Blackpaw's Video Game Reviews

Welcome to a little page I've decided to throw together, just for the fun of it.

Here you'll find what I think of random games and systems I've played.

First up on our list is Starfox Adventures for the Nintendo Gamecube.

If you've played the origional Starfox or Starfox 64, then you may enjoy this game. True to the nature of the series, you pilot the Arwing between your mission areas of the planet. Once there, you find yourself playing Fox McCloud. You dont' have Fox's prefered blaster, and he does voice his disdain for this early in the game. You aquire a staff, and you're on your way. Through this game you will fight various enemies and solve puzzles to recover the spirits and stones you need to save the planet. Overall, I liked the gameplay and enjoyed the story plot. They keep unnecessary side quests to a minimum, and the only time you really need to do anything that does not advance the story line along, is something that will give you a new ability. The combat system of the game does have the nice feature of only allowing one enemy to attack you at a time. This allows new platform game players, and young players, to fight one enemy at a time and not have to worry about the other ones killing you while you play. One of the things that did turn me off on this game though, was the little dinosaur Tricky. This annoying little creature follows you all over the game and is constantly whining about one thing or another. His voice is annoying and the fact that he follows you almost everywhere makes him a constant bother. The fact that he is required to be fed to do the various tasks needed of him in the game makes him almost more trouble then he is worth. On the plus side, he can't follow you into some areas, and they give a full level where you don't need him. I also enjoyed some of the other piloting areas you get to experience. They allow you to fly on the back of a "Cloudrunner," on the back of a giant Mammoth, and my personal favorite, on a hovercraft. Overall I found the game to be quite enjoyable, and find it has good replay value. The many secerets and hidden items give the game lot of things to find, and the puzzles can be quite challenging.

Great combat system
Good storyline
Minimal side quests

Annoying sidekick
Pointless cheats

Overall, I give this game Eight out of Nine tails

Next on the block we've got Resident Evil, also for the Gamecube

Now, I've always been a fan of the Resident Evil series, but I think that Capcom has truely outdone themselves this time. Expanding on the origional game, they have taken Resident Evil to a new level. The game has been completely redesigned with new graphic enhancements and greatly expanded maps. Capcom has almost doubled the play area that the origional Resident Evil offered. The zombies have been upgraded to a newer level that will challenge experienced players. Unless the body is burned, or you take the head off the zombie, then in roughly half an hour the creature will return. These returned zombies, or "dead heads" as I call them, are twice as fast, hit twice as hard, and take twice the damage before they die. Thankfully, once they are down, they stay there. One of the things that did disapoint me was the lack of inovative weaponry. All the weapons are the same from Resident Evil, save for maybe one or two exceptions. The game offers a good amount of replay value, as each time you finish the game, it tends to unlock something new. Every time you finish the game, you earn a new costume for the character you selected (one of two new costumes) or you unlock a new game mode. The puzzles are very challenging and can sometimes take quite some time to figure out.

Great graphic improvement
Awesome new levels and areas
New enemies
Unlockable Special Features
New defense items to ward off the undead

Lack of innovative weapons
At times not enough ammo, causing you to restart the game from the begining or an earlier save

Overall I give Resident Evil Six out of Nine tails. The lack of new weaponry is rather disapointing, and the lack of amunitions at certain points makes the game impossible to finish. On the plus side, lots of new rooms and areas to explore make the game worth buying.

Up next on the chopping block is Blood Rayne for the Gamecube.

I'm a vampire game fan, but I must say that this game disapointed me in many respects. The combat system does have a nice combination between hand to hand combat and firearms. The ability to drain the blood of your enemies and regain your life is a nice feature, as it givse you a constan supply of health in almost every level. On the other hand, the camera angles can sometimes be annoying and make it difficult. Also the weapon selection seems quite large, but in reality weapons of the same general time don't do very much of a difference in damage. The extra vision types aren't always a great addition, as some of them are rather annoying and hard to see in. The slow motion does make the enemies easier to kill, and their fire much easier to avoid. The storyline is different from most vampire games, and does offer some inventiveness, but it is hardly a compensation for the sometimes excessively large levels. Some levels are spread out between three and four areas and you need to keep wandering from one to the other. Also the compas, though usefull, is not very accurate.

Good combination between hand to hand and ranged attacks
Easy to access health regain
Nicely rendered movies

Sometimes annoying angles of view don't let you see everywhere
Excessive levels, and too much backtracking
No unlockable features

Overall I give this game Five out of Nine tails. Not a bad game, but the lack of camera angles and no unlockable special features give very little replay value.

