Donkey Kong Country Returns

Ultimately, though, what the issues of Donkey Kong Country Returns reveal is that the aspects in which the game falters are only perceived as weaknesses because they are inevitably compared to the best of what was offered during the classic trilogy that inspired it. Individually, none of its building blocks stand as the best to have ever appeared in a Donkey Kong Country game, but at the same time, save for its soundtrack, bosses, and mini-games, all of them rank away from the bottom and in pretty respectable positions. The result is a modern classic that, without any legacy to live up to, would come out nearly unscathed from even the most rigorous evaluation. With the exception of Diddy’s Kong Quest, none of the Donkey Kong Country games that came before it clearly surpass it. As such, Donkey Kong Country Returns stands among the best sidecrolling platformers not only of its generation, which was quite prolific in its production of great games of the genre, but also of all time.

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Kirby’s Return To Dream Land

The fact Return to Dream Land was a long-awaited revival of the traditional Kirby formula quietly clouded the lack of excellence that can be found throughout the game. In the end, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land just does not mesmerize, it simply does its job of entertaining for ten hours and then proceeds to leave the stage for a few applauses from the crowd. It walks on a very safe line, and as a Kirby platformer it does what it is supposed to do, but when put in the light of comparison to Donkey Kong Country Returns and even Kirby’s Epic Yarn, it falls short.

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No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Overall, No More Heroes 2 is a great title. It could have gone wrong in a number of ways, but through its sheer disregard for all things naturally human it manages to find many ways to succeed. The adventure lasts for about eight hours, discounting the time spent on the mini-games, and there are nice extras – such as a few challenging difficulty levels – that serve as good incentive for players to come back. More importantly, No More Heroes 2 shows that videogames are at their very best when they are set free from the constraints and rules that make our real world so dull and mundane. Travis Touchdown slices open the throat of those limitations and uses their gushing blood as his own demented version of the popular yellow brick road. And the path constructed by all the gore leads him to some rather entertaining places.

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Dead Space: Extraction

The core component that makes Dead Space: Extraction rise above the competition is its acknowledgement that it is a game made to be played at home. While some on-rails titles embraced their simplistic nature, Extraction tries to take advantage of the environment where it is meant to be played, without leaving behind the genre’s most important characteristics. The main point where it becomes clear the game has gained in quality and value due to its migration is the emphasis on story. If on an arcade environment characters and plot fall victims to the overwhelming importance of scoring and shooting ridiculous waves of enemies, at home players can take their time, sit back and enjoy the plot underlying all the bullets that are flying.

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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Yet, overall, Shattered Memories is more than worthy of one’s time. As far as frightening games go, it might be one of the scariest titles of the Wii’s library, in spite of how a few key flaws stand on its way to sheer greatness. Even if it is not haunting all the way through, Shattered Memories remains as one of the system’s best uses of the Wiimote (including an incredible sound design move that uses the Wiimote speaker as a disturbingly realistic cell phone sound outlet), some of the greatest realistic scenarios to ever show up on a Wii game, and a handful of clever puzzles that will require logical thinking and deep analysis of the environment. Its overwhelming tension wears out as the game progresses, but when it thrills, it does so in remarkable fashion.

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Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two

Disney fans might get some moments of rush either by seeing their favorite characters interacting with each other in the development of a nice story, or by sinking their teeth into the Disney collectibles available that include old Silly Symphonies or Mickey Mouse cartoons that become available to be watched. However, those who have a lesser degree of admiration for the company will find a game that is uninspired and that feels rushed due to the fact that it falls so far away from its predecessor. The eight hours of adventure are, sadly, neither intense nor unforgettable. They are, though, an awfully sad sight, because as far as being a gamer goes, there is nothing sadder than watching a game with good heart, intentions and ambitions fall flat on its face.

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Muramasa: The Demon Blade

In a place where resources were limited, the very best games were the ones to thrive on their art style and excel in creative game design. Muramasa: The Demon Blade surpasses pretty much the entire library of the console when it comes to art and visual glory, but while its gameplay is undeniably good, it falters when it comes to some vital elements that prevent the experience from reaching the greatness level it could have so easily achieved. It is by no means a bad game, it is a very good one, but the fact that its length is unusually big for a game of its genre (hack and slash) – which features very limited gameplay options for developers to explore – ends up revealing some repetitive wrinkles that end up taking a way a little bit of the brilliancy of the package.

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Rhythm Heaven Fever

Still, Rhythm Heaven Fever is an absolute blast to play, look at and listen to: it is a feast for the senses. Games who embrace a simple approach to gameplay often rely on being addictive as a mean to achieve success, and an extremely addictive title is precisely the final result that comes out of this cauldron of insanity, wackiness, lack of common sense, music, colors and rhythm. Sure, there a few frustrating moments here and there; sure, some of the issues the game presents are addressed by any course of Game Design 101 out there; but what matters in the end is the bottom line, and the bottom line is Rhythm Heaven Fever is, like its predecessors, a unique gem among music games. It is original in its concept, outrageous in its presentation, silly in its heart and amusing its feel. Rhythm Heaven is, by all means, a game that is worth playing.

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Sonic Colors

Sonic Colors brings a lot of the magic of the old Sonic games to the 3D environment with some twists along the way that make this adventure rather original and remarkable. There are a few issues here and there, but nothing really tarnishes the fact that this is a rare instance of a 3-D Sonic game turning out better than passable and actually being quite good. It has great visuals, fast exciting moments, slow segments that show a lot of care with the level design, a nice collection of songs to power up the fun, and solid gameplay. Sonic Colors will not change anybody’s concepts on great platformers, or set new bars for the genre, but at this point showing that modern-day Sega can still find ways to get in touch with reality and realize what makes a great Sonic game is much more important than any earth-shattering productions.

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