General => Entertainment => Topic started by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:05:57 pm

Title: Mirby's Reviews!
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:05:57 pm
Hey all! It's me, your new resident Journalist! As such, this topic is for the reviews I've written. This first post will be where I index all the reviews I'll post here alphabetically, so enjoy!

Adventure Time: Hey, Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage? (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443133#msg443133)

The DENPA Men: They Came By Wave (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443130#msg443130)

Fire Emblem: Awakening (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443134#msg443134)

HarmoKnight (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443135#msg443135)

Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443129#msg443129)

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg444802#msg444802)

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443132#msg443132)
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (http://zfgc.com/forum/index.php?topic=40577.msg443131#msg443131)

Title: Kirby's Dream Collection
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:07:03 pm

Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition

Platform: Wii

Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc.

Genre: Platformer
As I'm sure most of you are aware, 2012 happens to be Kirby's 20th Anniversary, and our little pink puffball got a hell of a collection to commemorate it than a certain plumber did for his 25th. This collection is Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition, a Wii disc that really is something to collect. Priced at just $40, the disc contains all three Dream Land games, Adventure, Super Star, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards.

There's also a History mode that lets you see what year Kirby games came out, look at trailers for those games and hear a song from each, and read a few corresponding real life tidbits too. In addition, lurking within this mode are three full episodes of Kirby: Right Back At Ya! New to the collection is New Challenge Mode, which builds upon the Challenge levels of the recent Return to Dream Land.


The past games themselves are presented as they were, be it the grayscale of the first entry or the chalky look of Dream Land 3. Borders now take up screen space, but it works. My only gripe is that it's tricky to get back to the main menu; you need to Reset from the Home menu to do that. The games are timeless fun, and still good to this day (well, except for the original, but I'll deal with that).

As for the New Challenge mode stages... they're great. This mode consists of three worlds, and much like in Return to Dream Land, highlighted letters spell out something. In that game, they spelled out CROWNED, but here, it's HAL, a nice nod to the developer. Though the first two worlds hold abilities from Return to Dream Land, the last one contains one only seen in Amazing Mirror: Smash. Yes, Kirby's moveset from Super Smash Bros. is available to use in a few stages in this collection; it's quite fun, I must admit.


Now, this collection isn't just games and nostalgia, no way. Included with the game is a 45-track CD consisting of tracks from nearly every game in the series, along with three new tracks. The song choice is great; though Fountain of Dreams may be absent from Adventure and Nightmare in Dream Land's selections, it is present in its Air Ride iteration, which is probably the best version outside of Smash Bros. The new songs are great too; Electro Kirby took me by complete surprise, I must admit.

There is also a 45-page booklet (weird, I know) that details Kirby's history along with an insider look at concept art and rejected ideas for literally every Kirby game there is. The cover has an exclusive piece of art made just for the anniversary and it only gets better from there. Little tidbits such as an idea for a Guard Bomb triggered by a long block in Super Star or Waddle Dee actually doing something in Crystal Shards just make it all the more special. I wish they'd done the star-shaped track in Air Ride, by the way.


So, in the end, is this collection for anyone who wants a good game, or is it only for die-hard Kirby fans? Personally, I think it's the former; not only does it include 6 of the best Kirby games, but it also is very reasonably priced. Kirby games are also great for pick-up-and-play; you don't need much time to set up at all. And if you like breaking high scores, you get ranked based on total points in the New Challenge mode. There's a little something for everyone in this collection, and you can tell a lot of love went into it. Pick it up if you get the chance; Kirby's still here and he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Might as well celebrate with such a fantastic collection. Until next time, game on!
Title: The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:07:47 pm

THE "DENPA" MEN: They Came by Wave

Platform: 3DS (eShop-only)

Developer: Genius Sonority

Genre: Platformer

Known in Japan as Denpa Ningen RPG, or roughly translated (or rather, Google translated because I'm lazy) "Human Radio," referencing the titular humanoid creatures that ride on the radio waves all around us. For those of you who've played Mega Man Star Force, think Mr. Hertz and the EM beings. Anyways, the game suddenly was mentioned a few weeks back as being localized. The second entry of the series, Denpa Ningen RPG 2 hit the Japanese eShop last Thursday (September 27, 2012), the same day the North America eShop received the first entry, the one you're reading a review for right now.

The game is touted as being an Augmented Reality Role Playing Game, in that you use the 3DS Camera to scan your surroundings and reveal the little Denpa Men floating along like fish in the ocean. For those that don't want to use the camera but still catch Denpa Men, there's a handy Manner Mode which turns off the camera and replaces the background with a blue wireframe. The first thing you'll notice about the Denpa Men is that they're all pretty much wearing a bodysuit, somewhat like a Mii but with arms. The second thing you'll notice is that those suits are different colors.


Here's the fun thing: those colors determine their elemental strengths and weaknesses. Black bodysuits have no strengths or weaknesses. White ones are strong against Dark without weaknesses. Red is weak to water and strong to fire, whereas green is strong against wind and weak against water. Then there's striped Denpa Men, such as the one below. Danny there is red and light blue, meaning he's strong against fire and ice. The third thing you'll notice is that some have antennas and some don't. These determine their abilities; each Denpa Man can only have one ability, but they can grow. Occasionally you'll find a Denpa Man with an Antenna Root; those grow into rare abilities and are rare themselves depending on where you live. And occasionally you'll even come across shiny Denpa Men that appear white on the touch screen radar; these Denpa Men hold rare abilities and are rare themselves.

