Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Wii-View

After much delay, here we go...

2007 was a huge year for the Wii. It was the console's first full year on the market, and thusly it had to make a big impression. Looking back, I don't think anyone could have foresaw the gargantuan success Nintendo's seen so far with the Wii. It's become the best-selling console of this generation, and is being bought by people ranging from the hardcore to those who've never gamed before. Overall, it's been a phenomenal first year, with plenty of ups and a few scant downs. And now, as we move into the new year of 2008, I'll go over just what made 2007 such a big year for the Wii.

The insane popularity

The Wii is quickly turning into the biggest thing since the Game Boy debuted back in 1989. It seems everyone is doing their best to buy it! It's estimated to have sold over 18 million units worldwide, easily overtaking the XBox 360 (Despite the latter's one year head-start).

And with demand as high as this, it's inevitable that supply constraints are going to surface. Nintendo manages to produce about 1.8 million consoles a month, but that just isn't enough for the consumers. The Wii continues to sell out despite increased production, and things don't look to be slowing down any time soon.

The unexpected NiGHTS sequel

Not too long ago, "As soon as there's a NiGHTS sequel" used to be the gaming equivalent of "When pigs fly". However, with the release of NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, the sarcastic gamers are scrambling for a new "never gonna happen" phrase. Who would have thought that this game would ever get a sequel? Usually when eleven years go by without anything of the sort, the series can pretty much be considered dead. Yet, here comes SEGA out of nowhere with the sequel we'd all hoped for but never truly expected. Looking at the past year as a whole, I don't think there's been a bigger surprise than this.

The Smash Bros. delay

Not every year goes by perfectly, and this was proven with the announcement that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would not be making it's 2007 release. I always thought that having this launch in the same year as Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy was too good to be true, but I dared not admit it.

But there is a beautiful silver lining to this dark cloud. Pushing Super Smash Bros. Brawl back to February will result in an overall better package in the end. And besides, we're finally gonna get to see Mario duke it out with Sonic the Hedgehog. We've waited fifteen years. I don't think two months will kill us.

The headache that was the Manhunt 2 fiasco

Honestly, this went on for far too long. People jumped all over this extremely violent game, screaming about how it never should have been conceived. The ESRB gives it the Adults Only rating it deserves, leading both Nintendo and Sony to refuse having it released for their respective consoles.

So Rockstar takes the game back to the drawing board, and in the process of pleasing the ESRB, they manage to destroy all that was good about the game. Instead of getting to witness the blood and gore of your brilliantly executed murder, the screen is instead darkened almost to the point of complete blackness, leaving only the sound effects and minor visual cues to tell you what the heck is happening. What Rockstar did to this game was like cutting to black right before the big kiss in a romance movie, and having a narrator merely describe it to you.

And why? Because a few bigwigs thought it would have negatively effected impressionable youths. That's why it was rated Adults Only in the first place, genius.

The little Zapper that could

The Wii Zapper is undoubtedly my favourite Wii add-on yet. Who knew a shaped chunk of plastic could add so much to the gaming experience? And it's partner in crime, Link's Crossbow Training, had some amazing bang for your buck.

To make things even better, some third-party developers even added Zapper support to their games. Ghost Squad, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 all have special options and modes made especially for Nintendo's gun shell. What many people have dismissed as a useless piece of plastic has turned into one of my favourite things about the Wii.

And of course...

Mario rocks our Galaxy

No Nintendo console is complete without a brand-new Super Mario Game, and in November 2007, the Wii got it's piece of the action. Super Mario Galaxy was one of the year's most anticipated titles, and it sure didn't disappoint once it got here. With 42 separate galaxies to explore and tonnes of stars, coins and star bits to collect, Galaxy is undoubtedly the biggest Mario game to date.

Add to that the brand-new Co-Star mode, a surprisingly interesting story and the humongous nostalgia factor, Galaxy is certainly not going to be forgotten any time soon. Now all Nintendo has to do is find a way to make an even better Mario!

So then, that's the year in Wii-view. All of the console's major ups and downs compressed into one bite-sized article. Just don't go chewing your computer monitors. Those things ain't cheap.

So, as I say goodbye to 2007, I look forward to the great wonders sure to be coming in 2008. Here's to another great year!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Article Delay

Sorry, folks, but there will not be an article tonight. I have to wake up in about eight hours, and I've barely started writing. I'm not sure when it will be up, but I will have it posted by the end of the year for sure. Could be tomorrow, could be Sunday, could be Monday, but it will be posted.

Sorry! You will get the article in it's entirety very soon! It's kind of an important post, so I want to make sure I'm fully rested and aware when I write it. You'll just need to wait a little bit, okay?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Poll #22: "Who's your favourite newcomer to Super Smash Bros. Brawl so far?" results, banner, news

"Sonic" 10 votes (20%)
"Pit" 8 votes (16%)
"Diddy Kong" 0 votes (0%)
"Pokémon Trainer" 6 votes (12%)
"Lucas" 1 vote (2%)
"Wario" 0 votes (0%)
"Ike" 1 vote (2%)
"Zero Suit Samus" 3 votes (6%)
"Snake" 6 votes (12%)
"Meta Knight" 6 votes (12%)
"King Dedede" 3 votes (6%)
"I don't know!" 2 votes (4%)
"They all rock equally!" 4 votes (8%)

A pretty fair spread, with a slight lean towards Sonic. Not unexpected, really. We've been waiting for this battle for over 15 years! Also, I voted Snake. He's just too awesome to ignore!

There will be no new poll here this week. Polls will resume on the 6th of January. Also, the next article will be posted Friday, December 28th. After that, no more posts until Friday, January 4th. I do have to take a vacation, you know!

Finally, there's a new, holiday themed banner up top. As you can see, I only included Christmas-related images. I didn't due this to exclude other religions, it's just I don't know much about Hanukkah or the other events occurring around this time. So rather than offend somebody by misusing an image in an inappropriate way, I stuck to what I knew. However, I did say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I still want to wish everyone a good time!

Okay then, folks. I'll see you again on Friday. Until then, have a Merry Christmas (If you celebrate it)! I'll wish you a happy new year on the 28th!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Friday, December 21, 2007

There aren't enough game ads on TV!

I was watching TV today, and I realized something: There are nowhere near enough video game commercials on the air! In the last week, I've mostly seen ads for only two games: Naruto Ninja Revolution and Rayman Raving Rabbids 2. Where are the ads for NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams? How about Zack and Wiki? Sure, Zack and Wiki may not be a recent release, but I never saw a single ad for it outside of a gaming magazine.

The point is, not enough games are being advertised to the general public. The most you get with a title most of the time is an ad in a game magazine and perhaps a viral video or two. What's going to happen to next year's games? Where are No More Heroes and Dragon Quest Swords? Almost no games get advertised on television, with few exceptions.

