Nigomonster's Artsy Blog

KIRBY’S DREAMLAND 2

Saving Popstar mouthful by mouthful

Played on: 3DS

Also available on: GameBoy

Genre: 2d Platformer

Developer: HAL Laboratories (Adventures of Lolo, Earthbound 2, Pokemon Ranger…)

Publisher: Nintendo

Players: 1

Played for: around 4 hours

hello everyone and welcome to my new review! :D Today I’m gonna tackle and review the second installment of the Kirby series for the GameBoy: That’s right, Kirby’s Dreamland 2!

I don’t know if you know this, but Kirby’s Dreamland 2 is the first title in the Dreamland series to have given Kirby its power-absorbing abilities…that’s right, Kirby’s Dreamland, the first title, had Kirby being simply able to suck in and either swallow or spit enemies out without being able to absorb any power and had to rely on power-ups found around the stage (the spicy curry power up from Brawl had its roots in the first Kirby title). Kirby’s Adventure for NES had the honour to give Kirby it’s amazing absorbing powers. But enough talking about the past titles, let’s talk about Kirby’s Dreamland 2 now;

King Dedede seems to be at it again in trying to rule Dreamland, so Kirby is off to save the day again, this time with the help of its new absorbing powers and three animal friends who will aid him on his quest, also being the core gameplay reason of this title…but let’s get deeper into it!

GRAPHICS

The game features a very similar graphical quality to the first game, though more polished and with added details, making the levels more appealing to the eyes. The cutesy style is, of course, a charm for the title, asl well as the funny animations of Kirby and his friends between a level and another, depicting quite cute cutscenes showing the shenanigans of the group.

beside that there’s not much else to say, really. The game makes good use of the GameBoy hardware and also depicts a cutesy art direction wich fits well with the style of the game as well as offering a quite wide array of locations and powers to use and admire.

GAMEPLAY

While the first Kirby’s Dreamland was a more straightforward platform game, this new title features a save system for the first time, given how longer and bigger it is. It features actual worlds with different levels to explore in each, as well as a secret, true ending,w ich can only be obtained by getting star shards, hidden within every world of the game.

Kirby’s power absorbing abilities are of course quite fun to use, going from being able to turn into a heavy rock, a flaming meteor or being able to spit out ice or use an umbrella as a weapon. Another element is added into the mix though: Kirby’s friends. They’re three…a hamster named Rock, an owl named Coo and a quide derpy fish named Kite. Kirby can pretty much “ride” them by finding and rescuing them by minibosses in the levels of the game and they provide, not only an additional health bar, but also modify Kirby’s powers according to who he’s riding. Rick can use the fire power to spit out flames, while Coo can use the boomerang power to fling sharp feathers at enemies.

This adds quite a bit of variety and fun to the power-based gameplay and they’re also implemented in the simple, yet clever puzzles that hide the star shards, wich will need specific powers and, in most cases, specific animal friends to be solved and obtain the star shard. Puzzles get harder and harder along with the game progressing, wich also has an overall nice difficulty curve, resulting challenging enough for more seasoned gamers who want to get the shards, but also easy enough for beginner gamers to get into the game.

Kirby’s Dreamland’s gameplay is fun, simple and addictive and added enough to the series to feel quite fresh even to people who played Kirby’s Adventure. It still holds up well nowadays :)

STORYLINE

Not much of a story here, if you don’t count the secret ending and the funny cutscenes each time you enter a world for the first time…so yeah, no go for plot lovers XD

SOUNDTRACK

Kirby’s style is all over the soundtrack of course. Mostly happy, quick and upbeat music makes the full track of this game, as well as the quite particular boss battle themes, wich are strangely “badass” for a game about a pink marshmellow-like thing XD a couple of examples here as usual:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7qgrZ32SA

grass land, the first level of the game

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE5lSQ0SRFs

my favorite of the “animal themes” :)

FINAL RATING

Kirby’s Dreamland 2 is not only a very good sequel to the first title, but also a much much better game and one of the best GameBoy portables out there…charming cutesy style, simple and compelling gameplay, fair challenge and nice soundtrack, all for ya :D Wich is why I give this game a…

8.8/10

get it on the 3DS VC if you can :)

been a while since I posted, but I can say I’m at a good point on my mega pic I’ve been working on for a few months XD hope to post it soon! :) for now enjoy those angle-shots of a friend’s character who asked for a bit of help :) I must say it proved to be quite the practice! XD

been a while since I posted, but I can say I’m at a good point on my mega pic I’ve been working on for a few months XD hope to post it soon! :) for now enjoy those angle-shots of a friend’s character who asked for a bit of help :) I must say it proved to be quite the practice! XD

