Review of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — Oh no, there goes Tokyo

Everyone’s favorite plumber and hedgehog are once again going for the gold, as the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series has come to the Nintendo Switch for its sixth installment.  Sure, it may seem like nothing more than a simple cash-grab, but there are some enjoyable new features to be delved into.  So without further ado, let’s light the torch and get into the review itself.

Time-travel turmoil

We haven’t seen a story mode in this series since the 3DS version of the London 2012 installment, but it returns in this edition.  After an opening confrontation, the competitors are inadvertently sent back in time to the Tokyo 1964 games (The setting of which is presented in 2D), and getting back to the present is going to be way easier said than done.  In the meantime, our heroes and villains must venture around the retro venues and compete in old-school 2D events, and there are also 10 special minigames that you must unlock in this mode before you can play them elsewhere.

It shines like gold

Tokyo 2020 has a big list of events to play, and there are some new ones like skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, and karate.  Whether you’re playing the 2020, 1964, or Dream Events, each minigame comes equipped with tight control schemes, and you can choose between motion controls and standard gamepad controls.  While the controls are fluid and responsive, you still might want to read the instructions for each event in case they seem a little complex at first.

For the first time in the series, online multiplayer is included.  However, I feel that it is, at the very least, half-baked.  The tournament format in events like table tennis and badminton is ditched (Thus making them feel way too short in length), and you are unable to play the 1964 events.  These aren’t dealbreakers, but they make me believe that the online in Tokyo 2020 just isn’t for me.  If inviting three friends over (And possibly ordering a bunch of Pepsi and Domino’s Pizza) is what I need to do in order to get the multiplayer experience I truly want from this game, so be it. But hey, maybe the developers will improve the online multiplayer in a future patch.

It’s the final countdown

It may knock a few hurdles to the ground, but this is a decent comeback for the Mario & Sonic series and a fine debut for it on the Switch.  If you can stomach the fact that this isn’t supposed to be in the same league as minigame compilations like the Mario Party series, this Tokyo 2020 installment is a great place for you to go on the hunt for gold medals.

Talk about monkey business — Sega announces Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD

Remember this charming party-game series from Sega called Super Monkey Ball? The reason for that question is because from out of absolute nowhere, the Japanese former first-party company has announced they are unearthing the Wii game Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz and giving it an HD coat of paint. This remaster is set to release on October 29, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with a PC version coming this winter. For those who don’t know, Super Monkey Ball is a series in which you roll around in a ball, play a butt-ton of minigames, and try to collect as many bananas as you can. I’m personally very excited for this release, even though the closest I came to actually playing the series was via a McDonald’s Happy Meal LCD game. Yeah, that’s how old I am! Anyway, fast food toys aside, I’ve been meaning to play a full-fledged Super Monkey Ball title for some time now, and if you haven’t already delved into the series, this remaster sounds like a good place to begin. We’ve only got three months before Banana Blitz HD hits the market, so be sure to stock up on bananas…Or at least any kind of fruit!

Microsoft E3 2019

What will Microsoft be bringing for E3? Halo Infinite? A new console? Some new exclusives? Being one of the only major game studios to make E3 this year they have a lot  of pressure to bring it. So will they?

The presentation opens with a game trailer. Looks to be Obsidian’s Outer Worlds and the long awaited release date. October 25, 2019. Lots of dialogue and fun outer space shenanigans.

Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Sesua’s Sacrifice), recently purchased by Microsoft, revealing Bleeding Edge. I am getting a sort of Sunset Overdrive/punk feel for the game. Technical Alpha for the game starts June 27.

Next up, looks like a new Ori and the Blind Forest game. Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Feb 11 2020.

From the creators of Minecraft (the less controversial creators anyway) Minecraft Dungeons which will be coming in Spring 2020 along with 4 player local and online coop.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, taking the stage. Phil has always been a man who talks about gamers and since he took over Xbox a few years ago, he has shifted the direction of the company to make Xbox more welcome to gamers of any kind. 60 games will be shown during the presentation, along with some detail on the the Cloud and Project Scarlett, Xbox’s new console.

EA’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order trailer follows. Uncharted meets lightsabers. I am so down.

Trailer for a horror game. Remnants of Alan Wake? Definitely getting an Alan Wake vibe with this one, the flashlight, the monsters. But no. It’s the Blair Witch. Coming August 30.

Cyberpunk 2077 with a pretty groovy cinematic trailer showing us a scene that is gory and ends with a nice surprise. Keanu Reeves is in this game. And Keanu Reeves is on the stage to give us the release date for the game. April 16, 2020.

Spiritfarer A cutesy building and adventure game. One that will be available via Game Pass on Day One.

Battletoads! Comes with a very cartoony style that I dig and of course 3 player couch coop. No word on release date yet.

The Legend of Wright. I am not sure what this game is, it could be absolutely brilliant or absolutely awful. My interest is piqued and it certainly looks like the most original game I have seen in some time.

