Reviews

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 is 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 them 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.

It took me a lot less time and way fewer sessions to complete Crash 2. 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 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; automatic movement levels that are based on timed jumps and movement 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 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.

So 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 I finish the game and 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!

~SlimKirby

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SlimKirby Reviews: Crash Bandicoot

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here!

I am here today to present to you guys, for a change, a website article! It’s been awhile (not counting the Simpsons Retrospectives) since I’ve actually done some writing like this and this is something I would like to start getting into the habit of doing as I continue to complete games on my very huge backlog. Essentially, I’m going to be talking about a game I’ve recently beaten/completed, give my impressions of the different aspects of the game, talk about a few of my experiences, and just in general sum up how I felt about the overall experience.

Crash Box

Today; I’m going to talk about the Sony Playstation classic; Crash Bandicoot. This is a game I’ve been aware of since it initially came out for the Playstation all of those years ago. Although, I never personally owned a Playstation console, but rather it was my next-door neighbors that did. Because of this, I only got to play these games when I went over to their house, which honestly, wasn’t very often. It was during these visits that I got my first taste of Crash Bandicoot, and later, Crash Bandicoot 2. I remember the games being 3D platformers, but not in the same sense as Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie, two other games I was more familiar with (because I actually owned them). They were 3D in the sense that the models were in 3D, and in most of the stages you could move in any direction, but the levels themselves were more structured like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros. Instead of going left to right though, a majority of Crash’s levels involved you moving forwards and backwards. This is why this series was generally known as the “Sonic’s Ass,” game, because your eyes were generally more focused on the behind of the character you were controlling. I found the Crash games very interesting and entertaining, for what little time I got to play them, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until 2017 (this very year) until I got to own my very first Crash platformer.

I got a Playstation 2 for Christmas when it first came out, and although Crash Bandicoot was on my radar, I was definitely interested in other games first. Final Fantasy VII was the first game I really “HAD” to own, and it was around this time that I got obsessed with Dynasty Warriors as well, so once I got too far down those rabbit holes, I kind of started forgetting about Crash. I did manage to pick up the game “Crash Bash” for Playstation 1, as it seemed like a party game, a type of genre I was also getting very into at the time, but this game was often considered an irrelevant spin-off to the majesty that was the Crash Bandicoot platformers and the other, better-received spin-off; Crash Team Racing. In the past year however, I managed to go on a bit of a Crash Bandicoot buying spree, picking up Crash Team Racing at Magfest 2016, Crash 2 and 3 at Magfest 2017, and then I found Crash 1 on Amazon for very cheap,which encouraged me to pick up that game as well, fully completing my collection of the original trilogy and generation of Crash Bandicoot.

I was heavily inspired to get these games for a couple of reasons; for one, after I discovered how awesome Ratchet and Clank was, it got me interested in a majority of the Sony platformer games, and naturally Crash Bandicoot was on that list as well. Second, after watching playthroughs of the Let’s Play channel, Super Gaming Bros., it got me intrigued to try the games for myself. And third, like I said before, even though it was brief, I did have a little bit of a history with these games and I think it’s important to own the games that you had some sort of connection with. I’m sure a lot of you guys are probably asking me why I bought all of the old games as opposed to buying the newly-released “Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy,” which is basically a remade version of all three games for the price of one retail game. Well, I didn’t buy that for the sole reason that I do not own a Playstation 4 to play that game, so this was the only way I could experience them. I also do not have a PS3, so I could not buy the digital versions on Playstation Network either. Because of this, I was definitely playing the harder, more archaic version of Crash Bandicoot 1, but, I was still able to make it through the game, and I feel pretty good about it, so it doesn’t really make me feel bad or make the accomplishment feel any less meaningful. So now that I’ve gotten through all the set-up; let’s actually start talking about the game in question. I’m only going to be looking at Crash Bandicoot 1 here, but over time, I will probably play through the other two games as well and will more than likely be giving my impressions on them too, but let’s do only one game at a time here.

