Brave Story New Traveler Review

The PlayStation Portable was one of the most underrated handheld gaming systems. Released in 2005, Sony’s handheld featured so many iconic and hidden gems. One hidden gem, is Brave Story New Traveler, a JRPG released in North America in 2007. Developed by Game Republic and published by XSeed Games, players controlled the adventure of a young boy who is whisked away to another dimension to help save his deathly ill friend. Do our dreams come true in this Brave Story New Traveler review?

Brave Story New Traveler Plot:

Doing a little research for my Brave Story New Traveler review, I discovered that this game was actually a book first! It’s based on the novel Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe. While there are some characters from the book, most of the characters in the PSP game are unique and were created for the game adaptation.

Tatsuya

The story begins with a boy (maybe 11?) and a girl sitting on a bench outside. Miki is gossiping to Tatsuya who is too busy to listen as he plays his PSP. She grows annoyed with Tatsuya and walks away. A few minutes later, Miki’s dog starts barking and grabs the attention of Tatsuya. He makes his way to where the dog is barking and discovers Miki is passed out near lifeless. Miki goes to the hospital and is put into a bed where the doctors are having a hard time figuring out what’s wrong with her. Tatsuya leaves her room and goes to the roof of the hospital where he hears a voice speaking to him. The voice tells Tatsuya that he can save his friend by entering another dimension in which large doors appear out of thin air. Tatsuya who is a silent protagonist walks into the entry and is transported to another dimension.

In order to have his wish granted, Tatsuya must find the five gems scattered throughout the land for the sword that was gifted to him upon entry to this new dimension. The land around him is magical and filled with creatures of all kinds including monsters. It’s a stark difference from the busy city that Tatsuya left in the real world. During my Brave Story New Traveler review, I encountered many unique and fun characters who helped me on my journey to retrieve the gems. Tatsuya is special as he’s hailed as a “traveler” but he isn’t the only traveler searching for the gems. Others have entered the land to have their wishes granted too.

Let’s take a look at some of the characters from my Brave Story New Traveler review.

Yuno

Yuno: She’s a kitten, well, a cute girl with cat ears and a tail. She’s flirty, emotional, and tries to be very encouraging and helpful. I really found her refreshing as a female character and thought she was a great addition to the team with her bows and arrows. She develops a crush on Tatsuya and is a bit jealous that he’s better friends with Miki. She decides to help Tatsuya after he rescues her in a forest when being outnumbered by monsters.

Sogreth: He’s a large gator humanoid who is overprotective of his son. After Tatsuya helps rescue his son from trouble, Sogreth decides to tag along on the adventure. He is a very powerful ax wielder, but he doesn’t fall into the troupe of overlarge dumb characters, he has input in conversations and can even make a joke every now and then.

Sogreth

Meladee: She’s a Highlander Cheif who commands the respect of her unit. Tatsuya and Yuno want to join the Highlanders, a group of adventures who go on quests but are perceived to be too young. Meladee and her unit are found lost in an underground cavern surrounded by monsters where Tatsuya saves them. To thank him, she joins his quest and makes them true Highlanders. She wields double blades.

Ropple: He’s a super-genius magic user who only stands 3’9. He’s all about logic and science and the others continue to convince him to look at the world in others ways which is the typical “friends make us stronger” troupe. I probably used him the least amount but his magic was helpful during battles. He joins Tatsuya after his professor tells him he needs to better understand people.

Meladee

Leynart – He’s a Beastkin which means he is part beast. He has large horns and his skin is gray. Leynart patrols the borders and makes sure that travelers are abiding by the laws. At first, he believes Yuno and Sogreth as thieves but after a side quest, they help bring down the real thieves to prove their innocence. He has a large shield and lance and joins the team to help fight.

Now that you know the characters from my Brave Story New Traveler review, let’s discuss what happens!

Ropple

Once Tatsuya learns the rules of the other dimension called Vision, he is set free to find the five gems to fit into his sword. With his sword, he can summon the Goddess of Destiny and reverse Miki becoming sick. Picking up the forementioned characters in his travels, Tatsuya is also in a fight against Rei, who I would describe as a dick. He’s out to mess up your journey and make sure you don’t complete your wish. On occasion, Tatsuya has the ability to transport back to the real world to see Miki after he collects a gem. Later on, Rei begins to taunt Tatsuya and shows up in the real world threatening to kill Miki. The two battle on occasion before Tatsuya defeats him.

Leynart

Near the end of the game, things aren’t adding up. There are multiple travelers who are hoping to have their wishes granted but Tatsuya doesn’t fit the mold of the typical traveler. He reaches the tower that is home to the Goddess of Destiny but she refuses to open the doors because he isn’t a true traveler. Instead, Tatsuya is greeted by a young girl who asks to have his sword. He refuses, as the girl grows increasingly angry trying to tempt Tatsuya by pretending to be Miki. He continues to refuse and the girl transforms into a giant toad named Onba. Onba lured Tatsuya to Vision with the hope of saving his friend but she is powerless to do so. It was all a trapt so he’d collect the gems and give her the sword to overthrow the Goddess of Destiny.

Together with the help of his friends, Tatsuya defeats Onba. The Goddess of Destiny invites Tatsuya to meet but he must leave his friends behind forever. He leaves the group and meets with the Goddess who informs him she cannot grant his wish as he isn’t a traveler. However, since Onba was the one who put the curse on Miki and since Tatsuya defeated Onba, his wish will come true regardless. The game ends with Tatsuya returning to the real world and talking to Miki about a dream she had that involved a giant toad with Tatsuya rescuing her.

Brave Story New Traveler Gameplay:

There are a few things that I love about JRPGs and Brave Story checks the box on a few of them. First, Brave Story’s gameplay for battles is random encounters. During battles, you’ll be able to pull up a menu with the commands of attack, defend, items, bravura, unity, and escape. Four of those commands are self-explanatory. Bravura are special moves that deal more damage. These special moves are available as long as you have some Bravura points which you accumulate after every regular attack. I almost never ran out of BP unless it was a boss fight in which I had to drink some BP restoration potions. Almost every battle you can fill the BP meter so it’s a big part of the game. Unity allows active characters in your party to combine attacks for mega damage. It was fun to earn new unity moves as my characters leveled up and they deal a great deal of damage. Like Pokemon, there are some weaknesses, and strengths with move sets. It doesn’t play a huge role, but some bosses and enemies are easier when you discover what they are weak against.

There’s a world map that you can travel on foot, wagon or dragon. Once you get the dragon, it’s very easy to transverse the area and clear out any dungeons you missed. For the most part, you won’t get lost or stuck. The story is very intuitive and missions move along at a nice pace. You’ll be able to upgrade your weapons and armor as each character has a specific weapon that they command. Yuno has a bow, Meladee has the twin blades, Sogreth has the ax, etc…

Some JRPGs are nothing but serious interactions and dialogue, I have to admit there were a few times when I laughed out loud with Brave Story. One particular moment was when Tatsuya falls into a hole and someone finds him and guesses his name as it was written on his sleeve. They retort to him “What type of doofus writes his name on his sleeve”. The writing is clever in most circumstances and having a laugh or two is always appreciated. There was also a bee joke that I found funny but I can’t recall it. While this was comical, I think it would be better to have it fixed but when Tatsuya runs it looks like he has to crap his pants and he’s running to the bathroom.

You can save the game only by reaching save points that are scattered throughout the land. This is one of the rare instances in which I was very frustrated with my Brave Story New Traveler review. I had just finished slogging through a quest that took nearly three hours but I didn’t see any save points. A cut scene occurred and I was transported back to a city where we could rest and heal. For some reason, I thought the game auto-saved and so I shut my PSP off. Unfortunately, it only saves at save points so I lost three hours of work. Needless to say, I was pissed.

