Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman is a character many of us grew up on, for better or worse. For those old enough, we remember the cheesy Adam West TV show (either through first runs or re-runs).
80’s kids, such as myself, recall Michael Keaton as a darker, all-black clad Batman who ripped through the box office and spawned a toy line that was second-to-none.
But video games had failed to capture a certain essence of media for years. That could be true of any property, but Batman was especially guilty until Arkham Asylum.
A grim, darker narrative with a violent, insane Joker headlines this game which has plenty of Easter Eggs for fans of the series. Taking a Metroidvania style approach, you guide the Caped Crusader throughout Arkham Island to stop the madman.
Along the way you’ll encounter classic Batman villains such as Bane and Poison Ivy. The Riddler leaves riddles throughout your quest and other artifacts hint at characters such as The Penguin, even if they don’t appear in full in the game.
And that’s the beauty of Arkham Asylum. It’s an accessible game which offers something for everyone: we all know the Joker and the Riddler, but hardcore fans are also serviced with appearances such as Victor Zsasz.
Harley Quinn, getting more of the silver screen these days than when the game was originally released back in 2009, MC’s throughout and adds a level of disturbance and humor to the game.
Playing through isn’t all, as there’s a good replayablility factor to Arkham Asylum for completionists looking to find every hidden detail within the game. But for those who just want to plow through to the end, you’ll be pleased with the amount of action as well as stealth, which amounts to some very cool firsts for a Batman game.
For example, Batman doesn’t “kill” any enemies throughout – he can stun them with a Batarang and punch them out, crawl up from behind and put them in a sleeper chokehold, or hang from various points on ceilings and rappel down, only to leave his “victim” hanging.
A black and white menu screen, amazing soundtrack, and even slow motion “Matrix” style punches and kicks puts the polishing touches on this former Game of the Year.
For anyone who hasn’t given this game a whirl yet, I encourage you to check it out!
Note: this review covers the remastered Xbox One edition of this game.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Remastered)
What do you get when Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis write treatments for a third installment of the Ghostbusters movies but never get it produced?
You get Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
Before I get started, a disclaimer: I am reviewing the remastered edition on the Xbox One which came out several years after the original 2009 version it’s based on. The 2009 versions for PS3 and Xbox 360 are the same game, however, the Wii version was a similar but separately developed title.
The reason I mention this is, being a retro game site and all, it may seem like an odd choice to play a remastered title, but honestly, it’s just easier to capture screenshots.
Oh, and not to mention that the PS3 version I bought is seriously bugged (update or not) and you cannot continue your game from a save! It was all or nothing, and after three longer sessions of starting over, enough was enough.
Xbox One version, here we come…
So, if you end up playing this game remastered, just know that the graphics (especially some of the tiles) do come off as blocky and over ten years old. The rest of the game, while fairly mundane to play through, is rather enjoyable.
The entire cast of the series, from Akroyd to Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and even Annie Potts, all reprise their roles from the movies, lending their voices (and likenesses) to what’s considered to be “Ghostbusters 3” for hardcore fans.
Some easter eggs withheld as to not spoil the fun, I too feel as if this is loosely a proper movie sequel, with some reused bits from the original two movies mixed in.
Your character is a cadet, a new hire, or often referred to as “the rookie”, who does a lot of the dirty work. Some new toys are in store, but the game begins with familiar situations and a trusty proton pack, which sees upgrades throughout the game’s levels.
The levels are awkward and sometimes it’s not incredibly obvious what it is you’re supposed to do. Even the autosave feature appears to be broken at times, so be careful if you do not finish a level, because you really don’t know where you’ll restart (especially if you’re on the bugged PS3 version).
The rest of the game includes plenty of comic relief, but the challenge is really up to you. If you set it low, you’re kind of playing through a movie where you can’t die. If you set it elsewhere, it’s a mixed bag of cheap deaths and impossible tasks.
My recommendation? If you can snag this on the cheap, do so. It’s a fitting tribute for any Ghostbusters fan.
Doc Louis’s Punch-Out!!
An exclusive to Club Nintendo members, this is supposedly a very difficult game to acquire by legitimate means. It’s also hard to call it a “game” because it’s more or less a minigame of the Wii Punch-Out!! remake I reviewed on the site earlier.
Why it’s not a full game is actually strange, but this is a cool little standalone.
You basically spar with Doc Louis (Little Mac’s trainer) in three different modes.
