Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS) Review

Received: May 10th, 2014 / Written: November 27th-30th, 2014
Image from Wikipedia
Year: 2014 | Developed by: HAL Laboratory | Published by: Nintendo
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  Through the course of Kirby's two-plus decades of games he has largely starred in either 2D platformers and spin-offs, even having contributed in some crossovers.  The exceptions are his few 3D games, which range from
What is up with King Dedede's bill?  He looks like Donald Duck with blue skin!
Image from Wikipedia
heavily polarizing mess,
Image from Wikipedia
very fun with company and in short bursts,
Image from
and the best the series has to offer.
When I first heard back in 2013 that the Nintendo 3DS was going to have its own 2.5D Kirby platformer made in the same vein as the Nintendo Wii's Kirby's Return to Dream Land to be released in 2014 (this year), I was super excited being the Kirby fan that I am, and the fact that it was going to implement the 3D feature was rather intriguing (the first in the series for a handheld).  =)  So obviously I couldn't wait until it would be released overseas.  It came at a good time too, because shortly prior to playing I had felt a bit down (depressed even--not completely, but partially); I do not wish to disclose what caused that.  Another part, which did not help matters at all, was that I had played three different video games in the two months that led up to it that really depressed me and did not leave a good impression on me.  =(
But that would be shortlived, for in May 2014 I graduated from college, and one of the graduation gifts that I got was Kirby: Triple Deluxe.  And let me tell you, it really helped wash away the deep sadness that Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai, Yoshi's New Island, and Mega Man VII had left me beforehand.  =)  Unlike Yoshi's dismal offering this year, Kirby's brand new adventure was so much enjoyable and one that I just couldn't put down until the very end.  One of the best graduation gifts ever!  =D

In Planet Pop Star the inhabitants of Dream Land were doing really well, even their puffball hero Kirby.  It was like any day for him as he was having a nice day doing plenty of things.
Then that night while he was sleeping in his home sprouts suddenly came about, being part of a magical beanstalk which spontaneously grew from the ground up, sending him high up in the heavens.  But that's not the only thing that got caught in the sprouts,...
for the gluttonous tyrant monarch King Dedede's castle has also been lifted up.
As Kirby goes to investigate he notices a bug-like creature called Taranza waltz in.  As she approaches closer to the throne the Spear Waddle Dee guards try to stop her, only for her to end up dispersing King Dedede's whole army.
With her magic she manages to incapacitate the penguin king and steal him away, escaping higher above than before.  Kirby takes pursuit, and will climb as high up as possible in order to get to the bottom of the beanstalk mystery and to retrieve King Dedede back... even though based on his previous bad deeds he doesn't really deserve it.  It's up to Kirby now to save the day yet again!  =D

The gameplay is really responsive and versatile, which is one of its highest points.  Kirby can jump, run, duck, slide, go down thin platforms, float indefinitely in the air, and he's got the ability to inhale enemies.  Should he swallow an enemy that has got a particular power-up, then Kirby will be using said power-up (beam, fire, ice, boomerang, et al...)--each of which has got different amounts of usage.  If you no longer wish to have the ability that you have presently you can always discard it, turning it into a star.  Another skill that Kirby has retained is his ability to shield himself via the shoulder buttons like he previously had in Kirby Super Star (as well as its Nintendo DS remake Kirby Super Star Ultra) and Kirby's Return to Dream Land, which is always a welcome feature in my opinion.  =)

So the controls are really great, and while they are exactly that, I do have a bit of a nitpick (not a major one, mind you) with this: the fact that jumping has been assigned to A while inhaling and ability using has been assigned to B.  Considering that there are four buttons on the right side of the handheld, you would think that they would instead assign jumping to B and any action to Y instead (which is usually the norm for four-button games).  I mean c'mon, this was also the case in Kirby Squeak Squad and Kirby Super Star Ultra on the Nintendo DS (which also had four buttons)!  But as I said, it's not a huge problem; and I can understand why HAL Laboratory would set up the buttons like these; as with the Y button you can consume the small bit of fruit that works as reserve health and with the X button you can discard your ability (if you don't feel like accessing either option in the button screen with a stylus).

Several of the power-ups from the past games make a reappearance, such as fire and spear, and some of the power-ups introduced in Kirby: Triple Deluxe aren't too shabby.  One of them is the Archer power-up which has Kirby shoot an unlimited array of arrows towards foes showing skills like Legolas and Katniss Everdeen.  Another is the Beetle ability which gives Kirby a set of beetle wings and can charge with the long beetle-like nose which can stick through enemies.  =)  From time to time Bandana Waddle Dee appears in the sidelines and throws a fruit star to Kirby, and by using it (whether it be a bottle or cake or ice cream) Kirby will be replenishing a bit of lost health.  It's optional but it's there if you need it.

Also from time to time Kirby will come across a large hyper nova fruit pop out from a tree which when consumed will transform Kirby into Hyper Nova Kirby; and when that happens he will be swallowing many things all at once in his way.  It's pretty awesome when seen in motion, and he's practically unstoppable at that point (unless you get hit).  =D  And the best part is that it lasts until you reach the goal (so enjoy it while it lasts).  Along the way Kirby must gather Sun Stones and will be collecting various keychains in his adventure.  So yeah, controls are exceptionally good.  =)

Once again Jun Ishikawa and Hirokazu Ando contribute their trademark music style for this game; it is well-composed and seamlessly blends in to the appropriate atmosphere.  The intro theme sounds absolutely intriguing and calm at the same time, and the best part is that no sound effects obstruct it when it plays (which makes it even better in my opinion).  There is a supercharged theme that sticks around any time Kirby becomes Hyper Nova, and one of the last times it's used it sounds epic.  Yay, electric guitar riffs!  =D  A lot of the themes originally made for this game are fun to listen to; like "Old Odyssey 1", "Old Odyssey 3""Grassland", and "Lollipop Land".  The boss themes are good, and the final boss' theme starts out slow until it segues into something supercharged and hectic; it makes for dark foreboding music, and it works.  =)

Thrown into the mix are also plenty of songs that were remixed from previous games, such as Coo's and Kine's themes from Kirby's Dream Land 2, the "Gourmet Race" and "Peanut Plain" themes from Kirby Super Star, and even Kirby's theme from the original Kirby's Dream Land, to name a select few; and they're absolutely fantastic.  Great stuff!  A few songs were even lifted directly from a couple previous games, namely Kirby's Return to Dream Land.  Normally I worry about the sound quality when it comes to converting that exact music from powerful consoles to handhelds, and I'm relieved that they weren't at all tarnished in the transition.  =)  One song I'm surprised was even lifted was this from another title.  Of all the themes from Kirby's only 64-bit excursion I'm surprised HAL didn't go with this underrated theme.  Still, the music found in Kirby: Triple Deluxe is awesome, and that's all that matters.  =)

Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a 2.5D platformer in the same vein as Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and the visuals are so colorful and pleasing to the eyes.  Many of the locations have got their own look and charm to them, such as Old Odyssey and Lollipop Land.  The animations the characters and enemies display are super fluid, and any time Kirby turns Hyper Nova he becomes a living rainbow.  =)  The FMV sequences are nice to watch as well, and their quality is a lot more sharper than the 3D FMV sequences that were shown in Kirby Super Star Ultra.  There's a lot of vibrancy and versatility to the visuals that they really work.

