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August 31, 2014

Demo Review 29: Max and the Magic Marker

In a very gray world, we see little colored Max drawing in his living room. A letter addressed to him enters the house, and he opens it, finding a marker. He starts drawing with the marker, but the little monster he draws comes to life on the page and infiltrates his other drawings! Max quickly draws himself with the magic marker, and the character comes to life, ready to fend off the drawn monster!

We switch to a prettier version of Max's drawings, where his little character is moving in a platform game. You're instructed to lead Max to bubbles containing orange ink; this fills the magic marker. On the way, he can also pick special black balls, and light ones that turn out to be lightbulbs. Oh, by the way: Each time Max reaches a checkpoint, the drawn monster steals away all of the ink stored in the marker. Great...

But how can you draw? Well, it's simple. You press and hold A to draw, you press B on a drawing to remove it. You can also hold B and shake the Wiimote to remove all the drawings made since the last checkpoint. You also learn to use the magic ink to create boulders and other things useful to reach higher places. You can also use it, by drawing long lines over gaps to make bridges, or to draw around Max to protect him from some dangers, like the rainy sections that would erase him.

The demo gives us only one level to try. That's sad, because I really wanted more. This game was fun, very fun. I liked it. The art is cool, the music is alright, but the gameplay is great. This reminded me of Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter for the Wii, except simpler. I enjoyed the tutorial level, I really hoped I could get to try more. If I access the Wii Shop channel again, I will most likely buy it.

Kind of an odd coincidence, though: I review a demo about drawing in a Platformer gamer he day just before I announce Drawn To Life Month! Tune in tomorrow for the announcement!

August 30, 2014

Demo Review 28: Monsteca Corral

Monsteca Corral gives us a world populated by monsters; your goal is to bring some vaguely humanoid creatures from their starting point to a location far, far away. First you get to learn how the camera works, and then you can try the basic controls: leading your monsters to a point, and then recruiting more monsters located around that world. You also learn how to make your Stompies (yes, that's their name) jump. It's kind of fun because they can jump in about any direction. After your herd is collected, you must pick bubbles of gas around. They randomly pop up around the level, but breaking the robots' buildings will let out a lot of gas bubbles.

When the bubbles have been collected, a giant worm called the Astromaggot will appear. Feed all the bubbles to it! You'll certainly need to get more gas bubbles and feed it numerous times. When the Astromaggot is filled with gas, it will fly away; make sure your Stompies stick to it!

Yeah, it's kind of a weird game, huh? Anyway, you get a second tutorial level in which the robots are patrolling the zone. This level is very difficult, and I suspect there's a programming error in it because I was unable to gather most of the tribe. Well, after that failure of a tutorial level (which I could skip, thankfully), I got into a real level, with over ten Stompies to pick up around the place. Also, you don't need to pick them all up to start collecting gas bubbles, and again, you don't need them all to break robot headquarters or feed the Astromaggot.

The controls are a tad messy (the jumping mechanic is pretty bad), and the camera isn't too simple to use. But if you can overcome these small problems, you get a game with just enough material to be interesting for a while. How long? I can't tell. Probably not a long while, because it seems like the same goals are repeated on every level, with no variants brought in after a while. It was fun while the demo lasted, but I doubt I could play more and not get bored very quickly. I'm not going to buy the full version. Still, I suggest you try the demo.

August 29, 2014

12 Games I'd Like To Play Again Someday

Hello everyone! This is not an actual “Top 12” list here, just a list of twelve games, not in a particular order.

You know, nostalgia is an odd thing. It's all built from your past experiences, and it extends to the many works of fiction you've come across during your life. As a result, you will often remember fondly a kids' movie that you grew up with, and show great hatred for a film you watched as a kid and disliked. Nostalgia can also be treacherous, as you can re-watch a film you disliked as a child and find lots of new qualities to it, or on the contrary, re-watch a film you loved as you grew up and find many defects. We've all gone through this at some point, looking at a nostalgic work of fiction with our current eyes and having a completely different point of view.

Yes, nostalgia is an odd thing. That's probably the reason why gamers will look fondly on the first gaming console they ever owned, and the games they played on it. In my case, I got a NES from a garage sale for only 10 bucks, and I also received the gamer's entire collection of NES cartridges, a total of 14. Some of those games were not that great, but others kept a soft spot in my heart. A few years later, one of my cousins outgrew his Super Nintendo Entertainment System and gave it to me. I received his eight SNES games with it. All in all, I can say I've been lucky, 22 games nearly for free... Still, a few years ago I sold the two systems and all of the games because I needed money for another item of (current) gaming. I still keep good memories of the games I owned (or, well, good memories of the ones worth remembering). I also remember the games I loved to play as a child... and now I'm sad because I cannot play them anymore. However, I kept a list of games I used to own, and today I bring you a list of 12 games I really, really liked. Some of these titles may be completely unknown to you; To me, they represent hours and hours of fun. Today is a trip down my own Nostalgia Lane, and I invite you to come along. These are 12+ games I'd like to play again someday, either on the real game systems, or on emulators.

Note: At the end of the actual Top 12, there's a list of all the games I owned that weren't on the list. Let's go!

