Toki Tori

Some games can easily fool you into thinking they’re something else. Take Terraria for example, one might think it’s just a stylish platformer about going from point A to point B when it’s so much more than that. Toki Tori might be a cutesy, simplistic feat at first glance, but in fact it’s a pretty brutal puzzle experience.

The levels are basic and the movements aren’t that fancy either. Most monsters just go right and left endlessly until something happens that chances their direction. You have to take them in consideration as much as any other aspect of the stage. Something stands there just for the sake of being there? Chances are it’s got some important role in which you haven’t gotten the grasp of yet.

The movements are precise but they’re profoundly limited. You occupy one square unit of existence, per say, and when you move any direction you notice you moved half the distance away from this initial territory, by repressing the same direction you had pressed before you’ll be in the adjacent block. This helps the developer create very specific puzzles that need to be absolute the only way to pass the level. It’s easy to replicate because you don’t have much room for imprecision.

To succeed in this game you just have to go around a levels and collect all the eggs for Toki Tori. After reaching the last one of them you get warped and finish the level. If it sounds simple it’s because it really is. The problem is, getting these eggs might become impossible in just simply by getting one of the eggs too early for example. A chain of events happen and you won’t notice the level has become impossible until you reach the end.

If you had to restart each time you screw up in something it could become tedious, so they implemented a system of backtracking in time. It may sound cheap at first but when later levels are reached you finally understand why this is such a big deal. Made a move you regret? just hit backspace to rewind the game and redo whatever you did wrong. Want to rewind until the movement you spawn right in the beginning? No problem. You just can’t redo time that was overwritten, whatever you did after agreeing on time-travelling back will be lost. It shouldn’t be a problem because if you’re back-tracking it basically means something went terribly wrong and you need to redo, no questions asked.

To help the player out during the quest you have stuff like platforms, blocks or freezing guns at disposal. Depending on the world you’re in some special ability might be available, like in the water levels which you can become a bubble and float around, while in the sewer you might have a slimy-sucking weapon to get rid of some nasty snails that roam these waste-filled depths.

At first whatever ability that is presented to the player might be used at will, but right next to this demo level you will instantly face what this game does best. It severely limits the usage of whatever skill you have. I’m not talking a magazine of bullets to dispose of 3 enemies; I’m talking three bullets expecting three headshots. Some levels are ingeniously crafted to trick you into making the hasty decision, the easy move. Always doubt what’s too clear, it probably isn’t, this game has taught me that.

You’re basically trying to find all the places you absolutely need to spend resources in to proceed, if you reached a dead end and there’s still 2 eggs to go, you might need to rethink your last couple of moves, you might have to rethink a move you made in the beginning, you might need to completely rethink your route. It makes some later stages absolutely hell compared to the easy “just walk and beat the level” of the first few stages.

Toki Tori is also a lovable character, always doing funny stuff in-game when you suddenly feel the need to stop and start using your brain to crack that nut, weaving at you, taking off his underwater goggles while still underwater to clean them up and putting them back on like nothing happened. Toki Tori is awesome and it invokes the attention of kids. Though Toki Tori might please easily, the very nature of this game is absolutely brutal. Breeze through the first world and face the real danger of later stages so you get a real impression of how hard this seemingly lighthearted adventure can become.

Yes, it’s a hard game, everyone should have gotten that by now, but is it the kind of challenge we can get something out of? Absolutely. There’s a certain joy in finishing a harder level by realizing what you were doing wrong all along. There’s also a certain dose of frustration when you give in and notice you wouldn’t have noticed that even if you played for 300 years straight. Some challenges just have an overwhelming number of possibilities.

Hidden inside this cute cover, easy bulky controls and incredibly charismatic main character lies a morbid core indeed, and is it hard! Toki Tori is a puzzle game made possible with 2-dimensional platforming, but this is not platforming, at least not in general terms. When you think about it, it’s made of two very distinct characteristics that could easily become a problem for the uninitiated. It’s a cute game with a harsh gameplay. Generally you have stuff like cute/fun or core/challenging. The only difference here is that the cover hides what you’re actually getting completely, be aware.


