The King of Video Games
The King’s Decrees

I got to the 9th key on my Hallmark Pac-Man Christmas ornament…        

The Princess is in my Castle…

When I go to the arcade, games pay me to play them…

I am the “you” Nintendo refers to by Wii “U”…

I once beat every game at Chuck E. Cheese with a single token…

I’ve been beating video games since my mamma was a baby…

The King does what Nintendon’t…

I don’t get Pac-Man fever, Pac-Man gets “the King” fever…

My thumbs are insured for $1,000,000 by Lloyd’s of London…

Whenever video games blow out candles on their birthday cake, they wish that they could beat me… 

As soon as I pull into Funspot’s parking lot, the employees begin screaming, “There’s a Donkey Kong kill screen coming up!”…

I relax by playing 4 player death matches in Goldeneye 64 against myself…

A winner is me…

Mr. Game and Watch asks me for the time…

The first time I played Golden Tee, I got a hole in one on every hole…

I have a 4DS…

I jumped so high on Konami’s Track & Field high jump event that I knocked a bird out of the sky… 

Contra, Moon Patrol, and Dig Dug are all based on my life…

Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower were afraid to come to the USA ‘cause they knew I would beat them… Earthbound 2 is still afraid

I had to register my Dualshock 3 as a lethal weapon…

Geometry raised the white flag and surrendered to me…

Madden NFL waits outside my house until midnight on release day…

Every Labor Day I give video games time off, from getting beaten by me…

Video Games New Year’s resolution? To stop getting beat by me… It doesn’t even last one day

I play videogames better than “Flynn”ybody…

I have been declared “President for life” of Donkey Kong Country

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Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of the original Donkey Kong Country. While the series may not be the as prolific a franchise as it once was in Nintendo’s arsenal, the fact that Retro Studios has been given the reigns indicates that the Big N is taking the old ape seriously… Perhaps a bit too seriously.

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              DKCTF Looks good, like a Donkey Kong Game should

Nearly 2 decades ago Donkey Kong Country hit the videogame world like a ton of bananas. I vividly recall the display monitors in the local Software etc. running the game on a loop. It was leaps and bounds beyond anything anyone had ever seen, either on a home system or an arcade. Matter of fact, the only other event I can compare it to would be the release of Dragon’s Lair. Both games redefined our expectations as to what a game should look like. To this day I maintain that the original Donkey Kong Country is one of the best looking video games ever released. In an earlier era the people at Rare would have been tried for witchcraft, having somehow turned the Super Nintendo into a machine capable of sorcery and magic. Today, rightfully so, the franchise belongs to Nintendo’s current wizards at Retro Studios. Their track record is growing stronger with each release. Metroid, Mario Kart, and Donkey Kong Country, have each benefited by spending time brewing in their caldron.

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            “Kong Pow” is one of the handful of new moves in DKCTF

How does it look? Simply put- great. The game does not disappoint when it comes to visuals and does a good job continuing the tradition of great graphics in the franchise. Matter of fact, Donkey Kong’s fur finally reaches the “realism” we were promised years ago in early images of Crash Bandicoot on the PS2 and XBOX. The level designs are clever and highly interactive, too. The game manages to break the fourth wall a bit for all of us caught in the polar vortex. There is a unique satisfaction in battling back the forces of winter in order to maintain a jungle paradise.

How does it sound? This is a touchy area. The original DKC has a soundtrack that is beloved as much as those from Super Mario Bros. and Zelda. Although Retro Studios can readily make a game that looks better than it predecessors (due to advancements in technology), music is another art form. The music in DKCTF holds up but don’t expect anyone to put it in the same regard as the first game.

How does it play? Retro Studios took a lot of flack over the control scheme in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Some complained about the “Wii waggle” and longed for more options. Unlike  these critics, I had no qualms about the control. Nevertheless, Retro Studios listened to the critics and there are a multitude of options in DKCTF. Personally, I preferred the Wii U Pro Controller. But be warned- if using the Gamepad or Pro Controller, you may begin to take a shine for the “shake to get DK to roll” option provided by the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Perhaps, not enough to get you to make the switch but enough to make you understand why it works.