1. B.O.B.
This is the story of B.O.B., a teenage robot who leaves home for a night of fun and crashes the family car on an unfriendly planet. Or rather, three unfriendly planets, one after the other, because this robot has worse luck than me. Anyway, in order to find his way home, B.O.B. (no relation to R.O.B.) ventures through military bases and alien lands, defeats missile launchers and goop spewers, meets all sorts of crazy bosses... I loved this SNES game because it was REALLY hard to beat. I remember spending hours and hours trying to complete it. And when I finally did, it was incredible! This game is great in every possible way. B.O.B. gains a whole arsenal of weapons and tools to aid him on his quest to head back home, the levels are varied, and it represents a true challenge to any gamer. It had very little plot, but for this one, I could actually accept it, as everything else was just so great. Try it someday, you won't be sorry.

If that's the kind of monster you meet in space, I'm fine on
Earth, thank you very much.

2. Bubble Bobble
Anyone remembers this one? The story of two little dragons who happen to be humans transformed against their will? They have to travel across numerous levels in order to retrieve their appearance and save their parents? Every level was a puzzle and the dragons had to defeat every enemy by trapping them in bubbles they spewed before popping said bubbles. The gameplay was great, and the final boss was a force that had to be seen to be believed. I remember having both great times and hard times playing it, because it was such a difficult, difficult, DIFFICULT game in the later levels. The kicker? You cannot beat the game for real unless you beat it in 2-Player mode. Even with that small problem, it was still quite fun, and I remember many things about it that make me want to play it again now.

Does this look hard? It's only Level 1 out of over a hundred!

3. The Disney NES titles
-Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers
-Darkwing Duck
Everyone who grew up in the '90s knows Chip and Dale, Scrooge McDuck, and Darkwing Duck. Well, three of Disney's best TV shows that got their NES adaptations. Out of the three, only DuckTales was reissued recently with an updated art style, making the game look even better than it used to. But the other two were also very good. I remember the strange bosses in the Chip and Dale NES game, from the Tutorial boss to Fat Cat. I remember some of the bosses from the Darkwing Duck game, even if it was a lot harder than the other two. Oddly enough, while I grew up watching Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers and DuckTales (in the French version; I wasn't always an English-speaker, you know), I never got to watch Darkwing Duck. I've been told it's alright (though some would call this an understatement). Those are three games I won't forget, and I will play them again if I get the chance. Give them a try, they're available on NES emulators.

4. Donkey Kong Country
Yeah, a classic of the SNES. Donkey Kong Country is awesome. It's just epic. Not only did it feature the new DK, but also Diddy, the Kremlings, more members of the Kong Family, and oh so much. The levels were varied, many of them contained awesome gimmicks, and there were some legitimately dangerous enemies. Plus, who doesn't like being blasted from barrel to barrel? In a game, it looks amazing. DKC was followed by two sequels, and a sequel series made for the original Game Boy consoles. That's the legacy of Donkey Kong Country. I remember loving this game, trying oh so hard to find everything there was to find... Hours of enjoyment. The animal buddies, the Kremlings... I just cannot say how much I liked this game. I'd buy it on the Virtual Console, but I switched to Windows 8 a few months ago and I haven't been able to connect my Wii to Internet since, so I can't buy new games on the Wii Shop Channel... But still, Donkey Kong Country is pure greatness, and you must try it at least once. You must.

Where else can you hitch a ride on a rhinoceros?

5. Dr. Mario
Classics once again! Yeah, not everyone remembers this game fondly. I can see why. It's not the easiest puzzle game around. The viruses are kind of annoying. There's no clear plot, and nowhere is it said where Mario got his Ph.D. Either way, it must have been a crappy university if they taught him to use pills to solve every problem. However, the concept was quite fun. I remember playing it a little. It's simple, really: The bottle is infested with viruses, and you have to kill them by placing colored pills matching the colors of the virus you want to destroy; and if four “squares” (counting virus and pill halves) of the same color are aligned, they all disappear. While this is fun, sometimes I largely prefer action games. Dr. Mario still has its merits, it sure is memorable. It went on to receive a few sequels, and is considered part of the Mario canon. What else can I say? Give it a try.


6. Mighty Final Fight
Oh noes! Mayor Haggar's daughter has been kidnapped – again! Helped of two younger fighters, Guy and Cody, Haggar sets out to retrieve his daughter! Being one of the few Beat'Em-Up games I played in the early days, I have a soft spot for it. For starters, you can pick between three different fighters, which is neat. Plus, as you progress through the game, these fighters level up and gain new amazing attacks. The game also contains a lot of comedy, which makes it even better. Seeing the villains give an "Oh crap" face when you hit them is priceless. The heroes are great, the plot is fine, the bosses are – wow, I remember now: The bosses are just incredible, all of them. The settings are varied, and the gameplay is good. I swear, this is a great introduction to Beat'Em-Up games, and I liked it. Liked it a lot. It's great. Also, Haggar is a crazy awesome wrestler.

Don't you love it when you can just attack every enemy in sight?