NBA Hang Time


NBA Hang Time isn’t your run-of-the-mill basketball game trying to constantly remind you of how well it simulates a real match. This is in fact a pristine example of the 90’s extravaganza when it came to sports games and how simulation wasn’t our thing back then.

This one is fast paced and slightly too silly for today’s standards, boasting physics-defying movements, impossible alley oops and dunks that would require the moon’s gravity to work out. Everything looks so flashy that sometimes it’s not enough to make the point, you have to make it with style, doing stuff like front flips or spins in the air.

The character models aren’t life-like at all which teams up well with the incredibly fast movements. After a few points without your adversary making any you’ll be “on-fire”. Of course Midway doesn’t take things figuratively since the ball actually gets aflame and your points completely burn out the net. Insane stuff, but incredibly addictive.

You play on teams of 2 against 2 and have 4 players playing at once if you have the hardware and the personnel available. Or you can go single player against the CPU which works surprisingly well, it will most of the time try you alley oops and be an actual asset to your team. The player roster is the main one from mid to late 1990’s, in a time when developers didn’t really feel the need to release another game every years because of newer players with basically the same gameplay.

The actual basketball game is pretty solid, the players all have differing stats which demand different strategies. Like stronger players tend to be harder to get back the ball from while faster players are much more nimble but will lose the ball frequently. The best team in here is the Chicago Bulls who ruled the game in the 90’s, even though it lacks Michael Jordan because of when it was released.

Another great feature is the character customization which is as silly if not sillier than the actual game. You’re given the change to create werewolves and aliens to play, meddle with their stats and overall characteristics. Something else that might have been taken directly from Mortal Kombat series is the number input before the match unlocking new players and some cool stuff. You have a few moments to input the codes and become a happier person.

The graphics are reminiscent from the arcades and the music is incredible, especially the half-time break which sports a rap about being a god-like basketball player and enjoy a game made by Midway, stuff like that. Something unthinkable these days. The whole adrenaline fueled soundtrack is simply amazing.

There’s not much else to say than this game is pure fun. Especially playing with a group of friends. It’s full of memes yo might actually catch on before memes even existed. Stuff like “there’s no stopping him!”, “he goes to the hoop” and “boom Shakalaka” are some of the gems spoken by the narrator. Definitely a forgotten jewel that only the 90’s would have the guts to produce.

Deus Ex


At the time Deus Ex was released I used to play few games on PC, not many but the eventual ones I got from specialized magazines. I rarely got games from stores to play on a PC, mainly because at the time I considered the PC a strange gaming device. It had its moments but I was so used to playing with a joystick and the fact that not everything was plug-and-play at the time always kept me at a distance. Some games might function right, some games might not, some games might run on my weak system, some games might not. The PC has always (still is) less user-friendly than any console, and for a kid of my age along with my lack of understanding toward PCs, it never really caught me.

Still, the few games I played at that time still have a place in my heart, some are still amongst my favorite games of all time, even though I never considered a great fan of PCs and most games I played came from CDs attached to PC magazines. Deus Ex on the other hand never reached my hands, and having heard a lot of talking about how good this game is I decided to give it a go. Of course Steam and their weekly discounts on games gave me a little push on that and was actually one of the first games I ever bought from them.

Quite a while after having bought it I decided to try it out — isn’t that how Steam’s supposed to work anyway? You buy dozens of games hoping to live long enough to have the will and the time to play them all. First thing I always notice on these older games are how the resolution works, most older games don’t support the high resolutions possible now, if not all of them. And bear in mind that Deus Ex is no exception to that rule, the game has problems with resolution but it has much bigger problems when it comes to wide screen monitors. Getting a chopped off image is the price we all should be willing to pay to play this great game.

What I didn’t know back then (when I started playing the game) and what I know now is that there are user-created mods that should give you a hand on those problems. Actually, there are mods that completely redesign the games to look sharper and much better. I don’t feel bad about only knowing about this mod after I had beaten the game, I probably would have played it with chopped image and uglier scenery since I’m such a purist. Every time I play a game I like to enjoy the game the developers intended me to play, if it’s a game made in 1990, then let’s party like it’s 1990, as crude and archaic as it might look.

