Mini-Review Feed

Mini-Review: Infinite Minigolf

Infinite Minigolf

Well known for its digital pinball tables, Zen Studios is revisiting another of its key releases with the release of Infinite Minigolf for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, VR platforms, and PC.  Following on from 2010's PS3-exclusive Planet Minigolf, this updated take on the concept brings the course creation tools that helped make Planet stand out to a wider audience in a fun mix of the creativity tools of Sony's LittleBigPlanet and the trick shots found in Nintendo's Kirby's Dream Course

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Netflix's Castlevania Beats Expectations

Castlevania

I went into the new Castlevania series on Netflix with my doubts, but I came away from the first season impressed and hungry for more.  Warren Ellis and his team have found the right balance between the video game's lore, violence, and tone to produce a series faithful to the games that also manages to humanize Dracula (no pun intended; it's a metaphorical humanization and not literal) and cast some insight on just why Dracula and the Belmonts are locked in an eternal stalemate.  Spoilers ahead!

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Mini-Review: Mega Man X: Command Mission

Mega Man X: Command MissionThis article was originally published at Kombo.com on October 13, 2004. 

Capcom's futuristic take on the blue bomber has resulted in some of gaming's most memorable side-scrolling platformer games, but in recent years Mega Man X has begun to slip somewhat. His more recent adventures have been half-hearted misfires, containing more frustrating moments than actual fun. Poor localization/translation has also dogged the series in addition to some rather dismal voice acting. The Mega Man X storyline has also been circling the drain for some time, as one game in the series contradicts another (the end of Mega Man X6 proclaims that X's Maverick Hunter partner Zero has gone into a deep sleep for one hundred years so that he can star in the spin-off series Mega Man Zero, and yet Zero appears alive and well in Mega Man X7 and X8) and, on occasion, one game will contradict itself. When Capcom announced that an RPG starring X and friends was in development many fans shuddered at the thought of the company that seemingly couldn't tell a consistent story in an action game taking a stab at a plot-intensive RPG. It would seem those fears are misplaced, as X's first RPG — Mega Man X: Command Mission for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 — actually tells a coherent story and features voice acting from actors who can actually, well, act. Add in a deeply customizable battle system and plenty of playable characters and it would appear that if this is Capcom's attempt at bringing some cohesion to the Mega Man X saga, than they look to be successful.

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Mini-Review: Chrono Trigger

Chrono TriggerThis article was originally published at Kombo.com on December 16, 2008. 

Once upon a time (say, 13 years ago) famed RPG powerhouse Square released Chrono Trigger for the Super NES. The game's engrossing tale of a spiky-haired young man, his platonic inventor friend, a rebellious tomboy princess, a humanoid frog knight, a clunky robot from the dim future, and a spunky cavegirl with reptile issues that team up to travel across time to defeat an evil planet-devouring parasite from outer space became a 16-bit classic. The game has commanded high prices on the used game market and an ever-growing legion of loyal fans over the years, and now the adventure is back for the Nintendo DS for a whole new generation of fans to discover (and for the rest of us to enjoy all over again).

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Mini-Review: WaterField Designs CitySlicker Case For Nintendo Switch

WaterField Designs CitySlicker Case For Nintendo SwitchA good case for a handheld video game system is hard to find.  Cheap cases aren't manufactured to quality specifications and inevitably fail to protect your hardware.  Many manufacturers only sell cases as part of overpriced, wasteful "starter kits" that require you to buy pitiful accessories you do not need nor will ever use.  Heaven help you if you want to sport a professional, adult image with your game console and all you can find to store it is a screaming neon case emblazoned with a kiddie property intended for someone a third of your age.  While I'll happily stuff my Nintendo 3DS in my pocket when I go out into the world, the Switch is too delicate and too large for me to comfortably take it around with me unprotected.  I haven't even taken it out on my back porch yet, let alone to midnight basketball games and millenial rooftop parties.  I need a solid case before I even think about traveling with my Switch, so I was thankful when I read that WaterField Designs (which has a history of designing sleek, reliable cases for consoles and mobile hardware - I'm still using their cases for my Nintendo 3DS and my Sony PlayStation Portable six and ten years later respectively) has recently started selling a case designed for the Nintendo Switch.  The company kindly provided a sample CitySlicker case for me to check out and I've come away impressed.

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Mini-Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

This article was originally published at Kombo.com on November 24, 2009.

When Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings spring a booby-trapped birthday cake on Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi, and two mushroom retainer Toads chase their escaping airship across the Mushroom Kingdom through a healthy dose of traditional side-scrolling platforming action for up to four players in New Super Mario Bros. Wii for the Nintendo Wii. Expect to make full use of Mario's signature power-ups such as the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower along with new aids like the Ice Flower that freezes enemies in throwable ice blocks, the Penguin Suit that combines the power of the Ice Flower with enhanced mobility in the water and on frozen ground, and the Propeller Suit that allows for a quick on-demand flight through an adventure suited for mushroom power pros and cautious casual gamers alike.

