Specter of Torment Review - Switch

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] A simple, touching and effective story surprising strength of the original Shovel Knight campaign’s story. The Specter of Torment addition continues that tradition and builds on the lore of the universe by telling the ultimately tragic story of Specter Knight’s ascension (or descension?) to his status in the Order of No Quarter.

The new campaign comes with the overall package, now rechristened as the Treasure Trove, or you can purchase it separately. It comes with the base game if you already own it, or you can purchase it ala carte. The entire package is worth purchasing -- even on Switch if you own it elsewhere -- and Specter of Torment also stands on its own.

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If you've played Shovel Knight, you know what to expect graphically. Specter of Torment is a gorgeous 8-bit game. The levels follow the same themes as the original game, but are adjusted to take advantage of Specter Knight’s move set.

Specter’s move set is a little faster than the Blue Burrower, which takes some getting used to. While in the air, you can slash through certain obstacles to reach higher areas, or into enemies to cause damage.

Many boss fights go down to the wire, with Specter Knight’s slashing move being the difference between success and failure.

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The structure of the game is more akin to a Mega Man game, where you can choose to go to any level in any order. The reward for each level is different based on difficulty.

The story is relatively straightforward, as you are attempting to recruit each of the other knights to serve The Enchantress. After every couple levels, there will be a separate flashback level that tells the story of how Specter Knight came to be in the service of the Enchantress.

The story is touching and sad, and may just be the highlight of the game. That's saying something as the gameplay is solid and matches up well with the original campaign.

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Shovel Knight is a must play game, and is one of my favorite games of this generation. With Specter of Torment, I have had a wonderful excuse to revisit a game that I love. The series’ earlier expansion, Plague of Shadows, left me feeling indifferent. Specter of Torment is a thrilling return to form that leaves me more excited for the next chapter in the Shovel Knight saga.

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Specter Knight was purchased by the reviewer on the Nintendo Switch. View this page to learn more about our review policies and scoring descriptions.

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Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS Review

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] By the time I confronted three Bowsers standing in the way of my goal, I already knew Super Mario Maker for 3DS was something special.

The title’s Mario Challenge — a collection of 100-plus levels designed by Nintendo that lets players unlock course elements — is genius in the way it takes a long-time Mario fan’s expectations of a 2D Mario level and twists them around.

The challenge also includes inherent re-play value by providing side objectives for players to earn medals and unlock further Nintendo-designed levels. If a Mario game included these levels and nothing else, it would be worth a purchase.

Of course, Mario Maker includes much more than Nintendo-designed levels. After all, it’s got “Mario Maker” in the title. The 3DS version is similar in many ways to the Wii U version, aside from the ability to transform 8-bit Mario into other Nintendo characters and the sharing features that stand out for the home console edition.

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Nintendo made a smart decision in releasing this title on 3DS, considering there are something like 50 million more of the handheld consoles in the wild than Wii U consoles. Many of these owners — including myself — have been itching to create Mario courses on-the-go.

The creation tools in Mario Maker are easier to work with than any level creator I’ve worked with. Part of this surely has to do with the game being 2D, as opposed to the 3D worlds of a Disney Infinity, but it’s also because the tools are well defined and you can drag and drop what you want to use on the lower touch screen. It’s intuitive, fun and easy — not that I’ve made any truly exceptional levels yet.

Of course, if I wanted to share my levels with the wider population, I don’t have any avenue to do so with the 3DS version of Mario Maker. This is where this version of the game’s faults lie. There is an intrinsic lack of motivation to make super in-depth levels when you aren’t able to share them with others in any way at all — and, yes, there is Street Pass and the ability to share levels locally with other friends. But if you aren’t travelling much and don’t have friends who happen to have both a 3DS and this game, then this method doesn’t do any good.

There is also no way to search for specific Mario Maker courses from the Wii U game. While you can play other creators’ courses, they are selected by Nintendo rather than you. This is also a bummer, as I’ve spent time perusing courses online that I wanted to try out. Finally, players also don’t have any way to rate the courses they’re playing — this would allow the player to see whether a course is worth trying before they boot it up.

