Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate – The Missing Piece to the Puzzle (Backlog Tale)

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate was the black sheep of the series to me. Generations was a celebration of the Monster Hunter series up to the point before Monster Hunter World came along and made the whole experience better. From revisiting old locations, both village and hunting grounds, old monsters returning, and familiar faces interacting and giving you quests, this should have easily been one of the best Monster Hunter games to play. I tried. I really tried when it came out. I could not find any enjoyment out of the game. For some reason, it took six years (starting from Generations on the 3DS) for me to appreciate this game for what it is. I now hold this game in a positive light from the dark corner I once casted it into.

Let’s travel back to 2016. Young adult me has been enjoying Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, when he hears that a new Monster Hunter is coming out that summer. Natural reaction, excited for it! I preorder not only the game, but the New 3DS model that was releasing along with it (I was in the market for a New 3DS anyway). July 15, 2016 comes around and the game…feels mediocre. Monster Hunter Generations starts off incredibly slow. There is a lot of information presented to you about the new mechanics of the game and how you can travel to different locations from previous games. The quests that you go on at the beginning all consist of gathering and slaying small groups of monsters. It isn’t until Village Quest Level 2 that you start to hunt the large monsters; which consist of the beginning large monsters like the Great Maccao, the Gendrome, and Cephadrome. These are good beginner monsters, but it slows the momentum of the game when you want to get to the good stuff. For a game that is a celebration of the Monster Hunter series up to that point, it felt more geared to players who were new to the series.

That was the point where I felt disconnected with the game. I had spent hours in 3U and 4U that being forced to start from square one again felt restrictive. I could have just ignored the village quests and head straight for the Hub quest, but I am the type of person who likes to do all of the quests if I can; and going back to the Village quest after doing the Hub would have been rough.* At that time of my life I was impatient. I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t stand how slow the game felt. To damper my spirits even more, Monster Hunter Generations did not include G Rank in the game. Not only was the game moving slowly, but the challenge I was looking for at the end was not included in the game. This isn’t the first time a Monster Hunter game was designed like this, but after 3U and 4U were released to the West, we would get the definitive version of the game.

*In Monster Hunter, you have a set of quests that you work on solo (Village) or with others (Hub). Village quests are designed to let new players become familiar with locals and monsters that you hunt. Village quests start on low rank and end at high rank. Hub quests are similar to village quests, but have some differences. The most noticeable difference is that the stats of the monster will adjust for the number of participants for the hunt. There are also certain monsters that only appear in the Hub area. In earlier games, the Hub was the only way to access G Rank hunts. This was changed in Monster Hunter World and Rise where an expansion would grant access to Master Rank.

The definitive version of Generations did come out, but not here in the States. Monster Hunter XX (Double Cross) was released on March 18, 2017 in Japan only and would get a Nintendo Switch release later that year on August 28, 2017. With Capcom originally stating that Monster Hunter XX was not coming to the states, my enthusiasm to play Generations quickly faded. It didn’t help that on June 12, 2017, we learned that Monster Hunter World was in development and was releasing early 2018. You could take one look at World and then Generations and decide on which game you would want to spend time playing. For all intents and purposes, my interest in Generations should have died then and there, but it didn’t.

Out of nowhere, Capcom announced on May 10, 2018 (four months after World released) that Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate was coming worldwide on August 28, 2018. To legacy Monster Hunter players, this is what they were waiting for. For me, I was almost done with most things in World. I had no interest in returning to Generations in any shape or form, so I bought the game day one in order to give it another try. My interest in Monster Hunter was at an all time high after playing through World. Surely the momentum would help me see this game in a new light. Can you guess what happened next?

Where can I find the Minecraft shield?

I still disliked the game. Playing World and then going back to the old school style of Monster Hunter did not help at all! I had gotten used to the bounty of quality of life changes in World that most things just irritated me. It also didn’t help Capcom didn’t bother doing anything with the visuals since it looks like a 3DS game with a sprinkle of improvement (3U on the Wii U looked better than this).  I managed to get to High Rank in the Village quests, but I couldn’t find a playstyle that felt good to me. I hated the feeling of being slow and constantly forgetting items that I needed for hunts. There was nothing that I could do to make the game enjoyable for me, so I placed it on my shelf and left it as one of the many unfinished games on my backlog. There it sat for the next four years, waiting and binding its time for the right moment. Which brings us to a few weeks ago this year.

At an event where I was able to see some of my old college buddies, I was able to reconnect with my old hunting buddy (for the rest of the story I will call him Knivitor). Knivitor loves Monster Hunter as much as I do, but he is definitely more experienced than I am. His go to Monster Hunter game right now is Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. To him, it is one of the best Monster Hunter games even though he really liked World and Rise. When I mentioned that we should hunt more often, he asked if I wanted to play Generations Ultimate. I agreed with the pretense that this is what I might have been missing this whole time. I warned him that I was at Hunter Rank 1 and that it would take some time before I reached his level. All he did was flex his Hunter Rank 163 badge at me and said “Don’t worry. We got this.”

