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Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:53 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ReviewBanner4.png
Welcome to my new and improved review thread. The title will constantly be changing to reflect the latest review.

I didn’t like my old format and there were numerous inconsistencies so I felt it was better to start fresh.

Don’t be afraid to comment however you please. Hate the game I review and completely disagree with me? Speak up if you want. Opinions are just opinions after all, and nobody should jump on anyone over them. Just don’t get insulting.

I am very open to requests. If you want to see my review for a game I haven’t done yet, request it and I will make it my next priority. I also have the ability to take screenshots and video from my games now, so if you would like to see specific footage just ask.

If anyone is interested in my old reviews just PM me as I have them all backed up.

How to read my reviews
Game console and other non-game reviews will follow their own unique formats.

Each game review will start off with two categories. My Bias and My Completion. My Bias will list any preconceptions I have that I think would affect my review. For example I am a big Mario fan, that would affect my review of Mario Galaxy. Another example would be I’m not a console FPS fan, so that would affect my review of Metroid Prime. My Completion will indicate how much time I have spent on the game before I wrote the review. I will try to make a habit of completing every game before I review it, but some games are too painful to complete.

The previous categories are still around such as Story, Graphics, Music and Gameplay. I have now added a Lasting Appeal section to my reviews to give an indication of how long the game takes to complete and how long the fun lasts.

You may be wondering where my previous number/grade scores are. I decided I did not like the system of handing out scores to different categories or games. I feel it’s too hard to keep consistency with a score system and creates “you think this is better than this?” situations. People also have the mentality that scores start at the halfway point, so giving a game a 5/10 or a C grade kept getting interpreted as horrible instead of average. If you’re interested in a game and my review, you can read it. It only takes a few minutes.

At the very bottom of every game review (for consoles) I will be including a Gameplay demonstration video. I will try my best to make these videos a good demonstration of the game as a whole and not just a collaboration of action clips. If I can figure out a way to record videos from handhelds, then I will add them as well.

Table of Contents

WiiWii Review/Buyers Guide (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459076&postcount=2)

Channels

Forecast Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459077&postcount=3)
Mii Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459078&postcount=4)
News Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459079&postcount=5)
Photo Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459080&postcount=6)
Wii Shop Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459081&postcount=7)

Games

Excite Truck (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459864&postcount=32)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles The Crystal Bearers (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=563058#post563058)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=461757&postcount=57)
Nights: Journey of Dreams (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=463042&postcount=62)
Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=465080&postcount=80)
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=471387&postcount=101)
Rune Factory Frontier (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=516486#post516486)
Super Paper Mario (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=500003#post500003)
Super Smash Bros Brawl (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477034&postcount=115)
WarioWare Smooth Moves (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477035&postcount=116)
Wii Fit (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477040&postcount=118)
Wii Sports (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459082&postcount=8)

WiiWare

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477044&postcount=121)
Mega Man 9 (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=482742&postcount=135)

Virtual Console

SNES - F-Zero (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477210&postcount=129)
N64 - Sin & Punishment: Successor to the Earth (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477043&postcount=120)
GEN - Streets of Rage 2 (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477041&postcount=119)

Nintendo DS
Games

Castlevania: Portriat of Ruin (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477045&postcount=122)
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477046&postcount=123)
Lunar: Dragon Song (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=469500&postcount=91)
Rune Factory (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477049&postcount=125)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477047&postcount=124)

PlayStation Portable
Games

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=499922#post499922)
Patapon (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=511884#post511884)
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=512176#post512176)


Gamecube
Games

Metroid Prime (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459997&postcount=41)
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=460076&postcount=51)


PlayStation 2
Games

Final Fantasy XII (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=500034#post500034)

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:54 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Wii-1.png

Yes, I know this review is huge. But it should answer any questions about the Wii. If you have a question not covered in this Review/Guide then just ask it and I will add it.

What comes in the box
As of 01/24/2008, the Wii will cost you $250 in America. There has not been any mention of a price cut and with the current trend of sales it might be a long time before that happens. So just as a heads-up, if you are holding out until its cheaper chances are you will be waiting a long time.

The Wii of course comes with the system itself. It is very small compared to other consoles.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiFrontTop.jpg
So beautiful

On the top of the Wii a flap opens to reveal 4 Gamecube controller slots, compatible with both standard Gamecube controllers and Wavebirds. Another flap next to it hides two Gamecube memory card slots. On the front of the Wii there is yet another flap that contains an SD Card slot and a Wii Remote syncing button underneath it.

Also included in the box is 1 Wii Remote, 1 Nunchuk attachment, the Vertical Placement Stand, the Wii Sensor Bar, and of course the necessary cords for power and AV.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiOpenFront.jpg
Vertical stand, Wii with flaps open, Wii Remote and Nunchuk

The back of the Wii has the standard power and AV ports, supporting Composite and Component video. It also has a port to run power to the Wii’s Sensor Bar as well as two USB ports.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiBack.jpg
is this not a sexy photo?

Here are some pictures compared to other things to give you an idea of its size

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiSizeComparison.jpg
I sure do love nintendo

Controller

The Wii Remote is the main method for controlling Wii. Drastically different than traditional two handed video game controllers, the Wii Remote is instead held in one hand much like you would hold a TV remote.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiControllerHand.jpg
like a glove

I have average man sized hands, so keep in mind that your impressions could differ from mine given your hand size. When held, the Wii Remote feels very nice. It has a good thickness to it that makes it feel very solid and comfortable in your hand. When holding the Wii Remote “Remote Style” the button placement is optimal for the most part. The main A and B buttons are directly under your thumb and index finger and require no resituating your fingers to press. The D-Pad is a bit hard to reach when holding it in this fashion. Hitting Down is easy and natural enough, but to hit Left, Right and especially Up, you must adjust your grip on the remote, which isn’t too big of a deal. The + and – buttons are surprisingly easy to hit. I have heard complaints that they are difficult to access without readjusting your grip, but I don’t experience this problem. Bending my thumb down to hit the +, –, or HOME buttons feels exactly like it does to alternate between buttons on a traditional controller. The 1 and 2 buttons still accessible using this setup but it’s very inconvenient and you have to change your grip in order to access them. It’s not bad enough to require letting go of the Wii Remote, as the whole process can be done with one hand, but its very uncomfortable to do frequently. Thankfully, as of 11/14/2007, not many if any games have made heavy use of these buttons.

Many Wii games as well as Virtual Console games require you to hold the Wii Remote sideways like an old NES controller. There isn’t too much to say about this setup since it feels almost identical to so many other controller setups. The D-Pad is a bit on the small side for games that make heavy use of it, but despite its size is still a viable and good D-Pad (unlike the Gamecube’s). The left side where the D-Pad is located is thinner due to the indent for the B button. This makes the controller feel a bit awkward as your grip won’t feel symmetrical, but it isn’t a hindrance of any kind and at worst is just different.

The Nunchuk attachment included with the Wii is used for more traditional style games. I am unsure exactly how you are supposed to hold this accessory as I have seen two ways. I can tell you of the two ways, one works well and the other doesn’t. The first way, and the way that I naturally grab the Nunchuk, is to hold it with your 3 lower fingers wrapped around it, your index finger on the Z button, and your thumb on the analog stick. This way you must alternate between hitting the C and Z buttons with your index finger, which isn’t a big deal as long as no game requires both to be pressed at once (and so far I haven’t played a title that does). The other way I’ve seen it held is with your Index and Middle fingers resting on C & Z, leaving only your two little fingers to wrap around the base. Now keep in mind this is my experience and might differ from your own, but I cannot hold the Nunchuk steady while playing this way. I do gain the ability to hit C & Z at the same time, but lose the ability to precisely navigate the analog stick.

The Wii Remote + Nunchuk attachment combo is the most comfortable video game control scheme I have ever used. Both pieces of this combo allow you to fully wrap your hand around them which feels very natural. Another one of my favorite aspects of this combo is that either hand can rest comfortably where you want it, such as at your sides. It makes for a more comfortable and relaxed experience than having both your hands closely tethered to a traditional pad.

The Wii Remote also includes rumble feedback and a built in speaker. The rumble feedback feels good for the most part. It isn’t too strong or jarring, but gives a good amount of vibration back. The built in speaker is a mixed bag. Some games use it very well and some games try to play sound effects through it that sound horrible. A good tip to avoid bad sound distortion is to turn the volume on your controller to around half (under Wii Remote Settings when you press the home button).

Also included with the console is the free game Wii Sports. You may read my review of it here.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiSportsBox.jpg (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459082&postcount=8)

Sensor Bar
Your Wii will need the sensor bar hooked up in order to be operational. I’ve done a lot of research on it (which I will explain in a bit), and it is simply a few IR emitting LED lights in a plastic shell. This means that the sensor bar does not transmit any data to your Wii, the cord running to it is a simple thin power cord to light it up. The cord on the sensor bar is about 11’7 feet, so your Wii will need to be at least within that range of your TV with allowing room for slack.

The sensor bar does pose a serious problem to anyone with a big living room or home theatre. The amount of power that the lights in the sensor bar produces is only enough to reach a maximum (and I say that in a very generous manner) 15 feet. This is something everyone should take into accoutn before buying a Wii: If you think you might be pushing the distance limit, use some measuring tape and measure the distance from the top edge of your TV to where your Wii Remote will sit when comfortably reclined on your couch. Nintendo doesn’t think this issue is a problem, so chances are they will never address it. If you are unfortunate and sit farther than 15 feet, then relax you still have options, but it will cost you extra in off brand accessories.

Wii Interface & Features
The Wii interface is set up in a nice point and click “channel” format. It’s a bit hard to explain so look at this picture

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiMenuMain.jpg
simple, clean and easy

Each of those TV screens is a button to load its respective “channel”. You can drag these channels around by pressing the A & B buttons at the same time in a pinching fashion, and releasing them where you want it to go. The only channel you cannot do this with would be the main Disc Channel that loads the game in the disc drive. As you can see from this screenshot the Wii displays the current date and time on the main menu.

When you click on a channel it zooms in and fills the screen with a more detailed title screen and a little musical ditty to go along with it. While zoomed in, you can additionally scroll through your channels this way by hitting the + or – buttons or clicking the on screen + or – buttons with your pointer.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiMenuDisc.jpg
excellent game

In the bottom right corner of the main menu is a circular shaped button with an envelope in the center. Clicking it will open up the Wii’s message board. In the message board you can send/receive messages with other Wii users, post “sticky note” type memos for others to read, and view your total play history. This section is organized by day, displaying a bunch of unorganized envelopes on a blank white screen and the date at which you’re looking at displayed at the bottom. You can cycle through each day by hitting the + or – buttons or by clicking the calendar icon in the bottom left corner.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiMenuMessages.jpg
SuperAngelo64 never leaves me alone

Sending messages between other Wii owners is relatively painless. There is the initial hurdle of exchanging 12 digit friend codes with each other, but once that is out of the way the process is smooth. You simply click their user name in your address book, and click send message. Typing on Wii isn’t as ideal as a keyboard, but given the limitations it’s the next best thing. It works similar to how most programs handle text entry; a QWERTY keyboard appears on screen and you click letters to write your messages. Writing a simple sentence this way can be a long and tedious process, so there is an auto-complete feature. The auto-complete displays a small bar above the keyboard that displays the most common words that start with the letters you have typed. So if I wanted to type the word “because”, I'd only need to enter “be” before the word “because” appears in the auto-complete bar. Once I see it I can click on it and it will insert it into my message. This speeds up typing considerably because it even works on small words like “the”. USB Keyboards are also compatible with Wii, and are a nice way to circumvent this whole process.

Every message you open up looks something like this

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiMenuAngelo.jpg
you go girl!

There is another option to leave “sticky note” type memos for other users. The scenario Nintendo describes this feature for is pretty far fetched. They think that if Mom is going out for the night and wants to leave a message for her family, she can create a memo on Wii and when her family gets home they will turn on the Wii to see it. Now I understand the Wii is made by a Japanese company and catered towards Japanese culture which is a lot different than ours. But in America, I don’t think anyone uses this feature.

The message board also has a feature that shows you your play sessions for that day. It lists each game separately, and shows you the time spent playing it for that day. In my opinion this is a cool and much underutilized feature. It would be nice if this would tally your total play times for each game overall, because I think that would be neat to look at, but it doesn’t. I have to add that this feature occasionally screws up from time to time. It’s rare, but sometimes the Wii doesn’t recognize what you have been playing, and will list it under “Other”.

Channels
Forecast Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459077&postcount=3)
Mii Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459078&postcount=4)
News Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459079&postcount=5)
Photo Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459081&postcount=7)
Shopping Channel (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=459081&postcount=7)

Rumors
I have seen some of these comments made by members on these forums, as well as other places on the internet. A lot of this is wrong or misleading, and I want to set the record straight.

A Wii controller costs $60!! What a rip off!

Wrong. Only a Wii Remote + Nunchuk combo will run you $60. As of right now, 01/24/08, almost all of the multiplayer games are designed to use Wii Remote only. This includes some of the best multiplayer/party titles on the console such as Warioware, Mario Party and Wii Sports. Rest assured, you will only have to purchase additional $40 Wii Remotes to play with your family and friends.

Don’t delete your VC games, they re-charge you if you want them again.

Wrong. Once you purchase a VC game from the Wii Shop Channel, it is tied to your Wii, and can be deleted and re-downloaded as many times as you feel like. If your Wii breaks, Nintendo will transfer your VC purchases to your new Wii for you. So rest assured, if you make a purchase in the Wii Shop Channel, it will never be taken away from you.

You are required to buy the Classic Controller attachment to play VC games.

Partly right, but very misleading. I’ve seen this blanket statement, and it makes the situation sound as if you can’t enjoy any VC without that controller. Only certain VC games do not support the Wii Remote only setup, SNES and N64 titles respectively. Gamecube controllers will work with all VC games, so if you previously owned a Gamecube, there is no requirement to buy the Classic Controller. If you didn’t own a Gamecube, then I strongly recommend purchasing a Gamecube controller as I think the Gamecube library is full of many great games worth a buy for the first time. But if you have no interest in Gamecube games, do not have a Gamecube controller, and want to play SNES or N64 games, then yes, you must purchase the Classic Controller attachment.

I will need to buy an SD memory card to save my games.

Wrong. The Wii comes with 512 MB’s of internal memory, which is more than enough to store the saves of every game you buy for your Wii. Virtual Console games take up a considerable amount more than save files, but the internal memory is still enough for a good number of them as well. Furthermore, I think as of right now 01/24/08, there isn’t much of a point in buying an SD card anyways. You can’t load your game saves directly off of it, and you can’t load Virtual Console games directly either. It literally acts like a storage vault.


Problems/Complaints
These are things I think everyone should be aware of before purchasing a Wii. Keep in mind that despite all the complaints listed here, I still recommend the Wii to anyone who is interested in it. I am listing these not as a deterrent but rather so you, the buyer, know what you're getting yourself into.

Online

The Wii uses the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection network to play its games online. If you have tried to use this service with a Nintendo DS, then you know what to expect. If not then I will briefly explain how it works.

Every game you buy will generate a 12 digit Friend Code based off the combination of the game and your console. In order to play with your friends, you must hand out this code to each friend, and you must enter each of their 12 digit friend codes. Once this is done you may play online with them, and it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. But the problem is that every game generates its own unique code, and so for every new game that you want to play online you must re-pass out your code to your friends and re-enter all of theirs. So for example if you have 10 friends and 5 games you would like to play online, you will have to enter at least 50 codes that are 12 digits long.

The Wii console actually has its own friend code (used for the message board), so why must we enter additional codes for each game? Furthermore, not only is this a frustrating task you must complete for every game you buy, but it also limits the type of games that are possible on Wii. Friend codes make it extremely hard, if not impossible to play anything on a massive scale. So games similar to Final Fantasy 11 or Halo 3 Multiplayer will never see the light of day on Wii.

The entire process of playing random people is very frustrating as well. Unlike most online games, there aren’t any join/create game session features. The only way to play against random opponents is to “search” for them. Your Wii will then search for other players who are searching as well, and while it usually does find 3 other players, the process can take very long. You have no control over whom you want to play, and when one of the 4 players connected disconnects, the entire session get disconnected and everyone must start over. You cannot add anyone you play randomly to your friends list, so if one player disconnects or your done playing, it is unlikely that you will ever play those players again.

There is also no voice chat support, or plans to implement it for Wii. Playing co-operative games online such as Mario Strikers Charged, where instant communication is needed between you and your teammate is impossible. It really limits the type of games you can effectively play online as well as the overall experience of most games. Even the simple things the Nintendo DS does, such as letting you voice chat before a game match to decide what options/levels/rules you would like to play with, aren’t possible.

Storage

EDIT: As of System Update 4.0 we can now load Channels straight from SD Cards up to 32GB in size. This alleviates the storage issue, but I left my storage complaint in here for history's sake

The Wii comes with only 512MB of storage space. This is currently un-upgradeable and there are no plans to release any kind of solution to expand this. In Wii terminology, this translates to 2163 blocks. If you are the type that has no interest in downloading Virtual Console games or the upcoming WiiWare games, then this will not be an issue for you.

However, if you do plan to buy some of these titles then you will run into a problem. Currently, your average Virtual Console game can take up from 20-300 blocks. At the time of writing this, the Wii has been out for over a year and many users are already running out of space. Once you’re out of space your stuck. You have no room for new channels, new games, or even game saves. If you want more space, you have to delete one of your games in order to make room.

This issue could be easily resolved if Nintendo would give us some kind of solution. I understand that adding an external storage device opens the door for piracy, but something needs to be done. Release proprietary SD cards that only work in Wii, Release a peripheral that plugs into one of the USB ports on the back, release a new SKU for Wii with bigger internal storage.

Nintendo doesn’t think this is a problem. This issue has been brought up during interviews and is always avoided. Nintendo’s official solution to this is to delete and re-download your purchased games, or archive them onto an SD card.

The problem with this is that both options take a lot of time. How much time? I made a video demonstration that shows how long this official solution takes.

TPKioupsBFo
Nintendos OLD Solution to Wii's Limited Internal Storage

As you can see, re-downloading your game from the Wii Shop Channel is the faster option, but still a hassle. The other inherent flaw with the re-downloading option is that it requires an internet connection. Meaning if your internet connection is down, if the Wii shop channel is down for maintenance, if you are unable to get to an internet connection for various means, then you can’t play the game that you paid for.

Both options take a lot of time and require a lot of tedious menu navigation. It is a lot more frustrating than simply switching out a game disc, so tedious in fact that it personally discourages me from playing the game I wanted.

Final Thoughts
If you find yourself turned off by the thought of motion controls, then this probably isn’t the console for you. Don’t buy a Wii thinking that you can avoid motion controls, and then proceed to whine about it on the forum every time it shows up in games. And as goes with any game console, know why you’re buying it before you make the purchase. Don’t buy a Wii because “you heard it was cool” and then start asking what the good games are. Do some research on the games you’re interested in, the future releases, and decide if the console will satisfy you. We live in an age where it’s easy to find the game release schedule for a console a full year in advance, sometimes further. Every time I read a “My Wii is collecting dust” or “Haven’t turned it on in months” complaint, I can’t help but think that person didn’t make a smart purchase.

I personally love my Wii and think it's one of the best consoles I've ever owned.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:54 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ForecastChannel.png

The Forecast Channel does exactly what you would imagine it would. It tells you the current weather based off of where you live. This includes the temperature, the current condition (sunny, rainy, cloudy), the wind speed and direction, the UV index, as well as tomorrows forecast and the forecast for the next 5 days.

Obviously before this channel will work, you must tell it where you live. Unlike more detailed weather applications and websites for the PC, the Weather Channel does not let you enter your zip code for an exact location. Instead you must choose the closest major city near you. Now I am unaware of how well this works for other states/countries but the selection for my home state (Michigan) was moderate. I don’t know why they don’t let you pick your exact city, every other weather checker does.

The layout for this channel is very clean and simple. Without even entering the channel, its splash screen will tell you the current temperature and conditions.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Wii%20Channels/Weather-Splash.jpg
Almost defeats the purpose of entering the channel

Upon entering the channel you are met with the same information displayed on the channels splash screen, but now you can scroll up and down through pages for more detailed information.

Scrolling up once will bring you to the UV index. I have never really cared about this, so I don’t pay much attention to it. Scrolling down will show you the forecast for Tomorrow as well as the rest of the week. It’s almost always wrong though, but such has weather forecasting been since the dawn of time.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Wii%20Channels/Weather-5day.jpg
The only usefull information in the whole channel

However, despite this channels simplicity, it’s not perfect. The weather updates in this channel are about 6 hours behind. I really cannot think of any reason for this, as most weather services that exist today (News, Internet) are almost instantaneous. Bottom line is, knowing what the weather was like 6 hours ago does not help me in the slightest. Now the other information this channel tells you, such as tomorrows forecast and the weekly 5 day forecast are less affected by this, as that information does not need to be up to the minute in order to be accurate.

This Channel also has a Globe function, which zooms out a 3D globe and lets you spin it around to view the weather in various locations of the world.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Wii%20Channels/Weather-Globe.jpg
Would be awesome if everything wasn't hours behind

This is an interesting feature, and is a lot more fun than looking up raw numbers on a webpage. You can grab the globe and fling it using your Wii Remote, which is fun for a good 10 seconds.

The problem with this feature is that like I mentioned before, I can’t trust that the information is up to date. If the Globe says it’s raining in Japan, I don’t know if it is actually raining there, or if it was 6 hours ago. You also can’t check the 5 day forecasts for any region other than your own, which again seems limiting as other weather applications can.

Overall, the Forecast channel is a great idea but the delayed information ruins it.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:55 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MiiChannel.png

This channel allows you to create the super deformed and simple avatars known as Mii. The channel is very basic and straightforward, doing exactly what it I just stated without many frills. Creating a Mii is easy enough to do that just about anyone with basic pointing skills can manage.

The general idea, at least at first, is to create a Mii caricature of yourself, and anyone else you think will be using your Wii. The given amount of hairstyles, eyestyles and other facial features allow you to give your Mii at least somewhat of a likeness to your actual looks. Now granted, some Mii end up looking more like their real life counterparts than others, but it’s not a feature to be taken too seriously.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Wii%20Channels/Mii-MyMii.jpg
My Mii is a handsome devil

Your Mii will be used in certain games to represent you, so as long as it looks somewhat like you and you can identify with it, then you will be fine. The only complaint I have about the entire process is choosing your Mii’s height, I would have preferred an option to enter your actual height so that all of your Mii would turn out proportionally correct to each other.

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Lots of different features to choose from

Some people enjoy this feature more than others. I had fun making myself as well as the other members of my extended family. It was neat trying to get these silly caricatures to look like my family. Other people have really gotten into making Mii of just about anything, and it’s amazing at what some people have accomplished.

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Some people really get into this

If your Wii has the WiiConnect24 service running, you may send your Mii to anyone you have registered as a friend. Unfortunately this feature does not notify you of a new Mii arrival outside of the channel. So say your friend sent you a Mii they made of themselves, unless they otherwise notify you, you will not know this new Mii is waiting for you until you enter the Mii Channel again.

This channel also gives you the option to transfer a Mii onto your Wii Remote, so that no matter where you take your Wii Remote to play, your Mii is available. There is also an option called Mii Parade in this channel, which displays all the Mii your registered friends have running across the screen. If you see one you like, you can grab it and add the Mii to your collection.

Overall this is a hit or miss channel. I thought it was fun for a little bit making my family, but haven’t touched it since. I will note however that people who don’t play a lot of games love to see their own character in the game they are playing.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:56 AM
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The News Channel reports news headlines happening all over the world. It has multiple ways of sorting this news out for you to view how you like. Unfortunately, when you start this channel whether for the first time, or after a few days of not using it, it takes a good minute to load. If Nintendo wants to advertise their WiiConnect24 service as being always on and always connected, why doesn’t the Wii automatically download the news updates, so they are ready for instant viewing? Nobody enjoys waiting a tedious minute staring at their TV screen just to catch up on some news.

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Click the cat for cute sounds

With that out of the way, the News Channel is a fantastic way of reading the news. There are two main methods to use it, either by category or Slide show. If you choose to view the news by category, it presents you with a list of what to sort by.

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Average news fare

So say you’re interested in Technology news, if you click that category a list of headlines tagged with technology is displayed. Clicking on one of these headlines will load up the full article as well as a side panel showing on the map where this article is about.

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Article in Category mode

I have to add that I’ve noticed if you do sort your news this way rather than by Slide show, it doesn’t give the all the news contained in this channel.

The second option of displaying your news is the Slide show mode. I much prefer this mode over the category mode. In this mode the top half of the screen displays a 3D globe, much like the weather channel, and zooms into where a news story takes place. Then the bottom half of the screen displays the headline of the article. It will scroll through headlines at your desired speed, zooming all over the globe as it goes from article to article.

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A shooting in Detroit? Color me shocked

When you see an article that looks interesting, you simply click the A button and it fills the entire screen with it. Hitting the + and – buttons will increase/decrease the text size of the article in case you find it too hard to read. If the headlines are scrolling too slowly for your taste, you can manually advance them by hitting left or right on the D-Pad. As a person who can’t be bothered to flip through a newspaper, and doesn’t feel like going through page after page on MSN, I think the News Channel in slideshow mode is a fast and painless way to keep up to date on the world.

What I love about this channel is that it is strictly news and not editorials. I get rather sick of hearing journalist bias when I go to read about what’s happening in the world. This channel gives you pretty well written news articles that a for the most part “just the facts” so that you can draw your own conclusions.

Overall the News Channel is the most useful non-game channel on the Wii. It presents the news in an inviting way and isn’t full of unneeded fluff.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:57 AM
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The Photo Channel allows you to view, edit, and create slideshows using pictures from an SD Card or on your Wii’s internal memory.

Upon loading up a batch of photos, they will be displayed in thumbnails on the screen. You can use the + and – buttons to increase the number of photos displayed on the screen at one time.

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As you can see I dont import many photos here

Clicking on a photo will allow you to start editing or playing with it. The photo editing features of this channel are very basic. It is listed under “Fun!” when you select your picture. From there it gives you three options, Mood, Doodle and Puzzle. The Mood option lets you brighten, black and white, inverse and “Hard-boil” your photo.

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Each "Mood" will also warp the background music

The Doodle option opens up a paint canvas and lets you draw all over your photo using different colors and stamps (complete with sounds from Mario Paint). Doodle is very limited as to what it lets you do, and I cant see anyone wanting to save the changes made here to their pictures.

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My artistic skills are unrivaled

Puzzle breaks your photo up into smaller squares and then times you on how fast you can put it back together. I have never been into these types of puzzle games as I find them more frustrating than fun, but if you are then it does a surprisingly well job. It lets your break it into 6 to 48 pieces and records your completion times.

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This one took me 5 hours to solve

The slide show function is one of the few I see a genuine use for. No setup required just one click of Slide show and its instantly panning your photos slowly across the screen. You can edit how long a photo remains on screen, as well as the music that plays in the background. You can even go as far as put MP3 (AAC in version 1.1) files on your SD card and play those in the background to your slide show. Some of the default music in this channel is fantastic. This feature sounds ideal for parties as a nice conversational piece to run in the background.

At first I didn’t see a point to this entire channel, and wrote it off as useless. But once I played around with all of its features, I realized it does have some legitimate uses. It does a fantastic job at what it’s trying to do, and for a TV set I don’t think I’ve seen an easier photo manager. But when I take photos with my digital camera, it’s because I want to do things with them on PC or print them off, not view on my TV screen.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:57 AM
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The Wii Shopping Channel is where you download Virtual Console games, additional channels, and in the future WiiWare games.

The interface is very clean and pretty organized. Upon loading, an initial splash screen is shown showing the top four recommended titles. I am unaware if these titles are the same for everyone who visits the shop, or are dynamically displayed based off what you have already bought and or played. Below these recommended titles is a little news section, with headings such as the latest release for the week. Anything on this splash screen can be clicked to be instantly taken to that part of the shop.

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Stop teasing me with Sonic 3 :(

Entering the main page of the shop you have several options. The top two buttons will let you browse the Virtual Console and WiiWare catalogs. Within the Virtual Console catalog you may sort games by Popularity, Newest Additions, System, Publisher, and Genre or enter a word to search. Once you select a game from your list, it brings up a details menu that shows all the information such as how many players and what controllers you can use. Pay special note to what controllers you can use and make sure you have them before you buy a game.

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Notice how N64 games are Gamecube and Classic Controller only

If you would like to know a little more about a game, clicking the More Details button in the bottom right corner will give you a brief description of it and show some additional screenshots.

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Another game that will be purchased eventually

Buying Wii Points is relatively painless. You can either buy by credit card or redeem a Wii Points Card. A Wii Points Card is the easiest, just scratch off the foil on the back of the card and enter the number in your Wii. When buying with a credit card, you just enter all your information as if you were making a purchase of anything else online. Be careful when your flying through these menus as there is one silly addition that can waste a lot of your time. Throughout the multiple pages of credit card information you have to enter, the confirmation button is always on the bottom right corner. The final confirmation page however the button is on the bottom left corner of the screen, and the cancel button is where it used to be. So if you’re not careful, you will click cancel and have to enter all of your information again.

One gripe about the credit card system is that you can’t buy a specific number of points, you must buy in intervals of 1000 ($10). So if all you wanted was a $5 game, then you have to spend double just to get it.

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Stupid greedy marketing crap

The shop channel also has features such as Account Activity, Titles You’ve Downloaded, and options to clear your Wii Shop Account. I won’t go into any of these as they are self explanatory.

One of the newer features of this channel is the ability to gift games to other people you have registered as friends. You have to specify that it’s a gift before you buy, so there is no previewing. You also cannot gift old games currently on your Wii (like electronic borrowing). It is however a welcomed feature and offers a nice alternative for Christmas and birthdays.

Overall the Shopping channel is a clean and easy way to buy games.

Virtual Console

All games work exactly like in they did when originally released. The emulation of these old games is pretty close to flawless, so unless you are the type that looks for fine details, the games you buy will work exactly how they were originally intended.

New games are released every Monday in the US. There are on average 3 games released and are for the most part completely random. There are certain publishers that put out release schedules such as Sega but as a whole there is no telling what available games are going to be.

The pricing for these titles are based off the system they were originally for and are as follow:

NES - $5 - (500 points)
TG-16 - $6 - (600 points)
TG-CD - $8 - (800 points)
SNES - $8 - (800 points)
Genesis - $8 - (800 points)
NEOGEO - $9 - (900 points)
N64 - $10 - (1000 points)

Now there are some exceptions to this pricing scheme. If a game has big licensing issues due to copyrights changing hands, then it will be expensive. For instance whoever held the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise are not the same people who hold it now. So because of the extra licensing fees involved in re-releasing this old game, it costs $1 more.


Cost
A common complaint I see is that the pricing for VC games is too high. It’s a fair claim and some people won’t be convinced otherwise, but here is something to consider. If you are interested in one of the retro games on Virtual Console then you fall into one of two categories.

The first category would be if you have previously played that title. Whether you owned it at one time, or played it somewhere else, you know what you’re expecting. A lot of these old titles are the games we hail as timeless legends. Games so great, the sequels have never been able to match them. The games that constantly make our lists of “greatest games of all time” or “favorite games”. If you really want to play these games again, you’re essentially saying that your all time favorite games aren’t worth a mere $5-$10? You’re willing to spend $50-60 for a brand new retail game, which is a gamble whether you will enjoy it, but you won’t spend $5-$10 on a game you know you will enjoy?

The second category would be if you had never experienced the game. Obviously there are games that aren’t worth their listing price. Not many people would agree that Baseball or Ice Hockey for the NES are worth $1, let alone $5. But to those who have never experienced them, the good games are well worth the asking price. If you went into your local game store, you could not find a game on the shelf close to the value of titles such as Super Metroid or Star Fox 64 for under $10. I have bought a few games that I had never played before from the VC, and I will tell you they were worth every penny.

And it goes without saying, but if you’re discontent with VC prices is based off the availability of pirate ROMs on the internet, then its completely unjustified. Downloading copyrighted ROMs off the internet is stealing, plain and simple. Stealing games is essentially destroying the hobby you enjoy, such as services like VC that offer classic games that are otherwise legally unavailable.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 03:58 AM
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Nintendo Wii
1-4 Players
Developer - Nintendo EAD
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
None

My Completion
Gold medals on all but 2 Training events


I debated writing this review because Wii Sports is a free pack in game. Since it is a game that every Wii owner should already have, it was hard to think of who a review would be applicable for. But for many, Wii Sports is a deciding factor when it comes to buying the console. I have met a lot of adults who were willing to spend the $250 console fee for Wii Sports alone. So if you’re on the edge about buying a Wii and are interested in what Wii Sports adds to the total package, this review is for you.

Story
None. The way it should be.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

The graphics in Wii Sports are an art form. The characters are overly simplistic and blocky. The environments are again, simple and clean. At first glance this game looks very underwhelming knowing it’s from a developer as big as Nintendo, the same people that bring us visually stunning games like Metroid Prime 3 and Mario Galaxy.

But after playing it for an extended amount of time, and playing it with family members who don’t normally play video games; it became quite clear that it looks this way in purpose. Nintendo has created a game that looks overly simplistic for the purpose of attracting people that are afraid of videogames due to their complexity. It doesn’t look ugly or sloppy, instead the game comes off feeling very simple and clean.

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Even the menus are clean

The Mii characters look very cute in this game, like cartoon characters but not obnoxious cartoon characters. They are made up of simple geometry pieces and have circles for hands, but again it is by design.

The environments give off a very lush feel despite how simplistic they are. This is especially apparent in the Tennis and Golf modes. Almost everything in this game has a subtle ambient glow to it. It gives the game a nice “soft” feel to it, and is a pleasing visual effect.

Music
There isn’t much music in this game, as most of the modes are silent. The silence gives off a more realistic setting, especially in the Golf mode. Again simplicity is key here, you won’t find orchestral choir arrangements in this game.

The main theme for this game is pretty catchy. It’s only played on the title screen so most people wont hear it for more than 10 seconds. The sub menu for each mode has its own music theme. A lot of it is really good soothing music, I especially love the guitar melody for Golf. Unfortunately like the main theme, most of this music wont be heard for very long as its just menu music.

The only mode with music during game play is Bowling, which is appropriate for the sport. And even when music plays during the game play, its very subtle and not obnoxious. It’s the kind of music that can play in the background 100 times and not feel repetitious or annoying.

Gameplay
Since this game is broken up into different sports, I will review each one separately. A common trait for all the games is they work best when you play standing up and perform the full motions. If you can’t stand the idea of getting off your couch and performing these motions, then chances are this game wont be very much fun for you. This is a sports simulator, not a couch potato simulator.

The beauty of all these games is that there is almost no learning curve. You don’t need to learn any button combinations, just simply swing the Wii Remote like you would with real sports equipment. I wish more games were like this, I can’t stand having to sit and learn the controls for a game for 10 minutes before I can even start playing.

TennisTennis is probably my most enjoyed game in this package. The game itself is very simple, your character will automatically run to the ball and all you have to worry about is swinging at the right time. It sounds simple and ridiculously easy, but gets harder as you complete more games. Like real tennis if you swing too early or late, then your ball will be sent out of bounds. Along with timing you must also decide the power of each shot by how hard you swing the Wii Remote. Then to top it off you can add spin to the ball in any direction. The Wii Remote responds well for the most part but sometimes it has trouble detecting the power you swing with. The computer isn’t too hard to beat or predict but playing other people is challenging.

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Think you can beat 2 Seraphs? Think agian!

This mode is an absolute riot with 4 people.

BaseballLike all the games in Wii Sports, Baseball is a simplified version of the sport. The only controllable aspects are batting and pitching. When the ball is hit, the longer it remains in play determines how far your base runners get. I appreciate that the fielders almost always catch fly balls and make some amazing plays. It requires each player to use a bit of strategy when batting rather than just swinging with mindless power.

Batting feels really good, and it takes a good amount of skill to hit a fastball. I play real life baseball on a regular basis and got the hang of things very fast, yet my mother still cannot time her swings to hit the ball. The game detects your swing angle and speed so with enough practice you can send the ball wherever you please.

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Guaranteed home run

Pitching is a bit of a disappointment. Considering all the different angles and spins the Wii Remote can detect, it doesn’t allow you to throw trick pitches naturally. Instead all trick pitches are done by holding down a button and doing the same generic throw animation.

BowlingBowling is a hard game for me to review. I say this because when I first started playing I felt it was the most responsive game in this package. I was so amazed at how responsive and realistic this game was to real bowling.

But then one day I started playing and couldn’t perform throws that I had before. For instance I’m right handed, so throwing a right curve is difficult. I remember one night I couldn’t get the ball to curve right no matter what I did (even making full exaggerated half circle twists with my left hand didn’t work). Then magically the next day it worked fine again. It has happened a few times since then and I’m unaware if it’s my fault, my controllers fault, or the games fault. It very well could be a problem on my end and not the games.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiSports-Bowling.jpg
Such an awesome sport

Regardless when it works the game is unbelievably responsive and single player wise is the one game that keeps me coming back.

GolfMuch like the real sport, Golf is a laid back and slow paced game. The controls are very sensitive and as a result make it difficult to judge the power of your swings. Thankfully you may take as many practice swings as you want to get a feel for your next shot.

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After about 100 practice swings im ready

The beginner courses are very fun, but as I moved up to the intermediate and expert courses, I just couldn’t keep up. Perhaps somebody who practices a lot would have better luck than me, I just don’t enjoy this sport enough to invest time in it.

BoxingThis mode requires the Nunchuk attachment. Initially I hated this game. The controls wouldn’t respond at all, and I vowed never to play it again. Recently I gave boxing another chance and found it wasn’t as bad as I had initially thought.

The key to success in boxing is to do fast quick jabs. Once I started performing my punches this way the game responded very well. It even detects if you meant to punch high or low. However I still don’t know how to pull off any special kinds of punches like hooks or uppercuts. I would think doing a hook or uppercut motion would behave accordingly, but they don’t.

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You mess with Seraph, he messes up your face

Boxing is a major work out though. Your average out of shape player such as myself will be panting for air after about 2-3 games.

Wii Sports also includes a Training feature. As this mode implies, it helps you train in different areas of each sport. If your playing single player this mode can be more fun than the actual games. Training basically presents you with multiple challenges to complete, and awards you medals depending on how well you perform. Challenges range from hitting targets on a wall in tennis to trying to knock down 100 pins in bowling.

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Pretty challenging but great practice

There is also a Fitness mode that runs you through some basic challenges designed to burn calories. I haven't spend any kind of time in this mode, so I can't comment.

Lasting Appeal
As a single player game, if you play games for long regular intervals then Wii Sports will not last long, I predict about 20 hours of fun max. However if you’re the type that enjoys instant quick games at the end of the day, this game can have incredible lasting appeal.

As a multiplayer game, Wii Sports has much longer legs. Since it appeals to all age groups, it is a fun game no matter who you need to entertain. I find myself loading it into my Wii time and time again to entertain guests.

Final Thoughts
Wii Sports teaches a very important lesson about video games. For years now the focus of video games has been better graphics, better story, more complexity/options, and overall bigger production values. Wii Sports takes a big step back from that line of thinking, and concentrates on what’s most important in a video game: Fun. And in this regard it succeeds where a lot of multi-million dollar budget games fail.

