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Feb 222017
 

Normally when it comes to shooter video games, the most common genres featured are action, horror, or movie based games like Transformers and Jurassic Park. Well here’s a shooter that’s more cute and cartoony. It’s called Chicken Shoot for Nintendo Wii.

The object of the game is to shoot as many chickens as you can as they fly by. Some of which contain weapon upgrades. However, unlike other shooters, there’s not even an ounce of bloodshed. When a chicken is shot, the content is reminiscent of Looney Tunes or any of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 60s.

As you proceed through the levels the scenery takes place in different countries from Scandinavia to the Himalayas to even Antarctica. Why would a simple farmer travel that far and wide just to shoot chickens? It just doesn’t sound logical if you think about it.

The control is a little tricky but real simple once you get the hang of it. For instance, the traveling is not automatic. You have to move the Wii remote like a mouse to move in any given direction. Luckily, each stage only takes place in a small-condensed area.

Speaking of moving the Wii remote, quickly moving it off screen is how you usually reload your ammo. In this game, you just press the ‘A’ button. It took me a while to figure that out because I’m used to how other shooters reload.

At this point you might think Chicken Shoot isn’t too challenging. Well in later stages, not only do you have more chickens to find and shoot, more of them throw eggs you have to shoot before they hit you. Supposably there is a life bar, but it’s not real visible.

There are three different modes to choose from. They are the arcade mode, the classic game mode that is merely shooting against the clock in stage one, and the Catch an Egg game.

Catch an Egg is a mini game where you catch eggs in the hen house before they hit the ground. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Once again moving the Wii remote like a mouse does the control.

This was certainly an interesting game for its cute humor and game play. It’s one of those rare titles that a certain genre is not well known for, but still stands out just the same.

Nov 302016
 

If you thought that the album Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin’ was an obscure Super Mario Bros. title, check out this one. An old computer game called, Mario Teaches Typing is basically another typing program to help improve keyboarding skills, but in a more creative setting.

You can choose between three characters, Mario, Luigi, or the Princess. Their running and jumping skills are all equal, so it doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference.

Then there are several different levels, where you can only proceed forward by typing the correct keys. The first is a basic outside area with Koopa Troopas and bricks to bash. On occasion, there’s a random block with a symbol to type that brings you to a coin area in the clouds. It doesn’t do much, but it’s cool to see. To get through, you have to be able to type at least 10 WPM (words per minute).

The second level is an underwater stage, where you’re being chased by a bloober or Big Bertha. The faster you type, the faster you swim. However, the typing is more difficult because you focus on the numbers and other symbols, not to mention that you have to be able to type at least 30 WPM to get through.

The third level is in a castle where you run past thwomps and swim through quicksand. As for the typing, you move straight to full sentences. In case you were wondering, those sentences have nothing to do with the Super Mario Bros. franchise. By this point, you might think that there’s a new level to unlock when you reach the next goal. Apparently, there isn’t. As you continue to improve, you stay with the castle stage.

Even though there is a fourth setting, it’s not anything too special. You just move up a scrolling sheet of paper that Mario looks over and reacts to. I should also point out that there are no boss battles either. That would’ve at least made things a little more exciting.

Now let’s move on to the music. When I first played this on my computer at home years ago when it was new, there was no music. Then when I saw it on other computers at school, I noticed that there was music for each level that came straight from Super Mario World. Once again, that was the most hyped Super Mario Bros. game at the time.

I should also point out that Mario speaks in this game. Voiced by Ronald Ruben, this is actually the first time Mario speaks with an Italian accent. He never did in any of the Super Mario Bros. cartoons and in the earlier games, Mario had no voice at all. It’s pretty interesting if you think about it.

Considering that it’s really just a typing program, Mario Teaches Typing really isn’t too bad. Sure it’s not in the same league as other Super Mario Bros. titles, but it’s nice to look back on for nostalgic purposes. Though I can’t say the same about the sequel Mario Teaches Typing 2.

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.