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The 90's Guy (North Devon, England)

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Ultimate Mortal Kombat (Nintendo DS)
Ultimate Mortal Kombat (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Netro Enterprise
Price: £17.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "It's Official. You Suck." [BLEEP!] You, Game!!, 23 Dec. 2014
Do you have ANY idea how long it's been since I've played a Mortal Kombat title? I mean prior to playing this one which I am about to review, that is. Let me put it this way...Sonic the Hedgehog was in his prime; John Major was the big cheese at No.10; and yours truly was in the middle of the innocent enthusiastic adventure known as "primary school." I shouldn't have been allowed to play MK games...but I did. However, with Ultimate Mortal Kombat for the Nintendo DS, any hopes of a triumphant return to playing the series after such a long hiatus went out the window after about two fights.

UMK is a package consisting of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (a slightly more up to date version of MK3) and Puzzle Kombat, the latter I'll be covering in a little while. With UMK3 you have your choice from around 20 fighters (a couple of which need to be unlocked), and a choice of 4 difficulty settings. Basically it's the higher the difficulty, the more fights you have to attempt to plough through. The insane fist throwers include acid flemmed ninja, Reptile; metal-armed muscle man, Jax; and one-tough-cookie woman, Sonya Blade.

For every fight (best two out of three) you can watch the action on the bottom screen whilst a list of your chosen fighter's moves is displayed on the top screen. If, like me, you prefer the action to be the other way round you can swap these screen commands around in the Options menu. While the moves have varying degrees of complexity to pull off, being able to check the button combos is useful as it helps to increase your repertoire of sorts for the fights, and it only takes a quick glance (perhaps more suitably before a round begins) to gain a piece of familiarity with them.

The motion capture graphics are a nice piece of artwork, and the large amounts of bloodshed will certainly satisfy those who follow the Mortal Kombat series like it's a highly controversial religion. However, things start to unravel in UMK3's gameplay department. The difficulty is set too high, with no options anywhere to change them. The opposition appear to know what your plan of attack is before you've had a chance to think it up. In one fight I played, every time I tried to use a flying kick with Scorpion on Sub Zero, the latter would always respond by using a move where he would shoot his ice beam up into the air and have it land on me. This unwelcome setup makes it virtually impossible to complete certain fights with certain competitors, and forces you to constantly switch fighters every time you get "Finished off."

There were even times when the CPU opponent would beat several shades of red (and at times green or black!) out of my fighter before I even had a chance to press any buttons to attack. Apparently, from what I've researched on UMK3, these were all AI glitches that originated from the game's original console release on the likes of the SNES and the PSone when the developers tried to refine the gameplay. That sounded like a nuisance for the time and unfortunately it's still a nuisance now, like desperate customers in a Marks & Spencer store before Christmas.

It's not all doom and gloom for UMK (though given its intended content those two words should actually be more like complements). Puzzle Kombat provides welcome relief to the astronomical stresses caused by UMK3. Not too dissimilar to Columns, the aim is to rotate and place coloured blocks on your grid and then use matching coloured MK symbols to make them disappear, causing havoc on your opponent's grid in the process. The elements of strategy and the eagerness you feel in waiting for the appropriate blocks to fall both add up to create an enjoyable mode, and the more cartoony looking MK characters here are charming to an extent.

Overall I'm giving Ultimate Mortal Kombat a seven, but only because the Puzzle Kombat game is quite addictive and could possibly stand on its own as a worthy DS game card. Otherwise this is one great big piece of flesh tearing, blood soaking frustration. Flawless victory? Do me a favour UMK!

Final Score 7/10
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2015 10:17 PM GMT

NES - Mega Man 3
NES - Mega Man 3

3.0 out of 5 stars Sliding & Canine-ing For Round 3, 9 Dec. 2014
This review is from: NES - Mega Man 3 (Video Game)
My trainer is giving me some words of encouragement whilst the mild copper taste of my own blood is being washed out of my mouth with a squirt of ice cold water. Meanwhile another trainer is massaging a small amount of Vaseline on a stinger of a cut just above my left eye. The first two rounds with NES Mega Man have indeed left me bruised, but I refuse to just lie down. The bell rings; I'm up off my stool and standing upright again; and I shuffle towards the centre of the ring to fight in Round 3 with the Mega Man series. Mega Man III if you will.