Unfortunately since its release Nintendo has not released much software like it, so people who really enjoy this game have nothing else to look forward to. A lot of 3rd parties try to capture the simplistic sports/mini-game feel of Wii Sports, but they all fail to capture its simplistic inviting style.

I can’t recommend this game by itself since it’s a console pack in. But if you enjoy sports and simple pick-up-and-play games, definitely place some weight on Wii Sports when considering your Wii purchase.

Gameplay Video
NONonRYdKG4

Joe Redifer
01-24-2008, 05:08 AM
Thorough review! I am considering reviewing the SNES sometime soon.


I've tried e-mailing myself porn pictures from my real e-mail account to the Wii e-mail thingy just to see if Nintendo spies on you. The e-mails never arrive. E-mails without porn pics attached arrive, and e-mails with pictures other than porn pics arrive, but the porn never arrives. That means Nintendo looks at all of your e-mail pictures. You can send cuss words and that amazes me since Nintendo lives in a dreamland where nobody is over 9 years old.

burpingcat
01-24-2008, 06:32 AM
#1
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiFrontTop.jpg

Did you edit this photo to make it look like it has a short depth of field? I just looked at it and then looked at your other photos and was like "what? did he use a different camera for this shot?"


#2

I think the VC prices are a tad steep. I personally have no problem with emulation and downloading ROMs (sorry!), but I also think the VC idea is pretty neat and welcome a service that provides accurate emulation, on a console, of games I haven't played.

But honestly, I just can't quite see myself paying $5 for an emulated NES game, or $8 for an emulated Genesis game, especially when they sell several emulated games in various "Classics Collection" discs for $20-30. I can buy Sega Genesis Collection right now for $20 new, and it comes with 28 Genesis games, plus extras! To get that many Genesis games on VC would cost you $224.

I think if they lowered the price across the board by just 2 dollars, it would all be at a good, tempting price. This is just my opinion, and I'm not trying to start an argument, but maybe others share it with me.

Joe Redifer
01-24-2008, 06:56 AM
Xbox Live Arcade prices are generally much lower than the Virtual Console. I remember getting Golden Axe for XBLA for $5 and it was the arcade version, but the VC wants $8 for the friggin' Genesis version! Yeah. Sign me up!

Seraph
01-24-2008, 04:55 PM
#1Did you edit this photo to make it look like it has a short depth of field?Nope, I used a special mode on my camera thats designed to take pictures of things up close. It starts bluring anything farther than a couple feet. I also had to take about 20+ pictures to get that perfect shot becuase it kept bluring sections of the Wii.#2I think the VC prices are a tad steep. I personally have no problem with emulation and downloading ROMs (sorry!), but I also think the VC idea is pretty neat and welcome a service that provides accurate emulation, on a console, of games I haven't played.Like I said in my review, I know alot of people think the prices are too much and I agree. But when it comes down to it and I really want to own and play one of my favorites agian, I feel spending about what lunch costs for one of my all time favorites, promising hours of fun, is better than sitting with my arms crossed in protest over a few dollars.

Its an especially hard mindset to get out of when you have been downloading "free" roms for years, I know first hand, I used to have thousands of ROMs.

Classic Collections are kind of a mixed bag. I see your point becuase some of them are an amazing deal. Others however have drawbacks. For example Sonic Mega Collection sells for about $20 now (launched at $50). The only games I care to play on that collection are Sonic 2&3. I dont want to play, and really didnt want to pay for the rest of the games (Sonic 1, 3D blast, mean bean machine). To buy just the two games I wanted would only cost me $16.

Then comes the much appreciated value of convienience. On a collection, everytime I want to play these classics, I need to eject whatever game I was playing last, put in Mega Collection, wait till the CD spins and boots up, wait through the non-skippable splash screens, navigate the animated game menus. On virtual console, I click the icon, click start, play. To me thats worth a few extra dollars, especially since it gets me to play my games more.

Its still your value perception, and there is nothing wrong with that. I'm just trying to give you some different ways to think about it.

burpingcat
01-24-2008, 08:10 PM
I feel spending about what lunch costs for one of my all time favorites, promising hours of fun, is better than sitting with my arms crossed in protest over a few dollars.

I'm not really saying the prices are ridiculous or outrageous, just not priced at something encouraging.

Its an especially hard mindset to get out of when you have been downloading "free" roms for years, I know first hand, I used to have thousands of ROMs.

I do continue to download ROMs, but I love buying and owning classic games, too. I treasure them. I don't treasure emulated virtual copies, though. Maybe if they included some interesting extras...

Classic Collections are kind of a mixed bag.

That is true, but VC's selection also tends to be that way, too. On the subject of the Sega Genesis Collection, I can personally recommend at least 18 of those games for being awesome, so $20 is a good deal.


The only games I care to play on that collection are Sonic 2&3.

What about Sonic 1 :donno:

Joe Redifer
01-24-2008, 08:18 PM
Sonic 1 is my fave. Sonic 2 is good as well. Sonic 3 + Knuckles are alright.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 08:39 PM
What about Sonic 1 :donno:I've never been a fan of Sonic 1. It just feels too slow to me, and it bugs me to no end when sonic does his "jump but didnt go into ball" thing at random and I die.

I absolutley loved the strides made in Sonic 2 and 3, placing those games above the great mario games in my book.

Joe Redifer
01-24-2008, 08:52 PM
Are you playing with a PAL Sonic 1 ROM or something? I've never seen Sonic jump and not go into a ball. Let's hear it for inaccurate emulation!

Paper exe
01-24-2008, 09:02 PM
I think megadrive games costing 800 points each is a huge rip off. Megadrive games are no way equal to SNES once and are usually smaller thus should be less. Like 200 points less. Just to show how right I always am and how I think almost exactly like Nintendo Megadrive games actually are sold for 600 points in Japan.

Seraph
01-24-2008, 09:16 PM
No I own the original cartridge. There are instances where he jumps and dosent go into his ball. Its isnt too common, happens probably once every 2-3 Zones, but seems to happen exactly when it would piss me off the most (no rings jumping into robotnik for the last hit).

That isnt the only reason why I dont like Sonic 1, just the first that came to mind.

Joe Redifer
01-24-2008, 09:23 PM
Does your cartridge say NOT FOR RESALE on it or something like that?

Soba
01-25-2008, 12:13 AM
and it bugs me to no end when sonic does his "jump but didnt go into ball" thing at random and I die.

Whaaaaat?

Seraph
01-25-2008, 12:17 AM
Maybe I just play it weird. I've gotten it to happen on my original cart, emulation, and Sonic MCollection. It usually happens when i try to do a short hop instead of a full jump. Sonic will jump, and float in the air in a slow walking animation.

I'll see if I can make a video for you guys.

EDIT: Made the video

The only surefire way I know how to trigger it is by this spring, so at least you can see what im talking about. It happens when Sonic is near other objects as well but I really dont want to drudge through Sonic 1 waiting for something else to trigger it. Just take my word for it, this happens when hes close to other objects/bosses/walls and has killed me on more than one occasion.

EWVmPYw4HX0

This isnt the only gripe I have with Sonic 1 though. I might review Sonic Mega Collection next to better explain myself.

Zachalmighty
01-26-2008, 06:38 PM
You kinda missed that spring multiple times. That is indeed sad.


Other then that I think this system reveiw was a waste of time. Instead of doing this I could list almost 100 things better you could have been doing including masturbating.

Joe Redifer
01-26-2008, 06:42 PM
Guess who earned themselves a one week ban! You've been asking for it for awhile, pal.

Joker
01-26-2008, 07:36 PM
Guess who earned themselves a one week ban! You've been asking for it for awhile, pal.

May I keep his shoes?

Shorty0061
01-26-2008, 08:35 PM
This thread was pretty helpful considering I just picked up a Wii on Thursday. Can anyone clear up a rumor I've heard a long time ago. I remember hearing leaving the Wiiconnect24 thing on all the time can damage the Wii overtime. Is that true?

Seraph
01-26-2008, 09:06 PM
I think its a rumor.

I have had my Wii Connect 24 on literally every day since I bought my Wii at launch. Still running fine.

Its up to you. With it on your Wii is still "on", and will be running warm all the time, but I dont see any harm in that. Its engineered to run this way. Personally I'm wouldn't be scared of it, if it does kill your system then it probably just pushed along the inevitable of a faulty system.

Joe Redifer
01-27-2008, 04:42 AM
The Wiiconnect damaged my graphics. I think if you turn on your Wii a lot, it will be fine. Otherwise it'll just sit there day after day with the graphics card on and no fan running. I guess it can put up with this for awhile, but not too long. Since I rarely turn my Wii on it was destined to happen.

Vegetto
01-27-2008, 05:40 PM
the graphics card runs while the wii connect is going?

why in the world would it need to be running?

Joe Redifer
01-27-2008, 08:50 PM
Because the network hardware is supposedly on that card. It's not actually running graphics, but that part of the Wii is what is on. The main CPU might run a bit as well just to put stuff like headlines, current weather and Miis into their place, which is really all Wiiconnect24 does. Or maybe the GPU actually does that (since a GPU is, after all, a CPU).

Vegetto
01-27-2008, 11:14 PM
thats weird... I guess wiis crapping out arent that common though

Joe Redifer
01-28-2008, 01:39 AM
I forgot to mention my dislike of the Wii Channels. Each downloaded game should not be it's own channel. The main screen is much too cluttered. There should be a single channel which says "Virtual Fucking Console" and you go in there and select your game from a neatly organized list (no clutter). At the very, very worst it should be a Genesis channel, a TurboGrafx016 channel, a Sega Master System channel, a Sega Saturn channel, a Sega Dreamcast channel and so on and so forth. The way they do it now is lame. They could have designed the Wii firmware soooooo much better than it is. I guess it didn't spend to much time in design, what with their crappy copying system and online play.

Seraph
01-30-2008, 07:29 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ET3D.png
Nintendo Wii
1-2 Players
Developer - Monster Games
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
I love the Excite series (Excite Bike, Excite Bike 64)

My Completion
All races passed in Super Excite

Story
None. Racing games don’t need stories.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

The graphics in Excite Truck are average. Seeing the game in motion looks a whole lot better than it does in stills.

The environments look pretty bad when your truck is standing still. If you stop and take a good look at the dirt or trees, you will notice they are made of very bland and stretched out textures. Luckily in this game there is never a reason to stop, and most of the time the environments will be blurring past the screen. The actual trucks look average as well. They all have your typical overly glossy glass look that all racing games have.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/et6.png
Bland by todays standards but not ugly

When you hit a boost (which happens a lot), it automatically blurs the outside edge of the screen which gives off a greater sense of speed. The draw distance is more than enough for this game, I never recall seeing the stage cutoff in the distance.

Bottom line is that the graphics aren’t anything breathtaking, but don’t look ugly.

Music
The music in this game isn’t anything to write home about. The opening/menu music is a pretty good guitar riff and really built my anticipation for the soundtrack when I first heard it. However the rest of the music was a big letdown compared to the opening theme.

A lot of it is very bland rock, and some of it gives me a headache.

I think a lot of time didn’t go into the music due to the support of custom soundtracks. This game supports MP3 playback via the Wii’s SD card slot. It’s a welcomed feature and solves the problem of the crummy default soundtrack. However it’s still no excuse for the original soundtrack.

Gameplay
It’s easy to write Excite Truck off based off its visuals and music. It certainly doesn’t look like anything special. It’s a game you really just need to play to understand. I have showed Excite Truck to many people who have never even heard of it before and the reaction is almost always “awesome”.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/et1.png
Trust me, you just gotta play this game to understand

Steering is done by tilting the Wii Remote like a steering wheel. At first it feels clunky because the natural reaction is to turn the Wii Remote a full quarter-circle which causes your truck to turn way too much. The next usual reaction is to compensate by quickly turning a full quarter circle in the opposite direction. I’ve seen so many people pick up the controller and start doing this.

The key to Excite Truck is to make slight and precise tilts. The controls are very responsive and once you get the hang of it becomes a very intuitive way to control your truck. This is especially true regarding tilting your truck forward and back to land jumps properly. It also helps if you steer as if your holding a normal steering wheel and not that of an 18wheeler.

There is a good selection of different cars in this game, 21 to be exact. Each car has its own stats and handling, and get this: 12 Custom Colors!!! The course selection is somewhat limited. There are only 6 areas in this game, and so you wont see a big diversity in enviornments during your races. There are about 3 tracks to each area for a total of 20 different courses.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/et2.png
Lots of trucks to choose from.

Gameplay is very fun. Instead of winning races based off your time or finishing rank, victory is based off your final score. You collect points by pulling off tricks as you race. Such tricks include catching major air, holding a drift for a long period of time, or smashing other trucks. While you do receive a large amount of points for winning the race, it isn’t required to finish first to win. It is a great change of pace from standard racing games as the focus becomes less about beating the other cars and more about doing the best possible run.

What makes this game even more awesome is its non-linear course setup. Since you drive trucks on dirt, it isn’t plagued by the traditional racing game rule of “go off the course, start losing speed”. This opens up a world of shortcuts and different routes you can take. If you think you can cut seconds off your lap by navigating through an offbeat path full of trees you can do it.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/et3.png
If your a pro like me you can navigate trees like this

Also along the tracks are Terraform items which instantly mutate the track in front of you. Some will create giant jumps and some will make lakes appear. What’s awesome is that you can Terraform ground out from under other Trucks and send them flying.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/et4.png
The trucks must have wings in this game

This game reminds me a lot of the Burnout series by EA. It’s heavy on speed and flying past dangerously close obstacles. It also puts a big emphasis on crashing into other cars.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/et5.png
This racer crashed to his death moments later

If you don’t want to take my word for it and are still skeptical, take a look at this thread. (http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=131451) It’s full of great testimonials of gamers who scoffed at this game only to later give it a chance and be blown away.

Along with the main game, there are side challenge modes. These modes include driving through gates, driving through rings, and my personal favorite, Crashing into other trucks.

Multiplayer

The 2 player mode is exactly what it says. 2 players, and only 2 players. There is no way to race with 2 players and the rest of the computer players. However despite the last of computer players it is still pretty fun to race agianst another person, especially when you start terraforming the ground out from under eachother. I’m disappointed there wasn’t any 4 player option as this game would be a blast at parties.

Lasting Appeal
It took me about 20 hours to get as far as I did. I have played this game on and off for over 40 hours though.

Because of its nature it has some good replay value. This is one game I will want to pick up off the shelf years from now and still enjoy.

Final Thoughts
Excite Truck isn’t a top of the line big budget racer. What it is however is a fun pick up and play game.

If you’re looking for a racer with tons of cars, options and tracks then this isn’t the game for you. However if your looking for an over the top arcade style racer, this game is a great buy. This game full of so many “holy $&#^#” moments, it gives off a great rush. It lives up to its Excite name and I encourage every Wii owner to at least rent it.

Gameplay Video
4Pb5HfLb9tM

Vegetto
01-30-2008, 07:32 PM
I actually LOVED just watching my brother play it, it was very entertaining to see (wrecks especially teehee)

but yeah, decent game IMO

Joe Redifer
01-30-2008, 07:51 PM
The graphics are below Gamecube quality, the music sucks (which can be remedied if you have an SD card, like you said) and the gameplay is atrocious. You have to be sitting right in front of your TV for it to work well. If you are sitting say, over to the right, your truck will constantly steer towards one direction. That's the problem I had. Forget playing it with friends. Using the WiiMote as a steering wheel is fine for an option, but it should be just that... an option, not required. I always forget how I am supposed to hold the controller, with the buttons towards the ceiling or the buttons towards me. I also forget how I am supposed to steer, a horizontal semi-circle or a vertical one. I often unknowingly switch between the two during gameplay since the controller isn't attached to anything to keep the steering radius and angle in place.

The Wii absolutely ruins this game. It would be much better being played with a REAL controller and not this crap. Any driving games that control using this method deserve to be anal raped and to die of AIDS.

Seraph
01-30-2008, 08:15 PM
You have to be sitting right in front of your TV for it to work well. If you are sitting say, over to the right, your truck will constantly steer towards one direction. That's the problem I had.I've never had this problem. Since the game dosent use the sensor bar at all it dosent matter where it is relative to your TV set. Ive taken it to a bachelor party and had two guys in opposite corners of the room play fine.

It is confusing at first how your supposed to hold the controller and steer. Alot of people think they have to hold it a special way. I simply hold the Wii Remote like I would any other controler, just tilt it left and right. It does work if you try it 18wheeler style, but dosent work very well.

Do it like this
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Hands.jpg

I dont think the game is broken on Wii in the least. Games like Sonic SoTR I would say definately, but not Excite Truck. After an hour of Excite I was performing everything I wanted to without thinking about it, after an hour of Sonic I was still getting frustrated at the controls.

Joe Redifer
01-30-2008, 09:37 PM
When I was at fellow forum member Vicviper's house the night he got his brand new Wii, I couldn't stop it from veering off to the right (or maybe it was to the left) no matter what I did or how I held the thing. Maybe his room is broken?

Excite Truck is leagues better than Sonic and His Rings, but I'd still enjoy the game much more if there was an option to use a real controller. I don't like thrusting it forward, either. So the Wii does indeed break this game for me. Also I do not hold a regular controller to where the buttons face straight up. That is unnatural. When I use a real controller, it faces diagonally up between me and the ceiling, mostly pointed towards my handsome face.

Seraph
01-30-2008, 10:07 PM
Weird about Vicviper's house, I assure you thats some weird black magic and not how the actual game works.

I hold my contoller angled as well. My picture just sucks becuase i drew it freehand with my mouse in MS Paint. Just hold it comfortably and tilt left or right. I encourage you to give the games controls another chance.Sonic and His RingsI lol'ed

Joe Redifer
01-30-2008, 10:49 PM
I will try, but if I don't like it you're looking at a month-long ban, buddy!!! :)

Vicviper
01-31-2008, 04:36 PM
Good review Seraph. I am one of the few people that like this game also. It's proof to me that a game with below average graphics and music can still be a kick in the ass to play. The control scheme works fine for me and I've had maybe one or two problems with imprecise controls. I think Joe Redifer was having a problem controlling the game because he was sitting directly under 4 halogen light bulbs. I'm not sure if this is still a problem with the remote communicating with the sensor or not.

murray
01-31-2008, 05:06 PM
I enjoyed it it too never had any control issues but i have wanted to pop my own eardrums with pencils in preference to listening to the shitty rock soundtrack

Seraph
02-01-2008, 04:25 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-2.png
Nintendo Gamecube
1 Player
Developer - Retro Studios
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I love the 2D Metroid series
-I hate console First Person Shooters

My Completion
Beaten with 64% completion

Story
The story is more than what most Metroid games were before it. It starts off almost the exact same way Super Metroid does. A distress beacon goes off at a space station and Samus Aran goes to check it out. Ridley (Samus arch nemesis) shows up, havoc ensues, the space station blows up and Samus goes off to chase Ridley. The Story then begins on planet Tallon IV, Samus looking for Ridley, learning of the planets history, and ultimately of the mega evil Metroid Prime herself.

I found myself not knowing what was going on story wise throughout the entire game. Simply going from objective to objective just because that’s what I was told to do rather than I knew why I was doing it.

A lot of this games story is fleshed out by scanning and reading different logs left behind. Personally I think it’s a great way to tell a story, reading the history and notes left by others, much like your typical Resident Evil game does. It made for a very exciting moment spending most of the game casually reading tidbits about the evilness of Metroid Prime and then finally discovering her lair.

The games’ ending is a complete let down. The ending and epilogue are over in a matter of minutes with no explanation and feels like a slap in the face for all that hard work. It ends with Samus just staring at the ruins she came from for a few seconds then flying off.

Graphics
The visuals in this game are pretty good by Gamecube standards. The environments are all very unique and lively. This game is also pays very close attention to detail. Just about everything in this game is covered with little lights or foliage. Walk through a bunch of steam and your visor will fog up, unleash a blast too close to the wall and you will see Samus’ eyes reflect in her visor. Just a ton of little things like that add up to a polished package.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-Norfair-1.png
My screengrabs dont do this place justice

The animations in this game are very stiff. Watching ships fly, watching Samus walk, it all just seems very amateur compared with the games of its time and today. It’s kind of hard to explain, but none of the movement looks “natural”.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-WaveBeam-1.png
This guy needs to work on his whole dying act, it looks very stiff and forced

This could just be my problem, but I found the game to be very dark. I had to turn the in-game brightness to full as well as my TV’s brightness up a few notches.

Music
The Metroid series is known for ambient music. As far as new music goes there are very few tracks.

It feels like almost all of the good tracks in this game are the remixed versions of music from Super Metroid. While it’s disappointing that the new stuff isn’t nearly as impressive as the tunes from old, the remixed versions of these songs are great. This game has some awesome new versions of awesome songs. And despite the blandness of most of the new music, 1-2 new tracks do stick out.

However the battle music gets extremely annoying. Every single time you encounter space pirates it keeps looping the same short theme. It was pretty cool the first time, but after about the 10th time of encountering space pirates I was turning the volume down.

Gameplay
The controls feel sluggish and in my opinion are horrible. It took me a couple hours just to get to the point where I wasn’t fumbling every time I needed to think fast. Instead of a free look dual analog setup like most console first person shooters, aiming and movement are both bound to the left analog stick. This proves to be very frustrating as you literally can’t perform tasks that have become standard fare in the FPS genre. I eventually got to the point where I could maneuver the way I wanted to, but it took almost half the game and it still feels extremely limiting.

Like with most Metroid games Samus starts off the adventure retaining none of the power ups she archived in the last game. The Metroid formula of exploration, get new ability, explore new areas with new ability is still intact. That’s pretty much the summary of how the entire game flows up until the end.

The level design is brilliant. I have never seen a First Person Shooter with this level of platforming and room design. This game does an excellent job of recreating the world of Metroid in 3D. Samus can also roll into her trademark Morphball which sends the game into a 3rd person perspective and makes for some very well thought out puzzles.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-SpiderBall-1.png
I always wonder what Samus feels like in there

This game is fairly difficult, even on the easiest setting. Every boss in the game has some sort of weak point or trick to figure out. By the time I figured out what the trick was, how to take the boss down, and then did it I was almost dead. I finished too many boss fights on my very last energy tank.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-SHOOP-1.png
SHOOP DA WHOOP!

Loading times in this game are for the most part very well hidden. When loading a new area the game usually plays some sort of cut scene to hide the fact that it’s loading. It’s not perfect though. If you try to open a door before the next area is fully loaded, the door just remains shut until the area is done. This can take up to 10 seconds meanwhile leaving you just sitting staring at the door. It proves to be very problematic when you are trying to escape away from enemies, causing you to basically run yourself into a corner.

The map system is confusing and annoying. Hitting Z at any time will bring up a map that you can shift and rotate to figure out where you need to go next. Due to the nature of how complex the 3D levels are, some rooms can be very confusing to try and make sense of. The other VERY annoying part about the map is scrolling through it. No matter how you position the map to get a clear view, the minute you let go of the control stick it snaps to the nearest room. It makes it very difficult to navigate in huge rooms because if you try to stop the screen on a certain section of doors, it snaps it back to the center of that room.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-Map-1.png
I am frustrated everytime I see this

Despite all the strikes this game has against it (especially the controls), it still manages to be a good game. The Metroid formula is always fun and there is barley a dull moment as you get a new ability to play with every 10-20 minutes. The bosses while hard are very interesting and intense. This game is full of tons of nooks and crannies to explore, with hidden items and routes all over. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how much you like to go out of your way to explore. This means that you have to use Samus's scan visor to scan a billion things, which I found extreemly annoying.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime-Scan-1.png
I did this at least 5 billion times

On a final game play note, this game follows a trend that a lot of games do nowadays that pisses me off to no end. Unless you beat this game with 100%, meaning you took extra hours to track down every single nook and cranny, you don’t get to see the “true ending”. It’s even worse in Metroid Prime’s case because the true ending is what links this game to its sequel. Nothing is worse than riding a story all the way to its end only to be told you can’t read the last page.

Lasting Appeal
My game saves total time locked in at 12 hours. Since then I have had no desire to go replay this game ever again. If you’re a completionist, then you will get many more hours out of this game than I did.

Final Thoughts
It’s hard to say how others will enjoy this game because I cannot stand the controls. I know some people that give this game endless praise so maybe the controls aren’t as big a deal to others.

If you’re a fan of the FPS genre and are looking for a very fun adventure then pick this game up now. It is by far my favorite analog stick based FPS game.

Gameplay Video
Video is high quality, if its choppy pause it and let it load
fx0gqCllnl0

Vegetto
02-01-2008, 04:55 AM
oh yeah! I forgot I can play this now that I have my own wii

cant wait

Joe Redifer
02-01-2008, 05:45 AM
I recognize that Metroid Prime is a well designed game, but I just can't deal with it because I played through Metroid Prime 3 first. After beating Prime 3, I tried part 1. The first strike against the game is the controls. I just can't handle a game like this in any other way except for the way it was done on the Wii. Another thing that bothered me is that Prime 3 is restricted to the 4:3 aspect ratio and everything feels insanely claustrophobic (mainly the HUD). It's like going from a big helmet with lots of breathing room to one wrapped skin tight to your face. If these two issues were remedied, I'd happily play further into the game. I got kind of far in it, but it just wasn't anywhere near as fun nor as intuitive as Metroid Prime 3 (which anal rapes part 1 and 2 without any lube and doesn't call the next morning).

Metroid Prime 3 rules! It is the best. Anyone who says differently is wrong. But Metroid Prime 1 is still better than Halo. Or Half Life. Or Bioshock. I could go on.

Seraph
02-01-2008, 06:23 AM
Yeah I actually started playing the Metroid Prime series because I wanted to play 3 and felt I should start where the trilogy starts. I had tried to play the first Prime when it was released, but it was just too painful (controls).

I'm playing Metroid Prime 3 right now and its fantastic. I'm reviewing Metroid Prime 2 next so that when I beat with 3 I can review it while its still fresh.

Alexander
02-01-2008, 09:40 AM
Dude, that's the ONE good Wii game with well-implemented controls, and you're knocking it in that department? Dude.

Seraph
02-01-2008, 05:17 PM
What are you talking about? Did you forget to look at my review before you commented to see its on Metroid Prime and not Metroid Prime 3? I have nothing but praise for MP3's controls.

Alexander
02-01-2008, 06:24 PM
What are you talking about? Did you forget to look at my review before you commented to see its on Metroid Prime and not Metroid Prime 3? I have nothing but praise for MP3's controls.

Oh. Nice.

Thought you were doing Wii games.

Seraph
02-01-2008, 06:31 PM
Yeah mostly Wii, but some GC games will show up as they are backwards compatible. I plan to start doing DS games as soon as I can figure out a good way to take screenshots.

I figured it wasnt proper to jump into a review of the 3rd game without telling my thoughts of its two prequels.

Joe Redifer
02-01-2008, 08:06 PM
What are you using to edit the video?

Seraph
02-01-2008, 08:08 PM
Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. I get a free copy of all of Adobe's software through my school. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Seraph
02-01-2008, 09:37 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-2.png
Nintendo Gamecube
1-4 Players
Developer - Retro Studios
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I love the Metroid series
-I liked Metroid Prime
-I hate console First Person Shooters

My Completion
Beaten with 79% completion

Story
Hot off the trail of where the first Metroid Prime ended, Samus now finds herself going to the new planet Aether. I was never able to figure out why you were on this planet in the first place, my guess it to chase Dark Samus who escaped from you in the first game (and for the sake of the spoiler phobic, if you don’t have some understanding who dark Samus is you shouldnt be playing this sequel, so I’m not going to spoiler tag her). You land on this planet and find yourself stuck and without all your powers……… again. The only way to leave is to help the people of this planet beat the evil darkness and save the day.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-Luminoth-1.png
These are the things your forced to help

This entire game feels like a side story more than anything else. As a whole it really has nothing to do with the Metroid saga or the Prime trilogy for that matter. After completing the whole game I think you can skip it and still enjoy Metroid Prime 3.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-Scan-1.png
Much of the games story is still told through reading scans

The ending of this game is much better than the firsts. While still on the short side it leaves you feeling pretty satisfied for all your hard work.

Graphics
There are some pretty amazing effects in this game. The game is full of even sharper textures and more detail than the first Metroid Prime making this is easily one of Gamecube’s sharpest looking games. The animation is a lot better than the first game as well, Samus actually walks and moves like a real person now. The character models and designs are much improved, this game also has Samus’ coolest looking suit in the entire series.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-Sky-1.png
Some parts of the game look amazing

The environments in this game are very bland. Since half the game takes place in the dark world, your spent cruising half the game in bland purple environments that all look the same. Purple room after purple room, it begins to all look the same. It’s a shame because the non-dark worlds look great.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-Lasers-1.png
Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple Purple

Music
The music in this game suffers the exact same problem as the first. All the new tracks written for this game are generic and pretty boring, and the only good tracks are the remixed Super Metroid themes. I absolutely love the remix of Maridia’s theme in this game, as it is one of my all time favorite Metroid themes.

One of the new tracks is annoying as heck. It has a loud overbearing metal clang throughout the entire track, as if somebody was hitting two steel pipes together right next to your ear. It consequently made that area of the game very un-enjoyable.

Gameplay
The controls to this game are identical to that of its predecessor. That means they are horrible. So I don’t repeat myself over the same control method, this is an excerpt from my Metroid Prime review.
The controls feel sluggish and in my opinion are horrible. It took me a couple hours just to get to the point where I wasn’t fumbling every time I needed to think fast. Instead of a free look dual analog setup like most console first person shooters, aiming and movement are both bound to the left analog stick. This proves to be very frustrating as you literally can’t perform tasks that have become standard fare in the FPS genre. I eventually got to the point where I could maneuver the way I wanted to, but it took almost half the game and it still feels extremely limiting.
The difference with this game was by the time I started it I was already used to the controls. Still didn’t change them from feeling extremely limiting.

Many of the problems that plagued the first game are still around. The map is still confusing (even more so) and still does the annoying snap thing, the doors still take a while to open after you shoot them. It’s a shame none of this was fixed up.

If the first game was considered difficult, this game is a complete nightmare. Some of the bosses in this game I had to redo 6-7 times before I finally conquered them. They just launch attacks at you that are nearly impossible to avoid and take off way too much health. It also doesn’t help that this games energy tank upgrades are very well hidden resulting in a much lower health bar for most of the game. I don’t mind harder difficulty, but make it an option to play balls to the wall hard or not.

This games upgrade system isn’t nearly as fun as the first primes and makes for an uninteresting game. Some genius over at Retro Studios decided to implement an ammo system for all of Samus’ beams. Yes that’s right ammo. Gone are the days of getting a new beam and then enjoying the hell out of blasting everything in sight with it. You now have to worry about using your beams as to not use up all your ammo, and because of this you’re stuck using the lame old power beam for most of the game. The two new visors you get are all but useless, only used in rare instances.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-Screw-1.png
The famed Screw Attack makes its return. Not nearly as cool as the 2D ones.

The level design has taken a turn for the worse. There are still some great rooms and good platforming puzzles (especially some awesome Morphball puzzles) but as a whole now everything it too complex and too clustered. I found myself many times looking at the map to find where I wanted to go, walking in that direction only to check the map again and find I had accidentally taken a wrong turn somewhere and was completely off track.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime2-Temple-1.png
I've gotten so disorientated in this room countless times

At the very end of the game before you can fight the last boss you must go on a fetch quest looking for 9 different keys. This part of the game made me stop playing for weeks. Unlike the first Metroid Primes end game fetch quest, this game doesn’t tell you where they keys are. On top of that, the keys are invisible and you need to use a special visor to see them that turns everything grey and makes it near impossible to navigate around. Basically unless you enjoy the idea of spending hours upon hours scanning every single room in the game, you will never beat it. I had to resort to using Gamefaqs, and even when I did it was hard to find the invisible keys in the rooms they were supposed to be in. In my opinion this stupid search quest ruins the end of the game.

And just like the first game, unless you beat this one with 100% items you don’t get to see the true ending that links it to Metroid Prime 3. Note to game developers, make the reward for fully completing a game non-story related, that way those of us who aren’t psycho completionists can see the whole story too.

Multiplayer
This game has a multiplayer death match mode. My time playing it is very brief and as a whole I did not find it enjoyable. I played it for a total of 20 minutes before I called it quits.

Lasting Appeal
My final time clocked in at 15 hours. This game has almost no replay value as the combat was not fun enough to keep you coming back. If you’re a completionist, then it will add many more hours to this game.

Final Thoughts
This is the worst game in the Metroid Prime trilogy. It doesn’t fix any of the problems of the first game, and adds a ton of new ones. While the first game was fun despite all its flaws, and this one does have its moments, it felt like a chore the most of the way through. If you can’t tell from my review, almost every aspect of this game is worse than the first one. It doesn’t come close to matching the greatness of Metroid Prime.

If you’re a fan of Metroid Prime, my advice is to rent or pay budget price for this game. If you want to skip it and jump straight into the much improved Metroid Prime 3, it is completely viable as this game doesn’t even have an impact on the trilogy.

Gameplay Video
Video is high quality, if its choppy pause it and let it load
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Mistatee
02-02-2008, 05:14 PM
I must say, your reviews are quite awesome.

Joe Redifer
02-04-2008, 05:54 AM
OK I tried more of Excite Truck and I still do not like. The controls just aren't very accurate. Also, I don't like having to earn style points in order to advance in every single race. If I wanted to play a game where all I do is tricks, I'd play Tony Hawk.

Seraph
02-04-2008, 06:03 AM
So am I looking at a full month ban or can I get off based on good behavior?

Joe Redifer
02-04-2008, 06:46 AM
If I agree with your next review, I'll let it slide.

Reko8
02-04-2008, 01:20 PM
I liked Excite Truck too, but I dont think it took me 20 hours. Don't think it's worth $50, but when it's around $20 is a good buy and I'm not a huge racing fan. I got it for 2500 Dave and Buster tickets so I was happy

Seraph
02-15-2008, 04:31 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime3-2.png
Nintendo Wii
1 Player
Developer - Retro Studios
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I love the Metroid series
-I liked Metroid Prime but not MP2
-I hate console First Person Shooters

My Completion
Beaten with 73% completion

Story
Much to my dismay, I discovered you really don’t need to play the previous two Prime games to understand this game. So if you’re worried about jumping in with the 3rd game in this trilogy you won’t be lost. The story this time around is much more prevalent that the previous games in the series. Unlike the other two Prime games, in this game I knew what I was doing and why at all times. To me this is a big improvement as it felt like I had a sense of purpose outside of just “beating it”.

A big addition to the series is voice acting. Samus still remains the silent protagonist, but the people/computers she interacts with talk up a storm. Having the storyline told this way makes the game feel less like a Metroid title and more like your average story driven FPS. I’m not saying its worse, but it’s certainly different than Metroid’s usual isolation theme.

I didn’t think the story itself was too bad. Dark Samus is back and badder than ever. The game even makes some references that link to future titles in the Metroid timeline. While the storyline isn’t going to win any awards for writing or execution, it is still pretty interesting up to the end.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

In my opinion as of right now (02/14/08) Metroid Prime 3 has the best looking graphics on the Wii. It is still full of excessive attention to detail that the previous 2 Prime games were known for, even more so. On top of that the Retro Studios has made brilliant work of bloom lighting. Everything in this game is covered in bloom lighting and it makes for some simply breathtaking rooms.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/mp31.png
This game litereally glows

The games choreography is also vastly improved and Samus and crew now move like real people. None of the movement in this game looks stiff or forced and looking back at the first Prime, they have come a long way. The character models however are a mixed bag. Samus looks better than ever, her model is much more improved over Prime 2’s and she now looks closer to how she does in Smash Bros Brawl. Although some character models look pretty bad, the Army General in particular, and remind me of Sega Dreamcast level visuals.

The environments in this game are like a giant breath of fresh air coming from Prime 2’s. Fiery lava areas, frosty artic areas, metallic spaceships. Every area is different and done very well from an artistic standpoint.

Music
The music in this game is the worst in the series. The opening title screen music is the only track in the entire game that stood out to me. Whereas the previous two Prime games at least had remixed Super Metroid tracks to liven things up, this game has none.

I just can’t remember a single piece of music from this game. I understand the game is going for an atmospheric feel but even ambience can have melody if done right.

Gameplay
Wow. It’s ironic that my biggest complaint with the first two Prime games was the controls because this game has pulled a complete 180 in this regard. In the old games controlling a FPS with one analog stick felt horrible. The controls in Metroid Prime 3 are about as close as perfect as you can get. It’s almost as if the Wii Remote + Nunchuk combo was designed for this game.

There are different control modes available in the options menu. Each method changes the size of the invisible bounding box that controls how close the cursor can be towards the edge of the screen until the viewpoint will start turning. I played through the entire game on the Advanced mode, the method that offers no bounding box. This took a while to get used to because unless you keep the pointer perfectly center the camera will always be slightly moving. At first this was frustrating because every time I stopped to look at something the camera would slowly move to the left or right. However the adjustment period was well worth it as advanced mode allowed me to run-and-gun like a pro.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime3-Red-1.png
Finally easy looking around in Metroid Prime

The only complaint I can think of regarding the controls is the rare instances when you must perform a push/pull action with the Wii Remote. It could just be my personal setup, but I have never found push/pull functionality to work well and here it’s no different.

Regardless, the controls are THE reason this game is so enjoyable. In the previous Prime games if I didn’t have to kill a pack of enemies, I would save myself the work and run past. In this game I found myself shooting anything that moved. The combat is just a riot of fun. As a big fan of FPS games on the PC I will make a bold statement: FPS’s with the Wii Remote in this game are more fun than Keyboard/Mouse. Not as accurate, but more fun.

So how is the actual game? I am glad to say the awesome control method is complemented by an awesomely designed game.

It seems Samus finally smartened up in this game, you don’t throw away or lose all your powers at the beginning. Granted you throw away some of them like Boost Ball, but you don’t have to painfully go through the process of re-getting simple things like Morph Ball and double jump. However this in turn makes the upgrades you do get way less exciting. There aren’t many new or fresh upgrades in this game that weren’t previously in the other two primes, which is disappointing. Half the upgrades you do get are of the 1-2 time use category and will only be used to open a new door. You get upgrades for Samus’s ship too, but I have yet to figure out what some of them do (like missile expansions).

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime3-MorphBall-1.png
The Morph Ball puzzles are as clever as ever

This game does not start off promising. The opening scene is much like that of Xbox franchise Halo’s. You have tons of goofy looking space marines talking to you as they walk you through the controls. You then meet some army general who briefs you and a bunch of uninspired American looking bounty hunters of your mission. This opening just gives the impression of “I don’t want Halo I want Metroid”. Luckily you don’t have to deal with the space marines much thought the game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime3-Halo-1.png
Yes sir Master Chief sir

During the game you will be awarded Extras credits for performing tasks. The first time it happened I started laughing as it’s an obvious ripoff/mockery of Xbox 360’s Achievement system. The credits you earn can then be used in the games extras menu to unlock stuff. None of the things you unlock pertain to the actual game, they are more like DVD bonus features. I thought most of them were pretty worthless like Art (boring) and Music (what music? lol), but one of them was really neat. You can unlock a screenshot tool that allows you to take a snapshot of the screen anytime during Gameplay. It then sends this screenshot to your Wii Message Board and can be viewed from there. It’s a cool way to not only save screenshots of your favorite moments but also send them to friends. Unfortunatly this cool screenshot tool can only be bought with Friend Vouchers. To get Friend Vouchers you need to know friends who own this game and have them send you some over the internet.

