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Old 01-06-2009, 10:27 PM   #121
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Last edited by Seraph; 08-31-2009 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:38 PM   #122
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Last edited by Seraph; 08-04-2009 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:52 PM   #123
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000

Nintendo DS
1 Players
Developer - Cing
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias

My Completion
-Beaten with “standard” ending

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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).

Last edited by Seraph; 08-04-2009 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:54 PM   #124
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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, 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Last edited by Seraph; 08-04-2009 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:07 PM   #125
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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 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).

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.

Last edited by Seraph; 08-04-2009 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:30 PM   #126
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000
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.
Originally Posted by Alucard View Post
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.
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Old 01-08-2009, 07:32 AM   #127
They call me "Derek G. Wop"
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Location: Central Coast, CA
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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).
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:23 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
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.
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:37 PM   #129
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,000

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Last edited by Seraph; 09-01-2009 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:34 AM   #130
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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.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.-Ephesians 2:8-9

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Old 01-09-2009, 12:15 PM   #131
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Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
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.
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:09 PM   #132
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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!
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:22 PM   #133
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I still use my VCR - is that wrong?

Also - good review of Hotel Dusk Seraph!
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:14 AM   #134
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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!
I've already fought and beaten Wandy, Fedor, and all of the Gracies. They were just to embarassed to tell anyone and nobody believes me. Oh well, at least I know
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Old 03-06-2009, 07:04 AM   #135
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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

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.

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.

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.

Alot of backgrounds are just plain black like this

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Last edited by Seraph; 12-31-2009 at 12:07 PM.
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