7. Mrs. Pac-Man Maze Madness
I bought this Game Boy Advance many years ago, and I remember having a lot of fun with it, but I inexplicably lost the cartridge not even a year after I bought it. While not “nostalgic” for this game, I sure hope I could play it again... This game was first released on the PlayStation system, then jumped to the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast before appearing in GBA cartridge form. As for the plot? A witch invades a castle and kidnaps the princess, so Mrs. Pac-Man must save the four regions of Pac-Land in order to bring peace again. Yeah, that's it. All I remember is that it had the right level of difficulty, it had a lot of puzzle elements, and it was pretty darn fun. I don't remember actually beating the full game, but knowing my persistence, I probably wasn't too far from achieving that. Oh well. Here goes another game I'd look for on emulator sites if I were to review it.

gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble
It goes on for a few hundred more lines...

8. Road Runner: Death Valley Rally
I didn't own Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time, but I did own another Looney Tunes game. In Death Valley Rally, you control the Road Runner, as he speeds around five different worlds while trying to avoid or thwart the coyote's plans. As such, our favorite speedy bird runs through a desert, a construction site, trains, a mine and a space station to fool Wile E. Coyote. As is to be expected from a Looney Tunes game, each time the bird reaches the end of the level, Coyote's plans crash on him in all sorts of fun ways. Did I mention that the last boss is a giant robotic Wile E. Coyote head? Most of the coyote's plans are shout-outs to things he tried in the cartoon, and here he still fails in using them. The game was very challenging and I keep fond memories of it. I wished I could play it right now...

Keep trying, Coyote. You're always going to fail.
A. L. W. A. Y. S.

9. StarFox
Yes, I have played a StarFox game in the past! The very first one, in fact. I even remember “beating” the game. Well, that is, if you consider “beating” as completing one of the paths available in the game, and not meeting most of the bonus levels, like the slot machine boss, and other stuff like that... The concept was very innovative back then, the graphics were marvelous (and it's a Super Nintendo game, which means 3D was only beginning!), and the story, while simple, kept the gamer interested. There were a lot of enemies, and many memorable bosses. Sure, Andross' mirror face is known more than ever thanks to the Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but there's also the spider spaceship, and many others! ...Okay, my memory isn't as great as I thought it was. I haven't played this game in years! But I remember it, so I want to play it. Maybe someday soon...

Space can get really trippy sometimes.
It's usually a sign of space madness.

10. Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 & 3
Classics, once again! Who hasn't played the very first Super Mario Bros.? The second one? The third one? You must have played at least one of those at some point in your life. They're just THAT famous. The first SMB game used to be the highest-selling game of all time. The second ones (either the American version, taken from Doki Doki Panic, or The Lost Levels; both count as Super Mario Bros. 2 in a way) also gained a reputation as great games, with The Lost Levels being known for its extreme difficulty, and SMB2 as the first time in history that Toad and Princess Peach were playable AND had their own abilities. SMB3 is one of Mario's greatest adventures, the first appearance of the Koopalings, and an all-around awesome game to own and play. It looked great, it had great gameplay and ideas, and it was fun. These four games were awesome, each in their own way, and for this reason I hope to play them again at some point in my life. (Note: I owned Super Mario bros. 1, 2 and 3, but I also had Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES, which is why I could play The Lost Levels as well.)

11. Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble In Wackyland
Another relatively unknown game. Most people who grew up in the 90s know the Tiny Toons. Did you know they had video game adaptations? In this one, the main cast (Buster, Babs, Bucky, etc.) enters an amusement park called Wackyland, which seems fun... but actually, it's filled with traps! And of course, none of them knows it until they're on the rides! As a result, Babs has to survive a CRAZY roller coaster ride, Bucky enters an all-too-risky Bumper Car challenge, and Buster visits a castle in which the gravity keeps changing. The game was difficult at times, but nothing unbeatable. It makes sense, as it was made for kids! It was creative. My memories of this game are mostly positive, so I want to be able to play this game again someday. It was really fun, and if you know of a way for me – and for you! - to play it, tell me, I'll be more than happy to know!

A crazy roller coaster ride? That's just the beginning.

12. WarioWare: Twisted!
For this last one, there's a bit of history. I owned this game, and so did a friend of mine. However, her cartridge of WarioWare: Twisted! was stolen by someone, another person who wasn't quite a friend, and as a result I gave her my cartridge. I never got a chance to play it ever again. It's kind of sad, too, as WarioWare: Twisted is one of a handful of Game Boy Advance games with a built-in movement detector, a creative new feature. The game knows when you're tilting the cartridge! The only other control used in microgames for this installment was the A button, so the games were all rather simplistic. It doesn't matter, though. The microgames were still a lot of fun, so I guess it reached its goal. It was REALLY enjoyable, and if I could get my hands on a copy of WarioWare: Twisted!, I would buy it. I want to play this again, it was just so cool. Sure, you looked like a ditz spinning the game console, but hey! It worked!

Twist to shave the guy? Huh.

Other games I owned that weren't mentioned on this list: The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Duck Hunt, Platoon, Rad Racer, Spy Hunter, StarTropics, Super C, Tetris, TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode, Touchdown Fever (man, this one SUCKED), Gunforce, Mortal Kombat 3, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Mario Kart. Just because they're not on this list doesn't mean I didn't like them. Some were okay, there are others I really despised. But I owned them in the past, so I felt like I should at least acknowledge them. I bought some of these games on the Virtual Console, which is why I did not include them on the list: I've played them, albeit in a different form, in the recent years.

