Archive for February, 2010

NP’s Top Ten Games Part Deux

Alright, here’s the other half of Nintendo Power’s list:

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
Finally, one I agree with! This latest addition to the series was a huge success, and so highly anticipated and critically acclaimed that I found myself waiting in line for the midnight release, and playing a few hours before bed on a school night. I wasn’t disappointed, either. With the ever-improving multi-player modes and a new co-op story mode, Brawl is definitely deserving of an honorable mention of the best games of the decade, even if it doesn’t end up making my personal top ten. 

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)
Yet another entry I completely agree with, and definitely feel will wind up on my personal top ten list. This game split fans of the series down the middle. Many people didn’t want to give it a chance because of the new style of cell-shaded cartoonish graphics. Those stubborn people missed out, big time. The gameplay definitely feels like a Zelda title, and the story and dungeons are well crafted.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN/Wii)

I can definitely say that this game will also appear on my top ten list. While it was an amazing game on the GameCube, it was worth the wait for the Wii system to experience this game with the new Wii motion controls. Swinging the Wii remote to swing Link’s sword massively trumped the old style of striking the B button repeatedly, and changed the series forever.

2. Resident Evil 4 (GCN/Wii)

You’ll be seeing this one on my list as well. A great remix of the Resident Evil series, this game made endless zombie sniping an awesome time for all. The use of the remote for the Wii version of the game made aiming more precise than the red laser sight on the GameCube version, which in turn made those endless hordes of ganados seem like a fun challenge rather than a headache to navigate through. The motion controls also incorporated other great interactivity between Leon and the player, who had to respond to rough situations with a quick button press or swing of the remote to correspond to the danger.

1. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

This is surely an awesome and fun game, but I really disagree with it being on this list, especially as the list’s topper. This is not the best Mario game in the series, and certainly not Nintendo’s best work of the last decade. The level designs and treatment of gravity are quite impressive, and the game has lots of replay value, but I feel like Nintendo Power just wanted to see a Mario game top the list too badly. This spot could have been donated to a much more deserving game. IGN may actually agree with NP’s decision, though. Check out their review of the game here.

Look for my list of the top ten games of the decade to come this week!

NP’s Best Games of the Decade

In its recent March issue, Nintendo Power magazine compiled a list of the ten best games of the decade. Of course, all of the games on their list are strictly on Nintendo platforms. Seeing their list inspired me to comment on their picks, and then to provide a list of my own afterward.

Nintendo Power’s Top Ten Games of the Decade

10. The World Ends with You (DS) 
First of all, I’m not a gamer that’s big on handheld systems or the games themselves typically. I’ve never played nor seen this game played, so I can’t really offer any comment other than I’d reserve all of the slots on my personal list for console games.

9. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
I’ve yet to play a Mario Kart game that isn’t a lot of fun, yet I find this title undeserving of holding a spot on this list. It was nice to see Nintendo dish out a racing game with a higher difficulty level than players are used to, however, and the Wii remote/racing wheel combo made for a fun method of steering. Still, this game is most likely one I’d play with a group of friends, rather than solo.

8. Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)
I’ve only played a couple of games from this series, and this was not one of them, so sadly I cannot offer much comment on this choice.

7. Elite Beat Agents (DS)
Wow, this is one of the titles on the list that made me say, “Really?” aloud to myself as I read it. Personally, I felt like way too many music and rhythm games were released during the past decade. The trend simply exploded, and honestly it was a little annoying to see preview after preview of yet another music game. The Guitar Hero and Rock Band series are one thing, but all of the spinoffs made my head spin after a while.

6. Metroid Prime (GCN)
This is one of the Metroid games I have played, and I can honestly say I wasn’t blown away by it. The game was slow to get in to, with very tedious play and boss fights that took a ridiculous amount of time and effort. Perhaps if I’d followed this series from the beginning, I’d have been much more impressed by this title. For now, however, I must respectfully disagree with this choice by Nintendo Power.

This list will be continued in my next post! To subscribe to Nintendo Power, check out their website here.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4?! FINALLY!

 

Sonic 4!

Sega is bringing  oldschool Sonic back! It’s been 16 years since a numbered Sonic game was released. The original game came out in 1991, its sequel in 1992, and Sonic 3 followed two years later in 1994. Since then the “little blue blur” has been featured in tons of other  games, all of which being 3D. The most successful Sonic series to be released since the numbered series is Sonic Adventure; the first game of the series was released on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999. Most other Sonic games sadly have received mostly bad reception, both from critics and from gamers. The 3D style Sonic games have been directed mostly at the younger generation of players, whereas the oldschool side-scrolling Sonic games were fun for all generations and remain lots of fun to this day. 

The new game will feature updated graphics from the first three games, with 3D character models. The levels, of course, will remain 2D (as far as we know currently at least). 