Sarah Bond, head of Xbox Partnerships. All ID games show up on Game Pass on Day One. Arkham Knight, Metro Exodus, Hollow Knight, and The Borderlands: Handsome Collection come to the Game Pass today. She also touched on a few of the games that will be available for the PC Game Pass. Over 100 games at launch, including Imperator Rome, Football Manager 2019, and the Master Chief Collection, starting with Halo Reach. The beta for Game Pass starts today.

Next she brought up Game Pass Ultimate. Console Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Live for 14.99 a month. And if you sign up today. it is ONE DOLLAR. And that will upgrade your membership for however much time you have left on your Live service. (Side note: Several new games were released on Game Pass today: Thimbleweed Park, Guacamelee 2, Shenmue 1 & 2, Bridge Constructor Portal, and much more.)

World premier trailer. Powered by Satellite data and Azure AI Microsoft Flight Simulator is back. This title was huge on PC and now it is getting a modern revamp and will be available on PC and console.

Not a surprising announcement but Age of Empires II Definitive, fully remastered in 4k with new quest lines. Fall.  PC

Wacky trailer up next. As Colorado and Colorado Springs are mentioned almost 130,000 times, I can only assume the state had a hand in the game. It’s a trailer for Wasteland 3. A series… I have yet to play.

Matt Booty, head of Xbox Games Studio. Talking about the studios Microsoft purchased. He introduces Tim Schafer the head of Double Fine Productions (Brutal Legend, Broken Age, PsychoNauts) Tim Schaefer introduces us to PsychoNauts 2.

World Premier: Star Wars. Lego The Skywalker Saga All nine films one game. It does not look like they are retreadeding the old games and that this is all new, but I could be mistaken.

Dragonball Project Z RPG.

World Premier. 12 Minutes. This game looks fantastically interesting. A man is caught in a time loop. Interesting premise. Hopefully find out more soon.

Way to the Woods. You play a deer with a younger deer and wander through subways and stuff. It looks cute.

Gears of War 5 trailer with the best eyebrow lift I have seen in gaming. The game arrives on September 10th, but you can play four days early by preordering or being a member of Game Pass. There is a stress test on July 17th for multiplayer. And if you preorder or play during the first week you will get a Terminator: Dark Fate character pack.

New Elite Controller Series 2. More elite-er and probably more expensive than I could afford, but it does look very bad ass.

Dying Light 2. Spring 2020

World Premier. Lego Speed Champions expansion for Forza Horizon 4. I just got “Everything is Awesome” out of my head… annnnnnd now it’s back.

Pop Funko and Gear have joined up for a mobile game. No, I’m serious.

State of Decay 2 Heartland. New expansion to the game available today to owners of the game or Game Pass subscribers. Appears to have some branching story paths.

World Premier. Japan’s biggest MMO coming to Xbox with cross play. Phantasy Star Online 2.

Crossfire X, a PC legend, according to Microsoft will be coming to Xbox in 2020.

World Premier. Tales of Arise trailer and 2020 release date.

Followed by a Borderlands 3 trailer.

World Premier. Miyazaki and Martin. Two names that have me curious as hell about this game. Elden Ring.

And finally, Phil Spencer is onstage to talk about the next console. It will be 4 times more powerful than the Xbox One X, with a focus on smaller loading times and will come with a Solid State Drive. It launches in Holiday of 2020 and it launches with Halo Infinite.

So that was Microsoft E3 2019, what did you all think? Anything you are jonesing for? For this writer I am looking forward to Outer Worlds, 12 Minutes, Elden Ring and Cyberpunk 2077. It is a good time to be a gamer.

Review of Team Sonic Racing — What’s gonna work? Teamwork!

I know I’ve already said this in at least one review that I did, but I’m gonna say it again — I am a racing-game fanatic. Few things in videogames get my adrenaline pumping as much as fighting my way through a motor-filled hullabaloo. And after covering popular series like Daytona USA and Burnout, I thought I’d jump back in the cockpit to talk about this new racer involving everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog. Team Sonic Racing has finally taken the green flag, and has a whole bunch of tricks up of its sleeve in an attempt to both imitate Mario Kart and stand out in the garage. Let’s pull up to the starting grid and chat about this thing for a few laps.

Gotta drive faster, faster, faster-faster-faster

It’s not very often you find a story in a kart racer, but Team Sonic Racing has one under the hood. To set the scene, a mustachioed Tanuki named Dodon Pa has recruited Sonic and co. to race through a handful of prominent environments that make up Sega’s flagship franchise. Needing a well-earned break from sending evil robots to the junkyard, the blue hedgehog and his cheris bust out their lovely sports cars and accept Dodon’s invitation regardless of how “shady” they think he comes across as.

Of course, the story would bust a flat if the racing itself didn’t deliver the goods, but the racing is as tasty as all those chili dogs Sonic’s been cooking up for years. The team at Sumo Digital has incorporated a unique style of team-based racing that even Mario Kart hasn’t attempted. During team races, you’ve got a couple of teammates that you can slipstream and swap items with. Working as a team, doing some drifting, and pulling off air tricks fill up a Team Ultimate meter. When you activate a Team Ultimate, you and your teammates get a short period of unlimited boost, and you can even spin out your rivals by simply making contact with their cars. Combine all of the above with tight controls and a well-designed roster of tracks, and you’ve got an addicting arcade racer in front of you.

