Monday, March 16, 2015

StarBoy91's February 2015 Mini-Reviews 2/2

Written: March 10th-16th, 2015
 
PART II
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinstrals (SNES)
1995 Neverland (Developer), 1996 Natsume (Publisher)
(Image from Wikipedia)
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
Ironic how the last game I talked about in my January Mini-Reviews in one of the pages is this month's first game I talk about in one of the pages.  I haven't progressed that much (because of time constraints and the fact that I consistently alternate between games) in the second Lufia, but I have gotten to the point where female warrior Selan joined the group.  Aside from that not much has really changed my mind on the game so far as I still think it's okay for the time being.
My Personal Score: N/A
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Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse, The (SNES)
1992 Capcom
I still don't like the fact that Mickey Mouse's first Nintendo 16-bit game is nothing but a dream which wasn't established until the very last minute and how it completely undermines everything that has led up to it.  I'm certain there are some people that might defend it in the stance that it's Capcom's first Disney game for the console, but I don't buy it and it is not an excuse.

But take that away, and The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse is a very fun and charming game, for there's so much of it that works.  I like the concept of Mickey alternating between outfits in order to overcome obstacles, the environments are well-chosen and the visuals are polished in a surreal way (I like the melted candle-like platforms in Fire Grotto and the spooky wavy trees in Dark Forest, and how detailed they could be as far as the reflection of the fire above the water in the former is concerned), some of the ways it tries to challenge you are creative, the boss fights are cool, there are plenty of secret sections within areas, and Mari Yamaguchi's soundtrack matches their respective areas with succinct quality (though I will admit the title and ending themes are meh by comparison), and its charms are hard to resist.  =)

But for all the great stuff that works there are elements that let this game down (outside the ending), namely the fact that some areas are shorter than others (like Snowy Valley).  Someone at Capcom must've found the timer unnecessary that they did not retain it for the other five 16-bit Disney games in the console.  And the Fire Grotto boss takes a long time to beat on Hard mode.  But for being Mickey Mouse's first game for the SFC/SNES it's good while it lasts, though I largely prefer its sequels The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey & Minnie and Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3.
My Personal Score: 8.0/10
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Mickey's Playtown Adventure: A Day of Discovery! (SNES - ROM)
1994 Visual Concepts (Developer) / Hi-Tech Expressions (Would've Been Publisher)
Now that I've had the chance to experience Mickey's Ultimate Challenge (which would've shared the same publisher of this game had Visual Concepts' game been released), I can honestly say that Mickey's Playtown Adventure: A Day of Discovery! is about on par with Designer Software's puzzle-a-thon in terms of overall quality; but call me crazy, but I actually kinda prefer the unreleased SNES ROM by a little as far as gameplay is concerned.
 
I liked the idea of an open-ended world, and I like the variety of tasks it had in store.  The problem is that they don't make for a strong game, and as a series of fetch quests and errand running it's pretty time-consuming despite their easy difficulty.  Had it been released on the SNES it probably would've done great for younger kids, but for everyone else it would've been a mere curiosity (which is what its unreleased status is).
 
But still, it's harmless while it lasts, and at least it doesn't contain a longwinded block sliding puzzle as a final challenge (unlike certain other games).
My Personal Score: 5.5/10
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Mickey's Ultimate Challenge (SNES)
1994 Designer Software (Developer) / Hi-Tech Expressions (Publisher)
 
So now that I've finally decided to overcome my aversion to playing this game due the middling things I heard about Mickey's Ultimate Challenge, WayForward Technologies' first game (back when they were Designer Software) is a harmless series of puzzles which isn't bad but might work better for younger gamers.
 
While the visuals don't aspire to be the best in the console, the scenery is effective in its own simplicity, and Mickey and Minnie's animations are fluid in motion.  I liked that it took place in a universe shared with Mickey and the Pauper and some puzzles are decent; ranging from the game's own versions of Mastermind to Simon to even Sōkoban among others.  And while those puzzles aren't bad, the last one really kills the whole game for me: block sliding.  It's not such an issue on Cake mode, but on the Medium and Challenging modes it is way too complex and takes a long time to figure out.  I can't stand them personally and I can't solve them without feeling antsy and impatient about them.
 
It is not a bad game, it's fun for a few short bursts, but it is one of Mickey's weakest titles in my opinion.
My Personal Score: 5.5/10
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Pong/Asteroids/Yars' Revenge (Game Boy Advance)
2005 EC-Interactive (Developer) / Destination Software (Publisher)
(Image from MobyGames)
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
A compilation comprising of classic Atari hits Pong, Asteroids, and the lone Atari 2600 entry Yars' Revenge, the games are fun to play once in awhile but are best played in short bursts.  I liked the fact that you could change the background in Asteroids and how you could play one of several difficulty settings in Yars' Revenge.  It doesn't have as many extra features as other compilations do, but this one is okay on its own right.
My Personal Score: 6.5/10
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Rise of the Guardians (Blu-Ray)
2012 DreamWorks
(Image from Rotten Tomatoes)
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
Rise of the Guardians is a very fun superhero team-up in the vein of Marvel's The Avengers which has got a really good story, good humor, and some breathtaking animation and visuals.  =)

I loved the concept of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost teaming up together and playing the roles of guardians over the children of the world.  I liked how awesome these guys were, especially Russian Santa and kangaroo-like Bunnymund with boomerangs.  The visuals were so great, and it's well-cast (Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law) too.

