Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts Review

SGG Title

Presentation and Story

One of the best things about Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts comes right from the start. It’d be a challenge to find music that rivals the intro music for this game. Not only does it set the tone for the adventure you’re about to take, but it helps provide the intensity for what could be the most difficult task you’ve ever tried to complete. You play the role of Knight Arthur, and your goal is simple – save the princess. On your journey, you will encounter a variety of enemies including zombies, ghosts and bat-like creatures. Each of the levels has its own music. You could say that the music sometimes seems repetitive, but that’s because you’ll spend a lot of time trying to complete each section of the game. Luckily enough, the music is more of a motivator than a nuisance. One thing that does end up being bothersome is the occasional lag. When there are too many enemies or items on the screen, the game will slow down making gameplay slightly more difficult.

Gameplay

SGG presentation

Knight Arthur starts with silver armor and a lance for a weapon.  By pressing the attack button, you can throw your current weapon the number of times that specific weapon allows. For example, there can be two lances on the screen at once while the dagger allows for three. You can also strengthen your weapons by finding new armor. By upgrading your armor to the next levels, Arthur will unlock new attacks for his weapons. Take the lance for example. By finding green armor, the lance becomes faster and more powerful. By finding gold armor, Arthur gains a charge attack that shoots lightning. Finding new weapons and the most advanced armor becomes an essential part of the game.

The key word is “finding.” It is the intricate parts of the game that make it special, and one of those parts is figuring out how to make new weapons and armor appear. There are many treasure chests scattered through every stage. To make them appear, there are prerequisites that need to be fulfilled. Figuring out these preset conditions can sometimes be challenging. Finding a new treasure chest can sometimes require you to use your double jump ability to jump off a cliff and back just to make it appear. Not every chest will help you though. Sometimes a chest will have a wizard inside that will attack you depending on what color armor you’re wearing. Also, there is such a variety of weapons that some weapons will be a downgrade from the default weapon. It’s your job to find out which weapon is the best for specific situations. Once you find enough hidden chests, you’ll have a good chance at having gold armor and a decent weapon. That is if you can keep from being hit by an enemy.

The difficulty in avoiding death is the other part that makes this game a classic. The main culprit in causing your death will be the jumping mechanic. If you cannot master the double jump feature of this game, you will be a very unhappy gamer. The part that’s so insanely difficult about jumping for Arthur is that once you decide on a direction to jump, it cannot be altered or manipulated. Moments when you jump and see that you’ve made a mistake in your judgment are imminent. Moments when you have found gold armor will be ruined when you jump to avoid an enemy and land on another leaving you with only your boxers. Once you understand the chaotic gameplay you’re getting yourself into, you’ll have a challenge your sadistic gamer side will appreciate.

With several difficult areas to complete and giant bosses to encounter, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is a game that will test your limits. It can safely be said that you’ll enjoy the challenge of the leading batch of areas the first time around. A big flaw of this game is that it forces you to do every level twice before you can fight the final boss. Capcom tries to justify this by saying you need a specific item to finish the main villain. That item can only be retrieved during the second playthrough. Playing the exact game twice before you can fight the final boss is slightly annoying.  It’s even more irritating when you have to use a specific item to defeat the boss of the last two stages. To add to the frustration, the final battle is relatively way easier than the rest of the game. Despite this flaw, finishing the entire game does leave you with a satisfying feeling.

A big difference with the Virtual Console

SGG Gameplay

If you’re a gamer who wants a challenge but needs some help, the virtual console can help you out. The original Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts required you to finish the game in one sitting. Once you turned the Super Nintendo off, you had to start all over. With the virtual console, you’ll have the ability to save your game where you left off. This is helpful for players who may not have enough time to finish the game in one sitting or need breaks in between parts of the game. Don’t worry hardcore gamers, you can still try to finish the game in one go. The ability to use save points won’t affect you if you ignore it.

