Mother 3 Review

Mother 3

The legendary Mother 3 is known for never coming out in the US. Nintendo may never release it, but dedicated fans have translated this turn based RPG into English for anyone with an emulator. After completing Mother 3 I was left with a whirlwind of emotions. The emotion most prominent was anger because Mother 3 is one of the greatest RPGs ever made and Nintendo not releasing it in America is a disservice to the history of Video Games.

Mother 3 Dragos

Mother 3 opens with the disappearance of mother Hinawa and her two children Lucas and Claus. Their father, Flint goes searching for his family near their home on the Nowhere Islands. The Village of Tazmily is unique with the whole town living harmoniously with the earth and living selflessly. Everyone is kind to each other and extremely polite. This completely changes while Flint goes into the woods North of the village searching for his family. Strange men in Pigmasks set the woods on fire and begin to introduce many new concepts to Tazmily Village. The pigmasks introduce money, which therefore creates both greed and crime. Each chapter of Mother 3 stars a different character until Lucas takes over as the main character. Each new character offers a unique perspective on the ongoing change of the world around them. Eventually, Lucas and a group of misfits go against the modernized corrupted world around them and seek a way to stop the leader of the Pigmask Army (Who ties the series together.) Mother 3’s story is a roller coaster of emotions as the game explores the worth of happiness.

Mother 3 Sunflower

The gameplay is very similar to the previous game Earthbound (Mother 2). It is a turn based RPG that has a few unique twists. The health points are on a countdown so even if you take mortal damage you can still make actions or heal yourself as your health points deplete. You can also tap to the music during battles to perform combos. With the soundtrack in Mother 3 being as great as it is, this mechanic is tons of fun as you try to find each enemy’s unique beat. Each enemy is bizarre and unique just like Earthbound (Looking at you Jealous Upright Double Bass!) and the Mother series’ signature Psychodelic backdrops. It creates an experience unlike any other as you travel to many diverse locations from the crumbling ruins of a castle to the futuristic town of New Pork City.

Mother 3 Battle

The presentation is excellent with Mother 3 easily being the most beautiful Game Boy Advance game ever. The art style is timeless and the animation is top notch. Special kudos go out to the translation team for the English writing and script. It is heartfelt, hilarious, and every word keeps the player invested with this wacky group of characters.

Mother 3 is a lost classic that has found new life thanks to some dedicated fans. Mother 3 constantly keeps the player on their toes with amazing writing, active combat, and a colorful presentation that is oozing with personality. Nintendo better give Mother 3 a chance in the West because many gamers are missing out on this timeless classic.

Final Score: 9.8/10

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Review: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

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Every 7-8 years high lord Sakurai blesses us with a fighting game that doesn’t hold back. From polished gameplay to an overwhelming number of gameplay modes to a plethora of fan service, Nintendo’s mascot fighter is back. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for Smash Bros.

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Smash Bros. on 3DS raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first announced since it will be the first time we can smash on the go and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. With a staggering 51 characters this iteration of Smash Bros. has easily the largest roster with many of the newcomers proving their worth. The 31 stages however, don’t have the same impact with many stages returning from past games and the new stages are dull in design. Luckily, the competitive Smash Bros. scene has left it’s mark on Sakurai since every stage has it’s own “Final Destination” version for more competitive play.

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The game modes have also been tweaked for the 3DS hardware. The main attraction this time around is “Smash Run,” a 5 minute rush through a massive level grabbing stat boosts to prepare yourself for a final showdown. Unfortunately, this mode is a novelty at best with the big finale being only a minute long rendering the previous 5 minutes pointless. Classic mode returns with an overworld map similar to the “Find Mii” minigame on the 3DS. All-Star mode is here as well with a unique twist where the player smashes through each character based on the year they were created. Customization is now much larger than it was in Brawl with the ability to change character’s stats and special moves. This goes one step further with the inclusion of Mii’s for complete customization. These new options can make fights pretty hectic if Bowser is running faster than Sonic and Jigglypuff hits like a truck on steroids.

Upon first glance gameplay is pretty solid with the thought of “Yup. It’s Smash.” running through your head. Dig a little deeper and the flaws begin to surface. The game itself doesn’t have any flaws gameplay-wise, but instead the 3DS hardware is the main problem. The circle pad on the 3DS isn’t as precise as the accepted smash controller (Gamecube) and can lead to some frustrating moments of “That’s not what I meant to do!” as you play. The game’s camera doesn’t do any favors either with it pulling out so far sometimes that you can easily lose the small dot that resembles your character on screen. When these issues are absent Smash Bros. is Smash Bros. You will beat the daylight out of other Nintendo Mascots with a massive grin on your face as the game runs smoothly at 60 fps.