When you start a new game, you'll get a Hero with a random name like all the others, random facial appearance, and a random color. The hero will always have the Revive ability though. From there, you catch a few more Denpa Men to make your party grow. Your home base is Digitoll (a pun on digital), an island that houses many things. You'll find an antenna which captures Denpa Men, a house for all your Denpa Men to stay in, a shop run by a dwarf, a shrine to revive fallen Denpa Men, a PC to scan QR codes to receive Denpa Men from others, a museum that shows every antenna ability you've seen in the game, a port to see the World Map and head out to other islands, and the first dungeon. The handy part about the World Map is it tells you a recommended level for each island, which is its own dungeon.

When you first enter a dungeon, you'll see its name along with an episode title akin to anime and your hero will talk to you. You explore the dungeon in old-school RPG fashion, which is wandering aimlessly looking for treasure and the next floor. Enemies appear on the map, so you can flee them if they haven't seen you yet or if you're sufficiently leveled to outrun them when they chase you. A handy map is also filled in on the touch screen, useful for the inevitable repeat trips through the dungeons for treasure and experience. Within every dungeon hides a healing fountain (except the first) that restores all your HP and AP and removes all status effects. Occasionally you'll find a dwarf who'll give you a recuperative massage (I think) with the same effect.


You'll also find a warp when you're near the boss of the dungeon. This is useful in most dungeons as it gives a safe way to heal, and you can check out the scenes before each boss battle without triggering them (you still need to walk up to the boss in most cases to trigger the battle) and then run back and leave. The game autosaves whenever you return to the World Map from a dungeon or finish doing ANYTHING on Digitoll, which is useful. When you get into a battle, which you will, there's four things you can do. Let the computer decide, make everyone attack, choose everyone's attacks yourself, or run. The AI is pretty good too; often I'd leave it up to the AI and it usually would do what I wanted, though it also became predictable on some grinding trips so I had to compensate with some manual orders a few times. Overall, it's useful and speeds up the battles. And if your quests go unsuccessful and everyone dies, you can recapture lost Denpa Men with the Shrine. Just be prepared to spend a lot of Offerings if your guys were high-level.

And speaking of battles, the monster designs are great in this; there's a few designs I'm surprised I hadn't seen before, but I'll leave those as a surprise for obvious reasons. I loved encountering new enemies and seeing the clever designs, though the staple palette swaps were in full supply as usual. The game is full of a quirky charm, and a quirky sense of humor in everything from the text to the monsters. One Denpa Man I caught asked me, "Is this some sort of scam?" Another inquired, "Is my beauty a crime?" You can also talk to them in the Denpa House and get some seasonal dialogue based on the internal clock. The music is also quite quirky, handled by Hitoshi Sakimoto and Basiscape. Honestly, I love all the songs, and was surprised he was behind it.

One of the fun things about this game was that within every dungeon you would find some sort of upgrade for something on Digitoll, and after every dungeon the shop stocked new items. It became rather exciting, seeing my home base grow with my Denpa Men, new features coming as a reward for clearing a dungeon. It was also nice being able to upgrade my Denpa Men with accessories and clothes to reflect the changing environments in the game. Yeah, your team of firebending Denpa Men who can't be touched by wind may be good for one dungeon, but you may need to switch that up for the next dungeon; that one has a lot of water, and your fire team will be extinguished. There's a balance, you find, and exploiting that is the best way to survive in this game. It's surprisingly tactical when it comes down to it.


So is this game worth it or should it have stayed in Japan? Personally I didn't even know it existed until I saw the sequel on a Japanese Nintendo Direct, and I fell in love instantly. Everything about it is quirky, and it's a breath of fresh air. It also has some pretty good 3D, if you like using your 3DS for that. There's a free demo on the eShop that everyone should check out; not only can you save your progress at any time, you can save transfer data to the full game. This allows you to keep your progress and Denpa Men intact for the full game, which is only $9.99.

It also has about 20 hours of gameplay for the main storyline. Notice the italics; you probably know what the reason for that is. Yep, once you beat the final boss a post-game storyline consisting of three dungeons with recommended levels ranging from 40 to 60 opens up. I haven't quite started on those yet, but I look forward to seeing what they look like and the enemies present within. And, of course, treasure hunting. I may just update this review when I finish those, and I may not. Either way, I foresee a lot more time with the Denpa Men in my future. Perhaps you'll spend some time with them as well... Until next time, game on!
Title: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:08:44 pm

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Platform: 3DS (Retail and Downloadable via eShop)

Developer: Level-5

Genre: Puzzle/Mystery

Ah, Professor Layton. Ever since the first game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, was released in early 2008 I've been a devout fan. Equal parts point-and-click adventure, mystery, and puzzle game, Level-5 combines them all flawlessly for a cohesive experience that is only bolstered by the rustic atmosphere Tomohito Nishiura's soundtrack provides. After four games on the Nintendo DS, Layton makes the transition to the 3DS with this installment, and he does it flawlessly.

Though this is the fifth game in the series, it's the second chronologically and takes place after Professor Layton and the Last Specter. If you want to get technical, it takes place after the movie, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, as well, but I'll elaborate on that later. In regards to Miracle Mask, this adventure takes place in the thriving desert city of Monte d'Or that is currently being terrorized by the Masked Gentleman and his "dark miracles." Or is it?