Another thing that works is the 3D.  Any time you see it in motion it really pops out at you, in particular the hand springs that shoot straight toward the screen (or even Kirby being shoved to said screen if you don't get out of its way on time).  Some of the stages utilize this as a way of adding depth between foreground and background, and some bosses have attacks that reach the screen.  The 3D is effective all around and is well-executed.
Kirby looks great as always, even better.  He's a lot more pink this time around, and some of the hats he dons when using specific abilities are cute; a bell hat for a bell ability, a Link-like hat for the sword ability, as well as electric headwear for the spark ability.  The bosses have got great design; Kracko has got a nice blue eye, and seeing him in motion is fun to watch.  King Dedede seems to have experienced a slight design update (as far as I noticed).  The final boss and her many forms look especially good, and any time Kirby obtains the Sun Stone that the world's final boss leaves behind he grabs it paying homage to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  It's also exciting to see what other worlds await you as the beanstalk keeps growing and growing high and high to the sky.  =)

Like many of the Kirby games the difficulty is easy but not without its own sets of challenges.  Some regular blocks can be done away in any fashion, while others will require a special power-up in order to do away with them.  If there are icy blocks in your path then all you need is anything fire-related to destroy them.  When it comes to ropes they can only be cut with sharp weapons, which is necessary to either retrieve some items or to drop the platform it was holding down.  In plenty of stages there are locked doors that can only opened with a key, which Kirby must carry without getting hit.  Sometimes keys are laid out in the open, sometimes they're hiding, and other times it's a race against the clock to take them from enemies before it's gone for good.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe finds a clever way to use the tilting sensor of the handheld when the moment calls for it.  When Kirby is inside a barrel or if a large sphere with a straight lines needs to be rotated, then you must tilt the Nintendo 3DS left or right (carefully).  I have to say, they're better implemented here than they ever were in Yoshi's New Island.  Part of the challenge when it comes collecting and navigating is the 3D itself.  For the first time in the series Kirby can either transition from the foreground to the background or vice versa, which is actually necessary to make progression.  Because of this there is a lot of depth to these areas.  You never know if a secret path can be entered through the background unless you take notice, or if a secret item can be gathered after getting yourself below the lowest platform.
In each world's stages there are a few Sun Stones gathered around, and if you collect a certain amount than the boss door will open; but by collecting all the immediate ones in said world a secret stage will pop up and be able to be accessed.  Some Sun Stones are found out in the open, some are kept inside treasure chests, while the rest can be gotten through certain circumstances.  The same applies to the keychains; HAL Laboratory did a good job hiding many of these items.  Some can even be found in inconspicuous entryways.  =)
Speaking of keychains, they are memorabilia of the 2D platformers of the Kirby series, with characters and enemies from all the different games that he's been in.  The last four that are collected are 8-bit renditions of the final bosses of Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, and Kirby: Triple Deluxe; and they don't look too shabby.  =)  Looking at all these, even by comparison, it blows my mind just how far Kirby has come since his 1992 debut.  Even better, you can swing and dangle them by tilting the Nintendo 3DS.  In the past I expressed that it would be nice if any of the animal characters from Kirby's Dream Land 3 would once again reappear in the series.  Guess who HAL decided fit the bill just perfectly?
Chu-Chu!  Of all the characters you picked just her?  0_O  And as a Chu-Chu/Broom combo ability, no less?  When have you ever really required to use that combo in Kirby's Dream Land 3??  Oh, well, at least she's appeared in more than just two games in the series (even if it was just a cameo); however what this means is that somewhere out there Nago and Pitch are plotting vengeance.  =|
There are a few mini-games that you can play in Kirby: Triple Deluxe if you feel like taking a break from the main adventure.  The first of which is Kirby Fighters.
In this mini-game Kirby must go through eight stages and battle each Kirby in it; each with a different power-up.  It's nice to play once in awhile, and to offer replay value there are various difficulty settings.  Basically the Kirby-only equivalent to Super Smash Bros., it is a nice way to spend a few minutes, and good way to tide you over until the release of the next Super Smash Bros. ti--
Both Image Covers from Wikipedia
I haven't played either game yet.  =<
Another mini-game is Dedede's Drum Dash, a rhythm/beat-based game where as King Dedede you must jump your way on top of a row drums until you reach your goal, requiring the usage of both top and bottom screen.  It consists of a few difficulty modes, each with a different song.  The moment you press the jump button while on the drum you'll be bouncing higher, but watch out and try not to get hit or fall offscreen.  While in the air for extra points King Dedede can try to clap in the air on that beat.  It can be a bit challenging in the long run but it's fun in short burst.

There are Arena and True Arena modes which are accessible after the game is beaten which enable you to fight all the major bosses of the game.  They're hard but they are both manageable to beat with enough perseverance.  And then there's Dedede Tour! where you can play the role of King Dedede in most of the game.  It's a timed event, and you can only save inbetween stages.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a very enjoyable and uplifting platformer that hit the right notes on just about every category.  =)  The visuals are spectacular and colorful, the charm and imagination is neverending, the soundtrack really clicks, and the gameplay is just as intuitive as ever.  The 3D added a lot to each world, and trying to collect every Sun Stone and keychain was really fun (I found most of them n my own; only a few I had to look up).  And for being the first Kirby game available on the Nintendo 3DS, it was really good.  If I had any quips it would be that it was short.  I normally don't make a big deal about a Kirby game being short, but with this one I felt it.  When I played Yoshi's New Island I always waited a bit before continuing, but with Kirby: Triple Deluxe I was hooked and could not put it down.  I beat it in two days and completed it in five.  Kirby: Triple Deluxe is the kind of game that I would want to play over and over.  =)

The 2010s have proven to be a very positive decade for the pink puffball.  From 2010's Kirby's Epic Yarn to 2011's Kirby Mass Attack and Kirby's Return to Dream Land to today's hit from this year, I would say that this is a good four years for him.  =)
Image from Wikipedia
So good in fact that it makes me feel very optimistic for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse coming to the Nintendo Wii U in 2015... even though I'm not a big fan of Kirby Canvas Curse=\   ......  But I'm sure I will enjoy the upcoming sidescroller when it comes out, and quite frankly I look forward to playing it more than I do Good-Feel's Yoshi's Woolly World which is also coming at around the same time for the same console.  =)  Besides, after paint and yarn, Kirby and clay seems like another good match for him.

If you're a Kirby fan I bet you will really enjoy this game, and even if you're not then it is still one finely solid platforming entertainment.  If you can overlook its brevity than it is absolutely great to play while it lasts.  =)  As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best games in the entire series.  It's got feel-good qualities all around.  Bring on the next one!  =D
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
P.S. Save for a couple, I probably didn't get the Nintendo 3DS aspect ratio right.  When I upload screenshots from my camera to my old laptop they get squished a little (which is fine for square-ratio games, but not for everything else).  I have to do what I can.
P.S. 2 Between Yoshi's New Island and this game, I can't remember the last time I had such a hard time getting all my thoughts together on a game so quickly.  =(
P.S. 3 I hope I did a good job expressing my thoughts on this wonderful gem.
P.S. 4 One of Kirby's newest abilities is Circus.  Not sure how the design phase for that went by, but okay.
P.S. 5 In order to obtain some shots, I laid down on my back with my video camera on my chest, focusing on the upper screen.  Not very comfortable; there's a reason I only take stills from my TV; it's stationary and not movable like a Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo 3DS are.  Also, quality.
P.S. 6 I still didn't play Kirby's 20th anniversary compilation.  I still need to.
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and I hope you all have a great day.  Take care!  =D
As if the series wasn't adorable enough, this just takes the cake.  <=)  I mean, d'awww!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Yoshi's New Island (3DS) Review

Received: April 5th, 2014 / Written November 4th-29th, 2014
Image from Wikipedia
Year: 2014 | Developed by: Arzest | Published by: Nintendo
*prolonged facepalm* *sigh*  =(  All they had was one job!  One job!  And they blew it!  Yoshi deserves so much better than this.
Image from Wikipedia
Five years after his debut in Super Mario World, we finally got to play as Yoshi helping Baby Mario save Baby Luigi who's been captured by the Magikoopa Kamek throughout Yoshi's Island in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island for the SNES in 1995.  It was a very enjoyable game with lots of charm, creative ideas, and highly intuitive gameplay.  Even the 2002 Game Boy Advance port Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island was a blast from beginning to end (and that's not something I say often about downsized GBA ports of SNES titles).  One of my favorites, and one of the best platformers ever!  To me it's only slightly better than its predecessor.  =)
Image from Wikipedia
Then in 1997 Nintendo decided to follow up on the success of the SNES classic with the Nintendo 64 2D platformer Yoshi's Story, where a group of Yoshi's had to venture forth and collect fruit.  While it did pretty good enough in terms of sales it was poorly received, often being compared to Yoshi's Island.  I didn't think it was awful like it's often clamored to be but I do agree that it could've been better than it was.  And besides, I've played far worse.
Image from Wikipedia
Seven years later in 2004 a little company called Artoon crafted the platformer Yoshi's Topsy-Turvy (or Yoshi's Universal Gravitation in Europe) for the Game Boy Advance.  It shared the same motion sensors that were used to control the game and rotation like Intelligent System's WarioWare: Twisted! but it didn't have anywhere near its success and appraisal for it's split gamers worldwide.
Image from Wikipedia
Afterwards in 2005 Nintendo decided to make the stylus-based Yoshi Touch & Go for the then new Nintendo DS, where it centers on Yoshi trying to get Baby Mario to a safe place and perhaps find the brother Baby Luigi.  It's cute and likable, and at the time it was a very novel concept to use the stylus.  It's more score-based than in-depth, but in very short bursts it is fun while it lasts.  =)
Image from Wikipedia
Finally in 2006 Artoon once again decided to get involved with the Yoshi franchise, but this time it was for the Nintendo DS made direct sequel to the original Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Island DS, which is one of the few games made for the handheld that required zero use of the stylus.  While many of the gameplay elements were properly replicated it was nowhere near as fun as the original due its lack of freshness, but as a game on its own it was fairly and strictly okay (as a sequel though, it failed to deliver).  The less said about how unnecessary the other baby characters were, the better; but it did take advantage of using both screens to survey the action.

