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GOTY '22

Participated in the 2022 Game of the Year Event


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GOTY '21

Participated in the 2021 Game of the Year Event


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Gained 10+ total review likes


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Played 100+ games

Favorite Games

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Panzer Dragoon Saga


Total Games Played


Played in 2023


Games Backloggd

Recently Played See More

Sonic Dream Team
Sonic Dream Team

Dec 06

Spirits & Spells
Spirits & Spells

Dec 04

Pizza Tower
Pizza Tower

Dec 04

Castle Shikigami 2
Castle Shikigami 2

Nov 30

SpongeBob's Truth or Square
SpongeBob's Truth or Square

Nov 25

Recently Reviewed See More

In the 2013 video game Puppeteer, a breezy and simplistic yet charming 2.5D platformer that justifies its 2.5D more than the bulk of games in that style ever have with its stage show aesthetic, your character Kutaro is a wooden puppet. A big part of the game is collecting puppet heads which act as hit points
There are a total of 104 heads to collect across the whole game. Every single one of these heads has a unique animation associated with it if you can hold onto it in the right spot. Could be a unique contextual moment within the game to take a shortcut, get rewards, skip a boss phase, or reaching a bonus stage. Beating the game will give you a head that can perform the contextual action of any other head to see the work put in, but there’s still that desire to find which heads you missed to see their distinct sense of character.
That is a level of soul and dedication you really only see from developers incredibly passionate about their craft and appreciating their effort a decade later it’s a damn shame to see Japan Studio shuttered now when it could be the perfect gap material between Sony’s mega blockbusters.

Growing up in the 2000s, Pokemon was everywhere. It was hard to escape the toys, the video games, the anime/movies or the trading cards just because of how dominant it was on route to be the highest grossing media franchise of all time, before a brief dip in the 2010s that rose again with Pokemon GO. But with how popular it was then, there were naturally other contenders in the “toy advertisement/real life game/monster collecting” niche fighting for attention and most kids probably clung to at least one other one. There were a lot of these, be it a version of Yu-Gi Oh, Beyblade, Digimon or even extremely late contenders like Monsuno.