Next up is Legacy of Kain:Soul Reaver for the Dreamcast and Playstation systems.

At first glance, Soul Reaver is a great game with an intersting gimick. The game is played on two different worlds at the same time. As Raziel, you shift between the mortal plane and the spiritual plane to complete your missions, and hunt down your former vampire breatheren. You start out with no real abilities, except sucking the souls of your vanquished enemies. For those who have played Blood Omen or Blood Omen 2, you will find the style of play quite similar. You retain the abilities to pick up weaponry and use them to vanquish your vampire foes, and as you defeat the vampire bosses, you gain their special ability. The enemies in this game are quite challenging, as if you do not find some way to destroy them via water, impalement or immoalation, then they will quickly recover and come at you once again. Also if you do not drink the soul then they will re-enter the body and may come back to life. Vampires without bodies become wraiths, and attack you in the spirit world. One nice feature of the game is the difficulty to truely die. when your energy runs out in the mortal world, where most the combat takes place, you return to the spirit world. Here your energy very slowly recovers or you can defeat enemies and drink the lost souls or the souls of the vanquished foes to restore your life force. Should you die in the spirit world, you are returend to your home point where you may return. One of the things that annoys me are the warp gates. You activate them and then you can return to previous areas you have visited. But they are not very well marked to diversify them from the others, as they all ahve a uniform look. But the biggest dissapointment to me was the storyline. They lead you up to the great confrontation with Kain, and then as you are ready to defeat him, he jumps into a time portal and the game ends...To be continued. This is my biggest beef with this game. They had a great game with lots of intersting levels and a revolutionary play style, and then they go and make you wait for the second to finish the story. The general shortness of the entire game is also a big dissapointment to me. Having played the Blood Omen games, I expected larger levels and a better story finale. I was sorely dissapointed to find how short this game was, and that when you do finish it, that you do not even get the satisfaction of finishing off Kain. The creators include a number of spell abilities, but these are not needed to finish the game, which makes them almost pointless. I finished the game without finding any of the glyphs and without finding the forge of fire, which makes me question their relevance in the game at all. You cannot get most of them until you gain all of the abilites in the game, and at that point you can finish it without them.

Nice new world interaction that gives two levels of play
Difficult to die
Challenging enemies

Bad ending
Short overall game
Pointless added abilites

As much as I enjoyed this game at the begining, I'm going to have to give it only three out of nine tails. It starts out fun, but the way they end the game and the pointless content and short game length ruined the experience for me.

Next let's look at Lost Kingdoms for the Gamecube.

Lost Kingdoms is a new spin on an old style of game. Lost Kingdoms is a combination between a role playing or platform game, and a collectable card game. In Lost Kingdoms, you are a princess. There are problems happening throughout the land, and you are the one to go out and deal with them. The game is more mission based then it is free roaming. You start out with one mission, and after you defeat it, a new one opens up. This continues for every level, though you do have the option of going back and re-entering many of the old missions. You also have the option of going to a card shop or a "fairy house."

The main point of the game from what I can gather is to go from area to area and complete your mission. Now the unique part of this game is the battle system. It can be a little confusing at first, and even as you begin to get used to it, it is still a littel difficult to use during combat. Though the combat is innovative, it can be difficult to use. The game randomly gives you four cards to use. Every time you up a card, then it is replaced with another from your deck. One nice feature is it allows you to discard cards back to your deck, and it shows you the next card coming up. Now when you use the card it can do one of many things. Some cards summon a monster to fight for you. Others heal you or force an effect. Still others are used like weapons, attacking your enemy once and then dissapearing. You can also use a card to capture the monsters attacking you. This is a great way to build up your deck again, since you can only carry 30 cards at a time. And once you use a card, it can not be used again that mission, unless you find a blue fairy to restore it. If you run out of cards before the boss, then you can kiss your rear goodbye. One of my other beefs with the combat system is that it is not turn based. This makes it quite difficult to take the time to select the card you wish to use. Slower or new players would not last very long, as the monsters constantly attack you. This makes it hard to decide what tactics to use or what elements to use against the enemy's element. I have accidentially used fire elements agaisnt water elements, because I did not have time to pick the right card, and it is not always very clear what element the enemy is, as they are always moving.

