I'd played some of the Lego games almost a decade ago with my nephew, and even at that time I didn't find much to really interest me. I thought I should give them a closer look, though, so I started with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Wii. This is actually a compilation of the first two Lego video games, Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, which covers episodes I through III, and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, which covers episodes IV through VI. The Wikipedia entry on the Wii game has a lot of info on what that version adds compared to the originals.

I'm not a fan of the Star Wars movies by any stretch, but I remember enough of episode I and I had rewatched episode IV not too long ago, so I focused my time on those parts of the game. The gameplay is very simple and family friendly: you're mostly just wandering around 3D stages doing some simple platforming and combat and some simple push blocks/stand on switches types of puzzles. There's drop in and out co-op and there are no game overs; if you lose a life you're only penalized by losing studs, the game's currency that is mostly used for unlocking extra characters, etc.

The game has a ton of characters, most of whom are pretty useless. The characters fall into distinct groups based on their abilities. For example, Jedis can use "The Force" to move things around, whereas some characters can jump higher or use grappling hooks. Characters of the same type are completely interchangeable, so in free play mode (available for any level you've beaten in story mode) once you've unlocked at least one of each type, using another of the same type is purely based on your aesthetic preference. The game switches things up with some vehicles or animals you can hop into or onto, and there are also some vehicle-only segments.

It's easy to breeze through the episodes pretty quickly, but going back to find all the collectibles (ten in each stage) would definitely take some time. Each stage also has a "challenge" mode where you're given a time limit to track down ten other collectibles to complete the stage. The game is pretty mindless, and tracking down all the collectibles seems more a matter of time rather than effort. The graphics look pretty mediocre even for a Gamecube ported to Wii game, and although I'm sure Star Wars fans love the soundtrack, I found it to be pretty forgettable. Also, the series has been lauded for its sense of humor. The game features wordless cutscenes, but I found the humor to be the most basic type of slapstick that only young kids would really love, e.g. someone falling on a banana peel, or whatever the Star Wars  equivalent would be.

Well, I guess that's about it for Lego Star Wars. It's a decent game for kids, but otherwise doesn't do anything particularly well (or particularly badly). It seems the developers have been churning out Lego video games at a steady pace, but from what I've seen the series has been very slow to evolve. Being a Marvel fan I'll probably check out Lego: Marvel Super Heroes, and Lego City: Undercover got good reviews so I'll be checking that out as well... eventually!

As a Nintendo fanboy, my Xbox 360 seems to sit around just in order to gather dust. I finally gave it some attention by spending some time with Pac-Man Championship Edition, the much-acclaimed Xbox Live Arcade release (later ported to many other platforms). I played it via a nice, cheap option, which is the Xbox Live Arcade compilation disc, although apparently it's available in several other compilations as well such as one called Pac-Man Museum and Namco Museum Virtual Arcade

Anyway, according to Wikipedia I wasn't the only person who was motivated to get a 360 just to play this game, as apparently it spurred sales of the console in Japan when it was announced. It had been a while since I'd played a Pac-Man game, but it was easy to get back into the groove. The game turns out to be pretty fun, and a fresh, modern (well, at the time of its release in 2007, ten years ago) take on the beloved Pac-Man formula. The game features a neon and techno aesthetic, and has you bouncing back and forth between the left and right sides of the board as they refresh with new layouts every time you complete the opposite side (and grab the fruit). It's a great twist, and there's some amount of strategy in deciding which side to complete as some sides end up having a lot of power pellets and others none.

All the modes are timed score attack modes (5 minutes or 10 minutes), which keeps things short and sweet. The alternate modes for the most part just change the layouts, although there is one mode where you can only see the board in your near vicinity. This mode is novel, but ends up being annoying, as it slows down the speed of the gameplay, although I suppose some people will enjoy memorizing the various board layouts. Also, can I just say how annoying the Xbox 360's controller is? Its D-pad is awful, and I can't believe it was designed this way on purpose. I ended up using the analog stick, which wasn't suited to this game at all. Ugh!

Aside from the controller issues, overall I enjoyed my time with Pac-Man C.E., and I didn't mind that unlocking all twelve achievements is pretty easy. The biggest drawback is that all the modes are pretty much the same, but it's a very arcade-y type of game, so it's geared towards people who are into chasing the highest possible score (and want to see their name on the online leaderboards). I actually already have its follow-up, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+, which looks like more of an update than its name would imply. Not sure when I'll get around to it, but it looks like it may be even better than its predecessor.

I'm finally posting about a new stint I've started, moonlighting as a contributor to the blog A Most Agreeable Pastime. I'd been a fan of the authors' previous blog, called 101 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better (I'm such a sucker for a list!), so I'm happy to be contributing to their follow-up blog.