It must be said that this game reminds us of what “Nintendo Hard” really is… We may have had a small taste of it in recent titles like NES Remix and Super Mario 3D World but DKCTF is difficult enough to make even Cranky Kong run for the tissue box. Be prepared to die a lot. Be prepared to miss completing bonus levels by either one banana, one second, or both. Be prepared for trial and error gaming. Be prepared to redo levels over and over for the sake of completion. Be prepared to believe you have discovered some great secret in the game only to be rewarded with a single banana. DKCTF is “Nintendo Hard.”

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   “Checkpoint Pig” is back. I hope he will be in the new Smash Bros. too.

Bottom Line: Not  striving to be the breakthrough that the original DKC was (but could any game ever duplicate that feat?), DKCTF plays it cool this time around. Yes, it is a great game, but when compared to the revolution that was Super Mario 3D World it comes off just a bit too safe. I realize we are talking about two different franchises but the shadow of SM3DW is going to loom large over every WII U game for quite some time. However, Donkey Kong fans will not be let down and that it the most important thing.

One final note- The load times in DKCTF can be quite long at various times. So long that I nearly reset the console a few times. If experiencing a long load time, let it ride.

8/10- Thus saith the King.

 

Review- NES Remix (Wii U)

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Nintendo has been full of surprises this year. The much delayed (and criminally overlooked) digital release of Earthbound may have been the biggest eShop shocker… until today. Fresh off its Nintendo Direct introduction, NES Remix became available for purchase. What is it? Is it any good? Let’s find out…

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                                      Old dogs can learn new tricks

Comparisons between NES Remix and the Warioware series are bound to be made. But to be honest, such comparisons do not do justice to either game. NES Remix does have bite sized moments but they serve a greater purpose that is revealed as you play through the game. Matter of fact, playing the game not only reminds you of Warioware but also Pacman Championship Edition, Galaga Legions, and Frogger Returns. The games in NES Remix are more than a new backdrop (such as the “arranged” versions of Namco classics) they present new ways to play old games. Fortunately most of the titles represented in NES Remix are strong enough to make a great foundation for this new venture. The lesser-loved titles manage to get new life, too.

How does it look? Most of the titles represented in this game are timeless classics. They are presented in all their 8bit glory that is so well known and loved. The only additions to the graphics are some shadow and color effects in the remix modes, a few on screen hints, and border artwork. Otherwise, even the menu screens are simplistic and colorful. The game looks excellent on the Gamepad, even better than on an HDTV (much like the NES eShop offerings).

How does it sound? Just like it should. The original music, blips, and beeps are all intact. Even the “boxing bell” sounds at the start and finish of each level fits well and sets the atmosphere perfectly.

How does it play? Like Nintendo took every suggestion they ever received in Nintendo Power’s mailbag and put them in this game. Basically, you have game specific challenges presented at a rapid pace. For instance, you will be asked to squash a certain number of Goombas in Super Mario Bros. or jump x number of barrels on Donkey Kong. Most stages culminate in a challenge to “clear the board.” Successfully completing each challenge opens up new games, remix levels (think longer challenges with crazy plot twists), and in game stickers. Considering the very premise of the game seems birthed in after-school one-upsmanship, the stickers will certainly make for great Miiverse fodder. Control is well done and the addictive nature of the game will have you coming back for more.

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It is the videogame equivalent of Crunch Berries “Oops All Berries” cereal

Bottom Line: It’s as though someone at Nintendo was playing the excellent Retro Game Challenge on their DS and thought, “Hey we could do this.” This is the Nintendo I grew up with. This game reminds us of what the Big N can do when at its creative finest. NES remix is only 15 bucks and the perfect way to spend your Christmas vacation. Oh, and the top of my Christmas list for next year now officially reads ”SNES Remix”… Bring it!

10/10- Thus saith the King

Review- Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

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Due to Nintendo’s somewhat confusing practice of using similar names for their consoles and games (I still think they should have named the Wii U the “Future Nintendo”) we need to set the record straight right off the bat. Super Mario 3D World is not a port of the 3DS’ Super Mario 3D Land. In fact, it is a completely new title and one which fits quite nicely into the “Mario Universe Canon.” New powerups, enemies, levels, and playable characters merely scratch the surface of all that is introduced in this excellent videogame. 

