Review: Mega Man 9

For me, it’s a rare moment that I’m able to pull out my older consoles, dust them off, and dig into my favorite classic games that laid the groundwork for the modern masterpieces. However, when I get those consoles out, and it comes time to play NES games, two of my favorite games to play through are Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 2. When it was revealed that Mega Man 9 would look, play, and sound just like the old Mega Man NES titles, I was very excited. To think that in the age of hi-def gaming systems, TrueHD sound, and television screens that jump over the 100 inch mark that Capcom would be willing to create a new game in purely retro fashion is just amazing.

The gameplay is solid. If you’ve ever been a fan of the NES Mega Man games, you’re getting exactly what you’re getting into with Mega Man 9. The game looks and acts just like a NES game, all the way from the level design up to AI behavior. You can even pull the same old tricks on enemies that you could in old NES games, like walking off the screen and coming back to see the screen repopulated with the same enemies you just destroyed. It is worth noting that the game is hard. In fact, those not wanting a challenge are going to be best served steering clear of Mega Man 9’s unapologetic difficulty. While Mega Man games have never been a cakewalk, Mega Man 9 comes at you rough and never lets up. For long time fans of the series, this will prove to be a very good thing.

The music and sound is very satisfying and will make you feel like you’re back in the 80s again as catchy chiptunes with short loops accompany the bleeps and bloops of Mega Man’s jumps and attacks. Capcom went all the way in making Mega Man 9 look like it belongs on the NES.

The replay value of the game depends on how much you like a challenge. If you choose to go back and hunt for the achievements in the game, it’s going to be a very long time before you manage to get them all. Also, playing the stages out of the easiest order is going to require total mastery, so you can be sure that the game will provide many hours of enjoyment.

I can’t recommend Mega Man 9 highly enough. I only hope that the game is successful enough that Capcom and other developers choose to go this route with some of their older franchises. Imagine another Ninja Gaiden from Tecmo in this style, or maybe another Battletoads from Rare. The possibilities are endless, and I’m very grateful to Capcom for what they’ve done here.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

Review: Boom Blox

There has been a Nintendo Wii love-in at my home over the past few weeks with several interesting and enjoyable titles hitting the console at a steady pace. Boom Blox, a game that has received decent buzz since Spielberg first revealed that he was working on a Wii title just after E3, is still receiving praise and hype well after it’s release. For anybody that’s played the game, they know it’s all for good reason.

Boom Blox is really best summed up as the anti-Lego experience mixed in with a bit of Jenga. The game has several different modes of play, but essentially each one revolves around the strategic deconstruction of blocks of various types.


Bomb blocks doing their thing in Boom Blox.

One mode has you tossing a baseball, or other types of projectiles, into a stack of blocks to try to bring them down completely with the least amount of throws. Most of the puzzles are designed that you can bring them all down in one well-placed toss, so finding that weakest point is an interesting and addictive challenge. Other modes have you taking aim at exploding blocks that can chain react with each other, hitting point blocks while avoiding negative point blocks, or pushing and pulling blocks while trying to avoid knocking other blocks down (think Jenga).

The game also incorporates a solid story mode and a very frantic and riotous multiplayer mode. Each one of these offers something completely unique from just pushing through the individual puzzles. Just make sure that when you challenge a buddy to a two player match that you leave enough room to avoid black eyes, dead legs, and banging elbows.


Spielberg and Miyamoto enjoying Wii Sports at E3.

Graphically the game is simple, but anybody expecting more is looking for the wrong experience. The game really shines when you examine the physics engine that drives the gameplay. Bomb blocks chain react and send other blocks flying out just as you’d expect, and toppling towers will fall in a manner that’s easily predictable if you have any idea on how physics work.

The presentation takes a very light-hearted and family friendly tone. Blocks are given life in the form of anthropomorphically realized animals, but they don’t really add or detract from the overall experience. While it might be a bit sugary for the self-proclaimed manly man, really anybody else should find the game attractive from a presentational aspect.

Simply said, Boom Blox is a great experience and is executed very well on the Wii. The controls are simple, yet solid, the gameplay is a blast (no pun intended), and the variety of modes will keep you coming back until you’ve mastered each one. Boom Blox is a great example of the type of content that Nintendo has been hoping to get from its 3rd party partners and is a great sign for the future of the console.


Overall Score: 8.5/10

Review: Mario Kart Wii


I know the game has been out for a while, but I really wanted to get some quality time in before offering up some final opinions on Mario Kart Wii. The game has taken a bit of a beating from popular gaming sites and has been given lukewarm reviews. Some reviewers *cough* 1up *cough* are even calling it “Mario Kart for babies.” Other reviewers like it, and have been calling it a good mix of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS. So how did I feel about it after a couple of weeks playing the game online and off? Keep reading, fellas.

First off, yes, Mario Kart Wii played it conservative. The game doesn’t make any huge leaps forward in any regard, but it does work toward refining the tried and true Mario Kart formula. The single player consists of the familiar Grand Prix, Time Trials, and Battle modes, each with varying levels of difficulty and speeds. To start, only four cups are unlocked for Grand Prix, so you’ll have some work to do before you can have access to all the tracks the game offers.

I’m a bit confused why the IGN boys were harping on the game’s sense of speed. I think even at 50cc the game has felt as fast as any other Mario Kart, and definitely faster than Double Dash!!. Maybe the wide open tracks made things feel a bit slower, as compared to the tighter tracks found in older Mario Kart titles, which force you to turn and slide more aggressively.


The classic rubber band gameplay is still in full effect in MK Wii. A narrow lead is rarely safe, but if you can manage to build a significant lead over your rivals, it’s fairly simple to hang onto it through the race. Yes, you’ll have to deal with lightning bolts and blue shells, but you’ll benefit from them at the right times as well. I’ve never understood the rubber band complaint in Mario Kart. It’s not so drastic that the best racers struggle to win, it just keeps the stinkers from getting lapped too often.

The tracks in the game are very bright and pretty. There are some new twists thrown in on some tracks, such as using half pipes to earn boosts and different types of boost arrows. The locations are still character based, but they remain a loose connection. The game also includes many tracks from the SNES, GBA, N64, and GameCube versions of Mario Kart, which are playable in single player, multiplayer, and online modes.

The online modes are smooth as silk. While the game is lacking voice chat (or even text chat), the experience is 100% lag free and matchmaking is very fast. You can play regionally, on a worldwide level, or with friends only. The level of activity is high, so even during late night searches during the mid-week you’ll find people willing to play in either Battle or Race modes. I’d love to have seen voice chat, but it’s not too bad playing without it.


The gameplay itself is tight, but it has been simplified a bit to make the game more accessible. If you wish, you can make your sliding automatic, but you won’t get speed boosts from them unless you execute them manually. This is to allow veterans to earn their boosts the hard way, while still keeping the door open for newcomers. There is a bit of waggle involved, but it’s minimal. On jumps, if you shake the controller you’ll get a speed boost upon coming down. This hurts those that are planning on using the classic controller or a GameCube controller, so I’d advise using the Wii remote and nunchuck setup. Some may lament the choice to make the game more accessible, but really, hasn’t that been what Mario Kart has been about from the beginning? In the end, I think it will prove to be a good move, as new players can ease into the experience and gradually move over to the more advanced styles of play.

Overall I’m very pleased with Mario Kart Wii. I think they could stand to evolve the series a bit more than by just adding more types of karts and motorcylces, but I’m never going to be disappointed with the proven formula getting a fresh dusting off and sprucing up. In the end, I feel safe recommending the game for Mario Kart vets and newcomers alike.


Stupid Gamer score: 8/10