Mini-Review Feed

Mini-Review: SEGA AGES Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sega has taken an active hand in the past decade in keeping its popular Genesis titles available for increasingly modern platforms, both as part of multi-game disc collections and à la carte downloads.  The latest game to make a return appearance is 1992's Sonic the Hedgehog 2, one of the best titles in the franchise and in which Sonic joins with his new pal Tails to take down Dr. Robotnik's plans of world domination using his Death Egg weapon.  While originally meant to spur sales of its 16-bit console, now that Sega is platform agnostic, anyone with a game system can take a crack at it.  And I mean anyone!  Without even especially trying to do it, I already own Sonic 2 for the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, iPhone, iPad, Amazon Fire TV, and Sega Genesis Mini.  That's a lot of Death Egg!  Chance are that, in some format, you already own it too.  Now that Sega has brought it back again for the Nintendo Switch as part of its Sega Ages revival series, it's simultaneously an easy impulse buy and seemingly unnecessary if you already own it in another format.  Yet, as I played through the game one more time and explored some of the new additions to the package, I found that this may be my favorite of the re-releases yet.

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Mini-Review: NES Controllers For Nintendo Switch

NES controllersAsk any of us who grew up in the 1980s with a Nintendo Entertainment System controller in our hands and we'll all tell you the same thing: that controller is iconic.  Sure, it's been surpassed by the controllers that came after it (the Super NES controller made it immediately obsolete), but there's a certain special something about that solid rectangle with the red buttons that evokes all kinds of nostalgia.  Nintendo has sold its classic back catalog through download services on its modern consoles for fourteen years now dating back to the original Wii, but players have relied on the modern controllers that belong with those modern consoles to play those old NES games.  You can turn a Wii remote on its side to sort of approximate the NES controller and a 3DS has all of the necessary buttons to simulate the experience, but there's a magic ingredient in the authentic old NES controller that is somehow essential to the experience.  Now that Nintendo is releasing NES games for its Switch hardware, you might expect that the company would have you turn a Joy-con on its side and somehow play Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda with a tiny little controller, but there's a far better option than that.  Nintendo sells real honest-to-goodness Nintendo Entertainment System controllers designed for the Switch, wireless communication and rechargeable battery included.  At $60 for a pair it seems steep, so when the package was on sale at half off over the holidays, I decided to take a chance and welcome nostalgia home.  I ordered a pack, charged 'em up, and my girlfriend and I set out to explore the two-player library of the Switch's NES library.

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Mini-Review: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

It's become a surprising tradition since the Wii era that whenever the Olympic Games gear up for another installment, Nintendo's Super Mario and Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog will be there for a fresh round of sports mini-games featuring the extended casts of both franchises.  Now in its sixth iteration in celebration of next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 covers familiar territory in new ways for the first time on the Nintendo Switch.  The big draw to this sequel is the new 2D retro event series in which the Mushroom Kingdom and Green Hill Zone gangs trade their shiny 3D models for old fashioned, nostalgic sprites from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis days.  What justifies the throwback?  It seems that Dr. Eggman and Bowser are cooking up a new scheme to be rid of their nemeses once and for all...

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Mini-Review: Star Fox: Assault

Star Fox: Assault This article was originally published at Kombo.com on February 11, 2005. 

Whenever danger faces the Lylat System, General Pepper turns to the heroes-for-hire Star Fox team to eradicate the enemy menace and restore civility to the solar system. The Star Fox team's battles against the twisted scientist Andross have become stories of legend, primarily because each title in the series has some level of notoriety surrounding it: the original Star Fox brought us the Super FX Chip, Star Fox 2 is still considered "the one that got away", Star Fox 64 rocked our world with the Rumble Pak, and Star Fox Adventures received more attention as the first and last Rareware title for the GameCube than for the actual gameplay itself. Now Nintendo and Namco have teamed up to create the latest installment of the Star Fox saga, Star Fox: Assault, and for the first time Fox McCloud and friends have to stand alone without new technology or nostalgia covering their backs.

One year after the events on Sauria the last of Andross’s troops are attempting to regroup near the planet Fortuna when Cornerian military forces engage the enemy fleet. Andrew Oikonny, the nephew of the late Andross and former member of the renegade Star Wolf team, is attempting to lead his hired troops to glory in a plan to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. The Star Fox team arrives just in time to pursue Oikonny to the planet’s surface where, without warning, a large creature plummets from space and crashes into the would-be emperor’s ship, destroying it. This interstellar visitor is no friend, however. It is an Aparoid, a member of a species of insectoid-like creatures that are devoted to consuming the resources and residents of neighboring solar systems. As the Aparoids invade the Lylat System the Star Fox team springs into action, determined to destroy the enemy menace.

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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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