REVIEW: VVVVVV

VVVVVV

In another dimension no one can hear you flip gravity

Played on: 3DS

Also available on: PC

Genre: 2D Platformer

Developer: Terry Cavanagh (Don’t look back and other indie games)

Publisher: Nicalis

Players: 1

Played for:  Around 4 hours

Hello everyone, welcome to my new review! Today I’m gonna review an indie game, a quite popular one, wich I recently had the chance to play on my 3DS, even though it’s also available on PC :) The game I’m talking about is VVVVVV! Yep, quite the weird name, but once you play it you understand why it’s named like that ;)

So, anyway, this indie game has a simple start, with a group of weird, coloured space people having an incident with their ship and ending up in another dimension, wich is quite unstable too if that wasn’t enough! Captain Viridian is left stranded somewhere in this dimension, separated by his other crew members and using his ability to flip gravity he’ll have to make his way through the game world and find everyone as well as going back home with their ship!

I have to say that I absolutely loved this game to bits, both for the visuals and the gameplay, as well as the concept, wich is simple, yet very effective and addicting! Let’s dwelve deeper into it though!

GRAPHICS

The graphic style of VVVVVV is really distinct, trying to be a sort of tribute to the very old games of the Commodore64 age and using very basic shapes for the sprites of the characters, but at the same time it feels very polished as look. The art direction is simple, yet it does its absolutely fine job with portraying an unique look for the game, giving it its own identity.

There’s not much else to say about the graphics. They’re simple, effective, charming…A little work of game art :)

GAMEPLAY

Like I mentioned earlier, Viridian, the main character of the game, is able to flip gravity. If he has his feet on the ground, that is…That way he’s able to simply flip between floor and ceiling, wich makes him able to make his way through spike-filled traps wich pretty much are scattered through the entire game world, wich is surprisingly quite open for being a 2d game.

The game world is composed of open areas and more linear areas, wich pretty much work as levels in wich Viridian will have to make it through. The “levels” or areas themselves are quite various in nature. Most of the dangers involve pits and walls filled with spikes to go over using the flipping abilities of the main character, but there also are examples of very odd and random enemies, like 8-bit ghosts, rotating squares, a bus that tries to ram you…pretty random stuff :D

beside that, there are also different elements varying the situation, going from lines that automatically flip the gravity for Viridian, who’ll have to constantly flip through incoming threats or spike-filled walls, or an ever-moving tower, wich forces Viridian to run for his life to survive and not end up in the spike-filled bottom. Everytime Viridian dies he spawns at the last checkpoint and there are quite a lot of them scattered through the game world. This doesn’t make the game any easier, if anything it’s a signal of how hard it is! several deaths will be achieved during many sequences of the game, wich is quite brutal in difficulty but also somehow addicting, managing not to be frustrating, but instead encouraging the player for “one more try”.

Also cute how the rooms of the levels are named, sometime in very hilarious or ironic terms to describe the room itself or what it represents. Plus, scattered around the world there are hidden shiny trinkets to find, wich are needed to complete the game. Believe me, it’s very satisficatory to do so, and encouraged ot enjoy the game sequences to the fullest!

VVVVVV is addicting, brutal and downright fun, with a very simple gameplay that uses a single button and yet it gets to have a level of depth that few games achieve to have. Only downside is the lenght as completing the game roughly takes about 4 hours…but they’ll be some of the best 4 hours of your gaming life :)

STORYLINE

despite the game being light on story, it does have an interesting concept to follow with the origins of the weird dimension and the strange messages scattered around the world. Very simple and light story, but it works in creating an interesting setting for the game.

SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack is another strong point of the game, wich uses chiptunes to make one of the most charming 8-bit soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The tunes are all upbeat, pumping and absolutely catchy, from start to end. old strumentation with modernized tunes, works really well :) here are a couple of examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYANYGCgRz4

"Pushing Onwards" the first theme of the game :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0Jk94ri3W4

"Predestinate fate" another very nice one :)

FINAL RATING

VVVVVV is an exceptional game. Short and yet really addictive and fun, a worthy experience to play from start to end. It uses a very simple concept and controls and yet shows a very nice depth of variety and gameplay, as well as having a very particular art direction, a very good soundtrack and an absolutely fun and brutal level design

I give this game a…

9.0/10

Recommended to everyone, PC and 3DS owners!

