All posts by Matt

A Brazilian gamer with a great love for playing Nintendo games, and a hobby of writing about his gaming experiences and thoughts. Even though that is what I mainly do for fun, I also love listening to music (especially rock) and watching movies (especially animations), so also expect a few posts on those matters.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review

If it were a game from a brand new franchise Shantae: Half-Genie Hero could be easily called great. It is not overly lengthy, clocking in at about eight hours if players go for full completion, but it has a satisfying duration nevertheless; it is beautiful to look at; it packs a solid soundtrack; and it has charm, humor, and level-design prowess. However, as the fourth installment in a series that has always excelled in the way it borrowed elements from Metroid and Zelda, and stuck them in the shoes of a platformer, it ends up falling short of that status. Newcomers are far more likely to thoroughly enjoy it than longtime fans, for while the former will see it as a truly delightful action-platformer with some notable quirks, the latter are bound to view it as not just a missed opportunity, but a step back, one that apparently fails to materialize half of what made its prequels so beloved in the first place.


It shifts its focus away from what made the franchise unique and directs its attention towards action-platforming, stripping a portion of its originality and leaving it adrift among a sea of similar titles

half_genie_hero1Supported by a devoted fanbase that poured their hearts and hard-earned cash into a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Shantae franchise leaps from its handheld origins towards home consoles with its fourth installment: Half-Genie Hero. As a series that, with each passing game, slowly polished the edges of its unique gameplay style, culminating with the spectacular The Pirate’s Curse, one could expect Half-Genie Hero to be a continuation of the process; a game that would lean over the few lessons learned and improvement opportunities found in its prequel and catapult Shantae to a new-found level of greatness. However, even though the game does attempt to stretch its wings further than ever before – perhaps to make it more suitable…

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Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising Review

Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising is still a blast, though. It is a fun, engaging, and challenging game whose value is a sight to behold. It may feel far closer to an expansion pack than to a true sequel, but it is a must-buy to either those who greatly enjoyed the original and are looking for more missions of deep strategic values painted with a charming cartoonish look or to those that want to get to know the franchise and feel like starting with its most complete and well-presented installment.


It may feel far closer to an expansion pack than to a true sequel, but its deep strategic values painted with a charming cartoonish look are still a blast

black_hole_rising4Save for considerable overhauls that are absolutely necessary every once in a while, Nintendo – and its closest partners – have been successful in producing sequels to their greatest franchises by sticking to one solid formula. The bases that garnered critical praise and commercial glory are preserved, and developers proceed to focus on the addition of punctual new features that will significantly alter the overall experience. Therefore, games that are simultaneously more of the same – which is what most fans want following a remarkable effort of great originality – and fresh are born destined to earn accolades to match, or come close to, those of its predecessor.

In a way, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising does follow that blueprint…

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Mega Man 2 Review

Mega Man 2, therefore, stands as a point of reference not because it is the best game in the saga (as such a ranking is especially subjective in a series whose entries are similar to one another). It achieves that status because it marked the first point in time when all of the franchise’s qualities – its untouchable and uncannily perfect soundtrack, its great 8-bit visuals, its signature structure, its brutal difficulty, its constant sense of progress, and its balance of platforming and action – came together to form one spectacular product. Future installments, such as Mega Man 3, may have polished up a few edges to a finer degree, but it was in Mega Man 2 that these delightful pieces first formed a complete and compelling picture.


Mega Man 2 rises on the horizon like a lighthouse: a point of reference that has guided the uncountable sequels of the series and all games that have tried to emulate its formula

megaman2_1As the number attached to its title indicates, Mega Man 2 did not mark the inception of what is now a long-standing franchise that is so popular and recognizable its name and main character are integral components of gaming as a whole. However, despite the fact it is not the Blue Bomber’s first adventure, Mega Man 2 rises on the horizon like a lighthouse: a point of reference that has guided not only the uncountable sequels of the series but all of the games that have tried, fully or partially, to emulate the remarkably iconic structure and gameplay the saga coined. More than a blueprint and a source of inspiration, though, Mega Man 2 is the bar against which…

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Super Mario Bros. 3 Review

To a whole lot of people, then, Super Mario Bros. 3 had the sound of a door being blasted open right inside their brains and revealing the vast, colorful, and enchanting universe that lied within the realm of gaming. It rises so far above its predecessors, which were great games in their own right, and surpasses pretty much everything else that called the NES its home, that it is hard to even imagine they came out for the same console. It is one of those rare instances when a game can be called both an evolution and a revolution; Super Mario Bros. 3 has served as the basis upon which all Mario sidescrollers have been built, and the fact they remain undeniably successful and astonishingly fun should give anyone that was neither alive nor playing games back in 1988 an idea of how gigantic it was, and it still is.


