Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blue Mage's New Year's Resolutions

(Please note that, although this lying weblog post claims that is it December 26th, 2009, I assure you, that was when the draft was saved, and today most certainly is January 1st, 2010. Indeed.)

Greetings, Internet webpage viewers! It is I, Blue Mage, at the dawn of 2010-- or rather close to dawn, all time and space considered. Despite the evening hours of the day, it is still indeed January 1st, 2010, and I am fully committed in all my blue glory to adhere to my strict resolutions for this glorious new year. I at first was hesitant to put in writing a list of needless improvements (for, as you must know, despite my humble exterior, I am... well, I am rather near perfect when one considers my thankless job and dim-witted partner). However, upon further examination, I have decided that a blue mage with goals is a better blue mage. And so, I present to you my New Year's Resolutions. I have made the informed choice of picking ten such goals and arranging them in a list format, as I am very "in tune" with the Internet world, and I find that such an idea is extremely original.

#10: Learn to use two control sticks at once

It most certainly burns my figurative bridges when I attempt to play the oh-so-popular "first-person shooter" video games that are regularly released. My satisfaction would be no small matter if I were to utterly destroy the imbecilic online gamers that consistently torment me whilst I struggle uselessly with the controller. My last attempt gave me no such satisfaction; merely carpal tunnel syndrome.

#9: Buy an Xbox Live headset

Once I successfully master the art of dual-stickery, I shall immediately purchase a microphone and earpiece in order to fully mock and humiliate my pitiful opponents as an ill-bred tennis player ridicules his one-legged adversary.

#8: Travel through time/space in order to visit Dimentio

As the only slightly muddled commenter "Samuel" has suggested on my own Blue Mage Page, meeting Dimentio would be a distinct pleasure. I am unsure currently how I shall go about doing so, but mark my solemn words, I shall discover the way to finally shake Dimentio's hand before 2010 is over.

#7: Sue Nintendo

I have not forgotten about the appalling transgressions committed by Super Mario Galaxy, nor will I. If my way is not gotten, I shall rig Nintendo's next Electronic Entertainment Expo keynote address screen to display such biting text as, "Reggie Fils-Aime is not smart." They shall regret it for the rest of their unfortunate days.

#6: Publish "The Big Book of Blue Mage Quotes"

I am but a simple Blue Mage, yet my endless repertoire of shockingly clever sayings and idioms are far too valuable to be lost in the depths of time. Having this large, stately volume on one's coffee table would say, "Despite my questionable decorating tastes, I am not just anybody." It would say, "I know of Blue Mage; I am somebody."

#5: Reach the level cap in Final Fantasy XI

I spend much of my free time engaging in daring battles and stunning experience point expeditions in Final Fantasy XI, and I am determined for my "Blue Mage" character to reach the very highest level there is by the end of 2010. I do not know what that level is, but that only serves to make the goal all the more exciting. Once I am there, I will gently remind my fellow guildmates of their inferiority.

#4: Travel to Japan

I simply cannot wait until March 9th. I must play Final Fantasy XIII now. I need only acquire funds for such a worthy investment. That, and finish my splendid Sazh Katzroy costume.

#3: Buy a Chu Chu

I suppose one could make such a purchase on eBay?

#2: Train my Chu Chu

My first lesson for "Chuey" shall be undoubtedly to sing the Chocobo theme song. This worthy endeavor shall provide hours of educational fun for both pet and master.

#1: Discover a way to get the inane failure known as "Emblem 180" fired

I mean no offense to any persons, yet a Blue Mage can only take so much before action must be taken. Not only are Emblem 180's reviews (to put it tactfully) drivel, but he throws his loyalties in with the impertinent Super Mario Galaxy crowd. Furthermore, he also cheats-- yes, mind you, cheats-- in a great many of the video games we play. He claims that "Soulcalibur IV" has a, in his own words, "block button" when I can discover no such thing. And do not get me started on his assuredly hacked "Halo 3" abilities. Indeed, with no question about it, I have no choice but to plot his demise.

Those ten items, my loyal readers, shall all be checked off one by one before the dawn of 2011. This is an exciting year, is it not? Thank you for reading my list. I unquestioningly assume it was enlightening. This is Blue Mage of Blue Mage Reviews wishing you well in 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


8.5 - [Excellent]

Gameplay: 8
Visuals: 9
Music: 8
Sound: 8
Value: 7

Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Developer: Frozenbyte
Multiplayer: Offline co-op
Console(s): PS3, PC
Reviewed on: PS3
ESRB rating: E10+ (Mild Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol)
BMR rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence, Use of Alcohol)

Good Points:

Fantastic, dreamlike visuals - Beautiful music - Charming setting - Entertaining physics - Solid platforming - Co-op is great fun

Not So Good Points:

Occasional framerate problems - Feels a little too short - No online play so far - Some quirks regarding the physics and spell casting system can get annoying

In a time of blockbuster epics, hard-hitting first-person shooters, rhythm game spam, hard-hitting first-person shooters, casual mini-game collections, and hard-hitting first-person shooters, Trine is a breath of deliciously fresh air. Set in a fantastical world of magic and castles, Fozenbyte (the masters behind... well, nothing anybody really remembers) takes a cue from the classic Blizzard game The Lost Vikings and creates a memorable game brimming with dangers and adventures. Allowing up to three players to participate, Trine brings together several unlikely heroes on a quest to restore peace to a darkening kingdom. The goal is, naturally, to work together; but depending on the nature and number of participants, finding creative ways to kill one another can be half the fun.

The first thing you'll notice upon starting your journey is Trine's simply beautiful presentation. The entire tale is related in a storybook-like manner, complete with likable character archetypes, magic spells and even a delightful narrator who reads the story with the absolute perfect voice. Dreamlike visuals cast visions of enchanted forests along with glowing flora and fauna, and haunted graveyards come to life with the skeletal undead and eerie moonlight. Everything looks spectacular, and I guarantee that you'll find yourself stopping to gaze about in wonder at the scenery ripped straight from the imagination. A fitting soundtrack helps to reinforce this image with melodic pianos and soft strings, complete with a leading crescendo of magnificence that is Trine's theme song. The voice acting is also well done for the three lead characters; namely, the cunning thief, the not-so-cunning knight, and the poor wizard who just can't seem to learn the fireball spell.

Trine is full of physics and fun, and I have personally found the two to go together like peanut butter and jelly, both of which often have messy results. The gameplay takes place in 2D space, despite the gloriously 3D graphics, and will have you switching between the three heroes to overcome all sorts of challenges. The thief can fire arrows and swing about speedily using her trusty grappling hook, which is a vital tool during some of the trickier platforming sections. Next is the knight, a hulking warrior with a sharp sword and a sturdy shield; when you're surrounded by animated skeletal corpses, he's the man to call. Last but certainly not least we have the wizard (and just between you and me, he's far more useful than this blog's supercilious mascot). This blue-hatted spell-caster can conjure up boxes and manipulate all kinds of objects with his magic, allowing you to drag around just about anything via a cursor floating around on the screen. It works quite a bit like the cursor from LittleBigPlanet's level creator. This is where things really get interesting.

Believe it or not, Trine looks even better in motion.

