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Tropes vs. Women in Video Games is a Waste of Your Time

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Recent gaming trends led me to a video series known as Tropes vs Women, as hosted by Anita Sarkeesian. The series explores sexism, mostly against women, in various forms of media. The one I wanted to touch upon is her series about sexism in video games involving damsels in distress and how many red flags flew around in my mind whilst viewing it. The series was funded through Kickstarter, reaching over $158,000 of the required $6,000. Wow! It's good to know such a large sum of money is being sent to a serious charity that will help make the world a better place, right guys? Right?

Guys?

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"Help me, boys! I'm tied to this pole and only your money can save me!"

Anita's core example of the damsel in distress trope revolves around Princess Peach being saved by Mario time and time again after being kidnapped by the mean ol' Bowser. She states that Peach is never the main playable character, which we all can sadly agree with, but foreshadows to a future video discussing Super Princess Peach. We can all roll our eyes and predict the arguments she'll make but lets back up to the damsel in distress business. First off, it's no secret that it's a stereotype that Peach has been the victim of for decades but that's the point; it's been happening for decades. You would think something would have changed by now if more than just a few people actually cared but ask anybody, man or woman, if they think it's a sexist thing that is ruining society and needs a stop put to it. Don't be surprised if the response is a raise of the eyebrow and shaking of the head.

Secondly, out of the millions of people on the planet that have played a Mario game, how many of them shove the game into the system and growl to themselves "GR I just gotta save that Peach." I'd be surprised if the answer was more than zero because the simple fact is that Mario games are enjoyed for their creative level design and challenges. It's about the journey, not the destination. The damsel in distress trope is just a throwaway plot device that no one would even notice if it was changed.

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"This umbrella is to block the feminists that rain on my parade. And smacking them."

The Legend of Zelda series is a more complex deal but another argument that Anita uses in her video. She mentions how Zelda is pretty much always a helpless damsel, save for a few moments such as when she becomes Sheik or Link's ghostly choo choo sidekick. No Zelda game is exactly the pinnacle of literature but most of the games have Zelda as Link's childhood friend so there's definitely an emotional narrative as the driving force for her rescue, and Skyward Sword's was very heartwarming and rewarding. Oh, but she was a girl in trouble so that's a bad thing that should be frowned upon. You can say I'm defending these franchises because I'm a long time fan, but I honestly don't see how anybody can have a problem with it.

Sexism in video games certainly exists and is a fun thing to argue about, but there are better ways to do it than this. Anita said it herself that the damsel in distress trope has been around since the invention of brainstorming. So why is it a big deal? What are you going to change that has been around since cave paintings? You can draw over those paintings as much as you want but they'll always be there. Video games are something that you don't need to have in your life and in the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy our damsel in distress video games in which women voice actresses are happy and proud to be a part of. The reason this bothers me is that over $100,000 was funded for this video series. Congratulations. You people funded something that anybody with a webcam could have done for free and would have changed an equal amount of nothing. Thank you for using Paypal.

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"Jeeves, tell my attorney to open a kickstarter. Fake women will never be in distress again."

I realize that I probably blind fired so many shots but I just needed to get this one off my chest. Honestly, I'm not that interested in sexism arguments but I really think this woman is snobby and shouldn't be getting free money for doing literally nothing. It reminds me of the guy who claimed he could make your car run on water. This is my first real piece of writing outside of reviews so I hope anyone who read it feels free to give constructive criticism or other feedback. Until next time, fellow Gamespotters!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate - Review

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Its fun combat and platforming is hampered by its short length and linear maps.

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The Good

Decent combat with simple but fun combos to pull off.
Great swinging and platfoming segments.
Great looking cinematic battles.

The Bad

Lame and pointless story.
Short.
Extremely linear most of the way through.
Secondary weapons and abilities serve very little purpose.

The Review

Presentation

The Castlevania series received a reboot and Mirror of Fate continues that narrative with a bridge story from the last game to the next. Before, the stories were complete trash that gives you an excuse to whip your way through massive castles with fun abilities. In the case of the new story driven Lords of Shadow games, the stories are still complete trash but with much smaller and linear areas, the problem remaining in Mirror of Fate. You play as three different characters; Simon Belmont, who is out to get revenge on Dracula for killing his father. Alucard, who wants to assist Simon in his quest. Then when you're about 66% through the game, control switches 30 years into the past, giving you control of Simon's dad, Trevor, and telling you the story of what happened to him exactly. The ending was actually a unique plot twist that I enjoyed and was surprised by. A cool thing the game does is, when you play as Simon, you see glimpses of someone else giving you a hand behind the scenes during a boss fight or during a cutscene. When you play as Alucard, you learn that he was the one that was helping Simon as you need to solve puzzles that help Simon get past traps that you'll remember playing as him. It's a unique story mechanic that is sadly wasted on a boring story.

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Gameplay

Many may complain about the change of combat from previous Castlevania games, but it seems a welcome addition because of the implementation of the combo system. Your combos can immobilize an enemy and make it that much less tedious to defeat a damage sponge that would take forever if you did it the old way. You can swipe an enemy into the air where they will be completely defenseless to your excessive pushing of the Y button from that point. You'll unlock more combos as you level up, most of which prove useful and satisfying to pull off. You're not at all invincible, though. Some baddies just break right through your combo and kick your ass so the dodge system is useful both on the ground and air. When you take damage, you take a lot of it, so you can adjust the difficulty at any point if need be. The harder you make it, the more tedious combat can get, however. Aside from standard combat, there are a few moments where you'll have to use quick-time events, such as in a cinematic boss battle. It may sound bad just watching these moments in 3D is very thrilling so pressing a few buttons to keep you in the action is A-ok. Each of the three characters gets their own unique set of skill and sub-weapons but this feature is very poorly implemented. You use some of the skills solely to open doors and solve a puzzle or two. I'm not even sure if some of the stuff was useful in combat since you need to take your thumb off of the circle pad to activate them and it doesn't feel necessary most of the time. More clever uses of the abilities would have been very welcome.

At first glance of the touchscreen, the map has the same visual style as previous games but turns out to be very deceptive once you're exploring it. The game is extremely linear with very few branching paths that just lead to dead ends with a scroll or chest so this makes backtracking more boring than before. You can leave a note by dragging one onto the map, which should be displayed larger, so you can remember to where a door or chest is once you get the ability to reach it. Since you'll be walking down the same path with very few fast travel points, it just becomes annoying to go back and forth. It pads out the games already short length, which can be about 8-11 hours depending on how much you pace yourself. There is a big positive here, and that is the platforming. There is a lot of it and the game will have you swinging across grapple points, wall jumping, climbing up platforms that are moving down, and double jumping over spikes. It's surprisingly fun and something that should always be in future games in the series.