REVIEW: Rayman Origins

RAYMAN ORIGINS

Lums, Lums everywhere!

Played on: Wii

Also available on: PC, PS3, X360, Vita, 3DS

Genre: 2d Platformer

Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (Rayman series, Beyond Food & Evil, Rabbids Go Home…)

Publisher: Ubisoft

Players: 1-4

Played for: around 15 hours

I know that due to the latest news of Ubisoft executors acting like jerks (especially to their developers) you probably aren’t in much of a mood for Ubisoft reviews…But hey, games are games and I recently finished Rayman Origins and it must be judged for what it is, not for where it comes from :P

Anyway! Rayman Origins! I finally got to play it and I have to say…I’m totally mindblown. Rayman’s return to its roots is an amazing game! In this title, Rayman and his friends have to yet again start gathering lums and bring peace to the land of dreams (Kirby would be so proud <3 ) this time able to band all together kinda like in Super Mario bros. Wii/U. So let’s go into detail and see how it went!

GRAPHICS

Rayman Origins is a piece of artwork. There’s no other way to say it. The characters are drawn in a sort of Flash-like style, with the animations being absolutely goofy and toony as they should be, for both enemies and main characters. The animations and the expressions depicted are absolutely hilarious and the smoothness of the movements is top-notch.

And should we talk about the environments ? I wish I could draw that kind of backgrounds. They’re colourful, luscious, full of life. You could pretty much take a screen of the game, take off the characters and pass it off as a piece of art. it’s just THAT good. Kinda makes you wish Sega and Nintendo went for those routes for their Sonic and Mario 2d games XD 2d graphics can still be absolutely impressive, no matter what vthe naysayers say :P

So, not much else to say here. The game looks and moves impressively and every bit of it is just a pleasure to the eyes of all gamers…unless you’re one of those who’s scared of colourful games XP

GAMEPLAY

Rayman Origins’ gameplay is fast-paced and addictive. I must really say that the developers did an astounding job with making the level design look always creative. Levels are various and challenging, full of traps and enemies as well as lums to pick. Lums play a key role in this game, as every level will have cages of them hidden around, You can easily found them by being careful and following the cries of help of the cute lil guys. At the end of every level, depending by the normal golden lums you got (wich are like rings or coins in sonic and mario games), you’re given the chance to get even more caged lums, with an additional one to get by replaying the level within a certain time frame, wich will really put the skill and speed of the player under heavy pressure in certain levels ;)

The game also features quite a few chasing sequences in wich Rayman will have to run at crazy speeds among death traps and enemies to try and get either a fairy that will give him new powers (and make him even more acrobatic for those chase sequences) or a chest that contains a tooth gem, wich can unlock a very special secret level at the end of the game.

There’s just so much stuff to do and the game pushes and encourages the player to get all the “lum badges” in each level. it’s really satisficatory to just complete all the levels and also a helluva fun doing it! The challenge is very high, so platform veterans will certainly be happy about this.

The choice of keeping boss fights until later in the game is interesting, but I can assure you that it’s worth it…the boss fights, even if few are very fun and very well implemented with the spirit of the game, as well as various in concept and battle pattern.

In the end…Rayman Origins has a fantastic gameplay, a high challenge and a lot of stuff to complete…the lenght of the game is quite good for a 2D game…only little nitpick ? some of the hardest levels depict certain moments in wich the player may lose for an element of the level “screwing him up” rather than him having jumped in the wrong way…luckily it didn’t happen in more than 2/3 levels for me!

Also! The side-scrolling shooter sequences are absolutely fun, though getting all the lum badges may mean tiring your thumb out quite a bit by quickly spamming the shoot button :P

STORYLINE

Well, don’t expect much of a story here, being a 2d platform and everything…expect a few interesting and hilarious cutscenes toward the end though :P

SOUNDTRACK

The music of Rayman Origins is…really “happy” sounding in most cases, also using a bit of acapella tunes here and there wich are, of course, hilarious like most of the games. Many tunes did just make me smile as soon as I heard them, so expect to do that a lot :)

