I'd enjoyed Tomodachi Life more than I'd expected when I played it earlier this year. The game isn't that deep, but I enjoyed the quirky humor and it was fun to check in on my Miis to see what they were doing and intervene in their love lives if needed. It looked like Miitopia, also for 3DS, was like Tomodachi Life but with RPG mechanics and a story, so I was interested in checking it out.

I was hoping the game would have the same level of absurdity and surrealism as Tomodachi Life, but the laughs are definitely fewer and further between in Miitopia. You can cast Miis to specific roles, such as your main party (warrior, mage, cleric, etc. as well as more-unique classes such as pop star and cat) as well as NPCs. The game makes it easy to import Miis from your 3DS's Mii Maker, Tomodachi Life save file, or QR codes from software such as Miitomo, or pick from user-submitted Miis.

The game is a super-simplified RPG, which is actually fine by me as it makes things much more streamlined. Towns are completely linear and in 2D seen in profile (like Zelda II: The Legend of Link), and you can only move left and right. You don't actually explore dungeons but instead select points on a map and then at the occasional forks decide if you want to take the left or right path. Battles are simplified and you only have to worry about controlling one character, but the AI does a completely competent job with the other characters in your party. Even shopping for new equipment (weapons and armor) is simplified. The game just presents you with the option to upgrade to the next highest piece of equipment, which always has a higher attack or defense stat than what you currently have.

The game has a typical RPG loop where you buy equipment, explore an area, encounter battles, and then return to an inn in order to buy more equipment. Miitopia adds a couple of more-unique mechanics. For one, you choose which characters you want to room together in the inn, and developing characters' relationships gives you important bonuses during battle (for example, a Mii may warn another Mii about an attack, giving him/her a chance to dodge it). The game allows same-sex pairings, which is great to see and feels like a step forward. You can also control your characters' stat growth via food, which you derive from defeated enemies. As with Tomodachi Life, characters will have their preferences of what foods they like, although they can't be predicted so you'll have to discover their likes through blind trial and error. It's pretty obvious what stats you should focus on for which characters (e.g. increasing magic for the mage), but it makes growing your characters a bit more active.

Occasionally your Miis will act out a little skit as they travel, which are generally amusing. The visuals are pretty simple and plain, but anything more complex would look out of place next to the Miis. The music is pretty standard RPG fare, as is the battle progression, enemies, and plot. The game lets you fast forward through battles, which helps alleviate the boredom. There are some visual gags that were hilarious, like the flamboyant movements of the Pop Star, but even though I enjoyed seeing my Miis in a new context the game gets repetitive quickly. More of the whimsy seen in Tomodachi Life would have really helped keep my interest, but as it is I found myself having to set this aside after the first "chapter". [Minor spoiler: The game is divided into distinct sections, and at the beginning of each section you're forced to restart at level 1 with an all-new set of companions, which seemed very annoying to me.] As with many RPGs the game seems like it's fairly lengthy, but given how repetitive it is I probably won't be picking it up again anytime soon.

Check out a Mii's RPG life with these Miitopia links:
- Official site
- FAQ at GameFAQs
- Review at NintendoLife


I've been both eagerly anticipating and dreading the release of Fire Emblem Warriors pretty almost since the day it was announced. Eagerly anticipating because, in case you didn't notice, I'm a big Fire Emblem fan, and not only that, but I got completely sucked into Hyrule Warriors, so much so that I even played through the whole story mode again in the 3DS version, Hyrule Warriors Legends. I was initially optimistic about the game, but it seemed like every bit of into that came out about the game just served to dampen my enthusiasm.

First off, the visuals are fairly bland, both in terms of the combat and the locations. The characters are faithful interpretations of how they've appeared thus far, and it's great to see them in a completely new way, but there's not nearly as much variety in the characters or locations as in Hyrule Warriors. Part of the problem is that there are too many sword users, something the developers acknowledged as being a challenge, but even the axe users' attacks look too similar.

For long-time fans the roster was extremely disappointing as it focuses on just two of the most recent games in the series (Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates) and the first game in the series (Shadow Dragon), but this is understandable, though, since those games are the most popular. On top of that, though, a huge part of the playable cast consists of the eight royal siblings from Fates, which seems a bit much. It's fantastic that the game includes support conversations, but since the cast as a whole almost entirely consists solely of royals, there's a loss of variety in terms of the characters' interactions.

Worse than the roster, though, is that many of the characters are clones. The developers gave characters different stat distributions to make up for this, but the differences don't affect the gameplay much. In two cases three characters all share the same moveset, which seems particularly pointless. There's a distinct feeling that the game was rushed as three characters are present in the game but not playable. I can't believe these characters are being released as paid DLC since they're already in the game, but my only hope there is that there will be more DLC beyond the three updates that have been announced so far.

After playing the game it makes a bit more sense that the game focused on the royals for the sake of the story mode, but the lack of variety in the characters is still disappointing. History mode is an improvement over Hyrule Warriors' adventure mode, but unlike Hyrule Warriors you can use whoever you want in most of the missions which makes things much less of a challenge. Also, there are far less unlockables: basically the unlockables are just the alternate skins for Corrin (male) and Robin (female), more powerful weapons, and one character with a unique moveset and two clones.

