Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pokemon and Nintendo Power

After much delay the wait is finally over! My trial issue of Nintendo Power came in the mail! So far so good, I was getting excited looking through the pages, maybe I'll get the full subscription if I like it, I usually buy issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly just because it covers all gets too expensive to get all the exclusive magazines. I've been reading some of Game Informer, they're pretty good as well but I have yet to finish an issue.

On another note, my friend let me try Pokemon Pearl, and so far it's more of the same thing, which isn't exactly a bad thing. It has some instructions in the beginning then more as you make your way through the game. The stylus is used to select Pokemon and their abilities, you move around with the directional pad. I've only played like 20 minutes though so I don't know much past that yet. I'll probably have to get a copy myself.

In gaming news, Ken Kuaragi, the man responsible for the success of the Playstation, was replaced by Kaz Hirai for the title of president amd CEO on April 26th 2007. While some of his statements (like thinking that people will buy the PS3 regardless of price) were a little overboard imo, he was a key figure in the gaming world. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

O-M-G it's over!!!11 Taiko Drum FTW!

Namco has announced a Taiko Game for the DS!!! AHH! My hands cramp in anticipation!!! Hopefully they'll release it in North America too.

Ch-ch-ch-check it out at Wired.

Education Games get 'Speare'd

No, not Britney... I'm still trying to purge my mind from the crap she had released on the PS2, and besides I think she's setting bad examples through other media.

Anyway... This game was created to "teach students literacy skills by exposing them to a high-tech version of Shakespeare". It was made by a Guelph English Professor named Daniel Fischlin.

If only this was available when I was in high school, I'd blast my way through English! Nah, back then we had these things called "books" and we had to "read" them. I know, it's pretty crazy, I had a heck of a time getting people to believe me. I guess it makes sense when the majority of kids have the attention span of... what was I saying again?

Oh well it probably wasn't important anyway, check out CBC for the story [via Wired].

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Winifred Phillips to create 20th Anniversary remix

Video game composer Winifred Phillips is going to remix the classic Mario tune!
Phillips, who has scored music for such well known games as The Da Vinci Code, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and God of War, has written the Mario Brothers tribute song "Go Mario! (Super Mario Brothers)," a song intended to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original Mario game.

I think the fact that this Mario theme has touched so many people across the globe is amazing. It's one of the most memorable and loved video game of all time thanks to Koji Kondo's musical efforts (and of course Shigeru Miyamoto as well, duh).

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales DS


Developer: H.A.N.D
Publisher: Square-Enix
Released: April 2007
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Multiplayer: Yes & WiFi
Genre: Adventure

[Edit: After reading the review in the April edition of EGM they mention the lack of "download play" for multiplayer, so I'll have to check on that when my friend comes back in May, we'll try out the multiplayer option and see if it's true.]

[Edit: 06/05/07 Well, I tried to play multiplayer with my friend when we went to NYC and it didn't work.

Official Website - An interactive 2D website with information on all aspects of the game. Has movie clips of gameplay and shows how you interact with the game.

Hours played: Approx. 6 hours, reached the tree in the forest and unlocked all but a few of the challenges in two of the books and three of the minigames.

Synopsis: You play as a chocobo who must save your friends from an
evil book that imprisoned them. Through a series of card battles and mini-games you have to find and save all the chocobos in the chocobo farm. The books consist of common fairy tales like "The Admantoise and the Cactuar" in place of "The Tortoise and the Hare" or "Titan and the Beanstalk" instead of "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Tutorial: None, they have instructions integrated into the gameplay, which is a staple with most Final Fantasy games. The beginning of the mini-games also have instructions on how to play, although they can be misinterpreted at times resulting in frustration. The card battling is also explained with terms and examples and you're able to practice with other characters.

Story/Characters: The story is simple, and appropriate for this game, you have to save your friends from bad guys through playing mini-games in enchanted books. You also see familiar characters like Cid and Shirma the white mage.

Graphics/Cinematics: 3D top down view, I immediately thought of Final Fantasy III when I started playing. It even has the drop down menu on the right side of the screen. No cut scenes, the whole story is in-game.

Interface: Clean, simple, and similar to the "blue FF7" screens. What I liked about it was it wasn't overly crowded, everything was visible. My only gripe would be in the card screen, selecting and creating new decks were troublesome at first.

