Pikmin 3 Review

Pikmin 3

With the Wii U selling less than Nintendo’s lowest expectations, many have been waiting for a consistent release of premium titles. Is Miyamoto’s new Pikmin the game that can open the floodgates? You can decide right now with the help of this review!

Presentation

Pikmin Underwater

After such a long delay, everyone is expecting this game to be amazing in every aspect. In terms of the visuals, Pikmin 3 does not disappoint. You could waste your days away just admiring how beautiful the fruits look and wondering how the textures you see would feel when gliding your fingertips along the skins of those juicy resources. The game gives you a moment at the end of the day just to examine the fruit you’ve collected; no matter what angle you look at it from, the detail is impressive. In addition to the fruit, the enemy and character designs are done well. It’s as if anything you would use the in-game camera to take a picture of has been created to be observed and appreciated. While this is a positive for Pikmin 3, it also ends up being a negative. What is one thing you almost never want a picture of? Right, the ground beneath you. The textures of the ground wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t already seeing some thorough details in the objects and living creatures around it. When something as remarkable as the fruit textures are juxtaposed to the ground textures, you can’t help but feel disappointed and ask yourself, “why doesn’t the floor look as good as the rest of the game?” Luckily, this is a flaw that eventually escapes your attention, and for good reason. There is so much to see in every area of Pikmin 3. No space is wasted in these densely populated regions. Wherever you go there will be enemies, fruits, bosses or items to be gathered. There may not be many areas, but each is detailed so greatly that it makes up for that.

For those of you who are used to the typical way Nintendo gives its characters voices, you won’t be surprised by the strange sounds that the main characters consider their language. They communicate using mostly nonsense words with a few that can be recognized. That’s more than can be said for the pikmin who use less complicated sounds to express themselves. Other sounds you can look forward to hearing a lot are the sound of hurling pikmin and using your whistle to recover them. Unless you’re someone who really can’t stand the same sound reverberating in your ears, the repetitive whistling shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Another thing you’ll notice that is repetitive is the music. If you’re expecting a game that is thriving with musical prowess, you’ll be let down. Though there isn’t much variety, the music that does play is enjoyable and is intense when it needs to be. If you don’t know you’re in a boss battle by the size of the enemy, the music will tip you off to the situation. When it comes down to it, what’s coming out of the television and gamepad speakers won’t win Pikmin any awards, but you’ll want to keep the volume up as the music sets the mood.

Story and Gameplay

Pikmin Alph Surpised

This is the third time around for the Pikmin franchise, and the first change that players of the first two will notice is that you’re controlling new characters. Instead of scavenging a foreign planet with the veteran Captain Olimar, players will control a new squad consisting of Captain Charlie, botanist Brittany and astroengineer Alph. The S.S Drake, their ship, crash lands on the planet PNF-404 and leaves the crew scattered. Your first mission is to rendezvous with the rest of your crew members with the character you’re controlling. As time passes, it may seem as though each astronaut has a different goal for being on a foreign planet, but the main goal is to retrieve the cosmic drive key that allows the ship to return home and collect as many fruit to bring food back to their home planet.

Once you get past the intro, the actual flow of the game will begin. At the beginning of each day you choose what area you want to land on. What follows is what makes the game so special. Planning how to spend your day is vital to your survival. You’ll ask yourself: “do I have enough pikmin?,” “do I have enough fruit?,” “can I proceed with the main mission and still gather that lemon I’ve been trying to turn into juice for 3 days?” When you finally have your day planned out, you can go to the onion where the pikmin take shelter during the night. That’s when you’ll ask yourself, “what kind of obstacles will I face today?,” “do I really need any yellow pikmin today?,” “can I safely escort this many pikmin back to the ship at the end of the day?”

After the big strategizing part of the game is done, the action part of the game takes over. There’s no telling what kind of enemies you’ll encounter in new regions. You’ll be making your way through the day as the land starts to become covered in a blanket of darkness. The pressure sets in. As the nighttime looms closer and closer, panic ensues. You become especially nervous when you can’t seem to find that group of pikmin you left to carry a bulborb back to the ship. With the rest of your squad safe for the approaching sunset, you set out to save those few pikmin with your favorite crew member. When you finally find them, you realize they could have never gotten back to the ship without moving one particular obstacle. You retrieve your team of pikmin and make a mental note; that obstacle becomes the first thing to deal with on the list for tomorrow. Oh no, the clock is counting down. And with just 3 seconds left, you lead your group of pikmin into the safety circle for the night. The end of the day cutscene plays. The characters and the pikmin get into their respective shelters for the night and the spaceships fly into the sky. But something has gone wrong. You’re watching the end of the day cutscene when you see one lone pikmin running back to the already departed ships. Helplessness overcomes you as you watch one of your friends be devoured by nocturnal creatures.