If they want to get anywhere, the players must place faith in one another to perform crucial tasks, such as, say, protecting the party from a giant spiked ball falling from the sky. While the wizard is immobile as he uses his magic energy to stop this deadly trap, the knight may have to defend him from oncoming enemies. If the knight feels that he'd rather make his escape early and leave the old man to his fate, it's entirely possible that the wizard will lose his composure and become surrounded by monsters as said giant spiked ball plummets downwards to crush them all under its unforgiving giant spikiness. It's during moments such as these (moments in the game, I mean; not such moments as total lapses of vocabulary as you just witnessed) that no amount of scripted events can replicate. But there are also brilliant moments of teamwork, in which everybody cooperates to ace a specific situation without even taking damage. Trying to gain access to experience points and treasure chests tucked into the nooks and crannies of the levels provides for constant goals and daring feats, and also doubles as a means to level up. All of the characters can unlock new spells, weapons, and stat-increasing items, so there's plenty to work and go back for. Combat isn't particularly deep, but takes quick thinking; especially for the wizard, who is quite incapable of defending himself if he is out of magic energy. The platforming is tight and responsive, and although the physics will give you the occasional headache (especially when drawing specific shapes with the wizard is required), there are generous checkpoints dotted throughout the stages, and your completed tasks in a level are saved even when you are sent back to one of these markers, so it's hard to complain.

Clearly, Trine is a great deal more fun when played with multiple people. Trine is currently only playable offline, but the developers have mentioned adding in online play at a later time. I myself have only had the chance to play with one additional player, but that's quite enough for a great time. However, this does present a slight problem. With three players, each person is assigned a character to play as. With only one player, you switch at will between the three characters yourself. With two players, both people can switch when they want, which can often take the teamwork element out when the thief is just handed off between the two players as they take turns maneuvering difficult jumps. My solution for this is to simply make up my own rules; that is, one person chooses the wizard (as he is, in my opinion, the most fun to play as and the most commonly needed) while the other guy gets the thief and the knight. Alternate between levels, and there you go. You can find your own favorite way to play, but I find that this method works very well.

The inventive creativity that is rewarded to reach all the hidden items, the smooth flow of the gameplay, and the inspired story and setting will keep you happily busy through all fifteen levels, but sadness does finally dawn when the ending credits roll. Aside from a ridiculous ramp up in difficulty during the final level (in which every failure results in a loading screen), there's rarely a dull or overly frustrating spot, and thus it feels like the adventure ends all too soon. Even so, the $20 price tag still ensures that Trine is easily recommended to any gamer with a penchant for wondrous visuals and a fun co-op game at a budget price. The time spent in this mystical fantasy world will be well-spent, and the memories of angry shouting matches followed by copious laughter will live on even after you, inevitably, live happily ever after.

(NOTE: The screenshot was taken from the PC version of the game.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Look to the Past: Mario

Here we have a new feature for Blue Mage Reviews: A Look to the Past! Video games have a rich and highly entertaining history, so every once in a while it's nice to think back on the beginnings and times of yore to enjoy some nice reminiscing. To start out we have arguably (and probably) the most classic of the classic, Super Mario himself! Woo-hoo! Yee-hee! Wha-ha! As you can see, I easily slip into the Mario mindset. Speaking of Mario, are you excited for New Super Mario Bros. Wii? You are, right? Because I am! It comes out this month in fact, so this seems like an excellent topic to start with. There are a lot of Mario games out there you know, and many of them are super awesome. We'll be taking a look back to the greatest Mario game of each major Nintendo console, excluding the Game Boy as I've never played the Mario Land games. I really should get around to that. But hey, let's get a move on! Console #1 up ahead!

NES - Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling video games of all time. That ought to count for something! It's also insanely fun and, in my opinion, the greatest NES game of all time EVER! It even bests the original Super Mario Bros. in every way, which is no mean feat. It introduced the overworld to the Mario series, which remains a staple in the 2D games to this day. And let's not forget about the music! Some of the best tunes from the entire franchise were created here. It also had amazing level design and variety. You could even find a raccoon suit and therefore gain the power of flight! The coolness of that equals and nearly surpasses its nonsensicalness.

Enjoy your Bioshock and your Modern Warfare and your Killzone and your Assassin's Creed, but at the end of the day, we all know that this is a real video game.

SNES - Super Mario World

Super Mario World is better than Super Mario Bros. 3. In fact, it's also the best SNES game, and the best 2D Mario game, and quite possibly the best sidescroller in the world! Not bad, huh? If you want some more trivia, then KABLAM, here you go! This is Nintendo's first SNES game and the first game to include Yoshi! That's a lot of eye-popping facts for just one game, but this is an eye-popping game, so who's really surprised here? Super Mario World took everything from Super Mario Bros. 3 and expanded it, refined it, and made it way more fantastic. Ah, the hours spent running around and jumping on Koopa Troopas while dodging Bullet Bills and grabbing coins, or getting lost in those spooky ghost houses, or trying to find all the secret warps... yeah, a lot of people have great memories of this classic, obviously myself included. And don't even get me started with the music; you can't get much more nostalgic than those catchy and lovable songs! But let me make it clear before we move on: This game isn't so good just because of the good memories. Its gameplay and overall design is largely unrivaled even to this very day!

Koopa combo!

Nintendo 64 - Super Mario 64


It's-a me! Mario!


And from that point on you could stretch Mario's face (attached to his floating head) in any manner you choose until you press start and begin the adventure. Anyone who owns or, in the past, has owned an N64 surely knows of what I speak, for my words refer to a great classic of our time. This is the game that brought the perky plumber into the third dimension, full of polygonal wonderment! Now you could explore the colorful world of Mushroom Kingdom in glorious 3D, and what a sight it was. A favorite moment for many was donning the winged cap and soaring into the sky, and even the rather messed up Nintendo 64 controller couldn't stop the fun. The trend of memorable music and excellent level design doesn't stop here, regardless of whether you're exploring Princess Peach's Castle, climbing Cool Cool Mountain, or hopping around the explosive Bob-omb Battlefield. However, unlike the previous games, I can't quite award Mario 64 the achievement of "Best Game on its Respective Console." No, that had to be reserved for Ocarina of Time. I'm so predictable. But anyway, incredibly enough, this installment sparked a whole new kind of Mario game that would continue on to rival the epicness of its 2D counterpart.

Don't just stand there! Go collect some Power Stars! Or save a princess! Or eat some ravioli! At least go fire Toad, he's really annoying!

GameCube - Super Mario Sunshine

Unsurprisingly, another one of Mario's rad platformers gets the splotlight, although this one isn't quite as popular with my fellow gamers. Sunshine is certainly a well-liked game, but some people didn't quite take to its quirks. First of all, Mario has this water nozzle called F.L.U.D.D. strapped to his back, which is helpful in all kinds of crazy ways. Second of all (can I say that? Second of all?), the game has a definite tropical paradise theme to it. The music and the strangely realistic locales highlight this stylistic choice, and while it's certainly unique and pretty-looking, it's unarguably less Mario-ish than other titles. That being said, it's still an amazing game, with water that still looks beautiful in today's world of HD madness. There's a ton to collect and a ton to do, and while it doesn't quite stack up to the legendary Super Mario 64, the relaxing vibe and smooth controls will soon win you over. Oh, and triple-jumping? It's SO FUN in this game!

Mario's entrance onto the GameCube made a splash! Eesh, that was bad, but absolutely something I would say.

