Nintendo Wii Games Reviews and Discussions about the Latest Wii Games <![CDATA[ Oh the pain...]]>
Anyway, monkey man had previously starred in a ton of other games on the Sega Master System that were released only in Japan. Released in 1989, Enchanted Castle marks his first foray into the 16 bit era on the Genesis. So basically, this could be considered a pretty close launch title of the legendary system, and it was released in North America as well as Japan, although a couple of elements got lost in translation. For one, there's a huge emphasis in this game on playing "Rock, Paper, Scissors", but since the digitized voices aren't translated, Alex is constantly squeaking "Tanma Ro Rekken" or something like that. You wouldn't know the game was "Rock, Paper, Scissors" unless you paid close attention to the icons above each character

The rest of the game is kind of a funky and utterly miserable and cruel strategic platformer involving Alex going around jumping on platforms, punching bricks, dodging enemies, and (the best part) grabbing money bags and coins for his reward. In most games, collecting enough currency (or score points or whatever) in the game will yield the player an extra life. In Alex Kidd however, they serve as currency to pay for continues. $1000 nets one Continue for the player. This is a great incentive to keep collecting moneh'. Unfortunately the rest of the game is frustrating as hell. Unlike Sonic or even Mario, Alex can only take one hit and then he's out of the game. Given that this ain't Mario or Sonic, jumping on enemies to destroy them is noneffective tactic. Rather, little Alex has to punch with a grotesquely large fist or jump kick his foes before they touch him. For some reason, the game doesn't let the player input a command for a jump kick—it seems to do it automatically when Alex jumps. This can be a blessing in some cases, but most of the time its just an annoyance. Since Alex is so insanely vulnerable, all the enemies he faces are usually slow moving, ground based creatures that don't fire projectiles. There are some incredibly annoying opponents though, like an old wizard who can teleport to any location of the map and loves to use this ability when he senses Alex's fist heading his way. Most of my deaths were attained simply from bumping into a random enemy that appeared out of nowhere, or falling prey to the environmental traps that litter the area.

The boss fights are incredibly frustrating affairs, mainly in part because you don't actually FIGHT your opponents. Most of the time, the bosses will just play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" with Alex and victory during these encounters is obviously completely determined by chance. If Alex loses one of these matches, he not only loses a life, he gets sent back a significant ways to the middle of the stage. Exactly why would they do this!? It's infuriating enough just GETTING to the bosses, and to have victory over them simply be due to a matter of chance is INSUFFERABLE. The final boss is the worst example of this. This multi-armed beast challenges little Alex to a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" TWO TIMES in a row. Upon beating those two games, Alex then has to actually beat the boss himself, an opponent surrounded by arms and who loves to throw flying fists at his opponent. ONE screwup during the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" section or ONE TOUCH during the actual fight against the beast and Alex gets sent back several stories down.

Alex Kidd might have been the most popular franchise Sega had at the time, but I highly doubt this is one of the best games the Genesis had at the time. It's sickeningly cute visuals contrast heavily with its nightmarishly agitating challenge level. It's a sadistic lump of programming that may have well sent me away bawling my eyes out had I endured it during my youth. I feel like I'd rather play the Genesis Altered Beast nine times over than endure this again. There are a lot more exciting, more balanced, more visually stimulating, more innovative and just more COOL games on the Genesis than this relic. I'll respect it and admire it for what it is and what it meant to Sega, but I dread the day that I'll ever be placed in the shoes of Alex Kidd again…]]> Sun, 19 Jan 2014 18:42:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Definitely Stormy]]>
Why do I bring that up? Because Sega later recycled the formula. Hey, Golden Axe made money, what else would you expect? Well, the recycled version of Golden Axe was Alien Storm, a game which takes place in a more modern era, and it even involves one of those cliche plots that idiots who don't know anything about video games imagine every video game ever made to be about: Save the World! From who? Well, look at the title of the game: Alien Storm. From the aliens, duh!

There are a few cosmetic differences between Alien Storm and Golden Axe, but these two games run on practically the very same engine. Just as Golden Axe is a brawler set in a long-ago Lord of the Rings-type fantasy world, Alien Storm is set today, during an alien invasion, and you get to pick one of three characters who walks around beating up the aliens at close range. Okay, well, not exactly beating them up. You do get equipped with big guns, but the guns are only effective at close range. This idea borders on the completely outlandish, but given what Alien Storm is supposed to be, I'll go along with it. But I don't think anyone can deny that, even using the aliens as some kind of excuse, that gameplay mechanic definitely wrecks havoc on your suspension of disbelief, even by the galactically broad standards of a video game.

Every couple of levels or so, the finale of a level turns into a very primitive first-person shooter. That is to say, you're placed into the eyes of whatever character you're controlling, and you also get control of a small target mark which you can move around the screen to aim your gun. Gee, after a level of fighting aliens up close and personal, NOW the game wants to give us guns that work? Your "walking" consists of the game automatically moving back and forth. Your only concern is making all the face-huggers dead.

Believe it or not, the first-person sequences come off pretty well, especially for one of the Silver Era's first generation titles. They do have a habit of disrupting the flow of the game, but they're fun. The stupid gameplay mechanic you REALLY need to be worried about is the fact the game doesn't let you jump. Instead, the jump is replaced with a roll. It's basically there to serve the same purpose as the ordinary, average, everyday jump, except without the wonderful convenience of being able to leap over foes who have you cornered.

That gets to be a problem when you encounter the one lone boss design in the entire game because he has long range and moves fast enough to feel like he takes up more of the screen than he really does. Even though he can knock you out of your roll, the only real method of fighting him is by hitting him when he gets close, then rolling across the screen, and repeating until clean. The other aliens aren't exactly brimming with design originality either. You'll only get about enough designs to be counted on one hand, although to be perfectly fair, that lone hand would be my left hand, which is the one with all its fingers.

The level designs do take occasional breaks and vary things up a little - some scenes scroll by having the characters run really fast and be able to take out the bad guys in one shot. It's a nice little change, because those are the only parts of the game that feel truly smooth.

The sprites in Alien Storm are big and details. That's very nice, and you may have to chalk any graphic limitations up to Alien Storm being an early Silver Era game. They're also insanely clunky, and the few animation frames that exist feel like the animation was forced into the controls. The graphics also lack color - Alien Storm has a look to it reminiscent of the classic movie series Alien. There's a very stilted, rigid, cardboard feel, and the character designs are very very few and constantly repeating. The aliens look like B-movie rejects from the 50's. The backgrounds aren't pushing any limits.

Sounds? You don't wanna know that, friend. They're bad and nonsensical every which way on the board. When an alien is defeated, it makes a noise which sounds like a screwdriver handle being tapped against a wooden workbench. Music is bland, and the game just generally sounds like the audio was half-assedly thrown in the day before shipment after someone forgot the game didn't make any noise and was told to quickly get something in.

Controls, well, the game feels every bit as stilted as it looks. It's easy enough to move the cursor in the first-person shooter sequences, but that's the only good thing I can really say about the controls. It's difficult to get the characters to move, especially when facing an onslaught, and tough to make sure the characters are properly aligned with the bad guys before attacking. And oh yeah, did I mention there's no jump function? It bears repeating. There's no jump function, and this game is a brawler.

With the first few games of every new console, there will be a few daring classics which push the boundaries of what a good video game can be. There will also be games hastily rushed out in order to capitalize on that new console smell. Guess which one Alien Storm is.]]> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 15:24:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Turbo Zelda]]>
A quick look through video game history finds an ocean of more technologically advanced ripoffs of older games following the release of any new console. In no game is an "I want money from your formula too!" mentality more blatantly obvious than it is in Neutopia. Neutopia simply reeks of Zelda, everything from the gameplay to the plot and everything else in between. This isn't just taking too much inspiration from a single game here; if Neutopia isn't illegal, then it's performing a delicate balancing act on the line. No, that's an understatement. Neutopia is more like that little kid who's crossed the line entirely, except for one foot which he keeps firmly planted in safe territory so he can taunt his sibling: "I didn't cross the line! I didn't cross the line! You can't say anything because I didn't cross the line! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!" The game's designers better be thanking their lucky stars Neutopia was on such an unpopular console. If more people had heard of it, Nintendo's legal eagles surely would have swooped in and torn them to shreds.

Ask any veteran of both games to explain Neutopia without referencing Zelda, and you'll quickly learn why I opened this review the way I did. It's just not possible. The person in question doesn't necessarily have to be Bill Gates; he could be the world's greatest rocket scientist or the world's most eloquent speaker, or both. Ask about Neutopia, Zelda's gonna get mentioned. Therefore I'm not even going to try to explain this game on its own merits. However, I will list the number of Zelda references I've used at the end of the review.

This action-RPG begins with the obligatory RHC (really hot chick) being gracefully stolen from her residence by the obligatory DEV (dark evil villain). The RHC and DEV of Neutopia are respectively named Aurora and Dirth. The very morning after Aurora's kidnapping, our hero Jazeta shows up in the once-peaceful land of Neutopia (yes, the game is named after the kingdom it takes place in) with a sense of high adventure on his mind and a sword and shield in his hands. His mission: To go forth into the now-hostile land of Neutopia. To seek out new forms of life - and slaughter them like the lowly, evil scum they are. To boldly go where many have gone before - across the four spheres of Neutopia in search of eight legendary medallions which will open the gateway to Dirth's hideout at the North Pole. Let's see now... One hero setting out in search of eight relics which will enable him to fight off one evil villain in the name of one kidnapped princess. Gee, do we spot a certain resemblance to another video game in that objective?

Yeah, that could be the objective description of any other video game. But I'll describe just how Jazeta goes about accomplishing this objective: He wanders through a massive overworld, one screen at a time. In this overworld, he burns trees, crystals, spires, and pillars, and blows up weird-looking spots on walls in search of secret passages. In these secret passages, he picks up information, weapons, and items needed in the search for the medallions, which are hidden in dungeons that are also tackled in a screen-by-screen manner. The dungeons contain puzzles like locked doors and hidden rooms, which Jazeta has to solve by doing things like bombing walls and pushing rocks. To get the medallions out of the dungeons, Jazeta must defeat a boss (well, duh). Wash, lather, rinse, repeat until the kingdom is free of evil. He also does it all with the aid of a compass which points him in a general direction. In dungeons, he also has the aid of a map and a crystal ball when he finds them.

Among the items Jazeta picks up to help in in his mighty quest are a fire wand (one of the primary weapons) bombs, the Moonbeam Moss (Neutopia's candle) the Rainbow Drop (Neutopia's ladder) and various swords, shields, and armor. Are we beginning to see the Zelda-tribute picture now?

Okay, so Neutopia is a dumbed-down version of The Legend of Zelda for the kiddies. But aside from the stunning lack of originality, I'm not going to complain about much else - because, really, there isn't all that much to complain about. A novel could be written on the parallels between Neutopia and Zelda, but none of it will change the fact that Zelda was not a bad game. Therefore, a game which rips off Zelda in every way, shape, and form will not necessarily be a bad game. It may fade back in the shadows while the original version of it basks in the glory of being one of the all-time classic gaming breakthroughs, but that won't mean it isn't worth playing.

In a couple of ways, Neutopia is even superior to Zelda. While Zelda had one overworld for you to lose yourself in, the world of Neutopia is comprised of four of the biggest overworlds you've ever seen, with each one emphasizing a different theme. You start off in the Land Sphere, and finding the medallions will yield access to the Subterranean Sphere, Sea Sphere, and Sky Sphere. While the themes the four spheres are named after could have done a better job playing up their gimmicks, they all perform the function of getting you very lost quite well. The Subterranean Sphere in particular is a tricky world to navigate, but even if you completely lose yourself, there's an item in the game that allows you to return to the last place you saved. (Just don't save if you don't know where you are.) The dungeons aren't quite the fierce mindbenders seen in Zelda, but they're still filled with fun little surprises. I'm certain there are critics of Neutopia who cite the simplicity of necessary items in contrast to Zelda, but I don't consider that much of a complaint. There were times in Zelda when the game went over the top in its complexity. In Zelda, there were two different candles to light rooms with. In Neutopia, however, there's just one Moonbeam Moss which always performs when necessary for as long as needed.

While the overall simplicity is generally a good thing, there are times when Neutopia's lack of complication works against it. The most dangerous enemies in Neutopia are teleporting ghosts which aimlessly float from one end of a room to the other - a nuisance, but not exactly a threat. Granted the enemies in Zelda weren't exactly programmed to hunt you down either, but there were certain tricks and twists to some bad guys which complicated your battle approach. Neutopia's set of foes, while very diverse, can be entirely dealt with using the good old kamikaze approach - just walk up and start hitting. Things get more interesting when you meet bosses, but even those guys are still pretty hit-or-miss in the complication department. The game will give you a really easy boss like the dragon in the Land Sphere, then give you a more difficult boss like the gargoyles in the Subterranean Sphere. An action/RPG vet will have no trouble blowing through the game until the Sky Sphere, but even there the only existing challenge comes in enemies who can stand up to more punishment before going down. I'll even go as far as to say there are only four things about Neutopia which will really challenge anyone: Locating the necessary items, the crystal robot boss, the fake Dirth boss, and Dirth himself. You can include a fifth if you decide to neglect the Moonbeam Moss. Even opening the dungeon doors is no trouble. The door puzzle solutions are a select handful: Push the rock, kill the enemies, or kill the enemies THEN push a rock. Once you reach a certain point, those won't even matter because there's an item, the Bell of Heaven, which can open doors for you once you find it.

Someone got lazy while writing, or while translating for the English-speaking masses, or something. There's something weird about having almost every reference to Jazeta preceded by the words "our hero." "Our hero Jazeta has obtained the medallion!" "Our hero Jazeta has obtained the Boom Bombs!" As if we needed to be reassured that Jazeta has not joined the dark side or is a spy for them. Also, the strongest sword, shield, and armor in the game are called exactly what they are: The Strongest Sword, Strongest Shield, and Strongest Armor. (As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.) It is almost like the names of the items were rushed and tacked on at the last minute before press time. Those are the only qualms with the dialogue, though. The rest isn't what would be called well-written, but it's easy to read so your little kids won't have any trouble understanding. Again, simplicity is the advantage.

Neutopia's graphics are what they're supposed to be: A gussied-up version of Zelda's. While Zelda looked two-dimensional, Neutopia's graphics pull off a pseudo-3d effect. That's about all they do. On their own merits, the graphics have color splashed all around, but are otherwise neither here nor there. Zelda, however, still gets the nod in sound. Neutopia has an excellent title theme and good background music in the Subterranean Sphere, but the soundtracks just can't be compared. Zelda's soundtrack has endured over the ages for a reason. No matter how many times you hear it, it's always synonymous with a big adventure. Neutopia's soundtrack, if remembered at all, will be so only for its mediocre simplicity. And there's nothing to say about the gameplay - both games use EXACTLY the same control interface, so if you've played one, you've played them both.

See my rating. I would not give that rating to a bad game. Neutopia is excellent for little kids who don't have the dexterous minds needed to enjoy Zelda, or for people who are new to action/RPG's. It's a justifiable purchase over Zelda with more variety in the worlds, enemies, and simplicity. But for those who have played Zelda, the difference between the two games is like the difference between George W. Bush and John Kerry: One panders to voters by pretending to be a Republican; the other is a real Republican. And when one pretends to be something the other one really is, the voters feel better just putting the real thing back into office for another four years. Therefore, this voter has spoken. Zelda for President!

I have used 24 Zelda references in this review, give or take a few.]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 01:04:42 +0000
<![CDATA[ Decent gameplay cannot overcome glaring flaws [Review may contain spoilers]]]> Overview

You play as Samus Aran, famous intergalactic bounty hunter. After returning from her mission to wipe out the Metroids and Mother Brain on the planet Zebes, she picks up a distress signal from the "Bottle Ship" and sets off to investigate. Within the ship she discovers a group of Galactic Federation troops and a wide range of menacing creatures on the loose, the kind of situation Samus knows all too well.

Story Introduction and Premise

Okay, first off I would like to apologize if this comes off more like an angry rant, now on to the review.

Metroid: Other M is the first game in the series to feature heavy usage of cutscenes. and it DOES NOT WORK.

If I had to describe the writing in this game with one phrase, I would use "Really bad anime", the cutscenes are long, and they WILL start to irritate you very quickly. The game relies heavily on Samus to deliver exposition, and I do not think good writing involves having the protagonist repeat to the player what just happened on the screen moments before.

The most complained about aspect of the writing in this game is how the character of Samus Aran was handled. Having the distinction of being one of the first, if not the first female protagonist in gaming history, her character is regarded as a certifiable badass, smashing through hordes of enemies intent on saving the galaxy from hostile forces, even if it ends with her death. And what does she become in this game? Dull, childish and blindly following orders from her former commander. Also she repeats the word "Baby" a million times during the course of the game (A fun drinking game if you liked alcohol poisoning is taking a shot everytime she says baby)

In this game, Samus only activates powerups when Adam (the leader of the Galactic Federation unit) tells her to, which leads to several stupid events during the course of the game. Being forced to run through a lava room without the Varia Suit until Adam decides to finally let her use it while Samus loses health at a steady pace is just stupid. Also, when Samus inevitably meets Ridley, she just loses it and has to be snapped out of it by one of the soldiers. At this point, Samus has met and defeated Ridley twice already, and she just breaks down when meeting him in this game? why?

Other games in the series like Super Metroid and Metroid Prime immersed you in their game worlds, and they did not have to rely on cutscenes to do so. I didn't care about any of the characters in the game or what was happening, while Metroid Prime gave you scannable objects that detailed a far more interesting story than the plot of this game and did not feature ANY supporting characters except for perhaps the boss creatures. Such a shame the writing is so bad, because I am not against the idea of Samus having a larger talking role and I think it would be a good idea for future titles, I just think the depiction of her in this game is awful.


The game plays like a 3D sidescroller with moments where you can swap to a first-person view to fire missiles or observe the environment. Samus has a few new moves in this game, she can dodge or perform finishing moves. The finishing moves are a nice addition, but you will come to rely on them heavily while taking down tough enemies. The staple Metroid gameplay element of hunting for items is still here, but your ability to explore where you please is severely limited, this game forces you down a linear path (even more so than Metroid Fusion did) which is quite disappointing as exploration is such a crucial element to the gameplay of the other titles in the series. The overall gameplay just doesn't hit the mark that Super Metroid and the first Prime game hit.

