WackyLands Boss (Review)

“A game that finally lets us fulfill our boyhood fantasies of being fifty feet tall and capable of destroying farming villages.”

WackyLands Boss is a game with an extremely simple premise. In this quirky little game, you are supposed to play as the bad guy. You see, you get to control a character known as “The Boss” which is a essentially a giant ogre that is capable of tearing through the ranks of the “heroes” who come at your boss in waves upon waves in an effort to bring it down.

The gameplay is moderately enjoyable, hovering somewhere around the average mark. You move your boss left and right through stages, using various light and heavy attacks along with a few special attacks that you can perform when your rage bar fills up, which does so whenever you take damage.

I found WackyLands Boss to be fairly fun to play, because it was interesting to be able to play as a screen filling giant for once. I wasn’t really able to connect with the game’s supposed story however, which just involves destroying the countryside merely because you’re one bad dude. The story indicates that heroes are out to stop you, but instead you will just find lots and lots of identical looking characters with identical sound effects rushing at you, and none of them are any bit difficult to dispatch. Even the bosses are frighteningly easy.

The sound really isn’t worth mentioning a whole lot. All sound effects are incredibly generic, and the cries and screams from the heroes you kill or set on fire can be simply annoying at times. The music is pretty low key and just feels like background noise most of the time. The music doesn’t sound bad or anything, it just isn’t immersive at all.

The graphics are without a doubt the best part of this game. Your “boss” is more often than not very goofy looking or even downright cute depending on how you customize it. In between levels, you are able to customize it’s face or buy clothes and weapons for it. There are lots of hilarious combinations that you can make with the eyes and mouth, and I got quite a kick out of making my guy look absolutely thrilled and happy as he squashed knights and set archers on fire.

WackyLands Boss is not a revolutionary game at all, but it has some interesting ideas that aren’t implemented nearly often enough in games these days. The gameplay is pretty decent and certainly has some charm, though it can get repetitive very quickly and can suffer from being far too easy of a game.

Final Score

7.6/10

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Rocket Knight (Review)

“One of the best platformers available on the market today, and one that all fans of the genre must play.”

I can vaguely recall back in the Genesis days when I first played the original Rocket Knight Adventures. The game was lots of fun and very impressive back in the day, and it’s a shame that they game didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved. Climax Studios and Konami look to change this though with Rocket Knight, a remake/sequel that serves as a potential revival of the Rocket Knight series. So is this Rocket Knight reboot a successful reimagining of the Genesis classic? Read on.

Rocket Knight opens with the game’s protagonist, Sparkster, witnessing an army of wolves invading his home nation of Zephyrus, which is where the possums live. The pigs team up with the possums to combat the wolf threat, but really… The story doesn’t matter at all. This is a platformer after all, and does anybody really play platformers for exciting stories? Not really. They are nice additions, but they’re not vital. Thankfully Rocket Knight keeps the story telling to an absolute minimum, just like the good old 16 bit days.

The gameplay in Rocket Knight is quite good, and playing this game immediately brought back slight memories from the original Genesis incarnation. The player controls Sparkster who is equipped with a sword and jetpack. The sword is used to, predictably, slash down foes. The jetpack enables Sparkster to speed across the screen in any direction, plowing through whatever unforunate enemies are in his path. The jetpack can also be used to ricochet off of walls, allowing Sparkster to reach ledges that would be impossible to reach without using the ricochet ability. The jetpack and sword can be combined together to create devastating spin attacks, as well as a “drill attack” which is capable of destroying obstacles later in the game.

Levels are, for the most part, your standard platformer obstacle courses. Keep going left or right, and occasionally up or down. There are many pitfalls and hazards (lava, electric currents, etc.) to avoid, and the everlasting presence of your wolf foes makes some obstacles slightly challenging to get past. Unfortunately, I found that most of Rocket Knight to be overwhelmingly easy. It wasn’t until the final two or three stages that the difficulty decided to spike incredibly, which I found a little bizarre as there was absolutely no difficulty curve in the game at all.

For the sake of variety, there are a few flying stages thrown in as well. These levels play a lot like standard space shooters such as Gradius or R-Type. Players can shoot rapid shots or charge up one powerful shot instead which typically destroys anything in front of Sparkster. These levels are fairly fun, but aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the ground levels.

There are a few boss fights, but they are nothing we haven’t seen before. Run in for an attack when the boss is temporarily unable to attack, bounce explosives back at them, and so forth. Like I said, the boss battles in Rocket Knight are the same battles we’ve gone through many times before. They’re still quite fun in this game though, even if they’re far too predictable and easy to figure out.