Game Boy Advance - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Now this is a change of pace! Not only is it the first game on the list that lacks the word "Super" in the title-- wait, I take that back. It's hiding, but it's there. But back to the topic at hand. And look, it's not even a platformer! Why, it's an RPG! And it stars Luigi too! Who would've thought? So yes, Superstar Saga is an engaging, action-packed, well-crafted RPG filled to the brim with utter hilarity. I'm serious, this is the funniest game this side of Monkey Island. While neither the heroic Mario nor his cowardly brother Luigi can form sentences beyond a single word or incoherent mumblings, they couldn't be funnier as they interact with each other and the accompanying talkative (and generally pretty weird) cast. Of course, I just wouldn't be a true Mario & Luigi fan if I didn't mention Fawful, the delightfully bizarre and evil jerk who speaks in a profoundly odd manner. Example quote:

"Finally! Now is the time where my true might shines, like many angry sunbeams of rage!"

And there's a lot more where that came from! As for the gameplay, the turn-based combat required you to input button commands at the right time to execute both offensive and defensive maneuvers, which really keeps you on your toes. Also, lots of collectables and other assorted good stuff will keep you busy for hours on end. It might even be the greatest Game Boy Advance game of all time! Mario is awesome!

Honestly, it's just not worth trying to explain what's going on here. Just play the game yourself!

Wii - Super Mario Galaxy

Now we're back to normal! We have here another excellent Mario platformer, and it's super duper magically AWESOME! To understand the full extent of its awesomeness, you'll have to play it yourself, but if you'd like an explanation of the awesomeness, then perhaps you should check out my review for it here. Or, if you'd simply prefer a small taste of the awesomeness, you can just keep reading. Mario Galaxy takes good old Jumpman into the far reaches of outer space, and everything goes crazy. Gravity is altered in a very cool way, which drastically changes things up, and the epic music sets this installment apart from the rest. But I know what you're thinking. How can Mario breathe in space? Well, I've thought long and hard about this very fact, and I've come to the conclusion that, well... let's face it. This is a Mario game. Do you honestly think that the gameplay-focused minds of Nintendo will actually include a detailed answer in the game explaining the "mystery" as to why Mario can survive in the turmoil of the nothingness that is space? Of course not. Like everybody else, I've come to accept the fact that we'll have to wait until Super Mario Galaxy 2 to find out. How does he do it??

DS - Mario & Luigi 3: Bowser's Inside Story

Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros. are both high-quality Mario experiences on the DS, but there's a game out there that topples them both. After the lackluster Mario & Luigi 2, the third installment in the fantastically funny franchise (nice alliteration, eh?) is easily better than its direct predecessor, and possibly even defeats the original. I can be a little squeamish around kidneys and blood cells, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wasn't exactly dying to explore the bowels of Bowser's body (another clever alliteration!). However, Mario & Luigi 3 makes it completely fun and almost not disgusting at all! Playing in and as Bowser gives the game an exceptionally varied flow, all with a coat of triple-A Nintendo sheen. Laugh out loud moments and an engaging combat system mix with platforming, item collecting and a bunch of cool mini-games. Mario Kart is a little on the shallow side and New Super Mario Bros. is a little on the short (and easy) side, but Bowser's Inside Story suffers no such imperfections and deftly swoops in to take the prize for Best Mario DS Game in the World of All Time as of This Writing.

Mario & Luigi 3: The Bowels of Bowser was the original title, although it was later deemed too accurate to sell well.

I'd say that was a successful first installment of A Look to the Past. Mario sure has impacted the gaming world, eh? Oohh, do you want to know what my #1 favorite Mario game out of all of those is? It's a really tough choice, but I'll have to go with Super Mario... something. Gah, you can't expect me actually pick one? Okay, fine, I'll pick one 2D game and one 3D game. Will that do? Okay then. My two favorites are Super Mario 64 and Super Mario World! Super Mario 64 is just a pure joy to explore while Super Mario World was the first Mario game I ever played and its gameplay is essentially perfect. I'm sure many people agree with my picks, but I'm equally sure that there are others who would vehemently disagree and shout at me about it. If you're one of the former, congratulations. If you're one of the latter, feel free to post your opinions with the knowledge that I will fairly and impartially delete your messages.

Ha ha! Just kidding.

Bye for now!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

QuickBlog: Republic Commando

8.0 - [Excellent]

Gameplay: 8
Visuals: 8
Music: 9
Sound: 9
Value: 6

Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Multiplayer: Offline versus, online versus (online is PC only, if it's still up and running)
Console(s): Xbox, PC
Reviewed on: Xbox
ESRB rating: T (Blood and Gore, Violence)
BMR rating: T (Blood and Gore, Violence, Mild Language)

Good Points:

Excellent voice acting - Memorable characters - Exciting action - Atmospheric sound and visual design - Awesome music - Intelligent AI - Easy-to-use and effective squad commands - Fun weapons

Not So Good Points:

Short campaign - Lame multiplayer - Occasional bugs and glitches - Really needs a sequel (I'm not sure if this one can count, but it's true)

When a game takes on a license, be it a popular movie, book, or epic poem (the latter of which is not unheard of, albeit less common), the first thing to go is usually the quality. Whether it's because of a tight deadline or a publisher in it to make some easy cash, even the most competent products can feel generic and uninspired. This is not the case with LucasArts' Star Wars-themed first-person shooter, which is easily one of the finest Star Wars games to date. You play as Delta Three-Eight (also known as "Boss"), the leader of an elite squad of clone troopers called Delta Squad. Three fellow members of the team will accompany you throughout the game, each with their own unique and memorable personality. First up is Scorch, the wise-cracking comic relief figure of the crew who happens to be extremely good at rigging explosives and watching them blow up. Sev, the gravelly-voiced sniper with a grim sense of humor, can always be counted on to make the shot that counts. Lastly, there's Fixer, the most clone-like of the squad due to his sensible and loyal nature, who can naturally slice or repair anything mechanical. All the characters are voice acted excellently. In fact, Temuera Morrison (the voice of the Jango Fett and the clones from the Star Wars movies) plays the role of the Boss, which adds some wonderful authenticity. You'll get to know and love each member, which is surely a highlight of the game.

Battles require thought, skill, and a whole lot of adrenaline.

The storyline takes place between Episodes II and III from the Star Wars saga and weaves an interesting though fairly straightforward tale. The action is intense and very satisfying, with cool enemy design, smart AI, and a number of weapons and tactics available for you to use. Perhaps the greatest weapon in the game is this super-awesome blade that shoots out from your wrist at a moment's notice. Knifing the heads off battle droids never gets old. You can command your teammates to perform certain maneuvers as you navigate the dangerous levels, which is vital for keeping Delta Squad alive and the bad guys dead. The game takes an obvious cue from Halo, complete with a shield-based health system, a haunting chorus as a major musical theme, and other similar elements. However, Republic Commando doesn't come off as a copycat with no fresh ideas; it really feels like its own experience. The blend of John Williams' traditional Star Wars music strikes a perfect balance with Republic Commando's own score, and stays that way with the character design and sound effects. Even though it's based on Star Wars, the liberties they took with the troopers and the gritty, darker artistic style sets it apart in a very, very good way. The game is moody, thrilling, and filled with fascinating details that take advantage of the Xbox's hardware. It's too bad that the multiplayer is rather unexciting and that the game is so short. Of course, the whole package isn't glitch-free, but it's a blast the first way through and still a really good time to replay. If you're looking for a Star Wars fix, or just a great first-person shooter, look no further than Republic Commando.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sonic the Hedgehog