Graphics and Sound--Production Values

One of the things that Other M nailed was the graphics, this game is one of the best looking titles on the Wii. the sound design and soundtrack are also satisfying (the soundtrack containing remixes of classic Metroid music tracks) but the voice acting falls short. Samus sounds monotone and the other characters don't sound any better, as if the voice actors resented having to read their dialogue (I can't really blame them)

In conclusion, unless you seriously love the franchise and want to play every Metroid game out there, it's probably best you spend your money elsewhere. You could also watch this 2 hour video compiling all of the cutscenes, with added commentary:

]]> Thu, 31 May 2012 23:19:05 +0000
<![CDATA[Console Wars Quick Tip by KingreX32]]>
Cant wait to see what happens when Nintendo releases thier new Console The Nintendo WiiU to do battle against th Forces of Xbox 360 and PS3. Its gonna be one for the ages.]]> Sun, 1 Apr 2012 17:00:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Kung Fu Gets a Graphic Update]]>
In China Warrior, you play China Warrior. You really do, because that's all your character is called. A villain has taken over China, and it's your job to rescue your fellow countrymen from his tyranny by beating him down in a contest of good, old-fashioned, man-to-man fisticuffs.

I love it when a video game story tells me that a whole society hinges on my heroic journey because it makes me feel important. It makes the main character into a legendary hero if he makes it or a martyr who had the courage to stand alone against an impossibly powerful foe if he gets killed along the way. China, with the world's largest population and second or third largest land mass, would certainly seem like a society worth saving. (I mean this only in theory. I'm not making a political statement here, so I'll appreciate it if you keep your own political statements to yourself.) Unfortunately, my elation at the thought of having such a big country depend on me quickly went down when I saw what my fierce opponents were packing: Sticks, stones, and really not much else. I have to wonder what kind of country would have allowed itself to be taken over by an army of thirteen martial artists who could be promptly whipped by a group of white-belted kids from Downer's Grove, Illinois.

Thirteen is the number of bosses in this game. Oh, the game has levels and enemies all right, but they're filler material. The layout of the game is like this: You, the large dude at the left of the screen who holds a copyright-infringing resemblance to Bruce Lee, walk to the right. Along the way to far right of the level, you fight "enemies." Your non-boss enemies include things like rocks, snakes, nunchukus, and fireballs all flying at you from the right side of the screen with no apparent purpose or even an explanation of how they're being launched at you. I like to think the level bosses are standing there with some kind of cannon which they're just loading up with whatever is lying around. When the game really feels like giving you a jolt, it sends monks after you. Monks are generally regarded as peaceful people, and they hold to tradition in China Warrior because their method of attacking is to walk right into you. The green monks actually duck when they come onto the screen! One wonders if they're praying to you. The gray and green monks are easily dispatched in one shot. The orange monks are tougher by merit of the fact they can take three shots before going down. None of them go out of their way to engage you in formal combat.

Anyway, you punch, kick, and dodge your way to the very end of the level in which China Warrior tries to turn into a one-on-one fighter by presenting you with boss characters who actually look like they took some effort to create. You beat the boss and go on to the next level. You wash, lather, rinse, and repeat until the end of the game.

Oh, the problems, the problems….. This HAS to be the only time I've ever had trouble writing a negative review because I have too much to say. First of all, China Warrior freaking SCROLLS. You have a game in which you control a martial artist and the game impersonates a common shooter. When you try to move China Warrior around, all you're doing is controlling which side of the screen he's on. The only way to stop the scrolling is to duck. And since every attack or obstacle in the game comes at you from the right, the game becomes a rare game in which an entire button on the d-pad is rendered almost useless. The only time the right button comes into play is during boss fights. Other than that, just keep the main character about one-fourth of the way across the screen and you should be just fine.

China Warrior looks like Bruce Lee. The legendary Dragon would be insulted if he ever saw this game. China Warrior's arsenal consists of all of five moves, which is poor even though the controller only has two action buttons. You have a standard punch and kick, plus a ducking punch and two types of jumping kicks. Unless you're playing China Warrior specifically to amass a high score – in which case you would utilize every one of those moves to hit the targets which would have otherwise no chance of hitting you – you can get through the game safely on just the punch and kick, with the occasional diagonal jumping kick to knock off the orange monks in one shot. The ducking punch is useless at all times and the jumping kicks aren't the most necessary moves in the world, especially seeing as how they become useless during boss battles. The bosses knock you right out of the air and take no damage for doing it. For some reason, our brilliant designers neglected a sweep kick. A lot of enemies who attack you on the ground can't be hit even though the manual inexplicably says they can be defeated. But your sucking punch doesn't hit that low! A sweep kick would be the only attack which could hit those foes, but since you don't have one, those snakes in the grass are invincible.

It's the boss fights one would play China Warrior hoping to see. Once you've gotten through the fillers known as "levels," you get to take on the boss in a one-on-one sparring match. The boss fights increase in difficulty as you get further into the game, and the increase in difficulty is very well done. Each of the thirteen bosses is harder than the last. This doesn't excuse the fact that only the punch and kick are useful against the bosses. While the game is nice enough to give you a supply of special moves for the boss fights, those special moves are executed at random and so you have no control over them. And the frequency with which they show up leaves something to be desired. If the game grants you the privilege of using a special move during later boss fights, pray it hits because it may be the last one you see for awhile.

Well, I think that sums up the game. I can't figure out whether I want to give the graphics a high or low score. China Warrior and the bosses he faces are all very detailed and well-designed despite the palette swap here and there. The enemies are well-designed for the most part. It's just they're poorly imagined. How hard is it to design a fan or a boulder? Now that I think of it, I may be giving the artists too much credit. The boulders look more like tumbleweeds, the nunchukus remain straight like sticks while flying at you, and the whole game is bogged down by a serious lack of animation. China Warrior has ONE frame of jumping animation and about three frames on the basic punch and kick. Both flying kicks have two frames of animation. It's sad when a ducking punch is the most spectacular-looking move in a video game.

The sounds aren't much better. The music is extremely bland and many of your enemies make interesting sounds when they get hit. You could make a fun game of guessing how the next enemy will sound when it meets China Warrior's punch or kick! When you pick up the sounds of each enemy, you could turn it into a drinking game! (I'm being sarcastic here. I don't want this review to be used as a prime suspect in a DWI arrest.) Most of the hitting sounds don't sound anything like you would imagine them to.

China Warrior's controls are standard. I find it stupid that you have to jump kick the game's only power-up, a health-replenishing teabag, in order to collect it. The teabag floats up and down and since you scroll right past it, you have to time your kick in order to grab it because the kick will miss if the teabag is too high. As mentioned before, you have to duck to stop moving. The diagonal jump kick is almost impossible if you're using the standard Turbo controller. I only got it to consistently work using the TurboStick, a joystick controller.

China Warrior is not only bad, it is lazy and thoughtless. Only a masochist could enjoy it.]]> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 00:02:27 +0000
<![CDATA[ Its the sequel to an awesome game. They cant screw this up?....................can they?]]>
Star Wars The force unleashed 2 is the latest game in the Star Wars franchise, it was developed by Red Fly Studious and published by Lucas Arts. It was released on October 26th 2010.

Taking place Six months after the last game (but one year before A new hope), the Force unleashed 2 tells the story of one of Starkillers Clones as he embarks on a quest to figure out who he is while searching for Juno Eclipse.

The Force Unleashed 2 improves upon some aspects of the first game, the load times are faster, the environments are more destructible, and the game is a little better looking and runs a little smoother, the developers have included support for the Wii’s pointer functionality, also this time around enemies don’t drop health canisters or force refills when defeated. Once again force powers and light sabers are customizable and upgradeable (this time you can do it on the fly instead of having to return to the Rouge Shadow). Unlockable Concept Art and Multiplayer also make a return.

Force Unleashed 2 also features new and improved Force Powers. Exclusive to the Wii version is Force Rage, when activated players will enter a bullet time mode were Starkiller is able to take out multiple enemies. Force rage isn’t always available; you have to wait for a meter to fill before you can use it. Another new Force Power is Force Sight, this allows players to see through objects like doors or bosses to find weak areas or solve puzzles. Lastly although found in the first game (through a cut scene) Mind Trick has now become part of the gameplay, when used on an enemy the targeted enemy will attack other enemy AI in the area which comes in handy when surrounded by lots of bad guys with little health.

Graphics Wise the game looks a little more polished than the last game, the cut scene graphics have also been improved but still look kind of bad. Gameplay Wise Force Unleashed 2 is more of the same its primarily hack and Slash but this time with puzzle solving elements thrown into the mix. The Controls have been completely reworked they are very different from the first game so reading the tutorials is a must. Despite this the controls seem abit simpler and easier to learn.

Some problems I had with the game were the campaign was really short about 4-5 hours long, unlike the last game there isn’t really much replayability, the pointer function while added to make the game easier did more harm than good (at times Force Attacks would go opposite to were you wanted it to go), although simpler the boss fight finishers are still a pain. Lastly the Story was the biggest disappointment for me, as a Star Wars fan I felt this game should not even exist in the first place (based on how the last game ended) and on top of that The Story feels thrown together and not very well thought out.

Despite the crappy story the game does a few things right, the new force powers make the game fun to play, and the multiplayer now supports four players on screen at the same time (like Smash bros) instead of just two.

Overall Force Unleashed 2 is not as good as the first game, unless you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan I’d recommend renting this one before you invest 30 bucks. Star Wars the force unleashed 2 gets 6.7 out of 10.

Official Website


]]> Wed, 11 Jan 2012 18:24:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Kind of game you want to cherish, but at the same time give it the birdie!]]> First off, to shake of the confusion, I overall still think this a great Zelda game, if not one of the best in the series. Let me say however, I was a little disappointed in the final product. It wasn't so much as it was the gameplay, as it was the other elements of the game. I did have a few problems with the motion plus (my tv is large and the sensor bar is on top of it, it could also be a faulty controller, etc.). Anyway, it was the storyline (I know it doesn't really make a difference because it doesn't have one anyway, but hear me out), and the fact that Zelda is now 25 years old, but the game loves to explain things to us like we are five. At this point nintendo should be more lenient on their tutorials. I know Nintendo wants to be family friendly, but they really need to quit dumbing down their games. There needs to be tutorials for swordplay and stamina yes, but not how to make Link walk, we all should know that by now because it is quite obvious. When I fired up the game I spent approximately an hour and thirty minutes in tutorials before anything worth noticing happened.

Now to the story. If you aren't aware yet, The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is the first in the series chronologically. Before I give my synopsis, I just want to say how far back can they go!? This game tells the story of how Hyrule and the master sword came to be, as well as giving the full explanation about Farore, Din, and Nayru. They are instilling religion into the series by all of a sudden telling it in biblical proportions. Now I actually like this perspective, but if they are going to do this, why not paint the full picture and explain how the other games tie in? Leaving my timeline nitpicking aside, this game was beautifully crafted with a watercolor painting scheme, as well as a wonderfully fully orchestrated soundtrack. The only other complaint I can offer is how the upgrading works. You can upgrade your weapons and items in the town's bazaar. You have to find the tools mostly from enemies, and there is an extremely low drop rate. It isn't horrible, but very time consuming. Finally there is only four small areas to explore. Their is the sky and the town of Skyloft, the wooded Faron province, the fiery Eldin province, and the dry desert of Lanayru province. These three provinces are smaller and completely different from the ones with the same name in Twilight Princess. The game's story forces you to trudge through these places and their dungeons multiple times. Now lets review both the positives and negatives of this game before I giver her a score.

  • Great Orchestrated soundtrack
  • Beautifully crafted "watercolor" landscapes
  • Mostly solid gameplay featuring "Wii Motion Plus"
  • Great, detailed storyline for long fans of the series
  • Plenty of sidequests to keep you occupied
  • Replay value: Moderate
  • Lengthy baby-ish tutorials
  • Timeline confusion for fans of the series, the games individual storyline may be too difficult to grasp for younger gamers
  • Upgrading gear and potions might be repetitive and time consuming for some gamers
  • Small map and repetitive backtracking to previously explored areas

Overall, there are some annoying things about the game, but the game within itself is a real treat and outweighs these small shortcomings. My final verdict: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward sword, gets a 4 out of 5]]> Wed, 4 Jan 2012 23:34:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ Interesting premise, but like many other post-Genesis Sonic games, lame. 17%]]>
First of all, I'd like to say that I've been a fan of Sonic since Christmas of 1991 and have been a fan of the franchise throughout the 90's. Sonic Unleashed, like the other Sonic games that have broken into the "3D" generation of game consoles, is really unpleasant.

The graphics are pretty nice and the whole thing with Sonic becoming a "Werehog" and going around slashing and punching bad guys is pretty fun, but that's all there is to say that's positive about this game.

While it may seem unfair to target this particular Sonic game for this upcoming flaw, I feel it's legit. The biggest problem with this game is the 3D environment. Sorry, but I truly feel that Sonic wasn't meant for a 3D environment since it's extremely difficult to move really fast while collecting as much rings as possible in this type of environment since it's much easier to die and since it's easy to veer off your desired path, it's much harder to collect rings. While most video games in the last 8-10 years have done away with the "limited life" system so ubiquitous in the first three game console generations, it's still in this game and it gets on your nerves because you're gonna die A LOT.

The tallying system at the end of each level really gets on my nerves because in the "classic" Sonic games, the tallying system just tallied your numeric score and if you got a high score, you'd get a continue. However, the tallying system in Sonic Unleashed is atrocious because the game expects you to accomplish much more difficult levels in a timely manner and has the nerve to actually grade you (using letters A through F) at the end. Isn't it good enough that I came out alive? Just give me a numeric score, don't grade me like a strict university professor.

Aside from the 3D layout and harsh tallying system, I was stuck on one level where you're on top of the Tornado (piloted by Tails, of course) and Eggman has launched a giant robot thingy firing guided bombs at you. I DETEST this level because in order to shoot down the incoming bombs, each projectile is targeted with an icon of either the A, B, X, or Y buttons above them and you have to press the right button in a really short time in order to fire the missiles. This is horrendous because you're in such a panic, you're just mashing buttons, hoping that you hit the right ones since you don't have any time to think. Wouldn't it be more convenient if there was just one button to fire missiles or just have a machine gun and point it at the projectiles? At that point, I quit playing and returned the copy to Family Video.

After playing this and the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog games, it's no surprise to me as to why the newer Sonic games aren't so popular among gamers and critics alike. Sonic Team should really take their cue from Nintendo concerning the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game and make a game that's essentially a "throwback" of the Genesis Sonic games because those are the Sonic games people tend to remember in a positive way. Just get Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection instead.]]> Wed, 28 Dec 2011 22:25:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ Wow just Wow. A very great game.]]>
Back at E3 2009 Epic Mickey Wowed audiences with its dark and mature portrayal of Disney’s iconic character Mickey Mouse. The game was praised by journalists and gamers alike and was nominated for many awards. Despite the good things I heard about the game I wasn’t really interested in it. I’m not sure why but one day while browsing in EBgames I decided to pick it up (cause I couldn't find anything good)

Disney’s Epic Mickey was developed by Junction Point Studious, and published by Disney interactive Studious. It was released on November 30th 2010. Epic Mickey follows Mickey Mouse, after a night of messing around in the workshop of the sorcerer Yen Sid Mickey accidentally creates The Shadow Blot, panicking he throws a bunch of paint thinner to get rid of it. Unbeknownst to him the Shadow blot survived the encounter and years after decides to abduct Mickey to a dark twisted version of Disneyland called Wasteland, a place were forgotten Disney characters reside. Now with your magic paintbrush and bottle of thinner you have to help Mickey escape. Don’t not let the fact that Mickey mouse is on the boxart fool you, this game is not easy. Epic Mickey features a unique gameplay mechanic in the form of paint and thinner. During the course of the game you have the option of using either your paint or thinner to complete objectives, how you use these objects dictate how the game will play and change towards your choices. An example of this is the type of Guardian available to you; Tints are the blue guardians you get these by using Paint to revitalize the environment or to revitalize and be-friend enemies. Like Paint Tints when used against an enemy will turn them into Mickey’s allies. Turps are the green guardians, these are obtained by using thinner, like thinner Turps when used against enemies will permanently erase them. Like most games though guardians can not be used until your guardian meter fills Your choices not only affect which guardians you get but also the quests available to you.

Depending on how you play some quests may or may not become available to you. Apart from paint and thinner your other choices will have an effect on the game. Forgotten Disney characters are not the only residents of Wasteland gremlins are another inhabitant. Throughout the game various different gremlins will either give you quests to complete or act as a guide through different parts of the game. Unfortunately many gremlins have been captured by the mad doctor and it’s up to you to free them. Remember Gremlins help you through the game so freeing them is only beneficial to you………..sometimes.

Graphics wise Epic Mickey looks great, they are a little on the cartoonish side but it fits overall with the tone of the game. Gameplay wise Epic Mickey is An Open-ended RPG, platformer, yes you will be jumping from place to place, and yes usually you are surrounded by pools or lakes of Paint thinner. While the platforming elements were a bit of a pain, the game played very well. Control wise the game uses the Wiimote and Nun-chuck (that’s right no classic controller or GameCube controller support) predominantly the Wiimotes pointer function. The controls take a bit of getting used to but like everything else practice makes perfect.

Overall though they were ok. Points of criticism with the game are that at some points you have no control over the camera which in a 3D platforming title is very problematic, and like most games it is alittle slow at the start with all the cutscenes and tutorials. Apart from this Epic Mickey is a really fun game to play I loved the level design and the music and I found the paint and thinner gameplay to be truly exceptional, reminiscent of Silent Hill Shattered Memories. If your looking for a fun game that’s also challenging, with a decent length (over 15 hours) then look no futher than Epic Mickey. Epic mickey gets an 8.5 out of 10.

official Site

this review can also be viewed here]]> Sun, 30 Oct 2011 00:22:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ A gaming console that's just not for me. 25%]]> First of all, I'd like to say that before I review why I'm not fond of the Wii, keep in mind that this is entirely subjective, and if you personally enjoy it, then more power to you.


