Review of Pokémon Sword & Shield — Galar Calling

Since its 1996 debut, the international phenomenon in Pokémon has always seemed to cater towards the handheld-gaming crowd.  While there had been plenty of spin-offs and remakes for home consoles ranging from the N64 to the Wii U, having a portable system was a requirement if you wanted a piece of the core Pokémon lineup.  But thanks to the Switch, that prerequisite has been axed.  After three years of development, Pokémon Sword & Shield have arrived as the first main-series Pokémon games for home consoles.  I know these games have been the butt of backlash for several reasons, but it’s a still good duo of games on their own merit.  Let’s whip out our Pokédexes and converse about it.

Jolly ol’ Galar

The eighth generation of this heavily-revered franchise is set in the Galar region, which is based on the United Kingdom.  The plot is mostly the same as previous gens — You receive your starter Pokémon, learn the ropes of being a Trainer, and go on a quest to become the regional Pokémon champion.  Gym Battles are part of your journey again, except the lineup of Gym Leaders you face depends on which of these two versions you decide to play.

With tea or biscuits

Although features like Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves have been tossed and the Pokédex has been trimmed, there are plenty of new things to do in your latest Pokémon adventure.  You can take part in raids similar to those in Pokémon Go, have your Pokémon partake in special tasks, and even spend some time socializing and cooking meals with your Pokémon.  It should also be pointed out that the world now has a dynamic weather system, and the powerful critters can temporarily become larger in appearance thanks to Dynamax and Gigantamax forms.  Lastly, if you have some Pokémon from previous adventures that you’d like to bring along with you for this ride, you’ll be able to transfer them via the upcoming Pokémon Home service.

No Game, No Watch, Just Galar-y

Despite seeming like a very polarizing duo of games in its franchise, Pokémon Sword & Shield do what they can to provide you with more of the great Pokémon fun that’s been had since its late-90’s launch.  The new formula may seem a bit too streamlined to your liking at first; But once your adventure in the Galar region commences, you’ll have nothing to develop gripes about.

Review of Mischief Makers — Shake-shaking things up

If there was anything the Nintendo 64 was knee-deep in, it was platforming games. Not only was Super Mario 64 an absolute masterpiece in the genre, but there were a handful of second and third-party platform gems in the 64-bit console’s library. And no matter how obscure a game may be, you know it has a strong cult-following when lots of gamers request it to be re-released on a digital marketplace…Which brings us to a 1997 2.5D platformer called Mischief Makers, developed by the fine folks at Treasure.

Stop and shake it

To set the scene, the Planet Clancer is faced with the growing possibility of war, not to mention the Emperor is tricking the inhabitants, known simply as Clancers, into doing indisputably evil things. The brainwashed Clancers kidnap one of the planet’s visitors, that being the robotic mastermind Professor Theo. Luckily for him, the professor’s robotic assistant Marina Liteyears witnesses the capturing, and she sets off on a journey to not only bring her creator to safety, but also protect Planet Clancer from all of the threats that are about to unfold.

Every level puts your 2D platforming skills to the test. And thankfully, Marina has plenty up her…Robots have sleeves, right? Marina can perform both normal and long jumps, and the C buttons grant her special moves like rolling, sliding, and even boosting herself in any direction. However, these moves are afterthoughts compared to the game’s emphasis on grabbing and shaking the many objects and NPC’s you’ll come across. Grabbing things in mid-air and launching yourself towards platforms far away from you will become very vital as your journey progresses. Along with a truckload of platforming playgrounds, you’ll be faced with a handful of boss fights against rogue Clancers and other cold-hearted villains.

Shaking, not stirring

For a 1997 N64 game, Mischief Makers is full of good-looking level backgrounds, well-animated characters, and above-average cutscenes that some gamers may have thought the N64 just couldn’t pull off. In terms of sounds, you’re not gonna hear a lot of voice-acting (Although it was performed well) due to the console’s limitations, but you’ll still be treated with plenty of well-composed songs that are very fitting for each level and boss fight you go through.

In terms of replay value, Mischief Makers‘ length depends on how long you are willing to explore each level and whether or not you can succeed at the bonus tasks in the special events. If you’re good enough, you’ll be able to find all the gold crystals, one of which is found in each level. The amount of gold crystals you have at the end of the adventure determines how long the ending will be, so you’re gonna need a lot of patience and platforming prowess if you want the full experience.