Crash 1 is often noted for being a pretty standard game to beat, but an absolute nightmare to 100%. And let me tell you, after playing through this game 100%, I can definitely understand why. The game itself is not very long. Most of the stages can be completed in approximately 5-10 minutes on an initial playthrough (and that’s best case scenario), and if you just try to speed through the levels without doing the whole “collect-a-thon” thing, assuming you don’t run into many roadblocks, I’d say you could compare a standard level of Crash to be about the length of a Super Mario World level. And with only 26 stages in the game, you could probably beat the entire game in a sitting or two. However, like I said, that’s assuming you don’t try to 100% the game. In every stage, there are a number of boxes. These boxes can contain wumpa fruit that you can collect to earn more extra lives, defense masks to give you more protection against enemies or obstacles, or tokens that can earn you access to a secret bonus level. If you want to get 100% in Crash Bandicoot 1, you have to break every single box in every single level. Now, that might not sound too hard at first, but Crash 1 had a very annoying tendency where once you reached a checkpoint in the stage, if you died at any point after that, any boxes you got to that point would be forfeit, meaning you would have to exit the level and start from the very beginning of the stage all over again. So you had to completely clear the level on that run without dying, and let me tell you, for some of the levels that exist in this game…that is easier said than done.

And to make some matters a little more annoying, some stages you couldn’t completely clear until you 100% completed another stage, and there is not really any indication of when that is, unless you make it to a certain part of that stage and see an illusionary gem platform. Meaning, if you had tried doing that stage 100% to that point, you’d realize that you had wasted your time trying to get through the stage without dying when you couldn’t even get the specific gem for that level yet. I’d say this is a very minor complaint though, as I personally just used a gamefaqs guide that told me when I could and could not have completed a level, so when I got to a level I didn’t have to worry about yet, I just breezed through it on my own pace and came back when I could actually do something. Honestly, I’d recommend for anyone starting out on this game, just try to get through the game first and not worry about the 100% conditions until later. Yeah, you may have to play through a lot of levels again, but it’s better to know what to expect in a stage before trying to deal with everything on a blind run through.

My first session of the game was pretty successful. I was able to get a couple of the clear gems without too much trouble and spent most of my time just trying to get used to the controls and the general platforming of Crash Bandicoot. Let me tell you, if you have played any other platforming game, or heck, any other Crash game for that matter, it will take some adjusting to this particular game’s mechanics. One of the most important things you should get a feel for is how Crash jumps, because precision and timing is a big part of this game’s difficulty. Learn the distance of Crash’s jumps, and then learn how to make shorter jumps and to take notice of Crash’s shadow when he is about to land. Once you get a feel for that, I feel like a lot of the game will go a lot smoother. In my following few sessions, I didn’t really make a lot of progress. I got into the habit of pretty much being able to get only 2 or 3 clear gems per sitting, but honestly, patience is another big part of this game as well, and as long as I was making progress, I feel like that is all that mattered in the long run. It wasn’t until session number five or six where I really started to go beast mode on the game. I had gotten the gem for two of the longest and most difficult levels (Slippery Climb and Sunset Vista) and that put me in a mindset of feeling like I had complete control over Crash when moving and jumping, and used those skills to give me enough confidence in what stages I had remaining. In fact, I was capable of 100%ing The Lab and Lights Out on my first attempts (after just normally beating them previously), and those stages are considered to be pretty annoying, just due to their normal gimmicks. I went from having a little over half of the gems (26 overall) to having all of them in that final session.

