Twilight Princess VS. Skyward Sword: Comparison Review

Since I haven’t really written any reviews in over a year, I’ve decided to write these special kinds of reviews to help me practice. These comparison reviews are something I wanted to do years ago but felt that it was stupid and gimmicky…until now. Lots of the games I will compare to are games I’ve reviewed before, games I’ve considered but didn’t review, and games I will review in the future. Now, to make these reviews as short as possible – as I am reviewing two games simultaneously – I will avoid including any major spoilers like I did with all of my normal reviews.

Today we’re going to compare two iconic Zelda games that came out for the Nintendo Wii within its 6 year life span. While the former did have subsequent releases on the Nintendo Game-Cube and WiiU, I will only be analyzing the Wii version as that’s the one I’ve played. It would also be pretty unfair to compare the superior WiiU HD port to Skyward Sword so there’s that too. As you may or may not know, I bought both of these game at Wal-Mart back in 2011 and 2013 respectively during sales. These two games made me use my brain instead of reflexes to overcome challenges.


Motion-Controls (TP 1 – 0 SS)

Twilight Princess – One of the first games on the Wii to take advantage of the motion controls was in fact this Zelda installment. Instead of using the analog sticks to aim and the face buttons to use the sword and shield, aiming was assigned to the Wii Remote sensor and attacking was to both the Nunchuk and Wiimote’s accelerometers respectively. These two innovations allowed aiming to be much faster, sensitive, and accurate than traditional gamepad; along with adding realism to the combat system and reducing the symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome.

So this definitley made Twilight Princess more fun and realistic than previous games in the franchise. Sadly, the aiming still pales in comparison to keyboard and mouse for PC gaming and simply shaking the Wiimote & Nunchuk were sufficient. It wasn’t realistic to the point where you actually had to swing the controllers as if you were holding actual medieval weapons. As mentioned before, the controllers only have accelerometers built in, which their motion capabilities are inferior to gyroscopes later used in Wii Motion Plus and the Wiii Remote Plus several years after.

Skyward Sword – Originally this game wasn’t supposed to use motion controls at all until Miyamoto was convinced to take advantage of the Wii Motion Plus. Unlike with Twilight Princess, you actually have to move your controllers the way you would with real weapons. This made it much more fun and realistic, although unfortunately it turned a lot of gamers off from playing Skyward Sword. In fact, it feels like I’m playing Prime 3 with all the puzzles that force you to perform motion commands. The community is mixed with this one as some hate it while others love it.

What ruined the motion controls for me and so many others was the fact that the sensitivity and calibration was so fucking horrible. After probably a few dozen minutes or so, the motion controls and sensor won’t respond which then you are forced to pause and then recalibrate the Wii Motion Plus. When you’re aiming, you literally have to point the Wiimote at the center of the screen, otherwise it won’t work properly even with recalibration! To be fair, you can just swing your Wiimote vertically a few times to instantly recalibrate it based on the advice of a NPC early on.

Ah yes, forgot to elaborate on solving the puzzles with the motion controls. In Twilight Princess, it was just like previous Zelda games where you use the control sticks and buttons to solve them. But this time around, most of them require motion controls which make it feel as gimmicky as Prime 3 but with unresponsive controls. It’s not just the puzzles, but the enemies and even bosses force you to use the motion controls whether you like it or not. If you suck at using motion controls or hate the concept, then just avoid this game and skip to Wind Waker HD or Breath of the Wild.

Verdict – Although the latter was more creative with the motion based controls by fully utilizing the Wii Motion Plus, I still have to conclude that Twilight Princess is overall superior. These controls are nothing more than a gimmick and a cool concept that Nintendo experimented with but didn’t keep as proven with BOTW. I don’t have to constantly recalibrate nor do am I constantly forced to use them to beat puzzles and bosses in Twilight Princess. In theory shaking is stupid, but in practice I never found it be lame nor gimmicky…oh, and the aiming was much better too.

Graphics (TP 2 – SS 0)

Twilight Princess – When this game was still green (pun intended), the graphics were considered to be very realistic and detailed for its generation. However, like with most older games, it sadly isn’t as aesthetically appealing as it was over a decade ago. Of course, the Wii version is what we’re reviewing and looks better than the Game-Cube port as it supports 16:9 widescreen support along with slightly better lighting and textures. I have to agree that the models, even to this day, are very accurate and look very good even after all these years…for the most part.

What sucks about Twilight Princess is that it suffers from very low resolution textures, something that past 3D Zelda games suffered except Wind Waker. They are realistic and detailed, but take a closer look, and some of them are pre-rendered images flattened on to a 2D surface rather than actual 3D polygons of in-game textures. I would also complain of it only running at 30 fps but consoles have different standards than PC gaming does. It’s consistent for the most part except when Link performs a spin attack to simultaneously defeat many enemies surrounding him.

The style of the graphics were made to resemble Ocarina of Time while also having its own twilight feeling to it. It does make the world of Hyrule look beautiful, and having different weather and times of day is an added bonus too. Unfortunately, majority of the colors are browns, greens, and grays; that is, by trying to resemble real life, the atmosphere mostly looks ugly, dull, and boring. After over a decade – yes time passes so fast – the graphics haven’t aged too well but it’s still tolerable. If you get the Wii U port or upscale to progressive scan, then it looks much much better.

Skyward Sword – Nintendo’s approach to this game’s art style was to make it look like a hybrid between the realism of Twilight Princess and cartoonish feel of Wind Waker. But had they only made it just cel-shaded, instead of trying to incorporate multiple art styles, I wouldn’t criticize the aesthetics as I do now. Sure, the polygon count, models, and lighting have improved, but the textures and resolution haven’t changed a lot. Skyward Sword still suffers from low resolution textures and for a game that came out in 2011 you’d expect it be at least 720p or as good as Brawl or Colors did.

In terms of aging, I’d have to say Skyward Sword aged a little better but only because of its cel shaded art style. In fact, I believe one of the main reasons that Nintendo made it that way was because they knew the Wii was limited with its weak hardware. The different art styles, such as background objects and landmarks looking like paintings come to life and character/weapon models that resemble the look of Twilight Princess, do look good but sadly aren’t combined well enough. Also the fact that the characters look nothing like they did in the artwork and the trailers.

Verdict – Although cel-shaded graphics do look better and were chosen in Wind Waker HD and Breath of the Wild, I still have to go with Twilight Princess. Nintendo did their best for TP to fully utilize the hardware to make the graphics look their best. TP was ahead of its time as it looked like a game from 2007, while Skyward Sword only looks slightly better with minor improvements. Since it failed to make many different styles work; only the polygon count, atmosphere, and colors improved; models, resolution, and textures look horrible, TP wins again but in terms of graphics.

Atmosphere (TP 2 – SS 1)

Twilight Princess – I kind of already covered this before, but just to recap, Nintendo made TP have a realistic atmosphere similar to Ocarina of Time. They also made it have a dark and horror based atmosphere akin to Majora’s Mask with the whole Twilight realm and introduction of Midna and Zant. It looks so cool to enter those areas as they make them lack very little color and life which the realm is supposed to do, and little effects like the black particles and NPC’s becoming spirits also makes it memorable too. And during evening time in-game, it’s when it looks the most stunning and beautiful.

People may differ and claim that the Twilight realms look ugly and lifeless, but that’s the purpose it serves and the same can be said for Skyward Sword in one aspect too. When you enter the Twilight Realm (like actually different dimension) it does turn you off with so much ugly colors and sad music. But Twilight Princess also got its cheerful and colorful moments like when travelling through Faron Woods  or Hyrule Field. Although to generalize, Twilight Princess does suffer from trying to be too realistic when Zelda games are meant to be seen as medieval fantasy genre.

