Category Archives: nintendo 3DS

Day is night, and night is day for Pokémon Moon

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I skipped out on Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, which, like my first experience with Pokémon HeartGold, are remakes of older generation games. That’s fine, really. I’m not against remakes, considering I loved Spyro the Dragon: Reignited Trilogy and have heard many good things about Capcom’s revisit to Resident Evil 2. However, after Pokémon Y, I wasn’t interested in going backwards, but rather forwards, with the mechanics and list of pocket monsters evolving greatly and equally alongside the somewhat limited handheld graphics. Enter Pokémon Moon. Yes, moon, not Pokémon Sun. I’m Irish, and I burn easily.

Alas, I picked up Pokémon Moon around the same time that I got Disney Magical World 2. As you know by now, I ended up putting way more hours into running around Castleton than I did the Alola region, and I have a hard time pulling carts in and out of my Nintendo 3DS, preferring to leave a solid one in until I’m mostly done with it. I mean, I did start Pokémon Moon the night I got it, picked Rowlet as my starter (sorry, Litten and Popplio), handled a few other tasks, and saw enough of the opening area to confirm that, yes, this is another pretty good Pokémon entry, and I’ll get to it eventually–and when I do it’ll be a fun time.

On that note, if you’ve played one Pokémon game, you’ll probably not be knocked over by the general story in this one. Pokémon Moon has you journeying across the beautiful islands of the Alola region, encountering newly discovered Pokémon, as well as Pokémon that have taken on a new Alolan style. Your job is to keep track of all the Pokémon you’ve seen and caught with your Rotom Pokédex, which is a living, breathing record-keeper. Around every corner, your battling skills will be tested by tough Trainers, and epic battles are in store for you against Team Skull, a nefarious group of ruffians attempting to steal Pokémon. You’ll also face off against the kahunas, the tough leaders of each island. If you’re strong enough, you may reach the Battle Tree, a place where the most accomplished Trainers go to battle each other.

Sounds about the usual affair, so then…what’s different this time around in Pokémon Moon? Well, some of the Pokémon you’ll train and battle with can learn powerful new Z-Moves—moves so strong they can be used only once in battle. There are Z-Moves for every different type, as well as exclusive Z-Moves for certain Pokémon, including Eevee and Pikachu. There’s also a new Pokémon Refresh feature that can keep your Pokémon in top shape after all that battling. Here, you’ll take care of your Pokémon by curing any status conditions like poisoning and paralysis, and the more affectionate your Pokémon become toward you, the better they’ll perform in battle. Lastly, Pokémon can also enjoy a new experience known as Poké Pelago, a place for them to visit when they’ve been placed in PC Boxes. This is a group of islands where your Pokémon can explore, play, and do other fun activities, growing stronger and obtaining items for you.

Actually, the biggest difference for Pokémon Moon and Pokémon Sun is the clock. Yup, time, time, time. In addition, the two games’ clocks are set 12 hours apart from each other, with Sun operating on the standard 3DS time, and Moon 12 hours ahead. This means, when I usually play the game at night, it is actually daylight in-game…and vice versa. This does affect some of the Pokémon you’ll encounter, and I find it rather neat nonetheless.

Perhaps my favorite new feature in Pokémon Moon is that after facing off against a Pokémon once, the game automatically charts whether a move will be effective or not. No longer do I need to look up what works against what online or keep tables labeled effective or super effective in my memory. This is fantastic both for newcomers and series loyalists. I don’t care if some see it as dumbing the game down; there’s still plenty of things to dig deep into, if that’s what people like about their Pokémon games, such as breeding or finding shiny versions.

I’m playing Pokémon Moon super slowly–I mean, it’s been a few years now–and that’s perfectly fine. Every now and then I get the itch to go in, wander around, catch some new pocket monsters, and level up my team. I also enjoy dressing up my avatar in new clothes. Maybe I’ll advance the story, and maybe I won’t, content to just noodle around with all the side content and extracurricular activities. I figure this will still hold me over until I get a Nintendo Switch and have to make the difficult decision between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Hmm. Really, it’s whatever one has Garbodor in it.