Anytime during Gameplay you can hold down the + button and enter Hyper Mode. In this mode you use your life energy to fire out Phazon blasts that kill anything in a few hits. Stay in this mode for more than a few seconds and you become corrupted which will constantly suck life to fill your Phazon ammo. If you allow the bar to overflow this way you die, so when corrupted you must rapidly fire all your ammo out to exit hyper mode, therefore depleting an entire energy tank. It makes for a really cool element and can be very helpful in the games tight spots.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime3-Hyper-1.png
Samus has several Hyper Mode powers

Unlike previous Metroid games which encourage exploration to the point of cluelessness, this game is pretty straight forward. As soon as you finish one objective you are told what the next one should be and given directions on where to find it. You are basically directed from point A to point B throughout the entire game, which was kind of nice for a change since I never once had to look at an FAQ. There is even a fetch quest at the very end like the other Primes, but this one helps you out a bit and isn’t frustrating.

The games difficulty is set just right. The bosses provide a good amount of challenge. The difficulty is on par with the first Metroid Prime, and a lot easier than the frustrating Prime 2.

Some of the flaws that have plagued the Prime series are back. The doors still do not open immediately due to slow loading, and is now even more prevalent. There are a few doors in the game that are just out of control ridiculous, taking up to 10 seconds to open. I lost an entire health tank sitting and waiting for a door to open while being barraged from behind. The map screen still snaps to the nearest highlighted area, making it impossible to zoom in on a specific section of a room. However since the maps aren’t nearly as complex this problem isn’t as bad.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MetroidPrime3-Snow-1.png
Start shooting doors this far away, they could be halfway loaded when you reach them

And again, for the third time, this game pulls the true ending 100% only crap. I finished with 73% completion only to realize I don’t get to see the rest of the story. Granted in this game it’s not nearly as big a deal as the other 2 because it’s the end of the trilogy, but its still just bad design. I miss the days when the reward was Samus in a bikini instead.

Lasting Appeal
My final game clocked in at 14 hours. I didn’t take the time to search every nook and cranny, but I probably will when I have more time. This game was so fun to play I was disappointed when it was over and can see myself replaying it in the future on a harder difficulty.

Completionists will get many more hours out of the title as there is a lot to discover.

Final Thoughts
You don’t need to play the previous games in the series to enjoy this one. I think this is hands down the best game in the trilogy.

This is one of the few games that I will say every Wii owner needs to play, it’s that good. It’s one of those system seller games that justify a console purchase. Forget what other FPS's you have played on Wii, and go play this game.

Gameplay Video
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Joe Redifer
02-15-2008, 06:56 AM
This game kicks ass. I got about as much completion % as you I think, maybe more. I honestly can't remember without checking. Anyway the 100% ending which I saw somewhere is only an extra clip of nothing. The ending is completely there, it's just the extra nothings that are added, like Samus looking at something nobody cares about. Wheee!!

What's with the normal shitty-quality Youtube video?
EDIT: Nevermind. Saw the news. Yay shitty!!

Seraph
02-15-2008, 09:52 PM
Anyway the 100% ending which I saw somewhere is only an extra clip of nothing. The ending is completely there, it's just the extra nothings that are added, like Samus looking at something nobody cares about. Wheee!!Yeah its not very bad in this game, I just dont like it on a matter of principles. It was horrible in the first 2 games becuase the secret ending is what linked them together.

And yeah, Youtube got smart. Quite a shame and I'm hoping that highquality thing rings true. But I figure blurry garbage video is better than no video.

SuperAngelo64
02-16-2008, 01:28 PM
I'm not going to lie, Metroid Prime 3 will probably be the only Metroid Prime game I play. Controls seem alot better than the other two.

Also, Sylux ftw. :]

murray
02-16-2008, 01:35 PM
Good review seraph, even if you dont understand what irony is :wink:, imo MP3 is the best game on Wii.

Seraph
02-22-2008, 04:32 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-1.png
Nintendo Wii
1-2 Players
Developer - Sega Studio USA
Publisher - Sega

My Bias
-Was really hyped over trying Nights (never played Saturn version)

My Completion
Both children beaten with true ending unlocked

Story
Nights JoD is about two troubled British kids (Will and Helen) who journey to the land of dreams in their sleep. It’s there they meet with NiGHTS and try to save the dream world from evil nightmares.

The whole story comes off as childish. Were not talking “fun for the family” childish like your average Disney movie, were talking morning pre-school cartoon childish. There were many points that I felt embarrassed to play this game.

Most of the plot is the tried and true textbook childhood story. Main villain sends off minions to stop heroes, minions fail and come back saying “forgive me master”. This repeats until the villain finally deals with things himself, spouting lines like “So be it, your fate is sealed”. It’s not to be taken too seriously but if you view the story for what it is, directed at children, then it can still be enjoyable. Having not experienced a Nights game before, NiGHTS (the actual purple jesters name is spelt like this) is a very lively character. In this game most of the characters come off as bland but NiGHTS and Reala really stand out.

However if there is one thing Sega did right it’s the ending. I wont spoil it but it gives off that awesome “hell yes” feeling that the end of the Sonic Adventure games do. Being the emotional wuss that I am, I got all watery eyed.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

This game looks like a pretty Dreamcast game. The environments and the character models have a very blocky look and some pretty muddy textures. If this is supposed to be one of Sega’s big name games, then it’s a disappointment in this regard. It is nowhere near the graphical polish of games like Mario Galaxy.

Despite that it’s not up to par on a technical level, the art and design is very good. Areas don’t end up looking ugly because they are full of some great color work and dazzling effects. In addition to that, gameplay is made up mostly of fast constantly moving scenes which helps hide the blocky nature of everything.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-Waterfall-1.png
Really blocky but still pretty

During cut scenes and occasionally during gameplay the frame rate will drop to disgusting levels. I have no idea why this happens because the game certainly isn’t pushing large polygonal counts. It comes off looking sloppy and like an unfinished project.

Music
Fan-freaking-tastic. This is definitely one of the best game soundtracks this generation. Sega has a reputation for making great game soundtracks and they did not slack off with Nights.

Each Nightopia world has a theme and every stage in the world remixes the theme a different way. So not only do you have a bunch of good BGM’s you get different versions of each one (Violin, Piano). The Nights theme is remixed a lot, but that’s totally acceptable as its one of the best video game themes of all time.

The soundtrack gives this game a lot of feeling or what I like to call “soul”. Many games nowadays feel empty but the wonderful soundtrack in Nights brings it to life. The music literally fuels this game and is one of the few soundtracks I want to buy from 2007.

Gameplay
Nights JoD at its core are a score attack game. The main game puts you in control of NiGHTS as he/she fly’s along a set path through the stage. The objective is to fly through the stage navigating rings (much like Star Fox) and collecting blue spheres to try and get the highest score possible.

The controls for this game are both fine and a disappointment. Let’s get the disappointment out of the way. As stated above in my bias, I was very hyped for this game. Pre-release Sega representatives kept saying that the reason Nights was finally making a re-appearance was because the Wii Remote was the kind of innovative control scheme they had been waiting for. But then the game came out and the Wii controls are absolutely terrible. Do yourself a favor and don’t try the Wii controls for this game.

On the other hand, connecting the Nunchuk and controlling the traditional way works great. Flying Nights around feels very tight and I was never frustrated with the controls using this method.

This isn’t a very hard game. The only times I died or got a bad score was because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing (which happens a lot). However getting A grades on each stage is a tough task that requires a lot of practice by repetition.

The flying missions of Nights JoD are where the fun lies and what there should have been more of. You always start these modes off playing as one of the kids, which I don’t understand at all. There is nothing to do when you’re the kid and the container to transform into NiGHTS is always right in front of you. Once you transform into NiGHTS the fun begins. You guide him/her down a set 2D path and try to achieve the highest score possible while chasing this bird for its key to end the level. Since time is one of the things that affect your score it’s important to catch the bird fast. After each Ring/Sphere you collect, if you get to another one within 1-2 seconds it creates a chain combo. The higher your chains, the higher your score. A lot of the fun involves trying to figure out how to keep your chain going.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-Rings-1.png
Best part of the game

Of course NiGHTS has some special abilities to help make chains easier to get. NiIGHTS can Drill Dash which makes him/her fly at about twice the speed but he/she’s unable to turn while doing so. At anytime you may Paraloop (just fly in a loop) and it will collect everything contained within that loop. There are also different masks NiGHTS can put on using the D-pad that will transform him/her into different things. These transformations have different strengths and weaknesses. For instance the Dolphin mask lets you swim but is terrible in the air and the Rocket mask lets you dash at high speeds but is horrible at turning.

At the end of each flying mission there is a boss. Some of the bosses are pretty clever and others are very frustrating. However once you figure out how to beat them they make a nice addition to the end of a flying run.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-Boss-1.png
Most pathetic boss ever

When you get into the groove of these flying missions, start forming your own strategies for high-scores and pulling things off with expert precision this game is VERY fun. If the entire game was made up of nothing but these flying score attack missions it would be one of my favorite games on Wii.

The key word there is “if”. Unfortunately in typical modern Sega fashion they throw in a ton of forced, not-fun things to drag their great game down.

The first of which are the on foot missions with the Kids. These missions feel clunky, needless and I question how much time was even spent creating them. Even now after beating the entire game I don’t understand what the real point of them was. You play as either Will or Helen and simply have to walk them from point A to point B. There are barley any enemies across the way, and the few that there are cant even kill you (just knock 5 seconds off your time when you get hit). And don’t confuse this platforming with great platformers like Mario Galaxy, the Kids walk and jump stiffer than a character from Grand Theft Auto 3.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-Kids-1.png
Oh please make it stop

Then there are the vehicle missions….. Remember when I said there were parts of this game that made me feel embarrassed to be playing it? These are it. First please look at this picture.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-Stupid-1.png
Words cannot express my disgust

That is not a joke, and yes NiGHTS really does turn himself into vehicles. Let me quote this picture for emphasis: “Use Coaster NiGHTS to chase after the Nightopians on the roller coaster!” Read that and think about it for a second. Have some dignity Sega. To go along with how retarded it all is, these modes don’t play very well either.

Nights JoD is full of fully voiced cut scenes. For some reason everyone in this game is British, which isn’t a problem I just found it strange. There are rumors circulating around this game that these cut scenes aren’t skippable and that’s partially correct. You can’t skip them the very first time you see them, but after completing the associated mission you can replay the stages without having to watch cut scenes again. The voice acting quality in these cut scenes depends on who’s talking. NiGHTS and Reala both sound pretty good, but the two kids sound horrible and their accents sound fake. The motion and chorography during these scenes is pretty bad. For instance the kids will stand 6 feet away from each other and make huge over-the-head arching waves goodbye as if they were 40 feet away.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/NightsJoD-Cutscene-1.png
Nights JoD: Serious Business

Remember Chaos in the Sonic Adventure games? This game has a similar mode where you take care of Nightopians. This one is even harder to figure out though, and I cared even less about it than I did for Chaos so I can’t tell you much about this mode. You will have to read some other review. I also can’t tell you anything about the games online modes since it seems I’m the only soul on the planet that bought this fun game.

However I dont want to end my gameplay impressions on a bad note as I feel it would do this game a diservice. It needs to be said agian that the flying missions in this game are really fun and I feel make the game worthwhile..

Lasting Appeal
It takes about 6 hours to beat both sides of the game. Nights is a score attack game so much of the replay value consists of going back and redoing stages for a better score.

Final Thoughts
Nights Journey of Dreams reminds me of most Sega games as of late. It’s like Sega paints beautiful masterpieces then punches holes straight through them.

This game isn’t for everyone and is definitely a niche game. If this games concept doesn’t interest you then chances are you won’t enjoy it. Unless you’re really hooked on the idea, rent this first. Personally I thought it was fun and worth the experience.

Gameplay Video
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Mistatee
02-22-2008, 05:12 AM
This is why not even a Panzer Dragoon Saga sequel can save Sega. They seem to screw everything up now. Though I am not implying that Nights on the Saturn was anywhere near the level of PDS.

Seraph
02-22-2008, 05:23 AM
Well in Segas defense, like I stated in my review the flying sections of game are really fun. Its just a shame you need to weed through so many un-fun parts to enjoy them.

Also, video finally finished and added to the review.

Vicviper
02-22-2008, 12:06 PM
Good review Seraph.

You're right that the flying sequences are the best part of the game. Fairly enjoyable. It seems a lot easier to get a good score on a level in the Wii game compared to the Saturn game which graded much more harsh. I'm using the classic controller and it feels good and I typically have no problems with the control.
I still haven't figured out exactly what the point of "My Dream" is. I do know that it is the only part of the game that uses real time weather. I was in My Dream when it was snowing outside and it was snowing in the game. I don't understand how that area gets populated with items. Do you know Seraph?

I bought this game used. After reading all the reviews and hearing all the hate on different forums I knew it wouldn't be long before a used version showed up at a local store. I'm not talking about Gamestop used where they hack a lousy $5 off but a true local game store that had it for $20 less then the new price. Anyways that's neither here nor there.

Seraph
02-22-2008, 01:40 PM
I still haven't figured out exactly what the point of "My Dream" is. I do know that it is the only part of the game that uses real time weather. I was in My Dream when it was snowing outside and it was snowing in the game. I don't understand how that area gets populated with items. Do you know Seraph?It looks to me like a virtual pet simulator. Much like the Chao garden in the Sonic Adventure games. I also dont understand how it gets populated with items nor if there was any point to it outside of being a pet sim. With so many games to play, it didnt look worth my time.

I did go into the myDream world on christmas day and it played the Christmas Nights theme so that was cool.

burpingcat
02-22-2008, 03:54 PM
why oh WHY does NiGHTS talk in this game?! Shut up! You and Reala were far more endearing and enigmatic when you were mutes!


Also, as for the on-foot roaming, I think I can see why they wanted to put more of that in the sequel. In the original, they made all these levels that looked like they put some work into designing them, but the average player just flies right past them as NiGHTS. I know you have to walk on foot if you run out of time, but that's often not the case.

I guess they wanted to immerse players in the levels more and heighten the feeling of flying by grounding players for longer periods of time. But I've heard a lot of people complain about the on-foot stuff in this game, so I guess there is a disparity between what sounds ideal and how it actually works in a real game. I haven't played this sequel, so I dunno.


ALSO, this game seems more successful as a sequel to NiGHTS than most of the Sonic sequels in recent times. I wish Sonic Team could realize that nonstop speedruns and level gimmicks are a good thing for NiGHTS, not for Sonic.

SuperAngelo64
02-22-2008, 07:13 PM
I've yet to play this game but I really want to get my hands on it eventually.

I tend to be overly optimistic about games lately and it seems that flaws tend to pass under my radar pretty easily. I have a feeling I'll really enjoy NiGHTS without getting caught up in any of the flaws along the way.

The gameplay videos look awesome, even the on-foot portions don't look half as grueling as people say they are.

The only thing I can really vouch for here is the awesome soundtrack, which I'm actually listening to as I type this (I've been listening to one track for the past three days. Obsessive much?).

Things that are just plain silly I tend to make light of. Like when you go see a movie like "Domino" and feel like you got your money's worth because you laughed at how ridiculous it was. I have a feeling that's how parts of the game like 'Coaster NiGHTS' will be with me. Make the bad feel comical. Make the good feel awesome.

eastx
02-23-2008, 02:42 AM
Great review. I'll pick this up for cheap sometime... I just ordered the Japanese PS2 special edition of the original game, which is enhanced with better textures and 16:9 display and includes a hardcover art book. Whoo!

Joe Redifer
02-23-2008, 02:58 AM
The Saturn version had 16:9, so the PS2 version is certainly not unique in that regard. However I think I'd probably rather play the PS2 remake than the new Wii version.

eastx
02-23-2008, 03:47 AM
Really Joe? Doesn't 16:9 require component video cables or better?
I guess I have to bow to your retro gaming knowledge; I was a huge Saturn fanatic during its day, but mine isn't even hooked up any more. Still have a great collection of games for it though.

Edit:

Yep, checked online and you're right, of course. Learn something new about technology every day... But I found these impressions (http://www.hdtvarcade.com/hdtvforum/index.php?showtopic=2119)of Saturn Nights' widescreen mode:

NiGHTS I haven't tested, but I've been told that all sprite items will appear stretched in widescreen, while the polygonal items are proportionally correct.

Nights has a widescreen option but it really isn't that impressive due to the large amount of sprite based objects and enemies in the game.

We'll have to assume the PS2 version does it a little better. I'll post impressions when the game comes in about 2 weeks.

Joe Redifer
02-23-2008, 05:40 AM
16:9 is just a shape. RF can do it.

burpingcat
02-23-2008, 01:37 PM
The PS2 version of NiGHTS is pretty cool. It includes both the Saturn version and the reworked PS2 version, and your progress in the game is saved for both versions. The first time I played the PS2 version, I was pretty stunned by the new clarity and smoothness of the graphics. The game plays exactly the same, though (which is good).

Unfortunately, the extra stuff like the music mode and Sonic mode seem to be missing. There is one option on the main menu that you have to unlock, but I don't know if it's the 2 player mode or Christmas mode.

Seraph
02-23-2008, 10:11 PM
I checked out videos of the remake but something bothered me. Was Nights always so big on the screen? It looks like its a lot harder to navigate through rings that way.

It's a shame we will never get the PS2 remake in America, I was looking forward to it.

justin_credible
02-24-2008, 12:52 PM
The PS2 version of NiGHTS is pretty cool. It includes both the Saturn version and the reworked PS2 version, and your progress in the game is saved for both versions. The first time I played the PS2 version, I was pretty stunned by the new clarity and smoothness of the graphics. The game plays exactly the same, though (which is good).

Unfortunately, the extra stuff like the music mode and Sonic mode seem to be missing. There is one option on the main menu that you have to unlock, but I don't know if it's the 2 player mode or Christmas mode.

I thought about importing it too, but instead I imported Nights Saturn version. It was only like $12 shipped off Ebay as the PS2 version was over $40 on play-asia so it was a no brainer. But one day I may get the remake.

justin_credible
02-29-2008, 04:46 PM
Well today will be a day of "Nights" for me. I just got Journey of dreams in the mail (for $20 new off Ebay) and a Saturn Gameshark so that I can play the imports of Nights on Saturn that I got a few weeks ago. (havent played it in like 10 years)

Seraph
02-29-2008, 05:00 PM
Sounds cool, I'm interested what you think of JoD having played the original Nights.

eastx
03-01-2008, 03:42 AM
Well today will be a day of "Nights" for me. I just got Journey of dreams in the mail (for $20 new off Ebay) and a Saturn Gameshark so that I can play the imports of Nights on Saturn that I got a few weeks ago. (havent played it in like 10 years)

GameShark? Uh Oh. The Saturn Game Shark was manufactured with like 1 more pin than the Saturn's cartridge slot actually uses (that or it's slightly too thick, I forget), so over time it can wear out your Saturn's cart slot. You should refrain from inserting/removing it as much as possible. Later import adapters/RAM carts don't have this problem, to my knowledge.

justin_credible
03-01-2008, 10:55 AM
Yeah the only time I have to take it out is to play Panzer Dragoon Saga (I've read the game won't boot with a gameshark even though it's a domestic game)

Seraph
03-05-2008, 10:00 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4.png
Nintendo Wii
1 Player
Developer - Capcom Production Studio 4
Publisher - Capcom

My Bias
-Owned the Gamecube version
-I love the Resident Evil series

My Completion
Main game and all Scenarios completed. Everything unlocked.

Story
RE4Wii completely abandons the lore that the series had built up to this point. It’s somewhat understandable since Umbrella met its end, but it just feels like a shameless label to call this game “Resident Evil”. Actually the only thing this games story has in common with the rest of the series is 3 returning characters and cheesy one-liners. If they wanted to change the direction of the series that’s fine, but when they try to link it to the previous games it doesn’t work very well.

The story is pretty entertaining. It isn’t what I would call top notch writing, but as far as most video game storylines go its great. If you’re looking for a story that’s “radically different” then don’t look here. The President’s daughter has been kidnapped by terrorists and its up to you lone soldier to rescue her!

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

When this game was initially released, it had in my opinion the best visuals on Gamecube. This version is a direct port over from the Gamecube version so don’t expect anything better. That said, the best graphics on Gamecube still look great today. RE4Wii easily has better visuals than most Wii games (which is amazing and sad at the same time)

This game is full of so many awesome effects and is a graphical marvel considering the hardware it’s on. There are places in the game that made me stand still in awe. The objects that are placed along your way such as Pots or Candlesticks look like they were grabbed straight out of the gorgeous pre-rendered backgrounds of the Resident Evil Remake for Gamecube (except in RE4Wii you can actually walk around and view them from any angle). I have to note that fire looks especially impressive in this game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4Wii-Lava-1.png
Holy crap this game is like eyecandy

Character animations are very good. When you shoot a person in the shoulder or knee their bodies snap back in a pretty realistic fashion. The facial animations make the characters seem very alive, even if they are a bit over the top. Leon is especially guilty of this as he’s always over-extenuating his facial features when he wants to put emphasis on a word (like 3 times a sentence).

It does take a while to get to the varied envornments in this game though. Alot of this game is muddy brown, which looks ok, but it just starts to get old after a while

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4Wii-Gando-1.png
Apparently clothing stores in spain only sell brown attire

Music
It’s hard to talk about music in the Resident Evil series because it’s both good and bad. RE4Wii is no exception.

Let’s get the bad out of the way. The majority of ambience tracks in RE4Wii are simple loops. None of it is what I would call well composed music and definitely not anything I would want to listen to outside of the game.

Where the game receives my extreme praise is just how well the music fits and fuels the gameplay. The ambience/music always seems “right” for what’s currently going on. It does a fantastic job at raising the tension levels as you play, so in that regard the ambience is excellent. I also got very accustom to the “safe room” theme, the minute I hear it I am in a good mood.

Gameplay
If you don’t know anything about this game then there is something you should know. RE4Wii plays almost nothing like previous entries in the series. The series has gone from an action game to being very much 3rd Person Shooter. As a fan of the series I think it’s not for better or worse, just very different.

If you have played Resident Evil 4 before on another console then the controls are probably what you’re most interested in. The controls for this game are so good I can’t go back how it previously controlled. I’m actually extremely disappointed Resident Evil 5 isn’t coming to Wii because I would trade the pretty visuals for this control scheme any day.

The controls remain unchanged for the most part from the Gamecube version, only now you constantly have a transparent cursor on screen. When you hold down the aim button like you would in previous versions of the game, the view still goes over your shoulder but all the aiming is done by pointing with the Wii Remote.

This aiming mechanic changes the games feel dramatically. The old method wasn’t horrible but certainly wasn’t ideal. On the Gamecube version I often fumbled with the controls to make headshots, trying to figure out just where my aim was pointing. On Wii that frustration is non-existent. This becomes increasingly apparent if you buy the Sniper rifle during the game as the sniper rifle still uses the old analog stick method of aiming. It speaks leagues for the new control method, but it’s faster and easier to pick things off in the distance with the pistol than it is to zoom in with the rifle.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4Wii-Headshot-1.png
Headshots? from this far away? Not on my Gamecube

The game also implements other motion controls which work well. The QuickTime events during cut scenes are mostly handled by motion control now. I found this to be much more enjoyable as you don’t have to be a master button masher to pass them and running away scenes actually make you out of breath.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4Wii-Rock-1.png
This boulder is so famous by now

Motion controls are implemented well, but still optional which is awesome. Swinging the Knife can be done the same old way with a button press, so if you’re the type that hates anytime you have to use motion control on the Wii (which to me is silly) then you don’t have to use it. However you can now also slash by swinging the Wii Remote. No buttons, no thinking about it, if an enemy is too close you just franticly swing at him and it cuts him to bits. In my opinion it makes the Knife go from useless to vital. Reloads can also be done via the old arcade lightgun shooter method of shaking the controller off screen, which feels alot more natural. You can still do it the old way, but the new was is much more intuitive.

With all the new Wii controls I can easily pop one bullet into a guy’s knee, run up and kick him while he’s bent over, and then knife him on the ground for the kill. A one bullet guaranteed kill performed in seconds, something I would never dream of doing using the old control scheme. I dare say this makes the game a little too easy. Luckily the game adds a harder difficulty that compensates for this. This game is a fine example of how Wii can handle games that are not only "hardcore" but make them better.

I think the biggest thing that makes RE4Wii so much fun that most other games get wrong is the pacing. The pacing in this game is great. I’ve played through this game close to 20 times because there is never a dull moment. I’ve wasted an entire Saturday playing this game in one sitting before on the premise of just booting it up for a few kills.

Along the way you run into shops that allow you to buy new guns and upgrade what you’ve bought. This part of the game made things really fun, and helped pace the game out even more. It’s a big thrill when you upgrade the old shotgun you’ve been using to double its firepower.

Although the whole game is done from a behind character perspective, and there are no Zombies and no Umbrella, there are still many similarities to the other Resident Evil games. The inventory screen is still the same concept, only having so much space to hold things. Now it’s improved to a grid with different sized items (so that an herb doesn’t take as much inventory as a grenade launcher). Familiar series icons like mixing herbs and saving typewriters appear, but remember there are no zombies so you won’t battle a single familiar foe. The game also made the BIG improvement of not having key items take up your gun inventory. Speaking of key items, all the puzzle solving and backtracking has been stripped away making this game as straightforward as you can get. And perhaps the greatest improvement to the Resident Evil series ever: A HEALTH BAR!!!

Because of all the changes made to the series with RE4Wii, it now plays like an action game with horror as an afterthought. This game still has some scary moments, and in true Resident Evil fashion relies on quick shock scares rather than psychology scares. To put it another way, in the previous Resident Evil games I would run down hallways praying that not a single enemy would be there. In RE4Wii, I’d run down hallways hoping there were at least 10 guys around the corner so I could test my new machine gun.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4Wii-Castle-1.png
You yearn for moments like these

There are a bunch of extra modes unlocked once you complete the game. There are two Ada missions, the original Gamecube one and the PS2 exclusive one. After hearing Sony fans brag to no end about the exclusive Ada mission, I was really let down. It was enjoyable, but nowhere near the enjoyment of the main game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RE4Wii-Ada-1.png
At least shes more fun to look at than Leon

Lasting Appeal
This game lasted me about 15 hours the first time through plus the extra scenarios took about 2 hours. With most single player games I finish them and never want to go back, previous titles in the Resident Evil series especially. But for a single player romp this game has a lot of replay ability due to the fact that Wii Remote shooting is so much fun.

I’ve blown easily over 100 hours on this game. I boot it up for some quick kills and get lost in how much fun it is.

Final Thoughts
This is the definitive version of Resident Evil 4. Previous versions of the game all have sacrificed something. Gamecube version didn’t have widescreen or the extra content, PS2 version had severely crippled visuals (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/?action=view&current=RE4comp09.flv). The Wii version compromises nothing while adding a new control scheme that blows the old one away. And if you hate your life you can even plug in a Gamecube controller and use the old scheme.

If you already own Resident Evil 4 on another console, I still recommend you to try the Wii version. I sold my Gamecube copy for the Wii version and it was worth every penny. It’s that much better on Wii.

If you for whatever reason haven’t played this game yet, BUY IT NOW. This is one of those phenomenal games that only come once every couple years. There is no excuse as it sells for $30 new.

Gameplay Video
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Paper exe
03-05-2008, 10:19 PM
I will be honest when I say that when it comes to putting hard work and effort to reviews seraph wins it by far.

Drunken Savior
03-06-2008, 02:08 AM
Seraph owes 5% of his success to me!!!!! He knows what I'm talking about!!!!!

Joe Redifer
03-06-2008, 03:44 AM
Because you also like putting pictures in the center?

This version is a direct port over from the Gamecube version so don’t expect anything better.
This is not entirely true. The Gamecube version was letterboxed, and you'd have to zoom in on a 16:9 TV. This version has anamorphic 16:9, so you'll get 480 horizontal lines of resolution vs the GC's 404. Therefore the image should be noticeably cleaner on a 16:9 TV. On a regular TV, it doesn't make any difference, but everyone without exception has 16:9 these days.

Drunken Savior
03-06-2008, 03:59 AM
No because he asked me if I'd rather see a gameplay video or a highlight video. I told him that EVERYONE can easily see a highlight video. Having a solid gameplay video is a unique thing and, in my opinion, allows the reader to more accurately judge a game than a highlight video.

I stole the way I format my reviews from you Joe. Except for my into part where I list producer, director, et cetera.

Joe Redifer
03-06-2008, 05:14 AM
I agree. Real gameplay needs to be seen as it is being played.

Seraph
03-06-2008, 12:15 PM
Thanks guys, I actually owe alot of people here for their input. I like when you guys are hyper-critical of my work, as I'm always looking to improve. I'm actually going to try review a DS game next and I want comments about how my screen grabs look. Plus without you guys reading them, they wouldnt be any fun to write.

I actually don't own a widescreen TV Joe so I dont know much about how widescreen things work. In order to capture my screenshots in 16:9 I have to play through games squished on my little TV. I do notice developers are handling widescreen different ways on Wii. Some are lazy and design their game for 16:9 and then just chop the edges off when its set to 4:3. An easy way to tell is if you hit the Home button and the menu seems really small. Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles and Trauma Center New Blood both do this.

And yeah, I agree real gameplay should be shown not just highlights. I try to ratio my short videos to reflect the amount of each element of the game. So for instance my Nights JoD video I made sure to put Flying parts, a bit of cutscene and the boring on foot parts. I'm not trying to sell the game to you, I'm reviewing it so you know what your getting into.

SuperAngelo64
03-06-2008, 12:39 PM
To be honest, Resident Evil games were really something I'd rather sit back and watch a friend play through than actually take a controller and play.

But the way the Wii controls play out on the video looks really awesome. This is probably the first Resident Evil game I actually want to pick up and play. I haven't had the chance to play it yet.. but..


..Well I can say the box is nice! :spinface:

Joe Redifer
03-06-2008, 01:00 PM
I think the game's official name is 4 Resident Evil, not Resident Evil 4.

Northeastmonk
03-06-2008, 03:42 PM
The gamecube version was about the best thing I had played on the gamecube. And the Ps2 version was just late for me. I'm going to pass on this version because RE5 is coming real real soon. Its still a must have if you haven't somehow played this game. The short dude gave me nightmares years after I beat it.

Dont force yourself into reviewing REZero if you dont want to. lol jk

Seraph
03-06-2008, 08:29 PM
I haven't had the chance to play it yet.. but..

..Well I can say the box is nice! :spinface:When you borrow the next batch of games I'll make sure the disc isn't still in my Wii. ;)I think the game's official name is 4 Resident Evil, not Resident Evil 4.Maybe this whole time it hasn't been the 4th game in the series and rather a clever naming for a Tribute to the series called "For Resident Evil".I'm going to pass on this version because RE5 is coming real real soon....

...Dont force yourself into reviewing REZero if you dont want to. lol jkIf you love RE4 I really would try this on Wii. I sold my Gamecube version on eBay for $20 and so Wii Edition only costed me $10. I am VERY bummed I cant control RE5 this way :(

I like RE0 by the way :)

Seraph
04-09-2008, 10:21 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/LunarDS.png
Nintendo DS
1 Player
Developer - Japan Art Media
Publisher - Ubisoft

My Bias
-Loved Lunar SSSC & EBC

My Completion
-Got to the 2nd town (Healriz)


This is my first DS review and I am taking the screen grabs myself, so I would like your thoughts on them if you guys dont mind. I took each of them a different way so I want to know what looks the best.

Story
I didn’t get very far so I can’t really tell you what the story of this game is. You start off as a boy named Jian who is a common delivery boy. You then meet up with your childhood cute-girl-next-door friend and go on adventures delivering packages.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/LunarDS-Fountian.jpg
I swear I've seen this scene before

I found the storyline to be kind of bland and not worth my time. Sometimes if a game is bad I can drag my feet through it if the story is captivating enough, but Lunar DS just starts off way to slow. In the games defense the story might get pick up and become more entertaining down the line, but I wouldn’t know because after almost 2 hours in I didn’t feel compelled to find out what happens.

Apparently this game takes place 1000 years before Lunar Silver Star Story. Whether you want to take this game as canon or not is up to you because I’ve heard from some Lunar fans that it screws a lot of things up storyline wise.

Graphics
The is actually a good amount of 2D detail put into this game. The sprite work for this game is good looking and it’s nice to see a 2D RPG in this day and age. The sprites are a big improvement over the ones in the previous games. There isn’t much animation to these sprites as characters hardly ever move their arms and bodies, but then again this isn’t exactly a big budget game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/LunarDS-House.jpg
Some pretty good sprite work

The art for the main characters is really good. The cover art fits in perfect with the previous two games. However the art for everyone else in this game is some of the worst game art I’ve ever seen. They must have blown the artistic budget on the main characters because all the NPCs look like the stuff I used to draw when I was 13.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/LunarDS-Animu.jpg
They hired DeviantArt’s best 13 year olds to draw for this game

The game also is trying too hard to make use of the DS’s dual screens. I’m fine with a game using the 2nd screen as a map or status display, but Lunar DS uses the 2nd screen when it’s not appropriate. When you talk to anyone in the game the dialog box takes up the entire bottom screen and it looks really amateur. It makes it frustrating constantly having to look down at the dialog and then back up at the action. During battle the game tries to split the action between both the screens, which has never been an effect I liked.

Another brilliant design choice was to have all the games menu buttons constantly pulsate in and out. Since the touch screen is always displaying easy menu shortcuts as you walk around dungeons, you get to have the word “Menu” constantly zooming in and out at your eyeballs. Every menu in the game does this and its one of the most obnoxious things ever. A lot of the menus also have text that comes right to the edge of the screen, making it look almost cut off.

Music
There are a few good tracks in Lunar DS. The battle music is pretty good and sounds a lot like the battle music from the original Lunar games.

Again I didn’t get too far in this game so I can’t speak much for the Music. The town and field themes I did get to listen to were pleasing to the ears. Nothing amazing or memorable, but nice sounding none the less.

Gameplay
The game plays like a normal straightforward RPG. You shop in town for gear, you go out into the field, you get in some battles, beat the boss, repeat. There isn’t anything in this game that’s ground breaking in the RPG genre.

This game is chock full of so many problems I don’t know where to begin. First of all your characters walk at an extremely slow pace. Naturally like any good RPG you can hold down the run button and your characters will sprint around. Except some genius decided it was a good idea to drain your HP whenever you run. There is nothing to counteract this drain, such as slow health regeneration or something, so if you chose to run then you might need to use a healing item before the next battle. Running through dungeons is out of the question as you need every bit of HP you can get, so therefore get used to walking PAINFULLY slow.

The battles in this game are a royal pain. The Lunar series wasn’t exactly known for its stellar battle system, but at least before it was tolerable. In Lunar DS the battle system is unbearable.

First of all you must choose before you enter a battle if you want to receive experience points or items for a reward. That’s right, you can’t have both, its one or the other. I’m not sure if they were trying to be clever/innovative or what, but what this boils down to is having to do twice as much tedious grinding. It doesn’t strike me as a clever game mechanic, it just comes off as really stupid and uncalled for.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/LunarDS-Battle.jpg
The battles are pretty close to automatic

To drag out these battles even longer the game won’t let you select any targets in battle. When you select attack that’s it, you don’t get to choose what monster you’re going to attack. It becomes very frustrating having an enemy sitting at 1HP constantly smacking you but you can’t do anything about it because your characters keep automatically targeting others. This eliminates a lot of the strategy found in even the most primitive RPG’s.

Unlike about every RPG ever since the NES, Lunar DS doesn’t let you walk around towns. Instead you are presented with an overhead map of the town and you put your little goto cursor over the house you want to enter. This makes towns feel a lot less alive and all around boring.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/LunarDS-Town.jpg
This is how you navigate the map screen

If complaints are all it seems like I have for this games Gameplay then that’s because it is all I have. I generally am pretty good at researching games before I buy them, so I don’t play many bad ones. But that said, this is the worst RPG I have ever played. Story/Music/Graphics aside it’s just not a fun game at its core.

Lasting Appeal
I lasted about 2 hours in before I couldn’t take anymore. I hear if you actually follow the game to its end it will last about 35 hours.

Final Thoughts
This is one of the few games I think would be better off not existing at all. Lunar 1 and 2 were fantastic RPG’s and this game really tarnish’s their good name.

My recommendation is to stay away from this game, even if you’re a fan of the Lunar series. It’s not worth the money even to satisfy your curiosity. There are much better RPG’s (and games for that matter) worth your time on the DS.

Alexander
04-09-2008, 10:40 PM
It just seems notably bad. Did you buy it?

Mistatee
04-09-2008, 11:21 PM
Your too lenient...

And I almost beat the game, took me about 19 hours to get to the second to last dungeon.

Story is so worthless that it makes all the other games redundant and terrible. You better believe I do not accept this monstrosity into the canon of the series. I doubt the developers can even say it belongs there with a straight-face.



More or less the storyline is cut and paste from Lunar:SSSC, but without the 4 heroes, quark is a lion (and also not named, but seeing as history from Lunar:EB states he was around when Althena defeated (and locked away) Zophar on Earth and transported everybody to the silver star I can guarantee he is supposed to be quark...), there are a total of 5 characters (one gets kidnapped almost instantly, one dies less than an hour after you get him, and the last 3 are extremely retarded), and the Vile Tribe happens to only have 1 member of the Vile Tribe in it, with a lot of monsters. Plus somehow the main character manages to become a dragonmaster when there already is a dragonmaster, which invalidates the lore in so many ways, especially when he becomes a dragonmaster by kicking the shit out of the dragon's spirits who aren't even there....

Fuck that is one shitty game.
Worst RPG I have played, though because I know about the Lunar world. If I didn't I'd say it would be Second worst behind Unlimited Saga.

eastx
04-10-2008, 07:27 AM
Yeah, I hope you didn't pay very much for it. But those screenshots are great. How'd ya make 'em?

Seraph
04-10-2008, 09:54 AM
No I didnt buy it. It was a gift to me from somebody who didnt really know what to buy me. I'm actually going to sell it soon.

eastx, I made those screenshots using a digital camera and photoshop. I can teach you how to do it or write up a tutorial if you want to try it yourself. I used a different technique for each screen in that review, some turning out better than others.

Your too lenient...I thought you would get a kick out of this review. ;)

eastx
04-10-2008, 12:23 PM
eastx, I made those screenshots using a digital camera and photoshop. I can teach you how to do it or write up a tutorial if you want to try it yourself.

Yeah, a tutorial would be great. I think my problem is I don't know how to manually focus, and my camera always focuses on the portable console rather than the screen itself. Not that I've tried repeatedly or anything, but I definitely need to learn.

Mistatee
04-10-2008, 03:10 PM
Anyone who has beaten Lunar 1 and 2 should watch the ending of this game on youtube. its terrible. Also worth noting, you never fight the final boss...

SuperAngelo64
04-10-2008, 06:16 PM
Sounds like a pretty awesome game. Right up there with Ice Climbers and M.C.Kids.

Actually I take that back, M.C. Kids looks a lot more fun than this.

By the way the screen with the town area select looks the best.

Joe Redifer
04-10-2008, 06:44 PM
M.C. Kids was one of the first games ever that wasn't completely bogged down with racist overtones.