The game opens up with a grand parade through the streets of Monte d'Or, a city that's thriving but was but a desert oasis 18 years beforehand. Such is the first mystery to be added to the list; how did this city get so big in such a short amount of time? Before anyone has time to ponder this, the Masked Gentleman appears. The giant clown balloon starts to deflate and falls to the ground. Everyone flees, but not Layton and Luke. They run towards the commotion; after narrowly avoiding being smashed by the balloon, they come across statues... of people... The first dark miracle they are witness to is the petrification of tourists!! Just who is this Masked Gentleman, and how does he hold such power? And what's up with the mask he wears, the Mask of Chaos? Layton isn't fooled though; for every puzzle there is a solution. And this is quite the puzzle.

As for the reason they were drawn to Monte d'Or? Layton received a letter from an old friend, one Angela Ledore. Though they hadn't spoken in 18 years, she knew Layton would be able to solve the mystery of the Masked Gentleman. As such, the game's chapters alternate between the present with Professor Layton and his companions, and the past of Hershel Layton and his friends. It's interesting to see how Layton became who he was in his hometown of Stansbury, and how it all relates to what's happening to Monte d'Or in the present. There are two distinct areas to explore in both time periods, and the story is quite well written.


Naturally, this being a Layton game, there's going to be some puzzles. 150 to be precise, with about 365 more free downloadable Daily Puzzles. There's a good variety too, without as many of the oft-annoying sliding puzzles as in previous installments. I found that though the 3D wasn't used in any of the puzzles for the sake of a solution, the other features were used nicely. There's even a couple puzzles that utilize the internal gyroscope, so you need to move the 3DS like one of those old-school marble labyrinths with the slots the marble could fall in. It's quite rewarding to solve a puzzle on your own, a trend that continues with this game.

However, with the transition from DS to 3DS comes a few changes to the system. No longer will the puzzle itself be always present on the top-screen; instead, you can display the description on either screen or even hide it altogether! In addition, the note feature has been overhauled, allowing even more colors to be used (even purple!) and an undo feature if you mess up. It's quite nice. And the mini-games have been done nicely as well; there's 3 in the trunk and another one you can access but only at night (in-game, not actual nighttime). There's a toy robot that's pretty fun, a shop interface that gets devious in later aisles, and a cute rabbit that you teach tricks and use those tricks to act out plays. Just beware of that rabbit; all reports I've seen call it the cutest thing ever, and I'm inclined to agree.


The exploration interface has also received quite the overhaul. The biggest change is that the scenery is all on the top screen instead of the bottom. As such, you no longer need to choose the shoe to move; you just tap where you want to go on the touch screen and you're there. Instead of a shoe, there's now the magnifying glass; this is necessary to search areas with, as each part of Monte d'Or you explore is bigger than the screen's display area, so you'll need to move the camera around a bit. Hint coins are a bit less painful to find now as the magnifying glass icon will turn orange when over a suspicious area, be it a bit of funny text, a coin, or a collection item. It can also turn blue, denoting an area you can zoom into, revealing even more in that segment of the city and potentially more coins or collectibles. The characters are now 3D models as well, and as Level-5 has proven time and again, these models are faithful to the artwork we've seen of the characters. They move about and have their own mannerisms and everything. It's much more entertaining to watch than just the static poses they had in previous games.

All these systems come together for one of the most riveting Layton adventures I've played, and it all leads into the recently announced Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies. The prequel trilogy that began with Last Specter started an overarching storyline involving the ancient Azran civilization, and all parts of it (including the aforementioned Eternal Diva) are relevant to the end. I recommend playing (and watching) these parts, because they're all great; however, this review isn't about the trilogy, it's about this installment in it. And it's a great installment; it moves Layton to the 3DS perfectly. The cutscenes are crisp, the music is clear, and the world is even livelier than ever before.


Speaking of the music, it's quite good. Tomohito Nishiura's on top of his game with this one; there's not a track in the game I haven't come to love. And it's as clear in-game as you hear in that video; with the transition from DS to 3DS comes better audio fidelity, which this game uses magnificently. Though the backgrounds of each area are actual artwork, there's plenty of other things in front of that to bring it to life, and the random NPCs that litter the area only help that (fun fact: these NPCs are the very same unnamed characters you'll see in the assorted puzzles of the game). And of course, the music only heightens that sense of life, that feeling that Monte d'Or (and Stansbury) is a living breathing world somewhere.

I highly recommend this game, whether you like puzzle games or just want a good mystery (but are good at solving puzzles because, come on, that's a huge part of the game). The music is phenomenal, and ties into each area perfectly. And the ending... once everything falls into place and you see how it all worked out... It's great. Check it out if you want, and if you're interested in the story of the Azran be sure to check out Last Specter and Eternal Diva. Until next time, game on!
Title: Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:09:52 pm

Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Platform: 3DS (Retail and Downloadable via eShop)

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Genre: Action/Adventure

Ever since the original Paper Mario landed in America back in 2001, fans have been enthralled by the mystical paper world of the series. After 2004's Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door built on that world in stellar fashion, the series took a platforming detour with 2007's Super Paper Mario. Ever since then, there's been quite the call for a return to the franchise, and E3 2010 gave but a small taste of what would eventually become Sticker Star. Two and a half years later, that game is finally in our hands. However, does it return to the lofty heights of the first two installments or continue the downward path started with Super Paper Mario? Stick around to find out!