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To many Smash Bros. is a multiplayer fighting game and this is where Smash Bros. on 3DS falls apart. Couch multiplayer is still accessible with local wifi, but the lag is unbearable at times. It happens so frequently that the game becomes unplayable. Things only get worst when you go into full online matches. Their heart is in the right place with online modes emphasizing party play as well as competitive play, but the lag on this precision fighting game ruins everything. This was a problem 7 years ago with Brawl’s multiplayer on the Wii, but the fact that 7 years later the online functionality is just as bad is unacceptable. With so many issues plaguing Smash Bros. multiplayer I can’t imagine this game having the same longevity as previous games in the series.

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Smash Bros. for 3DS is good, but it should be great. Hardware limitations and poor online hold it back from reaching the heights of previous installments. When it works Smash Bros. is a blast and will put a massive grin on your face. Even with the flaws Smash Bros. is still Smash Bros. and shouldn’t be missed by any 3DS owner.

Design: 7/10
Gameplay: 8.4/10
Presentation: 9.0/10

Final Score: 8.1/10

Destiny Review

destiny-hp-fb-og-share-img Destiny is like an ex girlfriend you hate, but you keep coming back to because you have low self esteem. Fundamentally, there are some great moments, but enough flaws to remind you why you broke up in the first place. Yet, I keep finding myself playing Destiny despite it being one of the most frustrating gaming experiences in recent memory. Destiny is a first person shooter/MMO hybrid. Bungie refuses to call it an MMO and refers to the game as a “Shared World Shooter,” but lets be real…it’s an MMO. You will do quests, explore dungeons, play multiplayer, and go on raids. It is kinda cool at first glance to see how well these two genres mesh, but after you reach the level 20 level cap you will find nothing but an underwhelming hollow experience. 10_1_Guardians_1_shot Destiny’s story is the biggest train wreck with every plot point falling flat and a sense that no one at Bungie was on the same page on what the story should be. The plot revolves around the guardian who meets a robot companion named ghost. The guardian sees the seeker and finds out they must stop the darkness. The plot is so basic that I can’t even remember the names of anyone within the game. Stars like Peter Dinklidge and Nathan Fillion are voice actors, but their performances are so poorly written and phoned in that I wouldn’t be shocked if they actually recorded the lines over the phone. It’s hard to even criticize the plot of Destiny since there is so little to the plot that I can’t criticize anything. Destiny’s design is of a standard MMO with some twists to fit the FPS genre. Some design choices are great such as playing with friends and the well- established factions within the game. On the other hand Destiny makes so many mistakes that it makes the entire game a boring chore. Simply put, this is the most lonely MMO I have ever played. Matchmaking doesn’t exist for many strikes and there’s is no player auction house or even public chat. Everyone just stands around and no one talks with each other because they can’t. destiny-law-jungle The loot system is horrendous with the concept of end game being revolved around what loot you have on. This wouldn’t be a problem if loot drops ever occurred at all. Many players have already resorted to exploiting the game’s checkpoint system to farm loot since it happens so rarely. The worst part is when you obtain an engram. Engrams are blueprints for higher-tiered weapons and armor, but every time I would obtain a rare or legendary engram it would give me either useless currency or a much lower-tiered weapon. Destiny’s grind for better loot is so tedious since 50% of the time you won’t be rewarded for it. The same goes for the Crucible, which is Destiny’s standard multiplayer arena. Skill isn’t a factor since a legendary item has the same chance of going to the dead last player as well as the first place player. It’s so unfair and unbalanced since the reward system is random, players with better gear will always win in PVP, and most of the tasks in Destiny require a good 45 minutes to an hour to complete sometimes. Putting in that much time and effort only to not be reward is a slap in the face from Bungie. The repetitive nature of the game as a whole means that unless Bungie does a quick turnaround with Destiny expect NO ONE to be playing this unrewarding disaster in 3 month’s time. destiny_e3.0_cinema_640.0 Destiny does retain the great shooting mechanics from Halo and crafts a believable world that you initially want to explore. The problem is while gunplay can be a blast…exploring is basically non-existent. There are chests everywhere with crap loot and currency. The world of Destiny doesn’t do anything with its lore and actually hides the game’s lore behind grimoire cards, which you can only view on Destiny’s app or website. This leaves us with a faux open world, AI that constantly respawns and never changes their tactics, and some of the worst boss fights in gaming history. Regardless of your level boss fights within Destiny are incredibly tedious with each boss being a bullet sponge that takes upwards to 45 minutes to take down. The worst part is the boss’ checkpoint system, which starts the whole fight over if your team dies. Most strikes I’ve been in where our team dies everyone ends up quitting since we don’t have the patience to shoot the same boss over and over again. Destiny looks beautiful on the PS4 with a great sweeping orchestral soundtrack. Unfortunately, it also has no art. The locations, character designs, and atmosphere come across as every single shooter and space game I’ve ever played. The game is generic and has some of the worst cutscenes in gaming history with flat acting, poor writing, and most never move the plot along. The worst offense with these cutscenes is how they’re impossible to skip and given the repetitive nature of Destiny you will be forced to watch their mediocrity over and over again. It was almost as if Bungie had a checklist while making Destiny, but never looked at the finer bullet points. Story? Check. Loot? Check. PVP? Check. Everything about Destiny works on a basic level, but the experience is so frustrating and so hollow the further you dive into what Destiny has to offer. It does have moments of brilliance since I am somehow still playing it and it has the potential to get better with numerous patches, but in its current state Destiny is destined for mediocrity. Story: 2.1/10 Design: 4.2/10 Gameplay: 8.4/10 Presentation: 7/10 Final Score: 5.4

