Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Seven


  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
  • Hyrule Warriors (Wii U, 3DS)
  • Bloodborne (PS4)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1, PSP)
  • Mega Man 2 (NES)

Thanksgiving was celebrated for a lot of folks in the States, and while you may have had your fill on turkey, dressing, and all the fixings, I would like to talk about a different kind of turkey. No, it has nothing to do with the feathered creature at all. I'm talking about boss battles that are turkeys-- fights that are annoying, badly designed, or just plain "ICK!" Check out past parts of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History with these links:

The Imprisoned - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a pretty polarizing entry in the franchise. That's the case either because of the motion controls or the game's need to hand-hold for a significant duration of the adventure. I'm on the side that really enjoyed the game, finding the motion controls to be an extension of my own movements, really feeling like Link doing away with enemies and solving puzzles either in the overworld or in dungeons.

By and large, Skyward Sword features some of the most entertaining boss battles in the series. That's why it's so disappointing that one of the worst bosses in Zelda's history doesn't just show up in the game once but three times!

This boss is the Imprisoned, a big black beast that either marches slowly or slides and slithers around on its belly. While each encounter with the Imprisoned has some variations, the fact that you have to face it three times turns a game I can go back to easily into one that makes me think twice about doing so. Everything from how annoying it is to deal damage to the time constraints you have to beat the boss in time creates one Zelda boss that I hope I never have to fight again.

The Imprisoned - Hyrule Warriors (Wii U, 3DS)

...DAMMIT! Here's a first for Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History-- the same boss appearing two times in one volume! While the Imprisoned was indeed a tedious pain in Skyward Sword, it managed to be just as obnoxious and maybe even more so with its various appearances in Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U and Hyrule Warriors: Legends for the Nintendo 3DS.

In Hyrule Warriors, whenever the Imprisoned appears on the map, you know you're in for a fight. It's a battle of attrition as you slash, slice, or slam away at the standing beast's toes. Once those have been eliminated, the Imprisoned falls onto its chest. It's here where the boss's health gauge is vulnerable. The fact that even with a relatively strong character you're still slowly chipping away at this foe's health is one to be aware of and dread. Then, when it rises back up to its two feet, it starts sending out utterly painful shockwaves with each step, making getting in to take out its respawning toes all the more annoying. The Imprisoned is a creature that had a lot of promise in Skyward Sword, whiffed at that (thrice), and then whiffed at it again with its appearance in Hyrule Warriors.

Micolash, Host of the Nightmare - Bloodborne (PS4)

Generally the bosses in FROM Software's highly acclaimed series of Souls games feature fun, frenetic action with a challenging-but-never-unfair difficulty. I say "generally" because one of the bosses in the much beloved PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne does not meet these qualifications.

Micolash, Host of the Nightmare-- I'll just call him Micolash for short, as he isn't really deserving of such an extravagant moniker-- is a boss that has you slowly pushing through enemy after enemy while trying to navigate a labyrinth. The enemies are annoying to contend with, and the maze itself is a confusing mess.

Upon catching up to Micolash, the "fun" continues, except this time it's in the form of an attack that can kill with one strike. May I also add that this boss absolutely loves to use this one-hit kill move over and over and over again? Micolash from Bloodborne is a rare miss from the developers as an entertaining boss battle, as he is anything but.

Wiegraf / Velius - Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1, PSP)

Final Fantasy Tactics is an often loved spin-off in the famed RPG franchise. Its ability to craft an engaging narrative while giving players a robust turn-based tactical RPG is something that many developers still try hard to beat, and often fail at doing. While the majority of the game makes it my favorite tactical RPG around, there is one sticking point for many a-beginner that if you don't have prior information to, you're probably going to find yourself cussing like a sailor.

Riovanes Castle is a three-part area in Final Fantasy Tactics. The second part is the most challenging, having Ramza face off against villain Wiegraf in a one-on-one confrontation before moving back to his starting spot. Then, he pulls out the Aries stone and transforms into the hell demon Velius. While it may be comforting that Ramza's party enters into the fray, it's short-lived, as Velius summons three Lesser Demons to settle the score.