As the title suggests, the game revolves around the usage of stickers. The story starts off with the great Sticker Fest, which is going well until Bowser sneaks in and touches the Sticker Comet (which no one should ever ever do), causing it to shatter and scatter across the world. A side effect of this is that six Royal Stickers scatter with the shards, the most powerful of which landing on Bowser causing him to go completely berserk and cause havoc everywhere. When Mario comes to, the Sticker Fest grounds are ruined and a small decal from the comet named Kersti is yelling at him. From these simple beginnings starts a quest filled with adventure, exploration, and hilarity, all to recover the Royal Stickers and restore peace to the land.

Unlike previous installments, Sticker Star has a world map; the reason for this is simply because it's on the 3DS. Being on a handheld system means smaller easy-to-access stages, which works and prevents as much backtracking as in previous installments. Since the chapters are broken up into bite-size chunk, it's almost like each stage is its own little story. Once you look at it that way, it's quite fun. Especially 3-9; you'll see why when you get there. There's also plenty of hidden paths and exploration within these stages, so it's not quite as linear as Super Paper Mario was. I found great joy in looking in every nook and cranny for items and exits; there's also stickers literally everywhere so grabbing those was fun too. Just be careful; you only have a limited number of spaces in your Sticker Album, and if it's full you can't keep picking these up until you either toss or use other stickers.


Speaking of which, stickers are your sole source of attacking. Each sticker is also a one-time use deal; this sounds bad, but as I said above, there's stickers literally everywhere. Regardless, there's several levels of each attack to find, and nearly one hundred total battle stickers in all. These range from varying jump attacks and elementally charged smacks of the hammer to fire flowers and a snowball. There's quite the variety in these attacks, and I enjoyed finding the nuances of each of them and their action commands.

The battle system is also back to how it was in the first two games, sans the stage and audience. Partners are also gone too, though that's only because they conflicted with the stickers too much* (http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2012/11/interview_the_team_behind_paper_mario_sticker_star). You can normally only use one sticker at a time, but you can use the optional battle spinner for 3 coins to pull up a slot machine. Match two icons to get to use two stickers in a turn; match three and you can use three, in addition to getting a bonus effect from the icons you matched up. You can also spend coins to ensure you get two matches or to slow down the linked panels. However, the more times you use these features in a battle, the costlier they get. The key to using this effectively is making sure you hit the action commands perfectly. If you can dispatch all enemies on the first turn of a battle (unless you were ambushed) you get a Perfect Bonus, which gives more coins than usual. This helps the risk/reward factor of pouring coins into the battle spinner.


In addition to the normal battle stickers littering the environment, you'll also see things. I'm not being vague here, that's actually what they're called. These things are real-world objects such as a fan or a faucet, and are mostly used to solve puzzles. However, you can't use things in their native form; you'll need to go to the main hub of Decalburg to turn them into stickers. In 1-4, you'll come across a windmill whose blades block the door. This is where Kersti comes in handy; she has the ability to Paperize stickers. By pressing Y at any time, you can freeze time and scan the environment for places a sticker might come in handy, or spots where the scenery is peeling away, hinting at another puzzle.

In the case of the windmill, there's a large square to place the Fan sticker, which will conjure a giant oscillating fan in the background to blow the blades out of the way. The cutscenes that play for all these items are very entertaining to watch, by the way. There's plenty more uses for Paperize though, from finding hidden boxes to upgrade stickers to placing hidden door stickers to open secret rooms. Also, you can use thing stickers in battle as well, which serve as summons of sort, each with their own action commands. These are riskier to store though, as they'll range in size and potentially take up quite a bit space in the Sticker Album.


Any RPG isn't complete without a fantastic soundtrack, and this game is no exception. Jazz is the name of the game, and it's in plentiful supply. It also helps to set the stage and fit into each environment you'll visit, whether it's cheerful grasslands a blistering desert, or even a frozen mountain. Each track sounds great and I would buy an official OST in a heartbeat if they released one. The world map also uses the same basic music, but it varies depending on what area you're in on the map with riffs to fit the place. There's also a handful of classic Mario tunes remixed, and hearing each of them redone in the jazzy style was fantastic.

All in all, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a great new installment in the series; though it may not be as fantastic as the first two, it's definitely a step in the right direction. The pop-up book world has never looked better, thanks in part to the 3D effect that actually  adds to the game instead of just being a gimmick. The stages are fun to explore and there's quite a few spots that are deviously hidden; I know I wandered aimlessly several times trying to find something. The music is entertaining, the battle system is simple on the surface and tricky once you brave its depths, and the humor always kept me laughing. There's also several achievements to complete and an entire Sticker Museum to fill up, requiring quite a bit of exploration and gratuitous use of Paperize. Though there were worries about this game, I can safely say that everything about it falls flat. Then again, everything's made of paper, so I wouldn't have it any other way. Until next time, game on!
Title: Adventure Time: Hey, Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:10:55 pm

Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!

Platforms: DS, 3DS

Developer: WayForward

Genre: Action-Adventure
Based on the popular cartoon, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! takes you on a quest through the Land of Ooo to recover the garbage that Ice King stole from Finn and Jake's treehouse. I took this quest and it was quite fun. I wandered around a large map from top-down view and then went into sidescrolling areas and punched, kicked, and sliced familiar foes from episodes throughout the series. It was quite enjoyable, I must admit. However, is it a worthy buy, or just some poor title that will disgrace the name of the series? Read on, because it's reviewing time!!