I’m not an expert in JRPGs, I enjoy them and I can switch out equipment and grind to level up but once you get into expansive tactics and gameplay elements I tend to zone those out and just go for raw power. Brave Story New Traveler was on the easier side of JRPGs. I beat it within 25 hours and I only died twice in battle. Once from a random encounter in which I got lazy, and the other time was facing the final boss the first time. The final boss battle is a doozy and I thought it’d take me a few times to beat it but I ended up winning my second try although it’s lengthy at about 30 minutes.

One aspect that I didn’t get into during my Brave Story New Traveler review was Goalfinche battling. It’s a mini-game where you battle opponents with Goalfinches, a super cute fluffy breed of bird. They have different colors and you can hunt them in certain areas. You hunt them by capturing them in a net so it’s all pleasant and non-violent. Once you have a few you can challenge other Goalfinche hunters. I only played a few times but I can tell that it could get addicting. As I wanted to play on with my Brave Story New Traveler review, I knew I wouldn’t have time to master this but it was a fun mini-game to play while taking a break from the story.

Something very cool that I did not know during my Brave Story New Traveler review was that once you beat the game you can unlock the “Epilogue” which allows the player to unlock characters from the story. These side characters of Meena, Kee Keema, Wataru, Mitsuru, and Kutz are all available for you to insert into your party at your leisure. They all come at level 60+ with good equipment and abilities.

Memories:
This was one of the first “big” spenders in my retro gaming collection which is laughable now after all the money I’ve spent. When I was just starting to collect, I would allow myself to spend $30 a week on retro video games. That quickly went out the window after a few months but during that time, I went to a retro video game store where I saw Brave Story New Traveler CIB for $35. Now, that was over my spending limit for the week, but I had never heard of or seen it in person and it looked really cool. The cover art is sideways so it drew me to it and the characters looked appealing. I ended up buying it and I’m thankful I did because I haven’t seen it since.

I played Brave Story New Traveler a year later and it was such a delight. I loved the characters and their interactions. It was such a refreshing JRPG with the character designs and troupes. I spent a lot of time in bed at night playing through it.

Brave Story New Traveler Review Score:

This really was a treat to play as it hit the sweet spot for many elements. It was a great length at 25 hours, not too short but not overwhelming as a grind fest. The characters were charming, refreshing, and weren’t afraid to have traditional roles and personalities. There’s plenty to do after the game ends and it looks great on the PSP.

Brave Story New Traveler scores a 9 out of 10.

What would you write in your Brave Story New Traveler review? Are there other great JRPGs out for the PSP? Who was your favorite character in Brave Story New Traveler? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Brave Story New Traveler, I’d love to read them.

Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron Review

Shoot ’em ups were in a renaissance in the late 2010s. It seemed like indie, and small-time developers had found a niche market for old-school lovers of the shmup genre. In 2018, Handy-Games GmbH developed and published Aces of the Luftwaffe for the Xbox One. This Shmup would combine nazis, futuristic technology, and a cast of pilots. Would the combination fly high or would it be shot down before getting off the ground? Hop in that cockpit, we’re flying into this Aces of the Luftwaffe review.

Aces of the Luftwaffe Plot:

In my Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron review, I was able to take control of two different squadrons each with a set of different characters. On one side are the Nazi pilots, while the other side has the Allies. There isn’t a ton of plot to this shmup, and that’s okay I wasn’t expecting one. Most Shmups are judged on the gameplay with plots being a bonus. Here’s a brief blurb on the plot for my Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron review.

“Every end is a new beginning! When Europe seemed to be freed, a secret German commando called The Aces of the Luftwaffe took their chance to strike back and invade the USA! It’s your duty to restore peace and liberty by climbing aboard deadly wings of steel and fight against their fearsome war machines in bombastic air battles!”

Each squad has different character tropes with a leader commanding the way, two personality-driven characters, and then one really strange character who is silent, crazy, or stupid. I didn’t care much for the characters, not because they didn’t connect with me, but because they came off as… well not important.

Aces of the Luftwaffe Gameplay:

Aces of the Luftwaffe is a totally forgettable experience and that’s a good thing so I can erase this mess from my head. Booting up the game will take you back to 1995 PlayStation era loading times. I couldn’t believe how long it takes to load a level. At first, I made note of it, and then another 30 seconds went by so I wrote again how long it took, and then another minute goes by and I had time to write more notes on just how long it takes for missions to boot up. I have no idea why, the graphics are as plain jane as it gets and the action isn’t anything mind-blowing.

God bless the Aces of Luftwaffe marketing team for trying to hype this game up. Here’s what the marketing materials say paired with my thoughts from my Aces of the Luftwaffe review.

Action-packed Shoot ’em up with explosive special effects. (I saw zero special effects during both runs of my campaigns)

Captivating storyline with fully voiced characters. (The absolute worst voice acting I’ve heard in my gaming history. It could have been anyone that they pulled off the street and said “hey, do a cowboy accent”.

Epic co-op multiplayer for up to 4 players. (This may have been fun just to experience how bad this was together with friends but I didn’t try out multiplayer)

25 new levels and exciting missions. (More crap for you to slog through)

6 Brand New spectacular boss fights (I’ll give credit where credit is due. I enjoyed the boss fights)

Skill trees with individual abilities for each wingman (I didn’t see much difference in the improving my fighters but I’m sure it helped a little bit)

Challenging achievement system (I would win an achievement if I played the game on mute)

Creative Hapotics for gameplay and cut scenes (cut scenes? What cut scenes?)

Epic movie-like orchestral soundtrack (I don’t recall the music or soundtrack which isn’t a good thing)


So while the marketing was trying to push an epic game, that’s not what I received (and that’s okay) Here’s what I did like from my Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron review.

Boss fights were really fun. For the most part, I could beat them in a try or two with a few of them ranging from medium to challenging. Bosses like The Professor, The Lokfuehrer, and the Terror Twins would more on the easier side. I liked that each boss taunted you and had a personality before taking them out. One boss who kicked my ass a ton was The Alchemist. He had a scorpion-shaped ship that spread poison everywhere. These gas clouds would fill the screen giving you only a few spaces of safe haven. Eventually, the entire screen would be filled with gas if you didn’t kill him quick enough. That fight took me 20-30 times but my issue was that I simply wasn’t powered up enough to deal credible amounts of damage before his poison spread everywhere.

There is an upgrade system where you can receive small perks and bonuses but I didn’t feel like it impacted my play style. On the big bosses there are small sections where you make a run at their ship (think Star Wars heading toward the vent hole) and these vary between difficult and almost pointless. Many times I’d make the run over and over and feel like I wasn’t doing any damage on the ship. It was frustrating to deal with all the enemies and then make a run for no payoff.

Some other frustration was the lack of control from my squadron. Whether you play as the good or bad guys, each one will have a character who goes “crazy” on some levels. They will fly off on their own and you’ll either have to stay close to their plane to protect them or avoid their gunfire. I understand the concept, it just wasn’t fun. Each level also comes with a “side mission” that are little bonus objection for you. These are simple things like collecting enough boxes or bombing a certain number of bases.

I don’t fault the creators for the lack of polish or shine on the game. There’s plenty of fun to be had in small-budget shmups, but they tried to implement their own recipe and it just didn’t work. I applaud them for trying something new but in the end, I need fun and I didn’t get that in my Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron review. It felt slow, the characters incredibly stupid with terrible voice acting, and an upgrade system that didn’t see benefits. They have the bosses down, those worked great and were fun for the most part. If the levels were tweaked and received some attention this could creep into the “average” game category but it doesn’t do that.

