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May 112016
 

As much as I enjoyed the Animaniacs TV series, why not try the video game based on it. In Animaniacs for the Super NES, Pinky and the Brain stole a movie script from Warner Bros. Studios as a means to take over the world. CEO Thaddeus Plotz assigns the Warner siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot to get it back. Of course it won’t be easy.

As you go through each stage focused on a particular genre (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adventure, and Aquatic), before going up against Pinky and the Brain in the editing room, you fight your way past different obstacles and enemies, most of which cannot be killed. Mainly since the only attack any of the Warners have is a dash attack.

The most common enemy is Ralph the security guard. He may be bumbling on the show, but in this game he is hard to dodge. No matter how many times you dash attack Ralph, he will never let up. More importantly, if you don’t get Ralph at just the right angle, he will get you every time.

The Warners do have some other cool skills like the three of them can stack up onto each other’s shoulders to reach high platforms. However, my biggest concern is that the Warners cannot take any damage. After one hit, a Warner is captured and you have to start the stage all over with the others.

If the one-hit deaths aren’t bad enough, there are also stages where the screen moves too fast. If you miss even once, you’re faced with the same problem. The best example is at the beginning of the Fantasy Stage, where the Warners ride broomsticks past trees blocking the pathway. It’s just like the Turbo Tunnel on Battletoads, or the Quarry on the Cutthroat Island game. Those kinds of levels are frustrating if you’re not perfect.

As you collect coins, there are opportunities to get continues and other bonuses. However, it’s completely random as a slot machine automatically goes off while you play. The biggest flaw with having continues is that you don’t get to continue the level with all three Warners. You only get one and the only way to leave the stage is to get through it with one Warner. That doesn’t sound right.

On the plus side, there is an opportunity to get the captured Warners back by going up the water tower. You ride a platform up while dodging vultures and Ralph with a hose. You can get a glimpse of the Good Feathers on your way up.

Speaking of other characters, Animaniacs regulars like Mindy and Buttons, Rita and Runt, Dr. Scratchansniff, Hello Nurse, and the Mime make walkthrough appearances as you play, which is pretty neat.

Each area also has a boss, but they are also tough to get around even if you know the strategy to beat them. Some of the bosses include Count Dracula and Captain Mel, who were only featured in one episode.

Animaniacs is an interesting game with easy control and good music, but man is it hard. On top of constantly dodging fast enemies, you also have to search the stages for pieces of the movie script, which was separated into 24 pages. I liked the story behind the game, but I would rather watch the TV show for it has more laughs.

Mar 022016
 

The Nintendo eshop downloads for Nintendo 3DS keep getting better and better since I downloaded Ninja Battle Heroes. This side scrolling platform game has Anime style animal characters with ninja action and simple navigation. Why can’t more Anime video games be platformers that are easy to figure out?

The story line is also simple and straightforward. Set in a feudal Japan era, there are a group of warriors called the Beast Brigade led by General Yukimura. Unfortunately, all of the members were captured except one, Saizo Kirigakure. Now it’s up to Saizo to rescue them.

As you proceed through the game, other members get rescued and join in as backup. Their skills are helpful, but Saizo is really the only playable character. Also the skills can only be activated when you’ve collected enough spirit energy from defeated foes.

The rescued allies include Kosuke who can restore your life meter with first-aid and Kamanosuke who can make cyclones which is very useful when there are too many background enemies throwing projectiles.

There’s also Mochizuki (Mochi for short) who can throw fire and Jinpachi who can make an ice pillar. Their skills are interesting but not very affective.

Other allies are bosses who are under evil mind control that join you after defeating them. The first are the Miyoshi Bros., Seikai and Isa. Seikai has brute strength and uses his brainy brother Isa as a throwing weapon. However, the only skill you can acquire is their earthquake attack, which isn’t any more effective than the fire and ice attacks.

Other bosses include Rokuro, a bird who grants you flight, which is very helpful to get to those hard to reach areas, not to mention the hard to reach enemies up high. There’s also Juzo who has a rifle attack and Sasuke who can provide clones. These skills are only useful when you need a very strong attack, most likely against a tougher boss.

Eventually, it all comes down to the final boss Ieyasu. He’s tough with his strong attacks, unleashing of enemies, and has a second form courtesy of the demon Hattori Hanzo. Why does that name sound familiar?