I also see a lot of ads for games that would have sold really well even if unadvertised. Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 would have sold tonnes due to the success and popularity of the first, and Naruto Ninja Revolution would have done great because it's based on the current "it" anime. It seems that the games that most need advertising are the ones that don't get even a second of airtime. Games like Endless Ocean and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn will never sell to the general public without some ads!

I think this may be the core reason that most third-party games don't sell too well. Sure, big titles like the two examples above will sell like made because of their license and/or legacy, but many third-party games don't have a snowball's chance in hell. Nintendo games sell due to the company's popularity, licensed titles sell due to the license, and some games sell due to the reputation of their franchise. But games like Zack & Wiki and NiGHTS just don't have those factors. They aren't the kind of game a person will see on a store shelf and pick up.

I think that more games need to be advertised, particularly those from third-parties who seem oblivious to why their sales are so low. It's the ads, people! Dole out a few dozen grand for an ad campaign, and then you'll see the sales you seek. Make some good ads, and you'll more than make up for the extra expense.

It's a real pity when great games fail to sell due to lack of advertising. I really mean this. Quality titles simply fade away, undiscovered, simply because people haven't heard of them. So come on, third-parties: If you're so confident your game is great, then prove it. Advertise your product.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The best sidekicks in the business

Main characters get all the breaks. From Batman to Sherlock Holmes, all of the little guys are lesser known and far less popular. Robin and Watson deserve to be in the limelight, don't you think? Just as there are sidekicks in television shows and books, there are too sidekicks in video games. And now is their time to shine.

Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)

Ezlo is one bizarre little creature. He takes the form of a green hat with a duck-like head, and he can't get around all that well. Thusly, he rides along on Link's head. Unfortunately for the green-wearing hero, Ezlo often leaves crumbs in Link's hair, pecks at Link's head (As seen above) and routinely berates the lad for not walking fast enough or being too short.

If Ezlo's such a bother, why keep him around? Mainly for the fact that he holds the power to shrink Link down to an incredibly small scale. By standing on certain rocks, jars, tree stumps or panels, Link can shrink and enter the world of the Minish. The Minish (Also called Picori by humans) are a very diminutive race of mouse-like people. They are the stuff of legends, and are rarely seen. In fact, many people believe the Minish are nothing but folklore, and simply tell the story to their children as a fairy tale.

Link can also take advantage of his new-found shrinking abilities to enter tunnels and holes far too small for him to fit through at his normal size. Sometimes entire dungeons take place in an area no larger than Link's full size!

Ezlo is certainly important to completing the adventure, and his story unfolds nicely throughout the game. Although he may start out looking like nothing but a silly, duck-billed hat, he later becomes a core part of the game's story. Don't dismiss Ezlo as a throwaway sidekick.

Games: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2), Jak II (PS2), Jak III (PS2), Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2), Daxter (PSP)

Out of all the sidekicks on this list, Daxter has appeared in the most games by far. From Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, all the way to his own, self-titled spin-off on the PSP, Daxter gets a surprising amount of credit for being a sidekick. Nonetheless, I don't feel he gets all he deserves.

Daxter is an Ottsel: A bizarre mix of an otter and a weasel. He is turned into an Ottsel at the beginning of the first game, and changing him back into a human becomes the main focus of the adventure. Sadly, Daxter never does get turned back into a human, as he's still an Ottsel in all the other games. Eventually he comes to grips with the fact that he'll probably never turn back to normal, and eventually accepts his new, smaller, fuzzier form. Although he does miss wearing pants.

Why is Daxter such an amazing sidekick? First and foremost, he's downright hilarious! Even as an Ottsel he's as funny and quick-witted as ever. Good thing, too, as Jak doesn't really like to talk much until Jak II.

Players will often control Daxter instead of Jak throughout the series, and these sequences are really quite fun. Running around as an Ottsel in a human's world is really something, especially since he's all but defenseless against the super-sized foes that are all-too common.

Daxter's a great character for so many reasons, and I don't think I can say much more without spoiling the entire trilogy for you. Let's just say that Daxter's new form isn't all that bad after all.

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, Gamecube)

And of course, how could I forget Midna? The mysterious, cat-like creature that hides in Link's shadow throughout most of Twilight Princess is an incredibly well-written and designed character.

Link and Midna first meet when the young Hylian is turned into a wolf, captured and thrown into a prison in the dark and foreboding Twilight Realm. She laughs at the pitiful canine that sits before her, taunting him through the iron bars of his cell. She tells him that if he can escape his cell, she'll help him get out of the prison. So Link breaks off his chains and squeezes through a break in the bars. Midna lives up to her word, and kindly escorts the boy-turned-wolf back outside.

From then on, Midna lives in Link's shadow (Literally), popping up to give him hints and command him around. See, in return for setting Link free, Midna expects the young man to run some errands for her. She needs Link to get her a mysterious power that somehow relates to the Twilight Realm that's slowly engulfing Hyrule.

Although she seems to treat Link like a slave at first, Midna slowly grows to respect the warrior and even thanks him for doing these things for her. It's one unlikely friendship, that's for sure.

What makes Midna awesome has to be her amazing powers. She can teleport through solid walls, disappear into shadows and (Later on in the game) turn Link into a wolf at will.

Also, Midna just has a great attitude. She's the kind of person who can only be described as a lovable jerk. She makes fun of Link all the time, but you can always tell that, deep down, she really cares.

Finally, Midna has some incredible strength hidden within, but if I went into detail here, well, that just wouldn't be fair, now would it? She can do some serious damage, and that's all I'm going to say.

Okay then! A group of sidekicks finally get their due! It's only fair, really. Often sidekicks contribute just as much to the game as the main character, if not more. Ezlo, Daxter and Midna are just a handful of the many amazing sidekicks out there, and I'll be sure to give them their due in future installments. Until then, keep on gaming, folks!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Game characters MIA: Missing in action

Every game brings with it new characters for us to become familiar with. We often grow to love these characters, and it really sucks when they just don't come back in another game. I've selected a few characters that I really miss, and hope to see again in an upcoming game.

Professor Elvin Gadd
First game: Luigi's Mansion (2001)
Most recent appearance: Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (2005)

I really enjoyed meeting Professor Elvin Gadd (Or E. Gadd, as he's more commonly known). He was such a lovable little fellow, with a unique little way of talking and an amazing affinity for inventions.

Alas, once leaving Luigi's Mansion, I began to see the little guy less and less. He made a cameo in Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, but it wasn't enough. All he did was pop in during a sidequest, yammer on a bit and leave. A huge disappointment for me.

He made a somewhat larger appearance in the sequel, Partners in Time. He made common entrances in the Mushroom Kingdom, showing off some new doodad to Mario and company. Later on in the game, when Mario and Luigi travel back in time, they come across a younger E. Gadd at his former occupation as a geologist studying a volcano. When the volcano erupted, both young and old Gadd worked together to halt the lava before it caused too much damage.