3.5 - [Bad]

Gameplay: 3
Visuals: 4
Music: 8
Sound: 5
Value: 7

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
Multiplayer: Local co-op, local versus
Console(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
ESRB rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence)
BMR rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence)

Good Points:

Varied and great soundtrack - Lots to do - Good multiplayer

Not So Good Points:

Oh boy, here we go - Confusing story with way too many characters involved - Quantity and not quality in terms of gameplay - Busted graphics along with poor frame rate - Bland voice acting - Horrendous loading times - Uncooperative camera - Frustrating blend of technical problems - Mostly pointless town stages

Let's get this out of the way first. This game may be called Sonic the Hedgehog, but it has little to do with the original Genesis classic, and that's a real shame. For simplicity's sake, we'll just call it Sonic 06, for it was released in November of 2006. This game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 is broken, fundamentally broken, and makes enough mistakes to dig its own grave three times over. Does that mean there's no fun to bad had anywhere? Not exactly; if you dig deep you can find some genuinely entertaining moments, and plenty of good ideas that just happened to go terribly, terribly wrong. But despite its best intentions, the game's glitchy nature always drags it back down, which we will soon explore in all its unfortunate glory.

But first, let's take a look at what has Sonic running about this time around. As it turns out, the beautiful city of Soleanna is having its Festival of the Sun, and the strangely realistic-looking human Princess Elise is there to celebrate with her people. However, the diabolical Dr. Eggman crashes the party and pulls a Bowser by kidnapping the princess. That means it's up to the Blue Blur to stop the mad doctor, and the chase is on! The story gets a lot more complex than this, though, including Shadow the Hedgehog's intense discovery of his purpose in life (again), the newcomer Silver's world-warping adventures, and a complicated time-traveling plot. It's all rather hard to follow and tends to break its own rules, especially since Sonic Team managed to cram in every Sonic character out there this side of Big the Cat. The game was obviously aiming for a sprawling, epic plot, but it'll most likely leave you scratching your head with a blank expression on your face. Nevertheless, the story has its moments, and can be rather interesting for Sonic fans who are wondering what will happen next to their favorite characters.

Far worse than the muddled story is the gameplay, which is generally frustrating and fun-free. There are three basic level designs: Sonic levels, Shadow levels, and Silver levels. Sonic levels play like the previous 3D Sonic platformers, except for the fact that these are terrible. The familiar homing attack is back, and you'll find yourself running, jumping, and bashing robots in spades. The levels have a nice variety to them, including activities such as snowboarding, running away from a giant whale a la Sonic Adventure, and even carrying Princess Elise out of harm's way. The problem is that each and every one of these activities contains terrible controls and an abundance of glitches. The animations are choppy and unsatisfying, and you'll constantly find yourself wrestling with the camera and falling off ledges. If any previous games in the series gave you these problems, be prepared to find that this one really takes the cake for poor gampelay and can't even be compared to any of the older and far better games (except, possibly, for Shadow the Hedgehog, but let's not go there). Ironically, the worst stages in a game called Sonic the Hedgehog belong to the speedy hero himself.

Shadow's stages are thankfully devoid of handheld armaments (very unlike his previously mentioned game), but do boast quite the supply of hard-hitting vehicles. You can fly in a high-tech jet, swoop around in a hovercraft, zoom along in a motorcycle and (my personal favorite) shoot things up with a heavily-armed buggy. Some of these are decent while others are are terrible, and the levels ranges from open-ended icy tundras to fast-paced train chases. When not sitting moodily behind a steering wheel, Shadow is moodily using his Chaos powers to combat his foes with hand-to-hand combat techniques. It can be entertaining to rapidly karate chop a flaming monster in the head for a while, but I still think driving around in a buggy is better. When all's said and done, Shadow fares better than his good-natured counterpart despite the over-the-top baditude, but that doesn't mean he avoids all of the same shortcomings.

It's much, much less fun than it looks. Trust me.

Surprisingly, Silver is the best of the bunch. His stages essentially play like a clunky, buggy version of The Force Unleashed, and I will admit to the sadness of that being one of the best compliments I've given out thus far. The creatively-named silver hedgehog has telekinetic powers that allow him to grab objects with his mind and then hurl them at his opponents. He can also create bridges and walkways out of the terrain, which is contrived but mildly cool. The fact that you can move around objects such as crates and boulders opens up the opportunity to build your own ways through the levels, which can actually be rather creative and fun. As with the other characters, the controls will drive you nuts, but I've had some good times playing as Silver.

Special sections will also occasionally pop up, allowing you to play as a handful of other characters. Unfortunately, these guys control even worse than the main characters, and truly feel like a last minute addition. On top of all that variety, there are town stages that task you with running around an open area and completing side-quests for the locals. But these aren't any fun either, as the minigames are simple and unremarkable. To make matters worse, the load times are abysmal and unintelligently implemented. You'll find yourself listening to a resident's plea for help, then loading for a terribly long time, then getting the details on the mission, then more loading, then playing the short mission, then some more loading... you get the idea. None of the load times from any part of the game are anything but tedious, but they're even more apparent during these situations. You can buy extra items to grant you special abilities with the rings you collect within levels (which is a fun option), but aside from this, the town stages aren't really much more than glorified level selects.

If you're tired of being frustrated and lonely, you can grab a friend and enjoy some split-screen multiplayer action. A number of levels are available to play in both a co-op and race mode, both of which work fine. And in classic Sonic fashion, you can go revisit old levels and try to get better ranks and times on them, including the boss stages. This would all be a lot of fun if the actual gameplay wasn't so shoddy. Sonic 06 has a lot in it, but that hardly makes a difference if it's not fun to play.

In terms of visual quality, the game isn't an eyesore at first glance. The character models look quite respectable, and while you won't see anything remarkable, there's a bright design to the graphics. The CG custscenes especially look impressive. No, it's the glitches and the poor animations that sink this boat. Everything seems to just barely hold together, and navigating the levels do nothing to help this area. From Silver's rushed telekinetic throwing animations to Sonic's embarrassingly stupid head-first cliff-jumping button sequences, your eyes are constantly irritated with unfinished graphics. To make matters worse, a handful of areas slow the frame rate down to a crawl, which is hardly ideal for a game supposedly about speed. It's also jarring to see the cartoony Sonic hanging around with a character more reminiscent of someone from Final Fantasy, Princess Elise, and a more realistic-looking and thinner Eggman. The fact that there's a kind of love story going on between Sonic and Elise makes things even weirder.

Speaking of awkwardness, let's cover the voice acting real quick. Very few of the actors sound invested in their characters (Sonic seems to be bored and/or sleepy the entire way through, and Rouge just isn't even trying), with a few notable exceptions such as Dr. Eggman and Silver. Eggman's performance is perfectly fine, and Silver's is really bad in an extremely good way. At one point the excitable hedgehog loudly proclaims, "I have to defeat all of the enemies in this area!" as he punctuates each syllable with robotic yet admirable force. I can't help but to like him; he tries so hard all the way to the end. The rest of the sound design does it's job well, but isn't anything special.

That's levitation, holmes!

