Whatever Review: Mighty Switch Force

Hi. It’s been awhile. Sorry.

A deluge of games hit my face since the beginning of November. Too many, almost. New Zelda, new Mario, new Mario Kart, 10 FREE GBA Ambassador games, Pushmo, VVVVVV, Twinbee (a bit late to this one), etc etc. I have been lost in gaming nerd Nirvana or whatever for almost two months. Adrift in Zelda’s intricate albeit linear environments, mostly.

But, I am back. Happy 2012, you two readers you.

Mighty Switch Force is made by Wayforward, a dev that Ninty nerds love love love. I have never hopped aboard this bandwagon — I found previous Mighty Flip Champs to be a fun albeit mild take on puzzle platforming, while their other titles were not played by me. Mighty Switch Force inspires the same feelings I got from Flip Champs: I’m having some fun, everything looks pretty nice, but… “eh.”

The biggest drawback to Mighty Switch Force is its brevity. Even at rather cheap price of $6 (in comparison to most eShop games), it’s just too short. 16 levels short to be exact, most of them over within 5 minutes. The gameplay resembles a miniature collectathon, with your cop character nabbing six escaped prison inmates and then finding the exit. The “Switch” part of the title refers to blocks that you have to basically turn off and on to get through the levels.

There are charming sprites everywhere, decently well drawn but in a very specific style that doesn’t totally click with me. The 3D adds a fun sense of depth that is entirely inessential to gameplay, with characters popping out of the screen and various layers of background pushed to the back, ala 3D Classics: Kirby’s Adventure (among others). I really enjoy it, although I can understand why it is considered pointless by others.

For the hour or so it takes to get through the game, it is an enjoyable time. I even initially recommended it to others. But I’ve lived with the game for a couple of weeks, and it doesn’t thrill me anymore after completing everything. You have the option of trying to beat levels as quickly as possible (“par times”), so for score attack junkies it could be worthwhile.

+ Nice, detailed sprite work, even if I’m not a huge fan of the style.
+ Level design is consistently engaging.
+ Lack of hand holding is refreshing.
+ Decent fun.

– Short.
– Replay value isn’t quite high.
– Sound effects (ie voice overs) can be annoying.
– Puzzles all revolve around the same two or three concepts.

*** / *****

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Review: Tetris Axis

Hi, Tetris! Welcome to my 3DS! I knew you would visit sooner or later!!

Simple stuff out of the way: Tetris Axis is not a terrible game, nor is it an amazing one. It does the classic game design pretty well, and for my $30 has more value than that Tetris Party Live I know you have been nervously eyeing in the eShop for a paltry five bucks.

In fact, I have enjoyed Axis slightly more than Tetris DS. Nerds will know DS as that highly acclaimed iteration Nintendo developed in 2006 because they are probably still playing it. All of the extra “party” modes in Tetris Axis do a great job of simply being entertaining, something I cannot say for more than half of DS’s package. There is nary a dud in the bunch, even if some are more compelling than others.

And to point out the obvious: sure, this new one might not have Mario and Zelda running around in the background like that fan favorite, but something tells me that you are not paying attention to what’s going on behind the tetrominos at level 15 and beyond.

The main thing Axis wants you to know right on the package — and in the scant advertising Nintendo has allowed — is that there are AR MODES! AUGMENTED REALITY TETRIS! YOU CAN PLAY TETRIS ON YOUR KITCHEN TABLE! The downside of this, however, is that it is not particularly fun. Oops!

The 3DS cameras are still shitty, and they still require a bunch of light my seemingly impenetrable cave of a house will never have, so just setting up for a specific Tetris-friendly environment is enough to drive one mad. Once you finally get Marathon mode going, it ends: the pieces are bigger than usual in a smaller field, the requirement to reach the end easily done within a minute or two. Full disclosure — I could not complete a round of AR Tower Climber, that one mode where a stick figure runs up a tower magically growing out of your table or someone’s face via a path of tetrominos you helpfully throw at him. The game could not see my giant AR card even with thirty lamps scattered around it. But, hey! At least it was not as frustrating as my time online!