Pikmin Dwarf Orange Bulborb

There is a lot going on in this unique game. First is the tactical aspect. Besides deciding what to do with your day, strategy elements lurk around every corner in Pikmin. Each of your pikmin will sport one of many different colors. The color will represent the pikmin’s competence in many different areas. For example, a red pikmin is resistant to fire and deals a lot more damage to enemies when attacking while a yellow pikmin is lighter (so they can be thrown into higher places), resistant to electricity and digs faster but is not a very strong fighter. This is a great way to incorporate planning into both the puzzles and the fights you will encounter.

A big part of the strategizing that wasn’t part of the past Pikmin games is the ability to control three characters at a time. With a touch of the gamepad screen, you can tell individual characters to move to specific spots on the map while you take care of another task. This is the type of feature Wii U owners want to see in their games at the very least. It adds something to Pikmin 3 that could never be offered elsewhere. By mastering the gamepad planning ability, collecting fruits and pikmin becomes a cinch. In fact, not using this ability can be fatal. If you take too long to collect fruit, your character can be left to starve. An important goal of the game is to make sure you have food for the night approaching. If you don’t, it’s game over. If you’re going into a new day, and you know you’ll never be able to collect enough pikmin and fruit in time, don’t worry. You can always go back a few days and start over; but be wary. Doing this will erase the data that was saved past the selected day. It’s a fair give and take feature that will keep you from having to restart the entire campaign. Unfortunately the same feature is used to start a new game. If you finished the story, and want to start again to get a better score, you’ll have to delete your previous play-through.

The next part of the game is the action aspect. When you encounter an enemy, it’s your job to decide which is the best way to go about battling it. Some enemies will use fire while other will stay in the water. Using specific pikmin for specific situations is what makes the action part of the game special. One thing that can be concerning is the way you can get out of planning for certain enemies. It’s rather disappointing to think once you have enough pikmin to fight with, there’s no incentive to fight hostile creatures with the pikmin that is best used to defeat them. Instead of fighting an enemy that uses electricity with ten yellow pikmin, you could decide to use 50 red pikmin. A lot of enemies end up being so overwhelmed that they spend all of their time trying to shake the pikmin off. Once all 50 converge, your enemy never had a chance. You may have lost two or three pikmin; however, once you have a large number of pikmin of every color, it’s difficult to feel like you have a responsibility to make sure they all stay alive when you can last with the ones you have and grow more at a whim. With numbers, strategic battling becomes unnecessary.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case for boss battles. You can repeatedly hurl the wrong colored pikmin at a boss all you like, but it will never work. If the monster requires you to use rock pikmin, you can’t succeed even if you had 100 red pikmin. Every single one of them will be gobbled up, and you’ll be left defenseless. With that said, the boss battles will likely take you more than one game day if you’re not completely prepared or you’re trying to do other things simultaneously. Each of them are very different and require persistence. If you’re not impressed by the sheer size of those monsters, you will be impressed by how many pikmin you lose if you’re not on your toes. It’s nice to see that these enemies don’t hold back. One thing that many turn off hardcore gamers is that a boss will not recover any health if you fight it one day and come back the next day. You can’t expect anything different from a company that wants their games to be friendly to every gamer. If you are a gamer who wants a challenge, there is nothing stopping you from forcing yourself to defeat a boss within a day’s time. When defeating a boss, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because you’ll be able to gather a special fruit and its body for a larger amount of pikmin than any other enemy offers.

