Nintendo NX Revealed as Nintendo Switch!

The time is upon us! Nintendo’s next home console is finally revealed, and its official name is the Nintendo Switch! You can watch the reveal trailer right here.


The biggest reveals for Nintendo’s new console is that, as it was often rumored, it is indeed a hybrid of a home console and a handheld system, which will surely change Nintendo’s game considerably. And as it was also rumored, the games will return to cartridges.

Along with the previously announced Nintendo Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, confirmed games include a new Mario Kart, Splatoon (either a new version or a sequel), an Elder Scrolls title, and a brand new 3D Mario game.

And, believe it or not, it’s still scheduled for a worldwide release this March!

Rio 2 Review

Rio 2

2014’s Rio 2 was an interesting entry in Blue Sky Studio’s animated output. Up until that point, Ice Age was the only one of their films to spawn a franchise with multiple entries. The Ice Age sequels haven’t been particularly memorable, but just how did Rio’s second outing fare?

Well, the short answer is that Rio 2 probably stands on its own better than most of the seemingly endless Ice Age sequels, but it still falls short of its predecessor. Rio 2 isn’t a bad movie, but it is overly familiar, and a bit overstuffed.

The story here is that the rare blue Spix’s macaws Blu (Jessie Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), believed to be the last of their kind in the first film, have now started a family, with three children named Carla, Tiago and Bia. The macaw family lives peacefully in their bird sanctuary in Rio de Janeiro, owned by Blu’s former owner Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio, who are now married.

Admittedly, the film gets off to a pretty good start, with the plot involving Linda and Tulio finding signs of other blue Spix’s macaws living in the Amazon during an exhibition, and seek to find further proof of the species in order to help preserve them and their habitat. Jewel is also eager to find more of her species, and convinces Blu and their children to come along as they fly to the Amazon (Blu uses one of Linda’s GPSs, which he carries via fanny pack).

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that more blue Spix’s macaws are indeed found, but they are found by Blu and Jewel, as the macaws don’t trust humans and wish to hide away. This tribe of macaws is lead by Eduardo (Andy Garcia), who as it turns out is Jewel’s father. As you might expect, Blu and Eduardo often butt heads, seeing as Blu spent 15 years as the pet of a human.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the Amazon, as an illegal logging operation threatens the blue Spix’s macaws habitat, and Blu’s family is unknowingly stalked  by Nigel (Jemaine Clement), the antagonistic cockatoo from the first film who is now flightless, due to the events of that film’s finale.

The setup for everything works well enough, but problems arise when it quickly becomes apparent that there’s just too much going on. Basically all of the side characters from the first Rio manage to find their way into the sequel, and even more new characters are introduced, leading to a small army of subplots that often break the flow of the film.

Rio 2Rio 2 still features a few catchy songs (though like in the first film, they are strangely spread out), and some of the new characters work (Nigel is now accompanied by a poison dart frog who is in love with him, as well as a Chaplin-esque anteater. And Nigel himself seems more comical this time around). The animation is as colorful as ever, with the Amazon setting proving to be a ripe opportunity to dabble in lush scenery and fun animal character designs.

But Rio 2 ultimately stumbles for recycling far too many elements from the first film at the expense of any meaningful differences, and for simply having too much going on than its running time can handle. Some of the new characters (such as a macaw named Roberto, an old flame of Jewel’s and somewhat-rival to Blu) seem completely unnecessary and only detract from the plot. Then we have so many subplots going on that they get lost in the shuffle. The film bounces back and forth between so many different goings-on, that there’s probably just as much filler in the film as there is actual story.

With all that said, I didn’t hate Rio 2. It’s a decent enough film for younger audiences, but it falls into the old sequel trap of wanting more of everything while also calling back to its predecessor that it would probably fail to captivate the older crowd. It could be a lot worse, but it doesn’t even quite reach the same heights as the first Rio, let alone better it.



Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64) Review


Super Smash Bros. quickly became one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. And how could it not? It’s a fighting series where Nintendo’s most beloved characters duke it out with sumo-style rules, and Mario Kart-esque weapons. But after the sequels built so strongly on the series’ formula, going back to the original may come us a slight disappointment. While the 1999 original Super Smash Bros. remains a fun game in its own right, it feels more than a little empty when compared to any of its sequels.