The music is easily Sonic 06's greatest strength. Unlike the rest of the game, it doesn't feel rushed or mutilated; in fact, it's mostly very, very good. Each tune fits its scene well, and there are some really excellent tracks, including a few great guitar riffs, techno beats, and an assortment of other styles. The final boss song is particularity awesome. Not all the songs stand out, but the music as a whole does stand far above the rest of the game in every way. The character themes are kind of hit and miss, though. They're all at least a little bit lame, but can also be all too catchy. For example, Sonic's hip-hop infused theme can be ridiculous, but the guitar solo is amazing. The game disc would certainly be of more worth if you could use it as a music CD.

Sonic 06 doesn't have to be a bad game. It has great music, a plethora of gameplay types, and worthwhile reasons to keep you playing. But despite anything it has to offer, everything is simply ruined by awful gameplay. It doesn't help that the game tries to do too much at once while attempting to create an epic storyline that just doesn't work. It all points to an overambitious agenda; there even more features that got cut along the way. Given more time, Sonic 06 might have been able to pull itself together for an enjoyable experience, but that is definitely not the case. Also take note that this is coming from a huge Sonic fan-- I enjoyed all of the previous 3D Sonic games a lot, and Sonic Adventure 2 is one of my favorite game of all time-- but there's no excuse here. Even rabid fans of the series should know what they're getting into with this game. Take caution: Sonic 06 is one of the worst Sonic games ever created.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

9.5- Incredible

[Note: Since Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is a compilation with a lot of different games, it's not possible to assign ratings for the various categories. You'll just have to leave it at 9.5 and take my word for it.]

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Backbone
Multiplayer: Offline co-op, offline versus
Console(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
ESRB rating: E10+ (Animated Blood, Violence)
BMR rating: I can't say, since I haven't played all of the games yet

Good Points:

49 games included, many of them excellent classics - Nice extras - Incredible bang for your buck - Well-designed save system - "Wise from your gwave!"

Not So Good Points

Some games aren't so fun - If you wanted online play, you're out of luck - It's not quite a complete collection, but it's pretty darn close

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is pure gold. With 40 classic Genesis games and an additional 9 arcade ports, this compilation is essentially a giant treasure chest brimming with nostalgic Sega goodness. All four of the Sonic sidescrollers are here, along with Golden Axe I-III, Phantasy Star II-IV, Streets of Rage 1-3, and a ton of other games. Not all of the titles are top-notch-- for example, Columns puts me to sleep and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle is just bizarre-- but you're bound to find a bunch that you really enjoy, and the vast majority are at the very least passable. Some favorites of mine that I have not yet mentioned include Shinobi III, Bonanza Bros., and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, all of which are a blast to play. The games are emulated well and ready for the HDTV. They can be switched to a wide-screen view as opposed to the original aspect ratio if that's your choice, and, if you wish, graphically modified using a smoothing feature. I find it more satisfying to rough it out with the good old-fashioned pixels of yesteryear, but the smoothing is an interesting little addition if not altogether helpful. Each game features a healthy number of save slots, which is nice if you'd rather not rough it out in terms of old school difficulty.

The whole aesthetic design has a neat retro feel to it since the menu makes it appear as if you're looking at actual Genesis cartridges. You can sort your catalog of games alphabetically, by release date, by genre, or by rating (which is a five star grading system that allows you to pick favorites), all of which help to get a handle on the long list of games. You can also unlock interviews with the creative minds behind the games and check out each game's trivia facts, story information, and cover art. The art gallery really lets you zoom in too, which allowed me to move the camera so far into Dr. Robotnik's nose that I could only see one solid block of reddish color. It took a while to do it, but at least I spent my time in a constructive manner. So needless to say, you'll have plenty to do in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, whether you want to play some RPGs, enjoy some ninja action, read up on your gaming history, or get a closer look at Dr. Robotnik's strange nose.

Ah, memories. And there's more where this came from! 48 more, in fact.

Are there any faults to Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection? Technically, yes, but nothing major. It's kind of unnecessary to put Sonic's name in the title, and there's no online multiplayer for starters. The Xbox 360 doesn't exactly have the best D-pad in existence, but it's hardly a problem, and you can always buy the PS3 version instead. It would have been nice if Backbone had managed to include a few notable missing aspects, such as the lock-on technology for the Sonic games and the cult classic Toe Jam & Earl, but it's easily forgivable considering what incredible value the game offers. Just to add some perspective, a Genesis game off the Wii's Virtual Console costs $8. That means that to purchase the 40 games included (and that's not even counting the 9 arcade titles), it would come out to about $320. You can currently pick up Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for as low as $10.

Buying Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is a no-brainier for almost any gamer. If you own, like, every Genesis game in the world, this is still a great way to have them (or at least a lot of them) all in one place. If you never got a chance to play the classics of the Genesis age, then this is fantastic place to see what it's all about. Unless you hate Genesis games or video games in general, definitely give this game a shot. The hours of fun you'll spend with the gems of a bygone era will be well worth the money.

Monday, September 14, 2009

QuickBlog: Chu Chu Rocket!

7.0 - [Great]

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

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
Multiplayer: Offline co-op, offline versus
Console(s): Dreamcast
Reviewed on: Dreamcast
ESRB rating: E (No Descriptors)
BMR rating: E (No Descriptors)

Good Points:

Chaotic gameplay great for multiplayer - A fun-filled attitude - Great variety of modes - Puzzle creation adds some nice value - Catchy music

Not So Good Points:

Not blinking for long periods of time can be painful - Simple premise can only go so far

In case you missed it, the Dreamcast just turned 10 a couple weeks ago, on September 9th. It was a wonderful system put out there as a last hurrah by Sega, but unfortunately didn't achieve the success that it deserved. It had a tendancy to release fun, unique, and downright weird games, and Chu Chu Rocket fits in very nicely. This hectic puzzle game is one of Sonic Team's great creations, and is easily one of the best multiplayer games for the Dreamcast. So let's remember the high-pitched "beeeep!" sound that always accompanied the switching on of the gone-but-not-forgotten console and take a look at Chu Chu Rocket.

The idea is simple, but things can get extremely hectic. The ChuChus (they're not just ordinary mice; they're space mice!) must avoid the KapuKapus (they're not just ordinary cats; they're space cats!) and make it safely to their little space rockets. An overhead camera gives you a view of the action, and while it's your job to protect the defenseless ChuChus, you have no direct control over the escaping space mice or their conniving cat counterparts. Instead, you must resort to placing tiles down in the arena that will send them off in different directions, and hopefully out of harm's way. All of this happens in real time, and power-ups can suddenly change everything at a moments notice, which means you never know when a hoard of KapuKapus will come charging in or the entire game might speed up dramatically. This can easily get out of hand as you rapidly throw arrows down to the ChuChus, only to find that you sent them directly into an awaiting KapuKapu's gaping maw.