Memories:
Aces of Luftwaffe was one of the games that I picked up at CEX during my vacation to Ireland. It was such a fun time and my wife surprised me with the trip during my birthday week. We were able to explore all over Ireland and visit many CEX stores. Aces of the Luftwaffe were one of the games that I snagged on one of those visits.

Aces of the Luftwaffe Review Score:

I can understand that small dev teams don’t always have the budget to bring incredible graphics and gameplay to their creations. What I do expect is for the major pain points of a game to be addressed before being released. The voice acting is some of the worst I have heard in gaming and the load times will have you sitting for five minutes before losing interest. It’s a very average shooter at best but coupled with those complaints this is a game that should be avoided.

Aces of the Luftwaffe scores a 4.9 out of 10.

What would you write in your Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron review? What game has the worst voice acting that you’ve played? What modern shmups do you enjoy? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Aces of the Luftwaffe, I’d love to read them.

Alan Wake Review

In 2010, Remedy Entertainment developed while Microsoft Studios published Alan Wake, a rare exclusive for the Xbox 360. This mystery-thriller would develop a cult following while reaching commercial and critical success. Would the darkness find me in this Alan Wake review or would the light shine through?

Alan Wake Plot:

Alan Wake stars… you guessed it, Alan Wake! He’s a very successful writer, but he’s recently gone through a tough stretch of writer’s block that has lasted over two years. With a push from his agent, Barry, and his wife, Alice, Alan travels to a small town in Washington to try and spark his creativity again.

Along with suffering from writer’s block, Alan has recently begun to suffer from nightmares about shadowy figures and needs to fight them off with the power of light. After arriving in the tiny town, Alan goes to pick up the keys to a cabin where he encounters a strange woman dressed in all black that gives him the keys. The cabin is located on an island on Cauldron Lake, a giant crater that was created by a volcano.

As Alan and Alice settle in the cabin, she informs him that she wants Alan to see a psychologist who specializes in helping break through mental blocks so Alan can continue his work. Now, to me, that sounds a bit greedy from Alice. I’m sure she is coming from a good place, but I can see how Alan might take it the wrong way. He does and explodes on Alice as it starts a big fight. One thing, I enjoyed during my Alan Wake review, is how “real” Alan is. He’s not a perfect person or even likable at times. He comes off as a dick, and there are moments where he acts like one. The fight between Alice and Alan felt like a real relationship.

Alan leaves Alice as he tries to cool off, but she is deeply afraid of the dark. He hears her screams from the cabin while he is on a hike, and returns to see her being abducted by a force and dragged into the lake. Alan jumps into the lake to try and retrieve Alice but blacks out in the process.

Fast-forward a week, and Alan comes back to reality in a car on the side of the road. He has no memory of the past week besides remembering that Alice was dragged into the lake. Alan begins to explore his surroundings which are often wooded areas filled with dark shadowy figures of men. Just like in his dream he uses the light from a flashlight to defeat them.

While exploring, Alan begins to find pages of a manuscript that he apparently wrote. The descriptions and stories in the manuscript give a hint at what’s to come as they often come true. Alan turns to the police and informs them that his wife has been kidnapped but they tell him there’s no cabin or island on Cauldron Lake because it was sunk years ago in a volcanic eruption. Confused, but still determined Alan comes into communication with a man who claims he is behind the kidnapping of Alice and gets Alan to meet him. It turns out the man was a pawn of the old woman who gave Alan the keys to the cabin. The woman sends a massive black tornado at Alan who sucks him up. He wakes up in a psychiatric ward under the care of the psychologist that Alice wanted him to see in the first place.

Dr. Hartman claims that Alan is suffering from mental breakdowns and that everything he has been seeing is just his imagination. At this point, Barry, Alan’s agent comes to town and breaks Alan out of the ward. Dr. Hartman reveals he knows about the island on Cauldron Lake and that his intentions aren’t good. The care clinic comes under attack from shadowy figures as Alan and Barry fight their way through the horde escaping Dr. Hartman and the shadowy figures.

Barry and Alan investigate Cauldron Lake and discover from the townsfolk that a Dark Presence is trapped there. This presence can influence people throughout the town and turns them into shadowy figures who are shells of themselves. The presence tries to find ways to escape and discovered that writings around the lake become a reality which is why it wants Alan to write it free with his manuscript.

Alan and Barry are arrested but once the shadowy figures come, the police believe them, setting Alan and Barry free to help fight the figures. One cop, named Sarah, helps Alan and Barry find a woman who knows about the presence and how to defeat it. Alan travels to Cauldron Lake where he is transported to an alternate reality where Alice is held. He defeats the dark presence by finishing the story where Alice is freed but to balance the story, Alan is trapped in an alternate reality.

This concludes my Alan Wake review section on plot, but I thoroughly enjoyed most of it. As a writer myself, the lines blurred for Alan and myself on whether he was being demonized by self-doubt about his skills or whether it was really shadowy figures creeping in on him.

Alan Wake Gameplay:

My Alan Wake review wasn’t too difficult to finish. You’ll play as Alan throughout the entirety of the game in a third-person view. While some may be frightened by the shadowy figures, I wouldn’t count the game in the horror genre but there were some suspenseful moments along with some creepy environments like abandoned cabins, or dark woods.

The combat is easy to grasp. To hurt any enemy, you’ll need to first “stun” them with the light. Keeping the flashlight beam on them as they weaken is the only way to kill them with bullets from your gun. Once they are weakened, they will stay that way until you kill them. Firing your gun at unweakened shadows is useless.

Immediately, the voice acting stuck out. I was blown away by the quality of it and it made me believe I was playing an interactive drama. It’s some of the best voice actings I’ve come across in gaming. The characters are the stars in this game and you’ll have a love/hate relationship with Alan. Barry, on the other hand, I thought was going to be a stereotypical annoying partner but he turns out to be quite funny. On the flip side, there were some frame-rate issues with my Alan Wake review. I was playing on my Xbox One with an Xbox 360 disc. Sometimes combat was slowed down while other issues included smoothing objects. On occasion, a truck or plant looked undetailed and in basic form.

Speaking of trucks, there are times when you’ll drive a vehicle. I don’t think this was necessary and didn’t add much to the gameplay. You can use the headlight to kill the shadow figures but other than that, it was clunky controls. There are also a lot of secrets to uncover in Alan Wake. Some are found by following hidden arrows revealed by light, while others are the manuscript pages or water bottles which acted as collectible items.

My favorite part of the game was when Alan and Barry travel to an old farm that was home to old rockstars. A horde of shadow figures makes their way to the farm and Alan puts on a rock show with all the lights, fireworks, and flares. It was a bit of ridiculous gameplay that was needed to break up the somewhat series tone of the game. Alan and Barry also get very drunk at the farm which was quite hilarious.

The presentation throughout Alan Wake was excellent with a great soundtrack. There are chapters in Alan Wake and each time you completed one it was like finishing a chapter in a book that left you on a cliffhanger. It made me want to keep playing my Alan Wake review.

Weapons include a pistol, shotgun, rifle, flare gun, grenades, and various flashlights. It was a good rotation of weapons, but I rarely needed to switch to my shotgun or flaregun to defeat shadow figures. I’m good with a gun so maybe others who need more help might find the higher-powered weapons better suited.

The end of Alan Wake was a bit of a disappointment. As you enter the other dimension, you’ll finally fight the “end boss” which turns out to be a giant dark tornado. It felt a bit lame and was pretty easy. You evaporate it with the light to reach the dark presence.