Do you have a gaming console you are nostalgic for? What are the games you played that you don't have anymore, that you would like to play once again? Share them in the comments, I will be more than happy to read them. Nostalgia is a great thing and no one should shy away from it.

August 28, 2014

Demo Review 27: Kyotokei

In Kyotokei, we're brought to anime-style characters dressed in a Victorian style (I might make a mistake here, correct me if I'm wrong). You start the demo and get the choice between Easy, Normal and Hard.

This game is a horizontal Shoot'em up. That means the character is on the left of the screen, monsters come out from the right, and you have to shoot them by pressing 1 or holding it to produce a constant flow of bullets. However, this isn't an ordinary Shoot'em up; there's something very special about it. You see, in the game you can press 2 to switch between a blue fighter and a red fighter. Each fighter shoots their own bullet color. Same goes for the opponents: There are blue monsters and red monsters, and each monster shoots bullets of its color. Now, here's the special thing: If any fighter touches a monster, a life is lost. However, if the blue fighter gets hit by blue bullets, he doesn't die. Same for the red fighter with red bullets. However, the blue fighter will lose a life if hitting red bullets, and the red fighter will lose a life if hit by blue bullets. This is a very cool idea that makes this game a little easier, since both characters are impervious to half the bullets tossed at them (just not the same half). But, on the other hand, it becomes a little more difficult to keep track of which kind of bullets you must avoid.

All in all, the demo is quite fun. I'm a fan of vertical and horizontal shooters like this, even though I reviewed negatively the only game like this that I reviewed before on the blog. The graphics are nice, the music's pretty cool too.

You get to try only one level in the demo, which is not enough in my opinion. But it does give you an idea of what's in store for you if you buy the full version. Even in the demo, you can have a second player join by pressing 1 on a second Wiimote. A multiplayer horizontal shoot'em up? Cool idea. Also, as you battle the first boss in the game, you'll notice it first uses blue bullets with a group of red enemies behind, then red bullets with blue enemies behind, and returns to blue in the third round, with red enemies behind. I guess, as you progress in the game, these bosses use even more of these techniques, switching from a color to the other depending on your current character's weakness. Also, it's very difficult to get high scores, as bonuses are extremely difficult to get. There are no power-ups (in the demo anyway; I can't speak for the full game), and the bonus points reset each time you hit an enemy of a different color than the preceding one. Also, you have 3 Continues.

Maaaaaaaaayyyyyyyybe I'd buy this game. It's really not a certainty. But I acknowledge it's fun. On the other hand, there are plenty of games like this on Internet... Oh, tough choice. Anyway, try it out, and if you like it, you know what to do.

August 27, 2014

A Look Back On: Mario Pinball Land

Part 1 here, Part 2 here

Oh boy... When you begin a career as an Internet reviewer, I like to think that there are works you want to do immediately. You start thinking about the jokes way ahead of time, you start imagining the kind of praise - or insults - you'd throw at the work you're reviewing. There's a film/album/game/whatever that you might have enjoyed before, but years later you see more and more of its flaws, until you realize that game just wasn't very good. Or maybe you realized it was utter crap. You prepare yourself for the day you'll get revenge, thanks to a nasty review.

Mario Pinball Land was one of those games. I really wanted to review this one, because I utterly despised it. Put the blame on my bad luck, but I have never been very good at this GBA game. I suppose it's because of the crappy pinball mechanic, but there's many other reasons. The story, the little there is, is stupid (Mario would have been a lot more efficient in normal form than in ball form), the controls are messy, the difficulty is insane - but for that one, we can also blame the stupid controls.

I reviewed this game fairly early for my blog, because I knew how unnerving it was. Writing a bad review feels good; it lets you release all the anger you had towards the work, you insult it through the post, find ways to show how utterly stupid the work is... There's something oddly therapeutic to this. It's like punching your pillow: It doesn't hurt anyone, and it often makes for a good show.

There's many more awful games coming to Planned All Along. I've been itching to review one of the games I bought at the end of July, but I have some reviews planned before that one. Let's say it's gonna be quite a fun review...

August 26, 2014

Demo Review 26: World of Goo

This is an odd game. From the Start screen, you can select the first world, which I guess will be the only one available in the Demo. You start off with the first level, Going Up, also titled Easy As Goo Pie, and you already get to learn what the game is like. Basically, there's a structure made of goo, with axis and points. What you have to do is grab one of those points with the Wii Remote and then go a little higher, while still holding the point. Basically, this will create more axis, and the structure will grow. You must keep doing that until the goo reaches a pipe located higher.

When the structure reaches the pipe, many blobs of goo (with eyes, yuck!) climb up into the pipe, and then you get the results. For every level, you have to have an amount of blobs go into the pipe, and if you have less than the required amount, you lose. If I understand correctly, your amount of moves is limited by the number of living balls of goo on the structure. Every time you add to the structure, you need to use one of the balls of goo that is passing by on an axis. At the end of a level, the game calculates the number of goo balls that were still on the structure when it reached the pipe.

In the third level, you're introduced to sleeping balls of goo; a whole lot of them. You need to go pick them up using the existing structure and the goo balls on it to wake them up, and then climb up to the pipe once more.