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Mini-Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum

This article was originally published at Kombo.com on September 9, 2009.

When the Joker goes on a rampage in Gotham City, Batman intervenes and apprehends him. After delivering him back to Arkham Asylum, the clown prince of crime escapes custody and flees, forcing Batman to intervene yet again. This is no escape attempt, however. The Joker is putting his latest mad plan into action this night, and the other residents of Arkham - Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and a few others lurking in the shadows - are eager to take a swing at the Dark Knight. As Batman, players must not only use his formidable combat skills to bring down Joker and his henchgoons, but also his sleuthing skills to save the Arkham staff from Joker's mad plot.

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Mini-Review: Sonic Gems Collection

Sonic Gems Collection

This review was originally published at Kombo.com on September 5, 2005.

Several years ago Sega stuffed the best that Sonic the Hedgehog has to offer into the compilation title Sonic Mega Collection. The title sold well enough on the Nintendo GameCube to prompt the release of a Plus version for other platforms, but one highly demanded title of days-gone-by eluded both iterations: Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Fans clamored long enough and loud enough that Sega has finally brought Sonic CD back to the store shelves along with several other seldom-seen Sonic titles with Sonic Gems Collection.  Considering that Sonic Gems Collection is a compilation disc, it would be inappropriate (and unfair) to review the collection taken as a whole. Instead the parts that make up the sum must be showcased separately, highlighting the bright spots and briefly dwelling on the disappointments.

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Mini-Review: Sonic Unleashed

Sonic UnleashedThis review of the Wii version of the game was originally published at Kombo.com on December 2, 2008. 

Sonic Unleashed begins where most Sonic games end. Dr. Robotnik has put his latest plan at conquering the world in order to build his own Eggmanland into motion, but Sonic had found the seven Chaos Emeralds and is rapidly racing through the doctor's latest badniks. Sonic turns Super and smashes his way through a robotic blockade, but the doctor's fallback plan captures Sonic, drains the Chaos Emeralds of their power, and transforms Sonic into a monstrous feral beast. Oh, and the planet below splits open and releases an evil force destined to doom mankind. Sonic is ejected into space where he falls back to the planet and apparently lands on a mysterious little critter that has no memories of himself or his place in the world. Sonic and his new friend (named Chip after the little guy's craving for all things chocolate) have to travel the globe to revive the Chaos Emeralds and put the planet back together before Robotnik can completely take over.

Unleashed is basically divided into three types of gameplay. The game's primary levels are locked at the start of the adventure. Players will have to talk to villagers around the world to learn the location of the actual gameplay. Sometimes Sonic will encounter a daylight stage which is what we've come to expect from Sonic the Hedgehog game: blue skies, branching paths through which to run, enemies to smash, rings to collect, and everything else that makes the really good parts of the Sonic experience so joyful. The idea is to race to the goal ring as quickly as possible. Each daylight level alternates between 3D camera-behind-Sonic segments and, in a nice twist that reminds me of Sonic games of the 16-bit era, 2D sidescrolling levels with the camera turned perpendicular to our hero. However, at night Sonic transforms into the beast and must punch and slam his way through contained environments full of creatures made of dark energy. The objective is still to reach the goal ring, but now Sonic moves very slowly and is built more for savage beatdowns than raw speed.

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Mini-Review: Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Ghostbusters

This review was originally published at Kombo.com on June 23, 2009.  Many of the technical issues described below were later fixed with a software update.

Two years after the Ghostbusters dealt with Vigo the Carpathian in Ghostbusters II, a new exhibit on Sumerian god Gozer the Gozerian is about to open in New York City's history museum. When a sudden increase in paranormal activity leads to the reappearance of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man rampaging through downtown, the Ghostbusters become involved in a renewed attempt to summon Gozer to destroy the world. The boys in gray (along with you, the player cast a the fifth member of the team charged with testing the latest in experimental ghostbusting equipment) have to solve the mystery of who is trying to summon Gozer and how they can save the world one more time. Meanwhile, nemesis Walter Peck, who was last seen working for the Environmental Protection Agency, is back to cause trouble for the team, and just who is the alluring woman that seems to constantly be in the wrong place at the wrong time?   

It's taken twenty-five years, but this is the Ghostbusters video game for which fans of the franchise have been waiting. With a story written by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis and voice acting by Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, William Atherton back as Walter Peck, Alyssa Milano joining the team as new character Ilyssa Selwyn, and Brian Doyle-Murray as Jock Mulligan the mayor of New York City, this game provides a detailed story that ties up loose ends from the two films and answers lingering questions you most likely didn't know that you had. Fan service abounds as players are sent to search the hallways of the Sedgewick Hotel in pursuit of the escaped Slimer, run through Times Square as a revived Stay Puft Marshmallow Man attempts to stomp the heroes into paste, consult with Vigo the Carpathian's painting on important matters, learn the backstory of the ghostly librarian that scared the Ghostbusters away at the start of the first film, fight a giant sloar, discover the source of the psychoreactive mood slime from the second film, and — it has to be said — slide down the firehouse's iconic pole.

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