Since then there have been no more Yoshi platformers until earlier this year.  When news broke out that there would be another follow-up to Yoshi's Island, naturally gamers such as myself were overjoyed; but then after it was revealed who the developer of this game was, enthusiasm towards the new game started to dwindle.  You see, Arzest is a company that was comprised of some of the people who originated from Artoon, developer of the last Yoshi platformer.  I can honestly tell you that while no one expected to be up to par with the original 1995, many gamers hoped that it would at least be better than Yoshi's Island DS.  But then Yoshi's New Island was released for the Nintendo 3DS this 2014.

Upon release it got a mixed to negative reception from many that played, and I just could not believe it.  I was hoping against hope that it wouldn't be as bad as many people made it out to be, that it would at least be fun.  I really wanted it to be good.  On my twenty-third birthday this year I had gotten four video games: my own copy of Super Metroid (after years of playing my cousins' copy) for the SNES, Secret of Evermore for the SNES, Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken for the Super Famicom (my first time playing these two), and today's game Yoshi's New Island for the Nintendo 3DS.  Guess which one of these four I liked the least.  =(

How do I even begin?  Yoshi's New Island take place after the events of the first Yoshi's Island, and to be fair it does have a clever twist of that game's ending.  So for those that didn't play or beat Yoshi's Island Baby Bowser's been defeated by Yoshi who has successfully reunited Baby Mario with Baby Luigi; then the stork proceeded to take the two brothers to their new home.  But what if it wasn't the correct home that the stork delivered the two?  Haha, okay, I thought that was funny (which is more than I can say for the entirety of the game itself).  So the stork reroutes his destination so that he would be flying to the right direction.

But as you may surmise, since this is a Yoshi platformer in canon with Yoshi's Island, Kamek the Magikoopa zooms right past the stork swiping one of the babies.  The other one falls down to, of course, Yoshi's Island and lands on Yoshi's back.  Kamek has taken Baby Luigi while Baby Mario had gotten to safety, so it is Yoshi's duty to take the infant and reunite the two brothers in order to save the day.  Along the way Kamek will try to take Baby Mario for himself, trying to set big obstacles for him in his path.  Will Yoshi make it?

You know, when the brothers got separated in the original Yoshi's Island (and to some extent Yoshi Touch & Go), at least the plot was novel and filled with sparks of originality.  But when the same exact plot gets repeated (albeit with significantly different details) with the same outcome--as was the case in Yoshi's Island DS and Yoshi's New Island--it feels a bit redundant.  Although one has got to wonder what the hell Kamek wants with the Baby Bros. in the first place?  Has he got a midlife crisis or something?  And of course, there's Baby Bowser too... and more for this instalment.  So the introduction I thought was harmless overall,... but then I played the game.

Now before I say what the gameplay's quality is like, allow me to explain the basics.  In each stage Yoshi begins with Baby Mario in his back, who must make it to the end of the stage so that he would waylay the infant to the subsequent Yoshi.  There are eight regular stages in each world (nine including the unlockable ones under certain conditions) each with differently colored Yoshis.  In each stage you get a chance to try to collect thirty stars, twenty red coins, and five flowers; doing so will ensure stage completion... but there's a catch.  In each stage there are a series of obstacles that will try to stop you, whether it be Kamek's forces or other hazards.  In each area there are at least one or two checkpoints, and reaching those will give you ten stars.

You start off with ten stars in each stage, but if you get hit Baby Mario will be in a bubble slowly flowing away, and the longer he stays in it the more stars you lose; you'll still keep the red coins and flowers, but should the star counter reach zero then Baby Mario will be whisked away by Kamek's lackies who will appear out of nowhere.  Once you reach the end the end of a stage where the other Yoshi is waiting for you you'll be entering a ring (consisting of five dots and five flowers--found and unfound) which plays like a roulette.  Should it land on a dot, nothing will happen, but should it land on the flower you'll get a reward.

Yoshi's main source of attack is by throwing eggs towards enemies--whether it be above, below, or in front of you.  Yoshi can only bring six eggs at a type which follow him wherever he goes.  By swallowing enemies, jumping up white and green blocks, or gathering some stray eggs you'll be attaining some ammo to help you on your way.  Some of the items that you'll be looking for will be found in a "?" cloud, whether it be a visible one or one that's not.  Helpful still, they can even bounce off of walls and floors resulting in a ricocheting motion.  I hope I described it all succinctly.

So, gameplay sounds like that of the original Yoshi's Island, right?  Reading this you think that Arzest got the structure of the original down pat, right?  They did... but not without hindrances in the proceedings.  What felt so fresh and fun the first time in the first Yoshi's Island feels stale and a lot less fun this time around.  In the earlier games if you lost a life you got to keep the amount of stars that you had gathered when you reached the starry checkpoint; this time around any time you lose a life (even after you arrived at a checkpoint) you start with ten stars.  The same amount you started with in each stage!  If keeping the proper amount in Yoshi's Island and Yoshi's Island DS made them a bit easy, at least it was welcome and prevented completion from being frustrating, so I would take that any day.  Completion in Yoshi's New Island is needlessly frustrating because of this.  At least you only take Baby Mario in this sequel as opposed to various Baby characters.  =|

There are no bonus mini-games like in Yoshi's Island and Yoshi's Island DS that gave you a chance to earn lives, but there is something similar.  In the middle of certain stages Yoshi would turn into a vehicle of sorts in order to proceed a bit further or in order to get a special item.  The thing about those segments is that they involve the Nintendo 3DS body to be tilted or rotate to move Yoshi, thanks to the built-in sensor.  When it comes to those moments you have to make sure that you properly turn in a proper position otherwise things go awry (i.e. keep it straight in order for Yoshi to go straight).  Yeah, so tilting sensors left a lot to be desired.  If you want to play it at your own free time, then you can always access it should you collect thirty gold medals in each world (no matter which area you are in).

So yeah, remember in the predecessors how you would go to the bonus areas if the ring landed on the flower?  Well in Yoshi's New Island if the ring lands on a flower all (found) flowers will transform into gold medals, so that way you would earn said amount of medals.  Something this game does is keep track of whether you got all stars, all red coins, and all flowers when you beat the stage (regardless of whether you got it in all categories or less).  If you collect everything in all the world's stages, another one will be unlocked.  Yaaaaaay.  -_-

There are some new gameplay elements, which are nice but sadly are shortlived.  One of them involves the giant egg throw attack; after you swallow a giant ShyGuy Yoshi will lay a ginormous egg (which results in sacrificing the other small ones for the time being).  By throwing it the egg will not only destroy everything in its path but also collect the special items in its vicinity (up until it becomes red and cannot be bounced anymore).  The other revolves around a metal egg, which can be obtained by swallowing a giant metallic ShyGuy.  By himself Yoshi can only stay in the surface of water, but with the metal egg he'll be able to explore deep underwater.  And like the regular giant egg you can throw the metal egg ahead of you in order to destroy obstacles and take coins and flowers, but in doing so Yoshi will be floating up to the surface.