I did have some trouble with the final two stages I had to get the gems for though (Boulder Dash and Fumbling in the Dark). These two stages really tested my patience and pretty much feature my two biggest problems of the game itself. For one, even though it can be overcome by practicing and adjusting, the directional controls of Crash 1 are just very inferior to other platforming games of the time. They aren’t a big deal in most levels, where you are either in a 2D plane or 3D sections where you don’t have to move diagonally much, but in the level Boulder Dash, for example, you have to outrun a giant boulder that’s following you, forcing you to make split-second button inputs to avoid obstacles that immediately come on screen that you have no way of knowing exist unless you play the stage numerous times beforehand. In some cases, you need to move diagonally, to make the most of your movements so that the boulder doesn’t have time to catch up with you, but you have to be pretty close to perfect, which is really hard to do with a d-pad. If you aren’t perfect, the boulder is going to catch up with you at the very end and turn you into a Crash pancake. Even if it seems like you’ll be fine after a small flub-up, the farther you make it into the stage, you’ll realize that it wasn’t enough and are then forced to start the entire stage over again because “No dying allowed in Crash 1!” I had so much trouble with this level because of this quirk, and spent an hour just trying to get the gem, when in reality, it’s a very short one-minute level that shouldn’t have taken me that long. Fumbling in the Dark however, is just a very hard level that can screw you over just on the notion of getting a bad enemy or obstacle pattern. The level itself is shrouded in darkness and you have to use masks to light the way as you make it through the level. However, if you take too long and don’t make it to the next mask, your current mask will dim out and you won’t be unable to see the path in front of you, which will have enemies, obstacles, and the most threatening, bottomless pits that you can’t see at all. It’s just a very unforgiving level when it comes to the clear gem and creates artificial difficulty on a level that was already difficult to begin with.

Later Crash games remove the “no dying” gimmick, or at the very least, don’t make it as much of a hindrance. In those games, whenever you reach a checkpoint, all of your box-breaking progress gets saved, meaning you don’t have to restart if you die. There are some instances where you do, if the level contains a “no-death route” for example, but it’s not in every level, and just in general, I think it’s a much better way to handle this system. Unfortunately, because they didn’t do that for the first game, I do think the game suffers from that design quirk and can be a very unfriendly aspect of this game for anyone looking to 100% complete it. The biggest draw of the N. Sane Trilogy’s version of Crash 1 is that this is fixed to a very large degree, meaning you don’t have to worry about this annoyance anymore if you are playing that version (and if you do, it’s only for the six colored gems). However, people who don’t own PS4s, like me, will unfortunately have to play the original and go above and beyond if we want to 100% complete this game.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about a 100% playthrough though is the fact that the difference in ending that you get is…kind of disappointing. If anything, the non-100% ending is better and is actually the canonical ending when moving on to the next Crash game. In other words, for the type of challenge that this offers the player, it can lead to the gamer feeling somewhat unrewarded with their efforts. With that being said though, there was definitely a huge feeling of satisfaction when I did complete the game and got the final gem. And knowing that I did it on the inferior and more difficult version of the game, made the victory even sweeter, so this decision didn’t bother me as much as it probably should have. I can understand other people feeling kind of annoyed with this fact though.

In conclusion, I think the game itself is good and it was a lot of fun for me to finally play through it 100%. Would I do it again? For the eventual Let’s Play, yes, but until I have a way to play the N. Sane Trilogy, I don’t see myself going back to this game for a casual playthrough anytime soon. The design quirks are a bit too iffy for my tastes and when you consider that the following installments fixed all of this game’s problems, they’re probably the more accessible and superior games of the franchise, and I look forward to making my way through them very soon!

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

~SlimKirby

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SlimKirby Reviews: Yoshi's New Island

Yoshi’s Island on the SNES is one of my all-time favorite Mario games, SNES games, and video games as a whole. I played that game to death when I was younger and was super adament about getting through the game and finding all of the hidden collectables. Throughout the years, Nintendo has tried releasing a variety of different Yoshi games to build upon the success of Yoshi’s Island. While I do like most of these attempts, I don’t think any of them have been able to reach half of the enjoyment that I’ve had with the original. I always thought Yoshi’s Story was a little underwhelming and Yoshi’s Island DS just came up short of my expectations. However, in the last year, Nintendo announced that they were trying the Yoshi’s Island formula yet again in a new title, Yoshi’s New Island, an obvious attempt at capitalizing on the “New” formula that Mario has been using in his most recent 2D installments. However, despite the repetition and oversaturation of the New Super Mario Bros. series, they have still been some pretty high quality games, so I was curious to see how this game stacked up.