I remember the Wii coming out back in November of 2006 and like the PS3, I thought to myself “Like I'm gonna buy that thing, that thing is a joke.” However, unlike the PS3, to this day, I still see no desire to buy one. The Wii has beaten the PS3 and the Xbox 360 in sales, mainly for its “revolutionary” motion-controls that require the players to move while playing the games.




Many people have lauded the Nintendo Wii for its motion-control interface that uses a Wii Mote and a Wii Chuck to control movement and actions of your character in the game. This isn't a new idea because Nintendo already dabbled into that concept in the mid-late 80's with the Power Glove, though while the Wii Mote is more reliable than the Power Glove, the novelty of this wears out very quickly for me.




While I'm not one to bash games or gaming consoles just because their graphics aren't breathtaking (I still play “old” games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and the 16-bit Sonic games), for a seventh-generation console in competition with the Xbox 360 and the PS3, I expect more out of the Wii. Most of the games support graphics that would be more fitting for the PS2, and I wish most of the games wouldn't look so “cartoony.” Would it kill them to make a console with decent graphics, strong textures, and solid lighting?




The Nintendo Wii isn't much appealing to me because of how there's virtually no fun games to play on it (from my point of view). Many of the games for the Wii are sports and fitness games, and I personally don't find much to enjoy about them because if I wanted to get exercise, I'll just go to the gym late at night (I like working out at night). Also, Nintendo isn't doing much to shed the stigma the company has gained from “true gamers” that they only make “kiddie games,” as there's tons of exclusive titles geared mainly for kids. There's some Mature titles like Mad World that are exclusive to the Wii, but Nintendo isn't putting them in the forefront to help squash this stigma, and that the games aren't all that gripping compared to titles like Dead Space or Crysis 2. All of the “flagship” titles that the Wii parades like scholarship students are pretty alienating to adult gamers like myself, mainly the newer Mario games. Back in January of 2009, my brother and his wife bought a Wii with Super Mario Galaxy, and I decided to give SMG a try, and it's like them making the games not look so sugary would make the Nintendo corporation implode upon itself. I miss the N64 days, when Nintendo wasn't afraid to have a good number of games that weren't for kids, like Goldeneye and the Turok games (those were a huge blast).




I'm honestly not trying to sound elitist here, but if you consider yourself a “true” gamer, you're probably not going to find much enjoyment out of the Wii. To prove this, I remember one morning at my past job, slicing and packaging corn ears with one of my co-workers (who was a middle-aged mother of several children), and she was glowing about how “great” the Wii is, and she isn't the gamer-type at all. I even chatted with Wii owners about the console and they agree that it's a console for casual gamers and non-gamers.




If you consider yourself a casual gamer or non-gamer and want an electronic device that'll entertain your friends and family during parties, want an electronic exercising interface device, or a console that'll entertain little kids, then you may want a Wii. However, if you consider yourself a gamer, then skip this and go for an Xbox 360, PS3, or a gaming PC (preferably a PS3, or if you have the money, a gaming PC).

]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:28:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ Decent first attempt at a fighter I suppose.]]>
The fighting system is arena-based, like Power Stone. You run around freely and interact with the stage's gimmicks. When you destroy the stage pieces classic sub-weapons or hearts will appear. The battles themselves has a nice concept and all but there are some setbacks. The camera is not suitable for an arena fighter as it moves with the player closest in front of the screen rather than finding a balance for stage itself. That leads to frustration especially in trap filled stages as well as for midair combat where you need help judging distance. The move sets are simple and characters have some nice flashy attacks but most of the sub weapons are near useless or underpowered leaving the player better off throwing the stage pieces instead.

The game is far from a cheap cash-in in terms of what is in store, however, it is tainted by the execution (Igarashi's inexperience in the genre shows). For fans of the series I would rent it or buy cheap, curious Wii fighting fans should skip this at all costs.]]> Fri, 8 Jul 2011 21:41:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ Characters may be forgotten, but don't forget to give this game a fair chance!]]>
    I didn’t grab the limited edition unfortunately so I cannot talk about the packaging for that.  The standard edition has a nice simple boxart but the manual (while in color) only features 9 pages and doesn’t explain much.  I hate that about publishers.  I like looking at the instructions because back in the day there was some cool illustrations and info about the story but nowadays in-game tutorials and modern presentations do not make the manual as useful.  I won’t hold it against publishers but I do get disappointed very much.
    The visuals and sound are top notch and the graphics especially are a step up from the early screenshots.  The characters look great animated, even the most unimportant of the NPCs too.  The game world has that “Hollywood” look where areas have that “movie prop” feel to it as it makes sense when the world was created that way.  Even so, many of the game’s environments have quite the eye candy intended warts of the “thinner pools” and all.  One might even take a long time staring at Mickeyjunk Mountain’s memorabilia references alone.  Overall a charming look with an appropriate and welcoming OST. 
    The story itself has the deep background of opposite epic Disney series Kingdom Hearts yet never feels too complex for its own good perhaps because there isn’t an ongoing story in sequels yet.  The gist of what you do is Mickey is trapped in the Wasteland and not only does he want to escape but clean up the mess he created when fooling around with Yen Sid’s paintbrush (the tool he used to create the world).  The storytelling has many 2D cartoon cut scenes that are a delight to watch.  There isn’t any voice acting except for grunts and Yen Sid‘s narrative, anyone annoyed by that in games like Legend of Zelda will surely be annoyed here.  I don’t mind it actually, the game thrives on the early days where actions speak louder than words.
    The world is filled with forgotten characters as the promised concept was about.  Most of these characters are focused on Mickey’s side of the universe such as Horace Horsecollar and Clarabell Cow  There are also various versions of characters, as mentioned in one of the cut scenes.  It explains why Pete and Mr. Smee are around.  I guess you can call this a lampshade hanging to the dev team.  Most of the NPCs all look like the same which is a shame when they could of added a few other forgotten characters into the mix (at least for the shopkeepers…).  We did get a few gems into the game such as Oswald and the Gremlins.  I wish the game gave you a reference to various cameos but I haven’t really scratched my head with anyone.

    Epic Mickey reminds me of Mario Sunshine where you have that traditional adventure platformer mold with the ability to spray things.  The whole vibe I gotten was the old N64 days actually.  Take that as a hit and miss for gamers I really grew to enjoy this game style.
    Mickey’s main ability is to use paint or thinner on objects and enemies.  It makes for an interesting way to handle exploration and gameplay elements.  Mickey learns to use some “sketches” which to slow down time, distract enemies or one-hit kill an enemy but limited use as opposed to learning genuine techniques.  Not that it matters because of the forced progression of traveling.  During combat, using paint will allow you to befriend the blot enemies and in return they will fight for you while thinner will defeat them for good.  The mechanical Beetleworx require thinning out then use the spin attack to destroy.  These enemies are a bit of a chore because of how long they take to defeat but the blot enemies are more common and are much easier to handle so the balance is fine.  There aren’t very many types of enemies in the game (like five blot and four Beetleworx) but they have different attacks and some of them has different means of defeating them.  The bosses aren’t simple battles.  Some of them are straight attacks while others are more like platforming/puzzle challenges.  At least depending on how you handle them.  I think it is better than just regular matches but there aren’t very many bosses in the game to begin with.
    The formula is simple.  Mickey travels to worlds with some major objective and some minor quests as you travel in the action levels.  Connecting the worlds are 2D segments modeled after classic cartoons.  Do not get your hopes up.  While the nostalgia is kicking, these levels are brief and work as transitions rather than take full inspiration to a game like Mickey Mania which many of these cartoons also appear.  Throughout the game and recommended for between major worlds you will need to accept quests from villagers which consist of generic fetch quests which span town to town which can be more annoying than a calming breather. There are some variety such as “cleaning” jobs and a NPC will offer riddles.  Those are fun in my opinion.  Some of the quests can be vague in objectives or if you don’t pay attention it can be hard to remember what to do.  There is a quest section of the pause menu, but with only a sentence of info doesn’t help but the map can have some icons for you.
    The star feature of the game is the branching decisions the player can take in completing quests.  It adds much needed value to the otherwise traditional game design.  To make sure the player doesn’t go back on his or her actions, the game auto-saves after important points.  Not a big of a deal itself, but for some reason the development team decided to shut Mickey out of areas.  When the game has quests and collectables, not being able to revisit any places other than the towns can be a huge drag.  If you miss anything you will have to wait for your “new game plus”.  So for those who blast through the story and explore later you don’t get to and searching every inch of an area will slow the pacing of the game to a crawl.  Patient gamers will triumph in this game.

For the most part Epic Mickey is technically sound.  The loading times are fine and I didn’t notice any annoying slowdown.  Mickey is responsive, but minor annoyances like aiming your spray around can lead to not reaching what you wanted or having to waggle to spin attack (like Mario Galaxy).  The biggest flaw would have to be the camera actually.  It feels clunky and you will end up manually moving it more than you wish you did.  It also struggles with tight areas and doesn’t hold up when battling multiple enemies.  Exploration-wise, I doubt you will have too much trouble with it but as a platformer where you have to spray loads and loads of objects it can be a chore.  Did you know there was a lock-on function holding down the C button and you can swing the camera faster by double tapping the D-pad?  I didn’t until experimented because the manual didn’t mention it (and I don’t remember the in-game instructions either).  Not that I didn’t mind, I didn’t have too much trouble aiming but the camera swing helps.  Why did they leave it out is beyond me, it probably would of saved some gamers frustration for sure.

Play Value
The game takes about 20 hours if you are thorough with exploration and quest-taking.  Collecting things add to the replay value. There are concept art,  2 cartoons (one for Mickey and one for Oswald) and pins to collect.  The pins themselves are kind of like achievements for various things you have done in the game.  The branching story also motivates gamers to replay the game, but the strict progression will lead gamers to use the “new game plus” to collect everything anyways.

It lacks polish and some design decisions will not please everybody, but I have no regrets.  I like this game.  Anyone who likes exploration platformers (and Disney in general) should consider giving this a fair chance.  It has clear effort put into it for the complaints I have and I hope to see a sequel or new projects with Oswald for sure.]]> Fri, 8 Jul 2011 13:53:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ The fight goes Global in the search for John Adams]]>

Conduit 2 is the sequel to the Award Winning game The Conduit. It was developed by High Voltage Software and published by Sega. It was released on April 19th 2011.

Conduit 2 is an FPS like the first game players once again take control of Michael Ford as he hunts down John Adams the man who is responsible for destroying Washington DC. The game starts just seconds after the first game ends with Michael stepping through the Conduit to escape the Base Self destruct.

As promised by High Voltage Conduit 2 features many improvements over the first game, the enemy A.I while still abit dumb is vastly improved over the first game. Enemies will now knock over tables for cover, run from grenades, lay down cover fire for their comrades and even have conversations when not aware of the player. The levels are not as linear as before, this time around there’s actually a bit of exploration to the game, high voltage has also added ADS (Aim Down Sights), a sprint option and the ability to knock over tables, pop machines and lockers for the player to use as cover, the environments are also destructible (somewhat). There is also a handful of new weapons (like the Widow Maker Turret and Dark Star) and many old ones (like the Deatomizer MK4, Strike Rifle, and SCAR) but with new alternate fire options.

New features and improvements online are voice chat through the PDP Headbanger Headset attachment. Also Included online is the option of creating custom weapon sets (like Classes), like Black Ops the online also Supports Hot fixes and updates, there are a bunch of new multiplayer maps and modes like Annexation (earn points by Capturing and Holding control points) and Power Surge (destroy the enemy generator) to name a few. Some old modes and maps return like Streets Prime and Shared Stock. Another great feature is that you have the option of reviving downed players instead of letting them die. Lastly Conduit 2 features a currency system, if you want new weapons, armor parts, and upgrades (there like Perks from COD), you have to buy them. Currency is earned by not only by playing online and winning matches, but also by playing offline and using the ASE to find hidden objects, secret messages, and weapon Blueprints.

I didn’t think it was possible by graphically Conduit 2 looks even better than the first game. They’re not Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles improved but more closer to No More Heroes 2 improved. There’s a lot more depth and the textures are darker. The game also looks a lot more glossy. Gameplay wise Conduit 2 is more of the same, you’ll shoot people, find things with the ASE, fight a large Boss/Monster, step through the Conduit and do it all again. Although I will say the new bigger boss fights are a welcome addition (especially after the disappointing Invader creatures from the first game), and like I said before the game is not as linear. In Controls, Conduit 2 supports the Wiimote and nunchuck, classic Controller Pro, and Wiimotion plus attachment. Like the first game controls are customizable just like before.

Some problems I had with the game was some of the problems from the first games online return (like spawning you inside walls, not properly loading some maps and little bugs and glitches here and there), I absolutely HATE!!!! The new voice actors, there sound terrible (Adams, Ford, Prometheus) and I found some of the new weapons (especially online) very annoying like the AR-C Eclipse (it makes the user invisible for a while) and The Phase Rifle (it has the ability to shoot through walls)

Apart from the buggy, glitch online (which really irked me) the game is great and a major improvement over the last one, the new modes and features are cool and work well (usually) the game runs great (framerate amazing, not so much online), Michael Ford has more of a personality this time around throwing out lots of wise cracks with tongue and cheek dialogue between him and Prometheus (I still hate the voice though) and the little improvements like ADS, the cover mechanic and the sprint option, really shows you that High Voltage listens and cares for their fans.

If you have the first game then you will love this one. Conduit 2 gets an 8.5 out of 10.
official site

Conduit Wiki

view this review with screenshots]]> Mon, 6 Jun 2011 13:42:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ Somebody Kill It!]]>
Unfortunatly, creativity and innovation are two-way streets, and for every brilliant experiment that Sega gets right, there are several experiments that are beyond bad. I mean horrible. Stanky. Games that make me break into tears, falling onto my knees and crying in an overdramatic fashion, Why, God, why did You have to make me a video game nut? Is this Your sick idea of a joke!?"

I really hate it when I have to lay the verbal smack down on my favorite video game system, but there are times when duty calls and I must taint the mighty reputation of this magnificent 16-bit work of art. Eternal Champions reeks. Yeah, I'm sure everyone knows about my vehement hatred of fighting games by now, but I do place my venom-soaked printer off to the side when I have to review something from a neutral point of view. See (shameless self-promotion) my Samurai Showdown review. I liked that game. I thought it was good. So, all vehement hatred aside, Eternal Champions sucks. Reeks. Blows. It's the worst fighting game I've ever played. Now let's find out why.

First, as always, I must give out the props. The story of the Eternal Champions is quite interesting. There's this handfull of comic book superhero and supervillian wannabes from different time periods who apparently posess the talent to make the world change for the better. But here they are, innocently in their time periods when, oops, they dropped dead. Okay, well, that isn't quite right. They all got murdered by enemies. But the fact remains that they're all dead, and being dead would put a serious hinderance on one's world-changing abilities. So into the fray wanders this glowing hooded guy called the Eternal Champion who's been around since the beginning of time to see it all happen. And the Ultimate Champ offers all these folks a once in a lifetime (or is it a once in an eternity?) deal. He's gonna make these innocent souls beat the living crap out of each other in a contest. Whoever whups the most rear while getting whupped the least gets to fight Champ. He wins, the Eternal Champion sends the person back to his time period to suddenly wake up to hit his killer with a stunning blow, thus surviving and going on to change the world. Quite a pleasant change from the usual scenario where a really evil guy brings together a martial arts tournament at his place for no reason so the good guy can walk right in and tear him a new one.

The amount of options seen in Eternal Champions has yet to be topped. Maybe Virtua Fighter 4 tops it, but I wouldn't know since I haven't played it yet. Anyway, in one-player mode, there are so many practice options you'll be playing for days before you hit them all. Sega seems to have a thing for orbs. You can practice by hitting bouncing or stationary orbs. You can adjust the level at which the orbs sit. If you choose the bouncing orbs, you hit them until you get hit, upon which you'll recieve a ranking. Once you think you're ready to move up a step, you then get to choose holograms of the game's characters. You then set its level of intelligence from 1 (easier than taking candy from a baby) to 9 (harder than... Maybe I'll keep this metaphor to myself). You and the computer hologram then get to go a few practice rounds.

The two player mode isn't quite as good as that. It would be sweet if you could control the orbs and confuse your poor victim... Er, friend. I meant friend. But in two player mode, you do have the ability to choose the obstacle room, loaded up with any obstacles you choose. And there are lots of them. There are bullets, teleporters and buzzsaws that move along the ground. It's a shame that there isn't more variety in the backgrounds. The programmers could have ran wild with some of the game backgrounds.

Now, back to my references about single player practice: You practice. You practice good. Because the programmers chose not to include a difficulty mode selection, and the cheating AI is likely to rip your limbs right off and beat you in the head with them. All the computer-controlled characters seem to move extra fast and hit extra hard. I've owned this game for years, but I never got past a single computer opponent in tournament mode without cheating. And even if you manage to swallow your pride enough to attach a Game Genie, that's no guarantee either. I got to the third opponent with the Game Genie, and that was playing as the Eternal Champion. Then I lost and learned that the game doesn't leave you a continue supply, it just sets you back not one but two stages in the tournament. And the only reason I know that two opponent tidbit is because I read it in a strategy book somewhere along the line. Bottom line, the game is merciless and you can't win unless you're God Himself.

Part of the gameplay problem is that Sega forgot to include something that any good fighting game can't possibly exist without: The combo. Even Mortal Kombat 3 had combos! But Eternal Champions... Go right ahead, try a combination, any combination, I won't look. Your opponent will be able to block everything that comes after that first hit. The lack of combos nullifies the use of any kind of strategy pretty much altogether, since the only uses for the light and medium kick buttons is to perform special moves. Just pound the hard keys and don't worry about rebuttal if you miss since the attack is there and back more than fast enough.

Matter of fact, pounding the hard button is about the only thing you'll want to do do win. Inner strength looks like a good idea on paper, but unless you turn it off at the option screen, you get too little of it to make any good use of your special moves, and it doesn't regenerate nearly fast enough. Add that to the AI that's always taunting you and it makes for a combination that will bring the words game over to your living room screen that much faster. And it's funny that the computer never seems to run out of inner strength, despite the fact that it's always using special moves. Maybe the game should supply you with the Powerade it drinks. But even all the Powerade in the world wouldn't be able to speed the game up to the level it really needs.