Skyward Sword – Now you may think I hate the game’s art style, but actually overall I like its cartoony look and being the alter “ego” of its predecessor. There’s just so much life and colors and happiness that it can lift your mood and truly let you escape reality after a long day at work and/or school. Compared to Wind Waker (not HD remake), the cel-shaded art style is even better than it was before and makes the graphics look appealing. The lighting and effects also add to the atmosphere along with the different styles even though its highly questionable at times.

What sucks this time are no longer different times of day and weather conditions with a few exceptions. Those few being that you can only experience day and night in the sky and manually through sleeping instead of it being automatic, along with it raining/thunderstorm during a few boss fights. Characters are also more helpful and alive this time with each different species being unique with their own personalities, rather than only a few characters standing out from the rest like in TP. While the cross between WW and TP wasn’t perfect, it helped make BOTW a masterpiece.

Verdict – It’s very obvious at this point that Skyward Sword has done much better in the atmosphere department than Twilight Princess. The predecessor tried too hard to seem very realistic, and although it was praised back then, looking back it aged badly as Zelda doesn’t take place in the real world. Had they added other elements to soften the atmosphere to balance out the darkness and sadness then it would be amazing. Yes, Skyward Sword isn’t completely perfect as it lacks different weather and times of day unless in some events, but still, it pulled it off better by taking risks.

Exploration (TP 3 – SS 1)

Twilight Princess – Known for having the largest overworld of any Zelda game (until Breath of the Wild surpassed TP), there was just so much to do and so many places to explore! Unlike in OOT and MM where every area was interconnected by Hyrule Field, Twilight Princess tends to have a more non-linear and open world approach. Emulating the exploration of Wind Waker, you were able to enter new towns and regions through multiple routes with Hyrule Field itself covering the entire kingdom instead of one grassy area. This makes it memorable and innovative even to this day.

The different areas themselves tend to be bigger with more space and small tight places to explore and find hidden treasures. What is the main benefit is also its main drawback, a double edged sword, as many of these open areas are too large and empty like barren wastelands. Still, its just breathtaking to see how gorgeous, detailed, and huge the world of Hyrule is in TP. Even places that aren’t open ended try to be non-linear as possible by resembling mazes and labyrinths so it doesn’t suffer like older Zelda games. If Nintendo had added more interactions and details then it would’ve been better.

Without spoiling too much, Twilight Princess also has the largest diversity of different geographic regions in any Zelda game…again except for BOTW. In addition to the woods, field, volcano, lake, and desert, there’s also snowy arctic mountain, underground caves, abandoned ruins, and even able to visit the past, sky, and another dimension! Usually, it’s only the dungeons that are this diverse but I’m glad that Nintendo made Hyrule excel in bot quality and quantity. Despite this though, you still have to backtrack to older areas later in the game while the newer areas are only explored once which sucks.

Skyward Sword – Although Skyloft and the entire sky may seem open-ended and non-linear, it is even worse than the emptiness and size of TP’s Hyrule Field. Literally you’re just flying with your bird creature through endless clouds and maybe a few…asteroids here and there that let you increase speed momentarily. There are some other islands but mostly for playing mini-games or only visiting them once or twice for the story. You might as well just hang out in the town, which sadly, is the only place that is worth exploring besides the dungeons in this installment.

Down below the sky are three main regions that have other sub regions unlocked later on in the game. But they’re so basic and generic it’s laughable and seems like an insult to Twilight Princess and other predecessors. The three areas are (without spoilers): forest, volcano, and desert, along with river/lake, interior of volcano, dried up sea now quicksand, and some gorge/valley area. You can also visit an alternate dimension similar to the Twilight Realm except even more lame and repetitive. So no tundra mountain, no haunted settlement, no underground caves, none of those.

Now that isn’t even the worse part of Skyward Sword – it’s actually the exploration and progression parts that are. The linearity (if that’s even a word) is so high that it feels like the game assumes we’ve never played any Zelda game before. Majority of the routes you takes are small long pathways with no alternate places to explore and very few open ended areas. When they’re are open areas, it’s just like the sky, or the game doesn’t allow you to freely explore because it thinks you’re a baby. Oh, and for some reason so many dungeon-like puzzles are added outside of the dungeons themselves.

Verdict – It’s very obvious even before I compared this category between these games which one was superior to the other. I understand that with Skyward Sword, they were trying to appeal to as much people as possible since this was an exclusive Wii title and motion controls were trendy back then. However, only Zelda fans and those into adventure games were the majority of consumers that bought it, so I don’t understand what went inside Nintendo’s minds when they thought going one step backwards with the exploration was good when that’s what made Zelda iconic.

Dungeon Design (TP 3 – SS 2)

Twilight Princess – Many of the dungeons in TP take inspirations from OOT and MM by combining old concepts with slightly new ones. This gives a sense of nostalgia for older Zelda fans but doesn’t seem too repetitive as it has its own unique puzzles, enemies, items, and bosses. The first three dungeons are the easiest and probably the most lame (no offense, they’re still fun) compared to the later ones you encounter. Later on is when the dungeons become much more innovative with design and creative with puzzles and enemies. Overall they’re not very gimmicky nor are they same old boring shit.

Sadly, TP still suffers from only having items being used in their respective dungeons and never again until the last dungeon. Some puzzles and mini-bosses tend to be ripped off or inspired heavily by older Zelda entries which can turn some off. Unfortunately, I’m going to hold my promise of keeping the review as spoiler free as possible so I won’t mention specific dungeons and concepts that I enjoyed or disliked. Twilight Princess does have some of the best dungeons in any Zelda game, although it would’ve been better if the puzzles took more advantage of the Wii’s motion controls.

Skyward Sword – Unlike its predecessors, almost all the dungeons are very new and unique in its own way without ripping off from past games. Puzzles and enemies (sometimes even mini-bosses) do get repeated in future dungeons but they are slightly changed so to give extra challenge and prevent repetition. Skyward Sword makes good use of the Wii Motion Plus, so while enemies, puzzles, and bosses do seem gimmicky, it’s actually really cool once you adapt to the game’s dungeon design. Sadly, the first three dungeons range from mediocre to decent while later ones being awesome.

Taking risks paid off as the later dungeons take place in settings you’d never imagine would work, such as an abandoned pirate ship or Buddhist-style temple. Such designs make use of the new environments by making the rooms and routes different from traditional dungeons. This can make navigation more confusing and unpredictable but much more fun and interesting. There also exist what I call “mini-dungeons” or areas that resemble dungeons but don’t technically qualify as them. Those are pretty cool and better than doing stupid fetch quests as mandatory for progression.

This time around, they added lots of hidden paths and rooms that aren’t obvious even when looking at the maps. These can either lead to essential items and puzzles or can reward you with hidden goodies. Oh right, and getting to the boss requires you insert some kind of jigsaw thingie making use of the motion controls and not as boring as simply putting in a giant key to open the final door. Some dungeons lack mini-bosses or may have several of them to mix up the formula a bit which is cool too. Each dungeon also has its own “gimmick” that doesn’t always require items to use.

Verdict – At first I thought that both Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword would tie for this category but then after refreshing my memory I decided otherwise. Yes, both games have poor early dungeons with later superior dungeons, but the former simply rips off of older games (except for a few) whereas the latter is completely innovative in its own right. Also the fact that the design and progression was very predictable and linear so Skyward Sword has the much better dungeon design. I’m still not going to deny that some of Twilight Princess’ dungeons are superior to SS though.

Combat (TP 3.5 – SS 2.5)

Twilight Princess – Much like its predecessors OOT and WW, TP allows players to utilize the sword and shield as their main arsenal of weapons. Accompanied with those are bombs, arrows, hook-shots, and the like as well as newer items obtained from the dungeons. Defeating enemies is as simple as slashing your sword by repeatedly shaking the Wii Remote while using the shield as a defense. Stronger enemies and bosses require you to dodge and/or counter their attacks before being able to attack them for brief moments when there are openings (and use dungeon items too).