That’s exactly what I experienced, Deus Ex in all its glory, no graphical mods, no gameplay mods. I must admit I tried mods after and they’ve certainly done a hell of a job. I hope someday I’ll have the guts to play through it all over again. It wasn’t just graphical problems thwarting my fun, like the game strangely not accepting 32 bits as it kept switching back to 16 bits. I also had sound problems, but fortunately every problem I had was manageable after a quick search on the world wide web.

The first thing you should know about it is that it has one of the best opening theme songs on all video-games, it’s simply that amazing. As a game it is a perfect mix of first person shooter and RPG. The RPG elements show themselves in the form of stat upgrades and augmentations. As you advance your character gathers experience which can be exchanged to upgrade stats you choose. Though some stats are incredibly useful, after a while playing you’ll realize that, some of them are clearly not worth taking into account, especially in exchange for those costly points.

It is possible that many types of character might emerge from that freedom in building, most people will first get the job done for the more emergency stats, and most of them are the same for everyone. You might want to get better at using sniper rifles, but won’t you be using your handgun a lot more often? That’s a question everyone should consider. Maybe for advanced players who know what to expect, not so much. Hacking computers can always be useful, unless you’re quite the trooper and will go writing down every code there is in the game, but won’t one single upgrade suffice? After all, it will only require more skill and swiftness, and that’s never a bad thing.

As for augmentations, now we actually have something more differential all around. During the game you’ll come across upgrades known as augmentations, they give the character some corporeal boost, each one you find will have to be applied to a specific body part but you’ll have to permanently choose an effect. To clear that up with an example, picture this: eventually you’ll come across a leg augmentation (actually one of the first augmentations you’ll find if my memory doesn’t fail me) that will leave you with a dilemma. You either choose to be more stealthy or faster. If you choose the speed enhancement you’ll make a lot of noise while running through enemies, but you’ll be quicker and more susceptible to take less bullets. If you choose to be more stealthy you’ll be able to go unnoticed through enemies and avoid gunfire altogether.

When you choose an augmentation it’s a one way thing, and with the huge disparity between the two choices it’s recommendable that the player think it through before making any rushed decision that will affect the entire playthrough. The augmentations can also be upgraded by finding small canisters. Every augmentation you attach to your body starts at level 1 and can be upgraded up to level 4 if enough small canisters are used. The evolution is pretty clear, let’s say you used the Aqualung augmentation in your torso which upgrades your lungs letting you stay longer underwater, at level 1 you’ll be able to stay underwater for a few seconds more, as you upgrade the amount of time increases, and if it ever reaches level 4 JC Denton will have the ability to stay underwater indefinitely.

Now that I mentioned our playable character let’s know a little bit more about him. JC Denton is a nanotechnology augmented soldier who works for an anti-terrorist organization called UNATCO. He’s in his first day at work when you start the game. He has a brother called Paul who also works for the same organization. Deus Ex story stands as one of the deepest, most complex and engaging to ever grace video-games. In truth, let’s just say that Deus Ex story revolves around JC Denton’s struggle to uncover a web of corruption and lies spread around several levels of power. The story unfolds in such a deliberately methodical manner, everything evolves as the events happen, everything changes suddenly. New twists happen all around, one time you’re operating near an UNATCO base, then right after you find yourself at the other side of the world pursuing information, which might prove useless as facts develop.

The story is complex, there’s no point in describing an abridged version since it feels like many plots mashed into one big story. One can’t exist without the other, and the amount of information you get in each of them is so crucial that you better not miss a single conversation at all. Everything changed abruptly, and the changes are mostly steep. There’s certainly great skill in writing such diversity and still make sense. Most games today only dream of achieving this level of depth, the lack of attention in graphical detail certainly contrasts with the absurd level of quality the plot showcases.

It’s strange really. The huge variety of locations used in the game strangely gives the player a weird sense of immersion, even though most of them look too crude, and it did even at the time of launch. The good job must be done mainly by immersion caused by plot. I believe most of the familiarity you’ll find in levels come from the fact that JC Denton is a relatable character, even if taken in consideration the blandness of the voice-overs or the general lack of empathy. JC Denton is a very strict man, a man of logical thinking and “by the book” actions. Of course, the player’s actions will determine how Denton deals with the world around him, but the general feeling dies hard. And as JC Denton tries to understand the strange occurrences surrounding him, the player will do the same, creating an interesting bond character-player. Levels become much more important when you actually care about what you’re doing as a mean of understanding the situation.

