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Mega Man X Collection — 2Q2019

A mega collection of Blue Bomber greatness

by Brandon Beatty

I’m a huge Mega Man fan. If allowed to, I would decorate GI headquarters in every room with gear resembling Capcom’s infamous Blue Bomber. After Mega Man’s last adventure on the NES, I found that during the transition from 8-bit to 16-bit gaming a new character known as Mega Man X would appear, giving the Mega Man series a new chapter set years after the original. While I played a few MMX games when it was on SNES and PSOne, I realized that I liked the X series but wondered if Capcom would do a collection for the PlayStation 2. My wish was granted in Mega Man X Collection.

MMX Collection is simply as advertised: A collection of the first Mega Man X games released. It consists of MMX and MMX2 from their SNES debut; MMX3 — another SNES game that was ported to PSOne; and MMX 4, 5 and 6, which were released for PSOne. There is also an unlockable game, “Mega Man Battle and Chase,” an exclusive never released outside of Japan.

In each MMX game, you take control of “X,” a new version of the Blue Bomber created by Dr. Light years after the original Mega Man. X is a more powerful version of our blue titan but with free will. 100 years later, after Dr. Light’s death, X was found by Dr. Cain, a robotics expert who developed robots based on X’s design known as “reploids.” However, this began a rise of rebellious reploids, known as mavericks, which led to the formation of a group known as maverick hunters to stop them. Alas, the maverick hunter’s leader Sigma became a maverick (and the series’ main villain), forcing X to team up with another maverick hunter named Zero to stop Sigma’s plan for global domination.

Control of X is simple as any regular side-scrolling game, especially with the option of switching between the analog sticks or directional buttons. X’s main weapon, the X-Buster, and other weapons he acquires from a level boss can be powered up in addition to finding upgraded boots, helmet and armor via secret areas in each level. Using a sub screen, I appreciated that it was understandable and simple in organizing items and weapons since, in other side scrolling games, looking for needed items is time consuming and morale-draining. Zero is also playable in MMX 4, 5 and 6 where controlling him is a guaranteed good time as he is not only equipped with his own Buster weapon, but also his signature Z-Saber cuts enemies down to size.

The graphics have been refreshed, ensuring that a thoughtful balance of action-adventure and anime-styles elements are intact. Capcom’s music department did an awesome job remixing each game’s soundtracks. With the amount of detail put into this game, the replay value is high, especially if you’re wanting to get deeper into the Mega Man lore.

The Mega Man X Collection is the perfect answer for a devoted fanbase of the Blue Bomber. While the MMX series may be in question, I hope Capcom hears Mega Man’s fans’ calls to continue his legendary return to gaming as the MMX collection is a great way to continue Mega Man X’s hunt.

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In the Groove — 2Q2019

Groovy competition in rhythm game market

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Just when Konami thought it had the market cornered on rhythm games along came In the Groove. The series took the formula of timed arrows, music and dance charts and finessed it into better charts and sensible ratings; or, you know, things Konami lacked after eight games. In the Groove didn’t necessarily perfect the market product but it introduced competition in a nice package that still holds up today.

ITG has the same formula as Dance Dance Revolution: Arrows are timed to a song to rise (or drop, depending on the song modification used) to meet holders. You’re judged on the timing of your steps and either pass the song or fail based on the cumulative score and effect of your timing. Let’s not get it twisted, though: DDR and ITG are the same thing. Given that ITG cribs a lot of its elements from the originator of the rhythm dance game genre, you aren’t likely to see anything new or mind-blowing when it comes to ITG.

Where ITG shines particularly, however, is the interface and the song choices. There’s a lot to like in those differences. The song wheel interface — which presents songs for play — is crisp as are the song titles. The graphics appear to mimic the best parts of the DDR interface, which is helpful since DDR made an ill-advised change to its look shortly after. It’s also the intricate details such as being able to see a song’s BPM while choosing song mods.

In the Groove’s musical selection is no slouch, either. Many songs sound like something in DDR’s catalog; for example, there’s a series of remixes that immediately calls to mind the Paranoia signature series of DDR. There’s a lot to like with a variety of genres represented.

ITG shines also in its accessibility: If you can play DDR, you’ll be able to pick up ITG. It’s not hard to understand since it’s using the same engine as DDR. However, the main playability draw comes in its song charts. ITG’s song charts make sense and are intuitive and aren’t haphazardly done or punishing. The difficulty system also makes sense — introducing charts with a higher difficulty than the standard 10 level system that DDR used at the time — which is a must have in a dancing game.

While ITG is a welcome change of pace from DDR, there are some nitpicks that bother me about the series in general. First, some of the song mods available aren’t the most helpful. I’m not keen on silly mods like mines being a default in songs. Thankfully, there’s an option to turn off the mod, but it shouldn’t be a default part of songs at any difficulty. And, likewise, the use of three and four arrows simultaneously — which requires a hand to hit at all arrows at once — is obnoxious. If a song requires it, I usually steer clear of it. That’s not good for the song list and replay value if I’m skipping tracks, and it’s dampens my enthusiasm for an otherwise great soundtrack.

ITG gets its point across with interesting gameplay additions, a good soundtrack and crisp interface. With a few more iterations of the series after its introduction, ITG is great as an alternative on the rhythm game dance floor.

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1942 — 2Q2019

Pacific battles fly in 8-bit formation

by Brandon Beatty

Capcom’s warfighting 1940 series reminds me of the good times when arcade gaming ruled my weekends and I was fortunate to find some rare gems that later became gaming classics. During that time, I played 1942 in the arcade and on the NES and walked away from this experience with some valuable information: 1. The first game in a series may or may not guarantee future success; and, 2. The creators of some of our favorite games had to cut their teeth on low-tier games before they received the big breaks that made them what they are today. One of those games is 1942.

1942 is a vertical-scrolling shooter that takes place on the Pacific front of World War II. You take control of a P-38 Lightning plane assigned to go to Tokyo and destroy the Imperial Air Force fleet.

Gameplay of 1942 is simple: You can move either vertically or horizontally. Consisting of 32 stages, the P-38 will be challenged by Ki-61s, A6M Zeros, and Ki-48s with a long-range bomber known as G8N as level bosses. To give the P-38 Lightning a fighting chance against these planes, it can do air rolls or vertical loops. If you time your attacks right, some planes will drop upgraded firepower or an escort team of two smaller fighter planes to combat the relentless assault from planes that WILL attempt to knock you out of the skies, especially if you’re just taking off from your aircraft carrier.

