Cool Spot Review

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Advertising at its best gets consumers interested in their products or puts a positive view on a company. In 1993, 7up did just that with the release of Cool Spot on the Super Nintendo. Developed and published by Virgin Games, Cool Spot is a side-scrolling action game that sees the red spot from 7up rescue other little spots from cages. It’s considered one of the best product games and today we crack open a bottle of 7up and drink this Cool Spot review!

Cool Spot Plot:

Cool Spot doesn’t have too much plot, and that’s okay but it does have a silly story in the manual. Let’s investigate and see what all the fuss is in Cool Spot.

Breaking News: SPOT and his friends, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, SPOT, and SPOT are in trouble and they need help…FAST!

Old News: For years, Wild Wicked Wily Will has been trying to capture a real live SPOT to prove to the world that they really do exist. (Up to date, they have never been ‘spotted’!)

Hot News: Now, Will may ‘be about to get his wish.

Bad News: Will, in a moment of true wickedness, put cunning SPOT trap cages in all of the fun places where other SPOT friends would be hanging out.

Really Bad News: The traps have worked all too well! There is now a SPOT caught in every cage!

Truly Awful News: Will will be back any minute to take them into captivity forever.

Good News: You’re here to save the day! You can help SPOT who has got “SPOT Cool Shots” to spot the cages, free his fellow SPOT friends, stop Will and be totally “COOL SPOT!”

SPOT TO THE RESCUE: Due to incredibly good planning (okay, you were actually out surfing at the time) you are the only SPOT character that is still free to have a good time. All the other SPOT characters have been trapped in one of Wicked Will’s cages.

So, there you were, being totally cool as usual, when a sign caught your eye. On it was pinned hurriedly scribbled message: “HERO WANTED”.

You, as Cool SPOT, must rescue your friends before it’s too late! You’ll need to use your cool wits and your Cool Shot of bubbles in a race against time (good thing Will is a little slow) to free your friends from the traps. Are you up for it? Will you be cool enough before Will gets his wicked hands on them?

Cool Spot Gameplay:

Cool Spot… is well… a cool game! It just gives those vibes off starting with the music. It’s upbeat and keeps you going as you make your way through the platforming and rescuing the other spots. During my Cool Spot review, I noticed little animations of Spot whether he was just hanging out on screen or doing action moves, everything is smooth and detailed. The sound effects also help give that classic cool vibe. When a video game doesn’t have much plot, the gameplay is the core of the experience, and the music, sound effects, and animation are top-notch for Cool Spot.

The core mechanics of Cool Spot come down to three elements. You’ll need to collect a specific number of spots that are scattered throughout the level. They will be guarded by enemies, tough to reach, hidden, or out in the open. Once you collect enough spots, you can rescue one of the Cool Spots that are locked away in cages. You need to rescue the Cool Spot before the timer on the stage runs out. Collect the little spots, to unlock the cage and rescue the Cool Spots before the timer runs out. That’s the basis of Cool Spot. The timer can be a factor as it pushes you to rush through a level. Numerous times I failed because I ran out of time.

There are seven levels in Cool Spot, each uniquely themed with environmental hazards, enemies, and obstacles. For instance, my favorite enemy was the mice that threw cheese at you. They were cute but tough! To help fight off the enemies, Spot can shoot bullet bubbles with the tap of a button. They are infinite so you can go wild and obliterate anything that moves.

When you take damage, Spot’s face at the top of the screen will begin to show damage and deflate. It was a nice touch and gave you some wiggle room to take damage because Cool Spot is no easy game. You’ll need to master the controls and layouts of the level if you wish to progress, especially with that timer ticking away. By all means, this is not a kid’s game despite its happy-go-lucky nature. It’s tough To help you combat the tough nature of Cool Spot, you’re blessed with checkpoints throughout levels. These help a ton, and I gladly welcomed them as I made my way through my Cool Spot review.

What makes Cool Spot such a great game is the controls and graphics. It’s For 1993, the level design was amazing from the nails in the woods to the glass bottles, and the mouse traps. All of it works well and fits into the bigger picture of the level layout. Combined with catchy music, addicting gameplay, and great sound effects, Cool Spot is a tough challenge that is worthy of your patience.

While the majority of the game is great, the ending left me with more to be desired. You are treated to an end screen that says congrats and tells you to send a photo of this screen to the address in the manual to what I can only imagine would earn you a free pack of 7up. A flat ending to an otherwise delightfully fizzy experience.

Memories:
I don’t really have memories of Cool Spot growing up, but I do have a friend that has an adorable video of herself receiving Cool Spot as a Christmas gift in the early 90s. I’ve asked her about it a few times, and her fondness for the game made me want to give it a shot. I’m glad I did, it turned out to be a pretty tough but fair game. It’s unlikely she ever beat it as she can’t play a game longer than 10 minutes without being distracted. Oh, and she’s not very good anyway. Wink. Wink.

Cool Spot Review Score:

While there’s plenty of action that accompanies a great soundtrack, Cool Spot offers a tough challenge for platforming fans. Seven levels will give you spurts of difficulty but the real fun is the journey, not the lazy end screen. Cool Spot will quench your thirst when it comes to challenging platformers as it has plenty of fun to offer on the Super Nintendo.

Cool Spot scores an 8.8 out of 10.

What would you write in your Cool Spot review? Did you play the Sega Genesis version of Cool Spot? If so, what are the differences between them? What other games that feature products are well done? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Cool Spot, I’d love to read them.

Shenmue Review

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In 1999, Sega gave gamers one last console launching the Sega Dreamcast on September 9th. The console would ultimately cease production just a few years later but it did come with some unique experiences that would shape the landscape of video games. Shenmue is one of the most unique games ever created as it combines a life-simulator with quick-time events, and beat ”’em-up action to give gamers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Developed and published by Sega, Shenmue was released on December 29th, 1999. Let’s look for some Chinese sailors in this Shenmue review!

Shenmue Plot:

Shenmue is a story of revenge and mystery. Our hero, Ryo finds himself thrown into an intricate plot filled with twists and turns and plenty of questions. Where do I begin in explaining the first Shenmue plot? Let’s start with Ryo Hazuki, a young martial artist living in Yokosuka, Japan in 1986. Ryo’s father, Iwao Hazuki, is murdered by a mysterious Chinese man named Lan Di, who is searching for an ancient artifact called the Dragon Mirror in the opening scene.

Determined to avenge his father’s death and uncover the truth about Lan Di and the Dragon Mirror, Ryo sets out on a journey to find the killer. He begins by questioning people in his neighborhood and investigating the local area. To help him along the way, Ryo lives with the housekeeper, Ine Hayata, and Masayuki Fukahara, a student of Iwao who gives him emotional and financial support.

As Ryo’s search progresses, he discovers that Lan Di is a member of the Chi You Men, a powerful criminal organization with ties to the Chinese underworld. Ryo also learns that the Dragon Mirror is part of a larger artifact known as the Phoenix and Dragon Mirrors, which are said to have immense power.

Throughout the game, Ryo faces many challenges and obstacles as he tries to uncover the truth about his father’s murder and the Dragon Mirror. He meets a variety of characters, most of which try and help the headstrong Ryo. Let’s briefly discuss some of these characters and their relationships with Ryo.

Ine-San: She’s the housekeeper who helps Ryo out by giving him money each day. This comes in very handy as Ryo can spend it on items to help him on his quest or blow it on little toy vending machines. I did both.

Fuka-San: He’s a student of Iwao but lives with Ryo. He can help spar with Ryo to sharpen his skills but doesn’t offer much more. At times he wants to tag along with Ryo but Ryo turns him down.

Tom: This reggae Asian with dreadlocks runs a food truck in the town. He is really friendly with Ryo and gives him advice or information on quests or items. Tom ends up leaving Japan and flying away in a surprisingly heartfelt moment as Ryo wishes him well and hopes to see him again in this lifetime. There are some emotional moments throughout my Shenmue Review that left me impressed.

Nozomi: She’s a close friend and classmate of Ryo and has a crush on him. Ryo might be a little too daft to realize it and puts his father’s revenge as a priority over Nozomi. Throughout the game, there are some touching moments between Ryo and Nozomi although Ryo clearly has bigger things on his mind with the need to avenge his father.

Chai: He reminds me a lot of Golem from Lord of the Rings in his mannerisms, voice, and dialogue. Chai sneaks around and is a formidable foe who attacks Ryo throughout the game. He is spying for Ryo’s enemies.

Yaowen Chen: He’s a wealthy man in the trading business originally from China. He helps assist Ryo in putting together information and moving forward in the investigation.

Guizhang Chen: He’s the son of Yaowen Chen and an expert martial artist. He tests Ryo from time to time in a friendly rivalry. There are some missions that Ryo and Guizhang take on together and they generally make a good team when beating up thugs. Guizhang was originally supposed to depart with Ryo to China but is critically injured in the final duel. Needing rest, he stays behind as Ryo takes off.