Deus Ex is quite an achievement. I can understand the cult popularity. As any game that tries something huge, it comes off making mistakes along the way, more because playing safe wasn’t gonna cut it. I respect that a lot. Even a decade after launch this game impresses for its story depth, its excellent blend of RPG elements with stealth/action FPS, and general concept. In a time when developers simply try to emulate what’s successful, release new installments to established franchises with little to nothing new, or when it’s hard to remember (or care) about a game’s plot 20 minutes after you turn off the video-game console (or PC), playing a game like this certainly puts a smile on anyone’s face.

Wave Race 64


One of the first real 3D games to ever grace our beloved gaming world is not too shabby. Wave Race actually got its kick off 4 years before in a Game Boy release. Going from the extreme simplicity of a legacy handheld system to one of the first games in Nintendo’s first true venture in 3D was a task that was ultimately well-accomplished.

Something that might have stuck into the head of many early-adopters was how beautiful the water looked right from the get-go. This was probably one of the reasons Nintendo chose to release this title as some kind of special premiere. The graphics had much to be shown and the realism of water is still one of the best aspects one can chose to demonstrate such power due to how complex liquid movements are to replicate through programming.

The game offered its good share of challenge. Four racers were available to be chosen, an all-rounder, a turner, a speeder and a girl who controlled much like the turner. You could choose to race in default settings for each racer or tune any choice of more sophisticated settings. These weren’t sophisticated at all, simply three bars that had the player choose setting it to left or right, changing radically how the jet-ski would react.

The three settings were handling, engine and grip. For handling you could go all the way left resulting in light maneuvering or all the way to the right resulting in a harder to control heavier machine. Obviously a lighter machine would turn better but lose speed much easier as well. For engine you could set for dash, giving it full acceleration, or top end, for a better top speed. The grip had the loose and tight aspects attached to it. Loose meant the jet-ski was wobblier, more susceptible to be thrown off its axis, while tight meant it was more likely to go straight without problems.

Given the differing nature of tracks and how revolting the waves could be the right tweaking of these settings could avoid headaches, especially on higher difficulty levels. The most notable change when it came to difficulty levels was the fact that newer tracks were being thrown in while still retaining the final track. For example, in medium setting Twilight City would be one of the tracks while the hardest difficulty had Gacier Coat added together. You had not only to face tougher enemies, but also play more, harder courses.

Some courses even had different weather effects during each laps which resulted in completely different paths you had to take each time. The championship was the regular whoever had the most points in the end wins it all with some problems in the mix. For instance, you had to take the official course by maneuvering around the buoys indicating the left or the right side, if you crossed the buoy on the wrong side you were penalized, after 5 misses you were disqualified, no questions asked.

The buoy system works pretty much like alpine skiing where the competing athlete had to snake around the flags, only in this case, the sea. By making correct turns around the buoys you fill a bar low on the screen which controls how fast you can go, after 5 hits you reached maximum speed and would hold that until the end of the race or until you missed a buoy, requiring the player to cross 5 correct corner all over again.

Aside from the main racing campaign there was a stunt mode which had you doing flips and tricks as fast as you could while passing through loops around the tracks to rank up points. Ramps could be used to make the few air-borne tricks present. Another mode had you simply jet-skiing around an island while dolphins came and went, another good argument to the fact Nintendo really meant users to see what the Nintendo 64 was capable of at the time, and since, along with Super Mario 64, this was probably the first game a lot of gamers played on their Nintendo 64, I’d say it was a good move.

The multiplayer was good, basic but good nonetheless; and since Super Mario 64 didn’t have a multiplayer mode, it was made sure to deliver at least some experience when it came to multiple players. Unfortunately, probably because the framerate would sink down to the depths of the Pacific Ocean, it only featured 2 player multiplayer. Seeing as one of the most distinctive features, physically, of the Nintendo 64 was the 4-plug front which at the time was absolutely exclusive, it was probably a shame that some people din’t get to fully enjoy a 4-player mode. Still, from a technical standpoint, it was understandable.