While I liked 1942, there are some issues that annoyed me. Timing of movements, including the vertical drops and air rolls, must be precise because of the high chance of being shot down by enemy planes. Also, you must watch for attacking planes in front and behind as the Ki-48s are masterful at getting the unsuspected into close-area shootouts, which will reduce the number of lives quickly.

The music quality of 1942 is an acquired taste as the repeated use of a snare drum made me think that Capcom phoned in a lackluster drum beat, which made me turn the volume down to continue playing. The challenge is decent since you will be on your toes to avoid enemy fire nonstop. It has strong replay value and would be a great time-killer as a nostalgia trip for arcade veterans. Also, it’s a great example for those who want to know how side-scrolling games played a major impact in the gaming world.

1942 serves not only as an icon in gaming’s hall of fame but also doubles as one of Capcom’s entries into the gaming world. It helps that 1942 was the start of looking at Capcom as an up-and-coming game company wanting to expand beyond its home of Osaka, Japan.

Fun facts about 1942

  • The P-38, Ki-61, A6M and Ki-48 were actual war planes used heavily in the Pacific Conflict between the U.S. and Japan. The companies who built them — Lockheed Martin, Kawasaki, and Mitsubishi — are well-established in the defense industry and continue to play vital roles in various areas of aerospace technology.
  • 1942 was Yoshiki Okamoto’s debut game for Capcom. He was also the original game designer of Konami’s Gyruss. Because of internal disputes involving pay, he was fired from Konami. After 1942’s success, Okamoto remained at Capcom where he played an important role in producing Final Fight, Street Fighter II and Biohazard/Resident Evil. He retired from game development for consoles in 2012 and is currently developing games for various mobile devices.
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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp — 2Q2019

Camping with friends

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

My love affair with Animal Crossing began in 2003, a year after the GameCube version was released in the U.S. It wasn’t enough to merely start a life with a character — known as Rubes(kitty) — in my procedurally generated town known as Tokyo; I had to collect everything in my catalogue, build my house into a mansion and catch every insect and fish just for completion sake. In the ensuing 16 years, I have played every iteration of Animal Crossing available. So, you can imagine my palpable joy when a mobile version of Animal Crossing was announced in 2016. Cue Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in 2017, and I’m still going strong in my quest to build the perfect camp.

Pocket Camp is a spinoff of the main Animal Crossing series but retains elements of the series. Familiar tasks such as paying off your debt for your living quarters, completing requests for animals that visit or improving your finances through item sales are abundant in the Pocket Camp landscape. New to the series is the timed rotation of the animals that are in one of four locations scattered around the landscape. Four animals will be in these locations with options to talk to you and request items; whether you choose to give them the specific items they request or just chat it up for experience points is up to you. Also new are the aforementioned experience points. Each animal has a meter that gauges their friendship level with you. The higher the level, the more rewards they give in exchange for items they request. The rewards are also new, usually in the form of Leaf Tickets and raw materials that are used in crafting furniture and clothes that can be used to decorate your camp site and RV.

Pocket Camp, in its most simplistic form, is a dumbed down portable Animal Crossing main game that requires inventory management and micro transactions. And it’s a satisfying way to get that quick Animal Crossing fix. Much like the main series, it’s relaxing and fun to pop in and check with the camp site to see what’s happening, pick up some gifts or get involved in festivals and events at my own leisure. Time is still measured realistically, and insects and fish are still viable at certain times, though the season requirement is not in use. Money is still practically around every corner, and it’s easier than ever to pay off the debt of upgrading your humble abode when rare bugs and fish are more plentiful this time around. It’s also quite nice to be able to buy items from other players worldwide in an item marketplace with the Market Boxes option. The economy that has developed still has some work to do, but the ability to find rare insects, fruit, shells and fish for sale from other friends and strangers is a great start.

For a longtime Animal Crossing player, the fun in Pocket Camp is immediately there but not without some caveats. After a certain point, the in-game currency of Bells ceases to be a problem. While scarce in the early going, Bells aren’t an issue once the final upgrade for the RV is obtained and paid off. I now regularly have about 3.8 million Bells on hand daily and can’t spend it fast enough on things other than crafting and a rare item inventory economy that has conveniently sprung up in my friends list. This is like the issue of Bells in the main series so while it’s not surprising, it’s still an issue that needs to be remedied with more things to do. And, the price of Leaf Tickets is a bit much. Their addition is helpful, but their pricing should be adjusted. Also, in-game currency should be allowed to be used to buy Leaf Tickets. That would give another reason to hoard money later in the game.

While it might not be a mainline game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is still a neat and welcome addition to the Animal Crossing franchise. With its continued updates and additions, the Animal Crossing population is still growing.

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Wrath of the Black Manta — 2Q2019

Ninja copy fails Black Manta

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

People were apparently wild about ninjas in the ’80s. Really wild. I’m guessing this because it seems to be a million and one games about ninjas that were made in the 1980s. These were all made with various degrees of success in getting the point across about the ninja experience. Out of the coterie there were two that stood out: Ninja Gaiden, a timeless classic in the way of the ninja arts; and, Wrath of the Black Manta. Note that we did not use any sort of kind tribute for the latter. There is myriad reasons for this distinction.

Wrath of the Black Manta is your standard adventure game centered on finding missing children in New York City, the apparent bastion of all evil and where the most heinous crimes take place in the video game world. A drug fiend named El Toro is hellbent on turning these children into addicts and it’s up to you and your ninja skills to make Toro get down or lay down with the War on Drugs.™

The premise is run of the mill, the controls confusing and clunky and the action extremely repetitive. The backgrounds do change from level to level and there is a lot of ground to cover. But, all you’re going to do is walk around searching warehouses for children and ganging up on informants from the cartel to get information. What should be an absolute clean sweep is a cluster because getting that information without being killed from ridiculous hits is a nightmare.

