Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag review

Yo Ho a pirates life for me

Assassins Creed 4 left a lot to be expected after playing through Assassins Creed 3. The previous game really was the black sheep of the entire franchise, suffering from so many issues and just overall not being much fun. It is not just me that thinks that, many a fan of the Assassins Creed franchise agree that 3 was not as good as it could have been, and that Black Flag had to be the game that redeems the franchise. While I will say that Black Flag has many issues of its own it does redeem the franchise and turns out to be a good new entry.

The first matter of business in this respect, was ensuring the main character wasn’t as boring as Haytham or Conner. The person you play as, is often very important in whether you will enjoy a game or not, that was half of Assassins Creed 3’s problem, it had pretty boring characters, for Assassins Creed 4 we see an entirely different character to what we have seen before. Edward Kenway is not out to do things for honour or even revenge, all Edward wants is money, and throughout the entire length of the story he often goes on about money and the right price, but still this doesn’t make him a bad character his dedication to the pirates and his ambitions are what help to drive the game.

For the full review of Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag click here.

 

 

 

Trials Fusion Review

Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Developer: Redlynx Studios

Publisher: Ubisoft

Score: 8

There is a certain level of skill and frustration that is created as a result of the  Trials games, and its easy enough to say that it is probably what brings people to purchase them time and time again. We can be happy in knowing that the latest game in the franchise is just like those of the past and remains just as enjoyable. The latest game in the franchise, Trials Fusion, is the first of its kind to get a proper release on blu-ray and it offers plenty to new and old alike.

The game takes place in the future. A time where apparently motorcycle stunt courses exist in public places and in high traffic areas. Trials Fusion is just like all past Trails games as the goal is to achieve gold medals in every course given. The world of Trials is filled with varying locations and a variety of skill based challenges to complete and a game so packed full of content that it can keep you busy for a number of hours.

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The main mode of the game is the career mode, which is all about achieving the goal presented to you. The main part of career mode is about going through puzzling courses and trying to get the best possible time without crashing. Each course you are challenged with has a series of obstacles that become increasingly more challenging as the course continues. Ensuring the correct landings are made and proper speed is used up hills becomes a major challenge, but in the long run it is what makes the game enjoyable. Figuring out the best course of action and the fastest way to get over obstacles is a key challenge in the game and it becomes more enjoyable as the game progresses.

The difficulty of all these courses have increased from the previous games. Initial courses are simple to beat, but remain hard to master. Likewise the further you progress, the more the challenge of each course becomes. Some of the harder tracks are simple enough in concept, but the game does get deceptively challenging the further along in the game you go. At points however, I do feel that the difficulty of level did ramp up a bit to much and some courses felt unbalanced from the others in terms of difficulty. For example, I completed a good selection of the medium difficulty courses achieving gold in almost all of them, however at times I did encounter one or two that were almost impossible to complete without trouble. The hard courses I also found the same problem with, some were easy enough to get through even if achieving gold is a challenge, some other courses seem almost impossible to beat.

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As well as offering speed and skill based courses the career mode also offers a series of stunt challenges. These require you to perform flips and a series of other motorbike stunt challenges in order to strive for good scores. Mastering these tricks is not easy and requires being able to acknowledge correct landings, bike positionings and knowing how to perform all the different stunts possible. To learn these you are initially given a basic tutorial which tasks you with performing specific tricks in order to learn how to do them, then performing them across the course. Of course mastering how to perform the tricks and moving the joystick in that particular way is simple but it really get’s challenging in trying to make good landings and achieve the best score. When doing this I did come across an issue even when I had my joystick, bike and person in the right stunt position the game would only respond to the stunt and provide a score every so often which did get really frustrating and did break a good run and mess with my final score.

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Expanding on the game is the excellent create mode which is where a lot of Trails Fusion fun is to be had. The community behind the game is full of creative minds who sit there and build excellent courses to be played and enjoyed by other players. Likewise the developers RedLynx have created a good selection of tools for building great courses. A selection of ramps, hazards and environmental features are all available to be used, but notably there is quite a challenge possessed in building individual courses. While in theory it sounds easy enough and there is definitely many hours of playability possessed by the game. At times some of what is offered with the creation may be a bit to challenging for some to complete. The creation mode is set on a 3D plain so ensuring you line up all your ramps and everything correctly is part of the challenge. Since stages only exist on a 2D plain confusion can arise if they are not lined up and you end up riding on nothing. For the creative minded this is still perfect, all the tools given and the freedom you get when creating your courses mean you can easily enjoy the mode and I suppose part of the fun is learning how to create courses. Trying your best and creating a really challenging course of your own design and performing at the course is quite the accomplishment, and the game rewards you for that. I will still say I am pretty bad at making courses but I have enjoyed trying to accomplish something good.