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Those negatives, for me, are relatively minor in my enjoyment of the overall game. If you have a child in the house who also plays games — or a significant other — then the joy of creating courses for each other adds a lot to the experience. My 7-year-old has created many levels for me already, and is getting better each time. I’ve also been able to build super easy levels for her 3-year-old sister, while adding some enemies for the oldest to conquer. This is a great way to introduce gaming to kids on a level they can understand.

The other modes of gameplay — 100 Mario Challenge and Recommended Courses — allow for an almost endless supply of Mario levels to play. The Challenge pulls levels from the Wii U community that are arranged by difficulty, and you are given 100 lives to try to beat them. So far, I haven’t had much trouble getting through the 16 required levels, but I haven’t tried the two hardest difficulties yet.

With the Recommended Courses, Nintendo chooses 12 levels for you to choose from. The variety is awesome, even if you have no way to know whether a level is even completable before diving in. Most of the levels have been fine so far, but I have also run into a few clunkers. The game also allows you to download levels for offline play for if you’re traveling.

Taken as a total package, Super Mario Maker for 3DS is an awesome 2D Mario game. It allows for great variety in level construction and in visuals, as the levels switch between the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U, as well as the various level styles.

Out of the box, you have more than 100 Nintendo-crafted levels that make you think differently about what a Mario level can look like. The medal challenges provide instant replay value. And, as long as you are connected to the Internet, your level choice becomes nearly endless. The level creation tools are amazing, and it’s a lot of fun to create them especially if you have someone local to share them with.

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Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is a great game, and possibly the best 2D Mario available on the system. The creative mentality seems to unlock the developers from holding true to past level designs, and allows creators to toy with the varied elements of a Mario level to really create something special. The course creator is intuitive and fun to use, even if the lack of online sharing cuts off some of the impetus to create. This is absolutely a must-have 3DS game, especially if you haven't had the chance to play its home console big brother.

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Review: Mario Party Star Rush (3DS)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section" transparent_background="off" allow_player_pause="off" inner_shadow="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" padding_mobile="off" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" make_equal="off" use_custom_gutter="off" fullwidth="off" specialty="off" disabled="off"][et_pb_row admin_label="row" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" use_custom_gutter="off" gutter_width="2" padding_mobile="off" allow_player_pause="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" make_equal="off" column_padding_mobile="on" parallax_1="off" parallax_method_1="on" parallax_2="off" parallax_method_2="on" parallax_3="off" parallax_method_3="on" parallax_4="off" parallax_method_4="on" disabled="off"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_style="solid" disabled="off" border_color="#ffffff"] Mario Party is one of the most successful franchises in the Nintendo stable and currently holds the mantle for longest running mini-game series. Mario Party: Star Rush is the second attempt from Nintendo to find Mario Party success on the 3DS family of systems and counts as the fourteenth installment in the franchises history (I don't count the Nintendo e-reader installment). While the Mario spin-off has been a commercial hit, over 30 million units sold since the N64 beginning, it's also suffered from over-saturation that has led many to feel the series lacks new, refreshing ideas. Both the N64 & GameCube received 3 Mario Party games, the Wii had two, Mario Party 10 graced the Wii U last year and Mario Party Star Rush is the 2nd Mario Party to hit the 3DS. Its easy to see how many would feel they'e seen all that Mario Party has to offer.

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So does Mario Party Star Rush do enough to warrant your attention?

In short, yes. With Mario Party: Star Rush, Nintendo adapts the experience that is more suitable for portable play. Most noteworthy, Star Rush mixes up fun by allowing all players to roll their dice and move about the game board simultaneously which greatly speeds up the play and significantly benefits the single player experience. This alteration to speed also adds a new layer to player strategy. Older Mario Party games that gave each player their own turn allowed for everyone to see and predict where the opponent would be on the board.

As for content, Star Rush brings quite a bit to the party. First, there's 6-7 game modes consisting of over 50 mini-games and many different game boards/maps. Now, Nintendo will tell you that there's 9 game modes, but for this review I am omitting the character museum (a room full of character statues) and the Rhythm Recital (a rhythm based one button tapping music mode featuring songs from the Mario series) from my count. These extra modes do provide something else to do, and some gamers (especially younger) might enjoy the Rhythm Recital, but they're side modes at best with regards to gameplay.

Amiibo are compatible with Mario Party: Star Rush as well, unlocking playable characters or adding additional resources depending on the game map and mode being used. In my 16.5 hours with the game so far, the amiibo additions were not anything I'd consider noteworthy or valuable.

