Hidden Gem: Kirby’s Dream Land 3

With Kirby and the Forgotten Land being a major success, it’s always fun to go back to the franchise’s roots. Kirby has a long history of mostly handheld games, but there are some great console games from way back when! After perusing some Virtual Console games, I found that Kirby’s Dream Land 3 was available on the SNES Virtual Console. I decided to give it a try to get my Kirby fix.

Kirby’s Dream Land 3, which was released in 1997, feels like the real deal. You don’t need to have played the other two Dream Land games to enjoy this one. Planet Popstar is in danger of being overtaken by Dark Matter that can possess any bystanders. You set off as Kirby, but there is also a two-player mode. This allows the second player to join in as Gooey, who is a piece of Dark Matter that is actually friendly. Friendship is an essential theme to Kirby games, so having someone to play with just ups the fun factor.

Not only do you get Gooey as a friend to help you, but there are also additional friends that you can bring along like Coo, Kine, and Rick. If you need to swim, fly, or jump extra high, then you can choose a friend to hook onto for help. Depending on the ability that you have, such as fire, your friends’ abilities will change, too. The possibilities and combos are endless! There are plenty of puzzles to solve with these friends, too. Though the puzzles can be pretty tricky, this is why creating save points is a saving grace of Virtual Console games. Thank you, Nintendo.

Overall, if you’re looking for an impressive and retro game in the Kirby franchise, then this game will more than satisfy. Kirby’s Dream Land 3 really paves the way for future Kirby games, too. It reminded me quite a bit of Kirby: Star Allies, which came out in 2018, and is one of my favorites. There are similar elements of teamwork that you can perform, as well as so many combinations of abilities between players. It’s quite impressive that a game that’s about 20 years old can provide some of the same dynamic gameplay of a future installment. I’m glad I found this game and gave it a chance, and I’m sure you’ll be glad to play it, too!

Guest Author:  Gabrielle Muniz

Why Ghostbusters: The Video Game is Still the Definitive Ghostbusters Game

If you always wanted to see another Ghostbusters movie with the original cast, then Ghostbusters: The Video Game is the perfect supplement. It’s hilarious, has plenty of nods to the movies, features the original music, and is incredibly fun! Here are some reasons why you should invest in this older game to get your ghost-busting fix.

Continues the Story from the Movies

Though originally released in 2009, a remastered version was released in 2019 and is available on most platforms. The game takes place in 1991, and you play as a new recruit who joins the Ghostbusters to investigate paranormal activity in New York. The story is compelling, acting as a direct continuation of the previous adventures. Oh, and Mr. Stay Puft may or may not make an appearance early on in the game. 

Features Most of the Original Cast

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson all returned as the original Ghostbusters, and you can tell that they’re having fun doing it. There are some other surprise roles reprised, as well. These actors know their characters inside and out, so their performances really amplify the original and organic atmosphere that the movies created. It’s a delight to hear them all banter just like the old days.

Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

One of the main charms of the first two Ghostbusters movies was the witty dialogue. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis helped with the script just like they did with the movies. Because of this, you get their in-depth knowledge of the technology, rules, and ins and outs of being a Ghostbuster. They also bring some great level designs, along with new and old ghosts to capture. It all feels pretty seamless with the movies. 

You’ll Actually Get Scared!

Just like Luigi’s Mansion, there are plenty of thrills in this game. When you’re quietly scanning with your PKE Meter and then have some books fly past your head or have a ghost fly out at you, then you’ll jump out of your skin. The designs for the ghosts are pretty chilling, too. Some of the best scares are at the library. Remember that librarian from the first movie? You’ll never forget her now.  

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed may be a fun ride, but the remastered version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is on another level. Get your hands on this instant classic as soon as you can!

Guest Author: Gabrielle Muniz

4 Nintendo Games We Need on NES Virtual Console

4 Nintendo Games We Need on NES Virtual Console

When you’re dry on new, innovative games to play, why not go back to the old 8-bit days with the NES Virtual Console? Here are 4 games that Nintendo should make playable ASAP.

1. Tetris (1989)

Tetris is one of the most iconic puzzle games that can stand the test of time. As you move multi-shaped blocks to fit together in a perfect line, the speed that they fall increases. This ups the difficulty, but it’s so addicting that you can’t stop trying. This game has gotten many different variations over the years, including the addicting Tetris 100, but the original is still the best.

2. World Cup (1990)

This may seem like an otherwise simple soccer game, but World Cup must not be underestimated for its fun value. You can play with a friend and control some of the cutest 8-bit characters in any game. However, this game can be incredibly difficult. I definitely cried a few times playing it as a kid. The most entertaining element is the super shot ability, where you can give the soccer ball a powerful kick that goes directly into the goal. Watching your opponents get smashed by the balls and fly in the air is hilarious and satisfying. 

