Bio
If you're interested in reading detailed posts about obscure, strange, forgotten, and interesting games, check out my blog called Ephemeral Enigmas via the link in my profile!
Personal Ratings
1★
5★

Badges


Trend Setter

Gained 50+ followers

Loved

Gained 100+ total review likes

On Schedule

Journaled games once a day for a week straight

GOTY '23

Participated in the 2023 Game of the Year Event

2 Years of Service

Being part of the Backloggd community for 2 years

Popular

Gained 15+ followers

GOTY '22

Participated in the 2022 Game of the Year Event

Well Written

Gained 10+ likes on a single review

Best Friends

Become mutual friends with at least 3 others

Noticed

Gained 3+ followers

Liked

Gained 10+ total review likes

Organized

Created a list folder with 5+ lists

Listed

Created 10+ public lists

Epic Gamer

Played 1000+ games

Elite Gamer

Played 500+ games

Shreked

Found the secret ogre page

Gamer

Played 250+ games

N00b

Played 100+ games

Roadtrip

Voted for at least 3 features on the roadmap

Favorite Games

EarthBound
EarthBound
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening - Special Edition
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
SaGa Frontier
SaGa Frontier
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

2143

Total Games Played

079

Played in 2024

6829

Games Backloggd


Recently Played See More

Dragon's Crown Pro
Dragon's Crown Pro

May 19

Madoushi Lulba
Madoushi Lulba

May 18

Kirby's Block Ball
Kirby's Block Ball

May 16

Gimmick! Special Edition
Gimmick! Special Edition

May 16

Gaia's Moon
Gaia's Moon

May 14

Recently Reviewed See More

I'm sure you saw the five stars I gave this and thought to yourself, "man, this guy's either joking or super weird!". Well, I'm definitely weird, but I'm only partially joking! If we're being ~objective~, Faces of Evil is nowhere near a five star game, but get this: reviews aren't objective, they're windows into the hearts, brains, and souls of individuals, so expressing your emotions, no matter how "unusual" they may be, is where it's at! Faces of Evil is a game that has been there for me for years even though I never really got to play it until now. Many moons ago, I tried a CD-i emulator and not only did it not work well at all, it also had the audacity to try and get me to pay money! CD-i emulation is far from perfect even now, but it has come a long way, at least enough to allow me to find plenty of ways to appreciate it as much more than just the "failure" history considers it to be.

If you're familiar with YouTube Poops, I was the kind of dorky kid that chugged those things down real good. I would watch so many of them and I just couldn't get enough. Seeing these absolutely ridiculous looking takes on characters like Mario and Link that I had known for years always gave me a good laugh and it got to the point where friends and I will still break out random quotes from the poops and the actual source material alike. Even in their original poopless form, the cutscenes in the Mario and Zelda CD-i games are still hilarious! So hilarious, in fact, that a game released this year, Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore (made in part by the same person who made this remaster), used them as its most compelling hook! These cutscenes are truly special, but there are actual games beyond them. Said games have long been the butt of jokes by reviewers and YouTubers, but when you actually sit down with them, are they really so beyond redemption? It turns out the answer to that is no and we have Dopply to thank for making that conclusion easier than ever to come to.

The first two Zelda games for the CD-i (this one and Wand of Gamelon) play in a way that resembles Zelda II. This is a good thing because Zelda II is my favorite one! They're certainly not as tightly designed or challenging and magic isn't a thing, but the general skeleton is there, which is still appreciated. Speaking of skeletons, this game is still very much a Zelda game once you look past its legendary presentation. You go to various areas in the world, find items that let you explore new areas and defeat new foes, and you ultimately go on to defeat Ganon. You start off very weak and end up becoming a force of nature that can spam deadly ranged attacks, so even with the different style, that form of progression the series has always done well is still here. You get so strong that all it takes to defeat Ganon is throwing a book at him!

