The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

Foreword

I think we can finally agree that I’ve managed to live up to my promises of being consistent with the reviews, so now let’s move on with life. This particular review is special since it’s dedicated to gaining retribution on the mediocre reviews, back when I first started my career. I heard about Skyward Sword through IGN, by reading news articles and watching video trailers. I was somewhat of a casual fan back then, so I didn’t really give much thought on the quality – also, I was too hyped for the Nintendo Wii U back in 2010.

After two long years, I finally bought it along with Super Paper Mario at Wal-Mart during Boxing Day…funny how I still remember all of this. I assumed correctly that it was going to be quite similar to Twilight Princess in terms of gameplay and experience, though quite different with all else. I was very skeptical of how the game was going to be after doing some research on the validity of the perfect score it received (especially after remembering how Super Mario Galaxy 2 turned out). I also wrongly inferred that it would give me a relatively smooth experience.

According to Wikipedia, development began as early in 2008, when Nintendo wanted a more cinematic and gameplay-oriented Zelda game to succeed Twilight Princess after realizing its shortcomings. In fact, they didn’t even consider using motion controls (via the Wii Motion Plus), the cartoonish graphics, and basic plot, until the executives were convinced otherwise. This, along with the involvement of Monolith Soft (the creators of Xenoblade Chronicles) decided to co-develop it, thus resulting what was seen in 2010 during E3 and the final product in 2011.

The sad reality is that it received negative reception and little publicity when it was first revealed. We can all remember how humiliating it was for Nintendo at E3 when Miyamoto struggled with the motion controls. Along with it having cel-shaded graphics similar to Wind Waker – and Nintendo focusing more on the Wii U and Zelda HD – it became loathed by fans and widely forgotten after its quiet release in November 2011. When it came out, people suddenly became very bi-polar and soon regarded it as the best Zelda game since Ocarina of Time.

Skyward Sword’s plot combined with the aesthetics make it feel very much like Wind Waker, but the gameplay and controls molds it into Twilight Princess. This is a great strategy as Nintendo got what worked for each game, took out what didn’t; add in new innovative concepts and fuse it together to get the best of both worlds. You’ll find out later that despite its good points, there still exists many flaws that hinder the game from being considered “perfect”, as many critics would have you believe.

Gameplay: 7.0/10

Just like with the Wii port of its predecessor, you use both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to play; not just for pressing buttons, but also to use the motion controls and pointer to utilize the sword and shield, basic commands (i.e., rolling, swinging, balancing, and flying), and projectile-based weapons. New to this installment is the use of the Wii Motion Plus , which increases the accuracy and precision of the motion controls; thus, giving the illusion of more realistic controls. In fact, they put more of an emphasis on puzzle-solving than combat…sort of.

The control stick is used for moving; the Z button to reset the camera and lock-on to target enemies, people, and objects; the C button is to view in first-person mode and dowsing. This new ability is to track down certain people or objects to progress through the story or to find collectibles to replenish supplies and complete side quests. Pressing the A button allows primary actions (i.e., talking, pushing, opening); pressing the B button is for selecting and using items; the + and – buttons are for the pouch and map menus respectively; and the d-pad is for calling Fi for help and playing the harp later on.

Since the Wii Motion Plus changes everything, I’ll go out of my way and explain this new concept. You must move the Wii Remote in the desired direction to move it exactly the way you want it within the game, so it’s no longer rattling the controller like a baby’s toy. The spin attack can be achieved by shaking the Nunchuk horizontally, while the shield bash be performed vertically and with perfect timing (as the shield can break and you can now counter-attack). Many items take advantage of the new technology, so you’re going to have to twist, pull, shake, and rotate the remote.

While the controls are a big step-up over Twilight Princess, the problems come from its accuracy and usage (making it a controversial feature of the game). Games on the Wii have a bad reputation for abusing motion controls, and Skyward Sword is no exception as anything from rolling to flying and even balancing requires it and becomes gimmicky and repetitive as a result. Controls will easily not synchronize, have delayed or early responses, or do something you never expected – like why the hell does Link do a shield bash every fucking time I want to stab?!

There are of course ways to overcome these problems; you could re-calibrate the Wii Motion Plus by placing the Wii Remote upside down on a flat surface, pressing down on the d-pad, and (believe it or not) by swinging the Wii Remote vertically thrice. The last two options are the best as they instantly re-calibrate any wonky controls within mere seconds, being very helpful in the heat of battle. If you played Twilight Princess and other sword-fighting games on the Wii such as No More Heroes, it will be much easier to adapt to.

If you don’t know who Fi is, she is Link’s personal hint system who tells you things to overcome difficult situations. The sad reality is that she won’t shut up about the obvious (like low battery or health), she sounds and acts like an emotionless robot, and provide you with useless and/or irrelevant information when you need it the most (like in a dungeon). But hey, at least she tells you things like the main objective, enemy and character analysis, total play time, and environmental adaption…kind of like Navi from Ocarina of Time or Tael from Majora’s Mask.

You will use a bird called a Loftwing as a main method of travel through the sky (which serves as this game’s hubworld). It’s a much better alternative to walking and horse-riding in terms of speed and convenience, but it becomes tedious to always use motion controls, and it adds superficial value to the empty hubworld. Another mechanic is the Wii Motion Plus, in which everything from weapons, puzzles, and enemies exploiting it; while it may seem like Skyward Sword has become gimmicky, it really isn’t and works pretty well.

Nintendo heavily implemented it so you’re going to be strategic and forced to adapt. Playing Twilight Princess again makes it a breeze, except when it comes to combat and item-use. They just love to fuck with you with the rubber-band AI of the enemies by having them use mind games on you. The confusion of which direction or area to strike, topped with the imprecise controls, hinders to the experience but adds to the challenge. But, the enemies are pretty dumb and most of their attacks can easily be countered with the shield-bash.

Usually people will have their own strong opinions when it comes to the game’s overall difficulty as Skyward Sword is radically different. Many puzzles and dungeons this time require multiple strategies, items, weapons, and attempts – along with motion controls – in order to successfully solve. Bosses are a major improvement over Twilight Princess because they’re much harder with more health, strength, and intelligence. You will adapt to it but expect a few Game-Over’s occasionally (especially with Ghirahim and Demise).

Presentation: 8.0/10

Skyward Sword is a cross between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess in terms of the graphics – the art style being cartoonish, bright, and vibrant inspired by the former; the models, textures, and atmosphere based off the latter. What’s a big shame is that Nintendo still never learned its mistakes as the textures are still low-resolution and lack detail, models being jaggy, frame-rate inconsistent and low (onlt at 30 FPS), and backgrounds being blurry. Hey, at least the NPC’s are more realistic now with improved animations and facial expressions.

Models have been significantly upgraded to become more accurate to finally make Skyward Sword look like a Wii game (and not a Game-Cube game). The cel-shaded graphics along with diverse set of colors and excellent lighting makes it more appealing than its darker predecessor. For some reason though, some models have cartoonish textures while others have realistic textures (I guess to stand out in this blurry engine). Why is it that backgrounds and far away objects look like they’re in a painting – it’s just weird to have all these different art styles!

Another huge “renovation” to increase the aesthetics is the music, with orchestral and instrumental finally being implemented into Zelda as a series first. Nintendo has shown that they indeed learned from (most) of their mistakes by listening to what their fans wanted. Many compositions are memorable, diverse, catchy, and very “intense” so to speak, adding to the graphics and making dungeons and bosses all the more epic. I personally love Ghirahim’s Theme, Skyloft, Ballad of the Goddess, and the credits.

Thank the goddesses (I’m an atheist) that they’ve fixed the sound balance as music no longer drowns out the sound effects, nor does the Wiimote speaker emit loud noises like in Twilight Princess. Speaking of which – pun fully intended – Skyward Sword doesn’t use it as often as Twilight Princess as it’s now only used for when Fi has to tell you something (okay, never mind…I take this statement back). Here, they’ve tried using cartoon and comical sound effects that works perfectly for the style and setting, as opposed to its darker predecessor that tried too hard with being realistic.

Plot Analysis: 8.0/10

The plot’s structure of Skyward Sword is very much like…Twilight Princess; you start off with a long and cinematic prologue, then slowly decreasing and stopping before your first dungeon, and going back up during the middle only to be cut off with an epic climax at in the end. This strategy works somewhat as the gaps allow the player to immerse them in the gameplay, and to complete side-quests that have small stories of their own to let you relax from the plot. However, the plot heavily suffers from fillers by making the characters forgetful, picky, or just outright stupid.

I personally have little comment for the story; I mean, sure there are both good and bad things to mention, but the story overall is just…good. They did a good job explaining the origins of many characters, weapons, and events, yet there seems to be a lot of contradictions with future events. For example, how is Demise the past incarnation of Ganondorf if he was completely sealed in the Master Sword? They still did a great job with adding personality to the characters; making the once living world into now post-apocalyptic; and even had a romance between Link and Zelda.

Living up to their expectations, Nintendo did manage to present the story in a cinematic and climatic manner in the beginning, middle, and the end. The different camera angles, expressive body language, atmospheric and orchestral music, and special visual effects captivate players into the plot. Unfortunately, everything that is in between lacks most (or all) of these elements, and resort to the typical in-game dialogue cutscenes with the lame text boxes and grunting noises that characters often make (but at least they have emotions now unlike with Twilight Princess).

Again, Nintendo is still in their own little world by refusing to have voice-acting for the script. It’s quite sad how they assume the video game industry is just like it was back in the ’80s and ’90s. Why don’t they copy EA with The Sims and have all characters speak a gibberish language instead of just Fi and Midna? The way it’s written is okay without being too corny or too poetic, but come on, the lack of voice-acting just screams xenophobia! At least the simple vocabulary and use of daily language makes us relate to the characters more.