When it comes to primordial racing Wave Race is a pretty good choice. It was one of the first ventures of Nintendo into 3D and it didn’t disappoint. Sure it might not look as hot and cool today as it was back in the day, the controls might not have aged well enough especially taking in consideration that you would have to go back to the Nintendo 64 analog stick and it was one of the first games to feature controls for it, this fact alone might scare off even the bravest of the brave.

Donkey Kong 64


By the time Donkey Kong 64 was getting released the once-successful breed of 3D platformers was slowly dying. With Rare leaving Nintendo in the next generation, the advent of the Nintendo 64’s successor wasn’t nice to the genre. Donkey Kong, along with Banjo-Tooie by the same incredible Rare we all loved and worshiped was the last breath of platforming in 3D.

At least we can’t say the ride hadn’t been fun, some of the best games in history are probably from around that era. Donkey Kong 64 had the colossal task of living up to expectations of not only being an established Nintendo franchise handled by the hottest game developer at the time, but also the ghost of one of the most successful trilogies of all time, Donkey Kong Country.

I still remember being completely immersed in how grand this game felt right from the beginning. It had taken its lessons with Super Mario 64 and most notably Banjo-Kazooie to create such an expanding world that was almost unimaginable at the time. Not only that, Donkey Kong 64 had to come bundled with the Nintendo 64 memory expansor, as worth noted that some past games had some features that required the use of it, but not completely — like Perfect Dark that allowed only certain multiplayer setting and no single player campaign in case you didn’t have the add-on.

The same publisher that brought us the Super Nintendo trilogy and the highly-acclaimed Banjo-Kazooie was the best suited for the task. In fact, Fungi Forest, one of the worlds within Donkey Kong 64 was originally intended for Banjo-Kazooie but since the game was already full of levels they decided to keep it for their next project. The classic Rare is found all over this game as one might expect.

Something that was noticeable back in the day but it’s even more now is that this game holds some of the darkest, gloomiest atmospheres in any video-game. Dare I say that even exclusively horror-themed iterations like Resident Evil and Silent Hill wouldn’t be able to propose such a demented set of weirdness. Everything is dark, sinister in nature. Some levels are especially morbid, like Frantic Factory with that circus melody haunting the player from start to finish, or Gloomy Galleon turning into night, featuring explosions all over the place and a full abyss-like bay, deep and macabre.

The main Villain is King K. Rool, back from the early days of Donkey Kong Country. The sections in which the main antagonist appears from his secret hideout just plotting against the kong just reiterates how dark this game is. Once again the stack of bananas from the kongs is stolen, but not only Donkey and Diddy go for the rescue this time, we actually have five playable characters joining the good fight.

Donkey, Diddy, Tiny (which controls pretty much like dixie with her hair), Lanky and Crunky Kong. Each kong has its own abilities and collectibles that can only be performed or obtained by playing with that kong. To figure out which one is which they used different colors, so any yellow coins is a Donkey Kong coin, while a red one is Diddy’s. To change kong you need to go into one of the kong select barrels scattered around the levels.

Other stuff like pads with each kong face stamped onto them or musical instrument pads played by each kong are also part of the experience. By learning how to play an instrument, a kong will have a different instrument usable in determined pads; Donkey plays a pair of bongos while Lanky plays a trombone. So certain areas can only be triggered by one specific kong while others require two or more of them in different moments.

Its focus is exploration, so the number of enemies found won’t be too large, generally a few in specific locations that can easily be overcome. The collectibles play a huge role in this, there’s so many of them that this game is still listed in the Guinness World Records book as the game that has the largest number of collectibles in any game. You can easily see why since getting all the many different items and abilities for just one kong would be quite a task already, but since there’s five of them you simply multiply both the work and the fun by five.

As weird as it may sound it also features a multiplayer mode which brought great fun when I was younger, though very limited. In the main game the kongs get different types of weapons that shoot stuff like seeds, fruits or some kind of food; for example, coconuts, peanuts or pineapples. Again, each kong has a different ammunition type, Lanky Kong, for instance, has a zarabatana that shoots some kind of purple blob. In multiplayer mode you play in third-person perspective shooting wooden-made weapons with stuff like feathers as ammunition. Not the best thing ever but could keep a few people amused for a time.