Sound/Audio/Voice Acting: If you are a fan of the series you'll recognize many of the songs in the game. Both sound effects and songs has been sampled from previous FF games. There was no voice acting in the game.

Gameplay/Controls: Very good, the game is entirely by stylus. I didn't have any trouble with sensitivity or accuracy. I find it interesting though with the level of difficulty, this should not be marketed towards a younger audience, some of the mini-games are hard to accomplish (they are more complicated than Wario Ware, I'll have to check if they're more difficult than Raving Rabbids for DS later). I've also seen a lot of reviews complaining about the difficulty which causes a dilemma because to get better cards you have to unlock them in the harder versions of the mini-games.

Replay value: Medium, depending on if you unlock everything first, it will make you want to go back and unlock everything to get all the cards. The multiplayer also encourages replay through playing with friends.

Learning Curve: Easy-Moderate

+ Uses many great Final Fantasy songs
+ Many different mini-games and ranging difficulties
+ Great interface and use of top screen (for maps, in-game cinematics)
+ Great graphics identical to Final Fantasy III for DS

- Some mini-games are pretty demanding for the casual gamer
- Confusing instructions for the games & takes multiple tries to figure out
- Card battling system can be hard to get used to
- The card battles can get tedious

Summary: Hardcore fans of Final Fantasy who like mini-games will love this, I know it sounds obvious but you really do have to love challenging mini-games because that and card battling make up the entire game.

Score: 7/10

Some screens from the website

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

Well, it appears that many other game stores were busier than mine. The sales numbers came in and Pokemon has sold over 155 million copies! Check the full story here. Diamond was more popular than Pearl, but I'm sure it had to do with the different Pokemon you get (as usual).

Speaking of Nintendo, they managed to outsell Sony and Microsoft again in the March NPD numbers with 259,000 Wii's and 508,000 DS units. It doesn't really surprise me that the numbers are so high since a lot of game stores have been sold out for months. They practically fly off the shelves and every time I'm working I get at least 3 inquires about the availability of the Wii. I'm sure with the release of Pokemon, Nintendo DS sales boomed as well.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

FFVI and Yggdra Union

Today was the release of Pokemon Pearl and Diamond, but surprisingly it didn't seem that busy to me today (I was working today). The only Pokemon game I own is Leaf Green, but I'm interested in trying out the new Pokemons (if I ever get time!) to see what they have to offer, maybe I'll get the Wii version instead.

This weekend was pretty busy, and a lot of gaming happened! I was able to get in another hour of Chocobo Tales. I'm getting the hang of the battling system, this is the first time I've battled with cards though (aside from Triple Triad in FF8).

I played a bit of WoW with Choops, I think I logged about 4 hours or something. I'm not really excited or addicted to the game yet. People were surprised to hear that since I was horribly addicted to GW. I think it's because I'm not as interested in GW anymore and therefore maybe not as interested in another MMORPG, even if it is WoW.

In other news, as you can see by the title, I have recently purchased Yggdra Union (recommendation from a co-worker) and Final Fantasy 6 (because it's my 2nd favorite FF and I enjoy rebuying games that I already own in different formats, thanks Squenix *sigh*). Both are RPG's (if you didn't know), and Yggdra Union is a card based one (so more practice, yay).

On another note Square-Enix re-released Final Fantasy: Advent Children in a collectors edition. Now, I'm not only re-buying my ff games, but also my ff dvds. Yeeessh, lol.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Super Paper Mario for Wii getting great reviews

Seems that Super Paper Mario is doing very well, both for the casual and hardcore gamers! Check out the story at Next Generation. I'm impressed, usually I hear a lot of complaining that games aren't "hardcore" enough... maybe they mean challenging? Or not for the casual gamers?

Anyway, I'm hoping to either get Super Paper Mario (depending on the replay/multiplayer value) or rent it. But I have to find time first, my friend Choops (who used to play a lot of Guild Wars with me) recently bought me the WoW 14-day trial DVD, so I'm going to try it out on Friday night and see if I can withstand the addiction. I have been avoiding that MMORPG for the longest time, I barely managed to dodge Everquest and Final Fantasy XI.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My childhood being resold to me, again.