A lot has been made regarding the visual style of this game, mainly that the characters and enemies do not seamlessly blend in to the backgrounds they're in.  Environment-wise, I think it looks fine.  I like the little touches here and there and how they look like they were drawn with markers and crayons (reminds me of Kirby's Dream Land 3 a little).  The colors are decently chosen, and in some cases they are bright.  The downside is there is just one image in the background as opposed to several layers like in the first Yoshi's Island, so there isn't much depth to be found.  But they're nice all the same.
The character and enemy models, as I said, do not mesh perfectly with their environment; they're fluidly animated and the look and charm of the characters are spot-on (mostly faithful to the originator), but looking at it all together it's almost like they were lifted from an entirely different game (with different visuals, even).  That is also heavily apparent when it comes to the bigger enemies and bosses.  What I personally felt distracted from the most was not the fact that they don't blend in well, but the fact that Yoshi has got very large feet.  What the hell happened, did someone step on those for a long time?  And he also doesn't have any legs whenever he moves or jumps.  Were Yoshi's legs hard to draw, Arzest, or were you just lazy?  =|
One of my quibbles with Yoshi's Island DS was that it had a largely forgettable soundtrack, so I hoped that Yoshi's New Island would offer something more.  On one hand it does, but on the other hand it's not very good.  The good stuff, which is few, had a tender piano-driven melody and a sweet instrumentation (similar to Kirby's Epic Yarn's music).  I liked the first theme you heard in 1-1, but everything else was just downhill.  Some of the themes were remixed from Yoshi's Island, while many of the themes are new; the problem here is that the instrumentation is lackluster.  And the thing that kills me the most about this music?  The overabundant usage of the kazoo!  >=P
I am not a fan of the kazoo, and if you like it then more power for you; but the thing about kazoos are that they're only fine when heard once in awhile... not every now and again!!!  The title theme?  Uses the kazoo.  The end of stage fanfare when it lands on a flower?  Uses the kazoo.  The remix of a few of the Yoshi's Island themes?  Uses the kazoo!  Any time I don't hear the damn kazoo it's tolerable, but it doesn't make the soundtrack any better.  But the most inexcusable usage of it happens literally during the middle of the ending credits theme!  Why the flying hell would you do that, Arzest?!?  The ending theme was doing just nicely if not for that freakin' damn nuisance ruining it all.  Freakin' bullcrap, Arzest; shame on you!  >O<  Remember how in the last two Yoshi's Island platformers there was a brief theme whenever you lost a life?  Now it's just silence for this game, and it is unsettling!
In the fourth and eighth stages of each Yoshi must navigate and peruse inside a fortress or castle, ultimately culminating in a boss confrontation.  In the fourth stage of each word you will be fighting Kamek, who must be hit three times in order to be defeating; and he is a complete pushover (regardless of the varying strategies in subsequent worlds).  In the eighth stage of each world you will instead be fighting creatures that have been transformed into giant monsters thanks to Kamek's sorcery.  They're better than the Kamek battles, but they still need to be hit three times and are easy.  One of them involves a huge bean who got transformed into an elongated bean case (it's as you picture it, yes), and another involves a small round bat being supersized.
Of course if you manage to reach the end you will be fighting Bowser?  In the first Yoshi's Island Baby Bowser only had two forms, and that was fine.  Hey, remember how Yoshi's Island DS had a bullcrap time travel subplot with Bowser and Baby Bowser?  Let's bring that back right at the last minute!!!  You know, I thought those two battles went by too quick.  =\  Yoshi's Island DS had a final boss that was three bosses long; Yoshi's New Island overstays its welcome by upping the ante up to four!  Seriously!  The problem isn't that the Bowser battles are hard, the problem with them is that they feel too longwinded and slightly stretched out.  It wouldn't be a big issue if they were fun and exciting, but they're not.
In the end after you went through all that you will see a message stating that it "took such-and-such amount of Yoshis to deliver the baby".  So essentially it keeps track of how many lives you lost, and you didn't even realize it.  What a burn.  -_-  Not that it matters because it is largely a very easy game, but not the fun kind unfortunately since it was just boring.  Yoshi's Island DS was a much better sequel to Yoshi's Island than this game, as at least that game didn't bore me in the slightest (despite not being anywhere near as good).  =(
Yoshi's New Island is a sad case of a game that should've been better than it actually turned out.  It's clear that Arzest knew the essential structure of its eldest predecessor's gameplay when making the game, but I just wish that they could've added a lot more fun and joy in the final product despite their otherwise decent handling (outside the tilting motion bonuses, that is).  The collecting is more frustrating than fun thanks to the star counter being reset at ten every time you lose a life after reaching a checkpoint, and it really hurts the game.  The visuals are creative and it provides solid eye candy, but the music is a large turn-off and doesn't inspire a lot of adventuring and charging.  Arzest's Yoshi venture had a lot of potential but ultimately succumbed to its more than numerous flaws.
When the game got released it was met with mixed to negative reviews, and before having played it I was hoping that they were exaggerating in how bad it was.  They were not!  =(  I made the same mistake with Altron's Pocky & Rocky with Becky several months prior, so as a result I got my hopes up.  I wanted to like Yoshi's New Island, since there is a lot to like charm-wise, but it doesn't make up for everything else.  I hesitated before playing more of it, and it wasn't one of those games that I got glued to 'til the end.
Image from Wikipedia
I hope that when Nintendo releases Good-Feel's Yoshi's Woolly World on the Nintendo Wii U in 2015 it turns out to be a much more satisfying platformer than this.  And of course, since the company has got an impressive track record going for them (especially with their Nintendo Wii's heartwarming Kirby's Epic Yarn way back in 2010), here's hoping that it's good; and it would be ironic if a Good-Feel game ended up making me feel bad.  Don't let us down, guys!
I was so let down by Yoshi's New Island's uninspired venture that it made me feel depressed.  It was the second game to make me feel that way after Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai on the Super Famicom the preceding month.  Maybe not as dreary as that game, but today's game was highly disappointing to me as a diehard Yoshi's Island fan.  Can't possibly stoop any lower than that, right?  Days after my birthday I decided to give the original Mega Man games a chance proper on Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the GameCube.  I liked what I played,... but then I played Mega Man VII, which had depressed me due to being averagely stale compared to its 8-bit predecessors.  Three games ending up depressing me, not a good deal at all.  =(
Image from Wikipedia
Thank God for games like Kirby: Triple Deluxe!!!  =D
Next Review: Kirby: Triple Deluxe
v( -_-)>TO EACH THEIR OWN<(-_- )v
Thank you for reading my review, please leave a comment and I hope you have a great day!  Take care!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Personal SFC Recommendation Bar - 2014