I've been neglecting ye olde IVGA blog, but not because of my extracurricular activities. My plan is to keep my contributions to A Most Agreeable Pastime focused on collaboration articles and group discussions, and continue posting my reviews to this blog. I've been playing some longer games and pouring way too many hours into Fire Emblem Heroes, which is why I haven't posted recently, but hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a quick game within the next couple of days.

In the meantime you can check out the first four (!) posts I've written/contributed to over at A Most Agreeable Pastime (not to mention a contributor bio). Here they are (in chronological order):
- The Top Ten Wii U Games
- E3 2017 hopes and dreams
- My E3 cheers and boos so far
- 5 memorable bits from E3 2017

Note that I won't be cross-posting in general, so if you want to hang onto my every word, you should probably subscribe to that blog's feed or follow its Twitter account. Happy reading!

I've been slooooowly working my way through the fighting game canon, and I was long overdue for a bout with the original Tekken by Namco for PlayStation. Apparently the series is one of the best-selling fighting game series, according to Wikipedia anyway.

I like the Street Fighter games in general, but I had really disliked the Virtua Fighter game I'd played a while back. For me Tekken fell somewhere in the middle. I like that there are only four buttons (plus movement), and in the first entry at least there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming number of moves. Like other games of the genre Tekken relies a lot on blocking and looking for openings, which I came to like in general, and there's also a lot of variety in throws. I also liked how the stages scroll infinitely left or right, which means that you don't have easy wins from ring outs like in Virtua Fighter or the SoulCalibur games. (Although the game does include the follow-up attacks when the other fighter is down which I still think is pretty pointless.)

I mostly played as King, a wrestler who wears a jaguar mask, and I learned enough of his moves to know which ones to spam at the right time, haha. The story is about as nonsensical as you'd expect, but the game seems to fall in the middle of the spectrum in terms of realism in general. There are a lot of flashy moves, but for the most part nothing as crazy as in the Street Fighter games. As a result there feels like less variety in the moves and the characters, although I'm sure if you played the game a lot the differences would become more obvious.

All in all this was a game that I didn't mind playing, although I don't see myself becoming an uber fan. I've already tried out its sequel, Tekken 2, but I'll probably just dip into that a bit more and some of the other entries in the series before finally getting to play the Pokken Tournament, the surprise Pokemon spin-off.

Wrestle through these Tekken links:
- Entry at tekken.wikia.com. Includes moves lists, such as this one for King.
- FAQs at GameFAQs
- Entry on Wikipedia

I'm a pretty big fan of the Rhythm Heaven, aka Rhythm Paradise, series, so I was pretty excited about the announcement of Rhythm Paradise Megamix for 3DS (only released on the eShop in NA, sadly). The game is a "best of" collection, and includes the majority of mini-games from the previous three entries in the series, as well as a number of new ones. The game features the series' trademark hodgepodge of styles and types of music, and also includes a flimsy story, a first for the series, with quite a few new characters. Although in general I'm all for a good story, somehow here it just slows things down.

In general the structure of this entry seems to throw the pacing off. One of the best things about the other games was getting to play remixes of the songs at regular intervals, whereas here the remixes don't start to appear until quite a ways in. The game also somehow lacks the spark of brilliance of the previous games. Maybe it's just that the new mini-games stick too closely to the formula of the previous entries, but at times I felt like more judicious editing would have actually helped things. The mini-games start to feel a bit same-y even in the earlier parts of the game, and the game doesn't have quite the same feel of wild wackiness as the previous games, although perhaps that's just from being a long-time fan and overly familiar with most of the content.

There were quite a few mini-games I'd forgotten about, and it was nice to see localized versions of the mini-games from the original Japan-only GBA title. The game's best addition is easily its use of the bottom screen. Here the game gives you a visual indicator as to whether your button presses are happening too early, too late, or right on the beat. It's very useful, and an addition that should definitely be included in every future installment.

Overall this feels like another case where Nintendo has stuck too closely to an established formula, although this can be excused since this is a best of collection. Hopefully future installments will find some way to shake things up a bit. I played through pretty much the bare minimum to get to the final credits (and passing most mini-games on my first try), although I can see myself picking this up from time to time to earn the rest of the gold medals and maybe attempt some of the maddening Perfect medals.

Terrestrial Rhythm Paradise Megamix links:
- Entry on nintendo.com
- Page on Miiverse
- Entry on rhythmheaven.wikia.com. Includes links to the official trailer for the game and such.
- Review on NintendoLife
- Entry on Wikipedia