Lastly, Mario Party: Star Rush does support download play and even has a "Party Guest" edition that will allow multiplayer with just one copy of the game. Download play is a bonus I feel many sites will omit from mention or devalue, but as this game is focused on multiplayer, the inclusion of download play provides fun for the whole family or any collection of 3DS owners. Personally, all of my multiplayer experience was using the party guest edition to play with my two kiddos. So if you represent a group of friends or a family that has more than one 3DS, there's much added value to be had with Mario Party: Star Rush.

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The Main Campaign

Mario Party's main modes (toad scramble and balloon bash) feature a game board with tons of goodies scattered about. The main item to collect are coins, but in addition to coins you'll encounter power-ups obtainable by occupying a question block on the board, coin balloons feature +5 or +10 coins, special characters that you can add to your team each having their own special ability, and ultimate the goal of reaching the boss on each board. The chaotic turns with everyone moving at the same time provides extra incentive to race towards these items on the map as soon as possible or fear your opponent teaming up against you. My first game I encountered a toad that obtained 4 of the extra characters (Mario, Wario, Waluigi, and Yoshi) on the map, each can add to your per turn dice roll, which in turn left me in the dust with my one dice roll. Beating a boss or winning a mini game challenge will grant you a star. Whoever has the most stars at the end wins. All of those collected coins and stars are also factored into the game's unlock system at the end of each game which unlocks more Mario characters and boards/maps.

  • Toad Scramble = an open board with bosses & mini-game challenges appearing in different areas.
  • Balloon Bash = a circular board with star balloons that are needed to convert coins into stars.

The major difference between the two is that Toad Scramble is over when you've completed the boss challenges and Balloon Bash ends after a set amount of turns are completed. Of the two, I found Toad Scramble much more enjoyable than Balloon Bash.

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Mixing It Up

In addition to the traditional board games, Mario Party: Star Rush throws in a few alternate modes to shuffle up how you play the mini-games. The most successful in my opinion is the Coinathalon mode which I believe to be the best single player experience in Mario Party: Star Rush. Coinathalon puts the player on a track in a three lap race against the opposition full of mini-games which are used to progress around the course. The featured mini-games in this mode are quick paced and a good mix of action-oriented games such as surfing on a leaf for coins to propel you forward or smashing goombas and bats with a hammer & more mind stressing challenges like having toad fill as many food orders as possible. These games are shuffled in a quick pace with each Coinathalon lasting no more than 3-5 minutes each making them the ideal choice for pick up and play 3DS gaming sessions on the go.

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Not Without Flaws

Even though Mario Party: Star Rush does attempt to speed up the game with simultaneous movement, I still found the gameplay to be too slow. Especially if I was thinking of playing on the go. Several of my Balloon Bash games were 20+ minutes each and I had to split one game session up over multiple plays. A quick save feature for each game allowing the player to hop in and out may have reduced the amount of time committed to one particular game.

Random dice rolls still means you'll encounter several turns where your player rolls a 1 or 2 in a row resulting you not accomplishing much of anything. These exchanges are frustrating and interrupt any fun you might have been enjoying from the game previously. It would be nice if Nintendo maybe tried to implement more of a skill based movement mechanic that gave players more control on how they move about the game board. Something like a moving slide that you could tap to freeze might provide video gamers with more skill an added gameplay advantage and speed up turns and games.

Lastly, yes the same old Nintendo rubber-banding effect is still present in many of the games. Each game concludes with coins being randomly assigned to players, usually those in last place, for obtaining things such as moving the least amount of spaces or acquiring the fewest amount of characters/items. In one of my games of Balloon Bash, I went around the entire board several times without getting one star balloon to cash out my coins only to be magically saved in my final two turns with a 3-star balloon appearing right next to me with a double-star bonus. This can be valuable in the sense that it can add tension to the game and/or assist less experienced and younger players by keeping them in the game, but ultimately I find it frustrating and something I wish I could manually turn off.

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Value

Star Rush offers a good amount of content to keep you busy and the game looks and performs as well as you'd expect from any Mario on the 3DS, but at $40 the value isn't as great as games offering similar content like Rhythm Heaven Fever, NES Remix or Wario Ware Touched. I'd only advise those hard core Mario Party goers to pick this up at $40, but it's going to make a great gift under the tree this holiday, especially if you can snag a nice Black Friday discount.