Written: November 4th-8th, 2014
Disclaimer: As of December 2015 this post is outdated, either because I played more games or because I changed my mind on some of them, so the comments have been disbanded here
November 4th, 2014 NOTE
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  And that is precisely one of the reasons I'm making my latest entry.  =)
Ever since the Summer of 2012 I started importing Super Famicom games from Japan.  And it was such a delight too to open a new world of possibilities and experience games that were Japan-exclusives.  And I have my Retro Duo to thank for that; I would not have been able to play these games if not for that great system.  =) ... =(  And that's exactly another reason I decided to make this list.
You see, due to recent events something has transpired on the SFC/SNES slot of the Retro Duo.  There have been moments when sometimes a game would not work and the next time it would (after another try or two).  A part of me fears it may have been my fault (that, and the fact that there's no eject button so I have to carefully take the SFC cartridges out).  At least, that was a month ago (in October) when it started acting up like that.
Last week I found that the situation grew worse, which made me worry quite a bit.  I was lucky that a few more games were still playing on it (and I got some footage as well while it lasted), and here's what I mean by lucky: in the slot there are these little pins right at the center (where the thin board under the SFC cart slides in), and some of them became uneven.  After I pulled out the last game that I successfully managed to play, that's when the SFC/SNES slot of the Retro Duo stopped working (the NES slot is still operational).  I tried and I tried again and again to make it work but nothing's changed.  =(
So now I'm experiencing Super Famicom withdrawal.  Two and a half years of collecting SFC games and a couple PAL SNES carts, and it won't start again.  Like, bummer.  =(  And I just got my latest SFC cart too (Darius Twin) no less.  But I'm not going to panic, because I will have it resolved somehow.  So my only options at this point are either to find someone who can fix the pins of the SFC/SNES slot, or if that doesn't work I'll have to go and buy a new Retro Duo; and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  And if that doesn't happen,... I'm afraid I'm only left with one other risky alternative that I never thought I would ever consider.  *gulp*  So until my SFC collecting isn't on hold anymore, here's my Personal Super Famicom Recommendation Bar
This is exactly as it sounds like.  I am going to go through the thirty-four Super Famicom games that I played (and two PAL SNES cartridges) in alphabetical order and make a brief personal summary whether or not they are worth a go, plus I'll add my own recommendation score.  For plenty of them I've got visual aid, but in the instances that I don't I'll just share the art on the cartridge.  If a game was released outside of Japan I'll leave a small mention (and announce whether or not it got a title change).  *clap*  All right, that should just about cover everything!  Let's begin!!!  =)
Also Released in: North America and Europe (both as ActRaiser), 1991 and 1992
Year: 1990 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
As the first of six Quintet games made for Nintendo's 16-bit console it suffers mildly from overexposure, but on its own merits it is a solid game while it lasts.  Mixing in platforming and town micromanagement elements in different acts it was quite ingenious.  While the platforming sections aren't its strongest suit, it's more than made up by the fairly involving town simulations; it's rather nice to oversee what transpires down at Earth and trying to help make it evolve.  It's also aesthetically impressive for a 1990 platformer with incredibly detailed worlds and a pleasant-sounding soundtrack from Yuzo Koshiro.  The platforming sections of the original Actraiser were harder than the localized edition ActRaiser and there were many enemies which got polished and/or redesigned for subsequent releases (and that alone is worth the price of admission); surprisingly though, the simulation acts were easier.  Now with that, does it make the Japanese original superior to the Western version?  Yes, yes it does.  Is it perfect?  Oh, hell no!  But it's worth playing all the same... just remember to try the other Quintet-developed games as well (hint, hint current Quintet license-holders).
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Year: 1993 | Developed by: HAL Laboratory | Published by: SquareSoft | [|O|]
After the failure of HAL Laboratory's first RPG endeavor Arcana, they decided to move on to one that required less deliberately-paced turn-based dungeon crawling and more action-based and fast-paced adventuring.  With Alcahest there's a lot of good going for it: largely responsive and versatile gameplay, an immersive soundtrack, awesome boss battles, great locations to explore, as well as differing partners and powerful guardians to aid you.  Throw in the option to play one of four difficulty settings, and you've got one of the greatest non-Kirby titles that HAL has ever created plus tons of replay value.  Aside from the long in the tooth final boss battle against the titular villain and the fact that it's very short it's an incredibly fun RPG all throughout.  Also, what other (linear) game in the genre lets you continue your progress via password (if you can't beat it in one go)?  A shame that it was never really given a chance in the West.
My Recommendation Score: 8.5
Ardy Lightfoot
Also Released in: North America and Europe, 1994 (by Titus Software)
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: ASCII | [|O|]
Out of the many platformers that were made for the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo in 1993, this one is rather underrated.  There's a really solid anime charm to its characters and worlds, and the exploration aspect is really enjoyable when it comes to maze-like areas (like the pyramids or the caves).  Ardy can use his tail to bounce on enemies and jump to high areas, and his penguin-like friend Pec can easily devour enemies, and occasionally break through solid walls and float Ardy in the sky for a temporary moment.  There are some clever moments of challenge such as puzzles later on, and some of the boss fights Ardy Lightfoot has got aren't bad.  It is a bit on the easy side, but the bits of challenge, colorful imagery, atmospheric soundtrack, and intuitive gameplay more than make up for that shortcoming.  If you can, I recommend you give this fun platformer a go.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Infogrames | [|O|]
In Europe there were plenty of platformers by Infogrames based on European comic characters, usually exclusively released there as far as games on the SNES were concerned.  Astérix was one of them, the first of eight (with other franchises comprising of Tintin, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, and Spirou), and the first of two games starring Astérix that was released for the console.  With rather solid controls and decent aesthetics, this is a fun game to play, even if it can be difficult at times (and I'm not just talking the hardest difficulty mode).  The charm of the comic series and animated counterparts have remained intact, and there's even some hidden nooks and cranny that add a little replay value.  It's an hour's worth of fun and it's interesting to see how European games implement their own kinds of challenge.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Chō Genjin 2
Year: 1995 | Developed by: Red Company | Published by: Hudson Soft | [|O|]
I feel rather sheepish when I say that sometimes I forget I even have this game, which is a real shame because it's one of the best Japan-exclusive SFC games I've imported.  Bonk's second and last Nintendo 16-bit outing is a real treat, and while its controls aren't quite like its PC-Engine predecessors, Chō Genjin 2 controls really well.  Its visual style is interesting, there's a lot of humor thrown in to the mix, and the area designs can be involving.  Add in an optional training stage, a password system, and some very fun boss battles, and you've got some of the best work Hudson Soft was involved in one way or another outside of DoReMi Fantasy: Milon no DokiDoki Daibōken and Star Parodier.  If you liked any of the previous four Bonk games then there is no reason you shouldn't enjoy this one.  Highly recommended.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
Dragon Quest V
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Chun Soft | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
Dragon Quest's foray into the 16-bit world was once supposed to be released overseas, but unfortunately it hadn't come out here at the time.  This was also Chun Soft's last main Dragon Quest developing work until they moved on to other works and relinquished the future Dragon Quest duties to some other companies.  Dragon Quest V is a very good RPG with vibrant visuals (thanks to the charm and design style by famed manga artist Akira Toriyama), a sweeping score by Koichi Sugiyama, made with a well-told plot and just enough difficulty to satisfy.  I don't think it's quite in the same league as some of the 16-bit Final Fantasy games, but it comes close.  Well worth a look.
My Recommendation Score: 8.5
Also Released in: North America (as The 7th Saga), 1993
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Produce | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
If you thought that The 7th Saga was too unreasonable when it came to the apprentice boss battles and that it didn't seem that you were getting more powerful as you leveled up, you should try the original Japanese version Elnard.  Not only is it less painful to play (at least by comparison) but the character stats actually do increase as opposed to it only happening to the other apprentices.  And if you thought that the Western version looked too good, then you'd be absolutely floored to find how plain and uninteresting Elnard's areas look in comparison to The 7th Saga's.  Soundwise some of the sound effects are different (like the menu and door opening ones), but aside from those changes there isn't much different.  Still, not a bad game; and while I'm not the biggest fan of Produce's turn-based effort, I suggest you stick with the Japanese version.  ...................  Brain Lord is still better!
My Recommendation Score: 7.0
Final Fantasy V
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: SquareSoft | [|O|]
Long before Final Fantasy VI would be released for the first time in America under a slightly different moniker, Final Fantasy V was at one point going to be the game that would be "Final Fantasy III" to the US.  Sadly things didn't go quite go that way, and coupled with the fact that its promised release schedule went on and off and on and off it gravely upset RPG fans, who formed up to make one of the first (if not the first) fan translations ever.  So it's a good thing it wasn't released in America in 1992?  Joking aside, Final Fantasy V is a really damn good turn-based RPG.  The characters and story are engaging, the game looks colorful, Nobuo Uematsu's music is captivating, and best of all, the ATB Battle system from Final Fantasy IV is still solid as ever.  This was also the first game in the series to implement the Jobs system which split gamers but I personally found involved and vital for certain situations.  To me, personally, this is the best 16-bit Final Fantasy game, and it shouldn't be missed.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
Final Fight 2
Also Released in: North America and Europe, 1993