Pros: Cons:
Difficulty leaves a satisfying feeling when you finish the game, as long as you knew what you were getting yourself into Requires playing through every stage twice before allowing you to fight the final boss
Has a variety of weapons Final boss isn’t difficult enough to feel like the final battle
Has a lot of secrets to discover Too many things happening on the screen causes lag
Ability to use save points (Wii VC version)
Music is top-notch

The Acosta Statement

When a game forces you to play it twice before being able to say you finished it, there’s something wrong. With that said, any gamer looking for a challenging game, look no further. In fact, this game may be one of the hardest games to ever be created; however, that is no excuse for forcing players to go through the same game twice before finishing it. The best thing about the second playthrough is the music! C’mon Capcom!

6.5/10

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Super Metroid Review

Super Metroid cover

As promised, here’s Super Metroid. It’s time for Take me Back Tuesday! Ready, Go!

Presentation

Super Metroid Presentation

Think back to the Super Nintendo era. Then look at this game. The graphics along with the enemy and boss designs are impressive. Samus and her ship look good and stand out in the environment that is a foreign planet like they should. Some upgrades will even change the color of your suit, giving a real sense of your growing power. The music is worthy of your attention; it sets the mood very well and is memorable. The boss battle music is especially enjoyable. It will create an atmosphere of intensity and urgency, making you feel like you’re going against an extremely powerful opponent (and you are).

Story and Gameplay

Super Metroid Story

The story starts off with Samus explaining the circumstances of the adventure you’re about to go on. Having delivered a Metroid larva who has confused Samus to be her mother to the planet Ceres, the bounty hunter was on her way to find another job when a distress signal turns her around. She finds one of her main nemeses Ridley stealing the larva. Samus has to travel to Planet Zebes to retrieve the Metroid with the Space Pirates in her way.

The first thing that needs to be said is that Super Metroid seems to do everything right. One of the first experiences you’ll go through is the feeling of helplessness. This inspires you to strive to become stronger. The feeling of progression in video games is one of the most aspired feelings to achieve, and Super Metroid does a great job of that.

You’ll be dropped on a mysterious planet with only the end goal in mind, which is to save the larva. This will make the game feel open-world while creating a main structure to follow by putting you in a powerless position whenever you have wandered to an area you’re not yet allowed to explore. The decision of letting you try to explore farther than you can is brilliant. The game teases you with areas that you thought you could roam right before putting an obstacle in your way to stop you. This concept conjures your curiosity. You will wonder about and want to look for that next power-up that will let you overcome an obstacle that you have no chance passing in your current state. An example of this is the introduction of the grapple beam. Regardless of how you go about it, there will be platforms that you’ll deem impossible to get onto; those same areas will come to mind when you finally find the grapple beam. Almost every time you receive a new item, you’ll be forced to use it to leave the area where you found the item. The same idea is used for when you find the grapple beam. When you’re using it to move on to the next area, the memory of not being able to progress on a different part of the planet will be triggered. The feeling of satisfaction follows.

Satisfaction also comes from becoming stronger. Your suit will have multiple color changes to accompany the feeling of being more powerful. The best part is that after your new ability makes you feel unstoppable, the difficulty of enemies you encounter will be much higher. Both the feeling that you can achieve so much more and still have a challenge seeking out the next power-up are great for playing almost any game. A situation that really emphasize the continuity of challenge throughout the game is the anticipation of not being able to get through specific rooms without losing a decent amount of health. One room really stands out. When you enter it, you’ll notice a lot of spikes and Venus fly trap look-alike creatures on the floors and ceilings. Jumping too high or too low becomes a mistake. To complicate this, enemies attack you while you try to jump on to very small platforms.

Even knowing that this room is well designed, it only shows up once. No other room is all that similar to it, and they can still provide a similar struggle to get through. Sometimes just thinking, “I’m going to run through this room and avoid as much damage as possible,” is an acceptable and sometimes difficult thing to accomplish.

The times when it’s not encouraged to think this way is if you haven’t been in a specific area yet. There are so many secrets items all over the planet that you never know if you’re missing one in a room that seems straightforward. Even rooms that exclusively give you an item and seem to only give one thing can have a hidden hallway or item in another area of the room. It seems that every time you find a new ability you have to walk around the entire planet once more because there are places you never thought would have significance until you’ve seen what Samus is capable of. This may sound like a drag, but the prospect of getting an extra boost from new power-ups makes the journey worthwhile and fun.