Nor would all the Powerade in the world save it from its truly horrifying lack of originality. I've mentioned the comic book superhero and supervillian wannabes. When I said that, I meant it: See Blade, the Wesley Snipes lookalike crime buster from the future. See Shadow, whose ninjutsu techniques in a modern setting bring flashes of Catwoman and the cancelled Fox show Dark Angel real quickly. See Xavier, who looks like the X-men professor who bears his name under that cloak of his. See Slash, a caveman whose appearance holds more than a passing resemblance to a certain guitarist from Guns'n'Roses. See Midknight, Jetta and Trident, all characters who look like they were taken straight from the comics. If there's one good thing about the lack of originality, it's that the martial arts styles are also ripped off, ripped off as in real. Every character adheres to a different style. Shadow uses Ninjutsu. Larcen decimates his opponents with Praying Mantis Kung-fu. Even caveman Slash uses an ancient style simply called Pain.

And finally, like in Samurai Showdown, you can activate fatalities if you happen to be standing in the right place while finishing your opponents. And, like in Samurai Showdown, they're tame. Sure the other guy flies into the fan, but no blood. Eaten by Slash's pet Tyranosaur, no blood. Although you get blood in Trident's background when the tentacles drown the other guy and when Larcen's enemy gets gunned down in a drive-by. Strange.

At least Sega was smart enough to make the characters look interesting. Every character has a totally unique look that accents both the character's background and time period, and the are no palette swaps. The animation is very sweet, and all the characters are as complete as you could want them to be. And the backgrounds are works of art-Larcen fights out in front of a movie house with flickering lights and a teller, Xavier in front of the stake he was burned at. And Trident's background is my personal favorite, as he fights in an underwater arena in front of his underwater continant, Atlantis. Eternal Champions makes great use of the spectrum that the Genesis can show.

Unfortunatly, some of the backgrounds are also very bland. The house with the fan, the circus and especially the obstacle room all leave something to be desired. And the bottom of the screen flickers. Not enough to disrupt your game, but more than enough to distract you.

Speaking of distract, the music is annoying. Although it fits in with every area, Sega could have composed something much more memorable and action packed. And there are no sounds, save the hitting and special move sound. Genesis was capable of more guys, I keep saying it, and we've all heard it.

The control is right, but a little too right-every move is there and back again before you know it, so if you miss a hard attack, there will probably be no punishment. And every special move works like it's supposed to, although many special move requires nothing more than pressing two or three buttons at the same time. Although this would be a complaint about most other fighting games, I'm cool with it in Eternal Champions because you still need every advantage you can get over the computer. Except for the speed, of course. The speed could have stood to be upped a bit, especially against the extra fast computer.

And so you have it. Why Eternal Champions sucks, in a nutshell. A game with less than eternal life, one might say. And you could squeeze some fun out of the cartridge by proving that to Sega. A good way to do that would be to go to Sega headquarters and use all the Eternal Champions carts you can buy as clay pigeons. Just to warn them.]]> Thu, 2 Jun 2011 19:44:20 +0000
<![CDATA[ Double the Torture]]>
Shining in the Darkness is barely known to casual gamers because it had little fanfare and advertising and also because it's difficult to find today. Double Dungeons is barely known to many hardcore gamers because it was on the TurboGrafx-16, one of the least-known consoles to appear in the United States. I honestly believe the unpopularity of the Turbo is the only thing standing between Double Dungeons and a spot on the list of legendary video game bombs alongside ET, Deadly Towers, Time Killers, and other notorious examples of how video games should never, ever be made. Double Dungeons may not be well-known, but it makes a very solid case for being the worst game ever.

Calling Double Dungeons an RPG is a gross overstatement. There are two elements in Double Dungeons common to the genre: experience points and weapon upgrades. Otherwise, there's very little in Double Dungeons to make even casual role-players believe it to be anything more than a slightly gussied-up first-person shooter. The game places you into a narrow, landmark-free dungeon and forces you to look for treasure, weapons, and eventually the boss of the dungeon. Since the dungeons have no discerning marks whatsoever to help you find your way through them, you'll often end up walking around in circles or at least thinking you're walking around in circles. The only real way to find your way around without getting hopelessly lost is by mapping out the game using graph paper. There might be a way to blunder through Double Dungeons without mapping, but having attempted the blunder method more times than I can count, I can safely say that it will lead to a long, frustrating and ultimately pointless campaign.

Since there are no landmarks in Double Dungeons, you'll have to use the enemies as your landmarks. This is a very accurate statement with no exaggeration because the random encounters in the game aren't random. In Shining in the Darkness, groups of enemies literally pop in from nowhere to challenge you and so you're always on your toes. But in Double Dungeons, enemies appear at certain points in the dungeons that never, ever change. Every enemy you encounter will always be in a certain location at least half of the time you show up. What's more, you can't walk into the area behind an enemy until the enemy has fallen to your blade. Therefore, it's impossible to avoid combat with a powerful enemy who's guarding a corridor you have to get into. You can run away and return all you like, but like death and taxes, there's no getting around him or making him disappear. If you absolutely need to get around him, the only way to do that is to waltz right up to him and put up your dukes. It doesn't help that you can see the enemies pop up from two or three screens away. Though the previews of enemies may unnerve certain RPG nuts, they can help you save hit points because they let you see what's coming and perhaps heal up if you need to.

Once you're ready to face off against the bad guys, you can easily engage them by running right up to them. One of the few good aspects of Double Dungeons is actually the ease with which you can get into and away from combat. Since your movement isn't hindered by a battle screen, you can run away any time you like, even against bosses. Anyway, combat in Double Dungeons is an epic battle of button-mashing. If the game had a statistic for luck, I'd say winning battles was a matter of luck alone. Actually, I'm going to say it anyway: Winning battles in Double Dungeons is strictly a matter of luck. While you can use items during combat, the whole battle system still revolves around pressing button 1 really fast. In a fight, little messages scroll through the bottom of the screen telling you just what's going on. The screen flashes to indicate when you're hitting the bad guy, and the text flashes to indicate when he's hitting you. You might think setting the rapid-fire switches on the Turbo controllers to their highest level would give you an edge in combat, but all that does is make the text messages scroll by at a faster rate. It's as basic as can possibly be. The simplicity is punctuated by the fact there is no magic and special attack weapons are very few and far between.

You might think a save-anywhere feature would be some kind of redeeming value for Double Dungeons. Too bad the save system is password-based. It's about the worst password system I've ever seen. It gives you a lot of lines of both capital letters and small letters and it very constantly forgets the passwords it assigns to you. There are 22 dungeons in the game and while you can play through the first 21 any time you please, you need a secret password to get into dungeon 22. You get letters for this password by beating the first 21 dungeons. While I never was able to crack dungeon 22, I once found a password for dungeon 22 in a cheat paper and tried it. It didn't work. The dungeon-selection may seem like a blessing on paper (lord knows its been a godsend in helping me with this review) but it actually throws you off because it means that once you beat a dungeon, you're thrown right back into the dungeon selection screen. Did you forget what dungeon you just beat, what letter you just worked so hard to attain? Tough luck. The only way to really get through this game is to play a series of marathons, playing one dungeon at a time all the way through.

Perhaps you've noticed that I haven't spent any time talking about the story. It's simply foolish of me to go so long without mentioning the story, which is the backbone of any RPG, right? Well, there's a good reason for that. There is no story in Double Dungeons. Don't adjust your computer or go rushing to the eye doctor. You read that right. Double Dungeons gives you useless prologues and epilogues at the beginning and end of each dungeon, but they serve no purpose other than to provide some ludicrous explanation as to why you've been tossed into this narrow dungeon. Other than those, Double Dungeons lacks even a rudimentary foundation of a story. There are no characters in the game besides shopkeepers and innkeepers. Frankly, I wonder why there are shops and inns in dungeons anyway.

Something Double Dungeons does offer is a two-player simultaneous mode. It doesn't do anything to enhance the gameplay, but it's amusing to meet up with your friend in the dungeons knowing he may or may not attack you. When the characters meet, they can attack each other or team up. I highly recommend teaming up, since killing each other is counterproductive and makes the game even longer and more difficult than it needs to be.

The graphics in Double Dungeons manage to pull off a realistic 3D effect, and the scrolling is done better than it is in Shining in the Darkness. That's really the best that can be said about them. Usually when a game is seriously lacking somewhere, I try to concentrate on what's there. But Double Dungeons makes that sadly impossible. The enemies look very blurry when they first appear onscreen and they don't move during combat. Shining in the Darkness wasn't exactly flashing movements around the screen either, but that game made up for it with terrific character designs. Double Dungeons gives you the least inspired designs possible. It's as if they merely asked the janitors to do a little bit of drawing. If you run into the other player in the two-player mode and he walks away, he flashes in and out. But the biggest crime with the graphics is you only get a fourth of the screen displaying the action. The sounds are even more incomplete than the graphics. There are only a handful of sounds to indicate when you're fighting an enemy or using an item. The repetitive music is mind-numbing and annoying, playing endlessly in a loop with only the occasional break for music in inns or shops or - when you beat a dungeon - the title screen. In all fairness, however, the title screen music is really good.

Slowdown aside, Double Dungeons has very responsive controls. If you have to run away from a fight, there's no delay. You just run. Using items is a two-button process - you use button II to go to the item selection and button I to use from there. Button I also scrolls the text along in fights and does the attacking.

One thing Double Dungeons can boast is one of the greatest pieces of cover art to ever grace a game package. In the foreground is a warrior with a big sword, deciding whether he wants to go into a passage with a bear or a passage with a giant snake while a skeleton presides over the scene. Other than that, there's no reason to ever purchase this game for any price. It's available as a download for the Nintendo Wii now for less than ten dollars, and so interest in Double Dungeons as a cult game has suddenly surged. But god only knows why Double Dungeons is available for download instead of more worthy games.]]> Sat, 28 May 2011 15:41:47 +0000
<![CDATA[ Kid Player]]>
You pace around your nice little corner office, perhaps stopping to stare blankly at the artwork you may have on your walls. The one thing on your mind is Nintendo's technologically inferior 8-bit system is selling and the 16-bit Genesis isn't. What do they have that we don't? Well, they have cute mascot characters like Mario and Link and name brand recognition. And that cocky Miyamoto kid. Then it hits you: Kidnap Miyamoto!

For awhile, you wallow in the genius of your new plan like a pig wallows in the mud. Alas, it's soon brought to an abrupt halt after a quick check with the federal law officials reveals that kidnapping is illegal. So you say screw it and resort to the next best thing: Ripping him off. Nintendo has a mascot that, when in posession of certain items, can fly and throw fireballs. So you think up a new mascot that will also be able to fly and throw.. ... Skulls!.. Er, no, axes! No, both! Both! When Mario gets hit, he goes back to his old self. So will your mascot... No, give him three hits before reverting! Mario becomes small after getting hit. Your new mascot will become small after grabbing some kind of item! Mario can find warp zones that take him to higher levels in the game. Your boy will be able to find warp platforms that can transport him backwards, forwards, all over the game! Mario has bouncy, catchy music. You wallow in the genius of this idea before realising that you've done it before. Mario has a brother named Luigi that a second player can take control of when the first player dies. Yeah; NO! You'll stop it right here; Nintendo might begin to suspect something and start giving you legal woes.

And so you take your brilliant new Mario rip-off to your developers, who give him a curly hairdo, a few extra powers, a James Dean wannabe attire and a pair of sunglasses. Meet Sega's new mascot, Kid Chameleon!

Right. It didn't quite work that way. Despite this effort, Sega would remain mascot-less until the recruiting of Yuji Naka, who gave them Sonic.

Personally, I'm glad it didn't. Kid Chameleon is a great, inventive game, but it's still a Mario rip-off, and one that I can't see myself playing sequel after sequel to. Kid Chameleon is very long and involved, and if you don't perform everything just right, you can fully expect to trap yourself in a little corner of the game where the only way out will be death, or worse, reseting the game. There are several points where you will narrowly get by and think Thank God I don't have to do that again!

The object of Kid Chameleon is ridiculous. There's this amazing new virtual reality game in the arcades called The Wild Side. But when kids play the game, it gets a little too real and swallows them up. Enter video game extrordiaire Kid Chameleon who, with a fist on his chest and a hammy, over-acted voice, nobly vows to enter The Wild Side and bring back all the kids who have been swallowed up. As he's about to take that final step into the virtual world, he turns back to the crowd of teary-eyed onlookers and well-wishers and shouts They may take our lives, but they'll never take our FREEDOM!!! He turns back and enters the machine admist the programmers in the crowd who could have easily gotten them out by switching a few circuits around. Okay, Kid's an idiot.

Who's more foolish: The fool or the fool who follows? You, dear gamer, are the one who gets to guide this idiot through this game's vast array of levels and warp zones. Kid Chameleon really does play a lot like a Mario game, from its level engines to the run button that helps you run faster to make longer jumps. The game's strenght and uniqueness lies in the various helmets Kid grabs that give him essential powers. The ones I mentioned above, respectively, were Cyclone, who flies by spinning; Juggernaut, an extra-wide tank that shoots skull heads; Maniaxe, a Jason Voorhies wannabe who throws axes; and Micromax, a little fly who can cling to ledges. The other powers available are Berserker, who damages enemies by charging at them; Iron Knight, with two extra hit points and the ability to climb walls; Eyeclops, who can find blocks with a light beam; Red Stealth, a ninja who jumps extra-high and carries a sword; and Skycutter, who glides along on a rocketboard.

Unlike Mario, in which you can play through without power-ups if you're good enough, in Kid Chameleon your powers are essential for any kind of advancement beyond the second level. This is the games biggest flaw. If you lose whatever power you have before you reach the area where you need to use it, find a pit and perform a swan dive 'cause there ain't no way you're gettin' any further. And if you run out of lives late in the game, you have to endure the whole thing over again since there's no save feature. If you die after making it very far, I'll suggest shutting off the machine, getting your eyes back in focus, going to bed and trying again in the morning, because it will be long past the midnight hour if you live to see the Final Marathon level. I swear I'm not exaggerating. The game is that long and complex.

I rarely ever say this, but if you ever want to have any hope of beating the game, save yourself a lot of anger, frustration and eye problems by getting a Game Genie. Not only will it allow you to willy-nilly your way through the game, it will also allow you to perform all kinds of experiments throughout the game's 100+ levels. The game is actually more fun if you cheat. Start on a level, any anonymous level, and see where it takes you. The timer is another fierce obstacle, so give yourself unlimited time to find out what every level is hiding.

The scope of Kid Chameleon almost rivals the scope of Super Mario World. Kid Chameleon runs through mountains, flies over pits, charges through brick walls and storms through sewers. Occaisionally, he'll have to charge through some of the hardest and most frustrating levels ever invented for video games: The scrolling 'chase' levels. You know the ones-the ones where you keep running to the right, not only trying to avoid enemies but trying to stay in front of some gigantic thing coming at you from the other side of the screen that will kill you in one shot if it touches you. Very frustrating. Most of the levels, though, range in difficulty from comically easy to insane. In four levels the game pits you against bosses in the forms of three oversized heads. The first three boss levels are pretty easy, but the fourth, Plethora, the final boss level, will give you fits. And there are only a couple of helmets in his room, neither of which is very useful.

Then there are the helmets. Ecah one gives you some kind of transformation that lasts for three hits. After the third hit, you revert back to neighborhood vid gamer and nice guy Kid Chameleon. Two more shots as KC, there goes a life. Each helmet comes with a different king of handling. On some, for example, you have to press the action button to activate its power. Some guises move slower or jump higher than others, and there's a lot of fun in learning to handle each one. The Skycutter guise is tricky to learn because it moves along all by itself, but once you figure out how he works, you'll shred up the skies like a veteran snowboarder flying down Death Peak or The Widowmaker or whatever your favorite name for an extra-dangerous snowboarding mountain is.

Finally, the prevalant item up for collection in the game is the diamond, which is used to activate powers by pressing A and start. Differant powers use differant amounts of diamonds, and more powerful powers use larger amounts of diamonds. Make sense? And the kinds of blocks play a more important role in Kid Chameleon than they do in any other game I've played. Some blocks disappear, some mushroom out to create a bigger platform, and sometimes you have to use blocks strategically to get to where you're supposed to be going.

Kid Chameleon has a weird, big and horrendously ugly hairdo. But that's a good thing, becuse without it a posing wimp like him would probably only be able to take one hit before going down, not two. My point here is that the graphics are good enough to pick out little things like that. Unfortunately, there just aren't a whole lot of little details to pick out. Every enemy, every transformation is remarkebly simple. The artists didn't try to make your eyes pop out and go ga-ga in any way. Even the big bosses and the big chainsaw that chases you through the scrolling levels are just a trio of giant heads and a big deadly-looking... Thing. Although the boss heads do turn into skulls in sickening ways when you defeat them. Their eyes pop out and they lose their skin, which is the coolest feature these grapics can boast.

The sound tries to be catchy and upbeat like Mario, and to a point it is, but it also plods along like the Iron Knight at some points. It has a scope that ranges from upbeat to adventurous to desperate and it fits nicely into each level, but there are only a few tracks. Whether or not it's listenable is entirely up to you.

Well, I've said it before: Every game has tried to rip-off Mario. Kid Chameleon is ultimately an effort to do that, but it's such a thickly disguised effort that most gamers probably won't notice. Typical of Sega. But, all things considered, it's still a fun game. My four star rating is for those who don't own Game Genies. If you don't own a Game Genie but you own Kid Chameleon, go out, buy a Game Genie if you can find one, and really let the fun you can have with the game soar!]]> Sat, 21 May 2011 21:45:52 +0000
<![CDATA[ Kick! Punch! It's All in the Mind!]]>
In Streets of Rage 3, she returns with her good friends Axel and Skate and her new friend Dr. Zan to deal with her archenemy Mr. X once again, who just doesn't seem to know how to play dead. Seems that Mr. X has been planting bombs around the city from beyond the grave for some reason. And he just wouldn't be an evil villain if he wasn't plotting to set them off.

And so, as any hardcore gamer knows, that means it's once again up to Blaze, Axel and company to take the fight back to the raging streets to open a whole new case of whoopass on the most horribly named and attired set of enemies this side of Squaresoft, their palette swaps and their significantly pumped-up AI.