Later on in the game, you’ll be able to use special skills which are essentially advanced sword techniques used to easily take down hordes and bosses later on. Most of them are completely optional but you need to learn two of them to beat the entire game. You can also fight when you’re a wolf but it’s limited to just biting and clawing, although you’re able to have Midna insta-kill enemies within a short range after charging up her attack. Oh, and you can also fight on your horse which is a series first and definitely makes this feel more cinematic as there are some missions requiring Epona.

Skyward Sword – With the Wii Motion Plus as the main feature, players now have to actually swing the sword in different directions equivalent to real life sword-fighting. Enemies can no longer be easily killed by swinging your controller like a baby’s toy as that will just get you killed. Also, the shield itself can break after taking enough hits so be sure to take advantage of the shield bash, which allows you to push back enemies and their attacks to give you an opportunity to strike back. Many stronger enemies and bosses force you to strategically fight with the sword and shield.

Unfortunately, there are no advanced sword techniques and most of the dungeon items aside from bombs and arrows are used for puzzles and travelling. The stupid red bird also doesn’t allow you to fight enemies other than some weird diving attack, and it’s really hard to hit enemies unless you’re up close in the sky. Still, I’d say the combat overall is better since it’s not slash a few times or wait for opening and then attack like in past Zelda games. You can also charge up a special attack with your sword that shoots a beam of light to damage and later on kill common enemies.

Verdict – Honestly, I would have to say it’s a tie for this category since both Zelda games make up for what it lacks in the other. I do find the sword fighting in Skyward Sword vastly superior but Twilight Princess is better in every other way. However, since Twilight Princess is too easy (more on that later) I wouldn’t really declare the combat being completely superior to Skyward Sword either. I’ll decide whether to give both these games half a point each or not give them any at all later in this comparison review, but for now, both of these games tie when it comes to combat.

Story Progression (TP 4.5 – SS 2.5)

Twilight Princess – Depending on your preferences, you’ll either love the long introduction or prologue of this game or hate it completely. You have to spend at least an hour before making it to your first dungeon, and the first three dungeons are delayed by Twilight Realm, missions that feel like errands and mini-boss fights, and long cinematic cutscenes. Right about halfway, players find out who the true main villain is – Ganandorf – along with what to do for the next few dungeons. And the story takes a backseat until near the end but is replaced with sidequests locked in the beginning.

In terms of the plot itself without spoiling, I’d have to say Nintendo tried very hard to make it a story driven game and was mostly successful. I say mostly because they sort of rushed it near the end, which although was epic, had worse pacing than the prologue which was dragged on for too long. I dislike how the story virtually dies out in the later half of the game but just like Majora’s Mask, the side quests do reveal a lot about the NPC’s and makes you care about the people of Hyrule that you’re protecting. If the pacing and distribution of the story was balanced out then TP would be golden.

Skyward Sword – What the hell is wrong with Nintendo trying to emulate TP’s progression into this installment but make it worse? I have to spend at least an hour in the town before even attempting to gain access to the land below the sky. Even then, expect to spend 1-2 hours just reaching the first dungeon. Aside from the beginning, halfway point, and end, all other parts of the plot aren’t very cinematic and feel like an video game plot. Instead of going on errands, you have to do stupid missions like fetch quests or “helping” NPC’s by backtracking or travelling a lot.

Yeah, they really dragged on the story with this one as it feels like just when it’s almost about to finish, plot twist or stupidity happens and the story continues. You have to fight a certain boss multiple times which annoys lots of people, although I find it as a guilty pleasure since it doesn’t piss me off. After completing each dungeon, it’s literally the same thing where you almost meet up with Zelda only for her to leave you, or you’re able to complete your objectives with Fi dancing and singing. I would tell you about the plot but then that breaks my rule of avoiding in-game spoilers.

Verdict – Ok I don’t even have to tell you which game has better plot progression as it’s so obvious by now. Neither of them have good progression (they both have amazing plots but that’s another debate) so it’s all about which one has the lesser flaws. I hope to the three goddesses of Hyrule that when I play Breath of the Wild on the Wii U in the far future, that it better not repeat the mistakes of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. I understand with Twilight Princess trying so hard to be Ocarina of Time 2.0, but seriously, why is Skyward Sword copying so much off of TP if it didn’t go so well?

Music & Sound (TP 4.5 – SS 3.5)

Twilight Princess – As always, Zelda never fails to deliver with its memorable and awesome soundtrack, which unsurprisingly, has many remixes of old tracks to please older Zelda fans. Despite having orchestrated music in a few trailers, the actual game itself failed to have any (but it did have some that sounded like it). This isn’t to undermine the already fantastic music, in which even newer Zelda games can’t fully surpass…unless they’re orchestrated. TP uses as much instruments and genres as possible to make the soundtrack very catchy and diverse.

Unlike with most of Nintendo’s games, the music presented in Twilight Princess tends to “atmospheric” as to not distract the player. It fits well into the background and blends in with the white noise of the environment that Link explores. Only boss fights, side quests, and specific missions have music in the traditional sense which intensifies the gameplay to make it more epic. Besides lacking orchestrated music, Twilight Princess tends to reuse a lot of sound pieces and those from older Zelda games. Sometimes it’s better to come up with new music instead of reusing it over and over again.

Skyward Sword – For the first time since the Mario Galaxy games, SS features a full on orchestrated soundtrack! Early pre-orders and editions of this game came with an album with nostalgic pieces remastered into orchestrated soundtrack to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Zelda. Not only has the music significantly improved with orchestrated music but also with innovative and “lively” music that isn’t atmospheric. On top of it, the sound quality has upgraded since it was built for the Wii instead of being a Game-Cube title ported over to the Wii with little graphical optimization.

Quality over quantity is strong with this installment because while most entries are forgotten, the few that stand out surpass Zelda games that came before it. The epic music isn’t limited just to boss fights this time – even dungeons and geographic regions also have beautiful music that is a bit distracting but well composed nonetheless. I thought the ending credits theme for Twilight Princess was awesome, but the credits for Skyward Sword blew me away and my expectations. I hope that when I come to play Breath of the Wild, the soundtrack is good in both quality and quantity.

Verdict – This is also another obvious match between these two Zelda games, as it’s clearly known that Skyward Sword is superior to Twilight Princess with music. I was going to originally also analyze and critique the voice acting, but both games don’t have any acting except for Link’s side chick (Midna and Fi) who both speak gibberish. Also the fact that TP’s sound quality was mediocre since it was a Game-Cube port. I really don’t have much else to say other than the fact that this comparison review may result in a tie so I’m gonna have to make a tiebreaker real soon if that happens.

Challenge (TP 5 – SS 4)

Twilight Princess – I don’t understand why Nintendo decided to make this Zelda game so freaking easy! Of course, being my first Zelda game that I beat (my first was Wind Waker), I did struggle a lot and often resorted to walkthrough guides but those were only limited to one or two complex puzzles per dungeon. I had no problem defeating the bosses…except that mini-boss in the mansion and Ganondorf…despite having next to no experience and skill. Never did I ever have to resort to using the stronger potions and after acquiring enough Heart Pieces, I didn’t worry about damage.

I did struggle and die a lot while playing in the Twilight Realm, but that’s to be expected for anybody since this was a first in the Zelda franchise. However, actually doing quests were pretty easy and was usually the mini-“bosses” that killed me. The side quests were also all very easy except for a few challenging ones later on in the story. Overall, I didn’t really struggle and find it to be a walk in the park, which is probably why I constantly go back to this and even attempted a few speed runs. Maybe being a title for the Wii, Nintendo decided to dumb it down for the casual audience sadly.

