Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars

Consequently, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a game that excels in countless areas. In materializing the rather unlikely marriage between the platforming world of Super Mario and the role-playing greatness of the classics produced by Square during the nineties, it ended up creating a sub-genre of its own: a class of games where thick scripts and turn-based battles meet exploration segments that marry the walking usually done in RPGs with external elements such as action and puzzle-solving. With that combination as its basis, the game assembles a quest that – more than any other Mario game before it – gives life to the Mushroom Kingdom while miraculously succeeding in embracing RPG fans and newcomers to the genre that are naturally attracted to games starring the popular plumber. And even if some of the role-playing quests undertaken by the character ever since have presented more alluring scripts and a wider deck of options, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars retains its position not just as a major pioneer, but as a classic due to how nowhere else in the usually fantastic sagas that were heavily inspired by it can one find such a pure balance between RPG traditions and the quirks of Mario’s universe.

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South Park Rally

South Park Rally, differently from most games that jump into the kart racing genre with the goal of dressing it up with a famous franchise and quickly extracting a good deal of money out of it, does try to tackle the gameplay style with a unique approach. Sadly, all the efforts that it makes in that regard end up being not only disastrous but also incredibly frustrating. Perhaps, if handled by a company that wanted something other than to get it out into the market as fast as possible in order to cash in, those ideas could have flourished into a likable experience. As it stands, though, playing South Park Rally is a miserable journey through thematic races that seem to have been designed to generate anger rather than joy. At least, however, its presence in the Nintendo 64 library serves the useful purpose of proving that good intentions can be smothered quite brutally by sheer greed; so much, in fact, that one has to look really hard to find traces of their existence amidst the mess.

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Golden Sun

As it infused a traditional RPG with a brand of cartoonish cuteness that is usually exclusive to products made within Nintendo’s own walls, it is clear Camelot did not forget to back up those fireworks in presentation with deep strategic layers and opportunities for gamers to toy around with characters and their skills. Therefore, Golden Sun is a balanced game that knows how to appeal to the two audiences it could possibly reach: those that are experts in the genre and want to experience a competent and large handheld adventure; and those that, lured in by its charm, will fall into the grasp of a compelling role-playing quest they would have probably stayed away from had it lacked the Nintendo seal. And in both cases, Golden Sun will please, because its polished mechanics, lovable characters, and gameplay experiments are successful enough that it is clear they were created by a company that had spent a good portion of the decade that preceded its release fine-tuning their skills as RPG creators.

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A Fond Farewell

As such, even if How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World could indeed have been a better film, it plays its role as the final chapter of the franchise very well. The arches that it started to build in its debut are concluded sweetly and in a satisfying manner; the themes and ideas it always relied on evolve alongside its likable cast of characters; and the enchanting universe that served as its home reaches the end of its finely developed cycle. The fact the movie’s brisk pace undermines the impact of some of its conflicts and threats, then, winds up being just a small – yet certainly disappointing – dent on an armor of scales that is still shiny enough to make How to Train Your Dragon be a very rare sight not just in the animation niche, but in the movie industry as a whole; that is, a trilogy that was able to maintain a high level of quality from its glorious beginning until its lovable ending.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