Velius and the Lesser Demons are extraordinarily tough customers, but that would be fine and would make for a challenging boss battle. What makes this battle bad is how Final Fantasy Tactics' save system works. You are able to save your data between each of the three parts of Riovanes Castle. The problem is that you can become stuck in an unwinnable fight by being under-leveled with no way to return to the world map, because when you lose the fight, you get a game over, forcing you to reload your save. If you saved in between the first part and the second part of Riovanes Castle, you're stuck doing the second fight. Many promising save files were put to an abrupt end by not only not having a second save before entering Riovanes Castle, but also the largest jump in difficulty seen in the game yet. Some really weird oversight must have slipped by the developers, because for many, the many hours it takes to get to this point of the game meant that some just gave up and didn't get to enjoy the rest of this otherwise fantastic game.

Boobeam Trap - Mega Man 2 (NES)

Ending on a game that is a part of the recently released NES Classic Mini from Nintendo, Mega Man 2 is one of the greatest adventures the Blue Bomber has ever had. (Though I do prefer 3, but that's an article for another day.) However, there is one boss in the game that makes the game less than perfect: the Boobeam Trap, found at the conclusion of Dr. Wily Stage 4.

The boss is like a puzzle. Sounds cool so far, right? There are several Boobeams that are positioned out in the open and behind walls. These enemies require Mega Man to use Crash Bombs to destroy them, all the while they occasionally launch projectiles at our hero. The problem comes from the limited amount of weapon energy for the Crash Bomb that Mega Man has. He can only shoot seven bombs before his weapon energy is empty. The puzzle comes from being required to destroy all Boobeam targets before Mega's weapon and life energy runs out.

The problem here is that many Boobeams are placed beyond walls that also require the Crash Bomb to destroy them. So, in essence, you have to use all seven of Mega Man's Crash Bombs smartly and perfectly to solve the puzzle, or else you'll not only be unable to beat the boss, but when you are put back outside the boss room, you'll have to tediously round up enough weapon energy capsules from fallen foes to have a full supply of Crash Bombs to try the boss fight again. Sorry, but puzzles like these not only have no place in a Mega Man boss fight, but it makes for a really sizable sore spot in an otherwise excellent game.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Most Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games - Part Ten

The Nintendo 3DS library is what I consider one of the most complete and expansive libraries in gaming. Not every title in its library, however, can be a sales success. Many do, in fact, fall by the wayside and through the cracks. These five games for part ten of the Most Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games are victims of this. Despite being of varied quality (all good quality, however), these games somehow didn't manage to make the impact that they truly deserved. For a look at past installments of this series, check out the following links:

Nintendo 3DS - Part One
Nintendo 3DS - Part Two 
Nintendo 3DS - Part Three
Nintendo 3DS - Part Four
Nintendo 3DS - Part Five
Nintendo 3DS - Part Six
Nintendo 3DS - Part Seven
Nintendo 3DS - Part Eight
Nintendo 3DS - Part Nine

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Pleading to Square Enix and Nintendo to release the Nintendo 3DS remake of the PS1 classic Dragon Quest VII, fans of the series saw victory when not only one 3DS Dragon Quest game was announced for localization but two were announced. However, despite the clamoring on message boards for these games to be released in the West, it appears that these people were a very vocal minority, as Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past failed to sell well in its launch month based on NPD data. Furthermore, the legs of the game are incredibly short, quite unlike the lengthy 100+ hour quest the game possesses. Regardless, those who do look into the game will see the classic turn-based RPG action, charming characters, and lovely vignettes the original Dragon Quest VII was known for, in addition to the beautiful updated 3D models.

