Category Archives: nintendo 3DS

2015 Game Review Haiku, #50 – LEGO Jurassic World (Nintendo 3DS)

LEGO® Jurassic World™_20150402175119

Dinosaurs and man
The lack of humility
Big ideas, small game

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Decided not to endorse LEGO Jurassic World on the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS LEGO Jurassic World impressions

In July, I went on vacation to Walt Disney World and knew that I was going to hate the plane ride to Florida–mind you, only a two-hour plane ride at most, but two hours of hate hate hate–and thought that perhaps playing a new videogame set in a beloved franchise about terrible lizards while miles high in the air would help distract me from the fact that I was miles high in the air. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to focus too much on LEGO Jurassic World on my Nintendo 3DS due to nerves and that infrequent turbulence. Since then, I’ve dabbled at it and have, after some consideration, decided not to endorse any further LEGO videogame iterations on handheld consoles. Yup, all that build-up…for a stupid quote tie-in.

Before I truly get into it, I have tried out a few other LEGO games on my Nintendo 3DS in the past, which is a fantastic system, but one not built for the scope of these stud-collecting, brick-building adventures. LEGO Lord of the Rings for the handheld seemed fine, much better than LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes. Regardless, I was hoping by now that the different iterations on consoles and handhelds would be much more similar; alas, that is not the case, as LEGO Jurassic World feels like ten percent of what one could experience–and enjoy–on a home console, which is where I do like playing these games.

Everything is smaller, more streamlined. One might say that’s a good thing, considering that, for many, the point of the Nintendo 3DS and its ilk is for bite-size action, enough to kill a bus or train ride to work by keeping your head down and not having to speak to another human soul. However, several of the levels in LEGO Jurassic World are auto-scrollers, with someone either running or driving towards the screen, and they are finishable in under a minute or so if you don’t stumble over too many obstacles. That just doesn’t seem right, like the moment when you learn that InGen’s scientists are playing god and denying dinosaurs hormones that determine their gender. The remainder of the traditional levels are extremely linear, with little-to-no chance for exploration and discovery; also, so long as you punch and break every LEGO object along the way, you are nearly guaranteed to earn the “True Survivor” challenge, which asks you to collect a specific number of studs.

On more than one occasion, a puzzle in a LEGO videogame would bring everything to a halt. Either I wouldn’t be able to figure out what person or special ability to use to advance or missed a teeny tiny detail earlier in the level. Here, on the portable LEGO Jurassic World, there’s never been a glimpse of such roadblocks. You go into a level with only so many characters, and if you try to use something that is not for your specific ability, the game tells you who is needed right away. There’s been a few boss fights against velociraptors and the T-Rex, which boil down to quick time events.

There’s also terribly long load times in LEGO Jurassic World. I feel like it’s been ages since a load time–on a modern device–has been tedious enough to warrant complaining. I mean, this is a much smaller game, with shorter levels and less to do in each one. Why does it take over a minute to move from the visitor’s center to the outside? Or even back to the main menu? Believe it or not, but this waiting is extremely off-putting, especially when all you really want to do is get into the thick of things, collect some studs, and see some dinosaurs. Here’s how bad it is; once I finish going through all the levels for all four major film titles, I will consider the game done and take it out of my Nintendo 3DS. Yes, in a rare twist, I will not be replaying any of this game to get all the collectibles or red bricks or what-have-yous–it’s just not worth it, especially when I know that I’ll eventually get to play all of this again, but on a grander scale, with Achievements to boot.

Even though this iteration is kind of a tiny pile of dino droppings, I still plan to get LEGO Jurassic World for the Xbox 360, but only after I finish it off here, in its stunted form, as well as after I get 100.0% completion rate in LEGO Marvel, which is not being played on a handheld console. Progress on that one is slow and sporadic, but we’ll get there in the end. There’s also this forthcoming LEGO Dimensions to think about too. Gah, too many LEGO games, not enough LEGO time to get it all LEGO done. Er, wait. I think I need to rest now.

