The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Impression

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"Written on the 21st of November"

Just yesterday, my copy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link between Worlds arrived, and since it arrived, I've been doing hardly anything else outside of school than enjoying this gem on my 3DS. I'll be honest, the game was actually just planned as a time filler for me, until I could get my hands on Super Mario 3D World. After all, though, Super Mario is still my favourite franchise.

That's why A Link Between Worlds comes as a huge surprise. Sure, the reviews of the game had been overly positive, but I didn't expect to be sucked into the game as much as I am right now.

Too keep things clear, while I'm not in love with the franchise, I've always respected the Zelda games. I never witnessed games like Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past or Majora's Mask when they were released. In fact, the first Zelda game I played fully was the 3D remake of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. And it was a blast, I'll admit. I also played parts of Twilight Princess, at times where my brother needed help or I just wanted to give the game a try. The other 2 Zelda games I played were Phantom Hourglass and Skyward Sword. Phantom Hourglass was quite disappointing. It wasn't bad, not by a far shot, but it wasn't particularly good either. It was simply okay. Skyward Sword is a completely different case. As it was my first console Zelda game for me too tackle, I was pretty excited to play this game. And it received outstanding scores. In the end, however, I was a little disappointed with the overall package. That doesn't mean it wasn't good in my opinion, it had lots of great and outstanding moments, like the temples and the boss battles that followed. But it also had many flaws for my taste that ensured both frustration and exhaustion, especially towards the end. Up until now, I actually never quite finished the game.

But with that, let me get to the main topic here. I'll keep my impressions short, since I don't have too much time. So, A Link Between Worlds is quite a surprise for me. But there are reasons. Now first of all, the only game that I had played that seemed to have a bit of the same style and camera perspective was Phantom Hourglass, which as you know now wasn't my favourite game of all time. However, the newest adventure of Link is much more appealing than I initially thought it would be. The controls are spot on, but it's the rather simple yet extremely effective world and dungeon designs that make this game a blast. Instead of having an epic plot with rather spectacular storytelling and the more epic, grand feeling like the console Zelda games have, A Link Between World treats these features as secondary and treats the gameplay as it's one and only primary. With A Link Between Worlds, you get as little of a tutorial as possible, instead letting you right away into this big world full of surprises and collectibles. The story is definitely present, and quite interesting, but it focuses more on the pure enjoyment that comes within exploring the world at your own.

Up until now I've already experienced 3 dungeons, each one with outstanding design, as well as the following bosses of each dungeon, which weren't as equally impressive as the dungeons. The first boss battle was fantastic, presenting an epic and exciting battle in a classic way. The second boss battle was over within seconds, without any kind of a lasting impression. The third boss battle was better, with a much bigger length and more challenge, though that battle wasn't really memorable as well. Yet, none of these boss battles were bad in a way of being to lackluster or boring. Just not memorable at all, except the first battle.

Of course, wondering around the hub world of the game took away the majority of my playing time up until now. It's incredibly well designed, with many secrets and collectibles to find. The more items you have, the more can be found within the world, and it's just incredibly fun exploring the world and taking down all enemies in your way. Of course, I can't say anything about the comparison of the hubworld of A Link to the Past and this game, since I never played A Link to the Past.

Also adding to the game is the ability to rent items. Unlike past Zelda games, items that are mandatory for beating dungeons can all be grabbed at once, very early into the game. This makes for a level of freedom that hasn't been present in a Zelda game until now. And it's an incredibly good feature that let's you tackle dungeons and other areas within the hub world in the order you want to tackle them.

Presentational wise the game is quite solid as well. It's a great looking game, even if the environments can look a little inharmonious at times. The soundtrack is also quite good. While I'm not sure, I think most of these tracks are just remastered versions of the old game, either way, the game has some great music playing along the adventure.

And that sums it up for right now. I was expecting a fun, entertaining experience with this newest Zelda title, but I wasn't expecting it to be this good. I hope to post a review as soon as possible, though who knows when that will be. But one thing is sure: A Link Between Worlds has the potentional to be one of the best titles of the 3DS in my eyes.

Review: Luigi's Mansion

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A new review, for Luigi's Mansion that is. Played it a while ago and wanted to share my thoughts about the game. Oh and I will from now on try to treat my reviews as if they were written around the time the game was released. Just so you know. Oh, and here you've got the link to my original review. 

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"Luigi's Mansion may not be long, but the unique concept and feel of the game make it worth to reach for in the shelves."

Difficulty: Just Right

Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less

The Bottom Line: "Worth playing"

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While Mario gets all the fame, Luigi is forced to play the sidekick for his older brother in several games. Yet with Luigi's Mansion, this tradition finally takes a twist for the better of Luigi. Instead of hopping from platform to platform while holding on to his green plumber-cap, the brother of the oh so popular Mario takes a risky step into a much different genre. Unlike the red guy, he has to go on a ghost hunt in a huge mansion, suck these ghosts up with a vacuum, and free the mansion from all evil that is haunting the interior architecture of the giant mansion. 

But is it worth going along with Luigi on this spooky adventure?

--- Presentation ---

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One of Nintendo's objectives with Luigi's Mansion was to show off the graphical abilities of the Gamecube, and it sure worked out well. Luigi's Mansion is a wonderful game to look at. Not only is the atmosphere in the game captured perfectly, but the environments and the mansion look outstanding, with many little details scattered across the locations. The visual effects, like lighting effects, are just as outstanding. 