As stated, Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game where – rather than depleting your opponents’ health – the goal is to accumulate enough damage to send them flying off the screen, thus eliminating them. It’s a simple enough setup, but it has proven so much fun that the series has produced some of the most insanely replayable games of all time.

On the downside, much of the depth found in the gameplay wouldn’t arrive until the GameCube sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee. Melee would add more moves, more specials, and tighter mechanics. Brawl would add Final Smashes and some really creative movesets. And the recent Wii U and 3DS editions add depth and polish to pretty much every facet of the gameplay.

By comparison, the N64 original feels barren. Here, the characters only have three special attacks (performed with B, B + up, and B + down), as opposed to the four found in Melee and subsequent titles. Even more notably, the number of standard attacks each character has is incredibly limited. There are no Smash attacks or more intricate moves. You can’t midair dodge, or perform very many fancy combos. You only have a few directional ground and midair attacks, and the aforementioned specials. The gameplay is still fun at its core, but knowing just how much depth the sequels added to the equation, it’s easy to feel that the original Smash Bros. is a bit dated.

On top of that, some of the mechanics also haven’t aged too well. Here, opponents will be sent flying off-stage with relatively little damage. In later entries, opponents usually need to be well above the one-hundred damage mark before you can think about sending them packing. But here, you can defeat enemies after having only dealt about half of that damage. This leaves many battles feeling incredibly short. Another downside is just how slow the characters move. Many people complained that the characters in Brawl moved too slowly, but I might assume those same people hadn’t played the original in a good, long while. Here, the characters move so slowly and jump so floaty it’s hard to complain about Brawl’s movements by comparison.

SSB64On the bright side, the original Super Smash Bros. featured an indisputable roster of deserving characters. From the get-go, players can select Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Yoshi, Samus, Kirby, Fox McCloud and Pikachu, while the secret characters include Luigi, Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon and Ness. It’s an incredibly small roster compared to the sequels, but it also benefits by predating the clones, self-damaging characters, and seemingly random character selections found in later games. Every character here strongly represents Nintendo’s diverse franchises, and you can’t really complain about the the character inclusions (though it is a shame the low memory of the N64 meant that Princess Peach, Bowser and King Dedede were left out of the mix until later entries).

Super Smash Bros. also featured a good number of fun items and a small but creative selection of stages, each one boasting their own gimmicks. There are also some additional modes to be found, though understandably, there’s not nearly as much content as there would be in future installments.

Single player modes are limited to an arcade-style “story mode,” where you battle in a series of fights until you make your way to the Master Hand, and the mini-games Break the Target and Board the Platforms. They aren’t much, and once you’ve played through them to unlock the secret characters, you’ll probably be sticking with the multiplayer battles.

The original Super Smash Bros. is still a fun game, particularly with a full group of four players. But it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as any of its sequels. The game feels prototypical and a bit shallow, and it simply isn’t nearly as fun as Melee, Brawl or the Wii U and 3DS editions. It does hold up better than many of the other multiplayer titles on the N64, however.

If you want to play a more definitive and deep Smash Bros. experience, stick to the Wii U version. But if you simply want to have some old fashioned, multiplayer fun, you could do a whole lot worse.



Mortal Kombat Trilogy (N64) Review


Back in the mid 1990s, Mortal Kombat was all the rage. Its ridiculously violent “Fatalities” made it the subject of controversy, while its stylized combat and esoteric secrets made it the talking point of many gamers. It makes sense then, that during the height of Mortal Kombat mania, the series would see something of a “best of” installment. Released in 1996 on home consoles, Mortal Kombat Trilogy took the foundations of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and added in characters and stages from the previous installments in the series, while also hosting some new characters of its own. But just how well does Mortal Kombat Trilogy hold up?

Well, on the plus side, it’s still very much possible to have some good fun (as well as a bit of frustration) when playing with friends. On the downside, the single player options really don’t feel worth the ridiculous difficulty, and some of the game’s mechanics and characters feel largely unbalanced.

If you want to tackle the game’s single player story mode, be prepared for many controller-throwing moments, as even its “easiest” difficulty is harder than most games’ hard modes. The computer-controlled characters can often counter moves at times that aren’t possible for human players, and each subsequent fight becomes considerably harder than the last. And seeing as all of the secret characters are unlocked via cheat codes, it really makes you wonder why you would even bother going through the story mode other than bragging rights.