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Mario Party: Star Rush is a good ole Mario Party fun. While the formula remains familiar, Nintendo's execution with Star Rush is superb. Mario Party Star Rush is one of the best Mario Party games in a long time.

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Summary

In short, I think Mario Party: Star Rush might be the best Mario Party game since Mario Party 9 on the Wii and its absolutely a big improvement over the other 3DS Mario Party: Island Tour. I think the initial $40 might be a tad high for a mini-game collection, but there's definitely enough variety, mini-games, and modes to keep you entertained if you want to jump in.

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Mario Party: Star Rush was reviewed on 3DS using a code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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Severed Review (Wii U)

Ever heard the name DrinkBox Studios? You should have by now. These are the developers of great platforming-action indie hit, Guacamelee, that was released on Wii U 2 years ago. Drinkbox has returned to Wii U today with their newest game titled Severed. Severed is a touch-based, first person dungeon crawler with minor puzzling elements. You play the role of a girl named Sasha whose right arm has been 'severed.' If that wasn't enough to spark her craving for revenge, Sasha's family has been taken from her and now it's up to her to rescue them from the underworld. After a quick conversation with Death nets Sasha a sword, she begins her journey across three distinct areas, and an over-world of sorts, connecting them, called The Wilds. Severed doesn't force feed you details about what is going on as much as it provides an occasional hint- just enough to dangle the carrot to keep you playing. Overall, the story serves its purpose, but I will admit that I wish there was a much more detailed narrative.

The world itself is full of bright colors: reds rub against deep purples, lime greens connect earthy browns with mild oranges, and it is an impactful and unique palette choice. The art of the characters and the objects themselves is very similar to those found in Guacamelee relying on simple but effective sharp edges mixed with contrasting colors to display the world and characters almost like an animated popup book.

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What's So Good About Severed?

Gameplay is king and here's where the best of Severed is discovered: Playing Severed is a fairly simple task. Swiping on your Wii U gamepad using a stylus or your finger produces a sword attack that grows in strength the longer the swipe across the screen. Each enemy poses a challenge to Sasha in the form of a defense that will require you to identify an opening and then swipe in the correct direction to inflict damage or stunt enemy attacks. Severed's simplicity honestly serves as a testament to DrinkBox studios. They hook you with simple controls and then build on top of that foundation as you play through the rest of the game. It might be the most complex game I have every played that didn't require buttons.

While many may compare the swipe to attack system to the hit mobile game Fruit Ninja, I would disagree and compare Severed more to the combat found in Zelda: Skyward Sword. In both Skyward Sword and Severed, the player is required to learn the enemies' defense, attacks, and then respond appropriately. Adding an extra layer of complexity, Severed will quickly have you dealing with up to 4 enemies at a time by the time you complete the first puzzle. Enemies are mapped with icons at that bottom of your screen that when 'tapped' will target that enemy. Circling 360 degrees while feverishly swiping your stylus to attack and defend is a solid take on what I'd like to see in more touchscreen based games. I actually rubbed down the pointy tip of my Wii U gamepad stylus from a couple of bosses that left a trail of plastic shavings across my screen. Needless to say, its a little more advanced than 'swipe at the watermelon.'

Severed offers more than just a touch-based attack system. Each dungeon also presents mazes and puzzles between enemy battles that will need to be solved to obtain a key or switch to access the next floor and/or a hidden room. You will accomplish these tasks over and over until you gain access to the final boss. Along the way, you also gather materials to improve Sasha's stats by completing a skill tree. I can't say that I found RPG-lite process rewarding, as it didn't really offer much in terms of customization outside of stat boosts. Having beaten the game, I presume all players will come close to 100% completing the skill tree possibly in a similar pattern (boost attack power, then health, then special effects). One thing that I did enjoy about the system - no grinding was necessary in my play-through of Severed.

 

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Puzzles provided the a welcomed break from battle and a minor challenge throughout the game. I do wish there were more of them in different varieties. They're not overly difficult but at times I had no clue what Severed wanted from me. Hints are available along the way if you can find them, but even with them in hand, I was still stumped at moments. 

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What's Not So Good Then?