Lan Di – A master of a powerful form of martial art that was supposed to have disappeared long ago, Lan Di’s chilling stare alone is enough to intimidate most opponents. But those brave enough to ignore his state usually forfeit without a fight once they see his deadly moves. Evil to the core, he is capable of showing no mercy and will stop at nothing to bury anyone who dares to cross him.

These characters along with many others help shape the plot of Shenmue. In a series of investigations, Ryo begins to search for Chinese sailors and begins working at the docks as a forklift operator as he discovers the Mad Angels, a local gang that has their hand in many illegal activities. As Ryo continues to try and dig up information on Lan Di, he discovers that Lan Di is soon planning on traveling to China. With time running out, Ryo and Guizhang head to the ship docks in hopes of finding Lan Di.

Ryo and Guizhang pursue Lan Di but are confronted by Chai in a final battle. In the end, Ryo is able to defeat Chai but is left with many unanswered questions about the Phoenix Mirror, the Chi You Men, and his father’s true past. Guizhang is wounded and is left unable to travel at the moment to China. The game ends with Ryo vowing to continue his search for the truth and to avenge his father’s death, setting the stage for the sequel, Shenmue II as he hops on a boat and heads to China.

Shenmue Gameplay:

Shenmue is an experience like no other, something I had no previous resemblance to in my gaming history. It was a journey that was immersive, casual, and at times comical as you search for Lan Di. The small details are everywhere and it’s hard to fathom this came out in 1999. Shenmue combines many genres to make one of the most unique experiences I’ve had in gaming.

The opening movie was beautiful and set the stage for Shenmue to captivate me for the three weeks I played it. While the animation is smooth and the environment detailed, the voice acting is absolutely atrocious to go along with the comical facial features. Usually, I would knock a score down because of this, but it was “It’s so bad, it’s good” with Shenmue. Every character is voiced whether they are main, side, or NPCs. You can strike up a conversation with anyone and the results are hilarious. Some people just want to be left alone, while others will give you clues or hints.

There is so much to do in Shenmue aside from finding Lan Di. This could be considered a life-simulator as you live a virtual life walking and wandering around the town and streets visiting people, conversing, and shopping. Almost everything you come into contact with is interactable. If you see a dresser, you can open up all the drawers and search for things. There’s a Sega Saturn you can plug in and play and later on earn games for it. The majority of the game is played in the third-person view, but you can use a first-person view and search for more detailed items in a room. You could play Shenmue ten times and discover something new each time. I wish I had time to experience and write more Shenmue reviews, but alas, I only have so much time.

As somewhat of a life simulator, you’re free to do whatever you please. Lan Di can wait as you visit the local arcade and play real Sega games preserved perfectly. I can’t express enough, how real it felt to me that I was in 1986, Japan. It was a feeling that I rarely experience in my gaming, but I felt so immersed in this game. It felt like I was there, saying hello to the neighborhood kids, feeding the orphan kitten, watching shopkeepers open up, and bumping into citizens living their lives. There’s a time cycle that starts each day you wake up and continues to bedtime. People will live their days. Shops open and close at certain times. Events happen during specific times and the days will pass on by. When the holidays come, the town puts up decorations and lights. I saw men dressed as Santa Claus walking down the street, one of them was drunk. It was incredible.

During your investigation to get information on Lan Di, Ryo will be involved in different quests. Sometimes, you’ll be waiting a little too long for events to happen but to pass the time, you can find music to listen to in your walkman, play at the local arcade, or just explore! One segment of Shenmue has you becoming a forklift operator, a real 8 to 5 job where you move boxes from warehouse to warehouse. I got into a groove and was an expert after a few days. It sounds stupid and maybe boring but it was just so different from other games, I didn’t mind doing it for a few days. When you aren’t working jobs in Shenmue, you’ll be asking a lot of questions to people. Searching for clues is a huge part of the gameplay and you can ask different subjects. It feels like one big cat-and-mouse game as Lan Di or whoever you’re searching for is one step ahead.

My Shenmue review featured plenty of other gameplay elements including quick-time events that were somewhat groundbreaking at the time. There will be cutscenes in that you will be an active participant in pushing buttons when they come up as Ryo chases someone or fights off thugs. They aren’t too difficult, and if you fail you can repeat them in a quick manner.

Aside from quick-time events, there’s a portion of the game that has you brawling with martial arts moves you’ve learned in the game. Button combinations pull various moves and combos. Ryo can kick, punch, throw and dodge during fighting segments. It all combines for fun action and there were only a few times when I would have to retry a fight during my Shenmue Review. One of my favorite parts of the game was when I had to make my way through the Mad Angels in a massive gang brawl where I beat up well over 50 thugs.

Shenmue is part life-simulator, part brawler, part investigation, part quick-time events, and part cinematic experience. It sounds silly but it blends together and works. During one segment of the game in which the love interest of Ryo, Nozomi gets kidnapped you’ll find yourself rescuing her at the gang’s hideout. Nozomi and Ryo didn’t get much screen time together but you could tell they cared for each other. One of the single most powerful cinematic experiences I’ve had in gaming was the rescue of Nozomi. I thought to myself, now would be a perfect time to have some type of cinematic experience as Ryo and Nozomi ride off on a motorcycle under the city lights at night. Sure enough, I was treated to a beautiful scene of the two of them riding the motorcycle on the highway as a love song played as Nozomi held Ryo tight as the city lights glowed. It was powerful and touching. One of my favorite moments in video games.

The cinematic experience didn’t stop there but continued as Ryo got on the boat to China. It felt like an end to a chapter in a huge story. Very rarely, do emotions stir in me for characters, but I felt for Ryo as he boarded the boat, unaware of what would happen next to him but cheering him on silently.

Shenmue Review Score:

It’s hard to describe Shenmue. The combination of so many genres blends together to make an incredible experience that I wish everyone could have. I felt like I was living in 1986, Japan. The voice acting is terrible, but it has its own charm. Truly, Shenmue has some type of gameplay that everyone would love and a world full of characters to move along the plot. One of the greatest gifts Sega gave us before dying was Shenmue, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Shenmue scores a 9.7 out of 10.

What would you write in your Shenmue review? Who was your favorite character in Shenmue? Which type of gameplay did you enjoy the most? What secrets did you discover during your Shenmue playthrough? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Shenmue, I’d love to read them.

Wave Race: Blue Storm Review

In 2001, Nintendo developed and published Wave Race: Blue Storm on the GameCube. It was a follow-up to the wildly successful hit on the N64, Wave Race 64. Sadly, this is the last entry in the series but not because it wasn’t a great game. Let’s hope on those jetskis one last time and take a spin around the lake in this Wave Race: Blue Storm review!

Wave Race: Blue Storm Plot:

Well, as this is a racing game there’s not really a plot but instead a wider variety of characters to select to race with. Some racers return from Wave Race 64, while others are new. Let’s take a look at the playable racers in Wave Race: Blue Storm and the perks of each of them.

Ryota Hayami: As an 18-year-old, he’s from Japan and his pit chief is his coach. Ryota’s signature color is red and is great for beginners and experts alike as he has great top speed and handling.

David Mariner: He’s a 32-year-old from the United States and a bit round in the middle. His pit chief is his buddy, Ray, and his signature color is green. David is recommended for experts only as he has the best top speed and great power but handles very poorly.

Ayumi Stewart: She’s a 21-year-old from the United States with his signature color being purple. Her pit chief is her coach, Robin. Ayumi is great for both beginners and experts alike as she has moderate skills across the board from top speed, acceleration, handling, power, and pulling off stunts.

Akari Hayami: She’s a 17-year-old from Japan with her signature color being pink. Akari is perfect for beginners as she has the best acceleration and is great with stunts but beware that her top speed and power are very weak. She’s coached by her pit chief, Kyoko who is also her roommate.

Nigel Carver: A 28-year-old from England, Nigel’s signature color is black. He’s best used for advanced and expert riders as he has good acceleration and stunt power with his handling being perfect. Nigel’s pit chief is his coach, Terrence.

Rob Haywood: This 20-year-old from the United States is quite buff and for experts only. He has a near-perfect top speed, and his power is the best. This muscle man’s signature color is blue and his pit chief is his friend and coach, Doug.

Ricky Winterborn: He’s a young rider at only 14 years old, but this Canadian can still hold his own. Ricky’s signature color is teal, and he’s coached by his Uncle, Russ. He’s great for beginners as he accelerates well and has tremendous stunt skills.

Serena del Mar: A Brazilian who is 19, Serena’s signature color is orange. Her pit chief is her coach, and boyfriend, Luis. Serena is suggested for advanced and expert riders as she has great acceleration and handling but not much power.