Shutting this Nintendo Club down with freebies

club nintendo post gd end of april

A little while back, Nintendo emailed me. Chances are, if you are a member of Club Nintendo, you also got a similar email, though we might differ on one main point–status. Anyways, they wanted to inform me that I had earned a Gold status in their unblinking, Mario-esque eyes, which meant I was entitled to a free game, a digital download at zero cost, and I had a list to pick from for either the Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo Wii U. Those that got Platinum status had a larger pool to pick from, and I made a mental note to come back and get my not-yet-selected freebie. Fast-forward to yesterday, the deadline for this promotion, and I scanned the list and picked…well, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Wii U.

Hold your horses, you say. Ah, I say back. You must be one of my highly attentive readers, for you are properly confused as to why I’d buy a digital game only available for the Wii U when I do not have a Wii U. Let me spoil it for you: I have a Wii U, and I’ve had a Wii U for many, many months. Since last fall, actually. I’ve just not found much to say about the system, which, in its own little way, maybe says more than I ever could. I’m not sure how well playing a two-screen game like Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the Wii U works–yes, I am not disregarding the fact that the console also has two screen, but they are somewhat separated–but I’m interested in learning.

Since I was already logged in to Club Nintendo’s site, I did a little more browsing and discovered I had 650 Coins sitting pretty up in the top corner. Suddenly, I remembered–there was something I wanted to use those on! Specifically, the Animal Crossing: New Leaf-themed deck of playing cards. Alas, they were no longer available, which is what I get for not hopping to it. Boo. None of the other physical items called out to me so I spent my well-earned reward coins on two more digital downloads for the Wii U: EarthBound and NES Remix. The former is a classic RPG that I’ve long wanted to play, just not through an illegal emulator, and the latter is a bunch of quick, quirky challenges in NES titles of yesteryear.

I’ve not actually loaded up either EarthBound or Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga yet, as RPGs like that require a time commitment, which I’m not ready to give, mostly because all my RPGing at the moment is going into Final Fantasy IX. I’ll get to them soon, perhaps over the summer. That said, I did load up NES Remix last night and found myself seriously absorbed, unable to stop until I had completed all of the levels for Excitebike and one-third of the ones for the original Super Mario Bros. It’s a lot of fun, but I’ll save further thoughts for its own dedicated blog post.

All that said, I am left with 100 coins in my Club Nintendo profile, which can be spent on…next to nothing. I can purchase one item for 80 Coins, which is called Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! Hmm. It’s a fast-paced game of skill and timing, where the player must barbecue all kinds of meats on the grill. In one way, it sounds amazing, and in another, it sounds like a gimmick that would quickly get old. Alas, I don’t think you can earn any more coins for your profile, so it is either this or let my coins vanish in the end. I’m not really tormented over this decision. Club Nintendo is shutting down at the end of June, so I have plenty of time to weigh my options.

If you too were brandished with either Gold or Platinum status, what freebie did you pick? Also, if you have those Animal Crossing: New Leaf-themed playing cards, I’ll trade you a free copy of Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! for it. That’s a pretty good deal, and you know it.

Pokémon Shuffle’s Mega Glalie is bad game design

Pokemon Shuffle Mega Glalie is the worst

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was stuck on Pokémon Shuffle‘s level 120 against Mega Glalie, and that everything was fine because, no matter what, my pocket monsters were continuing to gain XP and grow stronger and, without a doubt, I’d eventually have a team powerful enough to conquer the annoying, Generation III ice-type levitating face and move on to level 121. Astoundingly, that hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve been, more or less, using all five of my hearts against the bloody ripper every night before bed. I’m sorry to say, but this is some really bad game design, and I can’t recall the last time I hit such a visible wall in a game.

I’m not the only one struggling. If you type both “Mega Glalie” and Pokémon Shuffle into Google, you’ll quickly get returns for posts about people unable to beat the beast, people beating it using every item and Jewel they had and only then crawling past the finish line, and people puffing their chests out like mighty lions, claiming to have defeated Mega Glalie easily, using no items at all. Uh huh. Here’s a handful of confetti. If you are to use items, which are, let me remind y’all, quite costly, many are suggesting Complexity -1s, Mega Starts, and Disruption Delays.

For me, there’s certainly a stubborn drive behind my desire to beat Mega Glalie without any items, and this is not at all to prove I am a big macho man and super skilled at matching severed Pokémon heads. I conquered all 119 Pokémon levels before Mega Glalie without using any items. Perseverance, patience, and picking the right team was all it took, and so it bugs me deeply that the same strategy simply cannot be employed here. The problem is that, within four or five turns, Mega Glalie begins freezing entire columns, two at a time, often locking you out of sweet–and powerful–combo chains, forcing you to chip away at its health until the board resets or you run out of moves. Even with a team of level 6 Pokémon, the farthest I’ve dropped Mega Glalie’s health is down to about 25%.