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Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn cutely pulls the wool over your eyes

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I had a retail copy of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, which is a light-hearted platformer developed by Good-Feel and HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the Wii way back in 2010. Then, during my divorce, I gave up the Wii and most of its games, yet ended up still having the case of the game, along with the manual…minus the disc. Hmm. I suspect it was inside the Wii when it was unplugged and all that because I’m usually pretty good when it comes to not losing my beloved videogames. Thankfully, I can stop looking for it because I have a newer, shinier version of it to play.

Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn for the Nintendo 3DS might very well be the system’s last big release. I don’t see much else coming out down the road, but you never know…I feel like a lot of people are constantly surprised to see the handheld still being supported, but it makes sense to me when you factor in its large user base. Sure, most have probably moved on to the Nintendo Switch by now, as I will eventually do one day, whenever they get around to announcing an Animal Crossing-themed bundle. Anyways, it’s an enhanced remake of Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii, which means it has the same content as the original release, but also includes new power-ups, modes, and sub-games starring Meta Knight and King Dedede as playable characters. Alas, this version now lacks co-op, so Prince Fluff is not playable, but that’s okay…it’s perfectly fine for solo-ing.

Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn‘s not a plot-heavy adventure despite the word epic in its title. Kirby is wandering around Dream Land one day when an evil wizard banishes him to Patch Land, a world made up entirely of fabric. Kirby is transformed as well, including his powers. He can no longer copy the abilities of enemies by eating them whole; instead, Kirby can shift form into various vehicles and other devices. Using this and his yarn whip, he journeys through Patch Land as he attempts to put it all back together.

Many originally complained that the Wii game was a bit too easy and forgiving, almost built for children. Well, for those that want more challenge for their cutesy pink platforming star, the introduction of a new Devilish Mode will keep seasoned gamers more on their toes. This new mode ups the challenge a teeny bit–this will never be a splatformer–by having a devil-like character following Kirby the entire time, trying to get in his way or hit him with tossed items. I tried it a few times and found that, ultimately, it is not for me; I like taking my time and exploring every nook and cranny, getting every gem I can, but this mode forces you to keep moving and never stand still. No thanks, but it is there if you want it.

Along with Devilish Mode, there are two extra additions to the original Kirby’s Epic Yarn experience exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS version, plus amiibo and StreetPass support, both of which I no longer care about or am able to do. These are the minigames starring King Dedede and Meta Knight; one is called Dedede Gogogo, and the other is Slash & Bead, and both are relatively similar to each other. For Dedede Gogogo, it is basically an endless runner with Dedede moving across the screen, hitting or diving through whatever comes into his path all while trying to collect as many beads as possible. Slash & Bead has a teensy bit more agency, allowing the player to freely explore the screen, hacking and slashing at everything as the legendary Meta Knight. Each minigame contains four stages to complete, and you can craft…uh, things, such as a yarn donut, with some of the gems and materials you collect in these minigames. It’s not a boatload of extra stuff, but it is something else to do.

Here’s the thing. For Kirby’s Epic Yarn, I never got that far, maybe just to Hot Land. The reasoning behind this is because I was playing it with my then-partner, and we just didn’t end up returning to it after our first gleeful initial session with it. For Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, I’m already at Hot Land and excited to keep playing. I also am looking forward to decorating my apartment with all things green, as well as helping to flesh out the other apartments with required furniture and wallpaper. It’s not Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, but I’ll take it.

Small-scale escapades with Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Once I’m done with a few other games on my plate, namely Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion, I plan to move on and finally play Batman: Arkham City. Well, start it again; I did play a wee bit of it on the ol’ PlayStation 3…uh, some long time ago. Anyways, I got another copy of it in a Black Friday bundle last year with Batman: Arkham Asylum for Xbox One, which I’ve already played and enjoyed, but it was actually cheaper to get both than purchase Batman: Arkham City on its own. Yeah, go figure, right? My cart total came to…$5.33. I’m all about them cheap-o gaming experiences. But that’s not at all what this post is about; I’m here to talk to you about Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, which is a big Batman game on a tiny screen.