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Capcom | [|O|]
When Capcom tried porting their 1989 arcade hit Final Fight to the Super Famicom in 1990, to say that the results were mixed would be a heavy understatement.  Several elements from the arcade game were gone and it was reduced to just one player, which disappointed many.  After Sega released Ancient's Streets of Rage 2 for the MegaDrive/Genesis console in 1992, Nintendo then pressured Capcom to make another Final Fight game so as to compete with it.  And if you've ever been curious about playing a game which the company showed zero interest in making, look no further than Final Fight 2Despite the fact that you globetrot as opposed to fighting thugs in just one city and the fact that the two player option has now been implemented, it's really more of the same, without the freshness that was found in its predecessor.  Mike Haggar returns but is now accompanied by discount Cody (Carlos) and discount Guy (Maki), only now it's a lot less fun to play.  I'm convinced that Capcom clearly did not want to make this game, and the typically good Capcom visuals, clever cameos, and the fully extended ending in the hardest difficulty mode really do not make up for its stale repetitiveness.  Only reason to play the Japanese original is for the first big boss holding the meat cleaver and the female enemies, that's it.  Do yourself a favor and play other better beat'em ups like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi, or hell, play Final Fight 3 instead!
My Recommendation Score: 5.5
Gaia Gensōki
Also Released in: North America (as Illusion of Gaia) and Europe (as Illusion of Time), 1994 (by Nintendo)
Year: 1993 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
The spiritual follow-up to SoulBlader (SoulBlazer elsewhere), the second and middle chapter Gaia Gensōki has been regarded as the black sheep of the Gaia trilogy by plenty of gamers--at least, the Western versions.  With some of the elements lifted from the aforementioned game, the controls are more free this time around at eight directions and throughout the game there are new moves to learn which not only make fighting enemies easier but also are required in order to get to certain spots in areas; not only that, but from time to time you get to choose between playing as a young boy or a powerful warrior, which is fun to switch from time to time.  It's a wonderful game to look at as well, with colorful and well-detailed locations, plus it sounds wonderful and tackles some heavy issues that few RPG developers dared address.  That is just incredible!  Difficulty-wise it's easier than SoulBlader, but a whole lot easier than the localized versions of Illusion of Gaia and Time.  Not only that, but there are just as many (if not more) elements that got altered or cut in the West as Actraiser preceding it three years prior.  Some bosses look different (like Viper and the vampires), timed moments had longer times counting down, one of the later dungeons has a shortcut that was removed for the West, and the text does not instantaneously pop up all at once all the time; I could also recognize which dialog text was fumbled up when it was translated (Will's sudden outburst towards Neil, anyone?).  In short: the Japanese original Gaia Gensōki wins by a large margin.  Throw in a secret and optional dungeon to partake in, and you've got a really fantastic action-RPG.
My Recommendation Score: 9.5
Gokujō Parodius! ~Kako no Eikō o Motomete~
Originally on Arcade, 1994
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Konami | [|O|]
The Parodius series of games are very bizarre, so bizarre that they've often relied on acquired taste in order to appreciate the over-the-top zaniness of them all.  To be quite honest, I love these kinds of games.  They're wacky, they're outlandish, they're outrageously silly and nonsensical, but it's because of its nonsensicality that I find them very funny!  I think that they do a good job of parodying the likes of Gradius and Nemesis, and Gokujō Parodius! ~Kako no Eikō o Motomete~ is no exception.  Who wouldn't want to play as TwinBee, Upa Upa, Kid Dracula, Pentarou, or Takosuke in this type of game (and yet no Sparkster; c'mon, Konami, he was in a shoot'em up stage in his games--twice!)?  It's absolutely pleasing and delightful in its humor.  With a neat parodied structure of Gradius and lots of characters and difficulty settings to choose within manageable challenge, coupled with enjoyable gameplay, what more could you ask for?  One of Konami's very best!
My Recommendation Score: 10
Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken
Originally Released in: North America and Europe (both as Goof Troop), 1993
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Capcom | [|O|]
If you can overlook Gūfii to Makkusu - Kaizoku Shima no Daibōken's short length and its largely obnoxious music, then Capcom's answer to Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a real delight to play while it lasts.  As the only game based on the Disney TV series Goof Troop, it sports really good and intuitive gameplay, looks really pretty to boot, plentiful puzzle rooms, and its open-ended and nonlinear area designs really makes the experience feel fresh.  Plus if you don't feel like playing alone, you could always play with another gamer as either Goofy or Max, which makes it all the more better.  Exclusive to the Japanese version is the option to play one of three difficulty settings whilst the original Western versions only had one; but hey, it's like people say, "the more the merrier".  I recommend it especially if you're an adventure or Disney fan.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Jerry Boy
Also Released in: North America (as Smart Ball), 1991 (by Sony Imagesoft)
Year: 1991 | Developed by: GameFreak and System Sacom | Published by: Epic/Sony Records | [|O|]
In the early '90s there was this small craze revolving around slimes made into main characters, and System Sacom's Jerry Boy was one of the first games to fill that spot.  That, and it also came out as a Generation One Super Famicom (and Super Nintendo) game; the story for this game revolves around a boy named Jerry who's been duped by his brother and turned into a malleable and squishy slime so that said brother would have Jerry's girl all to himself thanks to the help of an evil sorcerer.  The visuals are very colorful and pleasant for the eyes, the soundtrack is good, and GameFreak's character and enemy designs evoke a lot of charm and personality.  Sadly, part of the charm got nixed in the American version once the story and towns were removed altogether (though one could argue that  initially those made what was already an easy game easier).  For the most part Jerry Boy is an easily manageable game, but if there's anything that drags it down just slightly it's the controls themselves.  True to its themes, Jerry is a slimy and slippery blob who can attack by spewing out balls or by extending himself; however when it comes to wall-climbing they can be touchy.  Aside from that, though, it's a fun little game on its own merits; too bad the GameFreak-developed sequel Jerry Boy 2 never came to be released.
My Recommendation Score: 6.5
Libble Rabble
Originally on Arcade, 1983
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
One of several arcade games that Namco made in 1983, Libble Rabble was one of the first coin-operated games that were made in 16-bit; so it's rather fitting that eleven years later it would receive a 16-bit port for the Super Famicom eleven years later.  Not only that, but its original arcade aesthetics were retained in the transition.  While the gameplay might remind you of Qix at first, it's actually a lot more complex than that as two sets of movement controls are required to move both arrows (the left by the Control Pad and the right by the ABXY buttons); but after awhile the controls become second nature.  Rounding up critters can be really fun, and the further you get the more challenging it gets.  And if you manage to collect the sufficient amount of letters required you'll access a bonus stage.  For a really good '80s arcade time on the SFC, Libble Rabble is pretty good to play in short bursts.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Capcom | [|O|]
If you've ever wanted to experience the 16-bit Nintendo equivalent to Sega's World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, I'm afraid it wouldn't be until 1995 as a Japan-exclusive to get the chance.  If you enjoyed the atmosphere and challenge of The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse but was severely letdown by its unceremonious ending and if you liked The Great Circus Mystery starring Mickey & Minnie even if it felt like the first game again at times and that it lacked magic, then you're in luck; third time's the charm as Capcom combined the best elements of both games in order to create the third and final Magical Adventure platformer, Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3.  As either Mickey, Donald, or both if you had another friend with you, you explore seven stages of mystery and wonderment; each with different outfits that enable them to overcome some obstacles.  Most of the boss fights are fun, the controls are versatile and intuitive, the storybook-like elements and characters are charming, plus it has got wonderful aesthetics going for it.  In my book, the best Disney game available on the Nintendo 16-bit machine.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken
Year: 1994 | Developed by: GRC | Published by: Tomy | [|O|]
Mickey's Tokyo Disneyland adventure may be in a far different league from Capcom's trilogy of Mickey Mouse platformers, but for what it is GRC did a respectable job being faithful to the Disney name.  Taking place in the realm of Tokyo Disneyland, the areas are well-chosen and at times feel quite surreal.  The structure of the balloon controls do take a bit of time to accustom to (and they partially attribute to this game's difficulty), but they can be fun and intuitive after a lot of time spent exploring them.  The game is manageable, but it can be fairly difficult at times; partly due to its controls and partly due to area design that require careful timing of balloon usage (whether air- or water-filled), but it's more than made up for its largely fun gameplay and the best final boss representation of Pete ever!  Mickey no Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken may not touch Capcom's games as far as quality is concerned, but by making the game take place in Disneyland GRC got something over Capcom.  Sometimes frustrating, but more importantly it's fun in the long run.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
Pop'n TwinBee
Also Released in: Europe, 1993
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Konami | [|O|]
Despite the fact that Pop'n TwinBee, Konami's initial Nintendo 16-bit foray of the vertical cute'em up series, was a Super Famicom/Super Nintendo exclusive it's got the feel of an arcade game.  And if that's what you're looking for then this is a brilliant game with very good controls, neat pastel-toned locations, highly catchy music, fun boss battles, and an adorably lighthearted charm to boot.  There's a fair amount of challenge in the game linered throughout, as well as lots of replay value thanks to its seven difficulty settings and cooperative multi-player.  If you have an affinity for the TwinBee games or for cute'em ups in general then Pop'n TwinBee is a really exceptional way of spending a half hour or more.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 10
Popful Mail
Originally on NEC PC-8801, 1991
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Nihon Falcom | [|O|]
