Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The idea first occurred to me while playing Fallout 3. I was exploring the wastes and stumbled across the ruins of an old church. As I approached the building, someone standing on the roof began to fire at me. I didn't know who he was. I didn't know what he wanted. I didn't even want to kill him. I just wanted to explore the church and be on my way. Sadly, that wasn't an option. I had to kill him, no matter how much I didn't want to. As I sniped him out from a safe distance, I thought to myself, If only there was a way to tell him I meant no harm... And then it hit me: Vocal input. Heck, I was even wearing a headset for the headphones anyways! If that were in place, I'd have been able to yell "Whoa, wait! I don't want to hurt you! I mean no harm!" at the guy, and potentially convince him to cease firing at me. If not, well, I'd have to kill him anyways. The fact that there would be the possibility of convincing him otherwise (Perhaps influenced by the in-game Charisma stat) would be an amazing addition. The thought of being able to avoid conflict and instead work out an alliance of some sort is just amazing to me. The in-game characters can do it, so why not me?
Of course, the level of sophistication required for what I described above is probably still many years away. At first we'd probably only have a few pre-determined phrases for it, and when my idea becomes that watered down, well, you may as just make a textual dialog choice instead. No, it will be many years for something like what I've outlined above to become reality. Not until the day that artificial intelligence can actually be considered, well, intelligent, will this be possible. I can dream, though, can't I?
Discuss This Article On The Forums
Monday, March 30, 2009
"Yes! I'm getting it ASAP!" 6 votes (23%)
"I'm sort of interested in it" 5 votes (19%)
"No, not really" 5 votes (19%)
"No, I don't want it at all" 6 votes (23%)
"I don't know" 0 votes (0%)
It seems I'm far from the only person not interested in the billionth Pokémon game. Of course, I've got nothing against those who still enjoy it. By all means, have fun. I'm just not a fan anymore.
Last week sure came with its fair share of announcements, with probably the biggest (Yet least substantial) one being the revelation of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. So then, what better theme to have for this week's banner? I whipped this up in a few minutes, but I think it does the job quite well.
While we're on the subject, this week's poll is also of a similar theme: "What do you think of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks?" I'm quite keen on it myself so far, but I know a lot of people are somewhat less enthusiastic about this dramatic shift. Now's your chance to let your opinion be known!
I'm thinking the next article will be up within the next day or so, hopefully before tomorrow evening. I've got a couple ideas floating about, so all I have to do is pick one and get writing! Now, if I can just concentrate for once...
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks was announced yesterday, and forums all over are abuzz with speculation and worry regarding this new installment in the classic franchise. Some people have pointed out minor gameplay additions in the trailer, but nobody's really sat down and thought about the core changes that are taking place in the game's formula, both concept- and gameplay-wise. That's what I've set out to do with this article, and I hope you all take what I say into consideration next time the game comes up in discussion (Which is sure to be quite often over the next little while).
Without a doubt, the first change deserving mention is the train. Having already addressed the obvious question of why a train is in a Zelda game (See the bottom of this article for the answer), it's time to see just what sort of impact this technological marvel will be having on the gameplay. First, let's take a look at the following screenshot taken from the trailer:
As you can see by looking at the top screen, there's a maze of tracks covering a large amount of what I'll be calling "Hyrule Field" until another name is given. One of the first things to notice about this is the fact that most of the upper-left quarter of the map is devoid of rails. What does this mean? Quite simply, it means that not all exploration will be done via train. There will be on-foot travel in Spirit Tracks outside of dungeon exploration. Second, note the tattered edges of the map on the left and bottom borders of the screen, and the absence of them in the right and top borders. This suggests that what we see here is, at the very least, a quarter of the overall game world. The map is at least four times this size in total. Whether or not the rail system continues into these unknown regions is yet to be found out for sure, but that one stretch of tracks running along the eastern side of the castle suggests it will, and I expect significant amounts of on-foot exploration will go along with it.
One may notice a parallel between the way the train works and how seafaring worked in Phantom Hourglass (Spirit Tracks' supposed prequel). The ocean from the previous game has basically been replaced with a largely empty field crisscrossed by rails, and the boat replaced with a train. Instead of sailing across a sea, we'll now be chugging across a large field. In short, there's nothing truly new and restricting about Spirit Tracks (That we so far know of) when compared to the seafaring in Phantom Hourglass.
To that you may ask "Well, why not just stick to the ocean, then?" There's a simple answer to that, but you may not like it: To make the game more casual friendly. With a wide open ocean there's plenty of places to get lost, but if there's set, defined paths crossing it, it's next to impossible to lose your bearings. Now, if it's being made casual friendly, that means it has to be super-easy, right? Well, that's not quite true. Two paths could be taken here with game difficulty without hampering the experience for more dedicated gamers. The two paths are as follows:
-One option would be to implement the "Kind Code" patent that surfaced back in January, allowing more advanced gamers to play it as usual, while still allowing any less experienced gamers the opportunity to enjoy the story, and jump in for a bit of action whenever they want.
-The other possibility would be to leave the difficulty in tact and not lower it at all for the more casual gamer. Spirit Tracks could become more of a "bridge" game than a "gateway" title, helping new gamers to slowly advance from simpler titles like Wii Sports over to more complex and difficult games such as this. The rail system will be the simplified aspect of the game, letting the newcomer concentrate on learning how to fight. From this "bridge" game they could then move on to more serious and difficult titles like the console Zelda games, thus completing the path Nintendo set for them.
Of course, I'm not at all denying the distinct possibility that Nintendo will avoid both of the above paths and instead make the game incredibly simple. All I'm saying is there are other possibilities that would serve both dedicated and newcomer gamers alike.