I really enjoyed this game for its simple game play. It has its share of challenges also like completing a level within a certain time, having a big enough combo, and getting through a level without taking any damage or summoning any beasts, which is required to unlock certain skills and powers. But once you manage to succeed in these difficult tasks, you’ll feel rewarded knowing that it was all worth it.

Nov 112015
 

I’ll admit that the Super Mario Bros. franchise can be difficult to keep track of because it often breaks continuity. So to help make this clear, New Super Mario Bros. U for Nintendo Wii U is the direct sequel to New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

This time Bowser tries something new. Instead of taking Princess Peach to his castle, Bowser takes over Peach’s castle and sends Mario, Luigi, and the two Toads far away. Now they have to work their way back home, which gives the adventure a different approach while still following the same formula as most of the other previous Super Mario Bros. titles.

The Koopalings also return. This time each of them has a separate airship with their faces out in front. There are still castles, but the Koopalings aren’t actually in them even though you still have to go through them.

Another big difference is that the guardian of each tower is Boom-Boom, and Kamek makes them more advanced with his magic. This sure reminds me of classic Boom-Boom from Super Mario Bros. 3, only more graphical.

I should also point out the change in power ups. In place of the copter hat and penguin suit is a flying squirrel suit. It allows you to fly but it’s very awkward. Unlike the copter hat that let’s you fly straight up, the flying squirrel suit always goes at an angle making it hard to control while in midair. On the bright side, there are P-Acorn power ups that let you fly through the whole level. It still took a while for me to figure out how that worked.

Normally navigation isn’t a problem in a Super Mario Bros. game, but there are areas that are very difficult to find your way around. Some of the ghost houses don’t have any clear paths and with a time limit that makes it worse. There’s also an area in the Soda Forest where you have to find the secret exit to continue forward on the map. That was so difficult to figure out, I had to look it up on YouTube. It never should have been that complicated. This is why I prefer the boss battles over the rest of the levels.

On occasion there’s a character called Nabbit that hides in a random level which has already been cleared. The object is to catch up to him as you go through the level and you get an item that he stole from Toad. It’s tough to do but at least the level ends once you catch Nabbit and not have to carry him to the end like the captured Mushroom people in the previous game.

As you get closer to Peach’s castle, Bowser shows how much more powerful he is by replacing the flags with Bowser banners and eventually surrounding the castle with an eerie tornado. It’s so cool when you hear the windy effect it makes.

Then it all comes down to fighting Bowser at Peach’s castle, which has lava everywhere. Once again you use the “bridge out” method at first, then Bowser becomes giant sized. I’ll tell you, this is definitely one of the most exciting Bowser battles I have seen yet. That’s especially because you actually get to fight him instead of running for your life and dodging lava that kills you in one hit.

This was certainly a good follow-up to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Despite the challenge being tougher than usual, there were plenty of redeeming factors. Mostly it’s for nostalgia coinciding with the new items like the return of such enemies as Torpedo Ted and the Sumo Brother that have not been featured since Super Mario World.

Sep 092015
 

As great as it is to download classic NES titles onto the Nintendo 3DS from Nintendo eshop, there are also some interesting 3DS downloads as well. One of them is 10-in-1 Arcade Action. I think that speaks for itself.

Since the ten games featured are completely different from one another, I’m going to go over each of them separately. Let’s start with Black Nightmares. There are many games in sets like these to be similar to Space Invaders or Galaga. Black Nightmares is like a combination of both that includes occasional power-ups and bonus levels. Normally I would prefer the original Atari version of Space Invaders to any other, but since there’s hardly any chance of that title ever coming to the 3DS downloads, you got to take what you can get.

The next game is Gem Breaker. It’s much like Alleyway for Gameboy only taking place in the sky and the music is awesome. As you progress, the number of blocks increase and some take more hits to destroy. There are also power-ups that make your platform longer or shorter and other stuff I didn’t recognize. Why couldn’t any of these games come with an instruction manual?

That would also be helpful for the third game, Special Delivery. It’s an interesting side scrolling platformer with a nameless deliveryman armed with a slingshot. He jumps gaps, collects coins, and bops enemies like pooping pigeons and gangsters that just stand in the way. Aside from the one hit deaths my only real concern is that the hero never stops walking. You can slow it down or speed it up with the control pad, but not being able to stop is annoying, yet still fun to play.