Movement is controlled using the left stick to allow the player to move forward and look around 360 degrees. You cannot, however, look to the sky, toward ceilings, or the ground to really investigate your surroundings, which at times makes Severed feel like it is on-rails. It really doesn't matter which path you take; all players will all be required to visit and navigate the same ares, eventually making one wonder why you even have the ability navigate between dungeons at all. My biggest complaint with Severed on Wii U is the lack of any real character interaction in the over-world and inside dungeons once cleared of enemies. Sure, there's the occasional experience to be had, but it's far too-infrequent, making the world feel unfinished. After enemies are dispatched, all you have left are similar looking rooms and hallways with very little incentive to really explore and look around. This ultimately led me to pay more attention to the map in the top-right corner of my screen than the world itself.

Severed's visuals have a similar style to sibling Guacamelee, and the style is definitely unique to DrinkBox. Unfortunately, outside of each temple's unique color scheme, the overall style is just repetitive. The Wilds looks the same outside of the day and night cycle and each of the areas inside the dungeons are more or less exactly the same minus a pot, painting, or statue. When I think back to my time with the game over the last 3 days, most of my memories of the dungeons blur together and only the cut-scenes and boss battles stand out.

Finally, though I did just previously say that the combat and puzzling is the best that Severed has to offer, the lack of any world building or gripping narrative puts too much focus on the combat throughout the game. During my last session, I found battling becoming more chore than fun as I raced to get to the end. I think that some variety might have lessened this, to a degree.

 

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Value

Severed costs $15 on the eShop but is available for the next week at the price of $13.49 for the Nindies of Summer promotion. The game is hard to compare as there isn't quite anything like it on Wii U. There's nothing wrong with paying $15 for the game though, as its 6-7 hour campaign is mostly an enjoyable experience.

Severed is available on the Wii U, PlayStation Vita & iOS devices. A 3DS version is reportedly still in the works and arriving soon (this fall). Severed was reviewed using an Wii U digital code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

Overall

I have the urge to tell you that Severed is really good. Compared to most indie releases and especially the indies available on Wii U the past six-months, Severed is a great addition to the library. However, Gucamelee wasn't just a great indie game, Guacamelee was just a great video game. When I compare Severed's pros and cons to other games on the market that's when the flaws become a bit more impactful to my score.

Therefore, Severed is well worth the cost of admission and provides a unique experience that's hard to find. If you're a Wii U only video gamer, I strongly urge you to pick this title up. Just know that Severed also has flaws that made the experience less enjoyable for me. Most notably the repetitive combat and tedious exploration that wears on you after the first half of game. If the story was deeper, if the world had more life to it, I think these issues wouldn't have been as memorable. I also think this game is better suited for shorter play sessions than longer home console sessions on the big screen.

I also didn’t enjoy playing on the Wii U gamepad as much I think I would enjoy playing on handheld device. The gamepad is a bit heavy to hold in one hand while swiping with the other hand. The dungeons also lend themselves well to the pick up and play nature found on mobile compared the extended TV sessions at home on the big screen.

If you are interested in Severed's pros more than the cons, I encourage you to absolutely check out the game, but I recommend grabbing this game when it comes to 3DS or on Vita if you have one over the Wii U version.

 

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Positives:

  • The swipe to attack is a lot of fun.
  • Dungeons provide a rewarding challenge to clear.
  • Music and overall style are both great.

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Negative:

  • I think the game is better suited to smaller screen devices than the Wii U gamepad.
  • The world is repetitive, which lead me to looking at my map more than the environment.
  • Overall gameplay loop grows stale with repetitive enemy combinations.

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Mario Golf World Tour (3DS) Review

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] First - You should know that I love golf games. Hot Shots, Mario, Tiger Woods, The Golf Club, I play them all. Being a golfer and having played competitively I value the game-play as well as the attention to the sport. With that said - I logged more time into Mario Golf: World Tour than any other game in 2014. In 2015, I logged another 25 hours and still compete in a tournament each week here in 2016. That alone doesn't mean its the best game ever, but it does convey how much replay value can be found inside Mario Golf World Tour. There's no extending narrative or a bunch of hidden Mario lore. If you don't like golf or aren't a big Nintendo fan you shouldn't finish this review, this game isn't for you. However, if you're a golf fan or a general Nintendo fan you're going to find a great deal of video game fun with Mario Golf World Tour.