Other things to consider and Game Modes

Pikmin Nap Time

It is important to remember the things that cause frustration can be dealt with by being aware and having played enough to know how to avoid annoying situations. When playing, you can think of the pikmin as your loyal followers. Whatever you do they will do even if it means death. This can be very unsettling. Knowing how closely they follow you, you may choose to walk a very specific path. This can lead to several possibilities. An example of a possibility that is an obvious error is when pikmin will mindlessly follow the exact path you took even though new monsters or hazards have appeared in that spot. This possibility is not so much of a problem because the pikmin are programmed to walk your path; it’s when they don’t walk your path that’s even more infuriating. Understanding the mechanics, you will usually decide to walk a specific path despite the fact that it may be a slower path. One reason you would do this is to avoid water. However, sometimes your pikmin will make you feel like it’s a waste of time. Even though you walked completely around the water at a distance that gives your pikmin enough space to walk when they’re traveling in droves, you’ll have to keep an eye on them because sometimes spontaneously a few pikmin will try to complete the route faster and walk through water despite the self-destructive aspect of that choice. This wouldn’t be so irritating if it was something you should expect and it didn’t stop you from completing your goals in a timely manner. Another possibility that can result from a slight miscalculation is that you’ll send your pikmin into danger when you use the gamepad to send a team to a specific spot. This is usually not too big of a problem because the other characters will alert you if there are pikmin in trouble. You can then switch characters and save them. The problem that rarely arises is that the warning will come too late. If you send a team to a specific spot with only yellow and red pikmin but didn’t realize your character was going to walk through the water as opposed to taking the bridge, the warning could come after all of your pikmin are in the water and some have already drowned. Like I said, these situations can be avoided if you stay aware of those possibilities.

The driving force of the Pikmin games is the story mode. But what happens when you have finished the main story? Miyamoto has prepared plenty to do after you have finished. The first thing you can do is obvious – collect every fruit on the planet. There is a good number of fruit to collect, and if you plan to collect them all that will take you a significant amount of time. If that doesn’t take up enough time, there are global rankings. Want to be the best? You can see how your best time measures up to players around the world. If this isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are files scattered and hidden around the different areas. Ten of the files are secret number files that open a secret video on a website that is only accessible from the Wii U browser. Yes, it’s possible to find on the internet; but if you’re a competitive gamer, you’ll want to be able to say that you found all of the secret files yourself. If none of these goals are enough to keep busy, you can make up your own goals. Want to finish the game with zero perished pikmin? You can try, and the game will keep track for you.

If all of the options in the story mode aren’t enough to keep you busy, there is mission mode and bingo battles. Mission mode allows you to go solo or with a friend. There are multiple missions under the three categories: “collect treasures,” “battle enemies” and “defeat bosses.” A medal is awarded under two different categories: “solo” and “co-op.” Don’t think that a platinum medal can be won effortlessly; if you want the best medal, you’ll have to perform at a near perfect level. Whether you’re trying to earn the highest score in a mission, defeat all of the bosses at a “platinum medal” rate or play a cooperative mode with friends, mission mode has something to offer.

Don’t want to play cooperatively? Bingo battle takes everything you love about Pikmin and creates an incredibly enjoyable and competitive mode. Whether just trying to have fun with a friend or show who the best is, bingo battle can create a lot of laughs and competition. Your goal is to fill in a line of a 4×4 bingo card using the usual Pikmin mechanics. Sometimes there’s only one of a specific item, so it can get a little hectic. To add to the chaos, players can collect power-ups to attack each other with a large scale weapon. The only complaint for this terrific mode is that there’s no online mode. If there’s no one around to play with, you cannot take pleasure in a game of bingo battle.

Pros Cons
A lot of fruit to collect Bad floor textures
Global rankings increase replay value No incentive to keep pikmin alive makes some enemies a simple task to defeat
Secret files increase play time The pikmin don’t always follow the path you took
Boss battles have both action and puzzle aspects Warnings about losing pikmin sometimes come too late
Missions give you a chance to test your skills alone or with a friend No online Bingo Battle
Bingo Battle gives a competitive aspect to the Pikmin formula
Wiimote and nunchuck combination feels very natural for controlling the characters and the pikmin

The Acosta Statement

Want a game that can be played casually and competitively? THAN THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU! Want a fun multiplayer experience? THAN THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU! Want to invade a foreign planet and strip it of its natural resources to save your race? THAN THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU! Pikmin 3 has a lot to offer, from a colorful kid-friendly game to strategic action game. If only there was an online mode for bingo battle, it’d be near perfect. If you have a Wii U, and you’re not buying this game, than what are you playing? C’mon, hurry up and join the crowd!