The story goes that Dr.Wily and Dr.Light have seemingly patched up their differences and are working together to build a large robot called "Gamma." This robot has been designed to act as the defender of the world, apparently allowing Mega Man to retire to a life of P&Q (peace and quiet). However, bad robot shenanigans have once again arose and our weapon-stealing hero will have to put his pension claim on hold for just a little bit longer while he deals with the situation. "Now I wonder who could be responsible for all this naughty robot stuff?!" he said in the most sarcastic tone of voice the human ear will ever imagine.

As like the previous MM games you have to play through a series of levels, defeating the bosses at the end of each of them before challenging the final extra-strong mint level. Each successfully defeated boss will grant you access to another weapon to use later on. With the exception of the last one, the levels can be played in any order you see fit. A nice bit of free roaming structure there although once you've discovered which weapons work best on certain bosses you will find a preferred route through the game.

Since the second NES outing, a couple of small extras were added to MM III. One is that Mega Man has a sliding move (hold Down on the D-pad and then press the A button) which allows him to negotiate tight areas that normal running cannot handle. With repeated usage you'll find that the slide move actually gives you a brief burst of speed, which is quite useful for anyone looking for a fast completion time. The more cautious gamers though won't be so embracing towards it.

The other is Rush, a robot dog that our hero can use to negotiate tricky situations such as high jumps. Originally starting off with just a spring board move, Rush will pick up other abilities as you complete the levels. Both Rush and the slide move add a shade more variety to the gameplay, but only a shade. That's an issue I'll cover in just a moment.

For the most part the levels are firm but fair in terms of what they throw at you: tiny platform jumps, larger enemies that require a few more shots to take out, and trajectories both from the sky and the ground to keep you moving a lot of the time. Frequent appearances by the somewhat mysterious Proto Man will also keep you on your toes. The bosses (such as Spark Man and Top Man) don't have quite the same charm as the bosses from the previous MM games, but the weapons you can obtain from defeating them can increase the feel good factor. In particular, Shadow Man's Shadow Blade is a weapon that'll help you out of more jams than a warehouse full of strawberries.

The problem I have with MM III is that as far as the NES series goes, it's just more of the same. Running, shooting, grabbing pickups and obtaining weapons. It was fine for the first two games, but for this third title you would've thought Capcom would've at least tried one outside-the-box idea. You know? Something to give No.3 its own identity in the series, like wearing a dress made out of meat in public. Alas, that's not the case.

Overall Mega Man III is more for the MM fanatics and fans of cartoonish futuristic blasters. The sci-fi styled 8-bit music is catchy and the challenge is certainly welcome, but there is nothing here that makes it radically different from either MM I or MM II. Still...happy blasting.

Final Score: 7/10

Punch-Out!! (NES)
Punch-Out!! (NES)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rocky Balboa's Favourite Game...Possibly, 30 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Punch-Out!! (NES) (Video Game)
On the surface the cult NES favourite Punch Out (also known as Mike Tyson's Punch Out in the US) appears to be just a button bashing boxing game; a beat-'em-silly title that requires no more thought than the whereabouts of the A and B buttons on the NES controller; a coloured-red, padded glove affair that does nothing more than make your right thumb stronger than a cannonball after six months in the gym. Play the game with that train of thought however, and you'll be veeeeeerrrrry sorry.

You play the role of Little Mac, a young boxer with a big heart. Under the guidance of Doc Louis, an enthusiastic if somewhat out-of-shape boxing coach, your goal is to fight your way up through the rankings to the title bouts in three circuits: Minor, Major and World. Each fight consists of three rounds, where victories can be earned by Knockout, Technical Knockout (three knockdowns in a single round), or a favourable judges' decision if the fight goes the full distance. The bouts get tougher as you go along; so much so that I would recommend listening to a Katie Melua album before and after plays...this album in particular.

The controls are simple to learn. A and B control left and right body jabs respectively, while holding Up on the D-pad whilst using the two buttons controls head shots. You can also press Left and Right to dodge, and Down to block. However, the controls are the only thing that is simple about Punch Out. It's a mixture of trial-and-error as well as strategy: when to dodge attacks; when to block; when to throw a head or body shot, etc.

Figuring out the opponents' punching repertoire and weak points doesn't take Sherlock Holmes with a needle in his arm. It's the execution of your plans of attack (and defence) that will have you tearing your hair out like a Trichotillomaniac. While the game's difficulty curve is relatively steady, the latter fights can prove to be quite tough, even with knowledge from previous bouts and a lot of gaming experience. A lot of times your boxer will be knocked down to the canvas either due to mistimed dodges or overzealous attacks. You'll know what's coming next but still take a pounding simply because you didn't quite hit the sweet spot with that Left or Right D-pad press.