Streets of Rage 3 is old-school, bare-knuckle pound-anything-that-moves-into-oatmeal action at its very best. You pick one of four characters, take him to the streets with nothing but his fisticuffs, and give X's latest gang of evil cronies the beatings of their lifetimes. It plays just like its predessesor, but the AI has been beefed up considerably from Streets of Rage 2, so don't expect to merely stick out your fist and have everyone walk into it this time. It seems that the local street gang learned a thing or two from their last encounter, and their a bit more difficult to deal with this time around. When they move off the screen, their out of your reach until they decide they want you to reopen your used can of whoopass on them. The guys who carry knives, pipes and swords are also a bit more stubborn in clinging to their weapons, so don't expect to hit them once, grab their weapons and run around the screen laying the smack down on everyone who lifts a finger. And some of these guys even have the nerve to grab you, block your attacks and hit you from behind. Nope, the AI is rather determined to not make you train it to play dead this time, and will use every dirty trick it can get away with to get its revenge for the time when you finally made its prequel your b!tch.

Although you're not without a few new tricks up your sleeve to help even out the score. The AI is may be more intelligent, but it was still dumb enough to make the mistake of giving Blaze and the rest of the crew a dash move to get across the screen in a hurry, and a roll move that serves the same purpose, only vertically. On top of that, those of you who are blessed with a mighty six-button controller have the abilities to knock a guy flat on his back in a single shot and smack the idiots who try to grab you from behind. And they all get their old assortment of punches, kicks and throws from SOR2, which means you can still unleash a wicked three-hit combo or super move and toss X's muscleheads into nearby pits. As for the new guy, Zan, he's pretty cool. Since Zan's a robot, he's got the super-stretchy arms and electricity, but it somehow seems odd that he could take a beating with a wooden plank just like everyone else. Shouldn't the plank just break over his head like a cheap toy? Oh well, can't have everything, but a robot is still a robot for crying out loud.

If you can't bring down Mr. X yourself, one of the finer features of the Streets of Rage series has always been the two-player cooperative mode. Hey, two is always better than just one, right? Well... Yes and no. Extra help is always an advantage in video games, even if the two of you will be sharing the continue supply. But if you do drag someone else into the fight, the AI will also give an extra advantage to itself in the form of more enemies and extra-long life bars. But the moments when the two of you are standing back to back, fighting off enemies coming at you from both sides will be the most fun when you realise that the enemies don't pose as much of a threat as the other player.
'Watch where you swing that freakin' bat, you idiot!'
'Why don't you concentrate on your own side of the screen, moron!'
'I shouldn't have to watch it, you have more lives than me!'
'Oh yea? Take THIS!' (proceeds to beat his friend)
Yep, the action is fast, furious, and in a two-player cooperative game, you will occaisionally forget who's on your side.

On the other hand, you have the two-player competitive mode, which is really just an oversimplified fighting game. You can choose the levels that you fight in, and the obstacles from the levels are interactive, but all in all the competitive mode is pretty weak. If you want to fight each other, you'll have more fun starting a normal cooperative game and trying to fight each other in that.

The thing that really sets SOR3 apart from the rest of the brawler crowd is that, between stages, you get to watch cutscenes that have a story, or an imitation of one. In normal brawlers, you merely get the stages. One stage, you're in a bar, the next, you're in a junkyard. So how does your character know that that's where the bad guys are hiding? I know, it's really not very important in this genre, but in SOR3, you really begin to think about that, because the cutscenes explain why our heroes go from a bar to a junkyard. And in the sixth level, the story begins to branch out, so what you do will determine where you go next. There are two different variations of the seventh level. And there are also four endings! Sweet!

The graphics in SOR3 are very nice, and there's really nothing to complain about. But if you've played SOR2, you won't be able to help but to notice that the sprites look smaller and less detailed. It's nice that there aren't any animation lines, and that the animation runs very smoothly with very little slowdown, but the point remains. Maybe they had to make a sacrifice or two to be able to stuff the extra endings in there.

But, it's as I just said, you really can't complain. The characters look great and have decent fluidity in their movements, and the foreground and background also look nice. And, perhaps most importantly, Blaze still looks good in her sports bra and short skirt.

The music's also taken a turn for the worse. SOR2 had a better soundtrack, with a quick-paced techno sound, but SOR3 sounds more like a techno experimentation that would be done by some low-rent death metal artist. It doesn't really begin to sound very good until the fifth level, which has a very low, calm ninja tune that accents the setting. Problem is, after that splendid track, it's right back to stuff tht's recycled from the first couple of levels. It's really not bad, but you should keep your favorite cd on the side because it can cause the occaisional headache.

Streets of Rage 3 is a perfect way to end an outstanding game series. At least on the Genesis. But hey, with Sega seemingly caught up in some kind of retro craze, and two new Shinobi games ready and set for release in the fall, perhaps they will set the stage for a PS2 or GBA Streets of Rage. Heck, it's almost inevitable. It's only a matter of time...]]> Thu, 19 May 2011 15:17:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Ninja Slice and Dice!]]>
So is it any wonder that ninjas are the main characters of so many video games? Their acrobatic abilities, martial arts styles and old-school weapons just scream "make a video game out of me!". And seemingly every video game developer on the planet has been more than happy to oblige. Look at all the ninja-themed games that exist! From popular titles like Tenchu, Ninja Gaiden and Onimusha Warlords to unknown or forgotten goodies like the TG-16's Ninja Spirit and the old NES's Wrath of the Black Manta (was that right? It's been a long time), the ninja game almost falls into a class of it's own. Even non-ninja themed games have had ninjas appear in them, most notably in Final Fantasy.

And the king of the ninja game is, has been and always will be Shinobi. Ninja boy Shinobi has been the longest runner and biggest star synonamous with ninjas. He's been there for the loyal gamers of every generation from his 8-bit beginnings to his 16-bit golden age to his forgotten 32-bit effort to his impending and inevitable comeback slated for fall release on the PS2. And he's evolved through every game he's ever stared in, from just jumping, shooting and using magic to flipping, using a sword and just about everything else ninjas are supposed to do.

Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master is Shinobi's most complex and evolved effort on the Sega Genesis. No, the story won't win any points for originality. It's the same old ninja rehash: Bad guy runs worldwide crime ring that tries to take over. Said crime ring in this case is a ring of ninjas called Neo Zeed, and they've cloned a super ninja from Shinobi's own bloodline, a nasty fella who goes by the catchy nickname "Shadow Master". So Shinobi casually sets out, katana and shurikens in hand, to destroy the high-tech ninja Neo Zeed army. So simple Tarzan could have said it all in his limited vocabulary: Ninja go save world.

Oh, but how he goes about it! The Neo Zeed army is pretty big, so it's only appropriate that Shinobi should have an equally large repotoire of ninja moves to annihilate them. Yes, he still carries his sword and shurikens because those are standard and the fanboys would kick and scream if Sega ever did away with them. And he retained his flip and shuriken spray from Revenge of Shinobi. But new to Shinobi 3 are a dashing swipe, a wall-climbing move, a hand-over-hand ceiling walk and a flying kick. With such a large number of moves, Shinobi could have been placed in a fighting game and beat Ryu or Liu Kang to a bloody pulp. But, thank God, they kept him in an action game and, better yet, they kept the gameplay to a level so simple that the standard three-button Genesis layout is all you need to use all of them. Every move is very basic and can be learned in just a few minutes of practice. By the end of the first level, you'll know how everything works and possibly have an idea of how to use your four-spell repotoire of ninja magic. Just don't use Mijin too often-it eats up your lives.

Which is good, cause your gonna need every last move in your arsenal to get through the very challenging levels, which range marvelously in their size and scope-just about everything is covered. There are chase levels that take place on a horse and a jet ski, straight through blast-right-to-the-finish action levels, some levels that have very minor puzzles and require the slightest hint of thinking and some levels are platformers. The sixth level requires you to jump up falling boulders in the beginning and takes you through a very large, twisting and confusing ninja house in the end. The second level is a scrolling elevator level, and level seven has you riding on platforms trying to dodge electrical currents. And in the end, some of the biggest, baddest bosses in video game history await. At the end of the fifth level, you fight Mecha Godzilla's underachieving kid brother, the sixth has you facing off with an oversized kabuki dancer and the final showdown with the Shadow Master is one of the most challenging and memorable battles in all of the action genre. Set against a wavy, Matrix-like glowing background that changes colors, Shinobi goes one-on-one with the Shadow Master, his ninja skills and acrobatics taking on the Shadow Master's powerful ninja laser attacks.

Such impressive scenes would require impressive graphics, and so impressive graphics we are served! These are plain, ordinary little sprites, nothing different than anything else available on the market back then, but it's the shading that makes all the difference. The shading is done so that certain areas of the sprites are highlighted over ther areas, and animation lines are nonexistant. The sprites may not be rendered a la Donkey Kong Country, but the shading gives them a very impressive-looking, detailed and realistic 3d look. And although most bad guys only have a few animations, their movement looks very fluid and real.

Backgrounds are also very nice. They are very panoramic and colorfull, and they accent the levels very nicely. You thought only the Xbox was capable of producing graphics of this caliber? Well, don't discount the Genesis just yet. Alright, that may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Baby, the musical score is unbelievable! Sega wanted to get your pulse pounding with Shinobi 3, and they pulled out all the stops to make sure they succeded. If the gameplay doesn't strike you like lightning (and if it doesn't, you were never alive to begin with), the original score will pick up the gameplay's slack. The music is packed with fast-paced ninja drums and flutes and is accented with the slightest touch of techno. When you hear it, you just know there's gonna be action! Action, danger, suspence, all those things that make games like this worth playing!

Would you believe that Shinobi has over ten moves? Okay, in this day and age of ten-button controllers, you would easily say yes. But back then, ten moves in an action game was absolutly unheard of. Especially on a on a system with a primary controller that only has three buttons. What were the programmers at Sega thinking? Well, novelty gamers, back then three buttons was all we needed for action games. Everything we did, we did by using combinations and multiple button presses. And in Shinobi 3, you have a ton of those combinations to press to use your moves. They're all very easy to learn, and once you learn them, they're programmed in your head for life. Even the pesky wall climb, which took me ten minutes to learn, was of no problem after that initial first attempt.

The best part of Shinobi 3 is learning of the various way you can dispose of multiple enemies in one jump after learning those moves! That's right-if this was a fighting game, these would officially be called combos! The flying kick and the dashing strike make particularly effective launching moves. After you use the flying kick, you double back quickly before landing, and you could use that time to launch another kick or shuriken. And the shuriken spray is always useful in knocking off those enemies in hard-to-reach areas.

Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master is quite possibly the most fully realised action game ever made for the Genesis, and possibly even the 16-bit Golden Era in general. It's difficult and mind-numbing, yet deep at the same time-not something a lot of programmers have successfully tried. With Shinobi slated to make his grand return in full-out 3d on the PS-2 (and in 2d on the Game Boy Advance, now that I think about it... Hey! Two new Shinobi games! I'll be rich! Alright!), this is the perfect time to dust off the old Genesis and relive Shinobi's glory days. It's games like this that make me glad Sega is out of the hardware business. Why? Because now more people than ever will have exposure to games like Shinobi.]]> Tue, 17 May 2011 18:08:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Donkey Kong Country Returns: Not Intended for Weenies]]>
Turns out, it really was.  Donkey Kong Country Returns is filled with as much nostalgia as it is new content.  It is also one of the more challenging Wii games out there as well as being one of the most graphically ambitious for the Wii.  And we'll get to that in a minute.

Donkey Kong Country, like Mario, has never been a game that you pick up for story.  It's all about the gameplay here.  The plot is simple enough, a bunch of Tiki like monsters have taken control of the animals on the island and they've stolen DK's bananas.  It's up to Donkey Kong and his pal Diddy Kong to go and get his bananas back and along the way they'll come across various traps, ride minecarts, fly rockets and more.  The levels here are some of the most well designed in a 2D platformer.  And all the staples of Donkey Kong are there.  As you go through levels you'll find bonus rooms, shoot through barrels and collect Kong letters.  Those are, of course the familiar elements.  There are a few new things. 

The first and most obvious tweak is that you can't switch between Donkey and Diddy and instead you now have hearts.  Diddy spends most of his time on Donkey's back and he's able to help him hover across gaps.  The inability to switch between them is a bit of a drag, but a second player can join in and control Diddy on his own.  In the original SNES games playing two player was usually taking turns or waiting for one person to switch to the other.  Donkey Kong Country Returns allows both to play at the same time.  Unlike New Super Mario Bros., however, you're not encouraged to cooperate AND compete.  You are very much encouraged to only cooperate.  And it shows.

Each level is usually a straightforward path with you running from left to right and bashing baddies in the way.  While they're not the classic Kremlings from the first three games, you'll like some of the designs for the enemies here.  There are a few changes to what you need to accomplish, however.  Instead of Kremkoins or Bonus Tokens you go into bonus rooms to collect puzzle pieces.  Every level has a set number of puzzle pieces.  Not all of them are in bonus barrels, but a good deal of them are.  Collect all the puzzle pieces and you earn a badge that shows such.  The KONG letters have also changed slightly.  You collect them all in a level to earn another badge.  Collect KONG on every level in a world and you unlock a hidden bonus stage that is often more challenging than anything else the world will throw at you.  You can also go back for time trials to collect a third badge. 

Getting through Donkey Kong Country Returns can sometimes be a test of skill.  When New Super Mario Bros. came out I had heard several people complaining that it was too difficult and by far one of the hardest Mario games ever.  Those statements had, in my mind, been greatly trumped up.  I never found New Super Mario Bros. Wii that challenging.  I know several people who did, however (but this is coming from a guy who believed that the first Contra was also a relatively easy game).  Donkey Kong Country Returns hasn't been greatly exaggerated with its difficulty.  It really can be a challenge at times.  The good news is that the challenge comes from design.  Mostly.  There are some moments where you won't figure things out until you die first.  Clearly Nintendo knew they created something challenging because extra lives are ridiculously easy to come by.  There is almost always a balloon near a checkpoint and you can buy several of them using the games form of currency--banana coins.  It's pretty easy to have way more than fifty lives.  The only problem is that when playing two player, you always lose two lives at a time, which can cause your lives to dwindle faster.

The game also has a Super Guide as well.  For those who don't know what that is, when you die too many times, eventually you can have the game complete the level for you if you're having too much trouble.  New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2 both had this feature.  It doesn't come without penalty, however.  Those looking for completion will not get it as the super guide will only complete the level, it won't unearth any secrets.  A fair trade if you ever actually need it.  Donkey Kong Country Returns may be a challenge but there isn't much that is too terribly taxing that you should need the Super Guide.  Much of everything in Donkey Kong Country Returns is all about pattern recognition.  So if you're having too much trouble in some of the levels, the best solution is to slow down... sometimes. 

If there is anything that Donkey Kong Country Returns must be commended on it's definitely it's superior presentation.  Simple cartoon like animations bring the game to life, but what really helps is the amount of detail within each level.  The levels are so well designed that you sometimes will find yourself in the background, foreground, etc.  You'll be amazed at how much this game can throw at you at any given time.  Much like the SNES titles, it's gorgeous to look at. 

The music on the other hand is a 100% nostalgia trip for anyone who ever played the original Donkey Kong Country.  Nearly everything here is a remastered, rearranged track from the original Donkey Kong Country.  It's good stuff to listen to considering the soundtrack to the original game was fantastic as is.

Donkey Kong Country Returns mixes the best of the old with some new material.  There's not a lot that keeps the game down.  The only thing that might be off putting to the novice gamer is the steep difficulty level of some of the levels that require a bit of trial and error and in other cases some expert gaming skills.  But throughout it all it remains consistently fun.  If you had an affinity for the Donkey Kong Country games in the past then by all means pick up Donkey Kong Country Returns.  It's not only a nice bit of nostalgia but also a nice bit of fun as well.]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 20:41:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ Samus Aran is back. And with a whole lotta attitude.]]>
Metroid Other M is the latest game in the Metroid Series. It was developed by Project M and Published by Nintendo. It was released on August 31st 2010.

etroid Other m takes place in between Super Metroid and Metroid fusion. As Always you play as Samus Aran as she investigates a derelict space station called the bottle ship. She is joined by her former commanding officer Adam Malkovich and a platoon of Galactic federation Marines.

Returning to the style of previous Metroid titles (before the prime series) Other m is a 2D/3D side scrolling platformer, at any point during gameplay players can shift the view from 2d to first person by simply pointing the Wiimote at the screen, while in first person mode you cannot move and it is the only mode where you can use your missiles. Unfortunately most boss fights require you to use your missiles so timing is everything, stay in first person mode a second too long and you may find yourself dead on the floor. Lucky for you because the game is supposed to be reminiscent of earlier Metroid games most of the gameplay is in the 2D (or Side Scrolling) perspective. Even though the game is part side scroller the environments are all 3 dimensional, basically what I’m getting at here is that you have no control over the camera so most of the times (especially if your doubling back) you will be shooting at enemies off-screen. To remedy this Other M has an automatic Lock on System, so Samus will always target the closest enemy. Notice I said closest not target the enemy who’s a bigger threat.

Other m also adds a few new gameplay elements to the series; this is the first game that features melee combat like counter attacks and brutal finishers. The finishers are usually used for Boss Fights, the counter attacks on smaller enemies. These moves include charged blasts at close range (TO THE HEAD), a missile down the throat, kick’s to the face or throwing grunts against walls. Another new gameplay element is the “Concentration” mechanic. When Samus is low on missiles or health she can replenish them (with out the need to save at a save station) on the spot by holding the Wiimote horizontally and pushing A. While this sound like it makes the game easy to play its actually isn’t as unlike the Prime Series defeated enemies do not drop extra ammunition or health. So unless you’re in a boss fight sometimes its better to just run away than stay and fight.

In the graphics department the game looks………very nice. In my opinion its not as good looking as the prime series of games and I feel that they could have been a lot better. The cut scenes on the other hand look amazing; I mean PS3 quality amazing, D-Rockets did a fine job on those. The gameplay was very fast-paced and actiony (yes I know that’s not a word). Only when your solving puzzles and waiting for doors to open does the in your face action stop. The Controls like the game are a throwback to early Metroid titles. The game is played by holding the Wiimote sideways (like an NES Controller), while it sounds bad on paper (when I first heard of it I thought it sounded bad) it actually works and well.