Thankfully, the multiplayer options are a bit more fun, with players being able to battle one-on-one, or for two players to have teams of two or three characters battle against each other.

The combat (sorry, Kombat) is still pretty simple. Most characters share the same standard moves, while their special abilities and projectiles are more unique for each character. It’s possible to chain together combos, and it allows for some frantic fighting action.

"You'll probably see this a lot."

“You’ll probably see this a lot.”

Unfortunately, some characters seem to have huge advantages over others, with some characters boasting abilities that make repetition and cheesing way too easy. Sindel, for example, can stun opponents while simultaneously bringing them closer with a screaming ability, and then follow it up with a nearly unblockable series of throws where she grabs the opponents with her prehensile hair. Characters such as Jax can do very little about it, unless you can manage to get close enough to repeatedly spam his own grab attack.

That’s the problem with the combat, despite boasting the possibilities for extravagant combos, Mortal Kombat Trilogy heavily favors spamming abilities to the point of almost rewarding them. It can still be a fun game, but it’s one that is all too easily exploited.

Visually speaking, the game still looks decent. Sure, the digitized actors may not be the most aesthetically pleasing method of video game visuals, but they certainly hold up better than the polygonal blobs of Mortal Kombat 4. And some of the character animations look surprisingly fluid, and the Fatality animations are so gratuitously over-the-top that they can be downright hilarious.

As a whole, Mortal Kombat Trilogy is not the game to go to if you want a smart, deep fighter. But it still can provide a good time with some friends, at least for short bursts of time.


Goldeneye 007 Review


Goldeneye 007 was not only the most acclaimed game in Rare’s illustrious library back when it was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1997, but one of the most revolutionary video games ever made. Few would argue that it’s the most influential licensed video game of all time, as it singlehandedly popularized the idea of multiplayer first-person shooters appearing on home consoles. Simply put, without Goldeneye 007, it’s very likely that the FPS genre wouldn’t have risen to the unparalleled popularity with the likes of Halo and Call of Duty in the decade that followed.

Goldeneye had a solid single player campaign modeled after the James Bond film of the same name, but it was with its multiplayer mode – which was shockingly thrown in development at the last minute – that gave Goldeneye 007 the most praise and its long-standing acclaim. I myself can remember spending countless hours with Goldeneye back in the day.

So how does this legendary title hold up after all these years?

Not very well… at all.

If you go into Goldeneye 007 with knowledge of everything it accomplished, you can see it as the trailblazer it was. And if you’re old enough to have played it back in 1997, you may get a good dose of nostalgia out of it, especially when playing with friends. The sad truth, however, is that its outdated control scheme and ugly visuals really make the game feel like a relic, as opposed to a timeless treasure.

The gameplay would be considered mediocre by today’s standards. Though Goldeneye set the stage for the future of the genre, it can’t help but feel vanilla when compared to more contemporary titles. The fact that so many games have built on its gameplay may make it seem a bit more forgivable that it feels so basic when playing today, but less forgivable is the control scheme.

The sense of control in Goldeneye 007 just feels clunky and stiff. By default, the joystick moves the character, the C buttons look around, A and B cycle through weapons, and Z shoots. In description it may not sound too bad, but in execution it just feels so awkward. Your hands keep scampering around the controller like it’s some Rubik’s Cube-like puzzle.

Then there are the more baffling control options. You press down on the D pad to crouch, but you can’t move while doing it. In order to move while crouched, you have to hold the R button and press the down C button. The controls for crouching and moving feel weird enough, but the fact that you have a whole other means to just crouch without the addition of movement is just unnecessary.

GoldeneyeWorse still is aiming, which you normally do by holding the R button, which locks the character in place so the joystick movements control their crosshairs. Not only is the aiming overly sensitive (with the slightest jolt of the joystick making your character dramatically change focus) but you can’t even do it while crouching. If you press R when crouched, you just stand back up. This leads you to constantly be switching between crouching, standing and aiming even when you only wish to do one of these actions.

It seems like I’ve mentioned the crouching an awful lot, hasn’t it? That’s because crouching seems absolutely vital when playing multiplayer, since it makes you harder to hit, and somehow seems to make your aim slightly more accurate, despite the slower movement. It’s an odd quirk, to be sure. Not necessarily a bad thing in its own right, but the messy controls turn it into something cumbersome.