Here are a couple of examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_m-50qXcLc

the main theme of the game already depicts the happy-go-lucky nature of the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGvdfpkJVyM

the theme of the shooter sections is also pretty nice and distinct :D

FINAL RATING

Rayman Origins is an absolutely spectacular game, on all platforms. Astounding hand-drawn 2D graphics, fast-paced and challenging gameplay, crazy level designs and concept, toony and colourful art direction, a happy and crazy-sounding soundtrack…all of this makes for a very compelling experience from start to end, alone or with friends.

this is why I give this game a…

10/10

Let’s hope Rayman Legends is just as good…and that Ubisoft learns to treat its developers a little more respectfully, because they’re clearly talented :P

stepanda:

Ninfia by *StePandy

an adorable drawing :D

stepanda:

Ninfia by *StePandy

an adorable drawing :D

uploading a few early rough sketches for a personal project ^^ hope you like :D

REVIEW: Mario VS Donkey Kong

MARIO VS DONKEY KONG

buy them all! buy them all! buy them all!

Played on: 3DS

Also available on: Gameboy Advance

Genre: Puzzle/Platformer

Developer: Nintendo Software Technology (Metroid Prime Hunters, Pokemon Puzzle League…)

Publisher: Nintendo

Players: 1

Played for: Around 10 hours

Hello everyone and welcome to my new review! So, today I’m gonna review the spiritual sequel to Donkey Kong 94, one of the greatest gems for Gameboy!

The spiritual sequel I’m talking about is Mario VS Donkey Kong! Developed by one of the most lesser known developement teams of Nintendo, the game proves to be quite the surprising title, both in presentation and concept. Donkey Kong gave up on stealing Pauline from Mario. This time his object of desire is the Mini Mario toy line constructed by the Mario Toy Company, advertised through an addicting ad wich makes our good old kong get infatuated with the desire to get one! Too bad they’re all sold out in shops! So what’s the most logical thing to do ? Rush inside the factory and steal all of them of course!

The big ape is soon caught by Mario and this starts a long chase through the levels of the game, in wich Mario will have to find keys to open doors and go forward and also rescue all the Mini Mario he finds! So let’s see how this game fares up!

GRAPHICS

The graphic style used for this game is surprising. It looks like NST decided to go for the Donkey Kong Country  style, using pre-rendered sprites for the game, even if, by comparison to DKC, the game is much more simpler and colouful as well as using smaller sprites overall.

The thing surprisingly works. The sprite animations are really fluid and I liked the weird and kinky style of the environments, using abstract shapes to make the common environments like a lava-filled stage or a forest make somehow more unique, wich puts this game in its own identity, compared to other Mario games, even though the game worlds are way less various and surprising than the ones in the original Donkey Kong 94, I have to admit. The style is basic, but all of the elements put together work really well.

Just yet another example how art direction can make a game look good or at least unique in its own way. The graphics of Mario VS Donkey Kong aren’t anything mindblowing visual-wise, but they certainly do their work to make the game stand out from the crowd, wich is already a nice achievement to have.

It’s also nice to note how the enemies in the game are very simple in design as if they were created with a mindset of the 16 bit age…may not be a praise per se, but I did like the “vintage” feeling of those simplistic enemies :D

GAMEPLAY

If anyone of you played Donkey Kong 94, you may already have an idea of how the game plays. Every “world” of the game is divided into levels and in each one Mario will have to find his way around the traps and the enemies set in the level to reach the key and manage to bring it to the door to exit the level, all before the time runs out. This isn’t it though. Once Mario gets in the door there’s an additional phase of the level in wich Mario will have to find his way to the trapped Mini Mario to free and once that is done, the level is clear.

There will also be, in place of the three objects belinging to pauline, three surprise boxes…like in the old game, those optional items will trigger a minigame after the level is clear, to have a chance to get a few extra lives. And believe me, you’ll need them. The game tends to become quite brutal toward the end.

The game also features different kinds of levels in wich Mario will have to lead a group of Mini Mario toys to their toybox in a sort of Lemming-like levels in wich Mario will be followed by the toys and he’ll have to make sure they get to the box safe…each Mario toy will represent a life to use in the boss battles against Donkey Kong himself. The boss battles are quite fun if I can say and most of them are quite challenging too, demanding quick reflexes and lots of jumpings to do! Just like any good Mario game should, really! :D

The game also has an arcadeish feeling to it, given how every level can be mastered if you manage to do a good speedrun through it so that the score is enough for the level to be “starred”. Score-obsessed gamers will take quite a bit clear every level, it’s already hard on the easy first levels XP

Plus, the game is also longer than it seems to be…there’ll be a surprise waiting for gamers at the end as well as a few nods to the first game on Gameboy! So yep, gameplay works like a charm and the level of challenge is quite high.