Taking place shortly after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins, Blackgate attempts to bridge the story gap between Batman: Arkham Asylum and its recent prequel. In this one, Batman learns of a robbery that leads to his meeting the feline burglar Catwoman. As events quickly unfold, the temptress leads the Caped Crusader to Blackgate Prison, home of Gotham’s criminals who haven’t been deemed criminally insane and consequentially sent to the much more infamous Arkham Asylum. The villains already behind bars, the most nefarious being Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker, have managed to escape from their cells and take control of the joint. With the rest of the inmates at their employ, Batman must stop the complete takeover of the prison. It’s a decent setup, but it does feel a bit samey when you think of how events went down in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

What is Blackgate, other than a mouthful of a game title? Well, it’s a Metroid-style Dark Knight adventure designed by a few of the top people behind the three Metroid Prime games on GameCube and Wii. Their new studio is called Armature, and this is their big debut. In this, you are the titular Batman, exploring Blackgate Prison, automatically filling out a map as you search for clues about how to get from one part of the game world to the next. As you go, you’ll discover obstacles that are in your way and then, somewhere down the road, find new abilities and gadgetry that let you pass those obstacles. Shocking, I know. Also, there are enemies to fight, and the combat is handled similarly to the main entry series, wherein rhythm and timing is your best bet to remain standing at the end. Blackgate is two-parts detective work and one-third combat.

As I’m wont to do, I played a small amount when I first got Blackgate…and then put it down and completely forgot about it after a few days. Shame on me, but also…that’s just totally me. Well, I loaded it back up recently. My save slot says I’ve played a total of one hour and twenty-four minutes, which puts me at a 21% completion rate. All right then. Thankfully, it immediately told me where to go to next to move the story along–the lighthouse. However, getting there still proved troublesome as I completely forgot all the controls or how anything works, such as using detective mode to find clues in the environments you are navigating. Don’t worry, it eventually all came back to me, just took a few attempts.

While the story itself is not very engaging, the way it is told is super stylish, using somewhat animated comic book-like panels for its cutscenes, with strong voiceover work from the eclectic cast. That said, everything else visually is a bit bland and samey, and many of the environments are simply gray and drab, which makes it hard to know where you are because every place looks identical. There’s a map, but I didn’t find it too helpful when I really needed it; that said, the menus for the cases you are investigating and the gear/armor you have found are nicely done and full of vital information.

I truly intend to keep going with Blackgate and not immediately drop it like a bag of bat guano in a few days, but truth be told all it is doing is getting me excited for the larger-than-life series on the Xbox One, of which I’ve already installed Batman: Arkham City. I suspect I’ll be better at the combat when I can actually see what is going on instead of squinting at a tiny screen and hoping for the best.

Returning to The Legend of Legacy for map fulfillment

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I procured a copy of The Legend of Legacy, which is not the most memorable of names when it comes to RPGs and part of me wants to keep writing it as Legend of Legaia, some time back in late 2015. I played for a few hours, but magically lost interest fast, which is a shame because, after returning to it recently for reasons that will be explained later, it’s a pretty good, if ultimately quirky, role-playing adventure with lots to do. Plus, it just oozes style, and I love things that are both stylish and oozy, such as EarthBound, the Suikoden series, and Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime.

Okay, here are some quick facts. The Legend of Legacy is a Japanese RPG for the Nintendo 3DS, developed by Cattle Call with assistance from Grezzo and FuRyu. The game was published in Japan by FuRyu in 2015 and later localized and published in North America by Atlus USA in 2015. The story takes place on the island of Avalon, where a bunch of adventurers meet up to explore the island’s mysteries. Gameplay focuses on exploring Avalon, fighting enemies via turn-based battles, increasing their abilities based on usage, and filling out maps. From a glance, the game seems inspired by things like SaGa Frontier and Final Fantasy IV. For some reason, I figured I never got around to writing about The Legend of Legacy, but evidently I already did so.