One of the biggest strengths of Luigi's Mansion is the personality the game has. The mansion is spooky and gloomy, but this "spooky" aspect is mixed with a great sense of humor throughout the game. The ghosts for example, aren't what you'd call spooky. Sure there are the Boo Hoos, but there are also many other, goofy looking ghosts haunting the mansion, with a lot of variety, keeping the ghost hunt entertaining until the end. Luigi, despite facing rather funny looking spirits, is scared as hell, throughout the whole adventure. This is highlighted by the great voice clips and facial expressions Luigi has, making each cutscene a delight.

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Of course, in respect of Luigi's extreme fear, there must be some reason why that scaredy cat even risks one footstep into the mansion. Everything begins with the message that Luigi has won a mansion in the middle of the woods. Without even participating in some kind of contest. Not suspicious at all! Mario sets out to visit the mansion some time before Luigi does the same. When Luigi arrives, he looks out for Mario, but he is nowhere to be seen. Despite the spooky indication outside of the mansion, Luigi enters the mansion through the noble doors, hoping to find Mario somewhere inside. But the interior of the mansion does indeed not look inviting at all. Farther into the mansion, Luigi meets the crazy Professor E. Gadd, who tells him that this mansion just popped out of nowhere and now he's in for some ghost hunting action. The Professor trains Luigi to become a ghost hunter, and from there on the search for Mario starts. 

There really isn't anything bad to state in this category. The visuals are great, the atmosphere and personality the game contains is outstanding, and the story suffices the needs of the game. The music sounds good as well, however, the game has only very few tracks that it repeats throughout the whole game; which can become a little annoying.

--- Gameplay ---

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But what if the player hops into Luigi's role and starts busting ghosts? 

Now, first of all, before sending you farther into the mansion, the game makes you familiar with the controls. Which work quite well most of the time, though using the right control stick to direct Luigi in steamy fights can take some time to get used to. 

But controls aren't important either way when the gameplay is bad anyways. Luckily, Luigi's Mansion handles the entry into a much different gameplay concept perfectly well. Sucking up ghosts is indeed fun, and the farther you get into the game, the more challenging these fights get. It's incredibly fun hanging on to ghosts that try to escape the beam of the Poltergust 2000, trying to direct the right control stick into the exact opposite direction of where the ghost is flying to. And the battles get more and more frantic the more ghosts appear at once, with only a few times becoming frustrating.

The variety of ghosts just add to the fun, in this case. There are a lot of different ghosts that get in the way of Luigi, as well as Mini bosses, that are mostly human-like ghosts which seem to live in the mansion, as well as 4 main bosses and the final boss that are generally fun to battle. Well except one mini boss late in the game, which holds the potential to frustration pure. 

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Before sucking up the ghosts though, Luigi is forced to blend the ghosts with his torch, and that doesn't always work that well. Way too many times did I blend the ghost, without getting the slightest chance to catch him with my Poltergust's beam right after, which was a main reason why some fights against ghosts became rather frustrating than entertaining. 

Of course, wondering through the mansion and sucking up the ghosts isn't the only thing you have to do. The mansion is full of collectibles, mostly money, but also some gems as well, that make your money count rise up and up, and the game gives you a little reason why to try to collect as much money as possible at the very end. But you won't be searching the mansion only in order to collect money, it's also crucial to advance in the game, your main objective being to find keys. At the end of the adventure, you will have gone through pretty much every single room; however, it is the order in which you visit all the rooms that makes the exploring of the whole mansion so entertaining. With that said, Luigi's Mansion does lack variety overall. The main concept is sucking up ghosts, and while the game adds a nice amount of variety to that concept, it is not nearly enough to fill up the game; yet the rest of the game is just searching for collectibles, keys and the way to proceed. It's fun, though you'll also notice that repetition is not to be avoided, which can lead to some boredom if the game is played to long during one single session. 

However, Luigi's Mansion isn't what you call a long game anyways. It takes about 5-10 hours to beat the main game, depending on how you play the game, and the only reason to revisit the game is to try to collect more collectibles another time through the adventure or to master a more challenging version of the main adventure. It's pretty short, though, in this case, the length fits quite well in order to not make the game seem too repetitive. On the bad side however; the length of the game may suffice the lacking variety of the game, but not the game's price. Of course, the best solution would have self evidently been giving the game more length as well as more variety.

--- Verdict ---

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Luigi's Mansion could be described as a small, yet glorious diamond with a few scratches here and there that boggle down it's value. It's a very unique game, both gameplay wise and in particular presentational wise, and capturing ghosts with the Poltergust 2000 is pure fun. The fun withdraws a few too many times, may it be because of frustration or the possibility of boredom caused by the missing yet needed variety, and the game's length isn't there to justify the price in anyways. Yet, it's one of the Gamecube's launch titles, and definitely one unique and special game that keeps the adventure entertaining until the end, despite the bumps lying in the way. Yes, the game lacks quantity, yet it's an outstanding game unlike any other.