The fact that most of the action is ripped off from the infinitely better and more interesting Ninja Gaiden doesn’t help here because you’re going to die a lot from terrible jumping and those aforementioned hits from enemies. The soundtrack also does Manta no favors as it’s just barely serviceable. Even the art is ripped off from somewhere else: Word on those mean streets of NYC is that some of the art was taken straight from the book “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” when the Japanese version was ported to the U.S. I’m guessing they thought no one would notice, but it goes over with the subtlety of a ton of bricks. Speaking of a lack of subtlety, the obvious “stay away from drugs, kids, if you want to live” message and the hit-you-over-the-head irony of characters named Tiny (a in no way surprisingly large boss character who tries to stomp you to death in the first level) means you’re in for a long ride with this whether you want to or not.

The key to this battle is, if you want to play a ninja adventure just play the released at the same time Ninja Gaiden. Gaiden is far superior in every way and has more appeal in terms of story. Wrath of the Black Manta is the poor man’s Ninja Gaiden and is in no way stealthy enough in its subtlety to earn any sort of title of ninja anything.

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Cool Spot — 2Q2019

A refreshing platformer in good taste

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Every so often there will be a licensed game that’s actually worth something. It will have a great soundtrack and decent controls and not be so obnoxiously unplayable that legions of older gamers remember it with a certain hatred that burns deep within their soul to be passed down through generations to come. Cool Spot, licensed from Pepsi partner 7UP, is the exception to the norm. If you’re expecting a half-baked idea of platforming solely because it’s a mascot, think again. This romp to release sentient little red dots is actually not half bad and has genre-redeeming qualities.

Cool Spot starts off innocuous enough. Spot must rescue its friends, who are trapped throughout 11 levels in cages. Why its friends are trapped, we’ll never know but it’s up to Spot to rescue them and lecture you about not drinking dark sodas. Spot’s traversal through these 11 levels is nothing short of amazing despite the rampant product placement. It’s surprisingly good, with solid controls that don’t make controlling Spot a chore, and competent simple mechanics that don’t get in the way: It’s mostly jumping and shooting magical sparks at enemies and barred gates. The life system — hilariously denoted by an ever-peeling and deteriorating picture of Spot — is more than generous and there are helper power ups galore to get through levels. The levels themselves have a lot of depth and are timed just right with enough time to explore or get the bare minimum experience in the search for Spot’s missing friend.

While Spot might be on a product placement-filled journey, it’s a lushly drawn trip. Cool Spot is no slouch when it comes to the audio-visual department. The backgrounds are drawn with Spot moving through an obviously human world at about 25 percent of the size of everything else. It isn’t big at all but the world surrounding it is and it shows in the sheer scale, though my only gripe with the game comes here: The backgrounds, while beautiful, are recycled except for a few stages. At least the first three stages are repeated and reused, just with new stage names and some recoloring in spots.

While you’re soaking up the beauty of it all, however, the soundtrack is rocking in the background. Cool Spot is one of the best soundtracks for the Super Nintendo and should be in every gamer’s library. Magnificent production values, crisp audio and nice, deep bass lines make for some interesting tracks that don’t sound like standard 16-bit audio. Tommy Tallarico, pre-Video Games Live fame, put obvious love and care into the audio and it shows. It’s one of the best soundtracks for its time.

Cool Spot has a lot to offer in the way of good ’90s platforming. If you can work around the product placement and shilling for the 7Up brand, you’ll find an uncomplicated hop-and-bop with depth and a banging soundtrack that’s surprisingly refreshing.

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Devil May Cry 4 – 3Q2018

Devil’s in the details: DMC4 a nice break
from Dante

Capcom’s “Devil May Cry” series is a game that has basically redefined the term “hack-and-slash” in video games. With the first three games using hack-and-slash style as well as action-adventure elements, I wondered what new surprises would the fourth installment of the series bring and to which system? DMC 4 features demon-hunter extraordinaire Dante, but the story and main character has changed for a more intense experience.

by Brandon Beatty

Taking place in a remote island town called Fortuna, you assume the role of Nero — a younger version of Dante — who is a member of the Order of the Sword. The Order of the Sword is a militant religious organization formed to destroy demons based on the actions of the Demon-Knight Sparda, who rebelled against the demon underworld to protect humanity. At a recent ceremony to honor Sparda, Dante smashes though a skylight and kills the priest leading the ceremony, setting off a chain of events that would not only put Dante and Nero on a collision course with each other, but also would lead both demon-hunters through a greater mystery to find out the true intentions of the Order and to stop a more vicious plot of a demon-invasion.

While Dante’s role in DMC 4 is not as the main character, he does still play a key role in the game as a playable character in certain scenes. Nero is not to be taken lightly either as his arsenal consists of his Devil Bringer arm, his mechanical sword Red Queen and his double barrel revolver, Blue Queen. Nero can gain an extra advantage to accomplish his mission by gathering “Red Souls,” DMC’s original game currency, and “Proud Souls,” a new currency. After a mission is completed, Pride Souls can power up Nero’s tools ranging from extending the Devil Bringer’s reach to more powerful shots from the Blue Queen. The controls for Dante and Nero are easy to use thanks to the PS3’s Six Axis controller’s built-in analog feature, which I found helpful with camera issues from time to time.

The excellent detail that is used in each level comes to life in the background and cinematic scenes. These were done with high definition technology that will make you feel like you are playing with a masterpiece of art instead of a video game. Capcom’s sound team brings their A-game again. Each sound and vocal effect combined with Dolby Digital Sound gives an orchestral quality to the game. Capcom did a great job in voice and motion capture for DMC 4. Johnny Yong Bosch (Bleach, Street Fighter IV) brought Nero to life and Reuben Langdon reprising his role as Dante.

Devil May Cry 4 shows what Capcom is capable of doing when they let their development team do its job: make their games enjoyable. DMC4 is a challenging, but enjoyable way to kill free time when you want to get your demon-hunting on.

The replay value is strong especially if you are a veteran DMC player; this game is worth your hard-earned cash.