Content: 9.0/10

NPC’s are another major improvement over what was established in Twilight Princess and Wind Waker (not just the changes in emotion and personality). Many of the residents actually now give you helpful advice, react to recent events almost instantly, and/or say things that are relevant to who they are – these factors only applied to the main characters in the past (they even make funny jokes which is a guilty pleasure of sorts). Each NPC has their own unique face, name, appearance, personality, occupation, status, and role which adds more realism.

Besides playing the regular story mode, there’s also the somewhat new Hero’s Mode. This is much like the Master Quest from Ocarina of Time in which it’s playing the entire game over again but at a harder difficulty. The differences are that the game isn’t mirrored and there are no changes to the dungeons. Instead, it’s just that you take double the amount of damage as the enemies are stronger, there are no hearts laying around to replenish your health, and many items from the first file are brought over to make it a little easier.

A step down would be the overworld, but the dungeon design evens it out pretty well. Nintendo scaled down the map to roughly the total surface area of Ocarina of Time’s map. They also limited the diversity of the geographic regions to five:  sky, forest, volcano, desert, and water, as well as toning down the exploration by making the plot progression and travelling extremely linear. Skyward Sword does have great dungeons with memorable features, creative puzzles, intelligent layout, unique environments, hidden secrets, and challenging mini-bosses/bosses.

They made the overworld more dungeon-based by implementing platforming, rooms, puzzles, and even throwing in a few bosses and mini-bosses just to keep things fresh. Silent Realms, while similar to both the Twilight Realms from Twilight Princess and Dark World from A Link To The Past, have improved exponentially. They take much less time to complete; the tears of light are extremely easy to find and collect; enemy presence and threat is minimal (and manipulated to non-existant); and you can gain access to hidden or new routes impossible to access in the light world.

Some of the best and favorite dungeons among the IP and fans are from this title. I originally was going to include the story, but due to the length (and the fact that we all know the story), I decided to omit so I will state the names of the dungeons. The following dungeons are self-explanatory on what they are: Skyview Temple, Earth Temple, Lanayru Mining Facility, Ancient Cistern, Sand-Ship, Fire Sanctuary, and Sky Keep. They’re all extremely diverse unlike the overworld and show that Nintendo’s creativity still lives even after 25 years.

I didn’t really go over the items, though I’m entitled to since it’s a major component of Zelda games. It’s very innovative in the way newer items are designed, being able to do what the other could not as they’re not clones nor variations of older ones. This allows for newer puzzles, enemies, bosses, and side-quests to fully take advantage of it and increase the overall quality of the game. Plus, it exploits the usefulness of the Wii Motion Plus to add extra gimmicks and fun; even the older items got upgraded with new looks and also new control schemes.

For the old, there is the following: Sword, Wooden Shield, Tunic, Empty Bottle, Sling-Shot, Bomb, Gust-Bellows, Double Claw-Shots, Hero’s Bow, Arrow Quiver, Wallet, Hylian Shield, and the Master Sword. Then there are the newer items: Beetle, Item Pouch, Goddess Sword, Bug Net, Seed Pouch, Iron Shield, Digging Mitts, Mogma Mitts, Sacred Shield, Water Dragon’s Scale, Whip, Fireshield Earrings, Goddess Harp, Zelda’s Sail-Cloth, Time Shift Stones, Carry-On Medals, and the Triforce. This is a review and not an encyclopedia, so do your own research on what each does.

Enemies and bosses are a major improvement over what was seen in Twilight Princess as well. Not only are they much more difficult to fight, they also have more biodiversity (aren’t merely clones or palette swaps), have interesting lore that deeply explains their origins, and allows multiple strategies to defeat them. The enemies are scattered throughout and can appear in areas where you’d least expect them, and while it does suffer from different variations, it fits well with the theme or environment that they belong to.

Bosses require multiple methods and items to defeat, so you have to be strategic and be able to go past their strong defenses. Like with the enemies, you can resort to many different ways to dealing damage to the bosses, which adds even more creativity. Seriously, they’re so complex that some of them take nearly 10 minutes to beat or even a few deaths to get things right! They can range from giant monsters to humanoid beings and even a whole army of enemies; Ghirahim, Scaldera, Moldarach, The Imprisoned, Koloktos, Tentalus, Levias/Bilocyte, Bokoblin Army, and Demise.

Verdict: 7.0/10

As expected, Skyward Sword has a high level of replay value, nearly doubling the total gameplay time if one attempts to aim for 100% completion. First attempt lasts 60 hours, consecutive attempts at 30 hours, and speed runs take at most 15 hours. Old side-quests consist of heart-pieces, mini-games, and bug hunting which are the same, though it’s the newer ones that count. These make all your stress and worries of the main quest (for the most part), are fun and easy (with some exceptions), and is a great fan service since Nintendo listened to our demands.

Goddess Cubes are purple cubes scattered throughout pre-historic Hyrule that unlock collectibles in the sky when activated (to add superficial exploration of the barren hubworld). Then there’s this new and improved upgrade system, in which you have a blacksmith and a cook upgrade your weapons, pouches, and potions by giving them the natural resources or bugs they need to mix or craft to give you the finished product. About the gratitude crystals…you can find them by doing errands for the citizens of Skyloft so they show you their gratitude in the form of crystals.

The experience overall greatly depends on your gaming preferences; specifically, whether or not you’re into motion controls and a Zelda game that is a mix between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. For me though, it was like a stock-market: there are ups and downs with no guarantee on the future outcomes. I can say though I disliked it at first for the terrible motion controls, difficult bosses, frustrating side-quests, and the constant story and gameplay fillers. But then as I gained more experience and skill later on, I began to enjoy it and realized how much I sucked in the past.

Skyward Sword has the graphics of Wind Waker, music of Ocarina of Time, controls and gameplay of Twilight Princess, and all else being a melting pot of the entire franchise. While the graphics and controls are step-down; the music, plot, content, and gameplay is a step-up for the Zelda IP. I personally love the special game mode which allows you to re-try boss battles and silents realms; I hate how Nintendo spoon-feeds the casuals by offering too much help. Though not quite from being perfect, Skyward Sword is recommended for all Wii owners and Zelda fans alike.

Final Review Score: 7.8/10

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NEW! Super Mario Bros. Wii Review

Introduction

Man, it’s been a really long time ever since I wrote my last review back in April, huh? After this and the Metroid Prime 3 review, I’ll be moving on to the third “saga” of reviews. Getting back on topic and as the name implies, this is basically the console successor to the original NEW! Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS. What I’m trying to essentially state is that it’s the rip-off to a rip-off. The irony of such a claim is that it’s actually the most unique game in the spin-off series, because its successors NSMB2 and NSMBU on the 3DS and Wii U respectively are even more ripped-off.

It started development and was surprisingly published in the same year of 2009. This was when the Wii was at its peak, only a few months later for it to be the casual kiddie toy that it’s remembered…er…forgotten as today. I recall everyone getting hyped for the game since it was the return of 2D Mario on consoles; there was co-op multiplayer for the first time; and the reboot of old characters like Yoshi, Kamek, and the Koopalings (okay, Yoshi sort of doesn’t count). I didn’t get it until December 2010 as I was too busy playing Mario Kart Wii back in 2009.

Plot

Just like with any typical 2D Mario platforming side-scroller game, all is well until Bowser comes and kidnaps Peach, prompting Mario in pursuit to save her. This time; however, it’s her birthday with the plumbers , along with two generic Toads as invited guests, which gets crashed by the Koopalings and Bowser J.R. Peach is brought to and taken hostage into their air-ship, where they head off to escape Mario’s grasp, but not before the game’s new power-ups being launched by cannons throughout the kingdom to aid Mario.

If you honestly expected this game to have an amazing plot, then this is the wrong place to look for. I understand that Mario games were never really strong in the story department, but ever since the cinematic storyline in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario, it’s very disappointing to downgrade as something as shitty as this. They should’ve at least put some story cutscenes to expand upon the plot (besides the prologue and epilogue) and also place some dialogue text boxes for character interaction.

Gameplay

Basic concepts such as platforming and power-ups are present; however, there are some new gameplay mechanics. As with most Wii titles, motion controls are implemented in gimmicks one way or another. Unlike other games, NEW! Super Mario Bros. Wii inputs them as control commands such as spinning, grabbing/throwing, or activating motion-controlled “vehicles” and platforms. Another mechanic is the 4 player co-op that will be emphasized later; while objects, platforms, and enemies being of different proportion is a deliberate level design choice that will also be elaborated.

Other than single player, there’s also multi-player; three friends can join in the fray and play together simultaneously on-screen with four different characters. Each player has an option of either Luigi, Yellow Toad, or Blue Toad…with player 1 having Mario as default. It’s nice to have several people helping each other out to get hidden goodies or beat tough challenges that a single person usually can’t do alone. You can take advantage by grabbing, throwing, and even jumping on other players too – there’s also this super move that occurs when 2 or more ground pound at the same time.

Since it’s a series first, I’ll let some strings loose and not judge it for lacking online or having good teamwork design. On the contrary, I do find the screen and camera to be an issue because it always zooms out extremely with four players; it chooses which player to focus on – not always the first player or leading one; and anybody behind the camera can get killed and anybody ahead risks getting damaged by incoming obstacles and enemies. The whole co-op idea is a good start, though it honestly hinders progress more often than increasing it if your goal is to seriously beat the game.

Coin Hunting and Free-For-All are solutions to it as they fix these annoyances. The former is getting as much coins as you can by beating custom levels that are full of coins; the latter is beating any level except that no progress is saved and the screen isn’t as messed up as it usually is. The downside to these game modes is that you have to beat the levels in the main game in order to play all the levels in these modes, and also that your progress automatically gets deleted when you reset, turn off, or leave the multi-player menus.

What I forgot to mention was that the characters themselves are also underwhelming to play as. There is no difference in terms of stats at all, so each character are all clones and/or palette swaps of each other. Don’t assume that they’re as unique as they are in Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) or in Super Mario 3D World. Returning from past titles are the Koopalings, Yoshi, Bowser J.R, and Kamek. The returning villians are much better in their modern appearances and boss battles, whereas Yoshi and Bowser J.R are disappointing with theirs.