This can be especially frustrating on the World Circuit. Lose a fight and you'll at least get a rematch; but lose a 2nd time and you'll be sent back to the beginning of the circuit. The long pass codes you have to enter on the main screen to resume play from the first fight of a particular circuit can hardly be called a God send, but at least you won't have to start the game all the way back from the very beginning...unless of course you fancy starting a new game.

OK, I've talked long enough about this negative. Let's move onto some plus points. The presentation of Punch Out is bright and chipper for a NES title. The graphics in their own right are nice and colourful. Also the character designs of the opposing boxers are quite amusing, even if they do have an obvious and unfair size advantage over you. Glass Joe is laughably awful; King Hippo will raise a few smiles with his beer belly and weird face; and Don Flemenco's showboating dance moves are worth a small round of applause before you punch him senseless. Oh, and Mario referees the bouts. Can't beat a bit of Mario presence.

The biggest complement I can give Punch Out is the strong scent of one-more-go perfume it sprays on you. It convinces you to keep plugging away and plugging away until you find that correct combination of dodging and punching for a specific boxer; and when you do finally floor your opponent for the KO (or at least the TKO), a great sense of achievement splashes over you. The plan came together, and just like the A-Team, you loved it.

Punch Out for the NES -which by the way is also available from the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS- is a teeth gnashing challenge of a boxing game, but one that also comes with reasonable strategic paddling water. If your reflexes are good enough to catch an adrenaline fuelled chicken in a McDonald's slaughterhouse, you'll certainly get your kicks...sorry, PUNCHES...out of this title.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Close Up: The Autobiography
Close Up: The Autobiography
Price: £3.79

2.0 out of 5 stars Close Up? I Don't Think I Have The Face For That, 4 Nov. 2014
(WARNING: The review of this book may or more likely will contain spoilers!)

One might say that Kelly Brook is like a tropical fish in a tank: nice to look at...but that's about it. With this book "Close Up" the woman with the unfortunate habit of getting fired from TV presenting jobs so quickly and easily attempts to prove there is more to her than just a pretty face. However, some 286 pages later, I'm not convinced.

Some of the events covered in the book include Kelly dealing with her father's cancer and death whilst a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007; her early life and her time at the Italia Conti performing arts school in the hope of becoming a serious actress; stumbling into modelling through the trailer-trash Samantha Bond agency; her disastrous six-month stint as a presenter on The Big Breakfast; and a couple of fists flown during some of her relationships. There isn't too much elaboration on that last one, but she certainly didn't do herself any favours by laughing off those incidents in a TV interview.

One problem I had with "Close Up" is that the chapters are quite drawn out. At 286 pages this is not physically the longest book I've ever read. However there were many occasions where I would finish reading chunky paragraphs and then turn the page in the hope that the chapter would be nearing its conclusion, only to find a load more chunky paragraphs to plough through. Other books I've read were laid out and paced nicely, allowing you to take breaks at regular intervals if your eyes or jaw were getting tired. This one simply is not. Reading it can be tiresome.

Another issue I had was with Kelly herself. Despite her efforts to prove that there's more to her than just a few lads' magazine covers, she comes across as being quite shallow. For one thing she dedicates this book to her chest. Let me type that one more time..." She dedicates this book to her chest." I've never read any Katie Price books before, but I shudder to think how shallow they are. Another is that on page 65 she mentions that she would just hang around the Samantha Bond agency in the hope that some work would turn up...Really?! She was relying on magic?!

Generally I was unimpressed by her attitude the whole time, and not even the more challenging events in her life could convince me to be more sympathetic towards her. Indeed by the last 50 pages I was more or less skimming through the book as opposed to solid reading and taking in the meaning of the words because of lost respect...that plus the copy of the book I had was a library book and it had to be returned the next day.

If you're the type of person that feasts on autobiographies for breakfast (no pun intended, Ms.Brook), than there's no doubt you'll find some fascination in reading "Close Up." However for anybody looking for respectable depth far up north as opposed to northern central will be disappointed. Well, time for me to get back to tidying the shelves.

New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS)
New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS)

5.0 out of 5 stars It's Not "New" Anymore, But It'll Always Be Super, 2 Nov. 2014
New Super Mario Bros. was released on the Nintendo DS in 2006, and while the game isn't exactly "new" anymore (it's eight years old at the time of posting this review), it still feels like a fresh, lively, modern, up-to-date take on Mario's 80's youthful exuberance. Even if you're too young to recall the plumber's whippersnapper days, like me, you'll still see this platformer as an excellent title in its own right.