For the next section, we'll be taking a look at the following two screenshots (Again, taken from the trailer):
These two screens right here confirm the most important parts of any Zelda game are intact: Dungeon exploration and epic boss battles. Unlike the above uncertainties involving difficulty, this much remains fact; Spirit Tracks will still very much be a Zelda game, perhaps even eclipsing Phantom Hourglass as the definitive handheld Zelda experience. With a new super-powered, fan-like weapon and the ability to control Dark Nuts to do our bidding, Spirit Tracks holds all the markings of a masterpiece. Will it hold up to this potential? Only time can say for sure, but my outlook is optimistic.
What do you think of what we've seen of Spirit Tracks so far? Are you excited for it beyond all reason, or are you more likely to burn a Miyamoto effigy on your front lawn? Feel free to speak your mind in either the comments section, or in this forum thread. Just no burning of effigies around here; The cops are already on my ass about the "cherry Kool-Aid" dripping down the walls.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I forgot that the Game Developers Conference (GDC) was today. I woke up and just did my normal routine, logged onto my computer and saw the Go Nintendo banner and remembered it. Okay, I thought, maybe we'll get some Punch-Out! Wii info or something. After past disappointments, I've taught myself to not get too excited about Nintendo conferences or keynotes. I expected a little bit of info on some announced projects, a whole lot of sales talk, and that would be it. I was glad to be mistaken.
First off, before the conference even began, someone in the Go Nintendo comments screamed about a new Wii update. I ran down and downloaded it, expecting maybe a new little widget on the menu like the clock they added a while back. Oh, there was something new on the Wii Menu, but it was far more than a clock: It was an SD card icon. Luckily I had my SD card in there already from a recent play session of Excite Truck, so I clicked away. And what did I find but the fabled storage solution! No, really! Remember last year when they announced that we would soon be able to download WiiWare and Virtual Console games directly onto the SD card, but we'd be unable to play it unless it was on the internal memory? Seemed like a whole load of nothing, didn't it? Mercifully, it was all a big misunderstanding on the part of us gamers, and the storage solution is indeed here. And man, it's awesome.
Here's how it works: Say you've got an SD card with a WiiWare game on it, but you don't want to put it in your already near-full Wii fridge. Well, have no fear, because your fridge just got an upgrade! Following is a play-by-play, picture-accompanied walk-through of the process.
Now that, my dear readers, is what I call service! And when you're done playing, it goes right back to the Wii Menu in an instant, with the temporary data already wiped. This is undoubtedly the best Wii update ever. I have more space in that internal memory than I can ever remember having before. 700+ blocks just sitting there, waiting to serve the demands of any SD card-launched game I wish to play. It's... It's beautiful. And what's more, take a look at this:
Yes! Now downloaded games don't even have to touch the internal memory at all until we play them! Nintendo, I- I forgive you.
And now, for my best infomercial voice-over impression: But wait, there's more! Heck, I haven't even gotten to the actual keynote yet! Now, we all know Nintendo just loves talking about how successful they are, especially with the economy in the state it is. Things like this were said again, of course, but with a few neat little tidbits tossed in. First off, we got the official announcement that the Nintendo DS, DS Lite and DSi have, combined, shipped over 100 million units worldwide, and with the way it's selling nowadays, that basically means 100 million sold, too. On the console side of things, 50 million Wii consoles have been shipped worldwide, with the sales situation probably mirroring that of the Nintendo DS line of handhelds. The other nice little note they tossed in was actually thanking us for buying their product. Thanking. Us. That's amazing, really. I've never heard of a game developer saying such a thing before.
After a bit more dev talk and word of Miyamoto randomly kidnapping employees to do his bidding (Best left unexplained), we finally get some clarification on Rock N' Roll Climber, a Nintendo game first "unveiled" to us through an ESRB leak. A new, Balance Board-utilizing WiiWare property entirely unrelated to Ice Climbers (Sorry, folks), Rock N' Roll Climber is a wall climbing simulator that takes the whole body into the climbing equation. Hand and foot movements are reflected by the on-screen character, climbing across blurry, low-resolution cliffs to reach the top. Once there, the player is treated to a somewhat badly animated guitar riff played by the player who picked up a guitar on the mountain top. Because, you know, electric guitars are often left on the summit of a climbing wall. You can't make this stuff up.
As you can probably tell, I'm not all that thrilled about Rock N' Roll climber, and that's for many reasons. First, it's a rock climbing simulation. Once you understand the controls, you've mastered the game. The whole point of actually rock climbing is the thrill, danger, and sense of accomplishment obtained from the activity. Unless they throw in loose rocks or some crap like that in the harder levels, I'm not interested. Second, it's uuuuuuuuugly. I understand this is a WiiWare title, but so was LostWinds, and that was beautiful. Really, I think that's all I need to say to validate my disinterest.
Next up comes the announcement of the above-described storage solution, which is still pure freaking awesome. Moving on.
A whole bunch of Square-Enix support was announced for WiiWare and Virtual Console. First off, we'll be getting a (Hopefully enhanced) port of the Japanese cellphone game Final Fantasy IV: The After, which, judging by the title, it an epilogue to Final Fantasy IV. Following that announcement was the revelation of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord. While not the disc-based sequel I asked for back in my review of FFCC: My Life as a King, My Life as a Darklord still sounds interesting. So far, the following press release snippet is the best info we have:
FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES: My Life as a Darklord puts players in the highly fashionable shoes of the Darklord’s daughter, a malevolent little Miss, charged with dispatching intruding do-gooders by strategically placing traps and monsters around the tower she calls home.
Players will need to get their hands on ever more diabolical traps and abominable monsters to stop those pesky adventurers from making it to the Dark Crystal at the top of the tower. Be warned, though - with heroes of all the races and job classes from the FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES series storming the Darklord’s lair in real time, traps and minions will count for nothing unless deployed like a true evil genius. Anything less and the Darklord’s beloved home will be reduced to rubble!