Similar to NSMB, the Mushroom Kingdom is comprised of 8 worlds. Each area is based off of stereotypical environments such as forest, desert, and beach. They are all third-dimensional in terms of exploration with nice layouts and several great landmarks. Fortresses, castles, and houses fill up the maps, and each level icon has background objects giving clues as to what to expect when you play them…similar to Donkey Kong Country Returns. Alternate paths, hidden areas, and enemy battle-grounds are just some of the gimmicks used to enhance the map’s appeal and replay value.

Level design is above-average – most ideas are ripped straight from older Mario games or NSMB as I said before. Anything new is just enemies, hazards, and platforms of different sizes that gives the illusion of microscopic or gigantic proportions (which is actually pretty damn cool), motion manipulated platforms and vehicles are used too. Some levels use gimmicks only seen once and never again, such as skeletal roller-coasters over lava and flying manta-rays in the sky. It seems interesting but it pales in comparison to that of DKCR (which is a much better title).

There are returning and new items that are gimmicky but not situational. Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, 1-Up Mushroom, Mini Mushroom, and Star-Man are old items and are pretty self-explanatory. New power-ups consist of the Ice-Flower, Penguin Suit, and the Propeller Mushroom. The Ice Flower allows you to throw ice balls to freeze enemies into ice blocks; the Penguin Suit lets you have ice balls, better swimming controls, and sliding on water and ice to smash through enemies and blocks; and the last item grants flight and is the most OP.

Star Coins, alternate goals/paths, warp-pipes, cannons, and secret rooms are all the hidden goodies in NSMBWii unlockables include a completely new hidden world that is space-themed…spoilers, Toad House mini-games, and also extra game modes and hint videos. They’re all fun to find and collect, definitely adding to the replay value, though they do get tedious and boring afterwards. There are these golden stars that you can earn as you progress through getting the unlockables, but it’s just for aesthetics as it’s displayed on the save file.

Any player, for any odd reason, who cannot beat a tough level or boss battle can activate Super Guide. This is basically a giant, glowing green block with an exclamation mark that appears after dying in a level 8 times in a row and at a checkpoint (or the beginning of a level if you return after leaving it). When activated, the game will simply play itself and beat the level for you, which you just sit back and watch a computer controlled Luigi that slowly beats it. I honestly find it pathetic for the developers to spoon-feed the casuals, and very offensive to use gamers for making the game easier than it already is.

Controls

You can either choose the Wii Remote or the Wiimote & Nunchuk combo, but the former option is recommended and it’s the default. The d-pad is to move, crouch, enter doors and pipes, and toggle menu options. Pressing 2 is to jump and confirm menu selections; and the 1 button is to run and/or throw projectiles or objects. If you played the original on the DS, then you’ve pretty much mastered these controls too. Motion based commands include shaking to spin, grab, and throw certain enemies and items; titling the Wii Remote left and right enables the use of motion controlled platforms and vehicles as repeated dozens of time before.

Music

Another minor thing is the music which is a replica of the prequel’s sound track. There are some new compositions and remixes here and there but overall the tunes are generic, repetitive, and corny as usual. Different genres and instruments are evident; however, anybody who played NSMB agrees with me on how useless these efforts are to increase the music’s quality. Nintendo should’ve tried harder like they usually do with other IP’s instead of going the lazy route and not composing good music which they did here.

Graphics

Nintendo also put up a half-hearted effort with producing the graphics, and you can tell just by looking at it. The textures are extremely high-rez and the models being exactly accurate of CGI artwork; but everything else is mediocre and makes NSMBWii look only slightly better than its DS predecessors (which looks as bad as a N64 game). While resolution is at 480p standard definition, the frame rate is only at 30 FPS – and it’s not locked or consistent as it sometimes can drop to 25 FPS. Lighting and shadow is superficial since the graphics resemble a CGI cartoon animation with plastic, cartoony models like in Sonic Adventure DX.

Verdict

I honestly didn’t expect this review to be so short; replay value is ironically where this game shines the most, as beating the game by taking the most linear path; clearing all eight out of nine worlds; and defeating Bowser and his children to save the princess takes about roughly 8 hours. However, attempting to clear all levels, unlock every alternate map route, collect all Star-Coins, activate every warp pipe/cannon, and clear World 9 – which is not easy, even for skilled players – increases it to 40 hours.

We’re at the end of this, and you guys know what’s coming…so here goes. I like how this game is simplistic and easy, yet still being difficult with extra optional challenges. I also hypocritically enjoy the gimmicks, old mechanics, and the corny music despite what I said as it actually adds to the fun atmosphere and experience in my opinion. I despise how this entry lacks creativity and originality as almost all concepts are rip-offs from older Mario games. With that, I do suggest getting it but only at a reduced price through vintage stores/sites, and for casual gamers and Mario fans, so not a recommendation or a must-have. I mark this game off with a 6.6 out of 10.

 

Wii Sports Resort Review

Introduction

Ah…Wii Sports Resort, the follow-up and sequel to Wii Sports, the best-selling Nintendo game on the Nintendo Wii and on any Nintendo console period. Normally, I wouldn’t review a sequel, but since I’m trying some new things out and taking a break from the usual stuff (pun intended – and the fact that Wii Sports is extremely bare-bones), I think I’ll let it pass. At the time it was released, the Nintendo Wii was still seen as a great system and motion controls were still cool, but little did Nintendo know that later in 2009 was their doom as they soon became the casual console for having weak hardware, gimmicky motion controls, terrible looking graphics, and inferior online infrastructure.

Around its development, people began noticing and criticizing Nintendo for the forced and gimmicky motion controls (which was also the time that the Wii U started to exist…in development), so they decided to invent and sell this thing called the Wii Motion Plus. And what better way to market it then making a game just to show off its capabilities? It was their last ditch effort to appeal to the complainers by making this add-on with improved motion controls before realizing that the Wii was a total failure and a primitive system meant for casual slaves…I mean casual crowd.

I was actually convinced right from the start to buy this game because I was still young and a Nintendo fanboy. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t get me the game as they thought that purchasing sequels were bull-shit and they both hated (and continue to hate) video games. So in 2012 when I became independent with materialistic goods, I went out to Wal-Mart and bought it myself…but with no Wii Motion Plus as Nintendo had discontinued the bundle by then (I instead got the Wii Remote Plus which is the add-on built in). I won’t really spoil the game now, but let’s just say that it didn’t turn out quite as expected and I eventually realized that it was simply re-hashed material from the original with extras.

Gameplay

Wii Sports Resort is similar to its predecessor – using the remote’s motion controls to play a variety of sports with in-game avatars called Miis. This time, there’s around 12 sports, each with their own mini-games and play styles. You also use the Wii Motion Plus or the Wii Remote Plus (which comes in 4 different colors), essentially an accessory for the regular Wiimote that increases the accuracy and sensitivity of the motion controls to make it seem more natural and realistic; in other words, making it 1:1 of what people imagined them to be. Though honestly speaking, it’s just a sad excuse for not implementing good controls since day one (as the Wii Remote lacks a gyroscope which is basically what the Wii Motion Plus is – oops, um…spoilers?)

If you’ve played the original Wii Sports, then Resort shouldn’t be really new to you. The only mechanics in this title are the Wii Remote itself and the all-new Wii Motion Plus. While the gyroscope does what you imagine it to do, it shouldn’t even have existed since the Wiimote should’ve had that feature from launch (or rather, said component). It’s the quality, not the quantity; and Nintendo still never learned from their mistakes as they made the NEW! Nintendo 3DS because the old 3DS’ 3D capabilities were mediocre. The accessory (Wii Motion Plus, not the NEW! Nintendo 3DS), constantly malfunctions as it frequently requires re-calibration which can take up to 20 seconds or more.

Just like the prequel, the game is split up into several sports which are sort of like mini-games. There are 12 sports in all – Table Tennis, Bowling, Golf, Dog Frisbee, Archery, Swordplay, Canoeing, Sky-Diving, Power Cruising, Surfing, Cycling, and Piloting. Each sport has their own set of mini-games; depending on the type, there may even be either/or stages, levels, and difficulties to choose from. Most of the sports are optimized for single player, though some do have multi-player; however, each person requires their own Wii Motion Plus or Wii Remote Plus (which are unfortunately sold separately).

The sports overall are easy to learn and fun to play, and there really isn’t anything exceptional about them. There’s nothing to praise nor is there anything to criticize, but overall it gets boring real fast once you’ve played through and unlocked everything. These mini-games just don’t appeal to me as I’m not that into sports games (like FIFA!!! Oh, I’m sorry…that was an inside joke), so I guess you’ll only find it fun if you have such interests. I gotta admit though, it’s fun to play when you begin it and progress through unlocking everything. The high scores, personal bests, leader-boards, and skill-level graph returns from Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Fit.

WuHu Island is the main area and “hubworld” of the game as certain areas are used for different sports; you can even explore the island through cycling and piloting indefinitely. It’s divided into the volcano, town, mountain trail, temple ruins, cave, spring, forest, suburban neighborhood, hotel, beach, cliffs, bridge, and the ocean itself. There’s even another smaller island nearby with golf courses, restaurant, and another hotel (as well as another island that is vacant until certain conditions are met). As you can probably tell, I love WuHu Island for its size, diversity, and layout. It’s so good that it was even used again as the hubworld in Pilot Wings Resort; multiple race tracks in Mario Kart 7 and a fighting stage in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

A casual sports game like this isn’t something you would really find challenging. In fact, only the leader-boards, pro-skilled opponents, and the expert difficulty actually poses any sort of real challenge at all. The rest is simply ranging from easy to absolutely insulting to hardcore gamers. Since there is no online, you cannot even at the very least compare your skill level and scores to others nor can you play with other people. There is the Check Mii Out Channel (which, along with the Nintendo, Everybody Votes, News, Forecast, and Mario Kart Channel, have been discontinued since 2012), but it’s nothing special as all you do is download Miis, so overall the challenge is extremely low like I just said earlier.