SuperAngelo64
04-10-2008, 06:55 PM
I think the black kid's eraser-cut took up a whole extra sprite block.

Seraph
04-20-2008, 05:54 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/REUC.png
Nintendo Wii
1-2 Players
Developer - Cavia, Capcom
Publisher - Capcom

My Bias
-I love the Resident Evil series
-I love the arcade light gun genre

My Completion
Completed every mission on Easy difficulty

Story
Every light gun shooter I’ve played in the arcade has had a storyline, but it’s always some ridiculous “Save the President” plot. And quite frankly when you play a light gun game, who cares about the storyline? You just want to shoot stuff. Umbrella Chronicles changes this though and for once it’s nice to get a little more engrossed in the experience.

The story is actually a recap of the previous games in the series. It’s made up of highlights from Resident Evil 0, 1, 3 and a new chapter. The last chapter is brand new to the Resident Evil timeline and tells the conclusion of the Umbrella Corporation. It’s a pretty cool ending to the series and finally wraps up some things that RE:CV left loose for years.

The new characters they added were really stupid to me. One is a guy with a thick Russian accent named Sergei. He is stereotypically Russian and that’s basically all you need to know. The worst part is that he has these Tyrant body guards that follow him around wearing sunglasses that make them look like the front of an Alienware computer. Resident Evil has never been THAT serious of a series, but his Tyrant bodyguards are just over the top goofy.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Untitled-1.png
And dont worry, the cheesy RE dialog is still intact

As a fan of the Resident Evil series this game was great fan service. It was really awesome seeing the buildings and environments I experienced as pre-rendered backgrounds now fully realized in 3D. The missions you run through are awesome highlights of each of their respective games and you fight all the trademark bosses.

What I find really disappointing is that Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica are missing in action. There are 2 side missions from Resident Evil 2 which follow the side stories of Ada and Hunk, but nothing from the main game. I am dumbfounded as to why they left these games out because as far as the overall storyline goes, these two games had the most to do with the Umbrella Corporation. Not to mention RE2 was the most popular game in the series, so for a game that is trying to cater to RE fans its confusing.

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How cool would it have been to run through RE2?

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

On a technical note this game was made for widescreen TV’s with the normal standard aspect ratio as an afterthought. If you try playing this game on a normal square TV, two black bars fill the screen the whole time. I really hate it when games do this.

The graphics in Umbrella Chronicles are about average for a Wii game. Despite being from the same company, they are not nearly as impressive as RE4’s visuals. Nothing in this game is going to blow you away graphically. Still considering the usual quality of light gun shooters this game fares pretty well.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Untitled-3.png
The mansion has never looked so good

Most of this game is made up of the dark and drab environments of the series. This isn’t exactly a bad thing because that’s what the series has always been about. Because this game grabs from different titles in the series, you get some nice varied locations and it helps keep things interesting despite the overall dark theme.

Unfortunately from what I’ve been told, the Resident Evil 3 scenario’s use the exact same assets from the RE:Outbreak games. I can’t confirm this because I have never played the Outbreak spin-offs, but they do look a bit worse than the rest of the games areas. It’s certainly a believable claim.

Music
Like the rest of the series, there aren’t many memorable tunes. However instead of a few awesome tracks thrown in there isn’t anything here like that. What the other titles in the series have always done right to make up for the lack of music, is add a certain ambience that fits the mood and adds suspense. RE:UC replaces ambience with these subtle rock loops that sound neither inspiring or memorable. The menu screen music is probably the best track in the entire game, if the rest of the games music was like that it would be awesome.

The other disappointment is that they didn’t bring back any of the memorable tunes from the games this revisits.

Gameplay
This is an on rails light gun shooter. If you don’t know what that is (which you should if you have ever been in an arcade) the game basically walks you along a track and all you have to worry about is aiming and shooting.

This game differs from most light gun games found in the arcades as well as most home light games you buy for other consoles. You aren’t actually aiming at points on your screen, your moving the cursor around like you do on the Wii main menu.

There is no screen calibration like found in other Wii light gun games, so this game will always feel like your positioning a cursor rather than pointing a gun directly at the screen. Interesting tidbit, the technology used in the Wii Sensor bar is the exact same as what’s used in Arcade games. It’s true, I went to my local arcade and confirmed (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/1113072009.jpg). So theoretically if you could position or even build your own sensor bar to accommodate your screen size, then you could have 1 to 1 screen pointing. Not anything I’d expect any normal person to do, but interesting nonetheless.

I can’t tell you how different this game plays or feels with a plastic gun shell. I own neither the official Zapper or a 3rd party shell, but when I eventually get one I will update this review. I have heard reports that a good gun shell (not the Zapper) makes the game more fun than it already is.

The quick time events from RE4 are back with a vengeance. These are by far the most frustrating part of the game. During certain cut scenes the screen will inverse colors for half of a second, and then prompts you to quickly press a random button. If you fail to hit it in time or push the wrong one by mistake then its game over and you must restart the entire stage (or halfway through if you hit the checkpoint). What’s worse is that sometimes it wants you to repeatedly mash the displayed button because there have been many instances where I pressed the required button once and still died. I wish it would have told me that.

The bosses in this game are really fun. Most of them do some creative things, which aren’t exactly new to the light gun genre, but fun nonetheless. Although this is a Resident Evil game its not scary at all. I'd like to say that its because of the genre, but I know thats a lie. Like RE4 its an action game.

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Even in the dark its not scary

One complaint I have with this game is it’s so dang hard. It starts off pretty easy but by the time the last levels come around it’s near impossible. When games of this length are this hard, it becomes very frustrating redoing entire 10 minute levels just to get stuck at the same part. I understand some players like their games hard but there are three difficulty options in this game, at least make easy mode EASY. Part of what makes this game so hard is that most enemies require pinpoint accuracy to be killed in one shot. It’s not just a matter of shooting a zombie in the head, you have to nab a specific part of their forehead to do it. The game has way too many instances where enemies jump at you and you have a split second to react in time or you get hit. The only way to stop the attack is to get that critical hit, which is REALLY hard to do.

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Even at this close its hard to get headshots

Also counterattacks often do more harm than good. In this game you can counter attack if a zombie grabs you by rapidly shaking the Wii Remote. While this can save you from getting hit, a lot of the time it actually puts you in more trouble than you were in. While your character performs the counter attack animation the other zombies don’t stop moving forward. So when you finally get back in control, you have zombies standing point blank in front of you ready to attack.

Umbrella Chronicles is full of fan service. Throughout the stages there are secret files hidden in breakable objects such as lights and chairs. These files are full of Resident Evil history and fun facts, which makes for a good read through for any RE fan.

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Congrats to me, I unlocked a little icon of the G-Virus.

Like any light gun shooter, 2 player makes this game even more enjoyable. What I love about the way this game handles 2 players is that you both share the same health bar. Most light gun shooters divide the screen in half and forces players to worry about their half of the screen rather than working together.

Another cool part about this game is its weapon upgrade system. Like Resident Evil 4, you can use the points you earn in missions to upgrade your guns. You may then pick that gun to be your starting alternate weapon or find it somewhere on your next stage. The only bad part about this whole system is that once you upgrade all the guns to max level, you can then upgrade them to have infinite ammo. This sounds awesome for a light gun game and trust me it is, but once you do this it’s impossible to go back. Like a cheat that can’t be turned off. There is no way outside of resetting your save to get rid of the infinite ammo.

Lasting Appeal
One of the great parts about this game is the amount of content it has. The bad part about most light gun games is that they can be beaten within an hour and get pretty stale after you’ve played through it multiple times. Umbrella Chronicles takes a good 10-15 hours to beat all the missions, including the bonus mission. And because this is a light gun game there is a good amount of replay value. Include the unlockables, the gun upgrade system and multiple difficulty levels and you have a light gun shooter that lasts as long as a full blown game.

Final Thoughts
If you’re a Resident Evil fan than getting this game should be a no brainer. It’s fun and it’s full of RE fanservice, enough said.

If you’re not a fan of the franchise I still recommend this game. It’s a fun light gun shooter that will last a very long time.

Gameplay Video
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Naoko Suki
04-20-2008, 08:08 PM
It's so scawwry T___T

Drunken Savior
04-20-2008, 09:24 PM
You liked ALL the bosses in RE:UC? The one tyrant you fight in the tunnel (the all white tyrant. It might have been a Wesker mission...) was so cheap it made me wanna throw the game in the trash bin. The last boss was also very very.....stupid. I liked most of the bosses myself, but the ones that suck, really suck...

eastx
04-20-2008, 10:36 PM
Great review. I love the game but I hate those quicktime events and difficult headshots. If not for those glaringly bad ideas, this would just be the best lightgun shooter ever made. And yeah, the Perfect Shot definitely increases the fun factor.

Joe Redifer
04-20-2008, 10:54 PM
I don't own this, but I played it once. It was moderately amusing for maybe 10 minutes, but then got really boring. It isn't as good as a House of the Dead game, even though it wants to be. The graphics have next to no color in them and were pretty dark and bland. It made me want to sleep. I don't remember anything about the audio. This should be downloadable WiiWare for $5 and not a real release.

And arcade light gun games are not exactly like the Wii. As you can tell by your own pic, there are sensors all around the entire screen. The Wii just has a little podunk bar laying there. Even if you built your own IR emitters all around the TV, it would confuse the Wii and the WiiMote since they are not designed for that. Only projection/big screen arcade games even work like this (they have to). Older light gun arcade games that used CRTs worked differently.

Sinful Sam
04-20-2008, 11:29 PM
Game looks fun. I would probably pick it up later when it's in the bargain bin though.

Seraph
04-20-2008, 11:36 PM
You liked ALL the bosses in RE:UC? The one tyrant you fight in the tunnel (the all white tyrant. It might have been a Wesker mission...) was so cheap it made me wanna throw the game in the trash bin. The last boss was also very very.....stupid. I liked most of the bosses myself, but the ones that suck, really suck...No I didnt like every single one of them. Nemesis pissed me off to no end. Like I said in my review, this game is REALLY hard. There were spots where I wanted to throw my controller across the room and I'd scream "COME ON THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY MODE". The very last boss with Wesker was like that for me as wellAnd arcade light gun games are not exactly like the Wii. As you can tell by your own pic, there are sensors all around the entire screen. The Wii just has a little podunk bar laying there. Even if you built your own IR emitters all around the TV, it would confuse the Wii and the WiiMote since they are not designed for that. Only projection/big screen arcade games even work like this (they have to). Older light gun arcade games that used CRTs worked differently.Have you tried Ghost Squad on Wii? Sega included a Screen Calibration tool that works like magic. It gives 1 to 1 pointing well enough to where I can play through the whole game without the crosshair.

The difference between that calibration and an arcade machine is that becuase Wii only has the two IR points it can lose its calibration if the Wii Remote completley loses sight of it. In the arcades, because you have so many IR points the guns instantly know where they are relative to the screen no matter what you do.

I used to hate the way old light gun shooters worked for home consoles. Blinding Strobe lights ahoy!

Joe Redifer
04-20-2008, 11:51 PM
The Superscope 6 (SNES) and the Menacer (Genesis) didn't flash a white frame. But anyway I'd rather have the white flash than crap hanging all over my TV (Time Crisis 4). Just plug in the gun & the game and you're ready! No nonsense setups to worry about.

Have you tried Ghost Squad on Wii? Sega included a Screen Calibration tool that works like magic. It gives 1 to 1 pointing well enough to where I can play through the whole game without the crosshair.
Leave it to Sega. But what if you moved from where you calibrated it... like to a different seat in the same room or passed it over to your friend so he could try, but he doesn't want to sit in your lap? You'd have to recalibrate.

eastx
04-21-2008, 12:28 PM
The white flashes kept me from enjoying most console lightgun games... Even Time Crisis 2 had 'em, right? And that game connects to your A/V output so it really shouldn't.

Joe Redifer
04-21-2008, 05:21 PM
It only connected with the AV out so it could stay in sync with the game. That way it knew precisely when the white flash was beginning to be drawn, etc. It made the Guncon slightly more accurate. It still needed a white flash so it could see where it was pointed. So they made hooking the thing up an annoyance for an ever-so-slight improvement in accuracy.

Nindalf
12-12-2008, 04:32 PM
seraph is a mod wut

Joe Redifer
12-12-2008, 04:40 PM
...of this particular section. Though if we ever needed another for the site, he'd be high on the list.

Nindalf
12-12-2008, 04:42 PM
so he can't ban people? answer briefly, y/n

Joe Redifer
12-12-2008, 04:44 PM
/n

Seraph
01-06-2009, 09:59 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Brawl3D.png
Nintendo Wii
1-4 Players
Developer - Sora
Publisher - Nintendo

Warning, this is a big game with a lot of content to cover, so this review is going to be larger than normal.

My Bias
-Super Smash Bros (the original for N64) is one of my favorite games of all time
-I was MEGA hyped for this game
-The hardcore Smash community pisses me off**To elaborate, like with most fighting games, the “competitive community” for this series is full of egotistical and arrogant players who talk down to people who aren’t into the game as much as they are. As a result every time I think about this game I am reminded of this community and it puts me in a negative mood. I will try my best not to let this affect my review.
-I’m Nintendo’s whore

My Completion
Subspace Emissary beaten on Normal difficulty. Around 100 hours put into multiplayer. All characters/stages unlocked.

Note: in case it’s not obvious I will be abbreviating throughout this review. The original Smash Bros will be referred to as Smash64, Smash Bros Melee will be just Melee, and this game is Brawl.

Story
Brawl is a party fighting game, so naturally it doesn’t have much of a storyline.

The Adventure mode from Melee is back but now a fully fleshed out single player campaign called Subspace Emissary. Between every level is a FVM cut scene which helps push the story along. These cut scenes by themselves are entertaining and exciting, with some very cool moments. There is no voice acting throughout the entire thing which is both good and bad in my opinion. I think it’s a good thing because Nintendo’s characters have never had voices and hearing Link having a conversation with Olimar would destroy their characters. However it’s bad as well because it means the entire story is told through choreography and it doesn’t always get the point across.

The story as a whole was really weak. Even after beating the whole thing I really couldn’t tell you what it was about outside of “evil guy wants to blow up world lets stop him”. All the evil villain characters (Bowser, Wario, ect.) have these weird arrow guns that turn the other characters into statues but I never figured out what that was all about. There is never an explanation as to why all these Nintendo characters are somehow in the same world. By the time I got to the end boss, I had no idea who it even was or what it was trying to accomplish. I felt no motivation other than “See those guys? Go kill them they are in your way”.

Subspace Emissary is just one of the many aspects in this game where I’m left with the feeling of missed potential. Given the extensive worlds of the Nintendo franchises represented here, why am I running through a generic forest stage beating up on generic evil enemies? Wouldn’t it be much cooler to run through say Hyrule beating up on Moblins, or Emerald Hill beating up on Eggman’s robots? I am not a fan of knocking a game for what it doesn’t have, but I can’t help but feel Nintendo missed a great opportunity here. Even I could come up with a better and more entertaining story than what’s offered here. In addition, and this is party my fault, but what makes this story an even bigger disappointment is I read online that it was co-written by the writer for Final Fantasy 7 so I my expectations were high.

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Obviously this was more exciting than battling Metroids in Pallet Town

This games big appeal is the level of fan service included in it. Almost every single major Nintendo franchise is represented here, pulling characters from the most obscure games they have ever developed. Some of the characters feel like Nintendo is scraping the bottom of the pan for new additions (Pit, R.O.B.) so I’m not sure what they will do for the next Smash Bros game. One of the coolest parts of Brawl is that now Snake from Metal Gear Solid and Sonic The Hedgehog are playable characters.

However despite being one of the biggest Nintendo fans around, I feel lukewarm to the fan service. I think the reasoning behind this is because the characters in Brawl no longer feel like characters from their respective games. The focus of this game feels like it’s about the “Smash Bros” theme and not on the characters themselves. Given how big a fan I am, I should be pumped to see Mario vs Sonic vs Snake vs Olimar, but the feeling just isn’t there.

Overall I can’t say I like the direction this games theme has gone. I enjoyed Smash64 a lot because the theme was simply a kid’s hand playing with his Nintendo toys. Now everything takes itself way to seriously. Everyone’s angry, everything’s epic, everything’s drenched in choir music. I liked Mario when he was the happy go lucky plump fellow he has always been, full of lighthearted fun. Not the new constantly angry look he has on his face, striking weird unnatural kung fu poses and shooting huge DBZ fireballs.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

Brawl’s visuals are very nice. The character models, the environments and just about everything else has been improved over Melee. There is a lot of detail on each of the characters. The overall design abandons the cartoony look for a more gritty one. Mario actually has stitches on his denim overalls, Links model was pulled straight out of Twilight Princess. The game has an overall more realistic theme.

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Much sexi... prettier character models

The menu system is also a big improvement over the previous two games. Instead of having a “dark hardcore” theme, they have a bright and clean look to them which is great.

This game follows in Melee’s footsteps when it comes to flashy explosions and effects. I personally did not like this change in Melee and it’s even worse in Brawl. To me it just makes things way to hard to follow, especially in 4 player battles. The combination of the flashy effects, busy backgrounds and zoomed out camera angle make heated games very confusing. There have been times when playing that I literally couldn’t tell what was going on.

I have noticed that when this game is running on a Wii hooked up through component cables, the jaggy edges of everything looks bad. Because this game zooms so far out on such complex character models, details like faces turn out a mess.

Music
First of all Brawl is made up of nothing but remixes of various Nintendo games. This automatically loses points with me because I find new fresh music much more exciting than remixes. But with that out of the way, there are some really good remixes in this game.

The Kirby tracks jump out at me as being the best, and there is a great selection here like Butter Bridge from Kirby’s Adventure to even Marx Theme from Kirby Super Star. I also found the Animal Crossing song to be great, capturing the feel of that series perfectly. I stated before that I was lukewarm to the fan service in this game, but a lot of the songs tug at my hearts nostalgia strings. If Nintendo released an official OST for this game I would buy it. There are that many good songs.

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They even have the Luigi's Mansion theme in here. Awesome!

For every good music choice made in this game there is a bad one. A good portion of the songs are not remixed at all. So when you see fans boast about 300 SONGS, it’s really about half new remixes and half lazy ports. Not only that but they chose some of the dumbest songs to port over, for example the rich-aristocrat sounding organ song from Fire Emblem: PoR. When Sonic was announced as a playable character my mind raced over all the potentially awesome songs that could make the cut. But Sonic’s music ended up being the biggest musical disappointment of the game. They only re-arranged one of his songs, and for the rest picked some pretty crappy sounding tracks (Scrap Brain Zone, Right There Right On). At least we got Super Sonic Racing :).

Because I was hyped for this game the music selection comes off to me as disappointing. The very first info we received from the games official pre-release blog was the list of arrangers hired for this game. Literally every big name composer in the game industry was arranging music for Brawl and my anticipation was high. But for the amount of arrangers and talent behind this soundtrack, I come off with that missed potential feeling again.

The main theme is a step backwards from Melee’s theme. The minute I unlocked alternate menu screen music, I switched the game back to use the Melee theme. This is another aspect that leaves me more disappointed knowing the talent behind it. It was written by Nobuo Uematsu, the guy who writes the brilliant music in the Final Fantasy games. I suppose I expected something amazing, instead it doesn’t even top Melees.

A cool feature of this game is that you can choose the appearance rate of different songs for each stage. So for example because on the Sonic stage I would rather listen to Emerald Hill than Green Hill, I can completely turn GH off and put the chances of EH to play at maximum. I wish it let you attach any song to any stage though. What ends up happening is some really good songs are locked to the crummiest not-fun stages in the game. I love the Earthbound remixes in this game, but everyone hates the Earthbound stage so I never get to hear them.

There is a ton of music in this game and I still don’t have all of it. That’s partly because the way of getting new songs really sucks. They randomly appear on stages and then instantly start to disappear. Too many times have I watched a CD drop on a hill and then go rolling off screen before I can get to it. Luckily there is a way to cheat and get them all.

Gameplay

Controls
Brawl does something I think every single videogame should do: You can re-button map the controller to be how you want it which I love. Too often games are released with a less-than-optimal button configuration crippling them. Brawl’s controller customization isn’t 100% perfect, as you can’t assign EVERY action to ANY button, but its pretty close and a welcomed feature.

If you’re worried that you need to own a GC controller in order to “properly” play this game then don’t be. I personally use the Wii Remote + Nunchuk control setup and it works great. After a little button remapping I can do exactly what I want to in the game, and am never frustrated by the controls. I will say that if you are used to playing Smash Bros with the traditional control scheme then switching to the Wii Remote takes a while to get used to.

There is one little thing irks me about the controls though. This is a Wii game and yet there isn’t even IR control for the menus. This gives me the feeling this was developed as a Gamecube game first, with Wii as an afterthought.

Character Selection
The character selection is pretty robust. They added a lot of new characters in this installment with a bunch of unique play styles. There are 35 characters all together and some of the characters can transform into new characters with completely different move sets. So needless to say there is a lot to choose from to find a character you like. Characters have also been rebalanced to be a little more fair. Speedy characters like Fox were favored heavily in Melee, but now heavy characters like Bowser stand a chance.

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Just about every Nintendo character ever

Of those 35, 6 of them are clones (Luigi, Lucas, Falco, Wolf, Gannondorf and Toon Link). It’s understandable why they do this, as it’s a cheap way to fill out the character roster, but it’s disappointing to play as say Gannondorf and see him perform copycat moves of Captain Falcon instead of trademark moves from his own series.

I find it really disappointing that most of the old characters from the previous games have been hardly changed. No, I’m not talking about the petty differences that hardcore fans make a big deal out of like “omg his attack is 1/38th of a second slower”. I’m talking about big main changes to the characters. If you pick a character that was previously in Melee like Peach or Luigi, their move set is exactly the same. Since Melee’s release, Peach has even had her own game filled with tons of new moves, yet NONE of them show up in Brawl and instead we are handed the same old uninspired ButtSlam and ThrowOutToad moves. The same applies to many characters.

Technical Complaints
I have a few technical complaints with this game. First off, Brawls loading times are horrible. It seems that almost everything this game needs to do requires a loading screen. Even starting it up takes forever, which at least for me ruins the pick-up-and-play nature of a fighting game. Furthermore this game makes my Wii sound like a lawnmower. The amount of intense reading done from the disk makes me scared that my Wii is going to break. The save file for this game takes up 128 blocks of memory. If space wasn’t an issue then I wouldn’t care, but on Wii space is a VERY big issue. Why does this game need to take up so much space? I can’t fathom this because it’s a party fighting game with minimal save data. Why does a game like Zelda Twilight Princess (a RPG with tons of save data) take up 1 block and Brawl takes up 128 times that???

One of the awesome parts about this game is the addition of Smash Balls. Smash Balls are items that will randomly appear on the stage and lets the user perform a devastating super move. Since these moves are so powerful and in many cases guaranteed kills, everybody fights over them. Getting a Smash Ball isn’t just a matter of picking it up because the only way to use them is to break it open by constantly beating on it. It’s programmed to stay away from characters too, so when one appears the entire focus of the battle shifts to everybody franticly chasing after it. In my opinion this is the best addition Brawl brings to the series, it adds a whole new level of excitement to matches.

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Rape in progress

For some unknown reason they decided to randomly make characters trip during a match. It really does happen at random and gets very frustrating when you’re trying to set up a combo or trying to counter a move. For example one time I was playing and my opponent got the Hammer item (which will instantly kill you if you get touched). I tried to run away to avoid it but my character instantly tripped and I was KOed. It makes it hard to have a competitive sense when playing this game.

Like the previous two games, multiplayer matches have two rule sets in order to win, Time and Stock. Stock I find is best for 1 vs 1 matches because otherwise damaged players can “cheat” by killing themselves which robs the opponent of their point. However Stock isn’t very much fun with 3-4 players because if you die early you are left to just sit and watch everyone else fight. The solution to that is to put the game on Time matches, which declares a winner based on score. This worked for Smash64 and Melee, but they screwed up how points are determined in Brawl. The counter from when you last got hit and when you die takes way to long to time out, resulting in people getting points for deaths they had nothing to do with. Too many times have I accidentally killed myself and watched as one of my opponents got the credit for it.

Subspace Emissary
The new Subspace Emissary mode replaces the old Adventure mode from Melee. What they have tried to do is flesh that going-through-stage experience into a full single player campaign. Because it’s closely tied to a storyline this time around, you cannot pick what character you want to be. Before every stage you are forced to choose between a small handful of characters. I didn’t like this at all because more than half of the game was spent playing as characters I find boring and/or painful. It would be more enjoyable if the stages you had to do were based around those characters and their abilities, creating instances in which only that character could get through (for example have a switch that only Pikachu’s lighting could climb the wall and hit).

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I could never tell where I was supposed to go on this confusing map

You can also attach the stickers you find throughout the game to characters in this mode, which allows you to boost their abilities. But once you use a sticker its gone forever, and given the way you find stickers in this game who knows when you will be able to get it again. Some of those puppies are rare. Because of this I never wanted to use them and so I ignored this aspect. This mode takes FOREVER to complete, especially the last stage. After beating it I have no desire to ever go back and replay it, whereas I have replayed Melee’s Adventure mode more times that I can count.

Every Smash Bros game has had neat mini-games where you complete different objectives under a time limit. Brawl is no different in this regard but a lot of the original modes are missing. What happened to “Race to the Finish” and “Board the platforms”? The “Break the Targets” mode isn’t nearly as cool as the previous two games. Instead of having custom stages for each character, designed around their unique talents, there are only 5 generic stages. It’s a shame because I really got into these modes. The sandbag mode returns and is much more improved over Melee’s, now even allowing 2 player.

The amount of unlockable extras in this game in a Nintendo fans dream. The trophies are back and there are more of them than ever before. I really enjoyed this part of the game not because I’m a Nintendo fan, as that had little to do with it, but because I think its interesting to look at all the different iconic symbols of Nintendo’s history and read the descriptions of each one. You can even place these trophies around in a virtual diorama and take screenshots. My only complaint about the trophies is the new way of unlocking them. The Coin Launcher game (shooting for trophies space invaders style) isn’t all that fun and takes WAY too long for trophies to show up. I have about 20 Mario and Pokemon trophies but only 2 Sonic and 1 MGS trophy :(. In addition to trophies, they have also added stickers which are different pieces of game art that differ in size. It’s kind of neat to look at it all, and some REALLY obscure stuff shows up that I didn’t even know Nintendo had the rights to.

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I always knew old Nook was after my Assets

Online
Online Brawl is a complete mess. If you try to play with random players it takes forever to find anyone. I’ve searched for opponents for over a half hour before without any results.

With friends things work a bit better. The online structure reflects Nintendo’s more recent games, where you can actually see if your friend is online instead of both randomly searching for each other. Logging into the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection service is horrible. Sometimes I am able to connect within seconds, other times it takes 5 minutes, and sometimes it takes so long to connect that the game times out and gives me an error. The connection doesn’t hold up very well when connected either. I get randomly disconnected about once every online session I try to have. When this happens it creates even more problems like my friends not being able to see me online.

I can deal with a little lag in my games, as long as things are somewhat playable I’m happy. But sometimes Brawl has terrible latency (the time between user input and the games response). It makes playing online so frustrating because it makes split second reactions or combos impossible. Gamers will give you all sorts of theories as to why the online doesn’t work well, but it just boils down to Nintendo screwed up. Jump Ultimate Stars, a game on the Nintendo DS, is the exact same party/fighting game Brawl is, and that works flawlessly online proving to me it can be done.

This is especially disappointing for me because I purchased this multiplayer game with the intention of playing online. Because the Online is such a frustration to use I find myself not bothering with it and therefore not bothering with this game.

UPDATE: As of January 2009 the lag has gotten considerably better. It's still there, but the game is now a lot more playable.


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Let this frozen screenshot serve as a Real-Time example of how smooth Online mode works sometimes.

Being mainly a multiplayer game it’s annoying that you have to unlock characters. It’s a fighting game and everyone wants to pick their favorite, but unless you play through the single player for hours, or play multiplayer for literally hundreds of matches, then many favorite characters are unavailable. Even highly desirable characters like Snake and Sonic who are on the back of the box must be unlocked. Its just bad design, especially since Brawl doesn’t allow you to transfer your gave saves. What this means is if you take your game over to your friend’s house for a party, you must sit for hours and re-unlock all characters on their Wii. Really stupid design choice for a party fighter.

As a whole this game feels like a Melee 1.5. It’s running on the same game engine, the graphics and game mechanics barley updated, and as mentioned before they didn’t change the characters much. Brawl feels more like an expansion pack to Melee rather than a new game, a Street Fighter 2 to Street Fighter 2 Turbo. I think part of the reason they didn’t change much was to please Melee fans. Fans cried enough about the little changes they did make with “They Ruined My Character/Stage/Combo”, so imagine this games fan reception if they had changed anything substantial. I know the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but if I wanted to play Melee then I would.

Lasting Appeal
From a single player perspective, around 20 hours to do everything. Subspace Emissary can be beaten within a few hours and isn’t worth going back to. The computer AI isn’t all that smart so once you have learned their stupid quirks they are easily beaten. Still, it lasts a LOT longer than your average fighting game. All the unlockable content helps prolong the games life if you’re really into that kind of stuff.

Brawl is mainly a multiplayer game though, and in that regard it has about as much replayability as you can get from a game. This is party due to the very nature of a multiplayer game. But it’s also because Brawl has some of the deepest, always changing mechanics around. I’ve sunk over 100 hours in it with friends and it hasn’t gotten remotely stale. This is one of the few games I will still be playing years from now.

Final Thoughts
I was probably over hyped. Because of the Dojo blog updates and multiple interviews I can’t help but think what could have been. The entire game has a feeling of missed potential. You will notice my review is chock full of complaints, However despite all that this is a fantastic game which is a blast to play with friends.

I don’t really need to recommend this game to anybody, because it’s the type of game that’s so hardcore you should have an idea of whether you want it or not. If your curious about the Smash Bros series and have never tried it, Brawl is the best place to start.

Gameplay Video
Sorry for the heavy Interlacing (horizontal lines on movement). As soon as I figure out how to fix it I will
Normal Match - Start
Subspace Emissary - 2:22
Trophies - 3:55
Online Match - 4:50
QuF8vC07_w4

Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:02 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WarioWare.png
Nintendo Wii
1-16 Players
Developer - Intelligent Systems
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-Was really curious in the series

My Completion
-All Scenarios beaten

Story
There really isn’t a story to this game, or at least not a serious one. Wario is one day sitting on his couch about to eat and some little aliens steal his food. They run away and Wario gives chase. The chase continues into the alien’s temple where Wario finds the “Form Baton”, a rock that looks an awful lot like a Wii Remote. He then forgets about the food and walks off with the Form Baton.

That’s only Wario’s messed up story. The rest and majority of the game is then spent completing various side stories for each WarioWare character. At the very end, you finally go back to Wario and see conclusion to his story. I feel bad for him because he is forced to give the Form Baton back, but the aliens certainly don’t give his food back. What jerks!

Most of the character stories are pretty humorous. I didn’t laugh out loud or anything, but some of them put a smile on my face. Being my first WarioWare game I am new to all these established characters and was actually really surprised how good they all are.

Graphics
Supports Progressive Scan

The visuals for this game are all done in hi-res vector art which looks really good. The art is all drawn really well and it’s nice to see a game in this generation use simple art/sprites to do its storytelling. It uses the lazy animation technique found in games like Odin Sphere and Paper Mario where there really isn’t any drawn animation, characters just rotate sprites at their joints. You can watch my video below to better explain what I mean. The art style is cartoony with a touch of anime style. I have to mention that the way this game draws kittens is one of the most adorable things ever.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WarioWareSM-Ashley-1.png
Great looking cartoon style

During the Micro-games the visuals vary. I really love the unique styles they picked for the micro-games. Sometimes it’s drawn in crayon, sometimes it’s some nice rendered 3D, and sometimes it’s some crude photograph cutouts. You never know what to expect and it really complements this games wacky/random style. The graphics never struck me as “bad” and if they did look crappy on screen it was intentional.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WarioWareSM-Marrionete-1.png
It's supposed to look sloppy like this..... I think

Music
The music of WW:SM is made up mostly of short loops. I’m talking 5-6 second sound loops that are played over and over. While these are pretty catchy they don’t really qualify as music in my opinion. The good news is that they don’t get annoying. There are also some short musical ditties that play while you do each micro-game. Again its really simple stuff only heard for a few seconds. It goes by so fast I certainly don’t remember any of it. During the retro Nintendo stages they play old Nintendo themes which I thought was awesome.

There are a few normal length songs in this game, and most of them are great. Every characters stage opens with an animated movie of them accompanied by an intro theme. I especially loved the disco theme for Jimmy T. There are also a main theme and a menu theme, both sounding pretty good but nothing amazing I’d want to listen to outside of the game. The characters Dribble and Spitz have a full vocal song play during their stage. While I’ve heard the full version before, in the game it’s broken up in-between the micro-games on their stage and so it sounds pretty neat instead of hokey.

Gameplay
For those of you who don’t have any idea what the WarioWare series is, I will briefly explain it. WarioWare games throw what it likes to call Micro-games at you in rapid succession and the goal is clear a certain amount of them without screwing up. The micro-games are like over simplistic mini-games that last only a few seconds. The challenge is not in performing the games, because they are toddler easy, but rather quickly figuring out what you need to do and doing it within the short time limit. It makes for some fast and frantic gameplay that constantly makes you think on your feet.

Before every micro-game the game will ask you to hold the remote a different way in preparation. It asks you to hold it in just about every conceivable way and really tosses things up so it doesn’t feel like you’re doing the same thing with a different background. As you progress through the single player it introduces you to these new poses so that you aren’t overwhelmed with them all at once.

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The weirdest most embarrasing pose in the game

This game makes extensive use of motion control, and is one of the few games to do it right. Almost all of the actions work without a hitch and I found myself hardly struggling with the controls. The only micro-games that didn’t work so well were the ones that require you push and pull the Wii Remote towards the screen. The game has trouble detecting it and I have to do the required motion 3-4 times before it works. Now this very well could be my setup, because I have my TV further than 10 feet away from where I play and the sensor bar has trouble from that distance. Either way, I suggest you REALLY make sure your sensor bar is set up properly for this game.

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Make sure your sensor bar is set up right or she dies

A nitpick of mine is that two of the games require you to be wearing the Wii Remote wrist strap and you’re supposed drop the remote and let it dangle. But then some of the other positions you hold it are almost impossible with the short length of the strap.

What I love about this game is that it encourages you to get up off your couch and get your whole body into the experience. Yes, if you want you can sit on the couch like a toolbox and cheat half the games, but like Wii Sports you won’t have much fun that way. WW:SM has you doing everything from Hula-hoops to sword fighting and you will look like a total goof doing all these crazy things in front of your TV. So note, if you’re a “I take myself very seriously” hardcorez gamer, this isn’t the game for you.

At the end of every stage there is a boss level. These boss levels are just like the micro-games but last a few minutes instead of seconds. Some of them are the best parts of the game and really creative. My favorite event in the whole game is the boss level where you need to dance in cue with other on screen dancers, and the Wii Remote detects if you’re doing it right.

Along with the main goal of beating endless waves of micro-games, there are also some mini-games included. I know with all this micro-game talk that might seem ridiculous, but think of the word mini-game as you would for any other normal game. There are some really good and addicting ones here. I particularly like the Darts mini-game, because after playing the Darts mini game in Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz the one found here is like a Godsend.

One of the coolest stages is the retro Nintendo stage. All the mini-games found in this stage are themed from various Nintendo games dating back to when Nintendo was a playing card company to the Gamecube. Being a big Nintendo fan I found it really cool to see certain games pop up. Even smaller titles like Animal Crossing and Pikmin make an appearance. The boss level for this stage is a pseudo Starfox level ripped straight from the original SNES Starfox. I like this boss level so much, I wish Nintendo would refine the experience and make a new Wii Starfox that controls this way.

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Best Starfox in years!

This games style makes me say “what the heck??” a lot. I think whoever put together all the micro-games was on drugs because most of them make absolutely no sense. For example one micro-game has you slowly drink a glass of water without spilling it on your face. When you complete it the guy suddenly grows an afro and an excessive amount of nose hair. Another game has you do a few reps of barbell lifting, and when you beat it a bunch of Lion photographs decorated with royal crowns jump on the screen.

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Seriously, whats going on?

The multiplayer modes in WarioWare Smooth Moves offer one of the most fun multiplayer experiences on the Wii. The best part is for most of them you only need one remote that is passed around, allowing up to 12 players at once. My favorite is the elimination mode where the remote is passed in a random order to all the players involved and each time it’s your turn you much do a micro-game. Fail and you get knocked out for the round until one is standing.

Lasting Appeal
Game can be beaten in about 2-3 hours which is pretty short compared to most games today. It is a title that is meant to be replayed but despite that I haven’t had much desire to replay the levels by myself.

As a multiplayer game this has some long legs. I have taken this to multiple parties and it’s always a favorite. Especially since each round goes so fast and up to 12 players can play (so nobody feels left out).

Final Thoughts
Despite the short 2-3 hours that this game initially lasted, I personally thought it worth the purchase. The experience was so fun and unique that the amount of enjoyment made up for the short time. In my opinion the full price of $50 (and its Nintendo published so that won’t be going down anytime soon) is asking too much for JUST the single player. So if you don’t have any friends and don’t play games multiplayer, I suggest renting.

If you haven’t played a WarioWare game before, this is a great one to start with. I can’t comment on how it compares to the rest of the series because this is the only entry I’ve played. If you are looking for a fun multiplayer game then make this part of your collection.

Gameplay Video

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Alucard
01-06-2009, 10:04 PM
Need to get around to playing these and a bunch of others now that I finally got my wii working as intended. Once I finish some games that came before them. The pain of owning multiple game platforms and a pc. BLEAH! But I love it. Good review there mister seraph.

Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:13 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WiiFit-1.png
Nintendo Wii
1 Player
Developer - Nintendo EAD
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I enjoy new interactive ways to play
-I really wanted to lose weight

My Completion
-90+ days of daily use

This is a very hard game to review, as it’s not so much a game as it is an exercise tool. Therefore the usual categories like Story/Graphics/Music don’t have much weight on the overall product.

Story
Like Wii Sports and Wii Play before it, Wii Fit is a simplistic “everyone” game without any kind of story, plot or narration.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen and Progressive Scan

Keeping with the tradition of the “Wii” line of games, Wii Fit has a simplistic style. Again this is not done because the developer is lazy or the Wii isn’t powerful enough, it’s done as an art style. It looks the way it does on purpose as to not scare away people who are intimidated by the complexity of traditional video games.

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Simple, just like the other Wii games

I enjoyed how most of this game has a clean modern “grown up” look. A lot of exercise tapes or programs are either obnoxious or embarrassingly silly, but I have no problem with Wii Fit. The trainer that instructs you during the fitness activities looks like a manikin. They could have at least made their mouth move when they talk to you.

Nothing in this game is impressive visually but then again, none of it needs to be.

Music
Most of the music is calm and soothing. There are some good little melodies in here that help break the silence when doing but don’t become distracting. There is a main theme which is kind of good, but not as good as Wii Sports theme.

For the dancing mini-game the music is pretty boring. It’s just the same song and it didn’t make me feel like I wanted to dance or “get into” the beat at all.