Memories:
I had heard about Alan Wake and all the hype about it as an original Xbox 360 exclusive. Funny enough, it came to the PS4 in a remaster, but the version I played was the original Xbox 360 version, and I’m glad I played it. After so many years of hearing about how great Alan Wake was, I was able to complete my Alan Wake review.

Alan Wake Review Score:

There was a lot of hype around Alan Wake and I can see why for the most part it was warranted. The voice acting is superb, and the battle mechanics of weakening your opponents with light before shooting them was unique. While the plot was predictable, it was still an enjoyable one to playthrough. Alan Wake walks a fine line between thriller and horror and blurs the lines between reality and dreams.

Alan Wake scores an 8.5 out of 10.

What would you write in your Alan Wake review? Did you or do you plan on picking up the remastered version? What other games have this type of quality voice acting? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Alan Wake, I’d love to read them.

Streets of Rage Review

One of the greatest beat ’em ups in video game history was released in 1991 on the Sega Genesis. Developed and published by Sega, Streets of Rage was a combination of engulfing atmospheres, a soundtrack of absolute perfection, and an addicting difficulty that made gamers try again and again. Streets of Rage was reason enough to get a Sega Genesis. We’re calming the streets in this Streets of Rage review!

Streets of Rage Plot:

For this Streets of Rage review we turn to the manual to get the plot:

“What was once a happy, peaceful, productive city, full of life and activity, has fallen into the hands of a secret criminal syndicate. The leader of the syndicate has somehow managed to keep his identity a secret. The organization soon absorbed the city government (anyone can be had if the price is right). They even have the metropolitan police force in their back pocket. Looting, random violence, and destruction are rampant. No one is safe walking the streets, day or night…

As the chaos continued at full strength, three young police officers tried to establish a special attack unit. They were repeatedly refused by their superiors, most of whom had either been bought by the organization or were too afraid to make a stand. One day, when they could no longer stand by and watch their city being demolished, they quit the force!

Adam Hunter, Axel Stone, and Blaze Fielding decided to forego their careers in legal law enforcement and put their lives on the line. They are without weapons, but each possesses great hand-to-hand combat abilities. Take them into the heart of the city and battle the most dangerous wave of bad dudes and chicks ever assembled. Make the city a place where people no longer have to walk the Streets of Rage!

Streets of Rage Gameplay:

For my Streets of Rage review, I played with Axel Stone. Each fighter has different stats for the three main categories of power, jumping, and speed. Adam and Axel are both great with power but lack in either jumping or speed. Blaze, the girl, has little power but can jump well and has great speed. You’ll be able to play Streets of Rage with a friend and cooperatively defeat the thugs together but I opted to complete my Streets of Rage review by myself.

In most of my reviews, I don’t mention the soundtrack to games unless they are exceptional. The very first notes when I started my Streets of Rage review completely had me hooked. I was so impressed by the soundtrack I had to look up who was the composer of this master track. The genius behind the Streets of Rage soundtrack is Yuzo Koshiro who is still a legend in the video game composing industry.

When we get to the meat of the game, it’s a beat ’em up. Scroll to the right, beat up the bad guys, repeat until the level ends. Nothing wrong with that. Streets of Rage separates itself from a ton of other beat ’em ups with its addicting and fair nature. I swear if I just got one more crack at that boss, I’d beat him. If I had one more power-up, I would have beat that stage. It’s a fair game that will have you thinking you’ll be able to defeat the level if you have just one more chance.

During my Streets of Rage review, I found myself in danger quite a few times. Being surrounded by punks who were getting the better of me, I’d call for backup using a special power up. This power up was awesome and always gave me a laugh. Speaking into a walkie-talkie, you call for backup as a police car is seen pulling up. The window rolls down and a bazooka is unleashed as they bomb the hell out of your opponents. It’s awesome and is a big help in clearing out any tough enemies.

Streets of Rage has so much personality. It’s the small details that really do it for me. The bright neon lights flashing as you walk by them, the posters on the walls blowing in the wind, or the guy swinging at your head with a lead pipe like he’s in a baseball game. All these and more made my Streets of Rage review so enjoyable.

Most boss fights were fun and somewhat fair, but there was one pair of twin sisters who were so frustrating to deal with. They don’t deal massive damage but their elusiveness is near impossible. I failed multiple times fighting them not because they damaged me but because the time limit kept expiring. This was the most frustrating part of my Streets of Rage review but after looking up how to defeat them, and with some practice, I was able to put the twins down for good. I suppose another gripe I had was repeating bosses like the Wolverine guy. When you reach the final boss, he will give you an offer to join him. If you select “yes” it will transport you back to level six and you’ll have to work your way back to him. That’s a fun little tidbit but I’d hate to be the gamer who wanted to join the gang only to be transported back.

Memories:
Completing my Streets of Rage review is a long time coming. I’ve heard of this series throughout my entire adulthood but never experienced it. I was blown away at how incredible it was with the combination of music and addicting action. I cruised through Streets of Rage but I can only hope the sequels are just as good.

Streets of Rage Review Score:

Streets of Rage is an incredible combination of a perfect soundtrack and addicting fighting mechanics. Calling for back up was one of my favorite elements but the entire game is phenomenal. Any video gamer would love to get their hands on this classic.

Streets of Rage scores a 9.8 out of 10.

What would you write in your Streets of Rage review? What’s the best soundtrack in video game history? Which character did you choose? What’s your favorite Streets of Rage game in the series? Did you play it with friends? What are your thoughts and memories of Streets of Rage? I’d love to read them.

Cotton Reboot Review

Originally released in 1991 in the arcade and various systems, Cotton saw a remastered edition released in 2021. Coming home to the PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, gamers were treated to one of the cutest shoot ’em ups available. Take control of the candy-loving witch, Cotton, as she helps her fairy friends restore light to this world. Don’t forget to take tea time in this Cotton Reboot review!

Cotton Reboot Plot:

The plot for Cotton Reboot is a simple and silly one. Cotton is a cute witch who loves candy! She’ll do just about anything for her sweet tooth. One day, the land turns dark the fairies of the world start to become unhappy with all this darkness caused by an evil fairy named Wool. The fairies beg Cotton for help and bribe her with tons of candy if she can defeat their enemies and restore light to the world. Cotton decides the candy is worth it and hops on her broomstick to save the world. Throughout her journey, she gets testy with the fairies as the candy isn’t always what she wants but in the end, she defeats the evil fairy. It turns out that the fairies lied to Cotton and they didn’t have a huge candy stash. Cotton gets so upset she turns to stone but the fairies quickly tell her a rumor of more candy in the next land that was stolen by thieves. Hearing this news she comes back to life and whisks her fairy friends away to the next land.

Cotton Reboot Gameplay:

My Cotton Reboot review started as soon as I got my hands on this game. I had heard that it was on the shorter side so I set aside some time that week to play it. Little did I know that I’d only need an hour to complete my Cotton Reboot review.

Cotton Reboot has all the charm of a silly and cute shoot ’em up. All the graphics have been magnificently upgraded and are full of color. I can’t speak highly enough of the backgrounds, enemies, and unique bosses. The story is presented in short slideshows between levels. It’s nothing impressive but it suits the game perfectly with the aesthetics. You’ll have the ability to play both the original game and the remastered version. I played the remastered version for my Cotton Reboot review. After I beat it, I played a small amount of the original but the remastered far surpassed it.