This level is designed for you to spend money on (either in-game currency, which takes a good while to stock, or through extra turns via Jewels bought by real-life money), unless you hit the biggest luck streak of the century. Truthfully, I was enjoying Pokémon Shuffle, which just celebrated some 2.5 million+ downloads, when it kept progressing, even if just little by little. Play a few matches every night, unlock more to play the next night. Heck, Nintendo is even adding in more levels to the base set, upping the count to 180. That’s sixty more for me to get through…or potentially never see.

I may have to try an item against Mega Glalie. Call it desperation, call it despair, call it giving in–I don’t care. I have a free copy of Disruption Delay in my inventory, acquired from…uh, doing something cool, so maybe I’ll give that a go tonight. However, if the match goes just as poorly as all previous attempts, I will forever be bitter against using items and will refrain from ever experimenting again, deleting this free-to-play Pokémon game and focusing instead on that other free-to-play Pokémon game. That one, so far, hasn’t raised any walls yet to impede my journey.

If you have any good tips on taking down Mega Glalie, please do share. If you beat this level with your eyes closed and one hand behind your back, kudos for you.

Pokémon Rumble World’s toys are free to play with

pokemon rumble world 3DS2-620x

Another month, another free-to-play Pokémon adventure to experience on the Nintendo 3DS. I mostly wrote that leading sentence as those words don’t come together too often and maybe never will again. Yes, it was only two months ago in February that I was scribbling away about Pokémon Shuffle, Nintendo’s stab at the free-to-play match-three genre. Now we’re here in April, the fourth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with a new free-to-play, pocket monster-starring, potential money-maker called Pokémon Rumble World.

Let me do some quick historical research. Evidently, Pokémon Rumble World is the fourth game in the Pokémon Rumble spin-off series, of which I’ve played none of them. In this one, you control your Mii as he or she helps a king with low self-esteem collect various Pokémon to one-up a local magician who has way more colorful critters than him. That’s the general set-up, and its school playground-esque plot is paper-thin, but acceptable. It’s not like the traditional Pokémon games have mind-blowing narratives. The whole point, as always, is to collect a bunch of Pokémon (719 in total) and aim for being a completionist, though you can also earn money to buy new clothes for your Mii. I already got mine a green hoodie, so I might be good for a while.

And here’s how you go about collecting all them toy versions of Pokémon: use a special hot air balloon to travel to themed locations brimming with pocket monsters. New special hot air balloons cost Diamonds, which are this free-to-play’s second currency, but are time-based to use after that initial purchase, meaning you can continue revisiting locations so long as you don’t mind waiting a bit in-between. When you select a specific area, a roulette of several stages spins around, with each stage hosting different–and sometimes rare, indicated by a star–Pokémon. As you collect more, your adventure rank increases and new Pokémon begin to appear in the wild, inspiring revisits.

Once you are in a stage, you take your wind-up toy version of whatever strongest Pokémon in your collection is and destroy everything in your path. You can do two different types of attacks, all of which vary depending on your Pokémon of choice. Personally, I really like using Chespin at the moment. Sometimes the defeated enemies turn into coins, and other times they are knocked down, ready for collecting; to do that, simply run over them. Strangely, simply moving your selected Pokémon warrior near enemies or barrels causes it to auto-attack, which I did not like. If you’ve StreetPassed with anyone, they will appear in the stage, under duress, and if you save them they will reward you with boosts or even a Diamond; in fact, I saved fellow videogaming blogger Matt Mason the other night from a wild gang of Treecko–you’re welcome. After a few levels, you fight a boss Pokémon and then return to town, replenish your wares, and head back out for more. As your rank goes up, the king will have side quests for you too.

By far, my favorite thing about Pokémon Rumble World is that it plays, more or less, with no restrictions. Sure, you have to wait for your hot air balloon to recharge to use again, but I discovered you can just visit a different location via some other hot air balloon while waiting, which leads to never really waiting. In Pokémon Shuffle, once a day, I played my five turns and moved on, but here one can keep playing, exploring, or organizing their growing list of collected toys for as long as their battery life lets them.I do worry, however, that there could be a bit too much menu-ing in this, especially once you have collected a large amount of Pokémon, many of which are seemingly duplicates, but do differ in terms of stats and attacks.