If there’s one thing that’s important about games that give you new abilities, it’s consistency. Throughout Super Metroid, when you add things to your suit, the planet doesn’t suddenly forget that you have multiple abilities to help you overcome obstacles. After finding items like the morph ball power bomb and the grapple beam, you will use them until the game is completed to find new items and progress through the game. Every item ends up being useful in some way or another throughout the experience. Also, if for some reason you need to remove an ability, you can take off parts of your suit at any time.

Super Metroid Gameplay

The constant use of different abilities is apparent when fighting new and old enemies. When you find a new item, you’ll realize how to destroy enemies you couldn’t before. When you meet new enemies, you’ll flip through a bunch of your abilities before realizing you need to use an older weapon that you may not have used recently. Once you become extremely powerful, enemies will have new patterns that need to be discovered before using any of your items. This is the same concept used for boss fights. The difference is that instead of making the bosses difficult to damage like the smaller enemies, the bigger bosses are harder to avoid and take a lot more damage to defeat. Unless you find a pattern in the bosses’ movements and combine that with your own pattern, you will lose health much faster than they will. Also, Super Metroid punishes you for being damaged a lot more than other games; when hit, Samus will flinch and be moved back considerably, and the cooldown for the next time you can be hurt is a very short duration.

The one thing that I can say that could be frustrating is that new items are not explained; with that said, this is not a negative thing. In fact, if this becomes frustrating to some gamers, it speaks to the change in gaming culture. Video games have become easier over the years, and more gamers expect to be told how to do everything instead of having to figure out how to play like a pro. Another thing that stands out as an “old-school” gaming mechanic is what happens when you have died. When killed, you will have to start at the last save point. No matter how far it is or how many items you collected between the time of your death and the time when you saved the game, you have to start that far back. Newer games become more forgiving as time passes, and gives revival and save points more frequently. Playing Super Metroid on the Wii U can help you avoid this if you don’t want to go through that experience. You can simply create a restore point before a challenging part of the game and restart if you fail.

Things to Note

Super Metroid has become a very competitive game, and gamers have found ways to break sequence and speed run the game in a way that makes the experience very different than explained in this review. Some players find it possible to beat the game in under an hour while a playthrough with 100% completion could take anywhere between 8 and 10 hours. The idea of trying to beat your own completion time along with the sheer fun of playing the game adds to the replay value.

More information on Super Metroid records, hacks, items etc. can be found at http://www.giantbomb.com/super-metroid/3030-8292/.

Pros: Could go either way:
-A challenging game for players of any level -Some power-ups and other features have no explanation
-A lot of items to collect and secret rooms to explore
-Memorable boss battles with patterns that are distinct but still can be a challenge to counter
-Power-ups earned are used throughout the game even if they are earned earlier on
-Classic Metroid music is suited for the tone of the game and catchy
-Abilities and strength increase to satisfying levels while still making enemies a challenge to fight

The Acosta Statement

Did you miss the 30 cents sale for this game? So what?! It may not be the lengthiest game, but it is one of the best gaming experiences any system has to offer. There’s a reason Super Metroid has won awards and is one of the most critically acclaimed games to exist. If you have a Wii U or a Wii, there’s no reason to avoid this game. Buy Super Metroid and enjoy a masterpiece.

10/10

Super Metroid meme

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Oracle Review part 2: Oracle of Ages (Just in Time)

Oracle_Of_Ages_BoxArt

So it’s still Tuesday in America you guys. That means I’m in time to post the Oracle of Ages review for Take me Back Tuesday. Let’s go.

This review will be short because for the most part, the game compares to the likes of Oracle of Seasons. In fact, the things that are similar are the following: visuals, gameplay mechanics and the different terrain with animal buddies. This review will talk about what makes it different and why it may be the more superior version.

Story and Gameplay

Oracle of Ages Nayru

This time around Link is going against the likes of Veran who has taken control of Nayru, the Oracle of Ages. You must travel through Labrynna collecting songs and items to allow you to travel more freely around the lands. A big part of the game that makes it so intriguing is that you can change parts of the present by traveling to the past and changing things. This means that there are two almost completely different lands, unlike Oracle of Seasons where there were 4 slightly different lands. Items were just as cool in this adventure. One allows you to switch places with specific objects on the screen, making for greater puzzles.