Final Fantasy Explorers

Released back in February of this year, Final Fantasy Explorers was Square Enix and Final Fantasy's answer to Capcom's Monster Hunter franchise. The goal was pretty much the same in Explorers as with Monster Hunter's, fell behemoth-sized beasts, use the materials dropped by said creatures to craft new and more powerful weapons and armor. Really, Final Fantasy Explorers is a great introduction to a Monster Hunter-like game for those intimidated by Capcom's franchise. While the combat doesn't take as much skill to master, constantly acquiring new materials to craft awesome equipment to make your hero look like the bad ass he or she is-is a fantastic feeling and gives you a sense of continued progression. Then you can hop online with up to three other explorers to take on monsters and missions alike.

Disney Magical World 2

According to NPD leaks, Disney Magical World 2 netted only about 10,000 sold copies in its initial launch month in the U.S. For its asking price, the game is an embarrassment of riches, whether it's content in the form of things to accomplish, furniture to collect and customize your home, or clothing to wear and outfit your custom character. The abundance of Disney characters your avatar can interact with would make any Disney fan squeal with delight. Entering into the different magical worlds like the 100-Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh fame, Atlantica of The Little Mermaid fame, Hawaii from Lilo & Stitch, and others to complete missions and quests means you'll never be at a point in Disney Magical World 2 where there is nothing to do. Of course, the total lack of marketing towards the game is easy to blame for the totally lackluster sales, which is unfortunate, as Disney Magical World 2 is a terrific game for the many Disney fans who probably don't even know it exists.

River City: Tokyo Rumble

After many years in hibernation (at least in the West), the River City Ransom series returns, this time to the Nintendo 3DS in a celebration of all things River City. Taking on the role of Kunio, a high school student with the reputation of being a tough guy who will take on anyone who threatens his friends, you progress through a beat-em-up sandbox-style city setting, brawling with goons, henchmen, and bosses alike. While doing so, you gain experience to gain strength and coins to purchase helpful health-restoring items and stat-boosting equipment like undershirts and iron knuckles. A New Game+ option guarantees that you'll be brawling until the sun comes up, and the addition of a four-player versus mode in both fighting and dodgeball ensures that good times will be had by anyone who enjoys a good and satisfying beat-em-up.

Style Savvy: Fashion Forward

Get your inner fashionista on with Style Savvy: Fashion Forward. Intended for the audience that mostly left Nintendo to mobile gaming, Fashion Forward may seem like it's some trashy shovelware, but the quality of the game is definitely up to Nintendo's standards. From performing all the day-to-day duties of running a fashion boutique (stocking, keeping a steady supply of goods, making customers satisfied with appropriate outfits that tailor their wants, etc.) to entering fashion contests to earn prestigious awards, Style Savvy: Fashion Forward is a highly competent game that decidedly isn't for everyone. Nevertheless, you'd be a fool to dismiss it as shovelware just because it doesn't appeal to you. There is obvious effort put into this game seeping out of every crack and crevice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Sequels That Underperformed Due to A Previous Entry

Despite being greatly reviewed games and of quality, some games simply don't sell well. It's something we've had to concede and take as a fact in this tumultuous industry. Sometimes it's due to not being what the public and consumers at large want, other times it's because of being released at the wrong time. Then, there are occurrences where sequels don't sell well. Many times this can be attributed to the fact that a game's predecessor poisoned the proverbial well and gave away all good will towards it. That's the case with these games in this article. They may be fantastic games in their own right, but a predecessor might have left a bad taste in gamers' and consumers' mouths.

Watch Dogs 2 (PS4, XB1, PC)

We start off with a case showing that just because professional mainstream critics generally like a game and praise it (see: Metacritic, for example), it doesn't mean that gamers will overall love the product. That was the case with Watch Dogs, Ubisoft's highest selling new IP of all time. With Watch Dogs, players grew to hate the rather boring protagonist, Aiden Pierce, the subpar story, and some of the gameplay that seemed quite inferior to the open world gameplay of other franchises. In essence, Watch Dogs highlighted the issues with Ubisoft's approach to open world design, making for another disappointment for many gamers. This seems to have bled into the sales of Watch Dogs 2, at least in the UK, where sales have seen a massive dive compared to the original. Whether it's due to the quality and broken promises of the original Watch Dogs or being sold at the tail end of an avalanche of other AAA software is up to you, but I'd wager both aren't mutually exclusive to one another and are indeed both causes.

Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

Developer Intelligent Systems went a different direction with the Paper Mario franchise with the Nintendo 3DS's Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Out were the partners of past games and the leveling up from repeated battles. In were the use of stickers and a much smaller focus on story. While that game sold well, it left many players with a bad taste in their mouths, and despite Paper Mario: Color Splash on Wii U being a marked improvement over Sticker Star, featuring a greater emphasis on characters and story, less obtuse puzzles, and a masterful presentation, it didn't light the world on fire sales-wise. Sure, Color Splash releasing at a time where the Wii U is being put out to pasture with Nintendo's attention being turned to the upcoming Switch is a culprit, but it's hard to argue that the idea that Color Splash's sales weren't affected by its similarities in structure to Sticker Star.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Multi)

The original Epic Mickey was a much hyped game. The steampunk take on the world of Mickey Mouse and the backing of Warren Spector of Deus Ex fame gave many gamers and Disney fans plenty of excitement. The first disappointment, however, came from the game being a Wii exclusive. The second disappointment came when the actual game released. With haphazard painting and thinning elements, a poor implementation of decisions that gave players the illusion of choice, an aggravating camera, and the inability to return to past locales made for an unsatisfying adventure overall. When the sequel, Epic Mickey 2: The Power or Two launched, this time as a multiplatform release, sales were far away from the 2 million+ copies that the Wii original had. The inconsistent quality of the first Epic Mickey certainly must have turned off buyers of the sequel. Plus, the sequel was hardly a worthwhile game as well.

Sonic Colors (Wii)

This is an instance of a game series that used to sell relatively well in Japan but now sees insanely anemic sales numbers. What is to blame for this? Three words and a number: Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. The 15-year anniversary celebration game for the Blue Blur garnered an immense amount of hype from gaming and Sonic fans, but when the final product released, it was plagued with serious bugs and horribly conceived sections of gameplay due to being rushed out. This resulted in many former Sonic fans, especially those in Japan, turning their collective backs on Sega's mascot. Games that used to easily sell 100,000 copies in Japan like Sonic Heroes would now after Sonic's horrible 2006 entry struggle to sell 10,000 copies. Sonic Colors was a victim of this, despite being one of the best 3D Sonic games of all time, and just a darn good game in general. It sold much better outside of Japan, but this is one of many examples of games that used to sell well in one region no longer doing so because of a certain predecessor.

Resistance 3 (PS3) 

Like Watch Dogs, Resistance 2 was a game that got a lot of critical acclaim, but when it reached gamers' hands, it suffered from intense scorn for having an inferior campaign to the original Resistance, which was a PS3 launch title, as well as various changes that were deemed unnecessary by fans. This included but was not limited to the lack of a weapon wheel, this time only allowing two weapons to be equipped at a single time, something that the original Resistance had and that the third Resistance game returned with. Unfortunately, despite taking all of these criticisms from fans to heart and creating a much better game than Resistance 2 and maybe even Fall of Man, Resistance 3 did not see the impressive sales of either of its predecessors. That may have been why all three games saw the end of their online gameplay cease so quickly.

Red Steel 2 (Wii)

Nintendo's Wii brought a lot of hype about the possible potential of the Wii Remote. While some of that potential did shine through with various games, one where it really didn't was the Wii launch title from Ubisoft, Red Steel. I mean, damn, you could even twist the Wii Remote to hold your gun sideways, fam! All this potential for Ubisoft's first-person shooter with swordplay made many interested in the Wii highly hyped. Though the game sold over one million copies, Red Steel did not do so well critically either by the press or by players. This resulted in its sequel a few years later, Red Steel 2, to do poorly, despite being a much better game with both excellent pointer controls for shooting and great swordplay via the MotionPlus attachment for the Wii Remote. Red Steel 2 is one of my favorite overlooked Wii games, and it's another example of Ubisoft killing any goodwill they had with an original IP by releasing a less-than-competent predecessor.

Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (PS2, GCN, XBX)

A common theme with a fair amount of games on this list is that they were published by Ubisoft. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Probably, but Ubisoft won't get it. Regardless, the third entry in the Prince of Persia trilogy for the sixth generation of home consoles returned to a more well-rounded attitude. What I mean by that is that unlike Warrior Within, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones was not an embarrassing attempt at being try-hard and edgy. There was no overabundance of violence, blood, or scantily-clad women trying to lure the GTA crowd to it, all off-putting to those who preferred the much more happy-go-lucky Prince of the original game in the trilogy. While the game was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, this total turn into something trying too hard to be mature (instead turning out juvenile because of it), certainly did turn off many players, thus The Two Thrones suffered.

Monday, November 21, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Once Again Thankful for Good VGMs" Edition

A new week is upon us at SuperPhillip Central, thus SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs are here to make the beginning of your week all the nicer to ease into. It's a shorter work week for many thanks to Thanksgiving this Thursday! Gobble, gobble to you all!

We kick things off in a big way with a bombastic tune from Shadow of the Colossus. Then, we go peppy and jaunty with music from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. Following that is the return of the Blue Blur in Sonic: Lost World. We then go futuristic with F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, and then cap things off with a song from de Blob 2, an underrated gem from last generation.

Just click on the VGM volume name to hear the song, and for past VGMs featured on this weekly-recurring segment, look no further than the VGM Database. Now, let's get onto the music!

v1271. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) - Revived Power ~Battle with the Colossus~

With The Last Guardian finally, and I do mean FINALLY, releasing on a PlayStation platform next month, it seemed like a good time as any to look back at the developer's previous work, Shadow of the Colossus. Kou Otani composed the music of the game, and he's well known for his work on certain anime series such as Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star, where did just as phenomenal of a job as he did on Shadow of the Colossus.

v1272. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64) - Pop Star

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards released relatively late in the Nintendo 64's life, thus it didn't receive the same magnitude of hype or love as more recognizable Kirby games. However, Kirby 64 is no slouch. It's a fantastic 2.5-D adventure that uses a clever ability-combining mechanic that has yet to be seen in any other Kirby game. The music is also as wonderfully charming as any other Kirby game as well, as evidenced by this first level theme, Pop Star.

v1273. Sonic: Lost World (Wii U, PC) - Sea Bottom Segue

Sonic: Lost World may have been a game that started out strong but fell apart by the end of the game, but one facet of the title that remained great from beginning to end is the soundtrack, composed mostly by Tomoya Ohtani. Sea Bottom Segue is first heard in Tropical Coast Zone 3. The second time it's heard is in the final world, also in a rail grinding level. It's a suitably chill piece, accentuated by piano and soothing strings.

v1274. F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA) - Bianca City

Bianca City is the first track in F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, one of the titles that was available at the launch of the Game Boy Advance. The game was different compared to past F-Zero games as it starred a completely new cast of characters and courses. There was no Captain Falcon or Mute City to speak of. However, the music was as catchy and energizing as ever.

v1275. de Blob 2 (PS3, 360, Wii) - Prisman Holiday

Before going bankrupt and folding, THQ was home to a lot of smaller budget games that wouldn't otherwise get a chance in the AAA market. de Blob was one of these, and it was successful enough on the Wii to earn a multiplatform sequel, smartly titled de Blob 2. The music, once again by John Guscott, had that splendidly jazzy sound to it, making playing the already enjoyable game all the more enjoyable.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ittle Dew 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

We start the week with a brand-new review. This time, we're taking a look at Ittle Dew 2 from Ludosity, which just launched this past week. The PlayStation 4 version is the one I played for this review, but the experience should be similar across all platforms. Here's the SuperPhillip Central review.

