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Ratchet & Clank

Game: Ratchet & Clank
Start Date: February 20th, 2018
End Date: —
Videos: —

Nintendo has always had the Mario series, but alongside the Platforming King came a number of other heroes who have had their own time in the platforming spotlight. Sony and the Playstation definitely started out with Crash Bandicoot, but when the Playstation 2 came a plethora of other heroes to play; from Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, and another incredibly epic duo in the form of Ratchet and Clank. One is a lombax, the last remaining creature of his species who happens to be a really handy mechanic, while the other is a tiny robot who has come to the solar system with a message and a mission; to stop the evil Chairman Drek from causing harm to the galaxy. These two will now team up and try to stop Drek once and for all.

I first discovered this game through my friends at CrystalStarStudio when we decided to pick this game for one of our upcoming projects. I immediately fell in love with the game because I am so incredibly fond of platformers, especially platformers that have great characters, a great sense of humor, and of course, great and fun gameplay. Although the Ratchet games focus more on action and blowing stuff up with a variety of weapons and other tools, I’d say the platforming is still very much relevant, and was a very easy sell to me with all of that taken into consideration. Anyway, I knew I couldn’t just stick with Nintendo for the rest of my time on Youtube, so I decided to do some branching out this year to the Sony front. Because I haven’t gotten familiar enough with Jak and Daxter or Sly Cooper yet, and there is one small thing holding me back from Crash Bandicoot, it was only natural to pick Ratchet for my next non-Nintendo romp.

Mega Man II

Game: Mega Man II
Start Date: February 6th, 2018
End Date: February 13th, 2018
Videos: 3

Dr. Wily never knows when to quit…and neither did Capcom back when Mega Man was at his peak in popularity. Every year, at least for awhile anyway, Capcom would grant a release on NES and a release on Game Boy, making sure the Mega Man madness would never quit and so gamers could have a new game on each particular platform. However, knowing how incredible Mega Man 2 was for its fans, how did the Game Boy version of this sequel take off? I think it’s time we try to discover that answer.

I admittedly wanted something short to work on in between projects, and since I’ve been trying to cover all the handheld ground for game series I’ve covered on console platforms, and because there is a lot of Mega Man to sort through, I decided to attack this game; Mega Man II for the Game Boy. I remember enjoying this game when I played it for Retro Achievements, but at the same time, I also know that this game is a bit of a sore subject for die-hard Mega Man fans. After finishing the game, I can understand why, but at the very least, this is a game I could recommend for newbies to the series, who might find the NES installments to have too high of a difficulty curve.

Mario Party: Island Tour

Game: Mario Party: Island Tour
Start Date: January 6th, 2018
End Date: February 18th, 2018
Videos: 16

Ever since Hudsonsoft went out of business, people could make the argument that the Mario Party series started going down a very dark road. However, that didn’t stop Nintendo from continuing the series by any means necessary, even if they didn’t exactly understand what fans of the series actually wanted from a Mario Party game. Instead, they decided to take the Wii Party approach by making a bunch of minigames and doing a variety of one-off boards to feature those minigames; with no single, strict board gameplay to speak of. How did this approach pay off? Well…not a lot of people like this game, but it did manage to sell enough copies to make it as a Nintendo Selects title, so…that’s something, right?

Honestly, it’s still incredibly early for me to make a final statement on this game. I got it for free with a gift card sometime last year and haven’t had a lot of personal experience with it myself. However, from what little I have played of it, I didn’t necessarily hate the game. I just wish it would have delivered on more of what I liked as opposed to delivering on half-baked concepts that only scratched fractions of the Mario Party itch I’ve had for the last several years now. With that being said though, it is still a Mario Party game, which means I had to cover it at some point, so why not now? The year is young, lol.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Game: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Start Date: January 2nd, 2018
End Date: January 26th, 2018
Videos: 9

When a video game gets very successful, it’s only natural for developers to want to create a sequel. It’s also natural for developers to try out new ideas when they make their sequels, including the notion of drastically changing the gameplay and the style of the game in question. The Legend of Zelda is an example of this when they made Zelda II for the NES. Although it had a nice overworld map, puzzle-filled dungeons and various caves to explore throughout the land of Hyrule, Zelda II controlled very differently from its predecessor. In fact, I imagine present-day Zelda fans who didn’t grow up with this title would not be overly fond of this game because of how different and how difficult it is compared to the other games of the franchise. However, it’s still a part of the Zelda lore and is definitely worth a look at.