The story begins right after the ending of the first Yoshi’s Island game. It recalls the events from Yoshi’s Island and sets up the story at the doorstep of Mario and Luigi’s parents. However, when the parents take a look at their newborn children, they realize that there has been some mistake and that the babies do not belong to them; throwing all evidence of these two iconic brothers having parents out the window. The stork has made a mix-up and must now deliver the children to their actual parents. On the way, Kamek attacks once again, stealing Baby Luigi as Baby Mario falls down to a new place called Egg Island. Egg Island is also populated by Yoshis, so once again, the Yoshis must now take Baby Mario to Kamek and Baby Bowser’s castle, which also happens to be on the very same island.

If you played the original Yoshi’s Island on the SNES, this game will be very familiar to you. In fact, it works on the same exact engine. You work your way through every level in the game until you reach the end. Each level has its own gimmick or feature, and throughout the levels, you can challenge yourself to obtain all of the hidden items and collectables you can get. Whenever you get hit by an enemy or an obstacle of some kind (one that can’t one-hit kill you), Baby Mario will fly off of Yoshi’s back in a bubble and you must get him back before a timer reaches “0” (your star count). If you fail to get him back, or die through some other means, the screen will fade to black and you must start the stage over from the beginning or the last middle ring you touched. Midway through each world, you will have a battle with Kamek, which will usually consist of you bonking him with an egg, or using the battle arena to your advantage. At the very end of each world, Kamek will use his power to turn a small creature into a boss creature. Although it changes the formula, I do like this change for being something a little different, even though you would think that the Kamek battles will be tougher because he is kind of the main bad guy. In terms of difficulty though, it works, because the big bosses are generally a lot more difficult.

Although it is unrequired to beat the game, like Yoshi’s Island, you can also try and collect every red coin and flower in all of the stages, along with beating a stage with 30 stars as well. You will find that the challenge is actually made a lot easier this time though. In the original game, along with Yoshi’s Island DS, you had to collect all of these items in one go of the stage in order to record a perfect 100% score for that level, and when I said all of the items, I meant all of them. In Yoshi’s New Island, you have a bit of a buffer where you only need to collect a complete set of each collectable in order for it to count. So for example, if you accidentally get hit at the end of the stage and end up with only 29 stars, but you did collect all the red coins and flowers; if you finish the stage, you don’t have to collect the red coins and flowers again, just the stars. I think this makes the challenge a bit more fair for people who may struggle with these tasks and I do not have a problem with it. However, I do have a problem with the way you have to locate some of these items, because some of the locations are kind of ridiculous and random. Sometimes, in order to trigger a red coin or flower to appear, you have to step on specific locations of the stage. For example, in one stage you have to run under a mushroom for a group of coins to appear on top of the very same mushroom. Now, in most cases, some of these locations are pretty obvious and you will be able to spot out the spots pretty easily. However, there were some stages where I had to play through multiple times before I found everything, and in the cases of red coins, this means I had to recollect every coin on every attempt afterwards. This is why I recommend trying to beat the stage slowly at first, checking all locations and just exploring the level in general. That way, even if you have to redo the stage for stars, you can pretty much run through the entire stage without stopping for anything except the stars themselves, and most of the levels aren’t too long anyway. Also, whenever you restart from a middle ring, your stars will always go back to 10, not what you had when you made it there. This means if you die during a level and you want to complete the star run, you are better off just starting the stage over, which is why I almost recommend you just focus on red coins and flowers first.

I wouldn’t say the game itself is really that hard though. There are definitely some trouble spots, but I think they are all very fair challenges and the difficulty is consistent, or at the very least, not all over the place. I also appreciated the challenges of the secret levels (from getting all stars, red coins and flowers in an entire world) , but I will say now that some of the challenges could cause some frustration. If you thought “Poochy Ain’t Stupid” was a hard level, “See Poochy Run!” will make you want to hate the little doggy forever. And “Snow Go Mountain,” takes bullet bill jumping to an extreme where you start to wonder if Nintendo is trying to team up with Mario ROM hackers. It’s like I said though, the difficulty of just getting through the game is fair and and has a nice, linear progression, but the randomness of getting 100% on every level is what I think will cause gamers to get a little annoyed at doing a full (100%) playthrough. Also, remember the Super Guide from every single Nintendo modern platformer since New Super Mario Bros. Wii? It’s back, but this time in the form of Yoshi wings, that will allow you to hover through a level at your own leisure and comfort. As usual though, if you want the full experience of the game, you cannot use this feature at all unless you go back to that level and beat it the normal way, because you will not be able to fight the true final boss until then.