The graphics in the game are actually quite beautiful at times, and the game is overall graphically pleasing. If you can get used to the combat sysetm, then it is a good game to waste some time with. The game features a good range of different cards, and monsters to use in your battles. The ability to move arround makes it more interesting then just another CCG video game. The RP aspect of the game makes it a refreshing change from other CCGs, and giving the cards an experience system that allows them to turn into other, and sometimes far more powerful, cards is a great idea. The confusing battle system and fairly repetative levels (constant battles) make this game not as good as it could be. I think that if they had deveoloped the RP aspect of the game more, and cleaned up the combat it could have been much better.

Great graphics
Wide array of cards to use
Nice blend of CCG and RP

Confusing battle system
Non-turn based combat makes choosing the right cards hard
Not a whole lot of RP content, making levels a little tedious

Overall I found Lost Kingdoms to be an okay game. Not something I would rush out to buy, but okay if you have time to waste and nothing better to do. I give this game Five out of Nine tails.

Okay, this week we're taking a look at two games I just aquired. First, let's look at X-Men: Next Dimension.

Now being an X-Men fan, and having played the Playstation fighting game, I had great expectations of this game. I'm sorry to say that I was sadly dissapointed. X-Men: Next Dimension is a fighting game for the Nintendo Gamecube that allows you to pick one of twenty four mutants. Now this sounds pretty cool, right? Wrong. The varying mutants have no real equalizing force between them, so you could slaughter everyone with one character, and do almost nothing with another. Some characters are so weak in their attacks, that they are slaughtered when they go up against vastly more powerful mutants. A good example of this is trying to attack the Juggernat with Mistique. While Mistique has a great martial arts style of combat, she is so physically inferior to Juggernaut that you will have your butt dragged all over the level, without you landing any decent amount of damage. Now while this is nice if you're playing Juggernaut or The Blob, but in the single player action this makes the game rather hard to play. I found the control of the characters to be severely lacking as well, being sort of choppy, and very difficult to learn. The combinations for the special moves can be simple for some, but others are more complex and take far longer to learn. The single player character selection can hardly be called that. You are given an option of certain mutants you can use for any given "mission," and in some you are not even given that choice. The game has several bugs in it's coding, and this causes some gameplay problems. Sometimes the camera will get stuck behind an object and the screen will be black. Other times the character models will not properly load, and you will be stuck with an entirely white character. While the player model problem does not cause any real game play issues, the camera angle problems do. It's kind of hard to see what you're doing when your screen goes black. This gives the computer a very unfair advantage, as well as being quite annoying for two player mode.

Speaking of two player mode, that is one of the few redeeming qualities. With a broad selection of characters to choose from, two player Versus mode can proove for some rather interesting match ups. The difficult control also makes versus mode a rather equal playing field for both old gamers and new ones. My friends, being rather afraid of me in fighting games, will actually battle me in X-Men. This is mainly due to the control difficulties make both players at a disadvantage. In essence this equalizes the playing field, and allows for more fun to be had by all. The levels were also quite amusing, as you could start in one part, smash your opponent through two more, and end up back at the begining to do it all over again. The destructable items, and ability to change scenery gives the game a nice touch to it, and keeps things fresh. Also the ability of the flying characters to actually fly for a limited period of time is a nice addition. I spoke of being an X-Men fan, and I want to say one thing right now. A game company FINNALY gave Rouge her true powers! For any hard core X-Men fan, this point alone is worth the price of the game....If you get it used. Rouge can finnaly steal a special move from her opponent and use it against them. While some of these moves are useless, against Cyclops or Pheonix, this ability can be devestating. On top of more accurate character abilites, the wide selection of costumes was quite enjoyable as well. Though some of them are rather obscure and pointless, you are still given the selection of one of eight different costumes for each mutant.

Twenty four mutants to choose from
Destructable and changeable levels
Fairly equal two player action
Rouge has her real powers!Woo!

Bad control
Story mode limits character selection
Several bugs that cause game play issues
Computer AI is rather high, even on easiest settings

Overall, I wouldn't recomend X-Men: Next Dimension if you are looking for a great action fighting game. If you're a hardcore X-Men fan, and you've got some cash to waste and friends to bust, This is a fair game. Just don't buy it with too high expectations. I give X-Men: Next Dimension Two out of Nine tails.

Now for game nubmer two.We're going to take a peek at Spiderman: The Movie also for the Gamecube.