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Graphics

It's not the prettiest game ever, but it doesn't look terrible either. Textures can look low rez and muddy up close but you don't really notice it when everything's moving around. Monster and character animations are done pretty well and the game likes to throw some cheap but oddly cool 3D effects out at you, mostly during cutscenes in slow-motion. Story focused cutscenes are done in a weird paper-mache style but sadly nothing really animates a lot including mouths. Cinematic battles happen often and they are astounding to watch in 3D. Normally, this stuff is pretty lame but I got a great thrill out of it. The framerate is rather slow as you can always tell there's some choppiness in almost everything you do. The choppy framerate creates a slight blur in your character which might get distracting from time to time, but it isn't so slow that it becomes nauseating to play.

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Audio

It's hard to discuss Mirror of Fate's music without looking it up on Youtube to hear it again, as there is practically nothing memorable to draw attention to your ears. The music that's there certainly fits the dark theme and atmosphere but it's nothing special at all. Music is a very subjective subject, but when thinking about Mirror of Fate's music, Dawn of Sorrow's tunes pop into my mind instead. On the other hand, we have a bit of voice acting here and each character has some sort of European accent. Since the story is so boring, it's hard to care how good a job the actors did but they're good for what it's worth.

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Closing Comments

Fans of the series may be disappointed but the combat and platforming is enjoyable for the few short hours. It's hard to justify the price on what feels like an eShop game on steroids.

6.4
Average

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 - Review

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Wario Land is a good, unique game to take for a spin.

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The Good

Unique powerups and abilities
Treasure hunting and secret exits to come back to

The Bad

A lot of levels feel the same
The bonus games aren't fun

The Review

Presentation

Wario Land picks up where Super Mario Land 2 left off. Wario now wants his own castle and sets out to get as much money as he can. It's a really selfish and interesting story different from most heroic platformers. Wario travels and elbow bashes his way through several different worlds, collecting coins and various treasures. There are multiple endings featuring different sized castles depending on how man coins Wario collects. All of the endings are very cartoony and fun to watch. This adds a lot to the replay value if you're interested in seeing all of them, although you'll have to play through the game again if you want to see more. It's not much of a narrative but it's more interesting than previous Mario concepts.

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Gameplay

Nintendo completely threw away most of the mechanics from previous games in the series and introduced unique and interesting ideas to take over. In addition to his normal head-wear, Wario gets a bull hat, a jet hat, and a dragon hat to take down his enemies and fight bosses with and they're a lot of fun to use. Wario's normal hat ,which is, to say, an archaeologist's hat, allows him to bash his enemies by charging at them with his elbow. The bull hat also allows Wario to charge but farther and more powerful as well as enable him to cling to blocks and ceilings and ground pound. The jet hat allows Wario to fly through the air which becomes incredibly useful to unlocking a secret exit or treasure door he wouldn't normally be able to get to. The dragon hat is arguably the weakest. It lets Wario breath fire from it to destroy blocks or enemies slightly above him. It sounds like a neat idea but once you use it you have to wait for it to die down to use it again so spamming isn't an option.

The levels themselves offer a lot more puzzles and backtracking than its predecessors. Early on the levels are pretty straightforward, going from point A to point B and collecting all of the coins that you can along the way. But then things start to liven up as you may come across a dead end and need to go back to find an alternate path to hit a switch to unlock the way. Some levels also contain a treasure chest where Wario must find a key somewhere in the level and bring it back to the locked door with enemies standing in convenient spots to make it difficult. This all is really neat but then you start to realize that the game throws the same tricks and death traps at you over and over again in different levels which makes playing through it get boring after a while. You'll also face a cool boss at the end of each world but they can all be a total cakewalk if you know what you're doing. Simply stomping on them or bashing them off a ledge is all you need. At the end of each level you'll get a choice of bonus games to play. One of them involves you pulling on a string to tip over one of two buckets to either double the amount of coins you just earned or cut them in half. Most attempts end in the latter so you're better off just skipping it. The other bonus game has you trying to earn more hearts which act as life. This is just as dumb as the other one and is better off avoided.

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Graphics

There's a very nice looking game here. Character and enemy models look a lot better than previous games in the series and Wario's face has some changing emotions. When he looks up at buckets he has an obvious look of curiosity in his face and puppy dog eyes. His death animation his hilarious, as he looks like he just sat on a pile of thumbtacks. As detailed as the enemies look, get ready to see the same ones over and over again. Goombas, sea urchins, pirate ducks, and vicious birds all come back to kill you in practicallly every level and it's rather boring. You'll also see similar environments throughout most of the game whether it's walking on the same floors with vines wrapped around it or the same walls in the background. There's just so much wasted potential with the talent that drew these characters and backgrounds.

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Audio

Wario Land has a humorous soundtrack, one that fits Wario's character perfectly. From the very first level you hear a delightful tune that will get stuck in your head for a while. It gives the game a nice comic relief feel. While you'll hear the same songs over again in many different levels, there's enough music to keep it from being too repetitive and they're all great and catchy themes. The music to the end credits drops the weird vibe and goes for something that belongs in a more protagonistic theme such as Mario, which is kind of anti-climatic considering an incredibly comical song might be expected with taking in the rest of the game to account. Sound effects are simple bleeps and bloops, which is nothing special but manages to work just fine playing over the great tunes.

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Closing Comments

There is a lot of wasted potential here, but it's unique gameplay mechanics and greed-based gameplay is a refreshing look at platformers and good start to the wonderful spin-off series known as Wario Land.

7.5
Good

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed - Review

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It's not the fastest car, but it's one worth driving.

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The Good

Many racers with their own progression and mods
Tons of missions that will last a while
Some great track design
Drifting is fun

The Bad

Framerate issues and other bugs
Poor collision detection in some spots
Online races like to disconnect

The Review

Presentation

Sonic Racing Transformed mixes and matches characters from all four corners of the Sega globe. Sonic characters dominate this game, but there's enough variety mixed in to satisfy people that have been turned off by recent Sonic games. It doesn't take living under a rock to not know who a lot of these people are. Vyse, Ulala, Alex Kidd, etc. are all unfamiliar territory for I bet a lot more people than just myself. Regardless of roster, you'll be switching out characters regularly as each one has their own sense of progression with leveling up and unlocking mods to change up their driving style. You'll be racing on a lot of tracks from different Sega universes but knowing the back story behind each one isn't necessary to enjoy racing on these colorful and unique environments. Sega made a good decision on keeping the art the same as their respective games rather than coming up with a universal style to keep things consistent. This is how mash up games should be.

