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Jon Collins @Dice

Reviews

Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy)

Short, but sweet

The Good
Kirby's Dream Land sports pretty good graphics, fun gameplay, a decent story, good music, and easy controls. The bosses are creative and fun to fight. The level design of this game is pretty cool too, ranging from the Wispy Woods to the Clouds.

The Bad
Kirby's Dream Land was an extremely short game. It only includes 4 levels + the final boss battle. This was a real let-down, when after only 20 minutes of happiness I was greeted with the ending credits.

The Bottom Line
Kirby's Dream Land is a light-hearted adventure which is enjoyable while it lasts, but over WAY too early. If you are considering purchasing this game, it is well worth the money since you can easily replay it over and over but do not expect a long, grand, epic adventure.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

Game & Watch Gallery 4 (Game Boy Advance)

Old-school meets new-school

The Good
Game & Watch Gallery 4 features a large number of Classic Game & Watch games which are addicting on their own. Add to that the revamped modes with very similar game mechanics but beautiful graphics and you've got a great collection of mini-games which can keep you busy for a long time. I like the idea of working towards a goal and this game satiates that idea by awarding you with a star for every 200 points you score in any game. These stars are then used to unlock information about G&W games not included, sound bytes to listen too, and, most importantly, more games.

The Bad
The game is pretty repetitive if played too much. Also, it can be pretty tough to get all five stars in a mini game since you only get 3 misses and its game over. It is very frustrating when you have 978 points and you get the 5th star at 1000, you look away for a split second and you missed a person with your fire-net.

The Bottom Line
This is a splendid collection of old-school G&W games like Chef, Octopus, Fire, Donkey Kong Jr. etc. all complete with a revamped, Modern counterpart. This is a fun game to kill time with while waiting for a table at a restaurant, flying, etc. There may not be much depth to the game, but it is enough to keep you entertained for a while.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

Animal Crossing (GameCube)

The only game where chores, shopping, and debt are made fun!

The Good
Animal Crossing has a lot of depth to it, the variety of furniture, neighbors, fish, insects, fossils, paintings, etc goes on forever. As stupid as I feel saying it, you really start to become "attached" to the neighbors in your town and feel a little sad when someone leaves your town (I miss you Alfonso!). The game operates on the real world's time which is also entertaining since you have to wait until a certain time for the shop to open, the events to start, etc. This can easily be gotten around by adjusting your system clock, but what fun is that. : P

The Bad
This game is a mere port/translation of a Nintendo 64 game released in Japan...and it shows. The graphics aren't terrible, but a little improvement would of been nice. Also once you go through a few townspeople coming and going, you notice that there are certain "personalities" which are ascribed to several characters and that there really is no difference between a bear and a frog other than their appearance. Finally, when visiting another friend's town you cant see your friend there. You can just run around their town and talk to their townspeople. I would have appreciated something like LAN play to be able to run around each other's towns together.

The Bottom Line
There are some things that I just don't understand, among them are quantum physics, Hollywood Squares, and why pulling weeds, selling fruit, and finding Cobb's hankerchief for him is so much fun. Animal Crossing takes the most "un-fun" concepts of life and makes them crazily addictive. This game is a fun game which children, teenagers, and adults, males and females, gamers and game-ophobes all can enjoy.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

Mario Party 5 (GameCube)

Mario Party: It is what you make of it

The Good
Mario Party 5 is, at its heart, the same game it always has been. This time there are 70 new minigames which feature pretty good graphics and fun game mechanics. There are an assortment of well designed levels, each with exciting events specific to the level which can keep the game interesting. In addition to the standard Single Player, Party Mode, and Mini-game Modes (which are all well executed I might add) , there is a Bonus Mode which features a low-key version of Volleyball (fun, but don't expect any DOA:XVB depth to it), an ice hockey game (once again, fun but not much depth), and finally Card Party. Card Party is a fun mode which features a random board made of cards and basically can be described as Mario Party without the minigames and without coins. Despite how dull this may sound, it is actually quite fun.

The Bad
I did not enjoy the number of mini-games that were either luck-based or "press A as fast as you can." These two concepts were definitely overused in this edition of Mario Party. Also the inclusion of Capsules in Party Mode which takes the place of the Item Shop. These capsules come in basically two categories (in my mind): Complete Game Reversal, which can take you out of the lead like that, and Utterly Pointless, such as Lakitu who steals a capsule from another player (and that capsule is usually another Lakitu).

The Bottom Line
There seem to be two types of people: Those Who Love Mario Party and Those Who Hate Mario Party. If you are the former, this is essentially the same Mario Party-goodness you know and love. If you are a member of the latter group, then steer clear because this is essentially the same Mario Party-blandness you love to hate. If you have never played Mario Party, picture a board game mixed with brief 30-60 second battles for coins which are used to purchase stars (the determining factor of who wins). The mini-games are the portion which most people enjoy playing and can be accessed by their own through the mini-game mode.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

Worms Blast (GameCube)

A fun puzzle game

The Good
The graphics (for being a puzzle game) are good, recognizable worms and scenic backdrops. The simplistic puzzle action of aiming your weapon and firing and moving back and forth with your raft to better position yourself for a shot. Two-player dual mode is also fun as you panic to try to outlive your opponent.