Before moving on to other Zelda titles, I wanted to get completely caught up with the series (at least up to Majora’s Mask anyway) and fill in any gaps I left hanging beforehand. However, Zelda II wasn’t a game I was overly familiar with. In fact, before this playthrough, I had only completed the game once beforehand and that was a few weeks before the end of 2017. So safe to say, I was going into this title with only a little practice and not a great deal of experience. However, from when I played the game, there were definitely some things I appreciated and liked about the experience, so at the very least, you could say I wasn’t repulsed by the game to the point where I just didn’t want to cover it at all. So I figured it was as good of a time as any to finally mark this off of my Let’s Play list, and here we are!

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Game: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Start Date: January 1st, 2018
End Date: —
Videos: —

First we got Super Mario RPG, then we got Paper Mario, but in 2013, Alpha Dream had another idea when it decided to give us another Mario RPG, but this time on the Game Boy Advance. Little did we know, this was the start of a very well-established handheld franchise with great gameplay, a refreshing sense of humor, and some extremely memorable moments to come! So let’s take the series back to its roots and explore the Bean Bean Kingdom for all the laughs it has in store!

I was definitely not ready to continue with the Paper Mario series, knowing what title was next on the agenda, so I decided to mix it up a bit and start tackling the Mario & Luigi series, essentially giving me some more time to breathe before Sticker Star, and a title that is easily way more fun and interesting to me. Before Fire Emblem came out to America (finally) this game was easily my favorite title on the Game Boy Advance, and it’s not exactly hard to see why. So let’s take it all in, shall we?

Sonic Adventure (DX)

Game: Sonic Adventure (DX)
Start Date: November 14th, 2017
End Date: December 29th, 2017
Videos: 22

Sonic is back! But this time, he’s making the transition to full 3D gameplay! Originally released on the Dreamcast, Sonic Adventure is perhaps one of the most popular Sonic games. In addition to 3D Sonic gameplay, the game also introduced a variety of different characters and gameplay styles, all under the sole goal to stop Dr. Eggman and a mysterious monster known as Chaos.

I’ve been wanting to get to the Sonic Adventure games for a really long time. I’m not entirely sure why, but I just feel drawn to them in some way. Maybe I just like the style of game it is, or maybe the completionist inside of me finds a thrill of collecting every emblem, but regardless of the reason, this was a long time coming and I’m happy for it to finally be upon us! Even though the main part of this playthrough is over, I am making a comeback to this game, very soon, to obtain and collect every emblem and extra this game has to offer.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (Season 3)

Game: The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
Start Date: October 3rd, 2017
End Date: November 9th, 2017
Videos: 16

It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in with our favorite girl Clementine, but the world of The Walking Dead is about to get a whole lot bigger, with some locations, some new characters, and a new protagonist in the form of Javier. These two will cross paths and continue this painful journey through the walker apocalypse!

I’ve been wanting to check this out for a very long time. However, this season was unfortunately unfinished during my normal Halloween-fest last year, so the only logical thing to do was play it this year! Really excited to see what this new season will bring!

This is the page for just the third season. if you would like to take a look at the other seasons of this game, check out the following links to their respective pages.

The Walking Dead (Season 1)
The Walking Dead (Season 2)

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Game: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Start Date: August 29th, 2017
End Date: December 7th, 2017
Videos: 40

Since Mario started his 3D platforming adventures, he tried to stick to a “one 3D platformer per system” type of format. However, after the success of Super Mario Galaxy, it’s no surprise that Nintendo tried to get a sequel in the works, bringing a 2nd Galaxy game into the mix on the Wii console. Bowser is at his tricks again in his takeover of the universe, and it’s up to Mario and lumas to stop him!

After how successful the Galaxy 1 playthrough was, I was looking forward to getting to Galaxy 2. Although I prefer the original installment, there were still plenty of things I liked about this game too, and after not playing it in years, I was very much looking forward to returning to this title.

The Walking Dead (Season 2)

Game: The Walking Dead
Start Date: September 10th, 2015
End Date: November 12th, 2015
Videos: 21

Clementine is back, baby! Although Lee is no longer in the picture, and the rest of her group has completely fallen apart, Clementine finds herself all alone in order to survive. However, her experience with Lee has taught her a lot, so maybe, just maybe, Clem is ready to take on this world.

After how much I enjoyed Season 1, I knew that I had to tackle Season 2 as soon as possible, so I waited until the following year (after all the episodes were released) to do it for 2015’s Halloween! And let me just say, I am very glad I did! I am just continuing to love this series!