STORYLINE

There isn’t much story as you may imagine and the 3d-rendered cutscenes kinda look silly on a 2D game, I must admit, but it’s also nice to hear Mario actually speak more than a single word now and then X3

SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack of Mario VS Donkey Kong is as peculiar as it’s predecessor…it bases itself less on melodies and more on beats and both slow and fast paced rhythms…while some of the tracks are kinda forgettable, there are also some very good catchy tracks in it as well as the boss battle themes being quite epic, especially the final ones. A couple of examples, as usual:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBwf_kLL9hc

One of my fave tracks from the Mystic Forest level.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSVWFqoKMcw

And another nice track :)

FINAL RATING

mario VS Donkey Kong achieves into being a worthy spiritual sequel of its original title, taking a quite different approach in concept of graphics and levels but keeping the same basic gameplay while adding whole new different mechanics, wich work really well and are healthy for the variety and the lenght of the game while also keeping the challenge high even for platform game veterans.

The graphic style is distinct even if it features less variety of locations compared to the first game andthe soundtrack features nice tracks as well as a few mediocre ones though.

Overall, the game deserves to be played, wich is why I give the game a…

8.5/10

give it a chance if you find it around :D

REVIEW: Pokemon Conquest

POKEMON CONQUEST

Go forth, my Pokemon! For Ransei!

Played on: DS

Genre: Strategy/RPG

Developer: Tecmo Koei

Publisher: Nintendo

Players: 1-2 (local and online)

Played for: around 20 hours

Hello everyone, welcome to a new review from yours truly!

Today I finally have the chance to review a game I’ve been playing for quite a while now and I finally cleared the story mode: the game, as the title says, is Pokemon Conquest! Known in Japan as Pokemon + Nobunaga no yabo (Nobunaga’s ambition), this game mixes two series that seemingly won’t ever be thought as a perfect match for a crossover, especially with how Pokemon is a fictional fantasy world,while Nobunaga’s ambition is a historical game, even if in this case we have quite the Samurai Warriors influence on the style of the characters.

Despite that, it looks like the games have been mixed into a nicely-crafted crossover that surprised many and that gave to players a genre that Pokemon still left untapped despite the potential left there, wich is the strategy/RPG genre. Fans of Final Fantasy Tactics, Super Robot Taisen and Disgaea should know what I’m talking about!

Anyway, let’s get deeper into the matter and let’s see just how this game turned out to be!

GRAPHICS

Visually the game presents itself with a mix of simple 3d for the environments and sprites for the pokemon and the warlords. It goes for a simplistic colourful style, wich works quite well with merging the Pokemon style with the style of the warlords, wich are drawn into a more animeish style in comparison to the SW series, without absolutely betraying the original art though. If anything it works surprisingly well!

The sprites are quite cute, even if they may look kinda pixelated during zooms on the action, but for the most part they are nice to look at and the “battle effects” are quite varied too and portray the action in a good way, mixed with the camera zooming or turning around to show the result of the attacks better. The environments don’t look like anything mindblowing, they could be compared to simple 3D versions of the Final fantasy tactics environments, style-wise, but in a way it’s better to portray clearly what goes on, on the battlefield. With many pokemon units on screen I do think that a simplistic, clear style is better to always have a clear view of the current situation…it IS  a strategy game afterall! Still, this means the game isn’t anything of special graphically, so don’t expect mindblowing visuals, just the essentials for the game.

The dialogues are told through the usual anime cut-ins of the characters and I must say that the Pokemon art for this game is something I really enjoyed as it was caught perfectly while making them kinda edgier in a way.

GAMEPLAY

f you played games like Final Fantasy Tactics you should know what to expect from this game. The game action takes place on a large map with different kingdoms around the player to conquer and in each conquered kingdom, the player can manage things like money gathering, pokemon training or raising the affinity between the pokemon and their warlords. The battles themselves take place on an arena divided into grids, kinda like chess, but with various levels of height and different types of terrain and traps, wich can influence the ongoing battle negatively or positively depeding by the actions of the players on the field.

the battles are always one team versus another team and each team has a max of  6 Pokemon on the field, kinda like how in Pokemon games one has a max of 6 Pokemon in total. I must say that the battle system surprised me. In a way, it’s a simplified version of the normal strategy/RPG game, with each Pokemon unit having one specific attack that has a specific field of action on the grids of the battlefield, as well as a pokemon power. In turn each Pokemon has a warlord in his command, wich means the warlord can have an equipped item wich can be a single-use item or a passive item that raises a stat, as well as each warlord having a special power they can use once during each battle, wich in some occasion can really turn the tides of battle. This, mixed with the amount of Pokemon available in the game, the amount of warlords, the very different and varied battlefields, each with its own shape and its own sets of  terrains and traps, makes for quite the compelling, strategic experience.