3. Wizards and Warriors (1987)

Not only does Wizards and Warriors have one of the greatest soundtracks of the NES games, it’s also a great action game. You play as a knight who goes on a quest to save a princess from an evil wizard. However, much like Castlevania, you get all sorts of items and weapons that 

can help you on your journey. It’s a whimsical and magical game that provides you with all sorts of secrets for a satisfying adventure.

4. Maniac Mansion (1987)

Talk about great soundtracks! This game is a funky and comical adventure game. Its storyline deals with rescuing a teenage boy’s girlfriend from a mad scientist. You get to play as three teenagers who search through the scientist’s mansion to find a way to save the girl. This is basically a point-and-click game, but you can use different items and abilities to uncover more secrets. Also, you can get different endings based on your choices.   

Nintendo offers some great games on the Virtual Console, but these are wonderful blasts from the past for me that can be enjoyable and new adventures for you!

Guest Author: Gabrielle Muniz

7 Video Game Franchises with Epic Soundtracks

7 Video Game Franchises with Epic Soundtracks

What makes a great game even better? The music! Here are some beloved franchises that contain unforgettable soundtracks.

1. Final Fantasy

Every Final Fantasy game has memorable music. It’s just a fact. Even from the beginning, the music had an orchestral sound that really immerses you into the world of magic and mystery. It’s always an incredible experience, even if the graphics vary in impressiveness.

2. Zelda

Zelda music perfectly encompasses adventure on a grand scale with mystical beings and great battles. It’s whimsical enough to perfectly characterize such a magical world. With over 30 years of games, the Zelda franchise is still going strong, as Breath of the Wild features a wonderful soundtrack. 

3. Mario

Just about every song in a Mario game is recognizable and iconic. These unforgettable tunes can be upbeat and fun, like in Mario Kart or Super Mario Bros. 3. However, Super Mario Galaxy provides truly epic works of art that could be played in symphony orchestra concerts. No one would question it.

4. Persona

Persona doesn’t have just one sound; it has many. Its funky, off-beat sound is a little bit disco, a little bit rock, and everything in between. There’s definitely something for everyone in these games.

5. Streets of Rage

If you haven’t heard music from Streets of Rage, then be prepared to jam out for hours. These games have some of the most danceable songs that sound like they’re straight from an 80’s action movie. It’s perfect for beating down some baddies with a friend.

6. Medal of Honor

You could put this music in a movie and no one would know the difference. In every Medal of Honor game, the music is pure cinema. Composer Michael Giacchino pens the soundtracks as if they are war movies, and you may just shed a tear. 

7. Tetris

From the beginning, the NES version of Tetris had only three options of music, but I could listen to them all for hours. Now, you can get lost in the music featured in Tetris Effect, as the game features ambient, synth music that is hypnotic to listen to.

You already spend hours of your time playing video games. Why not have some great tunes to listen to while you’re at it? These franchises will definitely keep your attention.

Guest Author: Gabrielle Muniz

Health Benefits of Gaming

We may have all been told that playing video games will just “rot your brain” or “will waste your life.” Who needs that kind of negativity when you’re trying to beat Sifu, right? Lucky for us, studies are revealing many psychological, intellectual, and social benefits of playing video games. Here are just a few ways that gaming can improve your overall well-being. 

Improve Cognitive Skills

There’s an unfair stigma against video games that they only promote violence. However, studies show that video games, primarily shooting games, improve cognitive skills. These skills include overall information processing, such as languages, visuals, and overall problem-solving skills. A study of 2,000 children playing video games for three hours a day showed that they had faster cognitive skills than children who didn’t play. You exercise your brain quite a bit when you’re playing Call of Duty. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Promote Emotional Regulation and Processing

Though many people suffer from gamers’ rage, studies actually show that gaming can improve overall emotional regulation. For example, video games can help the brain to process positive emotions, such as joy, more quickly. Also, some games can be frustrating, but losing a game doesn’t have any real negative outcome in life, so the brain can better process accepting these losses. As a result, the gamer can try again and problem-solve until finally beating the level, which is an attitude that can combat depression and lead to an overall positive outlook. 

Create Social Connections

We’re not all anti-social loners. Gaming, whether in person or online, can lead to some amazing friendships. Studies show that gamers can have equally healthy friendships as those who don’t game. Collaborating with others to defeat a boss or finish a level can encourage overall altruistic or social actions towards others in one’s day-to-day life. Personally, I feel invigorated, engaged, and excited when I talk to other people about gaming. It also feels great to help others in online gaming. If you need to be resuscitated in TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, then I’m your turtle.

There are definitely some games that will challenge your brain more than others, but overall, gaming is definitely not a no-brainer. By relaxing, having fun, and focusing as much as possible, gaming can actually enhance your life, not hinder it. Take that, haters.

Guest Author:  Gabrielle Muniz

Elden Ring is One of FromSoft’s Worst Titles Yet

Littered throughout the many incredible titles that FromSoft is responsible for, one can find a myriad of issues. Even in what many call their best, Dark Souls 1, a newbie might find that the standard of boss difficulty employed is lacking. Or, in Dark Souls 2’s case, the game is strikingly flawed from the ground up. Dark Souls 3 might be a little too linear, while Serkiro might lack in the roleplaying department. All of this to say that, despite the quality these titles possess (yes, even Dark Souls 2’s quality), they also are riddles with flaws that might hinder the gaming experience in one way or another. 