Ooh, I like playing as the bad guy! My Life as a Darklord takes things in a much more traditional direction, turning the focus back on combat and away from reconstruction. Hmm, the same classes and races seen in My Life as a King, you say? Maybe I can finally beat some sense into those AWOL morons from the first game... And hey, Square-Enix, while you're being all loose-lipped... What happened to The Crystal Bearers? If you've canceled it, just say so already. If not, show us something! COME ON!
Here's another announcement with a more immediate result: As of today, classic arcade games are now going to be available on the Virtual Console! That's right, just about every non-Sony or Microsoft console in history is now available to be played on the Wii. What next, Atari 2600 and the always fun ET? Let's not think about the future just yet, though. Just pull some strings and get The Simpsons: The Arcade Game on the VC, and I'll be happy.
What else is there... Oh yeah, a new Zelda! Titled The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, the first (And so far only) trailer shows our man Link, and he's... Driving a train? Yep, that seems to be the new "thing" with this latest Zelda. While at first I could only laugh, I started thinking about it and began to really like it. I mean, a train may seem out of place in a Zelda game, but think about it: The Wind Waker trilogy, as it now is, is chronologically the latest point in the series. It only makes sense that more modern technology would begin to surface. In fact, it's been hinted at in the last two games, with man mastering the seas in Wind Waker, and then harnessing steam power with Linebeck's ship in Phantom Hourglass. It's happening, people: Hyrule is modernizing. The industrial revolution is close at hand!
So, what did we get out of this seemingly ho-hum day? The long-awaited storage solution, a bunch of new WiiWare and Virtual Console games, and, last but certainly not least, our new Zelda. I must say, I'm impressed. The only problem is that Spirit Tracks is so far away!
Discuss This Article On The Forums
Monday, March 23, 2009
"It's kinda fun" 3 votes (12%)
"I'm indifferent" 1 vote (4%)
"I don't like it" 5 votes (20%)
"I hate it!" 2 votes (8%)
"I don't know" 4 votes (16%)
Got a good, varied set of votes on this one. I'm surprised to see so many people say they love it on what is primarily a Nintendo blog. I myself voted "I love it!" back before I actually got my hands on Chinatown Wars, and now I'm wishing I added a "Oh my god it's FANTASTIC" option to the poll. Chinatown Wars is just mind-blowing, people, but that's all I'll be saying until the review (Hopefully) later this week.
This week's banner is in celebration of the release of Pokémon Platinum, and has been carefully hand-crafted by me. And by carefully hand-crafted, I mean whipped up in Photoshop in under ten minutes. Dammit, Jim, I'm a writer, not a Photoshopper!
As for this week's poll, it is of a similar topic: "Are you interested in Pokémon Platinum?" I was sort of interested in it up until I got Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Turns out I wasn't actually interested in Platinum as much as I was interested in something new to play on my DS. Looking at all the facts, I just don't think Platinum does enough for me over Diamond to warrant a purchase. All the added features just seem... Frivolous. Unrelated to the core Pokémon experience. It seems to only be diluting the game instead of enhancing it. And you can bet it'll all be forgotten and abandoned come generation five, just like all the enhancements granted to the previous "Third games".
I've got a couple ideas floating around for the next article (One of which being the aforementioned Chinatown Wars review), but I don't think I'll be getting started until at least tomorrow. It's getting kinda late, and I'd rather work on the next update when I'm more... Well, awake. So, in other words, th-th-th-th-th-th-th-that's all, folks (For today)!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
What you see above is my entire DS game collection, and I'm gonna review every single one right here, right now! Buckle your seatbelts, this is gonna be one heck of a ride!
Advance Wars: Dual Strike: Bringing the series to the DS, Dual Strike is packed to the brim with modes, both online and offline. With a huge single player campaign and so much more to keep you coming back afterwards, Dual Strike is a must-have for any fan of turn-based strategy games. Verdict: YAY
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin: A sequel to the previous game, Days of Ruin takes the serious in a more grim direction with a post-apocalyptic setting. On the downside, Days of Ruin is lacking many of the different modes present in Dual Strike. Nonetheless, it's a solid title well worth your time and money. Verdict: YAY
Age of Empires: The Age of Kings: Yet another turn-based strategy game. What can I say, I'm a fan of the genre! Anyways, The Age of Kings features five campaigns based loosely on historic events. With units from mounted soldiers to trebuchets, there's no shortage of variety in any battle. The sound quality is pretty low, though, and the stylus controls are so bad they're pretty much useless. Even with that factored in, Age of Kings is still a fun, if flawed, game. Verdict: YAY
Animal Crossing: Wild World: Animal Crossing is a difficult franchise to describe, leaning into both the social- and life-simulator categories. Whatever it is, Wild World builds onto the formula by adding online play, further character customization and a whole bunch of new furniture. On the downside, all four players on a game card have to cram into one house, leading to some big troubles for those of us with siblings. That's just one downside in a sea of positives for Wild World, though. Verdict: YAY
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: The first title in the Ace Attorney series made for the DS, Apollo Justice benefits from the new hardware's boosted horsepower to provide an even more engaging courtroom experience. The art, humour, gameplay and storytelling are all of the same high quality we're used to, delivering an experience worthy of the Ace Attorney name. Verdict: YAY
Big Brain Academy: One of the many brain-training games available for the DS, Big Brain Academy manages to stand out from the crowd with fun, mind-boosting games suitable for anyone. One may argue exactly how much (Or little) the game actually does for your intelligence, but the fact remains that Big Brain Academy is an entertaining and fulfilling experience. Verdict: YAY
Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes a Day!: Brain Age isn't just another brain-training game; It's the one that started it all. Every one of the game's many activities is designed to have a different effect on your brain, increasing bloodflow to specific parts and resulting in an overall improvement of your mental performance. If that isn't enough, there's also tonnes of Sudoku puzzles on the game card, making this a package of pure mental health and good times. Verdict: YAY