Skyward Sword – Much better than its predecessor, we finally get some decent and even brutal challenge not only from the puzzles but also missions and bosses. Implementing the Wii Motion Plus forces players to move the controllers as if they were actual weapons. Many of these challenges require you to use motion controls, which isn’t simply performing a few easy actions like in Prime: Corruption. Expect later bosses to be almost as hard as what you’d expect in Dark Souls (no joke). Also, instead of losing a quarter of health per average hit, you lose one whole heart!

Oh but wait, being a Wii game Nintendo decided to make this playable by idiots as well. If you’re struggling, you can visit a certain statue in Skyloft and watch very short walkthrough videos. That is probably almost like the game playing itself and defeats the purpose of solving the puzzles with your own brain. You can obviously ignore it but it’s just an insult that Nintendo would ever think of adding this to Zelda. You can also craft or buy specific items to also help you “cheat” at the game if you suck so much. Way to go Nintendo, literally playing the game for people who can’t play themselves.

Verdict – I would’ve chosen Skyward Sword as the victor in this review category, but that feature just made it even worse than Twilight Princess. Yes, you can ignore it although the fact that it’s there in the first place makes the game a joke. At least with TP I had to go online and find a walkthrough guide and read it before attempting to play again. Also, if I did allow Skyward Sword to win this round, both games would tie and I would have to make a tiebreaker anyways. The winner of this category, and this review overall, is none other than The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Nintendo Wii.


After quickly analyzing all the different categories of criticism for both Zelda games without major spoilers, Twilight Princess takes the spot of being superior. It just barely beats Skyward Sword as both games have major benefits and flaws with one another that make them so similar. Ok, this review I began writing in mid August but didn’t finish it until today because I’m lazy and was preparing for university. I’m writing these comparison reviews not only as filler for the PC reviews, but also to help me regain the writing skill and passion that was lost for over a year.

My next few comparison reviews will be Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, and also Super Smash Bros. Brawl & Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I intended on reviewing the most recent console Metroid games (Prime 4 is being developed so sssshhhhh…) however they’re way too different and Prime 3 is clearly better.  I’m also going to edit my first three reviews by changing the formatting and pictures as they’re outdated and some images are missing. Once I begin my PC reviews, I’ll start with Portal 1, Left 4 Dead, and Counter Strike: Source and we’ll go from there.

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Final Destination

Let’s begin this blog delay update by apologizing to specifically my followers for not updating or posting new reviews on this site for several months. Remember that I was in high school before and had to focus my time and effort in passing the exams in order to be accepted into university. Now that I graduated from high school, got accepted into university, and spending my summer doing jack-squat, it’s time to give another update to let you readers know what’s going on in my life. Yes, based on the title, this will be the last update I will be posting on this site.

Well kind of…the true last update will be the third rendering of the “Then & Now” article I post once a year to commemorate my accomplishments. You can access it in the drop-down menu which will be available in late August to early September. I recently published my review for Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and am currently writing my No More Heroes review. Due to time constraints and life circumstances, I unfortunately will not be posting anymore reviews for the Nintendo Wii, so that is the last one. After that is uncertain but here is what I have in mind.

Mentioned before, I will create and publish reviews of systems. The following is a list of systems I will review and is final: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Game-Cube, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii U, Game-Boy Color, Game-Boy Advance, Game-Boy Advance SP, Nintendo DS lite, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS. So that also includes handhelds which you followers should look especially forward to. After all that, I will then go on to review iOS and Android OS, as well as games for mobile and tablet devices. I may or may not review games for Steam/PC but watch for that too.

Instead of writing blog updates to fill in the void between every review, I will now begin to write editorials. I used to do this on my old blog site (which has been discontinued and deactivated for some time now) and I plan to reboot that. I originally wanted to also write news articles about video games but that’s just a waste of time and many gaming networks and internet celebrities already do that. Monster Hunter Tri is taking forever to beat so I can’t review that as much as I honestly wanted to. What a year has this been with all what’s going on in my life!

Since this is the very last blog update (besides the “Then & Now”), I want to make this special. I just want to thank everyone who’s helped me on this long journey, and that includes game developers, gaming networks, gaming YouTubers, WordPress followers, and most importantly, you the readers. I also regret how the site can no longer review video games for hardcore audiences but life’s unfair and I have university to attend to. Before I leave, let me tell you a bit more about my personal life; read carefully, as this and the “Then & Now” will be the last life updates.

This summer has been particularly boring since I no longer have high-school and no vacation to attend to. I tried to find part time job in the past, but due to my experiences and life circumstances, I just gave up. I am still fighting my health issues as I indicated before, and plan to visit the nose specialist and either a psychologist and/or psychiatrist to diagnose and treat my social anxiety. I recently got and am typing on my first ever laptop (previous one was family laptop) and am soon getting my first cellphone. My parents are cheapstakes and distrust me sadly.

In addition, I am officially attending university, though which one for certain I am not too sure (either York or Guelph). Due to my procrastination, I still have to apply for financial aid through government loans, and I never completed the job application process of the military, though they gave me a second chance. They are willing to re-open my file if I visit them personally to start over so I can always work in the reserves as a last resort. Soon I will cease to be a minor, and when that happens, I will finally get the legal and social rights and privileges of an adult.

I’m sick and tired of all my life being treated like a child, being denied rights and privileges, and never having independence. That’s all going to change in university, but unlike others, I have to get the hell out of here as soon as possible. I’ve come up with several brilliant money making methods that will be executed in September. These offer a lot of money but also high risk which I am willing to take for a better future. My parents are the ones that are the root of all my limitations in life, and moving out is the only way so wish me luck on this hard journey.

Of course, how I accomplish all this is private and none of your business. I’m optimistic and a realist simultaneously, so don’t worry about me being foolishly naive about life and society because I’m not. I’ll be extremely careful and private about what I do and what I say which will benefit me in the long run. And that’s all I have to say, which I can’t believe that this update has come to an end. But like with anything, all things good and bad must eventually come to an end. Remember to read my “Then & Now” article once it is complete for the final update to end all blog updates.

A few more things to mention before I finally stop writing blog updates. I of course opted out of reviewing SimCity Creator and am currently reviewing No More Heroes as we speak. I will also review the controllers, accessories, and add-ons (i.e., online) of each video game console I plan to review in the future. After the aforementioned reviews are complete, then I will go back and review consoles games again, starting with the Nintendo Game-Cube, then the N64 and Wii U, and then Play-Station. The future is not certain and can change so I hope for the best and see you soon!

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Review

Foreword

Okay, I know I haven’t been reviewing video games for quite some time, but I’ve been focusing on high school exams to get accepted into university for a brighter future. With that out of the way, let’s get straight into reviewing Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, developed by Sumo Digital and published by Sega for the Windows PC, Mac OSx, Xbox 360, Play-Station 3, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS in 2010. It was also released for iOS and Android systems, being developed by Gameloft and released from 2011 and 2013 respectively. It was meant to serve as a reboot with Sonic racing games, and the indirect sequel to Sega SuperStars Tennis.

I got this game originally for iOS back in 2010, but after watching gameplay footage and video reviews of the more superior titles, I urged to get the console port. I originally wanted the HD port, but since I don’t have such a console, I opted for the Wii port instead. Seeing how the Wii version was similar to the HD ports, besides the graphics and online gameplay, I decided to purchase it (the Wii port usually gets the worst treatment when it comes to multi-platform games.) This was bought along with 4 other games in downtown Toronto during August of 2014, after I was satisfied with what I bought before.

Being a kart racing game, one can correctly assume that Sumo Digital ripped off of Mario Kart with the gameplay (and replacing Nintendo with Sega’s content). Despite this though, the game is still unique in its own way as innovating from traditional racers; taking what worked, leaving behind what doesn’t, and adding new concepts that are well-liked and “safe.” That’s not to say that this game has few flaws, as the aesthetic quality is obviously inferior to the HD ports, and there are many glitches due to Sumo Digital’s inexperience with racing games though nothing major.