The Good

  • Unique in it's concept and presentation
  • Sucking up ghosts with the Poltergust 2000 is a lot of fun
  • Great graphics
  • a lot of personality
  • outstanding humor
  • the mansion Luigi explores is outstandingly well designed

The Bad

  • the game lacks the variety it could have needed
  • occasional frustrations 
  • short length of the game doesn't justify the game's price



Review Score: 7.0/10

Finished Mario and Luigi: Dream Team

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 And it was really, really awesome. Pretty much everything was outstanding. The story was awesome, with great ideas and nice twists along the ride. The visuals may not be technical as impressive as the visuals of some other 3DS games, like Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon or Super Mario 3D Land, keeping a more classic look, but artistically the game ranges from good to marvelous. The gameplay is also awesome, both the 2D platforming and many innovations in the Dream world as well as the exploring and platforming in the 3D world are incredibly fun. And then there are the battles, which are as awesome as ever, mixed with new innovations to make them even more interesting and diverse. 

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This is one of the new battle mechanics used only during boss battles: Mario and Luigi will run either towards the screen or in the opposite direction, while avoiding the bosses attacks and other hazards. It makes these boss battles even more interesting and epic.


Another aspect of Mario and Luigi: Dream Team that needs to be mentioned in particular is the music. It's incredible. It doesn't have the greatest variety, there are shorter games with more music pieces, and you'll be hearing some of the tracks very often, but these music tracks never get annoying, since they have a solid length and are all really good composed, always fitting to the locations or happenings. I'd in fact rank this video game soundtrack among the very best I've ever heard. There are some really stunning music pieces in here, some of them ranking among some of the best music pieces I've ever heard. Just wait until you'll hear the breathtaking final boss theme! Truly incredible!!

I won't further go into detail, but I'll try to have a review up when the game launches in the USA, it seems as if gamespot won't allow you to post reviews earlier anyway. But I guarantee it's definitely worth adding to your 3DS collection; it's very likely one of the best 3DS games out there. 

Nintendo's upcoming games

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Nintendo's Press Conference was quite a while ago. Yes, I know, I'm quite late with this one. The reason I was absent this time was that I was coming to an end with my school. I am, or better said was in the 10th grade, and now I'll have to go to a new school. Of course, there was a lot going on in that last month. We had the three final exams in maths, German and English, that made 50 percent of my final mark of each of these subjects. All of them worked out well though, luckily, with the German exam being a B and the other 2 an A. Then we also took a trip to Spain. Unlike most of my classmates though, I did not enjoy it there very much. The rooms we stayed in weren't nice at all, and it was way too warm for me. I prefer rain, but it didn't rain once. Okay once it did, but that was only brief. There was of course more going on in the last one or two months, though I won't talk about that anymore. I'm just happy and not so happy that it's over, and I hope I'll be more active now during my summer holidays. Then again, I always say that.

Anyways, while it wouldn't fit to write about Nintendo's press conference directly, I do have opinions about some of their upcoming games to share.


Mario and Luigi: Dream Team:           540px-Box_NA_-_Mario_%26_Luigi_Dream_Tea

Well, in Europe, this game is already available. In fact, I got the game already on the 11th of July. However, I am not going to play the game until I am in Canada with my family for three weeks. The reviews are predominantly good, and from what I've seen, it does indeed look good. And it seems as if the game is supposed to be innovative. Gamespot said it does just enough to separate itself from previous entries of the series, while IGN stated the game introduces too many innovations, rarely using the full potential of these innovations. Or something like that. Either way, though, I'm very excited to play this game. And I must say, some of the game's music I've heard already is just amazing.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link between Worlds: the-legend-of-zelda-a-link-between-world

Neither do I have a lot to say about this game. Of course, I'm getting the game. However, the only Zelda game with a top-down view I've played until now was Phantom Hourglass, which marked one of Links weak outings in my book. Sure, it wasn't totally a top-down view, but kinda. But nevertheless, the game looks quite good to me until now. The visuals are clean and simple, yet nice looking, the level design seems quite good, though I do read that it's got its big share of similarities to Zelda: A Link to the Past. And I'm thankful that the game does not have touchscreen controls like Phantom Hourglass.


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Of course, one of my most anticipated games right now is Super Mario 3D World. New Super Mario Bros U was great, but I've been really excited to see Mario's world during his 3D adventures in full HD. And it looks quite good. But that topic later. First of all, before I went and watched the conference, I took a look at a random blog posting about the press conference. Then I read about a sequel to Super Mario 3D Land, called Super Mario 3D World. I was confused, and then got hope that they were working on 2 3D Mario games, one for the 3DS, and one for the Wii U, 3D World being of course for the 3DS. Then I read that it was for Wii U, and was immediately disappointed. Then I read that Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach were playable; I was confused and disappointed.

However, after watching the trailer, Developer Direct and several gameplay videos, I'm not disappointed anymore. To a certain extend that is. Of course, I do wish they would have gone for a bigger and more grander Mario game like Super Mario 64, or the Mario Galaxy games. I was also hoping, now with having HD advantage, they'd bring some of the epic feel that the Super Mario Galaxy games had. I doubt that will happen in remarkable form with Super Mario 3D World.