It's only because I'm such a Fire Emblem fanboy that Fire Emblem Warriors is as disappointing to me as it is. The Fire Emblem additions to the Warriors series, namely characters you can switch to on the fly and command, a "Pair Up" mechanic whereby characters can support another character to raise his/her stats, the rock-paper-scissors-like weapon triangle, and support conversations are generally worthwhile and enjoyable, and there's a good amount of Fire Emblem references for the fans. Maybe it's also partly Warriors fatigue setting in, but even though I worked my way through the story mode and a good chunk of history mode pretty quickly, I didn't feel that excited about it in general. I didn't have much motivation to finish all five of the adventure maps, and I'm skeptical that the DLC characters will be radically different from what's already in the game. I'm still holding out hope that additional DLC will be announced, but for now I merely appreciate that the game exists as hopefully it will expand the Fire Emblem audience even further. This wasn't the worst possible Fire Emblem Warriors I could imagine, but it's definitely not the best either.

Battle through these Fire Emblem Warriors links:
- Official site
- Someone made a great Google Docs reference for the game
- Review at NintendoLife


Yes, it's time for a review of yet another Dance Dance Revolution. I mentioned in my previous DDR review (DDR Extreme 2) that rather than play the next game in the series I might skip around a bit, and I did end up going back and checking out an early oddball game in the series, Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Mix. In North America the game was released on the original PlayStation soon after the original Dance Dance Revolution PlayStation release, although in Japan it was released a couple of years and many iterations after the original DDR arcade release.

I didn't really have high hopes for the game, but it is an interesting curiosity. Mickey and gang provide a skin for the familiar DDR core, although the bulk of the songs are fairly odd dance versions of familiar Disney tunes such as "It's a Small World" and "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah", some of which are repeated in different guises. There are only a handful of cover songs, and the rest of the tracklisting consists of the usual DDR type of techno. The game has one of the smallest tracklistings of any DDR game I've played, which is a drawback, and there aren't any unlockable songs.

In what is presumably an effort to make the game more appealing to youngsters, the game doesn't record a numerical score, and it only records your ranking in a records option that's buried in the settings, which is annoying. The game also requires you to unlock the hardest setting (of three), which you can get after beating all the songs on the medium difficulty. This is actually not trivial at all, which is good for a DDR vet like me but makes me wonder how many kids who played this actually ever unlocked it. Another little quirk about the game is that when you fail at a song, instead of taunting you like most of the other games in the series, you're presented with a visual of a letter from a Disney character telling you how many notes you had left and encouraging you to try again, haha. We're all winners here, folks!

The game features a versus mode, and this is a bit unique in that the character you choose affects the gameplay. Each character has his/her own special attacks (such as causing your opponent's steps to go more slowly or more quickly, or adding more steps), that trigger once you fill up a meter. Nothing too revolutionary, but good for a change of pace.

This was an interesting bit of DDR history, but it's definitely not going to be my go-to DDR game. I suppose kids or diehard fans of Disney will get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters, but otherwise everyone else can safely skip this one.

Check out this small world of Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Mix links:
- FAQ at GameFAQs
- Entry at Wikipedia


I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Yono and the Celestial Elephants, a cute, charming, and easygoing puzzle adventure game with a lot of philosophical musings and a lot of heart, and so I started looking into the developer, Neckbolt Games, aka Niklas Hallin's, other games. Being a big puzzle fan, I was immediately drawn to his puzzle game Wolf Sheep Cabbage, which was released a couple of years ago on Android. On the surface the game looked pretty typical of the genre, but as a long-time puzzle game player I know that you can only tell how good a puzzle game is by trying it out so I jumped in.

Many hours later, I'm still addicted to playing this game! The visual design and sound design are clean and have personality and charm, and the core game mechanics are rock solid and, like the best of puzzle games, quite elegant (which is no small feat). In the game each of the eponymous puzzle pieces have three "growth" states (e.g. sprout, medium cabbage, big cabbage). In a mechanic reminiscent of the excellent game Threes you can combine pieces at the same state of growth according to the food chain (wolf eats sheep eats cabbage). As you'd expect, the goal is to manage the board and the incoming stream of puzzle pieces to try to get the highest score possible.

Part of what makes the game so addictive is figuring out the optimal strategy of how to manage your limited board space. I'm not completely sure what the rate of pieces is, but the game seems to provide you more cabbages and sheep than wolves, which would be logical. After putting quite a bit of time into the game it seems like despite your best efforts you can still get stuck with way more wolves than any other pieces, and part of the problem may be that if you make a large combo by having a grown wolf eat many grown sheep, you end up with a lot of wolves on the board with not enough sheep. Having to make sure that roughly one wolf eats one sheep ruins the fun of trying to set up combos, but it does seem to make the game last longer, which in the long run should net you a higher score.

I'm not sure if there's any dynamic adjustment going on with the puzzle pieces you're given, but my impression is that with a bit more balancing this game could be really excellent, but as it is it's still a really fun and addictive puzzle game that I highly recommend. I continue to be impressed with this developer, and will definitely have to check out his other games as well.


