Super Mario Odyssey

Date Completed : January 7th, 2018

I knew when this game was announced that I would buy it eventually but I wasn’t as excited about it as I usually would be for a new Mario game.  The screenshots didn’t really grab my attention and the Wii U Mario games fell a bit flat.  I planned on putting the game on my Christmas list and playing it whenever I got around to it.  The reviews that game out were overwhelmingly positive but I’ve learned that reviews – particularly game reviews – don’t always align well with reality.  I didn’t end up putting the game on my Christmas list because I was considering the idea of getting it for one of my sons but I couldn’t decide which one and ended up forgetting about it.  Christmas came along and in the aftermath my wife noticed that we didn’t yet have a copy of Super Mario Odyssey in the house.  She ordered it immediately and we had it a few days after Christmas.

It turns out the reviews were accurate.  This game is fantastic.  The game feels both instantly familiar and excitingly new.  Nintendo has clearly adopted the ‘social network’ strategy of constant positive reinforcement.  The goal of the game is to collect ‘Power Moons’ and there are power moons EVERYWHERE.  There are so many power moons in the game that someone figured out that over the course of the game if you collect all the moons you will spend over an hour watching the brief ‘You got a moon!’ animation.  That’s a lot of mooning.  The massive quantity of moons hidden also encourages full exploration of the various worlds you explore, all of which are fantastically designed and very unique.

You may be wondering what’s new and exciting about this Mario game that Mario games didn’t have in the past and the answer to that question would be Hats.  Mario’s had is replaced by ‘Cappy’ some sort of Hat monster that has the ability to possess other creatures that Mario encounters.  Almost all enemies from Goombas to Dinosaurs can be controlled and even some inanimate objects are not immune to Cappy’s Imperius curse.  This sets up for some truly great moments that I don’t want to spoil but I was ALL SMILES.

My kids all loved watching me play and since I finished the game both of my older children have played their way to the final level and one of them has even beaten the final boss (I suspect my younger son will beat it tomorrow).  We found out that there is a two player mode where one person controls Mario and a second player can control Cappy.  This was also a lot of fun and the second player was really able to help with some precision Hat throwing while I was able to focus on my Mario-ing.

Overall a fantastic game.  Total recommend.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 10/10
  • Length:  20 hours
  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Platform



Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

June 17th, 2017

This game is a smaller, 3D version of Donkey Kong Country Returns which I have already reviewed.  Nothing has changed, except the game is a lot smaller.  A LOT smaller.  When I originally bought the game I owned a standard Nintendo 3DS and it was hard to see so I upgraded to a larger 3DS XL.  Sadly the 3D wasn’t very stable so I sold my 3DS XL and replaced it with a ‘new’ Nintendo 3DS XL with super-stable 3D.  The 3D doesn’t really add much so I ended up playing most of the game with the 3D off.

If you don’t have a Wii or Wii U it’s worth picking up but if you have the option I found the experience to be superior on a Big Screen.

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

Shovel Knight : Specter of Torment

Date Completed : March 6th, 2017

Nintendo Switch launch day happened to be my day off and the local Fred Meyer is often overlooked by console hunters on launch day.  I wanted one really badly but my wife suggested I call and ask if they had any in stock.  The sales guy coyly said they did have a few left in stock and after that I pretty much had to get one.  It turned out that Fred Meyer had a giant pile of about 30 consoles and we had our pick.  I had taken my daughter with me and I let her pick the color.  I got the console home but I hadn’t purchased any games so it was a pretty expensive paper weight.  I poked around the eshop looking for a cheap game but the only cheap title I could find was Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment for about $10.  It turned out to be a great purchase!  Specter Knight has a really satisfying ‘dash slash’ ability that I found particularly enjoyable to use.  I had a lot of fun with this game and I’d consider looking into other Shovel Knight games in the future.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~5 hours
  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Platform



Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Date Completed: February 19, 2017

I had this one sitting on the shelf for a long, long time.  I really enjoyed ‘Donkey Kong Country Returns’ and I was still hoping the Wii U would catch on when this game was announced so I was excited.  It too me a long time to get around to it and I ended up disappointed.  The level design didn’t really click with me like the previous game.  It’s not a bad game but it’s not great.  I was ready to move on when I was done.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  ~12 hours
  • System: Nintendo Wii U
  • Genre: Action / Platform

Never Alone

Date Completed: February 7th, 2017

According to my current count I’m about 11 games and 10 months behind in my blogging. After some self reflection I’ve decided that the biggest issue preventing me from being more timely with producing these little blurbs is that I feel like I should try and do a good job.  Unfortunately this has resulted in dedicating additional time that I do not have hunting down screenshots, collecting my thoughts, reading and re-reading what I’ve written to see if it makes sense and eventually giving up and publishing when I realize I have no talent for writing. Well, no more of that! I’m going to change my format up to be shorter and try and get these things out within a few days of finishing the game.