Sadly, Elvin's laboratory was destroyed in the eruption. Never letting himself to be deterred by downfalls, Gadd moved on to become a paranormal scientist, which leads to the events of Luigi's Mansion.

Elvin was a great character, but it really sucks that he hasn't shown up on a home console since 2001. He had absolutely no presence in Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario Galaxy, beyond a few abstract graphical references. He may have showed up in a Mario Party or two, but I haven't had a chance to check it out.

So then, Gadd, I hope to see you again soon! And don't forget: Sind zoo! Sooko sooko!

First appearance: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Most recent appearance: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Dampé was a lovable, oafish giant of a man, much like Hagrid and Shrek. He was the kind of guy who really wasn't outstanding in any way, but still had an inexplicable charm to him. It's sad to see his character so underused.

Dampé first appeared in Ocarina of Time as the cranky yet kind grave keeper in Kakariko Village. Ever the financially-minded man, Dampé would gladly dig anywhere within the graveyard for a few rupees. Whatever he found was yours to keep.

When Link awoke from his seven-year slumber, Dampé had sadly passed on. He could still be found in his grave as a fun-loving ghost. He'd challenge Link to a race, and reward him with his treasured Hookshot if he could keep up. Even in the afterlife, Dampé was still a great guy.

Dampé really doesn't have much presence in any other game. He plays minor roles in Majora's Mask, The Minish Cap and Four Swords Adventures, but nothing really notable like E. Gadd's role in Partners in Time. Dampé seems to have been abandoned by Nintendo, and that's a real shame. He's the kind of guy I'd really want to hang out with.

What are some great characters you'd love to see make a comeback? I'm sure we can all think of a person or two we'd like to see in a game again.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poll #21: "What is your favorite videogame genre?" results, banner


There seems to be some trouble uploading transparent images to Blogger right now. I'll just put the old banner up for now, and post the new one when or if things get fixed.

Poll results are in!

"Role-Playing Game" (RPG) 9 votes (20%)
"First-Person Shooter" (FPS) 3 votes (6%)
"Action/Adventure" 10 votes (23%)
"Racing" 0 votes (0%)
"Simulation" 1 vote (2%)
"Puzzle" 1 vote (2%)
"'Trainer' software (Brain Age, Flash Focus, etc.)" 1 vote (2%)
"Other" 4 votes (9%)
"I can't choose!" 5 votes (11%)
"I like them all!!" 6 votes (13%)
"I don't have any preference" 3 votes (6%)

The spread is pretty much what I expected to see. I'm also happy to see that trainer software got a vote. Perhaps Nintendo truly is grabbing the new audience!

And hey, check out that banner! I noticed we'd yet to post a Metroid banner here, so I got to work fixing this injustice! So here's Zero Suit Samus as she appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Not a bad Photoshopping job, if I do say so myself. Sometimes simplicity is the way to go!

Oh, and don't forget to vote in this week's poll, "Who's your favourite newcomer to Super Smash Bros. Brawl so far?". I have a feeling Sonic will be seeing more than his fair share of votes.

Okay, new article up in a bit!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nothing tonight

Sorry, nothing tonight. I've been really busy the last two days, and I've gotten very little restful sleep. I'm gonna try and make like Mario tonight, catching a few hundred "Z"s.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gaming's greatest art styles

When it comes to how a game looks these days, people almost always go on and on about pixels, textures and models. I tend to look more at the art style of a game. Many games get high graphics marks from me because of the charm their art exudes. Here are two art styles that have really caught my eye.

The Paper Mario series

At the end of the Nintendo 64's lifespan, things were winding down. Developers were gearing up for the upcoming Gamecube, Playstation 2 and XBox. Nintendo gave their console one last hit with Paper Mario, and its sales and reviews stand as a testament to its genius.

The simplicity of Paper Mario's art style is it's charm. Big, bold colours on cute little characters. Even though the characters were two-dimensional sprites in a three-dimensional world, it all meshed together so beautifully that it looked like a cartoon. The bright and colourful backgrounds worked seamlessly with the game's 3D elements to create an incredibly smooth look.

This unique art style would later reappear on the Gamecube with Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. This game would take advantage of the characters' paper-like appearance and enable Mario to fold up and become as thin as a sheet of paper. He could then turn into a paper airplane to glide across chasms, or just flatten down to a sheet and be blown away by wind.

Super Paper Mario for the Wii would once again adopt this art style. While at first the game is no more than a traditional two-dimensional platformer, players have the ability to rotate the playing field and change it to a three-dimensional perspective.

The top screen shows the game in 2D, while
the lower is a 3D view of the same location.

As you can see in the comparison above, what looks to be flat from one perspective could be something entirely different if looked at from another angle. This played with the concept of a paper-thin world in ways not thought of before, taking absolute advantage of the game's art style. If it weren't for the two-dimensional appearance of the franchise, Super Paper Mario may have never been created.

The cel-shaded Zelda series

When Nintendo first showed off the power of the Gamecube, an amazingly realistic Zelda demo was shown, depicting Link fighting Ganondorf sword-to-sword. Although Nintendo enforced that this was merely a demonstration of the Gamecube's abilities, many took it as a sneak peak of an upcoming Zelda game.

However, this was not at all indicative of how the next Zelda would look. Instead of ultra-realism, players instead got a more cartoony-looking adventure. Link looked much younger, he had bigger, more anime-like eyes, and everything was incredibly bright and vibrant. The gaming community's reaction? A huge, resounding "What the...?!"

I, on the contrary, was quite pleased with this artistic turn. I loved the new look then, and I still love it now. The brightness of the game's art style hid an amazingly dark storyline within. What looks bright and cheery is actually the terrible fate of the Hyrule Kingdom. But I won't spoil that for anybody yet to play the game.

Back to the art, this new style allowed Link to be more expressive than ever before. He's able to say so much more without ever speaking a word. If you're in a room and something suspicious is near by, Link will direct his gaze in it's direction, giving you a hint as to what must be done next. Link reacts beautifully to the world around him, with expressions of sorrow, disbelief and more flashing across his face. Nobody but Link can say so much yet not make a noise.

The fluidity of the animation is simply astonishing. You sometimes think you're watching a cartoon and not playing a video game. It's all so smooth and seamless! And everything has emotion, from the islanders to the bad guys. This art style creates a living, breathing world like none other.

Nintendo would later bring back this art style in many games. Four Swords, Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, Four Swords Adventures, they all use this same brilliant animation. This is probably my favorite art style ever, and I can't wait to see it again soon.