Basically, this is a structure puzzle game like the ones where you have to build a bridge, except it restricts the amount of points you can add. The extra balls you collect in every level are added to a a special mode called World Of Goo Corporation, in which you must try to build the highest pile out of those extra balls of goo.

Further levels available in the Demo version add even more features, such as enemy cogs destroying structures, time insects that you can click to undo your last move, red goo balls that float (Oh yes. They float. They all float down here.), and other stuff.

Personally? The first few levels were fine, but I didn't like the game as a whole. It's just not my thing. The levels in the demo get extremely difficult, and I think it's too difficult for a demo. Every game has to walk the fine line between easy and hard, and this game took a step on the “hard” side. Maybe it's the type of puzzle that isn't for me. That's possible. Either way, I did not really enjoy the demo, though I admit it's a good basic idea. It could have been fun, but I guess it just isn't for me. But if you think you'd disagree, well, the demo is still on the Wii Shop Channel, so give it a try.

August 25, 2014

StarTropics (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

Welcome back to this review of StarTropics! Last time, Mike had just left the fourth island, saved himself and an ugly stereotype from a giant whale, and received an upgrade to the Sub-C in the form of an unexpected puzzle that involves a REAL letter owned by the player. Gotta be thankful that this thing is also in the Virtual Console version!

Later, Mike reaches two islands with a huge ship between them. Sadly, it's impossible to pass from either side of the island, and the locales aren't exactly open to removing the ship from there. This is the legendary Captain Bell's ship, which helped greatly in fending off enemies in times of war, if history is to be believed. These islands are annoying as Hell, showing how dim-witted and stupid people may be when they're claiming to do stuff in honor of a historical figure. The people of Bellcola do not really wish to help, unless you find a way to remove the ship yourself. Hey, a man's life is possibly in danger, do I give a crap about your old ship? Erect a statue of Captain Bell in your village, and get that boat the fuck out of there! Urgh... Still, Bellcola's chief tells you to find another way, and that Peter can help.

"Squawk! Squawk! Peter wants a worm!"
What's next, we'll call parrots as witnesses in court?
Who's Peter? A parrot. No, really. He speaks. And will not speak to you unless you give him something, like a worm. Where to get the worm? On another section of the island, which is kind of far away. A fisherman gives Mike the worm, and then Mike must go ALL THE WAY BACK to Peter, who them just says this cryptic message: "Do me so far, do me?” Uh.... No. I'm not doing you. Yuck. However, if Mike goes back to the chain of mountains on the other side of the island, he can find an old tower with a giant organ in it. Do me so far, do me... Do me so far, do me... Is it possible...? Do mi sol fa, do mi? Is it... is it possible? Geez, I hope you know your musical notes... Mike recreates the six-note melody and opens a secret passageway... and then has to walk through a cave filled with traps. Oh, there's still a lot of enemies, but there's a ton of traps like spikes, stakes coming out from the ground, giant bowling balls – I wish I was, but I'm not kidding – and other fun stuff. That level is very difficult because of this. But Mike eventually reaches the end and starts a mechanism that lets the water flow towards the ship, which sinks the Captain Bell memorial. Mike can now go to the next set of islands, while the inhabitants of Bellcola start discovering aircraft technology in hopes of bombing the C-Sub in a near future.

Is that a bowling ball? Gotta put that picture on Pin-terest!
Or, alternately: That bowling ball comes from a giant who's
aiming for a 300 score.

Seriously, what the Hell, Bellcola?

Chapter 6... also known as "WHERE THE HELL AM I?"
or "Hand me the map... what do you mean, there's no map?"

A fossil monster! I need it
for my Fossil Fighters save file!
Mike then winds up in a maze-like section of the ocean where there's many islands. The robotic buddy tells you at every few squares when you're getting closer to Dr. J, indicating how many squares left/right or up/down the Sub-C must go in order to find his location. The submarine continues on its way, eventually finding the spot. Mike dives underwater... and finds the remnants of an ancient civilization! There's something odd about it... Oh well. Mike enters another dungeon, and discovers a new item: a magic anklet that lets him jump one square further than usual when he's crossing water. This proves very useful as he needs that ability more than once. He walks and jumps across the rooms until he has found the boss: A giant fossil-like monster called Turboss. Think of it as Omastar's Mega Evolution. However, it's pretty much just a copy of the battle against Octo the Huge, so I suppose it's an easy fight. Turboss comes closer to the bottom every once in a while, just so it can get hit. Mike keeps exploring, finds awesome spiked shoes and baseballs, and keeps going... until he meets a Moai head that comes to life and attacks him! ...Just when I thought things couldn't get any sillier. This boss plays pretty much like the C-Serpent, as Mike has to shoot into the Moai's mouth when it is open. Oh, and only the baseballs can hurt it. If you know of a reason why, please send me an e-mail with proof beyond simple assumptions.

I've read that this boss is named Broken Joe. And though
it's a Moai, there's nothing about this guy that is an Easter egg.