Gameplay: 9/10

The goal of playing this game is like any other –  you try to beat others in a race with as much speed and skill as possible. In addition, there’s the drifting/boosting mechanic that lets you take sharp turns without losing speed and to go faster after turning or performing tricks. You can also use items and power-ups to get ahead of other players by attacking them or gaining incredible speed momentarily. The race tracks are unique being different and extremely creative compared to that of conventional racing games, with obstacles, enemies, and hazards to avoid.

New game mechanics include performing tricks in the air and the different types of vehicles, and the All-Star moves. While you can perform a trick only once in Mario Kart, you can actually perform many here with good timing. The distance and air time determines the amount, usually between one to three and rarely four to five, with smaller characters performing more. All-Star moves are essentially like the Smash Ball from Brawl and Smash 4; you undergo a transformation or acquire a powerful item unique to each character enabling high speed, invincibility, and strong attacks for a short period of time.

Just like in Mario Kart Wii, you can choose either racing with a kart or bike, but now you can even choose a hovercraft (and a plane and living spaceship LOL). As the name suggests, they do not have wheels , having the best acceleration and handling, being unable to be slowed down by terrain. However, they have mediocre drifting and boosting capabilities. Bikes aren’t that different, except performing a wheelie allows boosting if done successfully; along with being lighter, smaller, and maneuverable than karts, clearly making them superior over other vehicle types.

Sonic & Sega Racing enables compatibility with the Wii Remote (preferably with Wii Wheel), Wiimote + Nunchuk, and the Classic Controller/Pro (sorry Game-Cube fans). The last option (Pro version) is recommended since there are no gimmicky motion-controls, the handles and shoulder/trigger buttons, and the two control sticks offer complete control over the steering. Being good at drifting and boosting results in winning or losing a race; motion controls are inaccurate while using buttons are imprecise – analog sticks provide both accuracy and precision.

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Steering is done via turning the Wii Remote, pressing the d-pad, or tilting the left control stick; pressing the A or 2 button activates acceleration while the B, 1, or R buttons enable drifting/tricks/brakes/reversing. Pressing the Z, L, or the d-pad activates the item you currently have, while pressing the C, ZL, or ZR buttons gives rear camera view. Tilting the right control stick allows steering the vehicle even when drifting! So while drifting, steering the right analog stick turns the vehicle to go through 180 and 360 degree turns without slowing down (instead of just 90 to 135 degree turns).

I have to conclude that it is vastly superior to Mario Kart, since the more precise controls allow for sharper, faster, and accurate steering and drifting as well as pulling off expert techniques (snaking and fire-hopping). Such controls is why there are courses with tight turns at high speed without issues (*cough* Mario Kart 8 200 CC). Sonic & Sega Racing is more difficult due to the controls, race track design, and overall speed, so newcoming players need to adapt. Unlike Mario Kart, there is virtually no luck-based system and rubber-band AI, but the AI is more intelligent using expert techniques, taking shortcuts, and strategizing with items.

What adds unfair challenge are the collision detection issues due to the inexperience of Sumo Digital. I can’t even begin to recall the thousands (literally) of times I got assaulted by other racers and/or fell through the track because of the poor collision detection – often resulting in losing races with high frustration. It makes racing very difficult and on occasion unplayable for certain track segments; other issues like being stuck in the wall, items not working properly, and the in-game achievements malfunctioning are expected for players too.

Content: 8.8/10

Now the content is strikingly similar to Mario Kart yet still somewhat different, which the game modes serve as a good start. There consists of Grand-Prix, Time-Trials, Single Race, and also Missions for single player; Racing and Battle for multi-player; and all of the above except for Grand Prix and Missions for online. Players can also check game statistics and achievements, adjust in-game settings, view unlocked content, purchase more content, and the like. All these game modes are very self-explanatory included with gimmicks and improvements.

Time-Trials not only lets you race for the best time on a track, but also against your own and a staff ghost simultaneously  – you can also unlock a “Sumo” ghost which is more skilled, enabling three instead of two racers in Time Trials together. It lets you record best lap time instead of track time making it more generous. Mission Mode lets you complete challenges with set conditions not just limited to racing, which includes battling, collecting, drifting…and going through rings. There’s a rank given at the end but not after Grand Prix which is weird. All other game modes are sadly just direct knock-offs of Mario Kart with small modifications.

Being the forgetful person that I am, let me explain some things I missed earlier: the Sega Miles and the Sega Shop. Whenever you complete anything, it nets you points called Sega Miles which calculates your performance. The better you are, the more miles you win, representing in-game currency and experience points. You can then use these points in the shop to but locked content – ranging from characters, music, and race-tracks – instead of having to fulfill set conditions the traditional way, allowing players to progress through the game at their own pace.

Most characters in the game are, you guessed it, from the Sonic franchise though the remaining represent other IP’s (but it’s only one per franchise). We have the following from Sonic IP: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, Dr. Eggman, and Big. Exclusive to the Wii are the Miis, the Xbox 360 has Avatars and Banjo+Kazooie, while DLC for all HD ports offer Metal Sonic. Then there’s Billy Hatcher, Amigo, AiAi , ChuChus, Ulala from Space Channel 5, Jacky & Akira from Virtua Fighter, Opa Opa, Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue, Beat from Jet Set Studio, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, Bonzana Brothers, and finally Alex Kidd for the rest.

Despite the vehicle stats putting characters to similar categories – those excelling in speed and boost against those in acceleration and handling – each racer is still different in vehicle, appearance, weight, and controls. There are no clone characters or vehicles as each racer is tied to their own vehicle, which a blessing and a curse. It’s recommended to have more acceleration and handling than speed and boost, whereas the weight has little effect as Sonic & Sega Racing is skill based and not luck based like Mario Kart.

Honestly, the items is where Sonic & Sega Racing resembles Mario Kart the most, as they’re all direct rip-offs replaced with Sega content. There’s the Red Homing Missiles, Green Boxing Gloves, Rainbow Goo, Confusing Star, Pine Cone Mines, Bubble Shield, Giant Rocket, Speed Shoes, and also the Mega Horn. Of course, there is a variation which you have three times the original, each racer has their own special All-Star move. Those items mirror the Red Shell, Green Shell, Blooper Squid, Bananas, Blue Shell, and Mushrooms. Only the Mega Horn, Confusing Star, and Bubble Shield are original ideas not copied from Mario Kart.

The items are fun to use, add more variety to the race, and best of all are skill-based that is balanced. None of them have the issues associated with Mario Kart; no items are overpowered, all racers are entitled to most items regardless of position, and many stronger power-ups can be countered with the weaker items. Skill is now on your side as it is possible to dodge the effects of any item (excluding the All-Star moves and the Giant Rocket) with enough practice! This bundled with the Ai makes Sonic & Sega Racing more and fair than compared to that of Mario Kart.

Where Sonic & Sega Racing truly shines is the race tracks because of the superior level design, which is creative and innovative, filled with gimmicks that compliment and improve the courses. These stages aren’t just filled straight paths, curves, bumps, hills, and ramps; they include new features that are shuttle loops, half-pipes, twisted and circular turns, open ended sections, multiple pathways, and anti-gravity segments. The non-linearity is something rarely seen but provides exploration, shortcuts, and natural transition blending in with the racing and tracks.

Just the way these courses are designed are not only superb, but also corresponds with that of the theme and franchise it represents creating relevancy. So you’ll see a ramp cleverly disguised as a ramp in an urban city track, or a glass tunnel built underwater to allow racers to travel to another island instead of random set of bridges. It shows that Sumo Digital is being more creative and realistic, rather than just copying Mario Kart with illogical race tracks. Shortcuts and alternate pathways not only allow faster race times, but also gives another perspective and appreciation of the aesthetic appeal of the tracks.