Next Generation reports that Final Fantasy I & II will be released for the PSP.
The two titles will be sold separately with Final Fantasy shipping in North America on June 26 and Final Fantasy II shipping July 24. They’ll retail for $29.99 each.

Originally, the games were only announced for Japanese consumers.

Ideally, I'd like to lie and say that I won't buy them, (god knows I have all the versions of them, some twice) but we all know I am probably going to anyway... Oh Square-Enix... Now, if only they'd release FF7 for PSP, then I'd get really excited. I am waiting for FF: Crisis Core though, looks awesome by the trailers.

Mystery Wii's Revealed!

The last two Wii Artists that I posted about in the Win a customized Wii from Nintendo Contest have been revealed!

Derrick Hodgson
Mixing cartoon, graffiti and contemporary design, Hodgson creates a style and environment that play with mutated characters in crowded complex spaces. It's this unique vision that quickly advanced him to the forefront of contemporary art and character design.

Kardinal Offishall
A regular on BET and MuchMusic, Kardinal has collaborated with some of hip hop' greats, rhyming with Busta Rhymes and Timbaland. He has collaborated with Allister Lee to create a truly unique Wii that reflects both artist's styles.

Top 10 Worst Games of All Time

PC World lists the Top 10 Worst Games of All Time, I didn't know half the games on the list. Which I guess isn't entirely a bad thing in this case...

Virginia Tech Shooting

I was listening to the news yesterday and this morning about the Virginia Tech Shootings, they finally disclosed the shooters name, but no motive to why he did it. My condolences to those who have family or friends that were affected by this tragedy.

Gametap Pac-Man Ad

Ha, thought this was a cute commercial for Gametap.

For those who don't know, Gametap allows you access to many different games for a monthly fee. I think this is great as it provides a way to access games I can't find like Sam & Max! It also provides interviews with game developers/designers/etc and game trailers.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Games night... again!

We had another Games Night at my friends place this past Saturday, it was a lot of fun! We tried the Japanese version of Taiko Drum Master. It concentrates on mini-games more, I guess it's because of the party game aspect of it (it still has a music selection, but way more than the North American version of course). Who knew a drum would be so much fun? For anyone who likes music games, definitely try this out, if you can't play Japanese games then there's a North American release (the one that I have) just called Taiko Drum Master. You will want to grab an extra drum if you can as it's not as fun if you're playing on your own.

We also did the usual Karaoke Revolution/Wii games deal. We wanted to try SingStar next, but I have to go out and buy that. Apparently, there's an 80's version, but it was only released in Europe. Boo. Oh, and I tried out Karaoke Revolution: American Idol, it was alright, but the song selection is weaker than the other ones imo. It follows the format of the TV show American Idol, where the player can go through the audition stages up to the grand finale. The reviews by Simon, Randy and Paula (I don't know if it is Paula because she looked and sounded different) are only good if you put it on a difficulty higher than Easy, otherwise they're just praising you.

For the Wii, we mostly played Rayman: Raving Rabbids, and Wii sports because my friend came back from Virginia and hasn't tried the Wii yet!

I have also been playing a lot of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales for DS. It's a really fun game, it incorporates RPG elements with many mini games. It's like FF3 with minigames and lots of chocobos (duh). It has various Final Fantasy songs mixed into it, which is a nice touch. I still have to check out the card battling system, I tried it out briefly, it reminded me of Yu-Gi-Oh, because you summon monsters with cards. Good use of the top screen too! More on this later... (read: I will probably review this next).

My friend Choops is getting slowly addicted to World of Warcraft, which means that I'll never see her again on Guild Wars. I'm slowly getting less addicted to Guild Wars, the third installment was really dragging in the beginning, and I'm finding that I don't like soloing as much anymore, and I was never into PvP. So, I'm probably going to hold off on GW until I get Choops back or my other friend RogueCRX or even until Guild Wars 2 (which was announced recently in the PC Gamer mag... I also got my free Mini-pet too). I suppose this is good because then I can review more and play more games.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Devil May Cry 4 on Xbox 360!

Woah, I never would have thought that DMC4 would be on 360, seeing as it's always been exclusively for Sony. However, given the lackluster sales of the PS3 I'm not too surprised... this is definitely another reason for me to get a 360.