Having passed up on the remakes Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire last year for reasons, Pokémon Rumble World is turning out to be a good replacement for my “catch ’em all” itch, and the free-to-play elements are beyond easy to ignore, which makes this all the more successful. Wind me up, my Mii–I’m ready for more, as well as on the hunt for a Garbodor.


Five things make a post, so please stop uppercutting me to death


Things have been a little quiet over here at Grinding Down, and there’s a good reason for it, though I can’t reveal much at this time. Basically, I’m neck-deep in comic work and have been severely limiting my ferocious playing of videogames. Crazy, I know, especially since I’m right in the middle of my 2015 goal of seeing Final Fantasy IX‘s end credits–hey, remember when I wrote about how something always comes by and pushes me away during the second or third disc? Yeah, that’s what’s going on at the moment, but I have the fullest of intentions to get back to solving what’s really going on in that Black Mage Village.

That said, there has still been a few glimmers of activity, which brings us to this style of post.


I picked up the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection the other week during that crazy good PSN flash sale and have been inching away at it slowly. There’s not much to actually inch away at, seeing as these are literally just a column of enemies to three-round fight until you get to the end. Naturally, I remember everything a little different, back when I used to play these on my neighbor’s Genesis, and I don’t recall the computer AI being so difficult. I’ve even dropped the difficulty settings down to “very easy,” seeing little change. I won’t feel satisfied until they are all best, but for now I’ve only beaten the original Mortal Kombat (using Raiden, of course), though Goro still took a number of tries in the double digits.

Free-to-Pokemon nightly

I continue to use up my allotted five hearts in Pokemon Shuffle once a day, at night actually, just before Mr. Sandman comes calling. Strangely, since changing the system clock on my 3DS due to Daylight’s Saving Time, the game thinks I’m trying to pull one out from under it and has restricted my access to the “Special” levels. Unless I want to do blah blah blah–whatever, game. It’s not my fault you and the system don’t grok how the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour works. Currently, I’m stuck on level 120, unable to take down a Mega Glalie, which is forcing me to go backwards, grind my hearts away while occasionally capturing a new Pokemon. It’s fine, really. So long as my captured pocket monsters are slowly gaining XP every night, I’ll eventually be strong enough to hit level 121. You gotta believe!

Greetings to Gracie

This should be no surprise to anyone, but I’m still playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf religiously and continuing to unlock slash see new elements of the game some years after its release. Such as finishing up Gracie’s Fashion Check quest four times, which results in the fashionista giraffe opening up a store of her own and upgrading your department store to fit all her swanky merchandise. Still need to pay off my house in full, fill the museum with more bugs, fish, and pieces of art, and get Katrina to open up a stationary fortune-telling shop in the town square. There’s always something to do, and even when there isn’t, just chatting up neighbors and pulling weeds is enough to satisfy me for fifteen minutes.

Not epic text, but bigger

Several weeks back, I saw word of another Dragon Age: Inquisition patch incoming, and usually these patches are just a long list of very specific catches/fixes that I might not ever notice or come across, but one item in this update stood out to me: Added an option to control the font size of subtitles. I’ve run into a lot of problems with the latest entry in the Dragon Age series–see here, as well as see here–but nothing got me to quit that game hard after only a few hours than its teeny tiny–nearly unreadable–text size. I’ve since loaded up the game again to discover that, yes, the text is much bigger and easier to read. Perhaps I’ll continue on with Girgna’s journey and actually leave the Hinterlands after Final Fantasy IX.

Unsuccessful hunter of monsters

Three times I’ve entered a physical store and tried to buy a copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate only to be told to scram. Well, no, not that. But mainly that such-and-such didn’t have a retail copy for sale. Now, I know I totally could go and order one from Amazon or download it via the eShop (actually, I can’t, as I doubt I have enough free blocks space for it), but that’s not my main operative. I want to go into a store and buy a thing and then have that thing in my hand, ready to be consumed. Me being me, I’m going to take this as a sign that I probably shouldn’t buy MH4U even though it seems like an interesting action game brimming with cats and cat-fed puns. This also happened when I tried to get Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Fire Emblem: Awakening, though I did procure a copy of the latter eventually. Meh, time will tell.