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Graphics

It's not the best looking game ever but it hits hard where it counts. The tracks are beautiful especially the Sonic stages with their luscious green scenery, beautiful lighting, and sky structures enclosing tracks. Other tracks, such as both from Samba de Amigo, have dancing buildings and cactuses that I feel never gets boring to look at. Racing on water will happen a lot and the water physics are well done. Big and small things will bounce their way in and out of the water creating waves for you to ramp off of and do tricks. Even if you're behind other racers who use a wave before you can, just knowing that it dissipates at a certain point is a nice touch. The lighting is also very nice except that it seems to show more on Sonic than anyone else. His car seems to create a lot more light reflection than anybody else which isn't a big deal but it's rather strange. Like a lot of other kart racers the characters acknowledge each other by turning their heads as they pass which is always good for a cheap smirk.

The visuals fall flat on their face in the same spots every time. For example, in the Nights stage there is a boat section which always take you off a huge jump if you go the right way. There is a stone arch shortly after this jump that you will always clip completely through if you're going fast enough. Like it was put there but they forgot to make it a physical object. This happens uncommonly in a few other spots where you can jump straight off the track through a rock wall and glitch completely out of the race where it might not even respawn you. The framerate is great in all but two tracks where things can go horrendously slow. The Skies of Arcadia track and the Carrier Zone track to be specific. After the first lap more destruction and battles seems to happen in the environment that just causes the framerate to plummet. It makes racing on these tracks a chore because it always happens and you know what you're in for. The aforementioned issues were on the Wii U version of the game and I haven't tried the other versions to compare.

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Audio

The music in this game is comprised mostly of remixed songs from other Sega games. The Sonic songs are great as I have always loved Sonic music and BD Joe's theme music is a great punk rock track in spirit of the Crazy Taxi games. My familiarity with Sega properties ends there but playing this game introduced me to some more great music. The Samba de Amigo songs I enjoyed so much despite having never heard them before. I find myself racing on these tracks more often than others just to hear the music and pretend like I understand Spanish. What I found interesting is that the game use 5.1 surround sound better than any racer I've heard before. Drive past characters in the middle of shouting their annoyance of getting hit and listen as the sound travels behind you to the back of the room. Perhaps I'm just easily amused but good sound design is always appreciated.

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Gameplay

It doesn't add much to the genre but it does improve in some areas. There are many characters to choose from each with their own set of variables in their driving mechanic. As you play through the game you'll unlock more balanced options for each person and it's a great way to keep you turning on the game again and leveling up all of your characters so anybody will come in hand in any situation. There is a full single player mode which is comprised of many events such as racing, battle racing, drift challenges, and more. It's a well designed mode full with characters to unlock if you can collect enough stars. You'll start out with three difficulty settings then eventually unlock a fourth one and the curve feels right and fair. The worst missions in the game are pursuit missions. In this mode you have to collect item boxes to get missiles and shoot them at a tank that's dropping missiles behind it as you go along the tracks. It starts out simple but at a certain point the tank starts dropping walls that are almost impossible to avoid so you'll just keep taking damage until failure.

The driving itself feels great but the mist fun is in the drifting. Drifting works like Mario Kart as in you get various levels of boosts for how long you can hold the drift and the controls feel tight and responsive. Racing in boat form feels a lot more floaty, as would be expected, so getting a feel for the drifting can take a bit of getting used to. Flying feels great and is easy to get the hang of. Drift and your plane will be completely sideways taking those sharp corners and looking cool but the skies are filled with invisible walls if you go too far off course. There also loads of weapons that feel balanced well. There is no blue shell that will ruin the fun of the player in first and most of the weapons require good aim and are satisfying when you get that hit from far back. There is an item called the twister that spins you and your controls backwards if you get hit by it. This is a clever idea but whenever you use it against the AI they seem to adapt like it's no issue at all for them so getting this item can feel useless most of the time. The AI also favors using weapons against you than each other as you can be in last place and still get blasted with fireworks and other items coming from in front of you.

The AI rubberbanding is not a big issue but it is still there if you can get far enough ahead to notice. Even while going on long straightaways with a character with max speed and a good bit of a lead, you can see that people are easily catching up to you. It's a minor gripe and something that can be overlooked. If you don't want to race against the AI then you can go online and race with up to 10 people. When online races go great then they are seamless and lag free which doesn't happen as often as you'd want. More often than not, however, you'll be disconnected from the race at any point whether in the lobby or just about to cross the finish line. It's really frustrating since it ruins an otherwise fun kart racing game competitively.

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Closing Comments

Most of its flaws can be easily brushed aside and underneath is a great kart racing game with a bg cast of characters and awesome music. Fans of the genre will love the drifting and the balanced items and with its lower price point, you really can't go wrong.

7.9
Very Good

Super Mario Land - Review

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Super Mario Land feels like a knock-off that just isn't fun to play.

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The Good

Interesting level locations
Catchy music
Shooting stuff is fun

The Bad

Poor controls
Odd physics
Short

The Review

Presentation

Super Mario Land has its heart in the right place. A Mario platformer on a handheld featuring unique locations, power-ups, and saving a woman who is actually a decoy through most of the game. Mario traveling through unique new environments is, unfortunately, one of the only redeeming qualities that it possesses. Mario gets to jump on top of sphinxes with pyramids in the background and jump his way through an amusing Easter Island inspired world. Mario traveling through some cool places in the real world, even if they're not referred to as such, has some cool novelty. Even if it's not as cool as the box art makes it seem.

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Graphics

The visual quality can best be described as all over the place. There are a lot of things that look nice; such as the backgrounds that look like they were penciled in, as well as some of the larger enemies again look smooth and pretty cool, like they were drawn with a pencil. Mario himself looks exactly the same as the first NES game but the bricks and other pieces of environments don't look as good. Bricks and blocks look a lot simpler and some ground textures are black with weird looking cloud shapes. Lord knows what they're supposed to be. Small enemies, such as the exploding koopas and goomba knock-offs, look like they took five seconds draw and that is rather depressing.