The main Pokemon alternate I grew up with was Bakugan, which I’ll talk more about on a future date, but for a few weirdos it might’ve been Chaotic, that Danish monster card game anime but not really anime show produced by 4Kids that aired at around 6 AM on Cartoon Network and probably other places maybe. In being curious how well that first Bakugan game held up, I also bought this game under the same game publishing brand for around $10 to see how it compared to that vague curiosity I had of this series’ existence.
And holy hell it is awful! A lot of the more obvious bad licensed games in the 6th and 7th gen like the Charlies Angels game or Aquaman game or Simpsons Skateboarding or DBZ Sagas have been made known elsewhere, but sometimes you see a game maybe nine other people had played and you’re shocked was even allowed to market in the limited, barely held together state that it’s in, the unexpected kind of shovelware that struggles to have ideas held back in any possible way it could be.
First off, you only play as the one main human character, Tom, voiced by Jason Griffith Sonic. This was confusing to me, since my vague memories of the show involved numerous human characters good and bad associated with different tribes of monsters possibly even building ideological reasons about why one character vibed with one side the most but nope, more than one human model was clearly too much for this game considering even his plain grey shirt has warping textures and his face looks like this.
The gameplay of Chaotic Shadow Warriors alternates between two styles, barely functional asset flip tier in the overworld, and ungodly bland and sluggish when inside of the monster fights.
The asset flip overworld parts highlight maybe the most obvious issue with the game; it runs like dogwater. When people think of the negative stereotype of 7th gen games and their obsession with bloom creating barely running experiences, this hits the dot right there. In the many worlds it almost never felt like Tom wasn’t running at maximum 15 frames per second, occasionally even lower, with it almost creating the sensation that you kept going from a run to a slow walk over and over despite the animation remaining the same. The very few bits of shoddy platforming thrown in are crippled by not only a hilariously stiff jump, but the terrible frame pacing making it an active struggle to meaningfully aim yourself in midair when going for a bigger leap. Tom isn’t given any sort of ambient lighting in the darker caverns to stand out from the environments, and the lava world is on par with Lost Izalith in Dark Souls 1 for how heavy the contrast between overly dark ground and overly bright lava is. And it’s not like the worlds in their ugly barely functional bloominess had anything in them beyond random objects to scan for plot progression. Almost all the time the only other characters are tiny bugs that die instantly just by spamming RT of a gun you’ll never run out of ammo for, and monsters to engage in the turn-based battles. And even those aren’t handled consistently. Sometimes running into them triggers an awkward zoom in of the monster’s unblinking model, sometimes you just see the static model and a battle initiates without a zoom, and sometimes a battle initiates without seeing a monster at all. It genuinely feels like the state of this was unfinished.
On top of this, most of the zones have zero actual connection to each other. Oftentimes finishing an area will immediately incur a laggy load screen, and Tom will instantly warp to another entirely separated part of the world. There was one section in a jungle level where you open a gate and can see more level on the other side, but it still triggers a loading screen as you're about to go through. This also happens when entering a window inside a castle with a load screen midway through some steps to load the rest of the level. If you turn around to go back outside the castle or on the other side of the open gate, that also incurs a loading screen without even disguising it by something as simple as going through a big door with a black void on the other side. This non-existent seamlessness really feels like they were struggling to find any way to tie together the loose collection of poorly lit assets they whipped up. And the weird thing is that the game has a fast travel system! It could easily just tell you to travel to a new location on your map when you have a reason to go to a particular place, but they couldn’t get THAT right. It makes for a consistently bizarre experience in seeing just how barely held together every single aspect of this world and this gameplay loop is being stretched for over 6 hours.