Game number four is Ninja Monkey. With the hero’s dark presence and stormy backdrop I expected something cool, but it runs short of my expectations. This game is a mediocre 2D shooter where you throw throwing stars at flying dragons that drop demons and bombs. If any of them touch the ground you lose energy, even though they’re not actually touching you. What’s also different is that the hero just stands there and all you can move is the angle to throw your projectile. Not bad, but could’ve been better.

Then we have Box Logic, which is a puzzle game where you move square boxes to the shadowy parts on the floor. Yeah, it’s not that interesting. Moving on.

Game number six is Tangled Space. This is lot like the classic game Asteroids. The only real difference is that you collect coins after completely destroying each asteroid. The backdrop is cooler and the music has a fun upbeat piano tune. If you were playing this 10-in-1 set for the first time, I would suggest this game to start with.

In Perfect Landing, you’re an alien trying to land your spaceship safely while dodging missiles, jet planes, and men riding parachutes. The control is stiff and you can’t really shoot many enemies since your ammo is extremely limited. At least landing in the right spot is easy.

The hardest game in the whole set is definitely Saucer Room. You control a flying saucer in a confined room, but touch a wall once and you’re dead. The biggest reason for its difficulty is the control. In order to change direction you have to gradually move the control pad around and the saucer never stops moving either, so you have to be on your toes all the time. And I thought Surround for Atari 2600 was tough.

The ninth game is Devil Maze, where you’re an angel gathering stars (souls) in 2D maze-like areas while avoiding devils. This one is actually pretty good, but why does the angel look as dark and creepy as the devils?

Last but not least is Ghost Cage. At first I thought it was like PAC-Man, but it’s actually a puzzle game where you match the colors as they come down. Those are usually fun. What makes this one different is that the screen fills up from below as well as above.

At first glance it seems like most of these games are cheap knockoffs of classic titles from the Atari 2600, while the others are just puzzling. However, they’re still fun to play on occasion.

Jul 222015
 

It’s a well-known fact that the Super Mario Bros. video games were (and still are) so popular that the franchise extended to animated shows, a live action movie, and other merchandise. Now here’s a rare item that I haven’t thought of in years, but still remember well. It’s an album called Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin’.

It was released in 1991 around the same time as the release of Super Mario World as well as the Super NES. The hype for this classic game was already high, so just the look of the album cover was enough to get anyone interested. That sure got me excited at first because at the time I thought it was some kind of Nintendo soundtrack.

However, I didn’t bother to get this album when I discovered that the songs had nothing to do with Super Mario World and were performed by various artists I never heard of before. As great as it looked, that makes this one of the most misleading album covers I had ever seen.

Now years later, I was able to do some research on it. It turns out that there’s a short comic that comes with it called White Knuckle Scorin’ the Adventure. It’s about Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach (known as Princess Toadstool at the time) going to Dinosaur Land for a vacation. Then of course Bowser and the Koopalings show up and capture the princess and it’s up to the Mario Bros. and their new ally Yoshi to rescue her.

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That already sounds interesting since I have always enjoyed the Super Mario Bros. comics. However, this particular comic was insane. It constantly leaves the impression that the characters are idiots except for the princess, though it keeps mentioning that she also has a “dynamite bod”.

It also doesn’t help that in this comic, neither Yoshi nor Bowser knows how to read. This is definitely something you would never expect from a Super Mario Bros. story, but it’s still good.

There are also points in the comic, where song cues are mentioned when the song title is in the dialogue. It’s not a bad idea but it would’ve been better if at least some of that dialogue had actually been in the album, like in The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience where the characters say their one-liners between songs. That would’ve been cool.

As for the songs themselves, they’re actually pretty good. There are ten songs total and it turns out that the first song, Ignorance is Bliss by Jellyfish, is in fact about the Super Mario Bros. characters. However, the other nine songs don’t but I can see them setting a mood while looking at the pictures within the comic.

Though misleading, this Nintendo album is an interesting one overall. I admit that it’s not a common item that comes to mind when I think of Super Mario and it’s very hard to find a copy nowadays, but it’s still a good one to at least look back on.