No tomfoolery, no hijinx, just mischief

Just because a game falls under the radar due to its console’s heavyweight-filled catalog doesn’t mean it’s a meaningless game, and Mischief Makers strongly proves that. It doesn’t fit into the same league as heavily-revered platformers like Super Mario 64, but if you’re looking for an obscure platformer with an entertaining (And sometimes funny) plot and a deep pool of replay value, Mischief Makers will not disappoint you. Also, I don’t recommend taking a shot for every time Marina says “Shake, shake!” Alcohol and robotics don’t mix!

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!

Review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Did you say “chocolate?”

Remember the 2005 film adaptation of the classic children’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? That movie was heavily hyped up before it came to theaters, and for good reason. Tim Burton was in the director’s chair, Johnny Depp portrayed the internationally-famous Willy Wonka, and it was the first time since 1971 that Roald Doahl’s masterpiece came to the big screen. The film itself was a dark and quirky remake, but I found it to be a well-made piece of cinema full of hilarious one-liners and catchy musical numbers. And as I saw in its heavily-replayed commercial, the folks at Take-Two Interactive and High Voltage Software were turning this into a videogame that combined puzzles with action-platforming. Not gonna lie, this game kinda became a guilty pleasure in my library, and it’s my job to tell you about all the interesting features in this game’s…Inventing room, so to speak. Television-Chocolate goggles at the ready!

Sideways, longways, slantways

The beginning of the story is not surprising if you’ve already seen the film, although the plot as a whole has been tweaked for the purposes of the game. Charlie Bucket dreams of visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and the notorious candy man ironically announces that he is allowing five children to do just that, as long as they are in possession of a golden ticket hidden in a random Wonka Bar. Quickly, four tickets have been found, meaning Charlie has only one slim chance to make his dream a reality. And then out of nowhere, a $10 bill flies in and leads the boy to the local candy store. By some miracle, Charlie finds the final golden ticket and rushes home to gear up for the journey that awaits him. He chooses his Grandpa Joe as his chaperone, as the latter used to work for Mr. Wonka before the factory closed down. The tour seems to start off swimmingly…But just like in the movie, four of the five children end up in danger and cause huge problems within the factory due to their self-indulgent behavior. It’s up to you and Charlie to travel through many prominent rooms, solve a variety of puzzles, and repair the giant factory from all the issues that are about to develop.

Each level tasks you with doing some action-platforming and puzzle-solving through the factory’s most important rooms. You won’t be able to handle all of the incoming tasks by yourself, and who better to help you than the miniature assistants known as Oompa-Loompas. They’re pretty much this game’s equivalent of Pikmin, and are able to perform tasks like picking up important items, knocking candy out of trees, fixing leaky pipes, and repairing electrical devices. As the adventure goes on, you’ll be given special candy that will help you reach high places and do combat with machines gone rogue.

Everybody give a cheer

The graphics don’t do anything mind-blowing, but as long as you have the Xbox version, the resolution will be high and you’ll hardly encounter slow framerates. Each room in the factory looks very well-made, as do the character models. The game’s camera might occasionally interfere with your ability to admire how breathtaking the factory is, but it’s not a broken camera by any means.

I’ve probably said this about the majority of games I’ve reviewed on this site, but I’m gonna say it again here — I absolutely adore the audio in this game. Nearly all of the actors and actresses from the film reprise their roles, and the script is nearly identical to that of the movie. One thing to note is that Johnny Depp was not available to reprise his role as Willy Wonka, but James Arnold Taylor does a very nice imitation. I feel this version of Mr. Wonka is wise rather than over-the-top, and I don’t mean that as a complaint…Just giving my honest point of view. But what I love more than the voice-acting is (You guessed it!) the music. If you’re expecting a Danny Elfman score filled with Oompa-Loompa dances, you’re not gonna be satisfied, but you still get a laundry list of incredible songs courtesy of the talented Winifred Philips. The melodies are either really cheerful or on the dark-and-moody side depending on the room you’re in and the task you’re faced with, and all of them fit perfectly considering how up-and-down the film is in terms of emotion.

With a golden ticket, it’s a golden day

It’s not one of the best movie tie-in games in existence, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not without merit despite its short length and imitations of established franchises. Even if you weren’t fan of the big-screen remake upon which it’s based, it’s still a satisfactory and charming game if you like platforming and puzzles. Just don’t try playing this game while simultaneously dancing like an Oompa-Loompa…That would probably be as safe as testing out the three-course dinner chewing gum.

Review of Super Mario Maker 2 — Can we make it? Yes we can!