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Trials Fusion is just like it’s predecessors, it is stressful, it’s challenging, but it is enjoyable none the less. The amount of hours the game offers are essentially endless and the game continues to be vastly enjoyable even late into the game. The little issues do break some of the value and bring unnecessary frustration to the game but it can be forgiven as most of the time things do work out. I don’t ordinarily play these type of games but I will say what the game offers will definitely offer people a good amount of fun regardless of whether or not they enjoy this particular type of game.

Pokemon X and Y review

Platform: 3DS

Developer: Game Freak

Publisher: Nintendo/ Pokemon Company

Score: 9.5

A long awaited step forward for Pokémon kind.

Change is inevitable, it is always bound to happen and while many don’t want it, it sometimes creeps up on you unexpectedly. Pokémon has always had a pitch perfect formula which has worked well for many years. The problem that exists though is that many have been asking for change for so long, waiting to see the games make use of proper three-dimensional gameplay. It seems that although it has taken a while, Game Freak has listened and brings Pokémon into a new era ushering in a permanent change for the better.

 

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Game Freak promised this change when they announced X and Y wanting us to see a difference. This may be immediately notable for the most part but there are still things that have not been touched, such as the battles which still act in a rock, paper, scissors manner using elemental advantages to beat other Pokémon, Water beats fire and fire beats grass and so on, also we still catch and train our Pokémon. The base game is still about setting out from your home town to collect the eight gym badges to go and challenge the Pokémon league. As well as trying to stop the plans of the evil team Flare while uncovering the secrets behinds the mysteries of the Kalos region. It doesn’t derive much from past Pokémon games but it does follow a winning formula which has carried the Pokémon games for years.

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However, outside of battling and the story is where the change is definitely noticeable. The key thing I really must mention is the game’s presentation. The game looks beautiful and within battles they look better than they ever did before and being reminiscent of the Nintendo 64’s Pokémon Stadium. All battles are in full 3D and even include a far better set of battle animations than we have ever seen with them all being in 3D and having some pretty awesome looks. There is definitely nothing available on the 3DS that looks better than this right now.

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Outside of battle when travelling across the overworld the game is almost entirely in 2D, with the 3D features on the 3DS only being usable in a couple of selected places. This isn’t really a problem and is actually more of a relief as even without the 3D the over world still looks amazing. With people looking like people and a well-designed overworld filled with well-designed towns and routes, the world is a nice treat for the eyes and is brilliant even without the 3D features.

On a more practical level, Pokémon X and Y introduces two new battle types, a new evolution and a new Pokémon type. The new battle types are called sky battles and horde encounters and if I am being honest neither is that exciting and makes rotation battles from Black and white seem better. Sky Battles are random battles you will come across with trainers who use only flying type Pokémon. These are 100% optional challenges which have you face down their flying type Pokémon with whatever certain flying types you have on hand, you can also use certain Pokémon that have the levitate ability. Horde encounters are completely random encounters with wild Pokémon that has you facing down five low level Pokémon with one of your own at one time. Luckily neither of these are very common and do not get in the way of the experience, though they don’t really add anything either.

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On the other side of the scale, mega evolutions and the new fairy types are brilliant new additions which brought a lot of excitement. mega evolutions are new forms that Pokémon take on to add power to themselves and allow them at times to balance themselves out or on occasion add an extra type than what they usually have. However these evolutions are only temporary, which means they are only for a small amount of time and don’t mess with the balance that Game Freak has spent years trying to perfect.

The new fairy type also adds a lot to the classic formula. This new type has shifted the balance to give dragons something to fear while also giving poison types something they are strong against and is quite a nice inclusion. Again, this just adds to the strategy and helps further balance it all out without messing with the finely tuned strategic value that has been crafted. Also I really liked the new fairy types as it actually forced me to learn a new advantage and disadvantage and make mistakes in the process which has forced me to think about my advantages and relearn parts of this long-standing rulebook.

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Outside of battles, further changes are also present, more tuned to how you travel around the world. Pokémon X and Y has done away with the four way grid that has plagued the series for years and has instead offered us an eight way grid which has made the world feel even more open and easier to get around. Also items like your bike and roller skates are both available early in the game helping you get around quicker. The bike is still decent but I wish I could say the same for the roller skates, which I will admit took me many hours to get used to due to their unbalanced speed. Thankfully by the time I approached the half way point I had given up trying to figure out how to take them off and went with them even if I still don’t particularly like them.

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If you are looking for further activities to do outside of battle then there are also a few additions that make for a nice distraction from what is going on in the main story and game. The first of these new features is the new customization option that lets you change your character’s clothing and hairstyle, to match your own preferences which is a nice little inclusion to make you different to everyone else. The second of these fun new additions is the new Pokémon-Amie feature which acts as a sort of Nintendogs style minigame where you can pet and feed your Pokémon, as well as play around with them to give effects such as a higher critical hit ratio which will help out in battles. The last of these new additions is the super training, which acts as a training regime to help your Pokémon build up on their statistical abilities, such as defence and speed, by raising up their EV points in a way that challenges you and removes the need to battle Pokémon over and over again. Whether Super Training takes over the old fashioned EV training still remains to be seen but I personally found this to be far more fun and enjoyable and each is well-made and carries benefits over to the main game.