What's So Good

Gameplay mechanics are spot on for all golf game fans. The player can use the 3DS button inputs to set aim, power, and accuracy or the player can use the touchscreen for the inputs as well as shot types. Once the shot has been started, the 3DS' touchscreen has inputs that allow for backspin, super backspin, topspin, or super topspin. The combination usually translates to the player using the A button to set power and accuracy before using the touchscreen to apply backspin or topspin. Combined, the controls are very intuitive and very Mario Golf / Hot Shots Golf esque.

Fans of Nintendo IP and the Mario Golf series will find everything they're looking for with Nintendo themed courses (don't worry golfers there are the generic forest, mountain, and island courses also). There are Bowser flame spouting towers, chomp chomp lined fairways,  and golf ball eating Plant Piranhas to be found in Mario Golf's array of courses. Those that remember the origins of the Mario Golf and Mario Tennis series will be glad to hear that the old RPG-lite mechanic of building up your golfer (characterized by your Mii) is back. You'll earn equipment and money that you can use in the shop to upgrade your stats and shot shapes (draw, fade, straight). Given the unlockables, upgrades, online play, and game-play, Mario Golf offers some of the best return value in replay-ability that can be found on the 3DS. You'll be playing this game for the life of your 3DS in my opinion, so make sure you get the digital copy as this is something you're going to want to have on board.

In Mario Golf World Tour there is much more to do than playing the typical stroke play golf tournament over and over again. World Tour offers various modes and tasks aimed to keep you on the tee box. First, there is a challenge mode. These challenges aren't new to the golfing game: ring challenges, random club slot machine, score challenges, speed golf, and match play events against other characters will net you a challenge coin for each victory. Earn enough coins and you'll unlock new courses with new challenges and additional golfers. There are over a 100 challenges to keep you entertained and attempting to get each one will present quite the challenge. In my 128 hours of playing this game; I've only managed to attain 61 challenge coins (of which has unlocked all courses and characters). The second mode you'll want to get into is online tournament play. Using other player ghost data, MGWT is one of (if not) the best Nintendo games to use online play to date. Tournaments open for a period of time, usually a week, and allow players to play as many rounds needed to post the best score possible. This is perfect for "pick up and play / on the go" 3DS gaming as you can complete an 18 hole round of golf  within an hour easily. There are also mode driven online tournaments such as coin challenges and the slot machine challenges. These shorter tournament formats can easily be completed in less than 10 minutes. Lastly, MGWT also offers a versus mode that allows friends to play together online or via local play. The game again uses ghost data to show what other players are doing on any given hole without you having to actually wait for each party member to complete their shot. This is a great way to play golf as it allows players to play at their own pace as long as the party members are all online at the same time.

The $40 retail price for Mario Golf World tour nets the consumer 10 courses to play with most of the characters you would imagine. Mario Golf World Tour has the distinction of being the first Nintendo game to offer a season pass for DLC (downloadable content). The pass costs $15 dollars and will net the consumer an additional 6 courses and 4 characters (Rosalina, Nabbit, Gold Mario, and Toadette). The DLC is completely optional but I would recommend the purchase. The characters are take it or leave it but the DLC courses are some of the most challenging Mario-Arcadie courses that many have come to expect in the series.

What's Not So Good

The user interface is confusing. There is an over-world to explore instead of a basic "select golfer & course" menu. This world has a garden that leads to different courses, a nice one shot challenge, and the tournament hub and is graphically very appealing. Although, I am still not sure why I have to walk around so much to get where I'm going.

$40+ (if you opt for the DLC) can be a steep price if you don't like golf compared to competitors.

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Value

While I value those opinions that judge a game based on its merit as a game alone, I think it is equally important to judge any product in relation to its market to provide a full appreciation for the consumer.

Mario Golf can be had for 29.99 on the eShop, $23 new & used from Amazon and the DLC will run you $14.99. Purchasing all will gain you 16 courses, 21 characters, and special items.