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However, where the game doesn't lack in, according to what I've seen until now, is creativity. Super Mario 3D Land was quite a creative game, especially when it came to mixing up elements from both 2D Mario and 3D Mario games. The levels however, while creative, weren't nearly as creative as those in previous 3D Super Mario games, in particular the 2 Super Mario Galaxy games. I really hope this won't be the case with Super Mario 3D World. But it doesn't look like it, thank god. The demo had five levels: 2-1, which was very similar to the first level of Super Mario 3D World; 4-2, A level seemingly high up in the mountains, which makes usage of one of the new innovations in the game, the transparent pipes; 6-3, a level that makes great usage of the new cat suit powerup, 1-5, A level with a Yoshi-like looking sea creature Mario must ride on to get to the goal at the end of the water track; and 4-Boss, that contains a boss battle which looked way better than any of the boss battles in Super Mario 3D Land, except the final boss battle and the normal Bowser battles to a certain extend.

All of these 5 levels were built around some kind of idea, or 2. And each of them used these ideas in very creative ways. The Yoshi ride level looked like a lot of fun, just like the boss battle, that seemed to have savored some creativity, unlike most boss battles in Super Mario 3D land. Cat Mario was used in 2-1, though that was just a standard Mario level with colorful blocks, grassy plains and a very familiar layout. However, it went over to a short underground section, which then lead to the goal pole. 6-3 took some mighty advantage of the Cat Powerup, making an extremely awesome looking level; 2 small, weirdly shaped and floating mountains with strong enemy count and long treadmills along the walls, to grant Cat Mario's wall-climbing power a more remarkable effect. And then there was 4-3, which showed the potential of the new transparent pipes. It looks pretty fun navigating through these pipes, collecting everything there is to collect and avoiding enemies within the pipe. And it will surely make up for some more variety.

Farther on, the game looks and sounds good. It wasn't easy to hear the music that played in the levels, but I'm pretty sure each level had it's own music track, and all of them sounded quite nice, as far as I heard them that is. But I hope they'll give the game a soundtrack that is about as creative as the ones from the Super Mario Galaxy games. The Visuals of the game look also great. The environments Mario travels through are vibrant and very colorful, and the HD graphics make everything look even better. The only niggle I had in this category was that some of the backgrounds looked a bit overly simple and plain considering this game being in HD. One background I believe was even quite identical to a background from the Super Mario Galaxy games, which I believe was the background in world 2-1.

I could talk about much more, like other excerpts of levels seen in the trailer or the awesome looking Multiplayer, but I should leave it like this. I might post another blog with my impressions about the game, or not. Who knows, if I don't.


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I love Mario Kart. To a certain point I do. The concept is not implemented in any other game as well as in Mario Kart, just like the kart physics and the chaotic nature, which make the racing so exciting. Or at least, that's how it is supposed to be. Let's start with online: Playing online can be fun, though if there are people with much more skills than others, than you'll find each result to be quite similar to another. I'm not such a big fan of online for multiple reasons: for one, the waiting you have to spend can be annoying; then there are the lags, that let the racing feel not as quality rich as when playing with the AI. But by far the most important reason is that I just don't enjoy trying to drive almost perfect on each stage. But that's what you often need to do to get a decent chance for the first place. Which simply makes me prefer to play with AI, it's faster, easier, and I don't have to try so hard to win. And this leads me to my biggest problem with Mario Kart. In contra for loving Mario Kart games for their implementation of concept and great racing, I absolutely hate the games for their downright awful AI. While I said I don't enjoy trying so hard to drive nearly perfect on each stage, I do enjoy a challenge, and the AI often lacks this. At least it lacks fair challenge. But that's not the main problem I have, but the fact that the AI is so cheaply unfair. I'll take my most recent memories I had with Mario Kart, which of course is Mario kart 7, to explain this. See, I can become in each of the 4 races within a Grand Prix at least 3rd, and still have a chance to lose and become 2nd or 3rd in the end results. Which means one or 2 of my opponents must have been even better than me, which also means the rest must have been losing most of the races. So far so good, that's absolutely no problem, I mean, maybe those specific drivers were just driving really good. The truth though is that they were only able to win because AI drivers with less points were letting the AI drivers with the most points pass, and because they got their occasional, several seconds ongoing speed boosts, being as fast as the player with star. Seriously, I've played each Mario Kart game enough to notice such kind of foul tricks. And I'm sick and tired of this. I swear, play a Grand Prix of Mario Kart 7, and I guarantee you that there will be a huge leap between the 4th and 5th place in the end results of the grand prix. That's because the game tries to constantly keep the 3 drivers with the most points in front of the other 4 AI drivers with less points, but not via different driving skills, but unfair tricks that can be easily spotted.

Why am I telling you this even though I should actually be talking about my impressions on Mario Kart 8? Because, in some way, those are my impressions. I'm very sure they'll have this kind of stupid and unfair AI back, and I will buy the game, and be mad again. Sounds sick, but at the same time there's no other racing game that manages this wacky racing with items concept as good as the Mario Kart games do, and there's no doubt for me that the kart racing genre is one of my favorite genres in existence. Mario Kart games would be some of my absolutely favorite video games if they'd just have good AI. I'm just sick and tired to see drivers drive without any help as fast as I do with my star, and I'm also sick and tired of having AI drivers in front of me driving in normal size as fast as my driver does little sized, after being struck by a lightning. Yet in the demo version of Mario Kart 8, I've spotted the same, embarrassing AI as in every Mario Kart game, which boggles my hopes for better AI down again. I'd be perfectly fine if they'd just add an extra mode where you get challenging races in which all AI drivers compete against each other to win first place, so it doesn't feel like you're only driving against 3 or 2 opponents, but actually 7, or in Mario Kart Wii's case, 11. Then again, it seems like I'm quite alone with this complaint, so...