For a slower change of pace, there's a puzzle mode that gives you a limited amount of tiles to think your way through a more thoughtful rescue mission, which is nice to have when your eyes begin to dry up from staring at the frenetic action of the other modes. You can even take a crack at making your own levels, which can be a lot of fun. A challenge mode gives you a time limit and a specific goal to complete, many of which are difficult to complete and rewarding to master. Multiplayer is, naturally, a huge draw to ChuChu Rocket!, and barring the Puzzle mode, you can bring in friends to work together and wage war with one another. The game's visuals are sharp and full of stylized cartoon flair, with a soundtrack as quirky and addictive as the game itself. Despite the simple gameplay, ChuChu Rocket! is a crazy and smile-inducing game that always entertains time and time again.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Super Mario Galaxy

9.0 [Incredible]

Gameplay: 9
Visuals: 10
Music: 9
Sound: 7
Value: 8

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Multiplayer: Offline co-op (kinda)
Console(s): Wii
Reviewed on: Wii
ESRB rating: E (Mild Cartoon Violence)
BMR rating: E (Mild Cartoon Violence)

Good Points:

Expertly-designed levels - Fantastic music - Amazing graphics - Lots of variety - Excellent controls - Traditional Mario style merges perfectly with outer space splendor - Boatloads of pure fun

Not So Good Points:

Too easy to get 100% - Hub world could be more interesting

It would be no hyperbole to state that Super Mario 64 is a phenomenally tough act to follow. Whether or not you are one who believes that Super Mario Sunshine succeeded in this task, there's still a pretty good chance that Super Mario Galaxy will amaze you like very few games have before. What we have here is a quality product, top to bottom, and one that makes Mario fans around the world proud. Once again Mario takes the spotlight in a 3D platformer that has the beloved plumber leaping through fantastical lands, grabbing gold coins, and doing all that Mario stuff that you remember so fondly. But this time... he's in outer space.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's a pleasant little story that goes along with the adventure, so let's lay it out real quick. Princess Peach sent a special invitation to Jumpman himself to attend the mystical Star Festival, and being the jolly Italian that he is, Mario accepts. However, during the festival, the evil Koopa King known as Bowser shows up, and panic ensues. The Princess, naturally, is kidnapped, and it's up to Mario to rescue her. He somehow winds up in space, meets a beautiful woman named Rosalina, and the adventure begins! There's also an optional storybook sequence that you can partake in if you so desire, but despite the charming visuals, I didn't find it to be particularly interesting. All in all, it's a simple plot, and that's just fine. It sets up a likable quest and focuses on the real meat: the gameplay.

Rosalina's floating spaceship acts as your hub, and while it's nowhere near as imaginative or fun to explore as Super Mario 64's castle was, it serves its purpose. From there you can access the various galaxies (or, put more simply, levels), interact with the inhabitants (including a ridiculous group of Toads known as the Toad Brigade), or just jump around and do some acrobatic tricks. Each galaxy has its own set of Power Stars to collect, which presents a varied amount of challenges to complete. As you unlock more Stars, more galaxies will become available to you, so you can pick and choose which levels you want to play at your leisure. This is a pretty familiar chain of events for most Mario veterans, but the actual galaxies are surprisingly different than you might expect.

First of all, the levels are more linear than the previous games. Rather than the sprawling locales of the past, the paths are usually more straightforward, striking a delightful blend between the 2D and 3D Mario experiences. But what really sets Super Mario Galaxy apart from the crowd is its crazy laws of gravity (or lack therefore of). You'll find yourself running upside down, sticking to objects that seem more the size of a cantaloupe than a planet, and leaping into the air only to get pulled into an awesome gravitational rotation of a pint-sized planet. Yet through all this insanity, the camera keeps up with your movements perfectly and the level design stays consistently excellent. You can also count on grabbing a number of different power-ups that give Mario a plethora of interesting abilities. Unique ideas thrive in this game, and you'll find more platforming goodness than the world has seen in quite some time.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is actually a very common activity in the world of Super Mario Galaxy.

Although you don't get a water pump that allows you to hover every which way as seen in Super Mario Sunshine, you do get a helpful little spin attack that boosts your jump slightly, which is more important than it may sound. You have to shake the Wii remote to perform this vital task, but it's actually not an annoyance at all. If you prefer, you can force yourself to not use this luxury and rough it out like the old days, which can make the experience more satisfying. You can also point the remote to collect star bits and fire them back at enemies, stunning them momentarily. A second player can hop in to interact with the environment in a variety of ways, which makes the game easier if that's what you want. The only other motion-sensing portions of the game are quite fun and brief, which is only a good thing.

The sheer number of joyous activities you can do makes the game even better. You'll find yourself flying through the air clinging to a giant dandelion, ice skating upside down, dodging deadly magic spells, swimming through underwater caverns, launching out of volcanoes, and so much more. It's very rare to find yourself bored or frustrated in Super Mario Galaxy, and it wouldn't be a stretch to find the the game's cover art under the word "fun" in the dictionary. The biggest complaint is that it all seems to be over so quickly: I finished with 100% earlier than I had hoped. A multitude of "Prankster Comets" eventually pop up to increase the difficulty by setting special conditions on some of the galaxies, including missions such as collecting purple coins, competing in races, and just beating the clock. While these comets are great additions to an already great game, I still found a lack of that certain challenge of collecting all the hidden objects and defeating death-defying level design that most other Mario platformers have. Don't get me wrong, your skills will be tested and it'll take some time to beat everything (especially since there's a way to replay the entire game in a harder difficulty), yet I can't help but to wish that I could spend even more time trying to finish it all up. Part of the reason that it seemed so fleeting is no doubt due to the extreme fun and beautiful presentation that you will constantly be surrounded by. (Obvious transition alert.)

Super Mario Galaxy is a visually spectacular game, and is easily one of the best-looking Wii games out there. A rich, vibrant color palette compliments the wonderfully animated characters and diverse scenery. Not every stage takes place in the deepness of space, so you'll find yourself in sandy deserts, sunny paradises, and all kinds of lovely locations. From bright flowing lava, to crystal-clear splashing water, to the deep star-speckled vista of space, it's a pleasure to have eyeballs when playing this game. The game's music is no slouch either. While you can be sure to hear a few classic Mario tunes here and there, Super Mario Galaxy's music is at its best when the beautiful and sweeping orchestral soundtrack kicks in, which is surprisingly fitting for the red-capped hero's epic adventure. As you soar through the stars and listen to the soundtrack suddenly give a triumphant flourish, a mixture of grandeur and wonder is undeniably in the air, which really makes Super Mario Galaxy something special.

Just this image alone is enough to simultaneously cause Mario fans to cry tears and joy and wonder excitedly whether they should jump off the waterfall or swing on the palm tree trapeze first.

And so another Mario game is immortalized in the great library of Nintendo classics. With unprecedented graphics, an amazing musical score, fantastic level design, and a ton of heart, we have here a winner in almost every regard. The experience may feel a little short-lived for collect-a-thon enthusiasts (such as myself), but it's only natural that time flies when you're having fun. And with its classic platformer style and fresh gravity-bending mindset, that's exactly what the game is: fun. Super Mario Galaxy, without a doubt, puts the magic back into video games.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Super Important Updates

This update post is no mere collection of minor tweaks. It's not even a collection of semi-minor tweaks. In fact, it's a complete overhaul of the entire blog! While this blog's roots began as a simple place to put my reviews and help people (especially non-gamers, such as mothers new to the gaming scene) learn more about what I view as one of the greatest hobbies in the world, I realized that a bit of a change was in order. My review system was rough, some of my older reviews didn't meet my current standards, and it overall felt rather generic. Now that I'm more experienced in the world of video games, I wanted to make this blog a fun place to go with regular updates and a unique reviewing method. I hope everybody enjoys the new features. But note that I'm still ecstatic to get questions (somebody's asking me to talk about games, it's awesome) that non-gamers and gamers alike might have, so feel free to send 'em my way! But for now, let's get started with the obvious changes, shall we?