Most shoot ’em ups have an insane amount of action on the screen. Cotton Reboot is no different but instead of a ton of enemies, it’s numbers and gems. High score chasers will foam at the mouth with all the potential and complicated ways to increase your score. I just wanted to beat the game which is quite easy to do so as you can just keep continuing if you die. There’s a unique score system in Cotton Reboot. Cotton can shoot through gems that are littered throughout the level. Depending on the gem color, points are doubled. The more you shoot a gem, the more points you get as it changes colors until it is considered a “dead” gem. You pick up the gems and add them to your high score. It’s beneficial to shoot through the gems as they deal more damage too. Cotton Reboot was almost as much a gem collecting game as it was a shoot ’em up.

Unless you have insane reflexes or have memorized the enemy patterns and level layouts you’ll die quite a bit. It is an arcade game so the difficulty is still there but I was pleased that they allowed you to continue even if you die. It’s a great way for everyone to have a high score and play through some of the best parts.

One of the best things from my Cotton Reboot review was facing the insane bosses. I say insane because they are just so unique and weird. It’s a good thing and I liked facing these weird monsters. Most bosses are challenging but fair and you’ll always have that moment of anticipation when you see the boss life bar show up. You know you’re in for a wild ride.

The last thing that stood out in my Cotton Reboot review was “tea time”. It was a cute little bonus section after boss fights where Cotton must collect items to boost her score. It reminded me of Fantasy Zone the way they had Opa-Opa collect money after defeating a boss. It was a fun little mini-game that can make or break your high score. Honestly, my only real complaint about Cotton Reboot is that the game is so short and I’m simply not a score chaser. Other gamers who are will adore and love this.

Memories:
I don’t recall seeing any of the Cotton games as a kid but the character of Cotton seems familiar. When I saw the cover of the game and realized it was a shoot ’em up, I couldn’t pass it up. She was too cute and the price wasn’t terrible although I recall many Twitter friends saying it was a short game. Boy, they were right! When Cotton Reboot arrived I beat the game in about an hour. While there’s tons of replayability, I didn’t feel the need to do it. Some day I may want to replay it but I wouldn’t pay more than $20 for this game if you don’t have it in your collection.

Cotton Reboot Review Score:

Cotton Reboot is a wonderful remastered version of the original. This is a perfect game to play in the car or to have a high score challenge with a friend, but that’s it. You won’t find much replayability if you aren’t a high-score chaser. If you are, you may love this game but if not, there are plenty of other games to occupy your precious time.

Cotton Reboot scores a 6.5 out of 10.

What would you write in your Cotton Reboot review? Which version of the game did you prefer to play? What other cute shoot ’em ups exist? What’s your high score? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Cotton Reboot, I’d love to read them.

Quest For Glory II Review

Following up on an incredible game is never easy. Sierra On-Line found that out the hard way when they released Quest For Glory II: Trial By Fire in 1990 for the MS-Dos. The first Quest For Glory is nothing short of a masterpiece but the second title in the series had numerous fatal flaws that saw a departure from the original. The magic carpet has crashed, and I’m not sure we’re getting out of the desert in this Quest For Glory II review.

Quest For Glory II Plot:

Gone is Speilburg, the lovely German-inspired town in the valley of mountains, replaced by the hot desert sands of Shapier and its inhabitants of the Katta people. Our hero has arrived after traveling on a magic carpet from Speilburg with his Katta friends and merchant. After a less-than-perfect landing, the hero learns that Shapier is in a ton of trouble.

Shapier continues to be ravaged by the elements of fire, wind, water, and earth. The bad news doesn’t stop there, as the sister city to Shapier, Raseir is under tyrannical control and its leader has gone missing. Making his way through the desert and city of Shapier our hero cleverly defeats the four magical elements restoring Shapier to its proper state of peace. He then travels to Raseir and discovers an evil Wizard has imprisoned Raseir’s king and unleashed a foul Genie who is controlling much of the city. Attacking the palace, the hero defeats both Wizard and Genie and restores the king to proper power.

Quest For Glory II has an incredible plot filled with fun characters, interesting missions, and humorous outcomes. My Quest for Glory II review praises that but the next section is what makes this game almost unplayable.

Quest For Glory II Gameplay:

My Quest For Glory II review began just like the one I did for the original. I was dropped into a strange town with tons of problems to solve. It’s a point-and-click adventure game meaning you’ll have to explore and carefully search for key items and speak to many people as you solve problem after problem. It’s worth noting that I played the AGD Interactive Studio version which was an update with graphics and a simplified version of the town but more on that later. I also want to say what a wonderful job AGD Interactive did putting together Quest For Glory II with all the updates. As to how this review ends up is not on them.

The disaster that is my Quest For Glory II review comes down to three key elements of the gameplay. First, and probably the biggest issue hindering Quest For Glory II is the disastrous navigation of the hub town, Shapeir. Much of the game takes place in Shapeir, but it’s anything but easy to navigate. Every alleyway and street looks almost identical, and it takes about two seconds before you are lost. You may be told to go visit someone, and it might take you an hour to discover where they are walking the same streets over and over. This terrible maze was simplified by AGD Interactive Studio in the remake but it is still a mess. Many times I’d start my journey out with confidence in believing that I knew where I was going only to get lost and frustrated. When you are dropped into a maze to begin the game, you lose patience real quick. There needed to be some sort of distinguishing features for the streets. Make the walls different colors, or have different types of gates. This was the first nail in the coffin for my Quest of Glory II review.

My next complaint is the time-sensitive missions. In Quest For Glory I, you could explore all day and not have to worry about missing something. My Quest For Glory II review was crunched by an ever-persistent schedule that required you to have completed certain missions or have certain items by a specific day or else you’d miss the next step of the game. Your only hints on what to do next was a poet who read poems at at the inn and a gypsy who helped you with the elements. This probably isn’t a game you’ll be able to play and beat your first go around, as it will take many playthroughs to understand the layout and places you need to be. Perhaps these issues wouldn’t have been such a hazard to me but I was coming off one of my most beloved games in the original.

The final complaint I have in my Quest For Glory II review is the battle mechanics. Quest For Glory I had a very simple and effective battle menu on the bottom right-hand corner. There were four commands. If you were the fighter you could slash, stab, parry and dodge. Quest For Glory II replaced this menu with a keyboard command battle system and no visual buttons on the screen. Your character and enemy freely roam the screen and to engage you need to get close to them. I did not care for this implementation and it felt like a waste of time to continue to track down my enemy. The first Quest for Glory had it perfect with a static screen where you controlled your motions with clicks. Battling in Quest For Glory II was a large difficulty curve that resulted in your death. A lot!

If there’s something I enjoyed from Quest for Glory II it was the continued plot that was filled with clever writing, hilarious jokes, and lovable characters that were brought over from the first game. I wish these characters got a proper sequel because they are loved in my book and I wanted to continue their story. Although I almost forgot there was a super weird strip tease dance by Shema, who was is cat-like creature. I felt very uncomfortable during, almost like a “what the hell” moment.

Memories:
It never occurred to me to play the sequels to one of my most beloved games until I was around 20. Quest For Glory I by all means is a perfect 10 to me, and so why wouldn’t I want to see what the follow-up to it was? It was difficult to find Quest For Glory II with a compatible computer system as the systems I had were too new. I finally was able to get it to work, but playing Quest For Glory II didn’t hook me in, and I shoved my attempt at a Quest For Glory II review for nearly 10 years. Fast forward to 2020, and I redownloaded Quest For Glory II determined to play it.

It was a disaster. Sierra completely overhauled the fighting system, and the city map was a wreck. I tried to stick with it, but it was difficult, and after a few days of dabbling in it, I turned it off. I gave it one more shot this year and saw it through, but it was so disappointing. How could a sequel be so far apart from what I had loved so much?