The coolest character in any Monster Hunter game.

In one week, I went from doing Low Hunter Rank 1 quest to G Rank level 2 quest. Was this from Knivitor carrying me all the way to this point? Most definitely. However, something along this journey awakened in me. All of my past experience with Monster Hunter came flowing back into me, and suddenly I was holding my own in most fights. While I switched around deciding on the Sword and Shield and the Switch Axe, I finally went back to my roots and picked up the Great Sword again. Once I did that, all the fun I had while playing Tri, 3U, and 4U all came back to me. I was trying so hard to adapt to the new, different ways to play the game that I never adapted back to playing the way I used to. Even though I was rocking the low rank Rathalos armor set during the final fights in High Rank, I was having fun using my skills and experience to become this glass cannon with a big sword. Even when we ended our group sessions for the night, I found myself wanting to play more of it and get some things done on my own just so we could press on through G Rank (he really wants me to fight the White Fatalis). The game has been on my mind constantly and most of my free time now is spent playing this and Rise (just started the Sunbreak expansion on Switch and blazing through the quests on PC).

These two bastards are my favorite.

So what happened? How did this game go from one of my least favorite games in the series to one of my all time highs? I guess the simple answer is that I started to play the game in a different way. I have been a very solo hunter these past years and I can definitely say that playing with others completely changes things. The strategy, the banter, the laughing and reacting to things that happen during the hunt turned the game into a completely different experience. I’m no longer playing the game just to get through the hunts and make it to the end. I’m now eagerly awaiting the next hunt with friends on my quest to regain my lost power. When I’m hunting solo, it is no longer about just checking off quests that I need to do; it’s now about getting the materials that I need to craft better things so that I’m ready for the next hunting session. My mind is all about making myself better just so I can enjoy hunting with my friends without being the one who gets carted the most. A simple change in perspectives helped me realize why a lot of veteran hunters still prefer this game over World and Rise.

The good times will not last forever. Eventually we might drift apart again or another game will come out that takes up our time. I think the best thing this revisit to Generations Ultimate did was help me revisit my glory days of playing Monster Hunter. With a game that celebrates the series as a whole up to that point, the one thing that I was missing with the experience was playing with other people. Now that the package feels complete, I feel like Generations Ultimate is one of the best Monster Hunter experiences that I’ve had after World. It’s too bad that the game feels out of date for anyone who started with World and the phrase “Monster Hunter on Nintendo Switch” makes people want to vomit for some reason. It is hard for me to recommend this game to others since Monster Hunter has become more accessible to people thanks to World and Rise. Believe me, I will not stop playing those games just because I found a new obsession with this game. If anything, I want to enjoy playing this game before the next Monster Hunter completely shadows it and becomes the next definitive Monster Hunter experience. From this point on, I won’t be afraid to open my hub up to random players who just want to hang out and hunt monsters with other players who enjoy doing the same thing. It can help turn a lackluster experience into one of the best times that you can have.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate Statistics

Release Date: August 28, 2018
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Date First Started: August 28, 2018
Date Finished: September 4, 2022
Platform Played On: Nintendo Switch
Total Playtime: 90 Hours

Number of Quest Completed: 270 (At the time of this writing)
Weapon(s) of Choice: Great Sword, Sword and Shield, Switch Axe
Skills Used: Handicraft, Light Eater, Unscathed
Style: Guild
Hunter Arts Used: Absolute Evasion, Lion’s Maw II, Shoryugeki II
Palicos: Nico and Moonlight
Favorite Hunting Ground: Deserted Island (Where it all started)
Favorite Monsters to Hunt: Rathlos, Malfestio, Lagiacrus, Astalos, Gore Magala, Shagaru Magala, Valstrax

Bonus Gallery

Backlog Tale – Kirby and the Forgotten Abilities

When you think of Kirby, what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you said Kirby’s Avalanche, me too. If you are a normal person, you probably think about the copy ability. This has been a staple concept since Kirby’s introduction in Kirby’s Adventure on the NES. While basic at the time, we have seen Kirby’s copy ability evolve over the years to see them pull off some devastating damage. We have even seen them go so far as to have a copy ability called Black Hole (in Japan). Without the various copy abilities at their disposal, I don’t think Kirby would have as much appeal outside their cozy inhale/exhale gameplay.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land continues this crazy experiment on what Kirby can and cannot copy. The new Mouthful Mode gave us plenty of nightmare fuel, but at the same time felt like watered-down copy abilities. At most, they felt like a gimmick only meant to be used to solve puzzles or traversal. The actual copy abilities themselves saw a better improvement from other games. I got Kirby 64 vibes when I saw that you could upgrade abilities to different forms. Not quite similar to 64’s mix and match abilities, but it was something different than having the same ability do the same thing without any variants. Seeing this mechanic excited me more than Kirby turning into a car and making DaBaby look like a poser.