First of all, the name has changed. Previously (and boringly) known as The Game Guide, due to a lack of ideas on my part, this blog is now called Blue Mage Reviews. It even has a mascot: Blue Mage himself! He's lurking around near the top of the sidebar, so go on and say hi. He probably won't bite. You can read all of his ramblings at the Blue Mage Page.

Next up, and most importantly, my review format has changed. The numbers mean different things now, I've added and streamlined information, there's now a quick pros and cons section, a nifty color-coded system goes along with the scores... all kinds of great stuff! Pop on over to the review guide for the details, which is a highly recommended option. All the old reviews have been modified to fit these new guidelines, so take a look at them to see what the new system is like in action!

The archive of past posts is still there, but I've also created a space for key entries, such as the Blue Mage Page, the review guide, and update posts. A couple links have been added to the sidebar too, and the Q&A has been revised. I can't be sure who's asking the questions, but there are rumors going around that point to Blue Mage.

That's the long and short of it, whatever that weird idiom it supposed to mean. It took a while to revamp Blue Mage Reviews, but it was also a lot of fun. Personally, I think it's overall a vast improvement, and if you see anything amiss or you have an idea for a change, post a comment and I'll take it into consideration. Enjoy the blog, my loyal legion of readers, and remember that the Force will be with you, always.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Blue Mage Page

To Blue Mage's no doubt everlasting delight, this space is dedicated to his remarks and... "wisdom." As our good wizard continues to share his thoughts at the top of this blog's sidebar, they will be archived here to preserve the fond memories, and also to look up stuff that he said so we can find contradictions. Let us now venture into the past to see what Blue Mage says:

"It appears that Zelda Reorchestrated is willing to compose any-- yes, any, I say-- Nintendo Franchise musical arrangement for an individual who pledges $1,500 or more. Short of fraud, I do not believe I can conjure up such currency in my current state, but I dearly, DEARLY wish for a fully orchestrated rendition of the moving and uplifting piece known as "Chocobo Theme". I do hope this counts as a Nintendo Franchise, for it is an obvious choice and would be beautiful to the utmost degree." - Blue Mage on Zelda Reorchestrated and their Twilight Symphony Need Your Help!
"As for myself, I would prefer the month-old box of stale Tostisos mentioned in Emblem 180's review than this video game. Do not mistake me; Shatter is a fine product. I simply happen to enjoy Tostitos a remarkable amount." - Blue Mage on Shatter. 
"So it has come to this. Emblem 180 has at last revealed his disloyalty to his own web log and is contributing to the enemy; that is, other video game web logs. In his article for this 'Critical Gamer' Internet location, he outright attacks Final Fantasy and its very identity, which should not surprise me considering his typical hate-filled posts. This has gone too far. I shall be forced to enact another murder plot if such behavior continues." - Blue Mage on Critical Gamer.
"I caught a glimpse of Emblem 180 playing this... Lugaru HD product. I now fear for his sanity. I also worry that he is using it as a simulator to enact his revenge concerning the sandwich poisoning incident. I shall not sleep this night." - Blue Mage on QuickBlog: Lugaru HD
"I am exceedingly pleased with my new position as Official Twitter Mage, and I shall not let the public down! Even though I am frequently put off by the 'social' aspect of 'social media', my followers will be delighted and amazed at my wit and timely informational tidbits. Oh, how I have always yearned for followers of my own. Of course, I generally refer to follows akin to those of an evil overlord, but this will certainly do." - Blue Mage on Blue Mage and Twitter.
"Great, Blue Mage hacked his way in and posted another entry without telling me again. But more importantly, it's a good thing I saw that housefly nibble my uneaten sandwich and promptly topple over for a gasping death. I seriously need to have a discussion with Blue Mage on a boundaries." - Emblem 180 on Blue Mage's Resolutions and Their Results.  
"I have a factoid to add to this collection of so-call "winners" that you might find interesting. Number of Final Fantasy games included: 0. That should tell you all you need know about Emblem 180's embarrassing list of biased stupidity and senseless drivel for idiots. Thank you for considering my contribution." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years - The End. 
"Correct me if I am incorrect (which is ridiculously unlikely, I might add), but I believe the premise of this 'Batman: Arkham Asylum' be summed up as such: 'A wealthy man dressed as some type of mutant bat enters an asylum to arrest a clown, yet the clown outsmarts him and murders people. Hijinks ensue." I do not take pleasure in crushing your enjoyment of such a product, but you can hardly expect me to understand it." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2009: Batman: Arkham Asylum.
"I have, in the past, considered contacting Nintendo with a generous offer to include my likeness in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. However, it would be impossible and inconceivable to balance the Blue Mage with the other characters, for I would be inordinately overpowered and prone to winning. A shame, really, but unabashedly incontrovertibly true." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2008: Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  
"Have you ever wondered why Emblem 180 enjoys this 'Halo' product so very much? Hmm? Have you? It is clearly because he cheats, and therefore wins every single match, for losing is no fun. Spitefully enough, he only uses his cheat codes when facing me." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2007: Halo 3
"Ah, yes, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I once accidentally electrocuted a denizen of Cyrodiil with my magical power, forcing me to defend against angry townspeople and guards until the entire village lay dead at my feet... and I saved. This game reveals a side of me I do not wish to contemplate." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2006: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. 
"Sonic is already blue. Why must we celebrate the range of inferior colors when the perfect one has already been in place for many years? I deem this product rubbish." - Blue Mage on Sonic Colors. 
"Emblem 180, video games are not art. You are silly to think video games are art." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2005: Shadow of the Colossus.
"Trials HD is not a good game. Do not play it. I despise this game. Of all the games I have played, this one cheats the very most. I can only assume that the 'HD' stands for... horrendously... dumb." - Blue Mage on Trials HD.   
"I do not need this 'World of Warcraft' or its pathetic expansion packages. Why would I, the enlightened Blue Mage, waste my time on such a product? After all, I have my massively multiplayer online role-playing game needs fully fulfilled with the greatest of them all: Final Fantasy Fantasy XIV Online! Now, leave me be and go away. Just... just go away! *sob*" - Blue Mage of Games of the Years 2004: World of Warcraft. 
"Emblem 180 is not the only one on this weblog who can invent puns of chortle-worthy wordplay. Observe: I am Blue Mage, and because The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker won the 2003 Game of the Year award instead of the ridiculously superior Final Fantasy X-2, I am feeling BLUE! Oho! Did you get it? I said I was feeling blue. Consider my name. Think about the wordplay between those two things. Do not worry, it will come to you." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2003: The Legend of the Zelda: The Wind Waker.
"I do enjoy a lovely evening of Animal Crossing from time to time. Emblem 180 and I share a town in which I am better at everything. I collect blue furniture, force him to pay inordinate amounts of Bells if he desires to play my in-game copy of Excitebike, and regularly chop down any trees he attempts to plant (after harvesting the fruit, of course). It certainly is a lovely time." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2002: Animal Crossing.
"The physics are all weird. The animation is dumb. It's too slow, Sonic games are about going fast. All you do is hold right and run, it's boring. The old Sonic games were better. The old Sonic games were never good. This is a rehash of Sonic 1. They changed it from Sonic 1 too much. Eggman's name should be Robotnik. The new Sonic is terrible. Sonic shouldn't have green eyes. I hate Sonic. I hate life." - Blue Mage on Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.  
"Oho! Super Smash Bros. Melee is, indeed, a game at which I am most skilled! I am virtually always the player with the highest percentage on my health meter." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2001: Super Smash Bros. Melee.
"No comment." - Blue Mage on GDC Online 2010! The Conlusion! 
"I would, of course, attend the Game Developers Conference Online if I did not already possess all necessary knowledge concerning video electronic entertainment. I am wondering, however, purely out of curiosity, if, perchance, Final Fantasy Fantasy XIV Online will be shown there. If so, there is a slight chance that I will vacate my current location immediately and set up an elaborate tent in front of the Square Enix booth." - Blue Mage on GDC Online 2010!  
"I have a hypothesis concerning Rayman's true species. He is, in fact, my own nemesis' nose. Yes, good reader, Rayman is merely a mutated version of the overrated, overestimated, overused Mario's nose; simply with added eyeballs and hair. Take a closer look. I assure you the similarities are undeniable. That, in turn, explains the lack of true limbs. It relies on a newfound, dark magic no doubt purloined from that foul wizard Kamek. Game of the Year indeed. I would not touch that pompous plumber's nose with a ten foot summoning staff, let alone one with mutated eyeballs." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 2000: Rayman 2: The Great Escape.
"Soulcalibur is no doubt an impressive game. I would like to express my desire to star in a fighting game in which I unleashed powerful magic powers and beat Mario over the head with a lead pipe. I mean this in the least sadistic way possible. If a kind reader of this humble weblog would care to create such a product, I would reimburse his or her efforts with a large stack of nonrefundable Blue Mage Bucks." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1999: Soul Calibur.
"Although The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a fine game in its own manner, I cannot help but to question the musical decisions. The ocarina has quite a grating sound to it, as I am sure you would agree. Rather, I would have Koji Kondo deal primarily with the Italian zampogna, especially if played in harmony with the oboe d'amor in a concerto setting. Also, the cuccos frighten me." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
"Star Fox 64 was chosen over Final Fantasy VII. I see. I understand. I have only thing to say and I shall be done. In the words of Slippy Toad:"