Interestingly enough, the only rider not to return from Wave Race 64, was Miles Jeter, who was my main racer of choice! For my Wave Race: Blue Storm review, I chose to play as Ryota Hayami. He had a solid skill set across the board, but Ayumi Stewart is also a great choice for a well-balanced rider.

Wave Race: Blue Storm Gameplay:

Wave Race: Blue Storm offers a variety of gameplay modes including the championship, free roam, time attack, tutorial, multiplayer, and stunt mode. Similar to my playthrough of Wave Race 64, I stuck to the bread and butter of this game by playing through the championships in which you’ll race against seven others. I did experience the free roam which I thought was an excellent idea to give players an idea of the course and just a fun option to explore. It’s a great inclusion for young racers just to drive around and have fun.

I’ve never been good at stunts, and that was the case in my Wave Race: Blue Storm review. I like to race, not do kickflips or shimmy shammies in the air. (Are those even tricks?) I appreciate the inclusion of this mode in the game, but it just wasn’t for me. There’s a great tutorial and section on stunts in the manual so if interested, check it out to help learn button combinations for stunts.

In Championship mode, you’ll collect points and race seven computer-controlled opponents for three laps. You score the most points by finishing the race in first place and so forth. At the end of the series of races, the one with the most points wins. There are three difficulty settings to race on from normal, hard, and expert. Normal has five races, hard has six, and expert has seven. When the difficulty goes up, your rivals’ techniques will improve, the routes on the course will change, and the location of the buoys or number of obstacles on a course will change. Buoys play an important role in the races as you need to weave in and out of them to pick up speed. If you keep missing buoys you are disqualified. One thing that is very much lacking from Wave Race: Blue Storm is the cheery announcer from Wave Race 64. I had a wonderful interview with him on my Retro Video Game Talk Show but he doesn’t return for the sequel. Instead, racers are coached through the radio in their helmets by their pit coach. It still works, but I missed the announcer screaming “Maximum Power!”.

The courses and lakes that you race are beautiful on the GameCube. They were beautiful on the N64, and the GameCube continues that tradition with excellent water mechanics from the wave physics, to the design in environments. Weather can play a factor in courses and wave height and you’ll need to prepare to race in clear, cloudy, partly rainy, rainy, and stormy weather. The worse the weather is, the higher the waves are.

If you’ve read any of my reviews or watched them on YouTube, you understand how crucial small details are for me. I’m happy to say that in my Wave Race: Blue Storm review, I found plenty of them to keep me happy. Each character has unique music and their designs of them are excellent. Sound effects are supreme with the revving of the engines, happy dolphins chattering, and the sounds of the waves crashing against objects. Small things like the lights being frozen on the ice course create an immersive experience as you race.

There are plenty of shortcuts to find as you race and obstacles to avoid. Each lap may have something different in store for you as you progress through the race that keeps you on your feet. Ice began to fall in during the frozen course and cargo started to leak onto a course during a race. These are great inclusions that keep the racer guessing while they maneuver a course. The key to everything is the control of your jetski and I did find that the joystick was surprisingly sensitive to the touch of water and turning. Sometimes it was a bit too sensitive, but after some time I was able to get used to it.

Wave Race: Blue Storm Review Score:

Wave Race: Blue Storm is a fully upgraded sequel with more content, racers, and even free roam! The water physics is incredible and the sound effects are near perfect. There’s a lot to love in this edition of Wave Race and I’m disappointed to say this is the last entry in the series, and quite frankly, I wonder why? It’s a great racer, and I recommend it more so than Wave Race 64.

Wave Race: Blue Storm scores an 8 out of 10.

What would you write in your Wace Race: Blue Storm review? Who was your favorite racer? What was your favorite course? Would you like to see the series return? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Wave Race: Blue Storm, I’d love to read them.

Calling Wii Review

In 2010, Hudson Entertainment developed and published “Calling” for the Wii. This horror adventure featured four playable characters as they explored an abyss in hopes of solving the mystery of how they got there and how to calm the angry spirit that haunts it. Calling features great motion controls from the Wii and an innovative way of using the controller but does the confusing plot and jump scares pay off? Pick up the phone in this Calling review!

Calling Plot:

Calling’s plot revolves around four separate characters who are all sucked into a purgatory-like dimension called the Mnemonic Abyss. These people have been brought here by the “Black Page” an internet rumor site that is cursed. Are you familiar with the term “Creepy Pasta”? It’s the dark rumors and spooky superstitions that originate on the internet. That’s a real term but it perfectly describes the vibes of the Black Page in Calling. On the Black Page, visitors can connect to a chat room and speak to strangers. Some visitors to the Black Page are transported to another dimension as they are called to the darkness for various reasons. Calling features four main characters who have been sucked into the Mnemonic Abyss. Let’s take a look at the characters in the Calling.

Rin Kagura – A 21-year-old responsible and confident college girl. Some might say she is overconfident at times.

Six years ago, she made a promise to a girl she met in a chat room. She promised that no matter what, they would meet in person. Before they could meet, the mysterious girl vanished. Rin has searched for her ever since. She thought “The Black Page” might give her some clues about the girl’s whereabouts, and accessed the page.

Shin Suzutani – A 17-year-old high school student who loves anime and the occult.

Learned about “The Black Page” from an article in his favorite occult magazine, “Samsara.” His favorite anime is “ARMED SOLDIER MAKO” and he loves collecting action figures and other goods related to the show.

Chiyo Kishibe – A 67-year-old grandmother who likes to surf the web.

Seeing her struggle after the death of her husband 5 years ago, Chiyo’s grandson gave her a laptop. While exploring the internet, Chiyo heard rumors about a website that lets you “meet the dead,” bringing her to “The Black Page”.

Makoto Shirae – A passionate 34-year-old man, unafraid of danger.

An editor at “Chinami Publishing.” After his colleague mysteriously died, he started investigating and his research led him to “The Black Page”.

You’ll play as all four, although Rin is the main character. Calling can become confusing if you don’t pick up all the pieces to the plot but let me do my best to give you a short summary with an opinion on the overall tones of the game. Reiko is a little girl who has a terminal illness and is placed in the hospital. Her mother gives her a cell phone so they can keep in touch throughout the day but as the weeks go on, her mother stops visiting and taking her calls altogether making Reiko depressed and unwanted.

Reiko begins to visit online chats and starts a friendship with Rin. The two chat regularly and Rin promises to meet Reiko in person. Reiko’s nurse, Kayoko is a motherly figure to the sick girl and worries for her overall health as it declines due to the depression from the abandonment of her mother. Kayoko does her best to comfort Reiko but it’s no use, instead, Reiko takes comfort with an elderly man at the hospital who turns out to be Chiyo’s husband who ends up passing away. Again, this upsets Reiko and causes her to count on Rin’s visit to cheer her up.

Rin makes her way to the hospital to see Reiko but a block away from the hospital she’s hit by a garbage truck and is put into a coma. Reiko believes Rin stood her up and Reiko commits suicide by jumping out a window and is transformed into an angry spirit. Shin, Chiyo, and Rin are sucked into the Mnemonic Abyss and are haunted by Reiko as they try and find a way out. Makoto enters the Abyss to search for his detective partner who died mysteriously. He’s much less afraid of everything and is only concerned about discovering the truth behind his partner’s death. Makoto ends up finding his partner but is killed by him and stuck in the abyss. There are two endings to Calling, one has Rin and Reiko becoming stuck in the abyss together in Reiko’s angry state and the other has Rin calming the spirit of Reiko and returning to the real world. You’ll need to play through Calling twice to get a better ending.

The overall theme of Calling is an obvious overtone of loneliness and the crippling feeling it can inflict on people and the desperate measures they go to avoid it. The super nerd was looking for friends online to share his passion for anime with as he clearly didn’t have real friends. The elderly woman missed her deceased husband and wanted to reunite with him in the afterlife. Makoto searches for his fellow detective not wanting to continue his career without him. Many of the users who log onto the Black Page seek friendship through chat. The little girl was abandoned by her mother in the hospital and wanted attention and companionship. When the promise to meet between Rin and her is broken, she passes away in an angry and hopeless manner as her spirit haunts the hospital. Calling deals with serious emotions and the natural feelings that humans go through. It just goes to show you that we all feel lonely from time to time.

Calling Gameplay:

As a Japanese horror game, you can expect a few tropes in Calling. First, there are plenty of jump scares which can be a lot for my heart to handle. There wasn’t an overabundance of them but they kept me on the edge as I explored throughout the game. Japan loves school girls and they love creepy dead school girls almost as much. You’ll see plenty of ghosts and spirits of young girls who have decided to haunt the school.

