Pokémon Yellow

pokemon_yellow_cover_art_by_comunello76-d4xfrr5Date Completed: December 28th, 2016

One day one of my college roommates said unto me “Mike, you should try playing Pokemon.  You may think it’s just a game for kids, however I think you will be surprised to find that is is a surprisingly good RPG.”  I trusted my roommate’s opinion so went off to the store to purchase a copy.  The nearest used video game story was a place by the name of ‘Funcoland’ (Since purchased by GameStop) however due to several bad experiences there we usually pronounced the name without the first ‘n’.  My roommate owned Pokemon Blue so I decided to purchase Pokemon Yellow.  After buying the game we went to the adjacent store and found Pokemon Yellow on sale BRAND NEW for 10$ cheaper.  So I bought Pokemon Yellow again and returned the first copy.

 

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Pro Tip : Never type ‘Misty Cosplay’ into Google.

I was surprised to find that Pokemon was a surprisingly good RPG and I played the crap out of that little cartridge.  With my roommate’s help I managed to catch the first 150 Pokemon ( I didn’t know about the Mew glitch so I sadly never caught 151 ).  I really got into Pokemon after that.  I bought Pokemon Gold when it came out, and we had copies of Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Snap in the apartment.

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Morbid much?

I don’t own my original cartridge anymore so when Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow came out for the 3DS virtual console I jumped at the opportunity to take a walk down memory lane.

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Sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

Something I learned about the past is that you can never go back.  Pokemon Yellow has not aged well.  Lots of frustrating mechanics have been ironed out in the many, many games released since generation I.  I forced myself to play all the way through to the end, although I ended up taking many breaks.

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I remember these guys…

I had taken my kids to one of the Pokemon card events at Toys R Us and overheard a portly nerd in the line in front of my discussing the recently released Pokemon virtual console games.  “Of course I bought all three of them!” he explained to another portly nerd.  I’m happy to say I’m not that guy anymore.  I enjoyed the nostalgia but I’m only going to stick with just this one game.

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Charizard FTW!

 

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~20 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG
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Hyrule Warriors Legends

250px-hyrule_warriors_legends_na_box_coverDate Completed : 8/14/2016

Not much to say about this game that wasn’t already said in my review for Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U.  The game is essentially unchanged, however there are a few new features that make it much more compelling.

There is a new storyline relating to ‘Linkle’, also known as girl link.  Linkle’s story is told with a series of new missions that appear mixed in with the original missions.  Linkle comes across as a little scatter brained but I found that I preferred her to Link in battle.  She has some crowd control attacks that are very satisfying.

Hyrule Warriors Legends contains a number of other changes but the best, in my opinion, is that you can now control the other characters in battle.  Rather then controlling a single individual you can now use the touch screen to tell the other characters what to do or switch over and control them entirely.  This helps immensely as you don’t have to spend the entire mission running back and forth putting out fires whilst the other characters are lollygagging around.

I found the mobile form of  Hyrule Warriors to be much more convenient for play.  I played much further into the game than I did on the Wii U version and I still have the game cartridge in my ‘active games’ box.

I consider this to be superior to the original in all categories with exception of graphics.  If you have both a Wii U and a 3DS I’d recommend the 3DS version, unless you’re goofy like me and you get them both.

Is it fun: Yes

Score: 6/10
Length:  ~20 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action

Pokemon Picross

Date Completed: July 28th, 2016

pokemon_picross_logo I’m getting super behind on my blog.  This is almost 6 months late!  I’m going to try and keep things short in the future so writing this thing doesn’t take longer than beating the games!

My wife had played some Picross games in the past and they looked fun but I had never tried one on my own before Pokemon Picross.  My wife had recently mentioned that she was in the mood to play a Picross game again and suddenly Pokemon Picross came out and it was free-to-play!  I immediately downloaded it for both of us.

Since the game is free-to-play you’re limited in what you can accomplish each day unless you pay to unlock everything.  If you don’t spend real money you have an energy bar that limits how many squares you can uncover.  Stages are also locked until you pay to unlock them with ‘Picrites’.  ‘Picrites’ can be earned in-game or purchased with real-world money.  I spent about 5 dollars to buy a pack of Picrites but after that I was strictly free-to-play.  I made playing party of my daily routine.  It made a perfect tea-timer. I spent a few minutes playing my daily training puzzle each morning while my tea was brewing and when I was done my tea was ready.

My wife didn’t end up putting too much time into this game.  She’s a big Picross fan but this game mixes things up by including Pokemon skills and stage missions which often require bringing a specific Pokemon or type of Pokemon along to win.  Hunting through lists of Pokemon to take on missions was a bit too much for my wife.  I think all she was looking for in a Picross game was something to sit down and play without having to worry about the meta game.

