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  • Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway (Game Boy Advance)


    Source: Nintendo Power Advance – Issue Number 4

    Mario Kart has just about perfected the kart racing genre of video games. So much so that you rarely see competitors these days. Which is a shame really because as good as the Mario Kart series is, it would seem to me that there is plenty of room for some unique variations and even improvements. There have been a number of competitors in the past and while some are better than others, few come close to Mario Kart.

    Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway is one of those games that doesn’t come close. This game was released on the Game Boy Advance in 2002. It’s based on a movie license (Shrek) so that’s a clue right away that it probably won’t be all that great. It tries to stick very close to the Mario Kart formula being a virtual rip-off of Mario Kart: Super Circuit which was also released for the Game Boy Advance and was the first handheld Mario Kart. However, it just doesn’t execute very well. The graphics are not as good, the controls are not as good, the music is not as good and the sound effects are not as good. The tracks aren’t as well designed either for that matter and there are fewer of them. I suppose that if you are looking for a bad rip-off of Mario Kart with a Shrek license slapped on then this is the game for you.

    This game has never been re-released and given the Shrek license and being a mediocre game at best I’m sure it never will be. You’ll have to track down an original on eBay or elsewhere (which is pretty easy to do) or resort to emulation. Those looking for a good alternative to Mario Kart should probably look elsewhere though. Mario Kart: Super Circuit is a much better choice for the Game Boy Advance, even if you really, really love Shrek.

    The ad above is from issue number four of Nintendo Power Advance.

  • The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS)

    ‘The World Ends With You’

    [DS] [USA] [MAGAZINE] [2008]

    • Nintendo Power, May 2008 (#228)


    The World Ends with You is an action RPG by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS. This game was released in April 2008 and was influenced by the developer’s previous game, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as well as by the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo where the game takes place and the youth culture of that area. This game is certainly unique though it probably isn’t for everybody.

    Unlike most RPGs, this one is not set in a fantasy world or in some sci-fi future. It is set in the modern day. However, there are certainly fantasy elements in that the game takes place largely on an alternate plane of reality. The plot is a little difficult to describe but it involves battling the dead or what they become anyway. The control system is as unique as the plot though this isn’t always for the best. Combat uses both screens of the DS and includes performing touchscreen based actions, voice commands and other actions. However, the touchscreen isn’t quite precise enough to make this a smooth experience. However, relatively minor control issues aside, this game got mostly positive reviews and is certainly one of the more unique RPGs out there. It’s worth giving it a try just for that reason.

    If you don’t have a DS you can also play the relatively recently released The World Ends with You: Final Remix for the Nintendo Switch. It is an enhanced port of the original and was released just last year in 2018. Previously there were also mobile releases for both iOS (2012) and Android (2014). These newer releases have been reworked to work on a single screen as opposed to the dual screens of the DS. Otherwise you’ll have to track down the original DS version as I don’t think the experience will translate very well to an emulator.

  • Breath of Fire (Super Nintendo, GBA)



    Source: Nintendo Power Advance, Issue Number 3

    Breath of Fire is a role playing game that was developed by Capcom. The English translation and localization was handled by Square Soft and the game was released in North America in 1994. Breath of Fire is a typical example of a Japanese RPG from the 16-bit era.

    Like most RPGs, Breath of Fire is fantasy based. You play the role of a boy named Ryu who is one of the last of an ancient race of beings that can transform into dragons. He has misplaced his sister and is searching the world for her. Along the way you will fight many battles (thankfully turn based) and meet up with others with similar quests.

    While originally developed for the SNES, Breath of Fire was also released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. This version was almost identical to the SNES original. It had some minor graphical improvements but the biggest practical change was that you could save anywhere instead of only at certain places.

    Breath of Fire received generally positive reviews and ultimately spawned numerous sequels on various systems. In addition to the Game Boy Advance port, Breath of Fire was also re-released via the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2016. If you want an original copy, you’ll probably have to pay a fairly high price…something close to original retail for a used copy anyway. Emulation, as always, is an option too.

    The image at the top is the intro to the strategy guide in issue number 3 of Nintendo Power Advance for the Game Boy Advance version of the game. Other images are screen shots from the Super Nintendo version.