 - Blue mage on Star Fox 64.

"I am wary of The Misadventures of Said P.B. Winterbottom. If the cake is a lie, surely the pie must be, at the very least, a mild distortion." - Blue Mage on The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. 
"Aside from the star of this game whom we shall not mention, I have a complaint for this "Super Insert Overly-Praised Fool Here 64". I will never set foot in Princess Peach's twisted castle ever again. The Endless Stairs quite literally drove me to madness. I could not reach their summit, regardless of my multiple-hour-long attempts to do so. I have since recovered from the incident, I believe, but to this day I consistently opt to take the elevator." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1996: Super Mario 64.  
"If I wanted to perform baby-related, crayon-inspired activities, I would buy myself a coloring book. Hmph." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1995: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
"I agree wholeheartedly with this choice. Donkey Kong Country is, naturally, a far superior game than Final Fantasy VI. Yes indeed. Did you believe me? Then you are as frighteningly foolish as the author himself! Expect my resignation in the morning." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1994: Donkey Kong Country. 
"How could one nominate a product for Game of the Year when it has a prominent typing error in its very title? By the blue robes, I shall never understand this weblog." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1993: Myst.  
"Chu Chus > Cuccos. That is all I have to say on the matter." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1992: A Link to the Past. 
"That is twice in a row. Do you hear me? Do you understand me? Twice. In. A. Row. My. Faithful. Readers. Final Fantasy IV a lesser game than Super Mario World? Do not make me chortle, you uncouth, unreliable, unintelligent writer! You are, to put it frankly, a dim bulb! Ahem. Pardon my language. Nevertheless, your information is as trustworthy as the grimy back alleyways of the Urban Dictionary." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1991: Super Mario World.
"That absolutely tears it! Emblem 180 has made a direct comparison between Final Fantasy and Super Mario, and that flippant plumber has won the battle. Nevertheless, loyal Blue Mage fans, I shall undoubtedly win the war. For war it is." - Blue Mage on Games of the Years 1990: Super Mario Bros. 3. 
"I find the proposal of this 'portal gun' technology to be an inexhaustibly error-ridden impossibility. Matter itself screams in outrage at the very suggestion! If the game had given even a single rational explanation of this, such as “It’s magic,” then all would be well; yet they stupidly denied such logic. However, I do find GLaDOS to have a rather alluring voice. If I ever find the means to infiltrate Aperture Science’s facilities, I will not hesitate to seek GLaDOS out and invite her to a delightful croquet sports event in which I shall serve tea and cake." - Blue Mage on Portal.
"I liked the part where Mario was tortured." - Blue Mage on the Nintendo Power promo for Star Fox 64
"Okay, it appears that Blue Mage broke in and posted his New Year's resolutions. He could have just asked for permission, you know. Upon reading Item #1 I'm starting to worry. If you don't hear from me within two weeks... cancel my GameFly subscription." - Emblem 180 on Blue Mage's New Year's Resolutions
"Now this, my fellow cyber-viewers, is a game I can most certainly recommend. I do enjoy stacking boxes with the blue mage and then pushing them over with a large object for the pleasure of watching them topple onto the foolish thief, thereby sending her into a deep pit filled with sharp spikes. Oho! Indeed, this brings joy to my heart as a beef-flavored aspirin does to a bulldog with a painful headache." - Blue Mage on Trine
"Again with this Mario fellow. I myself had scarcely heard of him before Emblem 180's ridiculously insulting review for Super Mario Galaxy. Can we not focus on a more prominent character, such as Chupea from Chu Chu Rocket?" - Blue Mage on A Look to the Past: Mario
"I do not care about this game. I still wish to own a ChuChu." - Blue Mage on Republic Commando
"Why how surprising, another inferior Sonic product. Pardon my sarcasm, but one can hardly argue (yes, even the hedgehog-biased author of this esteemed weblog must admit this to be so) that this game is quite as broken as the average forum poster's English." - Blue Mage on Sonic the Hedgehog
"I suppose this gathering of 16-bit products is not altogether without redeeming value, yet I cannot stress how inferior this "Phantasy Star" series is when compared to the highly exciting, entertaining, thought-provoking, mage-filled Final Fantasy games. Genesis does what Nintendon't indeed. Hmph." - Blue Mage on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
"Those ChuChus... I must have one. I can readily promise to feed it and play with it and take it on walks and I promise to put newspapers down on the sidebar. If only I was granted this wish I would never ask for anything again and I would be as happy as a charismatic accordion salesman at a polka festival built up solely of those with six-figure incomes." - Blue Mage on Chu Chu Rocket
"I am hardly one to complain, but this review of Super Mario Galaxy has serious flaws within it. First of all, Emblem 180, my "employer" you might say, mentioned that collecting 100% of all items was, and I quote, "too easy." He obviously cheated, for even I struggled to obtain a meager 35%, so I would not trust him. Second, the game portrays blue-robed wizards as mindless enemies to be slaughtered, which I find deeply offensive on many levels. My 35% score record may or may not have something to do with my boycotting the game part way through." - Blue Mage on Super Mario Galaxy
“Why greetings and hello, my good reader! I am Blue Mage, but you may simply call me Blue Mage. I am what you could very well call the representative of this weblog… a mascot, if you will. I sincerely hope you enjoy your stay in this particular portion of textual and visual information as much as I enjoy berating-- or, that is, critiquing it. Ah, but how rude of me! I must introduce myself. I am Blue Mage, and welcome! I’m sure you will come to enjoy this weblog as much as a ravenous lion does a fatigued zebra.”