The front page of the tabloid newspaper (just a bit of creative writing there!) reads that Princess Peach was kidnapped by King Bowser...no wait, I read that wrong. It says that Princess Peach was kidnapped by Bowser Junior, a childish reptilian with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. The article continues by saying that Mario let out a hefty déjà vu sigh before commencing pursuit of Bowser Jr. across eight different worlds in order to rescue the princess. Tsk! Tabloids. They'll print anything these days.

OK, so NSMB is a mostly 2D platform game paying tribute to NES Mario, but which game exactly? Well I would say it's a balanced mixture of SMB1 and SMB3, with a hint of Super Mario World for the SNES thrown in there as well. Mario finds himself running from left to right across the screen, stomping on goombas and koopa troopas on his way to hitting the flag poles, taking the occasional warp pipe trip in the process. Very much SMB1 influenced.

But like SMB3, slick presentation is present with a string of useful power ups, and maps of levels that need to be completed with the option to take different routes from time to time. More on that stuff in a moment. But it's all brilliant. Anyone who's been playing Super Mario games since the NES era will see NSMB as a worthy tribute to that gaming period of time. Anybody who hasn't, and this is their first Mario title, will still see it as a piece of platform heaven.

Like I mentioned earlier, Mario pursues Bowser Jr. across eight different worlds, and these worlds have some good theme variations, from the desert sands and pharaoh-requested pyramids of World 2 to the Christmas-esque snows and slippery ice of World 5. Every level you play through from start to finish feels different, throwing up its own challenges. Example: One level in World 3 sees you negotiating the cloudy skies over a series of swaying mushroom platforms, some swaying more heavily than others. The challenges are so widely varied and exciting you'll face every new one with great relish. Oh, and did I mention the music in this game? Fits like a glove. The tunes have a familiar vibe to the NES Marios but with a more upbeat toe-tapping jazz vibe to them, and they add more to the liveliness of this title.

The levels are jam packed with all sorts of power-ups to help you get through the game. The classic fire flower provides the fireball-throwing abilities to give pyromaniacs the mother of all wet dreams, whilst the mini mushroom shrinks you down to the size of a mouse, allowing you access to very small warp pipes and other areas. Great variation there. Meanwhile some extra fun can be obtained through collecting the big Mario coins. There are three in each level and a lot of these coins have a puzzle element in terms of obtaining them, especially in the later worlds. Some require clever timing with the jumps. Others require specific power-ups in order to reach them. These coins can be used to unlock other areas of worlds, such as extra levels to play through.

The puzzle element to collecting the big coins adds another layer to NSMB's gaming circus, and adds yet another positive to an already long list of positives. Just running through to the end of the game will keep you ticking over for a while, but pursuing every single one of the game's big coins will certainly keep you clocking up the gaming miles. If you're a hardcore Mario fan then that can only be a good thing.

But if all the mushroom fondling and castle climbing does somehow become too overbearing for you, then you'll certainly get a buzz out of the timeout teasers, the mini games. Available from the main menu, you can choose from a nice selection of short term teasers, from puzzlers to reflex testers. Mini games available include Snowball Slalom, where you roll a snowball along an obstacle filled course as fast as you can; and Picture Poker, a Mario themed card game that requires a bit of luck, but at least you won't be playing against Lady Gaga.

My personal favourite is Whack-a-Monty, a fast paced wrist strainer where you have to whack as many Monty Moles as you can within the time limit. They're all fun games that add longevity to this DS title; more still when you take the wireless 2-Player game into account. With friends you can play against each other in the ultimate star-collecting Mario sibling rivalry. Nice.

There isn't much to criticize about NSMB. However if I had to be super nit-picky I'd say that the directional controls do feel a smidge slippery at times. It's not bad enough to make you say "Oh come on! I could've made that jump!", but it may still cost you the occasional power-up. Also many if not all of the mini games are recycled from Super Mario 64 DS, so anybody who's own that game and is hoping for something majorly different in that department will be disappointed. But uh...that's about it.

OK, I acknowledge that this review is beginning to drag on for some, so let's just draw up the conclusion now. New Super Mario Bros. overall is a brilliant DS game that provides bundles for the best of both worlds. It's a worthy nostalgic tribute to the NES Mario games, but at the same time it convincingly proves its own identity with its own bright ideas and challenges. A definite yes-yes to all DS and 3DS owners. It's just a shame you can't play as Luigi.

