario jumps, he has the power of at least 20 Luigis added on. Those same Luigis rain down on your enemies after you jump, or the Luigis create a giant shockwave with their hammers after you hammer the ground. It’s a really cool way to show that Luigi is still part of the battle.

And, just as there are Bros. Attacks in the real world with Mario and Luigi (which are awesome), there’s what’s called Luiginary Attacks, which are literally Luigi being a god. He stacks, he creates a giant hammer, he becomes a living Katamari Damacy and then has Mario kick him. The possibilities are endless, and fitting for a game that represents the Year of Luigi. His attacks are ridiculously cool.

AND, to add onto that, it’s harder in the dream world because if Mario dies, it’s game over. Goodbye builds of Mario being the powerhouse and Luigi being the tank; in the dream world, Mario gets bopped because of his low defenses, so you’re punished extra hard for being hit. On the flip side, Dreamy Luigi gives him more HP and BP, but it’s usually not enough.

To put it in perspective, I’m running Super Crit Bros. (where I only upgrade Stache), and my Mario takes roughly 35-50 damage from the small army enemies, and that small army attacks multiple times in one turn. I’ve gotten multiple game overs from regular dream world fights.

I’m not knocking that difficulty, though. I love it.

Oh, OH, and before I forget, Luigi bodies giant enemies by turning into a giant Luigi. They feel epic. I felt epic bodying them. Everything about giant Luigi is epic.

Atmosphere:

In classic Mario & Luigi style, the atmosphere is RPG-like, yet super-goofy. The dialogue, as I said before, is on point and very funny. There are a lot of reference Easter Eggs. The areas are nicely designed, the 3D is cool (especially during some Bros. Attacks), and the art style is cool. I really like the Dream World designs, especially the longer ones. Most of them are just short mini-levels, though even those are well-designed and not cumbersome.

What I really liked here was the music. Most of the music is great, especially the battle music, and ESPECIALLY boss music. I first heard the music when facing Bowser and Antasma in the beginning of the game, and it felt way more epic than it should’ve because of the music that was playing. Seriously, go to YouTube and give it a listen – it’s great.

Other than that, this is good, but nothing spectacular.

——

If you love Mario RPGs, get this game. If you love the Mario & Luigi series, get this game. If you have a 3DS get this game.

In short: GET THIS GAME.

Score:

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 10/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Final Score: 9/10

Just sayin’

REVIEW: Turbo

Another two week session of no blog entries! I was working another camp session in Princeton, and thus had no time to write. However, now that I’m done working this summer, entries should resume their weekly updates! Let’s kick this off with a movie I saw a couple days ago: DreamworksTurbo!

Plot:
 
Turbo‘s premise is cool. Theo, a garden snail that dreams of being a racer comes into contact with nitrous (the stuff you see in racing games and the Fast & Furious series that gives racing cars a temporary boost of insane speed) and is able to utilize it, much to his brother Chet’s dismay. After some unfortunate events, he and Chet are fired from the garden they work at and shortly after Chet is taken by crows. Using his speed, Theo (who I will now call Turbo because that’s what he calls himself) follows the crows and saves Chet, only to be captured by humans and entered into a snail racing competition. Turbo shows off his insane speed, and is entered into the Indianapolis 500, where he competes with the best of the best racing cars.

The plot itself flows quite nicely. I was pleasantly surprised to see some real character growth in a film that looked, to me, like one of those silly and fun kid’s films.

Acting:
 
Let me just get this out of the way: the actors for voicing were amazing. Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Snoop Dog/Lion? Sign me up! The acting was great, the one-liners were funny. All the characters meshed together really well. I enjoyed it.

Atmosphere:
 
The atmosphere is, well, pretty much racing. The animation itself is nicely done, the effects are really cool, and watching a snail go over 200 mpg alongside formula 1 racing cars in an iconic race was really cool to watch. Also, the music choices and the definite reference to pop culture was very funny. It was nice to see an animated film that referenced remixes being made on the Internet (and the remix was actually pretty catchy!)

——

If you’re looking for something fun and cool to watch, or you want to see a snail body formula 1 racing cars, check out Turbo! It’s a solid film.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (stars)
 
Just Sayin’.