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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja: Storm – 3Q2018

The ultimate beginning

Naruto Uzimaki. From 1999 to 2017, Shonen Jump Magazine’s hyperactive ninja knucklehead had a major impact on the geek culture scene as well as anime and manga. From graphic novels, to other novelty merchandise and video games, many anime fans worldwide followed his rise from outcast of his ninja village to its legendary savior. During Naruto’s rise, there were many video games for various systems that followed every adventure of our blonde, blue-eyed hero and his friends. I got the opportunity to play one of the Naruto-based games after a recent game shopping expedition when I found Naruto: Ultimate Ninja: Storm.

by Brandon Beatty

Ultimate Ninja: Storm is a hybrid consisting of fighting and role playing game elements. Free Battle mode allows you to choose one main fighter with two backup characters against another player or the console’s choice of characters in various stages taken right out of the Naruto universe. Free Battle also allows you to earn extra cash if you defeat their opponents using various moves known as ninjutsu. The extra coinage will be needed in the role playing mode, Ultimate Mission Mode, during which you control Naruto in various missions that involve episodes 1 to 135 of the anime series.
I found everything from the cinematic intro to actual gameplay excellent. Namco Bandai brought their experience in making games like Tekken and Soul Calibur and combined it with Masashi Kishimoto’s guidance in developing the perfect example of a video game based on a popular anime franchise. Every stage, landmark and character are portrayed perfectly in the game making me as if I was transported to the Hidden Leaf Village. The controls are easy and will help you pull off some up-close cool combos when certain buttons are displayed. They’re also great during the exploration of Ultimate Mission Mode as you’re trying to find hidden items and mission locations.
Another cool thing about the game was that the music from the anime series was not only kept intact, but also was done in Dolby Digital Sound. The voice acting in the game is high caliber thanks to Namco Bandai working with Viz Media and Studiopolis Inc. to bring together the original English voice actors to reprise their respective roles. Even with the excellent English voice acting, you can also play the game in Japanese with English subtitles for a more authentic feel. Anyone who has not played a Naruto video game will find it perfect for either a hot or rainy-day afternoon, or a friendly fighting game tournament at any anime convention.
Namco Bandai did an awesome job of bringing Naruto to the PS3 in addition to publishing additional games based off this iconic franchise. For now, Naruto’s journey to be hokage has ended successfully, with a son ready to take up his own challenges. Ultimate Ninja: Storm is a great start showcasing Naruto’s early adventures.

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Clayfighter: Tournament Edition – 3Q2018

Ripoff molded into decency

In 1994, there was a glut of fighters on the market — something for everyone, if you will. You couldn’t stand in a circle and turn your head without bumping into a fighting game. To stand out, you had to have something special, a gimmick to grab attention from the heavyweights. Enter ClayFighter: Tournament Edition.

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

The game runs just like you’d expect a ’90s fighting game to play: One-on-one button mashing with a large amount of movesets ripped off from Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. What sets the game apart from the pack are the graphics. ClayFighter utilizes stop-motion graphics with clay models on hand-drawn backgrounds. This look means it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the cartoonish outer layer does hide a surprisingly deep fighting engine.
There’s a quality group of fighters to be had here, and any number of them are serviceable. Each has but one goal: Become of king (or queen) of Clayland, and that’s about the extent of the story. If you’re familiar with Street Fighter, this is where that knowledge comes in: Each character corresponds to a character in SFII. So, the Blob would be Blanka/E. Honda, Helga is Chun-Li, Tiny is Balrog (boxer), Ickybod Clay is Ken and Bad Mr. Frosty is Ryu, to name a few examples. Using that comparison makes playing the game easier in that the controls are already familiar.
Also, much like Street Fighter, ClayFighter: TE’s soundtrack is phenomenal. The songs are catchy and memorable and are appropriate for the different characters they represent. Throw in an over-the-top hilarious announcer and you have a great soundtrack for the SNES and a great 16-bit era addition to the music library of video game tunes.
If you can ignore the tendency to ape Street Fighter, ClayFighter: TE’s goofy charm can and will grow on you. It’s a surprisingly fun and deep fighter that makes its mark through interesting and fun characters and a decent fighting system. Don’t sleep on this well-molded fighter based on appearances alone.

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BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend – 3Q2018

Guilty Gear successor cleans up nicely in fighting game arena

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Fighting game connoisseurs have a robust buffet to choose from these days. There’s Marvel, Street Fighter, Tekken and Mortal Kombat for tournament purists, a new Soul Calibur has been announced, and a new Smash is on the horizon and the older games in the series are still played in some circles. Guilty Gear, which has always been quietly in the back of the lunchroom, was a mix of tournament and casual, so it stands to reason that its spiritual successor — BlazBlue — would mimic that notion.

BlazBlue arrived in the fighting game scene as a new entry in the portfolio of Guilty Gear developer ArcSystem. Taking what they learned from that series, ArcSystem improved upon the formula they’d created with gorgeous visuals, a rocking soundtrack and impressive gameplay options that ensure you’ll have plenty to do.

BlazBlue CSE starts off rather intimidatingly. From the beginning, there are quite a few modes to choose from. If you’re not informed, you might be a little lost trying to understand just where you should start. With a varied plate to choose from, at the very least the modes are interestingly designed and add value to an already-packed game.
The standout features, however, are the graphics and story. As with Guilty Gear, you’re getting a treat visually. The level of detail in each character and the backgrounds make the game worth sitting down and studying. If you’re into anime, the aesthetics were designed with you in mind.

The story is also worthy of comparison to most modern anime. It’s convoluted and complex and has twists and turns involving a multi-layered cast. There’s a lot about the searching for a savior and magic — which isn’t out of place for an ArcSystem game. It feels familiar but it doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s layered and deep.

Learning the mechanics for most fighting games is a mixed bag. Some games expect you to be able to jump in and master the basics as if you’ve done nothing but play fighting games all of your gaming life. Others like to give you a tutorial so that you’re not lost and quickly putting the game down, never to return. BlazBlue CSE is in the latter category: So concerned is the game about you learning to play and master all that it has to offer that it throws a surprisingly deep tutorial mode at you. It slowly increases the level of complexity and the mechanics are spot on and easy to grasp. All fighting games need the type of learning tool that’s offered here.

If you love Guilty Gear or if you just want a deeper storyline than what’s currently offered by the larger more well-known titles on the market in fighting games, BlazBlue promises to deliver a rich experience. It delivers on that promise with a commitment to extending beyond just the regular fighting game expectations.