Thank goodness for shipwrecks!

The Legend of Zelda is one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. It's such a historic and progressive series that has such a delightful formula that is rather tough to nail down. It's any wonder why many developers don't even try. However, we've seen a rise in the Zelda-like thanks to various indies. One such indie, Ludosity, already has a Zelda-like quest under its belt with Ittle Dew. Now, the sequel has launched with a 3D makeover, offering an adventure that will make you laugh as much as it makes you ponder how to solve that particularly daunting next puzzle!

Marooned yet again on an island, the duo of heroes, Ittle, a strong-willed girl always ready for an adventure, and her companion, a cheeky fox-like creature named Tippsie, find themselves in uncharted territory once more. There mission is already set in stone... er... I guess wood would be a better word to use, as the two need to find eight wooden raft pieces to craft an escape from the mysterious and hazard-filled island they find themselves on.

We wouldn't have a game if that wasn't the case!
The humor is abundantly apparent within the first few minutes of Ittle Dew 2. Asking Ittle if simply cutting down a tree would be smarter in order to build a raft, Ittle simply states matter-of-factly that "rafts don't grow on trees." The constant winking, lampshading, and mocking of video game and action-adventure game tropes remains from the original Ittle Dew, and it's still as funny and chuckle-worthy as ever.

The adventure is as awesome as ever, too. Ittle Dew 2 challenges you with moving Ittle through an open overworld map connected by zones that house different locales, enemies, obstacles, and challenges. The eight raft pieces are conveniently placed in dungeons spread around the world map. A great part of Ittle Dew 2 is that you need no tackle these dungeons in any order, save for the final one that unlocks once the previous seven raft pieces have been collected. Doing this makes it so multiple playthroughs need not give you the same experience. You can shake and vary things up, which makes repeated plays of Ittle Dew 2 feel vastly different from each other.

Each zone in Ittle Dew 2 feels like its own special place.
Beating dungeons out of order isn't necessarily too big of an issue. Sure, enemies attack stronger and harder if you don't have upgraded weapons and defensive equipment, but you usually can strong-arm your way through the dungeons thanks to the generous checkpoint system and dungeon design. Losing all of Ittle's hearts in a dungeon takes you back to the beginning of the dungeon. However, because the design of dungeons never fails to have it where you're able to open up shortcuts and portals that allow quicker access to deeper parts of said dungeons.

Dungeons house the most amount of puzzles within Ittle Dew 2, and from the beginning dungeons, the puzzles are relatively elementary affairs to complete. Push a block on this switch, step on the other switch to open the door, boom! As you progress in the game and reach later dungeons (or, as I mentioned, if you just go out of order), you'll find that you'll discover truly brain-busting puzzles. What puzzles you faced earlier in your adventure that took no more than ten seconds to figure our the solution to will feature puzzles later in Ittle Dew 2 that can take you ten minutes just to wrap your head around the concept of what the developers want you to do. They're never impossible to solve or have unfair solutions. You'll never feel like you were cheated or mislead. Instead, if you think about how to use four main items you're eventually equipped with, each mapped to one face button, and how to combine their uses to solve puzzles, you'll figure out the solutions.

Stepping on four buttons in order isn't usually too taxing a challenge,
but it is when you've got enemies in your way.
The four weapons that Ittle comes across in the various dungeons of Ittle Dew 2 can also be found in special portals that take you to uncharted destinations not even on the world map. These portals usually house combat or movement challenges in order to acquire a treasure of some type. Many times you'll find one of the four weapons of the game, but if you already have the original, whether you found it in a dungeon or in a portal area first, you'll gain an upgraded version of that weapon. Both weapons as well as special defensive equipment like headbands can be upgraded up to three times through finding them in dungeons or in the wild. Thus, making the process of going out of the recommended order of dungeons much easier to accomplish.