The soundtrack reminds the good days of Banjo-Kazooie for a reason, the composer is also Grant Kirkhope who at the time was the man to go for Rare’s soundtrack after the success of both Banjo and Goldeneye 007’s soundtrack. Unique in its own greatness, the soundtrack just offers the additional atmosphere around the whole thing.

Donkey Kong 64 might be the game that showcased Rare’s final scope in games, a game that is larger than life, completely worth the grandeur that Donkey Kong games demanded. Just having the original Country trilogy as a ghost would be something to keep the team awake at night. Still, they ended up making a terrific job with this title, one of the last legendary 3D platformers of its day certainly earned its way in the history of video-games.

Resident Evil (REmake)


It was a difficult time for us GameCube gamers back in the day but if there was one aspect that kept us going beside the obvious first-party games by Nintendo was the prospect of having the amazing Resident Evil 4 for our beloved purple cubes sometime in the future. It was all nice and dandy the fact we were going to get re-releases of every other Resident Evil worthy of attention and the prequel Resident Evil 0, but Resident Evil 4 was the main meal and we were eager for it.

Still, waiting for a game that turned out to be released 2 years after what was expected was hard and though we wanted the new experience that was promised by Capcom the first release and arguably the least interesting of them all was getting released first. It was a completely redone version of the first game.

Think about it, all games had something in their favor.

Resident Evil 4 was the new thing in town, the premise was too good to be believed.
Resident Evil 0 was fresh new experience, never released anywhere, but retaining most of what Resident Evil was known for.
Resident Evil 2 and 3 were both newer and more polished experiences.
Resident Evil: Code Veronica had also a newer scope.

Then there was the first game with its ancient structure, lesser scope and Jill sandwiches. Sure it was a classic, sure, but hadn’t the time passed and been quite harsh on poor Resident Evil from the original Playstation? Could it be that, one generation after, this game could be redone into something memorable, worthy of its time?

The answer is a resounding yes. Not only Capcom managed to make it completely fresh but also captivated us, eager waiters of Resident Evil 4, to go ahead and give them a chance to show us what they were about to do with Resident Evil. There was no revolution here, simply the work of polish in terms of graphics and gameplay to make it more in par with better 3D controls we had in 2002.

The infamous “tank controls” are still there, though one change which turned out to become ever-present in subsequent releases with pre-rendered background was introduced, the quick turn. By pressing back plus B you performed a quick 180º turn that made thing much more dynamic, offering different strategies to go head to head with zombies and the whole molecular engineered, DNA-twisting enemies that haunted the Spencer mansion in that iteration.

Tank controls simply mean that you walk frontwards while having the option to slightly change directions within the pre-rendered world. The camera is fixed at one point so the graphics are easily incredible, but they can’t be acted upon and are not in real-time. The scenarios by themselves are absolutely amazing noentheless, and they hold up their awesomeness up until this very day. The way Capcom used lighting with the background was eerily beautiful. The enemies reached maximum potential graphically. Hunters, spiders, dogs, zombies, all had assumed extremely detailed designs, something the atmosphere really profited from.

One of the aspects that got me more concerned when I thought of it as a remake of a 1998 game, the fact both RE2 and RE3 had accomplished the feat of extending the gameplay outside the bounds of a mansion or simply the outskirts of that central location, became one of its strong points. There’s heavy backtracking to be done here, no doubt, but it just serves to remind how beautiful and memorable each location was made out to be.

The claustrophobic thoughts abound your head thinking about such a clustered location full of secrets is unmatched. Some locations even had stuff like broken doorknobs, so if you used too much a door you wouldn’t be able to return through the original path, you’d have to rethink your movements around the mansion because of that. With such limited array of weapons and even more limited amount of ammunition, it was natural to kill enemies in corridors and pathways that you traveled more, while retaining the will to lose valuable resources with enemies in faraway areas or small one-time-only rooms.

Solving puzzles was basically what you had to do within the living hell you were placed into. There’s the average Resident Evil puzzle involving statues and weirdly-shaped keys. Along everything there was the intense sub-plots marked by journals, papers, notes and books found throughout the mansion stating the mundane everyday lives of the residents and Umbrella’s employees while working with some of the most dangerous chemically engineered bio-weapons one could think of.