It rises so far above its predecessors, which were great games in their own right, that it is hard to even imagine they came out for the same console

smb31Context is everything. It is the frame that allows us to put facts and occurrences into perspective, helping us give the proper weight and understand the reasons to whatever it is we are seeing. Given context is ever-shifting, like the window of a high-speed train rolling through time, it is easy to lose sight of how utterly shocking some events of our past were to their contemporary audiences: the landing on the moon, the first television broadcast, the invention of the airplane, the initial batch of bits that were sent through the internet, or that time in 1988 when Super Mario Bros. 3 became available to a Japanese market that was eager to play a new adventure by the world’s most…

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Super Mario Bros. 2 Review

In all fairness, though, Super Mario Bros. 2 is a good game. Most of its flaws are only unearthed when it is directly compared with its predecessor, which is not fair considering it is actually an entry from another franchise dressed up as a Mario title. Although its gameplay is not as entertaining as the one featured in Super Mario Bros., it is a game that – thanks to a long gap between releases – has a number of resources at its disposal, either purely technical or related to level design, that did not exist back when Super Mario Bros. was being produced.


If Nintendo’s ultimate plan with the American version of Super Mario Bros 2. was to create a game that was accessible and different, they succeeded resoundingly

super_mario_bros_2_1With more than two decades elapsed since its original release, Super Mario Bros. 2 remains quite an oddity within its franchise. The explanation is quite simple: the title was not developed as a Mario game, but as a totally different adventure dubbed Doki Doki Panic. In it, an Arabian family comes into the possession of a magical book about a land where the dreams of its inhabitants determine the quality of the weather on the following day, and that gets suddenly overtaken by the devious Wart when he turns their recently built dream machine – constructed to guarantee clear skies – into a nightmare-producing apparatus. Therefore, it is no wonder the game is so completely different from its prequel and from all Mario platformers…

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Super Mario Bros. Review

Hindsight, especially the one that is offered by the masterpieces that Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World are, reveals that Super Mario Bros. is off the mark on some of its features. However, for a platformer that was released in 1985 – when much of the NES’ power was still untapped – it still stands up shockingly well; certainly much better than other games of the kind that were released either before it or shortly after. Super Mario Bros. may not have invented a genre, but its quality and cultural weight changed the gaming landscape, essentially becoming the lighthouse that would guide the development of various games that followed it. The fluidity of its adventure and the excellency of its level design still make the ripples of its impact be felt by most who play it.


Super Mario Bros. may not have invented a genre, but its quality and cultural weight changed the gaming landscape

super_mario_bros2Super Mario Bros. is so iconic – and its characters, visuals, music, gameplay, and charm are so deeply ingrained into the world’s popular culture – that there is not much left to say about it. At the same time, though, its existence is something that people, whether they are gamers or not, have grown so much used to that it is easy to take the title’s impressive quality and revolutionary values for granted. Although platformers whose scenarios scrolled across the screen did exist before it, hence making it a game that followed a previously explored path instead of one that created its own road, Super Mario Bros. took advantage of its starring character’s major fame and, of course, its great level design to popularize its genre, turning it into the gameplay…

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SteamWorld Heist Review

By transforming technological ships in outer space into saloons of the wild west and replacing human cowboys with metallic heroes, SteamWorld Heist manages to be a fantastic mixture of genres and styles.