Meh? Let me check... yes. Meh.
A lame boss going against
an awesome weapon.
Mike keeps walking through the ruins until he finds a large rock with three cubic shapes that had been taken out of it. This thing seems alien, as the writings on it aren't from Earth. I knew there was going to be aliens in this, the game made too little sense to begin with. Mike reaches the next cave, which contains even more traps and dangerous monsters. On the way, he finds the very awesome shurikens. He always tosses two at once, after which he can split their paths; one will go left, the other will go right. And that means he can hit two enemies at once! This is awesome. That weapon proves very useful in the following rooms... where he meets, among other things, large Maya dolls that act as mid-bosses. First a room with only one, then a room with two a little later. The problem with these monsters? Mike dies instantly if they touch him. Still, the American boy overcomes the challenges and reaches the last boss... Two statues whose heads are spitting fireballs. The statues are placed so that Mike can hit them both at once with the shurikens, so he does just that and beats the dungeon. That boss was... too easy, to say the least.

"I am the expert here, so you must
accept what I say as fact. And if it
makes no sense? Know that we
live in a freaking weird world."
We see him again in the ruins, where he finally finds Dr. J. The scientist explain to him that the big rock and the three cubes are the remnants of an alien civilization destroyed by an alien conqueror, and bringing the three cubes together would revive the alien people who took refuge in them for the trip. Oooo-kay... Uncle, are you off your meds again? Jones talks about the Argonians and ends by telling Mike that he must get the cubes. Again, we let the teenager do all the work! You might be sending your nephew into a deadly mission and you expect me to accept that? Urgh. The game does expect me to accept that, so I have no choice.

Heck, the next level IS ultra-dangerous! The game's hardest level, for sure! Even good gamers will have problems beating it. Mike enters the spaceship waiting outside (waiting for what, exactly?), and finds himself in a gigantic room filled with eye-like cannons, alien shooters, and more aliens riding evil dogs. ...I think that's what those pink riders are. This level is extremely difficult, working like a maze, which makes it even worse. The exit is located in a zone Mike cannot access by jumping (the gap is too large), so he needs to find a warp pad that will bring him there. And good God, there's many warp pads placed all over the level. Good luck finding the right one! And even if Mike finds the exit, there's still twin robots in the last room, shooting around to stop him from going further! Holy wow...

A giant grasshopper robot? What's next, a prime-hunting
raccoon in a team of heroes??
Mike progresses through the spaceship and eventually finds the first cube... which upgrades his Shooting Star to a brand new yo-yo weapon, the epic SUPERNOVA. This thing shoots across entire rooms and does more damage! The only problem is that you can use it only if you have 10 full hearts or more. And with the difficulty now, hearts go down faster than the birds in Duck Hunt. Luckily, the next level is a little easier. Mike ventures through the spaceship again, defeating enemies on the way, until he meets a larger enemy named the Jet-Pack Jumper. Luckily, it's not THAT hard to beat, so Mike just Supernova's the Hell out of it and then goes forward. What's at the end of this tricky level? Another boss... A giant grasshopper robot! It has loads of HP, but Mike can press a switch to make it fall in the digital sea below. (wait, there's some sort of endless pit in a spaceship that hasn't even lifted off??? This. Not. Sense. Makes!) Still, Mike defeats the thing that's bugging him and enters another section of the ship, where he finds the second cube. And that cube brings to the maximum his number of hearts! He has 22 right now! Oh, also... the place starts shaking. The spaceship rises, and flies away!

This is it, the final level! Our American hero is about to enter Zoda's quarters when the alien uses telepathy to tell him how lame, weak and stupid Mike is. In other words, saying almost everything I said so far. (Okay, that was a cruel joke.) Look out, Zoda: If you get too logical, Mike will break your mind with his lack of logic! Mike jams bananas in his ears to avoid hearing more.

"Hey, I am not a scum! I prefer the term 'meanie'."
Oh, and Mike: Bananas do not protect from telepathy.

Mike gets in the first room, where Zoda, a hooded figure, transforms into a giant head with two arms. If they touch you, if you touch them Game Over. And you can only hurt the head. Plus, like at the start of every chapter, Mike has ONLY THREE HEARTS DURING THE WHOLE FIGHT. How's that for difficulty? Still, that form of Zoda is defeated and now, Mike can move on. He goes through a few screens, defeating enemies along the way (thanks to the Super Pill that filled all of his hearts), until he reaches the main the ship's main engine, as alien as everything else around. Mike has to destroy it by shooting repeatedly... and at some point tiny tentacles come out of it. Tentacles in a spaceship engine? I don't know what they've been smoking at Nintendo of America, but it wasn't safe. After the engine is destroyed (a task proven extremely difficult because of the spawning enemies), Mike proceeds. The final fight is approaching!

Now that looks more like a galactic conqueror!
...An alien dragon, sure, but a galactic conqueror nonetheless!
Mike walks north for three screens, killing some odd spawns and replenishing his health... and then he reaches the final boss' room. Zoda. Yes, this is Zoda right here. A hooded figure? Nope! A giant alien dragon! And oh my God, it is powerful. Ramming into it is instant death, it spits fireballs (or stuff that looks like acid; the NES's pixel graphics are open to interpretation), and it spews more tentacled creatures. Yuck. Oh, and it can jump forward, too. Mike has to keep a safe distance and shoot the alien dragon, both with the Supernova and with other weapons he may have picked up on the way. And for a while, it doesn't seem to hurt Zoda much... until he's really hurt and starts barfing. Again, yuck. At that point, it stops attacking, and Mike can hit it repeatedly until the alien conqueror is no more. With this victory, Mike picks up the final cube and... The spaceship explodes. Mike leaves just in time in an escape pod, which breaks after he has landed... in the water. He tries swimming towards land, but drowns pretty quickly.