8/10

(In game photos taken with the in game gamepad camera)

Pikmin Meme

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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

00000A 3DS package_NOA

It’s yet another game by the underappreciated brother, but this time it’s a game Luigi made popular all by himself. Does Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon give Luigi the attention he deserves? The short answer is yes. Let’s find out why!

Presentation

Luigi's Mansion Presentation

A lot of games for the 3DS end up making the 3D feature of the system seem useless; however, Dark Moon replenishes that faith some of you may have lost. Similar to how Super Mario 3D Land uses the 3D feature for easier platforming, there are moments in Dark Moon when using the 3D feature actually makes collecting coins or fighting a ghost easier. This is a great addition to the game. Gamers can feel like they are actually getting their money’s worth with the 3D feature.

If you don’t like using the 3D feature, don’t fret. That’s not the only thing about the visual presentation that you can enjoy. Each Mansion has its own theme, and it’s apparent that the developers spent time making each of the mansion’s setting worth exploring. They’re not the type of visuals that will have you astonished by its beauty, but there is a lot of detail put into each mansion. It’s a shame that some mansions have a lot more missions than others. There also isn’t a vast amount of ghost designs. Despite the limited number of them, each of the ghost characters have an obvious personality (which are signified by their appearance) and the simplicity of their design works well.

Something almost not worth mentioning are the occasional visual glitches. The reason it is being mentioned is because it’s an obvious flaw; however, it doesn’t negatively affect your experience because of how occasional and minor they are. When a toad who has been following you gets stuck in the floor, he simply respawns into another space. If you walk through an object, Luigi will still be okay.

A bigger thing that has the potential to be improved upon is the constant use of the same background music. While the Luigi’s Mansion theme song is perfect for setting the mood inside the haunted houses, it is one of the only songs that plays. There are multiple different versions of it, but it seems as though there could be a little more variation. The other things you’ll hear are the voices of the characters and ghosts in the game. It’s a joy to hear when playing. The voices give personality to their respective characters. They may not say much, but it never feels necessary for any of the characters to talk any more than they already do. Just to have Luigi nervously saying hello when he peeps through a door gives enough insight on how he’s feeling. Whenever Luigi hums to the background music, you know he’s a little more comfortable. Professor E. Gadd simply making giddy sounds that are supposed to represent speech shows how excited he is for Luigi to go on an adventure.

Story and Gameplay

Luigi's Mansion E. Gadd

The opening cutscene shows Professor E. Gadd in his lab with some helper ghosts. A few seconds later, King Boo destroys a gem floating in the sky that looks like a purple moon. Immediately after, the friendly ghosts go rampant and start destroying the professor’s lab. The professor decides he needs Luigi. He uses his pixelator in order to transport Luigi into another part of his lab through Luigi’s television. Once Luigi arrives, the professor informs Luigi that the dark moon pieces need to be recollected and put together in order to restore peace in Everglade Valley. Though reluctant, E. Gadd forces Luigi into the adventure anyway.

Although the bigger plot is obvious to the player, a little bit of dramatic irony keeps the professor and Luigi guessing who is behind the destruction of the dark moon. Still, just because the player knows more than the hero doesn’t mean that more story isn’t added on throughout the game. This is what makes the story engaging; just when you thought you know everything that was happening in the story, more elements are added to keep you interested.

The story progresses through episodes. Using the pixelator, E. Gadd transports Luigi into and out of different missions. The first mission is about finding the Poltergeist 5000, the vacuum you will use for the rest of the game to capture ghost and explore the mansions. Progressing through the story and collecting treasures will unlock new items for Luigi to use. You’ll never have to worry about not being able to collect enough treasures. Every room in each mansion has multiple items to interact with. Some rooms will offer more treasure if you fulfill specific goals like blowing out every candle in the room. Ultimately you will have to play a mission more than once if you want to finish with a high ranking time and explore the entire area before finishing. To encourage more exploration, a gold bone is hidden in each stage. These play the role of reviving Luigi if he faints after losing all of his heart points. It’s as if you are rewarded for your time spent exploring. There are also hidden gems and boos (yes, the classic Mario character) throughout each mansion that you may want to find to add even more gameplay. To add even more replay value, each mission gives a grade afterwards based on the amount of treasures found, hearts lost and time taken. Time can be spent getting a better grade in each of the missions or finding all of the treasures.