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Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition – 3Q2018

Father of fighting games gets super upgrade

Gone are the days of roaming a local arcade to play the throng of would-be challengers and pretenders to the throne of the best local fighting game champion. In its place are home consoles designed to push the power of the arcade. Fighting game franchises have had to keep up or suffer irrelevancy or, worse yet, extinction. The earliest king of the genre, Street Fighter, has had a challenge of sorts: continue forward or go the way of its ride-a-longs of the ’90s. Super Street Fighter IV attempts to continue the tradition with mostly success.

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Super SFIV, at its core, is a fighting fan’s dream. A robust engine with plenty of options for either the novice or the advanced, SSFIV makes playing a fighting game easy. Even if you haven’t played since the heyday of SFII, there’s a lot of compelling content here to draw you in and get you started in the world of competitive digital fighting. Various modes are here, ready for a deep dive, and there are more than enough new characters and old stalwarts to make fighting interesting. The general rule of thumb is, if the character was in SFII and its derivatives, SFIII or SF Alpha, there’s a good chance they are available for play in SSFIV.

Fight locales associated with many of the characters are available with a great soundtrack accompanying them. SSFIV does an exceptional job of reminding more experienced fighting enthusiasts of the Street Fighter origins and piquing the curiosity of newer fight fans. The controls also hearken to the old days, so much so that it’s easy to pick up and play and learn about the different systems afforded to each character. Most new characters will play like an older character on the roster so it’s easy to learn the nuance of fighting with a newcomer if you’re experienced with previous SF games. If you aren’t experienced, there’s a great tutorial mode that runs through combo and movesets of each character to teach the basics. That varied level of depth goes a long way toward replay value.

My one gripe out of all the loveliness that is the mixed nostalgia fest of SSFIV is that it’s Capcom being Capcom as usual. For the uninitiated, Capcom gained a reputation in the ’90s for having a solid franchise in Street Fighter II but not being able to count to three. The constant upgrading and reissuing of SFII got old quickly. And, quite frankly, Capcom hasn’t learned its lesson because Street Fighter IV should not have multiple retail versions of its upgrades. Arcade Edition should have been an update that could be bought digitally and downloaded to patch the game up to whatever version Capcom wanted consumers to have. Even when the original version was released, the capability was there. This just screams of cash grab and Capcom being ignorant of tiresome tactics wearing on the fan base. The fact that Ultra Street Fighter IV — one more version beyond this one — exists is proof positive of this.

Other than the fiasco of multiple versions, Capcom has a solid winner on its hands with the fourth entry in the long-running series even as it fades into the background in favor of SFV. If SFV is not your cup of tea, but you want to stay current with the world of Street Fighter, SFIV is a good balance and at the right price now to delve into the world of Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li.

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Maximo – Ghosts to Glory — 1Q2017

Maximo-03

Photo courtesy of GiantBomb.com

Maximo continues the quest to rescue the princess

by Brandon Beatty

by Brandon Beatty

I have a love and hate relationship with Capcom. For every game they develop and publish that will be a smash hit by being more creative and sticking to the basics, they churn out five or six copies of the same game without breaking any new ground (i.e. Street Fighter V). I won’t even mention how they studied the Konami code of disposing of one of their greatest game series and its leader. With this view of Capcom off my chest, let’s look at a game that is original and has become a successor to the classic games Ghosts ‘N Goblins and Adventure Island: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory.
You take the role of said character, Maximo, who, after returning from a battle to protect his kingdom, finds out that his main lady Queen Sophia is captured by his once-trusted adviser, Achille. To make matters worse, Achille has developed a drill that has pierced the underworld, allowing him to create an army of undead monsters to terrorize the kingdom. All is not lost as is seems that as Maximo was free-falling, the Grim Reaper makes a deal for him to return to the living world in exchange for returning the lost souls to the underworld. Maximo accepts and begins his quest to free Sophia and restore the peace taken by Achille.
Score-4-retrogradeMaximo retains the elements from Ghosts ‘N Goblins and Adventure Island but allows freedom to explore all of the stages thanks to its 3D design. Maximo has the ability to run, jump and crouch to avoid enemies and is easily controlled with use of the analog control stick. Maximo is also ready for battle with his trusty sword and shield, which can be thrown at approaching enemies and capable of wiping out all enemies on the screen if the right power-ups are applied. In addition to his sword and shield, Maximo has his armor which, if all the parts are gathered, he becomes invincible for a brief period.
A heads up: Make sure that Maximo keeps his armor as long as possible since like Arthur in Ghosts ‘N Goblins, if Maximo takes too many hits, he would be down to his boxers, which would lead to his death if he takes another hit. Also, controlling Maximo is not difficult, but some practice is recommended to get adjusted to moving around.
The stages are excellently designed and guaranteed to make you feel that you’re in Maximo’s world. The game’s music is an enjoyable mix of original and remastered tracks from the original Ghosts ‘N Goblins. The challenge level is ridiculously high, guaranteeing great replay value.
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is one of those type of games that will please fans of old-school adventure gaming who want to play the genre with the latest technology. In my opinion, Maximo is also a example of what Capcom can do when they allow creativity to flourish instead of always milking their golden franchises to death.
Well done, Capcom. Well done.

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Magical Tetris Challenge — 1Q2017

