Mario Golf World Tour
Publisher: Nintendo (2014)
It's been many years since Mario Golf Toadstool Tour
(GameCube, 2003), but in the meantime the Hot Shots Golf series has done a good job of filling the arcade-golf niche. By 2014, everyone knows how to make a good golf game - except the designers of Mario Golf World Tour
. Not only is its gameplay riddled with flaws, but the structure of the game is aggravating. I was happy to see a selection of my favorite characters like Peach, Yoshi, and Boo (ever see a ghost swing a golf club?), but disappointed only one generic "forest" course was available. After playing it a few times I discovered it was necessary to play the "Castle Club" mode to unlock new courses. If that's not bad enough, you're forced
to play using your dorky Mii. Is Nintendo still
pushing those things? My Mii is an unlikeable loser
who makes me cringe whenever he gallivants around yelling "yay!" and "yahoo!" The whole point of buying this game was to play as my favorite Nintendo characters! The Castle Club is a huge pain. Upon selecting the forest course championship I was told I had to first play a practice round. Really?
Upon completing that, I selected championship again, only to be told I had to play a "handicap tournament" first. How many times do I have to play this [expletive] course?! And why does this game insist on presenting me with options that I can't actually choose?!
Eventually I unlocked courses like seaside and mountain, and sure, they look good. I like the smooth contours and rounded trees, and you can even see the wind gusts. A second set of "fantasy courses" can be unlocked by completing challenges, but they look like ass
. The only thing worse than competing on Peach's all-pink course (my eyes - it burns!
) is hitting balls between urine puddles on Yoshi's yellow course. In terms of control, the developers were intent on reinventing the wheel. The "expanding circle" swing meter is horrible. It's actually harder
to hit shorter shots since you have to react quicker. A more conventional line meter can be found on the top edge of the lower screen, but even that sucks because it limits your power (no overswing). The shot screen is cluttered will all sorts of unnecessary arrows and indicators, and why does everything have to be rainbow colored? The rainbow grid is so gaudy I can't even see the flag on the green! The ability to expedite ball rolls is useful, but a "fast forward" function would have been preferable to abruptly ending my shot. You can only save your game between rounds, which is really annoying when I'm having the best round of my life and my 3DS power lights are blinking like crazy. Mario Golf World Tour is a botched job. I'm pretty sure there's a good golf game here somewhere, but it's buried under a pile of garbage. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (2011)
When I reviewed Super Mario 3D Land
(Nintendo, 2011), I thought I had seen the best the 3DS had too offer. Clearly, I spoke too soon. Mario Kart 7 is amazing. You might dismiss the 3D as window dressing, but it actually makes a big
difference! The sense of speed is more convincing and the environments feel more open and expansive. After soaring off a ramp your cart turns into a glider so you can navigate through the air to collect floating coins or look for alternate routes. It's an adrenaline rush that adds a whole new dimension to the racing. The graphics are the best I've seen in a Mario Kart title, offering 16 sensational new tracks along with 16 remixed tracks from past Mario Karts on the N64, Game Boy, and GameCube. The Aladdin-inspired night stage features exotic scenery and beautiful lighting effects. I also love the tropical resort that lets you race underwater (not in a tunnel - in
the actual water!). Neo City has a Blade Runner vibe with its high-tech, rainy scenery. The characters include all the usual suspects but the weapons include some new additions. The leaf power-up gives you a tail you can use to smack cars that ride too close. The awesome "lucky seven" power-up surrounds you with seven items
you can unleash with reckless abandon. Mario Kart 7 offers one of the best one-player race experiences ever, and naturally there are on-line and off-line multiplayer modes. It's been 20 years since I purchased the original Super Mario Kart
(SNES, 1992), and this series is still king when it comes to pure racing fun. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Mario Party: Island Tour
Publisher: Nintendo (2013)
Mario Tennis Open
Publisher: Nintendo (2012)
Metroid: Samus Returns
Publisher: Nintendo (2017)
Rating: Everyone 10+
Samus Return is the "proper" 2D Metroid sequel fans have been waiting for since Super Metroid
(SNES, 1994). This engaging sci-fi platformer takes place on an exotic planet that's part ancient Egypt and part Aliens. Our heroine's default weapon is weak but can be fired rapidly. You also have a limited supply of missiles. It love how you can hold in the left shoulder button to adjust your shooting angle with precision. And once you get the timing down the new counter move lets you easily beat back dive-bombing alien birds. The game has an excellent sense of progression as you slowly gain new powers such as the ability to roll up into a ball. Whenever you acquire a new ability (like scaling walls for example) you'll want to revisit old locations just so you can access previously out-of-reach areas. The map on the bottom screen comes in handy in terms of figuring out where to go next, but it's still easy to get lost in this expansive world. What makes the game difficult is that not only do enemies regenerate, but so do blocks and other obstacles. The cut-scenes look almost anime quality, and the manner in which Samus enters and exits a save booth leaves no doubt she is a female. The problem with Metroid: Samus Returns has less to do with the game and more the system. I found the analog pad to be squirrelly, especially since you often need to hold in the shoulder buttons at the same time. It's awkward for making precise jumps and downright frustrating when you need to quickly transition between stand, squat, and ball positions. You'll want to use the digital pad but that's not an option. Metroid: Samus Returns is a well-crafted sci-fi adventure. I just wish I could play it using an SNES controller instead. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Majesco (2011)
Rating: Everyone 10+
You have to give the developers of Nano Assault a lot of credit. It would have been very easy to release a 3D version of the Nanostray shooters that were such a hit on the DS. Instead we get a completely original title that fully leverages the 3DS capabilities. In a typical stage you guide a small ship around the surface of a cell. Your ship looks like a flea but the cell itself rotates impressively as you move around it. Your goal is to exterminate all living organisms crawling over its surface while collecting DNA strands. Each cell has a unique shape, and the high-resolution, clammy surfaces look very organic. You use the four main buttons to unleash a stream of shots in any direction, and you also have a limited supply of special weapons (like guided missiles). Enemies have health meters, and it's satisfying to wear them down. It's fun to see what each new stage has in store at first