Despite the concept of the battle system being simpler than the usual strategy/RPG game, Pokemon Conquest finds its own way to do things, offering quite the challenging battles to the player as well as entire armies of pokemon to handle, train, evolve and so on. It’s quite addicting for people who love this kind of games and the game is also quite good at introducing new players to the concpet of strategy games, so people qho never played this genre may find themselves at ease with this title. The main story campaign is lenghty enough being around 20 hours of gameplay, but for who wants more there will also be more episodes focusing on different warlords, as well as the online multiplayer being an incentive to play more and improve the pokemon troops!

In the end, the game mixes the strategic elements of Nobunaga’s ambition with the rules of the Pokemon games pretty much perfectly, making the game a nice experience for both veterans and beginners.

STORYLINE

The story of the game is quite easy to follow and there isn’t much character developement in the play, just a couple of twists toward the end. The plot simply serves the purpose to push the game forward, even if Nobunaga still manages to be quite the charming villain. The extra episodes also make further work to let the player know the other characters and warlords a bit more deeply for anyone who wishes so. Still, nothing mindblowing :)

SOUNDTRACK

Really good job on the soundtrack, wich mixes traditional japanese instruments with more modern tunes. Each battlefield, most of them are themed after Pokemon types, got its own tune and pretty much all of them distinct themselves from each other, some of them featuring calm tunes, some presenting more epic ones, but somehow always working very well with the strategic action on screen. One of the best soundtracks on DS in my opinion! Here are a couple of examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8BYina0o04

The fire battle is an example of the epic tunes :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ii5ObEMWOk

The grass battle is an example of the calmer ones…they both work very well ^^

FINAL RATING

Pokemon Conquest is a surprising game. It mixes two series that didn’t have anything to do with each other, creating its own totally new world, mixing rules from both games and featuring simplistic but effective visuals, a battle system wich is quite simple to learn but also has a hidden depth within itself for more veteran players, pretty much like the normal Pokemon games as well as featuring a quite varied set of battle tunes and a fun story campaign and an online/local multiplayer mode, wich will increase the lenght of the game for strategy lovers. One of the best spin-offs of the Pokemon series for sure. Wich is why I give this game a…

8.8/10

I’m secretly hoping for a sequel on either 3DS or Wii U…a game like this with the modern online infrastructure and Miiverse compatibility would be an absolute blast! :)

REVIEW: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

NINJA GAIDEN SIGMA 2

The work of a ninja is never done

Played on: PS3

Also available on: Xbox 360

Genre: Action

Developer: Team Ninja (Ninja Gaiden series, Dead or Alive series…)

Publisher: Tecmo Koei

Players: 1-4 (multi is online only)

Played for: around 10 hours

Hello gamers and welcome to my new review! So, it has been a while since I reviewed the port of Ninja Gaiden for the PSVita and who followed my reviews knows that I judged the game a decent action title, but quite a few design and technical problems holding it back as well as a lack of a good art direction backing up the otherwise good graphics of the game.

Ninja Gaiden 3 is now on Wii U and to prepare for it I hunted down Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 for PS3. Let’s see how the sequel to the first Ninja Gaiden held up against the first title! Be reminded that this is an enhanced port from the Xbox version, so it has changes compared to the Xbox version.

This time, Ryu Hayabusa, the best ninja of the dragon clan is facing a world-wide crisis, with the black spider clan reviving ancient elemental demons all around the planet to try and revive an archdemon that will supposedly give them great power. So, naturally, Ryu is out to get them! >:D let’s get into detail though and see how this game fares!

GRAPHICS

Graphics-wise the game is pretty well-done, with character models standing out especially, while some of the environments can look kinda blocky and there are a few instances of ugly textures here and there, but it isn’t always the case, plus it’s a bit of a compromise to have the game running at smooth 60 FPS all the whole time without slow downs.

