Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is, ultimately, a phenomenal revival that went through one crooked path in order to become reality, making its existence as much of a victory as its stunning quality. Materializing as a product that balances indie trends with respect for the tradition and spirit of the franchise to which it belongs, the game is a marvel that is difficult to qualify, as it uses the full extent of its long quest to explore a surprising myriad of mechanics and gameplay styles, succeeding in all of them with the same level of competence. As such, whether it is in action, in platforming, in shooting, in exploring, or in puzzle-solving, the game will please all sorts of audiences, conquering the hearts of those who were around to see the saga peak and then disappear, as well as drawing in a group of gamers who were never aware of the Wonder Boy property. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom achieves that status because it is relentlessly inventive and impossibly charming. And surrounded by numerous contemporaries who have explored the same genre, it is able to qualify as one of the very best.

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Super Paper Mario

Through those various problems, however, Super Paper Mario still stands relatively well. The decision to dilute the RPG elements of its predecessors and bet on the action and puzzle-solving components of the saga does make sense when the context in which the game was inserted is taken into account. Nevertheless, its quest, the general dullness of its combat, and the varied but ultimately overly straightforward nature of its puzzles reveal the process of simplification may have gone too far. Super Paper Mario, therefore, is able to find a way to work as a game not thanks to the excellence of its gameplay, but because the charm of its world and the competence of its mechanics are accompanied by a very well-written plot and individual chapters that shine quite brightly. As such, even if in the end it is just its script and characters that will truly leave a mark and be remembered by those who go through the adventure, the title is worth playing thanks to its uniqueness and its powerful heart.

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Wario Land 4

With that in mind, those who are not attracted by the measures it uses to generate replay value will most certainly find Wario Land 4 to be excessively on the short side. During the time it lasts, the game is an absolute delight, as its mesmerizing visuals, excellent level design, branching paths filled with secrets, and Wario’s incredible – and occasionally funny – deck of skills keep it all entertaining, creative, and fresh through the entirety of the journey. But it is all so enjoyable and so brief that it is hard not to get to the end without wishing there were a handful of extra levels. Regardless of that issue, the maturity, greatness, and confidence displayed in Wario Land 4 are more than sufficient to prove to anyone who gives it a shot that the series to which it belongs is not merely a platforming detour born out of the Super Mario games, but a saga strong and distinctive enough to stand tall on its own. And even if Wario Land 4 is not its unquestionable peak, it is still a highlight of the Nintendo canon.

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Wario Land 3

Simply put, the scope, ambition, content, and wild creativity of Wario Land 3 cannot be denied. Its status as an improvement over its predecessor may be questionable. After all, not only does such an assessment heavily depends on how one perceives the very different gameplay styles they employ, but it is also hard to clearly surpass one of the greatest sidescrollers of all time. Its position as a masterful platformer is, however, forever written in stone, for rarely has a game combined two seemingly heterogeneous genres so finely while remaining true to the essence of both. And although Nintendo has gone on to produce many other handheld systems and games since Wario Land 3, seldom will one come across a portable adventure that is as large, bold, and constantly clever. The title infuses the relatively simple bones of a sidescrolling platformer with the complex meat of a Metroidvania quest, and what comes out of it is an experience that, though not for all, will certainly awe anyone with a love for intricate design and challenge.

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Wario Land II

Wario Land II is, therefore, a tremendous success. And with its abundance of quality and originality, there is simply no reason why it should not rank among the best sidescrollers of all time. Its many levels are creative and intricate; its mechanics, inherited from its predecessor, are expanded and polished; its secrets are so numerous they will support at least a dozen hours of gameplay; its visual and musical presentation is still solid; the importance it gives to the collection of coins makes its wide stages be a joy to explore; and the way it organizes its content is so smart and unique it is somewhat shocking it has not been copied frequently. While some games struggle to strike a thread of identity, Wario Land II finds at least a handful of them, and it implements every single one of those quite well. The fact it stands miles apart from all Mario sidescrolling efforts and that it carries an experience that is handheld-exclusive, hence running away from any sort of unfavorable comparison to home-console counterparts, is the cherry on top of it all. For it makes the game stand as an isolated entity; one where players will find an unforgettable treasure trove of gameplay.

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Second Time Around

It is hard to avoid the feeling that Frozen II could have been better than it is. If stripped to its more basic elements, the movie shows good intentions and solid direction, for when its turns and reveals are paired up with its songs and heart, any viewer can see that the framework for a worthy sequel was right there. The final product, sadly, misses the mark when it strives for a scope that is just too big and when it tries to fill up that space with plot points that fail to come together, falling apart into a convoluted mess instead. In the end, it is impossible not to feel touched, happy, excited, and amused by a good portion of what Frozen II offers. However, when it is all said and done, the movie simply disappoints: not because it is unable to match its prequel, as that possibility was never really on the table; but because its missteps are likely to make audiences wonder if its existence is more corporate than creative. And that is just not an environment in which Disney magic can flourish.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

With darkness in its soul, wider environments at its disposal, ability-granting masks in its pocket, and an engaging three-day cycle in its core, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is foreboding in how it frequently turns to the uncomfortable; thrilling in how it dares players to explore; flexible in how it gives them a great variety of tools to interact with the tense environments that surround them; and suffocating, yet fair, in how it is constantly counting down to the moment when the world will be consumed in the fire produced by the crashing of a possessed moon. The Legend of Zelda has never been stranger; gaming has rarely been better.

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The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

It is utterly natural, given Nintendo’s stunning competence, that all 3-D The Legend of Zelda installments that followed it are superior in at least one major area. Majora’s Mask has a more distinctive vibe and stronger gameplay outside dungeons; The Wind Waker does a better job at implementing exploration and creating full-fledged sidequests; Twilight Princess feels like a grander and more thoroughly realized perspective on the Ocarina of Time structure; Skyward Sword tops it in inventiveness; Breath of the Wild operates in a level that is so different that comparisons become too one-sided; and the trend will continue as the saga advances. Yet, the steps those entries took were all solidly built over what Ocarina of Time laid down; they were only possible because the leap into 3-D was made so successfully and established so many vital mechanics.

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Stunt Race FX

Issues related to content and controls keep Stunt Race FX from being a very good effort. There is, for sure, a degree of value and excitement to be found in its races against the clock and in some of its wilder tracks; besides, its visuals – despite being undeniably aged – broadcast a handle on tridimensional design that is superior to the one that is seen in Star Fox. Still, when elements that are so central to a game experience are treated less than ideally, it is hard to throw too much praise at the product. And if even at the time of its release the gap that existed between it and other racing titles for the Super Nintendo was wide, the fact time has made the divide bigger ends up turning Stunt Race FX into a curiosity that is decent, but not worthy of anything more than a brief shot.

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Star Fox 2

It is hard to overlook elements that, in the past, were major technological victories but that, in a context where tridimensional gaming has reached full maturity, come off as awfully clunky and outdated. Nonetheless, it would be unfair to let Star Fox 2 be fully defined by them when it does such a great job in building its own identity. The game is very much a sequel to an equally flawed classic; after all, it borrows a universe of spaceships, dogfights, and a whole lot of shooting from it. At the same time, though, it barely feels like the second chapter of a saga, because the changes it operates in structure, leaning to a strategic vein, and in gameplay, betting on free-roaming combats, create gigantic separation between it and its predecessor. Therefore, even if Star Fox 2 cannot be fearlessly recommended due to its blatant wrinkles, it can at least be applauded and given some praise for an audacity that does generate some exciting fruits.

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