As I said before, not much has changed in the world’s of Yoshi’s Island, and while I think that is good for players who didn’t want a drastic gameplay change, players who expect an entirely new game will be a bit disappointed. Let me explain; Yoshi’s New Island is not a port or remake of Yoshi’s Island by any stretch of the imagination, but there are times that you will feel like you are playing one. A lot of the levels from Yoshi’s New Island are very similar, or at the very least, use extremely similar level themes from the original Yoshi’s Island. In fact, when I was going through World 3 of New Island, I found an extremely close parallel from each level that linked to a level of World 3 from the SNES game. “The Cave of Harry Hedgehog” is now called “Harry Hedgehog Labyrinth,” “Don’t Fear the Spear” features lots of spear guys like in “Jungle Rhythm,” and “Slime Drop Drama” really reminded me a lot of Prince Froggy’s Fort.” Now, like I said, the levels aren’t carbon copies or anything, but it really felt like this game took a lot of inspiration from the original…almost a bit too much. Almost to the point where it seems they just took the original game, updated the graphics, and just changed the rooms in every level. Does that make the game bad? No it doesn’t, but it doesn’t make the game very unique or interesting either, and if anything, I was a little disappointed that they played it so safe.

One of the biggest new features of the game are the huge eggs Yoshi can use in a few of the different levels. Whenever Yoshi encounters a huge shy guy, he can swallow the beast to create a huge egg that will allow him to launch throughout the room and collect goodies, being able to destroy boulders that would otherwise be indestructible. While this does seem egg-citing, pardon my pun, it is so under-used and undeveloped. That is literally the only use you have for the giant eggs and you can’t even take them out of the room or level you get them in. They are just a one-time gimmick that you may or may not use to get through a room, and that is very disappointing to me. There are also giant metallic eggs that pretty much have the same purpose, with the small addition that they will also allow you to sink and walk underwater. Again, you only use them in only a few levels, so they don’t really add a lot to the game. The only other addition I can think of is the revamping of the Yoshi transformations. The transformations are now limited to a single room that you enter via a transformation portal. Many of these transformations are completely optional with the exception of getting 100% on the level. The twist with these transformations is that they are all controlled by the 3DS’s gyro controls. Now, while I am not a big fan of being forced to use gyro controls in games, at least in this case, they are manageable and not a big part of the game itself. In fact, there is no penalty if you screw up the section, because if you run out of time, you have the option to try again with no penalty. Aside from that though, these are the only “NEW” things you will find in Yoshi’s New Island, and I think that is a bit of a letdown.

Another thing that was a huge letdown for me was the music. When I was kid, I absolutely adored the music for Yoshi’s Island. It was catchy, memorable, and the kind of music that you just didn’t mind if it repeated. In this game, a lot of the tracks that are featured in the game are remixes…remixes done with a kazoo-like instrument in the background. Before I got the game, I had heard rumors of the game’s horrific soundtrack, but I wanted to give the game the benefit of the doubt and at least see the kind of style they were going for. The moment I heard the “Ending Stage” theme, I swear, I don’t think I ever turned the volume bar back up again for the entire duration of the playthrough. That may seem a bit harsh, but it just murders the original arrangements of the songs, and not in a good way. Whether they were going for a specific style or not, it just didn’t fit the mood for Yoshi’s Island and that for me was something that kind of irritated me. As far as the graphical presentation, I don’t feel like it was butchered by any means, but it just didn’t excite me as much as the original, which was very vibrant and colorful. I think they were going for a more realistic, but still cartoonish, envirionment, and while I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, it just didn’t have the same affect on me as the original did.