I bought this game as something my neices and nephew could play when they visit us. But I got curious and decided to run through the training. This simple little joyride into the game got me hooked. For any of you who are familiar with films like The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead 2, or Army of Darkness, you will all be greatly surprised. Doing the voice over for the in game help is none other then the great actor, BRUCE CAMPBELL! Bruce's silver tounge is brought to the world of Spiderman as he guides Peter Parker and you through your new powers. Every time his voice hits the speakers, you can be sure another funny, yet somewhat sarcastic, comment can't be far off. The use of Bruce as the voice over gives the game a great comic relief, even in the thick of things.

Well, now that my own personal hero worship is done, let's talk about the game. For anyone who played Spiderman on the Playstation, Dreamcast, or Nintendo64, you will find the play quite familiar. You have all the same abilities as the predecessor, along with a number of new ones. Tobey Maguire also came along for the ride as he does the voice for (duh!) Spiderman. The wall crawler has retained his witty repetouir of smart remarks, and has gained a few new ones for the new situations. These range from cracks at the opponent's intelligence and physical appearance, right up to a familiar phrase from 1980s cartoon "The Jetsons." Each level gives a new challenge, as you start the game from the murder of Uncle Ben, to the defeat of the Green Goblin. The game does not follow the exact storyline of the movie, and this is actually rather refreshing. The addition of a great number of new combat moves also keeps the game play fresh and innovative. The web slinging levels are no longer restricted to the simple chase em down of the last Spiderman game. Now you have to fight your way through the air, as well as repair supports to keep the innocent peple of New York from becoming just another statistic. The bonus material you can unlock is another great feature of the game. If you can actually manage to beat the game on Superhero difficulty you will unlock the greatest of all the costumes....The ability to play as Harry Osborne...The Green Goblin! But they didn't make it just a costume. Activision took it one step further, and gave you the ability to BE the Goblin and play through the levels with your own storyline. You run through the game the same as Spiderman, but they gave it the position of Harry Osborne, as he tries to figure out the seceret connection between Oscorp and the green menace. You get all the Goblin's toys, including razorbats, exploding pumpkins, and homing darts. The hand to hand moves are the same as Spiderman, so you won't be left completely in the dark. Another great costume is the original concept for Spiderman as the makers of the hit movie thought. I personally like this costume, but you'll have to unlock it yourself to see.

Okay....Much as I liked this game, it's time for the bad. I found this game to be far too short for my tastes. Just as you're really getting into the roll of Spiderman, they take you to the climax of the game, and that's it. To me, this is very dissapointing. As I went through I began to really enjoy the overall game, and it has a really great base. Another problem is the mid-air combat. This can be rather difficult, and locating health and web powerups is even harder. It also doesn't help that for your kick attack you need to be right over the opponent. Another annoying bit is the goblin's play. They gave him his own storyline, but they didn't add in any cinematics for it. And in some areas, this makes you jump from one point to the other, which can be rather disorientating.

Before I get to the overall scores, I just have to mention one last thing, that makes this game worth buying.... The Pinhead Bowling training sequence. This odd little unlockable feature is truely a spiderman must. Peter parker (and up to three of your friends) can go bowling for baddies. You websling down the alley and try to knock over ten webbed up thugs like the pinheads they are. Thus the name Pinhead Bowling. Though this really has nothing to do with the game, it's a great way to waste some time.

Good gameplay
Nice unlockable features
Goblin storyline
Pinhead Bowling!

Game is too short
Goblin's levels sometimes jump where cinematics should be
Gameplay can be too hard for new players

Overall, I give this game Six out of Nine tails.I really enjoyed Spiderman, but it could be better, and it could definately be longer.

Okay, now that I've got a PS2, I can do a few random PS2 game reviews. I don't have many games for it, so don't expect a lot too quick here,but you can just deal. hehe. First, let's have a look at Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven

Now, I used to own Tenchu 2 for the PSX, and the difference between that and this is mind blowing. The control isn't quite as touchy, and you can't jump as high, so it takes some time to get used to. But they have made huge expansions to the stealth kill system, and now it is actually possible to do a host of new stealth kills upon your unsuspectin enemies. Now to get new items, you don't necessarily need to just find them in a level, as now you are also awarded items on how you perform. I also found the new ability to switch weapons to be quite usefull. The addition to dogs and cats that can spot your character, and alert guards or ninja arround them just makes the game a little more realistic and challenging. I also enjoyed the multiplayer aspect of this game, and found both the co-operative and versus modes to be a blast, though we have more fun playing the versus mode. In either one the screen is split down the middle, which is one of the few things I found wrong with this game. The verticle split screen made the game a lot harder to play in two player mode, and quite often cut off your view of who is attacking you or where there are dropoffs. However, the vast selection of unlockable charactesr to play in versus mode is a good redeeming quality, and some of the characters are just hilarious. I won't spoil all of them, but let's just say that a ninja dog, and the CEO of Activision both make an appearance.

