Wii Reviews K-L

Kawasaki Jet Ski
Grade: F
Publisher: Data Design Interactive (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/6/14
Rating: Everyone

screenshotAs a fan of Wave Race 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996) and Hydro Thunder (Dreamcast, 1999), the idea of a Wii jet ski game had me frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog in a Snausage factory. It didn't take long to realize however that Kawasaki Jet Ski is another case of Wii shovelware - a disposable title if I ever saw one. Do they really think people are gullible enough to spend money on this?! Oh wait...

I had played Carve (Xbox, 2003) shortly before reviewing this, and believe it or not, that five-year-old game was far more advanced! Kawasaki Jet Ski's graphics are rudimentary, with plain environments and water that looks more like glass. Despite exotic locations like Venice and Thailand, the scenery conveys a complete lack of detail and imagination. The controls are extremely touchy and the framerate is erratic, resulting in wild oversteering. Upon going airborne, your jet ski floats unnaturally, occasionally stopping and then lurching forward for no apparent reason. When you become stuck in a corner (a common occurrence), you'll need to hit a special button to reset your jet ski because there's no reverse.

Glitches abound in the audio, which sounds like a headache-inducing din of motors. There's no commentator, but I did hear a voice say "Good!" when I came in last. But the worst aspect of the game is its atrocious course designs. Instead of cruising the open waters of a tropical paradise, you tediously navigate narrow canals with one abrupt 90-degree turn after the next. It's hard to tell where you're supposed to go! And get this - the difficulty levels are reversed, so the "easy" level is treacherous and the "hard" level is slow and forgiving!

Kawasaki Jet Ski is a real hatchet job. Adding insult to injury, the loading process makes you sit through no less less than five logo screens. Did these companies really want to take credit, or were they just trying to spread the blame?? © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Kawasaki Snowmobiles
Grade: F
Publisher: Data Design Interactive (2008)
Reviewed: 2009/1/28
Rating: Everyone

screenshotVideo games are meant to be played, but Kawasaki Snowmobiles can only be endured. I can handle sub-par graphics, but the abysmal controls make each race an agonizing experience. I guess I shouldn't have expected much, considering how heinous that Kawasaki Jet Ski game I reviewed last summer was.

Kawasaki Snowmobiles fails on every level. The stadium-enclosed courses are so generic you can't tell one from the next. The snow doesn't look bad, but the snowmobiles appear to be floating above the surface - not unlike Luke Skywalker's landspeeder! The controls are worthless. Kawasaki employs the standard "tilt-the-controller" steering scheme, but your mobile tends to veer unpredictably side-to-side, and you'll struggle to keep it from tipping over.

Staying on the track is futile, but that's okay because you can cut across the course and skip large track sections with no penalty! Occasionally you'll find yourself facing a wall, making it necessary to hit reverse. Inexplicably, this causes the camera angle to reverse itself, which is completely disorienting. Don't worry about falling too far behind though, because your three bunched-up opponents slow down for you when you fall behind. You'll wish they didn't wait up, because the races are so long that you'll be begging for their merciful conclusion.

There's no turbo button or any real strategy to speak of, besides the aforementioned cheating. Kawasaki Snowmobile proves an interesting point: Just because a game is dirt-cheap doesn't necessarily mean you'll get your money's worth. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga
Grade: A
Publisher: SNK (2008)
Reviewed: 2009/7/18
Rating: Teen

screenshotThese old King of Fighters games age like wine. Whenever I revisit them, I always discover a cool new move or notice an interesting detail in the artistic backdrops. With a possible exception of the Street Fighter 2 franchise, no series can touch King of Fighters' perfectly tuned gameplay. This value-priced compilation includes King of Fighters 94, 95, 96, 97, and 98. That's not all of them (they continued to 2003), but it does represent the hey-day of the series.

Each edition introduced new characters, backgrounds, and slight tweaks to the gameplay. Some of the characters may seem generic, but they all have a human quality that keeps the action grounded and easy to follow. The magnificent backgrounds include memorable locations like a smoky jazz bar and a bustling city street outside of a fictional Neo Geo store. Hell, even the smoke-belching factory looks like a work of art!

The outstanding gameplay shines with its fast pacing, familiar controls, and intense matches that end with a bang. The audio is also notable, dishing out high energy electronic tunes and crisp sound effects that punctuate each thwack of a punch and thud of a body hitting the ground. In addition to the original games, a challenge mode lets you unlock media including artwork and music. Some of these challenges are pretty imaginative, like the one in which fighters inflict no damage but the last one to take a hit is "poisoned", causing his life to gradually drain.