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Audio

At least there is some decent music to be found. There are some tracks right out of the real world such as an Egyptian theme and Chinese theme that sound like they belong in a cartoon of said countries. And that's just fine because it does something different than other Mario games and they carry a good tune. The best track is main theme heard throughout most of the game and it sounds way better when you get a friend to play it on a piano. When you collect a star man you hear the can-can. It's the weirdest thing ever but also very cool.

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Gameplay

Perhaps it's because of Nintendo's button decision with the Virtual Console, but Super Mario Land controls like a dog. The B button is run and the A button is jump. Because of their location on the 3DS, it's uncomfortable for the thumb to slide up instead of down. Super Mario Bros. has the same problem but with Land it's more than just the button. The movement feels a lot heavier and finicky making it seem like you could slip off of small platforms since the d-pad needs to be pressed harder to move. Speaking of heavy, the gravity likes to change its mind between descending from a jump and simply dropping off a ledge. When dropping off a ledge you plummet like an anvil. If you're low enough to the bottom of the screen you might even miss that you fell into a hole because you pressed the jump button a millisecond late. Upon noticing this pattern I decided that it was the absolute worst thing about this game. There are other odd behaviors in the physics as well. Once you hit a mushroom out of a block your first instinct is to jump and grab it before it hits the ground. But for some reason it phases right through you like it's programmed to wait a few seconds before becoming a physical object. There is a challenging platformerr hidden in here, but deciding whether it's the levels themselves or the controls and physics screwing you over is entirely up to you.

The most and pretty much only fun part about this game are the shooting sections. You take control of a submarine and later and spam bullets in a classic sidescrolling shooter style. These only appear twice but they control well and despite the hit detection seeming off by a hair it works great. Shooting octopuses for some reason make them fire two deadly projectiles your way which never made any sense to me but it's a fun challenge to overcome. Each end with you shooting a boss to death and they may be easy but you'll find yourself wishing the rest of the game was like this. Sorry Daisy, your just not worth trekking through this game to save. Even if you can beat it in under an hour.

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Closing Comments

The bottom line is that Super Mario Land just isn't very good. Unless you're hardcore about owning every Mario game then your $3.99 eShop money can go to a much better game.

4.5
Poor

Banjo-Kazooie - Review(ie)

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This adventure of a bear and bird is not so absurd.

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The Good

Fun characters and dialogue
Clever and interesting level design
Plenty of cool moves to do

The Bad
The swimming sucks
Re-collecting everything after death is annoying

The Review

Presentation

There isn't much of a story to be told in Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo and his buddy Kazooie wake up to learn from their mole friend that Banjo's sister has been kidnapped by the evil witch Gruntilda after her magic mirror told her she was not the most beautiful girl in the land. So its premise is basically a ridiculous Snow White copy but the characters and dialogue make it fun to sit through and watch. After Banjo ventures into Grunty's lair, she frequently summons her voice onto you and speaks in delightfully funny and odd rhymes. While some only rhyme if you say them in a European way but you can't hurt them for trying. Grunty is certainly one of the most unique villains out there.

There is also your buddy Kazooie who will always put a smile on your face by insulting basically every character she makes verbal contact with and they always insult her right back. Most of the insults are volleyed from her and Bottle the mole, who is your instructor on learning new moves in each world. It's quite fun watching them bicker and put a smile on my face most of the time. You'll constantly meet a growing cast of characters on your journey and they all become a treat with their witty and silly dialogue.

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Graphics

Banjo is a very nice looking game. The worlds are filled with detail from great looking landscapes to creepy swamps and caves with perfect color palettes. The draw distance isn't terrific, as enemies and some objects will pop-in as you get closer. This can make leaping off of high places annoying as you don't know if you'll land on something bad. Banjo's shadow also isn't perfect for jumping from ledge to ledge since it's nothing more than a blurry circle so relying more on depth perception is always a possibility. The character models themselves are all nicely done. Like other Rare games, they're nice and goofy with large eyes and silly animations that are fun to watch. Even a giant metallic whale whose eyes follow you when you run on his head is a real nice touch.

One thing I love about the graphics is the water. It looks pretty accurate to the real thing and Banjo making bubbles with some decent looking reflection is a great addition. The splash effects could be better but the ripples look neat. The game's framerate, like a lot of N64 games, is very low. It runs smooth enough to not be annoying but on a few occasions it drops like a stone. Usually when there's a lot of things happening on screen. It's kind of a drag but N64 gamers are certainly used to it anyway.

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Audio

Banjo's music is fun and unique, making all of the worlds have a bouncy and cartoony soundtrack. The watery beach level has a nice tropical sound with appropriate use of bongos and other instruments and some nice gentle waves you can hear in the background. Other areas have nice use of tubas giving the whole game that clumsy, silly, comic feel to it and very few games seem to use this as well. It makes the game feel like a cartoon from the 1940's and we all love those. My favorite piece of music in this game is from the level knows as Click Clock Wood, where there are four different seasons and the same song plays on each season albeit with different instruments to feel proper. The winter has that nice mellow feel, spring has the happy uplifting beat, summer has a waltzy feel accompanied by bees buzzing out the climax, and fall has the "goodnight" feel, so to speak. It's great use of music accompanied by a great piece of level design.

The sound effects are about what you'd expect from a Rare game. Everything sounds over exaggerated, from the punching to the collisions with the ground and walls, and that's what works in a game of this nature. Instead of voice acting, text is going along with short audio blurbs that sound nice and silly and when Banjo finds a Jiggy, which are the equivalent of stars in Mario 64, a catchy tune plays followed by Banjo yelling a happy 'Buh-hah' which as absolutely delightful.

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Gameplay


Banjo is not your typical 3D platformer. It focuses more on collecting many objects scattered throughout each world. Jiggies act like stars in Mario 64 and you collect them to fill put the pictures of each world to proceed though the game. Each world has 10 Jiggies, some hiding in clever spots, others you get by solving puzzles and defeating bosses. They're very rewarding to find and the game makes it challenging enough as to having a high requirement of some of the later pictures but it doesn't to take too much of a commitment to find every last one. Other things you collect in each world are music notes and Jingos. Find all of the Jingos to get a Jiggy and collect notes to unlock doors to more areas of the game. Here's where the most problematic part comes in. If you die inside of a level before you collect every last one of these, you'll have to restart the level and do it all over again. It's tedious, frustrating, and makes you want to throw the controller out the window.