By transforming technological ships in outer space into saloons of the wild west and replacing human cowboys with metallic heroes, SteamWorld Heist manages to be a fantastic mixture of genres and styles

steamworld_heist4While some gaming franchises are perpetually stuck inside the confines of the same genre, something that is certainly not inherently negative, SteamWorld has built its reputation on a series of titles that are completely different from one another. The self-explanatory SteamWorld Tower Defense introduced the world to a desolated future Earth inhabited by steam-powered bots that tried to protect their loot from a degenerated and zombie-like species of humans, while SteamWorld Dig sent players towards the core of the planet as they uncovered the secrets of a deep mine that was set up like a big maze. Appropriately, and keeping such tradition intact, SteamWorld Heist ditches all elements from its predecessors – save for their universe and robots –…

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SteamWorld Dig Review

SteamWorld Dig has, since its release, garnered numerous comparisons to the Metroid saga, and such parallels do make some sense. Like Samus, the protagonist is roaming through hostile dark caves that hide a secret and that exhale an air of ominous danger and mystery; moreover, the deeper Rusty digs – and he will indeed do a whole lot of digging – the sturdier his equipment needs to be in order to deal with the threats that lurk in the dark and with the obstacles that stand in his way. However, the similarities end there, as SteamWorld Dig – much to its benefit and to the delight of gamers that decide to jump into these mines – lifts itself from that familiar launchpad to build its own character with a good degree of success.


SteamWorld Dig turns a concept that could have been repetitive into a kind of grind that is hard to abandon

steamworld_dig2In a world where humans have devolved into brainless creatures whose intelligence lies well below the level of that of a caveman, steam-powered robots have risen as the dominating sentient beings. Rusty is one of those bots. Sporting a look that matches wild-west attire with steampunk motifs, he receives the deeds to his uncle’s mine and heads to where his new property is located: Tumbleton, a decaying town in the middle of a vicious desert. Looking not only to explore the place, but also to discover what has happened to his uncle, Rusty climbs down the entry shaft and starts digging towards treasure and the mine’s distant depths. And dig he will until Tumbleton recovers some of its glory and he finds out what his uncle has left behind for…

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Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga Review

Superstar Saga, though, is not satisfied with one victorious idea. Although simultaneously controlling Mario and Luigi as they explore the overworld and tackle turn-based battles is indeed the main component of its fuel, the game is packed with clever concepts and engaging elements that either derive from that central pillar or adorn it. It is a powerful combination that still makes this Game Boy Advance gem feel fresh and unique, even if various sequels have built upon its central mechanic with some success.


Populated by numerous unforgettable characters and carried by an incredible combination of action-based battles and clever exploration, Superstar Saga is a classic

mlss2Simple ingenious ideas often go a long way towards building a fantastic game, and Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is one of the proofs that turn that hypothesis into scientific truth. It is not that the brothers had never set out on an adventure together; numerous Mario platformers had, before Superstar Saga, given gamers the chance to alternate between both characters, as if they were on a joint venture to rescue Peach from the clutches of that day’s villain. However, the first installment of the Mario and Luigi series was a pioneer in the materialization of that partnership on the screen, with the two characters truly cooperating with one another and walking as a two-men evil-banishing platoon.

Superstar Saga, though, is not satisfied with one victorious idea. Although simultaneously…

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Pokémon Sun and Moon Review

Like all installments that preceded them, Pokémon Sun and Moon are excellent titles and mandatory additions to the collections of newcomers and veterans alike. They may not be the best versions the property has ever produced, but their technical updates, gameplay enhancements, and online features are more than sufficient to turn them into the definitive games of the saga, at least until their successors come out in a few years.


Sun and Moon may not be the best Pokémon versions ever produced, but technical updates, a relaxed aura, and gameplay enhancements make them quite unique

sun_moon3With two decades marked by record-setting sales and supported by an armada of fans of all ages and backgrounds, the Pokémon franchise reaches its seventh generation with the arrival of Sun and Moon. Like all versions that preceded them, the two installments embrace the philosophy that states things which are not broken do not require any sort of fixing. Therefore, they preserve the series’ universally known trope of assembling a Pokémon team, and catching as many monsters as possible, in order to become the top trainer of a specific region. At the same time, though, Sun and Moon take some noticeable steps towards the elimination, or the improvement, of some of the franchise’s established quirks.

The games’ most considerable trait, perhaps due to the fact…

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Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Microgames Review

Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Microgames is a game of such great insanity that it is not surprising it came out from where it did: a minor studio quickly put together by Wario and his peers.


A game of such great insanity that it is not surprising it came out from where it did: a minor studio quickly put together by Wario and his peers

wario_ware5One can rightfully accuse Wario of being a man of many sins. He gets angry for petty reasons, hates losing to the point of resorting to cheating in order to avoid defeat, and needs little to no motivation to come up with schemes to trip his rivals. Most of all, though, he is greedy. Laziness, however, has never been part of his persona; his love for gold runs so deep that, in fact, it has sent him – more than once – crashing towards adventures packing high degrees of danger, including meetings with pirates, encounters with powerful curses, a battle against a murderous clown of nightmarish look, and more.

