Kelly Knox

Kelly Knox

Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in the Seattle area. She can often be found covered in paint and glue making crafts for her blog thestartbutton.net.

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS Review

Posted by | Reviews | No Comments

Available on Nintendo 3DS

One of the Wii U’s most popular games makes the jump to the Nintendo 3DS this fall with Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS. If you’re already a fan of the Wii U version, you know what to expect with the portable edition of the game. But a few tweaks have made an already almost endless entertaining game experience even better.

Super Mario Challenge

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS is almost identical to its Wii U counterpart, but with two notable omissions. There is no amiibo support to add costume-changing Mystery Mushrooms, and no way to upload a created level to Course World. Your creations can still be shared to others directly through the local wireless and StreetPass. If you and the kids aren’t interested in sharing your levels with the whole world to get ratings and comments on them, you will likely prefer picking up the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker. Levels can still be shared (and even collaborated on) within your family if you have more than one 3DS, so that ability isn’t completely gone, but it is limited.

The focus seems to be more on playing Super Mario games rather than creating them. All of the tools in the Wii U edition are still there for creation in the various game types, but they are now unlocked by playing through the Super Mario Challenge courses that are included in the game.

Super Mario Maker 3DS

Perhaps the most remarkable addition to the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker are the medals available for every Super Mario Challenge course. Not only do you have to make it to the flagpole at the end as usual, there are now achievement-like goals you can meet along the way.

If you’re a game completionist, these are irresistible, even though they earn you nothing more than a check mark on the course. Adding a bonus challenge–some medals require you to only move forward the entire level, or collect a certain number of coins –adds another compelling layer to just simply making your way through by jumping on goombas and hitting question blocks.

Creating your own levels is just as easy and intuitive as the Wii U. The portability and quick loading time of the 3DS make it easier to pick up and create than the Wii U version.

The graphics are surprisingly clear and colorful. You can be as crazy and creative with your Super Mario levels as you want.

Super Mario Maker 3DS

The Rating

The game is rated E for Everyone with no questionable content. Players are able to access community-created levels shared in the Course World, but those courses are monitored by Nintendo for any inappropriate content. Course creation is intuitive for kids and the tutorials are robust. But with a lot of reading required to get through them, older kids might learn to start creating levels faster than younger ones.

Takeaway

It’s the on-the-go course collections, like the Super Mario Challenge and 100 Mario Challenge, that really give the game a long life. If you’ve loved Super Mario Bros. since you were little, the almost endless stream of courses will feel like familiar fun that tests almost anyone’s Mario skills.

World of Final Fantasy Review

Posted by | PlayStation 4, Reviews | No Comments

Available on: PlayStation 4, PS Vita

You might have missed it with all the hubbub about Final Fantasy XV this fall, but there’s another new Final Fantasy. World of Final Fantasy is one big delightful throwback to the first 13 titles in the venerable series, paired with a gameplay that’s suited to younger or new players to the series.

All of the traditional Japanese RPG elements are there – a commplicated story, a Pokémon-style system and a turn-based combat system. If you’ve wanted to find a way to introduce your kids to the Final Fantasy franchise, show them the first few hours of this cute title. They might not stick around for all 60+ hours of gameplay and story, but there’s probably no better game to get their first taste of the JRPG genre.

The Story

As the story begins, young Lann and his sister Reynn are shocked to discover that they live in a ghost world that exists outside of time.

A small, impossibly fluffy creature named Tama arrives to help the twins recover their lost memories of their time as Mirage Keepers–holders of great power over creatures known as Mirages. You might remember Mirages as summons or classic Final Fantasy monsters like the tonberry, chocobo, cactuar, and many more.

As Lann and Reynn journey to remember their former lives, they’ll meet allies along the way with fascinating stories of their own.

The Gameplay

If you’ve played a turn-based RPG before, navigating the world and the combat system will be old hat. Towns and dungeons are linear, and you traverse each along just one path, with no open world exploration.

World of Final Fantasy

Combat is handled mostly by the Mirages you have stacked on top of your two characters. After capturing a Mirage in combat, its ability tree is now at your disposal, similar to Summons and Materials from previous Final Fantasy games.

As Lann, Reynn, and the Mirages defeat enemies, the creatures gain SP points to spend to unlock stat bonuses and skills like Cure and Fire.

Mix and match the Mirages in your party (and on your head) to create the best combination for the dungeon you’re currently in. You might want Mirages with fire attacks in an icy cave, for example, or Mirages with high water resistance if you’re fighting on the seaside.

Managing your lineup of Mirages in your party to level up and use in combat adds a complexity to the game that goes a long way into keeping combat and exploration from getting too tedious.

Combat is turn-based by default, giving new and casual players ample time to decide their next move, or you can choose to switch to the active battle system for an additional challenge.

World of Final Fantasy

Mixed in with the random encounters as you explore the world, the story unfolds somewhat predictably. Lann and Reynn discover they are part of a prophecy to save the world, surprising no one who’s ever played a Final Fantasy game before. Cute anime cut-scenes are also used to tell the story, a nice surprise and change of pace each time they pop up.

Rating

World of Final Fantasy is rated E for Everyone. There is no blood in the game, and almost all of the monsters are adorable rather than scary. A party defeat doesn’t even necessarily mean death in most cases, so this may be the most family-friendly Final Fantasy yet.

Takeaway

World of Final Fantasy takes all of the basic elements of a Final Fantasy game and simplifies them. If recent entries in the series have been too complicated for you, you’ll likely find the UI and Mirage system a welcome return to what you know.

All characters are fully voiced, including past characters who have never had a voice before (Cloud! Squall!). Localization for this title in the series stands out from the rest with an abundance of humor, puns, and inside jokes for fans of the series that I don’t recall seeing in any other Final Fantasy game before it.

World of Final Fantasy is one huge, charming dose of nostalgia for anyone who has ever wiled away the hours in a Final Fantasy game. Have I mentioned it’s cute? We’re talking freaking adorable. If Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s too serious a choice for you and your kids, pick up World of Final Fantasy for an entry in the series that’s likely just as enjoyable.

paper mario color splash

Paper Mario: Color Splash Review

Posted by | Reviews | No Comments

Available on: Wii U

The colors are mysteriously disappearing from the usually vivid Prism Island, and it’s up to everyone’s favorite plumber to find out why! With the help of his new friend Huey, the Toads and of course Princess Peach, Mario must use his Paint Hammer to restore the color on the island in the latest release in the Paper Mario series.Along the way he’ll find and collect special Battle Cards to use against Goombas, Koopas, Shy Guys, and more in a unique combat system that makes great use of the Wii U Gamepad. Read More

Seasons After Fall Review

Posted by | PC, Reviews | No Comments

Available on: Windows PC

Seasons After Fall is a lush, colorful 2-D puzzle platformer that looks like it was painted on the screen. The all-ages game, available on PC, puts you in control of the powers of the seasons, from the icy winter to the blustery fall. Change the seasons to make your way through gorgeous landscapes and unfold the mystery behind the Guardians of the Seasons. Read More