Here's a couple of reviews for two games that I really enjoyed recently. Neither were mind-blowingly good, but I thoroughly enjoyed them both.
Suikoden Tierkreis -
This is a great game despite the fact that it's standard Japanese RPG 101. I'm not too familiar of the Suikoden series outside of Suikoden III, but I found this game to be pretty engaging and better than I had expected. Although it follows a pretty typical story (boy has to prevent the world from being taken over by an evil king) it executes it very well. There's always something happening that keeps the plot moving briskly and has a decent number of side-quests as well. The battle system is your standard, turn-based, attack/magic/items/defend thing, but features an auto option that helps speed up the random battles. Yes, it has random battles. There aren't any on the overworld though, which makes them easier to swallow. Unfortunately there isn't a map when exploring dungeons, which makes navigating them a pain sometimes when you're trying to find a way out while having to stop and battle inbetween. Graphically the game is great looking, with a mixture of 2D pre-rendered backdrops with 3D characters that reminded me a lot of PS1-era RPG's. The music is generally very good, and the game also features voice acting for the major scenes. That's more hit and miss, with the main character rushing most of the lines early on, but gets significantly better about halfway through. All in all it's a very good, but very unoriginal JRPG. There isn't a whole lot to complain about other than the fact that it's a fairly easy difficulty-wise for JRPG lovers. If you don't like random encounters, exploring dungeons, lots of dialogue, etc. you won't like this game. I do and was pretty addicted to it for the 33-ish hours it took me to complete.
Final Grade: B+
The Legendary Starfy -
This is one of Nintendo's newest platformers to come to the US (I believe it's been in Japan for some time now) that feels like a descendant of Kirby's. It follows a light-hearted story that features lots of cartoony characters, making it feel like it was made to be accessible to younger gamers. It uses a similar overworld to Super Mario World's, where you move from level to level, world to world with secret stages and the like included as well. It controls very well (it is a Nintendo game) with most of the gameplay occuring underwater. There's a collection aspect of course, where you collect journals and money, which can be used to purchase clothing items for Starfy to wear. There are also mini-games included in many of the levels that upon completion give access to secret stages and areas within them. The game is very easy; I don't recall dying too many times. This may or may not be a flaw depending on who you ask. I happened to like the relaxed feel of the game so I didn't mind it much. There's also mini-games that you can play outside of the main game, my favorite being one where you have to cook as many omlets as possible in a specific time frame. If you like Nintendo platformers, especially Kirby, you'll really enjoy this one. It's relaxing, controls well, and is simply fun to play.
Final Grade: B+
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