This is the page for just the second season. if you would like to take a look at the other seasons of this game, check out the following links to their respective pages.

The Walking Dead (Season 1)
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (Season 3)

SlimKirby Reviews: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here!

As you know, recently I played through Crash Bandicoot (1) for the very first time and had a very enjoyable experience. Because of that experience, I was also looking forward to playing through the rest of the original trilogy, which I had also picked up in addition to the first game, and since I made a review for the first game, I decided to also do reviews for the following two games as well. So here is my review of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes back!

Crash 2 Box

Crash Bandicoot 2, of all the Crash games I got to play when going over to my neighbor’s house (because I didn’t own any of them then) was the Crash game I was most familiar with. At the time, it just seemed like it was the more interesting title, as it was easier to play due to better gameplay mechanics and it just presented itself in a much better way. So whenever I went over to my neighbor’s house, it was a game I looked forward to playing, and if anything, it was kind of a shame that I never got to finish it because I don’t think my neighbor had a memory card, so I only got to see the first 5-10 levels on most of my sessions. It was still a very fun game though and I had good memories of it whenever I got to play.

After completing Crash 1 about a week and a half ago, I was really curious to see how the 2nd game would improve on the first one, and let me tell you, I was surprised to see how much it did. A lot of my concerns and problems with Crash 1 were addressed or remedied in the second game, and I think that’s pretty cool considering that the second game didn’t come out that long after Crash 1, and it wasn’t as easy to investigate consumer feedback as it is these days. Like the first game, you have two basic ways you can complete Crash 2. You can just play through the game and each level normally by grabbing the newly introduced pink crystal and beating each level and the boss of every area until you get to the end. Or, you could go the 100% route and collect all the gems, where much like Crash Bandicoot 1, you’ll have to go through every level in Crash 2 and break all the boxes in the area. Once again, I feel like the in-game reward for 100% isn’t as great as it could be, but after thinking about it, I think the reward in fully completing a Crash Bandicoot game is moreso how the gamer feels at the end of the accomplishment and not so much what the game presents to you.

Getting 100% this time around isn’t as stressful as it was in the predecessor. In the first game, you had to do the entirety of every level in one go, making sure you didn’t die and if you did die, restarting the level from the very beginning instead of starting at the checkpoints you get along the way. In this game, it’s a lot more lenient than that. For one, getting checkpoints will save your progress and you won’t have to start from the beginning anymore…in a majority of the cases. There are some cases where you will have to start over, but only in levels that have specific “no-death” routes, where a pad that leads to a new area will only appear if you make it to that point without dying. However, the game is still very lenient in that department as well, since once you make it to that point and ride the pad once, it will save that platform and allow you to die after the fact. In other words, the game isn’t strict about perfecting a level and any further perfection will be based on your own self-imposed challenges, which is the way I think it should be. Also, in general, the game just feels a lot more fair and should have less instances of sections that will just suck the extra lives away. There are still challenging parts of the game and I’m definitely not saying that the entire game is “Easy Mode” or anything, but it’s a fair challenge and has a very standard progression of difficulty when moving from the beginning to the end.

There are some things that Crash 2 does that are still kind of strange though. Like in Crash 1, there are colored gems that are offered throughout the game and in order to get some of the box gems, you will need specific color gems to reach alternate paths and areas in specific levels. Some of these gems can be found in alternate stage routes and death routes, but in some cases, the objective for the gem may not be entirely clear. This is especially true for the first level of the game; Turtle Woods, where in order to get the Blue Gem, you need to go through the entire stage without breaking a single box. I knew about this quirk from watching playthroughs of the game from other Youtube channels, but for a new player, this requirement may not be entirely clear and could send the player on a wild goose chase for something they are unaware of. There are also some stages that cannot be completed on the first go-around, but not because of a colored gem path, but because you need to warp to a hidden part of that stage from a later area’s level. Some of the warp points are obvious if you experiment in certain levels and pay attention to your surroundings, but considering this is the first Crash game that does this kind of thing, it’s kind of hard to know for sure what exactly you are looking for and when you are looking for it, so that could have been a little more clear. I think the N. Sane Trilogy remedies this problem by giving hints in the loading screen of the level, but that’s not so much the case for the original version.