Some thought was put into making the environment look like the game is “training mode” but playing against Doc is a little more fun than that. (Which is why this works as a standalone special title.)
The voice acting for Doc and his one-liners, while also being a challenging opponent, is a great addition to the series and one any Punch-Out!! fan should play.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
While the Nintendo DS reignited the 2-D platformer style of the original Super Mario Bros. franchise, it was the popularity of the Nintendo Wii which helped catapult its follow-up into record sales.
With a large install base for the Wii console, Nintendo needed a hit to help raise their sagging profits. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who is always inspired to try new ideas, took the “New” concept from the DS title and added various touches to the Wii version of the game to make it accessible for players of all skill levels while also adding a long-time goal of having multiplayer in a Super Mario Bros. game.
The result is familiar territory, with Princess Peach captured by Bowser – but it comes full circle with nods to Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World, by featuring the Koopa Kids and boss level “airships” reminiscent of those older games on the NES and SNES.
While the Wii wasn’t capable of producing HD graphics, this was the best-looking Mario title to date and still stands strong as well-designed platformer. Returning power-ups include the super mushroom, fire flower, and super star, as well as the DS version’s mini mushroom that makes Mario miniscule on-screen.
Newer additions include the propeller suit which integrates the Wii controller’s motion sensing ability, as well as an ice flower which finally gives players the inverse of the fire flower power, allowing them to throw snowballs instead of fireballs. (Which also has different effects on different items throughout the game.)
Finally, a penguin suit gives Mario the same ice flower capabilities while adding a diving/sliding mechanic and the ability to more safely walk around without slipping on snow and ice stages.
Yoshi also makes his return but is only available in certain levels. Yoshi’s “flutter” jump, first seen in Super Mario World 2 and its spiritual successors, also makes its debut here.
In all, if you enjoy the Mario platforming experience, you won’t be disappointed with this game. As a sequel of sorts to the DS version, it was finally good to have the same “New” Mario experience on the big screen and the success of this game would ensure that sequels in the series would continue to be published.
For as much as I crapped on Super Punch-Out!! I’ll tell you I loved this game sooooooo much more.
Every single part of this game has a nostalgic and fun feel to it. I had strongly criticized for the SNES version for being too easy and lacking any depth. Well… the Wii reboot takes everything from the previous games and ratchets up the level ten-fold.
The graphics look like playing a cartoon and are highly detailed. Fighters even sustain “damage” and each has neatly animated openings and endings.
The gameplay feels as if you’re incorporating some strategy, even with the trademark punches the opponent tosses which you must dodge for an opening.
And did I mention they brought back Little Mac and Doc Louis?! (Who were ominously left out of SNES game?!)
You’re also supposed to be able to use the Wiimote and nunchuck (and even the balance board) to play with motion controls, but I didn’t try it (yet).
Overall this game is an A+ in my book and definitely worth playing. It made me feel like a kid again, and I left out some of the surprises as to not spoil for those who may give this a spin.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled
It certainly feels strange acknowledging this as a “retro game”, however, it’s even stranger to think this game is already ten years old!
Is a decade long enough to call something “retro”? Well, it doesn’t matter, because this title was a modern-era remake of Konami’s classic second TMNT entry in the arcades: Turtles in Time. Of course, Turtles in Time also saw a famous console release on the Super Nintendo back in 1992. Then, it was considered one of the greatest beat’em up games and to this day still is.
The “Re-Shelled” entry takes that formula and cranks the volume knob until it twists off, complete with a totally redesigned, high definition presentation using the TMNT series’ style and voice actors at that time. The result is a trip down memory lane that feels like deja vu, but is far from being old hat.
As before you control one of the four turtles: unlike some of the other console editions, there doesn’t appear to be any advantage to using one of them over the other, meaning no special abilities for say, Donatello over Leonardo, in this one.
The game plays like the original: hoards of enemies fill the screen and it’s your job to defeat them. Many of the nice touches of the arcade game are still here, but none of the special SNES additions made the cut.
This is a pure remake of the arcade game only.
Regardless, it’s cool seeing the newer 2003 cartoon styles placed into the old environment. Oftentimes you’ll forget that the game is a remake, as many of the enhancements are enough to only bring back nostalgia in key spots.
If you’re a Turtles fan and haven’t played this, I highly recommend it. Especially if you were a fan of any of the Konami beat’em up games that were all the rage in the arcades throughout the early 90’s.