Things That Really Matter #11: Reviews

Now it’s time for some reviews of games that I’ve recently finished. First I’ll provide a school-like grade and then a more personal “conclusion”. Read on. Or don’t.


This is an upgraded port of a year-and-a-half-old PlayStation 2 game. Is it worth purchasing in spite of that? I would have to say YES, as long as you don’t already own the PS2 original. There are some new missions, characters, blah blah but what really makes the Wii version awesome are the controls. Swinging the Wiimote and the Nunchuk attachment to beat people up on screen is very fun and rewarding. This game was quite controversial on release but it’s nowhere near as violent or vulgar as the Grand Theft Auto teams, developed by the same company. This game has a lot of personality, tons of characters, and exciting missions. Did you hate jocks/cheerleaders/nerds/bullies/greasers/burnouts/etc. when you were in high school? This is your chance to beat them all up. Enjoy!

Grade: A
Conclusion: Surprisingly good


If you’ve played the previous Mario Karts you may be wondering what’s new in this game. Here’s the list: 1) 12 competitors in each race instead of 8 2) The option to use motorcycles 3) A steering wheel controller that comes with the game 4) A horrible “rubber banding” system to keep the races close.

Adding four more contestants to each race is a nice touch and makes things even more chaotic than usual. Unfortunately, the motorcyles are nothing special and don’t add much. The steering wheel peripheral sucks and you’re much better off just using the old-school controller scheme. The rubber banding is obvious and awful. If you’re familiar with the previous games, one of the items is a blue shell that goes straight for the 1st place racer and takes them out. They appear in overabundance in this game and maintaining a 1st place position is more of a liability than it ever should be. The Bullet Bill item returns and is also cheaper than ever. It turns you into a Bullet Bill and zips you along, sometimes from 12th place all the way to 1st. Ugh. Unfortunately, unless you’re a terrible racer you’re much more likely to be hurt by the rubber banding than benefit from it.

Mario Kart DS introduced a missions mode that even had boss fights. Sadly, that mode did not make it into this game. Combine that with the fact that the graphics are barely better than the GameCube Mario Kart game and you have an unfortunate product. Still, it’s Mario Kart and it’s competently designed, with 16 new tracks and 16 classic tracks. It’s a lot of fun 75% of the time. The online mode works well and there are many great characters to unlock (except for Funky Kong, he’s a nerd).

Grade: B
Conclusion: Mildly disappointing


If you’ve played House of the Dead, Virtua Cop or Time Crisis then you’ll know what to expect from this game, as it features first-person, on-rails light-gun action.  You don’t control where your character goes, just what he or she shoots at.  Umbrella Chronicles is divided into four main chapters.  Chapter 1 is a light-gun adaptation of Resident Evil 0, Chapter 2 adapts Resident Evil, and Chapter 3 adapts Resident Evil 2.  Completing these chapters opens up new scenarios that feature new side stories featuring various villains and allies.  Chapter 4 is a brand new story in which the heroes from the original Resident Evil invade a factory in Russia.  It’s all good stuff and fairly challenging.  There’s a lot of variety for a light-gun game and it’s much longer than most of its peers.  The graphics are easily the best I’ve seen on Wii so far.  I’d highly recommend this game to fans of light-gun games or the Resident Evil series but others might not be that impressed by it. 

Grade: A-
Conclusion: A pleasant surprise


I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this game because I haven’t really played the revival Ninja Gaiden game for Xbox. As it turns out, most of the connections with the classic NES Ninja Gaiden games have to do with theme and characters but not gameplay.  Dragon Sword is essentially a beat-em-up or hack-‘n-slash with minor puzzle elements.  Control is provided almost exclusively by the stylus.  This means you spend most of your time frantically swiping the stylus back and forth, which somehow results in a bunch of bad guys dying. 

The game looks very nice by DS standards but the audio is largely forgettable.  The storyline is basically the same as every Ninja Gaiden game: go save some girl.  The action can be tedious at times but the boss battles are usually pretty fun.  Overall, this adventure is a mixed bag.  For some reason, the story scenes are expressed with lame anime-style drawings that contrast with the fully rendered 3D presentation of the in-game graphics.  Also distracting are the main villainess’ breasts in these drawings; they’re unnaturally large, of course, but they sit about 3 inches too high.  Not appealing!  This game was made by the same pervs at Tecmo that make the Dead or Alive games and supposedly the impetus for Dragon Sword’s production was a request from the producer’s kids, who wanted to play one of his games on their beloved DS.  Awwwww.  God, to think that the guy that introduced breast physics to the video game world and made an entire game that revolves around bikini girls lounging around, exchanging gifts, and playing volleyball (DOA Xtreme) has kids is unsettling.  He also wears sunglasses indoors so . . . . yeah, you know.

Grade: B-
Conclusion: Mildly disappointing


3 responses to “Things That Really Matter #11: Reviews

  1. As Greg and Scott discussed over dinner last night, your grades seem to be much more lenient when compared to the reviews themselves…what gives???

  2. i said that i’m sure this is how the florida schools grading scale works.

  3. Ahhh…so you did review it. And what’s more embarrassing is that I actually commented on this entry!!!
    However, it is more than a month old and with my horrible memory, how could I be expected to remember?

    so sorry!

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