Don't get me wrong though, it is still coming out for the PS3 (and surprisingly for the PC) but I'm still surprised that Sony wouldn't try to buy the rights to it, especially since it has such a huge following.

Press Release from Capcom
 "Devil May Cry" is a series of popular, stylish action games, with a cast of unforgettable characters. Since the release of the original "Devil May Cry" in 2001, the series has shipped 6,800,000 copies as of December 31st, 2006, proudly making it one of Capcom's flagship titles. The series appeal is not limited to games; an animated TV series to be broadcast on Japan's WOWOW network is slated to air Spring 2007. The latest iteration, "Devil May Cry 4" will take advantage of each platform's hardware strengths to achieve the most stunning visuals in the series to date, and the introduction of a mysterious new protagonist will keep the action fast and fresh. Even before its release, "Devil May Cry 4" has been met with tremendous anticipation, as fans patiently endured long lines at TOKYO GAME SHOW 2006 for the chance to play the demo. "Devil May Cry 4" will be released simultaneously for the PLAYSTATION®3 and Xbox 360™ platform

The only way I'd get a PS3 now is for FFXIII, but I'm not getting a console for one game. So I hope Sony has more reasons for me (and everyone) to get the PS3. I'm also surprised they released God of War 2 for the PS2 too, especially since PS3 users lose out (if they don't have a PS2, they might have traded/sold it towards the new PS3) and the PS3 has trouble with it's backwards compatibility. It was probably a cash grab on a successful franchise with a stable userbase.

Xbox 360 Elite for Mother's Day!

Yep, you heard it, Microsoft is creating a contest for Mother's Day that would have the lucky winner get an Xbox 360 Elite and some flowers for Mom. Contestants have to write about their Mom and how much of a gamer she is.

Here's how it works: Write an original essay about your mother (or female legal guardian) and gaming. Is your mom a lifelong gamer, or new to gaming? What games does she play? Does she support your gaming habit? Is she a n00b, or can she hold her own? Do you play together?

I think that they should give the 360 Elite to the Mom, especially since she's a gamer... but I understand the incentive behind that. Just flowers though?! If it was me I'd at least want a game too.

Click here for the full story

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bloggers Code of Conduct

I agree that a lot of the time, especially in games and forums things can get out of hand. There are many people who post rants that deal with hate, whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. and put it under the guise of 'free speech'.

Kathy Sierra, a blogger who is well known in the blogging community, was recieving death threats and harrassment on other sites. It seems, that with the advent of the internet, people are often abusing the right of free speech by confusing it with being able to say any hateful/ignorant thing they want. Especially since there's a level of anonymity to it.

As Tim O'Reilly says in this article, "frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. There's no reason why we should tolerate conversations online that we wouldn't tolerate in our living room."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Touch Detective DS


Developer: Success/Bee Works
Publisher: Atlusre-evaluate
Released: October 2006
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Multiplayer: No
Genre: Adventure

Official Website - pretty good, has a lot of gameplay examples.

Synopsis: You play as a new "Touch Detective" named Mackenzie. Using the stylus you can navigate through areas and have her check out different sections of those areas. These can contain items/clues/people you can talk to that you must use to solve the cases you are given.

Tutorial: Yes, there is a very brief tutorial that you go through to get the basics. The main things you will do is search around tapping in different places on the screen, talking to people you meet, and collecting the items/clues you find. Taking a closer look at the clues will help you figure out what to use it for. You can then use them to solve the case. Yes, it's as easy as it sounds, in theory. But the actual gameplay can get annoying, more in the upcoming sections.

Story/Characters: The main story is Mackenzie must make a name for herself because she recently inherited the detective agency from her father. The characters have a cute but awkwardness to them. As the different characters interact with Mackenzie, you can see her thoughts on the top screen about what she's thinking at the moment (related or not). This feature can get annoying, mainly because you're looking up and down a lot, but you get used to it (or just ignore it). The other characters are also quirky, and tend to say lots of random things. However, they also say the same things over and over, which can get frustrating when you're tapping around and touch them by accident.

Graphics/Cinematics: Has an anime style to it, with chibi 2D illustrated cartoon characters. They are seen as 2D when speaking on the top screen, and 3D when on the bottom touch screen when you're looking around. The environments are great, they blend in well with the characters.

