Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy is joy and enchantment in gaming form. It has no commitment to sense; no concerns about logic; and no regard for the mundane. Its sole pledge is to fun, and by taking the elements of the plumber’s universe towards the vastness and insanity of space, Nintendo gave its developers total freedom regarding what kinds of levels to build and what sorts of mechanics to explore. Consequently, in the arms of gravity and aboard weirdly shaped planetoids, the Super Mario franchise reaches for interactive entertainment at its purest form. It may not be perfect, but even the most avid players will have a hard time coming upon an adventure that produces surprises and moments of genuine awe with such uncanny consistency. Super Mario Galaxy succeeds in embracing all audiences and taking them into an outer space journey that feels epic, controls spectacularly, looks stunning, sounds like a grand symphony, and holds more gameplay ingenuity in its dozens of stages than many companies will ever get to put together in a lifetime.

Full Post

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong

The overall charming simplicity and the generally competent level design of Mario vs. Donkey Kong make it easy to notice that the game was never meant as a grand statement or as a fierce competitor for the crown of best Game Boy Advance title, but was – instead – planned from the get go as a kind of effort that is ideal to a handheld setting. The abundance of content found in it is delightful and the way its brief puzzle-platforming stages were made to be cleared within a handful of minutes turn it into an ideal portable experience. Consequently, although it is not technically impressive, for its lovable visuals lack in scenario details and its audio leaves something to be desired in terms of quality, it is very enjoyable to play through. Furthermore, it rescued, from almost total obscurity, a gameplay idea that was tucked away in an overlooked Game Boy title and made it available to a new generation of gamers, who were able to – through it – revisit, in fresher colors and in a new expanded format, the historic duel that, from inside an arcade cabinet, put Nintendo on the map.

Full Post

Star Fox: Assault

It is, however, a major shame that all that very well-presented and pleasantly deep content is hampered by numerous technical issues that affect about half of the gameplay presented in Star Fox: Assault. Had the same amount of care and thought that is showcased in its flying portions been employed in the making of the segments that try to push the franchise towards new directions, fans of the saga could have – in their hands – an excellent product of the same caliber as Star Fox 64. Yet, as it stands, Star Fox: Assault has ground missions that are just way too clumsy, and given they share space with flying objectives that are absolutely stellar, rather than coming off as satisfying additions to the formula they appear as blocks in the middle of the way that must be overcome so the game’s truly great moments can be reached. Consequently, instead of being praised for its inventions, Star Fox: Assault is defined by its irregularity, and most of the worthy new steps it tries to implement end up being disappointing.

Full Post

CrossCode

For that reason, CrossCode is more of a charming and notably inventive homage to 16-bit RPGs – especially those with a knack for action – than a game that walks the same halls as other giants of the genre. Even though its gameplay is a magical combination of fast-paced and flashy combats with audacious puzzle-design, the innovative value of its setting ends up doing it more harm than good, as the title punctually struggles to make Lea’s journey in the fictional MMO of CrossWorlds feel as special and meaningful as it actually is. As such, even if easy to applaud, CrossCode does not carry enough of the elusive magical luster that takes the best tales of the gaming medium to the hard-to-reach level of greatness.

Full Post

Wario Land: Shake It!

As a consequence of that characteristic, Wario Land: Shake It puts itself in a somewhat tough position. Its quest is undeniably fun; its visuals are unquestionably beautiful; and its smart level design is true to the high quality of the saga. Still, the fact a good deal of its extra content can be the source of some frustration is disappointing because a great portion of the game’s value lies in exploring its levels looking for its treasure chests and trying to achieve perfect runs as a way to clear its challenging missions. Therefore, while to newcomers looking for a solid platformer Wario Land: Shake It is recommended with the caveat that its quest may be a bit too short for those who simply want to go through it, to gamers going after full completion it is a great package as long as they are able to tolerate the frustrating edges that its additional corners can sometimes display. In both cases, though, there is fun and smartness to be found in yet another sidescroller that shows the Nintendo Wii was the perfect home for the reemergence of the genre.

