Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc

In spite of being based on the same simple format employed by its prequel, one that is quite different from the mold that was used by most platformers of the era, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc falls short from the excellence of The Great Escape. That does not mean, however, it is a bad game. Quite on the contrary, going through the artistic visuals of its worlds while accompanied by a solid uncomplicated mix of battles, light exploration, straightforward puzzle solving, and tight platforming is pure and relaxed fun. Additionally, the title’s more prominent focus on action, highlighted by the introduction of a scoring system, and the sheer challenge found in trying to maximize one’s performance in each stage will be greatly appreciated by those who enjoy fast-paced thrills. It is not hard to notice, though, that Hoodlum Havoc’s wilder tone, at times, gets out of hand, and that the general design of its levels, although aided by new gameplay-altering powers, is not as consistently inspired as that of its predecessor. Still, even if those traits stop the game from deserving either the classic status or of the universal recommendation awarded to The Great Escape, Hoodlum Havoc remains quite alluring and potentially fun to those with a love for 3-D platforming at its most basic and unpretentious state.

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Rayman 2: The Great Escape

As such, Rayman 2: The Great Escape is a flooring oddity of the Nintendo 64 days. During a time when most platformers and adventure games had their sights so deeply set on taking advantage of the grand environments supported by cutting-edge hardware that they ended up, positively, straying away from the genres’ origins, Ubisoft went the other way. With The Great Escape, the company opted to build, in the recently discovered 3-D realm, a quest that was open to the new opportunities unearthed by the latest technological developments, but whose main concern lay in being simple and old-school. In that regard, Rayman’s second adventure was certainly not alone, for many were the games and studios that tried to explore that interesting middle ground; however, arguably, none of them did so as well as the limbless hero, because the variety, quality, level of polish, and production values contained here are nothing but extremely rare. And propelled by those attributes, The Great Escape feels gigantic, blasting into the pantheon of the best games of its era and standing out among them for using the full extent of its energy towards being straightforward and fun rather than employing its ambitions in matters of size and scope.

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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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South Park: The Fractured But Whole

As a good representation of the South Park franchise, The Fractured But Whole does nothing to please an audience that is disgusted or unmoved by the show’s humor, as it obviously prefers to make use of its precious time to either ignore those folks or keep on making them sick. To everyone else, though, The Fractured But Whole is the ultimate South Park gaming experience, for it dresses up the kids they have grown to love in a fantastic theme, catapults the children onto bizarre situations that go out of their way to point the finger at or bother as many people as possible, and throws them into delightful battles against the madness of society, drunk parents, and satanic creatures alike. Nobody escapes a good beating, and absolutely no one is free from the alluring tastelessness of the South Park canon of offenses and criticisms.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Simply put, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a fun, unexpected, unlikely, and very welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch’s catalog. At this point, it is unknown how many years the console’s lifespan will last and how much support it will get from third-parties; regardless of the value of those variables, though, it is pretty clear Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle will stand as one of the console’s finest overall entries. A product of Nintendo’s pleasant recent tendency to be less protective of its franchises and to open up its business model, it is a sign that – when handled by other parties and with the proper oversight – those properties can be taken to interesting places. If Mario + Rabbids is the first of numerous unforeseen partnerships, Nintendo fans are in for a treat. All that it takes is for those someones who are somewhere to step up to the plate with their courageous ideas; may the doors of opportunity be forever blasted open.

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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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Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones

Where Warrior Within was a pit of darkness that from time to time bordered on bland and generic, The Two Thrones is colorful, bright and extremely lighthearted: it is The Sands of Time reborn. With the return of a storybook presentation, the game is able to provide a final chapter that is both intriguing and dramatic on the delivery of its plot that nicely wraps up the Prince’s many struggles against destiny. Through its technically impressive cutscenes and solid voice acting, the character development in The Two Thrones is able to capture most gamers’ eyes in a way that was not seen on its predecessor and if great trilogies are usually closed with fantastic installments then this game does a great job in fitting that bill.

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Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within

Warrior Within is a very irregular sequel. The game possesses the same stellar level design that made its predecessor shine, and it also improves on combat and overall length, even if it suffers from a poor artistic direction that made the title lose a good part of its personality. Apparently, though, the short time span between releases seriously harmed the game, for many issues were not fixed and ended up making it into the game’s final retail version. In spite of those major shortcomings, Warrior Within is still a must-buy, because its fifteen-hour adventure and delightful platforming are more than enough to make up for its technical shortcomings.

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Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

The Sands of Time is a nearly flawless game. Its replay value almost solely depends on how fun players will find the experience as there are barely any collectibles to be found, and chances are once one gets to end of the game – something that will happen within 10 to 15 hours – one will have already seen it all. Still, its high production value and pure platforming puzzle-solving fun mixed with exciting battles are sure to make players come back for more. The addition of the original Prince of Persia is a bonus to long time fans and an opportunity for those who are not familiar with the origins of the series to get to know them better. Overall, The Sands of Time is a must-buy for anyone with a love for action, platforming and great humor.

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Assassin’s Creed III

Overall, Assassin’s Creed III has more content than the average gamer is able to handle. Unfortunately, that overwhelming amount of tasks and the nice design of its overworld are terribly marred by a central quest that is more focused on telling a story than providing players with an exciting gaming experience. It has its moments and it features a very solid group of side-missions that pushes players to explore its world, but the outcome is a title that falls far away from the level reached by its direct predecessor and successor alike.

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