The end.

Aquaman saves the day! Or just a
dolphin. Sorry, Aquaman.
Who am I kidding? Of course it's not the end! It turns out the early chapters had more significance, as Mike is saved and brought back to C-Island by the dolphins he helped! I knew they had a reason to be in the plot! Mike gets up and heads to Coralcola, where he sees everyone doing fine! And all the monsters have disappeared from the islands! Dr. Jones is there, too! So is Nav-Com! Everyone congratulates Mike, and Dr. J asks him to put the three cubes together...

Wait... you're the girl I just saved? My pal Mario told me
that means you owe me a kiss! Come on, I'm wating!
...which frees the Argonians! Seven children appear, one of which begins speaking. In English. She's princess Mica, daughter of King Hirocon (wait. Aliens in a monarchy? Interesting, but kind of odd...). They're the only Argonians left. Mica explains that twenty years prior to the game, they were sent to Earth as those cubes, thinking they would be fine. Now the Argonians must live on Earth, despite their elf-like ears proving they are not quite human, joining the ranks of many other alien characters and species who look just human enough to live on Earth, despite these details that make them stick out from everyone else.

Mike replies by saying: “Hi, I'm Mike! We'll find you a home!” ...IN AMERICA! There's a big party in Coralcola. The end.

To date, Mike still hasn't been able to remove all traces of bananas from his ears. Let that be a lesson, kids: Don't stick fruits where they don't belong!

Gosh, this is awesomely stupid. Or stupidly awesome. Either way, this game is the definition of crazy AND amazing at once. Mike is an idiot, the perfect stereotype of the sports guy who didn't really care for grades. He also seems to be lacking in the logic department, as he never keeps anything he has won through his journey; aside from his yo-yo, of course. He throws away everything else as soon as he leaves the dungeons, even the rare heart refill potions, which are so useful. That can be explained as the limits in the game's programming, or maybe as a way to make it a little more difficult. Still, if Mike kept all the weapons he could pick up, this game would have been closer to the Legend of Zelda series: A tool can go unused for a few dungeons and then be re-used a while later. Wouldn't that be great? Aside from that, it seems like the game is unintentionally stupid from the start. Mike keeps getting sidetracked, and in some cases it's the people around him who are actually stupid (like the Bellcolans blocking the way to Mike – and arguably, to every other ship who could come by; or Dr. J, who made a submarine that CANNOT GO UNDERWATER, and who sends his nephew on an ultra-dangerous quest against very real alien monsters). Still, by the end, everything goes fine... I suppose...

As for the gameplay? It's pretty good. Oh, there are programming flaws. Mike will often be unresponsive to the commands, but Mike moves after less than a second. There's sort of a delay between the button press and Mike's action. And it doesn't happen that much. It's just annoying when you need him to move fast. Be thankful it doesn't happen too often.  Aside from that, the weapons are all quite fun to use, but it's kind of sad that you must have a certain number of full hearts to use the better yo-yos. It does give a greater challenge, though. Mike is restricted by his own walking speed, but also by his jumps, since he can only jump in place, unless he can jump to a nearby green square on the ground, or over a square of water. The music is really memorable, the bosses are great – though many of them are also very stupid. There is a good selection of creatures, many of which are VERY innovative, like the Fuzzies who rob Mike temporarily of his capacity to use weapons, or the snakes that zoom towards him when he gets in their way – and sometimes, even when he doesn't. I also include the ghosts that you must make visible in order to hit them. The dungeons are built so that navigating them isn't horrible, while still being very difficult by the number of enemies, the numerous traps and the different features that can appear. I remember the level with the ghosts; a few fake exits that force you to re-do the whole level. Whoa. Some of the non-weapon items are also very creative, like the Snowman. The music is good, the graphics are good for the era, the pixel-art pictures when Mike speaks to important characters are detailed and fun to look at... I recommend the first StarTropics game. I've played through it a few times already, so it's a little less difficult for me... but you will find it hard, and you will like it for how zany the whole game is.

Two pictures from a recent Brawl in the Family page. Yep, Matthew Taranto made a page about StarTropics not long
ago... Strange minds think alike, huh?

Now, I tried to avoid every possible “StarTropics is too much like Earthbound” jokes, because those have been done. A lot. Earthbound has gained a lot of popularity thanks to Ness and Lucas appearing in the Smash games. I find it very unfair that StarTropics has not been represented in Smash. Mike is a bit too much like Ness? Is that really important? He is not Ness. He can use a lot of different weapons that Ness doesn't have. Instead of using a normal yo-yo like Ness, he could use the Shooting Star! He could use a bat but swing it around wildly instead of using it as a charging weapon like Ness! He could use any of the other weapons, like the bolas, the shurikens, the torches! He could use the Magic Mirrors to reflect projectiles or avoid them! His Final Smash would be the Spike Shoes! Through this game and its sequel, Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II, Mike has used an entire arsenal of weapons that could be very fun to see in a future Smash game. There are ways to make him different from Ness.