Luigi's Mansion Gameplay

Though the game mostly relies on the ability to explore each mansion (a positive for the experience), battling and capturing ghost is also a fun mechanic. Admittedly, the beginning of the game is lacking in challenge when it comes to capturing ghosts. As you get further in the game though, ghosts will become smarter and stronger. Capturing each ghost becomes harder as ghosts protect their allies or random animals interfere with your ability to capture them. The mechanic is simple – you flash a ghost with your flashlight, and when they are stunned you vacuum them in by pulling in the opposite direction – but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to do it. As opposed to the hack and slash type games, there is a depth that is added to battling when a lot of the battle is figuring out when and where to attack. The only identifiable flaw about using the vacuum in battle (and also exploring) is the control scheme. While you’ll eventually become used to it and not feel like it’s a problem, it is clunky initially. Having the X button as the “look-up” button makes it uncomfortable and slightly more difficult to use your flashlight in higher areas, whether that means you’re pressing X and A at the same time or pressing X and Y at the same time.

Once passed fighting with the control scheme, the game is tons of fun. One thing that is impressive is that every boss battle is very different. Granted, you will be using the Poltergeist 5000 every time; regardless, the strategy for each of the bosses – whether it’d be solving puzzle or testing your ability to time an enemy’s attack – is always different. While some of the boss battles may be relatively easy or lackluster, some of them will put you to the test. That’s more than can be said about each individual boo that can to be captured in each mission. While the bosses vary in difficulty, every boo is fought the same way. Even though some may take more time to capture, capturing them is a breeze. It’s a bit disappointing. Setting the goal to capture all of them can still be a fun challenge.

Things to Note

This review is from the perspective of a person who never played the original Luigi’s Mansion. I also haven’t gotten to play the multiplayer mode, but I see it as an add-on to an already great game. If you would like to know more about the multiplayer mode, you can check that out at http://luigismansion.nintendo.com/multiplayer/.

Pros: Cons:
An action-adventure that doesn’t rely on flashy battles Control scheme could be better
A lot of content (secrets and items to find) Occasional visual glitch
Ambiance of the haunted areas sets the mood Repetitive music
Humorous Boos are easy to capture
The figuring out how to capture an enemy adds a level of depth to the battling part of the game
Every boss battle is very different
Actual use of 3D

The Acosta Statement

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon is absolutely worth your time. Whether you like original gameplay or seeing Luigi and Toad work together happily, this is a game you’re not going to want to miss if you own a 3DS. Not only does the game make the effort to use the 3D feature of your system, but it still has a story you’ll enjoy, a plethora of puns and sets the right tone for a game that is supposed to be humorous and scary at the same time. Maybe there isn’t enough boss battles, and maybe there isn’t enough challenge in capturing boos, but this game overcomes those flaws.

8/10

Luigi's Mansion Meme

Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review

Mutant Mudds Title

A boy and his grannie fighting mud monsters with a water gun and a jet pack. That’s what you’re going to get when you jump into this adventure. Is that something you want? Continue reading to find out!

Presentation

Mutant Mudds Presentation

In a world where developers are fighting for the most advanced graphics, Mutant Mudds goes for a “12-bit” design. It’s refreshing to see that some developers are more focused on gameplay than amazingly astounding aesthetics. With that said, Renegade still has a fine-looking game here. Originally made for the 3DS, the designs of enemies and stages compliment that system, but it maintains appeal and purpose with its transfer over to the Wii U. Jumping to the background and foreground works the same way. Enemies continue to use their movement through the background and foreground to create hazardous platforming. In the end, you probably won’t be complaining about how the game looks. The music is a different story. While the classic 8-bit and 16-bit sounding tunes and occasionally funky beat are catchy, they are used over and over. At first, it’s enjoyable. The music slowly falls into a frustrating cycle and will most likely have you wishing there was more variety.

Story and Gameplay

Mutant Mudds Story

The game starts with this cutscene; Max and his grandmother are minding their own business at home when the earth is invaded by mud aliens (hence the term “mutant mudds”). In order to rid the planet of these creatures, Max goes on a mission to collect water sprites. These are supposed to be used to clean the land and vanquish the monsters when enough are found.