Brain Age 2: More Training In Minutes a Day!: Brain Age 2 does everything the first game did in new ways, with many new activities taking over for the old. Not only that, Brain Age 2 also includes a miniature version of Dr. Mario as a hidden bonus, which in my opinion is worth the whole $20 on its own. Also, just like its big brother, Brain Age 2 comes packaged with a whole whackload more Sudoku puzzles, making this sequel just as addictive, entertaining and pro-brain as the original. Verdict: YAY
Brothers in Arms DS: The consoles may be inundated with World War II games, but the selection of such titles on the DS is quite slim. Brothers in Arms DS helps correct this imbalance, bringing all the man-to-man and vehicular combat down to the dual screens with amazing levels of graphical and gameplay quality. I suppose the only downside to this game is the complete lack of online play. It's a pity to waste all those weapons on virtual opponents... Verdict: YAY
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: Funny how this list is alphabetized, yet games of similar genres seem to get lumped together. Call of Duty 4 distances itself from Brothers in Arms DS by taking the battle to the modern battlefield, adding weapons and vehicles of a higher technological level to the mix. There's also a notable difference in the fields of control, audio and graphics, but this time they're not so welcome. The touchscreen is sometimes inaccurate, it's often confusing to figure out where a sound is coming from, the the character and world models are just plain messy. A great game taken down by some really simple-to-fix issues. A shame, really. Verdict: MEH
Children of Mana: Probably Square-Enix's least-known franchise, the Mana series was a huge hit back in the days of the SNES. These days, though... It's insanely repetitive and lacking in challenge. Children of Mana is a sort of Mystery-Dungeon-meets-Zelda game, but lacking in most of the good qualities of both these franchises. I don't know why, but I got right up near to the end of this game before deciding it wasn't that great. Such a pity, though, because the art is beautiful... Verdict: NAY
Contact: It's a real shame that the gameplay isn't better in Contact, because the storyline is fantastic. While the player controls the main character, they're actually a separate entity from him. The professor character in the game is aware of the player's existence outside the game world, and it plays a major part in the plot. What's disappointing, though, are the lame battle system and the quite often useless different classes available to the player. The amazing storyline deserved so much better... Verdict: MEH
CrossworDS: You got your anagrams, your word searches and, of course, you got your crosswords. That's CrossworDS in a nutshell for you. Strangely, although the title clearly points to the crosswords being the main attraction here, I find myself more drawn towards the anagrams and word searches than anything else. Why? Well, to put it simply, it's how incredibly easy the crosswords are. Oh, there's harder ones, but you can't get to them until you suffer through dozens of mind-numbingly easy puzzles. Not exactly the best game design ever. Verdict: MEH
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker: Morrie's Monstrous Pit was probably my favourite part of Dragon Quest VIII, if only for the name. Anyone familiar with that knows exactly what to expect from Dragon Quest Monsters, a game in which the player commands a team of monsters in battles, Pokémon style. With excellent visuals, addictive gameplay and a soundtrack perfectly fitting the Dragon Quest name, Joker is an excellent way to pass the time while waiting for Dragon Quest IX. Verdict: YAY
Drawn to Life: While other platformers focus on the player exploring a pre-made world crafted by the developers, Drawn to Life lets the player shape much of the world in their own way, ranging from the main character itself to the very weapons he wields. Even much of the special objects in the game world are free to design, letting players craft their own platforms, springs and vehicles with ease. While the platforming itself may be a little by-the-numbers, the ability to craft your own world certainly makes up for any shortcomings. Verdict: YAY
Electroplankton: I always have a very hard time calling Electroplankton a game. There's no objective, nothing to unlock, just about nothing resembling a typical video game. What is there, though, is a fun way of creating little techno mixes with the help of several distinct species of musical plankton. Although lacking any way to save your creations and devoid of any sort of multiplayer (Just imagine sending copies of the game to friends and jamming out like a band!), Electroplankton is one heck of a fun... Toy. Verdict: YAY
Feel the Magic: XY/XX: Originally released the same time as the DS itself, Feel the Magic is a collection of bizarre mini-games tied to an even more bizarre love story. Whether you're ejecting fish from a man's stomach or clearing the road for a bunch of weirdos rolling down the hill in shopping carts, it's all in the interest of impressing and winning the girl. Sure, a few games make somewhat gimmicky use of the DS' abilities, but overall Feel the Magic is a solid collection of fun, quirky games with a hilariously strange storyline. Verdict: YAY
Final Fantasy III: A remake of the until-then Japan-only Super Famicom title, Final Fantasy III was, at the time, the best-looking DS game by far. With excellent 3D graphics and an amazing pre-rendered opening sequence, Square-Enix spared no expense on this title. The gameplay is just as solid, with dozens of selectable classes and hundreds of possible team combinations. The storyline is just what you'd expect from a 1980s video game; Incredibly cliched and somewhat predictable by today's standards. However, that's probably the only real downside in my eyes, making Final Fantasy III a great RPG for the gamer on the go. Verdict: YAY
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift: Oh man, it's another turn-based strategy game! I suppose now I can be considered a true maniacal fan of the genre. What I'm not really a fan of, though, is this sequel to what was one of my favourite Game Boy Advance games. The story is crap, the touch screen controls are often sketchy, and making characters start every single battle with no Magic Points at all is one of the worst game design choices I've ever heard. Tactics A2 had the potential to be so great. A pity that Square-Enix screwed it up so royally. Verdict: NAY
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon: Surprise, it's another you-know-what game! The way alphabetizing a list lumps similar titles together is starting to really creep me out... My fears of organizational coincidences aside, Shadow Dragon is a remake of the original, Japan-only Fire Emblem game released for the Famicom. For once, this is a game that has aged quite well, with a battle system being just about as deep as any similar game released this generation. The story has also held up well, giving plenty more incentive to fight through all those intense battles. Added to the original game is a brand-new tutorial prologue with exclusive-to-the-remake dialog, as well as the ability to battle, shop and trade units online. Definitely a worthy upgrade for any of you out there still making do with the fan-translated Famicom version. Verdict: YAY
Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day: Brain Age 1 and 2 were great, Big Brain Academy was fun, so of course Flash Focus has to be worthwhile too, right? Well, that's what I though, but I was sadly mistaken. Flash Focus, like other training games, is a collection of mini-games advertised to improve the player's abilities, this case focusing on the realm of eyesight. Problem is, the minigames are more about reflexes than anything else. None of what I played improved hand-eye coordination any more than playing just about any other video game on the DS. Flash Focus? More like Flash Bogus. Oh yeah. I went there. Verdict: NAY
Game & Watch Collection: This collection consists of not one, not two, but three of the most-loved dual-screen Game & Watch games. Oil Panic, Donkey Kong and Green House make up this threesome of classic gaming goodness, all wonderfully addictive in their LCD-screen, black-and-beige graphics. Probably the only thing I'd change about this is a remade, full-colour version of each game, but even without that, Game & Watch Collection is still a whole lot of fun. Plus, you don't even have to spend a nickel to get it! Man I love Club Nintendo. Verdict: YAY
GRID: While Mario Kart relies heavily on luck and Trackmania is largely a light-hearted, laws of physics-breaking racer, GRID is a game of skill and realism. With events ranging from mountain top-sprints to drifting competitions, GRID is also a game of variety. All the tracks are based on real-world locations, and every single vehicle is a real car. Whether you're cruising through Chicago, flying down Mt. Fuji or sprinting down a track of your own design, GRID never fails to deliver challenge and excitement. Verdict: YAY
Hotel Dusk: Room 215: Of the 55 DS games I have, this is the only one that can be accurately described as an "interactive novel". Hotel Dusk is a text-heavy point-and-click game, or as the DS now makes it, point-and-tap. This interactive novel tells the story of Kyle Hyde, NYPD detective-turned-delivery man, as he investigates the mysterious Hotel Dusk. The DS is held like a book while the stylus does all the work, digging deep into the secrets of the musty old hotel. With expertly-written dialog, a wonderfully unique "sketch" art style and plot twists crazy enough to make your head spin, Hotel Dusk is a "book" you just can't put down. Verdict: YAY
Kirby Super Star Ultra: Man, there sure are a lot of remakes on the DS, aren't there? This particular game is a remake of Kirby Super Star for the SNES, and is actually a whole bunch of games in one, with several new ones added to the original selection of eight. All games are great fun and of excellent visual quality, with beautiful pre-rendered 3D cinematics popping up here and there to further the many different mini-stories. Add to that the four multiplayer-compatible games and you've got a fun-filled game collection worthy of a spot on any DS owners shelf. Verdict: YAY
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: When people first heard that the DS Zelda would be entirely touchscreen-controlled, they freaked out. "No buttons in a Zelda game? This is insanity!" Despite these doubts, Nintendo pulled through and proved that touchscreen-only controls can be done right. Phantom Hourglass did more than just prove this, though. It also delivered greatly in adventure, graphics and plot, producing a game more than worthy of being called "The Legend of Zelda". Verdict: YAY
Lock's Quest: Coming from the same developer that made Drawn to Life, Lock's Quest had a lot to live up to in my eyes. Like 5th Cell's previous work, their newest offering also has a unique basis. Whereas many games are about infiltrating enemy bases, Lock's Quest is about building your own base and defending it from waves of attacking monsters. Using the touchscreen to place defenses is quick and easy, but sometimes directing Lock to repair part of the fortifications can get a little complicated. Despite this one gameplay flaw, Lock's Quest is still an addictive little game great for whiling away the time on the bus. Verdict: YAY
Mario Kart DS: The DS version of the franchise that started it all, Mario Kart DS carries on the tradition of light-hearted and fun racing on colourful and creative race tracks. In addition to that, it also adds a series of challenges so far exclusive to this version of the game, all demanding great levels of skill to overcome. Of course, the biggest and most important contribution Mario Kart DS made to the franchise is online play. Giving us the ability to race against up to three other racers from all around the world seamlessly rockets this game into legendary status. Verdict: YAY
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was one of my favourite games on the Game Boy Advance, so I went nuts when I heard it would be getting a DS sequel. However, similar to the sad story of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 above, Partners in Time just couldn't hold up against the amazing quality of gameplay present in the original game. It's not as extreme a case as Tactics A2, though, as Partners in Time is still a fun, light-hearted RPG with hilarious writing. It just sucks that it could have been so much more, yet wasn't. Verdict: MEH
MechAssault: Phantom War: One of many franchises to make its Nintendo console debut on the DS, MechAssault does so with the sadly lackluster Phantom War. While all the great MechAssault core gameplay is there, it's all so clunky and ugly that it's just no fun at all. Even the storyline seems to have somehow become awful in the transition, with me being completely in the dark from the get-go. The only thing this game has going for it is the fully-voiced dialog, although it is of mediocre quality. MechAssault: Phantom War is a disgrace to the franchise. Verdict: NAY
Meteos: Puzzle games have become somewhat stale over the years, with quite often the unique aspect of a new puzzler is also the worst aspect. Meteos, thankfully, not only defies this trend, it stacks it up and blasts it into the mother-loving cosmos. ...and that's basically how the gameplay works in Meteos. Stack 'em up, line 'em up, blast 'em off. Simple, yet incredibly fun. Factor in the wonderfully cheesy "storyline" and Meteos is a puzzle game for the ages. Verdict: YAY
Metroid Prime: Hunters: The Metroid series has always focused mainly on the single-player experience, often tossing aside any sort of multiplayer aspect in favour of concentrating on the story mode. Metroid Prime: Hunters, however, seemed to do the exact opposite, focusing heavily on the multiplayer and giving very little attention to the single-player mode. Although we ended up with a short, repetitive and fairly mediocre single-player experience, Hunters gave us the best damn online multiplayer the DS has to offer. I feel that makes up for any single-player shortcomings. Verdict: YAY
the multiplayer more than made up for it.