Thanks to the close partnership series creator Pendleton Ward had with the developers, the game is incredibly close to its source material. The characters are great, as is the writing; I was able to read everything that was said in the voice of the character who said it. There are also plenty of characters from the show in this game; I'm honestly amazed at how many characters do show up, and some locations as well. The story itself presents itself early and involves Finn and Jake from having to go everywhere to try to get the Ice King to give them their stuff back. Along the way, they run into a large cast of characters from the show and beat up monsters.

The overworld map is pretty cool; it's easy to figure out where one is going and each area of the map has its own unique overworld music. Occasionally, dark shadows appear on the world map, leading to a small battle that will reward you with an item. What's really cool is that the music for these battles changes depending on what area of the map you're in, and the victory tune is a calmer instrumental of the main theme of the show. It's also fun to check out all the little areas on the map itself. You can also access B.M.O. on the bottom screen, who serves as your menu. With it you can check Finn & Jake's stats, items, a map, and options. It's quite a clever take on the menu, and one that makes perfect sense for a game based on Adventure Time.


On their quest, they'll also come across quite a few chests. These either give a free item (as in the map battles), grant Finn or Jake a new ability or contain Wizard Stars. Wizard Stars are how Finn's stats increase; there are four levels for each of the three stats. Hearts increases maximum health, Attack increases damage dealt, and Speed increases Finn's movement speed both on the overworld and in levels, in addition to increasing the overall attack speed as well. It was quite rewarding to see the changes immediately after leveling up. These stat changes are very helpful in defeating the several bosses throughout the game; in a hilarious touch, nearly all of them have humorous subtitles under their names.

There's also plenty of items to find within the Land of Ooo, some dropped by foes and others found around the environment. There's attack items, status items to increase your speed or attack temporarily, and then recovery items. This is where the fun comes in; you'll find there's normal foods and condiments which you can drag and drop on the foods to change their effect. Though most combinations heal you, there are a few that actually do damage. There's quite a bit of fun had in experimenting and making random things like ketchup in trail mix, or salt on a royal tart. A lot of the items reference past episodes of the show, and they all have some rather hilarious descriptions that scroll along on the bottom screen.


A WayForward game wouldn't be complete without a phenomenal soundtrack by Jake "virt" Kaufman, and this game is no exception. The music is incredibly fitting for the world of Adventure Time, and very entertaining to listen to. The tracks with lyrics are hilarious and well-written, and there's some surprises hidden throughout the various stages. I was constantly amazed by the variety; early on I went from the old-timey grand adventure tune to a hard-rockin' synth-fueled ballad of awesomeness and loved every second of it.

To sum it up, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!! is a very enjoyable game, despite its brevity. Every element is fantastic and complements every other element, and the game is quite good as a result. It's also good that one can grab it for either DS or 3DS, creating some more accessibility for it; the only difference is the 3DS version has the 3D and some extra music tracks. In addition, there's a New Game+ in which all enemies have double health; however, your stats are how they were at the end of the first playthrough. The Enchiridion is also hidden somewhere within the world, though I have yet to find it. I suppose that will have to wait until another adventure. Until next time, game on!
Title: Fire Emblem: Awakening
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:11:50 pm

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Platform: 3DS (Retail and Downloadable via eShop)

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Genre: Turn Based Strategy-RPG

Fire Emblem is a franchise that has a bit of mixed history here in the US. The franchise thrived in Japan ever since the NES and continued for years. Despite this, we never heard hide nor hair of it until 2003 when we got our first entry in the series, this one for Game Boy Advance. Although it was simply titled Fire Emblem, it was in reality the seventh installment and was subtitled Rekka no Ken, or Blazing Sword. The localization effort was no doubt spurred on by the inclusion of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, despite neither appearing in Blazing Sword (or at least, Roy is only a kid in it, and that's at the end of the game). Regardless of that, the game was a great success, leading Nintendo to localize the next 4 games. However, Shadow Dragon (the eleventh entry in the franchise and a remake of the original) didn't do too well. Perhaps it was the outdated systems that took the place of all the advancements of previous entries, or maybe it was the fact you had to purposefully kill your units (remember, Fire Emblem is a series where if a unit dies they're gone for good unless you restart the chapter) in order to access side chapters.

Whatever the reason, the second DS game, this one a remake of the second half of Fire Emblem 3, never made it to our shores. This was quite a shame, as the game introduced the My Unit character, as seen again in this very installment. The hallmark of the My Unit, or Avatar as it is known here, is that the character you create isn't just another unit. No, they're a focal point of the entire story, partnering up with the main character right from the get-go. In Fire Emblem: Awakening, the Avatar awakes after a mysterious dream to see Chrom, leader of the Ylissean Shepherds, helping him or her up. However, the Avatar has amnesia, though she knows who Chrom is due to the dream and quickly remembers her own name shortly after. A nearby town is being beset by brigands though, so the Avatar teams up with Chrom and a few of his Shepherds to fend them off. After doing so, they camp in a nearby forest; this is quickly cut short as the land starts to churn and a mystic portal opens in the sky as undead fall from it. A human figure falls shortly after them, bearing the name Marth. However, the Hero-King Marth lived over 2,000 years beforehand! How could he be there now? And what exactly was the nature of these undead, these Risen?


