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I'm not quite sure why, but although I've enjoyed the first two Mega Man games, it's taken me years to finally sit down and finish another one (apparently I played through Mega Man 2 almost eight years ago!). The next one up was the much-beloved Mega Man 3 which is apparently known for introducing the slide move, the robo-dog Rush, and Proto Man.

I must just not be a "mega" fan of the series, because although I liked the game all right in general, I wasn't that taken with it. The classic Mega Man formula is in full force, but I found that the trial and error involved in getting through the boss fights and figuring out the order to fight them just wasn't much fun this time around. The game is the longest yet, and fatigue was definitely setting in about halfway through. The boss fights seemed same-y to me; the weapons didn't seem that interesting or unique; and a lot of the levels themselves didn't seem very thematic. I have to confess that I ended up using save states at that point just so I could get through the game without the tedium of having to replay certain sections over and over again, mostly in order to get back to bosses that didn't have a checkpoint right before them.

I can see why many people count this as their favorite Mega Man game, but I guess part of the appeal is the higher difficulty and length of the game, which I just didn't have the patience for. I'm glad I've finally made a step into getting back into the Mega Man series, but I'm not sure if I'm going to continue with #4 next or skip to X, or check out the Game Boy games. We'll just have to see...

Rush through these Mega Man 3 links:
- The Mega Man Homepage has a lot of good info on the game including a password generator for the game (useful if, like me, you wrote a password down wrong :p)
- Complete playthrough by Coyote12101
- Review at NintendoLife
- Page at megaman.wikia.com
- PDF of the instruction manual, at replacementdocs.com
- Maps at GameFAQs
- The game placed 16th in IGN's top NES games list from a few years ago

I'm far from a crossword puzzle devotee, but I'd enjoyed playing the game CrossworDS on DS a few years ago. The clues in that game were quite easy (not too surprising given the DS's target audiences in general), so I picked up a game that I hoped would provide more of a challenge, which was New York Times Crosswords. The game has become completely unnecessary given the options available on smartphones nowadays, but I checked it out recently anyway.

As with the Jumble collection I played a while back, the goal of this game was clearly to provide a digital rendition of the popular pen-and-paper pastime. The game's interface is perfectly serviceable, although the game does have some odd presentation choices, like the drawings of apples and slices of pie that are featured. Maybe they're trying to give a cozy American feel. Anyway, the game lets you handwrite your answers or use an on-screen keyboard, and both options work fine. As with the actual crosswords in the New York Times, the game organizes the puzzles by days of the week where they get more difficult as the week progresses, i.e. Mondays are the easiest, and Saturdays are the hardest (I believe Sundays are about the difficulty of a mid-week puzzle). I played a couple of the easier puzzles, and everything works just as you'd hope, with different zoom options, etc., although there seems to be only one piece of background music. No big surprises, but with over a thousand puzzles this seems a good option if you're looking for a collection of crosswords to play on your DS-compatible device and for some reason don't have a smartphone.

After a brief revisit to Dance Dance Revolution Konamix, my first Dance Dance Revolution game, I continued my journey through the series with the next game, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme. The series continues to slowly evolve (if it ain't broke...), although this game does add two main new modes which are a mission mode and a "party" mode that features mini-games. Otherwise the game's core modes are pretty much the same as its predecessor, DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution.

The mission mode has over a hundred short challenges, such as "don't make more than four mistakes" and "don't press any of the left/right arrows". The challenges have a good amount of variety and feature twists such as the arrow indicators moving from top to bottom instead of bottom to top, but they quickly become extremely difficult. Some of the challenges seem particularly pointless, such as the ones that require you to practically memorize a section of a song, or ones that require you earn a specific rating (e.g. "get a C rating", not "get a C rating or better"). Still, it provides more of a change than the DDR series has seen in a while.

The mini-games are even more pointless, although this mode does introduce some EyeToy-specific games. I was curious, so I got an EyeToy specifically to try out this mode. Setting up the EyeToy is as simple as plugging it into the console's USB port, and although it didn't work well at first, after adjusting the lighting in my room it seemed to work fine. The resolution is still pretty poor, and the mini-games are all fairly stupid and annoying, with the only one worth mentioning being the mode where you dance to a song and use left and right hand movements as extra inputs. The songs' arrangements are much simpler in this mode than the core game and you can't choose the difficulty level, but having to wrap my head around using those two extra inputs was enough to keep me occupied. Having to use your hands isn't as immediately enjoyable as the regular feet-only mode since it takes much more concentration on the timing to get the hand gestures exactly right, but I enjoyed it overall and it's nice to see another addition, albeit fairly minor, to the franchise.