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 For better or worse, the catsuit is destined to become a cosplay mainstay

There once was a time when Mario games were killer apps, system sellers, industry innovators, and primary sources for ammunition in the console wars. Ladies and gentlemen, that time has come again. SM3DW is by far the best videogame I have played in several years. Matter of fact, it has reminded me of what a great videogame is supposed to be.

How does it look? When Nintendo “gets it right,” something almost magical happens. The best way I can describe it is that even the characters in the game seem to enjoy their new digs (think about Bowser in the final battle of Super Mario 64, the Super FX Chip morphing enemies in Yoshi’s Island,  and the Koppalings in SMB3). Well, every object in this game breathes that magical personality… just the right amount mind you, never over the top. If you are a long time Mario fan, think of this game’s visuals advancing from Super Mario Galaxy in the same terms as you would the leap from Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario World and Super Mario World to Super Mario 64. For those who want to talk “next-gen” graphics; I assure you, I have spent extensive time with the PS4 and XBOX one and there is nothing on either of those consoles that compares to this beauty. The game is breathtaking… period.

How does it sound? Music has always been a highlight of the Mario series and Nintendo has managed to up the ante in this game. The soundtrack is eclectic and original. It helps to calm the nerves during the more difficult stages when there is sweet jazzy goodness pouring out of your speakers. If there was a Grammy award for “Best Video Game Soundtrack” (and for crying out loud why isn’t there?) both this game and A Link Between Worlds would be nominated.

How Does it Play? You can use any controller from the Wii or Wii U. It may take a bit to get acclimated to jumping on target in the “3D realm” but once you get the hang of it, you’re good to go. A few single player stages require the Gamepad (as does posting in the Miiverse). Personally, I found the Pro Controller to be the most comfortable option.

The multiplayer is great and people can drop in and out at any time. Although players must be local, there is extensive use of the Miiverse in the game. Ghost Mii’s, comments, artwork, and helpful hints abound every step of the way. The combination of multiplayer and Nintendo Network features present in this game fuel the fire for my long awaited “dream game.” I wish to play as a Thwomp in an online Mario game. Doing nothing more than crushing passersby all day long.

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                      Mario has aged much better than any one of us

Bottom line- There has been a lot of lip-jackin’ about Nintendo since the release of the Wii U last year. Now they have made what could be the best Mario game ever. This game is a killer app and a system seller. Anyone who plays it will want a Wii U.

11/10- Thus saith the King

Review- Knack (PS4)

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Launch titles tend to be a precarious lot. The “killer apps” blow us away and instantly justify the several hundreds of dollars invested in a new console, accessories, and games (think of Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast, Super Mario 64 on the N64, Halo on the XBOX, and Castlevania Circle of the Moon on the Gameboy Advance). Other launch titles have left much to be desired and perhaps even been the cause of buyer’s remorse in many gamer’s consciences (Fantavision on the PS2, Altered Beast on the Genesis, and Steel Diver on the 3DS come to mind). So where does Knack fall on the spectrum of launch title history? Not quite on either extreme but most certainly closer to the “killer app” end of the scale.

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                  Knack’s appearance reminds me of Clockwork Knight

                        (kudos to those of you who got that reference).

We’ve been getting Knack news for about as long as we’ve gotten PS4 news and for good reason; Both have been developed by the mind of Mark Cerny. Any longtime gamer will instantly recognize Cerny’s signatures in Knack… it sounds a little like Crash Bandicoot, looks somewhat like Sonic 2, and plays a lot like Spyro (this list could go on and on). Cerny’s resume is indeed impressive and while Knack might not be the pinnacle of his work, it is a worthy addition to it.

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                                       In Knacktion (I couldn’t resist)

How does it look? Knack isn’t going to blow you away visually. Matter of fact, I found myself searching for eye candy that would not be possible on the PS3 and was hard pressed to find anything that definitively signified “next-gen.” However, that is not to say that Knack is a bad looking game, it is just not revolutionary in the graphics department. Brightly colored, well animated, and often beautiful, the game’s visuals manage to serve their purpose just fine. The overall look of the game reminded me of Kameo on the XBOX 360. The main character (fittingly named “Knack”) reminded me of Sackboy… he even has an eerily similar running animation in the corner of the screen while the game loads.