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Another noticable change is how Pokémon are used and distributed throughout the region. I will admit that the number of new Pokémon that exist in this game are very underwhelming and I did find this strange. But within the region there were a good variety of Pokémon that existed from all five regions we have previously visited. In fact it was nice that in the first hour, as well as coming across one or two new Pokémon, I also came across old favourites such as Pidgey, Caterpie and many others. Across the region I came across many different Pokémon which I found nice even though it did become annoying that there were so many Pokémon I wanted to work with but I could only train up eight at best. However, it was nice to have the options and choices.

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But to at least allow the options one of the best changes I found was how experience points have been distributed. Pokémon now easily get experience points regardless of whether they just appeared in the battle or fought vigorously. In past Pokémon games the use of two Pokémon would result in experience points being divided up equally, however that has been modified so that all participating Pokémon receive the full extent of experience points. I know this makes it seem like things are getting easier and training is not so difficult but this has opened the door for the game to be far more challenging than Black and White ever were, and have led to me facing a few serious losses towards the end of the game because I underestimated things later on in my adventure.

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Pokémon X and Y are not without their flaws and some of the new additions and changes are a bit pointless. However, for what the game offers and the fact this is the first attempt at a proper step forward for the series I do give some lenience with that thought. But what is satisfying is that for the entire 37 hours I had with this game I was having fun, and was quite engrossed with just about everything I came across, and that promised change was definitely delivered and just made the game all the more better.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Review

Platform: Wii U, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Developer: Treyarch/ Infinity Ward

Publisher: Activision

Year: 2012

Score: 7.5

This review is based on the Wii U version of the game. Any information presented all relates to this version of the game however most of the points mentioned do relate to other versions of the game. If you are not interested in the Wii U version this game is also available for the PS3, PC and Xbox 360, also online will most likely have more players as there is a bigger install base on the other platforms.

For a yearly franchise, Call of Duty games have never been big on Nintendo’s consoles and as such the Wii never received anything more than an underrated port of what the other consoles got. However with this latest instalment it is nice to see that Nintendo fans finally get a proper Call of Duty game with the Wii U’s experience.

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There is a problem that has plagued Call of Duty games for quite some time, namely the single player campaign. The campaigns have often been unappealing to play through but it seems Treyarch has put forward an attempt to make them more interesting.

The campaign remains with a simple premise: it is the year 2025 and a big terrorist leader is planning world domination. Seeing this issue, Navy seals agent David Mason and his team set out to take him out before he can claim total domination. On the other side of the scale Alex Mason and his team set out to do the same years before.

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The campaign is a jumble of story events set between two different time periods. Often these stories are confusing and lead the player on a journey that will leave them wondering what is going on due to the constant insistence on time jumping. This campaign remains as unappealing as before but this is where the developers have done something right. It is a small thing but it makes thing more interesting.

The campaign often relies on the merits of personal choice and preference. Often choices end up determining whether you are a cold blooded killer or an agent of peace but that is a nice way to say it. The idea of choices is not seen very often during the campaign but the little decisions made at times do help to make the campaign somewhat interesting. Choices even come down to whether the villain Menendez gets to kill or fatally wound a certain character.

 

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This has added a new layer of replayability that hasn’t been seen before in other entries in the series. Because of this choice it became interesting to go through again and see how a different line of decisions impacted the story. There aren’t many choices but it does mean you can vary the experience by play and have a different experience to your friends.

The only problems that exist with this idea is to see a different ending you must replay the entire campaign in order to make changes effective. Also the story in the campaign is not that exciting, so playing through the campaign again fully does not always remain enjoyable in parts but to play through again for different endings is somewhat worth it.

During the campaign the developers have also added the new strikeforce missions. These missions are strategy based and require completing a specific objective by strategically managing units in order to defeat incoming enemies on the multiplayer maps. These missions never really added anything to the campaign and while there were very few of these missions they never were interesting to play. However you can avoid all but one of these as they are not mandatory missions.

The campaign has never fully delivered on a great experience and does leave much to be desired for the single player gamer. If these people need something to play then the multiplayer section of the game still remains the most fun piece of recent Call of Duty games. Whether a fan of local play or even online the offerings are quite good. For these people without online access, local play is quite a fun thing to play particularly if you can gather a couple of friends around. On the other side of the scale playing local play alone is still somewhat satisfying with the ability to change the difficulty of enemy AI to provide a challenge.