Now, it is possible to select different control schemes in the game, but they seem even more confusing than the standard controls. Playing Goldeneye again, I was honestly baffled that this was the same game I played so much during my youth. I don’t know how my younger self put up with these controls for so long.

As bad as the controls are, the visuals are equally so. Some would argue that a game from the N64 era’s visuals not holding up doesn’t warrant too harsh of criticism, seeing as that generation was just entering into the third dimension, and things were bound to be experimental. But considering that games like Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Kazooie are still fun to look at despite their obvious age, I don’t feel too bad about saying that Goldeneye’s visuals have aged like milk, and are downright painful to look at.

GoldeneyeAside from the characters looking blocky (the more forgivable side to the visuals’ aging), the environments are often way too dark to see what’s going on. And when you can see, the levels all lack so much visual distinctiveness that you often get lost within all the similarities in the stages. Guns look like tiny, black or silver blobs on the ground, and throwing knives disappear from your sight when thrown (good luck aiming with those suckers).

On the brighter side of things, the musical score by Grant Kirkhope is still pretty darn cool. It really captures the James Bond feel, and a good number of tracks get stuck in your head. It may not reach the iconic heights of Kirkhope’s later Banjo-Kazooie soundtracks, but Goldeneye’s score definitely holds up a great deal better than the rest of the game.

Other highlights include the variety found in the single player campaign (though the experience is still hampered by the controls), and you may get a few nostalgic giggles when playing multiplayer with a few friends.

Goldeneye 007 was never a bad game, but it is a game that has aged very, very badly. Those who played it back in the day who wish to revisit it will probably find themselves severely disappointed, while newcomers may be outright dumbfounded that this was once considered one of the greatest video games of all time.

Yes, Goldeneye 007 was influential, and that can’t be understated. But the FPS genre has provided far superior experiences in the years since. Play it for the memories, if you must. But to pick Goldeneye 007 over something like Overwatch or Team Fortress 2 would be a big misstep.



Wings of Magloryx Review

Wings of Magloryx

*This review first appeared on*

Wings of Magloryx is an indie title on the Wii U released via the Eshop, and sees players take control of a dragon called Magloryx. This fire-breathing behemoth is on a quest to reclaim his five relics that were stolen by a wizard, all while collecting some treasure and kidnapping a few peasants along the way.

It’s certainly a promising concept. After slaying countless dragons in fantasy video games, it’s about time the roles were reversed, and the idea of playing as a dragon and destroying everything in your path sounds like fun. Unfortunately, the game’s execution lacks a whole lot of polish, and the end results leave a lot to be desired.

Gameplay-wise, Wings of Magloryx is simple enough: You travel across five different worlds (a total of twenty-five levels), with each level being a small series of floating islands. The goal of the levels is to either destroy a set amount of towers, or to defeat a boss. Bonus points are received for “rescuing” peasants (we all know Magloryx is really collecting his dinner).

The controls may seem simple at first, with Magloryx’s actions simply consisting of moving and shooting fireballs. But again, things stumble in execution, and the controls end up feeling clunky.

The left joystick moves Magloryx around, which is simple enough, while moving the right stick up and down changes the height in which the dragon takes to the air, and moving it from side to side changes the camera. Additionally, the ZR button is used to shoot fireballs, and pressing down on the right joystick is used to collect treasure and peasants.

Here’s where things get tricky: The camera movement alone is muddled, and using the same joystick to maneuver the camera and Magloryx’s height never feels right. The dragon himself also moves slowly and awkwardly, and shooting fireballs is incredibly inaccurate. Picking up peasants and treasure is the most cumbersome, however. You have to be low enough to the ground for this action to work (a problem in itself, as even the slightest bump to a rock or tree does damage), but even worse is that, half the time, pressing the right joystick doesn’t even seem to work. You have to keep pressing the right joystick until sparkles fly out of the peasants or treasure, and then fly into them to collect them. It just never feels right, and you just wish you could simply fly into the collectibles without the need of any extra button presses.

Another problem occurs when you inevitably bump into the countless “invisible walls” in the game. You would think the boundaries of the stages would coincide with the layout of the environment, but that’s not the case. Often times you’ll be circling around an island trying to eliminate enemies, and then are suddenly stopped dead in your tracks as the words “out of bounds” appear in the middle of the screen. It happens far too often, and it’s hard to figure out the levels when the stage design and technical limitations don’t mesh together.