To help see these spirits, and explore your way out, you’ll have a flashlight. This tool is a must as it’s far too dark to explore without it. The controls for the Wii handled well as the motion of your controller guided the direction of the light as you walked forward. Some motion control games are garbage, but Calling on the Wii worked well. The controller also acts as your cell phone and to answer you’ll have to hold it up to your ear. I loved this aspect and thought it was clever as there is a built-in speaker to the controller. Throughout the game, you’ll take calls from ghosts who will tease and haunt you via the phone as you make your way through the game.

Ghosts can grab ahold of you and increase your heartbeat meter. This is essentially the “scare” meter and if it goes up too much you presumable have a heart attack and die. You can decrease the meter by running away and hiding from ghosts but I didn’t struggle too much to keep it down. When the ghosts grab you, you are supposed to shake the Wii remote wildly to “shake them off”. It works, but sometimes you really have to work it to shake those clingy ghosts. There was one section where the ghosts grab you in a mandatory part to end the level. You need to shake free of them while pushing numbers into a cell phone and calling out. It was the most difficult part of the game and took me a few tries to complete it. The key was memorizing the number to dial instead of constantly looking at the note and then the cell phone. Overall, it was about a 3-minute portion where you had to be near perfect.

To help move along the plot, there are typical cut scenes which were little treats between the horror adventures. Complimenting the scenes were text messages depicting more of the story. Sometimes it was long to read but I didn’t mind it as it gave me more insight into the plot.

While there are ghosts and spirits to haunt you, there were other spooky elements to keep your heart racing. One instance was a complete ripoff of the “Saw Puppet” on a bike. It slowly peddled toward you before running out of batteries. There were also creepy dolls that would line up around the walls. I’m not scared of dolls or puppets so I wasn’t too spooked.

Most elements surrounding the plot of Calling are creepy but one aspect was bittersweet and sad. When you play as the old woman, it’s clear that she just wants to be with her husband again and is wandering around trying to find him. There’s a section where she’s in a forest full of spirits walking and she spots her husband. She desperately tries to chase him but can’t quite keep up. It’s a sad moment and made me feel for the character and her love for her spouse. Not all things in Calling are sinister.

Voice acting is not a strong suit for Calling. Some characters are fine, but others like the male doctor borderline on cringe and comical. The character arcs are for the most part adequate but some characters like the super anime nerd don’t have much of an impact on the overall plot. You’ll play as four different characters but for the majority of the game, you’ll be Rin. I didn’t have much difficulty progressing. Either a new door would become unlocked or I’d find a key item by thoroughly exploring a room. You’ll need to find certain items to trigger the next events. If you do get stuck there are numbers you can dial on the cellphone to give you hints or direct you to a certain area to go to. Save points are scattered throughout levels in the form of black cat statues. They have glowing eyes so they are easy to spot. Whenever I’d see one, I’d rush to it eager to save my progress.

Calling can be played multiple times and you’ll need to in order to receive the true ending. I enjoyed my time with it, but I didn’t seek out the true ending as it was a lot of work to get although I did watch it on YouTube. It’s a nice option for those who seek another playthrough with some new elements.

Calling Wii Review Score:

Calling has received a lot of negative scores, but I don’t think they are warranted. There are solid horror elements to this game including classic Japanese horror tropes. When I played this there were times I gripped my controller in fear of what was going to pop out behind a door or window. Overall, Calling offers a lot of replayability but a confusing plot hinders what could be a great horror game. Definitely give it a shot if you’re up for some creepy gameplay but go in with low expectations and you’ll find yourself having more fun than expected.

Calling scores a 6.5 out of 10.

What would you write in your Calling review? Who was your favorite character from the game? Did you understand the plot? What are some other hidden gems for horror games? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Calling, I’d love to read them.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Review

In 2020, Ubisoft Quebec developed Immortals Fenyx Rising, which was published by Ubisoft for the majority of major consoles including the PS5 for which this review was written. With the promise of epic battles against giant foes, a beautiful Greek isle to explore, and exciting new powers to earn, Immortals Fenyx Rising set out to conquer a crowded market. We take control of the fate of numerous Greek Gods in this Immortals Fenyx Rising review!

Immortals Fenyx Rising Plot:

The game is set in the mythical world of ancient Greece and follows the story of Fenyx, a mortal warrior who sets out on a quest to save the world from the wrath of the gods. The story begins with Fenyx, a young warrior who is washed up on the shores of the Golden Isle, a beautiful paradise that is home to the gods and their creations. Fenyx is discovered by the god Zeus, who tells him that the world is in danger as the other gods have been turned to stone by their own envy and pride. Zeus enlists Fenyx’s help to defeat the evil Titan Typhon, who is responsible for the gods’ transformation and plans to conquer the world.

Fenyx sets out on a journey across the Golden Isle, accompanied by the god Hermes, who serves as Fenyx’s guide and mentor. As Fenyx travels through different regions of the island, he encounters various gods and mythological creatures such as Athena, Apollo, and the Cyclops. Fenyx also meets the Forgeborn, a group of mortals who were chosen by the gods to defend the Golden Isle from Typhon.

Throughout his journey, Fenyx gains new abilities and powers, such as the power of flight, and uses them to defeat monsters and puzzles that stand in his way. Fenyx also gathers the gods’ blessings, which allow him to upgrade his weapons and armor and gain new abilities.

As Fenyx progresses through the game, he discovers that the gods are not as benevolent as they seem and are willing to use any means to defeat Typhon, including manipulating Fenyx and using him as a pawn. Fenyx must decide whether to trust the gods or forge his own path and find his own way to defeat Typhon. Fenyx discovers his brother is still alive and starts having friendly competitions about who can finish tasks or climb mountains first. This leads to his brother predictably betraying Fenyx in favor of Typhon who promises to make him a God. Despite his brother trying to kill Fenyx, he shows mercy on his brother and decides to fight Typhon instead.

The final battle against Typhon takes place at the top of Mount Olympus, where Fenyx must use all of his skills and abilities to defeat the Titan and save the world from his wrath. In the end, Fenyx emerges victorious and becomes a hero in the eyes of the gods and mortals.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Gameplay:

In Immortals Fenyx Rising, you can customization your character with a number of different aesthetics including playing between a male or female protagonist. I choose a male, although I doubt it makes any difference in the storyline or gameplay. While I wanted to enjoy my Immortals Fenyx Rising review, it was hindered right away by a glitch. Within the first ten hours of playing, I ran into a glitch that crashed my game and made me restart from my last save point.

When you open up the map, there are certain icons that if you put the cursor on them, will break the game. Now, keep in mind that Immortals Fenyx Rising was out well over a year before I fired it up. Any bugs or glitches should have been patched but instead, I was left with a very frustrating experience in an already tiresome game. I was not the only person who dealt with this glitch, and there was a forum about it but not too many solutions. Once I tweeted about the issue, someone who has experienced the same glitch told me to turn off the icons that were glitching the game on the map, and once I did that, I was able to visit the map without glitches. It’s never fun to start off a review trashing a game, but glitches and bugs are something I take very seriously as it takes away from the entire experience of a game.

Once I was able to avoid the glitches, I was presented with the bread and butter of Immortals Fenyx Rising, and boy did it disappoint. Graphically, the game isn’t impressive for the PS5 but it still looked pleasant. With so much land and area to explore, I was excited to begin my adventure and make my way around the isle but instead, I was greeted with tedious tasks EVERY INCH OF THE MAP. You couldn’t walk five seconds without some dumb collectathon, dungeon, side-quest, mini-game, or challenge popping up.

Sometimes there’s TOO MUCH to do in a game that distracts the player from the main quest and I felt that Immortals Fenyx Rising took the same five quests and just multiplied them by a hundred and scattered those icons over the map. Some were crucial to gaining new powers or leveling up your health so I did my best to complete those challenges, but others were just a waste of time and added nothing to the gameplay.

There’s a dungeon around every corner, and at first, I thought there would be different types, like puzzle dungeons, combat dungeons, exploration dungeons, etc… but instead, they were all just puzzle dungeons that acted like a toddler’s toy. Find this shape, or colored box and put it on this lever or platform to move into the next room and repeat 50 times before exiting the dungeon with little treasure. I cringed every time I entered a dungeon knowing that 20 minutes of puzzle-solving was in front of me. Some puzzles were frustratingly hard, not from a solving aspect, I knew what I had to do most of the time, but because of the controls. Some boxes were just out of reach and didn’t travel well when you selected them or pulled them with magic. The results minimized whatever fun I was having and completely changed the pace of the game.

Despite the open-world nature of the game, my Immortals Fenyx Rising review felt very empty. Sure, there were challenges and enemies everywhere you looked, but it didn’t have any substance. There were no towns, interesting characters, or anything unique. Once you walked five minutes over the map, you wouldn’t be seeing anything new for the rest of the game. The best point of interest was your hub station, which served as the communication portal with the Gods where you could level up and increase your power. Other than that, the world felt dull and littered with pointless elements.