These four weapons in Ittle Dew 2 come in the form of a standard stick that can eventually launch fireballs from its tip regardless of Ittle's health. There's also a wand that shoots balls of magic that can interact with faraway objects and trigger mechanisms like crystals that open doors in dungeons. Then there's dynamite which serves as Ittle Dew 2's version of The Legend of Zelda's generic bombs. Finally, there's an ice ring that can freeze enemies and create one ice block that can be slid across the ground. This is great for summoning an ice block to hold down a button while Ittle stands on the other, successfully unlocking a door in the process.

I don't know what is more dangerous to Ittle here-- the skeletons or the bitter cold!
Ittle Dew 2's puzzles don't just hang out in the eight dungeons of the game. No, the entire world map is littered in the greatest sense of the word with secret caverns and hidden areas. Some are as simple to access as striking a peculiar object or section of wall while others require some deeper thought. Whether it's standing still by a barrel for a few seconds to reveal a hole, hitting a series of pillars in a certain order, or escorting a ghostly spirit to its resting place, there are many clever solutions to uncovering caves. Thankfully, a lot of these secrets have NPCs within the world that don't mind sparing a hint towards them. Additionally, many of the secret caves can become marked on your map by finding special scrolls that reveal some of the caverns' locations. These secret areas are worth investigating, too, as many house the aforementioned portals leading to helpful treasure, to health-boosting Crayon Boxes, and even special shards that when many have been collected, open up three of hidden dungeons across the world map.

Most caves house a short but sweet puzzle to solve to make you really earn your reward.
These hidden dungeons reward you with Forbidden Keys upon clearing them. You also get the fourth and final key through beating the final boss of the game. The four Forbidden Keys can then be used to open up the door to the ultimate dungeon, optional, yes, but very worthwhile. It's full of the hardest enemies, most ingenious puzzles, and greatest dangers, all concluding with a seriously challenging boss.

To see everything within Ittle Dew 2 took me about ten hours of playtime. This includes getting all ten trophies (again, I played the PS4 version), maxing out Ittle's health by finding all of the Crayon Boxes, upgrading all possible equipment to max, beating all eight regular dungeons and the four optional ones, and reaching the end of the game. I can very much see myself replaying Ittle Dew 2, despite having done everything even trophy-wise because it was such a rewarding experience, especially as a big-time Zelda fan.

Ittle Dew 2 isn't without its faults, however. The frame-rate did struggle in more action-intense areas, particularly some boss battles, which cost me precious health when trying to avoid their attacks. The bosses themselves are recycled throughout the main dungeons, only differing in what attacks they add each time. So be prepared to see the same three bosses in the initial seven dungeons multiple times. Even though the developers lampshade this with dialogue even making fun of things like "development costs" as to why the same bosses are being battled, which is very funny, but at the same time, it's still not optimal. In addition to these issues, there is the small one of doorways in dungeons and indoor areas being a bit too easy to be hit back into. It sucks when you're trying to take down an enemy that takes a fair amount of time to beat and it knocks you back into a door, causing you to leave the room. When you return, the enemy obviously has its health back.

Then there's the biggest problem: The price point. Generally I equate massive games with a $20 price point, which something like Ittle Dew 2 really isn't. When you can get a game like Dead Rising on PS4 or Xbox One, which is a much larger game for the same price, it can be hard to recommend Ittle Dew 2 at its current price. However, if you really dig quality Zelda-like experiences, I believe you won't feel TOO much sticker shock with the price.

Hmm. Don't I recognize you from somewhere? Why, yes, that OTHER dungeon. My mistake!
Despite these issue minor and a little more major, Ittle Dew 2 is a satisfying adventure. Finding hidden areas and dungeons, not knowing what hazards, puzzles, and treasures await, makes for a very fulfilling quest. Solving particularly challenging puzzles after taking minutes to comprehend what exactly it is the designers had in mind for you to do is especially gratifying and feels great. Ittle Dew 2 is a worthy adventure that uses its inspiration from Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series wonderfully, packing in its own brand of self-referential humor to make it a delightful game from start to finish, and for repeated plays.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review code provided by Ludosity.