The graphics are pretty nice for a budget title. Rocket Knight is not available in physical form, only as a downloadable title off of the Playstation Store, Steam, or XBox Live. There doesn’t seem to be a Wii release, which is unfortunate because I’m sure that Nintendo’s console could easily handle this game. The graphics aren’t very detailed or extravagant, and could very nearly be last generation. Everything as a whole looks very average in Rocket Knight, but the game has a very charming graphical style that makes it easy to forgive the game for having mediocre visuals.

Equally as charming as the graphical style is the game’s music and sound effects. From the very first opening you are treated to a very epic sounding background tune that really sets the scene for an engaging cartoon-like adventure. The sound effects really aren’t anything amazing, but they still somewhat above average and sound decent. I can’t recall being annoyed or turned off by any sound effects, which is certainly a good thing.

So for about half the price of a full retail game, you probably can’t go wrong with Rocket Knight. It emulates Rocket Knight Adventures’ gameplay brilliantly and is a blast to play. The only other platformer I have enjoyed quite as much as this game over the past several years would be New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Yes, I even enjoyed this game more than LittleBigPlanet for the simple fact that this game nails the old school platforming formula far better than anything else on the market today. If you’re a platformer fanatic, then this is definitely a must try for you!

Final Score

8.3/10

Hamsterball (Review)

“A game that has perfected the art of making gamers lose their cool.”

I’ve been putting off reviewing this for quite some time, and I’m not exactly sure why. It may be because I know that a review for this game would inevitably be short since this is a fairly basic game. I’m going to give it a shot though, so here we go. Hamsterball for the Playstation 3.

Released earlier this year in March on the Playstation Store, Hamsterball is game that will try your patience and is also a good indication as to whether or not you need anger management.

In Hamsterball, you simply guide ball-bound hamsters throughout the most frighteningly complicated obstacle courses ever designed. I can only conclude that a mind such as Tim Burton’s could have come up with the maddening levels in this game, as they border on being completely bizarre and difficult to understand.

There are two game modes that you’ll spend a lot of time in, Hustle and Stunt. In Hustle, the camera is behind the hamster (like a racing game) and you have to navigate your little furry friend through obstacle courses that become frustratingly difficult after about the first dozen stages. The problem with this game mode is that you usually can’t even see where you are going, because the course that you follow dips, flips, bends, and turns in every direction you can imagine, and sometimes all you can do is hold the analog stick forward and hope that your hamster will make it through okay.

There are some terrible annoying obstacles in the Hustle stages. Giant spiked claws rain down on the you in several courses, and although they are mechanized and do have a pattern, you’re usually going to fast to even “try” to avoid them.

Hustle mode is where I spent most of my time because there are LOTS of stages and they each only take a minute or two to complete unless you fail to reach the goal before the time runs out. Thankfully there are power-ups littered throughout the stages that extend your time, and in some instances you will find yourself going out of your way to pick these up.

Stunt mode chooses to bring the camera up above the hamster, looking down from an isometric perspective. Stunt levels are generally slower paced and are much more difficult as you have to roll your hamster over twisty platforms that have no barriers along their edges. Sometimes these platforms even disappear and reappear. This is not a glitch and is just something the game will do to frustrate you and rush you through the stages. I know that I’ve used the word many times over in this review, but these platforms are just nothing but frustrating, and they serve little purpose other than to bother you.

Multiplayer mode isn’t terribly exciting. Several players (and/or AI bots) are plunked down onto a small circular playing field and must simply bounce each other off. It’s a lot less fun than it sounds and won’t keep you entertained for too long.

Regarding Hamsterball’s graphics, they are extremely dated and dont have a terrible amount of detail, but they do their job. The hamsters are sort of cute though, and you may find it hard not to chuckle when they do their little dances after you complete stages. If you do not like bright colours, then I suggest you change the colour and contrast settings on your television, because this is perhaps the brightest video game I have ever played. The game is so bright that many off-course objects stand out too much and distract you.

The sound isn’t terribly exciting, either. Hamsterball’s soundtrack and sound effects won’t win any awards, but they do their job well enough and I really don’t have any complaints about them. The tunes are a little catchy and memorable, but in a Saturday morning cartoon theme song sort of way.

Overall, Hamsterball isn’t a bad game by any stretch. Overall, it’s fairly average and you probably won’t spend too much time playing it. The levels are extremely repetitive, and the same graphics and sound repeat often. Unless you’re a huge fan of cute critters or puzzle games, you may want to think twice about laying down the money for this game, as I doubt that this game will be played for much longer than two or three hours in total. On the plus side, this game would be a great party diversion.

Final Score

6/10

Wheel of Fortune (Review)

“About as much fun to play as it is to land on the bankrupt piece in real life.”

After ruining Jeopardy on the Playstation 3, Sony Online Entertainment decided that this was not enough and that they had to destroy another game show. The only show that rivals Jeopardy in terms of popularity is Wheel of Fortune, so it only seemed natural for them to turn their gaze upon it.