Even if the combat is simple, the variety of items you get is as satisfying as you'd expect. Some Zelda staples like bombs and the Power Glove are here, but there are some interesting new items mixed in. A rope lets you create spots to climb upward wherever you want, which can cleverly cut down on the game's tendency to want you to take the long way around things. Snowballs and Firestones replace arrows and magic, which might sound like a downgrade, but the sheer speed at which you can toss them (if you stock up) makes short work of any enemy. The winged helmet predates the Roc's Cape by several years with its ability to let you glide across gaps. Even though I've emphasized the power you can gain, Faces of Evil still finds ways of forcing you to be careful. The number of hearts you get for this adventure are extremely limited and the canteen only lets you carry one healing item, so this isn't a game where you can come rolling in with four fairies in bottles and effectively be invincible. Instant death pits litter most stages, which when combined with enemies that love to throw huge projectiles, can make finding your footing surprisingly difficult. It's not nearly as hard as Zelda II, but it still has some of that methodical swordplay that makes it work so well.

Perhaps moreso than several other Zelda games, the land of Koridai is legitimately strange and compelling to explore. Every single person you meet is some kind of freak that's way too eager to touch Link, creepily smile at him, or go on about some nonsense that the player won't have any context for right away. Except Morshu, that is; he's not a freak, he's a national treasure! This is the only Zelda game (well, and Wand of Gamelon) where encountering NPCs is just as fun as finding new items! The environments themselves are really interesting, too. There's a unique, hard to describe "lived in" nature to each level. Loads of detail can be seen in the backgrounds, especially when you enter buildings, which have all kinds of random little items in the background. It's maybe not what you'd call ~environmental storytelling~, but it gives every single screen a handcrafted, remarkably detailed feel, as if each one was an artist's canvas for them to do with as they please. Just the act of exploring is such a joy because you're guaranteed to see something you've truly never seen before, which is more than a lot of games can say.

It's worth quickly mentioning the upgrades that come with this remaster because they really do make a difference. Aside from expected niceties like enhanced image and music quality, the remaster has an added tutorial and an optional mode that includes some modern QoL like infinite lives and better checkpointing. If you're one of the rare folks who have mastered the original game, there's even a hard mode built in the image of the "Hero modes" added to official Zelda remasters. If you can beat that, you get an entirely new playable character complete with unique animations and spritework, which is a seriously delightful level of effort!

The whole package really shows just how much respect Dopply has for the CD-i and its Zelda games. It's easy for people to take one look at the CD-i and dismiss it, but perspectives like this in which people truly take the time to examine the positives of what the platform was doing are so valuable. By being humble enough to not see it as something to "fix" from the ground up to prove a point but rather something to use as the basis for a creative experiment, Dopply has proven that there's legitimate beauty in what the CD-i was doing. Faces of Evil, whether it meant to or not (I'm sure it didn't), serves as an example of what Nintendo once was in the eyes of those who have seen them grow into the obnoxiously litigious behemoth that they are today. Nintendo used to have moments of experimentation, weirdness, and "mistakes" that they simply don't now. They're a megacorporation and megacorporations are not your friends, but they absolutely were "fun" in a way that they aren't now. Things like the live action Super Mario Bros. Movie, the Game Boy Printer, Mario Paint, ROB, the Virtual Boy, all have a raw creative energy that takes risks in ways that they wouldn't dare consider now. Faces of Evil is a way to tap back into that fun period of Nintendo history, that period where I consumed the heck out of YouTube Poops, and as short as said reminiscence may be, it's an opportunity that I find impossible to say no to.

This is solid DLC for a solid game! It's effectively just a sixth planet to add onto the main game's five, but what's here is probably some of the best combat and exploration in the entire package. The structure is exactly the same - find planet coins by completing quests, rescue sparks, fight in various battles - but as something intended to be played after completion of the main game, it's allowed to get a little spicier in places, which helps to stave off some of the repetition that comes with their penchant for reusing sidequest ideas.

In terms of exploration, it feels like this DLC goes for the same thing that God of War 2018 did (of all things), what with its combination of linear sections spread across a wide open hub area. To get you back in the swing of things (assuming you took a break after the main game), the DLC starts off mostly focused on getting you from battle to cutscene to battle for the first half or so. The hub area, once you reach it, is traversed entirely by boat and the linear sections mostly take place on little islands, which is part of what inspired the comparison in the first place! The story here isn't anything particularly different from what was there previously and the dialogue still tends to be more miss than hit, but the beauty of the space you inhabit helps to compensate. Due to the influence of the Darkmess, the Melodic Gardens combines naturalistic forest beauty with quiet tension, taking your expectations of a bright, noisy wonderland and flipping it on its head. In fact, I'm surprised how many reviews seemingly missed the intention behind the Gardens' relative silence!