There's a lot happening here mechanically. Banjo and Kazooie learn a plethora of moves introduced in each world until a certain point. Ground-pounding, high jumping, egg shooting, flying, dive-bombing, and more. The most useful of these moves is intended for Kazooie to carry Banjo up steep hills but is also best used all the time since it's quicker than running with Banjo's normal speed. Another great one to use a lot is a double-jump, that is actually more plausible than in many other games, to get more hang time and slow your descent. The combat is very basic and consists of rolling into enemies or just punching them, which is fine since there are better things to do than kill things with complexly. Shooting eggs is more for puzzle solving than anything else as you have to shoot eggs at various objects to open up a door or activate something. Aiming is very tricky but the hit detection is at least forgiving.

Although these moves are fun, there's a few things that are never fun to do. Swimming is almost never good in video games but even moreso here. There are two different speeds at which you can swim. The slow Banjo doggy paddle and the quicker Kazooie wing flap. Banjo swims too slow for anybodys patience and Kazooie turns with the accuracy of an 18 wheeler. This makes collecting things underwater a chore especially with some questionable hit detection on the collectibles. Flying is not much better. It's easier to move around in the air than underwater but there are many times in which you have to do a dive bomb attack known as 'beak bombing' and it's completely frustrating. You have to position yourself and press the B button to slam your way into something but it's hard to get the aiming down and if you miss then you may go off course or hit the ground and take damage.

Despite these issues, there's a lot to love about the levels. Each is filled with different mechanics from the last. Sometimes you'll be transforming into an animal to work your way around or ground pounding turtles to play a game of memory. Collecting acorns to help a squirrel through hibernation, stomping on camels to water a tree, shooting eggs into a sphinx's nose. There's something creative around every corner and it's all enjoyable with great platforming inbetween. Describing everything would take forever so I'll just summarize and say that Banjo-Kazooie has something that anyone can enjoy.

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Closing Comments

Although the shortcomings are hard to overlook, Banjo-Kazooie is still a great game that fans of the genre can get tons of enjoyment from.

8.5
Great

Top Five Games of 2012

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2012 was certainly not the highest point in my life nor in my gaming life. Choosing the best five games is actually pretty difficult because most of the games I obtained can be described as "as good as each other" but lets narrow it down anyway. I only game on Nintendo systems nowadays but don't hate me for that.

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Pictured: All the junk I collected last year.

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New Super Mario Bros. U was arguably the best launch title that the Wii U had to offer. It features tons of challenging levels, a kickass flying squirrel suit, and many cleverly hidden star coins. This game has much more of a soul than the 3DS game before it, and should be bought by any Mario fan. Even if the music still sucks.

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Of the three Resident Evil games released this year, this one's the only one you shouldn't throw in the trash. It features a great, creepy atmosphere and is one of the best looking 3DS games. The controls are great and the shooting feels satisfying. There's an addicting online co-op mode that will suck you in for many hours with lots of great characters to use. Just don't expect Shakespeare in the story.

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Sticker Star doesn't hold a candle to some of its predecessors, but it's still one of the best handheld games around. An incredibly enjoyable cast of characters, a new and unique battle system,well-paced levels, and the best 3D in the world combine to make an awesome game. Sticker collecting can get tedious but satisfying to see that hard work in the sticker museum.

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Sure, it should have been made for the 3DS. But that didn't stop Atlus from producing another fine Shin Megami Tensei game with a terrific story and unique gameplay mechanics. The battles are tough as nails but experiencing them with so many cool monster designs and ultimately fusing monsters together is just what every JRPG fan can appreciate and love.

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Argue all you want but I live in the states so it's a 2012 game. Xenoblade not only is one of the greatest Wii games, but one of the best games ever made. It has an absolutely monstrous world with some breathtaking view points as well as a deep and fast paced battle system to always keep you moving at a consistent pace. The story is brilliant and the character's relationship with each other can change depending on how the player uses them together. If you love side quests then you're in for a hellish nightmare of hours lost even if the side quests have no soul. Not only is it my Game of the Year but may also be my game of the decade come 2020.

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Rhythm Heaven Fever - Review

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Rhythm Heaven Fever will punish you for feeling awesome.

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The Good
Outstanding soundtrack
Adorable and funny visuals
Always fun to go back and replay anything

The Bad
Punishing difficulty

The Review

Presentation

Rhythm Heaven Fever is not your average mini-game compilation. It blends together an amazing soundtrack with deceptively simple one or two button gameplay, all while delivering fun characters and visuals that will massage the most fun part of your brain with soft, delicate fingers. It all takes place in the Rhythm Heaven world, filled with fun characters who are out to charm you by doing or saying silly stuff all to the beat of the music. You'll either be pressing a button to stop pigs spinning in office chairs, being a worn out wrestler answering some gibberish reporter question, or a dog playing some badminton in a plane with a cat. Finish something crazy and move on to the next crazy thing and laughing at how silly and fun it is. Each clever mini-game has its own back story that's just as ridiculous as it is awesome but, unfortunately, the way to view them is to beat to the coinciding game when it tells you to get a perfect score. In my case, I could only grab a few. It's extremely annoying that this is the only way to view the stories and there should be a less punishing alternative.

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Graphics

In terms of art, Rhythm Heaven Fever is up there with the best of the best. You can tell it's extremely Japanese and has a similar feel to the Wario Ware universe. It even looks good when there are just plain white backgrounds since everything else just feels so vibrant anyway. Character and object animation is very well done and way too happy, even when you screw up and and make a monkey sad you'll still feel good about what you're seeing. Remix mini-games will take the four games from a column and mash them up, changing the art to fit one theme and it's a cool refresher if some of the visuals get old. As good as these visuals can be, don't try to get too attached because they try to distract you. The most notable moment of this is during a bird marching mini-game when the world zoomed out only to be taking place in the eye of the bird you were just controlling. It absolutely blew my mind with how awesome yet distracting it was. Wii games are notoriously blurry when played on bigger HDTV's but this game performs some form of witchcraft and makes it seem like it's displayed higher than 480p. Quite impressive.

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Audio

Sound design is the most important part of music games and Rhythm Heaven is more unique in that you press buttons to audio cues instead of pressing buttons to what displays on screen. In other music games, it's hard to enjoy the music that's actually playing instead of your mind being completely focused on on screen symbols. The challenge here is letting your fingers flow with the music and as the game teaches you to get in touch with the rhythm you can even start playing with your eyes closed if you're confident with yourself. It fits the definition a music game better than most others, at least to me.