A lot of the music gets repetitive. Now to be fair for any traditional game this would not be the case, because even after 30-40 some days of playing the music did not bother me. But I have played this for 90+ days now and some of the music is really starting to annoy me. The Hula Hoop music especially drives me crazy now.

Gameplay
Wii Fit comes packaged with the Wii Balance Board, being an accessory I decided to review it separately. You can read about my overall impressions here.

Lost in the Forum Crash
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I will not be going over my weight loss results in this review either. If you would like to see how well Wii Fit worked as a weight loss tool for me, please check out my 90+ day results here.

Lost in the Forum Crash
To sum things up quick, I lost over 35 pounds and went from gut to flat tummy
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WeightLoss.png

As far as how well the Balance Board is implemented in Wii Fit, it works pretty well. Most of my movements were picked up on the board, almost too much in some cases. There are several balance tests the game puts you through and the amount of minute precision the board picks up was pretty impressive. It even uses the board in subtle ways I didn’t notice at first, such as checking if you are doing push-ups on it depending on the different pressure levels of your arms.

After about 60 some days of use, I started to notice some flaws in my game readouts. At the end of every day I would use the board to weigh myself, and perhaps I never noticed it before but it would not give me constant results. I could weight myself, pick up the board and shake it, weigh again and get a different result, sometimes almost a pound in difference. I can’t tell you how frustrating this was to somebody trying to lose weight. I don’t know if my board broke after so much use or if the board just isn’t that accurate. Along those lines, it’s almost like one of the sensor feet on the left of my board stopped functioning, because when I would do Hula-hoops exercise it wouldn’t register perfect circles clockwise no matter how I swung my hips.

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Oh look, I lost another 4.6 pounds since the last time I played

It did take a while to “learn” how to use the board properly though. When I first tried it I would try to adjust the weight on the board by pushing my feet down harder, instead of naturally leaning to adjust my weight.

Wii Fit is comprised of two types of activities, exercises and games. The exercises are split up into 3 categories: Yoga, Strength Training and Aerobics. There is also a favorite’s category that displays your most frequently used activities for easy access. However that is the only way to fill out this Favorites menu, so it isn’t very optimal for creating a daily workout routine.

Yoga
The Yoga poses involve various stretches and breathing techniques. I have never done real Yoga before so I cannot comment on how well a job the exercises are to the real thing. The poses do stretch you out though, and I found some of the final poses to be near impossible. My favorite pose to do has you lie on your back, bend your knee in the air, and then cross it over your other leg. It cracked all the joints in my spine every time and felt really good.

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Oh yes, feel that back crack

Strength Training
Most of the strength training exercises involve using your own bodies weight to work your muscles. Things such as push-ups, sit-ups, and lunges. These activities are designed to help you tone and define muscle, rather than bulk up. Don’t take it lightly though, the exercises found in this category will work you pretty hard. There is one exercise that has you grab onto the board with your forearms

Aerobics
The Aerobics are the bread and butter of the weight loss activities. Doing the few exercises in this category are guaranteed to burn calories. Strangely enough, the best calorie burning exercise in this category, jogging, doesn’t use the Balance Board at all. For jogging you put a Wii Remote in your pocket and follow an on screen trainer through an island course. When I first started using Wii Fit, I thought the runner was a great way to not only keep a steady pace but to help keep your mind off the fact that you were running. Eventually you can unlock Free Run which is the activity I used for the majority of my routine. In this mode you are given a time limit and you can see how far you can run before it’s up. The Wii Remote will also play sounds through its integrated speaker at different checkpoints, so you can watch TV & still know where you are at. My biggest problem with the running is that I could not find a proper was to carry the Wii Remote while doing it. I tried my pocket but it would bounce around too much and the game would think I was keeping an inconsistent pace. Because of this I eventually gave up caring about the score as the exercise was what I was really after.

Hula-hoops are another great exercise and not only got my heart rate going but also really worked my core muscles. This is one of the modes the game reads really well and so a lot of motivation can come from achieving a new high score.

The activity I didn’t like in aerobics is dancing. This activity works a lot like a slow Dance Dance Revolution, asking you to step on and off the board with the rhythm of a song. While it was fun the first couple times, I realized this exercise at its highest levels was still too slow to increase my heart rate.

Balance Games
Along with all the exercise activities, there are also a handful of games in Wii Fit. Overall I found them to be mini-games that lack substance a lot like what is found in Wii Play.

The Skiing game is the best one out of all of them. You control the player by leaning from side to side while trying to navigate through flagged checkmarks. It’s pretty fun and I’d like to see somebody make a full fledged skiing game based off this idea. There is also a Ski Jump but I didn’t think it worked very well. In this game you lean forward to pick up speed down the hill and then are supposed extend your legs to push off the Balance Board and jump. Perhaps it was just me and being afraid to break my board, but I couldn’t get this game to work properly. There is also a variation of skiing, snowboarding, which is the exact same thing but with the balance board twisted sidewise. I didn’t enjoy Snowboarding as much as skiing.

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One of the better games

One of the much advertized games of Wii Fit is the Soccer Ball head butt. In this mode a bunch of Mii’s will kick soccer balls at you and you have to position your head to hit them by leaning back and forth. I found this mode to be incredibly difficult to play because I could find no happy medium to my leaning. No matter how much I tried my leans would be interpreted as all-or-nothing making me constantly miss.

The only other notable game I had fun with is the Marble game. Much like Sega’s Super Monkey Ball you have to move a ball across a course to the goal by shifting your weight. I found this mode to control really well and it starts to get really fun when they put multiple balls on the course.

As fun as all these games are, their biggest flaw is that they are all 1 player only. Wii Sports and Wii Play have competitive depth to them, so even though the games themselves are simple trying to beat another player makes for a fun experience. Since Wii Fit is 1 player however there is no additional depth to these simple games outside of getting new high scores. I think this is why they all lose their appeal so fast.

A big big frustrating part about this game is that most of the activities have to be unlocked. I cannot stand when videogames deny you from playing sections of themselves until you complete some mundane tasks that you may or may not have wanted to do in the first place. Because this is an exercise game it makes it even more aggravating. It takes hours to unlock everything in Wii Fit and in the mean time is tiring your muscles out. I don’t enjoy doing an exercise I hate over and over just to unlock the exercise that I enjoy. It feels like a complete waste of my time.

To give you an example, my girlfriend bought this game the same time that I did. When I would go over to her house I wanted do my daily routine over here. I thought about bringing my save file to her house but since Wii makes transferring save files a royal chore, I decided I would just start a new profile at her house. My new profile was like starting the game fresh, the game would not copy over all the activities she unlocked and instead was going to make me unlock them all again. Since at this point I was already well into my exercise routine, many of the exercises I had grown accustom to using were unavailable and was going to take a few hours to unlock. Very frustrating.

Along the lines of wasting time, the activities in Wii Fit take way too long to do. At first I didn’t mind because the game was fresh to me and my out of shape body was having trouble keeping up with it anyways. But as I got to be more in shape and moving further into my program the speed at which the game goes through the activities started to really annoy me. 45 minutes of actual exercises would take almost an hour and a half to complete. Once you get into a daily routine exercise is not exactly fun and I felt it was taking away from the little free time I did have to do what I enjoy. Because of this desire to get it over with as fast as possible I found when I did an exercise I would be ready to immediately start the next, and was really annoyed it took a full minute or two to click through the games menus, listen to the instructor, and wait for him/her to get into position, and slowly do the exercises. Many nights when I was pressed for time I would outright skip doing the exercises through Wii Fit and do them on my floor.

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The woman will not shut up

I do not like the price of Wii Fit as well. The game itself is much like Wii Sports (A free pack-in game) and Wii Play (a $10 game), yet it costs $90 at retail. The balance board does not feel like an expensive piece of equipment and it will not be used in many other compelling games if any at all. Simply put, unless you are looking to get in shape with Wii Fit do not buy it.

At the end (or beginning) of your routine you can perform a “body test” which basically weighs you and makes you play some balance games. The game will try and determine a Wii Fit age from these results much like Brain Age does for the Nintendo DS. I did the full test a few times and could never hold consistent results. Some days I had perfect balance and some days I couldn’t stay steady at all. As I got more and more in shape my ability to do this didn’t improve and so I stopped caring. Luckily the game lets you skip doing the balance tests if you are just after your weight. From your weight and height the game will try to calculate your BMI, but that’s a horrible way to do so. It does not take into account different build types or the weight of muscle so the BMI number is completely useless.

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Perhaps the best part of Wii Fit is the graphs that help you track your progress

Lasting Appeal
The games in Wii Fit don’t last very long at all. They are a lot like the games found in Wii Sports and Wii Play, but lack any kind of multiplayer appeal so playing them by yourself gets boring fast.

As an exercise tool it will last as long as you have the motivation to get in shape. After almost 120 days I am still playing it everyday.

Final Thoughts
Wii Fit is an exercise tool first and a game second. At its high entry price I can’t recommend it to anyone looking at it for the game aspects. The high price tag is especially discouraging since the included Balance Board is not used in any other compelling games.

However for exercise I cannot recommend it enough, both as a tool and a motivator. The changes Wii Fit has helped me make to my lifestyle was worth every penny.

Gameplay Video
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Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:16 PM
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Nintendo Wii - Virtual Console
1-2 Players
Developer - Ancient
Publisher - Sega

My Bias
-Never played the original
-Had Sega fans tell me it was an awesome beat’em-up

My Completion
-Beaten the game on Normal difficulty

Story
The game opens with a brief story that takes place after the original Streets of Rage. I never watch this opening for more than 5 seconds before I hit start and begin the actual game. I tried to sit through it once and I want my time back. Same thing with when you beat the game, it shows some more cut scenes of you saving some boy from the evil mob boss.

The story is really stupid to me and has no impact on this game. You are a tough guy that beats up thugs and that’s the bottom line.

Graphics
The graphics are pretty good for Genesis standards. There is a lot of color used here and it’s done in such a way that hides the consoles weaknesses. For example there are some “transparent” overhead lights in the first level that give the illusion that the game is pulling off transparency (something the Gen isn’t capable of), but really it’s just alternating yellow pixels that come through on most TV’s looking transparent. Regardless of how they did it, the effects look good.

The animations on the playable characters are pretty good, as well as the bosses. The animations for the normal enemies are pretty poor though, totaling at about 5-6 frames max.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/SoR2-ohLAWD.jpg
The black character doing hip-hop moves next to some fried chicken. Did I mention he also runs the fastest?

Very common with Beat’em ups from this era, there are only a few enemy sprites that are just re-colored as you get farther in the game. This is fine and considering the time frame when this game was released its more than acceptable. By today’s standards this looks really lazy, but it didn’t bother me much.

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It's like Boo!

I asked myself the question throughout the game, why was this game on the Genesis? Yes, I know it’s a Sega IP and it certainly wasn’t going to appear on the SNES. I’m just saying it moves at a super slow pace and doesn’t take advantage of any of the consoles strengths. It seems like an odd fit to me.

Music
The music for SoR2 is probably the most impressive part for me. My impression for Genesis music outside of the Sonic the Hedgehog series was horrible, often sounding like NES music. What we have in SoR2 sounds fantastic though. Not only quality wise, but the composition is beautiful. All of it is done in a jazzy theme and is such a great fit for this game.

The opening stage is legendary music to me. I have actually heard this theme remixed a lot on the internet and didn’t know this is where it was from. It’s just so catchy and memorable. Halfway through Stage 1 the setting transitions to a bar, where the music changed into something more low key with some excellent bass. Most of the other stages have some awesome themes, Stage 3 in particular. The boss theme is a simple loop but gives a good danger feeling.

This soundtrack is so good I wish I could purchase an OST of it, but it doesn’t look like one exists.

Gameplay
The controls are really easy. This game works with the Wii Remote turned on its side (my preference) as well as all other controllers. With the remote turned on its side the D-Pad moves your character around, 1 is attack, 2 is jump, and pulling off specials is done with the A button. At first I didn’t like the placement of the A button for specials, but then I realized I can hit it with the tip of my left thumb so it works well.

There are 4 selectable characters all with different strengths and weaknesses. The character select screen will tell you how each character scores in different areas such as Speed and Power, but that’s only half of it. The other difference is that each character has a different move set. For example, Axels’ flaming uppercut is one of the most powerful attacks in the game, making him almost invincible and knocking whoever he hits to the floor. Blaze attacks different than the other characters with the Knife allowing her to get too attacks in opposed to one. I found it easiest to go through the game with Axel, simply because of his overpowered uppercut.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/SoR2-Characters.jpg
The only correct choice

There are a total of 8 stages all together, increasing in difficulty of course. Some of the stages made no sense to me, for example you go from fighting street thugs to fighting aliens? The later stages get ridiculously hard often throwing enemies that were previously bosses at you in waves. The overall difficulty of this game is pretty hard on Normal mode. Luckily the options menu lets you select difficulty which I think all games should do. The stages are kept fresh by having multiple segments. What I don’t like in a lot of Beat’em ups is that you walk through the entire stage looking at the same backdrops and it tends to wear thin. Every stage in SoR2 is broken up into parts, with a usual sub-boss at the end of each section. It keeps things interesting and is a welcomed design.

One of the most frustrating things with this game is that enemies will walk off screen and stay there. Since they always stay a certain distance away from you, if you try to stand next to the edge of the screen and wait for them it will take even longer. It becomes very tedious walking all the way back to the middle of the screen, just so the enemy will walk back on and you can resume fighting.

The bosses in this game are pretty hard. They have some uninterruptable attacks that they like to counter with as soon as they have been knocked down. There are certain bosses that are so hard it takes me an entire batch of lives just to take them down.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/SoR2-Uppercut.jpg
Look at me pwn two bosses at once!

As a problem with all beat’em ups, this game puts you in impossible situations too much. Guys will come at you from all angles and get you cornered, and at that point you get juggled and can’t move. I know part of the challenge is to not let that happen, but it happened a lot so either I suck or that’s just the way the game is.

One of the coolest parts of this game is that you can find and use weapons. Knife, Pipe, Katana, and a Kunai. Enemies can use them too and you can knock them out of the enemy’s hands to use for yourself. It’s so satisfying getting the steel pipe and busting people over the head with it. Along with the weapon pickups there are Health and Money pickups along the way. Money pickups don’t do anything but raise your score, which I don’t see a point to in a game like this. Health pickups are nice, but too often will I go to pick one up and get beat up during the pickup animation.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/SoR2-Pipe.jpg
A Pipe to the back of the head is always effective

Lasting Appeal
The game takes probably an hour to hour and a half to beat it all the way through. Because this is a beat’em up game, it’s meant to be played over and over. With the different characters all offering a different play style and multiple difficulty levels there is plenty of reason to go back and play through again.

With a friend to play this with the game is a lot of fun. This is a great pick up and play game and the Virtual Console helps in that regard. Click on its channel and within seconds you are in the action.

Final Thoughts
Streets of Rage 2 has become my second favorite beat’em up game, only outshined by TMNT IV:TiT. It really surprised me in terms of quality for a Genesis title.

If you enjoy old school beat’em ups and want a game that you can easily jump in and out of pick up this game. At $8 it’s a great value that will provide many hours of fun, especially with a friend.

Gameplay Video
Jjp-awH3Jxo

Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:21 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/SinPunish3D.png
Nintendo Wii - Virtual Console
1 Player
Developer - Treasure
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I had high expectations due to fan praise

My Completion
-Beaten several times on Normal difficulty

Story
Because this is one of the Virtual Consoles “Import” titles, it means that it minimum translation was done to make the game playable. The player does not need to understand Japanese at all in order to grasp this game.

This games storyline makes utterly no sense at all. As soon as you click start game you are thrown into a grassy field and must start shooting down baddies. At first I thought “oh well, this is more of an arcade title anyways guess it doesn’t have a story.” But then after the first stage ends the cut scenes begin to start. These cut scenes are so random it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on. Furthermore there is nothing in place to explain to the player what the heck is going on. Important sounding characters appear only to die minutes later, the main characters have a goal in mind, but by the next stage they are off on some completely unrelated tangent. It feels like there is a lot more to this game and I’m jumping in the middle of a grander story. I just found it impossible to follow.

This isn’t all because it’s Japanese either. I am a big time Anime fan and can watch most Japanese cartoons without getting lost. The story in Sin & Punishment just isn’t told well at all. It’s kind of a shame too, because from what I’m able to piece together the overall story and themes of this game could actually be really good if done right.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/VC-SinPunishment-Cutscene.jpg
I really have no idea whats going on. NO idea.

From what I understand the story follows a young group of adventurous youth, the main boy Saki, his girlfriend Airan and some really powerful magic girl named Achi. They are out on a mission to stop the “Ruffians”, alien type creatures, from invading earth. Both Saki and Airan have super powers as well because they were given some of Achi’s blood. Then there is a bad guy who was also given Achi’s blood who opposes you, fighting ensues. Later Saki turns into a mecha? Then they go inside of his internal organs? Then somehow end up in the future? That’s about all I could pull from this games story. The best part is that they are all instantly skippable.

This game also has English voice acting. I have no idea why a Japanese import title has English voice acting with Japanese subtitles, but all the more better for us English speaking players. A lot of the voice work is actually pretty decent considering its Japanese people speaking English. There isn’t a hint of Japanese accents. But other times the voices are impossible to make out. The characters say sentences that just don’t make any sense, and garble their speech. I was able to figure out what was going on more from the choreography than the actual speech.

Graphics
This game uses an extremely gritty art style. The characters have a lot of dark accents on them and give off a very “dirty” look.

Most the characters and monsters in this game are also painfully sharp. I mean poke out your eye with their knee caps sharp. Perhaps this was part of the intended visual style, but I didn’t care for it. The problem with these sharp polygons is that they stick through each other. You can see many instances where they polygons overlap and it comes off looking sloppy.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/VC-SinPunishment-Dragon.jpg
One of the best looking stages in the game

The camera angles in this game are nothing short of amazing. Zooming in and out, zipping around corners, it makes for a really exciting game to watch. One minute the camera will be behind your character, the next will be viewing everything upside-down while flying through the air.

In terms of effects and overall look this game is good by N64 standards. There are lots of flashy effects and explosions which are nice to look at. A lot of the game is spent keeping track of what you’re shooting at so not much time is spent dwelling on the visuals.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/VC-SinPunishment-Birds.jpg
Tons of stuff to shoot

Music
It feels like the developer, Treasure, really dropped the ball here. Most of the music is this soft mellow “rock”. Let me make it clear, the music is SOFT. I hear guitars going, it sounds like they are “rocking out”, but it all sounds like its coming through a softening filter that keeps it from being exciting. Not once did I ever feel fueled by the music, and in such an action intense game I see that as a big drawback.

None of the games tracks jump out as memorable. That’s a shame too because this games action would have been a perfect fit for an energetic and catchy soundtrack. No way would I listen to this games soundtrack outside of the game.

Gameplay
For those who have never heard of this game before, Sin & Punishment plays like an on-foot Starfox game. If you have played the Landmaster missions in Starfox 64 then you have an idea of how the game plays. Like Starfox, this is a Rail Shooter, meaning you don’t get to freely move around and just shoot at things by pushing a cursor around with the analog stick. However unlike Starfox the aiming cursor is independent of your characters movement giving a lot more mobility. A lot of the movement feels like it was inspired by fast paced Anime, letting you double jump and perform dodge rolls.

You only get one kind of gun during the game, but it can switch between two different bullets. Orange bullets fly straight and do a lot of damage, and blue bullets do less damage but allow you to lock on to targets. I found that the game was actually harder using the blue bullets because it takes FOREVER to kill things that way. Besides, there are only 1-2 instances during the game when an enemy moves so fast its hard to aim.

You also have a sword that can slash enemies up close. This does a ton of damage and is a great way of keeping enemies out of your face (never understood why in games getting sliced with a sword does more damage than a barrage of plasma bullets). The sword is also awesome because you can use it to reflect missiles, sending them flying to wherever your cursor is placed.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/VC-SinPunishment-Sword.jpg
Swords are always more powerful than guns

Now this all might sound cool as heck, and trust me it pretty much is. But the controls are frustrating as heck. This is one of the hardest games to control I have ever played. If there was ever a poster child for Wii’s philosophy that games are now too complex, this is it. I’m not talking like Street Fighter complexity, where certain moves are just hard to perform. What I’m talking about is the amount of buttons and commands you must constantly keep track of in your head. Aiming, Switching Bullets, Avoiding danger, Rolling, Double Jumping, Reflecting. It’s not a very intuitive setup and after beating the game several times I still struggle.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/VC-SinPunishment-Confusing.jpg
Try dodging stuff like this while keeping your aim

Some of the stages flip into side scrolling stages that resemble a 2D platformer. These would be awesome as heck but the confusing controls are even worse here. Luckily there aren’t many of these stages.

Almost all of the boss fights in this game rule. They have learnable patterns and it’s really fun to get their pattern down and conquer them. Especially because on normal mode their difficulty is pretty high, I have died on several occasions. Once you learn a boss’s pattern and start dodging their attacks it makes for some really intense fights that look really awesome. It’s not often that the actual gameplay sections of video game look entertaining.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/VC-SinPunishment-Boss.jpg
Dosen't get cooler than pushing the boss off the buildings edge with bullets.

As far as the localization goes on Virtual Console, they didn’t change much. All the menus are now translated into English but that’s about the extent of it. It’s not my place to criticize the efforts behind Virtual Console, because I honestly have no idea what goes behind making a game. But why does this game cost $2 more than all the other N64 games when the only difference is a translated main menu? To me it doesn’t seem like that would be much extra work, but who knows it also could be licensing.

Overall this game feels like its straight out of the Arcade. The action is instant, its fast, and it’s a ton of fun. I think that’s why I love this game so much, especially now on Virtual Console. No loading, No profiles, No cut scenes, No finding save points. One click from the Wii menu and I’m almost instantly in the action blasting away with no obligations forcing me to keep going once I’ve had my fill. Sin & Punishment has that cool “always hold down the fire button” arcade feel to it that is hard to describe but gives off such an adrenaline rush.

Lasting Appeal
My first time through I beat the game in about 2 hours. Sin & Punishment is very re-playable much like your typical Starfox game is. The story, graphics, and music aren’t going to keep you around but that’s a testament to just how fun the gameplay is. It is one of my most replayed Virtual Console games.

Final Thoughts
After putting a lot of time into it I will say that this is one of the best N64 games of all time and it’s such a blessing to have localized. For $12 this game is a steal.

This game was also never released outside of Japan, so it should be new to everybody. That kind of nullifies the “not paying money for old ROMs!” argument. If you enjoy arcadey, fast paced, “blast everything” games then do yourself a favor and buy this.

Gameplay Video
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Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:27 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MLaaK3D.png
Nintendo Wii - WiiWare
1 Player
Developer - SquareEnix

My Bias
-I enjoy the Crystal Chronicles universe
-I like Simulation games

My Completion
-Beaten with 95% of the available DLC beaten

Note: This is my first WiiWare review, and so it’s harder to grasp a standard to judge things like graphics and music by.

Story
The game takes place soon after the events of the original FF:CC game on Gamecube. The world has been cured is Miasma and people are ready to start a new life. For some reason the young king (the main character) has lost his father’s original kingdom and must rebuild a new one. He stumbles upon this

I thought the story would end here after this initial opening, but throughout the game you are treated to new storyline and an overall master plot. It does follow the traditional mold of “bad guy threatens world must stop him” but I don’t view that as a bad thing. There are only about five developed characters in this game. They do a decent job of developing these characters and giving them personalities, but it’s nothing too elaborate. I would have enjoyed even more cut scenes to break up the day in day out tasks of this game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WWMLaaK-Story.jpg
You guys are in a Final Fantasy game, why are you suprised at this?

As a whole the story is anything but a masterpiece, but it helps push the game along and give you reason to playing. It’s nice to have an end goal to work towards and this is a very important aspect of simulation games that is often lacking.

Graphics
Supports 16:9 Widescreen but not Progressive Scan

This game certainly has set a standard for WiiWare titles. The graphical presentation here is on par with, if not better than most retail Wii games. It’s both an amazing testament to this game and an embarrassment for most 3rd party developers on Wii.

The character models are beautiful as always, which is typical from SquareEnix. While there is no facial animation the body language of everyone is enough to convey different feelings. Between the characters, the overall look of the town, and all the various shiny effect this is one great looking game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WWMLaaK-Stats.jpg
I know there are stats somewhere on this screen, but my eyes can't seem to find them...

However these stunning graphics in a small downloadable game are not achieved without a price. For one the games frame rate is all over the place. At the beginning of the game it isn’t too bad, although even then it runs below 30 FPS. I’m no professional when it comes to guessing frame rates but I’d say it runs at a constant 25 FPS.

As your city becomes huge the graphics definitely take a dip. Dropping below the already low frame rate it starts to get really choppy. The absolute worst offender in this regard is your hot assistant Chime. Whenever you call her, she teleports in with some elaborate graphical effect. This teleport animation grinds the game down to about 5 FPS.

Music
I imagine the reason there aren’t many music tracks in MLaaK is because this is a WiiWare title and there simply isn’t enough space for loads of music. Because of this I’m not going to knock this game (or any WiiWare until proven otherwise) for not having a huge elaborate soundtrack.

What is here is pretty good though. The town theme is what you will be listening to a majority of the time. It’s a calming theme and one of those songs that loops well without feeling repetitive. As your village expands the theme changes and gets more upbeat which is a nice feature.

One little touch I liked is how the battle/danger music during cut scenes is a reprise of the Boss music from the Gamecube FF:CC.

Gameplay
Despite the other games in the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles being action based games, MLaaK is strictly a simulation game. Rather than play as the adventurers that go off and do battle, you play as their King and handle all the behind the scenes activity. Again I must stress, this is a Simulation game and not an Action game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WWMLaaK-LeavingTown.jpg
Don't be fooled, only your adventurers get to go fight baddies

The game can be controlled about every way possible on Wii. Wii Remote only, Nunchuk, Gamecube Controller and Classic Controller. Using the Wii Remote only scheme really limits some of the things you can do and as expected makes walking in 3D feel and look bad. Personally I use the Nunchuk setup to play this game. It works great and you don’t have to get out a separate controller.

The gameplay revolves around building the best city you can to support your adventurers, so that they can go out and conquer dungeons. Every day you are allowed to post one Behest (fancy word for mission) on your village’s bulletin board. In the morning your adventurers will come to this bulletin board and give you their opinion on the behest. If they are gung-ho about it then you can tell them to try to complete it if you feel they are ready. Sometimes they get discouraged by it and its best to send them home to rest instead. There are about 25 locations in the core game with multiple behests for each.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WWMLaaK-Map.jpg
There are a ton of dungeons to explore

As you build more houses in you village, more young villagers will show up at your castle wanting to become adventurers. This lets you pick and chose who you want to hire and lets you view all of that villagers stats beforehand.

You help prepare them for battle by building things like weapon shops, shrines and training grounds. Not only do you create different shops and training facilities for them to use, but you also control what these facilities are going to contain. It allows for a lot of depth and strategy as you only have certain amount of funds to work with. Do you upgrade the shops so your adventurers can purchase better swords, or do you upgrade the Training Hall so they can learn better skills? Those are the kind of decisions you must constantly make in this game.

However most of this isn’t available from the start. As your adventurers conquer more dungeons, it opens up paths to new harder dungeons with better rewards. For example you aren’t able to build a Weapons Shop until your adventurers beat the dungeon that unlocks it. This is where the addictive cycle comes into place. Your adventurers conquer a new dungeon, unlock a new building that will allow them to become stronger, train/shop at the new building which allows them to travel to harder dungeons, and the cycle never ends. Eventually you gain the ability to job change your adventurers and have them form parties, opening up even more strategic options.

At the end of every day your assistant Chime gives you a report of what your adventurers did. These reports are really interesting and crucial to review just how they are doing. You can view every single action they did that day in detail, down to a turn-by-turn basis for every battle. Doing this gives you an idea how what aspects of your village you need to improve on. So for example if your adventurer is doing 0 damage with their sword, you either need to buy better swords or level that adventurer up. It really is running a Final Fantasy Battle simulator in the background, turn by turn.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WWMLaaK-AdvReport.jpg
Its actually pretty fun seeing how your new adventurers did

As the day goes on its important to talk to your villagers. Doing so increases your Morale bar, and once it fills up completely you can do some special things. You can either spend that completed bar to upgrade your village, which grants you new abilities. Or you can spend it to give you a few minutes of morale boosting power. When you speak to villagers with this power they get along better with their families and start staying up later at night, in turn letting you stay out later every day.

Later in the game you get the ability to build more than one bulletin board, so that you can assign multiple behests a day. This is great as you support more adventurers you get more things done in a day. However a big problem I kept running into was that my adventurers would go to the wrong bulletin boards. For example if I wanted to send my strongest Warrior to go kill a boss, most often he would head over to the level-up behest I posted instead and all my weak trainees would go to the bulletin with the boss behest. This gets really frustrating.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/WWMLaaK-Behst.jpg
Gelfsarrem's party always choses the wrong behest to piss me off

Downloadable Content
One of the biggest worries or complaints I see on the internet is over this game’s Downloadable Content (DLC). For those of you who don’t know, you can spend real money to buy add-ons for this game. I was not very keen on the idea of this at first, as I hate having to spend even more money just to play the “complete” game. But as it turns out SquareEnix has carefully made sure all of it is optional. I think it’s a great way to offer DLC because you are still getting the full game regardless, and the DLC is there if you like the game so much that you want to extend it.

I myself felt no desire or push at first to buy this extra content, but my little brother went ahead and bought most of it. I will say that it does enhance the experience and extends the length of the game. I especially enjoyed the Extended Race pack and the Extra Dungeon pack.

What I really love about this game is that it gets you to care about your villagers. I get involved in their lives and know a lot of them by name. I would feel really bad when one of my adventurers would get wiped out or fail a mission and come back with their head hung low. As your village grows it gets harder and harder to keep track of everyone, but you still have a special place in your heart for those original villagers you started out with.

Lasting Appeal
The game has taken me about 18 hours to get to the last boss. I’m sure it’s going to take another hour for me to beat him.

I haven’t tried the extra dungeons provided by DLC yet because I just got them, but from the average time it took to beat the other dungeons I’d say they add about another 5 hours onto the game.

This game does have a NewGame+ feature that lets you carry over your end game stuff to a new save file. I love it when a game does this, and in my opinion adds a ton of replayability. It’s especially great for this game, because learning the ropes the first time though you more than likely didn’t build your village as optimal as you would have liked.

Final Thoughts
For $15 this game is a great value. I’ve spent $50 for new retail games that didn’t last thing long or provide this level of enjoyment. This dosent feel like a cheap little game, it feels like something I would buy retail.

This is by far one of the most addicting games I have played in a while. When I first purchased this game it started off slow but before I realized it 3 hours had gone by and I didn’t want to stop. I don’t remember the last time a game grabbed me like this. If you enjoy simulation games then I really recommend My Life as a King.

Gameplay Video
Q3WUMDz0Yxg

Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:38 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/CastlevaniaPoR-2.png
Nintendo DS
1 Players
Developer - Konami
Publisher - Konami

My Bias
-I like Metroidvania games
-I’ve beaten every Metroidvania game since SotN. (SotN, CotM, HoD, AoS, DoS)

My Completion
-Finished main game only

Story
This is another one of those Castlevania games where you don’t play as a Belmont. The game takes place after Castlevania Bloodlines, but I only found out about that by reading it on the internet. It’s almost like Konami has done away with formalities and just said “look, were not beating around the bush, you’re the hero now go kill Dracula……again”. Almost no back story or insight was given to why Dracula was back or who the two main characters were.

Speaking of the two main characters, yes there are two this time. Both of them have some pretty shallow personalities and act like they come from a Saturday morning Anime. The Guy, Jonathan, is the usual brawn character. Never thinking, believing his pure strength can beat anything, always replying to long winded explanations with “I don’t care about that! I’ll just hit it with my trusty whip!” The girl, Charlotte, acts like Jonathan’s protective big sister and is the typical brains character. I’m surprised the two don’t fall in love in the end to complete their generic destinies.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/CastlevaniaPoR-DualAttack.jpg
Looks like it's straight out of Beyblades

Overall this is one of the dumber plots of the Castlevania series. The premise is that some vampire other than Dracula has taken over the castle and you must stop him by jumping into his magical paintings and breaking their seals. While this allows some really cool gameplay environments, it makes for a bland story. The good news is that like most Castlevania games, the story is not a crucial part of the enjoyment. Along those lines the one thing I really don’t like about this game is its overall presentation. The art style, the plot, the characters, the storytelling. It all makes this feel like a “kiddie” Castlevania game, and loses the dark gothic feel of previous titles.

Graphics
The backgrounds and environments in PoR are simply gorgeous. There are certain parts of the game I would stop for a second and just look at the background because it was so impressive. Tons of color gradients, and a lot of attention to detail.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/CastlevaniaPoR-Beautiful.jpg
I thought some of the outdoor areas looked fantastic

The sprites for the main characters look really good. Jonathan and Charlotte have a lot of frames in their movement, especially their walking animation. I really appreciate well done sprites in this day and age. Bosses are also good looking, albeit a little funny looking when they use rotation. Although they did a great job on these sprites, the general enemy sprites aren’t nearly as impressive. A lot of them are just recycled from DoS, and on top of that they don’t have much animation at all.

Like DoS did before this, PoR uses an Anime art style. I enjoy Anime, I’m not one of the new “hate it cause it’s cool” kids who now hate the style because it’s become popular or “overused”. But even so, I do not like the art style for this game. It reminds me a lot of low budget Saturday morning cartoons.


Music
This is the first Castlevania game I am disappointed with musically. Each one I have played has at the very least had one good “theme” that sticks in my head. This game doesn’t have that, and I come away not remembering anything.

That’s not to say the music in PoR is bad, it’s just not memorable. Most of the music fits with the area you’re in and suits the game pretty well.

Gameplay
Out of all the Castlevanias I’ve played, this is the most fluid refined one yet. The controls are very responsive and whip slinging has never been easier. In other words it means that the core gameplay of exploring and battling monsters is really fun.

The classic Metroidvania gameplay is still intact. Double jumping, attacking, backsliding and the rest of the moves that have become the Metroidvania standard are all here. I love that this game is on the DS because using the extra screen to display your Map is such a Godsend for these games.

The new feature of this game is that you now can control two characters at once. At any time during the game you can summon your partner and control them with the stylus. This is really hard to do and kind of cumbersome to pull off. If you don’t want to control both of them at once the computer will take over the other player for you. I found myself never using this later in the game because the AI controlling your partner is pretty stupid and gets beat up too much. Because of this I almost never used Charlotte and played solo with Jonathan. The dual character concept is awesome but I wish they would have explored it further. Some unique puzzles or bosses that required two people would have been great.

An element that plagued DoS was Konami went out of their way to add touch screen functionality just for the sake of using it. Thankfully this game doesn’t have any forced touch screen elements. This is about as traditional as Castlevania games get.

Magic is now a big part of the gameplay. For starters when your partner is on screen they use your MP bar for their health, making management of your MP even more important. Playing as Charlotte requires heavy magic use and she has a wide range of spells. Weapons and equipment is as important as ever and the game is full of a variety of them, especially now that you are collecting equipment sets for two different characters. Whips make a triumphant return which makes me very happy. I found the weapon balance to be off for Jonathan because although I found a good 30 weapons in the game, I only used maybe 6 of them. Most of the weapons by the time you find them are outdated and weaker than what you are currently using.

As I stated earlier, entering the Portraits is a pretty lame story aspect, but makes for a fantastic gameplay element. Dracula’s castle has always been full of varied environments but this new system allows for some REALLY unique levels. Sandy Pyramids, Quaint Towns and a lot of outside areas. This Castlevania has the most diverse levels I have ever played.

This games difficulty is hard. During my play through I died at least 15 times. The bosses generally beat me to a pulp before I could defeat them, sometimes pushing me one hit away from death. It’s not just the bosses that are hard either, as you explore the castle you get beat up as well. Because of the way Metroidvania games work, at least when I play them, it’s very easy to explore a new area and miss save points along the way. Save points are the only practical way to restore your health outside of limited potions and a healing spell you get way later in the game. So if you miss these save points, it gets harder and harder as enemies chip away at your health. It’s quite frustrating when you spend a ton of time progressing in the game only to die and have to do it all over again.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/CastlevaniaPoR-Enemies.jpg
This guy's cousins are tough, but hes a pushover

Throughout the game you are able to sign up for and take on side missions, which unlock various upgrades and weapons. I think this is a great idea for the series, but unfortunately they way it is executed here gets very frustrating. The descriptions on what you have to do for the missions is so incredibly vague I don’t know how anyone is able to figure it out. For example one of the very first missions says “Go to the butcher in town and mince some meat to get Ground Meat”. Now I was able to figure out what they were talking about and even managed to get to the room in question. I saw some meat hanging there that I was able to wack at with my weapons so I figured that’s what they were talking about. But try as I might I couldn’t get any Ground Meat to drop. I had to go out to Gamefaqs to figure out you need to unequip your weapon and use a normal punch on the meat. And that’s one of the less vague ones.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/CastlevaniaPoR-Missions.jpg
Could this be any more vauge?

Along those lines, there is one element that I felt was really poorly done. In order to fight the real last boss and get the real ending you need to find this hidden magic spell. After getting the poor ending and figuring that couldn’t be the end, I had to look this up on Gamefaqs. The game didn’t make it clear at all that’s what I was supposed to do let alone where I could find this spell. I would think such a crucial part of the story would be more spelled out for you

After playing the last 4 previous Castlevania games, this formula is starting to feel old. PoR is one of the best classic Castlevania games to date and yet as a seasoned fan the formula is starting to feel old. Not enough changes are made between games and PoR feels almost like DoS with some new characters and areas.

Once you beat the game it opens up a bunch of different modes. Most recent Castlevania games do this, but PoR is the biggest so far. You can unlock a mode where you play as Richter Belmont and Maria Renard from Dracula X, a mode where you can play as the two evil Sisters from the game, and a mode where you can play as one of the old Axe Armor enemies (which looks pretty funny). Each of these modes are surprisingly fun, and once I have more time I will probably go back and play these different modes through to the end.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/CastlevaniaPoR-Richter.jpg
How friggan sweet is this?

Lasting Appeal
It took me 8 and a half hours to finish the main game. I only did about 10 or so side missions, so if you enjoy completing those the game could last even longer. That timeframe is also not taking into account how many times I died and had to restart from where I last saved, so realistically I probably spent 10 hours beating it.

I also did not play completely through the extra modes once I beat the game. They do however add a lot more bang for your buck, playing through the game with these characters is really fun and felt fresh. If you’re looking for a game that is going to give a ton of replay ability I recommend this.

Final Thoughts
Despite the fact that this is not the 6th entry in the Metroidvania vein of Castlevania games, it is still a fun game. I enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see what the series brings next.

Portrait of Ruin should be part of any Castlevania fans collection. It’s a very fun game.

Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:52 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/HotelDusk-2.png
Nintendo DS
1 Players
Developer - Cing
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-None

My Completion
-Beaten with “standard” ending

Story
Hotel Dusk is a very text heavy game. The main draw or reason to play it is the storyline, and in this area it doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed this games story a lot. It had me laughing, made me feel sad, and even scared me at a few parts.