While this version of Orochi Saga is basically identical to the PS2 edition, the progressive scan output will play better on HDTVs (no lag). I should also mention that this game worked well with my "Fighting Stick Wii" arcade stick. It's hard to find fault with this collection, which delivers some of the best 2D fighting you'll see in the past, present, or future. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition
Grade: C+
Publisher: Nintendo (2012)
Reviewed: 2013/6/15
Rating: Everyone 10+ (animated blood, cartoon violence)

screenshotEven if you hate his freakin' guts, you have to respect Kirby as a Nintendo icon. Since 1992 he has appeared in well over 20 games spanning all the Nintendo platforms. Dream Collection gives you six of them, and while I'd hardly call it a dream collection, it's still a good value. Kirby games were designed to be "fun for everyone" so don't expect much in the way of challenge.

Kirby is a jolly little pink fellow who can inhale enemies and spit them out. His debut title, Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy, 1992), was a refreshing change of pace from the standard Mario Bros. formula. Kirby's Adventure (NES, 1993) gave Kirby colorful fantasy worlds to explore and also empowered him to absorb the abilities of those he swallowed. This introduces all sorts of cool powers like breathing fire, growing porcupine needles, and smacking enemies with an umbrella.

Kirby's Dream Land 2 (Game Boy, 1995) brought that sophisticated gameplay to the Game Boy. It added the idea of collecting stars to earn lives, and you can even ride around on a hamster. Kirby Super Star (SNES, 1996) was an eight-games-in-one deal, making this a collection within a collection! These games up the ante with dazzling, candy-like graphics only the SNES can deliver.

Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SNES, 1998) was one of the final games released for the SNES, employing an artistic, illustrated style. Kirby and the Crystal Shards (Nintendo 64, 2000) had 3D graphics but maintained the same solid 2D gameplay. It features some nifty visual effects, like a little girl who draws pictures that come to life. These old games are fine but the all-new Kirby Challenge Stages really steal the show. Each stage arms you with one of Kirby's classic abilities like a sword, electricity, parasol (umbrella), kung fu, or whip. You have two and a half minutes to navigate platforms while collecting coins and smashing foes. The timer adds a sense of urgency, and the game has a fast-paced, chaotic quality.

If Kirby's Dream Collection has a flaw, it's the confusing quit/save system. For the older games you must use the "reset" option on the home screen, which saves your progress whether you like it or not. The Special Edition includes an informative color booklet and a soundtrack CD. Fans should bump up the grade by a letter, but this is probably more Kirby than the average gamer can withstand. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Kirby's Epic Yarn
Grade: B+
Publisher: Nintendo (2010)
Reviewed: 2011/1/29
Rating: Everyone

screenshotBetween this and Donkey Kong Returns, I'm starting to think that other companies might as well quit the platforming business because Nintendo's got the whole genre sewn up. Kirby's Epic Yarn has a captivating, original style that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Once you get past its yawn-inducing intro you're immersed in a soft world composed of fabrics, yarns, buttons, and zippers. The controls are instantly comfortable, and the degree of polish is extraordinary. Kirby is a cute pink ghost equally likely to elicit squeals of delight or groans of annoyance. In previous games Kirby could swallow his foes to obtain their powers, but in Epic Yarn he transforms into various shapes like a car, parachute, fish, or weight. Armed with a handy lasso, he can "untie" enemies or interact with the scenery in amazing ways.

The game strikes an old-school chord with its 2D gameplay, sideways control scheme, and point system. The fabricated visuals look photo-realistic (a la Little Big Planet), and when you yank a button to pull a platform closer, it's remarkably satisfying. The game moves at a leisurely pace, and the tranquil music combined with the surreal visuals makes it almost feel like a religious experience. It's fun to collect gems and patches as you explore each stage, and a handy meter at the top of the screen keeps you posted on your progress.

The stages are short and forgiving, and the game is definitely easy. But just when you're starting to get bored something unexpected will put a big smile on your face. Kirby will transform into a giant yarn tank and blast through the scenery, or become a fire truck that battles flames by tilting a hose. The one turn-off about the game is its childish voices and storybook-style cut-scenes. Even so, Epic Yarn is still appealing on many levels. It manages to take a lot of familiar concepts and present them in a way that seems completely fresh and original. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Grade: B-
Publisher: Nintendo (2009)
Reviewed: 2021/1/17
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI've grown a bit numb to Kirby's saccharine-sweet brand of platforming over the years, but Return to Dream Land's cheerful graphics put me in a good mood. Whenever a game asks you to hold the Wiimote sideways you know you know you're in for some old-school fun.