Something else that really bogs the game down are the constant slow-downs. If even just a couple of enemies are onscreen throwing swords or shooting arrows at you, you can count on the game slowing down to a near halt.

Things are made all the worse through multiple graphical errors. Though the game has decently colorful and fun graphics, you’ll often notice that the destruction animations for the towers rarely work like they’re supposed to. You’ll destroy the entire tower and yet its windows will still be floating in midair. Enemy health bars will also remain onscreen long after the enemies themselves are defeated. And sometimes, you won’t even notice the enemy health dropping at all. You’ll just be bombarding them with fireballs, the enemy will be frozen still, with the fireballs seemingly passing through them, then the enemies will suddenly die. It’s details like this that make the game feel unfinished.

On the bright side of things, the music is pretty enjoyable (if nothing particularly memorable), and the fact that certain levels branch out the world map means you can tackle most stages at your own pace. You can even buy spells with the collected gold to change things up ever-so slightly.

It’s a shame then, that such a fun concept as taking control of a dragon to lay waste to the land ends up feeling so rushed and unpolished. This is an idea that could have produced a fun (if admittedly simple) game. Instead, playing Wings of Magloryx can feel like a chore, and some of the game’s aspects are so unfinished you can’t help but feel that Wings of Magloryx is little more than bargain bin fodder.



Rio Review


2011’s Rio is one of the many animated features from Blue Sky Studios. Blue Sky isn’t exactly known for telling particularly original or daring animated stories (especially if compared to the likes of Pixar), but they have made more than a few fun features, and Rio is one of them. It may not be spectacular, but Rio provides some good entertainment.

The hero of Rio is a blue macaw named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg). Though Blu was born in Brazil, he was taken by smugglers as a chick before he could learn how to fly. Thankfully, Blu is rescued from the smugglers, and ends up as the pet of a spunky librarian named Linda (Leslie Mann), who lives in Minnesota.

Blu lives a happy life with Linda, though being a pampered pet, he still never gets around to learning how to fly. But Blu’s life is thrown a curveball when a Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio comes to town, and informs Linda that he has tracked down Blu, as he is the last known male blue macaw. Tulio’s aviary in Rio de Janeiro houses one of the few remaining female blue macaws, so Linda and Tulio come to an agreement to bring Blu to the aviary so that he can mate with the female and preserve their species.

When Blu meets his would-be mate, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), it turns out that love is a lot harder than simply being paired up together. Jewel is determined to escape from the aviary, and wants nothing to do with humans, or Blu. But things are made more complicated when a band of smugglers, along with their dastardly cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement), kidnap Blu and Jewel from the aviary. Though Blu and Jewel manage to escape, they are chained together, with Blu’s inability to fly proving to be a recurring dilemma.

Thus, Blu and Jewel set out to find a way to break the chain, with Blu hoping to get back to Linda and Jewel wishing to return to the wild. Meanwhile, Linda and Tulio are out searching for the bird duo, as are Nigel and the smugglers.

RioIt’s a very simple, basic plot, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to predict where it ends up, but it provides some solid fun. That’s really all this movie is trying to be, fun. It doesn’t attempt to tell a deep story, and it doesn’t really boast the usual messages in its narrative like most animated family films (except perhaps overcoming your fears, which comes into play with Blu’s flight problems). But if you’re just looking to watch an animated film that provides some good entertainment value, you could do a lot worse than Rio.

The voice work is also pretty well done from the actors, and there are even some fun musical numbers in the film (though their sparseness is questionable. If you’re gunning to make an animated musical you should just go all out with it). But perhaps the best highlight of the film is the animation itself.

RioRio is a vibrantly colorful movie, and it does a great job at combining cartoonish and realistic elements in its setting and environments. The character designs are also pleasing, with the various birds (and other animals) once again successfully replicating their real world counterparts while also being exaggeratedly animated. Even the human characters (often a more tricky subject) stand out for being more caricatured, instead of replicating realistic traits, thus avoiding any creepy “fake” qualities that often arise when trying to animate characters too realistically.

In the end, Rio is not the movie to turn to when you’re looking for an animated classic, but it is the kind of movie both kids or adults could watch and be entertained by it. What it lacks in depth and originality it makes up for with beautiful animation and a well-paced plot.