The Bad
Seeing as the game is a puzzle game, it falls into the pitfall that catches many of those in the same genre. That is that the repetitiveness of the game can really start to get to after a while. Also the difficulty of the game gets very tough later in the game and can begin to bring on massive headaches. Finally, I personally wish that there could have been a two player mode which featured lining up shapes rather than colors seeing as my dad would have loved this game, except he is colorblind so he couldn't play it.

The Bottom Line
First and foremost, I would like to make it perfectly clear to those looking at this game that this is a puzzle game in the same vein as Snood, Super Puzzle Bobble, etc. and not a standard Worms game. I fell victim to this mistake, and while I was satisfied with what I got not everyone would be. This game is a simple, puzzle game which takes the weapons and characters of the Worms universe and makes an entertaining and engaging game which is fun for all ages.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

Worms 3D (GameCube)

Worms is back, and in 3D!

The Good
Worms 3D is exactly what the title says, the zany fun of Worms (complete with Holy Hand Grenades, Banana Bombs, and Sheep Bombs) combined with one more dimension. This allows for even more strategy in shot placements, unit placements, etc. The game also comes with a random terrain generator which provides an unlimited amount of terrain possibilities. I should also mention that, sticking to its roots, this game features completely destructible environments. Some people may see the multi-player aspect as badly designed, since it is comprised of one controller for all four teams. However, I see it as a plus. I only own 3 controllers (one of which is extremely shoddy) and I don't feel like spending money on more controllers that will only be used when friends come over. Therefore, passing around the Wavebird is easy and cheap for me.

The Bad
With the addition of a third dimension, it is now very difficult placing shots correctly. The learning curve of this game is relatively steep and understanding what weapons are affected by wind and to what degree can take a while. Also, the random terrain generator sometimes sticks your worms in the most inaccessible places (sometimes in the terrain itself!) which can be pretty annoying. Finally, the AI of Worms 3D is also pretty weak and is not much of a threat to any gamer with a basic understanding of simple physics and the Worms universe.

The Bottom Line
Worms 3D is a complex game which is tremendous fun for 4 player deathmatches. Any fan of the Worms series would enjoy this game. With the inclusion of a third dimension, things are trickier but still just as fun. The inclusion of 4-players alternating between one controller is also a welcomed concepts for all of the cheapskates of the world who share the same problems as me. While this game may not appeal to everyone, it is definitely worth trying.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$! (GameCube)

Wow...this is DEFINITELY something different

The Good
Wario Ware, Inc. features fast-paced, highly competitive, off-the-wall, mindless fun which I have never experienced before. The micro-games last only 3 seconds or so, which (being plagued with extreme ADD) is very good since I have a hard time focusing for extended periods of time. The variety of micro-games is great too, ranging from trying to keep Wario in a spotlight, to escaping a dripping bubble of snot, to deploying an air-bag on time. The games have to making faces of utter confusion, panic to complete the game, and pure amusement as you have never seen anything so weird in your life. Playing this game in four-player mode is an absolute must as you try to outlive your friends all the while trying to mess them up as much as possible.

The Bad
Some people would complain about the graphics being Gameboy-ish, etc. However, I understand that this was a Gameboy game originally and am not convinced that better graphics would improve this game. One problem I did have with this game at first is the learning curve. The first time a booted up the game and began playing, I was greeted with a white outline of a box, a white dot, and the instructions "Detonate." I stared at the screen and said "....Uh-huh, riiight." Well, once you realize that that dot was actually a firework and was supposed to be "detonated" with the A button in the box, everything makes sense (at least in this game's sense of the word) Also, I personally was not that interested in the single-player mode because half of the game's fun stems from its fun party mode.

The Bottom Line
Wario Ware is an essential party game full of wacky, reflex-testing, off-the-wall micro-games which is unlike anything I've ever seen before. If you have a Gamecube, and 3 friends, this game is a necessity which is guaranteed to provide immense fun for gamers of all ages. If you are thinking of getting this game for the single-player mode, personally, I'd recommend renting it first. This is one of the most original games to ever grace the walls of gaming shops and you should not let it's "sub-par" graphics deter you from trying it out.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

Super Smash Bros.: Melee (GameCube)

Incomparable

The Good
Super Smash Bros.: Melee sports some of the most astounding graphics ever. After 2.5 years, the crisp and vibrant graphics still leave you in awe. The gameplay is simplistic enough that beginners can have great fun with it, while at the same time the level of depth which you can play with can keeps it fresh for veterans. The variety of characters spanning over the entire Nintendo dynasty also makes for very fun and wacky matches (there's nothing like seeing Donkey Kong smashing Samus Aran off of a floating tree-island from Kirby's Dreamland). The replay value of this game is tremendous with its incomparably addictive four-player smash-fest.

The Bad
While there are plenty of well-designed stages that are perfect for 1-on-1 matches which can, theoretically, be played with 4 players, the only flawless level for 4 player mode is the Hyrule level. More larger levels would have been nice. Also, some characters are too similar to each other for my taste. For example, Ganondorf is really just a heavier version of Captain Falcon, with different colored attacks and sounds. This is not terrible, but it just seems like a cheap way to throw in an extra character.