The whole story of Resident Evil is one of the best-written pieces, not only in video-games, but in western culture overall. It revolves around a secret organization called Umbrella founded as a pharmaceutical company but hiding a much more morbid facade. Most people are already familiar with the general story but it’s worthy it to go into full-detail through the games and read all the small narratives. Reading them and forming the whole picture in your head is both gloomy as well as mysterious.

The gameplay is based on few items you can travel around in your inventory while administering the dozens of others in infinite chests found all around. The term infinite just means that when you place an item in a chest it become available in every other chest you might access. Figuring out which items are used in each situation is what really keeps us awake at night besides the haunting atmosphere.

The fact you may get an item in the beginning of the game that you’ll only use later in the end is something you need to account for. Another new treat was the inspection of items that could reveal new items, secret uses or even evidences that could lead to solving a whole different puzzle. You can also combine items to form final forms of crests or keys or whatever the game presents. It’s all part of the experience of Resident Evil puzzle solving.

While is might get overshadowed by recent releases, and at the time it only the fact that it was the first one of all the Resident Evil games planned for the GameCube, but this game might be the definitive Resident Evil survival-horror experience. It’s tank controls at its best, and while tank controls are in itself love-or-hate, if somehow that bothers you there’s no chance that any classic Resident Evil will ever be your cup of tea.

If not, just enter the survival horror.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

By now it shouldn’t come as a surprise to no one but these new games don’t really do the original Donkey Kong Country franchise its justice. The base games were the most spectacular experiences anyone could have in gaming, these new ones aren’t exactly bad in the new style they’ve chosen, but the controls ruin it nevertheless.

At first it was the abysmal wiimote, then came the 3DS version, and we were certain the nightmare was real, unchanging. The problem with the controls were half addressed in this sequel, though the road still feels long and treacherous. There were two main problematic aspects, the fact you couldn’t set the preferred method while maintaining the movement type and how loosy the mechanics were set.

The 3DS version of DKC Returns was especially horrendous, you either had to set the shoulder buttons to perform the roll or the front upper ones. Depending on which one you chose you could ONLY control with the analog stick or the D-pad. I had a really hard time with this since I would have chosen the D-pad over the analog stick but had to rethink my choice because using the shoulder buttons to run was too much of a hassle.

At least this time around you can choose the mode and the movement type. Something so basic that should have been mandatory on the Returns. Customized button-sets are rarely anything groundbreaking these days, Retro Studios should have little to no problems adding up. Still, they went ahead and added a whole new button to complexify a system so pure in its fundamental form.

Why someone would change the Super Nintendo DKC controls is beyond anyone’s range of thought, it effectively is the climax of game mechanics in video-games. The momentum system worked so well that even Mario should have learned a thing or two about how to give full control over to the player without jeopardizing anything, at all.

Nintendo and Retro Studios didn’t think so. I’m a little more inclined to think Nintendo had a say on this matter more than we want to admit because it might just sound natural to add another button and preserve newcomers from having a hard time dealing with a button that both attacks/rolls and runs. God forbid having to deal with an ill-fated roll press during the complex platforming within.

It doesn’t really matter who thought it was a good idea, it’s not. Another button not only resets the mindset from previous classics but also adds a whole new problem, it’s another button to keep track of and it’s a shoulder one. Shoulder buttons aren’t exactly everyone’s favorite and though it certainly changed a whole lot for the better when compared with the right/left buttons from the Super Nintendo era, it’s still not the most comfortable set.

Dealing with a double working button shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, the first three games did it proudly and nothing ever changed on how incredible they offered their control settings. The mechanics stand the test of time as much as the graphics, which is somewhat of an incredible feat to tell the truth. At least give us the option, that would be an ideal scenario.

I want to go out on a limb and say that this isn’t even the worst problem, we could even deal with that if they kept the movement tight. Donkey Kong moves are so loose that it’s a pain from start to finish. You get used to it like anything else, to a point you start counting on how imprecise the movements are and start regulating on your own.

The roll jump is way too powerful, leading to clumsy immediate momentum ending too soon to offer any depth in terms of maneuvering in mid-air. Gone are the days of perfectly timed off-sets from edges and welcome are the days of rocket blasting off from any jump roll you perform. Basically a wild card that in time will offer less and less dangers, but the ever-present nature of insecure controls is not something you can easily shake off.

