Monsters Present…Rapid Reviews! (October 2014)

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KirbydreamcourseKirby’s Dream Course (Super Nintendo)

Some would argue that the Super Nintendo is the greatest video game system of all-time. And it would be hard to argue against it. The list of great titles are endless: Super Mario World, Turtles in Time, Final Fantasy II and III, Super Metroid, Castlevania IV, Kirby’s Dream Course.

Kirby’s Dream Course?!

You read that right. The round, lovable, bubblegum-colored vacuum better known for his side-scrolling adventures in Dreamland, plays host to a unique and additive hybrid of golf and Marble Madness. And you guessed it, Kirby is your ball. You use the classic power bar mechanism to decide how hard or soft to hit Kirby around the playing field. You can also launch him in the air allowing you to jump obstacles and bounce around the course as well. And you can’t have any installment of the Kirby franchise without having the ability to gain cool powers from the enemies on the board. These powers can give you a leg up on your competition.

Each course has hills and valleys along with different obstacles to maneuver as you attempt to eliminate the enemies placed around the course. You gain points with each enemy eliminated, and when the board is cleared the final opening appears creating a mad race to be the first one to exit the level and receive the all important bonus points. After 8 rounds, the score is tallied and bragging rights are earned.

My results: Wife – 1, Me – 0. Though I did beat Yeti, so I at least have a one win in my young Dream Course career.

If you want to lose to family and friends in Dream Course like I do, and don’t want to go buy an SNES and the actual cart, the game is available on the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U.

MoF-GameCastlevania: Lords of ShadowsMirror of Fate (3DS)

Castlevania IV is my favorite in this classic series. One of two chapters to be released on the Super Nintendo, Castlevania IV’s mixture of near-perfect platforming with epic boss battles and smooth controls made it a game that defined the greatness of the SNES.

Mirror of Fate brings me back to that classic side-scrolling, platforming action, but adds a modern combat driven fighting system with a simple and satisfying RPG leveling system that brings the series into current-gen while keeping an old-school retro aesthetic. The tense boss fights and overall challenge of past iterations of the series also return, but the game never seems unfair or too hard like it’s retro brethren of the past.

The game is also far from linear as you can explore the medieval world to find power-ups and scrolls left behind by dead knights telling you the perils that await in your journey to meet Dracula. This gives the Metroid-vania feel of Symphony of the Night and just adds more depth to an already great game. And while the cell-shading art style works pretty well on the 3DS, the music is what gives the game’s atmosphere it’s final touches to truly create a great Castlevania setting.

If you don’t own a 3DS, which you should seriously think about doing, and want to play Mirror of Fate, the game was ported over in high definition to both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as a downloadable game.

YouMeRoseRose Ave./You + Me (RCA/Dine Alone Records)

City and Color’s Dallas Green and Alecia Moore, better know to pop-culture as Pink, has given us a collaboration that is nothing short of spectacular. Green’s smooth, gloomy voice blends perfect with Moore’s rough and powerful singing style to provide us with one of the most enjoyable folk albums I’ve heard to date.

The most impressive part of the album might be how it is separated, though I can’t say for sure if it was done on purpose. The first half deals more with broken relationships and lost love (except the first track “Capsized”), a staple of City and Color, while the second half is more about finding love and experiencing the transformation that true love can create. Both Green and Moore’s voice tell each story perfectly no matter the tone of track, bringing each song to life.

“From a Closet in Norway (Oslo Blues)”, “Love Gone Wrong”, and “Unbeliever” are all heavy songs of broken relationships that are standout songs on the first half of the album. The second half brings the spotlight to two of my favorite songs on the album with “Break the Cycle” and “No Ordinary Love” that sings the virtues of love as a powerful life changer when it’s found and cultivated the right way. “Capsized” and “You and Me” are two other fantastic tracks in an overall great album.

Rose Ave. is 10-track collaboration between two talented friends and it has produced one of the best albums of the year.

YellowcardLiftASailLift a Sail/Yellowcard (Razor & Tie)

After few changes to the band’s lineup, Yellowcard returns with an album that still shows their ability to create memorable, soaring pop-punk choruses, but brings in a bit more rock into the equation.

The album is all about facing trials we occur in this life head on, instead of hiding and running from them. The opening song of the album, “Transmission Home”, sets the tone of the album as Ryan Key sings “I’ll send a transmission home/To say I’ve been out here too long alone/And I want to come down now”. The 12-track effort (13 if you purchase on iTunes) reflects the positive tone and lyrics that continue through the rest of the album. “Crash the Gates” talks about not letting anything hold you back from your dreams, while the “Lift a Sail” serves as the true anthem on the album as Key sings in the chorus “If a cold wind starts to rise/I am ready now/I am ready now/With the last sail lifted high/I am ready now”. The chorus serves as a great combination with verses that tell of a person that has been beaten and battered through life, but is now ready to use the strength gained from those trials to start living again.

Each and every Yellowcard album I’ve liked for different reasons, but Paper Walls is my all-time favorite album from them as it combined pop-punk hooks with more mature song writing that can resonate with any listener. Lift a Sail, I’m happy to say, follows in the same path and will continue to keep the band firmly in the public eye, where music royalty belongs.

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