Magical Tetris Challenge-11When Tetris’ and Disney’s worlds collide

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Messing with an old and universally loved favorite such as Tetris is a risky proposition. You can get it right or mess it up horribly, where it is forever known as the “messed up version of Tetris.” Luckily, Magical Tetris Challenge by Capcom manages to dodge that label and add a few elements to the main game to refresh an older title.
Magical Tetris is, at its core, a fun game with lots of charm to spread around. There are multiple modes to choose from and the variety helps the replay factor long after the novelty of comboing wears off. The story mode is the other mode most played at GI, and is based off the new Magical Tetris mode. While I’m not fond of the cliffhanger by difficulty level method, the story is serviceable and moves the action forward with a nice added Disney touch. Mainstays such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy fill out the cast, though you can only play as these four.
Magical Tetris earns its bread and butter in the way it builds on the Tetris formula. With Tetris in the name and designed to appeal to a mass audience using that, Magical Tetris starts out with the basics: Create and clear lines using seven letter-shaped pieces. Clear four lines and you get a Tetris.
Ah, but herein lies the additions to Magical Tetris and where the basics end and advanced play begins: For every line cleared, a small amount of energy is added to a magic meter. Fill up the magic meter and you get what we’ve termed at GI as a breakdown: All pieces restructure to create a neat space and a large portion of the well where your pieces fall is wiped clean. Also, clearing lines creates combos, which can be countered until a piece is shaped 10 by 10. Combos and counters creates a back and forth, during which oddly shaped pieces are created and fall into the play field. By setting up the pieces in a decent shape in your well, you can achieve what is called a pentris, or five lines cleared
simultaneously.
Score-4-retrogradeComboing and countering makes the gameplay fun and adds an increasing level of competitiveness and urgency to every match. Even if you’re not the most Tetris-competent gamer, Magical Tetris does an excellent job inviting all skill levels in to learn and get better. The basics are quickly explained and the advanced techniques are made plain as you go along. That helps in the frantic atmosphere of a spirited two-player human match, where anything and usually everything can happen.
The game shines in its visuals, which benefit from that Disney touch. The game is bright and colorful and designed in the way of Disney games and animation, meaning it’s top-notch through and through. The graphics are still good for an N64-era game and haven’t aged badly. The soundtrack has aged well, too, and is still one of the best of the era. Each character’s stage is memorably themed and stands out enough for you to remember it well after your game is over.
Having played the majority of the Tetris spinoffs and creations out on the market for the past 30 years, I need to have something that pushes me to play. Magical Tetris succeeds in adding to the Tetris formula just enough to buy its way in to my library and stick around through charm and ability. This is an excellent Tetris spin job.

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Devil May Cry 3 — 1Q2017

Devil May Cry 3-02

Photo courtesy of GiantBomb.com

Dance with the devil in Dante’s rebound adventure

by Brandon Beatty

by Brandon Beatty

When I finally got my own copy of Devil May Cry 3, I read that it brought back the melee action that made the first game awesome to play, but it raised the bar for future installments of Capcom’s demon-slaying series. Was the praise heaped upon DMC3 well deserved or was this another way of Capcom milking a great game series dry for more cash? I got my answer in Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, Special Edition.
Set as a prequel to the original DMC, we find our fearless demon hunter Dante beginning to set up shop when a mysterious man named Arkham arrives with a invitation from Dante’s brother, Vergil. This “invitation” turns into a demon-style, revealing that Vergil has not only helped in resurrecting a ancient demonic tower, but also he wants Dante’s amulet to open a portal to connect the human and with the demon worlds. Dante, of course, is not pleased and sets off to stop Vergil and his plans of world domination.
DMC3 starts from the beginning as an explosive nonstop melee with brief but important tutorials for players to master Dante’s moves and his signature weapons. In addition to the tutorials, four different combative arts called “styles” are available to Dante, giving him various abilities to increase the power of various guns, striking weapons, dodge attacks, and unleashing hand-to-hand combat with devastating results. Once Dante defeats a certain boss, he will be able to use them in the form of unique, various weapons. There is a lock-on feature to directly target enemies that, with practice, will be a valuable tool to rip enemies apart. Also in the special edition, there are two modes of play: Normal, which is basic DMC speed; or, Turbo, where EVERYTHING is clocked up 20 times the normal speed of the game to test your skills. Also, you can play the game not only as Dante, but also as Vergil, who has some serious weaponry and moves that would make Jubei Yagyu be in awe.
Score-4The game music fits each level with a Phantom of the Opera type of feel while the battle scenes uses an electronic/heavy metal beat that heats up the battles. My only issue is that it’s repetitive every time I fight enemies, but it’s well done nonetheless. The voice acting in DMC is top-notch thanks to Reuben Langdon as Dante and Daniel Southworth (Power Rangers: Time Force) as Vergil. Both actors did the motion capture and voice work for their respective characters.
With the good comes the bad, however. While I appreciate the use of analog control in addition to moving the screen camera around, the controls are tank-like. That is frustrating because if I’m surrounded by enemies, I’m easy pickings. Also, the automatic firing ability of Ebony and Ivory is still in DMC3 but it requires rapid pressing instead of the fluid ease found in the first game. I also had to stock up (and I mean STOCK UP) on red orbs to purchase power ups for Dante and his weapons or learn new moves since the game was trying to do a stick-up job every time I need to make some upgrades. Fortunately, I could replay each mission to get more orbs or level up.
DMC3 lives up to its high praise guaranteeing plenty of challenge and replay value when you just want to get medieval on things but legally. This Special Edition is a no-holds barred adventure in demon-slaying with the best in the business. If Capcom wants to do a movie for Devil May Cry, I’m for it, but do it right; in other words Capcom, stick to the story and the payday bonanza will take care of itself.

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Bust-A-Move — 1Q2017

Bust A Move-12Puzzle Bobble’s breakout hit

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Bubble Bobble isn’t super famous last I checked, but I learned who Bub and Bob were by the time I finished their first puzzle effort for the Super NES, the mid-90s appropriately named Bust-A-Move.
There’s much fun and mirth to be had in the bubble-popping title. There’s not much story other than Bub and Bob are popping bubbles to save a friend, who is trapped at the end (level 100). Once their friend is saved, that’s it. But, that’s assuming you can make it that far.
Bust-A-Move is incredibly simple to play but hard to master. The concept is easy to understand: aim a launcher and match three like-colored bubbles. The bubbles will fall off the playing field, clearing space and rows so that you can work toward clearing further bubbles. After a certain number are cleared, the ceiling of the well lowers, inching closer to a visible line. Once the line is crossed with a bubble, the game is over. Basically, it’s reverse Tetris with bubbles instead of lines. The trickiness in mastering the game comes in popping the bubbles. There are different techniques to achieving the results that you want, but it really comes down to knowing how to aim and learning the fabled bankshot off the side of the well.
Score-3-5-retrogradeWith its simplicity in learning, Bust-A-Move quickly distinguishes itself as fun to play. I requested the game for my 14th birthday and I’ve had a blast playing the original since. There are other games in the series, but this one is the best out of all of the sequels and spinoffs of the series. The controls aren’t too stiff, though sometimes I have complaints about the particular way a bubble bounces or sticks a little too easily to the first bubble it comes close to. Yet, the controls aren’t horrible.
The simple theme also shows in the graphics. Bust-A-Move is one of the brightest and cutest games I’ve ever played. The colors pop and while you’re using colored bubbles, they don’t necessarily interfere with the background graphics, which could make for a confusing play field.
Bust-A-Move also gets a nod for its attention paid to other modes such as Challenge and the two-player bubble popping. Challenge is fun and a good test of skills: You’re tasked with popping as many bubbles as you can before it’s game over. It’s hard to pop a lot if you’re new to the game, but as your skills progress, you can and will see a difference in how long you manage to last. The two-player mode is fun also, because you can either play against the computer or against another human player. Any game that gives me the option to play two-player against the computer automatically gets a nod because that injects longevity into a title immediately.
There’s a decent amount of depth to Bust-A-Move and it certainly makes for an interesting puzzle distraction on the SNES. It’s worth exploring the bubble-popping world with the original bubble eliminator.