Dream Land reprises the classic "inhale enemies to assume their traits" gameplay. One minute you're a cowboy with a lasso, the next you're breathing fire, and then you're sprouting spikes. These powers add variety and you'll need to juggle them to access hidden areas. The overall format of the game is predictable as you collect parts of a ship while advancing through innocuously-named worlds like "cookie country", "raisin ruins", and "onion ocean". Since the graphics are very cartoonish, they aren't compromised by the system's lack of high definition.

Dream Land feels effortless to play at times, especially when controlling a character as nimble as Kirby. Not only can he scoot up and down ladders with ease, he can puff himself up to float above the fray. He has a life bar so taking an inadvertent hit is rarely fatal. The bosses are so easy you'll beat them on your first attempt. What sets Dream Land from previous Kirby outings is its degree of destruction. There's a hat weapon that constantly lobs cannonballs forward, obliterating everything in your path. There's a power that lets you transform into a giant snowball, steamrolling everything in your way. There's even a Zelda-esque "ultra sword" that will let you level a mountain in a single blow! These really elevate the excitement when the game really needs a shot in the arm.

Each stage has a set of hidden cogs and you will be scratching your head trying to track down all of these things. The game makes limited use of motion controls, but they are the worst kind - the ones where you need to frantically shake the Wiimote. To inhale large blocks you need to shake the Wii-mote while holding down the one button which is somewhat counter-intuitive. The game is rich with imagination but after a while however its wispy gameplay and happy-go-lucky music grow tiresome. That said, Kirby's Return to Dream Land will make you smile and there's something to be said for that. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Grade: B+
Publisher: Bandai (2008)
Reviewed: 2010/4/10
Rating: Everyone 10+

screenshotThis game is the embodiment of Spring with its lush green grass, flowery paths, cascading streams, and breezy music. Klonoa's simple platform gameplay and cheerful graphics harken back to the 16-bit era. While playing this game I experienced flashbacks of Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis, 1991), Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis, 1990), Donkey Kong Country (SNES, 1994), and Pandemonium! (PS1, 1996).

The Dreamcast-quality visuals are smooth and the water looks inviting. You guide our furry hero through windmills, tree houses, caves, castles, and forests. Some areas let you ride on mine carts or careen down waterslides. Klonoa's imaginative stages are rendered in 3D but played in 2D, delivering the best of both worlds. The pathways tend to intertwine, often giving you a glimpse of areas to come.

The simple control scheme is limited to grabbing and jumping - no motion controls to contend with. Jumping is a bit touchy, but your ability to hover momentarily allows for some margin for error. What makes Klonoa unique is how you manipulate chubby, bouncy enemies to perform basic actions. Whether you're vaulting off of one to perform a double-jump, or throwing one to clear an obstacle, you'll find a number of creative uses for these guys.

Conquering each stage isn't particularly hard, but collecting the elusive puzzle pieces gives the game some replay value. Frequent checkpoints appear in the form of alarm clocks and you can save your progress between stages. Klonoa's second-grade dialogue can get a little tedious, but you can hit the minus button to skip it. This is a relatively easy adventure, but even seasoned gamers will appreciate Klonoa's old-school gameplay and innocent charm. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, The
Grade: B+
Publisher: Nintendo (2011)
Reviewed: 2012/2/28
Rating: Everyone 10+

screenshotSkyward Sword is set around the time when Zelda was a teenager and Link was going through his Justin Bieber phase. They both live on a floating chunk of land called Skyloft, which is a beautiful, idyllic place where everyone has a bird "guardian" to fly on. Skyward Sword's graphics have a soft, illustrated look that's inviting. The exotic musical score is amazing and familiar sound effects will make Zelda fans feel right at home. Instead of using voices, the characters murmur to display text, and that's a good idea.

New concepts are gradually introduced and motion controls are used extensively. I wouldn't call the sword controls "precise", but it's fun to slice through ropes, cut down trees, and target unprotected body parts. Other interesting motions let you "bowl" bombs and guide a remote-controlled flying beetle. It's cool how that beetle can actually pick up and drop items - like bombs. Other motion moves are more tedious than exciting, like tightrope walking or "dowsing" for hidden items.