Plot

Before I move on to the controls, there’s still something else I want to briefly review – the plot. I understand that there is no plot but there is an interactive cut-scene that shows only the first time you boot up Wii Sports Resort (right after the wrist strap reminder screen) that serves as a prologue – so here it is. It starts off in first-person view of you, the player, with a sky diving expert and a bunch of Miis in a small plane. Then, he opens the door and you and the other tourists jump off and begin to sky-dive to reach WuHu Island before it fades off into the title screen. I find it to be a neat little thing as it gives a good first impression and allows you to play the sky diving mini-game right from the get-go.

Controls

The Wii Motion Plus is the main gimmick of Wii Sports Resort and something that I neglect to fully explain in detail. It’s a plastic attachment for the Wii Remote that is meant to increase the sensitivity, accuracy, precision, and detection of the remote’s motion controls. This allows the controller to exactly understand and execute your movements without any lag or misinterpretations (basically what people imagined and expected motion controls to be way back when the Wii was announced back in 2005). It’s a cool concept, but thing is that a gyroscope is doing all of this as the Wii Remote doesn’t have it since it only has an accelerometer (hence the only logical explanation as to why the Wii Remote Plus manages to have the add-on built in without becoming bulky).

Depending on the game you’re playing, you will always have to follow a specific set of instructions. In other words, there is no definitive description for controlling the Wii Remote. It’s mainly pressing A and B for primary and secondary commands; + and – for the menus; and the d-pad for the re-calibration of the Wii Motion Plus (or simply through the pause menu). The gyroscope enables the user to tilt, swing, slice, throw, steer, aim, catch, and do other hand gestures in all possible directions and angles with ease and precision. Some sports also use the Nunchuk combination as a needed requirement or an option.

Music

Music in this game…oh, you expected me to review the game’s graphics, did I catch you by surprise? Anyways, despite seeming extremely generic, the soundtrack for Resort is actually decent. There are quite a few diverse genres, such as rock ‘n roll, techno, jazz, and instrumental, and many of the compositions are memorable for its nice arrangement of notes and instrument choice, and overall great performance. Though most of its sound effects are brought from Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Fit (and even Mario Kart), they fit well with the game’s overall setting and atmosphere, but there are some newer sound effects as well.

Sound quality is also extremely good for this installment. There seems to be no sound drowning out others or vice versa as they’re all perfectly balanced out. It’s also extremely clear and realistic with almost HD-like sound quality that cancels out additional, background, static, or unnecessary noise. Sound coming from the Wii Remote’s speaker is great as it doesn’t echo nor is it playing from the television simultaneously. There’s not much I can really talk about further for Resort, which means I’ll stop here and transition directly to the graphics.

Graphics

Just like in Wii Sports, the graphics are high quality and some of the best on the Nintendo Wii. Textures are realistic, clear, and complex, making the game look like it has high definition graphics, and a typical game on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, heck, or even the Wii U. Nothing in Resort seems to be pixelated or blurry as the graphics engine is a mix of cartoon (for the Miis, objects, vehicles, and other basic models) and realism (for stuff like floor, walls, buildings, and so on). The only complaint is that some models and textures look a bit jaggy.

Resolution and frame-rate for Wii Sports Resort is also very high and enhances both gameplay and graphics. It runs at 480p standard definition and at an astounding 60 FPS. The animation is smooth and the controls are precise, adding to the high frame-rate to provide fast paced gameplay. When upscaled to progressive scan with the component cable or, say, the Dolphin Emulator and the Wii U, it looks graphically intense with the high-rez models and textures.

Models would probably be the weakest part of the graphics. Yes, they’re accurate, but only with large and basic models (sort of, but nowhere near as crappy, as Mario Kart Wii). If it’s small and complex, they become jaggy around the edges and look sort of like a cardboard cut-out. Fortunately though, most of the models are the large and basic types, and the smaller models are usually blocked out by the former or seems to look accurate due to the manipulation of the camera angle and the lighting effects. The high resolution textures and graphics engine also does a good job of camouflaging the jaggy models (which is taken from Wii Sports).

Okay, scratch what I said before; the lighting effects aren’t that great either, well, sort of. It does its job correctly – accurate and opaque shadows; bright and vibrant colors; and the lighting changes based on the weather conditions and time of day/night. What I dislike though are the bloom effects. It’s so bright that it makes many models and textures seem as if they’re made out of plastic, or they glow like they have an internal light source (kind of like a fire-fly). This mostly applies to Miis and sports equipment, but thing is that the game is full of them. On the contrary, it’s nowhere near as bad as Mario Kart Wii or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Verdict

Hmm…this review was a short one, and speaking of length, this game’s replay value is lacking as well. Sure, there’s 12 sports and each consists of either/or mini-games, levels, and difficulties (which is superior to Wii Sports) but that’s just about it. Once you try, play, unlock, and beat everything, it gets boring real fast (which I said earlier, and this I said before as well; man, gotta use a thesaurus next time). Besides multi-player; attempting to have the highest skill level; and beating your personal best, there’s not else to do afterwards. It sounds alot, but trust me, it’s very underwhelming and short as the game only takes about one to two weeks to beat.

As always, let’s discuss the game’s pros and cons. I actually like how the mood and atmosphere of the graphics and hubworld make you feel that you’re really on an island as a vacation just to play sports and have fun. I love how the game appears to be complex but really is quite simple and easy, if you understand what I’m trying to say. What I dislike though is that Wii Sports Resort is a cash-cow to sell and market the Wii Motion Plus – and that’s it’s only based around this one lame gimmick. And it’s products like these which make people loath motion controls, resulting into the forgotten waggling kiddie toys they are of today.

To end off this review, Wii Sports Resort is a great sports game that appeals to all gamers and uses the Wii Motion Plus to great potential. Despite being similar to Wii Sports, in which it lacked replayability; has full of gimmicks; and a peripheral that should’ve had its features implemented into the Wiimote itself since day one; Resort still has amazing graphics, memorable music, accurate and innovative controls, and a fun experience altogether. Should I recommend this? Yes, it is a must-have after all (or at least to every single gaming network on the web) and there are other games that cannot compare to the quality of this game. Wii Sports Resort equals to an 8.1 out of 10.

Mario Kart Wii Review

Introduction

What happens when you create kart-racing game and add Mario to the mix? You get Mario Kart! Mario Kart is one of the few Nintendo IP’s out there that differentiates itself from conventional racing games, sells well on both consoles and handhelds, and is favored by non-Mario fans alike. Though it has gained such fame and praise in the past decade, Mario Kart has been around since the early days of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. From then on, its successors continued as one game per system – and two games on the console and handheld respectively, with the recent installment being that of Mario Kart Wii.

Coming out for the Nintendo Wii back in 2008, it featured motion controls and casual gameplay to appeal to said audience (as with other games at the time such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption). Ironically enough, this was another game that I got shortly after its initial release. I played Mario Kart Wii thrice in my life: once when it came out, another time two years ago, and the most recent being January of this year (oh no, I broke the fifth wall again and this basically defeated the whole purpose of this paragraph…whatever.)

When I played it as a tween, I first found it be an extremely good game (as it was my first and only racing game at the time); when I went back playing it over two years ago, I actually became quite disappointed after playing better racing games such as Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (iOS), and Excite Truck. But for now, who knows how I feel – let’s find out by reviewing the game.

Controls

As Mario Kart Wii heavily focuses on the Wii Wheel (actually the Wii Remote in a plastic wheel), I will be explaining the control scheme of the Wiimote. Pressing the 2 button accelerates the vehicle and pressing the 1 button stops and/or reverses it. The B button is used for drifting; the A button is for the rear camera angle; and pressing the corresponding directions on the d-pad lets you use items and/or send them to certain directions. Of course, it’s held horizontally and steering is achieved by tilting the controller left or right. If you prefer, you can use other controllers such as the Wii Remote & Nunchuk combination, Classic Controller (Pro), or even the Nintendo Game-Cube Controller instead.

Though it may seem awkward for Mario Kart to have motion controls, they were actually implemented pretty well. As said before, steering is done by tilting the Wii Remote, and attaching it to the Wii Wheel makes it look and feel more realistic (but makes it harder to drive). Tricks and wheelies are two new gimmicks as well – shaking the Wii Wheel while the racer is in the air makes your racer perform an aerial trick to gain extra boost upon landing. Shaking it while your riding a bike (which I’ll get to later) makes them perform a wheelie for a momentary boost which can surprisingly help you recover from collisions and off-road areas (so long that you don’t crash…).

Despite there being so much motion gimmicks added to the controls, they aren’t that bad as it seems. They don’t require a lot of precision as simple, natural shaking and tilting can easily command your racer to steer, and the responsiveness is excellent thanks to the consistent high frame-rate. As this is a racing game, the controls match the gameplay well; using the other more traditional controllers enhance the precision, sensitivity, and accuracy as nothing can surpass the analogue stick (except for the mouse – #PCMasterRace).

They overcome what the motion controls fail to deliver: pulling off expert techniques such as snaking and fire-hopping with ease; drifting and steering sharper (as the Wiimote’s accelerometer can only do so much without the aid of a gyroscope); and pulling off tricks and wheelies with the press of a button in less than a second as opposed to several. I personally prefer the Wii Wheel as well as the Nunchuk combo, but players who despise motion controls should resort to the other options. The Classic Controller Pro is certainly recommended for the hardcore, but those that played Double Dash should feel right at home with the Game-Cube option.

Gameplay

Just like with Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart Wii is completely different from other racing franchises. Players race in go-karts and the main mechanic is drifting/boosting – without mastering them, you can never win. Along the way, there are items that you can pick up in the form of boxes that randomly summon an item for you to use, which can help you slow other racers down or allow you to catch up. The tracks themselves are usually inspired from past and current Mario games, with many obstacles, short-cuts, boosters, and ramps. As a result, being the fastest doesn’t always get you in first place.