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If you can gather a few friends around there are several great modes to play in local mode. Several fun party games such as one in the chamber and gun game add a further layer of strategy to how you can play and can throw players off balance and out of their element which keeps things interesting. Standard modes such as Team Deathmatch and Free for All still continue to be completely satisfying. A new mode has also been added known as Hardpoint which sees players race to a specific location and attempt to hold it down as long as possible until it moves elsewhere. The local play is fun but is always better if you can get some friends around as there is the possibility of making up your own fun matches with activities such as hide and seek (This mode doesn’t exist in the game, it is one I made up for the Team Deathmatch mode when you have friends).

If you can’t gather friends but you want to face real people and you have a stable internet connection, Online play is certainly a great place to go. There is a problem with this as I review this game on the Wii U the online play is mostly barren and devoid of players. If you don’t want to play team deathmatch there is not much on offer otherwise and depending on the time of day you may not even be able to get a match. When you can, though, the online play is certainly fun and offers a rewarding experience and plenty of variety in players from the new and less skilled to the great players who add a fun challenge.

 

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If you don’t want to play Zombi U then Call of Duty Zombies returns for you to play. The mode is basically see how long you can survive but instead of being a strictly single player experience Treyarch have opted to make this an online two player experience and one that is great in small bursts. Personally though I will stick with Zombi U.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is still the same basic game we have seen countless times before. The changes made does at least make things more interesting but the real question of this game is does it deliver a quality Call of Duty game on Nintendo’s platforms and the answer is yes, it does. Treyarch may not have made much use of the gamepad but the map, ability to play on the gamepad while another player uses the TV in Multiplayer matches and Off TV play features do at least give us a little something. Black Ops 2 is a fun game, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it is still a great game for people to play. Plus it was great that I could sensor all of the bad language in the game, it’s a small thing but it’s better then constantly hearing all the language.

Author’s note: I have played both the Wii U and the 360 versions of the game and I personally find the Wii U version to be the better version thanks to Off TV play which is a very nice feature and means I don’t have to use the TV or can just listen to something while I am playing.

Lego City Undercover Review

There is a certain tradition that exists with many gaming franchises, often this is terms of a struggle to change or a reliance on something that the franchise has done for so long. In this case I think of the Lego games, since 2005 many of the Lego games created by developer TT games have relied on the use of popular franchises such as Batman, Star Wars and even Harry Potter to drive sales and keep popularity for the franchise. Even if this is the case everything must change eventually and be open to the introduction of new ideas as Lego City Undercover proves.

I use the term open to new ideas but TT games doesn’t always stray from tradition. Many of the ideas that are seen in the game are carried over from many of the developer’s other Lego game projects. The basic combat of Lego City feels very much the same as many of the other games and is very simplistic . Also, studs, which are the currency in Lego games, are far too easy to find and collect this time around.

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Where TT games do stray from tradition is in the world and story of Lego City Undercover. The story reminds me of a pilot episode of a police drama, Lego City is in mayhem and panic with crime literally roaming the streets and lurking around every corner. To make matters worse, Rex Fury, one of the worst criminals to ever hit Lego City has escaped from jail and nobody can find or stop him. Knowing he needs to be caught, the mayor of Lego City calls former officer Chase McCain back to Lego City in the knowledge that he is the only one who can stop him and bring him in.

The story is great and 100% original, it really makes you want to keep going through the game, but it is the game’s characters that add the most amusement. The world of Lego City is filled to the brim with characters to meet, even if only a small selection of them are really major inclusions. The criminals in Lego City are completely stupid, such as a group dressed as clowns pulling tricks to distract the police in order to make their escape. Then you have one of the most amusing characters of the game, Frank Honey, he fails at even the most simple of tasks. This often adds into the comedy that has always existed in the Lego universe, and Frank’s failures add to the laughs that are to be had here, such as when he calls to say the horse he is riding has no head and he tried to feed it an apple but it got angry. But of course in Lego City he is icing on the cake in the comic relief department, as even one-time characters. or even the police never fail to show how stupid or foolish they are, in the best way possible.

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It is often hard to not laugh at many of the jokes made in Lego City Undercover, even as an adult playing this game there are many references made that are better suited to the adult audience and kept me laughing in most occasions. The way some characters say things, the movie references and even some of the physical jokes made are hard not to laugh at. Though some of the jokes made do go a bit too far or are just too stupid but I think these jokes will appeal to the younger audience this game is obviously directed at.

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Lego City is a massive environment to play in and shows a lot of influence from games like Grand Theft Auto, in the basic overworld that is Lego City you are allowed to break many objects in the environment, steal cars claiming police business and the funny part is you don’t get penalized for it. From a kid’s point of view this adds to the appeal of the game knowing you aren’t going to accidently trigger police runs unless they are part of the main story, which does happen on occasion, but it’s never to hard to deal with. Also, Lego City is filled with interesting tidbits to see and an amazing variety in its world that never feels like you are driving down the same street over and over again.