Which REALLY clumsily brings me to the game’s most glaring flaw: the random online matches are broken. A new item is being trolled about to make matches unfair and pointless — I will call it the “screen switcher.” With a tap of the stylus, one who hates the concept of happiness and probably kitties can switch your beautiful looking blank space to theirs, usually an intentional mess of L pieces stacked on top each other that will instantly end your game and lower your score. To see hundreds of points from your online nerd score go down due to this is absolutely frustrating and wrong, and there is nothing you or I can do about it because Nintendo does not believe in modern technology (patching, online, HD, decent online infrastructure, teleportation).

One of the main reasons anyone gets Tetris for more than $5 in these iPhone days is the online component, and to have it be nearly unplayable is just not an ideal situation. Especially when one considers Tetris Battle — a free game on Facebook that does battles between random people way better with its tiered progression and not totally obnoxious items.

Aside from that, I have already put in around 20 hours without even noticing, so either that is something worth noting or simply reflects the general nature of Tetris: an instant time suck regardless of what version you are playing. However, I have enjoyed my time with Axis, so, I do not know. So confused! Buy it/do not buy it!

+ It’s Tetris!!
+ Most of the extra modes are fun and entertaining
+ Your Mii dances really hilariously on the bottom screen!
+ Local multiplayer is a good time, of course

– Online isn’t kewl
– AR modes are boring
– Nintendo very obviously did not develop this one, so some may take issue with the presentation

***/*****

Review: Star Fox 64 3D

Boring prologue: Star Fox is an odd series for me, one that I never really got into before this. First there was the original eponymous game on the SNES — groundbreaking at the time for sure, now graphically dated and ugly. This aesthetic/shallow barrier presents a challenge for me to even complete the training stage, as sometimes I am not really sure what I am shooting at or why.

The 64 iteration was somehow skipped by yours truly much the same, although this time it was due to indifference in regards to the controls (I could not for the life of me figure out a summersault without running into random objects) and subject matter — that of sci fi nerdiness. Space stuff in general is not exactly my forte, unless it has Mario in it. Well, if Mario is in outer space a second time, anyway.

Years later, with forgotten GameCube and DS titles left in the dust, the 3DS system comes and almost goes and I am sitting here in a quandary — should I buy this game even though I have not particularly been interested in the series before? The total lack of anything to play coupled with my absolutely awful impulsive behavior negated the question entirely and I had it in my hands the moment GameStop opened on launch day.

For once, I can thank my persistent, life-long failure at trying to save money. Star Fox 64, 3D or not, is one of the best games I have played this year.

Simply described as a “rail shooter” with sections of “all range” combat (fly in any direction to generally fight a boss in the middle of a giant arena), it is also incredibly addictive and completely timeless. The action is fast, the enemies are arranged in formations reminiscent of classic arcade titles like Galaga, and the boss battles are epic and utterly satisfying.

A single play through will take an hour of your time, maybe 30 minutes more at most. This could be misconstrued as something quite negative, especially for a re-release priced at $40, but you will not play this just one time. Why not, you ask? (Italics?) There are two reasons: first, the game is so fun that an hour will melt away in an instant, and secondly, no single play through is the same. Almost every planet you fly in (not to mention those pesky submarine/tank missions) has an optional way of completing them, which in turn leads to previously unexplored worlds to conquer. There are so many different ways to get from point A to point B it is exhilarating.

Along with the process of opening up new planets to explore and racking up medals (kill a ridiculous set amount of enemies in a level), there is an actual story, too. Granted, it is of one that is a bit hackneyed; save the universe from the evil villain and whatnot. But what really shines here are the characters, all of which are memorable — sometimes unintentionally so, but nevertheless memorable. You are Fox McCloud, leader of the group, uhm, Star Fox, which also includes Slippy, Falco, and Peppy. Peppy might be the lesser of the supporting cast, but he’s still kinda cool. The best of the lot is definitely a tie between Slippy and Falco, both polar opposites in terms of personality and skill: Slippy is just awful at, uhm, everything, and also happens to be a total wuss — while Falco is a sarcastic asshole, one who quips negatively about everyone’s performance (including yours), but is at least capable of piloting and shooting down various enemies. Most of the time, anyway.

The story is constantly woven into the gameplay thanks to wonderful one-liners and excellent voiceover work. It is makes for an interesting combination — an addictive arcade/score attack title (albeit one with many paths to explore) that also has a story competent enough to feel at home in any simple RPG.