You might expect heavy use of motion would make the controls more intuitive, but that's not the case. There's a lot of stuff to remember and the motion detection can be temperamental. Strenuous moves like pushing, running, and climbing drain your stamina gauge, so you can only perform these in measured bursts. This forces you to be deliberate in your actions. The overall design of the game is extremely clever, and I like how easy it is to travel between Skyloft and the various ground locations.

The dungeons incorporate a lot of original ideas but some rely on subtle visual cues like cracks in walls that are really hard to see. I often found myself wishing there was an "on the fly" camera control, which might have prevented me from walking into lava so much. Skyward Sword takes a while to gain traction, so you need to invest a few hours before that classic Zelda "magic" kicks in. Save points come in the form of ubiquitous bird statues. Skyward Sword can be a little slow at times, but it's such a well-constructed adventure that you'll want to stick with it. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/5/4
Rating: Teen (animated blood, fantasy violence)

screenshotSubmitted by RPG correspondent Jonathan Hawk
Nintendo promised an engaging, fresh, satisfying Zelda game, and that's precisely what we got - albeit a year late. Twilight Princess is a darker-themed visit to the Zelda universe - the first Zelda rated "T for Teen". Set in an immersive world and armed with a brilliant storyline, Princess delivers on most if not all expectations.

As the story goes, a supernatural "Twilight" plane is creeping across the land of Hyrule, and Link must banish it while seeking powerful relics to defeat the evil Zant. In the twilight universe, Link takes the form of the wolf, and once the twilight is banished from the area, he reassumes human form. Wolf Link cannot use items, but he gains the ability to dig and use extra senses that let him detect scent trails and ghosts.

The puzzles and dungeons are expertly designed, and some are very challenging. Boss fights tend to be standard Zelda fare, where you use a newly acquired item in a cunning way to attack the boss' weak spot. A stunning selection of side-quests and mini games are also available if you have the time. For the most part, the Wii controls are intuitive and comfortable. The game retains its lock-on mechanism from past titles, and camera angles are easily adjustable. I like how the camera positions itself directly behind you when you lock onto an enemy. Using the bow, grappling hook, and similar items is a breeze using the Wii remote's on-screen pointer. The only difficulty I experienced was that sometimes the nun-chuck registered a forward push (shield bash) as a shake from side-to-side (Link's spin attack).

There are a few differences between the Gamecube and Wii versions, both for better and worse. The graphics, which are perfectly attractive, look almost identical on both systems, so I don't think it's wise to say that this game is a great benchmark for the Wii's capabilities. The art style is brilliant however, even if the graphics aren't bleeding edge. Cut scenes are rendered using the game engine and most are skippable. The music features some old favorites and many new themes. Some audio effects are played through the Wii remote's speaker, which unfortunately sounds a little tinny and shallow.

All in all, Nintendo shipped a shining example of how an adventure game should play. If you're ready to invest 50 hours of gameplay to complete eight dungeons and save Hyrule, pony up 50 bucks and enjoy a great addition to the Zelda legacy. Only a few minor hindrances keep this from an A+. VGC Note: The graphics in this Wii edition are "mirrored" from the GameCube edition, so a road that heads left in one will head right in the other. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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Lego Indiana Jones 2
Grade: F
Publisher: LucasArts (2009)
Reviewed: 2011/6/29
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI was less than enthused by the first Lego Indiana Jones game, and this second edition confirms my suspicions that these games are pretty bad. Considering I'm a big Indy fan, my sheer hatred of this game even took me by surprise! Lego Indiana Jones 2 focuses on the "Crystal Skull" movie, but also contains scenes from the original trilogy. The level design is all over the place, with the "hub" leading to various locations that invariably say, "you need so-and-so character (or object) to play this stage". What the [expletive] ever!

The stage designs are confusing at best and often infuriating. The low-resolution Wii graphics don't help matters, as you often have no idea what you're looking at. In one case I thought a box was a television set, but it turned out to be a critical "push plate" I had to move in order to make progress. You're constantly prompted what to do, but many objectives make absolutely no sense (find a spear and target a wall socket?) Smashing up the scenery to release cogs is moderately fun, but the fact that I could often break stuff on the other side of a wall only corroborates how shoddy the programming is. The control scheme is hardly conducive to the Wii, and I found the B (attack) and Z (use) buttons extremely hard to keep straight. You can't even shake the Wii-mote to crack your whip!