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One of the major differences between Lego City Undercover and past Lego games is that Lego City is a single player only experience which is quite a departure from past games that often relied on having two people playing in order to use different abilities. Here it is a different story, without the option of the second player some of the levels become simple busywork which requires using the different abilities Chase acquires throughout his adventure in quick succession. Through Chase’s journey he gets eight different disguises which provide him with new abilities and skills to use. Throughout Lego City there are plenty of opportunities to use many of these abilities and each acts as part of trying to fully complete the game. During some of the game’s levels you will be required to use these abilities in quick succession, for example you need to use the fireman disguise to put out a fire, then fix an electrical box with the engineer disguise and then become a farmer to grow plants that you can climb.

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One of the real strengths of Lego City is how the Gamepad has been integrated into the experience. A lot of the basic use of the controller is the same as other Wii U games in that it provides a map of Lego City to view, which is okay but often it does go a lot further, even being integrated into the actual gameplay. Little tasks such as scanning areas to hear suspects’ conversations, taking photos of suspects, and even taking phone calls are all masterfully done using the Gamepad, which is essentially Chase’s Police device. Often tasks are done by moving the gamepad around the room as if you are inside the game which is very easy to do and quite enjoyable.

large (1)Whether you are a child or an adult, Lego City Undercover is an interesting and fun game to play, even if only to drive around and smash Lego cars or to go and listen to some of the silly comedy. Personally I am hoping TT games takes note of what they have done with this game and go towards the future making more games as original as Lego City Undercover as this is one of the best games they have made in the Lego brand so far.

 

Comparing versions Batman Arkham Origins Wii U vs Xbox 360

If you read Simon’s Video Games you will be aware that I published a review of Batman Arkham Origins this week, the review I wrote was about the game itself and the key parts and features the things I didn’t take note of is how certain versions of the game compare, when I reviewed Batman Arkham Origins I played the Xbox 360 version since then I have also now played the Wii U version of the game. So with this I plan to compare what is different about the two versions so you may be able to determine which version might be better for you if you are still yet to play the game, but keep in mind that while I mention the Xbox 360 version of the game this version is basically the same as the Playstation 3 and  PC versions but I am referencing this version because that is what I played on.

The major difference I will mention between the two versions is the multiplayer, those who seek further things to do with other people outside of the main story will be disappointed with the Wii U version of the game with it lacking the multiplayer activity. While I would not say this is a bad thing as the multiplayer in the game is not that great, it is still sad that the Wii U version lacks this mode and only gives it’s players the single player campaign but there is still a positive that beats all other versions of the game.

The difference that makes the Wii U version superior is how the map is displayed, arguably one of my biggest frustrations with Batman Arkham Origins on the Xbox 360 was having to constantly pause the game to look at the map, when going to an individual objective this wasn’t so bad as the game would still direct me to the story objective. Where as when I was searching for many of the things to do with Enigma I was frustrated with having to almost constantly check my map to ensure I was in the right area. The Wii U version is certainly more enjoyable with the Gamepad permanently displaying the map which meant it was easier to do or find anything I needed while still playing the game. There is also a gamepad only option which while it does bring back my main issue with the other versions it does mean you can watch a movie or television show while you play which is always good.

It is a small thing that really makes the difference being either a not so great multiplayer or a really great map that is permanently in sight and accessible. I guess for anyone it probably comes down to what console they own and what they would prefer to play, I personally prefer the Wii U version and find the gamepad controller to be the preferred option but again it really is a matter of self preference and others might enjoy the other versions more. I hope this was helpful to you in showing the difference between versions in case you missed it here is the link to the review.

Super Mario 3D World Review

Playing a 3D Mario game has never felt so good

Playing a Mario game usually follows a certain pattern, when playing a traditional Mario game you will often get a multiplayer component so you can play together with friends or family. However the three dimensional Mario games have always been a more lonely adventure with their strict single player playthroughs. This single player idea however is one of the past, with Mario’s friends joining him for the first time on an adventure in the third dimension.
Mario begins this adventure out on a stroll through the castle gardens, watching the fireworks with Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach when all of a sudden a clear pipe appears. Out of it pops a sprixie in panic when suddenly Bowser pops out and grabs the Sprixie and vanishes back down the pipe. In distress the four go jumping (and falling) down the pipe to go to the rescue. From here we see Peach takes on a playable role for the first time since Super Mario Bros 2 (not including the Princess Peach game on the DS).