Controlling Max, you’re given very simple mechanics; you can walk, jump, shoot and duck. With these limited options, you have the abilities to take down all of the mud monsters. There are also monsters you cannot wash away with your water gun. You move, or you lose a precious heart. Precious is the correct word here because you only get three. This may sound like a lot at first, but as the levels become increasingly more difficult, you’re going to wish you had a few more. To start, your water gun will only allow one bullet on the screen at a time. As you collect golden diamonds dispersed throughout each stage, upgrades for your gun and jumping abilities will be unlocked. This will allow you to access secret and more demanding levels scattered around the game. Your goal for every normal stage is to collect 100 golden diamonds, collect the large water sprite and find the secret water sprite. There are also CGA-Land stages which can only be accessed after unlocking the grannie character who can use every power-up together unlike Max. These turn out to be some of the most difficult stages. The new addition to the deluxe version is the ghost stages. Each normal level has a mirrored ghost level. Here you cannot destroy any of the enemies. Even if you use a special ghost-busting gun, they return a few seconds after wasting some of the 10 provided bullets. This forces a different type of strategy upon gamers. All together there are 80 levels, and this doesn’t count how each level can be played differently when you switch between each of the upgrades. For only $10, that’s a win.

Mutant Mudds Gameplay

Despite the number of levels, Mutant Mudds doesn’t rely on quantity; quality matters too. You’ll quickly realize that the limited choices you have for moving and attacking translates to great gameplay. This and the ability for you to switch between 3 different depths creates a fun experience. A challenging game comes from seamlessly combining the mechanics with a variety of enemies, from a small mud monster that’s too short to shoot while standing to a mud pig that releases bombs from the sky. There are many different ways that the game challenges you, and each stage is based on different platforming skills. One level will test your ability to control the height of your jump while another may test how well you can time the need to change directions. Unlike the music, the gameplay won’t feel repetitive for a while. You’re also given a time limit for each level, applying some pressure to play at a faster rate.

While this all sounds great, a problem with the game is that there are no boss battles. To add on to this, there’s no big crowning moment in the game to help you feel satisfied or like you’ve achieved anything. Since you can generally choose which level to finish the game with, you won’t feel like there’s a finale. Instead, you’re likely to feel like the game is in a never-ending loop. In addition to not having a very engaging story, not having an ending that feels like a close to the game makes the story feel less interesting. Platformers may not rely on story, but there’s an empty feeling in this game.

 

Pros: Cons:
-Difficulty varies depending on your dedication to the game -No boss battles or big crowning moment
-Simple mechanics translate to a challenging platformer -The story is not too engaging
-Jumping between background and foreground creates different ways to play -Repetitive music
-Amount of content for the price is very reasonable (80 levels)
-Different items change how you can play each level

The Acosta Statement

$10 for a game with 80 levels? That’s amazing! The platforming is fun and the gameplay feels fresh to the genre. Everything is great, but why couldn’t there be more significant moments in the game like a boss battle or a final stage? This would help players feel like they’re actually achieving something as opposed to just playing a lot of levels. Good job on the game Renegade, but I’m waiting for those boss battles.

7/10

Mutant Mudds Meme

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

Super Metroid Meme 2

New Super Mario Bros U Review

NSMBU cover

Super Luigi U is upon us. Is it worth it to dive into this adventure with Mario before Luigi jumps into the spotlight?

Presentation

NSMBU presentation

Mario is finally saving the day in HD. From the first moment you’ll notice how good the game looks. This mixes with the catchy music and gets you into the moment. When you put attention into the details you’ll be even more impressed; the background of the levels are well designed, and the music is thoroughly thought out.  There’s enough detail to reveal more about both the design and musical choice when looked at and listened to more closely. Occasionally you’ll see or hear something nostalgic, like a tune at the end of the level indicating you’ll receive an item. You may also notice that enemies, Yoshi and other things in the game have reactions to the rhythm of the music. This throws the enemies’ patterns slightly off but not significantly. It’s also quite charming. There is a good balance in design because everything is mostly new while some things will bring you back to the old Mario days.

Story and Gameplay

NSMBU Bowser Jr

There’s nothing new plot-wise. You’ll be doing the usual save the princess adventure that Mario always gets stuck with. The only thing you’ll find different is that your princess is NOT in another castle, just her own. Bowser Jr. takes on a bigger role than Bowser in this game, but of course Mario’s greatest enemy is still present. The story may not be too intriguing, but gameplay is where Mario games have made their mark.