Obstacles, hazards, and enemies are common throughout the game, while “bosses” are rare although these track features should be avoided at all costs to win the race. They obviously relate to the track and franchise they represent, with no newer enemies and hazards originating here but do seem out of place of their location. Proportions and design have changed from past games to accommodate to the racers and tracks in general. Overall, these gimmicks are sadly nothing but lame rip-offs of what’s available in Matio Kart, so don’t expect to be amazed by anything.

Several missions throughout the game take advantage of them and used within the conditions and objectives. You may be required to attack certain enemies, dodge all obstacles, or computer players may slow you down intentionally with items. It’s quite fascinating how something so simple is implemented to serve a complex purpose. Skill is something not needed to dodge and defend as they at most slow you down, but Sumo allowed players to defeat or destroy them by boosting into them. There are a few like that stupid stereo box only avoidable with good timing.

Presentation: 7/10

Because I’m strictly reviewing the Wii port and not all versions, I will refrain from complimenting the graphics of the HD port and instead be much more honest and critical with this port. Sonic & Sega Racing runs at native 480 i SD with an inconsistent and pathetic frame-rate of 30 FPS maximum. You’d think that they would render a racing game at 60 FPS or consistent at solid 30, but all the console ports suffer from this issue. This combined with the glitches sometimes make Sonic & Sega Racing sometimes even more unplayable than Sonic ’06!

Polygon count, lighting, and modelling range from average to good, but I’d have to conclude the graphics engine and low-res textures are atrocious. While the former makes it look close to being HD, the latter mentioned downgrade it to that of the Nintendo Game-Cube, thus demoting it to standard definition graphics. Color is done well with the vibrant colors to give a child-friendly environment and cartoony look, resembling somewhat the CGI models. Many of these complaints excluding the frame rate are only present in the Wii version, with the HD ports looking very very sexy (trust me on this one).

Resolution is also poor with both the textures and screen, with many things looking blurry and ugly to look at. Animation hasn’t changed that much but still awkward; particle and shadow-effects are dull and not realistic enough to be appealing. Many special effects and lighting in the HD ports have been removed to adjust with the limitations of the Wii. These shortcomings are what causes the Wii port to look inferior to the HD ports. This is such wasted potential because it would have looked much better if Sumo Digital tried like Sonic Team did with Sonic Colors.

What’s recycled isn’t just the characters, but also the audio, as literally every single voice clip, sound effect, and music is taken directly from older games. The only exceptions are the CGI intro scene (which is just an extended cut of the E3 trailer), the menu theme, post-racing theme, and the corny yet hilarious racing spectator. He actually comments as the race goes on, making jokes and references to older games to entertain both young and old gamers, making it feel like you’re part of the racing event. Unfortunately, he says the same lines after awhile and he never got credited, thus remaining anonymous to the public (but not to Sega and Sumo Digital).

Of course retro music isn’t necessarily bad, but Sega could’ve at least made remixes to make already good compositions sound even better. Genres range from rock ‘n roll to hip hop to jazz to even techno and much much more. There’s a several dozen songs available, and there are just too many good tracks to list that I find very memorable. Sound quality isn’t what I would say is great but not terrible either for sound effects, but the music and voice is top-notch. Consequently, the aesthetics don’t seem to impress me as it’s downgraded from the HD ports.

Verdict: 8.7/10

Like any Sonic game, Sonic & Sega Racing has an abundant amount of replay value, thanks to several fighters such as the point system, rank performance, racing rules, locked content, and specific game modes. These are all self explanatory and increase the gameplay time manifold; playing it with friends and strangers both locally and online take it to unimaginable scales. Since everything is for fun and no main game objective exists, Sonic & Sega Racing varies with each person, but it usually takes 30 hours offline and at least double of that time online.

I pretty much enjoyed playing this game from start to finish, being amazed in awe with how good racing games can be, if it were more creative and the mistakes were fixed. There was virtually no complaints or frustrations besides the inconsistent frame rate (which I adjusted to) and the collision detection issues. Sonic & Sega Racing was more difficult to play than Mario Kart Wii at first, but it was easy to master and only skill was needed along with speed to win the races. Sumo Digital has definitely earned a new follower and I will look forward to playing the sequel of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on the Nintendo Wii U.

All in all, I’d have to say that Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a fair and fun game that improves and innovates upon Mario Kart DS and Wii.While a lot of ideas and content are unoriginal, it at least builds upon them to prevent it from becoming a game based on luck instead of skill; bad design and rubberband AI; and mediocre controls and aesthetics. Its friendly and simplistic environment immerses players to enjoy it alone or with others having just so much to do. Sometimes the copy is indeed superior to the original unlike what most people would have you believe.

There aren’t exactly any pros and cons that I still have that wasn’t included in the review, but I do say they should innovate more as well as fixing the issues. I would also love to point out how realistic the in-game physics are especially with the momentum. Despite being released in 2010, I still highly recommend gamers interested in vintage games to buy it through online shopping or at an antique shop second-hand. As I keep repeating myself, get Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for a more superior experience and game compared to the likes of Mario Kart DS and Wii.

Final Review Score: 8.4/10

Sonic Colors Review

Foreword

Well my fellow readers, it’s been several months since I’ve published reviews, and I think it’s time to go out of that hibernation state. Sonic Colors is a game that I was ignorant of (despite being a Sonic fan), that I eventually learned of its existence through reviews – whether it be written or videos – and gaming sites in 2011. What influenced me to buy it was the similarities to Sonic Unleashed; the lack of third party games (and in general); and the positive reception, finally getting it in March of 2012.

Almost all of you already know about the history, but I’ll give you a brief synopsis on it anyways. After the atrocity known as Sonic ’06 made the franchise go rock bottom, Sega decided to return its IP to its former glory. First, they developed Sonic Unleashed, though only somewhat of a success. Then came along Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode I, which both received critical acclaim. With fans and critics beginning to re-trust Sega with the series again, would Sonic Colors finally be the game?

Then in 2010 it was finally released, living up to most of its hype. It received positive acclaim again, and some even considered it to be the best since Sonic Adventure 2. Sega brought back the daytime levels from Unleashed, and replaced the godawful werehog levels with more 2D sidescrolling segments, alternate routes, and platforming. Aesthetics are of high quality as usual, the plot was “retconned” to the early days…before Shadow The Hedgehog, and the only gimmicks this time around were the power-ups.

Plot Analysis: 8.0/10

So the story starts off with Sonic and Tails in an amusement park within outer space built by none other than Dr. Eggman “to make up for his past transgressions.” Of course, Sonic doesn’t buy into this scheme, and decides to investigate even further to uncover any evil plots just the day before it opens. Lo and behold, his suspicions are confirmed when he saves an alien from Orbot and Cubot (Eggman’s personal robots) who reveals his plans to Sonic. In reality, the park is really just a set-up to fool people into being ignorant of his true intentions.

The alien (whose name is Yacker) reveals that he comes from a race called Wisps, and his race along with their home planets (disguised as attractions) were dragged “halfway across the universe, ” bound by chains through several different generators. Since Eggman discovered discovered they produce a type of energy in their bodies called “Hyper-Go-On-Power,” he decided to harness it via the energy reactor disguised as the park, in order to hypnotize the citizens of Mobius to do his bidding to aspire for universal domination.

All of this is received by Tail’s alien translator after many humorous attempts at troubleshooting. Sonic goes on his way to destroy all five generators and free the kidnapped Wisps, while exploring and sightseeing the beautiful attractions (okay, the player does that). Once this is done, they all celebrate for their hard work – when suddenly Dr. Eggman claims that Sonic’s efforts were in vain as he already harnessed enough energy to put his plan into effect. However, just as the satellite can activate, Orbot’s missing arm is revealed to be jamming it, causing the entire plan to completely backfire.