The stages only vaguely follow the movie storylines, and I often had a hard time identifying characters or figuring out what scene I was playing. The combat sucks, but that pretty much goes without saying. What ultimately pushed me over the edge were the horrendous driving stages. The steering controls are an absolute nightmare! Even the cut-scenes are a headache since there's no way to pause or skip them. I usually find these Lego games to be moderately enjoyable, but playing Lego Indiana Jones 2 is an absolute chore. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
Grade: D+
Publisher: LucasArts (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/7/13
Rating: Everyone

screenshotIndiana Jones is a pretty natural fit for the Lego games. Not only did the original trilogy offer plenty of exotic locations, but Indy usually had a sidekick or two, making it conducive to Lego's brand of tag-team action. The environments themselves are not composed of Legos, and look fairly realistic. From the blowing snow of the mountain stage to the rainy, neon-lit streets of Shanghai, the scenery looks exceptionally good.

Casual gamers can breeze right through the three stories, but dedicated gamers will want to uncover all of the hidden secrets in each level. It sounds like a winner, but Lego Indiana Jones isn't as fun as you might expect. The stages are inspired by movie locations, but some are very extended and tend to wear out their welcome. Each room has its own set of puzzles, which often involve repairing machinery, operating elevators, turning keys, and standing on buttons. The game constantly nudges you along, highlighting items of interest with spotlights and white arrows.

The platform jumping tends to be forgiving, but there's no camera control and some jumps are very hard to judge. As with the Star Wars Lego titles, you can destroy just about any object composed of Legos. This causes "cogs" to spill out, generating those "tic tic tic" sounds as you collect them. Although fun at first, destroying every last pot or table to maximize your score becomes tiresome after a while, and the constant explosive sounds are headache inducing.

The fighting action isn't much fun at all. Unlike the bright laser blasts of the Star Wars games, the bullets here are hard to see, and you'll often fall to pieces without knowing what hit you. There's little technique involved in fighting, and since Indy always regenerates, there's little challenge either. You'd expect the controls to be simple as can be, but I never felt comfortable with them. It's very easy to get the Z and B buttons confused. Z is normally used to manipulate items, but can also attack with your whip. The C doubles as "get in vehicle" and "switch character", and it doesn't always do what you intend.

I deliberately purchased the Wii edition of this game for the ability to swing Indy's whip via motion control, but the thrill is fleeting. The game's musical score is first-rate, and the mildly amusing cut-scenes try to water down the more graphic parts of the films. There's an auto-save feature, but even when you complete a stage, it doesn't save until you continue, so don't be too quick to hit the power button.

I hate to rain on the parade, but I found Lego Indiana Jones to be only moderately fun, and boring at times. It's interesting to see the game's interpretation of the films' scenes, but after a while you feel like you're just going through the motions. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Link's Crossbow Training
Grade: B
Publisher: Nintendo (2007)
Reviewed: 2008/2/1
Rating: Teen (fantasy violence)

screenshotIt's amazing how much mileage Nintendo has gotten out of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GameCube, 2006). First they release a slightly modified version for the Wii with mirrored graphics and motion controls, and now we get a target shooter with recycled enemies and stages! It's all good though, because Twilight Princess provides an excellent backdrop with its soaring waterfalls, serene villages, dusty ghost towns, and haunted castles.

Of course the main purpose of Link's Crossbow Training is to introduce the Nintendo Zapper, which is packaged with the game. The Zapper is actually little more than a plastic shell that lets you attach a Wii-mote and nun-chuck (with some difficulty) to form something that looks vaguely like a gun (well it does have a trigger). You don't need the Zapper to play, and I'm sure many gamers will be happy to ditch the thing.

Despite the gimmick factor, Crossbow Training proves to be remarkably entertaining. There are nine levels with three stages each, and scoring is key to winning medals and unlocking new levels. The game effectively uses "multipliers" to increase point values based on how many targets you can hit in a row. You'll also score more for hitting the bullseye of targets. It's easy to aim thanks to the large crosshair and fine degree of control.

In addition to shooting spiders, trolls, fish, and skeletons, you can also take out pots, barrels, and scarecrows in the background for extra points. There's always something to aim for so there's never a dull moment. In some stages Link is surrounded by converging monsters (tracked via a radar display) and in other stages you wander around freely (using the analog thumbstick) to hunt down a certain number of enemies within a time limit.

The game is undeniably fun, but I did notice a slight case of "lag" associated with moving the crosshair across the screen. Also, the multiplayer modes only support alternating turns. Even so, for a game so simple and plain, Link's Crossbow Training is a hell of a lot of fun. You won't want to play it for hours on end, but if you pull it out every once in a while, you'll always have a good time. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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