One thing that makes Oracle of Ages sort of a nuisance is the button scheme for swimming once you obtain a mermaid suit. Repeatedly pressing the directional buttons propel you through the water, but this can get tedious and cause cramps in your hand, especially during the water dungeon. This is the only flaw, but it can be overlooked because of the circumstances the game was made under (limited buttons on the Gameboy Color).

On the other hand, the game is vastly superior to its counterpart. There was a lot more interaction between people of the land, and a lot more work needed to be done between dungeons to get there, making each part of the game feel satisfying. You’ll feel like you deserved everything throughout the game because of this. In addition, each boss fight was much more challenging. The final boss fight takes more effort and you’ll need to learn more patterns to fight her. There’s even a boss fight with a puzzle in it!

Something that stands out also is how many parts of Ocarina of Time this game follows. This is true for Oracle of Seasons too, but it’s not as noticeable. This can be good or bad depending on your preference.

Pros: Cons:
-Some of the coolest items in a Legend of Zelda game as well -Relies on elements of Ocarina of Time.
-Game always on a satisfying level -Mermaid suit has tedious controls.
-Replay value is very high when considering the game can be linked to increase the amount of content, and two game files can be totally different with or without having a linked game.
-Only 6 dollars
-Switches up the items, puzzles, and story enough to make it feel completely fresh compared to other Legend of Zelda games
-Side quests are fun enough to keep you playing outside of just the main story line

 

The Acosta Statement

Don’t let time pass without playing this Legend of Zelda game. It gives more of a challenge than Oracle of Seasons.

10/10

You can find the Oracle of Seasons review here: https://nintendoreviewsblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/oracle-review-part-1-oracle-of-seasons/

Also, for anymore information about Oracle of Ages, you can check this site:

http://zeldawiki.org/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_Oracle_of_Ages

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Announcement of “Take me Back Tuesdays”

virtual_console_arcade

 

I’m happy to announce that at least one Tuesday a month will be reserved for the review of a game from the virtual console. This could mean once, or it could mean four times. I just think it would be just as useful as reviewing recently released games because they’re just as available and can be just as valuable. This Tuesday will be the first Take me Back Tuesday! Stay tuned.

Oracle Review Part 1: Oracle of Seasons

Oracle of Seasons

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages have been rereleased for the 3DS. There’s no better time to review them.

Things to keep in mind: The version of the game that I am reviewing is not linked to Oracle of Ages. If it was, it would have more characters, items and gameplay. You can consider the linked version of the game to be better than the unlinked version. For more information on the linked version of Oracle of Seasons, you can check this website: http://zeldawiki.org/The_Legend_of_Zelda:_Oracle_of_Seasons

Also, I will reflect on the potentially different experience of playing on a 3DS rather than a Gameboy Color.

The following statement should set the tone; Oracle of Seasons (especially on the 3DS) is one of the best experiences you could have playing a Legend of Zelda game. It is necessary to give praise where praise is due.

Presentation

tloz_oracle_of_seasons_presentation

There’s not much to say about the presentation this time around. Playing a game originally for the Gameboy, you wouldn’t expect a lot from the graphics of the game. The game does however make a successful attempt at using colors during different seasons to get the idea across – more about that later.

The music takes from your classic Legend of Zelda soundtrack. Most people will be happy with the nostalgic feel while very few will tire from the repetitiveness of the tunes. Some songs do manage to get stuck in your head while you’re playing a dungeon because of how catchy they are. Whether you like that or not completely depends on your preference, but this reviewer will be assuming it’s not a bad thing.

Story and Gameplay

Oracle of Ages Story

This time around Link finds himself in the land of Holodrum. You’ll meet the character you have to save early in the game; she goes by the name of Din and she is the Oracle of Seasons. Once the main villain kidnaps her the seasons go out of whack, and it is up to Link to save her and restore Holodrum back to normal. This story sets up the uniqueness of the gameplay for this Legend of Zelda title. Throughout the story, Link learns the ability to change the seasons whenever he finds a tree stump. Every time you change the season, the environment changes along with it. Given that there are four seasons, there are four versions of the world map and opens the game up to lots of puzzles. This could arguably be the best part of the game. The possibilities are endless. However, this is not where Capcom stops. To add on to variety of ways to play and solve puzzles, there are animal buddies. Which animal buddy you encounter at a specific time in the game determines how the world map will look. One example is Moosh the flying Bear. The world map will have more obstacles with holes in the floor given that Moosh can fly for a short period of time. As you find more items and your animal buddy, you will be able to explore parts of the world that you couldn’t before, giving the feeling of success whenever you find a new area.