 

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Balloon Fight — 1Q2017

Balloon Fight-10Fruitless showdowns with respect to balloons

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

The best thing I can possibly say about Balloon Fight is that it’s innovative for its concepts at the time. Other than that, this isn’t a game I’d recommend to anyone beyond the age of 10 and even that’s pushing it.
The premise is simple: You play as the “Balloon Fighter,” who is tasked with staying alive and defeating enemies in increasingly difficult stages. Two balloons are attached to the Fighter and to the enemies, and the Fighter must pop their balloons while avoiding his own being popped and other obstacles such as a large piranha, water and lightning strikes. The Balloon Fighter is fairly stout and sturdy, seeing as though he can take a lot of bumping and pushing, but if he loses his balloons, it’s a lost life. There are bonus games and a different mode, Balloon Trip, that takes the Fighter through an obstacle course to improve your rank and score.
Score-2-retrogradeThis is all fine and well, but the controls turn what should be a fun and simple game into a nightmare and a chore to actually control. The Fighter flaps his arms to stay afloat and even with both balloons still present, this is extra hard to do and maintain. More often than not, I don’t lose balloons because an enemy popped them; it’s because I landed in the water, was eaten by the large fish or steered myself unwittingly into the lightning I was desperately trying to avoid. Precision flying this is not. To get a sense of what it’s like to control the Fighter, imagine if the horrible Ice Climbers were flying instead of jumping terribly up a mountain.
And while the game is barely playable, the soundtrack also manages to squeak by in presentation. It is a sad day when I declare that a soundtrack from Metroid sound director Hip Tanaka is irredeemable. There is nothing that makes me want to listen to this, and nearly everything that Tanaka has created gets high marks from me. The songs aren’t memorable, there are few songs there anyway, and the lack of varied sound effects is disconcerting. Add the soundtrack woes to an underwhelming graphical palette and the game overall is a mess.
Despite the pedigree of folks who worked on the game (i.e. Shigeru Miyamoto as producer, Metroid designer/director Yoshio Sakamoto and Tanaka), Balloon Fight couldn’t be further away from the quality of Nintendo classics I want to play. Balloon Fight is representative of an older era of games that required a Herculean amount of patience, which I am not prepared to give in this day and age where better games are available.

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Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival — 1Q2017

Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival-10Rolling the dice with Animal Crossing

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Judging from the standpoint of an avid Animal Crossing player and enthusiast, the concept of new games coming into my beloved franchise is not always welcome. There have been particularly good games (i.e. Wild World, the original game) and mediocre offerings (Happy Home Designer and City Folk). Amiibo Festival is a little bit of both: It’s a fun take on the Animal Crossing universe, but it needs a little bit of polish and more things to do to keep the concept of a board game based on the franchise interesting.
I’ve always referred to Animal Crossing as the series about doing nothing. Amiibo Festival takes that concept and turns it on its head. With Festival, you’re tasked with moving around a typical Animal Crossing town in the form of a large board game. The town is transformed by spaces that can be events, Stalk Market sale stops and visits from the usual assortment of guests that visit a normal town in the franchise.
What makes the game fun is the usage of all things Animal Crossing. Game time is determined by a calendar that utilizes events commonly found throughout the series, and villagers that you would encounter in town show up to help out player characters. The player characters themselves are Amiibo figurines that you purchase and input into the game. For example, GI has about 25 Amiibo, eight of which are Animal Crossing related (Digby, Celeste, Isabelle, Villager, Tom Nook, Mable, Rover and K.K. Slider) that can be used to play through a session. These characters can collect points to unlock new outfits and modes in the plaza based on game performance. The tie-in to the series benefits the otherwise-tired Mario Party formula and enhances the charm of what would probably be a tiresome exercise in board game management.
Score-3Using some of that inherent charm of Animal Crossing, Amiibo Festival plays well and looks great. There is a notable pastel sheen over everything in-game, but it still looks just like you’d expect Animal Crossing to look: Bright, colorful and smooth. Because we’re long past the janky block graphics of the original game, Amiibo Festival is closer in style to the latest game in the series, New Leaf, and it works in its favor. The soundtrack is also in line with the New Leaf era and it’s servicable. It’s not the main feature of the game, so I’m not expecting it to reach the realm of New Leaf’s great tracks, but it’s not unpleasant so it works just fine for what it’s asked to do.
My main complaint about Amiibo Festival, however, has more to do with the polish of the final product and some of the additions. It feels as though there isn’t enough to do in-game, quite honestly. While the board game is fun, it’s not enough to keep me interested long-term. The additions in the plaza — mini-games that use Animal Crossing ideas — are cute but get old quickly, and some are outright frustrating, even for a longtime player like myself.
The trivia section, for example, tests your knowledge of the series. Setting aside the fact that there shouldn’t be a time limit to answer questions that test your prowess of a series that has at least seven games, the questions are incredibly obscure most of the time and require that you have encyclopedic memory and understanding of how the series works. Most people just looking for a fun board game aren’t going to know the answers, let alone know them quickly. I have been playing Animal Crossing since the “Population growing!” days of 2003, and I had trouble with quite a few of the questions asked. There should be more to do, more interaction with the town that you play in and more of an attempt to dig deep into that well of seven games.
Amiibo Festival is a unique take on a series that has managed to endure and improve over the past 15 years with new concepts and innovation. If there is some consolation prize for staying on this board, it’s knowing that while it could use some polish and fleshing out, Amiibo Festival is a good roll of the dice and gamble that paid off for the Animal Crossing franchise.