Sonic and Tails runs for the exit as the park is being destroyed, only to be stopped by Dr. Eggman in a giant killer robot (that also uses the Hyper-Go-On-Power). Sonic sacrifices himself by letting Tails take the ride back home while he stays to fight (and obviously) defeat the doctor for the 9000th time. Although the reactor collapses upon itself to create a mini-black hole (or purple wormhole), the Wisps save him from his doom by taking him back to Mobius. They all depart back to their regular lives after Tails whines about the Wisps leaving when his translator finally works.

Sonic Team this time decided to go with a simple plot equivalent to that of a children’s cartoon. And it works well, as we all know how tired we are of the long and mediocre plots that plagued the series. It’s aimed towards children, so despite the lame jokes and corny lines, they did their job well with presenting kid-friendly material to their targeted audience. What I find to be a major disappointment is there lacks returning and new characters that could’ve made the plot more developed.

Colors may just be a Wii exclusive (the DS port is both non-canon and a spin-off), the cutscenes rendered in this game are of high quality, almost being a rival of Unleashed (well, not the CGI of course – though Colors also has CGI of its own). Animation and lip syncing are accurate, though the use of certain sound effects is questionable – even if used for comical purposes. Another good thing is that it doesn’t abuse cinematic time by going straight to the point without any plot holes or paradoxes.

Just like the story, the script revolves around comedy, corny jokes, and a simple layout in order to appeal to children. But don’t be fooled, as long time fans can also be entertained with the jokes poking fun to nostalgic references and humor that only adults and youth understand (though not to children…hopefully). This is a good change, since we all know how bad previous Sonic games were, focusing on realism and mature content when the characters are just talking anthropomorphic animals!

Gameplay: 8.0/10

Like in most Sonic games, the goal is to complete the level (called acts) as fast as possible from point A to B. You do this by utilizing traditional mechanics such as the homing attack, spin dash, and light speed dash seen in the Adventure titles; while also taking advantage of newer techniques like the speed boost, drifting, quick-step, and sliding/stomping introduced in Unleashed. At the end, you’ll be given a rank based on your overall performance, which is influenced by factors consisting of time, rings, bonus points, skills, and enemy count.

New to this title are the aerial tricks, double jump, and the jump dash, which are pretty self-explanatory. Power-ups make a return, in the form of Wisps inside capsules, each representing a different color and ability; thus, the game’s name, plot, and gameplay is focused around this one gimmick but it works pretty well. Other than conventional sections like shuttle loops, grind rails, and linear paths, Colors brings back the 2D sidescrolling sections and the quick-step chase sequences from Unleashed, which add more to the gameplay.

The controls is somewhat of a blend of Adventure, Unleashed, and Rush put together. You can play Sonic Colors with either the Wii Remote, Wiimote + Nunchuk, Classic Controller, or also the Game-Cube controller. Many recommend the retro controller for its lack of motion and ergonomic design, although I find the Classic Controller Pro to be great too (since it has handles and improved shoulder buttons). Overall, the controls are very precise and responsive, but at the cost of slippery controls that is a nuisance to inexperienced players.

If you practice often, develop quick thinking/reflexes, and have played Unleashed, the controls should be a breeze. The controls for Sonic is similar to that of a spaceship – control stick to steer, face buttons to use the ship’s main functions, and shoulder buttons to activate special features. Colors puts more of an emphasis on platforming and 2D sidescrolling, so it’s not like you can simply just “boost to win” as Unleashed was heavily criticized for.

Although there are many control styles, I’ll still do my best to explain it. You use the d-pad or control stick to move; A or the 2 button to jump, double jump, spin attack, and perform the homing attack; B or the 1 button speed boost and jump dash; X, Z, or B button to stomp/crouch/slide; and the R or Z button to activate power-ups. Of course, you have to shake the Wii Remote to use the Wisps if using the first two controller variations. What sucks is that you can’t customize it to suit your preferences like in Brawl.

Quite surprisingly, this installment is actually pretty easy; if you only care about beating the game by clearing each level, watching every cutscene, and defeating all bosses, then you can beat it within a few hours. But if you achieve high ranks, find all collectibles, explore every nook and cranny, and complete side quests, then that’s when it’s difficult. However, in general (and to balance it out) though, it’s still easy as there are a surplus of check-points, warning signs over most death traps, on-screen button prompts, hint system, and hazards easy enough for kids to avoid.

Content: 7.4/10

There really isn’t anything to play besides story mode and replaying old levels, except for Sonic Simulator and the Egg Shuttle. In Sonic Simulator, up to two players can participate (simultaneously or alternating)  in 21 different levels inspired by past Sonic games; you can unlock more levels by collecting red star rings and beating three acts for all seven zones unlock the Chaos Emeralds (which brings back Super Sonic). And the Egg Shuttle is sort of like a speed run, in which you attempt to beat all the levels in one run with no extra help as fast as possible.

It’s nice to have multi-player for a change, although the drawbacks outnumber the benefits of Sonic Simulator. Similar to New! Super Mario Bros. Wii, all players share the same screen, so the second player can often die if left behind (though warping is available). Just like in Donkey Kong Country Returns, both players share the same life count, so you better make sure that you work well as a team or you’ll both suffer. Though in my opinion, it’s quite fun and easy with most levels being 2D and the Wisps being used in ways not seen in campaign.

One of the major downsides to Colors is the level design. Sonic Team finally listened to the criticism and their fans by removing all bad gimmicks and different gameplay styles, but as a result had boiled everything down to its basic foundation. More than 80% of the levels are in 2D, which slows down the fast-paced actions we got from Unleashed. The 3D sections are few and just consist of straight linear paths, quick-step sequences, drifting curves and grind rails with little to no hazards, and automated sections such as shuttle loops.

I’m not saying it’s mediocre as said before, they removed what the fans hated. The levels make use of the park and space themes without being a rip-off of Super Mario Galaxy; each act being different from the last and each world feeling alive. Who can forget memorable levels like the hamburger tower, outer space rollercoaster, or even the galactic parade? It also puts a larger emphasis on platforming, bringing Colors somewhat back to its Genesis roots. Each level also has multiple paths and goals which rewards you with hidden goodies and racks up the total score.

Eggman’s Interstellar Amusement Park (as the doctor likes to call it) has 7 different attractions that can be accessed as you progress. The hubworld in Colors is just for visual purposes as you can’t explore it; the park itself is a map which you use the cursor to choose the attractions similar to Unleashed (PS2/Wii ports) and Adventure 2. Each attractions represents a different theme, and resembles the map system of the NSMB games. All the levels are represented by dots connected by lines with landmarks indicating what to expect just like in Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Now let’s talk about the game’s power-ups, or the Wisps, as they are the main focus of the plot and the main gimmicks. It may seem like Sega is just ripping us off and appeal to kids at first. However, the Wisps aren’t forced on you to beat levels (for the most part and are temporary if forced), only mandatory to access hidden routes and collect red star rings. Each of them has a unique ability and can be used strategically in different situations. When you do use them, they’re simple to use, have a time limit, and rack up extra bonus points.

There’s the Cyan Laser Wisp to bounce off walls and use diamonds and optical cables; and the Yellow Drill Wisp to travel underground and underwater at high speeds. The Orange Rocket Wisp to reach high places; Blue Cube Wisp to change blue blocks to blue rings and vice versa; and the Green Hover Wisp to travel over long gaps and perform the light speed dash. Finally we have the Magenta Spike Wisp to maneuver around walls and ceilings and do the spin dash; and the Purple Frenzy Wisp, becoming a Nega-Wisp to eat everything in sight and getting bigger over time.