Each game has its own catchy soundtrack ranging from downright incredible to downright laughably fun. If a cat in an airplane calmly singing audio cues isn't considered funny, just wait until he flies into the background and screams them in time with the music and see if you don't crack a smile. One of the weaker examples is a game called Love Rap, which you're a backup singer and have to press A after the lead singer delivers a set of lyrics. It's difficult to pick up the timing on until you learn to press the button the second she stops singing and the music just felt kind of repetitive and bad. But there are songs with actual lyrics which are only in a few of the remixes and I found them to be very catchy and fun to play the games to. Even though they were originally Japanese the localization did a phenomenal job making them feel just as special in English. So apart for some sloppy audio cues, the music is top notch.

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Gameplay

The deceptively simple gameplay is easy to understand but things can go wrong very fast in some of the harder games. The game revolves around only the A and B buttons being pressed to audio cues so it's not too complicated but pressing them at the wrong time can send you into the wrong rhythm resulting in a train wreck of mistakes. This happens mostly in games where you're constantly tapping a button to keep things going while some others give you break inbetween. It's extremely satisfying to nail the harder games after dozens of attempts but disappointingly, you don't get too much reward except for a medal and unlocking the next game. Speaking if which, after each game, you're graded on three levels: Try Again, OK, and Superb. The threshold between them is really harsh to the point where it feels like missing three cues or less can screw you over. If you don't get an OK or Superb then you have to play it over. If you fail enough times it gives you the option to just skip over it and move on, which was extremely helpful for me and Monkey Clock game. The Perfect grade can only be achieved when a game is randomly chosen for you to perfect it and you have a limit three tries before it goes away.

Difficulty aside, there are tons of mini-games to play and a large amount of them are enjoyable even if they can be punishing. Press buttons to make cheerleaders sing and flip cards, make microscopic bacteria line dance, catch presents and slap spiders? Rhythm Heaven takes all levels of sanity and throws it out the window with something that always feels and plays fresh. While I won;t talk about them all individually, I'd say that my favorite is packing pests where you press the A button to slap spiders and press A and B to catch presents and put them into the shipping boxes. I could play that all day. But not all of the games are what I would call good. For example, there's a game where a girl will throw a baseball and you have to count to five before you can swing the bat. There is no cue to swing and your brain can count faster and slower at different times. Seriously, screw that. The games are exactly the same every time you play them, which is both a good and bad thing since you can improve on something you're having trouble with but things you're good at can start feeling stale if you play it enough.

Rhythm Heaven Fever is fun to put back into your Wii even after you've played it to death if not just to kill some time. There's always something fun to go back to and even an ultimate remix to test your skills on every game at once. I've personally never play the multiplayer but enjoying it with a friend would make it even more fun, I expect.

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Closing Comments

Rhythm Heaven Fever is a great game to send off the Wii, and a great game for anyone who can appreciate fun, lovable music. Even if it can be difficult.


8.2
Great

Resident Evil: Revelations - Review

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Creepy and fun, Revelations is a great horror game despite some pesky problems.



The Good


Great controls
Creepy atmosphere
Impressive visuals
Addictive multiplayer

The Bad
Cheesy story and characters
Long load times
Ammo dumping flashbacks aren't fun

The Review

Presentation

After a less than stellar outing with action fest Resident Evil 5, Revelations twirls around and dives straight between the atmosphere of the old and the mechanics of the new. A secret organization, known as Veltro, has unleashed a terrible virus amongst the Mediterranean Sea and it's up to our heroes in the BSAA to stop the wrath. In the crew are our old friends Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield teamed up with a few new sidekicks. Jill and new buddy Parker are sent on board of a ship trying to find Chris and Jessica who have disappeared. In the beginning, the story seems straight forward and easy enough to understand. As you get through maybe halfway through, the game will start throwing predictable plot twists at you and ultimately starts making less and less sense. Characters you thought were good turn out to be bad, new bad guys come into play, people get injured but end up living, etc. Unless you pay real close attention, it's hard to figure out what this new bad guy has anything to do your bosses plan. Some new characters are increasingly annoying, such as the two cheese heads known as Quint and Keith using laughably bad lines such as "one of the vics" and "That would be boobs." The game is told through episodes and sometimes breaks away through the main story to play through some flashbacks as to how these characters got to know one another. The story is mostly trash giving you an excuse to play through a creepy boat filled with monsters and fun gameplay that will last about 10 hours.



Graphics

Revelations is arguably the best looking game on the 3DS. Pushing polygons in character models and model animation. People and enemies look great at any distance, removing the problem The Mercenaries 3D with characters jerking around in the background. However, the tight character models hinders the walls of pretty much every room. The walls are really blurry which isn't a huge deal because there's not much to look at there. Also the mouth animations are really poor when the characters talk, barely budging an inch and making it pretty cheap. There isn't much variety in enemy design as you'll run into the same gray blob creature and shiny Hunters over and over again which gets rather boring. Some actual Zombies would have been nice. The game does a good job of creating a haunting atmosphere on board the ship. The lighting is spectacular and makes those jump scares actually a bit creepy even if they're predictable in the first place. Disappointingly, however, the game frequently leaves the ship and goes back into bright monster slaughter houses, for lack of a better phrase.

Load times are definitely an issue especially when leaving one big area into the next. You'll have to wait and watch as the wheel on a door spins by itself for upwards of 30 seconds before it opens and elevators take forever. There are also small load times every time you open a regular door, preventing you from going through it quickly and making your partner or co-op buddy wait until you're all the way through before they can. The game's frame rate can drop quite often, most notably when a group of enemies is about to appear and completely randomly at other points. Remarkably it can remain very smooth throughout bigger things such a boss battles. There are many different levels of 3D to choose from; from normal to super high. It's very subtle in this game and they don't really do too much with it but it can sometimes get in the way when aiming through a scope because the scope is in the foreground and the enemy in the background. The reticle actually splits because of the focus of your eyes. The highest intensity of 3D is very mind blowing but there's too much ghosting to actually enjoy it.



Audio


A small little pest that rears its ugly head throughout the entirety of the adventure is some questionably sounding sound effects. Most of the guns sound very low bit like they're from a Super Nintendo game and the very noticeably rustling of any character movement heavily distracted me from trying to stealth around corners. To put it lightly, it always sounded like something was coming towards you even if you move just a little bit and concentrate down the hall. Other sound effects are neatly orchestrated into the atmosphere and help create that creepy tone. Sudden crashing vents or opening closets feel right at home even if it feels as though they belong in a DS game. The music is well used, keeping it to a bare minimum when the suspense is rising and bursting out into some grand hall music when the environments get huge. One of the characters appropriately stating, "It's like an Opera House in here." Bringing me to the voice acting, which is well done, except when the script gets laughably bad or cliché in which you can't help but sigh at some of the dialogue. But the better parts are well acted, making the urgency of separated partners feel even more real even if the story isn't that great.