There are some new enemies like the flying squirrel. It’s obvious its purpose in the game is to accompany the new power up. Mario and friends can use this power-up to glide across the stage and propel upwards once for each time you jump. Another new addition is of small Yoshi replicas throughout the game that have special powers depending on the color. For example, the pink Yoshi will turn into a balloon and bring Mario high into the air. It seems as though many more types of items and Yoshi could have been added, but there’s enough added to the game to make for new gameplay. Don’t worry about your green dinosaur friend, the original Yoshi does show up for some levels.

As is typical for Nintendo games, the levels start off rather easy to finish. You can reach 99 lives quite easily if you’re a veteran of platforming with Mario and his brother. This is Nintendo’s style for introducing younger and new consumers to their products, but it would be nice for more of a challenge (at least enough to make 99 lives a difficult accomplishment). Don’t be discouraged yet because the levels get increasingly difficult. If a level is too difficult, a super Luigi guide box will appear to show you a run through the stage. Star coins and secret stages make an appearance for the Mario players who want a satisfying challenge. Some of these coins will have you thinking for a bit before you can get them. Some of them will require you to have a certain item with you. Secret stages will also take some time to find, increasing replay value for those players who want the most of their games.

NSMBU Luigi

Multiplayer is also available for this game. Three other players can choose between the recently popular Luigi, and a blue or yellow toad. This can be a competitive environment, or other players can cooperate to help you collect those hard to reach star coins. A fifth player has the ability to create disappearing platforms around the stage and stun enemies with the touchpad. This is useful for players who may want to be involved but not completely immersed in the gameplay. Playing with multiple players can sometimes make a level easier and sometimes do the opposite, giving a balance to the choice of adding a friend.

Other Modes

NSMBU Mii

There are other modes for competitive play. Challenge and Boost Rush mode allow for you and your friends to compete in clearing stages with the fastest time, staying alive the longest and other objectives. You can even use your Mii for these competitions. The more competitive players will enjoy these game modes while others may not. Another feature of the game is that the posts of other players around the world who have posted in Miiverse about a specific level will show up throughout the game. This makes you feel more connected with other players.

Pros Cons

 

Has a reasonably good balance for nostalgia -Mario platforming formula still fun but makes for a “play it safe” plot
-New stages, items, enemies and characters give enough reason to play Mario once again -Too easy for more advanced players in the beginning of the game
-Visuals and musical choices are well thought out -Doesn’t realize its potential with the amount of items and Yoshi
-Star coins and secret stages give more advanced players a challenge
-Competitive modes can be fun to challenge others with

 

The Acosta Statement

Come on Nintendo! We know you could have done a lot more here. Yes, the game is fun and could keep us busy for a while until new games arrive, but I see holes that could have been filled until they were overflowing with content. Nevertheless, New Super Mario Bros U is a fun game to play. Some of you will find it worth buying no matter what. But for the rest of you; the question is, is it worth buying along with Super Luigi U? We’ll find out soon in my next review!

7/10

Super Mario Bros U meme

Injustice: Gods Among Us Review

A quick break…literally.

Injustice Super vs Bat

I thought we could take a quick break from the action-adventure series that is The Legend of Zelda, and I could review a different type of game. This is Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Have you ever laughed at Aquaman for his ridiculous outfit or his seemingly useless superpowers? Well, not this time. Injustice: Gods Among Us is a fast-paced, action-packed 2D fighting game made by the creators of Mortal Kombat using your favorite DC superheroes and villains. How action-packed you ask? Let’s start!

Presentation

Injustice Nightwing

If there was a word that was more extreme and meaningful than action-packed, this is when it would be appropriate. The fighters come with new costume designs in HD. The battles take place on very detailed stages that have more to hurt your opponent with than you could use. The best part? It all looks great, except for the occasional glitch, one example being when Superman’s head looks like it’s going through his cape. Besides that, Netherrealm has created a world to remember. A big part of that world is what is known as stage transitions. When you push your opponent close enough to the edge of a stage, given that it has a stage transition, initiating this will take your opponent through a world of pain whether it’s being kicked through a wall and Bruce Wayne’s roof or getting beaten on by select few villains from the Batman universe. Another mechanic of the game that’s fun to look at is the super moves that can be performed when your meter is full. A character like Flash can use this move to run around the earth and land a jaw-breaking two-punch combo on his opponent.