 Something still felt missing though. Every ability was fun to use, but I felt like some copy staples were missing. Where was the plasma ability? The beam ability was also missing due to the fact that the developers wanted to give Kirby a gun instead. I like the wheelie ability and understood why that was missing, but it would have been cool to have outside the car segments. Even the umbrella ability was missing, and you don’t take Kirby’s fucking parasol away from them! This got me to examine the available copy abilities and try to understand why certain abilities were chosen over others. My observation led to an interesting discovery.

No Kirby fun times allowed

All of Kirby’s abilities in Forgotten Land can be grouped into three categories: Attack, Traversal, and Sleep. Abilities like Sword, Hammer, and Gunner are mostly used for attacking and solving puzzles. These are the abilities that you will mostly stick with in fights unless you are working on a mission objective. Traversal abilities would include Tornado, Ice, Needle, and Drill. These abilities can be used in fights, but their overall design leads more toward progressing through stages quickly due to their forward momentum. Sleep is an unfair ability that restores Kirby’s health after a good night’s sleep (which we all wish we could have). The selection of abilities is diverse enough to encourage using whichever ability tickles your fancy, but that is not how Forgotten Land wants you to play the game.

Forgotten Land’s level design can be explained simply as “hand-holdy.” It likes to give you the illusion of choice, but the game constantly hints at you which ability you should be using and how long you will be using it for. This is done in several ways throughout each stage. If the game introduces a new mechanic with an ability, it is safe to guess that you will be relying on that ability for the rest of the stage. Even when you need to switch abilities to solve a simple puzzle, the game will “hint” at an ability you need by having it readily available or have an enemy constantly spawn so that you don’t miss out on secrets or puzzles that you need to solve. At least from my opinion from the other (limited) Kirby games that I’ve played, this game seems the most determined to make all the answers simple enough for the player to understand and solve.

I think back to other Kirby games that I’ve played. In Kirby 64, you have to find crystal shards throughout the level. Some would be easy to get, but some were stuck behind walls or other obstacles that would require one ability or the right combination to obtain. It required the player to understand the different combinations available in the level in order to complete the game and access the true final boss. Another example comes from The Great Cave Offensive in Super Star. For being a game about collecting treasure, you would expect some backtracking and puzzle solving. To get that 100% completion rating, you have to go out of your way and use the right abilities to find secrets that the game doesn’t point out in an obvious way. While that sense of challenge is still present in Forgotten Land, it is not as nearly as difficult to figure out when the game highlights it so clearly.

I haven’t mentioned Mouthful Mode abilities yet, but they also feel like a limited ability. They can also be divided into their own categories of Traversal, Puzzle Solving, or Dumb. I will give credit to some of the Mouthful puzzles since a small few of them require some fast thinking on what you need to do. The traversal modes (Car, Arch, Coaster) are fun since they change the gameplay up a bit and provide their own challenges. Car mode would have these time trials that made you observe the track and find hidden shortcuts that you might have missed the first go round. The roller coaster mode would have you dodging and collecting items, but also on the lookout for switches that would be easy or hard to see depending on the speed that you are going. While I appreciated some of those, Mouthful Mode was also scripted to be used for certain points. If the stage did not purposely prevent you from taking an ability with you to a new screen, then it was obvious that you would need it for another section. But what is worse than that is when you just use them for a small section and nothing else. I’m talking about the Light Bulb, Roller, and Dome. These are just used for quick situational moments that could be ignored if you were allowed to. They don’t add any gameplay variety or fun minigames to go along with them. Overall, I would have just preferred old or new, unique copy abilities that I could use outside of the given situation.

I think that is my biggest complaint about this game. Outside of boss fights where I can choose which ability I want to use (as long as it’s not tied to a mission), the game is too busy trying to get me to play the way it wants me to play. There’s hardly any desire to experiment with things unless you want to go out of your way to do it. In more recent 3D platformers (that I’ve played), it seems that the developers openly welcome experimentation with abilities that they give the player. In Forgotten Land’s case, it felt like the developers were too afraid to give players complete freedom in fear of missing out on something. That is not a bad thing, but it does restrict my enjoyment when I’m not allowed to play things the way I want to play them. 