This edition also changes things up by making the dance characters unlockable, which is kind of a drag. Also, they tried to go for a more "hip" interface with fonts that are intended to look more "street", but I wasn't feeling it. One downside to the game is that it recycles so many songs from previous games, but with so many entries under its belt this isn't really surprising. Overall this was a slightly more interesting entry in the series than usual, although the additional modes are hardly essential. Which isn't to say it's a bad game, as the core DDR experience still provides plenty of entertainment. Anyway, next up for me is this game's direct sequel, uncreatively titled Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2. We'll have to see if it provides any surprises, but based on DDRMAX2 I'm guessing it will be pretty much the same as this game but just with different music.

Toy with these Dance Dance Revolution Extreme links:
- Entry on GameFAQs
- Page at remywiki.com
- Entry on Wikipedia

Retro Game Challenge for DS was a game that caught my eye even before Nintendo adopted its format for its Wii U download releases NES Remix and NES Remix 2 (which were later combined into a physical release). The game is based on a TV show from Japan called Game Center CX in which the host tries to beat old-school games. The game's gimmick is that instead of focusing on a full-length game, it includes a set of retro games based on titles like the original Galaga, Ninja Gaiden, and even Dragon Quest games, each with four challenges for you to overcome, such as get 150,000 points. The games are also accessible via a "free play" mode as well for you to play as much as you want.

The format didn't turn out to be that worthwhile, and the games themselves, while very polished, weren't much more fun than the originals that inspired them (although the later, SNES-era-like games feel more fully realized and are more fun). A couple of the games get repeated with only minor variations, and if there's a genre that you don't like, e.g. racing games or RPGs, then you're out of luck as you can't skip past any of the game's challenges. For retro gamers the challenges themselves are not that difficult, and the game makes them easier and less tedious by including a lot of in-game cheat codes, for example, for skipping to a particular level. The game includes these in the form of in-game gaming magazines, and a lot of the enjoyment of the game is how it successfully recreates the feel of being a kid and poring over magazines, reading previews, finding out cool cheat codes, and also hanging out with a friend and gossiping about the latest games (which, of course, his parents just bought him the day it came out while your mom refuses to let you get a new game until your birthday, haha).

Even with the cheat codes, the game does get repetitive both with the games presented, and the challenges. Many of the challenges require you to replay the first parts of the games multiple times, which seems like an artificial means of lengthening the gameplay. Once I finished all the challenges I didn't find any motivation to go back and play any of the games in the free play mode, and similarly I don't think I'll be replaying this game any time soon, as I'd rather play the originals the game is based on. I've already played a bit of NES Remix and I'm similarly skeptical about the format, but we'll have to see if my opinion changes the more I dive into those games.

Bite-sized Retro Game Challenge links:
- The official site for the game is still online
- Review on NintendoLife
- FAQ at GameFAQs
- Entry at wikipedia.org
- Entry at howlongtobeat.com
- Video of the messages that appear after the credits, if you wait long enough

This is going to be a quick review. I blogged about DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution about a month ago, and I'd mentioned I would be checking out its immediate successor, DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution, next. The game ended up being even less unique than I'd expected, as aside from a small increase in the variety of music, basically the only new features are the inclusion of a handful of actual music videos and the return of the dancers from previous DDR games (a feature that was absent from the first DDRMAX game).

My enjoyment of the game and series continued, though, since my DDR skillz continue to improve. I'm now able to get through a fair amount of the "Standard" difficulty tracks, although mastery of any of the songs at the "Heavy" (i.e. "Hard") level continues to be tantalizingly out of reach. My progress was hampered by a dance mat that started being really flaky (casualties of exergaming), but I've ordered some replacements and I'm sure with enough practice I'll get there eventually. It looks like the next one up is Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, although I think I'm going to have to take a break from those games for a bit to exercise other parts of my body (and brain).

Unrevolutionary DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution links:
- Entry on GameFAQs
- Page at remywiki.com
- Entry on Wikipedia