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

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

Killer Instinct: Spinal Impressions

Spinal has arrived in the latest update to Killer Instinct on the Xbox One. This Ancient warrior has a steep learning curve and some very technical traits, but despite the initial confusion this skeleton was designed for the hardcore with some fine fresh ideas. Also it’s a badass pirate skeleton with a scimitar so…there’s that.


KI Mini Glossery

Opener: A move that can start a combo.
Combo Linker: A move that continues the combo.
Combo Ender: A Powerful move that ends a combo.
Shadow Meter: A meter that enhances the power of special moves without using up the combo meter.
Instinct Meter: A character specific ability that can turn the tide of any fight.

The initial frustration comes from Spinal’s combo links and move set placement. Specifically, his move Searing Skull. The quarter-circle forward, punch move launches a spectral skull from Spinal’s shield and attacks the enemy. The problem with this move is that it can only be used to finish a combo and is useless as an opener or a linker. This means Spinal’s combos will be linked by awkwardly alternating between Soul Sword (Quarter-circle Back, Punch) and Boneshaker (Quarter-circle Forward, Kick.). Another option is to use Spinal’s Skeleport as a linker (Quarter-circle Back, Kick), but this move can’t be used as an Opener since damage only happens with a link. It makes Spinal’s learning curve much steeper than other characters with much more complex muscle memory coming into play.

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Spinal’s skull mechanic is interesting and will add some much needed depth to the competitive scene, but newcomers may not quite grasp the usefulness. Spinal’s moves gain stacks of spectral skulls that can enhance his attacks. These skulls can curse and drain the opponent’s Shadow and Instinct meter (while filling up Spinal’s meter), which can help out in those very close matches. His Instinct mode enhances the skulls by immediately giving him the maximum amount of five skulls and regenerating a new skull every two seconds. Combining this with the skull’s draining capabilities can extend the length of Spinal’s Instinct Meter. Unfortunately, this concept will fly over the heads of everyone except the most competitive players.

Spinal’s complexity doesn’t end there with Skeleport being used to deceive opponents who try and Rambo you. His best asset however, is his amazing cross-up capability with his aerial kicks. Any aerial kick from Spinal can be used as a combo opener and thus makes Spinal’s cross-up play the best in the game. His Ultra is kind of a letdown though, if only just because it’s not as flashy or musically influenced as others.

Spinal’s a great addition so far to Killer Instinct, but is definitely not for beginners. If you’re a player who is deep in competitive play he’s a must buy, but if you’re a casual player he might not be the best fit for you.

Let’s Talk About Nintendo Ep.1: WHAT?

In EuroGamer recently, an anonymous developer talked about his experience working with the WiiU. The article is fascinating detailing the development of the WiiU and why the console has been doing poorly in terms of sales. While the reasons behind the WiiU’s struggles is obvious( the lack of third party support, lack of compelling games, poor name choice, poor marketing, etc.) the developer throws a zinger by explaining that Nintendo was basically unfamiliar  with PSN and Xbox Live. This startling fact explains the 1gb update that aggravated fans when they purchased the console at launch. Nintendo wasn’t planning on implementing an online feature until it was nearly too late.

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With PSN, Steam, and Xbox Live dominating modern gaming it was a shock to see Nintendo so far behind the times in terms of online functionality. This was the main reason Nintendo is struggling with third party support. Considering most third party games have features strongly integrated with online and multiplayer systems, Nintendo looks stupid making a console without online support. Why would anyone in this modern age of DLC, Patches, early access, and digital downloads even consider developing for a console that lacks these features.

MiiVerse should've been huge...

MiiVerse should’ve been huge…

It is well-known now that the WiiU is becoming a NintendoBox that only plays Nintendo games and judging by the console’s processing power that things will stay that way. According to the anonymous developer, Nintendo made the WiiU less powerful to make sure that the console was quiet in the living room environment (Excuse me while I Facepalm myself). This creates an awful situation for Nintendo since the next-gen PS4 and Xbox One consoles don’t make any noise whatsoever. The other issue is the fact that it is almost guaranteed that Nintendo’s WiiU will not receive any ports of next-gen games. With a processing power that would make Ps3 and 360 games difficult to run Nintendo has backed themselves right back into the vacuum they came from.

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Seeing Iwata’s optimistic smile in Nintendo Directs has become uncomfortable knowing that the smile is a genuine attempt that the WiiU is still successful. Depending on the context the console still could be if Nintendo brought amazing games with that Mario magic that saved them again and again. I know we will get great games for the WiiU and we will love them dearly (I mean just look how great the new Mario is.), but as of right now the WiiU is still not a must buy. Not only confusing the casual buyers of the Wii, the third party developers, and the fans, Nintendo has confused themselves with their lack of knowledge about the state of modern gaming. I personally hope that Nintendo gets things together, but if this article says anything about the inner workings of the famed company…Nintendo is in big trouble.

The Top Video Game Headlines of 2014 (Before they happen.)

Now that the new year is upon us we’re predicting what we think the big headlines of the video game year will be. Now some of these may seem completely outrageous, but we here at the Game Jam know we’re pulling all of these out of our ass anyway. So lets look back at 2014…the year that was.

3DS is the 2014 Console of Choice.

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Nintendo’s handheld dominance continues for the second year in a row with huge hits such as Bravely Default, Yoshi’s New Island, and Super Smash Bros. The 3DS easily reaches the 50 million sold milestone and celebrates by releasing even more Streetpass games as Streetpass becomes a major part of Gaming culture.

The Ps3 has better releases than the PS4 in 2014

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In a twist of fate all the major Fall releases for the PS4 have been delayed to Q1 of 2015 including The Order 1886, Witcher 3, The Division, etc. This allows the PS3 to have one final hurrah with Tales of Xillia 2, Persona 5, and other huge names taking the spotlight from Sony’s new console.

The Vita gets another price drop and people still don’t buy it.

This isn’t really news or a prediction…

Xbox One Recovers in late 2014 after Microsoft Announces a cheaper model without the Kinect.

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After the launch of the sub-par Xbox One. Microsoft remains quiet in terms of marketing (Except for Titanfall) until E3 when they unveil an upgraded Xbox One without the Kinect bundled with Titanfall (Or the New Halo). This cheaper model becomes a massive success with an impressive Fall games line-up to back it up.

Capcom has another dismal year after failing to connect with any audience.

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Capcom’s woes continue as Resident Evil 7 bombs after choosing to star Alice (from the films) as a desperate attempt to attract a new audience. Also, still no Mega Man.

Every single game in the history of ever gets a $60 re-release for PS4 and Xbox One under the title of “Definitive Edition.”

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Fuck You Lara Croft.

Nintendo Puts Older Pokemon Games on the WiiU and 3DS Eshop.

This isn’t much of a prediction as it is a wet dream.

The WiiU’s sales turn around after the release of Super Smash Bros. 

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Super Smash Bros. becomes the system seller for the WiiU bringing Nintendo back as a major contender. Super Smash also gains a huge following in the fighting community when the game headlines the 2014 EVO tournament.

Game Jam writer Alex Eich is hospitalized during E3 after having a 10 hour erection following the announcement of Knack 2.

It could happen…