The few problems I had with the game were long load times, the camera could be a pain t=in the rear end at times and some of the cut scenes were really long I’m talking like 8-10 minutes long. These things can be overlooked by the many things the game does right. I loved how the game delved deeper into Samus’s story showing us her past, deep feeling, and days in the Galactic Federation (before she became a bounty hunter). It’s very rare to see an iconic character such as this in this kind of light. I really liked it even though at times it felt like a Science-fiction version of twilight. I also enjoyed the return to the classic Metroid style fans of those older games will feel right at home with this one, I really appreciate the direction team Ninja took with the title. Lastly the voice acting was great, the gameplay fun and the length descent (as always)

If you haven’t picked up this game already defiantly go out and get it, it’s been out for a while now so the prices are very good. Metroid Other M gets a 9.4 out of 10.

Official website

follow this link for this review with screenshots
]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 20:34:15 +0000
<![CDATA[ Your service to the Corleone Crime family begins]]>

The Godfather Blackhand edition is the Wii version of The Godfather video game. Its was developed by EA Redwood Shores and published by EA. It was released on March 20th 2007.

The godfather Blackhand Edition is an open world adventure game, it follows the story of the 1972 film of the same name, but through the eyes of a new recruit into the Corleone Crime family.
Because this is an open world game you don’t have to do missions as they become available, but when you do decide to start doing them they usually include, Hits, protecting and escorting certain characters, helping crew members, and paying off high ranking officials. When not on a mission players will often find themselves paying off cops (they actually come back to help when your attacked by rival families.) extorting small businesses, and finding new venues and rackets. A cool feature of the game in the Black hand control system were players can quite literally slap around stubborn business owners using the immersive nature of the Wii’s motion controls. Methods include, slapping, punching, kicking, head buts and slamming people, against walls. But be warned when you extort a new business they fall under your protection so I when a rival family comes buy it’s up to you to defend it or you might get a smaller check on payday.

The more you play the game the more experience you get when you get enough your character will rise in level, with new levels comes new abilities and the ability to complete a wider range of jobs, levels include Enforcer, operator and eventually Don. On top of this your character is also customizable everything from their strength to clothing to even intimidation can be increased. Lastly the game also includes unloackable scenes from the movies, 10 new hit missions for the Wii version, rooftop battles and new favors.

Graphics wise Blackhand Edition looks ok. The textures aren’t great and the animations not very smooth. Gameplay wise the game itself runs great and there’s lots of content to keep you busy for at least 20 hours or more. Control wise the game has the same problems most early Wii games experience thankfully there not as gimmicky as I thought they were going to be.
The godfather isn’t a perfect game but there were few issues I had with it, one it didn’t look very good and two the controls were a tad bit awkward. Despite this Blackhand edition is a fun game to play, many actors from the movies reprised there roles for the game, the music was great, the cool new Black hand control system is very engaging ,the AI works very well and the length and replay value will keep you coming back for more.

The Godfather Blackhand Edition gets an 8.4 out of 10.

official website

read this review with screenshots

 ]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 18:33:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ Wonderful!!]]> Thu, 10 Mar 2011 02:23:11 +0000 <![CDATA[ A Must Buy!]]>
Potentially, this game is a fan service game. It features hundreds of references to many Nintendo properties and even a few third party playable characters. I could sit here and describe every single mode to you but that would take me forever. Brawl packs so much but where the fun mostly lies is in its versus mode. There is an online versus mode but due to constant lag problems it should be avoided. This is the definitive local multiplayer game with up to four player support using any combination of wii remote control, nunchuk, classic controller, and gamecube controller.

The only negative aspect of this game is the annoying single player mode called the subspace emissary. It is all flash and no substance. Basically a player plays this mode to unlock a few collectibles or characters (though characters can be unlocked by fulfilling other feats in the numerous other modes). There is no voice over work performed in the cutscenes in this mode, little background information is given, and it brings back to life an annoying gameplay mechanic from times past, replaying boss fights...

Looking beyond the subspace emissary you shall have a game that is loaded with tons of features and all. It will take more than 100 hours to unlock every collectible (yes because there is a collectible for having 100 hours of playtime), for people who do not have tons of local players to play with there is a decent online mode or one can just constantly play against ridiculously over powered PC controlled opponents.

Ultimately, if you are a Wii owner you need this game!]]> Mon, 21 Feb 2011 15:22:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ Mario Bros at its best!]]>
Playing the game is really quite simple. First there are three modes of gameplay; the main story in which up to 4 people can take control of the characters (Mario, Luigi, and two toads), and progress through the levels (even with more than one player, the levels can be progressed through and unlock more). There is a free for all mode in which everyone is competing for score, and a coin battle mode in which you compete for score. Free-for-all and coin battle only work on stages that have already been cleared.

The game is essentially easier with one player for one doesnt have to worry about other players pushing them into obstacles nor do they have to worry about what the other players are doing or the number of powerups they take from you. There are some benefits such as being able to ground pound simultaneously to clear the enemies off the screen, or jump on each other to read greater heights. It can be fun with more people if everyone is on the same page and not just throwing each other around and pushing obstacles into them (and its a great crutch to use since it essentially equates to at minimum of 5 lives per player on screen if a level is that hard). For single players there is a super guide function which has Luigi take over and complete the level for you, if you die eight times on a stage.

Control wise, there are two styles of play, single wii-remote and wii-remote and nunchuk. Controls are easy to grasp and I wont go into detail here, but there are what I consider waggle controls (shake the Wiiremote and the character will spin to go a little bit further when making a jump, shake it to move closer if you are floating on a stage, and lastly, shake it to lift obstacles). The controls are easy to grasp and not too difficult.

Presentation wise, the graphics are excellent for the game and get the job done. Sure it isnt a game that is graphical defining on the Wii but they do look crisp and clear for a game set in the Mario Universe. Most of the good looks here is the chance to see nostalgic enemies and environments in a new 480p light. Soundwise, nothing new hear in terms of sounds for the Mario universe, Mario and Luigi appear to have the same soundbites (Toad sounds just the same as they were in Super Mario Galaxy), songs sound either remixed from their classic counterparts or are all memorable. Nintendo seems to have delivered a great experience in terms of presentation here.

The bottom line is that NEW Super Mario Bros Wii is an excellent addition to the Mario Universe and brings back the feelings of odd with the series. The gameplay is excellent, being able to play with friends on these levels is a great experience (locally, though the lack of online co-op for this is questionable though not worthy of scrutiny) but doesnt leave people who have no one to play with lacking the ability to complete the game, and the presentation Nintendo offers us here in terms of music and graphics is worth its weight in gold. For those who havent bought a Wii game since Super Smash Bros Brawl (yes there are a few of us) as well as for those who are looking for an excellent single player and multiplayer experience on the Wii, New Super Mario Bros is a game to get.

Note: The Red case design and boxart is amazing and I hope Nintendo does more like it in the future]]> Mon, 21 Feb 2011 15:17:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fun and Challenging]]>
The game is really challenging, too - even the first level is hard to complete on the first pass. But even when you finish a level, you haven't finished it -- see, you can collect the K-O-N-G letters placed in difficult-to-reach locations through the levels. And then there are the puzzle pieces (5 to 9 pieces, depending on the level) which are hidden in sometimes almost-impossible-to-find spots.

The game also stays exciting - each level is a new odyssey, with different visuals, music, enemies, and tricks you need to know to get through. Plus, mega bonus points for the nostalgia factor (if you played the original DKC on SNES)!]]> Thu, 3 Feb 2011 21:44:59 +0000
<![CDATA[ Changing the Game]]>
So why mess with a formula that works so well? 'Dead Space: Extraction' is the answer to that question. It's a game that succeeds well on its own merits and even manages to improve on some things from the original.

Where 'Dead Space' was a survival horror game that put the player in full control of a single character, able to stop and start at will and explore fully, 'Extraction' is a "rail shooter," meaning that the player does not fully control character movement, and it is seen from the first person. The player is in charge of picking up powerups, occasionally selecting from a choice of routes, and shooting whatever beasties pop up in our path.

And there's a lot to shoot at. Many of the same creatures from the original 'Dead Space' make their appearance here as well, rendered in lovingly gory detail. The Wii's graphical limitations were surely pushed to their limit here, but it rises to the challenge as grotesque monsters and mutants attack the players in seemingly never-ending succession. Sounds, too, are reproduced faithfully, and the same growls, shrieks, and gurgles you remember from the original are plentiful in 'Extraction.'

The story of 'Extraction' takes place prior to the events of 'Dead Space,' beginning with the discovery of an ancient artifact ("The Marker") and carrying through to the infection of the crew of the USG Ishimura and the chaos that follows. In some ways it's a bigger story than the one in 'Dead Space,' told from the perspective of several different characters and spanning a lot more plot and intrigue than the original. The multiple character viewpoints, and the transitions between them, are handled very well, and each character has their own important piece of the puzzle. 'Extraction' also does an excellent job explaining some of the more frustrating aspects of Isaac's many tasks in 'Dead Space,' and unlike Isaac's dearth of personality from the original game, 'Extraction' features full-bodied and well-drawn characters, each with their own personalities, their own agendas and their own secrets.

"But Rich!" I hear you saying. "Is it SCARY?!"

Scary? Disturbing? Upsetting? Nausea-inducing? Oh yes - it's all of this and more.

What impressed me most about 'Extraction' is that it not only replicated the feel of the original, it enhanced and broadened the effect. Rather than a limitation, the "on-rails" aspect turns the game into a mad rush to escape a rapidly deteriorating situation. In 'Dead Space' you were mostly alone on the huge Ishimura from the very beginning and it was the sense of isolation that was frightening, but you can take all the time you need to explore it and deal with it. In 'Extraction' you begin on a fully-populated space station. When things go bad, they go bad fast. The scenes of sheer madness as the infection takes hold are memorable and fast-paced, filled with disturbing images and sounds as the games pushes you inexorably forward.

After the first five or ten minutes (which is sort of a training mode with a nasty twist), you're immediately on the GO-GO-GO setting, with precious few chances to stop and catch your breath until you meet your end, one way or another. You'll find weapons along the way, familiar friends like the trusty plasma cutter and some new toys too, and you have to be quick to keep them powered and loaded. Missed a powerup or ammo pack? No time to go back and get it. Wanted to check out that hallway? Too bad, we're moving on. Unlike some rail shooters, I found this aspect of 'Extraction' added to the intensity of the game as a whole, and propelled the story forward steadily.

Once you get deeper into the game, the ship is dark and quiet and the sense of menace hangs all around. Things go from bad to worse as the infection spreads. An unforgettable scene near the end forces you to do something you REALLY don't want to do. And thanks to the Wii controls, you get the experience viscerally as well as visually.

The controls are simple and intuitive, and after the first few minutes shouldn't cause any problems. Shooting is as easy as pointing at the screen and pulling the "trigger," while using telekinesis is also a simple button press. Reloading can be done quickly if you learn the trick, and shaking the nunchuk in the right area will even charge up a glow stick to beat back the darkness for a while.

Final analysis: 'Dead Space: Extraction' matches the look and feel of the first game almost perfectly, fills in many aspects of the story we were missing from the original game, and is a grisly, gory, scarily satisfying experience overall. You don't have to have played the original to play this, but at least knowing the story of the original will help you understand what's happening. Those familiar with the Dead Space story already should find this a worthy, if different, experience, and those new to the horrifying alien mutations will likely be blown away.

Why mess with what worked before? Because they can, and they can do it well.

This is a great game - probably the best rail shooter for the Wii so far, a real testament to the capability of the system, and a fitting way to expand on the story of 'Dead Space.'

Scary? You bet your last plasma round it is.]]> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 19:20:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Aren't you a little short for a $60 Star Wars game?]]>
In the original game, you start off with limited skills and need to gain experience points to unlock more powers and abilities. In this version, you can upgrade your powers, but before I reached the point where I felt it was necessary to upgrade, the game was already over. Plus, the character was so powerful to begin with, the added abilities/bonuses didn't seem necessary.

One difference between this game and the original is that your character wields two lighsabers rather than two... This has no effect on the gameplay. For several of the larger enemies, you are prompted to hit buttons as they are flashed on screen ala God of War. The animations for these actions are pretty cool at first, but get very repetitive after a few enemies, which is impressive considering how short this game is.

Did I mention this game is short? I think I only remember fighting two bosses in this game. The ending of the game caught me by surprise... literally. After the second boss fight, I thought I was about to embark on a whole new set of quests, and then the credits started rolling.

This game had none of the story or twists that made the first one so good. If you must play every Star Wars game, then wait for this to drop into the bargain shouldn't take long. Otherwise, you're better off passing on this one.]]> Wed, 19 Jan 2011 06:01:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ A few flaws, but an amazing concept]]> I was given Epic Mickey as a Christmas gift by my son, and have spent several hours playing as of now. The concept of the game is absolutely incredible, and I love the graphics. The story line is also wonderful, and I love how the old cartoons and movies were made such a major part of the game. It's a fun way to spend some time and a great tribute to Disney past.

Having said that - there are certain flaws that are a bit aggravating, though they are not enough (for me) to take away from my enjoyment of the game. As others have said, the camera angles can be...wonky. It's not a constant, just in certain spots. I can honestly say, though, that they have never caused me "certain death" as another reviewer put it. Some inconvenience, a bit of cursing, but that's about it. Also, as others have noted, when you die, you lose your tickets and any of the places you have painted for improvements. You do not, however, lose the major accomplishments. Finally, my biggest frustration (since I share the wii with 3 other people) - I have NO idea when the game auto-saves. I'm assuming, at this point, that any time there is a cut-scene, the game saves. But since there isn't an option to manually save, and you lose everything from the last save if you stop, it would be nice to know when those are. I wish the book had more information in it, but no such luck.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the game highly and would recommend it to most. Overall, the flaws are not enough to detract from the rest of a wonderful game. I believe Disney, were he alive today, would be honored by the tribute this game gives his work.]]> Mon, 27 Dec 2010 05:46:49 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fun and frustrating]]>

The graphics are gorgeous. While Donkey Kong Country Returns' graphics don't have quite the same "wow factor" as the original Donkey Kong Country did for SNES, Retro Studios did an amazing job. Some of the cutscenes almost look like Pixar films. The music really evokes the classic soundtrack, with some tracks lifted directly from the original.

The best part of the game is the ingenious level designs. For 3-D platforming, Super Mario Galaxy is still king, but Donkey Kong Country Returns raises the bar for 2-D platforming. Levels aren't simply linear 2-D routes, but have several foreground and background layers that interact with you characters. The most famous example is the giant Octopus on the beach, which launches its tentacles as it tries to attack you. Other stages feature moles in mine karts that drive parallel to your kart and throw bombs. Meanwhile, the bosses are far more complex than the old SNES goons and can change their strategies according to your actions.


First of all, there are no Kremlings. For a Donkey Kong game, this is a travesty. I can understand that Retro didn't want to simply copy Rare and rehash King K. Rool, but the Tikis - which look like giant drums - are just underwhelming as villains. Most of the villains you do encounter are simply animals, such as parrots and bats and frogs.

Speaking of animals, I also can't understand why Rambi and Squawks are the only animal buddies to make a return. What about Expresso, Enguarde, and Rattly? At least Retro could have created a few new animals. This was disappointing.

More seriously, the game is really hard. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about a challenge. But, even though you get up to four hears, there a lot of one-hit kills in the game. For example, in the SNES version, you had at least two hits on mine kart levels, whereas in Donkey Kong Country Returns a single crash kills instantly. Furthermore, the DK barrels are few and far between - sometimes there are not even any near the halfway point. This simply makes the game more frustrating than necessary. Fortunately, the Super Guide feature really helps and allows players to progress in the game even if they can't overcome some of the more difficult stages.


The control scheme isn't always intuitive. I definitely think the roll and jump roll should have been easier to execute. This becomes worrisome when you have to make careful jumps. It works well enough, but takes some getting used to.

In balancing platforming versus exploration, Donkey Kong Country Returns definitely emphasizes the former, even more than the SNES games. In Donkey Kong Country Returns, the bonus stages and hidden items are fairly easy to discover - the tough part is getting them. There aren't many barrels throughout the game, so no more running around with barrels throwing them at every wall to find secret chambers.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is a true heir to the SNES classics. However, definitely don't get this game if you're impatient or have high blood pressure. I promise you, you will release a stream of expletives at some point in your quest. In fact, I'd highly recommend simply ignoring all of the puzzles and secrets during your first run-through, and instead just enjoy the graphics and sheer originality of the levels.]]> Thu, 23 Dec 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ More an expansion pack than a full game]]> Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II has its moments, but overall it's a disappointment. Here are some thoughts on the Wii version:

The graphics are a LOT better. They're still not up to Xbox or PS3 standards, but the characters no longer look like laughable polygons. And the levels are a lot brighter. Visually, the game is appealing and looks like Star Wars.

The story is also not bad, but probably comes across better in the book Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II than the game.

I do appreciate that you can replay levels in this game. The lack of a stage-select option was a major flaw in the first one.

Gameplay. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed had fun gameplay, especially when you could swing your Wii remote like a lightsaber. It seems Lucasarts sucked the good out of the original and left us with a what is essentially a button masher. Rather than swing, you now press the "A" button to use your lightsaber, so the game becomes a repetitive exercise in pressing that button. Even worse, there are new Force "powers" that amount to gameplay gimmicks, like using the Force to pull platforms (of course, with a big glowing hand icon on them so players know to draw them).

As other reviewers have noted, the game is also very short and easy. I played on "normal" mode, but beat it in two short sittings. The original was short, but at least I felt like there were some difficult moments or tough fights. I don't normally complain about how easy a game is, but this game seems almost idiot proof. It comes across more as an expansion pack than a full game.

Unfortunately, it seems as if Wii users were cheated by Lucasarts once again. The original Star Wars: The Force Unleashed had an expansion pack for Xbox and PS3, but not Wii. Once again, the Xbox and PS3 versions have what look like awesome extras, including an alternative timeline mission to Endor where you get to kill Ewoks. I'd love to have have some of that! By contrast, the Wii doesn't have anything so special or unique. I really just get the sense that Lucasarts has given up on the Wii as a console and simply refuses to put the time and effort into making a serious game for Wii users.