Metroid Prime Pinball: "Come for the Rumble Pak, stay for the excellent pinball action." Seriously, if there were ever a tagline associated with this game, that would be it. I bought Metroid Prime Pinball mainly for the Rumble Pak, I admit that. But I got much more than that when I cracked open the game case. I got an amazing retelling of the Metroid Prime story wrapped around a fantastic pinball game. The beautifully detailed tables span across both screens and are based on Metroid Prime locations such as the Pirate Frigate and the Tallon Overworld. Believe it or not, they managed to make a Metroid-themed pinball game without messing it up. Verdict: YAY
Namco Museum DS: A compilation of seven classic 1980s Namco games, Namco Museum DS is a game card for the retro nerd in all of us. Pac-Man, Galaga, DigDug II, Xevious, The Tower of Druaga, Mappy and Galaxian all make their jump to the 21st century, and even the much-loved Pac-Man VS from the Gamecube era gets a part of the action. Whether you're crazy for the olden days or just looking for a far-easier way to play Pac-Man VS, Namco Museum DS is for you. Verdict: YAY
New Super Mario Bros.: The first new Mario platformer since Super Mario Land 2 on the Game Boy, New Super Mario Bros. had a lot to make up for. Thankfully it delivered, giving us what is one of the best platforming games on the DS. With fun, classic level designs and bright and beautiful graphics, New Super Mario Bros. was like reliving the days of the NES all over again in a magnificent new way. The multiplayer modes and mini-games packed onto the card sure didn't hurt, either! Verdict: YAY
Nintendogs: Oh, I went so nuts for this game back in 2005. I was so incredibly excited to have my very own dog in the palm of my hand (And I don't mean getting one of those yappy purse dogs). And it was fun, too, walking my dog, feeding my dog, washing my dog, walking my dog... Feeding my dog... and walking him again... Fun at first, yes, but man does it become mind-numbingly dull after a while. Also, I can only yell cute dog names into an electronic device so many times before I snap. My DS. In half. I'm more of a cat person, anyway. Verdict: MEH
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All: The second game in the series, Justice for All was actually the first one I played. Minor "ohmahgawdthatpersonisdead" spoilers aside, I had an excellent time playing Justice for All. The same intense type of exaggerated court battles from before return, with a few new twists and a handful of new characters. The storyline, though, is somewhat dismissible when looking at the trilogy as a whole, making Justice for All almost skippable for anyone only in it for the plot. This one caveat aside, the second game in the series is still a worthwhile experience, and is sure to challenge just about anyone who plays it. Verdict: YAY
Picross DS: Don't let the game fool you with its bland graphics; Picross DS is an excellent puzzler that will surely eat up any spare time you have. As the name suggests, Picross is a picture crossword kind of game, but it requires much more logical thinking than that description may imply. Like a Sudoku puzzle, one mistake can screw up the whole thing, demanding total attention. This isn't exactly the kind of game to screw around with on the bus. But if you've got the spare time and the logical mind to figure it out, Picross DS will give you near-endless hours of challenge and entertainment. Verdict: YAY
Pokémon Diamond Version: Finally bringing the immortal franchise to the DS, Pokémon Diamond is probably the ultimate version of the game so far released in North America (Platinum just may outdo it). With nearly 100 new Pokémon, a huge new world and new battle mechanics, Pokémon Diamond is sure to keep any Pokémaniac busy for hours upon hours. I should know, it did it for me! Of course, if you weren't a fan of Pokémon before this won't change anything, but if you've been meaning to check the series out, you can't pick a better place to start than with Pokémon Diamond. Verdict: YAY
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team: The turn-based strategy games keep on comin'... Blue Rescue Team places you in the role of a human-turned-Pokémon (Which Pokémon you become depends on a personality test) trying to find the way back to their own world. On the journey home, players will explore many randomly-generated dungeons and get the opportunity to add just about every one of the then-totaling-at-385 Pokémon to their roster, giving an insane amount of possible team combinations. I suppose the only real problem with this game is the lackluster graphics, but when there's over 385 creatures to make sprites for, I think it can be forgiven. No matter how you look at it, Blue Rescue Team adds up to a great dungeon-crawler that will certainly last anyone dozens and dozens of hours. Verdict: YAY
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time: See above, but replace all instances of "Blue Rescue Team" with "Explorers of Time", and change total amount of Pokémon to 493. In case you didn't get the idea, Explorers of Time is almost exactly like Blue Rescue Team, and you know what? I'm damn happy about it. I had a blast with the first game, and I had an even greater time with the sequel. Bring on the third game! Verdict: YAY
Pokémon Trozei: A new Pokémon puzzler, but it isn't a Pokémon Puzzle League sequel? I'm sure there were at least a few people freaking out back when this was announced. Pokémon Trozei is sort of like Bejewled, except whole lines are moved at a time instead of swapping pairs back and forth. Line up four or more Pokémon to clear a line, then line up three within a few seconds to keep the combo going, then go nuts pairing up Pokémon until the possibilities run out. That's the basic rhythm of Pokémon Trozei. It's a fairly simple puzzler, yes, but so's Tetris! Of course, I'm not saying it's anywhere near as good as the timeless masterpiece that is Tetris, but Trozei certainly stands out from the crowd of overcomplicated puzzlers. Sometimes basic is better! Verdict: YAY
Professor Layton and the Curious Village: The first game of the trilogy (Now a quadrilogy, it would seem), The Curious Village sees the titular professor explore the bizarre town of St. Mystere with his boy sidekick Luke. The entire town's gone nuts looking for the Golden Apple, the key to inheriting the recently-deceased baron's fortune, and they'll tell Layton anything they know... If he can answer their riddle. Thus is the basic rhythm of Professor Layton; Running about, gathering clues and solving complex riddles. It may sound bizarre and repetitive, but in reality it is anything but. Tying it all together is brilliantly-animated, fully-voiced cinematics that look like they came straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki film. Just like the village of St. Mystere, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is far more than it appears to be. Verdict: YAY
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence: Remakes, remakes, remakes! Deadly Silence is a remake of the original Resident Evil game released for the Playstation. Actually, it's more of an enhanced port, with all original graphics, sound effects, music and voice acting remaining intact. So if you're hungry and itchin' for a Jill Sandwich, you know where to go. Also included is an enhanced version of the game taking advantage of all the new features the DS has to offer, meaning first-person touchscreen knife fights and microphone mouth-to-mouth are all now possible. Yes, all your dreams have come true! Verdict: YAY