And this is WITHOUT talking about the monster battles, which are the supposed draw of a game like this. While not AS much of a barely running asset flip as the overworld stuff, it falters for different reasons, namely being boring, unintuitive and limited.
In concept it’s your typical RPG party system, up to 5 monsters on the field, a front and back row, defeating enemy forces that pile up to the same amount. You activate attacks via timing button presses for every single attack the exact same way when they line up with a shape, manage a resource based on how powerful certain attacks have potential to be and use spells for various effects, most of which are useless beyond heals and damage dealing attacks. There’s a somewhat neat risk/reward mechanic regarding whether you want to block an attack or scan a monster to add it to your team, with three of one monster in the same grade being able to be refined into a higher grade (higher grade monsters having better stats and more powerful attacks), but that’s really all the battles have going for them beside type effectiveness only notable a handful of times. Once you’ve balanced out which monsters you want to capture, it really does just come down to dealing damage with choppy canned animations, using magic to strike monsters in the opponent back rows, or taunting to gain more Attack Points at the cost of not moving.
And man, does the menuing to prepare for battles make trying to do ANY of this incredibly unintuitive. Selecting a monster for your team and their equippable item is done entirely through a row that only fully shows the information of one monster and non-descriptive pictures of two others. You can skip to the beginning or the end of your collected monsters but nowhere in the middle of the row to find a particular monster. You have no way of organizing the rows, meaning certain monster types will always be together and forcing slow scrolling to reach different types. If you try to scroll through equippable items too fast, the description for them won’t even load on time, forcing you to wait around for the text description of what the item does to eventually appear onscreen!
On top of this, you only have one slot to have a party equipped in, discouraging the use of different teams for different situations. A big part of why this game system discourages experimentation is because of what the game in context considers to be racist monsters. These are particularly strong monsters that will refuse to join any party that isn’t solely of their kind. Imagine in Pokemon once you acquired a Pokemon like Mewtwo or Lucario, you couldn’t include them in any party unless it entirely comprised of Psychic Type or Fighting Type Pokemon respectively. It’s that level of annoyance and it won’t even let you quickly swap out the other race monster for one of its race. Instead, you must find the other race’s monster, enter a menu and swap it out for one that’s the same race as the racist monster you want on your team. Lastly, the game bafflingly doesn’t even let you heal the monsters you capture unless you win a battle with them in your party or fuse it into a new monster. To continue the Pokémon metaphor, imagine if once you capture a Pokémon at 1 HP, you had to have it win a battle against a trainer to heal it for future encounters. It’s bizarre.
Once you get to the end of this game’s lousy excuse for a plot, which does nothing of worth beyond saving random monsters from corruption by winning battles and collecting pieces of a seven sided shape that has no tangible point by the end, you find out some evil gargoyle was behind it, he says “This isn’t a game”, Tom says “Let’s get chaotic” and you can handily defeat him via the exact same turn based “chess” match you’ve been slogging through all game (you can add him to your party against him despite never capturing him via gameplay). Then you talk to a concept art render on Tom’s cellphone and then the game ends. The credits speed by in less than a minute, as if the entire development team were ashamed, they had to ship this travesty of a product in the shape it was in.
I feel bad for any actual fans of this incredibly niche card game kids show because this game is the exact kind of thing you would get for Christmas and then either immediately hate or play through gritted teeth trying to say it desperately wasn’t a mistake. THIS is the worst game Jason Griffith had ever been strung along for, more than any Sonic title. But sometimes it helps to appreciate just how intricately terrible a product can get both as a game and a license representation, when seeing the range of many more concerted efforts almost anywhere else.