The writing in Immortals Fenyx Rising ranged from having me chuckle out loud to cringe humor that added absolutely nothing to the game. For the most part, the writing was good, I’ll give credit where it’s due and the writing and character dialogue between Fenyx and the others were solid. Unfortunately, for the plot, it was quite predictable with Fenyx’s brother betraying him near the end.

Surprisingly the combat was more difficult than I imagined. It’s more than a hack-n-slash game although there’s plenty of that. Most enemies will have a style of fighting that you’ll need to adapt to in order to defeat them. Most boss fights were fun and not too much of a challenge but the final boss was a chore and you needed to be properly leveled up to take Typhon on.

Memories:
Immortals Fenyx Rising was the first game that I played on my PlayStation 5. Probably not the best game to showcase the awesome power of my new console but I was curious about it as I had seen multiple advertisements for it. Much to my disappointment, I quickly lost enthusiasm for Immortals Fenyx Rising due to the glitchy map, cringe-character dialogue, and repetitive puzzle dungeons. It was a chore to play, and I couldn’t wait to be finished with the game to move on to something else with my PS5.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Review Score:

Overall, while the dialogue was clever, the combat was average, and the empty world filled with markers was quickly redundant. Immortals Fenyx had a tough task rising above all the other Greek Mythology hack-n-slash games, but failed to take off. The glitches shut it down right from the start.

Immortals Fenyx Rising scores a 5.4 out of 10.

What would you write in your Immortals Fenyx Rising review? Who was your favorite God during your playthrough? What was your favorite ability? Were you sick of all the puzzles too? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Immortals Fenyx Rising, I’d love to read them.

Chrono Trigger Review

One of the most critically acclaimed Japanese roleplaying games was released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo when Square released Chrono Trigger. It was later ported to the PlayStation in 1999, and the Nintendo DS in 2008. Almost all outlets and gamers agree Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest adventures in gaming. I had not played it until now… would I agree? Strap in for some time travel during this Chrono Trigger review! 

Chrono Trigger Plot:

The game begins in 1000 AD, in the medieval kingdom of Guardia. Crono, a quiet and reserved young man, is awoken by his mother on the day of the Millennial Fair, an annual event that celebrates the kingdom’s prosperity. As Crono attends the fair, he meets a young girl named Marle, who becomes separated from her group after disappearing through a strange portal. Crono follows Marle through the portal and finds himself transported to 600 AD, a time of great conflict and political unrest.

As Crono and Marle explore this new (old) time period, they meet a group of rebels led by a man named Frog, who is on a quest to defeat a powerful sorcerer named Magus. Magus, it turns out, is attempting to summon Lavos, a being that has the power to destroy the world. Crono and his friends join forces with Frog to stop Magus and prevent the summoning of Lavos.

During his journey through different time periods, including prehistory and the distant future, Crono and his friends meet other allies, including a robot named Robo and a powerful prehistoric warrior named Ayla. Together, they travel through time, fighting powerful enemies and uncovering the truth about Lavos and its connection to their own world.

Together, the group travels through different time periods, including the present, the future, and the past, as they try to uncover the mystery of what is causing the strange events that are occurring throughout the world. They eventually discover that an evil entity known as Lavos is the cause of the strange occurrences and that it plans to destroy the world. The group also encounters a group of cultists who are working to resurrect Lavos and bring about its destruction of the world.

The group eventually comes up with a plan to defeat Lavos by going back in time and preventing it from ever being awakened. They travel to the point in time when Lavos first emerged and engage in a final battle to defeat it and save the world.

In the end, Crono and his friends are able to successfully defeat Lavos and prevent its destruction of the world. The game concludes with a series of different endings depending on the player’s actions throughout the game, ranging from a happy ending in which the world is saved and Crono and his friends return to their own time, to a more tragic ending in which they are unable to prevent Lavos from destroying the world.

Overall, Chrono Trigger is a classic role-playing game with a compelling story, memorable characters, and a unique time-traveling gameplay mechanic. It is considered a classic of the genre and has gained a loyal following since its release.

JRPGs are all about character arcs and immersive storylines. Let’s take a look at the playable characters in your journey to return to your time period and stop Lavos from destroying the world. 

Crono – He is a young swordsman who lives in the kingdom of Guardia. He is a silent protagonist. Crono is kind, and brave, and is always willing to help others in need. He is a skilled fighter and is able to wield a variety of weapons, including a katana and a mace. Crono is also able to use magic and is able to harness the power of the elements to unleash powerful spells and abilities. As he travels through time with his friends, his fate is left to the player as there are multiple endings for the destiny of Crono. 

Marle – She is a princess from the future kingdom of Guardia and is introduced as a carefree and energetic young woman. Marle possesses the ability to control ice and has a close relationship with the main protagonist, Chrono. Throughout the game, Marle learns to take responsibility for her actions and becomes a strong and capable leader. Despite her royal status, Marle is down-to-earth and always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need.

Lucca – She is a young, energetic girl who is always full of energy and enthusiasm. She is a member of the Acacia Dragoons, a group of knights who protect the kingdom of Guardia. Despite her young age, Lucca is a skilled warrior and is always ready to defend her kingdom. She is also a close friend of the main character, Crono, and often helps him on his adventures. Lucca is a kind, compassionate person who is always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.

Robo – He is a robot who was created by a scientist named Dr. Lucca in the year 2300. He is a member of the main character’s party and is a powerful ally in battle. Robo has a strong sense of justice and wants to help others, but he also struggles with understanding and controlling his emotions. He eventually learns to embrace his emotions and becomes more human-like. Robo is a skilled fighter and has a variety of abilities, including the ability to repair himself and other machines. He is a valuable member of the party and plays a significant role in the game’s story.

Frog – also known as Glenn, is a knight from the Middle Ages who was turned into a frog by the wizard Magus. Despite this transformation, Frog remains a brave and skilled warrior, and he joins the game’s main protagonist, Crono, on his quest to save the world. Frog is known for his loyalty, honor, and sense of duty, and he wields a powerful sword called the Masamune in battle. He is also a skilled musician, and he plays the lute to lift the spirits of his companions. Frog’s ultimate goal is to find a way to break the curse that turned him into a frog and reclaim his human form.

Ayla – She is the leader of the Ioka Tribe and is a skilled warrior, using her fists as her primary weapon. Ayla is known for her brash and blunt personality and is often seen as a tomboy. Despite her tough exterior, she has a kind heart and is fiercely loyal to her friends and allies. She is also fiercely protective of her tribe and will stop at nothing to defend them. Overall, Ayla is a complex and multifaceted character who is a valuable ally in the quest to save the world.

Magus –  is a powerful magician and the main antagonist of the game, initially seeking to use the power of time travel to destroy the world. Magus is revealed to be the prince of the kingdom of Zeal, who was cast into the distant past after a failed attempt to defeat the entity known as Lavos. Magus is cold and distant, but eventually comes to understand the error of his ways and joins the party in their quest to defeat Lavos and save the world. He is known for his powerful magical abilities and his ability to summon powerful creatures.

Chrono Trigger Gameplay:

For my Chrono Trigger review, I had the pleasure of playing the Nintendo DS version of this JRPG classic which comes with quite a few perks. I was blown away by the opening video which had beautiful animation and got me excited for my upcoming adventure. While the SNES version of Chrono Trigger didn’t have the animated video, the PS1 and DS versions did and I think it was an excellent addition to the experience. 

As I’ve stated many times, I typically don’t take note of soundtracks unless they are incredible. My Chrono Trigger review was blessed by many impressive and fitting soundtracks throughout my journey that made the adventure special. My YouTube Show, “The TigerChainsaw Show” features musical guests, and many of them choose to perform covers of Chrono Trigger songs, and I can see why. They are beautiful pieces of music. 

Chrono Trigger’s combat is a bit unique in that it is partly turn based mixed with an action meter. You’ll be able to control three characters on screen and select the actions for them to perform whether it’s attacking, magic, defending, items, or escaping. Each character that you control will have a meter and when that meter is full, you can choose an action for them. Meters will fill up at different speeds depending on the stats you have for each character. Items can improve the speed, giving you more turns before your enemies can retaliate. The Chrono Trigger battle system requires quick thinking and there were times when I had to preplan my first three moves before walking toward a boss. Battles in Chrono Trigger can be a bit chaotic but there is a science to them. Combining your attacks with other characters is key to defeating extremely powerful foes. 

The time travel aspect of Chrono Trigger is pretty neat. During my Chrono Trigger review, I traveled throughout time, each period has unique features and it was fun to see how civilization advanced or crumbled depending on what period. Once you get the ship to travel through time, it was fun to explore. Each period will have a few quests that you’ll partake in to move the main storyline along. One weird mini-game that made its way into Chrono Trigger was the bike race in the future period. At first, I was nervous to partake in it, but I was able to win each time I did it. I’m not sure what it has to do with but it was a strange inclusion. 