Interface: I was rather happy with the simple and clean interface. The menus were easy to navigate through and made sense but sometimes there were too many option screens which can get tedious. I think a storybook orientation like that of Hotel Dusk and Brain Age would have worked well with this game, especially since you're a detective, and it can mimic you holding a notebook.

Sound/Audio/Voice Acting: No voice acting, but the music is very upbeat, it matches the style of the game.

Gameplay/Controls: Stylus with the option of using the d-pad, I find the d-pad to be better just because sometimes it registers better, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a touch screen.

Replay value: None, I don't think I'll be trying to play this one again any time soon...

Learning Curve: Easy

+ Easy Interface
+ Great anime visuals (Quirky, interesting characters, nice looking environments)

- Character talking on top screen while they're talking on bottom
- Better to use the D-pad in some cases
- You end up tapping the touch screen blindly in an attempt to move the story along
- Other character dialogue gets irritating after a while

Score: 4.5/10 [edit: I looked over my post again and realized that this game deserves a lot lower]

A screencap of the gameplay from the official website

Super Paper Mario for Wii

Wow, I just realized how much of a fan of Nintendo I sound with these last few posts. But, I'm just so excited about all the new games for my DS and Wii! Maybe one day I'll post my Nintendo fan stuff here, but I'm already floating around the internet with my giant Wii controller.

Don't worry, I'm sure when I get a 360 (Yes, I have finally decided to get one when a good bundle comes out) I'll have more reviews and news about Xbox 360 related content.

I don't know about getting a PS3 just yet though, especially at it's current pricetag of $550 and $660 CDN... *cough* So, everyone will have to make due with my reviews on PS2 games for now.

I just checked out the new site for Super Paper Mario! Agh, another game I want! Looks like a lot of fun. I like how the Wii controls are incorporated with the regular controls. Was it just me or did anyone else notice that the Princess was only being played by the girl... :S That's as bad as the time where I saw this girl in the EB flyer saying "They made a pink DS just for me!" So unnecessary....

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Oh so very tired

So, I'm recovering from a night of multiplayer action that was Games Night. It was a fun time! Didn't get home until 4:30am-ish though. I was glad at the turnout considering I was the only one who brought an extra TV.

Some games I played were:
Guitar Hero 1 & 2
Taiko Drums
Mario Kart (after a while it was more about the battling than the racing lol)
Rub Rabbits
Fire Emblem 2
Karaoke Revolution: American Idol
Karoke Revolution 1-4

I mainly enjoyed the food that was brought more than the games ^^ I love cucumber and chips and salsa! Good times!

On another note, there's another Final Fantasy Chocobo game, except now it's for the DS! It's called Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. Find more out about it here at the Nintendo website.

As a loveable chocobo, players will tap, swipe and slide their way through fables from the Final Fantasy world as they journey to rescue their lost friends and restore peace to the land.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Win a unique Nintendo Wii!

One of the customized Wiis, by Udon's Arnold Tsang.

Nintendo is having a draw to win 1 of 6 customized Wiis!

Four Wiis are done by a specific artist, while the remaining two are mystery artists! Try your luck and enter to win. It may be more likely than getting a Wii in a retail store right now anyway lol. Thank god I got mine at launch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Off to a late start

I haven't forgotten about this review blog/game news place! I've played a few more games, and am just working on what criteria to review the games on.

Recently, I have been playing Fire Emblem 2, which I have been addicted to since last year (READ: Have been playing on and off since last year) I've been taking a while with that, just because whenever a character dies, I reset and keep doing the mission until they don't die, or if they are new characters, until I get them to join.

Plus, I have been doing a lot of Games Nights, the third one is scheduled to be this Easter weekend. Where we take a bunch of consoles and play games all night, (pretty self-explanatory).

I have also tried out a little of Puzzle Quest and Phoenix Wright: Justice for all for the DS. And even though I purchased the game waaaaay back, I have been getting into Guitar Hero 1 & 2 for the PS2.

Also, these reviews are not going to be terribly detailed. At least for me, when looking through reviews, I don't want to spend a whole bunch of time reading it. Can't say now though, since I haven't written one yet, but my intention is to try and be brief.