To me, a game's looks means much more than how many polygons or particles it has. It's about the art. From Paper Mario to Okami, Wind Waker to Phoenix Wright, so many of my favorite art styles are great no matter the horsepower that drives them. What are some of your favorite art styles?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pokémon Snap Wii ideas

Here's today's replacement for last night's absence. Also, this is somewhat of an expansion of my June 19th article, Games that deserve a sequel

I may be jumping the gun a bit with this assumption, but I have a good feeling that we'll be seeing a Pokémon Snap sequel within the next few years. I'm probably just jumping all over tiny bits of info that just might point in the direction of a sequel, but dammit, I loved Snap, and there must be another! But what would have to be done to make a new Snap? They can't just slap a few new Pokémon into the coding and chuck it out. Improvements will have to be made! Here are a bunch of ideas that I think would make Pokémon Snap Wii a truly amazing title.

All 493 Pokémon Must Be Present

Okay, I know I said "They can't just slap a few new Pokémon into the coding and chuck it out", but darn it, this is really important! In the original Snap, there were only 63 of 150 known Pokémon available to be photographed. No Tauros, no Pinsir, and no Blastoise. These three Pokémon and more would have all made excellent pictures! In the suspected Pokémon Snap Wii, every one of the 493 Pokémon from Bulbasaur to Arceus would make an appearance in the game.

New Items

In the original Pokémon Snap, there were three items available to the player:

The PokéFlute - Awoke sleeping Pokémon, and caused some creatures to dance.
Apples - Can be used to lead certain Pokémon along. Also works well as a means of attacking Pokémon to agitate or disturb them.
Pester Balls - Similar to PokéBalls filled with sleeping gas, Pester Balls can be used to knock out Pokémon and even coax some out of cover.

What new items could be added? Here are a couple of ideas:

An "Evolution" item - When used on certain Pokémon, this item would cause the target to immediately evolve into it's next form. This would be handy for finding a way to cram all 493 Pokémon into the game's boundaries.
A fishing rod - Would be used for finding Pokémon in the water.

That's all I got. Although a fishing rod would be awkward to use while moving along in the ZERO-ONE, don't you think? Thusly, I propose...

Free-Roaming Gameplay

In a vast departure from the original game, my vision of Pokémon Snap Wii would be entirely free-roaming. You could walk around vast environments filled with tonnes of wild Pokémon. In order to get around, you could make use of vehicles such as boats and bicycles.

Now, some Pokémon may not take kindly to being pestered and photographed. It would be a good idea to avoid peeving off a Rhydon, but if you do, not much could be done. Run away, dodge it, hide, whatever you can do to avoid being hurt, do it. Of course, in the case that a Pokémon does manage to attack you, your run of the level would come to an end. You would lose all already taken photos, and probably also lose points or currency (Whatever the game's collectible ends up being). Perhaps some Pokémon could be knocked out with a Pester Ball, but when it comes to behemoths like Giratina and Onix, I wouldn't count on it.

On the bright side, an attacking Pokémon would make for a great picture. Just try not to get yourself killed in the process!

Control Scheme Ideas

What's that? "Enter first-person view"? Yes, the default perspective while walking around would be third person. Only when taking pictures would you be able to see through the character's eyes. I suppose you could walk around entirely in first-person view, but I wouldn't like it, personally.

Unlocking Pokémon for Use in Diamond or Pearl

Wouldn't that be neat? Running around, taking pictures merrily, and suddenly you get a message saying that you can now unlock Darkrai in Pokémon Diamond or Pearl! It would all work pretty simply. Certain Pokémon, when photographed, would then be made available for transfer to your DS Pokémon game! Take a picture of, say, a Bulbasaur for example, and you'd then be able to transfer a Bulbasaur to your DS! Of course, each Pokémon could be sent only once per play-through, so don't bother trying to get a team of six Mewtwo or anything. Little brother upset that you got a Celebi and he didn't? Well, tell him to get working on his own separate game file! Multiple gamesaves would be a must if it were possible to unlock Pokémon in this way.

Also, perhaps the Pokémon you beam from Snap would be special in some way! A Pikachu holding a special item or a Rattata that knows Hyper Beam? Hey, who knows!

So then, those are some ideas I have for Pokémon Snap Wii. I really, really, REALLY hope Nintendo is working on this! If somebody from NOA is reading this, get on the phone to HQ and get the paperwork going! Pokémon Snap Wii must happen!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Poll #20: "What do you think of One Duck's Opinion so far?" results, banner, news

Poll results #20!

"It couldn't possibly be any better!" 2 votes (4%)
"I like it quite a bit" 28 votes (65%)
"It's okay" 7 votes (16%)
"I'm not too crazy about it" 1 vote (2%)
"I really don't like it" 0 votes (0%)
"It's terrible!" 2 votes (4%)
"I'm not sure" 2 votes (4%)
"No opinion" 1 vote (2%)

It's good to see the majority of you are satisfied with One Duck's Opinion. Those people who voted for "It couldn't possibly be any better!" were almost certainly voting dishonestly. There's tonnes that could be improved here, and I know this better than anybody else. But hey, maybe what the blog is right now is enough for those two voters. Who knows?

Surprised to see a Pokémon Snap banner up there? You shouldn't be! I've been yapping on about this game for ages, and now that it's finally hit the Virtual Console I feel it's time to celebrate! So banner ahoy!

Make sure to vote in the new poll, "What is your favorite videogame genre?"! I can't decide, really. I like too many of them to choose!

And now for the bad news: There will not be a new article tonight. I just got around to the poll results, and it's already past midnight. I'll try to post something tomorrow, and then it should be back to normal on Wednesday. So sorry for the delay! Something tomorrow will be my top priority!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mini-article: What could be improved in a Nintendogs sequel?

Something short here tonight... Don't have it in me for anything substantial.

In the August of 2005, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS' best-selling game, Nintendogs. While I found it fun for a time, it became old after a while. I still have it sitting on my shelf, but I feel it needs something more. Here are some ways I think the next Nintendogs could be made into a more complete package.

More customization options. In any version of Nintendogs, there are many ways to customize your pup with accessories and such. However, little could be done with the dog's surroundings. You could change the backgrounds by paying huge amounts of cash, but it had no effect other then being different to look at. How about some additions to the dog's play area? A bed or something would be nice. No matter how much cash you have, your dogs never have any choice but to snooze on the floor.

Further customization such as tables and furniture would be nice, too. This would help make things all more realistic. Who has a huge open indoor area for their dogs to romp around in? Nobody I know. All my friends like to have furniture to work with.

More ways to train your dogs. In the original Nintendogs, all you can do is teach your fuzzy pal tricks. How about actually training him? I'm talking obedience. No dog's a perfect angel the second you get it! How about punishing them for being bad? If your dog scratches the furniture or pees on the new rug, there should be some way to negatively impact them to teach right and wrong.

Speaking of peeing on the rug, ever notice how the virtual pups always seem to wait until their walks to do their business? If you leave a dog inside all day, they're gonna whiz on the carpet no matter what! Training your dog to want to go for walks to relieve themselves instead of piddling in the corner would be a key step in getting a new pup.