I really loved the characters in this game. Each of them has a unique personality and are easy to relate to. For some reason the main character, Kyle Hyde is a big jerk to everyone. In a sense though, his passive attitude helps give the game its overall mellow laidback theme. What I really love is that all the characters are believable. There are no stereotypical cute anime characters saying/doing obnoxious things. The characters act like people do in real life. Even the little girl that runs around acts like a real little girl.

The writing for this game is top notch. By writing I don’t mean the overall story (which is great as well) but I mean the way the story is told. All the conversations are so well done that it feels like you’re talking to an actual person rather than prompting a game for a response.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/HotelDusk-Dunning.jpg
Saying this is a surefire way to have me not forget

One thing I didn’t like about the story is it gets too confusing at times. You meet a lot of characters in this game, all with their own stories and reasons for staying in the hotel. It gives you so many things to keep track of I often found myself wondering just what the heck was going on. A lot of the time I kept forgetting why Kyle was at the hotel in the first place.

The ending of this game, and by that I mean probably the last 20 minutes, is fantastic. So many twists and turns, things you’ve been wondering about the whole game are finally revealed. Everything comes together and it is a really nice closure.

And again, this yet another game that rewards the player for playing perfect with the “true ending”. Why do I have to play through the game making absolutely no mistakes just to enjoy some conclusion to this long story? This game is a horrible offender in this regard because the ending without this “bonus” at the end leaves you feeling pretty crappy. It’s annoying as heck having to go watch the real ending on Youtube for these games.

Graphics
As you walk around the hotel the touch screen displays a crude overhead view of your location, representing people as blue circles. The other screen displays a 3D view of the hotel which reminds me of the old days of playing Doom 2 on the PC. It’s hard to explain, but the 3D view has some weird ghosting effect applied to the textures. It’s really apparent when you go on the Hotels Roof. People on this 3D screen are flat sprites that rotate no matter what angle you view them from. These sprites look REALLY bad as they get scaled in size and there is only one sprite per character. Meaning if a character is supposed to be sitting down enjoying their dinner, when you see them on the screen they will just be standing by their chair. I can’t say either of the navigation screens are visually pleasing, but they get the job done.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/HotelDusk-3D.jpg
3D isn't so hot........


The character portraits on the other hand are amazing. They look a lot like real people because Rotoscoping was used, and yet have a slight Anime touch to them. Everything is drawn in black and white with a sketchy animation overlay so the lines never stay still. As characters talk, they do a lot of animations and the whole thing comes off very stylized and fluid looking. They did an especially good job at the facial animations.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/HotelDusk-Rachel.jpg
Kyle's "Friend" Rachel is especially well drawn. And by well drawn I mean hot

The art style and technique used gives off an old, slummy feel to the whole game. You really get a feel for what a dump Hotel Dusk really is. It really complements this games theme and story.

Music
Hotel Dusk pulls music from a few different genres. Most of it is laid back and relaxing.

I have a lot of praise for this soundtrack. This is partially because I really love smooth jazz and piano. The songs have some great melodies to them which I always appreciate more than theatrical/orchestral noise. This game just has a lot of great songs.

The only song I really don’t like is unfortunately the one that plays the most. The music that plays when you are casually walking around the hotel annoys me.

Some of my favorite songs include:

Pink Rabbit - This is the theme that plays whenever you talk to the little girl, Melissa. I think it’s a really cute theme

Violet Sky - This is an awesome song that plays whenever you help solve somebody’s big problem. It gives a big sense of resolution.

Gameplay
This is one of those DS games that are played holding the unit on its side like a book.

Most of the game is controlled by the stylus. You walk Kyle around the hotel by simply pointing to the spot you want to go. When you want to investigate something you can tap one of the interaction icons on the bottom of the screen. However you can only investigate certain areas of the hotel, which is indicated when the icons light up. This game can also be controlled using the D-Pad. I preferred this method of control because it was more comfortable, especially for the reading parts.

The entire game plays like reading a book. A good majority of the game is spent talking to the other residents of the hotel and trying to figure out how to advance the story further.

When Kyle finds out that somebody has deep dark secrets he can’t ever leave it alone. At these points in the game you have to grill the person until they spill out their life secrets. The grilling sections I found pretty hard because you are constantly presented with two answers and if you pick the wrong one it’s usually game over. The questions themselves are tough, often giving you two answers that both sound correct and you have to chose what you think sounds the best.

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Making little girls cry is one of the gameplay features

Along the way there are a few puzzles that you nee to solve. Some of them are really simple ones like putting a children’s puzzle back together and others take a few minutes of thinking. The only really hard puzzle was the very last one. Along with the puzzles there are many parts in the game where you must search areas for clues or special items, much like the gameplay of a PC point-&-click adventure game. For example if you find a crowbar in one room you can then use it to pry something open in another room.

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This puzzle took me 10 hours to figure out

This could just be me, but I found if I took a break from this game for a few days when I came back it was really hard to remember what I was doing. At this point you have two options. Either walk in every single room, knock on every single door and explore every single possibility until something happens. Or you can check Gamefaqs.com. Actually I found myself not knowing where to go regardless if I took a break or not. Sometimes the games not very self explanatory as to what your next objective is. Something that I found helped with this is the notepad. You can open it up at any time and jot notes down with your stylus, therefore letting you jot down the last thing you were doing so you don’t forget.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/HotelDusk-Writing.jpg
I put my notepad to good use

At the end of every chapter Kyle quizzes himself. The quiz is never hard in the least as it basically asks you questions like “What did I use to open my door?: A Key, A Fish, An Apple .” I do like that they added this in because when I would take a break and forget everything that was going on and it was a nice way to recap the chapter.

Lasting Appeal
This game lasted me about 20 hours. The game probably could be completed much faster than it did me, because I got stuck wondering what to do a lot.

Being such a heavy story based game there isn’t much replayability at all. A lot like reading a book, once you finish it you know what happens.

Final Thoughts
The Story, Graphics, Music and slight gameplay elements all meld together to create a wonderful experience. I recommend this game to anyone who wants a relaxing yet entertaining title.

When I finished this game I got a feeling like I just finished a really good book (not that I’d know what reading a book feels like).

Seraph
01-06-2009, 10:54 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ZeldaPH-1.png
Nintendo DS
1 Player
Developer - Nintendo EAD
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I like Zelda games
-Windwaker would have been my favorite Zelda if not for the Triforce Hunt
-I was skeptical of touch screen only controls

My Completion
-Beaten with minimal side quests done

Story
Phantom Hourglass happens shortly after the events of Windwaker. The game opens with a happy little storybook telling of Windwaker using cardboard cutouts, which is really cute. Link is now cruising the open sea with Tetra and her band of pirates. The come across a mysterious foggy ship and Tetra jumps on it with no regard for anything. When she screams for help Link jumps after her but misses and lands in the water. That’s the premise for the game and you spend most of it trying to get back on that ghost ship to save Tetra.

I found the story to be very lighthearted, a lot like Windwakers was. It gets pretty serious towards the end, but for the most part it’s nice to play a game that’s not horribly dark and serious. Lots of smiles, lots of humor and just an overall happy game.

The characters and their personalities in this game are great. Link of course is the silent protagonist he always is. The new character on the cover of the box is Linebeck. Linebeck is the guy who owns the boat you sail around on the whole game and “helps” you on your quest. I really love this guy. He is a greedy lowlife who only looks out for himself and always makes Link do all the hard work. His only goal throughout the whole game is to find treasure and become rich. He always runs scared whenever there is danger, but when the battles are won he shows up to try and take all the credit. Following the recent trend of Zelda games since Ocarina of Time, he is accompanied by a fairy that gives you hints throughout the game. Even the fairy has a likeable personality, always trying to help Link and fighting with Linebeck when he acts selfish.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ZeldaPH-Linebeck.jpg
Linebeck might be my favorite Zelda character

The main bad guy is new to the Zelda series, and was scarier to me than Gannon or Vaati ever were. I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil too much.

Ending is cool to this game is pretty cool, especially the last battle. It gave off quite an epic “yeah we can do it!” feeling and after all was said and done I felt satisfied.

Graphics
The graphical style of this game resembles Windwakers cartoon style. That means Link is the big eyed short legged fellow that he was in WW. I liked this because I felt the cartoony style fits more with the old Zelda games I grew up with rather than the mature style of OoT and TP. Also like Windwaker, the game looks cell shaded. I don’t know if it’s true cell shading or not, but it certainly looks like it to me.

As far as 3D goes, this is some of the best the DS has to offer. From the standpoint of a DS game this game looks amazing, but when compared to the 3D titles we have grown accustom to on other consoles it looks blocky and jaggy. A lot of the reason the 3D looks so sloppy is because of the DS’s limited resolution. When the camera is zoomed out during normal play things look very sloppy, but when the camera zooms in on the characters it doesn’t look half bad. For some people this issue is a big deal, I personally didn’t have a problem with it. This games visuals obviously are not going to blow you away, it’s 3D on the DS, but the overall look of them has a charm and does its job fine.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ZeldaPH-Close.jpg
Dosen't look too bad up close

What I really love about following Windwakers theme is that this game is full of color. In a generation of games that strive for a realistic mature “brown” look, it’s so nice to see a game with bright blue skies and vibrant green grass.

Music
Much like the graphics, the music also takes a page from Windwakers theme. Fortunately while a few themes are taken directly from Windwaker in the beginning of the game, for the most part the game doesn’t remix songs for its soundtrack. The new soundtrack does a great job of retaining the Windwaker feel.

The Overworld theme (http://youtube.com/watch?v=7plKQ4T0980) is really good and does a great job at sounding like sailing music, which is good because you hear it a lot throughout the game. I liked the cave theme because it reminded me a lot of LttP’s cave theme. Linebeck has a catchy theme as well (http://youtube.com/watch?v=Kk5RBAqziW8), especially when it is remixed later in the game.

Overall Phantom Hourglass doesn’t have a soundtrack as great as some of the other Zelda games, simply because there aren’t enough good tracks. There are some really good songs in this game, if there had been more then it would rank up there with the best.

Gameplay

Controls
This game is controlled completely with the stylus. Everything from walking, attacking, and even menu navigation is all handled through the touch screen. There are no options for traditional controls, and this game was not designed to use them so it’s not even an option. If the thought of this really puts you off then I suggest avoiding this game.

What I am very glad to tell you is that the touch screen controls work great. I was skeptical at first, because I wondered how a franchise as deep and involved as Zelda would handle without a D-Pad and multiple buttons. After about 10 or so minutes of practice the controls became second nature. Movement is handled by simply holding on the touch screen the direction you want to go. To attack you can either tap directly on the enemy to do a stab, or make a quick slash motion with your stylus to do a wide swing. Doing Links trademark spin slash is easier than ever, now you just draw a quick circle around him. All of it works great and is very responsive. The only action that isn’t would be rolling, as it worked probably half the time. Luckily rolling isn’t needed very often so it doesn’t hamper the gameplay.

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NPCs are as useless as ever


My only complaint with this control setup is not actually with the game but with the DS itself. I used a DS Lite to play this game and it becomes very straining to hold the DS with one hand for long periods of time. Regardless I loved the controls so much that I wish every DS Zelda from this point on would use this control scheme. It’s that fun.

Ocean King Temple
One of the biggest parts of this game is the new Ocean King Temple. It’s a temple with many floors that you keep coming back to throughout the game. As you get deeper into this Temple you come across floors that will drain your life and this is where the Phantom Hourglass comes into play. The Phantom Hourglass gives Link protection from the life drain, but only so long as it has time left in it. While I usually hate timed dungeons, this aspect didn’t bother me because unless you are screwing up really bad you have more than enough time to get to your goal.

I mentioned that you do this Temple multiple times and this is because every time through it you can only go so deep before you are met with an obstacle that blocks your way. Usually the tools you find in the next dungeon allow you to go even further the next time through. Not only that, but your new tools will open up shortcuts on the floors that you have previously cleared so that you can knock a few minutes off the timer.

The temple is filled with the invincible bad guys called Phantoms. When these enemies see you they chase after you until they lose sight or you step on a safe tile. If they end up hitting you they take off a full heart and a minute from your Phantom Hourglass. Much like the stealth mission in Windwaker, you must hide from these guys and sneak around their backs to get through. They are pretty stupid and easy to outrun, the only parts that I got caught was when I put myself in cornered situations by mistake.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ZeldaPH-Dungeon.jpg
These red guys are the biggest jerks

I thought this temple was a neat concept. At times it got annoying having to do the same floors over and over, but thanks to new tools opening up shortcuts it didn’t feel like that much of a hassle. This temple made getting certain tools throughout the game more excited because I would think “cool the bow, now I can see what those targets do in the Ocean King Temple”.

Speaking of tools, Phantom Hourglass has some really creative ones thanks to the touch interface. For example the boomerang now allows you to draw its path on the touch screen, specifying exactly how you want it to travel. I thought the grappling hook was the most creative weapon in the game. Most of the time it works like the standard Zelda Hookshot, pulling you across gaps and reeling in treasure. But you can also use it to tie a rope between two posts and then use that rope as a slingshot for Link or his weapons.

I’m happy that this game removes a lot of the annoyances I’ve had with the Zelda series. For example there is no Rupee limit now. I would always hate in previous Zelda games how I would open a chest and find a big pay out of Rupees (like 500 at once) and watch it all disappear because I was already at the max. Another thing they removed is Heart Pieces (or at least I think they did because I never found any). I never liked hunting down several pieces of heart just to add one more to my life bar.

This entire game is easy, as in I only died once easy. If you like your games to be very challenging then this isn’t the game for you. I however don’t subscribe to the popular notion that every game has to be really hard in order to be fun. If that were the case I would never play a Kirby title. Phantom Hourglass is easy but all the battles, puzzles and exploration still provide a good level of satisfaction. I especially liked the puzzles that had you draw clues out on your map that eventually pointed to a treasure location.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/ZeldaPH-Map.jpg
Videogames never lie

Throughout the game you find these teardrop looking gems that seem to do nothing. There are ones for Power, Wisdom and Courage. I read online that if you find every last one of a certain type than you can use them to upgrade your abilities. I thought this was kind of silly myself because some of the last ones are really hard to get and chances are you will have to use a guide to find them all. But I suppose for those who enjoy side quests its more to extend the life of the game.

I have to applaud the pacing of this game. In most Zelda games I often hit points where I just don’t want to continue. Either the next dungeon or quest is really boring or time consuming and it makes me want to stop. I never felt like this in Phantom Hourglass, even with the Ocean King Temple. This is the fastest I have ever beaten because I didn’t want to take breaks. The other thing this game does right is the bosses. The bosses in this game are amazing. From beginning to end, every single boss is creative and a great finale to their dungeon. Phantom Hourglass has the best bosses in any Zelda game.

Like Windwaker before it, the entire Overworld is covered in water and you must sail to each location. Unfortunately due to the nature of this giant sea idea, there isn’t a lot to do while cruising on your ship. It does a better job than Windwaker, allowing you to draw the path you want your boat to follow and then sit back until you get there. But that’s the thing, sitting back and watching your ship gets boring. They tried to spice things up by throwing enemies at you once in a while but I found them to be more of an annoyance than anything. Sea Combat isn’t very fun either. Your ship has a cannon that will shoot at anything you tap at on the screen, which means all battles are so easy you wonder why they even exist. It’s not like normal combat where you have many other things to worry about like movement and items. You simply tap enemies and they disappear. The very end of the game has a sea battle that’s actually fun, and they should have put more battles like that throughout the game.

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The only boring part of the game

At the main island you can customize your ship. Throughout the game you will find various ship parts you are able to mix and match to make an interesting looking boat. If you combine 2 or more of the same set the ships health will go up. I thought this was cool but they either needed to make parts more available or not make the requirements for more health so steep. In my play through I was only able to get one extra heart because in order to get anymore I had to have 5 pieces of the same set.

What I loved about this game is that it felt like a made-for-handheld Zelda game. The design of it worked great in a pick up and play style, not forcing me to dump hours of my time into it at once. I always have trouble finishing the console Zeldas because of that very reason, and yet I beat this game relatively fast. I guess “Approachable” would be the right word. It gave off a very fun feeling much like Links Awakening did on the Gameboy.

There is a multiplayer mode in this Zelda, but since I don’t know anyone who owns it I can’t talk about it.

Lasting Appeal
I finished the game in about 15-18 hours. That’s my estimate based off how long I played it a night and how many nights it took me to beat it.

Being a Zelda game there isn’t much replay ability at all. Once the story is done I had no desire to immediately replay it. Again I can’t comment on the multiplayer because I have no friends.

Final Thoughts
Phantom Hourglass is a great Zelda game, up there with my favorites. Well worth the full price of admission. I liked the new controls more than any of the older Zelda titles.

Don’t buy it if you hate stylus controls. If you hear negative opinions of this game always take into account the tastes of the player they are coming from. I think this game rocks and was one of the most fun games I’ve played on my DS.

Seraph
01-06-2009, 11:07 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-4.png
Nintendo DS
1 Players
Developer - Neverland Co. Ltd.
Publisher - Natsume

My Bias
-I enjoy the Harvest Moon series
-I love hack and slash RPGs
-I have not been happy with the most recent HM’s (AWL, MM, HMDS)

My Completion
-Completed the main storyline
-A year and a half into the game

Story
The Premise of Rune Factory is the Harvest Moon franchise combined with a normal RPG. This means that for once the story is not “dads coming home in 3 years, fix up grandpas farm”. The story begins when the main character, Raguna, limps into town exhausted and bumps into the main heroine Mist. Raguna doesn’t know how he ended up at this town and has amnesia. Mist feels bad for him so she lets him live on her deserted farm as long as he works to maintain it. As you continue through the game you find that monsters are mysteriously appearing in caves because someone is placing monster generators in them.

After completing the game I think the storyline is pretty bad as a whole. It was a good idea but was horrible in its execution. What ruins a lot of the immersion of it is that the story is not told very well. A lot of this is due to the story sections being broken up between dungeons, and since you do a lot of farm work in between these dungeons it’s often hours before you continue the storyline. I found myself not remembering what was going on every time the story pushed along. The other thing is that key story elements are never explained or developed. It’s sad that the first time I even saw the games villain is right at the end of the game. I’m left with a feeling of missed potential, because this game could have been an awesome story.

I like all the different characters. The game doesn’t have many unique personalities in the sense that if you have played a Harvest Moon game before then you know what to expect. Mist is half brain dead and does the stupidest stuff, but I married her anyways because she’s cute. It’s so nice having a new Harvest Moon experience that doesn’t involve the same old characters since HM64.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-Sabrina.jpg
Remember: Games never lie

There is some minimal voice acting throughout the game. Just some Hi’s and Thank you’s when you talk to people. Some of the NPC’s blurt out quick sentences like the angst filled teen who likes to spout “I’M DIFFERENT THAN MY FATHER” every time you talk to him. I swear, half the guys sound flamboyantly gay especially the ones who run shops. Every time you leave their store you hear “Thanks for coming” *slight pause* “As always…” and I felt them wink at me as they said that last bit. Some of the voices fit such as a grizzly voice for the dwarven blacksmith and the soft voice for Mist, but other voices don’t match the character at all. The little mage girl who looks like she’s 10 years old has a deep woman’s voice.

Graphics
All the scenery and backgrounds in this game are gorgeous. They are done in a hand painted style that gives a lot of personality to each area and makes for some neat details. As standard with Harvest Moon games the color tones of each area (minus caves) will change to reflect the time of day. Each season the environment changes as well and they have done a good job at capturing the feel of each time of year.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-Lilypad.jpg
Some of the environments are really great looking

In contrast to the beautiful environments, the 3D characters and monsters look crummy. I’m not sure if the actual 3D models are crummy or if the DS’s small resolution is making everything so pixilated and jaggy. The dual screen is not used very well either. Like most of the time it displays a map, and this is a game that could have really benefited from that, but the character cursor is only general location marker. So instead of showing you where you are in the fields/town it just shows that your character is indeed in town.

Like in many RPG’s when you talk to people an anime portrait comes up for that character. I liked the art style for this game and think the character designs were great. Laguna looks a bit silly with his dress/kilt, but the other characters especially the girls look good. The game opens with a long FMV clip which was cool to watch once, it’s a shame the game didn’t have more of them intermittent through the game.

Music
The Opening FMV has a really catchy J-Pop song in engrish. It might as well be Japanese though because it’s impossible to tell what the vocalist is saying. Regardless I still really like this song and it’s a shame it isn’t used throughout the game as its theme.

Most of the music is really good and has a mellow tone. I especially love the farm themes and my only complaint there is that much of the game is not actually spent on your farm so you don’t get to hear them.

I enjoyed this soundtrack because it’s full of a lot of strong melodies. No musical fluff or noise here, almost every single track is memorable. It definitely sounds like Harvest Moon music.

Gameplay

Controls
The controls in Rune Factory are exactly like the previous Harvest Moon games before it so fans of the series should feel right at home. If you haven’t played a HM game then the controls are pretty straight forward. Like the most recent HM’s, Rune Factory has a quick switch menu that allows you to cycle through tools and items without having to enter the menu screen. The only nitpick I have with the controls are that you need to hold the R button down to run and since Raguna walks like a snail, you will be holding R down the entire game.

Along with the traditional controls there are also some minimal touch controls. The only things you can do with the touch controls are farming activities, things like planting, watering and picking. Most of it is pretty simple, just select the tool you want to use and click on the floor tile. For tasks like picking crops this is faster and easier than doing it the standard way, but it’s also a shame how limited it is. You have to click on each tile individually and can only queue up to 9 tiles at a time, meaning if you have a big harvest you need to continually click tiles as the character works. The characters default running route is stupid as well, insisting on always picking a crop from the tile beneath it, and if there is an obstacle in the way he just continually runs into it. Overall it’s missed potential, but still a better and faster alternative than farming the standard way.

Being a Harvest Moon/RPG hybrid, your character now levels up and has equipment. The whole RPG aspect of this meshes great with the Harvest Moon style creating a brilliant cycle. You start the game and realize you need a weapon to beat the first cave. To afford a new sword you need to start farming. Finally save up for that sword, beat the first cave and it unlocks the next cave allowing you to get better tools which let you farm even more. This repeats over and over giving the game a nice pace and sense of things to do. The equipment aspect of this game really starts to get addictive as you get mid to late game and can start forging your own equips. I stayed up many long nights (in real life) just trying to make new armors and weapons.

Combat is a lot like the Secret of Mana series. You can freely run around in battle slashing at monsters, casting magic, and avoiding attacks. It feels pretty fluid, especially because its all done in 3D allowing a good range of movement. I found some of the early bosses to be very difficult but in a good challenging way instead of frustrating.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-L33TDamage.jpg
This monster has a maximum HP of like 5

Depending on your actions, your character will level up different skill levels. Fighting in caves a lot will raise your Combat skill while Fishing a lot will raise you. Raising a skill level decreases the amount of energy it takes to perform that action. You also have skills such as forging and cooking that allow you to make better things as they increase. Once these skill levels get towards the maximum amount, you are able to forge difficulty-breaking equipment and make stat increasing foods. You don’t have to level your character to these extremes but I personally love when games allow you take your characters above and beyond like this.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-Menu.jpg
If you wan't you can max things out like I did

Your character has an HP and Rune Points bar, RP bar representing energy. Every action you perform in the game takes a bit of RP and once it’s depleted your actions start draining HP. If you drain all of your HP on your field or in town then you get sick from exhaustion for a few days, just like exhaustion would work in other Harvest Moon games. However if your HP gets depleted in a cave you are given a game over screen. To further drain your RP you can learn magic spells that take big chunks of RP to cast (although I only found the healing spell to be useful).

There are 8 caves total in this game and they all take some time to finish. Each cave has a different climate which allows you to grow seasonal crops all year round (although I’m not sure how plants grow without sunlight but whatever). Caves are full of monster generators, which like their name implies, generate monsters. You can choose to level up off the monsters these create, or destroy the generator itself to stop monsters from appearing. At the end of every cave the boss room is guarded by a door that only opens if all the monster generators in that cave have been destroyed. It takes a full RP bar to clear these caves out and generally a good half of your HP leaving you in bad shape for the boss fight. That’s where “rune factories” come in. When you grow crops, the day they are ready for harvest a little blue sphere appears above them that will refill some of your RP. So the idea is to plant crops throughout the caves so that on the day you decide to clear the cave out you won’t run out of RP.

One of the tools you can get is a glove that lets you pet monsters and befriends them. They then are sent back to your farm and act as this games livestock. As you would expect, there are some blatant rip off cow and chicken monsters that will give you milk & eggs, but you can catch whatever monster you want. What I absolutely loved about this is that certain monsters can be trained to take care of your farm duties. Meaning you can raise an entire pack of monsters to water and pick your crops for you every day, so you never have to worry about it again and it just rakes in money. This was available in previous Harvest Moons but it was often by doing some long tedious befriending gnome quest that was end-game anyways therefore not of any use. You can also take your monsters out to caves to fight for you, although the AI is pretty bad and they end up getting killed.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-RichStrawberry.jpg
My crops, completley managed by my farm hand slaves monsters

Glitches & Design Flaws
While I love this game a lot, there is one part in the middle of the game that really turned me off. The flow of this game doesn’t allow you to enter the next cave until you complete the current one. This mechanic is fine until about halfway through the game when the next cave is surrounded by water and only accessible in the winter time when it’s frozen over (because swimming across or building a little bridge must be too difficult). Not being able to go into the next cave puts almost every aspect of this game on hold. I don’t think I play through games fast or anything (quite the contrary actually) but I got to this cave at the end of summer and had to spend all 30+ days of fall doing nothing. I went from micro-managing to get the most out of every single day to running around trying to find something to do. I ended up leveling up during my wait and by the time I was able finally enter this cave, I was grossly overpowered and killed the challenge for the rest of the game.

Along that line of thinking, this game is full of glitches and poor design choices. When I say glitches I mean everything from NPC sprites randomly disappearing to the game completely locking up. The game only locked up on me once but when it happened I lost an entire days worth of work (20+ minutes of my time). It is certainly not a big enough deterrent to keep anyone from enjoying this awesome game, but as a whole all the glitches make Rune Factory feel like an unfinished product. Like something they rushed out the door without play testing.

For bad design choices an example would be the mining element of this game really breaks the economy. Every item in the game can have a level, from equipment to crops and in mining’s example gemstones. When you sell items, the formula for how much they are worth is: SellingPrice x Level. This could have worked great but I think somebody screwed up with how these levels are attached to the gemstones you mine. By the second cave I was pulling out gemstones level 20 and higher. To put things in perspective a pack of strawberry seeds (one of the best crops) costs 400G and grows 9 squares of fruit that sell for 200G a piece after constant watering every day. Or you can walk into any cave and mine for a sapphire which sells for 700G and at level 20 that’s 14,000G! So would you rather spend every day watering strawberries to make a 1,400G profit or hit a rock with your hammer once and make 10 times that amount? Sure you could level those strawberry seeds up so they produce a bigger profit, but that takes a lot of time and compared to a full day of mining (brining home 25+ gemstones a run) it just didn’t seem worth my time.

Another bad design choice was to not offer any tool/item storage until much later into the game. Sure the game gives you the largest inventory space in Harvest Moon history and I never ran out of space, but this clutters up the quick tool/item switch, filling it with unneeded items. For example my second in game day I found a rare Wine in one of the villagers basements. That wine stayed in my inventory for a long time until I was able to get the storage shelf. I kept worrying that I would accidentally throw it into the shipping bin while I quickly dropped off my gemstones/crops.

And perhaps the biggest bad design of all was that this game isn’t explanatory at all. I can’t remember the last time I was on Gamefaqs.com so much for a game. Nothing is spelled out or even hinted at and the player is expected to figure it all out. In the games defense I have not read through its long instruction manual so a lot might be explained in there, but we live in an age where quick in-game tutorials are commonplace. I couldn’t even figure out where to get some of the basic tools to complete the game with, like the Hammer and Axe. Once you start crafting items and equipment this gets even worse. You can buy magic recipe books which tell you what required items you need to make things but the game gives no hints as to what monsters drop what items. Drop rates are so low that I’ve killed monsters for over 15-20 minutes straight and not found what they drop so the chances of figuring out who drops what are low. I think the game should have dropped more hints or dialog so the player wasn’t constantly wondering where to find what.

Of course being Harvest Moon based, you can woo women to be your wife. This is one of my favorite parts of HM games and was pretty satisfying in this game as well. I liked in this game how each woman had certain requirements for marriage instead of just a love meter. The selection of girls is pretty diverse and the game of course has secret girls to marry as well. The level of interaction with the girls isn’t as deep as HM64’s, which is still the best, but it’s a lot better than recent attempts. Heck, at least you get to sleep in the same bed as your wife now! (I’m looking at you FoMT).

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RuneFactory-Mist.jpg
I picked the obvious best choice for a wife

Lasting Appeal
I’ve dumped probably 60 hours into this game. The actual game time clicks minutes by like seconds, so each full day lasts about 20 minutes. There is so much to do in Rune Factory that if you are a completionist then you will get many more hours than I did.

Once you beat it the appeal drops down a lot. I finished up the little projects I had going but without an overlaying goal in mind I didn’t feel the desire to keep it up.

Final Thoughts
While a lot of changes have been made to the formula, don’t be fooled. At its heart Rune Factory is still very much a Harvest Moon game. If you can’t stand the day to day activities of the series then the RPG and combat elements probably won’t be enough to change your opinion.

To everyone else who either likes the HM series or is curious about it, pick up this game. To fellow Harvest Moon fans, this is the game we have been waiting for.

Seraph
01-06-2009, 11:30 PM
That should be the last of my reviews that were lost in the crash. Kinda sad I lost all those comments :(. At least I didn't lose my precious gold stars!

Some stuff was lost because I thought I had it backed up but I didn't. Most of it was minor and the only major things I think I lost were my Balance Board review and that weight loss post I made a while back.

I can't wait to start using the new Music and Widescreen Youtube tags. I really am in a pickle about interlacing though :(. I either publish videos with interlacing at 30 FPS, or videos without it at 15 FPS.
Need to get around to playing these and a bunch of others now that I finally got my wii working as intended. Once I finish some games that came before them. The pain of owning multiple game platforms and a pc. BLEAH! But I love it. Good review there mister seraph.
Thanks, and I really reccomend checking out the Trauma Center games on Wii. Part of the reason I even tried them was because you raved so highly of the DS original, and it has since become one of my favorite game series' ever. I'll probably make them some of my next reviews.

SuperAngelo64
01-08-2009, 07:32 AM
Reading through these again reminds me of how much I want to play Sin and Punishment.

It's the 2nd VC game in my queue, the first being Megaman 9 (there's a game you should review).

Nindalf
01-08-2009, 08:23 AM
When I finished this game I got a feeling like I just finished a really good book (not that I’d know what reading a book feels like).

that's it, i'm taking one of your stars.

Seraph
01-08-2009, 09:37 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Fzero3D.png
Nintendo Wii - Virtual Console
1 Player
Developer - Nintendo EAD
Original Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-Played it a lot when I was younger but never owned it

My Completion
-All leagues beaten on Standard
-At least 30 hours

Story
Being a racing game, and an old one made in 1990, there isn’t much of a story here. I think there may have been one included in the original instruction manual back when this game was released for the SNES, but I am unaware of any kind of storytelling in-game. That’s perfectly ok though, this is a racing game and racing games don’t need stories.

Graphics
Like most games for the SNES this is a very colorful game. Everything is very vibrant and the game makes use of a lot of neon colors.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/F-Zero_00001.png
I'm a sucker for gradients

The cars look neat but don’t scale or rotate at all. Meaning as you approach the different cars during a race they just swap sprites at pre-made sizes. Same thing happens when you see the cars at different angles.

Most racing games of before the era of 3D often looked really clunky and choppy when in motion. F-Zero on the other hand is super smooth, the game looks like it runs at a constant 60 FPS with no slowdown or jittering in sight. Watching certain track aspects such as striped tracks and the colored barrier circles on the sides of the tracks quickly fly by at such a smooth at such a smooth frame rate really gives this game a sense of speed.

Music
F-Zero’s soundtrack is amazing. This games soundtrack goes down in my book as one of the best game soundtracks of all time. Just about every course in the game has a memorable tune. In fact there is only one music track in this entire game that I don’t like (Death Wind).

I also love the overall style of the music. A lot of synth trumpets are used in combination with high tempo to give the music an energetic feel without having to resort to rock. Game soundtracks like this are few and far between. Some of my favorite songs include

♪ Mute City
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My favorite and probably the most remixed track from this game is Mute City. This track gets my blood pumping and really helps fuel my desire to win.

♪ Big Blue
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Another one of my favorites. This is one of the more light songs in F-Zero and fits well with its bright blue stage.

♪ Port Town
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This one starts off slow and kind of boring, but at around 20 seconds into it the melody starts and makes it one of the more memorable songs. I love racing to this one.

♪ Select Time Theme
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Along with the racing tracks I also like this track. It’s the music that plays whenever you finish a course and you are reviewing the lap times. I know it’s a simple loop but I find it really soothing, like its winding you down from the excitement of the race.

Gameplay
One of the best parts about this game is how tight and responsive the controls are. The game was released well before the invention of the Analog Stick and concequently the gameplay feels very “clicky”, requiring you to make subtle movements with quick directional taps instead. I much prefer controlling racers this way instead of using an analog stick.

Being a SNES game on the virtual console you either have to use the Classic Controller or a Gamecube controller. I found because this game is so demanding on quick precise movements, the Gamecube controllers tiny stiff D-Pad was very hard to use. However since the Classic Controller is almost an exact replica of the SNES controller layout wise so it’s perfect for this game. If you only have a Gamecube controller I don’t recommend getting this game.

There are 4 different cars to choose from. To be honest I can’t tell much of a difference between the 4, and I always just pick the Blue Falcon because it looks the coolest. There are also 3 different circuits with 3 difficulties each. A lot of the circuits feature the same areas but during a different time (like night, sunset) and with a brand new track layout. I’m disappointed that there is no 2 player mode because this game would be really fun with a friend.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/F-Zero_00000.png
Blue Falcon is the only correct choice

One of the things I like most about this game is the sense of speed it has. Not many games on the SNES felt like you were moving very fast at all but this game is a rush. There are a bunch of little things that help with this such as the circles that make up the edge of the tracks. Some of the later levels place you on constant speed boosters making continuous jumps over wide chasms and it gets really intense.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/F-Zero_00008.png
I've never understood why hover cars slip on ice

A big key to winning races in F-Zero is knowing how to take turns. While my general consensus in racing games is to tape the accelerator button down and never stop, in F-Zero you need to ease up on it around turns. Eventually you start to learn it’s better to tap the acceleration button around certain turns and completely hold off on it around really tight turns. You can also lean your from left of right with the L & R buttons which is a good way to turn without losing speed.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/F-Zero_00009.png
I probably should have let go of the accellerator on this turn

My biggest complaint with this game is that you can’t pull very far ahead of your opponents. No matter how fast you race, no matter how many turbo boosts you spam, the other 3 cars are always right behind you. So even if you achieving your best lap time ever, one little screw up at the end and the other racers will be right there ready to steal your victory. I don’t like it because there is no incentive/reward for racing an overall good race but rather not to screw up towards the end.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in this game isn’t the course design but the other racers. Along with the 3 other main cars the track is also filled with slow generic cars that have no other purpose than to get in your way. If you ever touch one of these other cars it will violently rebound your car, usually slamming you into the wall which will fling your car yet again, bouncing you around like a Ping-Pong ball. I think it makes the game more fun because a lot of the time other racers will obstruct your usual shortcuts & you have to react on the fly. It also makes the game very frustrating at times because on higher difficulties one wrong move will put you in last place and cost you the race.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/F-Zero_00006.png
Hit one of these land mines and you will bounce around for hours

Lasting Appeal
Being a racing game you can finish any one of the circuits in under a half hour. With only 3 circuits and 3 difficulty settings you could probably complete the entire game in a few hours if your good. But part of the appeal of racing games, at least to me, is to be played over and over. Remember there is no multiplayer and so it’s up to the single player efforts to keep your appeal. It’s just something to keep in mind when considering this game for yourself.

One of the things that keeps me coming back to F-Zero is its pick up and play style. It’s a shame that SNES games aren’t somewhat compatible with the Wii Remote because this game only needs 3 buttons and not having to get a Classic Controller out to play it would increase it’s pick up and play nature. Still, F-Zero very fast and easy to get into, once you click its channel you can be up and racing in under a minute. Because of this it’s not like most games I put away on the shelf and don’t touch for years, I can just easily click & play whenever I’m in the mood. I’ve probably dumped hours into F-Zero playing it minutes at a time.

Final Thoughts
F-Zero is my favorite 16-bit racer. Not many racing games from that era achieved the greatness that this game provided. Not only is it an excellent racing game, it’s one of my favorite SNES games ever.

For $8 I think F-Zero is worth it, especially to those who have never played it before. It’s an SNES racer that holds up very well even today and its VC format really complements its game design.

Gameplay Video
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SavedFromSin
01-09-2009, 01:34 AM
I used to go to my friends house and play this with her all the time when we were kids. Game was so awesome and still is.

murray
01-09-2009, 12:15 PM
This games soundtrack goes down in my book as one of the best game soundtracks of all time

CORRECT, you get a point sir.

I was about 11 when this came out and i dont think a game will ever make my jaw hit the floor like this did when i first saw it in motion.

Joe Redifer
01-09-2009, 01:09 PM
F-Zero made me want a Super NES so badly when it came out. But I'd have to wait until Christmas Day of that year to get one. I watched a videotape a friend made me over and over and over again. 10 points to anyone who can remember what videotape is. If you can, you're way old!

Einhander
01-09-2009, 02:22 PM
I still use my VCR - is that wrong?

Also - good review of Hotel Dusk Seraph!

Kiryu1985
01-10-2009, 03:14 AM
Nintendo made so many beautiful games during the early 90's, Zelda, Mario kart, f-zero, before playing this game, i played a game called victory run for the tg16, and that game was sooo simple, and i found it really amazing that in f-zero and mario kart you could turn your car around and race in reverse! amazing 3D graphics!

Seraph
03-06-2009, 07:04 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MM9-1.png
Nintendo Wii - WiiWare
1 Player
Developer - Inti Creates

My Bias
-I love the Mega Man series
-Mega Man 3 is my favorite classic Mega Man game

My Completion
-Beaten on normal difficulty

Story
In the tradition of all the classic Mega Man games (minus MM8) the story in this game is very lighthearted. Dr. Wily has tricked everyone into thinking Dr. Light is attacking the city with, I kid you not, 8 robots. It’s up to Mega Man to defeat them and get to the bottom of Dr. Wilys plan. Nothing really deep or surprising here and for the most part the only story sequences you see are during the games intro and ending. This simplicity is a nice change of pace compared to most games of today.

One of the things I’m very glad they did with this games story is they kept it happy classic Mega Man. The other Mega Man series’ (X, Zero, ZX) take themselves very seriously and MM8 started to creep into this category as well. While I would like to know the missing pieces that connect the different series’ putting classic Mega Man into a “serious business” setting just doesn’t feel like Mega Man.

Graphics
Supports Progressive Scan

With Mega Man 9 Capcom took a unique approach and intentionally made the game look like it came from the 8bit NES era. At first I didn’t think it was a very good change, but as I saw more of this game I began to think this was pretty cool. The developers even went as far as to add graphical glitches and slowdown into the game.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MegaMan9-Waterfalls.jpg
I have a weak spot for waterfalls in any game

I think the designs for the 8 robot masters are weak this time around. Some of them like Magma Man look like re-colored versions of old robot masters (Needle Man). Although I do love how they finally added a female robot master.