As a consequence, an asset that could have been used to give the game a punctual charm of its own is excessively explored. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is just way too enamored with Link’s lovely train and, throughout the quest, the game is incessantly mining it trying to find something of value, only to come up with very little, because somehow developers overlooked the fact the vehicle is nothing but an alluring means of transportation. That issue, and the fact it emerges so frequently, taking up a significant amount of the adventure’s time, ends up being the element that stops Spirit Tracks from being truly great, and that fact is especially frustrating because of how, when it is not focused on railroads, the game is usually encountering clever new items and mechanics to call its own. As it stands, however, these great moments, its good art style, its marvelous soundtrack, and the delightfully prominent presence of a very active Princess Zelda are diluted amidst the steam.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Aside from the disastrous Temple of the Ocean King, nothing about The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is purely bad. Its controls work very well and bring a few benefits to the gameplay; and its usage of the Nintendo DS’ unique capabilities unearths distinguishing traits that appear in the form of puzzles that require players to scribble on the maps. Nevertheless, simultaneously, nothing about it is truly remarkable either. Its decision to emulate The Wind Waker, albeit in a smaller and more streamlined scale, may have the positive effect of putting gamers back in touch with a lovely art style and popular familiar characters. Yet, at the same time, it causes direct comparisons between the two games to be inevitable, and given Phantom Hourglass makes some decisions that generate average dungeons and also harm the overwhelmingly delightful feelings of freedom, discovery, and exploration that drove The Wind Waker towards all-time greatness, the outcome is a merely decent game. It is undeniable that, as an action-adventure title, Phantom Hourglass does more than the average effort in the genre, for it has a myriad of clever mechanics and puzzles; sadly, as a part of The Legend of Zelda saga, it does not succeed in impressing.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is by no means a perfect effort, as issues of different sizes and intensities can be found in many of its numerous modes. Even with that in mind, though, there is simply no stopping the game from feeling like the gigantic culmination its title indicates it intends to be. Installments of the saga have always been stunningly ambitious, and without ever faltering they have invariably succeeded in living up to the lofty expectations both its developers and the entire gaming world hold whenever a new entry in the series is planned. Ultimate is, naturally, not different, as it follows the norm perfectly. However, the fact it does exactly what is expected of it does not diminish the magnitude of the achievement that is putting out such an extremely polished, balanced, and enjoyable game that involves so many distinct and popular pieces. It is a Herculean task that can only possibly be topped through endless hours of labor and love, and it plays so delightfully it more than honors the accumulated greatness of the franchises it borrows from.

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Partners In Life

The heavy focus on Ralph and Vanellope may cause new characters to become mere accessories to the central plot, and the movie’s dedication to the creation of gags that gravitate around signature elements of the Internet may lead its story to be blatantly inferior to that of the original film. Still, Ralph Breaks the Internet is an enormously enjoyable work that cements the link between its protagonists as one of the greatest partnerships Disney has ever put on a screen, a fact that makes the movie’s emotional highs be remarkably touching. And with that, once more, the studio proves it is perfectly capable of balancing its adherence to contemporary trends with its classic dosage of laughter, tears, and magic.

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Guacamelee

Featuring brilliant platforming, thrilling combats, and the option for up to four players to join forces, Guacamelee is a very refreshing take on the Metroidvania niche. As it turns down the complexity of its map, letting it peacefully rest on a level of simplicity far below the one seen in other giants of the genre, it allows its unique traits to take over the show. Due that, although it does have a good amount of secrets and plenty of backtracking to those who are willing to tackle it, the game ends up coming off as a fast-paced platformer that is punctuated by beat ’em up portions and takes place in a fully connected sidescrolling world. And the impressive synergy between the wrestling motifs of its battles and the Mexican-inspired tones of its art, dialogues, characters, music, and cultural references adds a layer of charm to the final product that makes it nearly irresistible; so much, in fact, that its colors, theme, and overall frantic rhythm may even convert – or at least temporarily please – gamers who are not big fans of the genre.

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South Park: The Stick Of Truth

Through a lot of good ideas, sharp writing, and a few minor shortcomings, The Stick of Truth succeeds, then, in translating to the gaming universe the greatness and politically incorrect ways of the South Park franchise. It is a game that never loses sight of the elements that make the property on which it is inspired shine, and charmingly – not even for a second – does it forget that, ultimately, these are imaginative kids using what is at their disposal to role-play as the standard high-fantasy characters they have grown to admire. It is, therefore, an adventure that mixes equal doses of the innocent and the disturbing to form a hilariously absurd plot and set the basis for gameplay that is simple and enjoyable. The Stick of Truth is a very well-written and certainly offensive South Park movie in playable form, and under the guise of an accessible and entertaining RPG it marks the first time ever the confronting television show gained a gaming installment whose quality matches that of the original material.

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