Even though I had just played a platformer, I was in the mood to play something on my Wii U and decided to finally try out Runbow, which has been sitting on my Wii U since I bought it in the Nintendo Humble bundle a year ago. I probably had heard it mentioned recently since the version for New 3DS was released just a couple of weeks ago.

Anyway, I hadn't played the game at all, but I found it to be pretty enjoyable overall. The game's mechanics are unique and easy to understand: the background changes colors periodically, and when it does all the elements on the stage that are the same color (namely walls and platforms) effectively disappear. The game explores every variant of this premise in worthwhile ways, although even with the smart level design after a while there does get to be a sort of sameness to the proceedings. There's a single player adventure mode, and you can earn up to three medals in every stage, and there's also a difficult marathon mode where you have to beat many challenging stages in a row and you can't save. It seems half of the game's focus is on the multiplayer versus modes, of which I was only able to try them for a bit as it seems like finding people to play with online has become a crapshoot. I wasn't interested in them much anyway, but it might have been nice to have had more AI-enabled versions of these modes.

Although I wasn't a huge fan of the art design, in general the presentation is pretty good. There are two main characters (one male and one female), and you can unlock a host of costumes for them, and there are also a ton of indie guest characters, such as Rusty from Steamworld Dig. The music is really noteworthy, though, as it's energizing and dips into many genres, such as jazz and surf rock. The one design choice that I found really questionable was the taunts the game displays on the screens after you die (e.g. "You tried that already") which don't serve any purpose other than to be extremely irritating.

All in all this is worth a look for fans of platformers, although more story, characters, and unique settings and game mechanics on top of the core background color-changing mechanics would have helped me stay more engaged with it. I can see myself trying out the multiplayer with friends or finishing off a few more of the story missions, but this definitely isn't a game that I feel compelled to 100% complete or get the DLC of.

Run the rainbow with these Runbow links:
- Official website for the game
- The soundtrack is available on Bandcamp
- Review at NintendoLife
- Entry at Wikipedia

I'm probably one of the few people who has fond memories of the forgotten NES adventure game Milon’s Secret Castle by Hudson Soft. I'd owned the game as a kid although was never able to beat it, and I still found it enjoyable played through the game 8 (!) years ago. That game suffers from many of the same issues as its peers, including a sometimes painfully high difficulty level, completely obtuse clues, and some clumsy mechanics.

I'd heard good things about its one and only sequel, which is usually translated as DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki (i.e. "Heart-pounding") Adventure. The game was released for Super Famicom, the Japanese equivalent of the Super Nintendo. Although the original version was never released outside of Japan, it was one of several previously import-only games that saw new life on Wii's Virtual Console. I was excited about its international release, although a little wary about how it would compare to the original.

With a big sigh of relief I can report that the game builds upon the mechanics of the original and improves them in every way. The game is a vibrant and lively 16-bit platformer, and oozes with personality and charm. Milon himself is every bit as lovable as better-known platforming heroes such as Mario, and his quest to save his fairy friend has him journeying through multiple worlds, with some surprise themes thrown in. Along with the requisite water, lava, and ice worlds, there's also a candy world and a mountainous region and some other surprises. The game has all of the regular platforming elements, including auto-scrolling levels, rotating platforms, and bottomless pits, but virtually every stage introduces new mechanics. All the elements combined with the bright and colorful design come together to make the game feel surprisingly fresh and fun. The game also has dungeons, which are more like the large stages in the original, which usually feature maze-like layouts and which are a fun change of pace.

As in the original, Milon is armed with magic bubbles, although in this game instead of just damaging enemies he instead traps most of them (or he can jump on most of them). Milon also has two powerups he can collect: he can use bubble gum to save himself from falling into a pit, and use a pair of winged shoes to glide down from a jump, both of which are very handy. He also gains a couple of cool special moves as the game continues that are required for him to proceed. There are unique enemies in each world and each castle, and although most of them prove to be no match for Milon's bubbles, they all have fun animations and often have funny surprised expressions when they get trapped.

The game was released on Wii's Virtual Console in the original Japanese, but the digital manual tells you everything you need to know. The game is pretty generous with health-restoring items for most of the game, although the last few worlds and bosses are more challenging. The game gives you unlimited continues, and it also has a password feature, although I think the latter only starts you at the beginning of a world.

There aren't many bad things about the game. The bonus mini-game rooms are kind of lame in general, and less fun than the one mini-game in the original. When you die you start off with the lowest health, which is an annoyance when you're trying to beat a boss, as you have to find two health items before you can go back to the boss fight. This isn't too bad though, because the game lets you exit a stage at any time by pressing the select button. You'll have to play at least some stages a few times in order to find the hidden star, but for the most part the stars aren't too hard to find and exploring every corner of every stage is part of the fun.

All in all I was surprised at how much I liked the game, and for once found the game lived up to its hype, so much so that I had to add it to my list of favorite games of all time. I'm glad the game was finally released overseas and that Milon was introduced to more people. It's highly doubtful that this series will ever be revived, but I can now count myself among the many people who love this game and would be psyched to see Milon's next adventure.

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!