Does this make Kirby and the Forgotten Land a bad game? It depends on the player. I still had a good time playing through the game. Some of the later challenges were fun to do and the overall presentation of the game is charming from start to finish. I won’t spoil the final boss, but if you have ever played a Kirby game it is very much a Kirby final boss. What holds me back from saying that it is one of the best in the series are the items mentioned above. All I’m saying is that if you take the parasol away from Kirby then you have not only nerfed them but the game as well.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Works (Backlog Tale)

I can’t help but to enjoy Pokémon games. Pokémon Red and Blue helped me discover RPGs and the one genre that I could enjoy while platformers, action adventure, and shooters felt like too much pressure for me. While there have been some games in the series that rubbed me the wrong way (Gen 4 & 7), I have given each new game a try and test to see how the appeal of Pokémon grows to keep me interested. As I reach my thirties, I understand full well that Pokémon is not designed to target my age group, but the developers try to tap into that nostalgia while remaining focused on their young demographic.

Enter Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This is the type of game that we wished we had back on the GameCube (no offense to Colosseum and Gale of Darkness). An “open-world” Pokémon game where you explore the wild and catch Pokémon. It is a bit agonizing that Game Freak has never made a game like this before, but they must have been waiting for when gaming devices got more advance to realize their visions. Right? Right!?

Synopsis

The game opens up with something I wasn’t expecting. Your character is shown floating in between time and space. Since you play as a Gen Z child, your phone is there with you. Suddenly a shining figure appears and tells you to seek all Pokémon to meet it again. After that, you wash up on the shores of Prelude Beach in the Hisui region (later known as the Sinnoh region). A Pokémon researcher named Professor Laventon finds you and escorts you to Jubilife Village and takes you to the Galaxy Team Headquarters. To reassure the villagers that you are not a spaghetti monster in disguise, you agree to join the Survey Corp to help the Galaxy Team and gain the trust of the villagers. From there, you explore Hisui and learn about the native locals and the reason why the sky is falling.


As I played the game, I tried to understand what I liked about the gameplay the most. Some people were quick to describe it like Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter. I think Arceus takes ideas from both games to create its own experience while leaning more into being a survival (slight horror) game at the beginning and transforming into one of the familiar formats. In Breath of the Wild, you are given every tool that you need at the beginning of the game and it is up to you to decide on how to use those tools to get through the game’s challenges. Monster Hunter is different where you have a main weapon, resources that you pack in preparation, and your wits and reflexes. Arceus gives you a starter Pokémon, a portable craft table, and a dodge button. The rest is up to you to manage. When I compare these three games, I honestly have to say that Arceus may be more difficult than the other two when starting out.

Let me explain. Arceus and Monster Hunter have the common ground of crafting resources to assist you on quests. If you run out of items like potions, antidotes, flash bombs, ect., you can still defend yourself with your weapon until you have time to either gather materials or fly back to camp. Arceus takes the same concept, but your main weapon has a weakness and can break in a hit or two. Arceus almost demands that you prepare well in advance before leaving camp to ensure that you have a strong team of Pokémon that can meet the unknown challenges that you may encounter. You also need to manage your resources since you can only carry a small amount of materials with you in case you need to craft more pokéballs or potions while you are out. This makes certain situations tense when you enter a new area and have no idea if something is going to annoy you or flat out kill you.


The name of the game is catching them all. Since you are creating one of the world’s first Pokédex, it makes sense that you will need to study them. Unlike other Pokémon games where you unlock the Pokedéx entry for catching a Pokémon for the first time, you need to catch them multiple times, battle, evolve, and do other tasks in order to complete your research. You only need to reach a research level of ten to finish each entry, but if you want the satisfaction of 100 percent completion, be prepared for a long grind. This incentive is something that the mainline games lacked to me. I had no desire to catch every Pokémon since there was nothing satisfying about it outside your participation trophy for doing it all. My goal in those games is to become the Pokémon Champion, and the Pokédex is just a tool to help me learn about different Pokémon. In this game, I got excited when finding a new Pokémon because as a researcher it was my main job. The simple roleplay mindset allowed me to enjoy the gameplay since not a lot of battles happen in this game, thus I don’t need to focus on that aspect until the time comes for it (which is a good and bad thing that I will explain later).

Arceus likes to make one thing clear to you; Pokémon are not your friends and will not hesitate to kill you. Some Pokémon are docile and will just try to vibe with you. Others will act like law enforcement and attack you on site with no questions asked. Something that has been missing in Pokémon lately is the understanding that creatures capable of destroying civilizations and worlds are just freely roaming around and have no moral code to be pals with you. These are dangerous creatures! I have a whole new theory now that parents send their children out to be Pokémon Masters just for the off chance they don’t survive out there and thus help with population control (it would explain why there are a lot of single moms in your local Pokémon area). I have never been on edge while playing a Pokémon game, but the overpowered alpha Pokémon that you can encounter plus the almost mystic air of the region just made me cautious until I got the lay of the land. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I enjoyed having the constant air of danger looming over me until I had a tough squad who could protect my fragile ass. 


Okay, I’m going to say it now. The moment you have all been waiting for. The comment of the year that has had you on the edge of your set since you started reading this. Brace yourself. This is your moment to shine!

The game doesn’t look that great.

Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels.com

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Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Yes. The visuals in this game are not the greatest. I however do not like the comments that this game looks like a PS2 game. That is an insult to the PS2 and you need to say sorry. If there was one thing that we all knew was going to happen it would be that the game would look subpar. However, it is not game breaking. Some areas look better than others, and I have to give credit to Game Freak for at least providing a stable framerate throughout the game. It just…misses that wow factor that they were trying to go for. You see games like Xenoblade and The Witcher 3 that look great on the Switch, and you wonder why they didn’t get Monolith or Bandai Namco to help them bloom things up. It is not bad to the point of unplayable, but it is something I would like to see them work on in the next Legends game.

While others were complaining about the graphics, no one points out the other bad mechanics that I noticed (too busy bitching about trees again). One mechanic that I find irritating at times is a Pokémon staple; battling. There are indeed times where you need to battle Pokémon and other people in the story. What’s bad about this is that no matter what level your Pokémon are at, they feel weak compared to your opponents. At times you may get lucky with a one-shot, but it feels completely unbalanced how your opponent can wipe your team without breaking a sweat. This is more prominent towards the end and post game where the toughest battles are held and suddenly you are scrambling to create a decent team that isn’t weak to ground (there are a lot of Pokémon who are weak to ground in this game for some reason). Some of these fights can get straight unfair when you are pit three against one in some battles and the game acts like you can handle it no problem. I understand from a lore perspective that the concept of training Pokémon does not exist in this world, and I like that detail. However, from a gameplay standpoint it does not work.

Another thing that pisses me off is when you accidently hit the boundaries of the map. If you unknowingly reach a part of the map where Game Freak is hiding the better graphics, Jimi Hendrix pops out of nowhere and surrounds you in purple haze. It is frustrating when you are just searching the area and you accidentally walk out of bounds and have to find your way out of it. A simple invisible wall would be so much better than this weird fog.

My favorite thing about this game is the level of detail (outside of visuals) that Game Freak fleshed out. It is a nice tough to watch the village grow with new buildings and villagers as you progress. I like that your prior knowledge of the Gen 4 games can come in handy when it comes to the lore. There are a ton of easter eggs that Poke Maniacs will notice and it provides a fun treat for exploring. While those details are good, there are also some bad details that could have been easily fixed. There would be times where my character would just hover above the ground. These sections look like the ground was altered, but the collision was never fixed. There is also this weird sheen that your character gets when it rains, or sometimes you can see the outline of your character clash with dark surfaces. Again, graphical hiccups that could have easily been smoothed out, but Game Freak hasn’t finished that online class yet.

Speaking of online, there are some online functions in this game. You are able to trade with people locally and somehow online. Sadly, local and online battles do not exist in this game (since Pokémon Trainers don’t exist). There is a social mechanic in the game where you can recover dropped items by other players. Whenever you black out for being bad at the game, you drop some items from your pouch that other players can retrieve for you. The reward for doing this is earning merit points that you can use to buy good items like evolution stones. This mechanic is unfair for anyone playing offline, since there is no way to recover lost items yourself. 


Let’s start to wrap up with my overall thoughts about this game. I think it’s also good to clarify that I played this game side-by-side with Kat. The extra benefit of playing this alongside someone else is a contributing factor to my enjoyment of the game. We would discover things together and help each other out and it made collecting all the Pokédex entries even more fun since we were kinda going against each other (until the final stretch when we started trading Pokémon that the other one hadn’t found yet). If you are able to play this with someone else, give it a try and see how it goes.

I found this game fun, addictive up to the end, and a true testament that Game Freak can make a good game. They just can’t make a pretty game on current hardware. I honestly feel that the only thing that holds this game back for most people is that the graphics are not “up-to-par” with current standards (whatever that is). For a person like me where graphics don’t make or break a game for me automatically, I’m glad that it didn’t put me off from playing this game. If you are the type who prioritizes graphics and visuals, then you will not have a good time with this game; and there is nothing wrong with that. Is not perfect by all means and could be so much better if it utilized a different engine. As modern gaming continues to evolve, I’m worried that the “fun” factor of a game won’t matter unless it has near perfect reviews and is near flawless in every aspect (almost like it is today). With that, enjoy playing the games you like to play and don’t let someone like me convince you otherwise. 

Backlog Tale – Mario Golf: Super Rush

Mario Golf: Super Rush was a fun game to play for the two weeks I spent playing it. I haven’t played a Mario Golf game since the N64 version. I enjoy that version and the Game Boy Color version as well. Super Rush is easily one of my favorite to control and understand, but I can’t help but to feel that some of the charm has been lost. When I compare this to some of the older Mario sports games in general, I can’t help but to notice the Mushroom Kingdom “charm” feels missing outside of some elements that were paste in. What I’m left with is a fun game that functions great, but doesn’t get me excited with its level design and boring plot to a story mode.

Synopsis

What if golf was Mario Kart?