It took me a lot less time and way fewer sessions to complete Crash 2 compared to Crash 1. While the first game took me an entire week (and then some), the Crash 2 experience only felt like a weekend, and even then, on my first night of playing, I came to the realization that one part of my 2-sided memory card was completely full and the game wouldn’t allow me to save until I turned off the game and deleted some save data. As a result, everything I did on the first night was completely erased and I had to start from square one the next time I played. I made a lot faster progress the next time, but it was still essentially a complete redo of what I had already done. By the end of the second night, I was more than halfway done with the game and made a big push on the following day to finish up the game completely; so really only 2-3 days to beat the game, which I think is pretty good considering it was my first full playthrough and with more than half of the experience being blind.

My only trouble spots in the playthrough came from very unexpected places…and I say that based on the horror stories of certain levels I’ve heard from other people who have played this game. For some reason, I couldn’t quite get the timing of the polar-bear riding levels down; which are automatic-moving levels that are based on timed jumps and movements while avoiding enemies and other annoying obstacles. For some reason I had a really hard time controlling the bear and lost a lot of lives in the process, especially on the secret level, “Totally Bear.” And on the level “Unbearable,” a level where you get chased by a giant polar bear while running towards the screen, I ran into an issue of missing 3 boxes by the very end of the level, which confused me because I was very thorough with investigating every nook and cranny of the stage, including the discovery of two hidden boxes that were off camera in a specific part of the level, yet even with those two “trollish” inclusions, I still managed to miss three boxes elsewhere, which just doesn’t make sense to me. On my second run through, I did it no problem and without missing anything, so I had to have blanked out something somewhere.

My biggest surprise was the level called “Cold Hard Crash,” a level that is notorious by fans to be the hardest level in the game. It has ice physics, a death route, the most boxes in any stage of the game, and an annoying gimmick that can mess you up if you don’t know the entire level well enough. Basically, in the death route, you have to make it to a certain point and then backtrack through the death route after activating a switch. Once you destroy the boxes that get activated by that switch, instead of exiting the level through the natural route, you have to keep backtracking to exit from the entrance pad and continue the level normally because the death route’s exit takes you to a much further part of the stage where you can’t backtrack to get back to the normal route, which sure enough has boxes on it. It’s quite the troll when it comes to playing the game for the first time and admittedly, it did trip me up as well. And to top it all off, in the bonus stage for the level, there is a box out of sight that you need to hit and there is just no indication that it is there. You just need to assume that something is up there and experiment until you make the discovery, which I am very sure was annoying for all of those individuals who did everything in the level perfectly and then reached the very end of the level just to see the box counter at 154/155. Anyway, as I was trying to get at earlier, I had heard horror stories about this level, but surprisingly, I did it relatively quickly and with not much issue. It definitely helped that I figured out the death-route gimmick very quickly and that I was aware of the troll bonus box, but still, I expected my life counter to melt away as quickly as an ice cube in the desert. “Piston’ It Away” was another level that I was expecting to be challenging, just based on stories I  had heard, but I also got through that one pretty quickly as well. I guess everyone just has different experiences in terms of what they struggle and don’t struggle with, huh?

So when I finished Crash 2, I was ultimately surprised at how quickly it had come and gone. On some level, it was a shame that it was already over, but after thinking about it, the game itself is probably considered to be pretty “retro” now, and over time, especially due to continuous play by gamers, older games will generally seem to be a lot shorter and faster to get through then more modern games that have better technology to work with and more content to sift through. Besides, sometimes it’s good to have a shorter game, one that you can breeze through after a few nights and then you can start fresh on the next one the following day, so it’s length is definitely not a negative. The experience did get me interested in starting the third game, so much that I actually tried to start Crash 3 on the following day. However, once again, I had memory card issues, and also figured that it was probably better to focus on getting this review done first before I started the next Crash game anyway. Since then, I have fixed the problem and have gotten a new memory card, so I’ll probably get to working on Crash 3 immediately, but as I said, I want to get this review done first, so this will be further elaborated on in the next review.

Overall, I consider Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back to be a much better product than first Crash Bandicoot game. It presents itself very well, makes it playable and approachable for all gamers of every skill level, and improved on many things that were either lacking or problems I had with its predecessor. That final detail alone shows that the game had good production and development values and is something I can appreciate from the perspective of a gamer and a consumer in general. Looking forward, Crash 3 has some pretty big shoes to fill, but from what I’ve heard from Crash fans, I have a pretty exciting experience to look forward to, so we’ll have to see how that goes when I finish the game and post the next review.

Thanks for reading everybody, I will see you guys next time for whatever game I decide to finish and talk about next!