Never Alone was on my radar before it was made one of the free games of the month on PlayStation Plus. I would have paid actual money for the game but once again Sony proved to me that only chumps pay for games anymore. Wait long enough and sooner or later you’ll get every game for free.

I installed the game on my PS4 but I didn’t get around to playing it until February this year when the city was covered in ice and snow and the entire family got sick. My wife had both bronchitis and pneumonia at the same time and all three kids cycled through various infections and treatments of antibiotics. I stayed home from work to help out but between feedings everyone mostly slept so I had some time to sneak away and get some gaming done.

Never Alone is based on Native Alaskan folklore and follows a young girl and her Arctic fox companion as they attempt to save her village. The game involves you solving simple ‘puzzles’ by switching between controlling the girl and the fox. The ‘puzzles’ are easily solved and don’t require any serious thought. There is really very little about the gameplay that is particularly interesting. Sometimes you run from a Polar Bear, sometimes you jump over a pit. The in-game physics are frustrating and the game isn’t particularly fun to play.

Surprisingly that doesn’t ruin the game. The characters in the game have a certain charm to them that transcends crappy game play. The story was interesting enough to keep me playing and the game includes ‘Cultural Insights’ that discuss the Native Alaskan people (and that you get trophies for watching).  The game is short enough that I didn’t get too frustrated with the game play.  Overall I’d say the experience was worth it!

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~3 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Platform

LittleBigPlanet 3

915sTmK8U1L._SL1500_Date Completed: February 21, 2016

The original LittleBigPlanet game wouldn’t have normally been something on my radar but a colleague of mine (Lets call him MDL for short) became a very big fan and even earned one of the Rare Prize Crown accessories as a level design contest reward.  I had a handful of ideas for levels but children started flying out of my wife at an alarming rate and I suddenly didn’t have the time to put into level design that I needed to accomplish anything of note.  Even so the game had a lot of charm and I discovered that I had become a LittleBigPlanet fan.  Unfortunately none of the games have been able to recapture the magic of that original title.  LittleBigPlanet 3 feels like they’ve given up trying.

The single player experience is OK but extremely short.  Rather than the linear progression of previous games the game is broken up into hub worlds, each of which involves you collecting one of the new characters in the game – Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop.  Each of the new characters can only be used in designated areas which I found disappointing.

In general the world ‘disappointing’ would sum up my entire experience with this game.  I didn’t care for the story.  I didn’t  care for the new NPC characters introduced.  I didn’t like the new ‘hub world’ concept, or the addition of quests.  I could continue listing things I didn’t like about the game but I’ll just say there was a lot to not like.

Not that the game is all bad.  I liked the new playable characters and I wished that I could have used them more.  The level design is very good and they are very fun to play.  My kids got to know SackBoy very well playing Run Sackboy Run and they loved seeing more of him in this game.

It many ways it feels as if the developers packed as many features into the game as they could, but decided not to make levels for it.  Instead they decided to rely on the community to create, share and play user generated content.  This may work for some of the audience of this game, however that’s not how I play.  I want to play a game with a beginning, a middle and an end.  I’m not really into playing games just for the sake of playing, I want a storyline and a goal.

After beating it I decided to sell the game.  They’re trying to push the DLC pretty hard for this game so I assume sooner or later LBP3 will be free for Playstation Plus subscribers.  I might play it again someday, but then again I might not.  I liked the game enough to play it but in the end it failed to capture the magic I was looking for.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length:  ~5 hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Platformer


Gunman Clive 2

Date Completed : September 1, 2015

I heard that Gunman Clive 2 was out and having enjoyed the original, and being of a mind to support an independent developer I went ahead and bought it.

The game is basically exactly like the first but with new levels, a handful of new colors, and some really creative levels.  Some of the scenes (especially in the land of the dinosaurs) had me all smiles.  The stages are short, but fun and challenging.  It reminds me a lot of a NES era game  (but with better play control).

The game costs only 3 dollars on the Nintendo eShop, so if you’re a 3DS owner you really have no excuse.


  • More Gunman Clive


  • Not very long.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 7/10
Length:  2 hours
System: 3DS (eShop)
Genre: Platform / Shooter