The Bottom Line
SSB:M is an insanely addictive game which pits Nintendo characters in a deathmatch. It's great controls/fight mechanics coupled with its great graphics, sounds, design, and replay value, makes this an almost obligatory title for any Gamecube owner. The pro's of this title outweigh the con's without contest warranting this title with a spot as one of the greatest games ever released.

By Jon Collins on July 23, 2004

S2: Silent Storm (Windows)

A brilliant and addictive strategic combat game in a World War II setting

The Good
Silent Storm features an engaging story which can be approached from either the viewpoint of the Allies or the Axis. The gameplay is also extremely well-designed (and, while i haven't played Jagged Alliance 2, many people say that they are similar). Using a pool of Ability Points, your team members carry out their actions in turn-based battles. The graphics and ragdoll physics which are incorporated in this game are also beautiful. Finally, one of the most entertaining aspects of Silent Storm is the real-time calculations which are used to determine ricocheting bullets' paths, grenade/explosion radii and other effects which add a new sense of realism to the already realistic combat.

The Bad
Silent Storm had very few cons in my opinion. Eventually, the story takes a sci-fi twist and strays from its authentic WWII setting, which, in my opinion detracted only slightly from the game. Another problem that I had, was the inconsistency in the realism of the game. An example of this is in the side-effects which characters take from being shot in specific body parts (immobilized if shot in leg, deaf if near a grenade, etc.), yet both enemies and your squad members can take more shots than any ordinary person could. While these were personal dislikes of this game, they certainly did not impede my enjoyment of Silent Storm.

The Bottom Line
Silent Storm is a tactical combat game which features great gameplay, great graphics, uncanny realism (at times), and a decent storyline. Anyone who enjoys war games which actually require precise planning and patience rather than running-and-gunning should seriously consider checking this game out.

By Jon Collins on July 16, 2004

Ikaruga (GameCube)

Brilliant, but tough

The Good
Ikaruga's graphics are decent. The gameplay is amazingly simple and complex at the same time. Essentially this game is your vertical shooter (think Space Invaders, R-Type, etc) with a twist. There are two "polarities" as the game calls them, black and white. If you shoot an enemy with the opposite polarity of your shield you deal double damage to them, however if you shoot an enemy of the same polarity of your shield you deal normal damage and the enemy releases bullets that same polarity upon dieing. Collecting bullets of the same polarity as your shield fills up your special gauge which can be used to unleash devastating attacks. Collecting even one bullet of the opposite polarity of your shield...well, it kills you. The controls are simple: Control Stick to move, B to fire, A to switch between polarities, and R to unleash your special.

The Bad
"This game is tough." That comment right there is quite possibly the largest understatement ever. I have never, in my 10+ years of hardcore gaming, experienced a game which can touch the difficulty of this game. While this provides for good replay value, it also provides for large headaches and an assortment of four-letter words that would certainly not make your mother proud of you.

The Bottom Line
Ikaruga is the answer to the cries of Top Down Shooter fans who are experiencing the waining selection of their favorite genre. The game is simple and complex at the same time which makes it accessible for amateurs and veterans alike. The difficulty of Ikaruga is extreme which gives the game great replay value but a lot of frustration as well. All-in-all this is a very well designed game, and fans of the genre will not be let down.

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GameCube)

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (Game Boy Advance)

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PlayStation 2)

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder (Game Boy Advance)

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

River City Ransom (Game Boy Advance)

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004

Dr. Mario (NES)

A classic puzzle game which still remains enjoyable today

The Good
Dr. Mario is a game which is extremely easy to pick up and play. The gameplay and controls are simple enough that anyone can learn to play with minimal effort. As far as sound is concerned, the effects are nothing spectacular, but not obstructive to gameplay either. However, the music, in my opinion, is brilliant. There are two songs included, Fever and Chill, which are very catchy and fit the frantic puzzle action of the game well. Finally, the inclusion of a two-player vs. mode is very welcomed as well.

The Bad
Mario storylines are supposed to be...different, but the story line behind Dr. Mario seemed stranger than usual and rushed, as there is only half of a page addressing the story line in the manual. Granted it's a puzzle game and the story is not a huge part of the gameplay, but I still would have liked a little more depth to the story. Also, the graphics are nothing amazing, but, on the other hand, they really don't need to be. Finally, while part of the charm of this game stems from its simplistic gameplay, this leads to its drawback of quickly becoming somewhat repetitive.

The Bottom Line
Dr. Mario is a puzzle game in which your objective is to kill all of the viruses in a jar. The viruses come in three colors (red, blue, and yellow) as do the pills which are used to kill the viruses. The pills contain two "sections" which allows for either a pill with two of the same colors or two different colors. A horizontal or vertical line of 4 or more "sections" of the same color will cause the line to disappear. So, one must strategically place the falling pills in line with the like-colored virus in order to kill it. If the jar is filled with pills and there are still viruses present, then it is game over.

By Jon Collins on July 14, 2004