There also have been quite the improvement over the art direction…levels look more impressive and a lot less generic and the enemy design improved too, as well as the variety of them. A good word goes out to the bosses too, most of them being quite impressive-looking, both for graphic level and simple art design.

There is still room for a lot of improvement though as some locations are more bland-looking than others, but for the most part it’s quite the better job compared to the first title. I should mention though that the sigma version of the game lacks blood on human characters, wich is replaced by a purple mist instead…this “lack of violence” may or may not be a turn off for some players, though it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game, even though I prefer to stand my ground against censorships of any kind.

Anyway, yeah, good job on the art direction and nice balance between graphics level and framerate.

GAMEPLAY

The game plays pretty much like the first title, with of course, lots of combos as well as  a few new weapons to find and use for our fave dragon ninja! you can call shame on me, but given how afraid I was of the absolutely cruel difficulty in the last game, I went for the easy mode XD wich is pretty much around the level of a normal mode of a normal game, so still challenging enough.

Yep, the game is still very hard, so it depends by what kind of player you are…you can go for the very hard normal mode or play a still quite challenging action title on easy mode, you won’t be disappointed in either case, as the gameplay is frenetic, addicting and absolutely fun to play out! There’s also a quite better checkpoint placement this time around and the game also gives you the chance to retry boss fights without being pushed to the last checkpoint or going through cutscenes again, wich were a few of the complaints I had in the last game, so I’m glad to see those problems fixed in this sequel.

The weapon variety is quite nice and every weapon is pretty much a whole new fighting style, so it gives players the ability to choose their fave one and master it…if you’re curious, I go for the staff and the two-handed sword :P The game also lets you level up the weapons, as well as magic (really useful in crowded fights) and the levels have secret items hidden around that can increase the amount of life or magic Ryu can have. Really nice use of the d-pad too, wich can bring up a quick-use meny that lets you switch through healing items, magics and weapons without annoying menu transictions.

Kudos to the boss fights too. Epic, various, challenging and quite satisfying to clear!

STORYLINE

In the first title, the plot was a mere excuse to push the game forward, with not many of the events being clear…it gave the idea the plot wa ssupposed to be a bit deeper, but never really bothered to be. In the sequel, the plot follows the same simplistic style, but executes it a whole lot better. It doesn’t pretend to have a sense, it doesn’t want to be logical…it wants to be a game based on being a badass Ninja! Who cares if the engine of a flying ship is a huge magma-filled armadillo ? it’s cool and satisfying to defeat! Somehow, I felt like I was playing a game of the NES/SNES/GENESIS days while playing this…it wasn’t the game being at the service of the story, it was the story being at the service of the game. It didn’t have to make total sense, it had to be fun and surprising to the player and bring a constant flow of epic challenges to overcome, even if they were random or over the top! that’s how it was fun back in the days, right ? :)

SOUNDTRACK

There has been a big improvement over the soundtrack too…most of the tracks of the first game were quite a bit bland and forgettable, but in this game, we have quite the cool-sounding main theme as well as a nice array of energy-pumping tunes and even if we still aren’t at memorable levels, it looks like a lot more work has been put into it, touching epic orchestral themes mixed with electronic music and rocking guitars. A couple of examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mv8eAMy99g

the main theme of the game, one of my fave tunes of the game

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-BE4yIDzKE

Momiji’s theme is one of the other tunes I really liked :)

FINAL RATING:

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 feels like a huge improvement over the first title, as well as being a good port with a few additional missions and extras, even though the removal of certain violence levels may annoy some player. Despite that, the game is very fun to play, has a good level of graphics, stable framerate, very epic and fun boss fights, high-level of challenge as usual, a plot that is simple but fun to follow as well as a better soundtrack to back it all up.

This is why I give this game a…

8.5/10

Congrats Team Ninja, this is how you should do stuff :)

REVIEW: Wario Land II

WARIO LAND II

Captain Syrup’s greedy revenge!

Played on: 3DS

Also available on: Game Boy, Game Boy Color

Genre: 2D Platform

Developer: Nintendo R&D1 ( Wario Land series, Super Mario Land series, Kid Icarus…)

Publisher: Nintendo

Players: 1

Played for:  around 15 hours

Welcome to a new review, gamers! Today I’m gonna review the second title of Wario’s adventures, Wario Land II. This time, our fave treasure stealer, will find himself in quite a pinch, as Captain Syrup, the villain of the first game, decided to get revenge on Wario, stealing all of his gold, causing ruckus in his castle and flee as fast as possible.