There’s so much going on with the visuals that it seems Netherrealms didn’t pay much attention to the music. There’s one song for each stage that you most likely won’t notice considering everything there is to look at. The one song per stage wouldn’t be quite a problem except there’s only 15 stages with some slightly altered copies contributing to that 15. The creators most likely thought since there are stage transitions in some of the stages, this would make up for the small number. However, you will notice the flaw after several fights.

 

Gameplay

Injustice gameplay

Unless you’re only committed to fighting games with a large stage collection, do not be discouraged by a small number of places to fight. The most important part, the fighting, is worth your time. A lot of fighting games end up having exploits that ruin the game for some people. A balanced roster is key. Injustice does a fantastic job with balancing each character and making each of them unique though the occasional player can still manage to spam you with an attack like eye-lasers from Superman. Even then, there are characters that have the potential to deter your opponent from a spamming strategy. A character like Nightwing can pull of an easier to dodge but faster projectile attack against a character like Superman right before he attempts to shoot lasers across the screen.

Where Injustice does so well is in the easy to learn, hard to master formula. Right from the beginning, you can go through the tutorial to learn the basics. Just doing this will give you a good basis for fighting with any character. You’ll be performing special moves and stage transitions with ease in no time. It gets better. Through a mode called S.T.A.R.S Lab, you can learn the specifics of each character through ranked missions. This mode encourages thinking about potential combos. Once you get the hang of specific combos, you can really become an expert fighter whether it’s inventing your own devastating 21 hit combo with Catwoman or finding a combo that delivers 30% damage with Bane.

 

Story Mode, S.T.A.R.S Lab and Other Modes

Injustice Story

Besides local and online multiplayer, you can choose between the story mode, S.T.A.R.S Lab missions and variety of different arcade style Battle modes. The story mode progresses like Mortal Kombat, giving different characters that you have to fight with to go through the story. Though not bad, the story isn’t extremely compelling. Batman is on a mission to stop Superman from being the ruler of the earth. What drives Superman to the brink of madness? The Joker of course, who else? Batman uses a sort of dimensional transporter to recruit help. Though there’s not much to complain about, it frequently seemed like the plot was made just to give characters a reason to fight others and different dimension versions of themselves. There’s a lot of background that can be learned by purchasing Injustice comics. They’re only 99 cents per issue, so if you have a couple bucks lying around, it’s worth taking a look at for what it costs.

Though S.T.A.R.S Lab can be a great tool to learn how to use any character, it sometimes feels like a drag to complete all of the missions for one character. There are occasional rehashed mini-games that contribute to about one or two missions out of ten for each character. You don’t have to do them of course, but when you’re trying to complete the game you feel obliged. Besides those missions, the others are fun to give a try and attempt to get all of the stars that you can. There’s even costumes available for completing a certain amount of missions at certain levels. 

Once you have gotten a hang of the game, you can test your abilities against the computers in the Battle modes. There’s a classic mode that has an ending for each character, but there are other types also. Each battle mode becomes more and more difficult until you’re trying to defeat every character on the highest level with only one life. Different Battle modes can help gauge where you’re at skill-wise.

Pros:       Cons:     
-Pretty well balanced roster -Minor infrequent glitches with the visuals (that don’t affect gameplay)
-Each character has his or her own fighting style and feel different -S.T.A.R.S lab missions can sometimes feel like a drag
-Environmental hazards, stage transitions and special moves are cool to watch -The lack of stages become apparent once you have played them all
-Players can be introduced well into the general  controls in tutorial and with specific characters in S.T.A.R.S Lab -Not an extremely compelling story which seems to give excuses for characters fighting each other and themselves

 

The Acosta Statement

What an injustice it would be to not give this game a try, whether it’s because you’re a fighting game fan, a DC comics fan or someone new to fighting games. Even if you don’t like fighting games, you could be surprised at how much fun you can have with this game.

8/10

Other Notes

DLC for the Wii U version of Injustice is promised to be coming soon, so don’t lose hope!

(EDIT) DLC for the Wii U version is now available!

You can find Injustice comics @ comixology.com

Injustice Meme

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

Oracle of Seasons Meme