I loved the twist with Magus joining your party. That’s an aspect that you don’t see much in JRPGs with one of the main villains joining you to defeat a greater evil. Throughout most of the game, you believe you need to stop Magus only for him to join your party (if you choose not to fight him). He’s powerful too, so it was nice to fight alongside him instead of taking him on. Another thing that shocked me was the “death” of Crono. About 75 percent through the game he is killed by Lavos. It’s up to you to properly bring him back or accept his death. This is where Chrono Trigger receives such well-deserved praise. There are multiple endings, ranging from disaster to reviving Crono where everyone lives happily ever after in their time periods. It gives Chrono Trigger an immense replay value. 

My main party was Crono, Frog, and Ayla. Ayla was extremely powerful with her physical attacks. I also liked the way she spoke which was in cave woman. Once Crono died, I used Magus, Frog, and Ayla for my final party. I regret to inform you that I did not receive the best ending and Crono remained dead in mine, but I did defeat Lavos and the party was making promises to find a way to revive Crono, so not all was lost. It may surprise you that I barely used Lucca, Robo, or Marle. I barely touched these characters and I know of a few pals who hold them dearly. 

Graphically speaking, Chrono Trigger still holds up beautifully to this day. The sprites, dungeons, and landscapes all are timeless. They will immerse your imagination as you explore forests, caves, and castles. It was a treat to play Chrono Trigger, and it didn’t wear out its welcome. The game can be beaten within a reasonable time. It’s fairly straightforward with your next mission, so you won’t need to look at a guide much. There’s not a ton to complain about, especially in the DS version. The dual screens are very helpful as one will map out every dungeon as you move along while showing stats on your characters. 

Chrono Trigger’s final boss, Lavos can be difficult if you are not optimized properly, but with steady grinding, you’ll be able to beat him. I had to grind for a few hours near the end to make sure I could defeat him. Overall, Chrono Trigger is one epic time-traveling adventure that I recommend to everyone. 

Memories: 

Well, this is embarrassing! I don’t have any memories of Chrono Trigger from my childhood because I never played it until this year! I was able to get the Nintendo DS version from a good friend on my Twitter feed who was selling off his collection for great prices. Once I bought it, it took me a few months to get around to it but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a bit worried that it was too overhyped but I found that the praise for the game was mostly warranted. I didn’t have any issues grinding and for the most part, I didn’t use a guide except for a few bosses on how to beat them if I was struggling. 

Chrono Trigger Review Score:

My Chrono Trigger review took a long time to get to but it was well worth it in the end. It’s considered a classic and for good reason. The soundtrack, combat, time-traveling mechanics, and plot all work well together to create a wonderful JRPG. Is it the greatest of all time? No, but it’s a can’t miss experience for lovers of video games. 

Chrono Trigger scores a 9.5 out of 10. 

What would you write in your Chrono Trigger review? Who was your squad that you rolled into battles with? What was your favorite character from the game? Where does Chrono Trigger rank among the greatest JRPGs? Which ending did you get? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Chrono Trigger, I’d love to read them. 

Wet Review

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Kick-ass female leads are a dying breed in the video game industry. What I mean by that is that the aesthetics and looks of female leads have drastically changed over the last decade or so. Most have terrible haircuts or shaved heads or are ripped beyond belief. That wasn’t the case for the lead character, Rubi, in the 2009 third-person shooter “Wet”. Developed by Artificial Mind & Movement and published by Bethesda Softworks, Wet was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Rubi, the main character is designed wonderfully. Would the rest of the game follow? Make sure you reload as we enter this Wet review! 

Wet Plot:

The game stars “Rubi” a lone-wolf type of mercenary who does odd jobs for crime organizations whether it’s a hit on a high-ranking boss or retrieving an important item or person. At the beginning of Wet, Rubi returns a briefcase to a hospital containing a heart that was needed to complete a heart transplant for a crime lord, named William. 

A year later, William, calls upon Rubi to rescue his son who has been kidnapped by a gang in Hong Kong. The son of Ackers doesn’t want to leave but Rubi captures him anyway and returns him to William. As it turns out, the William that hired her was an imposter and leader of a rival gang to the real William. Rubi just hand-delivered William’s son to his biggest rival. The imposter kills William’s son decapitating him in the process. Horrified, Rubi fights back and is critically injured before passing out. Fortunately for her, a friend was watching her back who rescues her and helps her recover. 

Needing information on the fake William, Rubi, starts doing odd jobs to obtain information on his whereabouts. She steals an ancient book for an old woman and she reveals the fake William is a well-known drug kingpin named Rupert. Rubi gets a little too close to Rupert’s gang and is captured. She’s able to escape and kill the gang but not before obtaining crucial information on Rupert who is planning to kill the real William soon. 

Rubi travels to William’s mansion where she finds Rupert and his top bodyguard. As they are about to kill William, she intervenes and kills both of them. William says that he cannot forgive Rubi for killing his son, but will allow her to leave without taking vengeance on her for saving his life. He throws some money at her and she leaves. As the credits roll, the top bodyguard that Rubi just killed named Tarantula hands begins to twitch. 

Wet Gameplay:

Wet did a great job of making the aesthetics of the game look enticing. The cover art looks great, and the main menu follows. To top the look of the game off, it’s paired with a great soundtrack. It’s unique and has a lot of hard rock mixed in. The soundtrack does a terrific job of getting you into the rhythm of a gunfight. 

If there was a game that Wet reminded me of it was Red Steel on the Wii. There’s a lot of over-the-top action and violence with plenty of gore. There are also characters with a lot of spunk. Let’s look at Rubi as she is the star of this film noir game. I want to give as much praise to Rubi as I can for her design. The creators developed her as a fierce female character who looks great without sacrificing her design to appease feminists who don’t play video games. Rubi doesn’t have some shaved head or a terrible haircut. She isn’t spewing remarks about sexism or trying to discuss “problematic” issues. Rubi is a kick-ass female lead without the political bullshit that accompanies many of the female video game characters of today. Devs are afraid to make female characters too sexy or with too much jiggle. Rubi is one of the last characters to show that she can kill anyone in front of her while looking good. 

Wet is a little rough around the edges. You can tell it didn’t have the biggest budget but the creators did what they could. As Rubi, you’ll play through a level in which the object is to get from point A to point B with tons of enemies in between. There are no sidequests or other objectives when playing. It’s as simple as “kill everyone in the room and make your way toward the end of the level”. 

At your disposal are a few different weapons. Rubi carries pistols, uzis, shotguns, a crossbow, and a sword. Each weapon can be upgraded to have faster firing rates, more ammo, and more power. Pistols are the most basic weapon but even they pack a punch and are very capable of disposing of hordes of enemies. Speaking of enemies, you’ll fight plenty of them. All of the enemies have the same weapons that Rubi has so it’s more skill vs skill instead of weapons vs skill. 

At the end of the levels, there was typically a massive open area with plenty of elements of destruction. When you defeat the last of the enemies you can exit the level or you’ll reach a checkpoint for longer levels. Gunfights are based on style and chaining combos together much like a Devil May Cry. Hiding behind barrels or walls won’t score you points. Rubi is very acrobatic so she can jump off walls, and objects, and slide on her knees for impressive kills. She also can slow time down to kill enemies more easily. It’s like the Matrix but with more flare. When you need to heal look for whiskey bottles.

Rubi can enter a super rage mode that makes killing enemies like slicing through butter. There are portions where this is automatically activated and the entire screen goes black and red. It’s a fun mode and makes you feel very powerful. Other portions of Wet included action scenes straight from a movie. There were portions in which you’d have to hop from car to car on a highway while shooting bad guys or jumping off a plane that has exploded and making your way to safety by free falling. These parts of my Wet review were a delight. 

I enjoyed the gameplay in my Wet review but there were some aspects I didn’t like. 

When you receive a new weapon, Rubi typically heads back to base and then does a training course with the weapon. It’s like a mini-game and change of pace from going through levels but I found the obstacle courses dull and useless. You’ll run through obstacles and jump off things while shooting at targets with the new weapon. It can be frustrating to replay the obstacle course and it can take around 3 minutes to complete. It just wasn’t worth the effort and I think they could have implemented something else to change the pace of the game. 

The finale of Wet was a big disappointment. All this time you are working your way through hordes of enemies, honing your skills in combat, and learning the most aerobatic kills that Rubi can pull off. In the end, the finale is nothing more than a “quick-time event” where you push a few buttons on screen that easily kills the final boss. I was dumbfounded during my wet review that this is how it all ended. They left open the possibility of a sequel but I doubt we’ll ever see the day. 