Wheel of Fortune was released not long after the disaster that was Jeopardy, which makes me believe that Sony Online Entertainment was working on these two abortions at the same time. As was the case with Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune was priced very cheap. Price says a lot about a game, remember.

Yet again like Jeopardy, upon booting this game up, players are forced to listen to a repetitive looping theme song on all of the game’s menus. This will try your patience as you have to listen to it while you do everything from configure options to making your character.

Character creation is not anything worth mentioning, as it has few good points. Basically, you select a head (there are only a few, and they all represent different ethnic groups), a hair style, and a choice between one or two different shirts, pants, etc. It is very limitedm but this wouldn�t be so bad ifthe characters themselves actually looked alright. The male characters all look like scrawny child molesters, and the female characters all look like they are missing their brains as they stare off into space like idiots.

After creating your bizarrely perma-happy character, it’s time to take to the Wheel of Fortune studio itself, which is well represented except for the fact that there is no Pat Sajak. Hell, Vanna White isn’t even in it. Unforgivable. I can understand not having one of the two hosts in the game, but would really cost that much to obtain to right to feature even just one of them? Vanna White can’t even be that expensive. This is just further evidence that Sony Online Entertainment wanted to make this game as cheaply as they could, and they sacrificed authenticity and immersion by doing so.

Gameplay is a step up from Jeopardy and, aside from the horrible presentation, the game actually plays just like the real television show. Spin the wheel, select your letters, solve when you know what the puzzle is. Wheel of Fortune has been faithfully duplicated in this regard, and you cannot soar through the game using blind luck as you could in Jeopardy. You may still need to buzz in quickly though to beat the lightning quick AI.

The ridiculous cheer animations from Jeopardy are back, probably for the worse. Though the characters don’t engage in this awful cheer too much anymore, it is still around and is very depressing to watch.

As a whole, this is a step up from Jeopardy. Not a massive one, but the game actually models Wheel of Fortune pretty well. While the gameplay isn’t really too bad, everything else is just as lacking as it was in Jeopardy, making it quite hard to even sit through one full game of Wheel of Fortune.

Final Score

4.2/10

Jeopardy (Review)

“The only thing in jeopardy here is this game’s entertainment value.”

Every now and then, I like to review something that I know I can’t be nice to. Jeopardy, by Sony Online Entertainment, is the lucky game to receive this treatment today.

Jeopardy was released last year on the Playstation Store around September of last year. There was absolutely no build up to the game’s release, and the fact that the game’s price would have put it in the bargain bin at Walmart told everybody exactly what they needed to know, that this was a game that probably had very little effort put into it.

Anyway, upon buying this dirt cheap game and booting it up, players are treated to a repetitive looping theme song on all of the menus. This becomes very frustrating to listen to after several minutes of setting the options and creating your character.

Character creation is not anything worth mentioning, as it has few good points. Basically, you select a head (there are only a few, and they all represent different ethnic groups), a hair style, and a choice between one or two different shirts, pants, etc. It is very limited, but this wouldn’t be so bad if the characters themselves actually looked alright. The male characters all look like scrawny child molesters, and the female characters all look like they are missing their brains as they stare off into space like idiots.

So after creating your character, it’s time to get to the part of the game that you’ve been wanting to play, the game show portion. The actual game of Jeopardy is pretty unimpressive. The first thing that you’ll notice is that there is no Alex Trebek. How can you have Jeopardy without Alex Trebek? This is the equivalent playing a Star Trek game that does not have Kirk in it and having the crew of the Enterprise pretend that he never even existed in the first place. All shots of the bridge would cleverly show everything except the captain’s seat, and any dialogue that should be spoken by Kirk would instead just appear in a text box of 12 size Times New Roman font near the bottom of the screen with no indication as to who is speaking the words. That is exactly what it is like in Jeopardy. There is no Alex Trebek, no host, no voicing. They may as well have just made this Jeopardy: The Text-Based Game Show.

Gameplay is ridiculous. You do not input your answers to questions. Instead, each question asked presents you with multiple choice answers, so you can basically win this game through luck just by selecting random answers. You may want to do this anyway, because by the time you read the questions as well as the answers, the AI opponents will have probably buzzed in and answered.

There is no challenge, no sense of immersion. You can get a few cheap laughs out of this game though, as whenever the game starts or your character triumphs, they will do this ridiculous little cheer. It’s an awful animation and when all three characters do it at the exact same time (which is a lot), it looks very awful and sloppy.

I really wish that I could say something good about this game. Gameplay is terrible and suited for borderline casual players, sound is irritating and repetitive, and the graphics leave a lot to be desired. At least the Jeopardy stage looks decent enough?

Final Score

3.7/10