Gameplay


The way Resident Evil controls has always been a love hate relationship for players. The way your character moves like a tank is definitely off setting as well as aiming with the same stick that controls movement. Fortunately if you can bring yourself to like this control scheme then the games are very fun to play. Revelations uses this by having you hold down the R button to go to aim mode and press the Y button to aim. While absolutely not ideal for a fast paced game, it works really well here, making you feel more vulnerable and in danger. There is an option for use of the circle pad pro to move the camera and move faster while you shoot but I, personally, haven't tried it. The game makes great use of the touch screen where the map and your inventory are displayed. Weapon swap is there with the press of the thumb and you can even tap the icon to reload more quickly than the standard way.

Revelations puts you on an abandoned cruise liner throughout most of the game. You'll be solving the mystery of the ship and mostly shooting down monsters known as B.O.W.'s. The most basic of these creatures come in a small variety, mostly the ones that waddle towards you and try to eat your face, as well as some that annoyingly shoot projectiles at you. Easy to dodge unless you don't notice them off-camera at first. The dodge mechanic is rather confusing in which it tells you to move the circle pad up to dodge or do a spin (Down + B). It may as well just say move Jill's oversized butt forward but the problem is that it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. The melee mechanic is also different that previous game, making you put an attachment on your gun to get a higher stun rate instead of just aiming for the knees. It's never very clear when you can melee an enemy, just them stopping and you going up to them looking for the melee prompt is how you learn. Something they added, though, is charging up the melee to execute a more powerful one though it makes you a sitting duck for a few seconds.

The maps are not very big and the layout of the main area can easily be remembered by heart. This is useful because a bit of back tracking is required and you definitely want to avoid running into the same dead ends over and over again. The cruise ship is well designed, making it feel like a luxurious boat with a full hotel and casino. There are plenty of rooms to go in and plenty of stuff to get. You'll be locked inside a hotel room and having to avoid enemies after your weapons have been stolen which serves as a good starting point. Some rooms will house goodies such as a shotgun but some others will be a waste of time with boring notes that don't make you feel like you've accomplished anything by reading them. The place has its fair share of boss fights and they are very tough. It seems as though some of them can take enough bullets to make your gun commit suicide and they'll still be standing. Although they have some tiny weak points it's definitely worth it to at least take your time and try to hit them. The action will sometimes flash back to previous events in the character's lives, such as how the mission got started or how somebody joined the crew. These events ultimately just end up with dumping your ammo into the same monsters over and over again and aren't as fun or as scary as the main adventure.

Revelations adds a mode called Raid Mode and has you compete in, shall we say, dumbed down versions of the campaign missions. That's not a bad thing at all because Raid Mode has a ton of depth to keep you coming back for more. There are many missions to collect as well as a full customizable range of weapons. You can select up to three and also attach many enhances such as increased damaged and increased ammo capacity with higher versions of each always a goal for you to unlock. There are three difficulty levels and all of the first and most of the second are pretty much cakewalks. Once you a ways through it finally becomes a challenge and becomes all the more fun playing along with a buddy. There are definitely some problems, though, such as you still have to snooze your way through annoying loading doors and elevators and, if you don't go through together, it will be twice as frustrating for the person who has to wait for your load to finish so they can start theirs. The later difficulties also start getting harder for you to actually find someone to play with. But Raid Mode is a very fun addition that will keep you busy after the campaign is over.



Closing Comments

It may not be Shakespeare, but if you're in for some cheap but good scares and addictive multiplayer then it belongs in your 3DS.

8.3

Pretty Good

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

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Skyward Sword sets the standard for motion controls and touches the heart.



The Good


Touching Story
Fantastic Sountrack
Wonderful Bosses
Intuitive Combat

The Bad


The Sky is Very Empty
Linear Dungeons
Removes a lot of Exploration

The Review

Presentation

Think about the story that most, if not all Zelda games have. Yeah there are a variance of twists but for the most part, they end up with our silent protagonist Link saving Zelda. In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword you do also ultimately end up saving Zelda, but what the game does different story wise is actually for the better. For example, there is actually far more character development than ever before. In most of the previous games Zelda was never properly introduced as well as she is here. Her and Link grew up together and went to Knight's school with each other. The two lovebirds actually feel more like lovebirds as there is a lot more emotional tension seen in the cutscenes. The two of them will fly around together, Zelda will push Link off of stuff, Link shows fury and rage whenever he sees her in danger. It's a very pleasing addition to the formula and some of the cutscenes almost made me shed a few tears. The story goes that Zelda is sucked into a tornado and you have to track her down. Ultimately she finds out that she is the reincarnation of the Goddess Hylia as Link is the destined hero. The story itself isn't all that great, but the telling of it is absolutely outstanding.

Outside of our main two heroes, we have an assembly of support characters and villains. There's Fi, the typical helper that gives information a la Navi or Midna. There are also the silly town characters we love running into, although there's a disappointing lack of populated areas. Even the main town, Skyloft, has a little population considering its size. The main villains are a little disappointing in the development. Ghirahim is a wacky guy trying to use Zelda to revive his master, a very old cliché, and acts to Link in evil yet oddly seductive ways. The very final villain is a character that just comes out of nowhere but is revealed that he will be reincarnated as the ultimate evil, a hint to other games in the series. Overall the core of the game remains light on story save for our two main heroes. Considering what Zelda games have grown to be it might not be such a bad thing, but from early on in the story I was hoping for more for the rest of the way through.



Graphics

Throughout recent years the Zelda games loved to change up the art direction. We had the incredible cell shaded look of Wind Waker and the darker, more realistic tone of Twilight Princess. Each of which looked great in their own ways. Skyward Sword seems to blend these two together seamlessly with a highly colorful painted look onto unexaggerated characters and environments. The results actually aren't always that great. Things out and far away may indeed look similar to a water color painting, but things close up can look a little more like a washed out mess in some cases. Mostly when you're in first person view crawling through tight passageways. The best looking parts of the game I believe to be are the blues of the sky and the water. When seeing the sky creep out from the clouds it really looks like brushstrokes on the edges of the clouds and I found myself staring in beauty on multiple occasions. The water is such a shiny blue that it literally looks like it's made of liquid diamonds, albeit not showing a lot of reflection. The final boss is definitely the showcase for how good the water can look.