SimCity DS: Oh, I just love SimCity. I love laying out zones and roads and watching the little digital people make a city out of it all. What's that? SimCity DS? Count me in! Well, that was my reaction before I got my hands on it. Once I started playing I was hit by crappy controls, even-naggier-than-usual assistants, and a plain awful limitation of only being able to save one city at a time. I'd like to resign from my mayoral duties now, please. Verdict: NAY
Sonic Rush: By 2005, people were really getting sick of Sonic. Quality just kept nosediving with each new game. But then, out of the darkness emerged Sonic Rush, and people began to love the blue blur once again. With a 2D perspective and focus shifted back to speed and nothing else, Sonic Rush was like digging out the old Genesis and playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 all over again. The only time it ever turned away from 2D was with the amazing 3D boss battles, quite possibly the only time Sonic has ever been fun in 3D. Rush is everything I've been wanting out of a Sonic game for all these years, and boy is it good. Verdict: YAY
Star Fox Command: Like Sonic the Hedgehog above, Star Fox had gone through some dark days with Adventures and Assault, but Command brought it all back to where it belongs: In the cockpit. No more runnin' and gunnin', Fox McCloud is back in the air and staying there. And with excellent touchscreen controls, beautiful graphics, insanely fun gameplay and the pure excitement of online dogfights, I wouldn't have it any other way. Verdict: YAY
Super Mario 64 DS: When I first got my DS back in 2004, this was the very first game I played. The greatest 3D Mario platformer (At the time, at least) in the palm of my hands. And it was a great game... On its own. As a remake, though, too much was changed. It wasn't Super Mario 64 anymore. I don't want to play as Yoshi, Luigi and Wario, I want to play as Mario! It was still fun, yes, but I prefer not to associate it with the excellence that was Super Mario 64. Verdict: MEH
Tetris DS: Seriously, it's Tetris. What more do I need to say? It's the game we've all been playing for the past twenty years yet have still to get tired of. It takes something special to be able to do that. But that wasn't enough for Nintendo this time. In addition to the timeless Tetris we all know and worship, a whole bunch of brand new, almost-as-awesome modes were added, leading to a game you could literally play until the end of time. But they didn't stop there, either! They also added a robust online mode, making Tetris DS quite possibly the best damn Tetris ever. It's a mystery to me why Nintendo stopped making this god among games. Verdict: YAY
Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam: I love racing games, and I love games that require tonnes of skill. Both of these loves collide with Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, a trick-centric racer much like Excite Truck. Blazing down hills and racking up millions of points is one of the coolest experiences ever on the DS, and it just hurts so much that I can never find an opponent online. Of course, I'm not at all holding that against the developer, but man, that peeves me off. This unavoidable inconvenience aside, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam is an insanely fun trick-based racer, great for Excite Truck-lovers that need a little something on the go. Verdict: YAY
Trace Memory: The first DS game by the makers of Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Trace Memory a point-and-click game much like the adventures of Kyle Hyde, but with a lot less text. It follows the story of Ashley Robbins as she explores the deserted Blood Edward Island in search of her father, using the DS in ways you'd never imagine along the way. Trace Memory is every bit as amazing as Hotel Dusk, with the only problem being how incredibly short it is. Seriously, it's maybe six hours long, and that's being generous. Besides this, though, Trace Memory is an excellent game that everyone should play, but not necessarily at full price. Verdict: YAY
Trauma Center: Under the Knife: A game that could only ever come to be on the DS, Trauma Center is just what you think it is: A surgery game. Well, whoop dee doo, you may say. Well, the surgeries here are quite far from the typical hospital fair, with man-made, robotic diseases tearing up the insides of dozens of victims. In a bizarre, reflex-testing, sweat-summoning frenzy the player is forced to eradicate the disease from all he treats, all the while juggling fibrillating hearts and plummeting vital signs. Still think it sounds boring? No? I didn't think so. Verdict: YAY
Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2: Sequel to the above Trauma Center: Under the Knife (In case you hadn't figured that out on your own), Under the Knife 2 features all that was great about the original, while also adding in new types of surgeries such as organ transplants and bone restructuring. Just as before, though, nothing is routine here, with new, lethal symptoms constantly arising and demanding treatment simultaneously. I didn't think it was possible, but this is actually more stressful than the original. And I love it. Verdict: YAY
The Urbz: Sims in the City: The only other DS game I have that launched with the system, The Urbz is a slightly different take on The Sims. While all the usual "needs" bars are present, Urbz is more of a social adventure game than a simulator. Befriending other Sims does more than add them to your phonebook now: It opens up possibilities in the storyline and progresses the plot. Basically a port of the Game Boy Advance game, the DS version adds several minigames and a whole new island to the mix, making it a clear winner over the other. It's not all sunshine and lollipops, though, as The Urbz is quite the buggy game, with glitches teleporting Sims around and causing them to sometimes react improperly to your interactions. It's never game-breaking, but it does knock the game down quite a few pegs. Verdict: MEH
Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise: It's not often that a company can succeed in porting a game from the XBox 360 down to the DS, but Rare pulled it off beautifully in Pocket Paradise, even adding features not present in the original. Viva Piñata is a strange sort of game, one where the player is tasked with building a desirable garden to attract living piñatas. The piñatas can then move in, breed, go off to parties, and die. Really, that's just about all there is to Viva Piñata. What makes it addictive, though, is the amount of different piñatas there are to discover and obtain. 67 different piñatas are crammed into the cartridge, and any collection fiend is going to go nuts trying to grab every last one of them. A pity the gardens are too darned limited in size to cram more than ten or so breeds of piñatas in at once. Verdict: YAY
And that's it, folks: 55 games reviewed in one massive article, and you didn't even have to click "Next page" 55 times. Now to break down the total "YAY"s, "MEH"s and "NAY"s handed out:
If I had some sort of "seal of approval", I'd have to slap it on 43 games right about now...