Wario, of course, won’t have any of this, so the player will have to lead him in levels full of coins and secret treasures to find, as well as facing a game with multiple endings and routes to follow, wich makes for quite the unique approach for an old-school 2D platformer. let’s see how it came out!

GRAPHICS

This is the first title to make the jump from Game Boy to Game Boy Color (still having a Game Boy version though). So the result is quite the leap in graphical quality, not only in regard to having colours, but also in terms of better spriting and animations.

The sprites are all well done, looking a lot more polished than the ones in Wario land, Wario being more refined as character design and the animations being better than ever. Boss design improved too as well as the overall looks of the levels, wich are now a lot more various-looking if compared to the previous title, helped by the fidelity of the colours but also by a better handling of the art design.

So overall, Wario land II is a nice big improvement over the first Wario land, as well as being one of the most polished “Land” games ever made graphic-wise. Kudos for the variety of the settings too, as well as the toony looks of the bosses.

GAMEPLAY

Wario Land II keeps being a platformer like its predecessor, but also adds a lot of emphasis over making the levels full of platform-themed puzzles to solve, as well as making the levels more open, full of secret rooms, walls to smash down and similar where to find hidden stashes of coins and giant coins or secret rooms, leading to more coins or even treasure rooms wich, instead of just containing a chest, will start up a minigame in wich the player will gamble a certain amount of money to change the difficulty of the mini game, adding a bit of thrill to this element.

Another big change is in regard to how Wario plays, being a little less clunky than in the first title and not being able to die…instead, when he’s hit he’ll be bounced backwards, losing a little amount of coins and, given how coins are needed to complete the game, you could see how the consequences of being hit are just as bad as dying pretty much :P

Boss battles, infact, don’t kill you, but they simply push you out of the room and, believe me, they’re quite challenging and creative in concept and design, one of wich will have the boss and Wario try to turn each other into a basketball to score and win a basket match…a very fun idea, if you ask me ^^

Another big change is in regard to the power-ups. The hats are gone and instead Wario proves to be quite resistant to certain abuses like being squashed, zombified, put on fire or stung by a bee, wich will give him particular powers such as floating around, flat like paper, be able to break certain fire blocks or float around inflated like a balloon…all of the results of the physical abuses are quite hilarious and each power up got its own pros and cons of course, being specificly used for the platforming puzzles scattered around the game rather than real power-ups to keep and use.

As a result of all of this, the gameplay, qhile being quite different from the first tile is also quite more varied and quirky, taking its own real identity as platformer and detatching itself from the Mario Land series even more, wich isa good thing in my opinion ^^ The Mario land titles are good, but it’s also good that the Wario titles got their own way to do things.

Ah, another important fact…The game features different courses…there are secret exits in certain levels, changing the course of the game, leading to different “worlds” (called chapters, like in a story) wich can, in most cases, lead to a whole different ending. Once clearing the game the first time, the courses will be all shown, but it’ll be up to the player to find all treasures and map pieces, the latter of wich are unlocked through another minigame at the end of each level, still gambling money on it. this adds a lot of replayability to the game and the reward for it is a real final level, wich is pretty much the hardest level of the game (by a big leap too), wich will need all the skills of the players to be cleared..quite the nice reward for more seasoned players if you ask me :3

STORYLINE

As usual with “Mario” titles, not much story is shown, but some of the endings are quite cute, as well as the cutscenes between each chapter, showing the endless chase of wario after Syrup…still, not much story, you know the deal with those games :P

SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack of the game keeps its “distorted” and clumsy style from the first game, but in a way, it polishes it, making for a better range of tunes to listen to…the main theme will be stuck in your head for sure and the themes for the “power-ups” are quite fun too…here are a couple of examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqhYgVQPDuY

this tune will be remixed in different ways through the game, but every time in very nice ways

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqdRrf1En8M

always loved the underwater tunnels theme for some reason, it’s very melodic ^^

FINAL RATING

Wario Land II reinvents itself, polishing the formula it started in Wario Land and adding a lot of new elements, as well as multiple endings, way better and more open level design, lots of secrets and a high replayability. I took around 15 hours to get everything and mostly just because I also remembered stuff from when I played this game as a kid, so it may take you a little longer than that.

I fully recommend Wario Land II, you can either get the old GBC cartridge or simply download it on the 3DS Eshop, it’s worth it, believe me! wich is why I gave this game a…

9.5/10

fully deserved!