The first competitor to mention is Let's Golf 3D as it is also available on the 3DS eShop. Let's Golf 3D is available for less than $10. While a fine game on its own, comparing Let's Golf 3D to Mario Golf World Tour in game-play and graphics just isn't applicable. You get what you pay for and Mario Golf has much more content and polish to offer than Let's Golf. A more direct competitor would be Hot Shots Golf for the Vita. HSG on Vita can be obtained for less than $10 (used) on Amazon / Gamestop and offers very similar game-play content but with less polish and less modes found in Mario Golf World Tour. The age between Hot Shots Golf (2012) and Mario Golf (2014) shows quite a bit as Mario Golf's art style and mechanic is superior.

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Mario Golf World Tour is the private country club of golf video games. Sure, Mario Golf will cost you more $$ to play than competing games but the experience in the end is just better compared to public courses. That aside, this is as good as Mario sports gets and a must have for 3DS owners.

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Review: Hyrule Warriors & HW Legends (Wii U & 3DS)

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Hyrule Warriors (Wii U )

Just a Dynasty Warriors / Musou  game with a Zelda skin right? Unfortunately I'm here to tell you that Hyrule Warriors is a little bit more than that. Hyrule Warriors takes the Dynasty Warrior approach to entering a battle as an overpowered captain sprinkles on some of the Nintendo magic and we have something I'll say... we've never quite seen before.

Arguments For

  • The Zelda Universe - Kicking ass as Link, Zelda, Midna, Girahim, Shiek, Darunia and friends is a lot of fun, I MEAN A LOT OF FUN.
  • Dynasty Warrior games are button mashers, you'll mash buttons over and over to advance. Word to the wise, most games require you mash buttons over and over. In Hyrule Warriors you'll be forced to learn to defend, learn advanced combo attacks, but every mission throws something new in terms of gameplay and strategy.
  • Enemies are much more of a challenge than press A to win. Higher level combatants are more than capable of withstanding the players attacks making counter-attacks and dodging integral for success.
  • There's more to the button mashing than Y+X. Exploring each characters combos for each of their weapons provides just as much fun as running through the game as Link alone.
  • Without spoiling much, you'll fight a mutiny, you'll have to simultaneously take and hold two keeps while defending your base, you'll be forced to discover hidden rooms and unlock hidden areas. Safe to say, there is a little more adventure to Hyrule Warriors than the status quo would suggest with the Dynasty Warriors enigma.
  • Managing your missions and their subsequent prioritization is critical to success. The Wii U's gamepad provides an easy control panel for organizing the information for the player and is the best way to play Hyrule Warriors. Not to mention, Hyrule Warriors is a great addition to Off-TV play when you're watching TV with the family/girlfriend.
  • While Dynasty Warriors has a loyal fan base; for many the series lacks appeal. There are no Dynasty Warriors characters in the minds of gamers day to day. Adding Link, Zelda, Tetra, Ganon and others to the formula really gives the series a much needed shot in the arm. Not to mention a Wii U exclusive that was desperately needed.
  • The story is good enough to keep you invested. Hyrule Warriors features a time travel mechanic to take you to all of the memorable Zelda moments: Lake Hylia, Skyloft, Twilight Field, Hyrule Castle, and some brand new environments to the Zelda series. One major bonus is seeing Ocarina of Time settings in HD and sharp visuals is beautiful and rewarding to any Zelda fans.
  • Adventure & Challenge Mode provide more life for the game in addition to its 10-15 hour campaign (depending on how much you're into collectibles).
  • Adventure mode in particular can hook a Zelda fan for 10+ hours on its own right with its Retro "Legend of Zelda" X Hyrule Warriors approach.
  • The incredible cut scenes in between levels provides fun to the Zelda lore overall.
  • New characters like Cia and Volga blend Zelda tropes with new fresh ideas.
  • If you're a Zelda fan this is the love fest and nostalgia game to play. It almost has the feel of a Fast N Furious movie where the whole gang gets together for an adventure. This is the fan-service game any fan of the series is going to adore and enjoy for hours on end.

Arguments Against

  • While the game is in HD, the textures are nothing you wouldn't expect to see in a 360/PS3 title. The game looks fine, but the maps are usually flat with edgy rocks and walls to find along the way.
  • Multiple levels feature the same tactics needed to accomplish victory. This can feel repetitive, even if those actions are just one of four or five needed for victory.
  • Co-Op mode (2-player) really chugs the engine and I definitely didn't find it an enjoyable way to play the game.