Discuss This Monstrous Article On The Forums
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"Yes, as soon as possible!" 6 votes (25%)
"Yes, but maybe not so soon" 3 votes (12%)
"I'm not sure yet." 1 vote (4%)
"I doubt it" 4 votes (16%)
"I don't think I'll ever buy it" 3 votes (12%)
"I'm too young to buy it" 7 votes (29%)
It's good to see that the majority of votes were positive, although it was only a one vote difference between that and negative votes. Perhaps if I was actually thinking and included a "I'm too young, but I want it" option we'd know the score for real. Oh well, live and learn... Hanging on the edge of tomorrow...
This week's banner is in celebration of the first ever Grand Theft Auto game finally hitting the Nintendo DS in the form of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Man, I just can't wait to get my hands on this one on the weekend. Curse my allowance-driven purchase delays! Anyways, as I said above, I'm quite happy with how this banner turned out. How about you?
Well, finally we have this week's poll: "What do you think of the Grand Theft Auto series?" Personally, I'm a fan of the franchise. It's frantic, lawless, crazy fun. But hey, that's just me. What's more interesting is what all you guys think! So get voting!
There WILL be a new article tomorrow! I swear it, folks! I don't care if I wear out my keyboard in fury, there absolutely will be an article tomorrow!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Sorry about all this delaying and absence, folks! Believe me, I don't like it either. Time for it all to change!
Monday, March 9, 2009
"It looks awesome!" 3 votes (18%)
"I might be fun" 6 votes (37%)
"Looks kinda crappy to me" 2 votes (12%)
"Ugh, it's terrible!" 0 votes (0%)
"What's Excitebots?" 2 votes (12%)
"I don't know" 3 votes (18%)
A little surprised to see nobody say it's terrible. I was sure that at least one person would be instantly turned away by the more comical approach. Also, since the poll went live last week, I think my vote should actually go to "It looks awesome!". My copy of Nintendo Power with the preview in it arrived today, and I gotta say it sounds downright amazing. Sure, the more cartoony aspects of pies and vehicles with faces will be a little annoying at first, but beneath that seems to lie one heck of a fun racer. Also, did I just see the words "Super Sandwich"? SOLD!
This week's banner is from forum member Psychogoose (A name which I still can't figure out the inspiration behind) and the theme is MadWorld. As if the banner isn't awesome enough on its own, the original file name is "duckbannernumero3". That's just cool.
Speaking of MadWorld, it's also the basis for this week's poll: "Will you be getting MadWorld?" Personally, I'll be grabbing it on Wednesday if all goes well. Seriously, every other Wii owner out there over the age of 17 needs to do the same. Buy MadWorld, people. Buy it for the sake of quality action gaming on the Wii.
The next article is just about all thought out, and will probably be available for your reading pleasure tomorrow. I say "probably" because I kinda feel like writing tonight, but I'll most likely just get a bit of it done if anything. Whatever the case, you'll be getting it!
Friday, March 6, 2009
This is Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello. Move along now, everyone. Ignore the bleeding corpse in the corner of the room. PS: Buy our games
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
"Yes, on day one!" 6 votes (30%)
"Yes, but not right away" 7 votes (35%)
"Maybe. I'm not sure yet." 2 votes (10%)
"Most likely not" 4 votes (20%)
"Definitely not" 1 vote (5%)
"I don't know" 0 votes (0%)
A surprisingly positive response. I was so sure I was one of the only people excited for this!
This week's banner is by yours truly, and features the newly-announced Excitebots: Trick Racing. To be honest, I was quite skeptical at first of this game when the details came out earlier today, but now that I've thought about it some more I've decided that it might actually be worth getting next month. Sure, it's far different from the other games in the Excite series, but the core racing element is intact, and that online play has really got me excited. That was just about the only thing missing from Excite Truck! So sure, I'll give Excitebots a chance. It may not be several Optimus Prime clones having a footrace, but it just might prove to be a good time anyways.
As for this week's poll, the question is "What do you think of Excitebots: Trick Racing?" Yep, that game's pretty much this week's theme! You've read my thoughts above, so now it's your turn to have your say!