Memories: 

During my Wet review, I had many technical issues with my PS3 controllers. I have five PS3 controllers and most of them suck to put it lightly whether the battery life is 15 minutes or the joysticks are stuck in position. I received a first-party Sony wireless PS3 controller for Christmas not too long ago and was using it for various games. When I played Wet about halfway through the game the controller that was only six months old started to go berzerk. It would repeat an action for an infinite amount of time. If I was in a shootout and was striving to the left, the controller would make Rubi indefinitely go left without the ability to do anything else. The same goes for if I was shooting my gun. She’d just constantly shoot. It was a frustrating mess and with my lack of reliable PS3 controllers, I didn’t know if I would be able to beat Wet. I tried the controller with other games and it did the same thing. I tried to find numerous fixes for the problem but there was no solution. For whatever reason, after about 4 days of frustrations, the controller started to work again and I was able to complete my Wet review. 

Wet Review Score:

Wet is a straightforward game that perfectly exemplifies what a female video character should be. Rubi kicks ass and looks good! The anti-climatic ending sours the final moments but the time spent playing to get there is well worth it. 

Wet scores a 7 out of 10. 

What would you write in your Wet review? What was your favorite weapon? What other games have kick-ass female leads? Would you like to see a sequel to Wet? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Wet, I’d love to read them. 

R-Type Review

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The Sega Master System is a vastly underrated console that helped launch some amazing franchises. R-Type was released in the arcades before being ported in 1988 to the console. Space shooters are a dime a dozen but R-Type seemed to be ahead of the pack. Developed by Irem. Corp and published by Sega, R-Type was received very well. In this R-Type review, I’m taking control of the R-9 and looking to destroy the Bydo Empire.

R-Type Plot:

Let’s turn to the manual and back cover for the plot of this R-Type review.

“The galaxy is in deep peril: foul creatures from the evil Bydo Empire have warped across space to invade and conquer our planet! There is only one hope for victory. The Earth Defense League has chosen you to pilot R-9, a nuclear-powered space fighter that can cut through invading aliens faster than a light saber through butter. (Interesting that they use the term light saber as an example from another franchise)

Fly R-9 through eight exciting levels of high-powered action. Use your plasma gun to rip through armies of nasty creatures and their deadly machines. And when the going gets really tough, pick up Droid Units to make your ship even harder hitting.

You’ll be up against creatures so mean and ugly they’ll make your hair stand on end. But Earth is depending on you. So strap yourself in the cockpit, put your fingers on the triggers, and blast ’em out of the skies!”

Okay, so that should shed some light on this R-Type review for the plot, but does the manual say anything different? Let’s inspect it.

“They came from a dimensional plane clear across the galaxy, wreaking havoc and chaos from star system to star system. With an evil that smothers all resistance with fear and terror, the horrid creatures of the Bydo Empire are knocking on Earth’s front door.

The Earth defense league has one ray of hope to stop the wave of terror: R-9, a supersecret spacecraft capable of striking the enemy in their own dimensional plane. When flown by a hot pilot like you, the R-9 can rip through bug-eyed monsters faster than a light saber through butter. (There it is again) But the horrendous creatures of the Bydo Empire are more than claws and pointy teety; they’ve got some pretty impressive hardware, too, so stay frosty! Earth’s future depends on you!”

All in all, both the manual and back cover spew the same plot. It’s up to you to defeat the Bydo Empire as they make their way across the galaxy. Pilot your fancy ship, the R-9, and send the aliens packing.

R-Type Gameplay:

My R-Type review got off to a slow start quite literally because your ship, the R-9 crawls at a snail’s pace before picking up power-ups. Speed is key in this space shooter and you’ll want to pick up the pace quickly if you have any hopes of surviving. Picking up any power-up that comes your way is crucial before facing the first boss. I hate when games do this but it was quite common in the 80s. If you don’t defeat a boss quick enough, he’ll close in on you. R-Type’s first boss does this and it took me a few times to defeat him due to his vicious nature of going after you.

I love games that go the extra mile when it comes to details. In the 80s with the NES and SMS, I always applaud games that created detailed backgrounds. The Mega Man franchise continued to improve the background on each release, and Submarine Attack on the SMS did a great job making the visuals stand out in the background. R-Type is another example of providing detailed backgrounds which makes it stand out against all the other space shooters. There are plenty of flashing lights and different textures as you make your way in and out of bases and space. The music is also top-notch in R-Type. It comes across as intense but not overpowering, a great balance that will help you get into the zone.

Compared to another SMS space shooter that I reviewed in Astro Warrior, R-Type will kick your ass. It’s a very tough game that you’ll have to learn before proceeding toward the end. Enemies come at all speeds from the top, bottom, left, and right as you scroll through the level. To help with this is the movable mounted cannon on your ship that you can detach and rearrange. It’s awesome to see this and quite innovative. Positioning your cannon to best suit your needs will help in defeating enemies during a tough spot.

I love boss fights and R-Type doesn’t disappoint. The second level boss was a long snake that flows through a beating heart. It was easier than the first boss, but I’m not complaining. What makes R-Type so good is the variety of gameplay. No level is the same and the third level was a giant ship battle in which you destroyed guns and armor off it as you zoomed by. From all the weapons, the position of your cannon, and unique bosses, R-Type keeps it fresh.

For my R-Type review, if I was having issues with a boss, I’d look up what to do in a guide. While reading a guide, I learned of a secret level in R-Type. It blew my mind that R-Type offered this and I’m sure gamers who found it back in 1988 were left with their jaws to the floor. If you exit through the roof of an area in the fourth level, you will be transported to a secret level with enemies not mentioned in the manual. It’s a treat and a very nice touch.

R-Type’s bosses are unique in every sense of the word. Each one is a different fight from stationary foes to ones like the fourth-level boss who takes pieces of his body and sends them at you while zooming around the screen. It was a tough fight but I appreciated all the different variables that R-Type offers with the gameplay. The final boss is a tough one but if you know the trick to beating him, it’s manageable. Again, it comes down to different strategies for each boss but the finale has quite the defensive setup. There’s an opening with its mouth that opens and closes from time to time. If you launch your detachable cannon into the mouth it will stay there bypassing all defenses of the monster. Your cannon will blast away at it while you avoid the monster’s offensive attacks. R-Type does a phenomenal job of making a 30-minute game stretch into a game that requires many runs to figure out the strategy of the bosses. You won’t just blast your way through enemies. R-Type gives you the power to defeat the bosses but it’s up to you to figure out how to use it.

Memories:
I never played R-Type growing up and didn’t know too much about it before researching the Sega Master System and discovering that it’s one of the better games on the console. I purchased it during a heavy collecting period. I loved the cover art but the gameplay blew me away.

R-Type Review Score:

From start to finish, R-Type dazzles gamers with the soundtrack, innovative gameplay, and strategic boss fights. Each level is unique, each boss requires trial and error, and there’s even a secret level! For any Sega Master System owner, R-Type is a must-own. It sits atop the list of space shooters from the 80s.

R-Type scores a 9 out of 10.

What would you write in your R-Type review? What was your favorite boss fight? Did you discover the secret level? How did you use the detachable cannon? Let me know your thoughts and comments on R-Type, I’d love to read them.

Gran Turismo Review

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Racing enthusiasts were introduced to perhaps the greatest racing simulation series in video game history when Gran Turismo was released in North America in 1998 for the PlayStation. Developed by Pols Entertainment and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, gamers got behind the wheel in the most realistic racing simulator on the market. We’re earning our license in this Gran Turismo review!

Gran Turismo Plot:

No silly plots or storylines in my Gran Turismo review, just pure speed, handling, and lots of revving!

Gran Turismo Gameplay:

Let’s talk about what makes Gran Turismo special right away. At the time in 1998, gamers were blown away by the attention to detail, visually stunning graphics, accurate sound effects, and the sheer amount of cars to choose from when Gran Turismo hit shelves. It’s a beautiful game on the PS1. Polygons aren’t always gorgeous but with Gran Turismo, they tuned every one of them into a near-perfect assembly of power and beauty for each car model.

The opening intro in my Gran Turismo review blew me away, even over 20 years after its release. It’s just a glimpse of what’s to come in the game but it showcases all the best aspects from the soundtrack, cars, tracks, and graphics. If you played the intro to any gamer in 1998, I have a hard time believing they’d be able to refuse playing Gran Turismo.

Gran Turismo offers two different modes with simulation and arcade. The arcade mode is not typical of other arcade racers, where you would find boosts, turbo, or anything unrealistic, but it essentially offers a “race now” mode. It gives you some tracks and some cars to race with if you are too impatient to work your way through the career mode in simulation. It’s nice to have this option because simulation mode is brutally difficult. I almost think of Gran Turismo as the “Souls” driving simulator. It’s so realistic that most gamers won’t be very good at first. I sucked, and I was surprised because I used to love playing Gran Turismo 3 in middle school. During my Gran Turismo review, I had to really learn the track and car. Just knowing when to break wasn’t enough. You had to know the weight of the car, if it was front or rear-wheel steering, how quickly it accelerates, and the texture of the track. It’s a lot to take in and won’t be mastered quickly.