Super Mario Bros Wonder is easily the best 2D Mario title of this millennium, a game bursting with life and expression whenever it can, as well as a consistently solid time from beginning to end. Though I don’t think it quite hits how exciting the 3D titles are to play or their same arcs of progression (your goal never changes or diverges in any way from world to world outside of one that didn’t even have a boss), I enjoyed it throughout.
Every new gimmick it adds within the levels does something to make the experience feel a little bit wilder, whether via jumping hippos to elevate platforming, turning you into an enemy for a new spin on traversal, matching timing of disappearing blocks, walking on the ceiling, inflating, or playing around with time integers. Only occasionally do they shake up how you’ll actually play THROUGH the game, but in spite of some repeats they’re a consistently enjoyable spurt when they happen. I looked forward to seeing the Wonder effect for every new level as a constant incentive to go further and further into the game.
Much has been said regarding Mario Wonder’s art design and it bears repeating; this is a lovely looking game. After the fairly sterile and repeated character animations of the New series, Wonder shines by just how many little animations every character has to punctuate the many possible actions. Kicking realism out the door, they took the Mario 3 design of having the sprites cheat the camera angle for the sake of being more consistently in your face and the choice paid off. Despite the Switch’s lower end specs compared to the other systems on the market, the ART DESIGN does enough to make the game feel like it’s on something even stronger. Every character cheering whenever they make a higher jump never failed to make me smile. Although he slips a little bit when doing longer yells falling down pits, Kevin Afghani is genuinely a great new Mario and Luigi. His capturing of Martinet’s little voice quirks is incredibly on point throughout the game and I’m very happy for his career to effectively be set for life voicing THE iconic video game character for the next several decades running. The music isn’t as up there with Mario’s best soundtracks for new iconic ditties, unfortunately, but I did enjoy any stage where music was the gimmick for how the level design played around with it (where are those house stages so short tho?). Definitely one of several instances inspired by the creativity Mario Maker players have shown.
The powerup game is notable in the sense of the game’s most publicized power actually being the worst of the new ones. Mario and co looking like elephants is a wacky visual but in practice the elephant is mainly used to break sets of blocks or water very specific plants in a stage that’ll actually happen to have water in it. Feel like there was more potential this form could’ve had and honestly New Super Mario Bros Wii’s Penguin suit was a better animal based suit power. Its run could slide you on the ground to keep some momentum in addition to fulfilling the projectile purpose of an ice flower.
It’s the other two that actually change the game in a positive way. Bubble carries on the function of the bubble Yoshis from Mario U and serves as both a platforming tool and a kill option of mass destruction all at once, truly feeling like a power up. Drill, meanwhile, finally delivered on the potential of Mario holding a massive drill in Galaxy 2 by giving every stage a new sense of depth hanging on the floors and ceilings. It even serves as effective production against ceiling falling projectiles; a great help for maintaining speed flow in stages with obstacles falling from the sky. Despite thinking the elephant was missed potential, the other two pick up the slack for considering of how they add onto the core Mario experience.
Hilariously, Mario Wonder has the exact opposite problem as Sonic Superstars when it comes to boss battles. Whereas the Superstars bosses were great concepts that suffered from being incredibly cheap and drawn out and having constant waiting, the Mario Wonder bosses are very easy, comically short, have almost zero variety and feel conceptually limited despite the versatility of the stages. This is the only area where the New Soup games still have the edge over Wonder. Even the DS game played around with bigger enemies as boss fights while the Bowser Jr fights it had in between them it saw as stopgap minibosses are more like every boss here outside of the last one. The final boss plays around with the arena in fun ways but is a bit been there done that relative to a lot of other Nintendo properties over the past two and a half decades. After Mario 3D Land, World and Odyssey played around with the concept of the “ending” Bowser battle, I can’t help but feel like there was a little more to do that wasn’t fully capitalized on. The use of rhythm is nice, but there was more to play with for everything a Bowser battle could be under the stipulations of these gimmicks.
The Badge system is interesting, in theory. I can imagine a combination of badges could come together in local multiplayer but in Single Player, most of these you will never use and feel more like downgrades once you have a really good one since you can only select one. For what reason would I ever willingly use the invisibility (intentionally), the hidden block power, or the Dolphin Kick outside of very specific stages where Mario is underwater to warrant it? After achieving the Boosted Spin Jump which made getting flagpoles a cinch for nearly every stage in the game, it felt like I had little reason to try anything else besides the sensor if I needed it. It’s a shame too bc I would’ve loved to see how some of these could function in more levels, particularly the grapple vine power, but there was just never a better advantage to take than that boosted midair jump. Thankfully the final challenge, while having slightly too much input drilling felt like it had appropriate advantage of all these powers, and the reward obtained from clearing it is a fun and memorable quirk that reminds me of the Paper Mario game badges.
Outside of the occasional 5-Star stage in the Special World that definitely makes things trickier, it left something to be desired challenge-wise even compared to other mainline Marios. Most players, even kids, likely won’t see a Game Over screen, and while I don’t mind on paper given most Mario games target all ages, but it’s notable here SPECIFICALLY bc of how many safety nets the game has in place. A badge that effectively bounces you off any kind of liquid death is obtainable not too far into the adventure, but you also have four Yoshis and a Nabbit to never take any kind of damage while also likely not being touched by more experienced players, and multiplayer turned into a strand-like system where standees can be placed to revive any player from a death. Said multiplayer is incredibly helpful for the Secret Park stages but is mostly a constant safety net anywhere else. The heart system is a cute way to show a sense of collaboration, so I appreciate that.
Super Mario Bros Wonder is the best 2D Mario since the early 90s, a great game that looks gorgeous and does a lot to keep its level surprises fresh. Maybe it lacks that personal edge and movement expression/progression of some of Mario’s 3D outings, and maybe it could’ve pushed challenge a little harder specifically considering all of the safety nets the game provides for you but I’m thoroughly satisfied with Wonder as what I hope to be the swan song for Mario’s storied Switch game career. It does tell me that the next 3D outing on Switch 2 has the position to be a true game changer in how we even PERCEIVE Mario games, but Mario Wonder served as an effective encapsulation of the Mario experience plateau capped with enough character and flavor to have a feel that could truly only belong to it.