Overall it’s hard to not recommend this game as it is free.  It may not be what a traditional Picross player is looking for but if you’re that type of person who likes Picross and Pokemon it’s a no-brainer.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length: I didn’t measure.
System: 3DS
Genre: Puzzle

 

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

91bfa0z2jl-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed: September 24th, 2016

Holy Long Game Batman!  I was one of the few who owned the original version of the game when it was released on the Wii console.  I had started the game a few times but I never made it very far in and eventually I traded my Wii in for a Wii  U and lost my save.  I tried the game again on the Wii U but I never made it very far there either.  Eventually it came out for the ‘New’ 3DS and the portable form factor finally made it possible for me to sink the hundred hours into the game that were needed to beat it.

The ‘universe’ in Xenoblade consists of two massive titans (The Bionis and the Mechonis) who killed (or did they?) each other after some sort of timeless battle.  Several races of beings live on the bodies of these titans and naturally the beings on the Mechonis are at war with the beings on the Bionis.  Without giving too much away, the game will take you on an epic journey across the body of the Bionis.

The size of the game world is absolutely massive.  The scenery is breathtaking.  There are rivers, mountains, valleys, forests and swaps all magnificently realized with some amazing views.  The design teams plays fast and loose with gravity and there are tons of spots where it is possible to step right off the Bionis.  In fact, there is even an achievement for doing so.  This is the only game I can think of where I frequently found myself accidentally jumping off the world.

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The true test of the quality of an RPG is of course the story.  I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the story and it reminded me of back in the day when Final Fantasy games used to be good.  It was a wild and insane ride, but it all made enough sense that I didn’t have to hunt down a Wiki that explained anything.  The main characters were all interesting, realistic and likable.  Overall I’d say this game is a job well done.

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Like many other RPGs this game has way too many things to fiddle with.  There are weapons, armor, gems, skills, abilities, affinities and bonuses that make the whole system a little overwhelming.  The tutorials are vast but I always felt lost in the menus.  The FAQS I read online didn’t really help either.  I HATE paying for strategy guides but this certainly seems to be the type of game that needs one.

If you are the type of player who expects RPG characters to wear body armor that isn’t likely to protect you from a butter knife then Xenoblade may be the game for you.  While some of the armor available looked functional quite a bit of it could have doubled as swimwear.  The game isn’t sexist though!  The gents and the ladies both get the swimwear treatment.  In fact, I’ve seen the male character ‘Dunban’ referred to as the ‘Nekkid Ninja’ in forum posts.

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Totally Functional…

Xenoblade Chronicles features a bazillion little side-quests in each area that took most of play time. The completionist in me hates missing anything but I found questing to get old quickly so I’d often push forward with the main story quest early.  It was always clear where the main story quest objectives were located, unfortunately I often found myself out classes when I arrived in a new area. I found that if I took the time to complete all of the quests in an area I was usually ready to go when I moved on.  So much for speed runs.

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Clearly more important than saving the world.

The graphics seem a little dated on the Wii, but they were more than passable on the ‘New’ 3DS.  It sucks that it’s not compatible with the older 3DS consoles but there were some occasions when the frame rate dropped and I doubt the older model would have been able to push as good an experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has the means to play it.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~100 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG

Triforce Heroes

91zvmp3i6l-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed: December 8th, 2016

Zelda games have never let me down.  Even the bad ones are usually pretty good so there was a pretty good chance that I’d eventually be buying a copy of The Legend of Zelda : TriForce Heroes.  I probably would have pre-ordered the game and had it for launch except for the fact that I saw the story trailer on YouTube.  After seeing that…I suspected that the Nintendo devs had lost their minds and I wasn’t sure I wanted to have anything to do with it.

The story of the game follows a princess who (I kid you not) has been cursed to wear an unattractive unitard.  It is your goal to steal articles of clothing from a witch so that you can dress up in drag and un-curse the princess.  The main game mechanic involves you changing your clothes to gain new powers.  I have no idea why they chose to green-light this mechanic.  I can only imagine in horror any ideas that didn’t make the cut.

Goofy premise aside the game is pretty fun.  It can be played single player but it is meant to be multi-player.  In a somewhat unusual twist it can only be played by exactly one or three players.  This game is download play enabled so you only need a single cartridge to start a multiplayer game.  I started the game on my own but ended up playing most of it with my two sons (who both received 2DS consoles in the last year).

The first several missions were easy and I was able to carry my sons on to victory.  Later missions require some teamwork that my younger son ( who was 5 at the time ) wasn’t ready for.  My older boy would get frustrated and yell at his brother, which led to much crying and shouting.  I sure love family bonding time.