More variety in during walks. When you talk a dog for a walk in real life, you run across many things. Neighbours, strangers, other animals and much more. None of this happens in Nintendogs. All you see are other dog walkers and the occasional pile of trash. How about passing by the occasional squirrel once in a while? Your dog would naturally try to chase after the little critter, and it would be a great lesson in obedience to keep him away from the wildlife.

What if you're walking about and come across something new? A fallen tree, a broken statue, something along those lines. Depending on the situation, your path may need to be altered in order to avoid the obstruction.

So much more can be done to make the next Nintendogs something a lot more substantial than the fairly short-lived original game. This is just a start, and I'm sure there a literally hundreds more things I haven't even thought of. With some work, Nintendogs could become a huge franchise, and not just some game you play for a month and stick on the shelf.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How much change to a Virtual Console game is too much?

Think of tonight's article as if this post crashed into this one, and somehow became readable. Best way I can describe it.

It was recently announced that Pokémon Snap would receive a Wii-specific update when it hits the Virtual Console. This is big news, because no Virtual Console game so far has seen such an change. But as I said in "Remakes: How much change is too much?", changing a classic game when remaking or porting it somewhat takes away from the nostalgia. However, I am not against this improvement to Pokémon Snap. Why is this? Allow me to explain.

Unlike adding new characters to Super Mario 64, adding the ability to send pictures taken in Pokémon Snap to friends doesn't take away from the classic aspect of the game. In the original Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo 64, players could print their pictures onto stickers at Blockbuster and Toys 'R' Us stores across the country. If anything, adding the online trading of images replaces the absence of sticker making.

Of course, this addition makes some think "Well, if they can add this, why not online play?". Well, as I said in "Should Virtual Console games be online?", adding online play to a Virtual Console game would not only cost extra money, it would spread Nintendo's resources even more thin. People working on other, more anticipated Nintendo games would instead be diverted to adding an online aspect to a game made over ten years ago. Do you really want to take attention away from Mario Kart Wii in order to play Mario Party 3 online? I don't.

Then you may say "Well, people have to be diverted to add this feature to Pokémon Snap, do they not?". Touché, worthy debating opponent, but adding a picture-sending aspect to Pokémon Snap is hardly a huge undertaking. After all, we're already able to send pictures and messages from Wii to Wii. All that's being added to Snap is the ability to save images to the message board, and they're sent from there. Really, very little is being added to the game.

So I think adding the picture saving to Pokémon Snap is great. I always loved showing off my pics to my family with the original game, and now I'll be able to take it even further. With this new aspect, as well as the refined textures Nintendo 64 games always receive, Pokémon Snap could become my favorite Virtual Console game yet. Heck, I haven't even played it yet, and I already love it!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A huge idea for a Smash Bros. Brawl stage

Many badly-drawn Paint images ahead. You've been warned...

Look at the so-far-unveiled Super Smash Bros. Brawl stages: There's something from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Shadow Moses Island from Metal Gear Solid, and even New Pork City from Mother 3. But as of yet, we've yet to see anything from the main man's latest adventure, Super Mario Galaxy. Delfino Island's nice, but how about something a little more cosmic?

How about a level based on the Good Egg Galaxy? Think of the gravity-bending possibilities! Following are some (Incredibly badly drawn) examples of just how this could be pulled off.

Yoshi Egg Planet

Of course, the Galaxy's namesake egg planet would have to be there! The arrows represent the gravitational pull, by the way. As you can see, the gravity on the Yoshi Egg Planet draws all fighters to the oblong body. Due to the fact that the planet is round, all sides can be walked on, even those of which seem to be impossible to walk on by standard Super Smash Bros. logic.

Basically, you can stand on any surface of this planet. Thusly it's impossible to fall off. How will you defeat your enemies, then? You'll just have to get their damage count so high that they break the gravitational pull of the Egg. Then, they'll simply fly off the edges of the screen and die with the traditional Smash Bros. explosion. It's really a lot more simple than it may sound.

Hole-Filled Planet

Again, like the Yoshi Egg Planet, this is based on a real celestial body of the Good Egg Galaxy. It's shaped like a doughnut, and the green, grassy areas can be stood on. As you can see, there's a black hole in the center of the planet, and that'll be the main method of defeating your enemies. Just knock 'em into one of the planet's holes, and, barring a miraculous tether recovery, they'll get sucked into the vacuum and be destroyed.

Again, it'll be possible to kick your enemies out of the gravitational pull by damaging them enough, but with all these holes to fall into, it's somewhat less likely to happen.

Split Planet

Okay, this one isn't actually based on a planet in the Good Egg Galaxy, but still, it fits the theme. Strangely enough, there is no black hole in the center of this planet. Instead, every surface can be walked on. There is a bit of trickery going on with the gravity, however.

See those arrows with the lines through them? Those lines show where the gravity switches directions. For example, if you're standing in the lower half of the inner circle and jump past the line, you'll be pulled up to the upper half of the inside of the planet, and commence walking upside down. Neat!

Of course, there's one other possibility, and that's...

The entire Good Egg Galaxy

Again, as you can see, plenty of gravitational arrows and shifting polarity. I added a few planets to fill things out, but since none of them are really anything special, why bother describing them?

Basically, you can move from planet to planet by passing the gravitational barriers between each one. It's all set up in a big circle, so don't worry about ever ending up too far from your opponent(s).

Also, it could work something like the Rainbow Ride stage in Super Smash Bros. Melee, with each planet scrolling by as you fight. Either way, this would make for some intense battles.

Also, trajectories can be affected by how close something or someone passes by a planet. Take a look at the following example:

As you can see, the black dot represents the attacker, while the line shows the trajectory of the victim. After leaving the gravitational pull of the Hole-Filled Planet, the victim soon comes close to the Yoshi Egg Planet, giving a curve to his/her trajectory. However, the victim's velocity is too great, and he/she breaks free of the Yoshi Egg Planet's gravitational pull, and flies off the edge of the screen. Nuts, huh? Of course, the Egg and Hole-Filled planets are nowhere near each other in the above stage map, but hey, this is just an example.

So that's how I think a Super Mario Galaxy stage should be done in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. What are your thoughts on my ideas? Also, how would you have pulled it off?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Poll #19: "What is your favourite Nintendo franchise?" results, banner

Another week, another set of results!

"Mario" 13 votes (23%)
"The Legend of Zelda" 11 votes (20%)
"Metroid" 7 votes (12%)
"Fire Emblem" 2 votes (3%)
"Pokemon" 4 votes (7%)
"Star Fox" 1 vote (1%)
"Animal Crossing" 4 votes (7%)
"Kirby" 2 votes (3%)
"Other" 3 votes (5%)
"I can't decide" 6 votes (10%)
"I haven't the foggiest idea" 2 votes (3%)

I can't say I'm surprised to see Mario and The Legend of Zelda so closely fighting for first. They're both amazing franchises that have been here for over twenty years. You don't stick around that long unless you're good! A little curious as to what the "Other" votes were talking about, though.