Perhaps tired of life-threatening undertakings, and alerted by a television commercial that…

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Diddy Kong Racing Review

Diddy Kong Racing is able to lift itself above the generic building blocks it uses. Differently from most kart-racing games, it may not be stacked with recognizable brands, characters, and assets, a reality that is slightly harmful to the overall experience. However, Rare – in the midst of a breathtaking streak of creativity – was able to infuse the title with enough content, genuine challenge, and refreshing ideas to transform it into the Nintendo 64’s most fun racing effort and one of the few games of its genre that rightfully deserves to be placed alongside the best entries of the Mario Kart franchise.


Diddy Kong Racing is able to, with a great deal of charm and creativity, lift itself above the generic building blocks it uses

dkr3According to the norms established by Mario Kart, the franchise that invented the kart-racing genre and showed the world how successful and fun it could be, games of the sort should follow a specific recipe. Companies should get a group of recognizable characters that inhabit one or more universes in which racing is not a highlight, put them aboard simple karts with metal frames, place them in a bunch of courses of outlandish design and that are inspired by the games of origin of the racers, and allow competitors to break all fair-play rules by arming them with items that – in the real world – would cause brutal injuries, uncontrollable brawls, and arguments packed with inappropriate vocabulary.

With the discovery of such goldmine, many were the…

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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door Review

A playable storybook in the form of an RPG that reveals outstanding characters, sharp writing, inventive story scenarios, and fantastic humor with every page that is turned


A playable storybook in the form of an RPG that reveals outstanding characters, sharp writing, inventive story scenarios, and fantastic humor with every page that is turned

ttyd2Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is one of those games that understands what fans want, and then proceeds to give them exactly what is expected. Acknowledging the overwhelming success with which the original Paper Mario was met, Intelligent Systems and Nintendo set out not to reinvent the wheel, but to replicate that experience with punctual improvements and the ambition to make it bigger; goals that are certainly not as straightforward as they sound given how Paper Mario often flirted with perfection and, in the process, came off as Mario’s most epic adventure up to that point and also one of the very best.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, then, is a game with a whole lot to live up to. However, it is…

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Paper Mario Review

With Intelligent Systems by its side, Nintendo does the impossible: it uses the same source material the RPG masters of Square had at their disposal in the building of Super Mario RPG, and finds a way to topple that legendary adventure on its own playing field.


Supported by creative writing, engaging exploration, and simple yet deep RPG elements, Paper Mario topples its legendary predecessor 

paper_mario2Before Paper Mario, the titular plumber had already gone through quite an experience in the role-playing realm, albeit in a much less flat state. By the hands of Squaresoft, masters of the genre, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars transformed the Mushroom Kingdom from the curious background scenario of platforming antics into a fully explorable place packed with talking characters, towns, turn-based battles, stats, and leveling up opportunities. Still, even if Paper Mario did not set out to navigate through uncharted waters, it was a challenge; after all, without Squaresoft to take the reins of the project, it was up to Nintendo and Intelligent Systems to jump into the RPG format – a new undertaking for both companies – and produce a worthy successor to the Super Nintendo classic.

As beginners…

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Donkey Kong 64 Review

After mastering 3-D platforming in Banjo-Kazooie, Rare tried to push the genre to its extreme limits in Donkey Kong 64. The result is nothing but the biggest and most expansive collectathon ever produced, and a game that uses its sheer size to implement an astounding amount of ideas and elements.


Donkey Kong 64 does not aim for immensity for the sake of being big; it does so to make room for the insurmountable amount of ideas it explores

donkeykong648By late 1999, more than one year after the release of Banjo-Kazooie, Rare had already perfected the gameplay focused on item collection that dominated early tridimensional platformers. The bear and the bird had covered a considerable amount of terrain with great success, tackling everything from mini-games and tight jumping challenges to quests whose structure bordered on what would regularly be found in role-playing titles. As a company that was not looking to perform the same trick twice, as it is evidenced by the surprisingly varied lineup of excellent software that it put out during that era, when Rare had as its task Donkey Kong’s transition from his sidescrolling universe to the newfound freedom of the big worlds of the Nintendo 64, it did…

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