While I like how they made this game look retro, the environments look very bland. Comparing the way Mega Man 9 looks to the last NES game that came out, Mega Man 6, it makes this game look like a lazy effort. When MM6 came out Capcom was trying to push the most it could out of the old NES hardware, but now with MM9 it’s like they used the retro approach to not put an excessive amount of effort into it.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MegaMan9-JewelMan.jpg
Alot of backgrounds are just plain black like this

Music
Mega Man games generally have great music so my expectations were a bit high for this soundtrack. I wasn’t expecting anything near the magnificence of MM2 or 3’s soundtracks, since it would be hard for any game to be that good. There are a select few really good tracks and the rest are kind of forgettable. In that way it reminds me a lot of MM4-6.

♪ Concrete Man
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I didn’t like this one at first, especially the part at the end of the loop when it sounds like some guy is rolling his fingers on a piano really fast. But as I listened to it over and over (because I kept dying) it grew on me.

♪ Tornado Man
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This song strikes me as the “poster song”, or rather the one that Capcom thinks is the best and liked to showcase before the games release. I like the upbeat tempo of it and it sounds good enough to fit right in with MM2 and MM3.

♪ Galaxy Man
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This is my favorite song in the game. I love the part about 23-24 seconds in and I think the track just has an overall great flow to it.

Gameplay
Mega Man 9 can be controlled with the Wii Remote held sideways, the Classic Controller, and a Gamecube Controller. Since the game only requires 2 buttons the Wii Remote was the most natural choice to me and I haven’t even bothered with the other control schemes. I think the Wii Remote fits well because it emulates the old NES 2 button controller feel.

A huge benefit in making this game have the retro look and feel is that it plays/controls like the old NES Mega Man games. While I did enjoy playing Mega Man 7 and 8, when the graphics changed so did the gameplay. I felt the pixel perfect precision jumps and shots was lost, or at least not easily done anymore. Thankfully Mega Man 9 feels tight and responsive and I am really impressed with just how identical the developer was able to make the gameplay to its NES counterparts.

And although the game does have the retro look and feel, some of the stage designs are very cool. In Tornado Man’s stage there are these spinning moving platforms that Mega Man sticks to and twirl him around as they move. In one of the Wily stages there is an anti-gravity section where you slowly float in the air and the only way to move is to shoot left or right and propel yourself with the shots kickback. It seems like all the stages have some creative elements in them and makes each one feel fresh.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MegaMan9-SplashWoman.jpg
It wouldn't be Mega Man without an underwater level, and yes it is full of spikes

Following the tradition of the more recent Mega Man titles, there is a shop that you can visit in between stages to purchase extras. I am disappointed that the shop is very basic compared to the shops in MM7 and 8 in that you can’t buy any upgrades for Mega Man. The only thing for sale is consumables such as extra lives and E-Tanks. At least this helps ease the painful difficulty for average players.

Although the Wii doesn’t have an achievement or trophy system like Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, this game does have its own in-game challenge system. There is nothing extra unlocked for completing these challenges and you can’t show your friends or anything, but it is strangely compelling to complete them. Some of the challenges are very different (like beat a stage without shooting once) and I found myself trying to accomplish them just to see if I could.

This game is definitely not for newcomers or casual fans of the series. Mega Man 9 is ridiculously hard and there are a lot of spots in the game that have instant death traps designed to intentionally trick you. Some of the stages I was only able to beat once I had figured out the “correct path” so to speak, or in other words what instant death traps to look out for. I didn’t like this because it made the game more about memorization and less about thinking on your feet.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MegaMan9-TornadoMan.jpg
I may die here but at least I got a shot off in the enemies back

Mega Man 9 is also very hard because it uses the archaic design choices of the old games as well. For example when you get to Dr. Wily’s castle you must work through a series of consecutive stages in a row in order to beat him. There is no way to save in between and if you try to do anything else such as go back to the shop you have to start all over. I actually did just that, I got to Wily and realized I couldn’t beat him without an E-Tank. So since I was saving up my shop screws the entire game I decided to go buy some E-Tanks to finish Wily off. Then to my surprise I select Wily’s stage again and I have to start all over. I thought this was ridiculously stupid as it will take the average player a good chunk of time to get through all the Wily Stages (especially since they are the hardest ones). Basically the game lets you play in short bursts up until the end where you are required to put aside a lot of time if you ever want to beat it.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MegaMan9-MagmaMan.jpg
I'm not sure why I continually shoot at enemies with shields

My biggest beef with this game is that a lot of it feels gimped in an effort to make the game “like everyone’s favorite: Mega Man 2”. Mega Man 2 is a great game, but its sequels made several strides forward that ultimately made the series better. It irritates me knowing I could be playing a more fun game, but because they wanted to please purist fans, I’m not. The biggest glaring change is the omission of Mega Man’s charge shot and slide moves. Those were two things I have gotten accustom to as standard controls for the series so having them removed felt like a big step backwards.

It’s not only the omission of slide and charge, but the music as well. The menu music and the “Get Weapon” music are ripped straight from MM2. If they were going to port music they could have at least used MM3’s Get Weapon theme since it’s more of a series staple than MM2’s simple drum loop.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/MegaMan9-Boss.jpg
Some of the bosses are very hard without the proper weapon

There is a bunch of Downloadable Content available for this game but I haven’t purchased any of it. You can buy and play as Protoman who can charge his shot and slide (which leaves a bitter taste, almost like those moves were omitted on purpose so they could sell them). It sounds fun, but Protoman takes double damage from everything and I have no interest in making this hard game even harder. Same thing with the extra hard modes you can purchase.

Lasting Appeal
Technically if you did all the stages without dying you could speed through this game in about an hour. So in that perspective the game is very short. But because of its difficulty this game took me about 7 hours to finally master and beat. A lot of time will be spent redoing stages again and again until you can conquer them.

The good news is for those of you who are Mega Man masters, the extras available through DLC extend the life of the game. There are 2 extra hard modes, an endless stage mode, and a mode you can play as Protoman for a different experience. This all costs a few dollars extra but I think if you like what you’re playing then spending a few more dollars to extend that fun is worth the money.

The challenges system also helps extend the life of this game. I found myself going back to complete them for the sake of accomplishment. It might sound silly but they did get me to play Mega Man 9 more than I would have without.

And to top it all off Mega Man 9 has a time attack mode that will upload your fastest stage completion times online and compare them to the rest of the world. This is a speed runners dream as players can now compete to see who can find the quickest shortcuts and methods to beat stages. If you’re into that then it will make the game last even longer.

Final Thoughts
For $10 Mega Man 9 is one of the best values on Wii, and on the game market period. If you’re a Mega Man fan then you owe it to yourself to buy Mega Man 9. Between the main game, the achievements, the time attack and the optional extra modes you are getting a ton of content your dollar.

However, I can’t recommend this to anyone for their first Mega Man game, it’s just too hard. If you are interested in the series then pick up MM2 or 3 on the Virtual Console for half the price.

Not only is Mega Man 9 a great game, but coming from a guy who grew up on the NES, it feels like a throwback to old times. I like that and I think it would be great if other series’ followed the same route (Sonic).

Gameplay Video
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CongoJack
03-06-2009, 08:59 PM
Wonderful review, probably the most cohesive one I've read in a long time. As I just finished this title a little while back and have similar bias, I felt this was completely spot on.

Dj Jimmi Zero
03-06-2009, 09:12 PM
You touched up on a lot of things in this review that I can agree with. I never really cared for the story of any Megaman titles though so whether they are serious or not Megaman is still an action game to me. But if you like this then I think you should pick up Megaman Powered Up for PSP, it's a remake of the first title with a level editor and a classic mode.

Joe Redifer
03-06-2009, 09:22 PM
Nice review, but I'm afraid I can only ever like Mega Man 2. Parts 1 and 3 are somewhat OK, but 2 is where it is at. Otherwise I just can't get in to Mega Man. Downloading the demo was enough for me. I'd like the Mega Man series more if I weren't always going into the START menu. But then again, I never cared for the X series or whatever it was called, either.

Einhander
03-13-2009, 05:52 PM
RE: English voicework in Sin and Punishment. My guess, though I'm not sure, is that some English voice work is done for the Japanese version as a measure of cost cutting. If they put English voices and subtitles in, all they have to do is remove the Japanese subs for the English version, instead of paying two sets of actors.

Omnislash005
03-18-2009, 08:57 PM
Great review of Mega Man 9 Seraph. listening to Galaxy Man's song makes me wanna buy this game, or find my Mega Man Anniversary Collection. I like the retro approach but I wish they would have added the slide (which was introduced in MM3, my favorite as well), the charge could have been added or dropped I wouldnt have cared.

Seraph
09-01-2009, 08:51 PM
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Sony Playstation Portable
1 Player (2 Player Adhoc)
Developer - TOSE, Square Enix
Publisher - Square Enix

My Bias
-The original Final Fantasy Tactics is one of my all time favorite games
-I’ve beaten the original 3-4 times
-My first PSP game

My Completion
-Main story and all side quests completed
-Have not tried multiplayer

Story
The storyline of FFT is a mixed bag. Even though as a whole the game follows the “chosen boy saves the world” formula, you wouldn’t know it. The story follows Ramza, the Kings youngest of 3 brothers, but does a good job of showing he is only one part of a bigger picture. The game deals with some dark themes like murder, betrayal, and slavery which make for a very interesting story. My biggest complaint with the whole thing is that it becomes too hard to follow. It starts off great and you know exactly what your motives are and who’s who. But as you progress they game introduces new characters, new organizations, new subplots and eventually I’m not sure who’s doing what. I’ve played through the original version of FFT multiple times and I still cannot tell you the names of the final villains or really who they even are.

I love a lot of the characters in this game. While the storyline leaves me feeling lost and a lot of the characters either look alike or are non-memorable, there are a lot of great characters as well. The hero Ramza is very personable and goes through a great transition from a young blissful youth to a seasoned leader. At the same time his childhood friend Delita goes through a similar transition but from a different shadier approach. Very early in the game they go their separate ways and it’s neat to see how their paths cross as things unfold. There are a bunch of other great characters, too many to go into detail. The only aspect of the characters I don’t like is it seems once these storyline characters join your party they never say another word. For example Agrias is one of my favorites and a big part of the story, but once she joins your party halfway through the game she is completely removed from the storyline.

One aspect I really did not like about this version of FFT, is that they tried to retcon it into the world of Ivalice. Ivalice is the world that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance/A2 take place in. The world of FFT:WotL does not feel like Ivalice at all and is missing a lot of the elements present in all the other Ivalice games (such as different races).

New to this version are FMV cut scenes throughout the game. There are about 10 or so of them if I remember right of key points of the game. The best part about these scenes to me isn’t that I got to see fully animated versions of the characters, but that they actually give the characters voices. That helps flesh them out even more and is welcomed addition to this game.

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It's pretty awesome finally seeing these characters in 3D

Also new to this version is a brand new translation. Everyone had their lines rewritten to have old-english-esque accents. I’ve heard that a lot of players think the new translation is amazing but I didn’t like it. I felt the new translation went too over the top and comes off as ridiculous. For example, and this is straight from the game, instead of saying the phrase "We have bad luck to run into monsters in this forest" it says "our luck is ill, that we should chance upon fiends such as this in the wood!". That just gets onoxious to read.

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Seriously, give me the old translation back

I really do not like how this game ends. I don’t want to spoil anything but the ending is very short and doesn’t explain much. When I dump over 60+ hours into a game I don’t like when it when the ending feels empty and leaves me with tons of questions. The ending is also depressing and makes you feel like crap. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I like stories with happy endings.

Graphics
This game is presented through a combination of 2D sprites on 3D environments. The 2D sprite work here is very impressive. Each sprite has a lot of animation frames, more than I think I’ve seen in any other game. Sprites do things like reach out their arms to grab things, punch characters and throw them over their shoulders, and all from multiple angles.

Somehow all of the sprites have a “soft” look to them instead of the normal hard edge look I am used to seeing in sprite based games. Almost as if an emulation filter was turned on just for the sprites. They don’t look blurry, just soft and it is a nice subtle touch.

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Meliadoul's break attacks can finally hurt monsters in this version!

The environments also look great. For being an original Playstation game the 3D work holds up surprisingly well. I haven’t gone back to compare the two versions but this version seems a lot sharper and less jaggy than I remember. Stage environments are varied really well so that the game takes you from bright green fields to dark castle dungeons. Some maps have some cool weather elements like rain or snow that I think is a neat looking effect. Magic spells and techniques are all done through particle effects which look pretty awesome.

Music
I remember the first time I heard the music for this game back on the original Playstation release. I was blown away by the quality of this soundtrack. It is completely orchestral and many tracks take sharp, daring melody “jabs” that really spice it up. Normally I am against orchestrated soundtracks because orchestra is often used as a lazy way to hide the fact the composer couldn’t come up with great melodies. But Final Fantasy Tactics has some very strong melodies and weds them into orchestral arrangements that do things musically Midi couldn’t.

I have read complaints that the actual sound quality of the music was reduced in this port, but I didn’t notice anything. The music all sounded just like I remember it, but then again I am the type of guy who thinks MP3’s sound fine so if you are a real audiophile then you might have a problem with it.

♪ Random Waltz
F4EEG6OItGA
This is a remix of the games main theme, and I really love this games main theme. This is probably the most cheerful track in the whole game.

♪ Decisive Battle
waB8BDjXyV4
I really like the constant violin loop throughout this song. I also like the middle of this song when it starts to build up, gets really loud and then does a crash into almost silence. It’s that kind of up & down jabs I really love about this soundtrack

♪ Ovelias Worries
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When I first listen to this track it doesn’t sound like anything special. But I adore the part at :57 in.

♪ Run Through the Plain
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I love so many parts in this song. The super fast high pitched flute loop throughout, the strong violin loop throughout that has a great solo at :30 in. All with a slower overlaid melody throughout.

Gameplay
If you have never played a Strategy RPG before they genre is basically like playing a giant, complex game chess. You are presented with a map made up of tiles, and you strategically move you units around and try to wipe out the enemy units.

This gameplay is very time consuming. Some of the battles in FFT can last upwards of 30 minutes so if you are looking for a quick and easy RPG this is not the game for you. Normally I would say this is a horrible thing for a handheld game but thanks to the PSP’s sleep function it isn’t. It actually works out in the games benefit because instead of being tethered to a TV for the entire duration of a battle, you can pause/resume battles whenever.

For those of you who have played Final Fantasy Tactics before and are wondering what new content is in this version here is the rundown. There are two new job classes your characters can be, Dark Knight and Onion Knight. Dark Knight is a complete game-breaking powerhouse class that is very similar to Gafgarion’s Dark Knight class with some new abilities. The only catch is that it requires you to basically master a couple different job classes to unlock and by the time a character grinds enough to get all the required JP for it, they are an over leveled powerhouse anyways. Still for players like me who like to build super powered units, it’s finally nice to have a class Ramza can become. Onion Knight on the other hand is a completely worthless class. Much like the Mime class, it learns no skill and cannot equip any skills. It can equip every piece of equipment in the game but only grows in strength based off how many job classes the character has mastered. Onion Knight is neat for extremists/completionists to goof around with, but useless to the average player. The game also now has more character slots so you can keep all the special characters and still have room to play with homemade ones.

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The two new job classes

There are two new special characters added in this version. Luso, the hero from Final Fantasy Tactics A2 makes an appearance and is almost a carbon copy of Ramza ability wise. Balthier from Final Fantasy 12 also makes an appearance, although I didn’t think he looked very much like himself in this game. War of the Lions also includes some new side quests not found in the original game. These side quests help give more insight to some of the lesser known characters like Beowulf and Reis.

There are also some new multiplayer features and new equipment that can be won from them. Since I don’t know anyone who owns a PSP I am unable to comment on this.

This games difficulty is all dependant on how much grinding you do. If you don’t grind your characters at all then this can be a very difficult game, starting as early as battle 5. This is a fun way to play since it requires a lot of strategy and smart playing. However if you don’t you can also grind your heart out. I’ve done playthroughs of this game where I leveled my characters so much they had end-game job classes at the very beginning. That’s one of the thing I like most about this game, there isn’t much holding you back from getting as strong as you want.

One of the neater, yet missed opportunities of this game is its use of zodiac signs. Just like the real life zodiac signs theory, every character is given a specific sign based off when they were born. Characters with certain signs are supposed to relate different to their opposing/bonding signs and receive advantages/disadvantages in battle. I say this is a missed opportunity of this game because it’s way too confusing and doesn’t make much of a difference anyhow. I doubt anyone can memorize every zodiac symbols relationship with the others, and it doesn’t mean much when you can preview almost every actions damage anyways.

Throughout the game your strategies, or in other words the “rules of battle” will change. In the beginning when all you have are basic Squires and Chemists, battles are very simple trades of hits and good unit positioning. As you progress further magic and ranged attacks start to come into play, then you have to start thinking about charge times and turn orders. Towards the end of the game you are up against special units that have instantaneous high damaging attacks and once again you have to abandon your old strategies. I really enjoy this aspect of FFT because it keeps the gameplay from getting to stale. The way my party operates at the end of the game is completely different than how it did at the start.

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Once you have Ninjas monsters go down fast

The customization of this game is amazing, and probably one of the biggest reasons why I have played through it so many times. Every job class in the game (and there are about 20+) has a large catalog of skills at its disposal. Once a character starts learning these skills they can freely change job classes and start mixing these skills up. For example I can train a character as a Knight and learn some of that job classes Armor breaking abilities, then turn that character into an Archer and start shooting armor breaking arrows. The different combinations provide a ton of replay value allowing so many different ways to play through this game.

One of the things this game does that not many RPG’s do is permanent deaths. If a character falls in battle and you fail to revive them within a certain amount of time they will die permanently. While I suppose this is a neat concept, I have never let this happen. Whenever I lose a battle so badly that one of my characters dies before I can save them I reset the game. I do not enjoy the idea of divesting hours of training into a character only to lose them.

This enhanced port isn’t without a few technical problems though. There are a lot of effects in the game such as spells or flashy hits that cause game slowdown. The sound doesn’t slow down with what’s happening on screen either, so if you do a big flashy attack you might hear it go off and the scream of the character you hit before its finished. While I mentioned above that the music sounded alright to me, the sound effects took a big hit. Some of them sound downright nasty in WotL.

Lasting Appeal
I can’t accurately give an hour count on how long the main quest will take you. I’ve only run through the game once without grinding and it was many years ago. I can say with confidence that this game will take a long time to complete and last many hours. While I am a bit of a completionist, my current save file in WotL is over 130 hours if that’s any indication of how this games depth can last.

The many side quests and customization found in this game can extend its appeal a lot longer from the main quest. I can’t explain it very well but this is one of the few RPGs I find fun to actually grind in.

Final Thoughts
In my opinion the greatest SRPG ever made now portable. This game is just a combination of so many things right and downright addicting to play. 10 years later after the original release and this game still manages to be one of the most amazing games released. Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions gets my highest recommendation and is in my opinion one of the greatest games on the PSP.


Sorry folks, gameplay video may come later, right now I simply don't have the time to record/encode/upload one

Zachalmighty
09-01-2009, 08:55 PM
I also felt like the game was trying to rip of Shakespeare a bit, but in a way that I liked. All Final Fantasy games i have played all feel like a Shakespearean tragedy. So why not sound like one?

Other than that, another great review seraph.

Seraph
09-02-2009, 10:28 PM
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Nintendo Wii
1 Player
Developer - Intelligent Systems
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I love 2D Mario games
-I really liked the previous two Paper Mario games
-I only paid $30 for this

My Completion
-I've beaten it twice (once myself, once for my 5 year old future-half-brother-in-law)
-Finished the Flipside Pit of 100 Trials

Story
In tradition with the previous two games in the Paper Mario series, there is a huge amount of storyline in SPM. In this game Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach (NO WAY!) and is forcing her to marry him. Mario and Luigi of course do what they do best and go to rescue Peach. At the wedding alter things go amuck and a mysterious character named Count Bleck shows up and sucks everyone into a dark void. Mario then finds himself all alone and stumbles into the town of Flipside. The citizens of flipside are concerned because Count Bleck summoned a giant dark void and threatens to suck up all worlds into nothingness. It’s up to Mario to regroup with his friends, stop Count Bleck, and save Flipside from the impending doom!

Whereas the previous two Paper Mario games took place in non-Mushroom Kingdom worlds, they still were populated with Mushroom Kingdom characters. In SPM this is not the case and 90% of the NPCs and Enemies are made up. Almost all of the NPCs are made out of crude wire frame shapes which I didn’t think made for an interesting style choice. The main antagonist, Count Bleck, seems like such a weak character.

Another way to put it is Super Paper Mario feels like a brand new game that Intelligent Systems developed around this flip mechanic idea and then Mario was painted over it last minute to boost its sales. If you swapped Mario and the gang with different characters I would be hard pressed to tell you this was supposed to be a Mario game.

One aspect of this title I have a lot of praise for is the writing. Much like the previous two entries in this series, the writing is often times not straight forward and is very clever. There are quite a few lines in this game that had me smiling or chuckling inside. Chapter 3 was especially funny because the entire thing pokes fun at internet message board gamer nerds.

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Chapter 3 was way funnier to me than it should have been

I will talk about this topic more in the Gameplay section, but some of the chapters are boring and downright painful to get through. Each Chapter takes you to a different world with different characters and some of them aren’t very compelling. There are some really awesome parts like the chapter where the void actually destroys a world and you return to it to witness just empty white and then there are some really lame parts like the entire caveman chapter.

Graphics
Most of the Mario assets of this game were taken right from Paper Mario TYD on the Gamecube. While it’s nothing new in that regard they do look very nice. Characters are done in a sort of vector method which means the can be scaled and zoomed without losing any clarity. All the characters move only by swiveling at their joints much like a paper doll put together with thumbtacks. I think the designs of the Mushroom Kingdom crew are done very well. Paper Princess Peach is probably the cutest rendition of her ever. Yet all the NPC & non-mushroom kingdom enemies have pretty lame designs. The residents of Flipside are all made out of simple geometry shapes like squares and circles.

Most of the environments look pretty good using the same vector style as the rest of the game. Each of the eight chapters has a different theme which keeps things fresh. To clarify I am talking about the 2D assets here because when the game flips into 3D mode things look much worse. Everything is made with bland textures in 3D and it simply doesn’t look very good.

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Jumping into this lake actually freaked me out a bit, scary stuff :(

It sounds strange to mention but I really liked the font/text in this title. Instead of using static text like most RPGs do, SPM uses all sorts of visual effects with the font to convey speech inflections and moods. For example if a character whispers something under their breath the font size gets really small, or if they shout something it gets huge. If a character says something really corny or something with glee the text will move up and down in a wave motion. It’s a nice subtle effect.

Music
Super Paper Mario is filled with a lot of memorable tracks. Maybe not brilliant great sounding tracks, but memorable nonetheless. It sounds like it fits right in with the music from Paper Mario TYD. There really isn't too much else to say about this soundtrack other than post a few of my favorite tracks.

....oh wait, yeah there is one thing. I cannot stand the Flipside theme anymore. It’s an alright song but after hearing it loop over and over while I tried to figure out where the heck I was supposed to get going it drove me nuts. Now whenever I hear it I’m just put in a bad mood.

♪ Title Screen
TzqnXBmTRSA
It’s a crying shame that this track is wasted on the games title screen and will only be heard for a few seconds while the player selects their save file. I think the part 19 seconds in is awesome.

♪ Gloam Valley
Wz7bCsQxa88
This is one of the best tracks in the game. I really love the beginning part of this song.

♪ Lineland Road
vASooy0NFZM
This is an interesting remix of the original Super Mario Bros theme.

Gameplay
I think I need to make it clear first and foremost before describing anything about the gameplay. This game is an RPG first and a platformer second. There are games such as Castlevania SotN which I consider a Platformer with RPG elements, well I consider Super Paper Mario the opposite: an RPG with platforming elements. I feel I need to make this clear because I’ve read too many impressions of people who bought this game thinking it was a solid platformer and then getting put off by its RPG levels of dialog and weak platforming elements.

Super Paper Mario is played with the horizontal Wii Remote configuration. This works great because the gameplay doesn’t require many buttons and its how the NES Mario games controlled anyhow. I’ve seen a few people complain about the lack of buttons for menu management but I’m not sure what their problem was because I didn’t have any issues. The game implements some quick menus by pressing two buttons at once which speed things up. It plays pretty similar to a standard Mario game granted it’s stiff and not nearly as refined as Mario’s normal 2D outings. The standard formula of hopping on enemies heads still applies here, but now instead of instantly killing them you bounce off and a little HP damage number pops out.

Leveling up is done through the points system. Just like the scores in older Mario games, when you bop off an enemy you receive points. Whenever you hit specific milestone amounts of points you will go up a level. Continuing with the Paper Mario tradition, you can perform stylish moves after bouncing off an enemy to earn more points, and if you continually hop between enemies without touching the ground you can chain these stylish points together and earn even more. However the way you pull off stylish moves is by shaking the Wii Remote. Let me go on record here to say I cannot stand it when Wii games do this. I enjoy the idea of motion controlled games, I can put up with some occasional one handed shaking of the remote (waggle) but the one thing I cannot stand is Wii games that require me to shake the Wii remote with both hands. Shaking then goes from a few easy wrist flicks to being a full arm/body motion I don’t enjoy doing. To make matters worse SPM doesn’t register the shakes too well so you have to make sure you do it good, hard and violent. I made it to about Chapter 3 before I finally said to hell with it and decided I’d just complete the game earning fewer points.

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Not even Peach's cute poses can make me enjoy this horrid waggle

The gimmick that this entire game is based around is that at any time a level can be flipped horizontally and seen from the side. When flipped into 3D things are often not as they appeared in 3D and can be exploited. So for example one of the very first puzzles you have to use this ability for is to enter a door. The door is surrounded by blocks and is impossible to access in 2D, however if flipped into 3D it reveals that those blocks are all at different depths and you can very easily walk around them. So walk around, flip back into 2D and like magic you are on the other side of the blocks and can enter the door. The developers have built a lot of interesting puzzles and challenges around this mechanic. Enemies are a lot easier to avoid in 3D and so to prevent the player from going through the entire game like this, Mario will take damage if he stays flipped for too long. One of my favorite uses of this element is on a stage where giant spiked boulders roll down a hill at you. They are way to large to jump over, yet because this is Paper Mario and everything is made out of paper, you can flip into 3D to reveal the boulders are only paper thin and easily walk around them.

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This door is inaccessible in 2D however...

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...flip into 3D and discover that wall wasn't a wall at all and walk right on past

My problem with this flip mechanic is that only Mario can use it. In SPM you get 3 other characters (Peach, Bowser, and Luigi) that all come with abilities that let them access other areas. For example Peach can use her umbrella to slowly float down and therefore make really long jumps that Mario cannot. Yet because only Mario can flip into 3D you have to constantly switch characters and it becomes obnoxious. I see no good reason why the flip mechanic was assigned only to Mario.

As you progress through the game you get new abilities through the use of Pixels. Pixels are these little fairy creatures that float above your shoulder and let you perform different moves with the 1 button. These guys give you abilities that range from being able to pick things up, lay bombs, use a hammer and turn invisible. They are almost always given to you in a Metroid reminiscent way because you often come to some sort of barrier, look around and find the pixel that will allow you to pass through that barrier, and continue on. You can get a special Pixel if you complete the Pit of 100 Trials (which I’m not sure how I made it through) that lets you hold down the 1 button to run faster. I think that should have been the very first pixel you get because it’s so useful. The pixel you have throughout most of the game, Tippi, adds another cool element to the game. With her selected you can point the Wii Remote at the screen and the action will pause and let you look around like holding a flashlight, revealing hidden doors/passageways.

Throughout the game the coins you collect can be used as currency to buy special items for battle. These are your standard RPG items that restore health or perform heavy damage for a short while. This is a good idea but this game is so easy that there is no need for them. I used most of my coins at the games fortune teller who gives you hints on where you should go next when you’re lost.

As I mentioned briefly in the story section, there are sections of this game that are boring from both a story standpoint and gameplay. One of the keys to success in any game is in its pacing. There are numerous parts of this game that just go dry and I had to push myself to keep going. Having beaten this game twice, I think it definitely is worth it to see this game to its end however there were times where I had little interest and wanted to stop.

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This was actually one of the better chapters

I have to add a quick little note here: I love the way this game saves your progress. It’s done with save blocks you simply jump to hit, it asks you to confirm, and not a second later it’s done. It’s so quick and painless I had no qualms about doing it. Every game should save this fast and easy. Also another note, Intelligent Systems needs to fire whatever member of their dev team decided it was a good idea to put the flipsy enemies in the game. If you touch one of these enemies it sends you ALL THE WAY BACK TO TOWN. Why!?!? What possible reason does it do this other than to piss the player off? It certainly isn’t hard getting back to where you were, just time consuming and annoying as hell.

Lasting Appeal
The final time clock on my game read 18:50, and some of that I’m sure is wandering around lost and doing the Pit of 100 Trials. If you are good at figuring things out and have a good memory of where things are then you could probably complete this game faster than I did.

Once beaten you can go back and revisit all the stages with extra things to do. I didn’t feel compelled to do this at all. This is definitely a beat-once-then-shelf type of game.

Final Thoughts
Not the amazing game I thought it would be but still fun. The fun I had with the flipping mechanic and the clever writing was worth my purchase alone.

This is the very definition of a “good game” to me. Not blow your socks off fantastic, not “must own” or system selling, just good fun. If you are the type of player that only bothers to play hyped AAA unparalleled experience games then don’t look here. However if you don’t mind overlooking a few flaws in a game to experience it’s good then check this game out.

Reko8
09-02-2009, 10:29 PM
I thought Ramza was a girl for like 3 years...I actually had to look through your review to confirm that Ramza was still a guy.

SuperAngelo64
09-02-2009, 11:00 PM
Good review. The majority of it reflects the way I feel about the game.

I especially agree with the idea that this is a pretty unique game with Mario characters slapped on at the last minute.

To be honest I would've enjoyed it much more if the game have a part of 4 new characters and they just called the game 'Flipside' or something.

Seraph
09-03-2009, 11:02 AM
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Playstation 2
1 Player
Developer - Square Enix
Publisher - Square Enix

My Bias
-Final Fantasy 6 is my favorite in the series
-I love Final Fantasy Tactics

My Completion
-Main story completed
-32 Hunts completed

Note
My Video Capture device that I use to grab screenshots does not do well with PS2 games.
FFXII, and future PS2 reviews actually look much better than I'm able to portray in screenshots.

Story
Final Fantasy XII is set in the world of Ivalice, the same universe that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was set in. The Viera/Bangaa world. After playing this series for years and each time starting all over again, it’s nice to finally be playing a game set in the same world as a previous game. I really enjoy the world of Ivalice and think the different races and setting are great.

As I will mention several times in this review, a lot of this game feels like a spiritual successor to the original Final Fantasy Tactics. The storyline is very similar in regards to the general themes and way it is told. Instead of the usual Final Fantasy story of a special hero/heroine who saves the world, it deals more with a nation at war and a group of pivotal characters who gets caught up in it all. The main protagonist Vaan, isn’t anything special, isn’t “the chosen one” and spends most of the game following around traveling with more important characters. I thought this was a very nice change of pace from previous Final Fantasy installments.

However the story also shares one of the downfalls of Final Fantasy Tactics in that it’s hard to follow. As I played through the game there were many times where I was unsure of what my goals were or what was going on. There are so many towns, characters and other countless names thrown out that I had a hard time following it. I can only tell you the name of one of the Judges in this game and can’t recall half the town names. This is a major downer for me because often times in RPG’s I am driven to play further because I am interested to see the story unfold, and when I don’t really know what’s going on or what my motivation is I become disconnected from the game. From what story I was able to understand it came off as simply average. It’s an entertaining ride, but isn’t nearly as compelling as what I’ve come to expect from the Final Fantasy series. Had the story been better this would have been a prime contender for my favorite Final Fantasy game.

I really enjoyed the characters in this game. Each one of them had a very memorable personality, different personal goals, and very believable. Penelo and Fran were definitely my favorites of the bunch. A lot of people tend to rave about Balthier in a “he’s so badass” fashion like they did about Auron in FFX, but I didn’t think he was THAT amazing. Balthier’s clever remarks and attitude did make me chuckle throughout though. Larsa, one of my favorite characters, was an NPC but I really loved the scenes with him in it. Whenever I think about Larsa I hear him saying "Manufactured Nethacite" in his thick english accent and it makes me laugh. I did not like the main antagonist very much because I wasn’t sure what he was trying to accomplish plus the end fight with him felt like a cop out.

Taking after Final Fantasy X’s lead, there are many voiced cut scenes throughout the game. They are choreographed amazingly well and combined with the fantastic voice acting it makes for some really entertaining scenes. I love how the voices are rooted strict in reality, meaning you will not find any high pitched cutesy anime voices here. Even Penelo, the peppiest of the female characters talks in a normal everyday voice.

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The voicework and facial animations are fantastic

I thought the ending was pretty good. While I stated previously that I found it hard to fully grasp the storyline, at least the ending gives a nice sense of closure. It seems a little rushed but after watching it I felt satisfied I completed this game.

Graphics
The visuals of Final Fantasy XII are the best I’ve ever seen on the PS2. Character faces look amazing and have animation that is very believable. Environments are large and detailed and the citys give off a grand feeling of busy-ness. The look of the cities combined with tons of NPC's hustling around is really something to behold. This is just a really great looking game.

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In motion and on an actual TV this looks amazing

Some of the designs are hit and miss. I loved some of the monster designs for familiar foes like Bombs and Flans. Some of the characters have great designs, like my two favorites Penelo and Fran. I really liked Penelo’s one piece outfit with her huge thick-sock-esque leggings. However Ashe’s outfit I thought was atrocious. Her pink miniskirt did not flow well or look like it belonged in this game at all. Vaan also had a funky design because his face constantly looked dirty (not sure if this was intentional) and he has like a deformed 11 pack of abs.

Something else that really stuck out to me was the menu interface of this game. The way the main menu would simply blur whatever was on screen and overlay the menus on top of it looked really slick to me. The fonts and icons also really impressed me. It may seem silly to point this out but I felt it gave the game a really nice level of polish.

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I am a whore for slick interfaces, hench why I change my review headers every other day :(

Music
The games soundtrack was mostly composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, the guy responsible for the Final Fantasy Tactics series and Vagrant Story. Without even looking it up I was able to tell from the opening scenes because the music is very reminiscent of his style. It’s done in the same orchestral style as his previous works.

Despite really loving some of the songs in this game I was disappointed in the overall sound track. There are some really good tracks in FFXII, but there are more forgettable tracks than there are memorable. None of the music is bad as in I didn’t enjoy listening to it, just didn’t fuel me or make an impression. Unfortunately as a whole not many tracks stand out which makes this one of the weaker final fantasy soundtracks. Yet the few that do stand out are absolutely amazing and had the entire soundtrack been like them it would be one of my favorites.

♪ Boss Battle
FuXMiwtKlik
This song is possibly my favorite boss battle music from the series. It doesn’t start off strong but some of the highlights in the middle are amazing. I remember fighting bosses in the game with this in the background and suddenly thinking “holy crap this is epic”. The only complaint I have is that this track was sometimes subbed out for important story battles because it’s by far the best one.

♪ Rabanastre
4NiYUbetsG8
This is the melody of the very first town in the game. Something about the way this melody is so soft and yet still definable. I also really enjoy how it is an extended track instead of a short loop.

♪ The Skycity of Bhujerba
LuNIH1wBuxI
I really like the instruments used in this theme. The flute or whatever wind instrument that plays the melody is really nice. On a related note, I can’t hear this theme and not instantly think “I’M CAPTIAN BASCH” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSyfGm6wXgs).

Gameplay
Final Fantasy XII is a drastic turn for the series. The standard turn based battle system that the series has used since its conception has been done away with for the most part. Many players who are purists to the series did not like this change but I personally thought it was amazing. So amazing that I wish that sequential game in the series would build upon what FFXII did.

The new systems plays almost like a MMORPG. You walk around freely with the analog stick and can see all the monsters in a dungeon or field. There is no transition between battle and navigation anymore almost like an Action RPG (think Phantasy Star Online, Secret of Mana) only with the removal of the action element as you never directly control actions (like mapping an attack to button press). So for example to attack a monster you must first run over to it, select the attack command from the menu, and your character will start attacking.

So how can one player constantly maneuver and give actions to three different characters at a time? That’s where the gambit system comes in and the true beauty of this battle system starts to shine. The gambit system is almost like simple programming commands you can set on the characters to perform certain actions when certain conditions are met. So say in Final Fantasy games your normal strategy is to heal any character below 50% health with a potion. With the gambit system you can set a rule up to do this for you so that whenever a characters health gets that low, the assigned character will stop what they are doing and use a potion. After you set up a few of these gambits you then need to decide their order of importance. What the game will then do is run down the gambit list when you encounter enemies and the first time it finds a valid condition it will perform that gambit. The available gambit conditions throughout the game get more complex too, such as “If enemy weak to fire” or “If enemy HP is below 1000”. The system initially intimidated me and looked confusing but once I started using it I realized it was very simple.

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This is my end game Gambit setup for Penelo

Many people do not like this system and complain that the game plays itself. That’s true, the game does play itself a lot but I personally loved it. To me the gambit system automates all the tasks of the previous games that have become tedious. This is the twelfth entry in this series and by now the strategies that are automatable are common sense. I don’t even have to think about basic concepts now, attack with physical characters, heal when health is low, and use water on fire enemies. These strategies never ever change and it becomes obnoxious to repeatedly select them from menus. And yet in situations where I need to take some drastic control and change my strategy, FFXII lets me intervene. I can’t explain what makes battles in the FF series fun, but after playing FFXII I can tell you it is not tediously giving commands. By the end of the game I had leveled/equipped my characters and set up gambits so well that like fellow forum member Drunken Savior, I beat the last boss without lifting a finger, and I had a blast doing it.

A great byproduct of this new battle system is that there are no longer random battles. As you travel across fields every enemy is visible and again, there is no transition into a separate battle mode. This means that if you really want to you can run around almost all a dungeons enemies and go straight to the end. Of course that would make your characters very under leveled and the game hard, but it’s nice not to be forced into battling like the previous games. This is a major plus in my book because I find lately I have less and less tolerance for random interrupts while trying to navigate a dungeon. I also love that this new battle system does not lock you out of your menu, meaning if you want to equip a new armor or learn a new spell in the middle of a boss battle you can.

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This is seriously an amazing, fun, well thought out system.

In the same vein as Final Fantasy X, XII encourages you use all the characters. This means that for most of the game you have all six available characters in your party. If your current three die then the game will automatically switch out the others for you. I chose not to do this and simply leveled up three instead because it was easier. They turned out stronger this way because experience and funds were divided three ways instead of six.