(sly tone)...or can you?

Final Score: 9.5/10

This Is Me
This Is Me
by Michelle Collins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars This Is Good, 9 Oct. 2014
This review is from: This Is Me (Hardcover)
(WARNING: The review of this book may or more likely will contain spoilers!)

At 242 pages long, Michelle Collins' book "This Is Me" is by far the shortest autobiography I've read so far. Because of that I wasn't expecting too much in the way of details, just basic run-throughs of the high profile acting roles she has had up to the point of this book's release. How wrong I was. To me the book is a bit of a slow burner. Apart from nearly being turned into KFC (Kentucky Fried Collins) in a fire during childhood once, the first 50 pages are not really attention grabbing, though readers in their teens/early 20's may be fascinated by some of Michelle's childhood adventures like renting colour TVs and playing out in the streets; a stark contrast to the hi-tech world of today.

After that though, the pace picks up quite a bit. The remainder of "This Is Me" contains several points that keep the pictures in your mind flowing some time after putting the book down. These points include her first acting experience at the Cockpit Youth Theatre on Lisson Grove in Marylebone; her audition struggles with several rejections; her big EastEnders role as Cindy Beale; an apparent suicide attempt whilst in Cyprus filming the TV show Sunburn; and another big soap role as Stella Price in Coronation Street. There's even time for one or two surprises, one of which being that she met Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell in EastEnders) several years before she got to Albert Square.

In spite of some of her past mistakes (which as human beings we're all prone to making), Michelle comes across as a level-headed and respectful woman. For starters the two pages worth of Acknowledgements at the start of the book feels more like 20, she loves so many people. She has had a string of dodgy dates and failed (humiliatingly at times) relationships in her life. But rather than trample over and get vengeful on the men that have let her down, she has consciously chosen to keep talk about the relationship subject light, making it clear in the book that she doesn't want to come across as being a spiteful woman. An honourable piece of thinking, though any Heat magazine buyers looking for some hot juicy gossip in this area will be disappointed.

Also she talks about having a strong work ethic. She hasn't always been in the right frame of mind around acting roles but has simply chosen to "get on with it"; get stuck into her work; and never wanting to be idle for even a second. I can relate to her in that area. Whenever I have a less-than-perfect day at work, I'm always thinking of ways of making the next day better for me; writing down what to do, how to do it better and when to actually do it. I just hate the thought of leaving something in a bad way and not being able to do anything about it.

Overall the stir-fry of childhood memories, acting adventures, political dabbling and charity participations (particularly Oxfam and Barnardos) make "This Is me" a pretty good read. Whether you wanted to b**** slap Cindy, ask Stella for a pint, or get Michelle's POV on the acting roles in between, you'll find this a good page turner.

Super Mario Bros 3 Nintendo NES
Super Mario Bros 3 Nintendo NES

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Third Time's The Charm For Mrs.Mario's Boys, 5 Oct. 2014
Well really the saying "Third time's the charm" is used for when success is achieved on the third attempt after the first two have proven to be fruitless. But in the case of Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, it's more like "Hit for six off the third straight ball." SMB1 offered high doses the platform genius with its mix of elegant platform negotiating and iconic head nodding 8-bit music...with the occasional bit of Goomba stomping. SMB2 offered a tasty replayable dream of character swapping, beanstalk climbing and Bob-omb throwing. As for SMB3? Well there are two key words for this game's success: Variety and Flexibility. More on those later.

In SMB3 King Bowser is looking to make another attempt rule over the Mushroom Kingdom with a sharp-clawed iron fist, and he's got a checklist. Brat-like koopa kids? Check. Very loosely bolted airships? Check. Kings transformed into helpless animals? Check. Kidnapping a ditzy looking blonde in pink threads? Full house. Unfortunately for Bowser, the player him/herself has a checklist of their own, and it only contains one item. Unleash two plumbers to save the day? Check.

SMB3 consists of a laaaarrrrge number of levels stretched across eight worlds. The worlds all have varying themes, such as World 3 being a sea world with lots of water and swimming segments, while World 7 is a pipe world consisting of more pipes than a plumber's dream. Each world is laid out in the form of a map -a first for the SMB series- with levels scattered around the place. One by one you walk up to these levels, select them, and then proceed to stroll on by its many challenges: moving platforms, pipe travelling, enemies the butt-ugly side of David Gest; all before collecting cards at the end which eventually convert into extra lives. The end of most of the worlds see you hijacking cannon-riddled airships and defeating the Koopa kids before finally retrieving the magic wands that are required transform the kings from animals back into their old selves.