The only part of the experience that some gamers may find unappealing is a few hours into the game around the second and third dungeon. Capcom’s decision to make the game much easier in the beginning is a double-edged sword. While attempting to assimilate players new to the series, veterans of the series could feel like the puzzles are too easy and feel more like a chore than fun gameplay. The same goes for the bosses – especially of the third dungeon. The moth-like monster could be taken down in less than 30 seconds, leaving little to feel satisfied about. Of course, once passed this, the real challenges begin and you can feel deserving when you take down a boss or solve all of the dungeon puzzles. One thing worth noting about all of the dungeons is that in newer Legend of Zelda games, usually defeating a mini-boss feels meaningful because an item you’ve been looking for is sure to follow. The only thing you get from a mini-boss throughout Oracle of Seasons is a warp back to the start of the dungeon. Though a bit disappointing, this is welcomed because some puzzles you may take longer to remember where a specific room is than to solve the puzzle itself. Again, the slow beginning may seem like a complete negative, but the game picks up quickly afterwards and newcomers to the series can feel comfortable. Capcom does a good job of trying to make all types of players happy. An example other than a slow beginning is the use of water in the dungeons and world map. Personally, I hate water in video games, but it didn’t bother me this time around. Instead of water dungeons, they felt more like dungeons with water in them.

Another part of the game that can be argued as the best part is the items Link acquires throughout the story. These are some of the best items in the Legend of Zelda Series, leading to some of the better and more challenging puzzles. One example is a magnetic glove. This item allows Link to pull and push himself or items around the map. Also, unlike some of the other games in the series that are quick to forget about items that Link possesses, Oracle of Seasons does a great job of combining the use of items picked up in previous dungeons for new puzzles that couldn’t be accomplished before acquiring the items. The items end up being a big part of fighting boss battles because bosses may not necessarily be defeated with an item that was found in the same dungeon. This makes for much more challenging and fulfilling gameplay.

Another thing to note about the game is that in order to increase the variety of puzzles, there are times when a room in a dungeon will become a side-scrolling room. This is a great way to switch up the puzzles and keep players on their toes. Lastly, the ordinary enemies won’t give you much trouble, though they may remind you of Mario.

Other Features and Things to Consider

Accompanying Link on his adventure are rings. You can collect rings around Holodrum for special effects like to increase Link’s strength or resistance. These rings are fun to collect and can be useful against specific enemies. Side missions like this will indeed increase replay value. There is also a second world that you will visit throughout the game, giving the occasional change of pace in the story progression. Also, though I have not played the linked version, I highly recommend it if you’re a Legend of Zelda fan because it will add content to the story and will increase replay value even more which any Legend of Zelda fan loves.

For older Legend of Zelda fans thinking of buying this game again, I can confirm that the game plays great on the 3DS. The circle pad feels like it was made to move Link, and the use of the Y button for the map feels very smooth and convenient. Even pressing start to switch items frequently, which bothered me in Ocarina of Time, didn’t bother me this time around. Besides, they’re only 6 dollars each, and you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

Pros: Cons:
-Some of the coolest items in a Legend of Zelda game -Beginning of the game starts off slow
-Gets you familiar with the game then turns up the difficulty to a satisfying level -Puzzles early in the game sometimes feel like a chore
-Replay value is very high when considering the game can be linked to increase the amount of content, and two game files can be totally different with or without having a linked game.
-Only 6 dollars
-Switches up the items, puzzles, and story enough to make it feel completely fresh compared to other Legend of Zelda games
-Side quests are fun enough to keep you playing outside of just the main story line

The Acosta Statement

Whether linked or not, Link’s adventure in Oracle of Seasons is not to be missed by any fan of the series. If you’re not a fan of the Legend of Zelda series, this may change your mind.

9/10

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