I know we’ve been saying this to absolute exhaustion, but I’m gonna say it again because it’s a good enough article to do so — The Wii U came as close as possible to ending Nintendo’s time as a first-party game company. Due to things like bad business decisions from Nintendo and a small amount of third-party support, the 2012 console didn’t exactly stand a chance against the PlayStation and Xbox consoles that came before and after it. Even the hilarious level-building game in Super Mario Maker couldn’t keep the Wii U alive for that much longer. But thankfully, the Nintendo Switch is doing a fantastic job correcting the Wii U’s mistakes and bringing along lots of ports and sequels. And after nearly four years, Super Mario Maker 2 has finally arrived, bringing with it a laundry list of new modes and tools.

Hassle in the Castle

Let’s get into the meat and potatoes, starting with the new story mode. Mario and a group of Toads and Toadettes have finished rebuilding Peach’s castle, which looks like it’s made of bricks (Correct me if I’m wrong). However, it quickly falls to pieces thanks to a dog stepping on the rocket that resets levels being worked on. How Mario can be talented in so many things but can’t get control of a dog, I have no idea. With no other alternative, it’s up to you and Mario to complete level after level (Jobs, in this case), save up your coins, and put the castle’s pieces back together.

If you build it, the plumber will come

The first Super Mario Maker was single-player only, but this sequel has a great dose of multiplayer action to enjoy, both individually and cooperatively. Four-player platforming is supported on one console, a LAN, or online. The only drawback is that you can’t set up lobbies for you and your friends, but Nintendo will add that in a future update. Even the beefed-up Course Maker mode has multiplayer, albeit for only two players. Despite that limitation, it’s tons of fun to team up with a friend and create some hilarious levels in an attempt to trigger both laughs and curse words from those who attempt to complete said courses.

When I say the Course Maker is beefed up, I’m not kidding. There are many new enemies, items, and props added to the toolbox, along with a new level theme based on Super Mario 3D World. I’m very pleased with these goodies from Nintendo, and I hope they add even more tools and themes in the future.

*insert DashieGames song here*

If you haven’t figured it out already, this is yet another title that proves Nintendo’s ambition to correct the mistakes they made with the Wii U. It certainly won’t be as revered as Odyssey, but Super Mario Maker 2 easily succeeds in providing a second-helping of fun level-editing combined with the Mario franchise’s platforming prowess.

When Cats Form a Mafia – Nyakuza Metro Review

We all know our cats are all secretly part of an international mafia gang, but this DLC for A Hat in Time gives us an idea of what may happen if they showed their true colors, could talk, and could handle the complex logistics required to run a metro station with trains pulled by giant cats.

This review contains minor spoilers for the DLC.

Story

There is little story to this DLC, but it mainly revolves around the mafia leader, known as “The Empress”. When Hat Girl first arrives in the metro, she finds a time piece, but it is quickly taken away by cats wearing doctor masks over their mouths. Then you get roped into finding the rest of the time pieces for The Empress, and she pays you for each one. That money goes towards your growing pile of money in your ship, and you can even make money angels in it.

The Empress loves shiny things, as all cats do

This is a free roam world like the Apline level, so you have to find each piece in the metro as you go. To do that, you have to buy metro passes for each color station- yellow, green, blue, pink. There are multiple ways in and out of each station, some requiring you to go through one station into another, so it’s easy to get lost if you’re not paying attention. To me, this whole level looks like something out of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure with all the colors.

Yellow is the first station you visit

New Looks

So the story is just part of the DLC- the more important thing is how can we make Hat Girl cuter? Well with new colors and skins, we can do that in many ways. You can make yourself look like Moustache Girl with the “Justice” colors, turn yourself into wireframe, and even make yourself look like a full-fledged member of the Nyakuza! Personally I really like the Nyakuza look on her. You unlock the bat as a usable weapon, completing the badass little girl look. There is a new Brewing Hat skin that allows you to throw money at people instead of potions- I love it.

Hat Girl turns Nyakuza, complete with a bat

There are also badges that change how the world around you looks. There is one that turns everything into a classic Game Boy style look, and one that turns everything red-scale (I cannot use this, it hurts my eyes too much). I will never actually use these badges unless I’m doing like a challenge run or something.

There are also stickers you can collect in game. You can stick them to your weapon or on the ground using the emote system that was added in. Some are rarer than others, like a holographic one that I found of the egg seal.

Online Party

This DLC also introduces an online party mode. This mode allows up to 50 people to play at once in the metro, making for some unique interactions. I personally have not played this mode yet, but I will update the review when I get the chance to.

Score- 7/10

I love the way the level looks, the outfits and colors are adorable, and the level is smooth once you get used to it. Collecting the metro passes the first time is kind of a pain, and the game takes a lot longer to load for me now. I think this is due to the online capability of it, but I’m not sure, might just be my computer. I also would have liked a little more to the story, it seems a bit shallow to me.

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-V