I didn't pay full price for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, so I don't feel too cheated. Still, it seems lie Lucasarts just got lazy and turned a franchise with promise into one that lost its promise.]]> Sun, 19 Dec 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ If you thought The Avengers where awesome, Wait till you Create the Ultimate Alliance.]]>
Originally released for the Xbox 360 Marvel Ultimate Alliance was later ported to the Wii and Playstation 3 consoles. Developed by Raven Software and Vicarious Visions and, published by Activision Ultimate alliance was released for the Wii on November 16th 2006.

The premise of the game is simple, Dr Doom and the Masters of evil are close to seizing an immense amount of power. In response to this new threat Colonel Nick Fury assembles a team of Super Heroes (The Ultimate Alliance) to combat this new enemy.

Marvel ultimate Alliance is an Action-RPG, at any time during gameplay players can take control of any one of the four heroes currently available to them. As you play through the game more Super hero characters from the Marvel universe become available to you, the more you play the more closer you become to putting together a true Ultimate Alliance. But if your feeling nostalgic you recreate teams already found in the Marvel Universe (X-men, The Avengers, The Defenders, The Fantastic Four, etc), the great thing is if you choose to go this route you are rewarded with extra points and bonuses. At its core Ultimate Alliance is basically an RPG, all the characters you unlock are upgradeable and will level up the more you use them. But beware if you prefer to use a certain character on your team more than the others you may notice they will become a lot stronger and level up quicker than the others, luckily for your there are S.H.I.E.L.D Credits. S.H.I.E.L.D credits are an in-game currency, they can be obtained from defeated enemies or by destroying objects. On top of being able to buy alternate outfits for your characters S.H.I.E.L.D credits can also be used to buy upgrades for your characters, that way your entire team is balanced Character upgrades can also be obtained from Bosses, when you defeat a boss they will drop upgrades beware though which ever character picks up the upgrade gets upgraded. It doesn't apply to the whole team first come first served. So if you wanted Spiderman to get the Body upgrade and you used Wolverine to pick it up then wolverine gets the upgrade. During the main campaign you will come across S.H.I.E.L.D simulator discs, these discs allow you to enter the S.H.I.E.L.D simulator.

The S.H.I.E.L.D simulator is a program that allows you to play through some of the greatest moments in the Marvel Universe. If you choose to use the simulator your current games progress will be saved until you are done, if you choose not to it will be saved for later at Tony Starks Tower. On top of this there is also an arcade mode (sorry I never got to try this out) and lastly because the Wii doesn't have an online component there in instead local multiplayer. (drop-in drop-out Co-op)

Graphics wise the game looks ok. This was only my second time playing Dungeon Crawling RPG on the Wii, as far as I know the graphics were ok. The cutscenes could have been a little better though. Gameplay wise Ultimate Alliance on top of being an Action RPG is also a beat em up, so expect to spend lots of time button mashing and because this is the Wii version also expect a lot of waggling and hand gestures. The Controls were easy to learn, the motion component as with most Launch Titles on the Wii can be a little complicated but as always practice makes perfect.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance isn't perfect, some gripes I had with the game were, sometimes your Al team members took a while to notice enemies on screen, most times they will be surrounded by like 6 bad guys but they will all gang up on one guy instead of each going after there own targets, the Character customization can be very tedious, and the game gets kind of repetitive after awhile. With that being said Ultimate Alliance is still a very good game, The voice acting was great, although tedious the character customization was super cool, the length was descent (a little over 10 hours) and If you're a fan of Marvel comics there alot of fan service in this title. Marvel Ultimate Alliance gets an 8.5 out of 10.

heres the official site

view this review with screen shots]]> Fri, 12 Nov 2010 17:32:47 +0000
<![CDATA[ Epic Gameplay, but Far to Short]]> Following up on the success of Star Wars the Force Unleashed, the best-selling Star Wars game in history, was no easy task. The talented programmers and artists at LucasArts set out to create the ultimate Star Wars experience for gamers and fans alike and have crafted a visually impressive follow-up. After much anticipation and hype Star Wars the Force Unleashed II has arrived for both PC and console gamers and looks to continue this success of the first game.

The story follows a Jedi named Starkiller who may or may not be a clone of the character from the first game. After a spectacular escape and battle from Darth Vader on Kamino, Starkiller must travel the galaxy in an effort to save General Koto and find his true love Juno. Along the way he will travel to numerous locales and encounter a variety of deadly opponents all of whom stand between him and the completion of his goals. Haunted by visions he cannot explain Starkiller must confront his own growing identity crisis as he finds himself deep in a plot that has the entire fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.
Players have a large arsenal of force abilities at their disposal, ranging from force lightning, force push, jumping and glide abilities, and of course the signature light sabers. As in the first game players will have the ability to customize and upgrade their force powers along the way to make them more effective they will also have the ability to adjust everything from their clothing to the colors of their light sabers.
The action is intense and the visuals are absolutely amazing from the incredible animation and from the epic space battle scenes, Star Wars the Force Unleashed II is truly an artistic beauty to behold and offers plenty for Star Wars fans. While some may grow tired of the constant battles against war droids, nameless storm troopers and other minions, the ability to decimate your enemies with a barrage of light saber blows and finish them off with a blast of lightning before shoving them over the edge with a good nudge from the force is should keeps fans entertained for a long time.

I found myself really enjoying the story of this game as well as the characters and the complexity of the hero not knowing his true origins and motivations. As I mentioned before, the action was absolutely intense and I took great delight as a long-term fan of Star Wars and being able to unleash a full range attacks on everything from Walker’s two ships to the numerous enemies that were thrown against me and a handful of exotic Star Wars locales. The sound graphics and action, as well as the story of the game, were absolutely first rate and everything Star Wars fan could hope for.

Unfortunately the game has a couple of major flaws that, for many, are going to be a serious hindrance to the game. One of the biggest flaws is that the game is barely 5 to 6 hours long. The original game offered at least 12 hours of gameplay, while this one could easily be resolved in half that time, and without any multi-play, it does not offer much in the way of value for the $59.99 suggested retail price for console versions of the game.

Another issue I had with the game is that many of the enemies were extremely generic. And while the game does a great job in presenting numerous opponents to you, after a while it became almost routine to use these series of simple tactics to dispatch the enemies who did not present any real challenge. This is not to say there are not some hard parts in the game. There are. But by and large, the typical approach that the game employed was to surround you with enemies and have them close in on you, which gave you an opportunity to destroy numerous faceless minions.

Another issue I had with the game was that as you approach the climactic confrontation with Darth Vader, the game required you to do a series of timed jumps which, if unsuccessful, resulted in your character falling to his death and having to restart from a previous check point.

I found this highly frustrating as it destroyed the momentum of the game which had been gearing up to an epic pace. If I want to spend my afternoons jumping from platform to platform and watching the character fall, only to redo it over and over again until successful, I would’ve whipped out the Nintendo Wii and played an old game of Mario or something along that line from an old side scrolling action game.

Thankfully, when I was able to complete the task and face Vader ina a climactic battle, it was as epic as anything in the game and was certainly highly enjoyable. A prolonged battle that was a fury of color, sound and power truly lived up to the game title.

As with the previous game, players are given the choice between a light side and a dark side ending. While the light side ending is the preferred outcome to the game, the dark side ending does offer gamers a different view of the game with a completely different outcome.

The game was impressive and a lot of fun from an action standpoint but the tremendously short gameplay was a real letdown, as was the lack of any form of multi-play or co-op play in the game. I have noticed that several players have cited the very short game time is a major concern with the game. This is an issue that I believe developers must address, especially when you are asking customers to lay down their hard-earned money, especially in troubled economic times.

Consumers should have a better idea of what they are getting. Toward that end, I propose that gaming companies should disclose on their packaging what the average play time for the game is, so that consumers can make an informed decision. (Skewed & Reviewed was at the forefront of calling for film studios to disclose whether or not a movie was filmed in 3-D or converted to 3-D in postproduction. Several filmmakers ranging from James Cameron to Michael Bay have taken up the fight and recently, while watching a bevy of trailers of 3-D films it was nice to see that one of them disclosed that the film was actually shot in 3-D while the other simply touted their offerings as a 3-D film.)

In conclusion, while an impressive action game, The Force Unleashed 2 fails to reach it’s true potential thanks in part to short gameplay and some frustrating sequences that, when combined with run-of-the-mill enemies, keeps the game from reaching its five-star potential.

3.5 out of 5 stars

]]> Mon, 8 Nov 2010 15:07:33 +0000
<![CDATA[ Not the greatest Metroid, but fun in its own right]]> Metroid: Other M was massively overhyped. I think that's led to a lot of disappointment with the game. The game certainly isn't as good as Super Metroid or Metroid Prime - not even close. With that said, Metroid: Other M is a pretty fun game on its own right.

First the good. The play controls are surprisingly smooth - even the much-maligned switch to first-person mode. The graphics are beautiful - some of the most beautiful I've seen for any Nintendo game. I'll agree with the comments that this isn't as much of a "puzzle" game as the other Metroid games, but it has its moments. And the game gets better as you play through, with special treats for Metroid fans (no spoilers, but let's just say a few old friends return).

Now, for the bad. I personally don't think much of using the Wii remote only. Sakamoto, the game's designer, thought this would make the game more accessible and precise, but I don't think it particularly helps (or hurts). In fact, I much prefer using the nunchuck as in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess to move your character around in a 3-D space.

My biggest disappointment however is the music. It's not bad, but it's generally just absent. In many parts of the game, all you can hear is silence. This is a travesty for the Metroid series, which is known for having some of the best music of any video game. Music in the other games really set the ambience for different environments. For Metroid: Other M, it's barely noticeable.

Overall, I think this game deserves 4 stars. I suspect that if this had been any other series, more reviewers would have given it higher scores. It is a disappointment for the Metroid series, but I think on its own it stands well enough.]]> Wed, 20 Oct 2010 00:57:54 +0000
<![CDATA[Console Wars Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> Mon, 27 Sep 2010 04:22:05 +0000 <![CDATA[Nintendo Wii Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> Sun, 26 Sep 2010 05:23:29 +0000 <![CDATA[ EA Takes the Series back to its roots.]]>
Need for Speed Undercover is the 12th installment of the ever popular Need for Speed series. It was developed by EA Blackbox and published by EA. It was released on November 18th 2008 for all consoles and handhelds.

Need for Speed Undercover takes the series back to its roots (after the not so hot reception of Prostreet). Players are put in the role of an undercover cop sent to infiltrate an international smuggling syndicate. Like previous NFS titles (Most wanted, Carbon etc… undercover features the return of a free roam mode, cop chases, numerous car customization options (like autosculpt), Many different cars, and parts, and lastly an awesome soundtrack featuring artists like Mindless Self indulgence, Tyga, Nine Inch nails, and Rise Against. The damage feature returns from Prostreet but this time the damage is only cosmetic and doesn’t affect your cars performance in any way. On top of this Undercover also has many new single and multiplayer modes like Cops and Robbers (Two teams of up to four players will compete to either deliver, or prevent the delivery, of a package to a drop-off) Getaway ( similar too Cops and Robbers, but this time players take turns being either the Cop or Robber.) Highway Battle (like the outrun game found in almost every NFS title the only difference is it takes place primarily on the highway) and Chasedown (A Single player mode where you have to total the bad guys car before his goons get you). Another new feature of Undercover is the reworked Heat level. In previous NFS titles if the cops chase you your heat level will go up, if you manage to get away it is reset to zero. In Undercover your Heat level remains consistent throughout the whole game basically meaning if the last time you got away from the cops your heat level was at 5 (the highest level) then the next time you get into a chase it will star directly from Level 5. Lastly like Prostreet the Wii version of undercover lacks an online multiplayer component (only Local) and DLC packs.

In the graphics department the game looks great, while they are downgraded to work on Wii the textures, environments and vehicles nonetheless look great and are a major improvement when compared to Prostreet on the Wii. Gameplay wise returning to the formula of previous NFS games Undercover features fast paced, action packed, arcade like gameplay. In controls Need for Speed Undercover is a very accessible game featuring six different control methods its easy for anyone to pick it up and play. Players can either use the Wii Wheel, Wiimote by itself, Wiimote and Nun-Chuck, Wii Classic controller, The Gamecube controller, or the separately sold Logitech Speed Force wireless Wheel.

While Undercover is a throwback to previous titles it does however have a slew of problems that keep it from greatness. Points of criticism are the game is very glitchy and buggy sometimes you are able to drive through other cars, most times the game freezes during customization, and at times the maps don't load fast enough so you will find yourself driving through grey nothingness. Secondly the story usually has nothing to do with the gameplay, you will be told to do one thing and when the game starts you will find yourself doing something completely different, and lastly the cut scenes in between games were badly acted (Maggie Q I was expecting more from you). With that being said when it works the game is very fun to play it features everything we have come to know and love from the Need for Speed series (except the bugs and Glitches), its of decent length (about 10 -12 hours) and as always the soundtrack is awesome. While the game is at bargin bin prices now you may want to give it a rental before you invest 30 bucks. Need for Speed Undercover gets a 6.0 out of 10.

Official site

follow this link for a review with screenshots]]> Sat, 21 Aug 2010 18:42:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Girlfriend Review]]>
Sometimes I feel as though there is a massive evil conspiracy meant to relegate me to the watching only role. There are a few games that allow me to take the assistant player role, which is right where I want to be.

I loved the first Super Mario Galaxy, and it felt like I had to wait forever before this incarnation of the game came out. This game is well worth the wait, as it does not disappoint.

The story is the same, but that's what we were all expecting. I love the additional involvement given to the second player. Not only can you hold things and grab star bits, but you can also grab coins (including the dreaded purple ones), mushrooms, enemies and air bubbles. This makes for a much more active 2nd player role, which was great for me, the second player.

Maybe it was because of the new abilities of player two, but the game seemed easier this time around. (We still have not beaten the dreaded Luigi disappearing square purple comet board in the first game.) The board is back in the new version, but giving player two the ability to pick up the coins floating in mid air that you may have missed make the board infinitely easier.


I'm glad the Luigi disappearing board was easier this time around. Once you get ALL of the 120 stars, you get new GREEN comets. You kind of know they are coming when you get close to the end, but they are still a bit of a surprise. Each board has "hidden" green stars now, one for each star that you previously beat on the game. So, when you think you are done, you find out that you are actually only half way though. With a huge stack of un-played games, we (mostly he) have given up the green star comet quest quite early on. But, for those of you who have the fortitude to keep on playing, best of luck. Nintendo has made sure that you will get your moneys worth and then some out of this adventure!]]> Sun, 8 Aug 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Platforming on ecstasy!]]>
Same, but better game controls. There are some cool new challenges, including a test of how many enemies you can jump on consecutively. There's also the boulder and drill, which are fun to use. Some levels are almost entirely in 2-D, really giving a classic Mario feel to them.

The enemies are a LOT better in this game. Super Mario Galaxy 2 resurrects some Mario franchise favorites, including the Hammer Bros. (!) and Lakitu. The bosses are also a lot better - no more silly moles. They look pretty serious this time around.

Of course an improvement from the first game (not that there was much to complain about the first time around). Graphically, the game looks almost like a CG animated movie.

The first few levels are fairly easy, whereas some of the third or fourth stars in a galaxy are a bit tougher. My sense so far is that it's a good deal easier than Super Mario Galaxy - but then again, I did get all 120 stars. I already have about 70 stars and beat the game after playing less than 10 hours...

The music in this game was fully orchestrated, and you can tell the difference. Even the overture, though largely the same as the first game, sounds much more crisp. You can find it online for sale as a CD, or possibly download it as a mp3 files.

There are a couple of other things I should note:

This game does not have a central "observatory" as in the first game. Rather, you fly Starship Mario on a map. This saves you a LOT of time, so you don't have to keep searching for the room just to begin a level.

Also, each level has Bowser flags that you can switch to Mario flags, thus marking your continue spots (in the first game, there was no indication of where you would continue if you died).

As in the first game, I was disappointed Super Mario Galaxy 2 did not have any additional rewards for collecting power stars. I've always thought it would be awesome if with every 30 or so power stars you unlocked a new character (imagine getting Link or Samus for unlocking all of the stars!). I am glad at least we get to play with Luigi every so often. As it stands, however, players don't have much incentive to try to get all 120 stars after beating Bowser.

Overall, if you liked the first game, you'll love the sequel. If you didn't like Super Mario Galaxy, or got too frustrated, don't be surprised if you hate this one! I'm loving it so far. It seems like everything that was wrong or annoying with the first one is now fixed. Enjoy!

Word to the wise: if you want to save some money, this game is available for around $35-40 on eBay or Amazon. I got my copy for $32.]]> Thu, 5 Aug 2010 23:17:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Platforming on steroids]]>
This is Mario platforming in a way that makes the original NES, SNES, and Mario 64 games look like child's play. There are dozens of galaxies and mini-galaxies to play, each one with a unique theme. With over 120 stars, there enough for even the most hardcore gamer, but even novices can probably beat it with 60 stars. Obviously, if you didn't like those games, don't play this. But if you liked those, you'll LOVE Mario Galaxy.

My one criticism is that you don't get much in terms of rewards for getting more stars. If you get all 120, you can play as Luigi, but he's basically the same as Mario. It would have been nice to unlock bonus features (new characters, photo albums, etc) every 10-15 stars or so.

Playing this again has made me excited for Super Mario Galaxy 2. I'm looking forward to getting it over Christmas.]]> Tue, 3 Aug 2010 16:37:33 +0000
<![CDATA[7 Wii Games I'm looking forward to]]> Mon, 2 Aug 2010 21:35:50 +0000 <![CDATA[ Beautiful]]> I just got finished playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess after I was sick for a week. The game is now about 4 years old, but despite that it's still an incredible game and well worth getting (you can probably get it used cheaper). It's one of the best games I've played on Wii and in some ways beats out The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (but not The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past). Here are some of my thoughts after beating it:

This is probably the most beautiful of Zelda games. Especially after the horrible cartoonish look of Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker, the realistic textures in this game make this a beautiful world to explore. There are definitely places where one could just sit and relax, like the fishing pond. Also, the enemies and bosses all look awesome - they're invariably large, nasty looking creatures!

The game includes some cool battle sequences and use of items. In some cases, you need to use a certain item or ride your horse to defeat a boss - but it never feels too forced. The battle of the Bridge of Eldin, with its jousting scene, is the best. The dragon in Skytown is also really cool. I wish you could replay some of those sequences and boss battles again - that's my only complaint about the gameplay.