The original N64 release featured graphics that were amazing at the time (specifically, all the way back in 1997), but nowadays it almost looks like someone drank a gallon of green Kool Aid and vomited everywhere. OK, not that bad, but it has dated rather poorly. In complete contrast, the 3DS version looks absolutely wonderful. There are still occasional patches of blurry textures, but most everything has an ornate sense of detail and looks breathtaking — water and fire in particular. Wait until you reach Zoness. Woof.

The 3DS version also sports a few nifty options: one is 3D, another is gyro controls. I can not comment much on the gyro sensor, other than that it works pretty well, albeit with 3D turned all the way down. It is an interesting feature, but not comparable to the slide pad in terms of reliability and function.

The 3D is decent, but nothing spectacular. It provides some depth but not that much of it; my slider is all the way to the top and I barely even notice it sometimes. At least it’s not occasionally distracting like the hilariously intense 3D found in Pilotwings Resort.

There is also a beefed up, totally not online multiplayer mode. If you have any 3DS toting friends near by — any, seriously — it’s a very fun take on something akin to battle mode in Mario Kart. Each person’s 3DS camera also captures their face at the same time, providing a new layer of hilarity as you can see the disappointment one feels when they are shot down. Still, it is not online, and that absolutely sucks.

If you have not played through the original much like me, then by all means SF643D is absolutely worth every penny of that $40 — the very definition of a sublime game, and is the best version ten times over thanks to the amazing visuals and fun local multiplayer. If you have, though, maybe wait until it drops at least ten dollars. It will, too, at least online, probably in a month or so.

+ Probably one of the best games ever made, but a lot better.
+ Controls flawlessly with the circle pad.
+ Insanely addictive.
+ Best looking 3DS game so far.
+ Memorable characters/lines, great voice acting.

– No online multiplayer.
– It’s been released multiple times now.

*****/*****
(For those who’ve played it 5,000,000 times before: ****/*****)

Ooops, I Just Bought Urban Champion (Quick Review I Guess)

I like the idea behind the 3D Classics line of games. Y’know, 2D is suddenly 3D by the power of MAGIC or whatever. It’s very appealing, and even though Excitebike didn’t set my world on fire, that Xevious remake so did — it made me fall in love with a game I kind of always actually hated.

Hoping the magic would work on lonely old Urban Champion, I ponied up the $5 and was ready to be spellbound (that is the worst word ever) by some amazing 3D-enhanced classic gaming goodness.

But oh my god, I don’t know. I just don’t. What did I just play for 30 minutes? I literally punched like 10 dudes to the right of the screen over and over and THAT WAS IT!!!

This is all new to me because I actually have never played Urban Champion before. The box art and Ninty nostalgia factor have always interested me, despite a billion and one warnings (ie IGN about every two years saying how it’s the worst Nintendo game of all time).

I don’t know if it’s the worst Nintendo game of all time — there is an odd, simplistic charm about the thing. All you do is punch fucking assholes, but it’s nice to move up the ranks.

The 3D effect? I don’t know (again). I just don’t. It doesn’t really add anything — if you don’t mess with the options and turn on the slightly amusing “camera option” (said camera swoops around each building you cross as you punch more and more guys), you’re literally playing an NES title with sprites popping out of the screen and that’s it. Even if you do have the “camera option” turned on, I don’t know? I don’t know.

I’d like to think that it’s a fun novelty I’ll pull out every once in awhile, and I haven’t played multiplayer on it so I don’t know (again). I can see punching (again, no other moves — you can’t even fucking kick) my friend in the face becoming a good time. But which friend of mine is EVER going to buy this?

If you loved it back then because, y’know, there were no better options, and are dying of nostalgia like the rest of us, I see it as a worthwhile purchase. Otherwise, take a 10 second glance at any YouTube video of the game and you’ve seen the entire game. Five bucks would be much better spent on some Taco Bell.

**/*****

3DS Will Be $80 Less This August

Nintendo is insane. Come August 12th, the 3DS will go all the way down to $169.99. This is a phenomenal price, and anyone and everyone should pick it up for such. But it’s also hilariously terrifying.