The new stealth kill reward system is both a good and bad thing, as I see it. It is good that they reward the use of skill and not just hack and slash tactics. But in some levels, it is hard, sometimes near impossible, to get ten stealth kills. And in the first level for Ayame in which you mean undead, it is impossible to stealth kill the undead guards, since you can't stealth kill them until you have the swords that you get at the end of that mission. So it means that to get the ninja power for that level, you have to go back and do it all over again. Because of these reasons, I find it a good and a bad thing. Though some of the tricks are VERY cool once they're unlocked. Personally I enjoyed the Fein Death and Ceiling Cling abilites.

I guess I should get into the bad now. Well, the first bad thing I noticed is the repeat use of levels for all three characters. For a game they've so obviously put a lot of effort into, I find it rather dissapointing that they did not make levels you could ONLY play for Rikimaru or ONLY for Ayame or Tesshu. Instead they just re-used all the levels they had already created. But instead of going and building new levels, they just made "alternate layouts" for the levels they already had. Which seems kind of pointless to me, since it's still the same level. They could have used that space to put in some unique levels to the different characters. Also, for first time players, it is hard to follow the story at times. The story can be confusing and they do not explain everything. Players who have not played the previous games would be lost on several points, including some things that are supposed to be very signifigant, like the return of Tatsumaru. If people don't play Tenchu 2, then they won't know Tatsumaru's story, and the scenes with him won't make as much sense. Also the lack of a truely finishing storyline gets a little annoying, as it seems they always leave one character alove to come back and seek revenge in another game. I think we've all seen enough of Onikage at this point.

Expanded moves and stealth kill systems
Earn new items for better levels of stealth
Strong storyline with good plot twists

Some levels are hard to unlock ninja abilities
Story is sometimes hard to follow if this is the first Tenchu game youv'e played
Levels are re-used for all the characters without much change to them

Overall I give Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven 7 out of 9 tails. It's a great game, but has a few low points. So if you like ninja stuff, go buy this and "Bring the Wrath of Heaven to your enemies!"

Okay, next up to be butched is X2: Wolverine's Revenge.

Now I've always been a huge Wolverine fan, and I figured this game would be great. Unfortuantely it was not as good as I had hoped it would be. It is a good game yes, but nothing to write home about. It seems to have not clear point of origin in the X-men storyline, and seems to be just thrown in at some undetermined point in time. But unclear continuity aside, the game was done pretty well. If you're looking for a straight hack and slash game with wolvie, then this isn't for you. They actualy put the emphasis on using wolverine's stealth abilites and make you really thing your way through a number of the levels, not just hack at everything in your way with a pair of adamantium claws. You need to use your sneaking and stealth kill abilities to avoid detection, and you need to think to get out of a lot of the levels. The bosses can't just be hacked away at, as they'll simply kill you. This is a good and a bad thing, because it makes the boss battles a bit harder to do. Unfortunately, you need to think about what to do to beat them, but it's kind of hard to do that when they're pounding your skull into paste. Activision has kept true to their recent style of superhero games, and to unlock alternate costumes for Wolverine, you need to collect comic book covers that are hidden through the game. I'm not going to say too much, but I will tell you that the original yellow and tan, as well as the newer Ultimate X-Men costumes are available. You can also collect data cards as you play, which will unlock information on different enemies and organizations in the series. Using the Cerebro bonus option, you can learn more information about the different people seen in the game, and that's always kind of cool. The whole feature is narrated by Patric Stewart, so it seems to be trying to tie in with the X-men movies. However, they should have gotten the voice of Hugh Jackman for Logan. Patrick Stewart has been doing the voiceovers for all the recent X-men games, but they need to put in the voices for the other characters to keep it in continuity.

Emphasis on thinking and not just hacking away
Stealth Strikes are pretty damned cool
See through wolverine's eyes as you use his animal senses
Various Wolverine costumes can be unlocked and used

Should have gotten Hugh Jackman for Wolvie's voice
Emphasis on thinking makes bosses a bit hard to beat
No clear, defined point of time in the X-men universe

Overall I'm only giving X2: Wovlerine's Revenge 5 out of 9 tails. Why? Cause it's a good game, but it just doesn't deserve anymore then that. I liked it overall, but it could have been imporved upon.