 

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Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS)

Hyrule Warriors was ported down to the 3DS and released in March 2016. The portable version is supported on the original 3DS, but was marketed and launched for the New Nintendo 3DS.  The game features all of the characters from the Wii U release title including the following extra's: Tetra, King of Red Lions (Daphnes), Toon Link, Skull Kid, Linkle, Medli, and Marin . If you purchase Hyrule Warriors Legends new on 3DS, you'll be granted a DLC code to transfer all of the characters to the Nintendo 3DS.

As for the game, Hyrule Warriors Legends is a tale of two games depending on the hardware you play it on. Many of the cut-scenes ported down from the Wii U version feature missing detail such as explosions occurring without flames or bridges falling without animations. Those playing on an original 3DS will find a game that features less enemies and chugs in battle. The main reason for my purchasing the portable version was for my five year old son who loves Hyrule Warriors. If you are thinking of getting this game for similar reasons I would advise that the lower quality on older hardware hasn't dulled his experience at all. He doesn't know what he doesn't know, and loves the game. But for those thinking of purchasing for themselves (16 years and older crowd) I would absolutely recommend that you only commit if you have the New Nintendo 3DS. On the new hardware this game plays very much like the original Wii U version. There are plenty of enemies for you to button mash your way through, story videos looks and run great, plus there's the bonus 3DS only Linkle side story to enjoy.

Arguments For

  • A great addition to the 3DS family library offering a Zelda themed game with easily over 10+ hours of gameplay.
    • 17 full missions in the main campaign plus DLC & other characters (Linkle, Ganon)
  • Adventure mode was tailor-made for quick, portable play experiences.
  • Quick-touchscreen character switching is uniquely integrated into the 3DS version to make sense of the bottom screen.
  • The C-Stick on the N3DS provides a much improved camera control option.
  • Most, if not all, the best things found in the Wii U version.
  • Amiibo support, one of the few 3DS games to use Amiibo.
  • Linkle's DLC and new characters provide a more than worthwhile reason for Wii U owners to pick up the 3DS version.
  • Linkle is a total bad ass to control. Dual crossbows... YES!

 Arguments Against

  • Every image used for menus, icons, and titles is really poor SD (maybe) quality.
  • Those not on a N3DS are not going to have a much less quality experience.
    • It can be played on a regular 3DS, but the enthusiast gamer is not going to enjoy the play through on the lesser hardware.
  • Its not the prettiest game, although that should be expected with a 3DS port of a Wii U game. The textures and models can be described best as "muddy" or "simple" in most instances.

DLC Overview

  • The Master Quest DLC adds a new Adventure Mode map, with brand new Master Quest style challenges such as no healing and no items allowed.
  • The DLC allows the unlocking of an 8-Bit weapon and new costume for each Warrior (found on the new Adventure Mode map)
  • The ability for Link to use Epona as a weapon
  • Twenty more Skulltulas to find on top of the 100 that already exist.
    • All in all at least another 30 hours of content for the hardcore enthusiast.

 

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The Value:

There just isn't a game like Hyrule Warriors on the market. There is a ported X360 Dynasty Warriors game on the Wii U but it doesn't have any real chops when compared to the Zelda licensed Hyrule Warriors. On 3DS, Hyrule Warriors Legends really is the only horse in show. In either version of Hyrule Warriors, there is at least 25 hours of gaming to be had and up to 50 hours more if you really enjoy the game and its adventure or challenge mode. The Wii U version can be acquired between $25-$45 used or new with the 3DS version costing $40 new as it's still a newer release and also includes that nifty DLC. As a Zelda and/or a Nintendo fan I would say that both of these versions are "must owns" if you own Wii U or 3DS hardware. Have both? Grab the Wii U version first and them come back to the 3DS version in about a year or so just for a fun return to Hyrule.

The Verdict:

I think its unfortunate that games labeled as "don't do anything new" aren't critically received well, not everything must be groundbreaking. For those claiming to be tired of the Zelda method, this is definitely a palette cleanser. Hyrule Warriors is a fast-paced, button masher action game with a great collection of characters, splendid looking arenas and a neat Zelda-fan-festival story to draw from. The idea of a Zelda action game or a Warriors skinned Zelda game sounds cheap, but after these two ingredients are baked together, the result is one tasty cake. I really hope the sales of both versions of this game are enough to warrant future sequels in what could be a great new series for Musou & Zelda fans a like.

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