Quest For Glory II Review Score:

Quest For Glory II is the complete opposite of Quest For Glory. The fighting mechanics are disastrous with the missing commands, the city hub is potentially the worst part of the game as you get lost everywhere you go, and the timed trigger events add a pinch of panic. What happened to Quest for Glory II, and why did it fall so far from perfection? The formula was already perfect, but they decided to shake it up. Shake it up they did but for much worse.

Quest For Glory II scores a 4.5 out of 10.

What would you write in your Quest for Glory II review? What character did you choose? How many times did you get lost in the city? Who was your favorite character? Did you actually enjoy Quest For Glory II? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Quest For Glory II, I’d love to read them.

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Review

When you take the hottest roster of fighting girls and whisk them away to a private island for a volleyball tournament you get Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Developed by Team Ninja and released by Tecmo in 2003 for the Xbox, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball had every middle school boy giggling and secretly renting this game. The swimsuits are tiny, the boobs big, and volleyball well actually quite fun. Put your suntan lotion on, we’re about to spike this Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review!

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Plot:

Does my Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review actually have a plot section! Yes, it does! Our favorite girls from DOA have been invited to Zack Island (Zack is a character from DOA) because they think the next tournament is being held there. For whatever reason, Zack thinks it’s a great trick to play on them but the girls instead of getting upset take this in stride and has a slumber party two-week sleepover on Zack Island. There’s plenty of activities to do and they enjoy the casino, fine dining, and working on their tans. At the end of the two weeks, however, a volcano erupts destroying Zack Island sinking it for good so the girls head on back to their regular lives.

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Gameplay:

The opening cinematic video is fantastic. DOA games nail the soundtracks for the series and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball is no different. Watching the opening I was blown away by the gorgeous graphics (and girls who were half-naked) paired with a catchy tune. My Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review truly felt like a vacation on Zack Island with an amazing soundtrack throughout my stay.

There are many elements to this game and some are great while others are questionable. The majority of the game that takes place in a two-week period is playing volleyball against the girls of DOA. Controls are very simple, with “set” and “return” buttons. This works well and the girls control with ease. Depending on how sensitive you push the button also changes the power of the spike or serve. For as many elements that are wrapped into this game, the volleyball portion is not only playable but fun. Once I got the hang of two matches, my team won about 80 percent of the time. There were challenges and you had to learn when to score and when to play defense but overall it was an enjoyable experience playing volleyball.

You’ll have to recruit a partner to play with you and this is where I gripe in my Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review. If you lose your first match, the partner that is given to you will probably leave you. You’ll be required to court a new partner with gifts like swimsuits, accessories, and treats. I hated this. It wasn’t easy and my first playthrough with Lei-Fang resulted in me playing one match the entire time over two weeks because no one wanted to play with me and my shitty gifts were being thrown in the trash. Each girl has different tastes but it’s hard to know which one to court. My second playthrough was much better as I won my first match and then my partner stuck with me the entire two weeks allowing me to play a match a day.

I wish they would have implemented a tournament mode or crowned a champion at the end of the two weeks. That would have been awesome and gave you a goal to go after instead of just collecting more swimsuits. Don’t get me wrong, the swimsuits or lack thereof look good on the girls. It’s just I’m a competitive person and would have enjoyed a trophy or tournament.

Aside from playing volleyball you can go to the casino and gamble with slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and craps. You can use the money you earned from winning volleyball matches to gamble and buy more swimsuits and apparel. I don’t enjoy gambling in real life so I didn’t care too much for it during my Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review but I guess it’s cool for those who enjoy gambling although I don’t know how much of a rush you’ll get.

Mini-games are another section of the game mainly by the pool. You can have your girls hop across the pool on floating platforms. They’ll jump as hard as you press the button so some skill is required or else they fall in the pool. Getting across the pool earns more money, which you guessed can be used for swimsuits.

If you’re a volleyball enthusiast who is obsessed with collecting swimsuits while ogling over hot girls, this is your dream game. Let’s talk about the girls. They jiggle in all the right places with skimpy little swimsuits on. In 2004, this was the best nerds could get with video game girls. The graphics have aged just a bit but the boobs errr I mean girls still look awesome. You can take them to deserted sections of the island and Ummm watch them? They’ll sunbathe or playfully splash in the water or stand against trees. The view always came off that I was a voyeur who was about to murder these girls in some secluded location instead of just being a perv. I have no issue with this being in the game I just wish that there was a bit more interaction with the girls during these portions. Perhaps there could have been a conversation tree and you can learn more about the girls as they talk to you about their history or hobbies while they frolic around naked.

The best collectibles were the Dead or Alive commercials that spanned the entire series. It was cool to see the history of DOA and I got more excited to watch some short videos instead of a new swimsuit. I didn’t see much value in replaying my vacation but for collectors, they’ll get to keep everything they earned and then restart.

Memories:
I remember a big feature of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball when I was a kid in my Xbox magazine. They made a huge deal about it because of all the girls and that was back when you could make these games with everyone being excited about it. My mom once bought me DOA3 randomly and I mentioned that I wanted this game. As a 13-year-old boy I thought I was subtle but I’m sure my mom thought much better of it. I think I even pushed the “they continue the plot” line. I never got it until I was in my late 20s. It sat on my shelf for a bit and then I finally decided to play it this past month.

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Review Score:

There is a certain charm about Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball as it takes you back to a time when you could make these types of games without backlash. Sure, the girls from DOA look good but the volleyball is actually fun. The gift system is there for people who love to collect and unlock items but the partner system was too much of a chore. This would have been a fun weekend rental instead of a full purchase.

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball scores a 7.1 out of 10.

What would you write in your Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review? Which girl was your favorite to play with? Did you enjoy the gift system? Do any of your friends give you crap for playing it? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, I’d love to read them.

Donkey Kong Country 2 Review

Just one year after the smash hit of Donkey Kong Country in 1994, developer Rare and Nintendo published Donkey Kong Country 2 in 1995 on the Super Nintendo. The sequel would change leads and add a new female playable character with Dixie Kong. Would Donkey Kong Country 2 be just as amazing as the original or would this game be second banana? We’re twirling our way into this Donkey Kong Country 2 review!

Donkey Kong Country 2 Plot:

Our favorite Kong has been kidnapped by Kaptain K. Rool. He’s left a ransom note asking for the banana hoard back in exchange for Donkey Kong. Poor DK was just enjoying a nap on the beach when Cranky Kong approached whacking him on the head with his cane. After a few moments of Cranky insulting DK about how lazy he is, Cranky leaves DK alone to nap on the beach. It is during his nap that DK was kidnapped by the crew of K. Rool.

The Kongs gather around figuring out what to do next as Diddy swears to go after DK and take down Kaptain K. Rool again. Looking around at the Kongs, Cranky is too old and Funky Kong hates adventures. Suddenly, Dixie Kong, Diddy’s girlfriend speaks up saying she will partner with Diddy and get DK back. While shocked, Diddy reluctantly agrees and together the two of them set off to find DK and take down the Kremlings.

After making their way through various traps and kremling filled levels, Diddy and Dixie find DK roped up hanging from the ceiling with Kaptain K. Rool. Battling the Kaptain, the duo defeats him and rescues DK before making their way back to Kong Island.