We all knew the 3DS was overpriced (especially via news that producing each one cost Nintendo a paltry $101), but this seriously confirms it. Those who waited until good games came out were the smart ones, at least in comparison to the other twelve people (me included) that bought one at launch.

Around eighty dollars less (or more including tax), this paints the most obvious portrait of failure ever. The 3DS is simply not doing well, at all. Sales are dismal: in the past three months, the handheld has only sold 710,000 worldwide. Less than a million across the globe.

Nintendo is softening the blow for everyone who stupidly bought it already by offering 20 free games from upcoming NES (yawn) and GBA (alright!) virtual console selections. Yes, the 3DS will now offer games from those two systems in a few months.

Twenty free games is a fucking lot of free games, but I’m still paranoid the 3DS will become the next Virtual Boy.

You Should Probably Get This Game

As a hater of Xevious before an hour ago, I must say I am rather surprised at how fun the new 3D Classics version is on the 3DS. For $5.99, you get a pretty challenging game that makes great use of the 3D; you have to shoot what’s in the air and what’s on the ground.

It probably doesn’t sound thrilling, but it’s a lot better than Excitebike!

Review: Resident Evil: The Mercs 3D

Two bad things right away: this is a mini-game for $40, and you cannot delete your save data ever.

Let me repeat that: YOU CANNOT DELETE YOU SAVE DATA.

EVER.

EVER EVER EVER.

OK.

That is a genuine boner kill, for sure. No matter how it affects you — whether or not you really care — it’s just a really shitty thing for Capcom to do. Personally, I don’t give two farts about not being able to delete my own save file. I don’t have a need to, as “starting fresh” after already playing for hours really just amounts to doing the same damn thing over and over again (not the biggest fan of that). But it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t affect me personally. What Capcom is doing is implementing an awful new DRM method that totally fucks over anyone who buys a used copy, and also the nerd giving it to GameStop for a measly four bucks or whatever. This thing has no resell value whatsoever.

It is also a mini-game. Featured on Resident Evil 4 and 5 as a bonus throwaway, you basically shoot and kill and punch as many zombie assholes as possible while trying to survive within a time limit. However, it is a very fun mini-game.

There’s really little else to the cartridge — you just have 30 some “missions,” almost all of which involve the super serious voice over dude shouting at you “DEFEAT AS MANY ENEMIES AS YOU CAN!”

What really makes this game addictive, though, are the unlockables. There are a LOT. You have “medals,” which is Capcom’s way of saying “JEEEEZ Nintendo, why can’t you have an achievement system like everyone else?????” by supplying their own. Every new one earned feels great, and surprising as they usually come out of nowhere (a lot of standard ones — like killing so and so amount of enemies, etc).

There are characters to unlock, along with stages/missions and skills. Every character can take three skills with them into battle, and they range from being able to heal quicker to shooting a handgun with more precision. Obvious stuff, but both earning and using these skills is an absolute blast. On top of this, you can also level each skill up so they become more powerful.

You can play with another person in the same room (who also has their own overpriced copy) or someone online, and it works flawlessly. There are two boss battles and you basically NEED another player shooting the creature down with you to succeed.

This multiplayer functionality is wonderful and retains all of the fun we got from Resident Evil 5 (which was the best part of that game).

Graphically, it looks amazing and has more detail than say, RE4 for the GameCube. Seeing this in motion will definitely surprise you, and the idea/concept of carrying around a portable RE title sans story (which honestly isn’t as bad as you’re thinking) is a great one. The only hitch, described in every review out there, is that enemies a little far away look absolutely terrible, thanks to some odd flipbook-like animation.

The 3D is really well done — I’ve had mine all the way up the entire way through and loved it. It is nowhere near as intense as, say, Pilotwings Resort — but it doesn’t need to be. It looks great and adds some pizazz to an already pretty game.

With all of these pluses, it’s still just a mini-game for $40. One feels that it could have been a downloadable title on the PS360 for $15-20 at the most, albeit a great one.

+It’s really addictive and fun
+Chainsaw dude still hilariously terrifying
+It looks pretty
+Includes a demo for RE: Revelations, which gives the player a good feel of how awesome that game will be

-It’s overpriced, should be $30 at the most
-You can’t delete your save data, so you should probably not buy this used
-Gets a little old after awhile
-Enemies far away look terrible

***/*****