A Neat Idea That Can Be Frustrating

Despite not liking most sports, I do enjoy them when you add some fun, wacky mechanics to it. To me, it makes the game more interesting when bombs are flying all over the field or you have fun characters to play as. Mario Golf: Super Rush found a way to make golf interesting by adding a new mode called Speed Golf. While I think the real world equivalent would be watching a bunch of golfers take meth and run and scream after they hit their ball, this game gives me a close equivalent to what that would be like. Speed Golf requires you to race to your ball after hitting it down the green and race your opponents to see who can sink their ball the fastest. There are different variations to this mode like just playing normally under a time limit, or earning points based on your placement. It is a fun mode and adds to the crazy chaotic fun that I enjoy in some of my games.

One thing that I don’t like is Cross Country (XC) Golf. This mode in the Adventure Mode let’s you pick which holes you want to go for in any order as long as you do them within the number of strokes. The stage that you play this mode on has a ton of cliffs that you have to send your ball upwards in order to clear. For someone who tried using the recommended methods to get past these obstacles, it made me want to send my controller down the fairway. Even worse, the game times you so you don’t feel like you can get enough time to adjust and figure out the best ways to clear the cliffs. It was aggravating and could completely be my fault for not using the right technique, but nevertheless frustrating.

The other new mode is called Battle Golf. In this mode, you compete against others sink your ball into the required amount of flags before your opponents. This is where the real chaos of Mario Golf: Super Rush comes in as the field is smaller than other maps, but with items being used everywhere and characters using their own abilities to disrupt others, it looks fun. I honestly did not spend much time in this mode, but probably will if I have friends who want to join in.

What is nice to know is that the game will be supported in the future with free updates. I know this goes into the topic of if the game was actually finished to begin with. I too wonder if the developers had more plans with the title but were force to ship it out on release day (more on that in the next section). I like this approach however for a title like this. I don’t see myself playing this every day or develop a routine with it. Giving me a reason to pick the game up once again outside of playing with friends might give me a reason to play this on occasion here and there. For a sports game, I am a little more accepting of picking it up when free updates are sent out (and not spending $60 for the same game with a different roster). If the content is worth it, then I will check it out.

As of the last update, there are 9 courses.

Adventures in Golf Land

I was excited to play the adventure mode since they were my favorite in the Game Boy entries. Adventure mode left me disappointed and honestly where I felt the most content was lacking. I know people want to say that the lack of content comes from the number of courses you can play on, but to me this is where the content was lacking. I felt like I was just going through the motions and not really caring about what was going on in the story. At the beginning it felt like some type of rivalry between you, Charging Chuck, Boo, and Toadette, but they kinda disappeared somewhere in the middle and suddenly I’m teaming up with Wario and Waluigi for “plot.” It also felt unfinished to me at the end where you save Bowser’s Castle, Toad says you can participate in Battle Mode, and then the credits just roll. You do get the ability to use your Mii in Battle Mode at that point, but I just ended up saying whatever at the end and moved on.

The other obvious complaint to adventure mode that I could make is how uncreative the areas and characters are. I know Nintendo is going through this phase of not allowing creative characters in Mario games anymore, but this game really suffered from that choice. Being surrounded by Toads and (Bowser’s) minions makes exploring and talking to them dull since you see them everywhere. I’m not saying that it could have the opposite effect if they were human characters, but making them all look the same and nothing creative about them just makes me uninterested in talking to them. I can see why they wouldn’t let Camelot use their human characters in the game, but if they were uptight about not having non-residents of the Mushroom Kingdom roaming around, then they could have used the next best thing, the Miis! If I’m allowed to run around as a Mii, then they could have easily implemented generic Miis in the adventure mode and make you go against these NPCs with an identity rather than a minion that shares the name of the others.

I can now play as my boi Koopa Troopa!

It’s Golf, but with Speed

This post feels short just because there is not a lot for me to talk about. It’s Mario Golf. You either like Mario Golf or you don’t like it. I enjoy Mario Golf games because they speak to me at my level on how to play golf. I had more fun just playing the regular golf mode with my father-in-law than anything that the adventure mode threw at me. I like some of the stages and characters, and I will most likely play through the new stages and content that come out later. If you like Mario Golf, I can recommend it to you since you will have a good time with this and the new modes that come with it. If you like golf but hate Mario and gimmicks, then you can skip this game a find a cheaper golf game to play. If you hate golf but like Mario, then play any of the other thousands of Mario games. If you hate golf and Mario, then why were you reading this in the first place? I enjoyed playing this for the time that I did, but don’t see myself playing it constantly in my rotation.