Now remember those key words from earlier? Variety and Flexibility? Word of warning: I may be using those words a fair bit in this review, but I do think they do the job best in saying everything that is right about SMB3. Breaking up these levels from time to time is some small but fun extras, like some mushroom huts where you have the chance to pick up a new item, and some slide matching games for extra lives. It adds to the variety of SMB3 and greatly increases the replayability of the game, especially the curiosity factor when it comes to those other two chests in the mushroom huts.

The left to right scrolling level layouts (and at times vice versa) are very much similar to that of SMB1 but with a bit more polish. As well as sporting more detailed graphics, it also sports more variation in level structures; pipes, pits, how many different enemies you come across, as well as different coloured backgrounds, like a bright blue or a sunset orange. Don't get me wrong, the levels in SMB1 were fun to play through, but there wasn't too much in the way of differing background and foreground structure and at times it could feel like you were playing through the same level two or three times in the same playthrough, especially in the latter stages of the game. Not so in SMB3. Every level feels different and throws up its own challenges and secrets, the latter of which I'll let you discover for yourself.

The best thing about the levels is that you don't have to play them all if you don't want to. The word? Yep! Flexibility. Some areas of worlds allow you to tackle one level or the other in order to progress to the next part of the map, and some areas you can just disregard altogether. A good example is in World 6. After you've completed level 4 you have a choice of two routes: either taking on Level 5 or 6. Level 5 is trickier with a puzzle like element to it, but if you are brave enough to tackle it and then successfully complete it, you'll gain access to another mushroom hut. "The greater the risk, the greater the reward" you could say. But you know what? To me every single level is pure fun, and I'm happy enough to sit down and tackle them all in one sitting...Yes, I can be THAT extreme at times!

The large number of enemies you face also adds to the variety. The familiar Goombas and Koopa Troopas returned from SMB1, while the Bomb-ombs made their way over from the "different" land of SMB2. They returned to join a series of new enemies (from the perspective of the late 80's that is) such as Boomerang Bros. whose preferred weapon of choice is an Australian throwing stick; and the ghostly Boos that haunt many of the game's castles. Fortunately Mario's battle options come in the form of the traditional fire flower and starman pick- ups...and more.

Yes, more variety is added thanks to some additional power-ups. One of which is the feather, which with a bit of a run up gives you access to the skies for short periods of time. Highly useful for getting over tough segments in levels and scouting out secrets...that's the only hint I'm giving you. The other power-ups come in the form of costumes. One of my favourites is the frog suit. This suit allows you to glide through deep waters with ease, although it can be a handful on dry land. Nonetheless, it's a cool costume.

There are a lot of items to pick up, so you'll be thankful for the inventory box that you can access from the world maps. Just press B to access it, then A to select the item you want. It's possible to hold around twenty items at any given time, so after a bit of play you'll find yourself with some flexibility on you in terms of plans of attack. Very handy indeed.

SMB3 is a joy for every solo games player out there. However if you don't fancy going at it alone and you've got a second NES controller at hand (or for 3DS users just press Y whilst holding down the L and R shoulder buttons), you can select the 2-Player game where Mario and Luigi can take it in turns to tackle the levels like overzealous rugby players. This game is not exactly strenuous, but taking in turns is still convenient for giving your thumbs a bit of a break after levels, so you could say that is a good thing.

Having gone off to visit an Arabian vibe in SMB2, Super Mario Bros 3 feels a like a return to the routes of SMB1, with the points scoring and the mushroom/fire flower collecting and all. However at the same time this third outing added so much more to the platform mix that it pretty much has its own identity in the SMB series. Overall it's brilliant, and I can say with confidence that this is my favourite Mario game ever; one that you need to play ASAP if you haven't already done so.

One more thing before I go. Can you collect 50 coins and complete Level 1 of World 1 in less than 2 minutes? I bet you can!

Final Score: 10/10

Pac Man (NES - PAL)
Pac Man (NES - PAL)

3.0 out of 5 stars Does This Game Still Pac A Punch?, 20 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Pac Man (NES - PAL) (Video Game)
I've actually had the pleasure of meeting Pac-Man in person, and asking him many questions about his video game career and his life in general. One question I felt compelled to ask was "What do all those ghosts taste like?" His response? "They taste like chicken." Now, once you've picked yourself up off the floor from that hilarious joke, I'll take you on to a review of Pac-Man for the NES.