Okay, so what about Mario Kart 8 in general, besides the AI? Well, in this respect, the game looks pretty good. The visuals are outstanding, the kart physics seem even better than ever, and the racing looks like it could be a bit more speedy than in previous entries, especially if that what we have seen in the gameplay demo was only 50 ccm, as one of my friends had told me, which I honestly doubt, though. And Waluigi is back, he was certainly missing in Mario Kart 7, just like Toadette. The courses look also really, really good, and the new anti-gravity feature will give them some nice, new twists. I do fear though that this single new addition might not be enough novelty for some people.


Rayman Legends:             20120816071747!Rayman_Legends_Box_Art.jp

What should have been released already in February is now landing in the stores during August 30 in Europe and September the 3rd in America. Seriously, I should have been able to play the game already a long time ago on my Wii U, but only because they decided to port over what was supposed to be at first a Wii U exclusive title to the PS3, Xbox 360 and Vita, they delayed the Wii U version to a date where all game versions would be released at once. Which is incomprehensible for me. At least have the Wii U owners get the game when it was supposed to be released.

Anyways, Rayman Legends looks pretty good until this point. It seems to be incredibly imaginative and creative, as well as innovative and simply put fun. It's also a gorgeous game to look at, even more so than Origins, and that was already a beautiful game. However, I've still got my fears with it. I enjoyed Rayman Origins overall, but I had disputes with the game more often than I would have wished to have. The game could get frustrating, as I felt some parts of levels just didn't match the rather not so precise controls of Rayman. Don't get me wrong, the controls were great, but Rayman did seem a little floaty and slippery, which made very precise platforming a bit of a chore. A few difficulty spikes and a very few occasions where I found the levels to become a little unfair also ensured some frustrations. And maybe the biggest issue I had with the game were it's boss battles. They weren't very good at all. The bosses themselves had some great designs, and their battles held some interesting ideas, but the ways the battles played out were just pretty mediocre, lame and unspectacular in any ways. Always going after that pink bulb that would pop out somewhere on the boss, and dying after each phase like 5 or more times really made these boss battles inedible.

Otherwise, though, I'm still anticipating this game.


Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze:    TM_WiiU_DonkeyKongCountryTropicalFreeze.

Alongside Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of my most anticipated games announced right now. I absolutely loved Donkey Kong Country Returns and was very disappointed when I found out that the Donkey Kong Country game announced for the 3DS was nothing than a remake of Returns. So I was especially pleasantly surprised when I saw Donkey Kong suddenly jump out of that wrecked front side of a crashed plane. And man does it look good. The game still seems to have the same art style like Donkey Kong Country Returns, but with the HD visuals it looks better than ever, and the environments Donkey Kong passed by were pretty breathtaking. It was definitely one of the best looking games announced for the Wii U. It also looks like a ton of fun. The level design seemed to be top notch, just like it seemed to be incredibly creative and innovative. And there are some new, significant additions to the game as well. For one, Donkey Kong can now swim under water again, and Dixie Kong is also back, along with another still unrevealed fourth character. Then there is the new feature of a camera that moves around in 3D. Instead of always having the same view point, the camera now zooms along during barrel blast sections, going into all sorts of angles and creating some very new and unique situations, as well as giving the player an even better feel for the 3D world Donkey Kong is traveling through. It certainly does look like a great idea. Donkey Kong also has a new move at disposal. Instead of being able to blow at certain objects, Donkey Kong can now pick up certain objects and enemies as well as pluck certain objects out of the ground. This new feature will also make the game even more varied and fresh.

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So all in all, I'm pretty pleased with the upcoming Nintendo games. Sure, there are many more than the ones I've just listed, but these are the ones I'm interested in the most, and the ones that have the biggest chances to be bought by me. Anyways, it seems like I'll be entertained throughout the rest of the year. Sure, there are some gaps before and after Rayman Legends, but that's not going to be a big problem. While I'm not sure about Mario Kart 8, all other games look pretty good, especially Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World. However, the game I'm looking forward to right now is Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, as it is sitting in my house now for several days. Luckily, tomorrow is finally the day I'll be flying to Canada with my family, and then I'll finally allow myself to play the game. I must say though, waiting to play a game that sits in your house for multiple days isn't easy at all.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Impressions (Huge Spoilers !!!!)

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Actually, I'm already finished with this game, though of course I do not have anything like a review, as it always takes ages for me to finally release another review. Anyways, I just wanted to state my overall impressions about the game. But please note again: This short blog contains major Spoilers, revealing some of the games ending.


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Well, actually, there isn't much to say about the game. The games puzzles and story are as rich on quality as they have always been, the story being slightly better than that from the last game. The new visuals of the game are quite good. They still contain that cartoony feel while at the same time being totally 3D now. However, the game's cinematics still contain the same old 2D cartoon style. And while I like the looks of those cutscenes as well, I always was forced to turn off the 3D during them because the 3D was awful, often even a little broken during those cutscenes. Furthermore, the new controls took a bit of time to get used to, but in the end they worked perfectly well. The game's music is also pretty good. Most of the tunes sound very familiar, some of them generic, some of them not as good, but a big part of the tracks are pretty catchy and nice to listen to. However, there are a few tracks that stand out from all other, especially the "Norwell" music piece that sounds absolutely beautiful.