As far as the controls are concerned, I do feel like the game was able to capitalize on having very fluid motion and full control of Yoshi and Baby Mario. There was rarely a situation where I felt like a certain jump or movement was impossible, and I felt like Yoshi’s flutter-jump was actually the best it has ever been. There were times where I was able to make a jump that should have been impossible, but thanks to my creativity and using the environment around me, I never felt like I was screwed and I had the confidence to at least try something to save myself, and that is something I think is missing from platforming games.

As far as the entire game is concerned, it’s not a very long adventure and you should be able to complete it in a few hours, a time that may double if you decide to go for 100% in every level. However, getting 100% doesn’t feel as worth it as it was in the original game, and I think that’s a problem. It may just be the nostalgia talking, but I really don’t feel like I accomplished much in New Island by going for 100% completion…probably because getting 100% felt more like a chore I could easily just knock out in 3 very minimalistic playthroughs of the same level, as opposed to SNES Island where I was challenged to do everything in one go. I also may be a bit spoiled by achievements and unlockables that exist in other games, but I feel like the game could have at least given something to show for all of my hard work or something I could come back to and say that I was proud that I beat this game. A lot of people were also really turned off when it came to the game’s final boss and the game’s ending sequence. I’m not going to try and spoil very much, but I will say the final boss was not very exciting and the ending…well, let’s just say the ending didn’t exactly stir up any waves in Mario franchise…not that anyone should be surprised.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that Yoshi’s New Island is a bad game. It still caught my attention enough to finish the game completely and was a pretty solid platformer in general. However, if you played the original Yoshi’s Island, or even Yoshi’s Island DS, keep your expectations low because this game doesn’t do enough to break itself away from the mold that Yoshi games have already established. That’s why I was a bit more excited for Yarn Yoshi (or Yoshi’s Wooly World) because even though the yarn-gameplay was already used in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, at least the gameplay will be different for Yoshi standards. I did want to give this game a shot though after being a fond lover of the original game and although I was disappointed in some aspects, I wasn’t completely disappointed.

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SlimKirby Reviews: Super Mario 3D World

Hello everybody, SlimKirby here, and welcome to my website’s very first game review!

Today I will be taking a look at Mario’s latest adventure in the platforming realm, Super Mario 3D World. The game came out at the tail-end of last year and was first introduced not long before at E3 2013. When the game was first shown, I was excited because I was a big fan of Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS and I was happy to see the formula being continued. It was also interesting to see the implementation of a brand-new and highly-unique power-up in the form of Cat Mario. Combine all of those elements with multiplayer that has made the New Super Mario Bros. series famous, and you have a very nice package.

Now, this game has actually been out for a few months now, but I finally got a chance to play it at the start of this month for my 24-hour Mario stream. Although my first experience was kind of weird, due to the effects of playing nonstop video games for almost 24-hours, for the rest of the week, I got to sit down and enjoy the game the way the game was meant to be enjoyed. I consider myself a very big Mario gamer, so I was really interested in seeing how this game would stack up to the rest. Remember, everything being said in this review is based off of my own personal opinions and experiences, and there is a very big spoiler warning in regards to some of the content I will be discussing. These are things you should keep in mind before reading on.

The story is a typical Mario plot that you’ve come to expect with any Mario game; the only thing worth noting is that this is one of the few games where Princess Peach does not get kidnapped. While watching fireworks outside of Peach’s Castle, our heroes meet the princess of the Sprixie Kingdom. She informs them that Bowser has kidnapped her people, but before she can give any details, the koopa king snatches her as well and takes her captive in her own kingdom, which has also been taken over by Bowser. Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach follow Bowser and must now rescue all of the kidnapped sprixies and save the kingdom once and for all.

Super Mario 3D World is a platforming game through and through. You make your way through various worlds consisting of multiple levels that you must navigate through and grab the flagpole at the very end of each stage. Unlike the 2D platforming we’ve come to know from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World though, this game focuses on using 3D linear maps much like in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land. Mario will not be going alone in this adventure though. The full cast of playable characters from Super Mario Bros. 2 has returned and you are now able to use them at your leisure.

