Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Review Round-Up - December 2019

December gifted SuperPhillip Central with a triple play of Mario games of varying quality.
Happy New Year from SuperPhillip Central! Here's hoping your 2020 is a good one. With a new decade and new year, it's almost easy to downplay that it's a new month--meaning it's time for a new Review Round-Up! Let's check out all seven games that were reviewed throughout the course of the last month of 2019.

We started off with a triple play of Mario games. Mario Kart Tour was hammered for its scummy microtransactions among other issues, spinning out to a C- grade. Meanwhile, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 improved on past games in some ways, but was a step back in others, earning a B- for its effort. The last of the trio of Mario games was Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey for the Nintendo 3DS. These titles just seem to be getting progressively longer, don't they? Well, the quality of the games is, too, as it reviewed well with a B+ grade.

Moving on from Mario to mechs, we took on colossal Immortals in Daemon X Machina, which blasted its way to a B-. Then, we moved on to more casual fare with America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy!, which suffered from presentation problems that distracted from the fun of both classic game shows. The compilation got a C- for this reason.

Meanwhile, New Super Lucky's Tale arrived on the Nintendo Switch, much to my delight, and it ran, jumped, and spun its tail to a B-. Finally, we sort of ended the month, year, and decade on a downer review-wise with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, which fell off the course to a D+.

2019 saw the posting of SuperPhillip Central's 900th review. Let's see if we can reach 1,000 in 2020! As an aside, check out every review ever posted on SuperPhillip Central with the SPC Review Archive!

Mario Kart Tour (iOS, AND) - C-

Overall, it says more about how much I love Mario Kart that I can put up with the slimy Gacha and microtransaction practices than it does my delight for Mario Kart Tour. While the game is structurally sound on a gameplay note, the systems designed to inhale all of the contents from players' wallets are just horrid and completely disgusting to me, especially coming from family-friendly Nintendo. For most players, I feel Mario Kart Tour makes for a stopgap as they wait for Mario Kart 9 to come out (whenever it does--maybe even Nintendo's next system at this rate), and even then, it's a poor one. You'll most likely find yourself wishing to go back to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. As for me, I see myself sticking with Mario Kart Tour for a little while longer, hoping I don't get to a point where I'll get truly repulsed and put off from playing the game for good--but deep inside knowing that I probably will.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 (NSW) - B-

Like some of the events in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020, some elements of the game just seem half-baked. The amount of content is a major one, especially when you're comparing it to past entries in the series. This seems like a step back in that regard. That notwithstanding, Mario and Sonic's trip to Tokyo to compete ahead of the official 2020 Olympic Games nails the landing when it comes to being enjoyable to play. While you will find yourself scrambling to the menus to read up on a given event's controls more times than you might care to admit or care to like, the actual events are mostly entertaining, and the retro-themed events and minigames also sport plenty of opportunities for fun as well. It wouldn't be a review about a game set in the Olympics without a cliche reference, and while the review tagline already took care of that, here's a second one for you: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 goes for the gold, but winds up with silver instead.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey (3DS) - B+

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey doesn't completely replace the need for the Nintendo DS original Bowser's Inside Story, but also adds enough content and updates to the game that it makes for a nice supplement all the same. Bowser Jr.'s Journey is a disappointment in how "hands off" the experience is, but considering it's an extra mode to a game that would otherwise already be full-featured, it's hard to knock it too much. After all, when you have the excellence that is the 25-30 hour adventure of Bowser's Inside Story, not even Bowser could find too much to complain about... other than some filler and padding in the form of repeated mini-games, of course!

Daemon X Machina (NSW) - B-

Daemon X Machina will most assuredly find its niche with a subset of mech game-loving Nintendo Switch owners. (There are dozens of us!) That said, the game isn't at all beginner-friendly, and will even put off some seasoned gamers as well with its complex controls and systems. For mech lovers, there's nothing like upgrading your Arsenal, prettying it all up, and then taking it out on the battlefield, whether online or off, and shooting and slicing the hell out of enemies on the battlefield. If you liked Armored Core or have any interest in mech games--while also having the patience to learn the ins and outs of its gameplay mechanics--then mecha no mistake--you should play Daemon X Machina.

America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy! (NSW) - C-

America's Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy! do offer a competent version of these two enduring game shows. They're serviceable enough, accessible enough for beginners, and entertaining enough to give some short bursts of game show goodness here and there. It's just a bit of a disappointment that game shows deemed as "America's Greatest" don't have truly great enough video game representations. Because this package certainly isn't.

New Super Lucky's Tale (NSW) - B-

Overall, my happiness that Super Lucky's Tale was brought to the Nintendo Switch didn't diminish through playing the final game. Sure, there were headaches here and there while playing the game to full completion (I'm looking directly at you, marble puzzles), but I had more good times and favorable moments with New Super Lucky's Tale than bad. While I doubt I'll want to return to the game often due to the unskippable story sequences in levels and all of the non-platforming gameplay, I do think pretty highly of the game. That's because ultimately, New Super Lucky's Tale is a solid platformer, a definitive version of Lucky's adventure, and most welcome in any run and jump fan's ever-expanding collection of Switch games.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) - D+

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD gives me a lot of questions. The top question being: Of all the Super Monkey Ball games that could have been remade, why this particular one? Other questions include: Why does this game exist? Who asked for it? Will SEGA be surprised when this poorly received remaster bombs at retail, and when it does, will SEGA think that means no one wants new games in the series instead of thinking, "Hey, maybe Banana Blitz was a bad game to revive?" Ugh. All of these questions are driving me bananas, so just take your review grade, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, and then make like bananas and split.

Meanwhile, New Super Lucky's Tale was a fun if not occasionally frustrating game,
but not because of its platforming, fortunately enough.

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