However, I've got mixed reactions about the ending. While much better than the one from Last Specter, with a more believable solution, it seemed still a little weird. Sure, I do know now that Layton games are far from realistic, but in some parts I still hoped for a better final ending. But the one thing that really bothered me was that that Descole guy was pulling off all the strings again. Do not misunderstand me, I think Descole makes for a good antagonist. But when a game keeps it's solution and the bad guy behind all this chaos so secret until the end, you should expect a cooler solution than the solution that the same, old villain from previous Professor Layton titles is the bad guy again. And let's be honest, Randall being the masked Gentleman was pretty obvious. I must say I had a grin in my face when Layton suddenly pointed his finger at Angela, accusing her to have cause all this trouble, but as soon as I heard a man's laugh and then seeing Angela turn into Descole, my grin vanished in seconds.

And I do wonder how Descole was able to imitate Angela's voice so perfectly, and how she was able to imitate that butler guy's voice so good. But nevertheless, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask was a great experience and quite better than Layton's last outing, the Last Specter.

Professor Layton: Which is his best game?

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So after one month of not being able to access my account via login, I came up with the incredible idea to just reset my password. And see there, I'm back in. Just why didn't I do this earlier?

Anyways, since I don't have anything significant to blog today anymore, I'll just let you vote your favorite of these games:

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Professor Layton and the Curious Village: 4

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box: 2

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future: 3

Professor Layton and the Last Specter: 0

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask: 0

Choose your favorite!

Oh, and by the way, mine is definitely the first one. In particular because it had the best final solution of all the games.

Review: New Super Mario Bros U

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I've got a new review up, this time for one of Wii U's most successful launch titles: New Super Mario Bros U. Here's the link to my original review, ratings are very welcome.

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"It's yet another familiar entry into the New Super Mario Bros series. But it's definitely the best so far."

Difficulty: Just Right

Time Spent: 40 to 100 Hours

The Bottom Line: "Best in series"

Last year has been a significant one for the New Super Mario Bros series, since Nintendo had released two games of it in that year. That isn't to be said it was a very good one. The earlier one, New Super Mario Bros 2, released on the 3DS, was shoved in during the development of the Wii U version, with young, more inexperienced people working on the game, and one that didn't really succeed all too much, because it was simply too similar to it's predecessors, adding barely any novelty to the series. And then there was New Super Mario Bros U. A game with more significant changes and additions, and simply put, a game that savored more professional work and effort. And New Super Mario Bros U is also the first Mario platformer launch title since Super Mario 64 on the N64. Plus the Wii U needed some fresh, exclusive titles for it's launch, since a lot of the launch games were only ports of games already existing on different platforms. Luckily, New Super Mario Bros U, unlike the 3DS version, has succeed in bringing the series back to a more glamorous shine, even though it isn't that kind of launch title to show off the new console's possibilities and strengths.

--- Presentation ---

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Believe it or not, but in New Super Mario Bros U, the story actually gets a little twist. Instead of having Bowser and family kidnapping the Princess and taking her to Bowser's own castle, Bowser this time decides to simply take over Peach's castle, throwing Mario and CO. far, far away from the castle, and now it's up to the heroes to make their way back to the castle and save Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom from Bowser's mighty plans. In every other game such little twist would have absolutely no impact, but for a Mario game, it's actually quite a nice one.

Actually, it is the twists, the little or not so little twists to the New Super Mario Bros formula, that separate this game from it's predecessors. In a nutshell, New Super Mario Bros U is what you expect, and what you've come to know. You have to make your way through eight different worlds in order to defeat Bowser and save Peach and the Kingdom, each world contains it's own typical theme, you'll always encounter a level count that retains the ca. 8-10 levels per world, and so on.

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Making your way back to the castle instead of moving away from it gave the developers an opportunity to give the game another load of novelty they have missed. Since your way to the final stand of Bowser is more the exact opposite direction than it is usual, it would have been more than fitting to have some dramatic shift in world themes and the order of them. Instead, New Super Mario Bros U has pretty much the exact same world themes as well as order like in the previous New Super Mario Bros games. Yet, New Super Mario Bros U gives each world theme a new, little twist to make them feel at least a little different.

And another, much better twist of New Super Mario Bros U: It's the first of the New Super Mario Bros games to contain a big, full featured world map with all the smaller worlds fit into it, making the vibrant and rich world of Mario viewable in a whole. It's smaller worlds are connected great with each other, the path Mario must take through the main worlds takes you everywhere, and the different world themes make for a colorful and detailed world map. Not only does it look beautiful, but it also adds a better sense of an actual adventure happening. During any time you may scroll around the map and take a peak at where the adventure will take you, and adding to the charm, the game tosses a few cut scenes that show what happens to the castle while Mario's on his way to that destination. And one last note: the game's world map also contains extra content such as enemies and powerups wondering around the world map, as well as a few other clever features, including some little by-the-by minigames, and hidden paths that must be found, making the world map part of the fun.