Also, as always, is another banner! Yet again by yours truly, it is, of course, based on the Pokémon series. In case you're wondering, the flying video games are Super Mario Galaxy, Picross DS and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. I think the angles could have been a little better, but hey, it was a twenty minute job, a lot of which was spent picture hunting.

So then, make sure to vote on this week's poll, "What do you think of One Duck's Opinion so far?"! I've been doing this since May, and I'm curious as to what the readers thing of it. Be sure to vote honestly! I'll be backing out of voting in this one for fairness' sake.

New article later tonight!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The best Pokémon spin-offs

Sorry for the common use of the words spin-off and off-shoot, but they're the only two words that work here! I even tried a thesaurus!

When a franchise gets popular, it usually sees it's fair share of spin-offs. Pokémon became the biggest thing since sliced bread in the late nineties, and it's still fairly popular almost a decade later. Thusly, it's seen a lot of spin-offs, probably only beaten out by Mario for the most ever. Here are some of the greatest off-shoots the franchise has produced.

Pokémon Snap

Whenever I describe this game to someone who's never played it, it sounds incredibly boring. Seriously, the thought of taking pictures of Pokemon while moving along a fixed path with almost no freedom at all? Comes across as somewhat boring, huh?

But, despite this seemingly snore-worthy concept, Pokemon Snap was a great amount of fun. Moving throughout each level and finding new and creative ways of taking pictures was an amazing adventure. It wasn't enough to merely snap a pic of a Magmar! No, you had to catch it when it's breathing fire on another Magmar! This is a great action shot, and it earns you a whole lot of points!

Further more, getting the Pokémon to fill as much of the frame as possible is important, too. If it's really far away or much too close it just won't do! You have to make it so it's as close as can be without surpassing the borders of the picture. Keep it all in-frame, and it can really be worth quite a bit. Also, make sure the Pokémon's facing you, too. A picture of a Kangaskhan's butt isn't exactly gonna cut it.

You could also interact with the environment and the Pokemon themselves! Throwing apples to tempt a Bulbasaur out of a tree stump or chucking Pester Balls (Sleeping gas-filled Pokéballs) at a switch is often key to getting the best pics of a Pokémon, and sometimes even makes new creatures appear.

Sure, Pokémon Snap may not sound like the greatest idea for a game at first, but behind it's boring concept lies a great little puzzle/adventure game waiting to be discovered. Snap is probably my favourite Pokémon spin-off yet, and I can't wait to download this once it hits the Virtual Console.

Pokémon Pinball

Nintendo really could have taken the easy route here, and simply slapped the Pokémon franchise on to a standard pinball game. But instead, they made a brand new and entirely original pinball concept built exclusively for the Pokémon name.

First of all, they made a unique twist by making the table two screens tall. Whenever the ball left the lower half of the table, the upper section would appear, and vice-versa. This allowed for a taller pinball table with more possibilities. Using both halves together would be key to getting high scores and more.

Instead of just shooting pinballs for high scores, you also had to "travel" from location to location. You could travel by hitting the Poliwag, Psyduck or Dugtrio buttons on either side of the table three times in quick succession. You then had to shoot the ball around the upper loop of the table and quickly knock it into the hole that would appear in the lower half.

What's the point of traveling? To catch more Pokémon! After sufficiently charging up Catch Mode by doing laps in the upper loop, you could trigger a Pokémon encounter. First, you need to hit the Staryu or Shelder in the upper half of the screen at least six times to reveal the Pokémon. Then you need to whack the newly-revealed creature with the pinball three times to catch it. And hey, look at that! You've got yourself a Seel!

Pokémon could be evolved, too. By using a similar process to start Catch Mode, you can trigger Evolution Mode. During this time, you will have to go around the table and collect all the experience points that appear scattered about. Once all three have been gathered, you need to plunk the pinball down a hole on the lower half, and voila! Your Seel is now a Dewgong!

Every time your Pokémon count reaches three (Evolving counts as two additional Pokémon), you trigger a Bonus Game. By hitting certain targets in these extra rounds you can gather more and more points. All modes are timed, so you need to be quick! Challenges range from hitting Meowth, hitting multiple Seel, attacking Gastly, Haunter and Gengar or even fighting the one and only Mewtwo. Defeating this rounds doesn't net you any Pokémon for your collection, but it does get you a whole bunch of points!

Pokémon Pinball is hardly your average arcade fare. From catching Pokémon to traveling to new locations to evolving your critters, Pokémon Pinball is one heck of a game! Definitely my favorite ever virtual pinball game.

Every franchise has it's fair share of spin-offs, and many are dismissed as cheap cash-ins. But some off-shoots really are great, despite the fact that they have a big name slapped on the cover. Pokémon really has quite a few great spin-offs, and I only wish I had the time to list some more! Maybe one day...

Okay, that's all for now! See you all on Monday!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The greatest Wii games not made by Nintendo

Okay, folks, let's get this train rolling again!

Nintendo's an amazing company when it comes to developing unique and entertaining titles. However, they're not the only ones who've got a good grip on making games for the Wii. A few third-party developers have really mastered developing for Nintendo's latest console, and here are a few of their games that really showed what they can do.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

Resident Evil 4 was a great game when it debuted on the Gamecube back in 2005, and it was made even better when ported to the Wii this passed June. Featuring all the additional content from the Playstation 2 version and Wii-enhanced controls, it has been called the definitive version of Resident Evil 4.

Resident Evil 4 stars Leon S. Kennedy, a newly recruited secret agent of the United States government. Leon's initial mission is to travel to a remote location in Spain and rescue the US President's kidnapped daughter, Ashley Graham. Upon arrival near Ashley's last known location, Leon encounters a bizarre village of apparently insane people. Using his skills acquired from his short service on the Raccoon City P.D, Leon fights his way through the vast groups of villagers. A mission that once began as saving just one person suddenly evolves into a fight for the very survival of the human race.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is an epic action-adventure title with a whole lot of adventure, tons of puzzles and many a chainsaw-wielding psychopath. The Wii remote lends perfectly to all aspects of this game, from aiming a gun to swiping a knife to running from an Indiana Jones-style boulder. All the special features formerly exclusive to the Playstation 2 port of the game have all been graphically overhauled with the Gamecube's superior textures and models, bringing them to life like never before. However, there's still little that can be done for Ashley's incessant "HEEEELP! LEON!!!!"...

In the end, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is a great example of how to port a game to the Wii, and an even better example of excellent Wii development overall.