I've gotten a bit behind on posts since I've started doing reviews for A Most Agreeable Pastime. In particular, I reviewed Yono and the Celestial Elephants and Inversus Deluxe, both on Nintendo Switch's eShop (yes, I finally got a Switch!). But I've finished a few short games, so I'll be able to catch up a bit now.

First up is Super Mario Run, available on Android and iOS. I was extremely skeptical of the game when it was released last year, in large part because the app stores are full of endless runners, and the vast majority of them are huge snoozefests. Also, along with many others I was put off by how it presented itself as free to play, but in reality it was really more like a demo. In the free version you can play a limited amount of the "Tour" mode, which is more analagous to a regular Mario game. The free mode lets you play through the first world out of six, with each world consisting of four stages. Each stage has three sets of coins (pink, purple, and black) that get progressively more difficult to collect. Unlike the main Mario games getting all the special coins isn't about exploration but more about having exact timing, which is less interesting to me, but this mode is still enjoyable in general.

The other main mode is Toad Rally, where you compete against a ghost (i.e. saved playback) of another player and try to get more points, which are accrued by collecting coins and also performing "stunts", such as jumping after vaulting over an enemy or jumping after dropping off of a ledge. Toad Rally can be fun, although it's also kind of stressful because you lose Toads if you lose a match. Winning a rematch should get you more Toads than you lost, but only if you don't lose too many times. Toads are the main wall behind which special buildings (used in Kingdom Builder, a pretty useless mode where you can decorate your Mushroom Kingdom with various buildings and flowers and such) and characters are locked behind, so you'll definitely have to play a lot of this mode in order to collect everything in the game. The game restricts your play of this mode and requires you to use up Toad Rally tickets, but you'll have way more than you'll ever need so that's not a problem at all and seems like a pointless added wrinkle.

I was more interested in the main "Tour" mode, but I didn't spring for the full version until recently when the game was half off ($5 instead of the usual $10). The sale coincided with the release of a few new features. One was the addition of a star world which includes nine extra stages that are unlocked by completing the main Tour mode and specific missions (e.g. collect a certain number of coins on a particular stage), one for each of the nine new stages. The other was the "Remix 10" mode. This is a fun mode where the game mixes up sections of each of the Tour modes levels (basically a fifth of a stage), parts of stages from Toad Rally mode, and some new bits (mostly bonus-type stages). As the moniker suggests, you have to play through ten in a row in a sequence, and you can collect rainbow coins in order to get a chance to earn a new building. (Deaths aren't penalized other than causing you to lose your rainbow coins for that stage.)

The real draw for me was the new inclusion of Princess Daisy as a playable character, a first for a platforming game and something I was super psyched about. I would've paid the full price just for the chance to play as Daisy, who is easily one of my favorite Mario characters by far (the other being Waluigi, wahaha!). I'm still slogging my way through the Remix 10 mode to get Daisy, which requires playing that mode a lot, but it's probably one of my favorite modes of the game since it's more low pressure than the Tour mode and Toad Rally and there's a lot of variety built into it.

Phew! So that's a run-down of all the features of the game. But how was the game itself? Although on the surface the game looks exactly like a New Super Mario Bros. game, it actually took me a fair amount of time to get used to the timing of everything. Since Mario automatically vaults over most enemies, it takes some time to adjust to jumping after he's on top of an enemy instead of before in order to do a "stunt" to get more points in Toad Rally. The game adds pause blocks that momentarily halt Mario in his tracks, as well as backwards arrow blocks where when you jump on them cause Mario to jump backwards. He'll also automatically stop when on a platform suspended in air or blocked by a wall or a pipe. In the case of a wall you'll end up having to do a wall jump (slide down a wall and jump) to change direction, which is also something to get used to.

Once I got used to the new mechanics, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the game. You can blitz through the 24 levels that make up the Tour mode without a ton of effort, but collecting all the coins will take much more time and skill. The game is really well suited to being on a smartphone, as everything is presented in little chunks that don't take more than a few minutes to get through. The modes feed off of each other (winning in Tour mode unlocks stages in Toad Rally and also gets you Toad Rally tickets, and playing Toad Rally nets you Toads, which unlock buildings in Kingdom Builder, etc.) which seems a bit overdone and overly reliant on you caring anything about the Kingdom Builder mode, but it's also easy to focus on whichever mode you enjoy the most without having to bother much with the other modes. The exception is that you're required to play a lot of Toad Rally to unlock all the characters, which is somewhat disappointing as it's one of my least favorite modes.

I never would have guessed that Super Mario Run would end up being one of the freshest 2-D Mario games in years, but it just goes to show you that you should never underestimate the mastermind that is Miyamoto. Super Mario Run. I collected all the pink coins and played a fair amount of Toad Rally and Remix 10, and although I don't feel the need to collect all the rest of the coins or buildings right away, I will definitely be adding this to the collection of games I go to for playing on my lunch break.

Vault over these "new" Super Mario Run links:
- Official site for the game
- Video of Miyamoto introducing the game
- Silly Nintendo Minute video on the game- Review at NintendoLife
- Entry on Wikipedia