The fact the game is not a walk in the park doesn’t ease things up one tiny bit. Boss battles are especially long and cut in different little episodes. Basically you need to hit the boss three times in three different acts to beat it. They take a little bit too much to develop but it’s clear that it’s better polished than in the past.

From a technical standpoint this is absolutely flawless. From the design to the songs that accompany the adventure, everything works fantastically. The soundtrack is especially good because it marks the return of David Wise, the one and only Rare composer that has composed for the classic trilogy as well as other classics like Diddy Kong Racing and, more recently, the attempt to return to form from former Rare employees that produced Yooka-Laylee.

It’s probably the best soundtrack in any game in at least a decade or so, it’s that good. It not only features key tracks from the original but it also does it right. We often see newer versions of classic tunes that simply turn into tiring rehashes. Look at Mario 2D, so many old tunes that are overheard mixed with others that just sound uninspired. David Wise manages to make the soundtrack really feels like a bonus when unlocked in the music menu after beating levels.

The KONG letters count for completion and around the levels you must find pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each stage has a differing number of pieces, sometimes 5, sometimes 7, sometimes 9. The bonus rooms feature basic puzzles that revolve in getting 100 bananas, most of them are repeated during the game and aren’t interesting at all.

You can buy items to make you life easier if you choose so. Stuff like extra defense for mine cart levels or extra hearts to endure stage are available. Since the reboot of the series you now have hearts bound to your character that work as life. When you break a buddy kong barrel you get double the life — yours and the kong you’re traveling with.

DKC Returns only had Diddy Kong and he was a secondary character, offering assistance to Donkey Kong making jumps and lasting longer in the air by using his jetpack, the same goes for this title. The good thing is that now not only Diddy Kong is available but also Dixie and Cranky Kong.

Dixie actually plays much like she did in DKC 2 with an added bonus, she is capable of flying a bit up in the air. This is extremely helpful to reach most places that tend to expect that little extra height from jumps. When you find a barrel most of the time it will keep scrolling between three initials (from Diddy, Dixie or Cranky) and whichever kong is picked up will come out of the blasted barrel. Sometimes only one kong is available, but only in specific locations where a determined kong ability is required.

The addition of Cranky Kong is kind of unexpected but it was well-implemented. He does a pretty singular type of jump, after pressing A you must press it again before reaching the ground to perform a cane jump. This jump is stronger than a regular jump — similar to a boosted jump after jumping on an enemy — and completely negates a thorn pit. You can basically keep jumping on thorn that would otherwise hurt donkey kong or any other partner.

Unfortunately only Rambi features as an animal buddy just like in Returns. I can only assume they will focus on different animals in a third installment of the series. It would be nice to see some of the ore famous ones like Enguarde the fish or Squitter the spider. I would love to see all of them in a future release but maybe they’d be disinclined to add some that were cut from sequels like the frog. Still, a Donkey Kong game without a wide array of animal buddies is never the appropriate approach.

Unlike what happened in games like Super Mario Bros. U the screen of the tablet controller is turned off based on what type of screening you wish to use. If you choose the TV you won’t have to worry about wasting precious battery time on a secondary screen that adds absolutely nothing to what is already happening on the televisions set.

The story revolves around a group of arctic baddies that invade kong island during Donkey Kong’s birthday, spreading the cold touch of its evil mastermind throughout the tropical paradise the kongs are used to. It’s up to ou heroes to save the day. I know, a DKC shouldn’t even have a story to begin with, but it just fits. Just think about the original when a stash of bananas was stolen, it was a good enough reason to embark on the most memorable adventure ever.

Since the overall graphical style was completely changed the aesthetics of the enemies were changed as well. It might take a little while to get used to them, some are quite bizarre, like oversized owls or viking-looking bears. The animation style was well designed and the bonus content containing the concept art for them are quite interesting to examine.

I might sound pessimist here but Donkey Kong Tropica Freeze is not without its problems. Anyone can easily overlook its problems especially if you don’t nitpick. Still, it’s a shame to see such a stupendous series not living up to its full potential. The DKC trilogy is one of the most solid pieces of gaming experience anyone can ever hope to play and the reboot games are simply good fun that could become marvelous if only they had better controls.