Much like in Super Mario Bros. 2, each character has their unique advantages and disadvantages to their gameplay. Mario is the all-around average character that we all know him as; he can jump and far and is pretty quick on his feet, but he doesn’t excel in any one attribute. Luigi can jump the highest and even has a small bit of floatiness to his jump, but aside from that, his jumps don’t get very much distance, he is kind of slow, and his traction is actually pretty bad. Princess Peach is the slowest character around and doesn’t jump incredibly high either, but with her dress, she can float in the air and keep the same altitude for a short period of time. Because of this, she is actually in my opinion the easiest character to use in a lot of the most difficult platforming stages. Toad is not a great jumper at all, but what he lacks in jumping, he makes for in pure speed. In a jump-heavy game like this one, you would think Toad would be the hardest character to use, but you would be surprised to see how beneficial that speed of his can be. Despite their differences though, I wouldn’t say that any character is that much better than the other. There are some situations where some characters would be more beneficial than others, but you never feel like it’s an impossibility with any character…at least when you are just playing straight through the game. During my first playthrough, I just selected a random character for every level and let that character be the only one I used. Then if I had to go back through and unlock something, I would use a different one, just to get a little variety.

The levels in this game are very well-designed and feature classic Mario obstacles, enemies and platforming elements. You feel like you are playing a Mario game when you go through this adventure, but there are plenty of new experiences and implementations that make this experience fresh and unique. It does have a lot of similarities to other games of the franchise, but with the new power-ups and challenges, it doesn’t feel entirely repetitious either. Going through the levels to complete them is just one of the few challenges you will be offered in this game. Throughout the levels, there are also a variety of collectables to find and obtain that will unlock bonus features and awards during the game. Most levels will feature 3 green stars (replacing the star coins from the New Super Mario Bros. series) and a stamp to collect. Some of these objects can be found by just being observant and paying attention to how certain structures of a level are set up. If there is a platform that appears off the beaten path, chances are there is a green star or stamp in that location. Sometimes you may need a power-up to find what you are looking for as well. In fact, a vast majority of the green stars and stamps can be found by climbing up walls with the cat power-up. Like in Super Mario 3D Land, the challenge of grabbing the top of each flagpole in every level has also returned, but with Princess Peach (who can just float to the top) and the cat power (which will allow you to quite literally climb to the top), this challenge is very easy to master.

As for the power-ups you can collect, a vast majority of the power-ups we’ve seen in other games are here. You have the Fire Flower, the Super Leaf, and the invincibility Starman. The Boomerang Flower from Super Mario 3D Land also returns as well. New to the list though is the the Super Bell which is what allows Mario and his friends to wear the newly-introduced cat suits. While wearing the cat suit, you can directly attack enemies right in front of your face with a deadly scratch attack. You can also dash and run at a much quicker pace and when you jump, you can do a diagonal-dive attack which can also be used as a means for finishing long jumps across a wide chasm. The most useful feature of this new suit though is the ability to grab and climb up walls. This is very helpful for finding hidden goodies throughout the levels in the game and also as a means for recovering from mistimed jumps. As mentioned earlier, there is also no excuse for not grabbing the top of the flagpole with the cat suit because any normal jump onto the flagpole will allow you to quite easily climb to the top. Along with the Super Bell, there is also a cherry power-up that will allow you to duplicate yourself into a clone and control yourself and the clone at the same time. This power-up also stacks up so you can have up to five or six (at least) clones on the field at once. Keep in mind though, every clone is controlled through the same button inputs, so there may be scenarios where a clone may get off sync and die. It doesn’t matter which clone dies though, as whatever clone remains, after the death of the other ones, is the real deal. There are also a few other power-ups that exist, but they are very situational and level-specific, so you will not see them very often.

When playing this game, you can control your characters using the Wii U gamepad, a Wiimote, the Wiimote and Nunchuck, or the classic/pro controllers. I personally like using the Wii U gamepad as it allows, in my opinion, the best control of your characters and has a screen on the controller that allows you to look down and still see everything that is going on. Controlling your characters is definitely not bad or difficult, but I did have some issues in contrast to some other Mario games. One of my biggest problems was using the “dash” move. I feel like there is too big of a window for the dash move to start working and feel like it should be more instantaneous. Although I understand the reasoning for not doing it this way, it does make some sections kind of awkward; for example, when you are on a very small platform trying to make a big jump to another platform…there isn’t a lot of room to run on the platform, so you will often come up short on some of your jumps. This is especially true when trying to reach the the top of the flagpole without Peach or the cat suit. Although it can be managed and will take some practice on your part, some of these scenarios are very hit-and-miss, so if you fail, you will either have to do the entire level over again, or just a small part of the level again, which is kind of annoying.