There were some surprises for me as I competed in my Gran Turismo review. First, there are no parts to buy to increase speed, acceleration, handling, or any other specifics of your car. In Gran Turismo 3, I was used to buying parts to make my cars faster. No such thing in the original version. Sunday Speedway was a Godsend in Gran Turismo 3 or maybe it was 5? I forget as they blur together but I would always race on it to earn cash. It was an easy option to get better cars but Gran Turismo doesn’t offer any “easy” tracks. There are beginner tracks but it’s anything but a guarantee to win.

To advance in Gran Turismo you must continually earn new licenses to compete on different tracks, and championship cups. I struggled the most in earning new licenses. It’s a skills challenge for a variety of cars. To earn a license you’ll have to complete challenges like braking the car into a specific zone or crossing the finish line in a certain time. It sounds easy, but it’s not. This is where mastering the car and course comes into play. I had to replay some challenges 20-30 times to get it down. You’ll need to complete multiple tests to earn a license before competing. I couldn’t master them all and didn’t have the patience to master them. Gran Turismo truly means the car simulation game and any car enthusiast would love it.

In 1998, Gran Turismo overloaded gamers with 140 cars to earn and race with. That’s a huge number even today, as most of it would now come as DLC. Gross, another reason why modern gaming sucks. There are 11 tracks to race on and they can be reversed for a total of 22 unique racing experiences. That’s a great amount of content and Gran Turismo made sure that anyone willing to put the time in to master it, was rewarded. Gran Turismo was extremely hard to develop and it took the dev team 5 years to complete it. It was all worth it in the end as it earned the title it set out to claim as the world’s best racing simulator.

Memories:
I briefly played Gran Turismo as a kid in elementary school. I had two friends that had it but we didn’t spend a lot of time playing it as it was too hard and not arcade enough for our simple minds. I asked my dad for Gran Turismo 3, and later 5 which I have a lot of fond memories of playing. Gran Turismo is stunning and I couldn’t believe that the PS1 was able to handle it. I tried my best to give Gran Turismo a fair shot and I played it for a week, over and over trying to earn licenses and win courses but it didn’t hook me as 3 and 5 did. If I had an easy course to race on or some clear way of getting better, I would have stuck with it more but damn, Gran Turismo isn’t for the faint of heart.

Gran Turismo Review Score:

From start to finish Gran Turismo will blow you away at every turn with the graphics, soundtrack, car models, and sound effects. The amount of content and gameplay is special but due to the tough nature of the game, most racers will fail to cross the finish line in first place.

Gran Turismo scores an 8.8 out of 10.

What would you write in your Gran Turismo review? What was your favorite car to drive? Did you have trouble earning licenses? Did you play Gran Turismo when it first came out? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Gran Turismo, I’d love to read them.

The Legend of Zelda NES Review

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One of the most influential video game franchises came to life on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986. The Legend of Zelda was both developed and published by Nintendo and helped launch the career of Shigeru Miyamoto as well as the popularity of the NES. It’s one of the most iconic adventure games filled with secrets, lore, and dungeons and this is the first time I played a Legend of Zelda game. What magic will you find in my version of The Legend of Zelda NES review? Keep scrolling to discover the fun!

The Legend of Zelda NES Plot:

Let’s check out the plot for my Legend of Zelda NES review from the best source possible… the manual!

“A long, long time ago the world was in an age of chaos.

In the midst of this chaos, in a little kingdom in the land of Hyrule, a legend was being handed down from generation to generation, the legend of the “Triforce”; golden triangles possessing mystical powers. One day, an evil army attacked this peaceful little kingdom and stole the Triforce of Power. This army was led by Ganon, the powerful Prince of Darkness who sought to plunge the world into fear and darkness under his rule. Fearing his wicked rule, Zelda, the princess of this kingdom, split up the Triforce of Wisdom, into eight fragments and hid them throughout the realm to save the last remaining Triforce from the clutches of the evil Ganon. At the same time, she commanded her most trustworthy nursemaid, Impa, to secretly escape into the land and go find a man with enough courage to destroy the evil Ganon. Upon hearing this, Ganon grew angry, imprisoned the princess, and sent out a party in search of Impa.

Braving forests and mountains, Impa fled for her life from her pursuers. As she reached the very limit of her energy she found herself surrounded by Ganon’s evil henchmen. Cornered! What could she do? But wait! All was not lost. A young lad appeared. He skillfully drove off Ganon’s henchmen and saved Impa from a fate worse than death.

His name was Link. During his travels, he had come across Impa and Ganon’s henchmen. Impa told Link the whole story of the princess Zelda and the evil Ganon. Burning with a sense of justice, Link resolved to save Zelda, but Ganon was a powerful opponent. He held the Triforce of Power. And so, in order to fight off Ganon, Link had to bring the scattered eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom together to rebuild the mystical triangle. If he couldn’t do this, there would be no chance Link could fight his way into Death Mountain where Ganon lived.

Can Link really destroy Gannon and save princess Zelda?”

The Legend of Zelda NES Gameplay:

During my Legend of Zelda NES Review, I was blown away by the size of the game. In 1986, this must have been mind-blowing to so many gamers who found secret after secret. As Link, you’re free to roam the vast land of Hyrule screen by screen in an overhead adventure view. Enemies will randomly materialize on screen after a second and you can either run away to avoid them or engage in combat.

Combat is fair and fun. You come equipped with a wooden sword but can upgrade its power of it throughout your run. If you have full health you can shoot your sword toward opponents making combat much easier. When you aren’t swinging a sword or shooting it, you have a shield equipped that will block most attacks if you face them head-on. It’s important to learn the fine balance of being aggressive but not reckless to survive hordes of enemies.

While I was blown away by the combat during my Legend of Zelda NES review, I loved the wonderful music that was paired for my adventure. Sound effects were spot on from finding secrets, killing enemies, and finding segments of the Triforce. Every action had its charm.

Using a guide during my Legend of Zelda NES review was needed. I used a video one to better illustrate the dungeons but if you’re planning on playing it without a written or video guide, GodSpeed. Secrets are everywhere in this game and it can become overwhelming. I often wondered how anyone found these secrets without just throwing bombs at random trees and walls. Some secrets aren’t required while some are to progress. You’ll need time and patience to unveil all of them which I didn’t so I used a video guide.

The main goal of The Legend of Zelda is to find segments of the Triforce before facing Ganon. These segments are tucked away in dungeons that are spread out across Hyrule. Every dungeon will take skill and patience but are generally fun. Enemies are a bit harder and bosses will be at the end of dungeons ranging from Triceratops to Dragons. You’ll need to figure out the pattern or weakness but most take a few good blasts from your sword.

My only real complaint about The Legend of Zelda is needing the silver arrow to defeat Ganon. I didn’t have it and faced him numerous times wondering why I couldn’t damage him. It was only after I turned to the guide I realized I had missed something. It was annoying to redo the dungeon to get the required weapon but I suppose that is how it goes for retro games.

You won’t find a better adventure game on the NES and it stands the test of time being a phenomenal experience but do yourself a favor and use a guide. My Legend of Zelda NES review was a treat from the combat, and vast land of Hyrule, to the pleasures of listening to the music. It’s all wrapped up in a wonderful package.

Memories:
Can you believe that I didn’t play a single Zelda game until 2022? It’s true but because of my OCD, I had to start at the very beginning. What a wonderful adventure it was. I used a video guide for most of the games due to time constraints, I only have so many video games to play in one lifetime! But it was so special to play this game. I did complete the final dungeon by myself without help but at a cost. I faced Ganon three times before quitting due to not being able to damage him. Why was this? I needed the Silver Arrow and I didn’t have it. After learning that I went back and got it and finished Ganon off. What an adventure! I envy those who played The Legend of Zelda when it first came out. How special those nostalgic memories must be.

The Legend of Zelda NES Review Score:

This is one of the most iconic video games in history and rightfully so. It’s an adventure that everyone should take on whether they go in blind or use a guide. There are so many secrets, dungeons, and enemies to fill your imagination with. Gamers of all ages will share a love for The Legend of Zelda. My Legend of Zelda NES Review was a long time coming and I couldn’t have been more blown away by the adventure, combat, music, and addictive nature of finding the next part of the Triforce. If only I didn’t miss that silver arrow at the end! The Legend of Zelda is near perfect.

The Legend of Zelda NES scores a 9.9 out of 10.

What would you write in your Legend of Zelda NES review? What was your favorite secret? Did you use a guide during your playthrough or did you discover all the magic yourself? What was the hardest part of the game? Let me know your thoughts and comments on The Legend of Zelda NES, I’d love to read them.