Story-wise, I’m not going to get into it. I didn’t really understand what was happening several years ago, and I know even less now. Sure, I could look up a detailed summary online, but that doesn’t interest me. This is a game of many pronouns, such as Elementals and Singing Shards, and magical gizmos to go after, and that’s all I really need to know. I’m more interested in seeing my team grow in strength, HP, and powers. The Legend of Legacy, in grand SaGa fashion, gives you a brief overview of what to expect and then tosses you to the wolves to figure the rest out yourself, and I mostly care about filling in maps and selling them for a high price. It’s quite satisfying.

There are seven lead protagonists to select from in The Legend of Legacy. There’s Meurs who can speak with Elementals, Bianca who has amnesia, the treasure hunter Liber, Garnet who firmly believes in her religion, the mercenary Owen, Eloise who is an alchemist in search of eternal youth, and Filmia, a frog prince that is in no way related to Chrono Trigger‘s frog Glenn. Ultimately, you can recruit the other six to you party along the way, but the story will focus on whoever you  ultimately chose. For what it is worth, I went with Meurs, who comes across as the classic sort of JRPG hero, and have been using Bianca and Garnet at his sides. They all use a bunch of swords and knives as their main weapons, but I am trying to branch out into other styles, in hopes of unlocking many more abilities and powers. When it comes to turn-based battling, the more options you have, the better.

So, why am I returning to The Legend of Legacy some three-ish years later? It’s because I recently got a copy of The Alliance Alive, which evidently is sort of a sequel to this game. Or, at the very least, carries over many of the core concepts. Also, the scenario was written by Yoshitaka Murayama, noted for his work on the Suikoden series–be still my heart. Yet, before I take on another large-as-heck RPG, despite juggling a bunch already at the moment, I thought I should at least go back to The Legend of Legacy and see if it could hook me for a bit more. It very well might, we’ll see.

Final Fantasy Explorers forces the player to endure

At the beginning of 2018, I was real close to getting Monster Hunter: World. In fact, it’s now the beginning of 2019, and I’m still thinking about biting the bullet. It’s a genre I’ve always been intrigued by, but terrified to get into due to what seems like a massive amount of complexity and menus and history to learn. However, this newest iteration, which jumps from the realm of handhelds to big boy consoles, seems to be somewhat more friendly to people like me. Or what kids back in the day referred to as n00bz. Side note: if you know what kids refer to people like me nowadays, please let me know ASAP. However, instead of getting this, I dug through my Nintendo 3DS collection and found something similar called Final Fantasy Explorers. It both compares and does not compare.

Final Fantasy Explorers is an MMO-lite that revolves around the titular group of explorers from the rural town of Libertas who hunt the world for crystals, objects which are the source of life and civilization for the world. The most major source of crystals is the new island of Amostra, but they are guarded by fearsome beasts that the explorers must fight. So yeah, surprise, surprise–it’s another Final Fantasy game dealing with crystals as the magical MacGuffin, but then again I wasn’t expecting much in terms of story from a Monster Hunter-like game. They generally are about fighting big monsters and crafting cool gear from their dead, shredded body parts. Also: cats cooking.

For the most part, the combat, which is the bulk of what you do in Final Fantasy Explorers other than stare in horror at confusing menu after confusing menu, is pretty solid, even though one of the shoulder buttons on my Nintendo 3DS is not working properly. It’s a bit hack and slash, with some spells and special abilities thrown in for good measure. To start with, Final Fantasy’s signature job system is here, which adds variety to the battles by letting you equip a mishmash of weapons and abilities tied to your chosen profession while in town. Spells and skills can be tweaked and tailored however you want using special mutations learned in battle, which can make them much more effective, so there is plenty of customization to work with. Personally, from my three-ish hours so far, I’ve been sticking with the Freelancer job, which is kind of your all-around job, capable of both casting basic spells and also wielding decent weapons for physical attacks. Alas, I’m currently stuck trying to beat the legendary flame djinn known as Ifrit.

Let me get more detailed. By default, you have a simple, quick attack that you can mash; however, squeezing the left or right bumpers grants you access to one of eight hand-picked abilities–some magical, some physical, and some related to your current job and weapon. The best strategy is to chain all these abilities together to begin building up something called Resonance. Once you have enough, you can squeeze both bumpers simultaneously and select one of four crystal surges, which supercharge all your abilities for a limited time. This is wisest done during boss battles, as most of the generic enemies you fight along the way are easily dispatched with simpler attacks.

