Category Archives: Impressions

The Wild, The Innocent and The Mushroom Kingdom Shuffle

More importantly than being interesting, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is great. The madness of its plot and of the way through which both universes are joined works because Mario and the Rabbids exist in worlds where events do not need to make sense. Moreover, the concept is supported by solid gameplay. Alternating exploration segments where Mario and his two partners of choice need to solve puzzles in order to progress through one of the four worlds; and strategic and challenging shooting affairs where alternatives need to be analyzed if players are to succeed, the game clicks and finds a way to embrace newcomers to the genre, which its charming presentation and colorful characters are bound to attract, and veterans too, who will flock to it once they hear of the tight design of its strategy gameplay.

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Born Under Punches

Where most fighting games rely on baffling combinations of buttons, ARMS leans on actions (punching, blocking, rushing, moving, jumping, grabbing, and dashing) that demand the execution of a simple move or the press of a sole button (depending on the control scheme of choice). And where those game thrive in complicated combos, ARMS just asks its players to study the quirks of each of its characters, dive into the effects of its dozens of arms, pick the set that suits them best, and use creativity and fast-thinking on the rings to employ the simple actions the fighters can perform in ways that are appropriate to the situations they will find themselves in.

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Rainbows and Dark Clouds

If it were taken to court and placed on the defendant’s seat, Color Splash would not be able to summon a single alibi to escape the accusation of carrying those features: the verdict would be quick, and the game would be sent to the prison where all offenders of good game design rot for all eternity. However, differently from Sticker Star, an endless lifeless slog in the form of a game, Color Splash is actually fun. Undoubtedly, it does have its share of annoying vices – for example, specific Thing Cards are still a must to make boss battles manageable and to help Mario clear certain obstacles. Nonetheless, in the fixing, or in the minimal shifts in implementation, of many of Sticker Star’s dull mechanics, it finds a way to be successful and entertaining.

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The Return of the Fantastic Mr. Fox

Star Fox Zero’s problems and its lack of creativity to develop a full package of settings, dialogues, and bosses of its own instead of borrowing a lot of elements from Star Fox 64 are blatant. However, it is unquestionably a game with far more qualities than virtues; a title that fully understands what is the essence of the series and then tries to implement it as well as possible. Its new ideas do not uniformly succeed, but its structural overhaul – with a Story Mode where players can, after unlocking the levels, freely select which one they want to tackle; and an Arcade Mode where the Star Fox 64 joy of aiming for high overall scores in individual runs from Corneria to Venom is recreated – show that this simple formula, when correctly captured, still works quite well in contemporary gaming.

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Roads Not Taken

Fire Emblem Fates winds up being a rare case of a game whose most contested feature before its release ends up being its greatest prowess: the diverging paths and versions offer fulfilling experiences that appeal to distinct groups of fans, while also leaving the door open for new fans to enjoy Conquest by lowering its difficulty and for veterans to tackle a more brutal take on Birthright. Even though the writing occasionally falters in some places, especially regarding dialogues supporting character development, it is a worthy sequel to the glory that was Fire Emblem: Awakening.

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Jammed Creativity

Paper Jam shuns that structure, a worthy move considering it had already been used three times, and opts to simply make Paper Mario tag along Mario and Luigi. His addition, and that of paper characters and enemies running around the kingdom, does affect gameplay to some degree, especially in battles. However, other than that, standing close to the game’s halfway point, Paper Jam has yet to truly pull off something remarkable and inventive out of that combination. Instead of feeling like a crash worthy of the hadron collider, Paper Jam ha – so far – come off as something that was quickly stitched up together without much thought.

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Home Away From Home

Xenoblade Chronicles X, aware that fans of the saga wanted a mixture of more-of-the-same with bigger and better mechanics, delivers precisely that. However, where Xenoblade Chronicles was a JRPG covered in an MMO cloak; Xenoblade Chronicles X further embraces the tendencies of massively multiplayer online games and becomes an MMO dressed up in a beautiful JRPG garb. Freedom and exploration are taken to a whole new degree, and not simply because Xenoblade X features what is the biggest and, possibly, better-crafted world to ever appear in a videogame; the core reason that tide shifts so heavily has to do with the game’s design itself, for – differently from what had happened in Xenoblade Chronicles – the focus is not the main plot, but the thousands of ornaments and surround it.

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