The Last Spark Hunter picks up where the main game left off mechanically and though it doesn't directly import your save (your skins carry over, which is nice, I guess), it starts you at the previous max level of 30 regardless and raises the bar to 40. Not only does this let you resume using your previous strategies, it also lets you further maximize the devastation your characters can inflict (my Rabbid Mario/Rabbid Rosalina/Edge team still feels busted as heck!) and keep the base game's mostly well-balanced difficulty intact. It's a shame there aren't any new playable characters or abilities here and none of the new Sparks are particularly notable, but the two new enemy types are solid additions.

The Golem is a bulky melee fighter that respawns after death unless you dash its core, encouraging you to be aggressive and make use of dashing if you somehow haven't been doing so by now. Seriously, building characters (Edge especially) around frequent dashing turns this into a whole different and much more fun game! The Fieldbreakers are polar opposites and much more challenging to deal with; they prefer to shoot lob shots from afar and spew damaging goop everywhere, which can tick away significant chunks of health every time you move or dash through it. In tandem, the two can command you to dash or fail, all the while punishing you for doing so, creating a synergistic combo that a lot of the base game enemies never had. Though it's unfortunate that these are the only new additions and a lot of repetition still rears its head, the mission design does a great job of offering the depth you're probably looking for.

All new objectives are introduced here, such as having to open cages containing Rabbids, carrying Melospheres safely back to the starting point while watching their tiny amount of health, or having to get to the end of a stage while an invincible King Bob-omb chases you. The king makes for a quality boss fight every time he appears, challenging you to manage his smaller bombs to use as a way of breaking his shield or pushing switches spread around a disadvantageous (to you) circular map to make him vulnerable. The hardest map, a level 40 survival challenge, pelts you with an unbelievable number of foes while giving you a small space to work with, resulting in the most butt-clenching mission of the entire game. In general, I think the map design of this DLC does a really good job of creating scenarios that apply pressure on the player and test your ability to survive through more creative means than just relying on cover. There wasn't a single mission I found to be boring here and while I never really got stuck, I had to think harder than at any point prior, which did even more than I expected to alleviate the burnout I felt after getting through the very tedious and rote 5th planet in the base game.

The Last Spark Hunter is a straightforward DLC, but it's exactly the kind of thing anyone who enjoyed Sparks of Hope should check out. It feels a lot like the expansion packs of yore in that it gives you more of the thing you liked with no "catch" beyond a slightly trickier level of difficulty. From the sounds of it (I haven't played the original Mario + Rabbids), this isn't nearly as ambitious as the Donkey Kong DLC that game had, but I still very much appreciate the effort made in putting this out. They mention multiple times that this takes place after the 5th planet but before the final battle, so it almost feels like they're saying that this was originally meant to be the 5th planet and this DLC is something of an apology tour they had to squeeze in where they finally made good on their promise instead of scrapping the whole thing. Since that's the read I'm going with, I'm gonna go ahead and say that the apology is accepted!

It's a shame Sonic Dream Team is exclusive to Apple Arcade because I think it may be the best 3D Sonic since, like, Unleashed! Dropped seemingly out of nowhere with a different team backing it, it'd be understandable to be skeptical of its approach. Even though Apple Arcade doesn't allow for microtransactions, that doesn't stop some games from incorporating ill-fitting "long-term engagement" mechanics that can drag down an otherwise clean experience. Air Twister is good, but I don't know if anyone's wanting to play it for 100 hours! Despite the format, Dream Team feels far more like a console Sonic game than it does a mobile one, only more polished, concise, and focused on what it wants to be.

Ostensibly, you could lump this game in with the "Boost Games" of the series and that would make perfect sense. You do a lot of boosting, after all. But I think that'd be selling it short. You see, what makes Dream Team cool is that it understands that Sonic isn't actually about going fast 100% of the time and never has been! Dream Team isn't a slow game and much of the level design still does consist of straight corridors to pass through, but anyone familiar with the series will immediately notice that the boost feels slower, your max speed without it even moreso, and that your boost gauge is pretty small as well. This might seem ridiculous, but it's actually a very smart decision that turns Dream Team into a more exploratory game, giving it a more distinct identity that even channels a tiny bit of that Adventure magic.