Like Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy Explorers is probably meant to be played with other real-life people in your party. I don’t have access to those kinds of friends; I’ve only ever played online on my Nintendo 3DS with Animal Crossing: New Leaf and some cooperative multiplayer thingy for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Thankfully, solo players get the ability to gather essence from some downed monsters and create your own monstrous allies, who will wander after you and join you in combat. Unfortunately, their path-finding is terrible, but you can fuse them other monsters and materials to up their level or unlock perks. I currently only have one monster following me, a level 8 goblin that carries a large cleaver. What’s nice about this is that you can basically recruit your favorite Final Fantasy monsters, such as Cactuar, TonBerry, or Chocobo, like they are Pokemon. Fine by me.

Look, I haven’t played a whole ton of Final Fantasy Explorers yet, and I plan to give it a few more hours, but I can already begin to see the grind here. The real hook for me is seeing all the things from various Final Fantasy games on display, such as summons, characters, spell names, etc., plus the option to basically dress up your avatar as, say, Sephiroth or Tina. If this ultimately doesn’t do it for me though…there’s always Monster Hunter: World.

The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2018

Well, here we are once again…the end of a year, and boy howdy has this been one strange, life-changing year. For those that don’t know, this past July I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. At the ripe age of…35. With no family history of this disease or long-showing symptoms. Yeah, it sucks, but I am still positive and fighting it like heck and even drawing a journal comic about my journey through this bastard of a disease so far.

Still, there’s been some good to enjoy as well. For instance, Melanie and I are engaged and getting married next year. Plus, because of my cancer, I’ve now met so many amazing and genuinely good people, people I would have never interacted with before this disease, and they have helped tremendously to make this battle not as scary as it should be. There is so much support out there, you just have to be willing to embrace it. That’s been hard for me, but also rewarding.

That said, this blog of mine is supposed to be all about videogames, not this super serious stuff–that’s not to say gaming isn’t serious; evidently it is now cool to play games, so says the almighty Ninja–so let’s get on with it…

I’ve been doing this Grinding Down feature of mine starring pictures of dogs looking sad and sighing audibly for a while now. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding…or rather the bulleted list below, dating all the way back to 2010, which somehow got featured on the WordPress home page and saw many, many comments. Never happened again since, but maybe this year it’ll get noticed. Anyways, here, go back in time and play the fun game of figuring out if I still haven’t played some of these yet:

Wow, wow, wow…that’s a lot of games I didn’t play then, and might still not have played now. Of course, the brand-spanking new list below is beyond complete, and here are a few other titles I would have liked to play this, but just didn’t find the time: Yoku’s Island Express, WarioWare Gold, Lost Sphear, Octopath Traveler, and The Swords of Ditto.

Okay, here we go.


10. Fallout 76

I pretty much knew right from its announcement at E3 2018 that Fallout 76 was not for me. Still, I held my breath and waited. As it turns out, this game is super not for me. I’m not against online-only games, but I come to the Fallout universe for its strange stories and eclectic characters, and it seems like Fallout 76 has none of that. Just audio recordings and NPC vendors and no V.A.T.S. combat. I get that some of the fun is you doing your own thing and maybe running into another player, which could be friendly or a new foe to fight off, but that doesn’t sound all that entertaining to me. A shame, as West Virginia seems like a cool place to explore shortly after the nukes went off. I’ll keep my eye on it, as Bethesda will probably continue to update it for a good while; here’s hoping they eventually add a campaign.

9. Donut County

Donut County, a wonderful name on its own, is about controlling a hole and filling it with stuff. The experience just seems super chill and silly. The hole gets bigger as you put more stuff into it, and you have to solve some puzzles along the way while dealing with a rude raccoon named BK. The game takes inspiration from Windosill and Katamari Damacy, so you know it has to be stellar. Shame on me. Deep, deep, dark shame on me. Evidently, the game just came out on Xbox One recently…so, no more excuses, I guess.