, but enemies never evolve into anything more than simple shapes. The shooting action is just okay. Organisms can spawn from a cell's surface with annoying frequency - sometimes directly beneath you. The treasure hunting aspect adds another dimension to the gameplay, forcing you to fully explore each cell. The illusion of depth is impressive (especially in the tunnel stages) and the pulsating electronic music is intense. A story mode allows you to unlock the various stages, and the arcade mode lets you play through each for score. Nano Assault earns points for originality, but on the whole it just doesn't leave a lasting impression. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
New Super Mario Bros. 2
Publisher: Nintendo (2012)
Rating: Everyone (comic mischief)
Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions
Publisher: Namco (2011)
Publisher: Nintendo (2011)
The Pilotwings franchise has a long tradition of showcasing the new graphical capabilities of Nintendo consoles, dating back to the SNES edition with its fancy "mode 7" effects. Pilotwings Resort lets you soar over tranquil island locations in a plane, jetpack, and hang glider. On paper, flying and 3D sounds like a match made in heaven, but in practice the small 3DS screen tends to understate the visual splendor of your surroundings. I never felt that sense of exhilaration that I was hoping for. The exotic environments are pleasant enough, but Nintendo fans will notice that one island was recycled from Wii Fit. A mission mode offers a series of increasingly difficult challenges where you fly through rings, pop balloons, shoot targets, and snap pictures of landmarks. To maximize your score you'll want to use speed boosts to improve your time, and be sure to nail the landing. Landing is not particularly hard and it's very satisfying to land your plane on the strip in the water. The early training missions are an absolute chore to get through, but things gradually get more interesting, so hang in there.
My favorite stage is the one where you chase a car and shoot at its balloons. When the car goes through a tunnel, it feels like a chase scene from a James Bond movie. While I generally prefer the plane missions, the jetpack gives you the maneuverability to freely explore your surroundings. The hang glider relies on "updrafts" to remain in the air, which look like weak tornados. These stages are relaxing but some people may find them extremely dull. The 3D aspect of Pilotwings Resort is good but not great, and I found that turning down the 3D setting a tad helped me maintain focus. The music is of the easy listening variety - not particularly catchy but not bad either. I've always found it hard to get excited about Pilotwings games, but this well-crafted title is fine for those looking for some leisurely fun. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ubisoft (2011)
Except for the 3D treatment, this is a straight port of Rayman 2 which appeared on the Dreamcast way back in 2000. Ubisoft sure is getting a lot of mileage out of this game, and can you blame them? It's a charming, well-constructed platformer that appeals to all ages. Its smooth textures still look great, although some boxy platforms tend to reveal its age. Parts of the game seem particularly well suited to 3D (barrels falling toward you in a shaft) but the effect is mostly aesthetic (butterflies fluttering in the foreground). The 3D can be a liability during combat as it's easy to lose that 3D "sweet spot" when frantically targeting enemy pirates. Besides fighting and exploring you'll collect "lums" which resemble floating puff balls with wings. Grab as many yellow lums as you can or else you may be forced to replay early stages, some of which are pretty long. I found the brief cut-scenes to be funny and clever, and they sometimes offer vital clues so pay attention!
I initially pegged this as a "spring" game, but in retrospect the swamps, bayous, and pirates make it feel more like a summer title. I like Rayman 3D's frequent save points, but not so much the frequent load screens. The controls are generally responsive but the swimming controls absolutely suck
. Also, why does the game sometimes prompt me to hit buttons not on the 3DS controller? Uh-oh!
The audio boasts appealing natural sounds (like bird chirps) and the soundtrack has a magical Disney quality. Rayman 3D may be a port, but this game seems to defy age. If you've never played the original, you're in for a treat. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Resident Evil: Revelations
Publisher: Capcom (2012)
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood and gore, intense violence, language)
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries
Publisher: Capcom (2011)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, violence)
Publisher: Namco (2011)
River City: Tokyo Rumble
Publisher: Natsume (2016)
Rating: Everyone 10+ (mild language, mild violence)
This disappointing sequel to the classic River City Ransom
(NES, 1988) falls into a familiar trap. It's not enough to have the same basic ingredients; you need the right blend
. Tokyo Rumble offers more missions, stages, moves, characters, and some pretty good music. But story makes no sense, the fighting is laborious, and you never know where to go. Tokyo Rumble does at least retain the same squat, boxy characters with goofy facial expressions. But unlike the charming pixelated stages of the original game, the scenery here looks plain and washed out. The ability to zoom in via the shoulder buttons seems neat at first, but the close angle is unplayable and you're always triggering it by accident. The world is expansive but confusing to navigate. It took me quite a while to realize the map on the lower screen is just a subway map. I wouldn't even have known how to enter a subway station had I not stumbled into some blurry doorway. The characters and school locations tend to have long, confusing Japanese names. When you strike an enemy the amount of damage appears, but it takes about 20 hits to kill anybody and don't even get me started on the bosses! Even bashing someone with a baseball bat or trash can feels oddly unsatisfying. Dropped coins can be used to purchase new moves, but saving up is a serious grind. River City: Tokyo Rumble lacks the simplicity that made the original so appealing. As a sanity check I went back and played River City Ransom on my NES, and yeah - it's still holds up. This game? No bueno!
© Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.