Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bonanza Bros.

7.5 [Great]

Gameplay: 7
Visuals: 6
Music: 6
Sound: 5
Value: 7

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Multiplayer: Local co-op
Console(s): Genesis, Wii (Xbox 360 and PS3 in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, PlayStation 2 and PSP in Sega Genesis Collection)
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
ESRB rating: ???
BMR rating: E (Mild Cartoon Violence)

The Good Points:

Hilarious misadventures - Great co-op - Fast-paced action required quick thinking - Challenging level progression

The Not So Good Points:

Pretty lame in single-player


I won't blame you if you've never heard of Bonanza Bros., let alone played it. It appears to be just another old Genesis game forgotten by time, hardly worth paying attention to. However, you would be quite wrong on all accounts to think in such a way, as Bonanza Bros. is actually an overlooked gem that I have only recently had the pleasure of playing. You play as a master thief with a mission. Your goal? Sneak into various buildings and steal lots of stuff without getting caught! The game's unique gameplay, co-op multiplayer, and oddly hilarious style set it apart from other side-scrollers, and makes for a very good time.

Gameplay: 7

Bonanza Bros., as I mentioned before, is a side-scrolling action game for the Genesis. You control your little thief guy around various buildings and attempt to make your way past the guards and other such obstacles while collecting all the treasures in the area, and then escape via a blimp on the roof. There are multiple planes in the level structure, allowing you to duck behind walls and have semi-3D fights with the enemies. You can fire bullets at the guards, which will stun them for a time, but they'll hop right back up again when they regain their senses. You can also dispose of them in more humorous ways, such as swinging open a door into an unsuspecting guard on the other side, smashing him against the wall Looney Tunes-style. This plays into one of the game's best aspects: crazy chases filled with funny moments.

This becomes far, far better when another player joins the fray, since you can both go out on insane missions together. Expect to get into many a cops and robbers chase scene as you hop over couches, cover each other's backs, and desperately try to avoid getting caught in the act of the crime. It's all surprisingly advanced for a Genesis game, and I certainly found myself laughing at the various scenarios I would regularly land myself in.

Graphics: 6

Bonanza Bros. clearly isn't pushing the Genesis to its limit, but at the same time, it's quite enjoyable to look at. All the characters have a kind of rounded toy-like look to them, without much detail but a lot of charm. The scenery itself sports a similar design, with amusing little touches throughout.

Music/Sound: 6/5

Bonanza Bros.' soundtrack won't go down in history, and its sound effects aren't particularly memorable either. However, the sound design sets a fitting stage for crazy break-ins, so what more can you really ask for? The music is often high-paced and the sound effects do the job.

Value: 7

I haven't completed Bonanza Bros. yet, but the first time I played it, I was at least doing it for an hour or two (granted, I was a perfectionist and tried to conserve as many lives as humanely possible). There are quite a number of levels to work you way through, and since they're large and open-ended, they are very replayable, which is a very good thing indeed.


So there you have it: Bonanza Bros.: an underrated Genesis game with hectic and spectacular co-op, and one I highly recommend. You could get it off the Wii Shop channel, or get the original one of the Genesis. However, I recommend purchasing Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, since it not only comes with Bonanza Bros., but a TON of other Sega classics. Be warned that your time would be better spent on other games if you don't have a partner in crime to play with you, but if you're fortunate enough to utilize the co-op mode, definitely take a look at Bonanza Bros.

QuickBlog: Marvel Ultimate Alliance

7.5 [Great]

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 6
Music: 7
Sound: 7
Value: 8

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software
Multiplayer: Co-op (any mix of online/local players)
Console(s): Xbox, 360, PS2, PS3, PSP, GBA, DS, Wii, PC, and heck, probably even the Saturn if you look hard enough
Reviewed on: 360
ESRB rating: T (Mild Language, Violence)
BMR rating: E10+ (Mild Language, Violence)

The Good Points:

Huge cast of unique characters - Lots of good stuff for Marvel fans to enjoy - Great voice acting - Consistently fun gameplay - Satisfying combat - Really cool special moves