Alexander Desplat's music is great as always, and the scenes where Jack interacts with one of the kids and the way one of the ending scenes play out are so magical in their own right.  =)  Jack Frost, who's a very likable main character, is to this movie what Elsa is to Frozen in that they one common trait (aside from ice powers): they are easily relatable (in differing ways).

This movie is a real joy to watch, and I hope DreamWorks makes a sequel, because it would be nice to see more of these guardians in action.
My Personal Score: 4/5
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Secret of Evermore (SNES)
1995 SquareSoft
To say that it's not as great as Secret of Mana (or for that matter, the superior Seiken Densetsu 3) would be a huge understatement, but Secret of Evermore is not so bad.  While it adopts the play control of the 1993 classic, it also adds its own bit of structure with alchemy.
 
I had decided to come back to after having been stumped by how complicated the marketplace design (as well as in terms of trade) was in the town with the arena several months back, but I decided to get over myself and get back to it.  And having leveled up several times and having gotten all the powerful equipment and items from that locale, it's gotten a lot better.  During February I also retrieved the Diamond Eyes from both the pyramid and Hall of Collosia and ended up fighting a boss in a town summoned by doppelgänger Horace.
 
I've gotten a lot farther since then, and I'll talk some more of it come April.  That said, it's fun and Jeremy Soule's music is so enthralling and magnificent that it perfectly complements the surreal settings and environments of Evermore.  =)
My Personal Score: N/A
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Smart Ball (SNES)
1991 System Sacom (Developer) / Sony Imagesoft (Publisher)
If there was hard evidence that bad localization practices concerning elements that were not offensive or controversial in the first place were not warranted, System Sacom's bloblike slime-themed action/platformer would be right at the top of the roster.  In Jerry Boy there was a story and it had towns inbetween stages, but for reasons we'll never come to fathom Sony Imagesoft asked that those exact elements be removed for Smart Ball.  They asked System Sacom and GameFreak to excise the very heart of the Japanese version in favor of an Americanized one that had zero narrative in-game.  And yet, they retained clues and elements that hinted at what was in Jerry Boy, making the localization pretty inconsistent (including a secret alternative exit with a little boy that's rendered moot here because the towns and dialogue were removed).  Unforgivable!  =|  American distributor(s) that asked for Smart Ball to be a lesser product than Jerry Boy, you are unforgivable!!  >=(
 
And yet despite the removals of the towns with the life-giving elder this version is actually easier with an admittedly more comfortable control scheme with balls being spewed with either shoulder buttons as opposed to the same exact one that makes you run and stick to things.  It's still got decent visuals and great music, but it's still got little to no replay value and could've benefited itself with a touch more difficulty and length.  Still, it's not bad, but if the only improvement over the Super Famicom original were the controls I would've rather they either not have released Jerry Boy outside of Japan or I would've rather System Sacom incorporated a customizable option screen to begin with.  Man, it's easy to see why Jelly Boy 2 was elected to be Japan-only (before it ultimately got cancelled) considering the poor treatment the predecessor was given for its American release.
My Personal Score: 6.0/10
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Spellcraft (SNES - ROM)
1993 Asciiware (Would've Been Publisher)
I didn't play much of this game, but from what I played I found interesting to a point.  I liked the isometric perspective and the artistic cutscenes, but this failed to compel to keep going for one reason or another.  Maybe some other time but right now, no.
My Personal Score: N/A
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Super Mario Kart (SNES)
1992 Nintendo
(Image from Wikipedia)
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
My thoughts on this classic are still the same as they were back when I was little: the first Mario Kart has aged extremely well and is the best in the series.  The 100cc courses are harder than the 50cc ones, but they're still fun to race through.  =D
My Personal Score: 10/10
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Super Shadow of the Beast (SNES - ROM)
1992 Psygnosis (Would've Been Publisher)
Will form up an opinion once I play some more of it, but so far I'm having a difficult time surviving some of the first few areas.  But I will say that some of the creature designs are so surreal, and the game over screen is a little disturbing.
My Personal Score: N/A
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Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
2014 Nintendo (Publisher)
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
I have not played the Nintendo Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. as of yet, but I have experienced the Nintendo 3DS incarnation, and as someone who enjoyed the previous three Super Smash Bros. games I felt right at home playing this one.  =)

Having a portable experience in this series really makes for a new experience since in the past the Super Smash Bros. series was only playable via TV consoles.  The character roster is huge, many of the characters are fun to play as, and there's plenty of fun game modes.  If there's any grievances I have it's that this is one of those games with accomplishment lists that expect you fulfill them all (at best, I can only fulfill the majority of it), which in essence is a time-consuming task.  Aside from that though, I love this mega crossover.
My Personal Score: 9.0/10
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Tetris & Dr. Mario (SNES)
1994 Nintendo
(Image from MobyGames)
[Placeholder for screenshots I'll obtain]
Since I didn't own individual versions of either puzzlers I thought it would be practical if I asked for the two-in-one SNES version during Christmas of 2014.  Both Tetris and Dr. Mario are updated from the NES originals, and I like how there's a game mode where one puzzler competes against a different puzzler.  =)
 
One thing I found surprising was how tiny the puzzler pieces--at least compared to how big they were in other puzzlers available on the SNES (namely Yoshi's Cookie).  I would explain in detail what these games are about, but pretty much everyone knows about them and really there's nothing I can say about them that has not been said before gameplay-wise.  Dr. Mario is my favorite of the two, and while Tetris is not my favorite game in the genre it's pretty fun in short bursts.
My Personal Score: N/A
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<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
I'm StarBoy91, and may your day shine brightly!  =)
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Thank you for reading my February 2015 Mini-Reviews, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  Hope you have a great day, take care!  =D

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