Donkey Kong Country 2 Gameplay:

The formula for gameplay didn’t change much in my Donkey Kong Country 2 review. This is an excellent platformer that has you taking control of Diddy and his girlfriend, Dixie. Diddy controls identical to how he did in the original but with no Donkey Kong, Dixie was quite a change of pace. Both are small and quick but Dixie has the unique ability to twirl her hair and float from platform to platform. She controls great and I found myself using her much more than Diddy. There were even sections later on that required Dixie to make jumps between hazards. Her end-level celebrations were rad too with her guitar whaling anthem.

Back are the familiar and helpful animal pals although I think I used them much less. You can still use the rhino and swordfish but instead of actually jumping on them and using animals, you are transformed with barrels. Jumping into specially marked barrels will turn you into a giant snake, spider, or parrot. I didn’t like that aspect but it still played the same way. Aside from the typical levels of platforming, my Donkey Kong Country 2 review featured familiar levels of cart rides and water levels.

Collecting is emphasized more in Donkey Kong Country 2. There are mini-games that you can be transported to by finding items or secret barrels. These include collecting all the coins in an area or killing all the enemies. Overall, while quite fun I didn’t seek out these mini-games. If you collect enough of the hidden coins you’ll unlock the Lost World which is a bonus world. I had a hard enough time beating the game to try and go for hidden levels but it’s cool that they included it for other players.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country 2 is almost the exact same as the original. That’s not a bad thing but aside from changing characters, it didn’t feel different. The soundtrack is fantastic along with all of the sound effects. Truly, the Donkey Kong series has some of the best music when it comes to games on the Super Nintendo. Although if I had to pick one complaint, I’d say that the level variety is smaller. There were just as many levels but the themes were not as diverse.

Boss fights were challenging but not impossible. The hardest fight as it should be was the final fight against Kaptain K. Rool. Jumping over his cannonballs was tricky but once he started to turn invisible and slide across the room things got tough. It took me numerous attempts to beat him but once you understand his pattern, it became as simple as memorizing his routine.

Memories:
I had a friend when I was in elementary school who had a Super Nintendo. His mom would babysit me after some school days, and we’d head to the basement to play the SNES. I can only think of three games that we’d play and by now I’ve reviewed them all. The first two were Blackthorne and Donkey Kong Country.

Playing Donkey Kong Country 2 as a kid, I remember thinking Dixie was pretty cool with how her hair could spin making her float. It was a great element to the gameplay and made her very valuable in some parts of the game. I don’t think we ever got very playing it but I at least remember my introduction to Donkey Kong Country 2.

Many, many years later, I’d attempt my first Donkey Kong Country 2 review. I was about halfway through with it when I accidentally deleted my save file. That made me quite mad, and I didn’t play it again for at least another year until just recently. Dixie was still cool as ever.

Donkey Kong Country 2 Review Score:

Rare struck gold with the original Donkey Kong Country, and they didn’t change the formula a bit with Donkey Kong Country 2. Smart, because it was just as amazing and immersive as the first with the wonderful soundtrack and inclusion of a new character. Dixie stole the show, but the real winner is gamers everywhere who experienced the second game in this wonderful series.

Donkey Kong Country 2 scores a 9.6 out of 10.

What would you write in your Donkey Kong Country 2 review? Which did you like better the original or sequel? Who was the toughest boss? Did you use Diddy or Dixie more? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Donkey Kong Country 2, I’d love to read them.

TransBot Review

TransBot was released on the Sega Master System in North America in 1986. The sidescrolling shoot ’em up was developed and published by Sega. Players could transform between a spaceship and a robot to blast their way through the game. We’re looping a ton in this TransBot review.

TransBot Plot:

There’s nothing in the actual game to suggest a plot so let’s turn to the manual to figure out what’s going on in this TransBot review:

“It seemed like things were finally starting to get back together after the Nuclear War of the solar year 2,000. People had emerged from their underground shelters. They built new towns. New forms of transportation. An all-new society.

But something has gone wrong. DALAUS, an artificial intelligence computer leftover from the now-defunct regime is creating a dictatorial empire. DALAUS is already gaining control of one city – and it’s rumored that many of the guards are actually working for DALAUS.

The only thing that can stop this treacherous takeover is the new CA-214, a sophisticated transforming combat Astro-plane. And the only one who can pilot this high-performance machine is you.

You’ll have to destroy the enemy’s ARM CARRIER. Then try to find DALAUS’s hidden fortress and destroy ELGRAMZON to rid the Earth of evil influence forever.”

TransBot Gameplay:

My TransBot review was quite short due to the nature of the game. There are essentially only two levels in Transbot before the game loops again. In the first part of the game, you are on a surface of a planet as the background is rocky terrain and futuristic cities. After your clear that section you’ll be transported down into a vent which is assumably the enemy fortress. Here you will make your way down the hallway of a base and destroy the enemy that looks just like an AT-ST from Star Wars. After defeating this enemy TransBot will loop and start you at the beginning. All of this can take as little as five minutes. If you are a high score chaser then perhaps you’ll love this game. I’m not, so it didn’t appeal to me and even for a high score chaser, only two levels are quite a disappointment.

For sound effects and music, I enjoyed the catchy tune on the start menu. It’s nothing to write home about but I suppose that’s exactly what I’m doing in my Transbot review, but I did catch myself nodding along to the music. That pleasant music was quickly drowned out by the annoying sounds of your weapon. 1942 for the NES may have the worst sound effect for a weapon in video game history but TransBot isn’t too far behind. Too bad because the overall music for TransBot is decent.

Picking up a power-up will activate your mega weapons. You will select a weapon in a quick selection area at the top of the screen. Every gamer will want to land on Weapon “C” as it’s by fast the best weapon. Your TransBot will transform into the robot and send mega-waves at the enemies that are one-hit kills and cover a decent amount of screen. The other weapons were okay, but it was clear that weapon C was the best. Each mega weapon comes with a limited supply so when that’s gone you’ll need to pick another power up to restart the weapon selection frenzy.

During my TransBot review, I didn’t loop many times through my playthrough. The enemies are predictable once you learn their patterns so finding the safe zone is the most important aspect in learning where they travel to avoid crashing into them. I’ve seen some crazy YouTubers like 8BitBoyUK and Zanoni_Revived play TransBot. Those guys are good and their playthroughs can get pretty wild with how fast the enemies come at them. If either of them read my reviews, I hope they don’t get too upset at the low scores for some Master System games! It’s all good and fun, guys.

Memories:
My first time hearing about Transbot was when I was in my 30s. That’s somewhat surprising for someone who loved the Sega Master System and history. People were making fun of what a terrible game it was on Twitter and I didn’t think much of it at the time. Fast-Forward to my amazing trip to Ireland where I went hunting for Sega Master System games and I wound up in a dingey narrow basement covered from the floor to the ceiling in records, VHS tapes, and old video games.

This was supposed to be the crown jewel of retro game collecting in Ireland but I was unimpressed at first. I asked if they had any Sega Master System games and the guy behind the counter pulled out a cardboard box with some games in there. Looking through it I was desperate to find any Sega Master System games to add to my small collection. It was in there, that I laid my eyes on TransBot for the first time. It was extremely cheap so I bought it. I think the CIB edition cost me $5. Not bad.

When I arrived home from my Ireland trip a weird phenomenon was going around social media as a high score challenge for TransBot. How strange was it that the game I just bought was now trending on my Twitter timelines? Anyway, I played it a few weeks later to much disappointment!

TransBot Review Score:

My TransBot review was shockingly short. Unless you are a high score chaser there really isn’t a ton of fun in TransBot because you continue to loop after two levels. It’s a very early Sega game but it could have benefited from more levels and another boss. More content could have boosted the review score because the actual gameplay isn’t that bad. TransBot can be fun for high score chasers but should be avoided by everyone else.