Vehicles in Mario Kart each have their own stats that make them each unique from one another. Go-karts haven’t really changed much besides aesthetics, as well as having improved handling than past installments (will be talked about much later in this review). Bikes are introduced and are superior to go-karts because they have better acceleration and handling; their small size allows them to go in tight spaces; and they are able to do wheelies. However, due to their small size and weight, it’s rather easy to get pushed around by heavier racers and karts – and being more prone to falling in bottomless pits and getting hit by track hazards.

With the introduction of online gameplay in Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii expands upon it by having more game modes and features that any of it predecessors – including the former and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! They’re divided into four different categories: Single Player, Multi-Player, Online, and the Mario Kart Cahnnel. Within each category, there’s Grand Prix, Time Trials, Racing, and Battle for Single Player; VS Racing and VS Battle for Multi-Player; Racing and VS Battle for Online; and Ghosts, Friends, Tournaments, and Leaderboards for the Mario Kart Channel.

Grand Prix lets you race against up to 11 other racers this time around (totaling up to 12 racers instead of the traditional 8) to compete in a set of four different tracks called cups. Time Trials lets you race against…time or a staff ghost to see how fast you can complete a race track. Racing and Battle is exactly what they suggest, except that the rules are customizable and half of the tracks are new and the other are retro (coming from past Mario Kart titles). Battle also has a new mode called Coin Battle which lets you collect and steal as much coins as possible than the opposing team (which is another topic that will be reviewed later) – overall, nothing really changed.

This is where things start to get better or worse, as multi-player is a big disappointment to long time Mario fans. Grand Prix is no longer a multi-player game mode as only the first player can play it now. Battle Mode may have better stage variety and now two sub game modes to choose from, but you’re forced to always play in one of two teams, Red and Blue, instead of playing it with just another computer opponent or with your friends. When the game is being played split-screen, the frame-rate drops from 60 FPS to 30-35 frames per second, which not even Double Dash!! would do as the 60 FPS was always consistent no matter what the game-mode.

Then there’s the online, which according to gaming standards is crap but is actually considered to be the best on the Nintendo Wii. Now, since the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service was long discontinued back in May of 2014 (for both the Nintendo DS and Wii), I can’t really say much seeing that I mostly used the online for the Mario Kart Channel. But I have to admit, that surprisingly, there is absolutely no lag or slowdowns during the matches (though disconnections can occur); the 60 FPS is consistent and never drops to 30 despite playing with 11 other opponents; and the loading times are extremely fast. There is no online communication whatsoever, but at least it’s exactly like the offline counterparts.

Mario Kart Channel ironically is where most of the online is prevalent and where you will get the most out of it. You can either access the channel in-game or download it to the Wii Menu (though accessing certain features requires the disc inserted into the console). Friends allows you to view your friends’ profiles, add new ones, and invite them to online matches or lobby rooms; Ghosts allows you to download, upload, and race against online ghosts (created by other players) and staff ghosts at your skill level; Ranking is basically a leader-board for Time Trials and tournaments; and Tournament is this game’s mission mode (where a new mission is held monthly).

Returning from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is a large character roster, this time with 26 to choose from. You start off with 12: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Baby Mario, Baby Peach, Toad, Koopa Troopa, Wario, WaLuigi, Donkey Kong, and Bowser. Eventually, you unlock the remaining 14: Daisy, Birdo, Diddy Kong, Bowser JR, Baby Luigi, Baby Daisy, Toadette, Dry Bones, Funky Kong, Dry Bowser, King Boo, Rosalina, Mii (Outfit A), and Mii (Outfit B). Most of them you can unlock just by completing cups or Time Trials, but some are harder to do, such as getting a star rank for all retro cups in hard difficulty or beating all staff ghosts and unlocking expert staff ghosts.

To be honest, the roster isn’t that significant or special. Many of the characters are either clones or different incarnations of the same people (although fans don’t notice and/or don’t mind). Even though critics and the game itself state that vehicles determine the stats and not the racers, each character still does as the official website says otherwise. Some characters like Rosalina, Funky Kong, Dry Bowser, King Boo, Daisy, Yoshi, Bowser JR, Mario, Baby Luigi, Baby Daisy, Toadette, and Dry Bones are great to use; but others especially Donkey Kong, Bowser, WaLuigi, Peach, and Toad should be avoided.

From this point on, I’ll be mostly ranting about this game because of what I’m reviewing. The tracks are extremely mediocre – most of them are boring, uninspiring, lacking of track gimmicks, and have no sense or speed nor challenge. If it weren’t for the abundant amount of racers, I wouldn’t even choose those tracks. Like, they all feel like they’re obstacle courses from a driving school test, except with Mario-themed objects, textures, and environments to make it more Marioesque.

Don’t get me wrong as some of them are actually pretty amazing and were even nominated as retro tracks in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8; specifically, Mushroom Gorge, Coconut Mall, Koopa Cape, and Maple Treeway for the 3DS installment, and Grumble Volcano for the current Mario Kart. But most of them are just poorly designed as it’s not only the design process that’s flawed, but also the layout and aesthetics. Almost all of the new tracks have simple, generic layouts that consist of linear pathways and loose turns, and half of these inferior tracks are ugly, dull, and lacking of bright colors and cheery atmosphere (whereas the better tracks are the opposite.)

These tracks are categorized into eight cups: half of them new and the latter are retro, with a total of 32 courses. They consist of Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special Cup for the newer ones, and Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning Cup for the older tracks. Bikes change things up a bit as 50 CC (easy difficulty) is kart-exclusive while 100 CC (medium difficulty) is bike-exclusive. As I kept mentioning multiple times, bikes are one of the latest additions alongside motion controls, online gameplay, tricks/wheelies, and multiple controller options.

The only downside is that you can’t super-drift and its light weight works against you with heavier vehicles/racers. Besides that, bikes are superior to karts in every other way…until in Mario Kart 8 where they became nerfed since they were way too OP (I broke the fifth wall again – at this point, I don’t think anybody gives a shit so I’ll stop making these kind of jokes in the future to stop boring readers). With karts though, they didn’t really change that much except that now there are no individual karts for each character. Just like in the previous console title, characters are divided into weight class again. Except this time, they’re all restricted to their own weight unlike before where you could get two characters of two different weight classes to ride one kart. Any vehicle customization from Mario Kart DS and Double Dash!! is gone too.

Though vehicles lack customization, many vehicles from different weight classes share the same stats (not just the default karts and bikes), so there are even clones when it comes to the vehicles too. Designs for the karts are much better and more diverse than past kart designs, and I heard drifting has been improved exponentially, as you no longer have to constantly tilt the control stick like it’s tug-a-war (simply drifting in one direction without steering is enough). Similar to Mario Kart DS, the items have been randomized to make racing less predictable and requiring more luck than ever to win. Overpowered items such as the Blue/Spiny Shell, Starman, Red Shell, and Lightning are now even more powerful than before, making races more unfair from items alone. Except in Mario Kart Wii, imagine that but going Super Saiyan.

What makes matters worse is that only racers in the last few positions get the more aggressive items, while racers within the top three get weaker items (and middle racers getting neutral items). I know I’m whining too much, but the items are so broken due to the RNG – Random Number Generator. Only dumb luck or being a pro gamer can help you overcome this problem. It only takes one bad hit for you to lose your current position, fall way behind, get bombarded with even more items until you’re in dead last.

Anyways, to prevent me from ranting any further, I’ll stop and simply review what the items are. Returning from past titles are Bananas, Green Shells, Red Shells, Bob-Omb, Blue/Spiny Shell, Fake Item Box, Mushrooms, Blooper, Lightning, and the Star-Man. New to the series is the Golden Mushroom granting the racer infinite boosts for a limited time; Bullet Bill that transforms into said enemy to automatically catch up to other racers (and become temporarily invincible to everything … even the Star-Man and the next item); Mega Mushroom which increases your size to make you a giant to become faster and squish everything in your way; Lightning Cloud which allows you to get faster to pass the cloud to others (or risk being electrocuted yourself); and the POW Block that causes an earth-quake to spin racers and lose their items.

Finally, last but certainly not least, Mario Kart Wii is so frustrating to beat when playing Grand Prix, Racing, and Multi-Player because of the god-awful items and the rubber-band AI (and partially the collision detection). This game is so luck based that certain game modes will always be more challenging than others, no matter what the speed, difficulty, or item aggression level is set to. Artificial intelligence is not only stupid but also what’s called “rubber-band.” The racers do not increase in intelligence when the difficulty is higher; in fact, they only get better at using and countering items. Even when I was a kid, I managed to constantly trick them to fall for my traps and mind games!

Rubber-banding in this case means racers being able to teleport behind you when you get to first with an OP item that you use (no matter how far it takes you), and then the computer opponents somehow being able to always be equipped with the most OP of overpowered items just to mess with you and nobody else. It’s only now and the DS version that it became so tedious and bullshit. There’s also the bad collision detection that causes you to slow down to a halt after crashing into pretty much anything, though ironically, it does help at times.

Graphics

Let me just cut this short, the graphics in this game are freaking terrible! If it weren’t for the higher screen resolution and improved lighting effects, this game would look just as bad as Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Now, I’m not saying that game’s graphics are bad, just that Mario Kart Wii, a game for the Nintendo Wii, looks just as bad as a game for the Nintendo Game-Cube (so I’m stating that a game in 480p looks as bad as a game in 128-bit – pathetic). And not even a good one – even Twilight Princess looks better; and that was supposed to be a Game-Cube exclusive before becoming a Wii port as a launch title! I think the CG illustrations in the trailers and ads managed to trick people about the graphics.