Turn the car into the wind

Like a loaf of bread, it’s important that a video game of any kind has good sound, and Team Sonic Racing passes that test with ease. The voice-acting is above-average and full of lines that may make you laugh out loud. But more importantly, the music in this racer will give you an adrenaline rush you’ll want to have in multiple servings. Notable artists like Crush 40, Hyper Potions, and Tee Lopes have done a stellar job composing new melodies and remixing a truckload of past bangers.

If you’re gonna make a kart racer, you’d be mistaken big-time if you didn’t include good multiplayer, and you will find plenty of fun multiplayer in Team Sonic Racing. 12 players can be in one lobby, and those slots are allowed to be taken by someone playing via split-screen (Four players per TV). You’ll also find a variety of race types including solo races, team races, King of the Hill, Ring Challenge, and Traffic Attack. And if you want your ride to stand out, you can earn new paint jobs, horns, and attribute upgrades.

A way-past-cool racer

It can be difficult to make a game look unique in a heavily-flooded genre, but Sega and Sumo Digital have managed to put the pieces together for this exhilarating kart racer. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the most famous anthropomorphic hedgehog, you should take Team Sonic Racing for a test drive if you’re adept at arcade-style racing games. Put down the chili dog and keep both hands on the wheel!

Review of Daytona USA — Stock car racing discovers kansei dorifuto

It’s not like this needs to be said, but I’ll start this review by saying it — If you asked a big number of people what their favorite arcade-cabinet racing game is, a very common answer would be the game that picked up where Sega’s own Virtua Racer left off; The one that was less about open-wheel cars and more about infectious music that was almost impossible not to sing. Take American stock car racing, give it an emphasis on drifting (And thus make driving on ovals similar to driving on the Toge mountain passes), and you’ve got the one and only Daytona USA — A 1994 arcade racer that was released on the XBLA and PlayStation Store eight years ago, bringing with it a new coat of HD paint.

The race begins from a rolling start

Being a game designed for the arcades, Daytona USA is meant to be a pick-up-and-play racer that tries to be fun to play even if it looks light on content. You won’t find a lot of depth in the appropriately-titled Arcade Mode; you simply select one of the three tracks (an oval, a road course, and a street circuit), choose your transmission, set the length and difficulty of the race, and you’re clear to start your engine. Your task is to go from the back of the pack to the top 3, which requires you to be adept at slipstreaming, drifting, and (If you turn tire-wear on) pit-stop strategy. And of course, since this is an arcade racer, you must record some fast laps to keep the obligatory timer from expiring.

The racing controls are not only very tight and responsive like they were all the way back in 1994, and can be tailored to your liking with a very helpful options menu. Plus, you have the option to hook up a racing wheel and crank up the force feedback, which really captures the feeling of the arcade cabinets of old.

A whole pit crew of new features

Being a console port with a $10 price tag, it would be a sin (And potentially pandemonium) if Daytona USA didn’t come with some new features under the hood, and the engine revs up loudly in that area; Survival Mode is similar to an endless-runner game and challenges you to pass as many cars and log in as much distance as possible before the clock runs out, which can be a very useful tool if your racing skills need a new…Car setup, so to speak. There is also a set of 30 challenges to complete, ranging from things like passing a set number of cars to reaching a target speed. If you feel like exercising your vocal chords or just being an all-around goofball with your fellow stock-car fans, there’s even a karaoke mode where you do as many laps as you want while singing along to the game’s catchy music; In fact, you can choose between the arcade machine’s soundtrack or an arranged soundtrack composed for this HD port.

If you’re like me and you absolutely adore racing against seven other drivers on an eight-unit machine in the arcades (Particularly at the local Dave & Buster’s), you’ll probably be itching for some eight-player online racing; Luckily for us, Sega grants your wish. You can join public matchmaking lobbies or set up a lobby of your own; When you do the latter, you have full control over the track, race length, and game type. You can even decide if you want AI cars to be on the track with you and your fellow drivers, even if the race has only eight drivers on the leaderboard.

The checkered flag is out

Sega has long been well-versed in arcade racing, and the HD version of Daytona USA is a strong reminder of that. It may not have the depth of modern racing series like Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, but the fast-paced racing action more than makes up for it. If you have 10 bucks to spare and need a classic arcade racer in your garage, you might want to give Daytona USA a test drive. No need to insert any quarters, just climb into that cockpit!

The Sega Genesis Mini has been revealed

The Sega Classic Mini has been revealed, with a price point of $79.99 USD, and is set to release worldwide September 19th. It has 40 games that come with it, including some instant classics:

  • Altered Beast
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Comix Zone
  • Dr. Robotnix’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Shining Force
  • Space Harrier 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • ToeJam & Earl

These are confirmed to be included, with more being released “intermittently over the coming months.” If you get one of these in North America, it comes with a bonus power adapter, and every version comes with the console itself, a Micro-B to USB power cable, an HDMI cord, and two three-button USB controllers.

Have any thoughts on the SEGA Genesis Mini? Would you buy one? What games would you play? Leave a comment below!

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