8. Minit

I own a copy of Minit. I got it fairly recently from the Humble Day of the Devs 2018 Bundle, which also contained a number of other sweet indie titles, such as Burly Men at Sea, RiME, and Hyper Light Drifter. It’s installed on my laptop via Steam. I just…haven’t had the time to sit down and play it, which, when you think about what this game is and how it was designed, is rather humorous. I hope to get to it real soon, but it’ll mostly likely be an early 2019 playthrough at this point. Look out for a future blog post with the ultra clever title of: I’m in it to win it with Minit.

7. Into the Breach

I’m usually not one for strategy games, but there is something cool about Into the Breach. I can’t decide if the cool thing is the game’s title, its general aesthetic, the different mech teams, or the way the battlefield is shown on a tilted angle. Either way, it seems both neat and tough, and I’m thinking this might be a great one to have on the Switch…y’know, next year, when I end up getting a Switch to mostly wait for whatever the new Animal Crossing thing is.

6. Unavowed

I’ve really fallen down on keeping up with the many point-and-click adventure games from Wadjet Eye Games. There was a time in my life where I was obsessed with these things, but then something major happened on the day of Resonance‘s release, and I was soured on just about everything that I enjoyed at that very moment. Since then, I still haven’t played Shardlight, Primordia, or Technobabylon, all of which I own copies of, but it sounds like Unavowed, the company’s latest release, is a good one to jump back into, with its multiple protagonists and ancient society dedicated to stopping evil. Here’s praying I get to it, along with others, somewhere in 2019.

5. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

I’m still bummed to heck and back that the Nintendo 3DS version never made it to the United States, as that is where I like to do most of my Dragon Questing these days, on a handheld device. Still, maybe that will change down the road with enough hooting and hollering. The game is pretty traditional and follows the perilous journey of a hunted Hero who must uncover the mystery of his fate with the aid of a charismatic cast of supporting characters. In short: it’s Dragon Quest, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Alas, I believe the game is currently only available on PlayStation 4 and Steam, and my laptop is most definitely not able to run such a beautiful beast. Boo to that.

4. Return of the Obra Dinn

I played a decent amount of 2013’s Papers, Please, but it was tough and challenging and often made me sad. The next game from Lucas Pope is called Return of the Obra Dinn, and it puts you firmly in the role of a detective. The crew and passengers of a fictional East India Company ghost ship have all mysteriously died, with the game’s objective being to discover how. The player must use a combination of deductive reasoning and a Memento Mortem stopwatch to return to the exact moment of each crew member’s death to determine the identity of the sixty crew members, how and where they died and, if killed by human hands, the name of their killer. Sounds freaking amazing; plus, the 1-bit monochromatic graphical style inspired by games on early Macintosh systems really gives the whole thing an eerie as funk feel.

3. God of War

I have a secret to reveal: I never finished the original God of War. I got real close, and by that I mean…I basically stopped at the final fight against Ares. I don’t recall if I found the whole thing too tough or just didn’t care to see Kratos end his rage-filled journey. Either way, that’s all the God of War I’ve ever played. Missed out on everything since that 2005 debut, but this new God of War seems to be striking a much more somber and serious tone, and that has my interest piqued for sure. I like the mechanic behind throwing your axe and then recalling it. Too bad this is only on PlayStation 4.

2. Red Dead Redemption 2

I’m never going to play this. Also, I’ve still not played the original Red Dead Redemption. The cowboy life just isn’t for me, I guess. Unless you count things like SteamWorld Dig 2 and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. That said, this game sure is pretty, and I love all the attention you can put into Arthur’s look, from his outfit to facial hair to even how stinky he stays. It sounds like too much focus on animation priority really slows things down, but to each their own. Again, I’ll never know, because I’ll never play Red Dead Redemption 2.

1. Marvel’s Spider-Man

One of my favorite demo discs from back in the PlayStation 1 days contained a demo for…Spider-Man, an action-adventure game based on the comics that followed an original storyline and featured narration from the recently departed Stan Lee, rest in peace. I remember it being set on rooftops, and there was some swinging action, some punching of bad guys, and Black Cat was there too. It used the same engine from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, so it has this speedy vibe. I played it a whole bunch, and to me, then, it felt awesome being in control of the Spider-Man. Since then, a whole bunch of other Spider-Man games have come out, and not all of them have been winners. From the sound of things, the latest one from Insomniac gets it right, and truly makes swinging around New York City feel amazing. Alas, once again, not having a PlayStation 4 has cut me off from some solid gems; too bad I’m only planning to get a Nintendo Switch in 2019.