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Super Mario 3D World is single player compatible and is a blast to play alone and remains quite fun, however multiplayer is truly this game’s biggest positive. The way Nintendo has gotten into the characters is a great thing by providing each one with a different ability to benefit the character and do better in some levels. Luigi keeps his traditional bigger jump, Peach has an excellent glide, Toad is fast and Mario is a great all-rounder. As long as the character you want is not taken you can change to them at anytime at the start of a level to use their abilities. To make things better you can use just about any control style compatible.
Design is also another really great point of Super Mario 3D World. The world map is very similar to the ones seen in the New Super Mario Bros games mixed with some hidden secrets to find. Each level has also been well designed, with each tending to focus on a different idea such as ending up in a giant ice skate and zipping across frozen plains, another few end up using a friendly dinosaur named Plessie to take Mario and friends across different level themes, another features the use of a head mounted cannon to blast distant switches to turn on the path. Each level features a diverse theme that keeps the game interesting up until the very end, better still levels are also fun to revisit time and again to strive for a better time.

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As with all Mario games, Nintendo tends to add a new power up ability to keep things interesting and fresh, for this adventure Nintendo has opted for the cat bell which puts Mario and Co in an adorably cute cat costume that just gets better as the game progresses. The costume is natural and I love the end of level effect for it provides each character with an adorable yet diverse meow which even carries over to enemies with the cat bell.
The cat power up is cleverly used across many levels and easily adds to the attractiveness of each one. As a cat the characters get the ability to scale walls to reach new heights and quite often is used to find or reach hidden secrets throughout the levels. Adding further to the appeal the cat power up also adds a new layer of offensive abilities for the characters providing them with a sharp and swift claw attack.

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The double cherry is also new to the game and creates a second copy of your character. While this item is barely seen it does not really remain fun for long when it does appear. Keeping copies alive when they accidentally stray away is frustrating and often doesn’t work causing problems for later sections of the levels they exist in.

The usual star coins have been removed in favour of green stars which follows the basic same rule as previous Mario games. You will need to collect them in order to see everything the game has to offer including a good portion of post credit content which easily makes you want to go and clean them up. As long as you keep playing there is plenty to do and a special bonus that people might recognize to enjoy all the bonus levels you will come across.

Outside of the traditional Mario platforming there are also special Captain Toad levels, these levels are more puzzle based and place you in the shoes of Captain Toad as he seeks to reach all five green stars hidden about his obstacle course. These levels are fun and are cleverly designed  relying heavily on camera positioning and problem solving. These levels acted as a great change on the traditional gameplay and are enjoyable in having to use your brain in order to succeed plus losing the ability to jump while being Captain Toad just makes when you succeed even more enjoyable.

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Super Mario 3D World is great fun and it’s impossible to deny just how great everything about this is. I will admit I really loved Bowser here and his final boss fight. Usually I finish these disappointed but I was quite satisfied particularly after seeing his very egocentric Eggman like final area. Usually a game’s final area can ruin the experience but it seems that the end just made the experience better from then on and will keep a smile on its players face from beginning to end.

Presentation: 10

Gameplay: 9.5

Replayability: 9.5

Final Score: 9.5

Rhythm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure Review

Platform: 3DS

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Year: 2012

Score: 9

This review was originally written a few weeks after the games release in 2012, I just only recently found my review to bring you, so here is my review of Rhythm Thief as it was originally written with some minor editing.

Sega has been on a downward spiral for the last few years, they have failed to really reignite the flame for the Sonic series and haven’t really been able to deliver a must have game for a while. With this being the case many planned projects had to be cancelled but really what is surprising is how one game managed to slip through the cracks and that game being Rhythm Thief. The question is however why did this game slip through? It is simple some toe tapping music and a great story that really is set to deliver.

Sega’s hopes all lie in this game that they published and developed. The story in Rhythm Thief is set in a modern day Paris and follows the exploits of a young boy named Raphael who under the rouse of Phantom R seeks out to steal items of interest with the help of his dog sidekick Fondue. As the story goes on Raphael must enlist the assistance of a mysterious girl named Marie, constantly avoid the police and attempt to stop the plans of a resurrected Napoleon Bonaparte. The games story and presentation stand out quite well and easily can draw in with its wonderful mystery. The only unfortunate side to the story is that it is short and only lasts for about six hours.

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Like the Layton series Rhythm Thief presents regular anime style cutscenes  that help to push the story forward, and the animation within these scenes is really beautiful. Though that is not the only similarity drawn from the Layton series as the game often uses picturesque locations that must be tapped around in order to find hidden collectables which gets tedious quickly, there are also little puzzles that appear along the way that while quite enjoyable to complete they do tend to lack difficulty often being easy to beat.

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With all that said the gameplay also fairs quite well and is almost as good as the plotline. Rhythm Thief features 50 Rhythm games that can be found across the course of the story and beyond, they range from simple swipe in a certain direction in order to an action to the rhythm for dance games, there is even a rather interesting violin challenge,  as well as pressing buttons to a specific rhythm to take out or avoid enemies in some recurring challenges.While they use these methods for the rhythm games quite frequently there is still plenty of diversity offered between rhythm games that even includes a Samba De Amigo inspired challenge, and a decent a decent sword fighting challenge that is actually pretty good.