The vast majority of Nihon Falcom's video game library made from the '80s to the '90s were almost exclusively made for PC variants, with a few exceptions.  Popful Mail, ported from Falcom's own 1991 PC-8801 game, was the first of two games that they made directly for a non-PC system--the Super Famicom.  An adventure game in the vain of similar titles such as Dragon's Curse and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, this is what Ys III: Wanderers from Ys should've been!  With the ability to play as one of three characters at any required moment makes things fresh, also the nonlinear area designs really work.  It's also humorous too, with great-looking worlds and a rockin' score playing in the background.  The varied gameplay between characters is also Popful Mail's strong point, even if it is a bit of a short venture and ends on an unresolved cliffhanger.  Still, while it lasts it's pretty involving and entertaining.  I highly recommend it!
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
Puzzle'n Desu!
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Nihon Bussan | [|O|]
Part Bomberman, part Sōkoban, and even part Pengo during the ice segments, Puzzle'n Desu! comprises of a clever series of block-pushing puzzles that take a lot of strategizing, focusing, and proper planning in order to solve it.  It is a very likable game with charming settings and characters, its lighthearted theme, and very solid gameplay.  There is even a choice to make your own custom-made puzzle area, and with a battery save you can continue your progress.  It's very challenging but fun; while it's not an expensive title it is one of the rarest Super Famicom cartridges you will find.  Highly recommended!  Puzzle'n Desu! was the seventeenth game that Nihon Bussan made for the Super Famicom, but you know what other game once held that spot?  Nightmare Busters (before it got cancelled and eventually remade as a repro cart).  Let that thought sink in for a second...
My Recommendation Score: 9.5
Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi
Also Released in: North America and Europe (both as Brawl Brothers), 1993
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Jaleco | [|O|]
Despite the fact that the first Rushing Beat (Rival Turf!) was not all that well-received in 1992, it apparently did good enough to get its own sequel nine months later that same year.  And to that I say, "Good!"  Because the second game of the trilogy, Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi is an extremely underrated beat'em up.  Often unfairly compared to Final Fight and Streets of Rage its looked upon unfavorably by some, however upon further speculation you'll find that there's more to Jaleco's game.  Sure it can be long in the tooth sometimes, but the gameplay feels fresh and flexible, not to mention the fact that you can run makes things even more great (so what if it feels a bit loose, I'll take it over slow and plodding Final Fight 2 any day).  While visually it leaves a bit to be desired, there are plenty of neat details going for it, like the comic book starbursts any time enemies hits are being made or even the reflection of the windows in the gym.  Soundwise it's catchy, and there's lots of replay value depending on who you play as (different boss battles) and what difficulty you're playing it under; plus the Ikari mode works for a short period of time before it expires (until then you're invincible).  No, it's not perfect, but I think it deserves a fair shot and be treated as its own game.  What's that: you can't afford Super Famicom games?  No problem!  You can always access the Japanese original in Brawl Brothers via code; that way you'll experience the intended version of the game.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Rushing Beat Shura
Also Released in: North America (as The Peace Keepers), 1994
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Jaleco | [|O|]
No one expected the Rushing Beat series to continue (and end) on a perfect note, regardless of how anyone felt about the series.  The third and final member of Jaleco's trilogy, Rushing Beat Shura may be a notch below Rushing Beat Ran — Fukusei Toshi, but it's still a solid beat'em up in its own right.  What sets it apart from its predecessors is that most areas have got separate paths, which lead to different endings and increase replay value (sort of like other third installments of beat'em up series such as Golden Axe III, Streets of Rage 3, and even Final Fight 3).  That, and the fact that from time to time there are in-game dialogue sequences--which last a long time.  Gameplay-wise it's not as slick as the last game is but it's still decent.  The look of the game is very good, and the soundtrack (which wasn't entirely transitioned in the American version, and that's not the only change that was made) is a neat listen.  It's largely manageable and easy and has got sufficient length, though perhaps Jaleco may have been too generous by offering thirty continues.  Just skip past the long, drawn-out dialogue and you'll be just fine.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
SD The Great Battle II: Last Fighter Twin
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Banpresto | [|O|]
One of numerous games revolving around these Super Deformed characters (and not just the SD The Great Battle saga), this is a quirky beat'em up that's lighthearted and brimming with humor.  Each of the four characters have got different ranges as far as attacks, combos, and sliding are concerned; and each of them are fun to play as.  It's also one of the rare beat'em ups on the Super Famicom to allow more than three or four enemies on the same screen, making for some difficult and strategic moments.  The visuals are cartoony yet charming, and the background music is upbeat and energetic.  I recommend you give it a go if you're curious, for even though it's a beat'em up it also has passwords every couple stages.  Solid yet fun game.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
Seiken Densetsu 3
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: SquareSoft | [|O|]
At the height of Seiken Densetsu 2's success (Secret of Mana in the West) on the SFC/SNES many gamers just couldn't get enough of it, so SquareSoft decided to do the next best thing and create a direct follow-up for the same console two years later; unfortunately it was a Japan-only deal.  Seiken Densetsu 3 is everything a great RPG sequel should be; one with improved and more polished set of controls, gorgeous non-rendered visuals, a larger world to explore, a more immersive storyline, breathtaking flying sequences with Flammie, easy to follow directions despite the kanji, and branching paths depending which character you choose for the leader (adding tons of replay value).  Its laidback soundtrack is lacking though (and coming from Hiroki Kikuta, no less) and doesn't compare to Secret of Mana's fantastic score, and it's even got boss battles that last for roughly a half hour if not longer (that is no exaggeration).  But those are just minor issues considering how magnificently SquareSoft did a great job making Seiken Densetsu 3; and the farther you progress the more difficult it becomes.  This is SquareSoft in top form; well done, and definitely worth playing too!  Do not miss it!
My Recommendation Score: 9.5
Shōnen Ashibe
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Takara | [|O|]
Based on a Japan-only manga/anime series, Shōnen Ashibe is a delightful game to play once in awhile.  You control an adorably white seal who must find all the items or animal friends while avoiding contact from playful enemies and small children.  It's actually a very easy game for you don't lose any damage, but you are timed and will lose a life if you fail to reach the (alternate) goal with all the collectables before time runs out.  Yet despite the easy nature it's a rather feel-good game with lighthearted settings and non-demanding fun, brimming with nice pastel-toned areas and cheery music.  If you're just looking for a fun game to play in short bursts, Shōnen Ashibe is good while it lasts.
My Recommendation Score: 6.0
Also Released in: North America and Europe (both as SoulBlazer), 1992 and 1994
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
The first entry in the acclaimed Gaia trilogy, SoulBlader (and even the Western version SoulBlazer) is what I personally like to call a starter kit for those new to the A-RPG genre.  But even if that were not the case, it is still an incredibly charming and enjoyable game while it lasts.  With basic movement and surreal settings, you can travel around the world defeating monsters, sealing their lairs, and occasionally enter inside creatures' dreams.  Even though it's a very easy game, the difficulty does gradually ramp up a bit as you go along, and the boss battles are fun to bout.  There are nowhere near as many elements that were altered or removed in transition to the West like Actraiser before and Gaia Gensōki after did, however SoulBlader is worth checking out all the same.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 10
Super Bomberman 3
Also Released in: Europe, 1995
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Hudson Soft | [|O|]
While the first two Super Bomberman games were given a fair chance in North America, Super Bomberman 3 was only given the European treatment when released outside of Japan.  The literal middle chapter of Hudson Soft's Super Bomberman quintet series for the Super Famicom, this game has got the look of a PC-Engine installment and plays like the original games; which isn't really a bad thing.  The maze perusing and enemy bombing tactics are back, and this time around you'll come across variants of creatures called who Rooeys can be ridden on and are capable of different abilities (one can jump, the other can kick a bomb).  The different set of areas look nice, and the game itself is colorful; the bosses can take a bit to take down because of constant movement but they're not impossible.  Plus the more abilities you have the bigger your chances of survival are; it also includes a multi-player mode for either adventuring or competing.  Maybe not the best Bomberman game, but it's worth giving a go all the same.
My Recommendation Score: 7.5
Super Morph
Originally on Amiga, 1993 (as Morph)
Year: 1993 | Developed by: Millenium Entertainment | Published by: Sony Imagesoft | [|O|]
If you liked Jerry Boy but felt for some reason that it lacked a sufficient (and unofficial) adversary, you might find PAL-exclusive Super Morph worth your while.  Unlike the aforementioned action-sidescroller however, this game has got more of a puzzle-theme going for it.  With thirty-six ingeniously-designed areas tinged with various obstacles, you play a boy who's become a morphing blob who can transform into a cloud, sentient water, a bouncing ball, and a solid boulder thanks to a potentially crazy scientist that experimented on him (there is nothing sane about that story); he must gather all the gears in order to change back.  The catch is that you must wisely judge the proper time and use for each transformation, for if you overdo it then you lose and must start the stage over.  The gameplay takes some time to come to grips with (which is decent), and it looks really good, though its literally quiet settings make it feel atmospheric and large.  Maybe not a great game, but I think it's worth playing to see how Europeans implemented their own challenge in the media.
My Recommendation Score: 7.0
Super Wagyan Land
Year: 1991 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
