You probably wouldn't guess it based on how much time passes between when I get around to playing them, but I've been enjoying playing the Shantate series (coincidentally it's been exactly two years since I finished Shantae: Risky's Revenge, the second in the series). The original Game Boy Color game felt a little rough around the edges, but the series seemed to really hit its stride with Risky's Revenge, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Shantae and The Pirate's Curse, the third in the series, is similarly enjoyable, although it replaces the backtracking Metroidvania setup of the first two games with a more level-based structure, which you navigate via a simple interface in the form of Risky's ship. There are still occasions where you'll have to revisit an area, but for the most part it's pretty clear where you're supposed to go. The last part of the game requires you to hunt for a certain number of "Cacklebats", and finding all of them unlocks the best ending. I'm not really a fan of hunting down every little secret in a game, so I had to content myself with watching a video of the good ending.

In general I enjoyed the game, and it was fun to see all the characters from the previous games show up again, as well as some new ones. The action platforming, graphics, and sound are as tight as ever, although I found the powerups to be less unique than the other two games. In this game you acquire pirate gear rather than learn transformations, which made the game less compelling overall for me. In general the game scored a little lower on Metacritic than its predecessor, so I guess I'm not the only one who found it to be a little less memorable. Regardless, it was an enjoyable experience overall, and I'm looking forward to playing through the next game Shantae: Half-Genie Hero before too long. And with Shantae and the Seven Sirens due out later this year (unless it's been delayed), I may even get all caught up sooner than later.

After having checked out Marvel Contest of Champions earlier last year, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I looked into the other Marvel smartphone games. Marvel Puzzle Quest released about six and a half years ago, so it's even older than Contest of Champions. It's been about a decade since I'd played the first Puzzle Quest game, on DS, and I remember enjoying it overall at the time. I've played a few match games like it since then (namely Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition a few years ago), and although there have been tweaks to the original Puzzle Quest basic formula over the years, it seems like the concept really hasn't evolved much at all in the Marvel edition.

The game has the usual light RPG trappings (e.g. special attack meters based on the color of the pieces you clear) coupled with familiar Marvel characters and the usual annoying free-to-play mechanics. It looks like the details of the latter have varied over time and there's the usual randomness of getting characters you want, a premium subscription service, and a bunch of in-game currencies, but the main currency is "Hero Points" which you need to expand the roster of heroes you can keep. IGN bewilderingly gave it a high rating when the game first came out, but I got bored grinding to get more Hero Points pretty early on, and the core gameplay itself is so mindless that I gave up on the game pretty quickly. The one thing I liked about the game is that it uses actual Marvel comic cover art, but otherwise this was a completely disposable game for me. A remake of the original Puzzle Quest was released for Switch about six months ago, but reviews were pretty middling. I suppose I'm not the only one who finds that what was somewhat novel gameplay a decade ago hasn't aged well, Marvel skin or not.

Although I was late to the game (literally!) and only really played my first Dance Dance Revolution game in early 2015, by now five years later I've played plenty of them, and I'm still enjoying working my way through the various nooks and crannies of the series. Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix was actually the second game in the overall series that I played, and at the time I didn't fully appreciate its many charms. At the time I found the game to be a bit easy (not surprising, given its target audience), and I found the Mario hazards added to stages (such as Podobos that you have to avoid stepping on) to be a nuisance. Also, although I enjoy classical music in general, I found the game's inclusion of remixes of classical music to be pretty cheesy.

Looking back at the game now and in the context of the series, I appreciate its charms much more than I did before. Only about a fifth of the game's thirty-ish tracks are actually classical music remixes unrelated to any Mario game. The rest are a nice assortment of reworked tracks from across the range of the Mario series, including tracks from fellow GameCube titles Wario World and fan favorite Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. At the time I was also annoyed by the Mario Party-like mini-games, but now I can appreciate how they provide a bit of a break from the familiar DDR gameplay. I also have to give a shout-out to the DDR pad that was bundled with the game, as it's light years more durable than any other home dance pad I've used.

The highlight of Mario Mix, though, has got to be the star turn that Waluigi takes. Mario's dance-off battle against him is nothing short of epic, and I know I'm not the only Walu fan who is clamoring for more attention to be paid to this too-often ignored anti-hero of the Mario universe. In any case, I enjoyed reminiscing over this unique entry in the Mario and DDR series, and I hope you have a Happy MAR10 day!


Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn't stop here... There's more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games. Visit the Center of the Multiverse to see more:

https://thewellredmage.com/2020/03/10/center-of-the-mario-multiverse

I'm a Pokemon fan in general, but I watched Detective Pikachu more because I was curious about what the highest grossing video game adaptation of all time was like (recently surpassed by the Sonic the Hedgehog movie) rather than any particular desire to see it. (Pokemon games aren't exactly renowned for their deep and compelling stories.) The film ended up being a series of set pieces without much plot connecting them, and although there are a few key Pokemon (namely PIkachu, Psyduck, Charizard, and Mewtwo), the IP isn't even really used particularly well in general. I wasn't a big fan of the movie's attempt at making the Pokemon look more realistic than cartoony, or the grimy aesthetic, both of which were a bit too reminiscent of the mega-flop that was the Super Mario Bros. movie. Overall the movie was pretty much entirely forgettable, and aside from being a Pokemon movie I suppose a large part of your enjoyment of it will also depend on how much you like Ryan Reynolds. Personally I grew bored of his shtick after the first few minutes of the first movie I saw him in (the first Deadpool movie, I think). The one plus for the movie is that it did get me more interested in trying out the game (released on 3DS) that it was based on. I've had it for a while, and hopefully I'll get to it before the announced Detective Pikachu game or film sequel comes out.

The last thing I need is yet another mobile game that I have to keep up with, so it's just as well that Pokémon Masters is not a particularly compelling game. The game features real-time 3 vs 3 RPG-like combat with the focus being as much on Pokémon as their human companions. As with many mobile games, you have to roll to recruit "Sync Pairs", and you also choose which pairs to level up, promote to higher rarity levels (indicated by the number of stars), and which of their moves to unlock. Some Pokémon can also be evolved.

The game opened to a disappointing reception, although I'm not sure how it's been doing since then. I find the whole experience to be pretty mindless, and the auto-battling feature is the only thing keeping me even remotely involved with it. The developers have been gradually rolling out improvements, and they've started running limited time events in which you can grind to recruit special Sync Pairs (so far Mewtwo, Solgaelo, and Rayquaza). The first event was ridiculously unbalanced and required pretty much nonstop grinding for the duration of the event. The two more recent events have required much more reasonable amounts of grinding to recruit the Pokémon, but still requires a ton of grinding to earn enough materials to fully unlock all their moves, etc.

Super fans of the games or the anime may get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing gym leaders and trainers from across the series' history, but aside from a few of the most famous characters I didn't really remember the majority of them even though I've played most of the games. By now I've recruited a fair number of pairs even though I'm F2P and the Pokémon characters themselves are still fun to see, so even though I'm not very interested in the game itself I'm okay with signing in for my daily log-in bonuses and dropping in for the special events. Although Pokémon Masters has a decent amount of polish, including plenty of voice clips, the story is about the level of most Pokémon games, i.e. completely bland. For me the game is definitely one of the lamer and more mindless spin-offs in the series, and it's hard for me to imagine them adding in any other modes that would change my mind since I find the core gameplay to be so boring.

Not-so-amateur Pokémon Masters links:
- Tips from pokemon.com
-
Entry at Bulbapedia
- Tier lists abound.
Here's the one on Gamepress