That is not to say this gameplay is perfect, in fact some of the rhythm games are troublesome and are actually quite annoying. Some of the rhythm games are controlled by the gyroscope on the 3DS, the system is awkward and it quickly becomes upsetting when you get to a point in the story that requires you to beat these games in order to move on. Another complaint is the scoring system, the problem here is the system forces you to be near perfect all the way through through the game to get a good grade, making a single mistake can end up being costly and can turn an A grade all the way down to a fail by missing that single point it isn’t game breaking by any stretch of the imagination but it is quite frustrating and can leave you quite annoyed.

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Despite those few flaws the music really fully redeems Rhythm Thief and is just brilliant, for a game about rhythm you would always hope that they can deliver on the music and it does, Rhythm Thief offers an assortment of genres in its music that is sure to appeal to most players. My personal favourites are more of the orchestral pieces or solo violin they are relaxing and can keep you calm and happy even if you are doing poorly. Outside of these particular types I often found a good selection of the music offered to be ones that it was easy to tap my toes with while playing, and the good sign about it is the music gets stuck in your head so I often found myself humming along with a theme from the game randomly. It just goes to show how memorable it is when I can still remember it and still on occasion start randomly singing the songs, which outside of Disney is a really hard thing to make me do.

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Sure Rhythm Thief has its flaws but even with the problems the story, presentation, gameplay and music are still very memorable. For me personally I don’t think I would have cared if the music or even gameplay were there Rhythm Thief in a sense is really about its story and its presentation which is just so amazing and in my opinion is the main reason to play the game, the gameplay and music do really help hit it home though. I really hope we see more adventures with Raphael in the future, Rhythm Thief is probably one of the best games I have ever played and I couldn’t recommend this Sega masterpiece anymore then I already do.

Pokemon Trading Card Game (3DS Virtual Console) review

Platform: Gameboy Colour and 3DS Virtual Console

Publisher: Nintendo

Year: 2000

Score: 8

It has been fourteen years since the Pokemon Trading Card game became a videogame on the Gameboy Colour, that is a very long time, one of the big standouts of the original game was how it took the classic card game invented from the popularity of the main series Pokemon games and turned it into a videogame. Easy enough to say a videogame was definitely the preferred method to play the game as collecting the actual cards was expensive and never provided us with proper cards we could use to play with. The videogame however provided us with all the cards made for the original set of 151 Pokemon and all the cards needed to use them. The question now is with Videogames evolving does the original Pokemon Trading Card Game still stand as good as it was back in the day with its release on the 3DS Virtual Console.

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The answer to the question is both yes and no. The Pokemon Trading Card Game holds great memories for myself and it is a matter of seeing past my fantastic memories and seeing the game for what it is, and what is it? To put it simply the game is a beginning to an entire history it acts as a starting point as to where the entire Pokemon franchise began and shows the original Pokemon and nothing else, of course this doesn’t actually hurt the game as when we look at the more modern card game it is all still the same basic game with barely any evolution from its original form. This means that for those who never would have played the original game or just haven’t played the actual videogame for a while but have accessed the card game can easily get into this and it does still remain reasonably enjoyable fun all these years later.

The goal of the game is a simple one, this world doesn’t involve actual Pokemon instead many of the worlds characters are actually big dueling fans playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game and each has the goal of collecting the best cards in the entire game by winning all of the master medals. A simple enough premise which drives you through the game’s story as you attempt to beat he best players of the game.

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Doing this is not a simple task as playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game  is actually quite a deep and complex challenge. The card game has never been as simple in a sense as Yu-Gi-Oh and has not always been easy to master. So in order to succeed it becomes about mastering the basic strategy of the game, learning weaknesses and ensuring the deck you use has all the cards that you need to help you succeed. When the game begins you are given a deck to use that specializes based on the three starter Pokemon of Red and Blue but in order to succeed in the game you are quickly tasked with making improvements to the deck and in the long term building up your own. In order to do this is the challenge though as you need to use the original deck given to win duels to earn better cards to build your deck.

There is a big variety in options in cards to use and ensuring you have a proper balance is part of the challenge, in order to use attacks each Pokemon requires specific energy cards. Ensuring you have the energy cards that best complement your Pokemon is part of the challenge and ensuring you have the right balance of energy, Pokemon and Trainer cards becomes one of the constant struggles. My first deck I created was called Water Power and relied on Water Pokemon exclusively this left me with a single weakness bu also provided a balance that I could work with and it complemented me better then my original deck.

Duels take place like the traditional real life card game and revolve turn by turn games and in the end being able to outplay opponents and hope that luck is on your side is part of the game and with each duel comes a good amount of enjoyment.