As I just said a little while ago, the game’s screen resolution is at 480p standard definition. That may seem impressive, but Double Dash!! was at the same resolution (when upscaled to progressive scan of course). It also runs at 60 FPS, but multi-player can decrease it to 30 FPS, whereas Double Dash!!  is always consistent, despite being on an older system with weaker hardware. Textures in Mario Kart Wii can range from average to mediocore; tracks, walls, buildings, and background objects look high-rez due to their size and simplicity, but characters, vehicles, and items look extremely blurry, rough, and fake.

Probably one of the worst offenders of this game are the models. Characters, vehicles, and items look like utter shit (mind the profanity). Not only are their respective textures bad, but the models are too – they’re extremely jaggy, pixelated, blurry, blocky, rough, inaccurate, you name it. They look very fake and look straight from a game on the Nintendo 64, and because of the low resolution, it looks almost just as bad as a game for the Super Nintendo (32-bit). These are not even the least accurate and don’t even come close to any CG illustration or artwork of this game (which is false advertising) or any Mario game period…a big shame since the Wii got graphically advanced games before this game such as Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Lighting effects are probably the only good part about the graphics. The high brightness/saturation/contrast make the game look bright, cartoony, and colorful. This makes Mario Kart Wii slightly better than the dark and dull graphics of Double Dash!! (I’m just being honest); it also makes the graphics better in certain day/weather conditions. Shadows are at least accurate and realistic, and as said before, bloom effects are heavily used to enhance or “upscale” the graphics (as well as background blurs) to fool many – including myself – to assuming this game has good graphics.

Music

Before I end it off the review with a verdict, allow me to talk about another crucial flaw: music. The soundtrack is boring and generic, lacking in diversity, and extremely and obviously repetitive. Similar to Brawl, many of the track themes are just different variations of the main theme like Luigi, Mario, and Daisy Circuit, except imagine that but even worse. The lack of genres is so high that the term ‘genres’ does not exist, if it were not for the retro tracks. Even tracks with a different game sometimes are/have variations of other tracks.

Verdict

Though Mario Kart Wii has its flaws, it’s still jam packed with high replay value. Literally every game mode has replayability, especially online and multi-player. Plus, with the huge amount of content and rules to choose from, there are many combinations to try out. Though, some game modes become extremely boring once all content is unlocked for those particular game modes. Nonetheless, Mario Kart Wii has replayability that rivals almost that of Brawl.

There’s not much I like about this game, but I actually like the motion controls since it works like you would expect it to (but hate it at the same time for making it much harder to perform sharp turns and super drifts), and it’s more than just steering and pointing as it involves tricks and wheelies as well. Bikes are also a great addition that I love – it even got rebooted and retconned in Mario Kart 8. I also ironically enjoy the items because they’re just…fun and I also get a Mario vibe off of this game like any Mario game.

I extremely hate the luck-based/aggressive items and AI that this game brings to the franchise. I understand that it’s been a staple of the series, but it’s only this game and the DS installment that it’s been way too overpowered. I also felt Nintendo didn’t try hard enough with this game – no offense, but it feels so empty in quality and content and not finished (that a lot of potential to be wasted).

Mario Kart is overall an okay kart racing game that has both benefits and flaws to balance itself out of it, as well as being ideal for casual and core gamers alike. Even though it has mediocre graphics, music, and content, the controls and gameplay make up for it. That’s not to say it’s bad nor good, as both forces seem to be repelling each other like a strong magnet. What I can claim certain is that Mario Kart Wii is one of the worst games in the franchise. No offense, but actually good as it taught Nintendo to prevent them from repeating history as Mario Kart 7 rebooted the franchise while Mario Kart 8 retconned it…I’ll give it a 7.3 out of 10.

Metroid: Other M Review

After the success of the Metroid Prime Trilogy developed by Retro Studios for the Nintendo Game-Cube and Wii, fans were eager to see the next Metroid games and demanded more. In 2008, Nintendo showed a trailer of Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii that combined all three Prime games into one remastered collection. That following year, they showed a trailer at E3 2009 of a new Metroid game called Other M. It was going to be co-developed by Team Ninja, known for making the Ninja Gaiden and Dead Or Alive franchises. Released in 2010, this action adventure game was soon to be considered one of the worst Metroid games of all time.

Metroid: Other M is probably one of the most underrated video games as well. Many hate this game for having a bad plot, bad character development of Samus, lack of memorable music, and gimmicky motion controls. I never actually even heard about this game until watching a commercial on television in 2011, and never bought it until 2013. At first, I wasn’t interested or intended on buying this game, but after trying out the demo of Super Metroid in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, playing as Samus in the Smash Bros. franchise (except for Smash 4), and researching about the game, I finally decided to get it. Like Twilight Princess, this is my first Metroid game that I owned, played, and beaten. Although many fans hate this game, is it really as bad as they make it seem – let’s find out!

The game is played just like past Metroid games and a bit like the Prime games. You play as Samus, the galaxy’s most well known bounty hunter equipped with a Power Suit and futuristic weapons. Each game has their own specific goal, but the overall objective is to help the Galactic Federation (a human military organization in outer space) with their problems. I’m actually starting to wonder if Samus is actually an employee but called a bounty hunter to make herself seem awesome, as all of her work and pay come from the Galactic Federation.

Because Nintendo wanted Metroid: Other M to bring the Metroid franchise back to its old roots, there is almost no new mechanic in this game. Returning from previous games though are the weapon upgrade system and the pick-up item system, as well as new mechanics such as concentration, item authorization, and the changing of perspective from first person to third person. Although starting off weak, Samus will eventually acquire more items as the game progresses; however, she does so this time through authorization, in which Adam Malkovich (oops…early spoilers) must grant permission first before Samus can use the item. She basically already has all (but two) items and suit upgrades in the game – she just needs Adam’s call before she can use them.

Metroid: Other M is unlike many Metroid games, as the game only takes place inside the Bottle Ship, which is a top-secret research facility owned by the Galactic Federation. This space station is the only area in the game and doesn’t take place in any other satellite, planet, or dimension. Similar to Metroid Fusion, there  are different sectors that you can explore with each having their own unique “theme”. In total, there are six: Main Sector, Sector One, Sector Two, Sector Three, Sector Zero, and the Bio-Experimental Research Sector. This game is also linear like Fusion, as it states obvious objectives and hints, shows the route and location of the goals, and will always lock out restricted or unexplored areas. Unfortunately, this brings down the exploration for what the franchise is well known and praised for.

Besides energy tanks and missile expansions as pick-up items, there are also energy tank parts (similar to Heart Pieces in the Zelda franchise); accel-charge tanks (increasing the speed of charging weapons); and also concentration tanks (increases the amount of health that can be brought back via concentration). Unlike other games but Fusion, you cannot replenish your health by collecting floating orbs and missiles that appear inside containers or after killing enemies, but rather through navigation booths (similar to save stations in the Prime games) and concentration. Speaking of concentration, it’s basically a mechanic allowing Samus to replenish some of her health and all of her missiles when extremely low on health, but takes too long and can allow enemies to sneak up and kill you.

All suits and weapons (except for one) are returning from past Metroid games. There’s the Power Suit, Varia Suit, Gravity Suit, and the Zero Suit (umm…spoiler warning) as well. Then the weapons consist of the following: Power Beam, Charge Beam, Ice Beam, Wave Beam, Plasma Beam, Missiles, Super Missiles, Seeker Missiles, Morph Ball, Bomb, Power Bomb, Space Jump, Screw Attack, Speed Booster, and Shinespark. The only weapons obtained through boss battles are the Seeker Missiles and the all-new Diffusion Beam. This new beam is basically the Charge Beam on steroids – it has an even bigger range and collateral damage than the Charge Beam. What doesn’t make a return are the visor upgrades from the Prime games; the Fusion, Dark, Light, and P.E.D. Suit; and the Spider, Spring, and Boost Ball.

Enemies and bosses are really underwhelming in this game since they are generic, easy, and forgettable. Most of the enemies from past Metroid games either do not make a return or are significantly weakened. Most of the enemies from past Metroid games either do not make a return or are significantly weakened. Bosses are also extremely easy in this game, which makes boss fights more of a chore than a challenge. Only those who have never played a 2D Metroid game before will struggle. Ridley, Metroid Queen (from Metroid II: Return of Samus), Phantoon (from Super Metroid), and Nightmare (from Metroid Fusion) all make a return and are featured in Other M.

Overall, Metroid: Other M is an extremely easy game that takes away alot of fun and challenge for veteran players. However, Metroid: Other M does have its fair share of extremely difficult situations that can result in many cheap and unexpected deaths for both newcomers and fans alike, such as the broken elevator shaft or the mountain avalanche. Many challenges that were prominent in past Metroid games are now eliminated or greatly reduced, either due to overpowered items (like the Diffusion Beam); new game mechanics (like Concentration), or lame fighting techniques (like auto-shooting or auto-dodging) which can often be game-breaking.

Controlling Samus in this game feels like playing a 2.5 D game, since Nintendo wanted to go back to its 2D roots while still staying in 3D. The game is played with the Wii Remote alone, but Other M requires players to switch the remote from a horizontal to vertical position to change the camera angle in-game. Holding it horizontally changes it into third person view, which is a series first and allows moving and attacking, while holding it vertically makes it into first person view similar to the Prime games. This gimmick is implemented terribly as the first person mode doesn’t allow moving and only allows shooting missiles, locking-on to enemies, and viewing the environment, in which the third person mode could have easily done (well, except for the viewing part) – it’s even mandatory in many parts of the game.

When in a third person perspective, the Wii Remote is held horizontally with the d-pad on the left. Pressing the d-pad moves Samus, pressing the 2 button makes her shoot, and pressing the 1 button makes her jump. The A button enters Morph-Ball mode and holding down the 1 and 2 button separately makes  jumping and shooting more effective than before. When in first person mode, the Wii Remote is held vertically so that the pointer is facing the TV screen. Moving the cursor moves the reticle itself for aiming, shooting, and scanning targets. Pressing the B button locks on to nearby enemies, grappling hooks, and objects of interest, and can even scan specific items relevant to progression. The A button simply shoots out missiles and holding it can charge up a Super Missile, Seeker Missiles, or even a charged beam when not locked on to an enemy.