If you've played the demo, this is where it ends. However, there is much more to the game than that. With the return of the World Map as seen in The Sacred Stones comes quite a bit of optional content. You can find special shops selling rare items, or skirmishes involving the Risen. Occasionally the two combine and you have to protect the merchant from the foes, or maybe two Risen will appear on the same space creating double the challenge. Teams earned from SpotPass and StreetPass will also appear somewhere on the World Map for battles. There will also appear when certain conditions are met some Paralogue spaces, which are the basic side-chapters present in all installments.

You can also access the main menu from here, where you can rearrange your inventory, equip Skills, access new Support conversations between characters (more on those two later), save the game, access wireless features (sans DLC as that's used elsewhere), and check out the Barracks. The Barracks are an area where random events happen to units. Sometimes they'll find an item, or maybe get a temporary stat boost. Other times they'll talk to another character, occasionally building up Support levels between the two. You can also check the Roster, holding the short bios of all currently-recruited members, complete with a yearbook-style random fact about the character and their birthday. At first, I thought the birthday was just a nifty little tidbit; as it turns out, heading to the Barracks on a character's birthday yields three of the events for that one character. The other great thing about the Barracks is that a random character will appear on the bottom screen with a greeting tied to the 3DS internal clock.


Supports and Skills are crucial to survival in this game. As two characters spend time next to each other, their Support levels grow. When they meet certain thresholds, a new Support conversation can be read. As these levels grow, the paired units will gain bonuses with the other is attacked, increasing their hit rate and avoidance, among other things. There are four levels to supports: C, B, A, and S. The thing is, S ranks are special. Thought units can have as many A supports as people they can support with, S supports only appear on characters who can marry, and when reaching S level, those two units do indeed marry. There are additional benefits to this too, but those come on later in the story.

Skills are learned through leveling up. Each class learns two skills, and can reach level 20 (level 30 in the case of certain special classes). It takes 100 experience to level up, though the higher the level the less EXP they get. Once a unit reaches level 10 in any class, they can either use a Second Seal to reclass to another class (units generally have two or three to choose from) or a Master Seal to promote from their base class to a more powerful one (each class can promote to one of two promoted classes) . However, special classes have no promoted versions, hence their higher max level. In addition, upon reaching level 10 in a promoted class, a unit can use a Second Seal to reclass to any of their available base classes or the promoted versions of them; if they max out at level 20, they can even use a Second Seal to return to level 1 of that same class, stat boosts intact. The Avatar can reclass to ANY class (aside from special classes), though he or she will still need a Master Seal to promote. Though there are level limits per class, a unit can reclass as many times as they want, though they'll always start at level 1. In addition, the game tallies the total amount of levels gained, so the more you reclass the longer it may take to level up in that new one.

I'd also like to mention the Wireless menu. Here you can activate (or deactivate) SpotPass features, purchase previously-recruited Spot/StreetPass units, or start a local-multiplayer match with Double Duel. In that last mode, two players collaborate to complete a map. You can also set up your StreetPass team that other players will receive, access the Bonus Box which occasionally gives you bonus teams to fight starring characters from past games, get free items, special Paralogues, and challenger teams for Double Duel. Lastly, you can collect Renown rewards; as you defeat StreetPass and SpotPass teams, you earn Renown points. Once you collect enough Renown points, you can collect free rewards and keep building up that Renown; don't worry though, as you don't spend any Renown when obtaining these items. The Bonus Box is updated every Thursday with the eShop, so be sure to update it regularly to get all the bonuses you can. In addition, a new SpotPass team appears within each entry 24 hours after you last summoned one; when you update the Bonus Box on Thursdays all possible characters from the previously unlocked title will be available to summon at will. It really allows you to keep playing a save long after you defeat the final boss.


The battle system itself is quite nice. The main interface itself is much like chess, but with a lot of other factors. You move your units around the map, placing them carefully to take advantage of whatever support bonuses there may be, and attacking enemies if they're in range of your weapons. Once you do, the battle interface comes up. Damage and hit chance (along with critical hit rate) is governed by the stats of both units, and the battle plays out automatically. Generally, units can attack each other once per round, though if their speed is high enough they can attack twice, and certain weapons might bump this up to four times. Archers can only attack enemies one space away from them (two if they have a Longbow equipped), while magic can hit either adjacent foes or those one space away. As mentioned before, one has to be careful as (unless Casual mode is being played) once a unit dies they're gone for good. Even on Casual mode, they're gone for that chapter and you don't get them back until afterwards. You can also speed up or slow down (or even pause) the combat at any time, and there's the option of a dynamic camera, a side-view one like in early installments, or even a first-person view too.

All these factors combine to create a game in which the campaign is truly yours to craft. Though the story is set and there are some limitations, you choose which characters marry (if possible for them to S support), you choose which classes they are (within their class set), and which weapons they use. You can even forge a weapon to improve its stats (and name it), for a price. Careful though, as every item (except for 2 weapons) has limited uses, and will break when it reaches zero. You also choose who to bring into battle, allowing you to craft your main party as you progress through the game; the world map also allows you to train up backup parties if you so desire. There's also a space that unlocks after Chapter 4 that allows you to purchase and play DLC maps; first time clear bonuses for these range from characters from past games to exclusive items that unlock new classes or skills. The characters unlocked via DLC have unique artwork, meant to differentiate them from SpotPass-earned versions of the same character, who utilize their original artwork. In addition, characters earned through means other than the game itself (SpotPass, StreetPass, and DLC) cannot support at all.