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One of the negative sides of the virtual console release is that you cannot play with friends who also own the game, with the gameboy link cable gone and Nintendo not organizing any connectivity with the re-release it is left as very much of a lonely experience and likewise the virtual console adds nothing to the game as a whole. The benefit remains though that while the game is not modern and is really lacking a lot of content from the last fourteen years the game still remains enjoyable even with only AI opponents and the original cards.

I was quick to work out that I have gone rusty with this game and I did forget just how challenging the game can be, it is no walk in the park but as long as you have patience and a good mind the classic game still has a lot to offer to newcomers. The positive thing is while it is old and it can clearly be seen the Pokemon Trading Card Game is still fun and is a great use of a couple of hours not to mention I am glad that Nintendo chose to bring this game to my 3DS and bring me an old favourite, it doesn’t bother me that a small portion of the game is missing because it reminds me of what I loved. I think now that Nintendo needs to bring back a new Pokemon Trading Card Game to the world and they could really use all the new Pokemon as long as it remains as enjoyable as this classic is.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask review

Developer – Level 5

Publisher – Nintendo

Platforms – 3DS

Score: 7

Professor Layton is in the process of evolution and can be considered a benefiting change that will forever change how we view these games starring the puzzling Professor. As the professor moves into a new generation we begin to see a new style of change and it in some ways is a change for the better.

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The latest game in the Professor Layton series takes as to the city of Monte D’or, a city founded in the desert as part of a belief which I can’t exactly go into without spoiling the stories. Professor Layton has been called to Monte D’or by an old friend to investigate the appearance of a mysterious figure known as the Masked Gentlemen. The figure has been terrorizing Monte D’or and the professors old friend believes that he is the only one who can stop the supposed miracles and unmask the Masked Gentlemen. While in theory the story sounds good it never quite reaches the brilliant masterpiece that is Lost Future and arguably is quite predictable with many of its mysteries being easily worked out but that still does not stop the game from being great while it lasts.

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On the other side of the story we leave the major mystery behind to follow a back story that all connects into the major mystery. Similar to Lost Future we get to see more of the back story surrounding Professor Layton, the major difference however is that this sequence is fully playable and takes places between every other chapter. In this era we get to see the Professor in his school days and meet some of his friends, during this time we see out currently big haired friend in quite a different light and see what encouraged the Professor’s life decisions. Going deeper into a character we know now so well is quite exciting.

There is a few major differences held between this section and the more traditional investigation that is the main focus of the story. As well as seeing a much different looking Hershel Layton we also find a new style of gameplay that we get to go through temporarily. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask at this point turns into more of a dungeon crawler then a mystery puzzle game, while it still remains as a puzzle game requiring you to figure out certain things it mostly acts as a monotonous chore that I wish I could skip. I appreciate the attempt to mash up the gameplay and do something different but this section never became much fun in the slightest and really slowed down the game in the middle of the mystery.

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Outside of the small dungeon crawling section and the story, puzzles still remain one of the key parts of the basic game. As usual they go from easy to hard and more than half of these I solved with barely any trouble at all. Sadly many of the puzzles used in the game are basic multiple choice answers that often just involved guessing but there are still several that will make you think. There is a certain theme that goes along with a selection of puzzles in Miracle Mask that all relate to archaeology or just old things such as totems and other such things. I often liked how these puzzles differenced themselves from ones I seen the past and I found many of them to be quite clever with an answer I never would have initially predicted. Puzzles are still fun and always great to redo when they are challenging and Miracle Mask has a good selection of these. I would say there are a selection of pathetic puzzles on display here but for the good selection within the story these bad puzzles are easily looked over.

Miracle Mask is a new start for Professor Layton fans with many changes made this mostly comes down to the transition from the DS to the 3DS and the capabilities of the console. With the added power we get to see a new dimension in the series and I feel it is a change for the better. While cutsecenes still often remain as hand drawn cinematic there is a real difference presented in other forms. For starters characters are longer two dimensional, they now appear as fresh three dimensional figures which while repetitive and a bit dull in their animations it really makes for a nice difference from previous games.

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The environmental display has also had a similar makeover, in past games we only had the view given directly in front of us and while they always looked nice we now get to see even more. Using some of the features of the game we get to see entire landscapes as if it was someone’s view. Also I found that I couldn’t help but often take a look at many of the environments with the 3D on, it never lasted long but it really helped to add a certain layer of beauty and a nice view to the environments. Certainly it would be easy to discuss the upgrade in the graphics of the latest Professor Layton game, but it really goes without saying more that it just looks so great.

In a lot of ways Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask fails to provide some of the great experience that captured our attention in the previous games, but by the same respect it also improves I other ways. I personally hope that future games in the series improve on this games faults, but either way Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask still does a great job in being fun and being a mostly enjoyable experience that I am sure Professor Layton fans will have a decent time with for the most part.