How does it sound? It sounds like a Mark Cerny game. The music fits each stage quite well and the sound effects do a ham and egger’s job throughout. The cut-scenes have decent voiceovers and although it is a bit startling to hear Knack speak at first you get used to his voice quickly.

How does it play? Like a typical 3D platformer. Knack doesn’t really cover any new ground as far as gameplay sans one thing- there is no player control over the camera and it ACTUALLY WORKS! It was off-putting at first to not be able to flick the right stick to adjust the camera (the right stick is used for dodging) but I soon noticed how well the camera operated on its own.

The levels are predominantly linear but consistently fun and that is what really matters. In-game combat takes a page from the Batman: Arkham games and works very well. The game is not easy so be prepared to die often. Fortunately, there is no limit on lives and there are frequent auto-save checkpoints.

Bottom line: In the midst of the PS4’s launch titles, Knack sticks out like a 50 foot robot/thing (or whatever he is). Unpretentious, fun, and overall pretty cool- Knack is the game you’ll find yourself coming back to. Also, on a personal note, Knack deserves some sort of style points for being the first game I have ever opened that did not come with an instruction manual. Nor did it have a clumsy tutorial when you first boot up the game.

Knack is a nostalgic throwback to the games of yesteryear. It may not have the magic of Super Mario Bros. 3 but it beats the slacks off Gex.  

9/10- Thus Saith the King.

Review- Batman: Arkham Origins (Wii U)

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Click link to see the King’s decree @ wiiuonly.com http://www.wiiuonly.com/2013/11/review-batman-arkham-origins-wii-u.html#more

Review- Madden 25 (PS3)

In years such as 2013 Madden fans find themselves caught in a conundrum. We all know that when our favorite (and only) football game is released the same year as a new console, it is difficult to decide whether to wait a couple months for the newest edition or go with old faithful. In light of this dilemma EA has put forth two key incentives to sweeten the pot on the current generation edition; the ability to transfer data from this gen to the next and an exclusive anniversary edition (available only at Amazon.com) which includes a subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket. 

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Although previous editions have been released early in the month, the last 3 years indicate that Maddenoliday will be celebrated in late August.


Madden 25 will probably be experienced ala carte by a vast majority of players. There are so many modes and options available that only the most dedicated fan will try them all. The amount of content in the menu screen initially makes for tedious navigation as you hunt for the modes you prefer. Here’s hoping that the data transfer to the new consoles streamlines this process. Otherwise anyone who buys both versions will have to dedicate another 1-2 hours to get set up. By the way, how about EA Sports finally allowing us to transfer data from year to year? I am weary to consider how much of my life I have spent creating players and such over the past 2 decades. Another thing- all of us who have bought yearly installments of Madden Football have spent over $1300.00 on this franchise alone… ouch!

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How did we celebrate 15 years of Madden in 2004 and now 25 years of Madden in 2013? The King senses fuzzy math…


How does it look? Pretty much the same as Madden 11,12, and 13. The players are well animated and some of them have on field actions that accurately mimic their real life counterparts. The stadium crowds still leave much to be desired and the coaches and announcers are still a Lewis and Clark expedition away from the uncanny valley. My biggest gripe is the lack of an option to adjust the camera. What used to be a staple in the franchise has vanished.

How does it sound? Pretty much the same as Madden 12. Same TV crew doing a decent job and well synced to the onscreen action. 

How does it play? Pretty much the same as any other Madden Football game. However, the controls do seem a bit sluggish this year. Perhaps that is due to some of the new right stick features or the fact that the game itself moves differently. Overall is is passable but lacks the tightness we have felt in other editions. 