And there you go. Five random thoughts for a Friday.

Gotta match ’em all in Nintendo’s free-to-play Pokémon Shuffle

pokemon shuffle 287723-FFA1

Like sand dunes eroding over time, Nintendo is slowing dipping its toes into the free-to-play market in an attempt to see what all the hubbub is about, as well as milk fans for money. Now, I never did download Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, which had a unique take on bartering for cheaper mini-games, but it sounded like, at the very least, a fresh take on giving players something free to play while enticing them to drop some dollar bills for a bit more to experience. I’ve also not given Steeldiver: Sub Wars a look, so I can’t speak for how that submarine-steered competitive multiplayer thing faired. Naturally, the first free-to-play plunge from Nintendo I’m interested in trying out is Pokémon-related.

Pokémon Shuffle is another take on the “match three” puzzle formula, but instead of lining up similar looking gems or flowers or pieces of underwear, you’ll be matching cutesy disembodied heads of all your favorite–and probably some of your non-favorite–pocket monsters. You use the stylus and touchscreen to make this happen, and the game, thanks to its vibrant, colorful look and simplistic presentation, moves at a rapid clip. Basically, you’re matching three or more heads to deal damage to whatever Pokémon you are fighting, and different types of Pokémon to do more damage by way of a weakness system. Once you beat the Pokémon, you get a chance to capture it, and the capture percentage is upped a bit by how many moves you have left by the end of the battle; of course, you could always pay to up that guarantee of a capture. Strangely, some common Pokémon have really low capture rates, which doesn’t exactly line up with the, um, fiction of games like Pokémon Y and Pokémon White 2.

The free-to-play gating begins immediately once you get past the tutorial bits. See, there are three types of currency to pay attention to: Hearts, Jewels, and Coins. The core currency is Jewels, which you can buy for $0.99 each, with a small discount for if you buy in bulk. You can then exchange Jewels for Hearts. Hearts let you play one level one time (win or lose), and you can have a maximum of five total, with one reappearing every 30 minutes. Coins are a sub-currency used to purchase one-use power-ups before a battle begins, and from what I can tell, the majority of the power-ups are way too expensive for what little effects they cause.

I think Pokémon Shuffle‘s biggest misstep is in its Hearts. Also known as the Energy system when it comes to these things. Levels generally take one to two minutes to complete, possibly a bit longer if you are really studying the board for key combos or up against a really tough encounter, like Mew, which is the random event Nintendo’s running for the next three weeks since launch. That means, especially early on, you can use up your five Hearts in five minutes and then end up having to wait two and a half hours to play five more times in a row. Hexic for Windows 8 phones, which I found pretty addicting, was similar to this, but you only lost a chance to play again if you lost a battle/level; if you won, you kept going, riding it like a pro. I once downloaded Candy Crush Saga, but only played it once or twice before deleting, meaning I can’t tell you how it compared to this–but all in all, Pokémon Shuffle seems a little too eager to immediately put the player in a standstill and ask for an investment.

I will never drop any real money into Pokémon Shuffle, but as something I’ll pick up and play once or twice a day for maybe ten minutes at most, it doesn’t offend me. Too much. I can happily ignore all its free-to-play tactics and begs, though I do wish Nintendo took a chance to thank its long-time fans and incorporate some kind of connection with the various other Pokémon games for the Nintendo 3DS. I mean, my copy of Pokémon Dream Radar is collecting digital dust, so it would’ve been nice to keep that train a-chugging. Or, heck, use those Play Coins to help purchase extra hearts or Great Balls.

Again, Pokémon Shuffle doesn’t really bother me too much because I’m not investing anything into it other than a small chunk of my day, but if I really want my match three fantastical animal heads fix, I should probably wait for Pokémon Battle Trozei, releasing next month on the eShop for $7.99. Think about how many Hearts that could buy you in Pokémon Shuffle. Here, I did the math for you–$7.99, due to the odd way they are priced, could get you 6 Jewels, which could then be turned into 30 Hearts. So, the choice is yours–$7.99 to play thirty times or play as much as you want. I know, this is a tougher choice than trying to name an Audino for the umpteenth time.