Final Fantasy X HD Remastered Review

Guardians of  Yuna ready to rock!

Guardians of Yuna ready to rock!

The classic PS2 role playing game has received an HD upgrade by Square Enix. Final Fantasy X has been beloved for over a decade for its excellent turn based gameplay, elegant story, amazing graphics for the time, and one of the best soundtracks in a video game. Do Final Fantasy X hold up after 12 years or should the Fayth have kept dreaming?

Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus, an ace athlete with daddy issues who witnesses the destruction of his home town of Zanarkand. He is sent away during the disaster by his father’s friend Auron and a massive beast named Sin. When Tidus awakens he is in the world of Spira 1000 years later. Sin has become a constant threat and the only hope to stop Sin are the teachings and religion of Yevon. Yevon is the religion that governs Spira and requires certain citizens to become summoners to make pilgrimage to defeat Sin…even if Sin’s defeat is only temporary. The story revolves around Tidus as he becomes a guardian to the summoner Yuna and aids her quest to vanquish Sin. The story is excellent as Spira struggles to fight the looming threat of Sin while politics and religion clash over the big question: Should we honor religious tradition or seek a new way to stop Sin? The story itself is great even if the moment to moment voice acting and writing isn’t up to scratch…I’m looking at you Tidus’ laugh scene.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

The world of Spira is a sight to behold taking influence from Southern Asia. Even though Final Fantasy X is more linear than most Final Fantasy games there are still many things to do. From secret side quests to the addicting and fully fleshed out Blitzball games, Final Fantasy X isn’t short on keeping the player busy. With tons of collectibles to find, now beasts to capture, and Celestial Weapons to hunt Final Fantasy X is the king of Final Fantasy side quests. The only downsides are the requirements and design flaws of the Celestial Weapons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dodge lightning 200 times in the Thunder Plains for Lulu’s Sigil or having to go through the living hell that is the Chocobo Catcher mini-game for Tidus’ Sigil.

Hell is Real...

Hell is Real…

The Chocobo Catcher mini-game is easily the worst gaming experience I’ve had in my entire life. This mini-game requires Tidus to pilot a Chocobo through a race against another Chocobo. Hitting balloons negates 3 seconds off your time, while hitting flying birds adds 3 seconds to your time. To obtain the key item for his weapon the player must beat the race with a time under 0:00 seconds. The problem is the horrible controls of this mini-game make it nearly impossible to achieve this time. The randomness and horrible AI of the birds take the experience from painful to nearly unbearable. This mini-game is completely optional, but if you’re a completionist then prepare for the worst mini-game in history.

In contrast, the Blitzball mini-game is quite possibly the greatest mini-game in video game history (It’s up there with Mario Party Bumper Balls). Blitzball is a simulation of soccer, except it is played underwater, and is a number crunching RPG. What makes it so fascinating is how the developers were able to implement a full league with players to scout and free agents to sign to make your team stronger. It’s so amazing that Square Enix should have made Blitzball its own spin-off game.

Summons are still awesome!

Summons are still awesome!