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As far as the new features of the Wii U go, New Super Mario Bros U doesn't take that much usage of them. It's the best launch title to show off the off-screen play, but the touchscreen is only used for multiplayer, with some good yet limited use of it, and the visuals do not push the graphical abilities of Nintendo's system at all. Don't get me wrong, though, this isn't counted as a negative.

What does seem like a negative is that it seems like Nintendo took it quite easy with this game and made it themselves quite comfortable. They did put a lot of thought and polish into this game, but you'll also notice that they only did that, what was really necessary. Take the visuals, for example. Seeing the typical New Super Mario Bros visual style shine in HD, with backgrounds finally being 3D and getting lots of depth really is great. Actually, there are multiple beautiful and impressive looking backgrounds here to be admired. However, seeing the game recycling backgrounds for multiple levels is a bit odd. Or take the animations. Seriously, Nintendo took the amount of newly created animations to the possible minimum, making some cutscenes look a bit dated.

However, what's absolutely not acceptable is the soundtrack. It's still heavily the soundtrack from the Wii game, with some more, new tracks than New Super Mario Bros 2 had, but it's still lame having to hear so many tracks from the Wii game a third time. It's reaching a limit where the music just comes soaring out of people's ears right after entering them, and it's pretty frustrating and odd to see that Nintendo was so lazy with the game's soundtrack when considering that Nintendo puts a lot of effort into making good music for most of their games.

--- Gameplay ---

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Just as the presentation, New Super Mario Bros U's gameplay is very familiar. Like usual for a 2D platformer game, you guide Mario from left to right, avoiding the usual obstacles while snagging powerups to enlarge your chance of success and coins to collect 1-Ups, which are as easy to become as stomping yet another Goomba. Controls are, weirdly, even better than ever. Mario has all of his typical moves at disposal, and he controls as if you're controlling him with your own thoughts. Level Design in New Super Mario Bros U is even more creative than ever, offering the best levels of the series so far, with some meaty challenge after the first 4 worlds of the game, and the 3 Star Coins in each to find, some of them hidden cleverly, while some other are hard to reach. Not to forget the occasional secret exits that unlock hidden paths among the world map. It's all quite familiar yet all still so fun. And like stated before, it's not as if the game hasn't improved over it's predecessors, since it's got clearly the best level design of all four games. And there is some innovation in the level design; a few new ideas and objects as well as a combination of 2 familiar ideas that haven't been combined within a level before make for some innovation, though not much. The majority of the levels seem rather familiar, just better and more cleverly designed than ever.

It's outside of the level design where the game picks more up in novelty. Baby Yoshi's can be found on the world map which than follow you from level to level, until you die or lose them, granting Mario some unique, new powers. Meanwhile, Nabbit, a totally new character to the Mario Universe, steals Mushrooms from Mushroom houses and hides in specific levels, who you then have to chase down in the level he hides in. A much different, but nice addition is the integration of Miiverse. It lets you state your opinion about levels you've just played, while at the same time let's comments from many different people appear on the world map. It really is these touches that make the game stand out from the other ones and let it feel fresh.

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And of course, this game can be experienced, just like the Wii one, with multiple friends among your side. While the main four players still play the same role and characters, a fifth player can join the Mustache-Mushroom fun and create platforms out of thin air, as well as interact with some enemies and platforms. The multiplayer is as fun and chaotic as ever, and definitely a particularly great offering for parties. The addition of a fifth player engaging himself with a kind of god-mode is a nice one, though it's probably not as fun as playing as one of the 4 main characters. It can however be a great help for inexperienced gamers, or a great option for those who aren't very good at platformer games and just want to join the fun fast and easy. Oh, and if you're up for some competitive play, Coin Battle mode is the perfect choice. It's the same as in the Wii game, yet a bit more competitive this time around.

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Snagging a copy of New Super Mario Bros U will also mean you'll have quite an impressive amount on content to discover. The lengthy main game is only part of what forms New Super Mario Bros U, as there are also two additional modes, Boost Rush Mode and Challenge Mode. Boost Rush Mode is about mastering side scrolling levels as fast as possible, speeding up the scrolling by collecting coins, which is accessible from one to five players. The real surprise is challenge mode. This mode tosses challenges towards you that rate from one star (fairly challenging) to 5 stars(super-enormous-tough), in which you can get a bronze medal, silver medal or gold medal. Or of course a fail. These challenges take place either in totally new terrains or in levels from the main game, and it's incredibly fun to try to beat each challenge, and succeeding in them is tremendously satisfying. They are also quite varied, and only the fewest are less than good or frustrating.

--- Verdict --- 

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It's simple: New Super Mario Bros U prefers to deliver an experience not very different from it's predecessors, while at the same time, never falling into the category "predictable". Sure, there are some overly predictable parts in the game. But others, like the sudden appearance of an classic Mario enemy in glorious HD on your TV screen that hasn't been seen since the mighty Super Mario World, or a level with a theme unlike any other level seen before in the New Super Mario Bros series, form some truly great moments of the game. You won't be able to shake off the familiar feel the game has, but these new, little twists make sure you will be getting enough "new" to keep you playing.