My older son got really into the game and purchased his own copy of the game with his saved up allowance money.  He played the game almost constantly, often while crying with frustration because some part of the game was too hard.  He’d beg me to help him but I always refused instead informing him that he’d never get any better if someone else played the game for him.  Tough love seems to have worked.  He has now surpassed my level of completion with the game, has beaten all of the bonus levels and is only missing one outfit.

Due to the crying, whining and fighting my wife was less than thrilled with me for bringing this game into the household.  We had to confiscate 2DS’s multiple times because the kids were getting frustrated or refusing to sleep.  All in all I think this is a pretty strong endorsement for the game.  It’s a little inconvenient that it requires three consoles to play multiplayer but if you have the equipment it’s worth the price of entry (That’s what she said?)

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  ~10 hours
  • System: Nintendo 2DS / 3DS
  • Genre: Action / Adventure

 

Animal Crossing : New Leaf

animal_crossing_new_leaf_box_art_north_americaDate Completed: 11/25/2013

You may have already noticed that this review is being published two and a half years late.  I generally don’t write a review until I’ve gone through the process of ‘retiring a game’ which involves placing it back into it’s packaging and either listing it on eBay or placing it on my “I might want to play it again but probably won’t but I will keep it anyway” shelf.  In the case of Animal Crossing I never retired the game because the game never ends.  I’ve checked in to my town a few times but I haven’t played the game regularly in awhile now and I think it’s finally time to do my write-up.

I bought my wife a copy of the predecessor of Animal Crossing : New Leaf (known as Animal Crossing : Wild World) before I heard that New Leaf was going to be a thing.  I thought it was the kind of game my wife would enjoy  and as it turns out she really did get into it and I was surprised to find I sort of enjoyed watching her play it.  A few months later I heard that a 3DS update to Animal Crossing was coming so as soon as it came out I bought my wife a copy.  I never intended to purchase a copy for myself but I noticed that everyone I met on Streetpass had been playing Animal Crossing.  Various video gaming news sites were also publishing vast amounts of Animal Crossing propaganda and I eventually caved and bought myself a copy as well.

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My house may resemble a gothic cathedral. 

My wife wasn’t emotionally ready to leave her old town behind so I ended up starting in on New Leaf first.  As I’ve mentioned numerous times before anything Norse related is automatically awesome.  I decided to make my town as ‘Norsey’ ( May Thor forgive me for using that word) as possible.   I named my town ‘Alfheim’ after the home of the Light Elves in Norse mythology and I designed my town flag to look like a Viking longboat.

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My town flag

After arriving in town and being installed as the new Mayor you are free to pursue any activity you want.  You can go fishing, dig for fossils, collect bugs, plant orchards, commission buildings, decorate your home or engage in various other activities that the average person wouldn’t expect to be fun.  It would take a lifetime to describe all the activities so I won’t do that here.  The one I engaged in most was bug hunting on Tortimer’s Island because that was the quickest way to earn massive amounts of Bells (which is the in-game currency of Animal Crossing).

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My wife and I during a visit she made to my city. 

Once you’ve fully upgraded your house and paid off your home loan there really isn’t anything specific left to do in the game.  You can continue to develop your town as you see fit but after putting countless hours into the game I finally just phased it out of the gaming rotation.

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Based on my actual T-Shirt.  I’m so creative.

Animal Crossing was a surprise to me and I think it was worth the experience.  It’s not the kind of game I usually enjoy but it’s well done and very ‘Nintendo-ey’ in execution.  The game oozes adorable charm out of every orifice and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Relaxing in the town square.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  ?? (lots) hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Simulation

 

 

Zelda Picross

tpprincessDate Completed: April 22nd, 2016

At long last Nintendo finally unveiled their new customer loyalty program and one of the first rewards made available was Twilight Princess Picross.  It costs 1000 platinum points which thanks to Miitomo are easy enough to collect, although it did take me several days of answering inane questions and changing my hat.

My wife is a Picross fan but hasn’t played much since Picross for the original DS.  I told her about the freely available Pokemon Picross but she doesn’t understand Pokemon and couldn’t get into it.  When this game became available I told her it was the Picross experience she’d been waiting for so I badgered her into playing Miitomo so she’d be able to get the 1000 points necessary.

For being free you get quite a bit of game.  There are 45 puzzles each of which can be played in either Picross or Mega Picross mode.  There is also something called Micross which is a giant mural where you in small bite-sized 10×10 squares.  After you finish all of the puzzles your accumulated time shows up on the home screen.  My wife and I have been competing for scores but I think she’s cheating because she’s winning at the moment.

Each puzzle took me 5-15 minutes so according to my calculations I’ve put about 15 hours into it.  Since each puzzle is so short it’s easy to play for a few minutes at a time.  I usually run a puzzle or two before bed.  Not bad for a free game!

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  15 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Puzzle