Full Post

Civilization VI

It is such cyclical nature that leads to the popular one-more-turn syndrome, a famous condition that makes entries of the franchise frequently impossible to put down. There is always something about to happen, and behind one achievement there is sure to be yet another moment of glorious human progress to be unlocked; in victory and in defeat, then, Civilization VI is incredibly fulfilling. Given the enormous concept it sets out to turn into a game, the saga is probably eternally destined to punctually be too large for its own good and to feature a fabric of mechanics too vast to be entirely balanced. However, Civilization VI is so engaging that it is hard to think the evolution of society throughout thousands of years could be represented in a way that is as alluring, complete, and fun.

Full Post

Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time

There are, of course, a number of areas where Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time could be better. A stronger and thicker script would give more purpose to some of its segments; a fully connected world, like the one from Superstar Saga, could have brought forth a bigger sense of freedom and worked far better than the linear portal-based traveling it employs; and the time-traveling quirk out of which it extracts its greatest new mechanic, the presence of Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, is visibly underused, as it fails to bring any other considerable ramifications in plot as well as in gameplay. Nevertheless, an evaluation of its components reveals a game that is strong, as its humor is undeniably sharp, its animations are lovely, its battle system is highly entertaining, and the puzzles that appear as the heroes explore the world are simple yet fun. Due to that, although it falls short of the greatness achieved by some of the other entries of the series, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is a very solid role-playing outing by the plumber.

Full Post

Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling

By looking closely at Bug Fables, one can notice that there are punctual cracks on its surface that reveal its nature as an independent effort that is tackling a rather large scope. But other than being justified, given it is actively trying to emulate a gameplay experience of a rather large caliber, its ambition is also greatly fruitful, because it undeniably yields a product whose quality matches – and in some areas even surpasses – that of the material that inspired it: the first two Paper Mario games. In some ways, Bug Fables does not feel like a copy that is too close for comfort or even a homage. The end result is far closer, instead, to a continuation of what was left behind fifteen years before its release, because although it obviously exhibits neither the firepower nor the creative wildness a direct sequel to The Thousand-Year Door would have, it dares to build on what was standing nevertheless. And what fans get is not a mere nod of recognition to a past that is lost, but a picking up of the torch that proves the fire still burns and that it can become even stronger.

Full Post

Shantae And The Seven Sirens

Saying Shantae and the Seven Sirens is very flawed would be a mistake, because no component of the game comes off as lackluster or problematic. What it truly lacks is a bright spark of creativity to elevate it further. However, in spite of that absence, the quest it contains remains enjoyable throughout the way, and the whole package is recommended to anyone looking for a lighter – but still very big in scope – take on the Metroidvania genre, one that sprinkles a maze-like world with drops of straightforward action-platforming and adventure. Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a very welcome return to form by one of the independent scene’s most beloved franchises. And even if it has some catching up to do to match the best efforts of its genre, there is no denying that the change it brings to the table is as pleasant to experience as the knowledge that the half-genie is back to doing what she knows best; that is, unlocking the secrets of a big labyrinth while talking to characters, executing trading sequences, going through dungeons, and bringing down foes with her signature hair whip.

Full Post

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

Ironically, even though it is more recommendable to longtime Fire Emblem players due to the fact it lacks the long introductory arch of The Blazing Blade, the steps The Sacred Stones takes towards accessibility may cause some frustration in those veterans. After all, its abundance of enemies and goods removes the stifling resource restrictions of its predecessors, making its adventure – therefore – much closer to the easier contemporary entries of the franchise than to the mighty challenges that were rather frequent in the past. That caveat aside, The Sacred Stones is yet another very good entry in the saga, and it is likely to universally please. Because, in the end, its greatness does not originate solely from the fact it adds the practicality of a world map to a well-known gameplay framework that has repeatedly proven it works well. The Sacred Stones is great, ultimately, because it joins exciting strategic battles with an engaging plot that moves through sweetness, sadness, and darkness. And when that formula is achieved, the Fire Emblem franchise is at its finest state.

Full Post