New control gimmicks that lower the difficulty are melee attacks and evasion maneuvers. The sense move is an auto dodge technique that allows Samus to dodge pretty much anything coming to her at the last second, which makes it game-breaking and if used right, can make you invincible against strong enemies or save your energy when low on health. The wall climb is basically wall jumping, the lethal strike is a finishing move that makes Samus release a charged shot at an enemy immediately after rushing into them, and the over-blast is shooting an enemy after jumping on top. There’s also a grab ‘n throw combo attack, though it’s never stated in the manual or recognized as an official attack nor can it be executed manually – I swear that I somehow randomly do it when fighting groups of enemies. Generally speaking, the controls feel too gimmicky and limited with just the Wii Remote alone, as allowing Other M to have the Nunchuk combo or Classic Controller as alternate or required options would make it more fun and easier to play.

The story begins right after where Super Metroid is about to end. After defeating Mother Brain, Samus escapes Planet Zebes and enters rehabilitation in a Galactic Federation space facility. When Samus recovers, she leaves the facility and pilots her ship to the depths of outer space. While she is flying, she recalls her emotional and mother-child relationship with the Baby Metroid and begins to show signs of PTSD. Suddenly, she receives a distress signal called “Baby’s Cry”, and as it reminds her of the Metroid she took care of, she quickly goes to investigate. Samus proceeds to head to its destination: the Bottle Ship, in which she encounters a small team of Galactic Federation soldiers who also came from the distress signal.

One of the members immediately greets Samus as he introduces himself as Anthony Higgs, a former team-mate of Samus when she was still part of the Galactic Federation. Another member gets introduced by Anthony as Samus’ former commanding officer and father figure, who is Adam Malkovich when he wasn’t a computer. At first, Adam distrusts her, but after helping the crew take down a boss and a door with some missiles, he earns her trust. As they head into the Main Sector, each crew member is ordered to investigate all three sectors (as well as other irrelevant areas). Samus is ordered to back-track to turn on the back-up electrical generator to power up the Bottle Ship, and then heading into Sector One to check up on the others.

In Sector One, Samus discovers a dead scientist, several strange monsters, virtual outdoor swamp environments, and a tall building in the middle of a virtual open field. The team soon hacks into a super-computer to discover that the Galactic Federation is secretly using bio-weapons via the captured monsters and that a scientist by the name of Madeline Bergman is responsible for leading the project. Along the way, Samus confronts a white bunny that soon evolves into a giant lizard monster which attacks her in the field and eventually eats one of the members alive. She is fortunately saved by Anthony’s plasma gun after a long struggle, but the monster quickly escapes into Sector Three. Samus then uses an alternate route to get there, and the tall building explodes afterwards.

Upon entering, Samus noticed she entered a volcanic area with fire, heat, and lava, and barely survives it due to the extreme temperature penetrating her Power Suit. When reaching a cylinder-shaped room that turns out to be the interior of a volcano, Samus isn’t granted permission to upgrade to the Varia Suit until she just barely escapes the rising lava and is nearly depleted of more than half of her energy tanks. After easily defeating another boss, Samus explores the rest of the area until she stumbles upon the next area, Sector Two, which turns out to be an area filled with snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. Samus doesn’t come upon anything special or significant here until she finds the dead corpse of another member (Maurice) who appeared to die from an ice blast, as well as a blonde female scientist watching from the distance inside a nearby building.

Giving chase, Samus almost reaches the scientist who claims that the Galactic Federation has sent soldiers to assassinate all the scientists when suddenly a gigantic construction robot-vehicle hybrid crashes in and tries to kill her.  Allowing the woman to escape and to discover more intel, Samus soon finds herself concerned and forced to battle the robot, which is indeed controlled by one of the members of Adam’s team. Easily destroying the robot, she goes back to the Main Sector when Adam gives her orders to check up on Anthony in Sector Three. In Sector Three, she confronts a giant bug mutant taking Anthony hostage and tries to drop him into a lava pit. She successfully saves him and discusses about Adam’s personality and how he sacrificed his brother’s life to save some civilians before they head off into the Geo-Thermal Power Plant.

Both enter the generator room and finds it to be dark and quiet, when she is approached by Anthony who arrived earlier. He asks her to find the exit as it’s dark and he is attempting to shoot down a monster that is disrupting the operation of the power plant. The bridge leading to the door then gets blocked by rubble and debris caused by a fiery blast from the unknown monster. Adam suggests and authorizes the use of Super Missiles to destroy a conveniently placed wall crack for lava to enter and brighten up the room. As soon as she does, the monster then comes flying to her, revealing that the bunny that evolved into the lizard had then evolved into her long time arch-nemesis Ridley. Scared from her childhood memories (and maybe that fact that she was shocked that he somehow survived the planetary explosion back in Super Metroid), Anthony distracts Ridley to save Samus’ life but at the cost of his own as he gets pushed by Ridley’s tail into the lava below.

Angered at the stupid loss and death of Anthony, Samus quickly gets to her senses and activates the Plasma Beam. Ridley seems to be defeated after a long (but again, super easy – pun not intended) battle when he wakes up and quickly tries to grab Samus to kill her, but fails as she immediately dodges and shoots the Plasma Beam to discourage him from repeating. With Anthony dead and Adam somehow losing communication with Samus, she returns to the Main Sector to find the assasin soldier going to Sector One. Samus soon follows but is stopped by a destroyed bridge that malfunctioned from a wrecked terminal.

Samus authorizes herself to use the Space Jump and Screw Attack, making a cunning remark to Adam. After reaching the other side, Samus takes an elevator to an entirely new area later known as the Bio-Experimental Research Center. Not seeing the soldier anywhere in sight, Samus hacks a super-computer which opens a giant locked door. The female scientist from earlier comes out but begins to run away upon noticing it was Samus who opened the door, but fails as Samus catches up to her. The woman reveals herself as Madeline Bergman, the person mentioned earlier as the head of this “illegal” project.

Feeling safe and secure, Madeline explains to Samus all of the evil plans that the Galactic Federation came up with to increase their military might against intergalactic threats. They planned to use monsters that were always a threat to the federation, genetically modified them, and used them as bio-weapons (kind of like what the Space Pirates did to the Metroids). Some of the “weapons” being used included Metroids and Space Pirates, even though they were all exterminated back in Metroid II and Super Metroid. Upon hearing this, Samus demands how this logically makes sense as she was the one responsible for killing off those two species. Madeline admits that the scientists that healed her while in rehabilitation lied to her about polishing her Varia Suit, as they actually cleaned the suit to extract DNA from the remains of the Metroids and Space Pirates while Samus was unconscious in order to duplicate it to create entirely new clones of them.

In order for the monsters to obey without rebellion, the Galactic Federation created an android that had the mentality and intelligence of Mother Brain that was able command the bio-weapons through telepathy. Madeline explained that MB became berserk one day and vowed to get revenge on all of humanity by using the monsters to her aid. As a result of the failure of the project, the federation then hired a double agent to travel with Adam’s team and kill anybody that found out about the project, including Adam himself. Samus then nick-names this person the “Deleter”, before vowing to protect Madeline from the assassin in the future.

Now knowing everything about the secret project, Samus then leaves Madeline to go to Sector Zero. In a flash-back that could have been part of earlier, she tells Samus that Adam was the true director of the project all along and advises her to investigate Sector Zero, which houses MB and all of the cloned Metroids so that they can be destroyed. She reaches it after exploring a hidden area in Sector Two containing heavy and anti-gravity rooms, and even a battle with Nightmare. Just as she goes inside though, Samus walks quietly to the gate after hearing strange sounds throughout the room. An infant Metroid suddenly appears before getting freezed to death from an ice blaster. Samus gets hit by it as well, knocking her out and temporarily disabling the Varia and Power Suit features, before waking up to realize it was Adam who shot her.

Adam sits with Samus and tells her that although he was involved, he initially disagreed but higher-ranking officers said otherwise. He also said that he was going to detach Sector Zero and make it enter self-destruct mode to kill all Metroids and Mother Brain inside. Samus becomes extremely emotional once again and pleads Adam not to sacrifice himself, but he reassures her that it is the sake for all of galactic civilization because the Metroids are extremely dangerous and he is suspicious that they may have been genetically coded to be resistant to cold temperatures. Adam finally tells Samus to stop Ridley before leaving for Sector Zero as he states that Ridley’s natural ability to command all monsters is just as much of a threat as MB.

Sad and depressed at Adam’s death, Samus quickly heads to the Bio-Experimental Research Center to hunt down Ridley as Adam ordered her to (but not before activating the Gravity Suit after another near-death incident). Upon reaching the room that Madeline Bergman hid in, Samus finds the dead body of James, strongly suggesting that he is the Deleter and that he died of Metroid predation. She goes deeper into the sector to discover a giant room full of emergency chambers. Another scientist is seen in one of them, in which she hides from Samus by closing the small window after expressing fear of the Galactic Federation. The scientist also granted access to another large room, containing a dead corpse of Ridley, suggesting he too was a victim of Metroids.

Out of nowhere, a giant Metroid Queen comes out and tries to eat Samus. She battles the beast and barely defeats it after killing the infant Metroids and destroying her crystallized skull, when the Bottle Ship itself is about to crash into Galactic Federation HQ. However, it somehow stops and stays idle in its current position, allowing the two to continue fighting. Samus finally kills the Metroid Queen by releasing a Power Bomb inside its stomach. Upon killing it, the scientist that was hiding earlier runs away. Samus gives chase and tries to persuade that she is an ally. After calming the scientist down, she tells and even proves that she is the real Madeline Bergman and that the other one she met was actually MB all along. After explaining the spark that caused Mother Brain to become insane and the origins of the cloned Ridley, MB herself appears at the door with an ice blaster.