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You’ll see screenshots and fun facts from Madden history during the loading screens. Here’s Barry Sanders bustin’ loose in the 90’s


Bottom line- At this point, even die hard Madden fans have got to be wondering if any sort of competition in the marketplace would help advance this franchise. As sure as the leaves will turn each year Madden will be released and the same reviewers will go gaga over it. I tell you the truth- this year’s edition is not different enough to be worth $60.00 on its own. Of course we do have a unique situation with Madden 25 as many of us forked over the extra $40.00 to get NFL Sunday Ticket. Unfortunately, I can’t review that feature because it begins Sept. 8. There were many questions floating around online as to how it would work and I see that Amazon.com has sent out a tutorial email today to help answer these questions. We will have to wait and see if Madden 25 earns its keep. 

5/10- Thus Saith the King

Review- Pikmin 3 (Wii U)

Nintendo and its fan-base are certainly banking a lot on Pikmin 3. The big N’s newest home console’s tribulations are no secret and Pikmin 3 starts off what looks to be a great season of exclusive titles (e.g. The Wonderful 101, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Sonic Lost World, and Windwaker HD). Each one is seemingly strong enough to be a “killer app.” Here’s hoping that all of the other upcoming exclusive titles will live up to the hype/hope as well as Pikmin 3. 

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         Pikmin may be the most loyal video game characters ever created. 

Pikmin has always been a niche series; However, the mixture of laid back (yet strenuously timed) gameplay, imaginative (yet eerily familiar) worlds, and quirky (yet somehow believable) characters has managed to develop a passionate group of fans. Up to this point they have been split between those who love Pikmin and those who prefer Pikmin 2 but it is quite possible Pikmin 3 will become the favorite of the entire fan-base. Because, in typical Nintendo style, the game remains true to its roots but has just enough tweaks in the finished product to set it apart from its predecessors in a positive way. 

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           The Wii U Gamepad is cleverly used as a communication device. 

How does it look? The graphics have been lauded ever since the first preview screen shots surfaced months ago and rightly so. The game looks great and retains the magic fans have come to expect from the series. The phrase “Pixar quality" used to be bantered about quite a bit in reference to great video game graphics. While Pikmin 3 does not look like a specific Pixar movie, it does look as good as any of them. There were several times during my play-through that my 2 year old son (The Prince of Video Games) simply exclaimed, “Wow!” If that’s not a ringing endorsement for the visuals, I don’t know what is. Note to fans- the graphical leap from Pikmin 2 to Pikmin 3 is considerably more noticeable than what we saw from New Super Mario Bros. Wii to New Super Mario Bros. U. Granted, Pikmin is also skipping a generation of consoles but the visual improvement is stunning nonetheless. This game undoubtedly brings us closer to the imaginative visions Mr. Miyamoto has in his head whenever he peers into his garden. 

How does it sound? Like a great movie soundtrack the music fits perfectly and is only noticed when it should be. The sound effects are spacey and cool. There is also a good mix between the sounds from the console and the Gamepad (make sure you have the volume up). 

How does it play? If you have played the previous games you will be able to jump right in. You control a variety of Pikmin to do a variety of specific tasks all in the name of survival. The Gamepad is always used as a map and communicator but does not have to be the main controller. I found the best control option to be with a Wii Remote and NunchuckThis entry does have a bit more to the story-line than the previous two (I will not reveal more to avoid spoilers). The main story mode is single player, mission mode is for 1 or 2 players, and battle bingo is 2 player only. There are no online features outside of Spotpass.

Bottom Line- Pikmin 3 is a killer app for the Wii U simply due to the dearth of games that have been released thus far. Plus, the fact that many stores around me sold out of pre-orders means that it will sell plenty. Fortunately  the game is darn good and the most accessible and engaging title in the series. It is the best summer release on a Nintendo console since Banjo- Kazooie came out in June 1998. 

9/10- Thus Saith the King

The Best Music Videos of All Time; Because they have video Games in them.

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Video games and music videos seemed to come of age together in the 1980’s as both sought to reach the same target market. Fortunately for us, we have evidence of this symbiotic relationship readily available today. The music videos that made this list have video games in them not a just a video game theme. Therefore, although Kylie Minogue’s “Pac Man band” video is super cool it does not meet the criteria for our list… 

Wet your whistle with this honorable mention by The Toons (I guess when the director told them play “air video games” the singers confused it with “air pinball”)

Click to watch the world’s oldest junior highschoolers in action

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwjuPM1MEgQ

See the top 5 after the jump

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