Backlog Tale – The World Ends With You: Final Remix

*DISCLAIMER! I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT SPOILERS FOR THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU. THAT IS YOUR DISCLAIMER!*

I remember when I first heard of The World Ends With You. It was this mobile RPG that was ported to the Nintendo DS on April 22, 2008. Published by Square Enix, this weird title utilized a hybrid combat system that required the use of the touch screen and D-pad to get through its challenges. At the time, I was interested in the titles that Square was releasing, but this game never grabbed my attention. It didn’t look like an interesting RPG to me at the time, and I opted out from checking it out for some other game that was probably crappy.

Thirteen years later, I am kicking younger me for not giving this game a chance. I feel like younger Danames would have really enjoyed The World Ends With You at that time of his life. The themes of friendship, change, and acceptance would have made the final years of high school go by with a little more optimistic outlook. Nevertheless, what I experienced from this title left me with a positive experience with the game’s enjoyable story that is full of twists and turns, and short playtime that manages to not waste your time with anything. This is my experience with The World Ends With You.

Synopsis

Hell looks like a mid-2000s Japanese metropolis. Neku Sakabura wakes up in the middle of the Shibuya Crosswalk and amazed that he hasn’t been run over or trampled to death at this point. Like a true anime protagonist, Neku has lost his memories and has no idea what is going on and why people seem to be ignoring him. The only thing that he has going for him is a message and a cool clock tattoo on his hand. Young Neku must learn the rules of this altered Shibuya to survive at the end of seven days. Throughout his journey, he meets people who reluctantly enter his new life and do the young people thing of becoming friends at the end.

The Reaper’s Game

I am going to go ahead and get my biggest complaint out of the way. They turned this DS game into a Wii game for the remaster. In an attempt to keep the original gameplay and feel of the game, the game can only be played with one joycon and by pointing and clicking at the screen. This will be an immediate turn-off for some people. As you can expect, some of the motion actions that you are require to do to activate pins will sometimes not work. This would happen to me constantly with pins where I had to click and drag objects into enemies. Despite clicking the item and trying to drag it, the game would not register it and I would have one less move at my disposal. One saving grace is the option to push a button to realign your pointer to the center of the screen. If you are not position exactly center to your monitor, pushing the realign button will make wherever your joycon is pointing to the new center point. Learning how to abuse this a little bit helped me during some fights as losing my pointer happened constantly. This will not however help you for one of the most annoying minigame that I have ever played in a video game.

Let the hate flow Neku

Fuck Tin Pin Slammer. Fuck the rules, fuck the mechanics, fuck the anime protagonist who wants to be the best Tin Pin Slammer, and fuck the bonus day at the end of the game that revolves around this broken, garbage game. I hate this minigame with a passion and congratulate those with the patience to deal with it. Tin Pin Slammer is a minigame where you take the pins in your collection and use them to knock your opponent’s pins off the table. You can use any pin in your inventory since each come with their own stats for Tin Pin. There are pins however specifically designed for Tin Pin Slammer, so you want to get those if you want to be better at the game. I would argue that that is all pointless since Tin Pin Fuck has terrible controls. This is still a motion control game, so in order to slam your pins, you need to hold a button down and use your joycon to flick your pin into your opponents. The issue obviously is that the joycon can’t register what a simple flick is or you just tossing your pin across the room. Most of my matches ended with my pin going over the edge when I’m just trying to position it. What makes things worse is that you can’t see the entire board; little alone your opponent’s pin until it is close enough to yours. I haven’t gotten to the Tin Pin Slammer part in the DS version, but I imagine that it was easier to control than the unresponsive motion on the Switch. I hated Tin Pin Slammer.

Trust Your Partner

Okay so I had my beef with the motion controls. What kept me engaged with the game? If I were to tell you that this has one of the best stories that modern Square Enix has made, would you believe me? What kept me playing each day in this game was to solve answers that the game was throwing at me. I like to believe that I can see a twist in a story very earlier since some writers like to make the evidence obvious from the get go. I got most of my guesses correct, but I was surprise when the narrative took a new turn that I didn’t predict. It’s simple hooks like this that keep me invested in games and find ways to tolerate difficult controls if the game is short enough to keep me invested.

*SPOILER SECTION* SPOILER SECTION* SPOILER SECTION*

At the end of the game, you come to realize that Neku is not the unexpected hero that the game builds him up for. It turns out, Neku is meant to be the villain and bring about the destruction of Shibuya. Some of the actions that Neku does during his three week tour help lead the world to it’s destruction. Neku is an unwilling pawn in the schemes of the Conductor; who happens to be Joshua.


Early in the game, you are taught to always trust your partner. This is difficult for Neku who sees the value of friendship worthless and more of a hassle than a good thing. This makes him a perfect pawn for the Conductor (Joshua) to use in his own Reaper’s Game with the Composer of the game, Megumi Kitaniji. If Megumi can erase Joshua’s proxy in the allocated time, he can save Shibuya. If Megumi fails, both he and Shibuya will be erased. Joshua chooses Neku for his bleak perspectives of the world and believes that he is incapable of change. Things go to plan, until Neku has to replay the Reaper’s Game in order to save Shiki’s soul. On the seventh day with Shiki, Neku begins to open up the idea of letting people into his life even if they are a stranger. It’s when he has to fight for someone else’s life do we see him more concern for others than himself. Even when he has to team up with Beat in the final week, he finds a way to get along with him and earn each other’s trust. This accumulates at the end where Neku has to make a final choice and it is something Joshua was not expecting.