TransBot scores a 4.9 out of 10.

What would you write in your TransBot review? Have you ever made the game loop? What’s your high score in TransBot? Which weapon do you like the most? Are there other games similar to TransBot that loop? Let me know your thoughts and comments on TransBot, I’d love to read them.

Metal Gear Review

The beginning of a masterpiece series started in 1987 on the MSX2 computer when Metal Gear was released. Developed and published by Konami with a young Hideo Kojima at the helms, the game was far ahead of its time. A few months later, a port of Metal Gear was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, which took some liberties with the gameplay and had no influence or involvement from Kojima. It is the NES version of Metal Gear that I’ll be reviewing today. Make sure you bring your pack of smokes as we sneak our way into this Metal Gear review.

Metal Gear Plot:

Twists and secrets are expected in almost every Hideo Kojima game and while he didn’t direct the NES version of Metal Gear, it’s heavily inspired by his work. During my Metal Gear review, I recognized familiar plot lines and elements. Big Boss, a threat of a nuclear bipedal Metal Gear, and communication through an earpiece all were welcomed.

Our Metal Gear review begins in the year 1995 in an alternative universe where the Cold War has not ended. You play as Solid Snake, a new member of an elite squad called FOXHOUND who has been dropped into an area in South Africa called Outer Haven. In Outer Haven, a weapon of mass destruction is being developed. It’s Solid Snake’s mission to disarm/destroy this mass weapon or rescue prisoners and other members of FOXHOUND. Originally, it was Gray Fox who was handed this mission, another member of FOXHOUND but the team lost contact with him with his last transmission being “METAL GEAR”.

With the help of his commanding officer, Big Boss, Solid Snake parachutes into the area to infiltrate the fortress. Aside from Big Boss, Solid Snake has help from Diane, Schneider, and Jennifer. After rescuing Gray Fox, Solid Snake learns that Metal Gear is a nuclear bipedal tank that can fight in various forms and launch nukes with ease.

As Solid Snakes goes deeper and deeper within the fortress, he rescues the Doctor responsible for creating Metal Gear and the doctor’s daughter who was held hostage to force the Doctor to build it. Solid Snake makes his way toward the Computer System that controls Metal Gear but he begins to receive bad advice from Big Boss that leads him into traps.

Solid Snake continues to make his way to the center of Outer Haven to destroy the supercomputer that controls Metal Gear. After he successfully detonates it he is confronted by the leader of Outer Haven who turns out to be Big Boss! Big Boss sets up a self-destruct code for Outer Haven as he battles Solid Snake. Snake defeats Big Boss and escapes Outer Haven before it blows up. After the credits, a message is received from Big Boss who declares the two will meet again.

Metal Gear Gameplay:

During my Metal Gear review, I was blown away by how ahead of its time this game was. I don’t even think the term “stealth-action” was a genre but if it was Metal Gear magnified it by a million. The majority of gameplay will be sneaking around on a single screen and avoiding any enemies that may spot you. These enemies include soldiers, guard dogs, and security cameras.

You’ll have plenty of weapons at your dispense but I stuck with my fists and a silenced pistol. Crucial weapons to advance include a rocket launcher and grenade launcher which helped destroy equipment and make fights with bosses much easier. Speaking of bosses let’s review some of the bigger fights in my Metal Gear review.

The “Shotgunner” was quite weak but an excellent first boss to fight against. Twin Shot Gunners I took down with the grenade launcher and they weren’t difficult but a bit tedious. Just like the Shotgunner, the Machine Gun kid was simple, run to the corner and shoot him where he can’t hit you. Flamethrowers were also easy but the hardest fight by far was the tank that comes in an alley. You need to put down mines in front of it and it took me about 10 attempts to beat him. I kept running across the field of fire and getting hit. Even the Big Boss fight is pretty easy. All you do is wait for him to go into the corner and continually fire at him until it’s over. Despite the low difficulty on most of the bosses in my Metal Gear review, I loved fighting them as they changed the pace from the regular grunts that I was taking out.

Another element that stuck out to me during my Metal Gear review was the hilarious mistranslation of when a soldier falls asleep. They said, “I feel asleep”. I also didn’t enjoy punching the poor dogs in the face but I knew it had to be done to quietly make my way into Outer Haven.

Sneaking is a huge element of Metal Gear. The famous cardboard box starts here and I was thrilled. A signature item throughout the series, the cardboard box allows you to hide from guards in a pinch. An example of how far ahead of its time Metal Gear was beside the cardboard box was the hidden transmitter in your inventory. At one point you are captured and have to escape. When you gather your belongings you will have guards constantly attacking you unless you remove the hidden transmitter from your gear. This was genius and I couldn’t believe it was included. Another item that always seems to be in the inventory is cigarettes. These were used at the very end of the game to boost the countdown clock before Outer Haven explodes to give you more time to run away.

Remember the amazing but long scene from Metal Gear Solid 3 where Big Boss is climbing up the ladder? Well, an aspect like that is in the original Metal Gear. Instead of climbing a ladder, you hop onto an elevator that seems to take forever. Knowing about the ladder in Metal Gear Solid 3 made me appreciate the insanely long elevator ride.

While my Metal Gear review is mainly me fawning over Hideo Kojima and his brilliant mind, there were some things that took away from the fun. I had to use a guide almost the entire time simply because of how easy it was to get lost and not exactly know what to do next. You can call via the radio and speak with your team but they aren’t quite as helpful as they’d later become in the Metal Gear Solid series. At times, there were things I had to do that I never would have thought of unless the guide told me so. Examples include punching at certain walls to expose hidden doors to rescue characters and radioing certain frequencies to gather required weapons. Maybe after weeks and weeks of playing Metal Gear, I may have found out about this but I don’t have all the time in the world to find these elaborate and hidden features.

The ending also felt quickly rushed. You defeat Big Boss in a less than stellar fight and then escape Outer Haven in about 30 seconds. You get a small scene of the base blowing up and then the credits roll. I wish I could have gotten one of Kojima’s infamous 30-minute cut scenes where characters wrapped up the plot and story to let me know exactly what I had just done. I know that’s not possible on the NES but some more text on the screen explaining what had happened would have been welcomed. The other thing that really bothered me besides the rushed ending and lack of direction on the mission was the trap doors. There are plenty scattered throughout Outer Haven and you have a split second to avoid them. Many times I did not. If you hadn’t saved in a while you were out of luck. These deaths felt really cheap and sometimes they were simply unavoidable even to the gamers with the quickest reflexes. My Metal Gear review was tons of fun but it was frustrating at times.

Memories:
I can’t tell you how many times I thought about playing Metal Gear to see how the brilliant series began. It took me years to finally do it and I’m satisfied to see how my favorite series started. When I first attempted my Metal Gear review a few months ago, I made the mistake of not getting a crucial item. I can’t remember which one it was but to backtrack it would have taken me an hour to grab it. Not wanting to waste all that time I quit and didn’t attempt to play the game again until this version of my Metal Gear review in which I used a YouTube walkthrough.

Metal Gear Review Score:

Hideo Kojima despite not overseeing the NES port of his masterpiece still influenced much of Metal Gear on the NES. A game so far ahead of its time shocked me with the inclusion of sophisticated items, a well-rounded cast, and even breaking the fourth wall. Metal Gear starts the best franchise in video games, and it’s a must-play for all lovers of the series to pay homage to how it began.

Metal Gear scores a 9 out of 10.

What would you write in your Metal Gear review? Be honest, did you use a guide as I did? What was your favorite boss fight? How many trap holes did you fall into? What’s your favorite game in the series? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Metal Gear, I’d love to read them.