Despite those problems though, I wouldn’t say the game is really that difficult or challenging. Although, the further you get into the game, the difficulty will certainly ramp up, and to be honest, some of the later levels can pose a bit of a challenge. Most of it though comes from the added goals of collecting all of the green stars and stamps, or getting to a certain point in the level with a particular power-up. However, the levels are quite short and there really is no penalty or disadvantage to losing all of your lives, so it’s the kind of challenge that you can attempt constantly with no cost to failing. It does feel rewarding though when you finally collect all the green stars or beat a level that took you over 10 or 20 tries to get right, and that is something I can really appreciate from this game.

When you beat the main game, you can be assured that your quest will not end there, because there are at least 3 more full-length worlds you will need to complete for the postgame. The main game features six worlds and two finale worlds. Afterwards, you have the 3 bonus worlds and a world that features the three most challenging levels of the game. The bonus worlds feature the toughest levels in the game, and a large majority of those leves are revisitations of older stages with a new feature or greater challenge, like doing the level on a shorter time limit or having platforms and spike traps moving at a much faster speed. You need to be ready for these challenges because they are quite literally the toughest parts of the game. These levels actually reminded me of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, where in some cases, the hardest levels were repeats of earlier levels with stricter contraints and tougher obstacles to overcome. To unlock the pennultimate world, you need to collect everything you are able to get at that point in the game, so you better have started collecting all the green stars, stamps, and flags. There are only three levels in this world, but they are quite literally the hardest challenges that the game has to offer and is well worth the amount of collecting you need to do to make it to this point. I should also mention that when you get to a certain point in the bonus world, you will also unlock a fifth character you choose in addition to your four heroes. This character has come from “galaxies” away to leave their footprint on the platforming world and has unique attributes like the other four characters.

If you want to be able to tell people that you’ve completed everything that Super Mario 3D World has to offer, you better get ready to play your heart out and collect everything like mad, because there is a lot to do if you want to complete the game in full. In addition to beating every level, collecting every green star and stamp, and touching the top of the flagpole of every level, you need to simply complete every level with all 5 characters. If you don’t have people to play with, this feat can take up to five full-length playthroughs of the entire game, which is kind of a pain. Now, if you have others you can play with, this can easily be done by using multiple characters at once because completing a stage with four players will count each character that each person is playing as for completing that stage, meaing you will only have to complete 2 playthroughs. A simple way to do this is to basically play the whole game with 4 people, and then come back later as the single person, play as the character that wasn’t used, and collect everything that wasn’t gotten in the multiplayer playthrough. Another reassuring point is that once you have collected all of the green stars, stamps and flags, you don’t need to worry about getting them again, so you can easily just zoom through the stages without having to worry about any of that extra stuff.

The final thing I will be taking a look at is the game’s presentation. For the most part, there’s not a lot that needs to be said about this game; itt’s another good quality Mario game. The environments look colorful and nice and are fun to explore. The music is great and catchy. The gameplay is easy enough for anybody to pick up and play without difficulty, yet still encourages them to want to get better to take on the later challenges of the game. Plus, with all of the collectables and five different characters to experience, it offers a lot of gameplay time and replayability to boot. I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest Mario game, and probably not the greatest 3D iteration of the series, but you get a good bang for your buck and a very memorable experience. The only things that hold back this game from getting a perfect score are minor control issues and the fact that a large number of levels/worlds feature miniscule repeat levels when I would have much rather seen unique and original content. In a way, this almost made the game seem a little unfinished, but that’s not to say the game is unpolished either. For what it offers; Super Mario 3D World is quite literally “the cat’s meow” when it comes to Wii U platforming games.

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