Exactly like the original 1980 arcade release, this NES version (the latest copyright year on the Nintendo eShop download that I got was 1993) requires you to take the gluttonous one through the maze, eating up all the pills whilst avoiding the perverted touches of the ghosts, Inky, Blinky, Stinky, Tinky-Winky and all. You can temporarily turn the tide by gobbling power pills that allow you to chase down the ghosts and munch on them instead.

You play through the same maze over and over again with the difficulty level getting tougher as you go along, with quicker ghosts and less effective power pills...and that's pretty much it. I don't get a buzz out of criticizing a video games legend, but this game just feels too shallow. Outside of having a crack at a new high score, there is nothing here that will keep you captivated and away from the dinner table for long periods of time. Even fellow NES games Super Mario Bros. and Ninja Gaiden have more depth and action to them and keep you coming back for quite a bit more. Maybe this game was before my time, but nonetheless it simply doesn't grip me.

A 2-Player game (where you swap turns after every life lost) should add a bit of competitive points clambering play to the experience, but don't get too excited. NES versions of Pac-Man are quite rare and expensive as of the posting of this review. With the game available on various formats for much better deals, only the crazily passionate Pac-Man fans should attempt to track down this cartridge, and also add a mark or two to the final score. For everyone else there are more exciting adventures in the 80's video game zone.

Final Score: 5.5/10

Mega man 2 - NES - PAL
Mega man 2 - NES - PAL

4.0 out of 5 stars Waiter! Two Difficulty Settings and More Levels, Please, 18 Sept. 2014
OK, it's time to pop your gum shield into your mouth, get up from your stool, and prepare for the second round of Mega Man NES action. Care to take a guess at the name of the sequel? "Mega Man 2" you say? Close. It's Mega Man "II". The 2 is in roman numerals.

Carrying on from the events of the first game, Dr.Wily is still smarting from getting is backside handed to him by our hero in blue (sit down, Sonic!), and proceeds to build eight devil-loving robots with the intention of conquering the world at the second attempt. With this threat in mind, Mega Man sets out once again to defeat Wily by platform jumping, cannon blasting, and weapon stealing methods...just as soon as you've chosen the difficulty level, that is.

Yes, the first difference between the opening MM bout and this sequel is the choice of two difficulty levels: Normal and Difficult. With various appearing and disappearing platforms, enemies that still remember the respawn trick, and bosses with even more unpredictable attack patterns than last time, this game is tricky regardless of what setting you choose. However the Normal mode does allow you to defeat bad guys and bosses with fewer shots, while their arsenal won't do so much damage to you; so this is a good place to come for those with little MM experience. I would say it's a nice ice breaker. The "Difficult" mode, though? Now that's a real female dog.

Once again you have to go through a series of levels, defeating bosses before chasing down Wily in a mega-mungous final section. It's clear that Capcom's strategy for this title was "The more the merrier" because there are eight levels to obtain weapons from as opposed to MM I's six, while the final section consists of six areas instead of four. The first eight levels can be tackled in any order you prefer, providing a nice piece of flexibility to the game in the process, though with certain weapons working better on certain bosses you'll eventually stumble across the most efficient route through the land of egg bombs (you'll know what I mean when you see them); unstable platforms; and robots the size of sumo wrestlers' mansions.

The levels are a joy to play with some interesting designs. Air Man's sky based level is bright blue skies with thick white fluffy clouds (some of which block the view of the platforms, but not too badly). Meanwhile Heat Man's level is a vast wash of brick red backgrounds and temporary blocks appearing over lava streams. The weapons, I also feel, are more fun to use than the first game. My favourite is Metal-Blade move, which is capable of taking out many enemies in one strike and can be aimed in eight different directions.

There are a couple of nice extras too. As well as the weapons, Dr.Light will occasionally contact you to provide you with some nifty platform devices you can use to help you get to optional and some essential areas, a feature that does expand the gameplay a little bit. Also, stumbling across the occasional "E" energy pot allows you to replenish your health whenever the going gets tough. Another thumbs up bit there

It's no big deal to modern day casual gamers, but anyone obsessed with comparing the difference in the graphics quality between two games from a retro console will be interested to know that MM II's graphics are more detailed than MM I; and it's most noticeable in the level scenery, like the acres of green trees and bushes and brown wood trunks you pass by in Wood Man's level. It is an improvement. Indeed, the game's opening scene that displays a big city at night time and pans up a tall building in the foreground looks like something from a SNES game as opposed to an NES offering.