Dream Team is structured a lot like Sonic Colors, or so I hear since I haven't played that one yet. You get one juicy main mission and several smaller missions in each level in a zone. The main mission has all the trappings you'd expect, including various collectables, new interactions with the environment, and branching paths that you can experiment with on subsequent runs. The level design is overall on the simple side, resulting in quite an easy game that finishes up right as it runs out of tricks, but I found that there was a lot to appreciate despite that. I think my biggest gripe with modern Sonic game design is how inefficient it is. Each level probably took weeks of hard work and skill to craft, but then you blast through them in a minute (because they're under the impression that speed is all people want from Sonic) and never think about them again unless you're a completionist or a speedrunner. It just feels bad and wasteful to have so much detail and care put into them only for it to be over so quickly, you know?

That's why Dream Team's approach is so refreshing. Sure, the levels still aren't gigantic, but you have actual incentive to stop and look around now. There are a lot of pretty details stuffed into the level design, whether that be background elements, some of the best visuals I've seen in a mobile game, or clever platform arrangements designed to teach players valuable lessons, and the number of branching paths and rail-heavy design probably allows for some neat timesavers on subsequent runs, so you can still get some of those speedrun thrills anyway. Some levels have you searching around for keys in a way that's reminiscent of emerald hunting in Adventure 1+2 (albeit much simpler). The collectibles are very well hidden and encourage you to make use of different characters, which in turn allows for an even greater appreciation of the level designers' craft. The sub-missions do a great job of tipping the player off to these things since they take place in bite-sized chunks of the main levels. If you play through a level first as, say, Sonic, then when a mission makes you play as Knuckles instead, you'll get to see an entirely new path with new challenges. Instead of rail grinding, maybe you're climbing on a moving wall and dodging hazards, or if you're playing as Tails, maybe you get to do a prolonged flight sequence where precision suddenly matters a whole lot. Amy, Cream, and Rouge are here, too, and it's great to have such a big roster in a modern Sonic game, but they're identical to Sonic/Tails/Knuckles in functionality, which is unfortunate. Cheese can't even be used as a weapon like in Sonic Advance 2, which kills a lot of the fun of Cream's return for me. It's not as robust as the Adventure games (I really miss finding permanent upgrades), but it's a step back towards that direction, and at this point, even a slight whiff of Adventure is enough to give me the vapors.

The core of the Dream Team experience is extremely focused and polished, but as you look at the more fringe and inconsistent elements of the game, you do begin to see some room for improvement. The boss fights are conceptually really solid and always a spectacle, but they're very easy to beat and don't offer any kind of incentive to replay them, which feels like a bit of a waste. I really enjoyed seeing how different each one was (though I do wonder if making the final boss into a prolonged level instead of a fight was the right choice...) and it's easy to imagine ways to spice them up, so having them be such a miniscule part of the experience is surprising. The collectibles are inherently fun to collect because the act of playing the game is fun, but I do wish the rewards were more interesting. A majority of the missions need to be completed just to reach the end of the game, but the rewards for the entirely optional blue rings are just Smash Bros-style trophies without the cute descriptions and history lessons those had. I agree with the idea of the journey being more important than the destination, especially since the plot here isn't particularly notable, but it'd be nice if they greased my palms a little bit, you know?

Sonic Dream Team is still a quick playthrough like most modern Sonic games, but it manages to feel a lot more substantial and confident than some of the recent ones have. It avoids rehashing the same 2D era levels for tired "nostalgia" ploys (Scrambled Shores rules because it's not just Green Hill Zone for once), it isn't afraid to try new things here and there, and it doesn't hesitate to make Sonic's ensemble cast have a meaningful presence, all of which is immensely appreciated as a long-time Sonic enjoyer. I've been very pleased with the direction of the series in recent years, between Frontiers placing Sonic in a wholly new context and The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog realizing that there's a lot of value in these characters and leveraging that, and Dream Team continues this positive trend by finally trying a different approach to 3D Sonic level design while still using a familiar foundation. I really hope Sega Hardlight gets another shot at something like this on a larger scale platform because I think they could make some of the best games the series has ever seen if they're given the chance to improve upon this idea. Hopefully, this game gets ported/expanded upon for modern platforms so that others can see how Sonic can be and should be so much more than just going fast.