The games animations seem to be a real step up this time around. Since there is now a sprint button for Link it looks probably how I would imagine a guy sprinting with a sword and shield on his back. The fluidity in the movement of the characters during the cutscene really helps with the charm factor. Link will show much more emotion and the eye movement and crinkles in his nose as he gets angry make him feel a lot more alive. Most of the bosses in this game are very big and watching them move around. Levias, a giant sky whale God, moves through the sky with much grace and it feels incredible fighting on his back as the camera makes it feel as if it's a cool cinema sequence. There is one item in the game called the Gust Bellow that basically blows a strong wind current at whatever you point it at. This made me curious at test out the physics of how everything would react to it. Not surprisingly, there isn't too much that actually reacts at all. It's not necessary at all but at least some water ripples or any reaction from drapes would be nice. The framerate holds up silky smooth throughout the adventure but there was some slowdown when I was using the dowsing ability aimed at the water as well as Eldin Volcano during my sequence in which my gear was stolen. It doesn't break the game but it is very noticeable when it happens, annoyingly.



Audio

Skyward Sword features the best soundtrack the series has had to date. Fully orchestrated and pleasing to the ear from beginning to end. To the fast paced adrenaline fueling tracks of the boss battles to the sweet and soothing new rendition of Zelda's Lullaby, there's a little something for everyone. Music is all about personal taste but I enjoyed just about everything I heard in the game. If I'd have to pick a favorite track it would probably be The Loftwing Race, with its fast and catchy use of wind instruments, sounding like something out of Wind Waker. Orchestration definitely sets the standard for games of this size and scale and hopefully Nintendo will keep using it in future Zelda titles. I'd hate to go back to the argument about voice acting, but a game with as much dialogue as Skyward Sword has it would be really nice not to have to read the screen each and every time. I really hope they reconsider next time and Link should still be silent. But, hey, at least we get the good old goofy voice samples of "HEYYYY" and whatnot. And that's always fun.




Gameplay

Skyward Sword introduces new gameplay elements while throwing out some of the older ones and the biggest new feature here is the use of Wii Motion Plus. The combat turns its back on button mashing in favor of 1:1 motion controls and for the most part it works flawlessly. Up is up, down is down, diagonal is diagonal, and stabbing is stabbing allowing for combat that is much more involving and keeps you on your feet. Many enemies are designed with this system in mind as the enemies wield their weapons in ways that you can only get to them by swinging at a certain angle and it feels very intuitive and fun. It isn't perfect, however, as the controls can occasionally go out of whack and Link will be swinging his sword to the left when you want him to swing up and right and you're left either smacking the remote or swinging it around until it goes back. Fortunately it only happened a few times. The controls also translate to Link's pile of items and you can point and shoot arrows or control a flying beetle and, with the exception of frequently but painlessly having to re-center the cursor, the controls are exceptional. An upgrade system is available for the items by collecting various objects that can be found throughout the world. These features include making your slingshot similar to a shotgun, strengthening your shield, or making your beetle last longer in the air. It's about as unnecessary as you'd expect and I found myself doing it "just cause it's there".

Probably one of the best parts of Skyward Sword is the boss battles, which are arguably the best in the series. You'll come across a plethora of bosses and most of them are an absolute joy to fight. While some of them still focus on the formula of using the item that you got in the dungeon, there are others that you have to battle differently. Some will have you rolling bombs down a hill and into the mouth of a charging beast, while others make you use the skills you've learned with slashing the sword at the correct angle. One will even have you stealing the boss' giant sword and using it against him. My favorite of the bosses was on the back of Levias which had me swinging the sword left, right, or straight to hurl a projectile back at the alien eye that moved its head from left to right randomly. Not all of the bosses are great as your battles with Ghirahim, the main villain, make no sense and it's hard to figure out just how to get a hit on him. A giant boss known as The Imprisoned is a cool fight at first but he frequently returns in a stronger state throughout the story, and it left me with a "sigh" each time it happened.

The overall dungeon design feels as though it's a step back from previous games. Dungeons are now very linear which takes out a good chunk of the thought process it takes to get through them. Instead of coming to multiple dead ends that you can't get to until later, the right way to go is always right there and this is not fun if you've grown accustom to solving more complex dungeons. The puzzles inside the dungeons still remain very good and just get better as the game goes on. The best being the time switching orbs that you can carry to activate things that only work in the past i.e. the radius of the orb and act accordingly. It's probably the most creative the series has ever been. Even though they are linear, the dungeons always feel fresh and drastically different from each other and you'll be doing a good variety of tasks through each of them. You'll definitely have to think hard in the deepest part of your brain to get through some of the better parts.

Skyward Sword is a huge game with many places to go. Below the sky are three huge areas housing dungeons and whatnot. They will take a heck of a long time to get through and feel like dungeons themselves with cutting ropes to make a swing or bombing statues to make a path above quicksand. It's quite a journey to get through them all and they're all filled with their own unique civilization to help you along the way. These areas are very fun to conquer and explore but mostly your objective is to get from point A to point B. There are no secret bugs or Poe Souls to hunt down so the only secret objects you're looking for are pretty much Goddess Cubes, which unlock a chest somewhere in the sky when activated. This disappointing lack of exploration limits the replay values of exploring these big worlds and instead you're forced to replay them for story purposes. You're put back into these places to collect Tears of Light while avoiding statues that will make you start over if they attack you. I found these to be more tedious than fun.

Meanwhile, high in the sky, we have a big open area that you fly around on a Loftwing to navigate, similar to sailing in Wind Waker. There are many islands to explore but it feels very draft and unpopulated. Most of the islands house nothing but a chest or two or a character with a mini-game. If you come into the game thinking the sky will have a lot to do, guess again. Skyloft and The Lumpy Pumpkin are the only populated places and there are no secret caves to find and explore. So if you spend 15 minutes flying to a chest that has a silver rupee that you don't even need, it feels like a gargantuan waste of time and that's the biggest problem from a gameplay perspective. What we can be thankful for is the lack of loading times to each island allowing you to free-fall as much as you want just because it looks cool.



Closing Comments

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword may take out a fair bit of exploration from the series. But it sets the standard for motion controls and has some great presentation, making it one of the best games you can play on the Wii.

8.7

Excellent

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