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition

Yes, I know, I mention this game a lot here at One Duck's Opinion. But you know what? That just goes to show how amazing I think it is. I wouldn't repeatedly mention a game if it were no good, would I?

Anyways, The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is, of course, based on the Godfather movies, which are in turn based on the novels written by Mario Puzo. The player takes the role of Aldo Trapani, a man who, as a boy, saw his father murdered by Done Barzini right before his very eyes. From that point on, he swore he'd claim his revenge. Nine years later, Luca Brasi of the Corleone family recruits Aldo into the mob as a favour asked by Aldo's mother, Sarafina. From that point on, Aldo works his way up the Corleone family hierarchy, often participating in key scenes from the Godfather movie trilogy.

Aldo also has a secondary storyline all his own, featuring romancing Marty "Monk" Malone's sister, carrying out hit contracts and ultimately rising to the rank of Don. Aldo's personal storyline meshes beautifully with the core narrative, and it's sometimes hard to tell what's original and what's new.

The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is a port of the XBox, XBox 360, PS2, PSP and PC game The Godfather: The Game. In addition to all the features existent in the original version of the game, Blackhand Edition adds in exclusive motion-controls. Using the Wii remote and Nunchuk, players can jab, grab and toss their opponents as if Aldo's hands were their own, allowing for amazing immersion into the game. The pointer function of the Wii remote can be used to aim the gun, and shaking the Nunchuk loads a fresh clip into your firearm.

Also added to the mix are extra hits, missions, an additional rival family and blackmailing police. The Blackhand Edition has been widely considered the best version of the game, and it's truly one of my favorite Wii titles.

Rayman Raving Rabbids

Rayman Raving Rabbids is probably the zaniest, craziest, most insane video game ever created. The game starts off normally enough, with Rayman sharing a picnic lunch with his little pal Globox. Suddenly, their meal is interrupted by bizarre rabbit-like creatures called Rabbids. They promptly kidnap the picnickers and toss them into a prison. As it turns out, the Rabbids are planning to take over Rayman's world by capturing all who defy them. Oblivious to Rayman's status as a hero, they frequently let him out into their colosseum and force him to complete various insane trials.

This is where the gameplay comes in. Each of these trials plays out like a mini-game, and you often have to use the unique motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii controls to pass these bizarre missions. From pumping carrot juice to running across a beach to firing a plunger gun, the Wii remote and Nunchuk do it all. Slowly, after performing several days worth of trials, you begin to earn the trust and respect of the Rabbids. Your living quarters become less barren and more comfortable, and the jail guard stops treating you so roughly. Day by day and trial by trial, Rayman slowly becomes a celebrity among the Rabbids. But he must not become too comfortable. After all, these guys are trying to conquer the world! So secretly throughout his stay in the dungeon, Rayman formulates an escape plan...

Of course, the story really isn't what's important here. What's important is how incredibly fun and hilarious all the mini-games are. The Rabbids' constant screams are a never-ending laugh riot, and the controls are almost always a perfect fit for the situation. Rayman Raving Rabbids may be little more than a collection of mini-games, but it's one insanely great collection.

Nintendo makes some amazing games for their consoles, but third-party developers can also do one heck of a job themselves. What are some third-party Wii games that you just can't get enough of?

The Duck Has Spoken.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I totally can't think tonight...

Not a single idea is coming to mind... Not one. Even looking at some I have written down fail to spark anything. I might write something up tomorrow instead, but I'm not sure.

Sorry, guys.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Poll #18: "What do you think is this year's best Wii game?" results, banner

The results!

"Super Mario Galaxy" 34 votes (80%)
"Metroid Prime 3: Corruption" 2 votes (4%)
"Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure" 1 vote (2%)
"Mario Strikers Charged" 0 votes (0%)
"Battalion Wars 2" 1 vote (2%)
"Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition" 3 votes (7%)
"Other" 1 vote (2%)
"I don't know" 0 votes (0%)

Now who didn't see this coming? I'm somewhat surprised Metroid Prime 3: Corruption didn't get as many votes, but otherwise it was pretty predictable.

And now, you have probably noticed the new banner. It's by me, and I'm quite proud of it. Don't worry, the blog's still called "One Duck's Opinion", I just felt like messing around a bit with the banner this week. Hope you like it!

And make sure to vote on this week's poll, "What is your favourite Nintendo franchise?"! I'm really looking forward to the results on this one! Personally, I can't decide! So many of the franchises have given me endless hours of entertainment...

I'll get to work on tonight's article soon!

The Duck Has Spoken.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mini-article: How different could the next Zelda be?

Okay, decided to whip something up quick for those of you who don't wanna hear about the PS3. Also, I had to write this up while I had it all up in my head.

Before Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, they told us it would be the last traditional Zelda game. Something big is going to happen to make the next installment incredibly different, and I've been thinking up just how the franchise might change...

1: Link no longer being humanoid. Think about it: All these twenty years we've been playing as an elf-like Hylian. But what if that were to all change? I feel Wolf Link in Twilight Princess may have given us a certain glimpse into the future...

What if Link were some totally non-human being? A Zora? A Goron? Or even a real animal such as, for example, a dog? It's never been said that Link needed to be humanoid. The next Zelda could really be something different...

2: No longer medieval?. I've been hearing this one for ages. People are thinking that maybe the Zelda series will no longer take place in the medieval-like era of which we are accustomed. After all, how many generations and centuries of Links can go by before we actually see some technological advancement? Could there be a futuristic Zelda on the horizon?

Or what if it turns out to be the opposite? What if it's some sort of bizarre, pre-history land of caves and proto-humans? What if Link's just some saber-toothed tiger hunting Neanderthal? Or is this just too weird? You really can never tell with Nintendo...

3: What if there's just no more Link? What if the hero's bloodline just dwindles out, leaving only normal citizens to fight against the legions of Ganondorf? It could become an epic story of new-found heroes and unexpected powers. Perhaps another lies inside the land of Hyrule... Another with an amazing power hidden within...

4: What if Zelda becomes the main character? It is called The Legend of Zelda, after all! This could also work in conjunction with the previous possibility. Zelda leading a resistance of make-shift warriors against the tyranny of the evil ruler Ganondorf, fighting with what little remains to make things right again...


Whatever this significant change turns out to be, I'm sure it will be one hell of a ride once it begins. A brand-new Zelda is in the works as we speak, and it could be the greatest thing to ever happen to the franchise.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Mini-article: Tips to Sony: How to sell the PS3

No, you haven't stumbled into the Twilight Zone. Just read on.

I think that everybody can agree that the PS3 is completely floundering in terms of sales. It's no secret, really. Looking at the sales charts, the PS3 hasn't even sold half as many units as the XBox 360, let alone coming close to the Wii.

Looking at the PS3 and how it's being managed, I can come up with a few ideas on how to make it sell better.