Just as MB is about to shoot Madeline for being deceived, a horde of Galactic Federation troopers come in and start shooting MB. The ice blasts simply make her even more angry, and she then telepathically summons a swarm of monsters to aid her in battle. Samus guards Madeline and proceeds to shoot MB when Madeline screams to stop everybody (even the monsters) from fighting and attempts to use the ice blaster to shoot Samus. A loud voice from nowhere yells, “Fire!”, which commands even more soldiers to appear and take down Mother Brain by shooting her with several bullets. Madeline is sad at her death as she developed a mother-daughter bond with MB. A high ranking officer approaches Samus and asks her to leave the Bottle Ship or become arrested for becoming an outsider simply because all of Adam’s crew members got killed. A soldier grabs her and tells Samus to leave; however, she hears a familiar voice, revealing it to be Anthony all along – he admits that he survived Ridley’s attack and even stopped the Bottle Ship from crashing which would have allowed MB to win. Samus calls Anthony and Madeline Bergman to come with her, leaving the depths of outer space in her gun-ship to head to the Galactic Federation HQ.

According to many critics and haters, Metroid: Other M has a terrible plot that showcases the worst character development of Samus imaginable. Yes, her personality is extremely off and over-exaggerated compared to all other Metroid games, but after experiencing many traumatizing and strange events in Metroid II: Return of Samus and Super Metroid – and even developing a strong bond with an  infant Metroid that she was set out to kill that ironically saved her life by sacrificing its own, it’s more than possible. Many people assume that Samus is a bad-ass bounty hunter that can confront anything and nothing more, but if that was the case, why would she have saved that infant Metroid back in Super Metroid? Also, the plot itself, while not written well and leaves many confusions and plot-holes, is still acceptable and much better than other plot driven games such as the infamous Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 or Shadow The Hedgehog.

Cinematics in this game look extremely amazing, much higher quality, and more action-packed than before. Thanks to Team Ninja and their huge collaboration with several different movie/animation/CGI studios, Other M has mind-blowing CGI cutscenes that puts even the PS3 and Xbox 360’s HD graphics to shame. Other cutscenes that are in-game and not pre-rendered still look great and manage to present the game’s excellent graphics, textures, and character models. Speaking of graphics, the animation is much better than the Prime games as it feels and looks faster, smoother, and more realistic. The animations are superior to the slower and clunky animations of older games and aren’t just limited to cutscenes.

Voice-acting makes a return from the Metroid Prime Trilogy, specifically Metroid Prime 3: Corruption; however, it’s not as great and may seem to be very underwhelming. Characters sound forced to say awkward lines, express too much or too little emotion, or just sounds ridiculous with cheesy/corny phrases and obvious observations. It fails in comparison to Corruption, as the voice-acting is average for even a video game and nothing special. The script itself is also a bit mediocre, as many lines do not sound like they fit with the characters or in a Metroid game and most of the lines actually come from Samus’ monologues showcasing her thoughts and character development (these are the best and ironic since they are just monologues and she sounds like a robot). Though Other M strives to be plot heavy, it still lacks in quality when compared to the plot of the Metroid Prime games before it, especially since the trilogy had back-stories and lore to make up for the lack of cinematic cutscenes.

The graphics in this game are absolutely gorgeous and improve on the already appealing graphics seen in Corruption. It’s so high-quality that it looks just like any typical game on the PS3 or the Xbox 360, and shows just what the Nintendo Wii is capable of by pushing the hardware to its absolute limits – hell, they even used a dual-layer disc just for Other M despite not having a huge amount of blocks or compressed data. Although not as visually appealing as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Sonic Colors, or Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it’s still one of the best looking games on the Wii because of the efforts and reputation that Team Ninja put to developing Other M. What this game lacks in gameplay makes up for the graphics.

Team Ninja did a great job on creating high resolution textures that are extremely detailed and realistic. Some textures were specifically rendered to look more blurry or focused than others in order to fit with the different environments within the game’s settings. Since Metroid: Other M uses a graphics engine that is a mix of both cartoon and realism, it’s hard to determine whether the textures match it well. And because only the CGI cutscenes match the CG illustrations and artwork, the textures aren’t the best either when compared to the cinematics.

Metroid: Other M runs at 480p standard definition and rendered at a full 60 FPS. As expected for a game with shooting elements, Other M’s graphics become upscaled and enhanced to its true quality. It especially helps during the first person perspective and the fights with large groups of enemies in third person perspective, as it makes it easier to see and faster to react to the movements and attacks of enemies and bosses. The game really takes advantage of the high resolution and frame-rate as the camera frequently zooms in and out that focus or blur the textures, and there are even quick-time events throughout the game requiring fast movement and precision.

Samus and company are rendered well in the game and imitate the pre-rendered models accurately. Models are detailed and smooth, being less jaggy, blurry, and inaccurate than models rendered in the Prime games. They even went the extra mile by creating new suit models for Samus and the troopers for the Galactic Federation, as they look more futuristic and militaresque than the suits in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Corruption. What is a minor let down for the models though is that all of the suit models are the exact same and simply just color palette swaps for Samus. The Gravity Suit specifically is just a purple growing aura of light that surrounds Samus’ suit and entire visor to magenta. Other suits that were not featured in Super Metroid do not come back, nor is there any new suit upgrade that Samus can acquire.

Lighting is properly done and reflects the atmosphere of different sectors. Shadow and bloom effects enhance the lighting and does the same for mood as well. While some areas tend to get too dark or too bright, it’s perfectly acceptable as bright environments consist of volcanic and arctic areas, while dark environments consist of underground caves and rooms in the Main Sector. From a graphical view-point, Metroid: Other M overall has excellent graphics with a high polygon count, high resolution and frame-rate, high res textures, and diverse lighting effects that make it as good looking as a game with high definition graphics.

Unfortunately, Other M lacks any music at all, let alone have good music. Many of the rooms and areas throughout the game contains no music at all in the background; it only has multiple sound effects to make it seem like it does. The only music you do hear is during the mini-boss and strong enemy fights, quick-time events or cheap death situations, or boss battles. They are either too generic, too forgettable, or too low-quality to be even considered to be video game music at all.

Those few music compositions that are memorable and awesome sound absolutely amazing. I love listening to Ridley’s Theme and it’s so good and orchestrated well that it puts even the remixed composition in Brawl to shame. The other good music in this game includes the music you hear when you arrive on a new planet frequently used in Corruption, and the modern remix of Samus Aran’s Theme/Super Metroid Prologue. Finally, the infamous Escape Theme (which is a just a variation of Ridley’s Theme) sounds amazing even with the alarm sound.

As mentioned and mentioned before, Other M does offer some replayability value besides collecting the pick-up items. When you beat the game, complete the post-credit content, and collect all 100% items, you will unlock and be able to play the game’s Hard Mode. Similar to the Master Quest and Hero’s Quest seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Skyward Sword, and The Wind Waker HD, you basically play the game all over again (with previous save data deleted) but with a higher difficulty. However, you begin with 100 units of health and 10 missiles and end with that same amount. Sounds easy, but extremely challenging since all pick-up items are removed and you can only rely on concentration and navigation booths to replenish health and ammo.

Another new addition with replayability value is the post-credit gameplay. After beating the game and watching the credits, Samus will go back to the Bottle Ship to retrieve Adam’s helmet in the Main Sector before the Galactic Federation destroys it in a couple days. Since the direct route is blocked, you have to take a longer and indirect route to get there. Thanks to the newly authorized Power Bombs, this is no longer a problem because those locked doors that were vulnerable to Power Bombs (according to Samus’ visor) can now be destroyed and accessed. This leads for some interesting exploration and back-tracking, as many hidden rooms containing pick-up items can be discovered and an entirely new area within the Bottle Ship can be accessed.

What I liked most about this game is that each of the sectors contained its own environment or theme that seperated itself from others. Sure, it may ripped-off of the themes in the NEW! Super Mario Bros. games, but still better than the Prime games (except for the first one) that had different areas that blended in with one another as they had similar environments, themes, and textures – Dark Aether as well as Norion, G.F.S. Valhalla, and G.F.S. Olympus come to mind. Another thing I personally liked were the monologues of Samus that allowed me to directly witness her character development and personality throughout the game’s plot progression. I finally like the controller gimmick, as it allows you to have many different perspectives and play both in third-person and first-person. And although many hated it, I actually loved the authorization mechanic because I don’t have to waste time searching for the item and suit-upgrades and use them from the get-go when I’m allowed to use them.

What I dislike though about this game is that it lacks creativity and innovation, as it feels too much like the past Metroid titles with all the nostalgia it puts in and lacking new ideas that would have improved it. I find that the navigation booths are good for replenishing health and ammo, but terrible for saving progress as the booth placement is just terrible; quitting or dying before can result in data loss. After playing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, I also don’t like how the visor upgrades are gone and that the Grapple Beam is limited to just locomoting instead of using it to absorb/give energy and grab/pull obstacles. This may be nitpicking, but I also dislike the melee combat system, as I find many techniques to be useless at times.

In my opinion, I think and agree that Metroid: Other M is a good game to play – nothing else and nothing more. Although I love playing Other M, there’s no denying how flawed and how difficult it is to ignore them. The benefits certainly do not completely outweigh the flaws, nor is it the other way around. I also wouldn’t think this game is average because it’s far from being horrible. I will admit and state that Metroid: Other M isn’t great, nor shit, nor mediocre, nor average – simply a good game and that’s it.

Having great looking graphics and cinematics, good controls, and being plot-heavy and more story-driven than before, Metroid: Other M succeeds to present the player a good impression and representation of the gameplay experience. But due to it having forgettable and shit music, gimmicky control mechanics, lack of originality/creativity/innovation, and underwhelming gameplay for a Metroid game, Other M fails to strive for excellence and will always remain as a a good but flawed game. Metroid: Other M truly deserves a score of 8.2 out of 10 for being a good game neither crap nor great.