I had some difficulty positing Link and getting him to do what I wanted, especially on the Wii because the A button does so much (sometimes you jump when you meant to grab). The more I played, the more I got used to it, but I think the 1 and 2 buttons could be been better used to add functionality (they just display the map).

Generally, it's the same old story - Gannon is trapped in a dark world (Twilight in this case) and you need to defeat him and save Zelda. There are some cool twists and when you're playing you really don't know what's going to happen next (unless you read a spoiler review). Midna, a new character from the Twilight realm, is pretty cool. She has an attitude and helps you out quite a bit with hints.

Great, as always with the Zelda series. It doesn't have quite the power of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but it does fit really well with the game (especially the Hyrule Field at night theme).

This is a great game, and it gets better the more you play. There's a lot of stuff to do. Even some of the side activities are fun, like finding bugs and Poe Spirits. It took me at least 60 hours of playing time to beat, and I want to go back and get all the items. I'd definitely recommend The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess to return to Hyrule for a bit before The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword comes out this fall.

]]> Thu, 29 Jul 2010 02:02:02 +0000
<![CDATA[ Be the Sith!]]> Star Wars: The Force Unleashed lets you play as a Dark Jedi and you kill anyone and anything in your way. I haven't had this much fun with a Star Wars game since Dark Forces. 

I think some of the other reviewers are right in that the game controls are awkward - particularly those bloody camera angles. I did take a star down for that. However, I haven't found it too difficult so far. It just takes a bit of getting used to. I spent some time in the training room first. In fact, overall, I really think the game makes good use of the Wii controls. There are a lot of force moves (my favorite so far is simply throwing objects at people). 

However, I don't think the criticism about it being too easy is justified. I think the point of an easier game is to let casual gamers play as well. The game does have different levels, so if Padawan is too easy, you can try Sith Lord difficulty. 

I do wish there had been a single-player dueling mode that I could play when I don't have anybody to play against. The dueling, so far as I can tell, is only two-player. 

For the price (just [...] dollars!), Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a good deal of fun.Ever want to be Darth Vader? Use the Force to throw Stormtroopers? Now you can! [[ASIN:B00113T0VA Star Wars: The Force Unleashed]] lets you play as a Dark Jedi and you kill anyone and anything in your way. I haven't had this much fun with a Star Wars game since Dark Forces.
I think some of the other reviewers are right in that the game controls are awkward - particularly those bloody camera angles. I did take a star down for that. However, I haven't found it too difficult so far. It just takes a bit of getting used to. I spent some time in the training room first. In fact, overall, I really think the game makes good use of the Wii controls. There are a lot of force moves (my favorite so far is simply throwing objects at people).
However, I don't think the criticism about it being too easy is justified. I think the point of an easier game is to let casual gamers play as well. The game does have different levels, so if Padawan is too easy, you can try Sith Lord difficulty. 
I do wish there had been a single-player dueling mode that I could play when I don't have anybody to play against. The dueling, so far as I can tell, is only two-player.
For the price (just [...] dollars!), [[ASIN:B00113T0VA Star Wars: The Force Unleashed]] is a good deal of fun.
Ever want to be Darth Vader? Use the Force to throw Stormtroopers? Now you can! [[ASIN:B00113T0VA Star Wars: The Force Unleashed]] lets you play as a Dark Jedi and you kill anyone and anything in your way. I haven't had this much fun with a Star Wars game since Dark Forces.
I think some of the other reviewers are right in that the game controls are awkward - particularly those bloody camera angles. I did take a star down for that. However, I haven't found it too difficult so far. It just takes a bit of getting used to. I spent some time in the training room first. In fact, overall, I really think the game makes good use of the Wii controls. There are a lot of force moves (my favorite so far is simply throwing objects at people).
However, I don't think the criticism about it being too easy is justified. I think the point of an easier game is to let casual gamers play as well. The game does have different levels, so if Padawan is too easy, you can try Sith Lord difficulty. 
I do wish there had been a single-player dueling mode that I could play when I don't have anybody to play against. The dueling, so far as I can tell, is only two-player.
For the price (just [...] dollars!), [[ASIN:B00113T0VA Star Wars: The Force Unleashed]] is a good deal of f
]]> Tue, 27 Jul 2010 18:41:07 +0000
<![CDATA[ Beautiful]]> Tue, 27 Jul 2010 18:30:11 +0000 <![CDATA[ Great set, but no longer on sale]]>
I love the games, and this trilogy edition is certainly the version to get. Unfortunately, it's no longer being sold. What a shame. I hope Nintendo reissues it soon.
]]> Tue, 27 Jul 2010 18:23:22 +0000
<![CDATA[The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Quick Tip by Mega_Dan]]> Wed, 21 Jul 2010 08:18:24 +0000 <![CDATA[The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Quick Tip by Meliss]]> Tue, 13 Jul 2010 23:09:47 +0000 <![CDATA[ Beautiful]]> The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess after I was sick for a week. The game is now about 4 years old, but despite that it's still an incredible game and well worth getting (you can probably get it used cheaper). It's one of the best games I've played on Wii and in some ways beats out The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (but not The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past). Here are some of my thoughts after beating it:

This is probably the most beautiful of Zelda games. Especially after the horrible cartoonish look of Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker, the realistic textures in this game make this a beautiful world to explore. There are definitely places where one could just sit and relax, like the fishing pond. Also, the enemies and bosses all look awesome - they're invariably large, nasty looking creatures!

The game includes some cool battle sequences and use of items. In some cases, you need to use a certain item or ride your horse to defeat a boss - but it never feels too forced. The battle of the Bridge of Eldin, with its jousting scene, is the best. The dragon in Skytown is also really cool. I wish you could replay some of those sequences and boss battles again - that's my only complaint about the gameplay.

I had some difficulty positing Link and getting him to do what I wanted, especially on the Wii because the A button does so much (sometimes you jump when you meant to grab). The more I played, the more I got used to it, but I think the 1 and 2 buttons could be been better used to add functionality (they just display the map).

Generally, it's the same old story - Gannon is trapped in a dark world (Twilight in this case) and you need to defeat him and save Zelda. There are some cool twists and when you're playing you really don't know what's going to happen next (unless you read a spoiler review). Midna, a new character from the Twilight realm, is pretty cool. She has an attitude and helps you out quite a bit with hints.

Great, as always with the Zelda series. It doesn't have quite the power of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but it does fit really well with the game (especially the Hyrule Field at night theme).

This is a great game, and it gets better the more you play. There's a lot of stuff to do. Even some of the side activities are fun, like finding bugs and Poe Spirits. It took me at least 60 hours of playing time to beat, and I want to go back and get all the items. I'd definitely recommend The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess to return to Hyrule for a bit before The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword comes out this fall.]]> Tue, 13 Jul 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Still Mario's Best Non-Platforming Adventure]]>
You wouldn't know that from the start of the game, however.  It begins in typical Mario fashion.  Toadstool is enjoying herself at Mario's Pad when suddenly Bowser swoops in out of nowhere and kindaps her.  Mario then immediately rushes off to save her.  Going through Bowser's Keep you find Toadstool and Bowser.  After a fairly simple and straightforward battle Mario is about to save Toadstool when suddenly there's an earth quake and a giant sword descends from the clouds and plunges right into Bowser's Keep... throwing Mario, Bowser and Toadstool to different parts of the world.  Mario is, fortunately, thrown to his own pad.  It appears there really is something so much more going on than simply trying to stop Bowser.  Mario is in for the adventure of a lifetime.

For most gamers, this is perhaps the best introduction you could ever hope for to the JRPG.  That's Japanese RPG.  In 1996, many a Mario fan was disappointed to buy the game, only to find out it wasn't typical Mario fare.  That is to say you didn't go running around and stomping on goombas or collecting mushrooms in the traditional sense.  Since the JRPG wasn't exactly mainstream (it still isn't) most people had to take a moment to step back and realize that the game they were playing wasn't some weird "non-Mario Mario" game... it was simply in a very different genre. 

Toad is there to help you through it at the beginning.  The battles you fight in Super Mario RPG aren't random.  They're all contact based.  And it's traditional turned based stuff.  In battle you have four options to choose from, each assigned to the face buttons.  A lets you select a standard attack.  X lets you choose between items, Y lets you choose a special attack and B gives you the option to either defend yourself from the next attack or run away.  It's so simple anyone can pick it up and play.  The battles are also fairly fast paced.  The game isn't too challenging at all. 

The story takes things off to a great start.  There isn't too much dialog in Super Mario RPG, but the story is at least coherent and amusing.  Even comical at times (okay, comical most of the time).  It even incorporates many of the standard Mario elements.  Mario can roam around and jump around if he wants.  Instead of potions restoring your HP you use mushrooms.  Instead of MP you have FP for Flower Points.  There are hidden chests too.  You'll also collect coins which you'll actually use to spend.  It transitions into the RPG genre really well.  It's not all standard JRPG fare.  In short, it can appeal to Mario fans... if they're willing to take the time to sit through Toad's tutorials to learn the game.  It also makes sure you can't get lost and that you always know what to do.  Super Mario RPG is linear, but not without some sidequests or without it's fair share of secrets.  There are hidden bosses, hidden items and weapons and hidden locations.  You'll also find a lot of good Easter eggs such as Link and Samus at some points and even a boss that's ripped straight out of Final Fantasy IV... using the elemental crystal's of Final Fantasy!  This is because Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi was one of the men in charge of the game.  The Final Fantasy influence is impossible not to see (it IS Square, after all), but even better is just that Super Mario RPG isn't exactly a big adventure... but it stuffs A LOT into it. 

There are also a large assortment of characters that will join Mario.  This is perhaps what fans have loved about Super Mario RPG the most.  The fact that you get two original characters and an unlikely ally.  Mario will be joined by a marshmallow like boy named Mallow.  A doll that comes to life on his conquest to fix the Star Road named Geno.  He'll also be joined by Princess Toadstool herself and even King Bowser.  The adventure turns out to be good if only because it's so different.  And it still manages to be fun even to this day.  It's done in such a way that JRPGers can enjoy it for simply being a JRPG, while newcomers can enjoy it because it's not intimidating enough to scare them away. 

At this point in gaming, Mario was known for having some pretty bad spinoffs (Mario is Missing... ugh!), but Super Mario RPG wasn't one of them.  Perhaps what stuck out a lot was the games visual presentation.  Sprites have never looked this good on a Super Nintendo.  Donkey Kong Country was remarkable to look at, but Super Mario RPG had a charm about it that was hard not to like.  It's not fully 3D.  It's isometric 3D.  Meaning it gives you the illusion that you're looking at something in 3D.  But it's still colorful and beautiful.  And it's got a lot of detail.  Somethings can look a little pixelated, but Super Mario RPG makes sure to milk every last ounce of strength the Super Nintendo has.  Not in beauty... but power.  It's the largest the game you can find on the system because it's using just about every resource it can muster.  What you get from this is a good looking game, but that can also do a lot of things such as render several sprites at once, be as colorful as it is.. and be as long as it is without being crushed under its own weight. 

It's the gameplay, however, that stands above everything else in Super Mario RPG, though.  The battle system utilizes a nice touch with giving the player "timed hits."  When you attack pressing the A button at the right time will cause the player to do more damage.  Likewise, you can do the same with special attacks only with pressing "Y".  Although some special attacks require other means to do them.  Some, for example, require you to hold the Y button for power, rotate the control pad, or mash on the Y button for maximum damage.  It keeps you paying attention and it works. 

The music stands out as well.  Some of the tracks are remixing music from other Mario games but an overwhelmig majority of it is actually original.  Although there is one track lifted directly from Final Fantasy IV thrown in there (sorry fans of Final Fantasy VI, there's no shout out to that particular game).  It's hard not to enjoy the soundtrack, although it does get a little repetitive.  They loop too quickly and sometimes it feels like they didn't dump enough music in.  But we'll be okay with that.

Super Mario RPG may be a fantastic game, but it didn't fall into the hands of too many gamers.  The game was largely a success but in 1996 it had the unfortunate timing of coming out while gaming was progressing forward with the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation.  Like several Super Nintendo games released in 1996, it was passed over for the more powerful systems.  Which meant that some gamers just never got the chance to really enjoy this gem of an RPG.  With the Wii's virtual console, however, it's a good time as any to relive (or discover) one of Mario's best adventures. ]]> Wed, 30 Jun 2010 06:49:07 +0000
<![CDATA[ 4.5: Still Fun, Although The Magic Starts to Fade]]>
The story is almost a copy and paste of Donkey Kong Country 2.  The only difference is that this time Donkey and Diddy have been kidnapped.  It's also not Kaptain K. Rool this time, but rather one of his relatives.  At least we think it might be.  We're never actually sure.  If you were playing a platformer on the Super Nintendo for story there, you might want to get your head examined.  With Donkey and Diddy both kidnapped it's up to Dixie to save them.  Only this time she's accompanied by Kiddy Kong... a giant baby.  Most of the characters in Donkey Kong Country are forgettable, but there's none who are quite as annoying as Kiddy Kong.  I guess making a middle game with two light characters meant they needed a heavy one.  And Kiddy Kong is big.  At least enough that he can be used to discover secrets.

The world map is more expansive in Donkey Kong Country 3, letting you explore a little more at times.  There are still seven worlds and a hidden lost world (that cost Bonus Coins to access the levels) but there are also a few other things you can do.  The importance of collecting was made much more important in Donkey Kong Country 3.  In Donkey Kong Country 2, simply finding all the bonus areas was enough, but in Donkey Kong Country 3 they added the element of caves where going and replaying a musical sequence through a series of button presses, gave you a banana bird.  In order to do all this, however, you might've needed several other hidden goodies that you might get from bosses or one of the Bear brothers.  The game also didn't stop with the Hero coins.  Those giant coins with a DK on them.  Again, it's more of a test to see if you can find them all.  But even this has an added element to it.  By making the coin a puzzle.  An enemy only known as Koin holds each DK coin and you need to figure out how to throw a silver barrel behind him in order to hit him and make him drop it.  Sometimes it's straightforward, other times it's meticulous.

These are all fine, but it's mostly the levels themselves that aren't as amusing with Donkey Kong Country 3.  For the most part the design is unchanged, but that may be part of the problem.  Donkey Kong Country 2 was such a step up from the first that I suppose some of us (myself included) were expecting Donkey Kong Country 3 to wow our socks off.  It may be that expectations were too high, but for the most part, the levels simply weren't as intuitive as what you saw in the first two games.  The first in the series was able to provide some neat challenges, while the second was able to give players a good challenge.  Especially in collecting everything.  Most of Donkey Kong Country 3's innovative and truly well designed levels... are few and far between.  To put it another way, a good deal of the levels in the game are rather boring when compared to the two games that came before it.  And if it isn't that, it's too scared to come up with a level that gives us something amusing for Donkey Kong Country.  For the most part Donkey Kong Country 3 plays it safe, and there's really nothing wrong with that.

That isn't to say that there are no amusingly designed levels.  In fact the ones that are uniquely designed may, indeed, be some of the best levels that the Donkey Kong Country games have EVER given you.  They're just few and far between.  There's one level, for instance where you have to dodge the shots from a gun.  It's not frustrating and it's a good challenge.  Moments like these keep the game from feeling stale.  Another level puts you in a labyrinth where because of what's in it the controls are backwards (up is down and down is up) and in another level you have to guide a rocket safely down to a canyon and then ignite it and ride it all the way back up (it's easily the best level Donkey Kong Country has ever had... and I mean ever!).  These are fantastic levels.  It's just that far two many levels don't get as intuitive as this.  It may be because a different portion of the team worked on it.  Who knows.

On the other hand, Donkey Kong Country 3 has some of the most unique boss fights out there.  What Donkey Kong Country 3 lacks in level design it more than makes up for in its approach to each boss fight.  In the previous two games it was either jump on a boss or throw a barrel.  Donkey Kong Country 3 has more cleverly designed battles.  In one fight you have to fight a giant barrel by throwing the bugs it spits out back into his mouth and have him belch off the ledge.  In another you have to squirt water in his eyes before you can do away with him.  The best fight is actually the final boss in the hidden lost world.  It's easily the most challenging and amusing fight you'll find in any of the Donkey Kong Country games.  Even better than that climactic battle with Kaptain K. Rool on his flying croc copter in the second game.

Donkey Kong Country 3 provides a good number of challenges.  The only real problem is that it feels too much like Donkey Kong Country 2.  It doesn't do much beyond the Banana birds to really separate itself from the second game.  If it were filled with more uniquely designed levels it might be better than the second game.  And if Kiddie Kong weren't such an annoying character. 

Graphic wise it's almost the same deal.  With Donkey Kong Country 2 reaching it's height of detail... it's not like Donkey Kong Country 3 could hope to look much better.  It DOES, surprisingly, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone looked at the two games side by side and couldn't figure it out.  Let's just put it this way... the N64 was around and so was the Playstation.  The beauty of Donkey Kong Country just wasn't as amusing in 1996.  It was still a beautiful game.  It may perhaps be the best looking game on the Super Nintendo.  It's unfair to punish it just because it didn't (or rather couldn't) look as good as a system designed to be more powerful.  So let's not knock Donkey Kong Country 3 for that.  What we CAN knock it for is thinking that it's pretty graphics (some of the nicer effects are really fabulous too) were going to be enough to distract us from how mundane some of the levels were.  This same thing is true of the music.  It was really incredible in the first two games, but the third game goes for a more relaxed soundtrack that doesn't make you think adventure enough.  It's still a nice soundtrack, just not as impressive as the first or second title.  It's just not exciting enough.

All told it seems like Donkey Kong Country 3 isn't up to snub with its older brothers.  That's not entirely true.  It is up to snub.  It's a brilliant game that follows the formula that helped make the second one the best of the lot.  It isn't filled with as much fun and excitement.  The campaign is still worth going through and it's still worth mastering... the adventure just isn't as memorable.  At some points tackling the levels feels more like a chore than actual fun... and that's really what makes the big difference.  If you're nostalgic it's still worth playing.  Perhaps it's really that Donkey Kong Country 2 achieved such a good level of greatness that Donkey Kong Country 3 couldn't hope to compare.  It's happened to best of video games (and movies, but we'll talk about that some other time, thanks).  It means Donkey Kong Country 3 is brilliant but not quite perfection.]]> Wed, 30 Jun 2010 06:18:05 +0000