Life never really finds a way in LEGO Jurassic World

It used to feel good to hit 100.0% completion in these sundry LEGO games. It was a victory well-earned, through being meticulous and dedicated and clever. You go back into levels you already played, now with a crew of varying abilities and skills, and you’d do things you were unable to prior, truly experiencing everything the level had to offer. Alas, the last few LEGO games I’ve played, specifically LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, have turned it into a real chore. I’m saddened to say that LEGO Jurassic World is also now a part of this troublesome family, and methinks this just may be the way all future LEGO games go, so allow me to predict now that I will greatly enjoy my first few hours with LEGO The Incredibles, but will be busted by the end of it. Sigh.

You may recall that I actually already played through LEGO Jurassic World some years back. Well, that was the Nintendo 3DS version, and I found it…underwhelming. A part of me hoped that its bigger console version would remedy some of the issues I had with it on handheld, and it does, but that still doesn’t mean it’s the best of the bunch and not without its own set of problems. Mel and I played it together, and that’s always fun, but the grind after completing all the levels to get every last red brick, gold brick, piece of amber, minikit, dinosaur, worker in peril, vehicle, character, and photograph is beginning to wear on my mind.

LEGO Jurassic World, despite its name, covers the first four films in the series, with each movie getting a handful of levels–roughly about 5 or 6–as well as its own minihub area to run around on and dig up collectibles. These levels are bigger and better than the 3DS version, but there’s still too many sections involving running non-stop toward the screen as a dinosaur chases from behind, and these sections are even more frustrating if you miss a collectible. Other than those, the big moments in each movie are tackled and play out, more or less, as one might expect. Traveller’s Tales still infects the narrative with its kooky humor–they love bananas and pigs–but a lot of the dialogue is taken from the movie and its quality is noticeably poor, to the point that I’d rather have this take go back to the silent pantomimed style of earlier LEGO games.

My biggest issue, early on, with LEGO Jurassic World revolved around its hub world maps and how the developers never tell you that you need to interact with a computer terminal to open up fast-traveling waypoints. For a while, I just couldn’t travel to a map area quickly, and my only solution was to load up a level and then save and exit from it, which meant sitting through several loading screens just to pop up on my island of choice. You could say I goofed a bit on that, but the blame could also go on the developers as I don’t recall other LEGO games requiring this. Also, there are multiple layers to each map that you constantly have to click through to exit back to the main game. Not really ideal, when all I wanted to do was drop on a pin on the nearest red brick.

Y’know, a lot of people like to muse about future or potential LEGO games–myself included–and I’m coming to realize that not everything can fit the mold. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of clamoring for things like LEGO Jaws and LEGO James Bond. The problem is that, often times, there’s just not enough excitement there to warrant games in these franchises. For instance, say there was a LEGO Jaws, you would get a handful of named and well-liked characters to play as, but then you’d have to spend all your time unlocking upwards of 50 no-namers like Ben Gardner or Harry Meadows, and their abilities, unlike superheroes, would be beyond bland, like interviewing witnesses or using fishing rods. That happened here in LEGO Jurassic World, wherein I mostly played as only the main characters from the films via the top two rows of the character select screen and touched nobody else except for Mr. DNA and a dinosaur when a puzzle required it…because nobody else seemed all that exciting to control, and there’s next to no experimenting.

If you are nostalgic for things adjacent to Jurassic Park, I wouldn’t recommend this. If anything, watch the films again. I have recently and can continue to put them high up on a pedestal, beacons of fun storytelling and lovable characters. Sure, you don’t get to bounce around as an ultra cute and tiny velociraptor, but that’s probably the only noteworthy difference between the films and the games. Heck, go back and play Jurassic Park on the SNES if you want something super engaging and full of tension though, in my heart of hearts, I know that those first-person sections do not hold up.