The new skill system is the License board. Sort of like the sphere grid from FFX, the License board is a giant board filled with different skill icons. As you get points to spend on the board you can only learn skills next to the ones you already know, which creates branches throughout the board. Like most recent Final Fantasys, although characters come with some initial configuration, they are clean slates that can be shaped anyway you want. It reminds me of the job system in FFT because the way you controlled your characters development became your strategy for battle. Through the first half of the game I thought this was really awesome because it gave me control of how I wanted to raise my characters. However as I approached the end of the game my party had maxed out the board and became carbon copies of each other. I wish the board was a lot bigger so that characters would still end up unique.

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This is what my board looked like towards the end of the game. Everyone ended up being the same.

The difficulty of this game is a lot harder than the typical entries in this series. There were many boss battles that had me scrambling to stay alive. Magick has a weird effect that I didn’t realize until late in the game, which is no two magick spells can go off at the same time. This means that if one character is casting Firaga on an enemy, nobody can cast a heal spell until that Firaga is finished. I ran into a few instances where a character would be ready and waiting to cast Cure while their target continually got beat up, all waiting on a spell to finish. At the end of the game I actually turned my Magick user into a physical attacker since its delay made her damage output really low.

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I didn't cast too much of this as I got to the end

Along with the standard shops, there also exists a bazaar system. It’s like a roundabout way to craft your own items. Enemies will drop unusable loot that seems worthless, but if the right amounts are sold to the shopkeeper it will unlock new equipment/items for purchase in the bazaar. I think this is a great concept however the problem is that I had no idea what loot would unlock what. There are no in-game hints that indicate what different kinds of bazaar items would become available or how many if certain loot items I needed. Without any idea I was constantly referencing gamefaqs and the internet to find out, and if I have to do that then it’s a problem. My other problem and perhaps this is simply because I didn’t know, but it seemed any new equipment I unlocked in the bazaar was already outdated for my characters.

In perhaps one of the coolest ways to do side quests in the series yet, FFXII has the hunt system. Various towns have bulletin boards posted where different people request certain monsters to be hunted. Each hunt you accept requires you to talk to the person who issued it, which usually gives some back story. I had more fun doing some of these hunts than I did progressing through the main game. The biggest problem is that until you get the airship it is really troublesome to travel between towns and hunts have you traveling all over. This restricted me from doing most of the games hunts until I had the airship.

Fitting nicely in with the hunt system is the games bestiary. Every single monsters, character and location you encounter in the game shows up in this bestiary and has some history written up about them. For someone like me who enjoys reading up on lore this was a treat. I probably lost a good hour or more just reading about the origins and details of the monsters I encountered. This should be a standard feature in every Final Fantasy game.

Lasting Appeal
My total game time was 99 hours, and a good 40% of that was done doing hunts. I was pretty satisfied with the stories length and it felt just about right. Not too long and not too short.

Hunts add a ton of gameplay and are a lot more fun than standard RPG side quests. Even after the story is all but completed the available hunts, special items, and rare things to collect can keep the fun going.

Final Thoughts
This game feels very refreshing for multiple reasons. Tetsuya Nomura was not the character designer, Nobuo Uematsu was not the music composer, the story is very different and the battle system is completely reworked.

If the storyline was better and easier to follow this would be my new favorite Final Fantasy. I had that much fun with this game. I wish this game was the direction that all future Final Fantasy games would build from. I enjoyed the new battle system in XII more than I did any other entry in the series. Not only were battles not annoying when I traversed dungeons, I actually looked forward to them.

Final Fantasy fans should approach FFXII with an open mind because expecting it to fit into the traditional turn-based mold will only lead to disappointment. Embracing the Gambit system instead of fighting it is the key to enjoyment. This is one of the most amazing RPG's I have ever played and I reccomend it to anyone who likes the genre.

Zachalmighty
09-03-2009, 02:42 PM
Stop doing RPG's you bastard!

Joe Redifer
09-03-2009, 03:26 PM
Yeah, and need more non-Nintendo system reviews.

Seraph
09-03-2009, 04:04 PM
Picky Picky Picky! The things I do to please you people!

Ok fine, the next game will be a non-RPG non-Nintendo system game.

Zachalmighty
09-03-2009, 04:06 PM
Picky Picky Picky! The things I do to please you people!

Ok fine, the next game will be a non-RPG non-Nintendo system game.

Oh yes, please me Seraph. PLEASE ME

burpingcat
09-03-2009, 05:47 PM
I think I'll always wonder what FF12 would've been like if Yasumi Matsuno had directed its development to completion.

memory to zack
09-04-2009, 04:50 PM
I think I'll always wonder what FF12 would've been like if Yasumi Matsuno had directed its development to completion.

Certainly better, storywise and character-wise too. I want him to do a SRPG ŗ la original FFT and Ogre Battle so bad, but the chances are pretty slim unfortunately. I won't deny a dungeon crawler like Vagrant Story as well.

Drunken Savior
09-04-2009, 05:18 PM
Nice FFXII review, the Mar-qwis is pleased.

calintz
09-04-2009, 07:39 PM
where is Matsuno now?
working on a new game?

i was really hoping FF12 would be the perfect FF-equivalent of VS - almost!

Dj Jimmi Zero
09-04-2009, 08:29 PM
It might be a little late to say but Ivalace was the world used in FFT as well. Otherwise, good review FFXII is definitely a game that should be approached with an open mind. Most people played this game looking for Final Fantasy but the only thing they found was the same was the title and throwbacks to previous titles in the series.

camac
09-09-2009, 09:14 PM
Man Seraph I love your reviews. Just read your latest 3. I think you scared me off from trying the FFT remake ( I hate what they did to the script, I guess it worked for FF12 and now they want to do it to all their games?) while at the same time make me want to play FF12 again... even though it has that obnoxious way of speaking. Go figure. I dunno. Also reading the reviews with the games respective music playing was a nice touch too.

burpingcat
09-10-2009, 12:48 AM
The last thing Matsuno has worked on is the story for Madworld. Yeah.

He's supposedly working on another undisclosed project for Wii, with Hitoshi Sakimoto (the music composer for FFT, Vagrant Story, FF12, etc.)...but that's been the only tidbit of info for two years now. Who knows what will come of it, if anything.

zechin
09-10-2009, 03:23 AM
Vagrant Story 2 *crosses fingers*

Shorty0061
09-10-2009, 01:13 PM
Great review, I loved FFXII. i agree that the soundtrack was passable but there were some very well done tracks. the rabanastre theme reminds me of the jeuno theme during the starlight celebrations for some reason. they have a sort-of christmas feel to them

Seraph
12-29-2009, 03:44 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Patapon.png

Sony PlayStation Portable
1 Player
Developer - Pyramid, Japan Studio
Publisher - Sony

My Bias
-I like Rhythm games
-I am drawn to cute games

My Completion
-Main story beaten

Story
The story of Patapon is ridiculously lighthearted. I mean sure the little Patapons take it seriously and are brutally slaughtering things, but they do it while singing cute little songs. The Patapons are on a mission to see “IT” and will not stop until they finally do. They constantly break the Fourth Wall by talking to you as the almighty God that controls them. It’s up to you as their ruler to guide them with music

Along the way the Patapons run into the opposing army of the Zigotons. The Zigotons fear that “IT” should not be uncovered and try to stand in the Patapons way, so the two armies are constantly clashing. Eventually the Zigotons pray to the dark forces and sell their souls to defeat the Patapons. The story never takes itself too seriously which seems fitting for a game about singing eyeball creatures.

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The Zigatons are obviously evil because they have red eyes

It sounds strange but throughout the game I actually cared about the little guys. They have somewhat adorable voices and little movements that they do while fighting. When one of my Patapons would get killed I would feel bad.

The ending is really disappointing and funny enough; the Patapons think it is disappointing too. So unsatisfied they embark on a journey across the sea to find the real “IT” and that is the premise for Patapon 2

Graphics
Patapon has a very unique style to it. Everything in the game is minimalist and yet has a good sized resolution which gives the whole game a very modern look. All of the units in the game including your Patapons, the Zigotons and Creatures are all done in pure black which looks really nice over the colorful gradient backdrops. You can tell this game is made by the same developer that gave us the LocoRoco series because they have the same look. Almost like a really complex web game in Adobe Flash.

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This worm boss is one of the easiest

Everything runs smoothly and looks awesome once a lot is going on. Sometimes there can be too much going on and it’s hard to see what is happening to your army. This only happened a couple of times though so it wasn’t that big a deal.

Music
The music of Patapon is entirely dependant on the beats you produce in battle. There is a simple pattern that follows you giving a 4 beat drum command, and then your Patapons sing that beat. Once you start to get a combo going and achieve Fever mode the Patapons will stop repeating your beats so much and start singing their own little tunes.

The music is all very Tribal sounding thanks to the drum beats and sometimes gets a little obnoxious. It’s a little weird playing a rhythm game without catchy compelling music, but Patapon just works. Because the music is like this I can’t post a few tracks from the game like usual.

The last battle has a really cool theme which is made even more awesome when the Patapons start singing along to it. The rest of the game should have had cool themes like this because it was the first and only time I actually felt fueled by the music.

Gameplay
In Patapon you are some sort of music playing God that directs the Patapon army in battle with drum beats. The Patapons march from left to right on a 2D plane and fight anything in their path. The commands you give them are simple things such as Walk, Defend and Attack and later in the game you start learning more advanced moves like Retreat and Miracle. However you can only issue these commands along with the 4 beat rhythm of the game. This forces you to think ahead and plan your movements out in advance because you can’t instantly order your army. If you can keep the beat going without any hiccups, your Patapon will enter Fever Mode, which more than triples their attack power. A majority of the game requires you to be in constant fever status if you want to pull through. The only other way to enter fever is to perfectly time your 4 beats, and I italicize perfectly for good reason because the timing is picky as hell.

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So to attack these evil Zigoton you play PON PON PATA PON

This premise for gameplay is part of what frustrates me about this game. It seems like there is an art to controlling the Patapons that I never was able to grasp. I did well enough to beat the game but there were many instances I found myself yelling at my Patapons “no you idiots, don’t run back into the fire!” I’ve read the secret to this game is to learn how to break your rhythm and issue commands out of sequence. This would of course ruin your fever status so unless you’re amazing at pulling off perfect beats, it will most likely do more damage than good.

There are a few different classes of Patapons as well as different varieties of those classes. Because I never could remember the weird naming conventions this game uses, the classes consist of Melee, Spear Throwers, Archers, Horse Riders, Ogres and Music Players. You can only take 3 different kinds of Patapon into battle at one time so it offers a little bit of strategy. I didn’t find this customization to be put into practice very well however because Melee, Spear, Archer worked the best for 95% of the entire game.

To grow your army you can make more Patapons by combining the materials you find on missions. Certain combinations will make different shaped Patapons with higher stats. I’m not sure if there is a structure to this combining system, if there is I was never able to figure it out. The game certainly doesn’t give you any sort of guidance and so you are left to experiment with the limited materials you acquire. It comes down to 3 options: Grind missions over and over for more materials to experiment with, constantly reset your game, or consult a guide. Since the first two options were not fun and time consuming, I had to find a guide.

There are parts of this game that get very hard. No matter how good you are your Patapons are always going to take hits. This means that if your defense or attack is not high enough then certain battles will simply wear you down. There were a few missions I played where this exact thing happened, I played perfectly avoiding/blocking/attacking at all the opportune times and I simply couldn’t wear down the enemy before my army died of small block damage.

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It is SOOO much fun when this guy launches his unblockable bite attack that perma-kills one of your units

Which brings me to my next issue, equipment is hard to find. Patapons do not level up or anything so the only way to make them stronger is to find better equipment for them. Getting good pieces of equipment to drop from enemies is random and sometimes takes a long time. I found myself constantly playing the same stages over and over looking for equipment and materials. What makes this even worse is that every time you play a Boss stage to find good equipment, that boss levels up. This puts you in situations where the Boss can eventually get too strong to defeat and can no longer be farmed for items. I luckily never ran into this because I consulted GameFAQs.com and learned to reset the game if I defeated a boss and didn’t get a good drop, but I can easily see how a player could ruin their save file.

Despite my frustrations with this game, there were instances that I really got into “the zone” and had a great time. I was really feeling the music, my attacks were all happening at just the right times, and I totally decimated the enemy. I would say buying Patapon is worth it for these moments alone. I only wish that they happened more often than they did.

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Get into Fever Mode, start slamming on a boss, and it's good fun

I generally don’t knock a game for the platform it’s on, but Patapon really suffers from being a portable game. You absolutely need to hear the music and I found when playing in public (school, work, ect) it’s too hard to hear unless you block out the world with headphones like some anti-social high school kid. I ran into so many instances where I would be out in public wanting to play and couldn’t. The game does flash a white border around the screen as you play, but without the music it does little to help keep the rhythm. I asked myself the question several times “If the only time I can play this game is when it’s quiet at home, why is it on a portable?”

Lasting Appeal
Patapon lasted me 15 hours according to my save file. However I know my actual play time was more than this because I had to reset the game so many times. 15 hours may not seem like a lot to some but remember this is a rhythm game with stages that only last a few minutes.

After you complete the game you can go back and continually fight the bosses to build an even stronger army. I had absolutely no interest in doing this but you could make quite a powerful army if you keep going. I’ve read that it’s possible to get the bosses so strong that they are impossible to defeat even with the strongest possible army.

Final Thoughts
This is a really interesting way to make a rhythm game. Like I said above, when the game has it’s moments it becomes really fun. It may sound like I have a lot of complaints but I enjoyed Patapon. I recommend it if you own a PSP and like rhythm games.

There are a lot of people who swear this is one of the best games on the PSP but I definitely was not feeling it like they have. Maybe I played it wrong, maybe I just don’t “get it”, who knows. I did like it enough to purchase the sequel so take that for what it’s worth.

Zachalmighty
12-29-2009, 06:19 PM
Fappa fappa fappa Pron.

CongoJack
12-29-2009, 06:38 PM
Seraph, why are your reviews always the best....it just makes everyone who gets paid to review look bad.:lol:

Seraph
01-02-2010, 09:34 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Prinny-1.png
Sony PlayStation Portable
1 Player
Developer - Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher - NIS America

My Bias
-I love the Disgaea universe
-I am easily amused by Prinnys
-2D platformers are one of my favorite genres

My Completion
-Beaten on standard difficutly

Story
If you have no clue what this game is, Prinny CIRBTH is a side story game in the Disgaea universe. It stars a single Prinny, those lovable abused monsters that blow up if they touch something. The premise is that Master Etna has had her pudding stolen from her and orders the prinnys to go fetch her the Ultra Dessert to replace it. Of course the prinnys mention that it’s difficult and anyone who tries to make it dies. In response Etna gives one of the prinnys a red cape (which looks strangly like Laharls cape) which protects him from blowing up. The rest of the game is spent looking for all the ingredients needed to make the ultra dessert.

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Notice how Etna couldn't care less about their saftey

This is a very comical game. Nothing serious happens throughout the entire storyline. As a pure comedy it works and I found myself laughing quite a few times. I absolutely love the dialog in this game. I liked it so much that it became the driving force behind wanting to beat levels, just to hear what happens next. I really love the prinny character and hearing them freak out and get abused makes me laugh. Etna and the other bosses of the game are constantly threatening Prinny and he always freaks out. For some reason I never get tired of that shtick.

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It makes me laugh every single time

Graphics
Prinny CIRBTH is a 2d platformer with sprites on a 3D environment. The sprite work is fantastic and I found myself being really impressed with both the level of detail and animation. Clothes blow in the wind, and of course all the busty women flop around.

The 3D environments look a little bland but still create a visually pleasing effect. I would have much preferred them to be hand drawn to the level of detail of the sprites. A lot of the foliage and backdrops look really nice, yet the actual ground and walls often look out of place.

Even though the 3D is hit or miss it does offer a nice subtle effect. Whenever you jump and throw blades from the air the camera pans around and shows you what is ahead of you. It’s nothing major and you can actually turn this off if it bothers you.

Music
I was pretty surprised by the games soundtrack because for a spin off game most of it is really good. I love the use of wood instruments throughout the tracks and I it reminds me a lot of suped up classical music. The boss themes are also really well done and while nothing on a grand scale, still set the mood right.

♪ Green Labyrinth
8GjThkCrPLw
This might be my favorite stage song and I really like how the song picks up about 50 seconds in.

♪ Tutorial Stage
AW4aUw_sLRQ
This being the very first stage that you play this track made me realize I was in for a treat. It starts off really slow and then when the violin starts at 44 seconds in and at that moment I thought “Ok yeah, I need to get this soundtrack”.

♪ Hub World
R_JrAVIsAxg
The best way I can describe this track is that it’s very “disgaea-ish”. If you told me that this was a hidden/unreleased track from disgaea I would believe you. I really like the children’s choir in the background.

Gameplay
As mentioned above, Prinny CIRBTH is a 2D platformer. The controls are simple enough with the standard Jump, Attack, ect . Prinny moves very stiff much like the old NES Castlevania games and less like the Super Mario games. Like the old Castlevania games, you also have no control over Prinny in the air. This means that trying to time your jumps in the precise platforming sections is a really difficult task. Prinny has 2 methods of attacking, slashing and throwing blades. Slashing happens when you attack on the ground and prevents you from moving and to throw blades you attack in the air and Prinny will rain down glowing sword blades diagonally.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Prinny1.png
Prinny's blade throw attack is really awesome

I cannot emphasize this enough: Prinny Can I really be the Hero is the hardest platformer I have ever played. The game starts you with 1000 lives and you are going to need them. The amount of dangers that the game throws at you are insane and on standard difficulty Prinny can only be hit 4 times. This may not seem like a lot but between how much stuff comes at you and how immobile Prinny is it becomes very hard. Most of the time you will die by falling off the edge from knockback after a monster hits you. You will go through lives like water in this game, often losing 3-4 lives within a single minute. I’m not sure what happens at the end of the 1000 lives (I beat it with 657 left), I assume it’s game over. Which means if you find you are dying a lot (like more than 100 times a stage) then you will never beat the game.

I also have another forewarning for anyone interested in this game: You need to be able to tap buttons fast. It really makes me wonder what the developers were thinking when they made this game because the rate at which you absolutely need to tap the attack button is abnormal. Personally I have a unique talent where I can tense up my arm, causing my muscles to shake, and in turn tap buttons at an accelerated rate. I’ve only met a few people in my entire life that can do this which is why I find it surprising that this game requires buttons to be pressed so fast. I beat the last boss with only 40 seconds left on the clock and I attacked him as fast as I possibly could.

With all the difficulty in this game comes a great deal of frustration. Be ready to want to throw your PSP against the wall. However the bi-product of such a high level of frustration is some truly rewarding feelings of accomplishment. I still can’t believe I managed to beat this game and it feels good.

The boss battles both really fun and aggravating. Every boss has a unique pattern and announces their moves before they do them. So what it comes down to is memorizing the pattern and then not screwing up. Once you figure out that you can stomp on almost every bosses head to temporarily paralyze them the get a lot easier.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Prinny5.png
These girls seem to bounce/flop even when they are just standing

After you complete every stage there is a new platforming challenge in the Hub world. If you REALLY enjoy platforming challenges then you will most likely love this. It’s not a special mode or anything, just platforms above the hub world that you can jump on to climb to the top. Some of the final challenges will have to pulling out every trick in the book to get to the top, such as getting a running start and jumping at the last possible second only to barley grab the other platforms edge. I tried to do all of these but ended up giving up because I got too frustrated with the 2nd to last challenge.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/Prinny2.png
This is the ground of the hub world where you fall to everytime you screw up the platforming challenge

Lasting Appeal
It took me around 7 hours to beat this game. If you are some sort of 2D platformer prodigy and you barley died then you could probably complete the game in a few hours. However if you are a normal or even a seasoned player like me expect to spend a lot of time re-trying the stages and bosses a lot.

The end of each stage ranks you on how well you did. My rank was ALWAYS a C, I assume because I died so much, so if you really like a challenge you can retry stages to shoot for a higher rank. I personally had no desire to go back and do this because I’m not a masochist, but if that’s your thing you may find a ton of replay value.

There is also some extra content unlocked after beating the game as well as some downloadable content. I was satisfied simply beating the game so I watched the DLC on Youtube for the story.

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed this game and liked how different it was from all the easy 2D platformers I’ve been playing my entire life. I definitely could not play a bunch of games like this because the amount of frustration it caused would make me go crazy.

I will warn you one more time, this is a very hard game. It’s difficulty is a strange choice considering Disgaea is a SRPG and that genre doesn’t require any reflex skill. If you don’t consider yourself very good a videogames then don’t buy Prinny CIRBTH, no matter how big of a Disgaea fan you are. However if you love 2D platoformers and are ready for a big challenge, give Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? a try.

Joe Redifer
01-02-2010, 09:52 PM
I didn't know that this game was from Dis Gay or what even Dis Gay even is. I watched fellow forum member Vicviper play it and it seemed cool, but it looked like you really have to get "into" it. Also, from what I understood was that each Prinny Dood (which is the official name of the game according to fellow forum member Vicviper) is their own individual living, breathing entity. So when one dies, it is dead forever. It's family and friends miss it and mourn it. It will never return. Dead. Like your great grandma. Then another Prinny Dood takes over from where the last one died, just like in WW2.

Seraph
02-08-2010, 08:19 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RFF.png
Nintendo Wii
1 Player
Developer - Neverland Co.
Publisher - XSeed

My Bias
-I loved the first Rune Factory on Nintendo DS
-Iíve barley played Rune Factory 2

My Completion
-Beaten storyline
-Exactly one year elapsed
-90+ hours

Story
The first Rune Factory on the Nintendo DS didnít have much of a storyline. It had interesting characters but story events were slim and too far in between. I never really had an idea of what was going on in the first game.

Frontier picks up where it left off, however having completed the DS game I donít think it matters too much. Almost nothing is referenced and if there is something itís subtle and doesnít affect the storyline in any way. However this does mean that many of the same characters make their return. You play as Laguna again, having the same antics with a lot of the same girls.

In Frontier the driving plot, and this is revealed in the first 10 minutes so I donít consider it spoiler, is that there is a giant floating whale-shaped island floating above town and it needs your help. The whale island speaks to you, explaining how itís slowly losing power and if you donít save it then it will come crashing down on top of everyone. Overall I enjoyed the story of Frontier and even if it was a bit cheesy, I felt it had a strong climatic finish.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RFFMist.png
Mist is downright crazy

While the story itself and its presentation is still very archaic when compared to most modern games, it is a big step up from the previous game. Frontier actually had me curious to find out what happens next quite a few times. It still suffers at the conception level because itís hard to have a well paced storyline if the player has completely control on how fast the game progresses. This means you could view a story related event and then not see itís resolve until weeks later when you decide to push forward again.

The voice acting has really improved in Frontier. Being on the Wii there is now a lot more spoken dialog when compared to the original DS game. There are a few English voice actors that are well known in the dubbed anime industry, I was able to pick out a few. Most of the characters talk in what I can only describe as ďdubbed animeĒ voices, and have funny lines. I enjoyed the dialog quite a bit and I felt it really added some life into the characters. I really wish all of the games dialog was voiced, and that there was more variety of that dialog. Giving an everyday gift to a prospective female is standard Harvest Moon etiquette by now, but I really would like enough dialog so that I donít hear the same repetitive lines.

Graphics
The visuals of Frontier are very nice looking. Graphics arenít up to the quality or standards of a game like Mario Galaxy, but it still looks very nice. It is very refreshing to have a 3rd party developer actually trying in the visuals department for once.

Runeys, a new game element I will explain later, are these little glowing spirit things that float around the fields and town. When there are a lot of them they fill the screen and give a very cool looking visual effect. When you combine their glow-ness with the lush environments it makes for some amazing looking moments.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RFFBeach.png
You mean it is in fact possible for a 3rd party to create quality visuals?

I love the character designs of this game. Hearing some of the characters were returning I was afraid the developer was going to go down the same rut they dug the Harvest Moon series into. One of the reasons I stopped playing the Harvest Moon series is because I got sick of dating the same girls and talking to the same Mayor and townsfolk. Luckily Frontier adds enough new into the mix that it doesnít feel that way. The old characters still have their fantastic designs and some of the new characters like Annette and Cinnamon have really striking designs. I also like how your equipment is visible now as well.

Music
I was pleasantly surprised with Frontiers soundtrack. Time and time again while playing this I found myself really enjoying the music. Of course it still has its share of obnoxious festival themes but overall I would say this game has the best soundtrack of the entire RF/HM series.

♪ Intro
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Keeping with Rune Factory tradition, the game opens with an anime cutscene and a catchy song. This song is very different and in my opinion isnít as good as the ones from the first two DS games, but I still like it.

♪ Winter
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I love the four season/field themes, especially this winter one (which is a great remix of the first RFs winter theme). I remember stepping out of my house the first day of winter and just thinking ďoh my goshĒ.

♪ Summer
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Another great theme that plays during summer. Although I've listened to it probably a million times throughout the game it never got annoying which is a good sign.

♪ Whale Island Outside
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This is the music that plays when you first walk out onto Whale Island. It reminds me a lot of Zeal music from Chrono Trigger.

Gameplay
Like the previous entries in the series, Frontier is still very much rooted in the Harvest Moon series. This means you will be doing a lot of unavoidable crop growing, livestock feeding, and female wooing. If you donít like doing this sort of ďdaily taskĒ gameplay then donít think that you can ignore it and play the game like a pure dungeon crawler.

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You will still be doing a lot of this, you can't escape farming.

Iíve explained the gameplay formula more in depth in my original Rune Factory review, but I will briefly go over it here. Rune Factory Frontier is essentially a dungeon crawler on top of a farming simulator. At the start of the game there is one dungeon available. Your character doesnít start with any kind of real weapon to get through this dungeon. So in order to buy a new weapon you must plant,grow,and harvest crops to sell. Now that you have enough money for that new weapon you can clear the dungeon and find new materials to create even better farming tools to make more money ect. This cycle is exactly what makes Rune Factory such an addicting series because there is always an immediate goal in sight. It constantly gives you ďjust one more thingĒ to do and itís hard to find points in which to stop myself playing.

The controls in Frontier are a lot better than the DS Rune Factory games if not only because you can now use an analog stick to move. For one, there is no longer any ďRunĒ button to hold down 99% of the time. Analog control also makes planting crops and combat much more fluid and easier.

One of the biggest problems Iíve had with all the 3D Harvest Moon games is that planting your crops seemed to be such a frustrating chore in 3D. Due to either bad controls or bad camera angles it was always hard to position your character to work on your field. Frontier doesnít have this problem because it has a fixed camera angle with some decent controls. I was able to do all of the games farm work without ever getting frustrated. When you upgrade your tools to cover even more squares the camera angle will switch to a top-down view which makes things even easier. You should have been able to view your fields like this whenever you want regardless of what tool you are equipped with, if you could it would make farm work as easy as the old 2D HM games.

Speaking of tools I really liked how they were handled in this game. Like all the previous games you can upgrade your tools to become even more functional. The Watering Can can water more spaces at once, the Axe can chop stumps in fewer swings and so forth. What makes Frontier different is that these upgraded actions are no longer activated by a long tedious ďchargeĒ method. Now to use your item specials you simply hold down B as you use it. I really appreciated this change because it sped things up considerably. To prevent you from really abusing this they made the SP requirements for these actions quite steep. I ran into a situation where I became too ambitious and tried to make a new watering can before I was ready for it. It drained way too much SP and ended up hampering my farm work for a good 2 weeks until I leveled up.

There are a total of only 4 dungeons in Frontier, a lot less than the previous games. However what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. These dungeons are really long and have more complex designs and secrets than the previous games did. Whale Island is a particularly interesting dungeon as it has multiple parts that you canít access until you progress further into the game.

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Doing this circle move with the greatsword is the best attack in the game

The dating aspects of Frontier have been much improved and in my opinion are the best the HM/RF series has done to date. Like stated earlier, the girls now have a lot of voiced dialog which gives them a lot of personality. Something that I thought was a nice touch was you can give your favorite female hats & accessories as presents and she will actually wear them. I gave Mist a red ribbon and for the rest of the game she wore it around her neck. From that point on whenever I would see her I would see that ribbon and know that I was the one who gave it to her. One of the best parts about the love relationships in this game is that once a girl likes you enough you can take her out on dates. I am really disappointed that I didnít get far enough in my own game to do this (you need 8 hearts to do so and I got 7 before I beat it). Whenever I return back to Frontier I will update this review to explain how it is.

Forging your own tools and equipment is back in this game and even cooler than before. Now instead of just instantly happening when you add the required materials, a timing bar appears similar to the ones found in golf games. You have to time things right in order to forge successfully and if your timing is good you have a chance to create a higher level item. The higher your forging skill becomes the bigger this bar becomes and therefore easier to time. Along with forging, cooking makes a return however this time cooking is actually useful. Once you really start cooking you can easily make items that restore your SP throughout the day and give you substantial stat boosts and status effects. This in turn makes tasks that were once useless like fishing worthy of your time.

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Even hoes have attack power and stats

For as fantastic as this game is Frontier has its share of problems, one of which the series has had since its conception. I donít know why this keeps happening but nothing is straight forward or explained. As far as progressing the storyline or getting certain things you will constantly not know what to do. For an example the game doesnít start you off with many tools so you need to find the Axe yourself. You can check the common sense places such as the blacksmith, the convenience store, or the other farmer who lives next door and turn up with nothing, not even hints. In order to get the Axe you have to go talk to the old nun in the church after meeting certain criteria. How would any player be able to figure this out without a lot of painful searching or trial & error? There were quite a few times during my play through when I had to consult an internet guide and even when I read what to do next I thought ďhow would I have ever figured that out on my own?Ē

Relationships are a lot harder to establish in this game with both women and animals. I completed the game towards the end of my first year and only had my selected female, Mist, at 7 hearts. I gave a turnip to her every day (favorite food), I talked to her every day, I fulfilled her special conditions, and talked to her at every festival. I ended up beating the game before she was even close to being wed. Even sillier is when the boat race festival came around which is based around going on a boat with your love. At the time that it happened it was impossible to have a girl like you enough to invite her. Monsters also take eons to befriend and this was a big downer for me. In the original Rune Factory you could befriend monsters to work on your farm and after a while they liked you so much they could manage your entire field. In Frontier I pet and rode my monsters every day and only got up to level 2 friendships. I never got to experience the dream of having a self-sustaining field.

A new addition in Frontier are Runeys. Runeys are these little glowing spirit things that float around every area of the game. They represent the spirits of the land and directly affect how well your crops grow. There are four types of them and they all eat each other in a food cycle except one of the Runeys is at the bottom of the food chain and must be replenished. The idea is that if you manage the Runeys and spread them around to maintain balanced populations then in turn they will prosper and so will your crops, fail to maintain balance and nothing grows. As a concept I think this is a really cool idea.

However the way they were actually implemented is ruins anything fun about them, and drags this game down. For one, the only way to check the Runey populations throughout the different areas of the game is to either climb to the top of the Clock Tower or find Candy, the little girl who talks to spirits. Candy is never consistently in one spot and climbing the clock tower is a hassle. In these games you are constantly working against time and having to traverse 2-4 screens before you can even check Runey levels is ridiculous. The other problem with Runeys is that the only way to move them around is with the harvester tool. This tool sucks any Runey standing in your general location out of the air which sounds easy enough. However once you walk to the area where you wanted to pull Runeys from you then have to find where they are floating around. Once you find them the harvester will suck them up along with every other Runey around you. So you constantly have to go into you inventory and release all the bystanders you didnít want.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/RFFRuney.png
Managing these little freaks is not only impossible, but not fun while you do it!

I found that to manage runeys it took up the good majority of an entire day. Walking back and forth to the clock tower, carefully searching and picking out the right colored runeys with the harvester......... and the entire process was a chore that pulled me away from the games fun activities.

So I tried to ignore it, and for the most part I could. Since your farm generates the bottom of the food chain Runey you never have to worry about your field falling into ruin. The problem I had is that towards the end of the game when you want to craft the best equipment you need flowers that cannot be grown on your field. Since the other areas of the map were in total Runey ruin I hit a literal road block and couldnít continue. Yes, I was able to beat the game fine but this ruined a lot of the fun post-game content for me.

Lasting Appeal
Each day takes around 15-20 minutes to complete, and there are 30 days in a season. Doing the math thatís about 30-40 hours to get through the first year. I somehow managed to spend 90+ hours on the first year alone so going into buildings. I also have become very efficient with how to play these games so I wouldnít expect to beat the game within the first year.

Rune Factory Frontier will last as long as you still have things to do or until you grow bored doing so. Once you complete most of the main objectives like the storyline, marriage, and the last dungeon the desire to play dies down. After 90+ hours in I had to tell myself to stop because I was still having fun yet wanted to play other games. This is one game I have no qualms about returning to in the future.

Final Thoughts
This is definitely the best game in the series. The first Rune Factory didnít quite get to this point, but I can confidently say Frontier has topped all the Harvest Moon games. Yes, even Harvest Moon 64.

If you have ever been curious about either the Harvest Moon or Rune Factory games, this is the one to try. It makes me sad that nobody seemed to care (including the gaming press) nor even heard of this game before. Any Wii owner who is looking for a fun RPG/Simulation with a lot of content should give Rune Factory Frontier a try.

Alucard
02-08-2010, 11:51 PM
I plan to play this game for sure, excellent review btw. I was only going to ask 1 question but you already said you havent played RF2 on the DS yet so I cant ask you which you thought was better, this or that. I still havent played 2 myself. Damn list of games. Way too long.

Vegetto
02-09-2010, 02:54 AM
I bought it in january, havent started it up yet with so many friggin games, but I really look forward to it, cant wait.

Seraph
07-28-2011, 09:14 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v624/Seraph830/Reviews/FFCCTheCrystalBearers.png
Nintendo Wii
1 Player
Developer - Square Enix Product Development Division 2
Publisher - Square Enix

My Bias
-I love the Crystal Chronicles world
-I've been excited about this game since it's reveal years ago when Wii launched
-I do not like pointless Wii Remote shaking

My Completion
-Game beaten with minimal reactions & equipment found

The story of Crystal Bearers had me really entertained. Unlike the other Crystal Chronicles games this one has a more serious tone. The premise is that one of the four Crystal Chronicles races, the Yukes, have been all wiped out. Magic has been forgotten and technology is abundant. The only people who can still use magic are a handful of people known as Crystal Bearers that have a crystal shard lodged in their body. The main character Layle is imbued with a crystal giving him Gravity magic so he can manipulate himself and things around him. The characters are really well done with some pretty decent voice acting. I especially liked Layle, his smug attitude made me laugh and he was a nice change of pace from Square Enixís typical heroes. It makes for a unique story perspective as well since the games events donít start out involving him, itís just that he keeps sticking his nose in them until they do. The only thing I didn't like story wise was the ending. It's really short and didn't leave me with a feeling of satisfaction. Regardless, I canít stress enough how much I enjoyed the story throughout.

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Layle is really awesome
I really love the artistic style of this game. Previous Crystal Chronicles games contained very deformed cartoonish characters but Crystal Bearers has more normal proportioned people. I liked the distinct styles of the four races and I also liked how there was a bit of technological flair in the world, something that the previous games were devoid of. Most of the environments look good enough to satisfy but nothing really breathtaking.

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Did I mention I also love the clothing designs?
Some of the music in this game is amazing, even if there are a few bad tracks. The only bad tracks are when you have combat out on the field because it plays this obnoxious twangy country music. Here are some of my favorites.

♪ Sacred Heaven
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Despite this song being so simple I think it gives off a deep, sympathetic mood.

♪ Alfitaria Capital
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I absolutely love the bagpipes in this track which is an instrument I donít hear too often. I like the slap bass as well.

♪ Lett Highlands
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This is my favorite track in the game. Itís kinda upbeat but itís relaxing as well. Perfect music to traverse grassy fields to.

♪ Veo Lu Sluice
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One of my favorite songs from the original Crystal Chronicles arranged for a ballroom dance scene!

A majority of the game play is based around picking things up and throwing them with Layles gravity powers. You donít directly attack monsters, instead you find things lying around the environment and throw them at the enemies. Within this mechanic you can do a variety of different things, like picking up an Goblin archer and holding him above your head will cause him to frantically shoot arrows out in front of you. Throwing a Bomb monster will piss it off into self destructing and taking out those around it. There is also a Reactions system in which special effects will happen if you do certain things. For example throwing a pot of water at a Cactuar enemy will cause it to grow and holding a Bone above your head will cause wolf enemies to stop attacking and instead beg at your feet. The game encourages you to experiment to discover new reactions and even has a checklist to discover them all.

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These guys hurt really bad if they touch you
My biggest problem with this system is that it controls very obnoxiously. In order to manipulate things with gravity magic you must point and hold the cursor at what you want to affect, then flick the Wii Remote in the direction you want to throw up. When you are constantly doing it over and over it gets tiresome and just plain annoying. Enough to the point where I didnít want to do it anymore and instead of playing around and finding new reactions in battle, I just got them over with as soon as possible. Even worse my flicks didnít register responsively or correctly all the time. A simple button press & lock-on system would have done this game wonders.

In true Crystal Chronicles fashion there arenít experience points or levels to gain. Instead the only way to get stronger is through equipment and health increase bonuses. These health increase bonuses are obtained by clearing an area within itís allocated time limit, which isnít too difficult to do. There are accessories you can either buy or craft that boost Layles attributes like his range or attack power, but I barley messed with them and had no trouble beating the game.

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None of this really matters if all your after is to beat the game
There are a ton of mandatory mini-games sprawled throughout the game which actually arenít too bad. I had more fun with some of the mini-games than the standard combat. The opening of the game has you flying through the sky gunning down Zu birds like Starfox or Sin & Punishment. Thereís another scene where you must help a team of girls out in a beach side butt-bump contest by making sure they donít fall off the platform.

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Nothing like a little fanservice
I did get lost a lot when playing this game which is a pet peeve of mine. There are a lot of instances where the game is not very clear cut on where you need to go next, or is but gives the player no sense on how to get there. The in-game map is all but useless so I ended up having to look at FAQs online.

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The map, it does nothing
Crystal Bearers is a weird game for me. Itís a game that I didn't really enjoy the core game play of but every other element of it such as the story, characters, artistic style, music and mini-games are all exactly what I like. To my surprise I found that those other elements were strong enough to carry me entertained to the end. In that way it reminds me a lot of my personal experience with the Metal Gear Solid series.

My advice is that if youíre looking for a game with really deep rewarding game play then this isnít it. However if you donít mind putting up with some lackluster combat segments to experience an otherwise very entertaining game then give this game a try. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Einhander
07-29-2011, 01:20 AM
I'm maybe ....two hours? into this - I've gotten to/left Cid's workshop and am on my way to meet someone else (though I can't remember who it is exactly as I'm trying to finish up some other games)

When Naoko Suki said the music was good I was kind of perplexed, but I've mostly heard the twangy country stuff so far. I guess I'm not far enough into the game. although I doing remember noting Sacred Heaven was pretty good.

The thing I find kind of hilarious about the game is it rewards you for being a total dick. You pick people up and throw them around in towns and you're rewarded with their money! Awesome!

Naoko Suki
07-29-2011, 03:57 PM
I think I meant more of the fact that it's good for the games settings, and I never actually got bored or irritated by listening to it over long periods of time. Of course it isn't like a mainstream Final Fantasy quality, but I enjoyed most of the tracks they had. They've stuck with me!

Nindalf
10-04-2011, 03:33 PM
seraph, i don't appreciate you reviewing games on non-nintendo platforms. talk about sleeping with the enemy. we're at war here.