More of a collection of boss puzzles and areas from the first two Wagyan Land games from the Famicom than a new entry, Namco's 16-bit foray of the series Super Wagyan Land has still got enough charm and length to make it its own game; it's also the first game in the series which implemented a password system, so that's a plus.  The visuals and music are nice to behold, and gameplay-wise it's easy as far as the platforming segments are concerned.  But the main reason to play this (or any) iteration of the series is for the boss puzzles themselves; which range from number progression, memory tests, focusing on the shape of pixelated images correctly, and the Japan-exclusive shiritori (which require notes in hand for those who can't read kanji).  Despite the fact that its dialogues are solely Japanese, it's a rather involving and addicting experience for its worlds are creative and fun to look at; its lightheartedness is also a big strength factor, even though it's got to have the most somber-sounding victory theme ever.  If you think you can take on the challenge of the puzzles, go right ahead; but it doesn't end there as there are two more games that followed.
My Recommendation Score: 8.5
Super Wagyan Land 2
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
The second Super Famicom installment of the Wagyan Land series, Super Wagyan Land 2 is actually a direct continuation of Wagyan Land 3 for the original Famicom.  Continuity can be a bit confusing for those outside the series; it's not quite as great as the first Super Wagyan Land, but once you get past the point where you won't have to fight three boss puzzles in the same stage anymore (there are some early on and in the middle) it gets a whole lot better.  The visuals are a bit more polished and the sound samples are improved this time around, although some of the songs are of lesser quality due to the pipe organs involved (why were those needed?).  Platforming segments are easy (albeit with extra features thanks to the help of a former villain), this time viewed from close-up or from far away; but the puzzles (same as the previous 16-bit game's) are the reason to play the game.  That, and the fact that there are two different endings depending on what you collect, regardless of difficulty.  Maybe the black sheep of the 16-bit Wagyan Land trilogy of games, but it's a solid game on its own right.  Play it at your discretion (if you can handle the challenge of the puzzles involving kanji).
My Recommendation Score: 7.0
Tenchi Sōzō
Also Released in: Europe (as Terranigma), 1996 (by Nintendo)
Year: 1995 | Developed by: Quintet | Published by: Enix | [|O|]
Combining the best elements of SoulBlader (SoulBlazer) and Gaia Gensōki (Illusion of Gaia/Illusion of Time), Quintet singlehandedly managed to create not only the best game they ever developed but also the best action-oriented RPG and best Super Famicom game ever!  Taking place in the planet Earth (largely in its surface), Ark ventures around to resurrect it by exploring and experiencing the unknown.  The gameplay is versatile and fluid, the soundtrack is perfect, and the many areas that you explore feel new and fresh each visit.  It is also an emotionally resonant adventure, with one of the most gripping stories culminating in a very poignant finale.  If you're a Gaia trilogy or action-RPG fan then you owe it to yourself to play Tenchi Sōzō (Terranigma).  It is magnificently flawless in every sense of the word, and one of the most unforgettable video games ever; you won't regret it.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 10
Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Chun Soft | [|O|]
As the first spin-off pertaining to the Dragon Quest games, merchant Torneko from Dragon Quest IV gets a chance to star in the first Mystery Dungeon game ever created, unfortunately made a Japan-exclusive.  This game is a well-made action-oriented dungeon crawler that's fairly difficult but enjoyable, even thanks to the replay value through the constantly random dungeon designs (and treasure and enemy placements) every time you start (again).  What keeps you going is that the more gold you gain the more Torneko constructs more of his home and increases its size, and it's always exciting to see what lies in the deepest depths of each dungeon.  It takes a bit of time to learn the proper tools to survive longer, but once you do this game is blast to play.  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure
Also Released in: Europe (as Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures), 1994
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Konami | [|O|]
The second game from the TwinBee franchise to be available on Nintendo's 16-bit console, Konami decided to opt for a different genre that strayed from the cute'em up formula.  And considering the TwinBee, WinBee, and GwinBee jets all have arms and legs, why should they not star in a platformer?  The first and most successful of the three spin-offs, TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure has the jets go around the world and collect the bells and fairies that have been hidden by Dr. Warumon's legion of EvilBees.  That, and it's a very fun platformer which is manageable to play yet is difficult to 100%, but when that's been accomplished it can be very rewarding (especially Warumon's 100% battle, yikes!).  The charm and lighthearted theme is present, plus there's lots of replay value thanks to the non-linear map, different endings, and battery auto-save; too bad the European version had a linear map, one ending, and exclusively had you continue through passwords making for a much lesser version of the game.  Konami did a brilliant job crafting this fun platformer by mixing elements with Rocket Knight Adventures and Sonic the Hedgehog, and it should be checked out...... the Japanese version; even if you're not a fan of the TwinBee series this is still solid platforming entertainment.
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
Wagyan Paradise
Year: 1994 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
If Namco's Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai was too bleak and depressing, then their Wagyan Paradise is the total opposite for it's engaging, enjoyably amiable, charmingly lighthearted, and most importantly: fun!  The third and final Wagyan game on the Super Famicom, this iteration is the best of the bunch.  The platforming gameplay is simple yet fun, the pastel-toned visuals are some of the most atmospheric you'll find for the system, and the music is catchier than ever.  But the best aspect of the gameplay is the boss puzzles themselves, which are plentiful and significantly easier than its two 16-bit predecessors but no less engaging.  Throw in a very good final boss encounter, the ability to play one of two characters, and completely optional bonus games, and you've got one of the best Super Famicom games of all time.  Highly recommended, even if you're not fully familiar with the kanji it's an hour and a half full of joy.
My Recommendation Score: 10
Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai
Also Released in: Europe (as Whirlo), 1992
Year: 1992 | Developed and Published by: Namco | [|O|]
Namco's Valkyrie series of games did well enough that eventually they decided to make a prequel with Krino Xandra as the main character, and instead of it being top-down like the other two games it was reduced to a platformer.  Despite the fact that it's thematically lighthearted Xandra no Daibōken: Valkyrie to no Deai has got a very depressing tone lingered throughout.  Even the story reeks of depression for Xandra must go out there to save not only his people from a deathly plague but his infant son as well, for if he fails he meets a very gruesome fate which is not only disturbing but distressing to look at as well.  That wouldn't be so much a problem if the game was not so devastatingly difficult, with demanding stage design, one-hit deaths, and four different jumping controls (three of which cannot be controlled).  Depression and high difficulty should not be a valid combination.  The pastel-toned visuals are decent and while the soundtrack admittedly sounds impressive even it has got depressing undertones which will make you feel even more sadder.  And to make things even sadder, it was the last game of the Valkyrie series to be made outside of PC or mobile phones.  How this got a European release is beyond me; not that it fared better there.  It is not worth the depression (and frustration) it'll end up giving you, for it could've used a lot more polish and plenty of leniency in order to be good or even the slightest bit fun.  Avoid!
My Recommendation Score: 5.0
Ys IV: Mask of the Sun
Year: 1993 | Developed and Published by: Tonkin House | Licensed by: Nihon Falcom | [|O|]
After the polarized reaction of the sidescrolling Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, Nihon Falcom figured it was time to get back to basics with the fourth entry.  The Super Famicom game Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, developed by Tonkin House, is a fantastic action-RPG, and was just what everyone needed for those who missed the simple yet fun controls of the first two games.  The story this time around is really good and dark, there's more to explore, the bosses are huge, and the rock-based soundtrack is awesome.  Each area has got their own level of detail, which is nice, plus it offers plenty of challenge worthy of its seven-to-eight hour long adventure.  This, to me, is one of the best (if not the best) Ys games ever!  Highly recommended!
My Recommendation Score: 9.0
Ys V Expert
Expert Version of: Ys V: Ushinawareta Suna no Miyako Kefin, 1995 (by Nihon Falcom)
Year: 1996 | Developed by: Nihon Falcom | Published by: Koei | [|O|]
If Ys III: Wanderers from Ys garnered a heavily mixed reaction from fans, then Ys V (the second and last game made directly for the Super Famicom by Nihon Falcom) successfully managed to outdo it in almost every category.  While still viewed from the bird's eye view Adol doesn't shove enemies but instead uses his sword to attack them.  The gameplay structure is also different for he can jump, raise his shield, charge magic, and move around in all eight directions (like Produce's Brain Lord, only slightly better polished); not to mention the fact that even its menu system is different, the soundtrack is now instrumental instead of rock, and you earn money by trading gems that enemies leave behind.  But if you can overlook all those drastic departures from the series the fifth Ys iteration is still a very good game by itself.  A bit on the easy side for the most part, but there's just enough length to make up for that.  Play it at your discretion.
My Recommendation Score: 8.0
Well, there we have it.  Thank you for taking the time and reading my Personal Super Famicom Recommendation Bar; I hope I managed to convince you to try and play these games (or not depending on the relatively few I did not recommend), and if you have any Super Famicom games you would like to recommend to me then I would be more than happy to take those into consideration.  =)
Well, now to see if I can get this thing resolved, what I will do.  I do have two or three Super Famicom video game reviews in the works, but if no development has occurred then aside from those you might not hear anything more SFC-related for awhile.
...... In hindsight, I have no idea why I added the "2014" disclaimer in the title since I don't know if I'll make this an annual thing or not.  But in the off-chance that I do then Lord help me because it was hard trying to recommend each individual game in just one paragraph.  There's only so many things you could say about something that it's hard to say it all in just such a  short amount of words.  =(
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
Thank you for reading my Personal Super Famicom Recommendation Bar, I hope you have a very great day!  Take care!!!  =D