The core gameplay of Final Fantasy X removes the Active Time Battle System in favor of a more traditional turn-based battle system. This system focuses on the different classes of characters who are strong against different classes of enemies. Tidus is strong against agile fiends, Wakka can snipe out of reach flying enemies, and Auron can pierce the strongest armored foes. This paved the way for more modern RPG systems like Shin Megami’s “Press-Turn” system. Each character also has special moves called Overdrives, which increase in power if the player inputs certain commands. Tidus’ Overdrives require you to stop a meter similar to Mario Golf, Auron requires you to quickly input a Konami-esque Code (UP UP DOWN DOWN Etc…), and Lulu requires you to rapidly rotate the control stick. Yuna’s Summons are easily the highlight of gameplay as these massive beasts appear and decimate the enemy. Considering how I am not a huge fan of the Active Time Battle system I must say that FFX has the best battle system of any Final Fantasy game. I’ve never had so much fun just grinding for levels.

Final Fantasy X uses a unique level up system called the sphere grid. Each character collects spheres for different attributes such as strength, magic, agility, and defense, while ability spheres allow for characters to gain new abilities. The freedom of selecting which attribute or ability to get is refreshing and allows for some incredibly unique character growth. This is especially true if you choose the expert sphere grid at the beginning, which doesn’t immediately lock certain characters into classes such as warrior or thief. Want to build a warrior who can heal while stealing items from enemies? Well you totally can.

SD versus HD

SD versus HD

The presentation is nearly perfect with each vista being so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe the PS2 could handle this game. From the amazing HD graphics to the amazing landscapes, Final Fantasy X is one of the most beautiful worlds ever created. Spira is a world that goes beyond immersion and feels real. This fact is made even more solid by the game’s outstanding soundtrack. I enjoy Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack so much that I’m positive it puts the legendary soundtrack from Final Fantasy VI to shame. The downside…is the voice acting. Being Square Enix’s first FF game with voice acting it is clear that things were a bit rough. Many characters talk like they’re William Shatner having a stroke and some performances go way over the top for no reason. It is so jarring with the rest of the game that the voice acting can’t even be seen as humorous.

Final Fantasy X is an amazing experience and the core game holds up great after 12+ years. Unfortunately, the rough edges that were present in the original game haven’t been improved on at all for this HD remake and are just as terrible as they were the first time around. Luckily, most of the flaws are minor or optional making Final Fantasy X HD a must buy for any fans of Japanese Role Playing Games.

Story: 9.3/10
Design: 8.4/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Presentation: 8.8/10

Final Score: 8.9/10

Broken Age Act 1 Review

Adventure Games are completely dead. No one would pay money for those games. Why would anyone even bother making one? Well Double Fine made one with the help of 3.5 million dollars from Kickstarter backers. The audience spoke with their wallets and Double Fine responded with Broken Age. As the game to kick start the Kickstarter craze does Broken Age’s first act deliver, or is it one of the many failed Kickstarter projects?

Vella (Left) and Shay (Right)

Vella (Left) and Shay (Right)

Broken Age tells the story of Shay and Vella. Two teenagers with entirely different lives. The only thing that ties their destinies together is the fact that they want to escape their destinies. Shay lives alone in  a space station with his computer parents. The computer mother is overprotective about Shay’s safety and constantly treats this teenager as a toddler. Shay desperately tries to break from his mundane daily routine of space missions that have no true conflict to them. With the help of a mysterious stowaway on his ship Shay finally attempts to break from the clutches of his “mother,” while in the process discovers what true responsibility is. Vella is a teenage girl who is living out the last day of her life. With her village’s culture revolving around feeding teenage girls to a giant monster named Mog Chothra. Vella learns to stand up for herself and rebels against the traditions of her culture. Vella’s journey leads her to many locations as she attempts to kill Mog Chothra. The story of both characters is well told with great “moment to moment” writing, but the ending leaves way more questions than answers with a huge twist to shake things up. The problem is that the main plot of the game is danced around for 3 hours and then abruptly ends without the main plot being clearly explained. It leaves the plot up for interpretation as we wait for act 2 which keeps Broken Age fresh within our minds. However, the vagueness of the main plot disappoints and leaves a sour taste as the credits begin to roll.

Vella's campaign is less focused, but provides more to explore.

Vella’s campaign is less focused, but provides more to explore.