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Mario quick hit reviews — 1Q2016

Super Mario Land
Mario’s first adventure outside of the Mushroom Kingdom just Super Mario Land-03happens to also be his first in the portable sphere. Mario Land is a serviceable adventure filled with the weird and different (Tatanga, anyone?), but it’s still good Mario. The mechanics resemble SMB, and the graphics keep things familiar enough despite spaceships and pyramids making an appearance. Keep this early Mario as an option on the go.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden CoinsSuper Mario Land 2-02
Mario’s second handheld adventure is a step up in terms of … everything. There are more power ups, more stages and more enemies to take on, including Wario, who is introduced to the world at large here. The six titular golden coins mean more places to explore and more to do, which is always helpful in a Mario title. The controls get a little crisper and the graphics are gorgeous for a handheld title. This is one to own, even if you’re not a super Mario fan.

Score: 4 out of 5

Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Mario’s first foray into the handheld karting side of things is a Mario Kart Super Circuit-02mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s Super Mario Kart finally on a handheld system. That instantly makes it worth checking out by itself. On the other hand, the difficulty and rating system make it a frustrating experience. If you’re used to the rubber band AI from the two previous titles, you’ll find it well worn here. And good luck getting the max number of coins and stars possible in the bid to max out the game. But, it’s still decent Mario Kart overall and the game plays exactly like you’d expect. That’s a winning attribute that helps salvage this race.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

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Super Mario Bros. 2 (JP) — 1Q2016

SMB2JP-01

Super Mario Bros. 2 an uneven, heavy-handed sequel

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

If there were ever a time when Mario was considered not to be fun, this would be it. I have always had a major fascination with Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom, but the true sequel to one of the greatest games of all time made me wish I didn’t go down the rabbit hole.
At first glance, SMB 2 is your typical sequel: Improved graphics and new concepts, such as the addition of the Poisonous Mushroom. But there’s immediately something off putting about the game. It’s familiar yet foreign. A lot of the same enemies are used and the game has a lot of the same story-specific elements as its predecessor. The objective remains the same: Save Princess Peach from the invading Koopa army. But this is where things take sinister and not-so-pleasant turn.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: The difficulty level is not SMB2JP-04friendly. If you didn’t start with Super Mario Bros., stop right now and go back and study up that game. The sequel is designed to be set up and buoyed by the original. If you start here, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
The new levels were designed to take “super” players to task and show them that Mario isn’t the cakewalk they thought him to be. So, born from that are Sisyphean efforts such as warps that return you to an earlier part of the level; or my favorite: The fact that using level warps at all prevents advancement to the real ending of the game. This is Ghouls and Ghosts before Ghouls and Ghosts.
Score-2-5-retrogradeThis frustrating tactic of punishing the player for being too good is exactly why the follow up to Super Mario Bros. would have never flown in America and why we didn’t see the game until a full five years after its release in Japan. People traditionally play Mario to relax, not be thrown backward in a never-ending loop of anger and frustration. This doesn’t appeal to the mass players and it’s cheap and perverse that Mario is used in this way.
While it’s not the same Mario in a lot of respects, the same old charm is present. The whimsical jaunt through the Mushroom Kingdom is now fraught with all types of danger, but it’s still pretty to behold. And the music is still the main act of beauty and source of joy in what is a dark skip through the forest of Mario. Somehow, through all of the anger, Koji Kondo’s masterpieces never seem to get old.
For the sake of your controllers, I suggest investing in cheat codes to get through SMB 2. It’s one of the few games I would ever give this advice about to beat.
We Americans might be lazy and unchallenged (editor’s note: Nintendo confirmed that this is the real reason why we received the much-easier-but-still-hard SMB 2 USA/Doki Doki Panic ripoff), but at least our controllers remain intact and whole, no thanks in small part to getting a far easier version of Mario 2. Super Frustration Bros. would have been a more apropos title for the sequel to the greatest game of all time.

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Mario Kart 64 — 1Q2016

Mario Kart 64-04

Mario Kart’s growing pains

by Lyndsey Hicks

by Lyndsey Hicks

Mario Kart has always been an interesting experience. Combining go-karting and Mario has and is a recipe for success for Nintendo, quite honestly. And, by the time Nintendo got around to making the sequel to the smash hit Super Mario Kart, they knew they had a surefire massive hit on their hands.
Mario Kart 64 takes everything you loved about the first game and immeasurably increases it. The Mario characters, the tracks, the secrets; everything about Mario Kart 64 is better than the original in every respect. Driving has improved with better steering qualities for all characters including the bonafied introduction of powersliding. Mastering powersliding means a world of difference in race times, especially when you have bragging rights at stake. Old mechanics, such as the weight class concept, are still present but it seems everyone has a better representation with respect to how a class really controls. The lightweights feel like, well, lightweights. The heavyweights actually feel like they’re heavy to handle.
While I’m an admitted longterm Mario Kart aficionado, I have to Mario Kart 64-09admit that if you’re going to get into Mario Kart, this is the title to do so with. It’s not hard to pick up MK64 and grasp the mechanics. It’s also easy to play with friends who understand the nuances of Mario Kart so that you’re not left behind for very long. And it’s the playing with others that makes this one of the best party games ever created. MK64 has Battle Mode as its ace in the hole and it makes it one of the first quintessential party games, alongside Goldeneye, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Party.
Score-3-5-retrogradeWith all that it has going for it, however, there a few minor drawbacks. First, if rubber band AI bothers you, this is not the game for you. MK64’s AI is one of the worst offenders of the rubber banding practice and it gets worse as you go through the single player race campaign. Combine that with the punishing difficulty of 100cc and 150cc races and you have a frustrating, controller-throwing mess. Second, this is the second game after Mario 64 where Mario characters are vocalized. I promise you will get tired of hearing characters say their favorite phrase long before you finish any of the modes. It gets old quickly and makes one wish they could turn the sound off, except that you’ll realize quickly that the soundtrack is actually great. This, however, is the game that turned me against Mario characters talking.
Mario Kart 64 is polarizing to some players: Some think it’s one of the greatest kart racing games ever made while others hate it. I tend to be in the middle; it’s a great entry in the kart racing genre, but there are some fairly major quirks with how it plays to throw a wrench into things. I like to think that the fun and the quality associated with Mario Kart boosts it out of the middle of the pack.