Despite the numerous additions Mega Man II does not feel radically different from Mega Man I; and the music is not quite as catchy either. However the two difficulty settings and slightly bigger number of levels still make it a worthy purchase for the NES diehards, or 3DS owners who love their Nintendo eShop downloads. Either way, happy blasting.

Final Score: 8/10

Mega Man - NES - PAL Loose
Mega Man - NES - PAL Loose

4.0 out of 5 stars Mega Fun...That's My Clever Title, 13 Sept. 2014
As nasty a villain Dr.Robotnik/Eggman is to Sonic the Hedgehog, I couldn't help but wonder where he got the idea to sport such an epic moustache. However after doing a Google Image search on Dr.Wily after playing the first Mega Man game for the NES, I now have a better idea. It's a little grey and maybe not as Texas-sized, but I definitely do see the resemblance.

The very first Mega Man game was first released on the Famicom and NES in Japan and the US respectively in 1987, with Europe having to wait until 1990 to get in on the action. The story goes that Dr.Light has invented a number of humanoid robots to perform certain manual duties to help make human life a little easier to bear. However Dr.Light's former assistant, the wily Dr....er, Wily, has greedy plans for world domination and reprograms the robots to be a pain in the backside to society. In response to this threat, Dr.Light reprograms one of his few remaining untouched robots to halt Wily's newly found evil schemes. His name? Well you should know what it is by now.

The Mega Man game consists of seven levels, six of them leading to Wily's henchbots who are intent on making our hero not-so-Mega, plus one marathon-esque stage leading to a confrontation with the bad doctor himself, and an opportunity to ram some bitter tasting medicine right down his throat. Appearance wise we're talking old style 8-bit. However the graphics still manage to nicely capture the theme of this game; a sci-fi run and gun affair. Bombman's level especially has background scenery that you would picture in a bright futuristic themed cartoon. So what about the sounds? Well it's a similar story. It's old fashioned, but those tinny robotic sounding tunes go really well with the level designs, like the quick, ready-for-action tune that can heard on the Gutsman level. It's good old fashioned fun.

One thing that Mega Man is certainly not, however, is easy. Enemies will constantly respawn, even if you only back peddle a smidge; jumps above large pits and spikes can be quite unpredictable, especially with tonnes of lasers and bullets heading in your direction; while the attack and movement patterns of the bosses will take some time to figure out, and even then it's more than likely you'll take some damage from them. This is no stroll in the cybernetic park. You need to be on your toes, know the right movements, when to attack and what with. You want easy? Go mime the lyrics to an instrumental piece. Unless you have a solid amount of gaming talent going into this late 80's outing, your health meter will be drained quicker than a gambling addict's bank account.

Figuring out enemy patterns, especially the bosses, is very much trial and error; more error than trial. To help you out a bit are a couple of things. One is the various pickups from defeating enemies, such as replenishing items for your health meter. The other -and the one that opens up the gameplay landscape a fair bit- is new weapons. These are obtained through defeating bosses and will be ready to use at your leisure in the next level. Press Start, select the weapon you want, then press Start again and there you go. Watch out though. Aside from your default gun cannon, the weapons have limited power and need certain pickups from time to time to recharge them.

As you advance further into game and pick up more weapons, you'll find that you have more options available to you in terms of how to deal with certain areas of levels, and in a way it helps keep your spirits up. Some of the weapons have a stronger effect on certain bosses than others, like Bombman's bomb attack on Gutsman. With this you'll eventually stumble upon an efficient and less stressful route through the game. Having said that though, there is a nice bit of flexibility to Mega Man. As implied a moment ago the first six levels can be taken on in any order you see fit. So if you have a preference for listening to the music in Iceman's level ASAP, or you have a hard drive on for the Gutsman level scenery, this game allows you to pick those levels whenever you like. A very nice perk for an NES game to have.

The difficulty level will be too high for casual games players, and it's unlikely the PS4/Xbox One children will appreciate this old school offer in the graphics and sound departments. But overall if you're willing to persist and keep coming back for another go, Mega Man is an 8-bit NES blast from start to finish. Its strong challenge, fitting music and option to allow you to tackle the levels in your preferred order earn it a strong score from me.

Final Score: 8/10

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