1: Stop making PS2s. From the launch of the PS3 to now, the PS2 has sold 10 million units, 4 million more than the PS3. Sony is cannibalizing their own sales! So nix the PS2, and implement 100% backwards compatibility in the PS3.

2: Find a way to lower that ridiculous price. Even your cheapest, $400 model costs way too much. Trim it down to $300 somehow. And make it possible for people who buy the cheap model to gradually upgrade to the full potential of the most expensive unit. None of this "Will never be as good" crap.

3: Show off the PS3's true power. Get SCEA off their asses and tell them to make a game that really flexes the console's muscle. Get every last bit of those processors humming with processing software, and make some good use of that SIXAXIS. Go out, play Excite Truck, get inspired and get working.

In short, Sony needs to cut costs, kill the PS2 and show off what the PS3 can really do. Then you'll see the sales.

I believe the PS3 can be good, but not in it's current state. It'll take some work and a lot of cash, but it can be saved and turned into a winner.

The Duck Has Spoken.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nintendo DS: The best games of it's first three years

Look at this, two Nintendo birthdays in one week! Also, Shigeru Miyamoto just turned 55 on the 18th. Must be a lot of cake at Nintendo HQ nowadays...

The Nintendo DS was a big risk when it launched back in 2004. Two screens? Touch technology? A microphone? It was one weird package, that's for sure. But it all paid off in a big way. Current sales numbers indicate that the Nintendo DS (And it's follow-up, the DS Lite) have sold over 55 million units worldwide.

And what is the main deciding factor in console sales? The answer is, quite simply, the games. When it comes to quality titles, the DS has a seemingly never-ending supply. Here are some games which I truly believe are some of the best the Nintendo DS has to offer.

New Super Mario Bros.

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: May 15th, 2006
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
One Duck's Opinion Score: 9.2/10

New Super Mario Bros. had teased gamers for a good long while. We first saw it before the Nintendo DS was even released, and we don't even get our hands on it until two years later! Without a doubt, it was worth the wait. New Super Mario Bros. took everything that was good about old-school, side-scrolling Mario games and brought it into the new millennium. With amazingly detailed 3D character sprites and beautiful backdrops, it was just as much a pleasure to watch as it was to play. The only problem is it was done far too soon, but that's what playing a game for a second time is for! Plus, you could play as the far superior brother the second time around. Luigi forever!

Review excerpt: "New Super Mario Bros. is an amazing Mario game, and possibly the best platform available for the DS. This game excels in nearly every field, and it deserves a spot in any gamer's collection. If you don't have it, get it. If you do have it, congratulations, my friend, you've made a very wise purchase." Full Review

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 1st, 2007
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
One Duck's Opinion Score: 9.5/10

No matter what anybody else says, I absolutely loved Wind Waker. Unsurprisingly, I was very happy when I heard it would be receiving a sequel on the Nintendo DS. Knowing the prestigious Zelda franchise, my expectations were high.

Fortunately, my expectations were filled, and even surpassed. The adventures were great, the story was well-written, and the humour is perfectly suited to the situation. The dungeons were a tiny bit short, but that mattered little to me on the grand scale of things. Phantom Hourglass was an amazing game.

Review Excerpt: "The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is one heck of an adventure. It's more than a worthy successor to Wind Waker, and it's probably even better than the critically acclaimed Twilight Princess. The multiplayer is a total blast, and the storyline really ties into the prequel beautifully. Everything about this game is great, and this is a real candidate for Game of the Year in my books." Full Review

Pokemon Diamond Version

Developers: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: April 27th, 2007
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
One Duck's Opinion Score: 9.5/10

The Pokemon franchise has been around since 1995, but until Pokemon Diamond, I had never realized how great it could be. Diamond Version took all that was already great about the other Pokemon games, and added so much more to it. The 108 new Pokemon were all well designed, as was the brand-new world they lived in. The land of Sinnoh was the largest world yet in the Pokemon series, and it allowed for so many more environments, towns and events. The ability to trade online added so much to the series, and the Sinnoh Underground was a great way to kill time, with friends or on your own. Pokemon Diamond, in my opinion, is the definitive Pokemon game.

Review Excerpt: "Pokemon Diamond is possibly the greatest DS game ever made, and perhaps even the best Pokemon game ever, too. Every little thing in this game adds up to something really big, something that can't be missed by anyone, fans and newcomers alike. This is a true masterpiece of a game, and it will go down as one of my favorite games ever to grace my collection." Full Review

Final Fantasy III

Developers: Square-Enix, Matrix Software
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: November 24th, 2006 (North America)
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10+
One Duck's Opinion Score: 9.5/10

Final Fantasy III had long been available nowhere but Japan. Originally released on the Famicom in 1990, it never saw the light of day in North America. That is, not until it was released on the Nintendo DS in 2006! The Nintendo DS remake kept the original product almost entirely intact, as well as adding new graphics, new missions and multiplayer modes. The results was a visually breath-taking RPG adventure with plenty of plot twists, battles and a musical score by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu. Final Fantasy III is not to be missed by any hardcore RPG lover.

Review Excerpt: "Final Fantasy III is a triumph in nearly every field. From a solid storyline to gripping gameplay to breathtaking graphics, there's very little wrong with this game. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of my five favorite DS games ever! We waited 16 years to get our hands on this long-lost gem, but the time has finally come. Every RPG fan needs to play this game and experience the true Final Fantasy III." Full Review

Sonic Rush

Developer: Dimps
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: November 15th, 2005 (North America)
ESRB Rating: E for "Everyone"
One Duck's Opinion Score: 9.2

It's no secret that the Sonic franchise has been on a pretty steep decline ever since the SEGA Genesis. The games just kept getting worse and worse, but one title appeared to help turn things around. Sonic Rush was the first Sonic game released for the Nintendo DS, and it did so much right that many people ignored the hedgehog's tarnished past. Bringing things back to basics, Rush was a fast-paced, side-scrolling Sonic adventure that took advantage of the DS' two screens to offer double-tall environments. The story was surprisingly in-depth for a Sonic title, introducing new characters and elements without making things seem out of place. The only downside to this game is the annoying sidekicks who never seem to shut up. Well, that's why there's a volume slider on the DS! Besides that, this is a great, fast-paced platformer, and every DS player should own a copy.

Review Excerpt: "Sonic Rush is an extremely exciting, adrenaline-injected adventure, with plenty of levels and unlockables to keep your attention. As a plus, the game's really easy on the eyes, too. Just not so soft on the ears, so you may want to plug in your MP3 player. Anyways, it's an amazing game, and quite possibly the best Sonic in years, if not ever. I look forward to Sonic Rush Adventure with the greatest anticipation." Full Review

When it comes to the DS' game library, these games are some of the best. So go out and play these games, folks! You won't be disappointed!

The Duck Has Spoken.