The Not So Good Points:

Glitches can mess things up - Some annoying sequences

I've never been a big Marvel fan. Yeah, I've seen some super hero movies and played some super hero games, but that's really it. Yet, for some reason, Marvel Ultimate Alliance (known as MUA for now on) looked pretty darn fun to me, even with my lack of comic book knowledge. After playing it, I found I was more than a little right. MUA is an action RPG played from an overhead perspective, with excellent co-op multiplayer and nice graphics. It lets you choose from a huge roster of Marvel super heroes, from Spider-Man, to Elektra, to Mr. Fantastic, you'll probably never run out of characters to choose from. Although I didn't understand half the stuff they were talking about (Fin Fang Foom? Super Soldier Serum? What in the name of Dr. Strange is going on...?), I was able to appreciate the exciting combat, fun controls, and fresh gameplay. Upgrading your characters is a very welcome addition, and you never know what might happen next as the game launches you into scene after scene of new situations. However, not everything works out perfectly. I ran into multiple glitches, some that caused me to load old save files, losing progress in order to continue. These issues combined with the fact that a sequence here and there falls flat and good-but-not-great visuals won't blow you holds the game back slightly, but it's overall a total blast, and doesn't get boring easily. Try and make sure your 360 doesn't overheat as you try to defeat the evil Dr. Doom for good!

Monday, June 16, 2008

QuickBlog: Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

7.0 [Great]

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 7
Music: 4
Sound: 6
Value: 7

Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Naughty Dog
Multiplayer: None
Console(s): PS2
Reviewed on: PS2
ESRB rating: E (Violence)
BMR rating: E (Fantasy Violence)

The Good Points:

Tight platforming - Good voice acting - Pleasant art design - Solid level design - Does what it does very well

The Not So Good Points:

Dull music - Does what it does very well, but not much else

The 3D platformer is, unfortunately, a dying breed. Gone are the days of Sonic Adventure, Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Spyro. Well, technically they're still around, but they sure aren't as good (or as numerous) as they used to be. But luckily, we can still go back and play those games, and Jak & Daxter happens to be one of them. You play as a human-ish character named Jak, accompanied by your little and excitable sidekick, Daxter the ottsel (half-weasel-half-otter, I am told). The game boasts a large, expansive overworld with no loading times and plenty of fun and cliched levels to run through. The controls are responsive and tight, with more platform-hopping than you could hope for. While the music isn't anything to write home about (unless it's a dull letter about how bored you are from listening to it), the voice acting is quite entertaining. Jack & Daxter is ultimately an enjoyable and well-made platformer, and while it doesn't venture out into unknown territory too much, it does what it does well.

QuickBlog: Final Fantasy

8.5 [Excellent]

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 6
Music: 8
Sound: 5
Value: 9

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Square Soft
Multiplayer: None
Console(s): NES (various remakes on other consoles)
Reviwed on: NES
ESRB rating: ???
BMR rating: E (Mild Fantasy Violence)

Good Points:

Great tunes - Addicting grinding-focused gameplay - Open-ended structure - For an NES, lots of value - Customizable party

Not So Good Points:

Slow combat system - Bunches of grinding if that's not your thing - Occasionally confusing to find out where to go next

"Enter a whole new realm of challenge and adventure," proclaims the dramatic text on the front of Final Fantasy's box. And, considering that this game was made in 1990, such a statement wasn't untrue. The Final Fantasy series is, as everybody knows, a huge franchise of RPGs and various spinoffs. When I decided to give the games try, I thought I'd start at the very beginning: the original Final Fantasy for the NES. Final Fantasy is a colorful, addictive game with good old fasioned random encounters, turn-based combat, towns, shops, loot, and all the other classic Japanese RPG additions. While some may find it slow-paced and uninteresting compared to the RPGs of today, I found it to have some great gameplay, contain amazingly catchy music, and to be a very fun experience. The option to choose your party members at the start gives you a number of ways to change around the challenge, which gives the game even more replay value. Sure, it's old, but fun never goes out of style. I had trouble putting my blocky, rectangular NES controller down for long.