I also can't mention this game without talking about the music, which is incredible. The songs are fantastic, and play during incredibly appropriate times suiting each scene magnificently. There are quite a few tracks, most arrangements of others, but all wonderful. DLC maps also use music from past games in the franchise, all in their original forms. It's interesting to note that the official soundtrack for this game (which comes out in late March) weighs in at 5 discs, which is a great way to show just how much music is in this game. The quality is also quite good, coming out of the 3DS's small speakers with amazing clarity. It's the icing on the cake, really.

At this time, there is no doubt in my mind that this is indeed a game to purchase a 3DS just to play. This isn't hyperbole, this isn't a biased claim, this is what I truly believe based on the outpouring of praise from all corners of the internet. Some people may ask what are right and wrong choices to make with their characters; the thing is, thanks to the amazing customization available, there are no right or wrong choices. Want to build a unit into a tank? Go ahead! Perhaps you'd rather them be attuned to the ways of magic. That's possible too! There are unlimited possibilities in this game, and no two playthroughs are the same. Couple this with four difficulties (higher ones yielding enemies with skills exclusive to those difficulties) and the option to play Casual or Classic and you have yourself endless challenges. I've currently logged nearly 60 hours on my first playthrough, and I'm sure that there will be plenty more to come. Perhaps you can find yourself lost in this world as well; it's certainly a wonderful place to spend your time! Until next time, game on!
Title: HarmoKnight
Post by: Mirby on March 29, 2013, 03:12:39 pm


Platforms: 3DS (eShop)

Developer: Game Freak

Genre: Rhythm/Platformer
Last year, a game was announced via a Japanese Nintendo Direct event that caught my eye. No, it wasn't Denpa Ningen RPG 2 (though that was the same presentation and I was intrigued by it), the sequel to the already-reviewed The Denpa Men. It was a little game called HarmoKnight: Rhythm Hunter. It was a rhythm game from the minds at GameFreak, and though most of the songs were original there were some audio cameos in the form of Pokémon songs. Time went by and it was eventually announced for localization, much to the relief of many, myself included. And it just came out yesterday, sans the "Rhythm Hunter" subtitle. So was it everything I had waited for? Did it live up to the hype? Why don't you read on and find out, eh?


After a brief introduction, the game drops you off at some tutorials. Thankfully these are fun little endeavors that help you get acquainted with the game. Also there's only 3 of them, which helps too; the last of these is designed to kickstart the actual storyline, and does so quite nicely. Beings known as Noizoids have invaded the peaceful realm of Melodia, and their very presence emits sounds that drive the local creatures insane. Tempo, the main character, and Tappy, his lapin friend, are tasked with carrying a legendary staff to Symphony City where Princess Ariana can find a worthy hero to wield it. Along the way they meet up with Lyra, an archer who shoots enemies from afar with her harp, and Tyko, a drummer who travels the world with his monkey friend Cymbi. Both have brief tutorials on how to control them, as there are stages where they temporarily take over for Tempo partway through.

It's a small group, but no game truly needs a large ensemble. The gameplay is pretty simple too, utilizing only a few buttons. There's also a nice interconnected world map a la Super Mario World that you traverse. The map is broken into sections, usually based on genre. For instance, there's a jaunty march world, a craggy rock world, a festive jazz world, and so on. I really enjoyed seeing the new areas and hearing the music; it's pretty good, which is almost a prerequisite for any music game. The boss stages are fun too; these stages take a Simon approach to the gameplay. You're told what to do with vocal commands and then you repeat. For instance, one stage might have you input RIGHT LEFT HIT HIT JUMP, all to the rhythm of the music. As with many rhythm games, the more you play the better you get, and some stages may take several tries to get right.


You're ranked at the end of each stage based on how many notes you collected; if you score high enough, the notes will cause the Victory Flower at the end of every stage to bloom. This gives you the Royal Note for that stage, which are necessary to proceed through the game. There are three ranks you can earn upon completion of a stage: So-So, which does nothing and means you have to retry for that Royal Note (provided you haven't earned it already); Good, which earns you that much-needed Royal Note; and Great, which gets you both the Royal Note and unlocks the option to replay the stage at double speed. If you get a Great on both versions of a stage (normal and fast), you'll unlock concept art visible in the Stage Selector, accessible on the World Map by pressing Y.

There's a lot of replayability in this title, something that's common across all rhythm games. After all, you'll want to keep playing to get a high score, and in this game there's unlockables for doing just that. You can also listen to the music of any stage by highlighting it and hitting Start while in the Stage Selector, something that I find incredibly awesome. Though the story may not take long to wrap up, there's some extra-hard stages that lie hidden within the world of Melodia, and it'll take some exploration through the stages to find out how to unlock them. The game also has a great sense of humor; the interactions between the group were very well-written, and I eagerly awaited seeing what they'd say next. Even Tappy, the game's helper character, is funny; you'll find him holding signs at various places throughout the stages, and sometimes he says some pretty hilarious things. It's also fun to hit him; if you time it right, an attack will make him stumble backwards and drop the sign he's holding. What's even better is that this is a good indicator of whether your timing is off or not; if you can hit him, then you're in good shape to continue the stage.