Broken Age is split into two campaigns  that last between 1 to 2 hours. Shay’s story is much shorter and compact, which makes it easier to follow. His puzzles are more straightforward and based around gameplay. Vella’s story is longer with many different locations and puzzles based around experimenting. Both campaigns suffer from a main cliche within Adventure games; the frustrating puzzles. Each puzzle doesn’t give players an “AHA!” moment, but rather a “How the hell did that work?” feeling. Some situations require you to think so far outside the box that you go back in the box. Many Adventure games did this back in the day, leading to many players just clicking everywhere on the screen until the solution magically happened. The fact that Broken Age doesn’t break free from this problem leads to many frustrating moments, while never fully understanding the rules of the game.

Shay's "Runaway" Train Ride.

Shay’s “Runaway” Train Ride.

The pointing and clicking within Broken Age is top notch (Like that was hard to do.) Highlighting a usable object changes the pointer and reveals what the player can interact with. It is another feature that keeps the traditional feel of Broken Age cemented. The main progressive element of Broken Age is the presentation. The voice acting is incredible featuring Elijah Wood, Wil Wheaton, Jennifer Hale, and Jack Black among others. The writing and voice acting is top notch selling each personality with flying colors. The art direction and environments are completely gorgeous and compliments each campaign well. While Shay’s world can seem repetitive, the design fits perfectly with his mundane lifestyle. Vella’s world is much more varied and has many amazing locations with the cult cloud village being the stand out. It is clear the funding went towards the incredible presentation of Broken Age and that is perfectly okay within this story driven plot.

Jack Black Voices the Hilarious Cultist Lightbeard

Jack Black Voices the Hilarious Cultist Lightbeard

Broken Age Act 1 suffers from a short length, convoluted puzzles, and some awkward storytelling. None of this makes the game truly bad, but instead highlights Broken Age’s great writing, acting, and art design. The emotions felt as Broken Age’s first act ends will vary from joyful bliss to raging frustration because of the cliffhanger. I am both excited and frustrated for the release of act 2 and my anticipation isn’t dying anytime soon. The 1st act’s shortcomings only make the hype skyrocket as gamers grow impatient for the full finished story. If that’s what Broken Age was going for…then it does a damn great job for the revival of Adventure Games.

Final Score: 8.0/10

NES Remix Review

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With many of Nintendo’s popular franchises being based on nostalgia it is no surprise that Nintendo has grouped these 80’s classics into a bundle of mini-challenges. While it is great to see some sparks of greatness with Nintendo modding their own games, it is unfortunate that even nostalgia can’t keep NES Remix from being a horrible game.

NES Remix is simple enough. The player chooses a game and challenge from the main menu and has either a certain amount of time or lives to complete said challenge. For example one challenge has Mario trying to beat Koopas within a time limit as the screen zooms out or Link must kill Moblins without taking damage. When the challenge is finished the player gets scored by a three star system based on the completion time similar to Angry Birds. They also get points to unlock more stamps for Miiverse. The main issue is that the game is insulting in terms of challenge. The skill level required to complete some challenges are designed for toddlers, such as Link having to find the wooden sword on the first screen of Zelda. I understand that it is Nintendo’s way of introducing a newer generation to NES games…but the entire game feels like a tutorial for infants. What’s more insulting is that each game within NES Remix has an E-shop button, which shows the true intent of this game…BUY THE ORIGINALS. NES Remix isn’t a challenging trip of nostalgia for long time fans…it’s a cash grab for young children who have their parent’s credit card hooked up.

Seriously that's it... Take the Sword.

Seriously that’s it…
Take the Sword.

The game’s only sense of challenge is getting used the physics of each game. After that it’s a total cakewalk. Even the modded “Remix” levels are insultingly lazy with many challenges having a different color swap, or they mirror a Mario level. NES Remix is so lazy that they were better off just having a start button that links to the E-Shop page for each game. What’s worse is that any joy of finding secrets in say a Mario or Zelda challenge is gone when Nintendo Failed me for using the Warp Zone in World 1-2…WHAT THE HELL!? With every challenge’s score based on time it sometimes becomes confusing why you didn’t achieve all three stars. Especially when the challenge didn’t have a time element to begin with.

Modding=...Spotlight on Mario.

Modding=…Spotlight on Mario.

With amazing NES mods such as Super Mario Crossover available for free on the internet it is easy to pass on the $15 NES Remix. With it’s incredibly lazy design, E-Shop pressure, and lack of any challenge NES Remix is a failed experiment for nostalgic fans. You are better off just emulating these games on your laptop for free.

Final Score: 4.4/10