As you can tell, the Wisps aren’t just situational limited in one use *cough* Mario items. You also have the White Wisps that fills up your boost gauge, thus you can’t just boost whenever you please (whereas you could in Unleashed with rings). Red Star Rings are pretty self explanatory are pretty straightforward, hidden throughout the levels that test your curiosity and skill, since they’re hidden well or difficult to get to. Actually beating the Sonic Simulator grants you the Chaos Emeralds to become Super Sonic in normal levels but disables the Wisps.

For some reason, Sonic Team decided to make this game extremely easy including the enemies and bosses. The homing attack, stomp, and speed boost make it easy enough to make the enemies seem like flies, but they nerfed the bosses by reducing their health, having a repetitive fighting pattern, slow obstacles and attacks, and giving you a power-up (if you’re fast enough). On top of that, the hint system even directly tells you how to defeat each boss; and the second set of bosses is just clones of the first three bosses, but at least the enemies are very diverse.

Presentation: 8.5/10

Before anybody assumes that Colors has bad graphics being a Wii game, then let me prove you wrong. It’s considered by many critics and fans to be one of the best looking Wii games, praising it to have near HD graphics. Upscaling the resolution from 480i to progressive scan makes it look close to Unleashed (and I’m not exaggerating). The models are accurate and detailed, seeing how they based the characters from their appearances in Unleashed – I hear that even the game engine and its physics is taken directly from it too.

Although at 30 FPS and not 60, it’s still consistent and usually never drops unlike in Unleashed; textures are a bit odd looking with the art style being a split between Sonic ’06 and Unleashed. Still, the lighting is done very well, combined with the bright and vibrant colors (pun somewhat intended), giving it the look of a cartoony feel from the Genesis titles. Being in a park, there are many breath-taking environments that take advantage of the graphics and it make feel lively, from Sweet Mountain to Planet Wisp to even Starlight Carnival.

Music is phenomenal with the soundtrack being catchy and memorable, different genres to suit everybody’s tastes, and tunes being relevant. It doesn’t sound as sophisticated as say Sonic Unleashed, since Sega finally stopped trying to make Sonic serious and cool for once which really works. They even made multiple re-mixes for each attraction (and I love all of them, even the 8-bit variations). Who can forget about the orchestral remix of the main theme used in the final boss battle, and is it me or does the generic boss music sound like Silver’s Boss Battle Theme from Sonic ’06?

Nothing much to complain about the sound effects, but the in-game sound is realistic to balance out the goofiness. Sometimes the music drowns out all other sound…especially when you want to listen to the hilarious announcements made by Eggman. I know this happens whenever you speed boost, but they should’ve just sped everything up instead of muffling the noise (on top of adding a rocket sound effect). I forgot to mention voice acting, though it’s not much besides new voice actors (except for Eggman) to rid the series of corny sounding adults that never hit puberty.

Verdict: 8.7/10

Completing the game takes 4 hours; trying to go above and beyond takes 10 ; and doing everything takes over 20. Getting all the red rings is a pain, so make sure you use a walkthrough guide. It’s worth it because Super Sonic is this game’s super easy mode, but they nerfed it by taking out flight (though you can fly a little with the jump dash), and the top speed is only a little faster but you have unlimited speed boost. You have to go back to get the full experience; not just to extend time, but to discover secrets and get rewarded, as opposed to just bragging rights.

Overall, Sonic Colors is a game that truly shows that Sega doesn’t need to implement different gameplay styles, loads of content, and a serious plot to make a decent Sonic game. As being my first 3D Sonic game, I have to say that it left a great impression, and I’ll definitely buy more Sonic titles in the future. Colors is short and sweet by favoring quality over quantity; the fast-paced action mixed with power-ups and exploration makes it addicting; rewarded with extra content for finding secrets; and great aesthetics and plot to compliment all else.

To make up for the cheesy plot, low difficulty, barebones level design, and lack of content, Sonic Team balanced it with amazing aesthetics, humorous script and voice acting, precise controls, superb gameplay, and high replay value. I personally enjoy the little things that add extra charm such as the radio announcements, enemy animations, and backgrounds; however, I dislike the fact that you must adapt to the controls and platforming to truly enjoy Colors. Sonic can definitely talk the talk and walk the walk, deserving to be played by any Wii owner and Sonic fan.

Final Review Score: 8.1/10

Back From The Dead

Alrighty guys, this is Modern Reviewing Nerd here and I am back from my real life and entering my old life on the web. I can’t believe how long it’s been ever since I last updated this site all the way back in September! Just in case you missed out, you can access my “Then & Now” page in the side menu (click the top left icon beside the site name) as I updated that page back in September in case you never knew and thought that I never updated this blog two months ago. It has been updated to celebrate the first year anniversary of this site in which I look back on what led me to the present moment, as well as reflecting my opinions on the games that I reviewed too.

I know that it’s November now and that I skipped several months without actually publishing any reviews. But I’ve been through alot of busy and rough moments so please sympathize with me here. I won’t explain everything because then it will take too much text and waste your time, thus I will give a short summary. First and foremost, when I came back to China, as I said before, I got insomnia and jet lag which disrupted my sleeping patterns and made me feel weak/fatigue. After about a week, I recovered from this and went to school. I then attempted all month to start the volunteer organization, though unfortunately that has came to an end in October as many roadblocks have prevented me from doing so. Now that I’m in grade 12, there’s also a shit ton of homework that I had to deal with.

Outside of school, I would go and volunteer at the food bank and write the article for “Then & Now” page that would keep me busy during the weekends. During October, I decided to continue writing the script for my Kim Jong Un anime thing I kept mentioning and I only finished a couple days ago because of homework again. I don’t know what happened, but something in my mind told me to just join the military now at a young age, as that would unlock the key to my future. I have already considered to join after university, but for some reason I wanted to do so now. However, joining the military is a big commitment and once you enroll, there’s no going back. I did my research and took thought and time before I finally decided that I would join no matter what.

Finally, I also exercised again after neglecting to do so for such a long time, which was actually such a pain at first but now it’s a big joke to me, even at 30 pounds (in each hand). So there you have it, now you know why I never did any reviews for such a long time. With things finally settled down, I think I can now start writing reviews starting tomorrow; I’ll take off an hour of my time everyday just to write the reviews so that I don’t get lazy or fall behind. I don’t volunteer at the food bank anymore which means I have more free time to do whatever I please on the weekend – oh, and I will start to apply to the military this week as well! Probably won’t be able to be finished with my review until near the end of the month, so don’t get frustrated if it gets published at a very late date.

What else did I want to write? Oh yeah, I will be now consistent with writing reviews and promise to be much more active. Although I won’t be publishing multiple reviews, I will be publishing one once every month to increase the quality and sacrifice it for quantity. Any details on what games I’m going to review, are of course, within the “Review Schedule” page so go take a look there. Wait…I forgot to publish another article on my site (why am I so forgetful?) Remember how a couple months back I told some of you that I would write a step-by-step guide on how the whole review writing process works? Yeah, I got lazy and I eventually forgot writing that…with so many things that I have to do (from homework, military, and even hobbies) I probably won’t be publishing it anytime soon.

I guess we have to depart for now and see you near the month’s end when you will certainly be able to read my review of Sonic Colors for the Nintendo Wii (not the DS version). You guys can continue with your daily life and I with mine as you eagerly wait for me to return to my old habit of writing video game reviews again. Before I go, if any of you want to give me fan mail, you can do so at <gordanchoong@gmail.com> but be warned that I do not accept spam, junk mail, hate mail, or viruses and will blacklist and report you if needed. I got a new e-mail in September (or was it October) which means that I no longer have to deal with any stalkers that I personally know anymore.  Okay, for the last time, see you guys soon and off to work I go with the military and reviews!