In fact, New Super Mario Bros U is without a doubt the best entry into it's series yet, as well as one of the launch titles worth to get for the Wii U. It's level design is always creative and fun, it is an overall challenging and satisfying game with lots of secrets, it's got some cool bosses and a very epic final battle, and, unlike the 3DS version, it's able to separate itself from it's predecessors, with new features and innovations, new, additional modes, in particular challenge mode, that add variety, novelty and more fun content as well as HD graphics with much nicer visuals. It's definitely not a good showcase of the Wii U, and does not present next-generation gaming in any ways, but that isn't a negative at all. What does disturb at some occasions is when you do notice that it could have been more, it could have been grander, as Nintendo did stay relatively save with this title, not taking too many risks (and yes, even in terms of level design that is). But it's still an incredibly enjoyable game that is definitely worth getting.

The Good

  • creative, varied and challenging levels
  • fun and cool boss battles
  • Incredible controls
  • Nice HD visuals
  • a full world map with all the little worlds connected with each other adds to the experience and looks really good
  • new features and other innovations give the game a fresh enough feeling, while still featuring many throwbacks
  • Multiplayer is a blast
  • great use of Miiverse

The Bad

  • Recycled music, again
  • occasionally predictable
  • game lies on the safe side

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Review Score: 8.0/10

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D trailer

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Click here to take a look at the remake. While I still wish it would be a totally new Donkey Kong Country game, I'll still probably be getting it. And it seems like there is at least some new content, both in form of items and level design. The new world map design seems a bit unfitting, though.

Finished Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

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So yesterday, around midnight, I had beaten the game and rescued Evershade valley from all evil that was haunting it, and man, the final battle was awesome. Challenging, but not overly challenging, long, but not too long, and epic. Very, very epic. It was outstanding, just like the rest of the game. Really, I can just advise you to get the game if you own a 3DS. It is so good.

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I mean literally everything is outstanding in this game. It's got outstanding visuals, that look even better with the outstanding 3D effect, it's got an awesome soundtrack, and most importantly, it never becomes anything less than really fun. All the things to search for, all the hidden collectibles and money, the fact that you can interact with so many objects in the environments to find these collectibles, and the satisfying ghost catching itself, it was all awesome. And the mansions, oh the mansions. I could go on and on but I'll keep it short this time. I do have to still mention that the adventure had a good length, it tells me that I took 15 hours and 35 minutes to beat it. Which is definitely longer than the original, and in this game I've still got lots of gems to find, Boos to seek, and so on. Plus I've also got the multiplayer that I still didn't try out yet.

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Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Impressions

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So yesterday was finally the day where I was able to pick up Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Honestly I didn't really think about the game until it was March but then it suddenly woke my interest more and more and the last few weeks I have been really, really hyped for it.

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So from what I had seen in all the trailers and gameplay footage and from what I had read from all the reviews, I really got hope that this might just shape up to be the best 3DS game so far for me. Plus I'm still waiting for the 3DS game to finally really wow me and make the 250 dollars my family had spent worth it (It was a birthday present, with that said). Surprisingly though, it might just end up as one of the best games I have ever played in my life. Well, sure, I haven't played that many games, though I must say that I don't really believe there would ever be a game I'd enjoy more than the Mario Galaxy games, already because I love the Mario franchise much more than any other one. So anyways, from what I have played until now, it is insanely good. Insanely!!

Until now I have already beaten the first mansion and the first 2 missions of the second one. So first of all: the first mansion and the second one, from what I've played from the second one, have amazing designs. They are varied as well, with many rooms to find and explore. And there are so many little secrets hidden in the mansions. You really have to check out almost every object that you come along, for lots and lots of hidden collectibles. It really is a hell of a fun. What I also love about the mansions is that they also have a nice amount of locations outside of the Mansion to explore, which makes for even more variety.

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The controls are also great. I heard of some people having a few problems with them, but I find them to be really good and I didn't encounter any problems with the controls myself yet. Sure, there's no second circle-pad, yet in some ways I even find the controls to be better than in the first one. They seem more precise, and the fact you can't turn whenever your using your flashlight or vacuum, does not provide a problem at all once you get used to it. And getting used to it doesn't take long at all. Fighting ghosts in this game is also more fun than in the first one. The extra pull-force granted with a press of the A-button gives it a bit more depth, and the fact you now have to charge your torch in order to flash the ghosts with your strobulb, is also a great addition and makes up for more precision. In the first Luigi's Mansion, it got a bit annoying when the ghosts disappeared immediately after you had stunned them with the flashlight, giving you no chance to suck them up that time, but each time you stun a ghost in this game, you also get the chance to suck them up before they disappear again. Oh, and it's simply more satisfying sucking up these ghosts in this game than in the first one. Oh, and not to forget to mention the first boss battle I had encountered. Well, it was just as good as pretty much everything else in the game.

Okay, that's it for this blog, I should keep most of it for my review coming eventually, but I tell you, so far I'm loving this game. The presentation as well as the gameplay is just stunning. The characters have an overload on personality, the visuals are (some of) the best I've ever seen from a Video game (while keeping in mind that this isn't HD, of course), and exploring the haunted mansions while taking care of the many ghosts coming in your way is super fun.

And I don't know what could still prevent me from loving this game after I've finished it, except very maybe the lacking check point system with which I hadn't any encounter yet anyways.