At the end, Neku has to make the choice of killing Joshua to save Shibuya, or be killed. As much as Neku wants to kill Joshua for everything that he put him through, he can’t find himself to pull the trigger. He instead decides to trust Joshua’s final decision on rather to erase Shibuya or not. Joshua has no hesitations of killing Neku right then and there, but is impressed with Neku’s personal growth over the previous days. Joshua declares himself the loser and revives everyone who has died and restores Shibuya. All of this is heavily implied since the final scenes are Joshua shooting Neku, Neku waking up in the real Shibuya, and all the characters live a happy life together. It is cryptic storytelling, but unlike other Square Enix games (Kingdom Hearts), it is easy to understand the events that transpired. You have all the understanding you need to know all of the character’s motivations and the story wrapped up nicely for a 15-20 hour game. The game offers some explanations in secret reports that you can get in the post game, but they serve as extra explanations in case you are still confused about the story for some reason.

This is what I loved about the game. The characters, plot, and buildup were perfect to me. Every character had a purpose to the story and there isn’t anyone that I hated (maybe except that fucking Tin Pin Slammer kid). I was left wanting more which is rare for a game to make me want. Sure I could play to get all the secret reports, but that would mean I’m playing for the gameplay and not the story that I became invested in. I want a side story where you play as Beat during the second week while he was a reaper. I want to explore Shibuya with Yashiro and Kariya and learn more of their lives before becoming reapers. Hell, I’ll take a math educational game with Minaminoto where his stupid math puns are in full scale. The World Ends With You isn’t one of my favorite games in the gameplay department, but it nails personality and character development for me that I was not expecting at all.

Tell me you wouldn’t play a math game with him

It’s So Wonderful

With everything that I loved and hated about The World Ends With You, there is one thing that was a constant plus, the soundtrack. Takeharu Ishimoto did a fantastic job of combining different genres to match the ascetic of Shibuya in the mid-2000s. There are mixes of solemn tracks with high energy hip-hop that matches the tone of each given situation. My favorite tracks from the game would have to be Hybrid, Someday, Satisfy, and Owari-Hajimari. The entire soundtrack can be found on most streaming services if you want to give it a listen.

At the moment, I am slowly playing through the DS version of the game and comparing the original to the Switch version. Immediately I can already tell you that I have mix feelings about the gameplay. The touch controls work perfectly in the DS version (shocker), but I have a problem keeping up with the different things happening on each screen. You control the characters on the top and bottom screen separately and it can get annoying sometimes. Luckily, you can switch your partner to auto-play and they will take care of themselves. You miss out on building your sync gauge quicker, but it takes some of the pressure off. That’s not to say that I’m breezing through the DS version. I have gotten more game overs just in the first chapter than I did in my entire playthrough on the Switch version. This is mostly because I am not used to your partner having a separate health gauge that I have to keep my eye on. The game looks like you share on health bar, but that is not the case. Once one character’s health reaches zero, then you immediately lose the battle and have to start from the last place you saved until you unlock the “retry battle” option later on. It made me realize that despite having issues with the motion controls, at least I was able to win most of my battles. Also if the final boss and the partner mechanics annoy you like they annoyed me, then change the difficulty level (which you can do at anytime) to easy and mop the floor with him. The final battle is not hard at all if you change the difficulty to easy.

In my playthrough of The World Ends With You: Final Remix, accomplished the following:

  • 1 full playthrough
  • ESPer Rank: Supernatural (D) – I mostly stuck to pins that didn’t give me a headache using
  • Noise Report: 65 (61.9%, B) – Some noise you can only encounter by adjusting the difficulty, which I never went above Normal
  • Item Collection: 134 types (24.6%, D) – I didn’t utilize food effects enough to make getting some clothes worth the effort.
  • ESPer Points: 201 (E) – No idea what ESPer Points are or how to you get them
  • Pin Mastery 28 types (8.6%, E) – Again, I didn’t want to bother with pins that gave me a headache trying to activate.
  • Level When Finished: 30
  • Total Game Time: Around 20 hours

I would highly recommend the story to anyone, but hesitate playing the game if you are not a fan of motion controls. If you do want to watch the story, you can either find it online or watch the anime adaptation of the game. It sticks to the story of the game and is the easiest way to enjoy it without breaking your controller or monitor. I wish I had the motivation to go back and collect everything, but that would involve playing Tin Pin Slammer and I do not have the patience for that.