Picture made by Diegichigo, published on DeviantArt.
Needs his grin, a greater jaw... and other stuff.
This pic was made from bits of other brawlers, so...

Look, I'm not saying Mike must be in Super Smash Bros. I'm just saying that there is great potential for him as a character, but he's overlooked by Japan. The StarTropics series has a great number of fans around the world, and I'm sure they'd all be happy to see a sequel. Thing is, StarTropics deserves recognition. A greater recognition as a Nintendo franchise, a recognition it's been hoping to get for years. More than just a little mention in Brawl's Chronicle section, a cheap footnote in the History of Nintendo. StarTropics deserves better. Mike Jones deserves better. Please, Nintendo of Japan. Hear about StarTropics. Pay a tribute to the Nintendo of America series, the all-American hero and the epic adventure set in the Tropics.

Please, Nintendo. The fans have been waiting. The StarTropics fans are many. Pit had only two games before he appeared in Brawl. The Ice Climbers had only one before they showed up in Melee. Nintendo of Japan must acknowledge what Nintendo of America has done.

Make it happen. Please, make it happen. Mike has huge potential for a Smash game, the series needs to be known, there is so much that could be done... I'm throwing it out there, hoping that this message is heard, like a parchment in a bottle out at sea. If only this could be seen by people from Nintendo of Japan... Don't give up hope. Stay confident. Mike Jones will have his shining moment in the future. Keep hoping.

Tune in next week for a list of 12 games I grew up with that I haven't played in a long while and wish I could play again.

August 24, 2014

Demo Review 25: Fluidity

Fluidity features a magical book called Aquaticus, which is about water. It doesn't have time to explain to you what exactly it is, as trouble has arisen. You're thrown immediately into the Tutorial level. You're spinning the world around a puddle of water, and it obeys to the law of gravity, always going down and following the caverns. ...Wait, I thought this was inside a book...

You hold the Wii remote horizontally, like you would hold it if it were a normal controller, and tilt it left or right to move the water. You learn to make the water jump by flicking upwards the Wiimote (like you do for Mario to spin in the air in New Super Mario Bros. Wii). You can also pick up bubbles of water that get added to the total amount of water you control. Your task is to lose the least water possible, solve puzzles and find the exit to each level. You can even drag around objects that float! If you jump, the object will jump as well; the tutorial ends with the water dragging a cog to complete a mechanism. ...Hello rust!

Then you get to try the first level. In there, you can find special puzzle pieces that help you unlock additional modes, and rainbow drops. Each time you pick up one rainbow drop, the level ends, so you must go back to it if you want to find the others. Some doors are locked depending on the number of rainbow drops you've collected in a level. Later on, you can find ability stickers, which will grant your water some much needed power to go through one upcoming section of the level. The demo ends after you've collected the third rainbow drop.

The full game also lets you play as a cloud or as a block of ice, offers the possibility of collecting up to 80 rainbow drops, gives all sorts of abilities to the water, lets you play through the four chapters in the book, and includes four mini-games. Overall, this demo was a lot of fun. It's not easy to keep the water all together, so there's a challenge in this. Plus, you get to test in the demo most of the features in the game. The art is great, the music is soothing, the difficulty is balanced... Really, if you are a fan of puzzle games that require quick reflexes, try this one. It should make you happy. I might not buy the full version, but who knows? Maybe I will, someday.

August 23, 2014

Demo Review 24: PooYoos 3

(Whoa, almost forgot that one!)

Oh great, another of those... I hope you like the sacrifices I make for you.

PooYoos 3 brings us back to the same world as the preceding two demos. The child is greeted by an adorable pig, and then a mini-game begins. In this one, the pig hides in one of two holes in the ground. After which he reappears and goes to hide behind some orange clouds. ...Yes, clouds are orange here. Anyway, in this mini-game, two PooYoos of different colors appear on every round, walk towards the holes, and jump in them. The child's task is to press either the directional pad or the A button to identify in which hole fell a PooYoo of a particular color. It's very simple, as very animal species comes in only one color. In Big PooYoo mode, there are four holes, and thus the game is a bit more difficult. Plus, the child has to select the hole by putting the cursor over it and press A.

After that mini-game is over, the little pig jumps to another place. The narrator suggests the child learns the name of the body parts thanks to a song. Oh hey, so every demo worked that way? First a mini-game, then a dance? Huh, that's an odd pattern, but if it's fun for kids, it works. Plus, this time around, the song is done a first time at regular speed, then once at a faster pace and once again at a slower pace. In case the kids couldn't follow even the first time, I guess?

Anyway, this is just the exact same thing as the other two installments. I'm glad the mini-games change, though there is always a dance section after the mini-game. Aside from that, what can I add? Like the other two, it's innocent, it's cute, it's for young children, and it's certainly good for children to have some interactivity. First it's the PooYoos, then before you know it they start playing Kirby's Epic Yarn or any of the learning Sesame Street Wii games. Again, no children, so I won't buy the full version, but those three PooYoo episodes are definitely fun for kids, and I'm sure they can keep them busy for a while.

Now that all three of these demos have been reviewed, I need to go back to more adult entertainment. I'm gonna watch a horror film tonight.