When it comes to Elden Ring, there’s a glaring flaw embedded deep within its design that is unseen to the naked eye, Youtube videos detailing various builds, and every other generic review to date: The game disrespects the player. 

Even with Dark Souls 2, one could argue that the clunky controls and highly experimental gameplay mechanics were issues of poor craftsmanship and not a matter of laziness. Elden Ring has no such luxury when it comes to the excuses one can dull out: the game is well crafted on a technical level, plain and simple. Maybe it isn’t as well crafted as Dark Souls 3, but it’s fairly close, and one look at the consistency observed in its control scheme and mechanics will tell the player that, yes, the talent on deck for this game’s development is top tier. 

So, then, it naturally follows that any criticisms made of the game cannot be tossed out as a “skill issue” on the part of the developers. Anything that is wrong with the game, is wrong because of a fundamental stylistic choice or, in much of Elden Ring’s case, laziness. 

Let’s start with the most obvious glaring issue: the boss design. In many, many cases, the bosses in Elden Ring have HP bars the size of Europe and feature mechanics that are widely considered unfair if not outright impossible to outplay other than tanking and outhealing. The most famous of these examples can be seen with Waterfowl Dance, which is a move employed by Malenia. This move is not only next to impossible to dodge without extreme preparation (staying out of the fight altogether), but also asks the player to learn how to avoid it by either googling the correct moveset or by dying repeatedly to achieve a ungodly level of experimentation. For an experienced player, this moveset is unfair and annoying, but to a player who hasn’t even seen or beaten Malenia before, this move is downright insulting. 

This problem was so bad with some bosses that FromSoft are still digging in deep trying to fix them with alterations to their numbers to help balance out the problem. All the same, at the core of Elden Ring’s difficulty is a design choice that opts for borderline impossible challenges for a blind runthrough matched with high HP bars to force the player into meta gaming and grinding out levels to achieve god-like status before undertaking the challenge. 

This problem is bad enough on its own, but when the player eventually realizes that they will be fighting many of these bosses multiple times in a single playthrough, it multiplies over on top of itself. In what world is Elden Rings copy and paste template worthy of player respect? Make no mistake, copy and pasting enemies in FromSoft games is nothing new, but at least in previous titles, this design choice made sense. In Dark Souls 1, the demon bosses at the beginning of the game could be found again in literal hell. Perhaps it felt lazy seeing their assets sprawled out over this area over and over again, but at least it made sense for them to be there. In Elden Ring’s case, enemies will be found time and again in various areas regardless of lore. And this problem extends to enemies and bosses that aren’t just small fries. Godrick The Grafted, one of Elden Ring’s most iconic bosses AND a shardbearer can be found again at another instanced evergaol, albeit under a different name. The fact that Godrick himself isn’t immune to this type of asset sprawling shows just how deep into the barrel FromSoft was to meet what is dubbed the “boss quota” for the game. The boss quota simply being the number of bosses each area needs to have for advertising purposes and flesh out their empty world building. 

Elden Ring sports a ton of bosses, yes, but it also repeats many of those bosses so many times that the game experience feels less like an adventure of magnitude and more like a chore of repetition. Combine that with the boss design of huge HP bars and ridiculous mechanics and what a player is left with is a ton of time wasting, which brings us to the ultimate point of this article. 

Elden Ring wastes the player’s time. The game is designed around making the average player grind out levels to have reasonable access to victory. The game’s bosses are designed around the player having to sacrifice time in experimenting not with a huge number of possible solutions, but with a huge number of wrong answers and a minor number of correct ones. The game also needlessly wastes the players time with copy and pasted bosses to flesh out an otherwise empty and soulless world, excuse the pun. Again, these are aspects of the game that simply waste the player’s time, or, in other words, disrespect the player base as a whole. 

In surprising fashion, the game has been well received. There’s no argument to be made on that front: Commercially, Elden Ring is a massive success. That said, there’s every reason to believe that the game simply won’t age well once people manage to get a good look at it and, subsequently, boil it down to its essence. Almost everything that can be said about the game that’s positive (and there are positives) are found on the surface level. Deeper digging into the game’s design leads a player to find that, ultimately, Elden Ring is not only problematically designed from a gameplay perspective, but also only feels as big as it does because it repeats itself so many times over. 

Poor balancing, repeated content, unfair design, and a huge amount of time spent simply traversing an empty (and yet somehow bloated) world, Elden Ring only delivers on one thing consistently: wasting the player’s time. That cannot be said for any other FromSoftware title since the creation of Dark Souls 1 and, even when faced against the disaster that was Dark Souls 2, Elden Ring manages to arguably become the worst game FromSoftware has put out in their Souls-Like lineup.

Guest Author: Everett Zarnick