All in all, HarmoKnight is quite the gem. Though the pricetag might be a little high at $15, I find that it is well worth it. There's so much to do and the music is so good that I've found it difficult to put the game down; I'm constantly going back to old stages to get a Great on them, or trying the Fast version of a stage to get a Great on that. HarmoKnight is definitely worth your time; it's a welcome reminder that GameFreak can make fantastic games outside of Pokémon, and one that gives hope for more unique experiences from them. There's a free demo available right now, and though the available levels in that aren't quite in harmony with the locations in the actual game, it's still worth it to check that out. Until next time, game on!
Title: Re: Mirby's Reviews!
Post by: Mirby on August 20, 2013, 04:10:41 am

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Platforms: 3DS

Developer: AlphaDream

Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Mario RPGs have an interesting history. The first one, known as Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, was a collaboration between Square Enix and Nintendo, and was released late in the Super NES's lifespan. From there, the RPG subseries of everyone's favorite Italian plumber was split in two. First came Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64, which was known as Super Mario RPG 2 in development. In this world, everyone was made of paper and the battle system took on its own 2D life. The second half came in 2003 with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the Game Boy Advance. This one was far more reminiscent of Super Mario RPG, and for good reason! The developer, AlphaDream, is made up of several former Square Co. developers who worked on Super Mario RPG, and the music is by Yoko Shimomura, just like in that first game. Since that quest in a neighboring kingdom, the titular brothers have ventured into the past and also throughout Bowser's body; now, they embark on a new quest that will take them into the world of dreams.


As usual, the game starts the story off quickly, and a tutorial battle ensues. In the process, the blimp that takes the gang of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toadsworth, and some Toads to the game's locale of Pi'illo Island is destroyed and descends rapidly to the ground... Or maybe not. For some reason, Luigi seems to have become rather narcoleptic and fell asleep, dreaming the whole trip. They're still going to Pi'illo Island, of course, but they landed rather safely. This new trait of his becomes important in the long run, as it allows him to fall asleep almost anywhere, easily allowing Mario access to the Dream World for whatever they need. It's not long before it's revealed that the island is the location of the long-lost Pi'illo Kingdom, which befell an unknown fate at the hands of a being known as Antasma.

The game takes place both in the real world of Pi'illo Island and that of dream versions of the various locations on the island. What's interesting is that the real world's gameplay is much like previous games in the series; you explore with a top-down view and use the various abilities you earn along the way to traverse the island. Much like the sections of the previous game that took place within Bowser, the Dream sections are flat 2D. However, while in the Dream World, you gain the abilities of Dreamy Luigi, a version of Luigi that can harness the abilities of the world of sleep. Soon after, you'll be able to use those powers, known as Luiginary Works, to activate certain objects and reach places you'd never think you'd be able to reach. And in battle, you can use the Luiginary Abilities to pull off amazing special attacks to handle the hordes of enemies you'll find within.


Of course, you'll have access to Bros. Attacks outside of battle as well. Much like Bowser's Inside Story, you earn new moves via Attack Blocks scattered throughout both Pi'illo Island and the Dream World. You also gain ranks as you level up; unlike the previous game, however, you get to choose the perks you get with each new rank. Just think before you pick, since you can't change the perk once you choose it, and since there's more perks than ranks, there's no way to get all the perks on one save file. The game also introduces an Easy Mode; if you die in battle, you can restart that battle either as normal or in Easy Mode, with your power and defense spiked really high. After battle, it returns to normal, so it's just a temporary boost if you just can't get past a boss and don't want to grind. Badges also return as they were in the previous game, where you combine two for various effects and charge the meter until it's full. The bosses use some really creative moves that take advantage of the hardware; there were a lot of neat surprises that I really enjoyed seeing. Of course, you'll be able to do the same thing with your special attacks too, really adding to the fun of using them. In addition, there's a piece of equipment which has varying stats depending on how many steps you've taken that day; using the pedometer in such a way really surprised me. There are also several Giant Luigi battles, in which the green plumber becomes absurdly large to take down equally large foes, echoing the Giant Bowser battles of the previous game.

As for the music... Well, it's Yoko Shimomura. That should really be all that needs to be said. Each piece of music really captures the essence of the area, and some hearken back to previous entries in the series. The theme for Driftwood Shore, for instance, is very reminiscent of a few tracks from the first Mario & Luigi. On the other hand, there's several songs in this game that are reminiscent of some themes from Kingdom Hearts, which is also nice. As with any RPG, a strong soundtrack is often as important as the gameplay and story, and as usual it's a complete package here. The writing is also expertly done, keeping the trend of fantastic humor intact. One of my favorite lines is one of the first you can see; after landing on Pi'illo Island, you'll see a large crowd gathered organized in such a way that they guide you where you need to go. Although not all of them have unique things to say, my favorite is one of the residents who says, "VISITING PERSON!" upon seeing Mario. Really, it's the only way to greet tourists, as far as I'm concerned. You'll also see quite a few Beanish folks along with Hoohooligans, both from the Beanbean Kingdom, along with some new races.


In my opinion, Dream Team is a worthy follow-up to Bowser's Inside Story. Though many may see that one as the "Thousand Year Door" of the Mario & Luigi series, in that it's very hard to top, I feel that it does a great job on its own. There are many things it borrows from that game, and it does it well. The music is fantastic as always, the humor is omnipresent, the gameplay is intuitive and catchy, the story is fun and lighthearted... All things that a Mario & Luigi game should have. It also has decent length; I didn't take that much time to try finding other things or complete sidequests, and it still took over 40 hours, without any real padding to artificially lengthen it. If you're in the mood for a fun RPG, or want to see more of Luigi, or just want a great new game for your 3DS, then pick this one up; it might just be the adventure you were dreaming of. Until next time, game on!

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