The game will be released in episodes, with a rumored few levels at a time being released as one episode. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 will be released this summer. The game will be all downloadable content, and will be available through WiiWare, PlayStation Network, and Xbox LIVE Arcade.

Sega is slowly revealing characters and enemies making a comeback into this new game on its official website. Check back regularly to get all the details, and read the news updates as they come.

While you’re waiting these next few months, it might be a good idea to dust off your old Sega Genesis to sharpen your high-speed side scrolling skills once again.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii-Quick Review

Super Mario Bros. is probably the first game series one would associate with Nintendo in its beginning. In the original games there was little more for a player to do than run, jump, fly, and pick up turtle shells to throw at enemies. New Super Mario Bros. Wii took that highly successful formula and revamped it quite a bit, while still managing to keep a lot of the feel of the earliest Mario games. 

The most obvious returning element to the series is the side-scrolling progression of  game play. The new addition to the series has proven that this method of play is still fun and effective.  Players who go for this game are going to want at least some of the oldschool feel of the series, and the side-scrolling level design definitely works to satisfy that craving. 

The incorporation of the Wii’s motion controls translates smoothly and efficiently. The new controller techniques are smart and not overly used. Jumping, grabbing objects, throwing, and other basic actions just require a simple button press. Fancier moves such as a spin jump make use of the motion controls and require the player to twist or shake the Wii remote in a certain fashion. The new controls, for the most part, are fun and only enhance game play. However, it is sometimes difficult to perform these movements while also trying to carry an object along, which requires holding a button down constantly. This is only a minor setback. 

The music is an element that can be debated. The inclusion of slightly remixed takes of the songs from the older games in the series are quite enjoyable, and really work to satisfy that nostalgic craving for the series. The new tracks, however, make one wonder if New Super Mario Bros. Wii is trying too hard to be a new game. The new tracks come off as cheesy at times, and the enemies on the screen even stop to dance along on occasion. This feels too cutesy for the series and makes it seem more aimed at kids. The most disappointing part of the new soundtrack is what plays after Mario jumps onto the flagpole at the end of a level. The player expects the original tune from the older games to congratulate them, and the new, more hyper-sounding tune that plays while Mario says, “It’s Mario Time!” or something of that nature is very disappointing and almost maddening. These little catch phrases that Mario has are also highly unnecessary and annoying.

Our old pal Yoshi does make an appearance in the game to aid you along your journey. Another great blast from the past and an excellent choice by the developers to include him.

The new multiplayer modes (supporting up to 4 players) are a great inclusion and make this a great game to take to a get together with friends.

Overall, this game is a lot of fun and a great reminder of just what an amazing creation the Super Mario Bros. series is. Players should start this game off with an open mind- expecting many returning elements from the older games in the series but also the mix of many new additions. It doesn’t rank nearly as high as the original Super Mario Bros. games by any means, but it’s a great game to add to any Wii game collection.

Read GamePro’s review of this game here.

Some mixed news for us snowed-in folk

Famous game designer Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo has officially announced that they are currently working on new hardware, and has confirmed the rumors that Nintendo has a secret project in the works. As of right now there’s no further information, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the new product could be. Could it be the long-rumored HD Wii? Another upgrade to the DS Lite? Or is it something completely different, which will become the next home console? The rumors have been circulating for quite some time, but Miyamoto’s announcement has finally given those waiting for more Nintendo products hope. The full story is on 1up.com.

On the subject of a rumored HD Wii, Netflix VP of Corporate Communications Steve Swasey echoes the words of Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime in saying that HD is not necessary for Netflix’s services nor the Wii. Swasey argues that Netflix and the Wii are already enormously popular, despite their lack of HD support (most of Netflix’s content is not available in HD). This full story is also available on 1up.com. 

Shigeru Miyamoto has attributed his inspiration behind the last Mario platform adventure (not counting New Super Mario Bros. Wii), Super Mario Galaxy, to a pet hamster he was baby sitting during the game’s development. Miyamoto was concerned about the difficulty of navigating and controlling Mario while in space, especially with the concern of semi-realistic gravity coming into play. Observing the activities of the hamster inspired Miyamoto to break down many of the environments and planets Mario visits into spheres, which allowed for easy control and transfer between worlds. Read more about it here. 

Namco Bandai is looking to cut 10% of their workforce; an estimated 630 jobs. The publisher has a projected fiscal-year loss of $343 million. They attribute this huge loss to a fall in software sales, and cite Tekken 6 as the only release to have succeeded expectation-wise. Full story here.

Zelda’s long-time formula gets a makeover

In the 8-bit and 16-bit days of gaming, The Legend of Zelda franchise was known for many factors, one being exploration. In the earliest Zelda games, players would have to find their own path to the action… sometimes by choice and sometimes by accident. Players would complete a dungeon or side-quest and then wander from screen to screen until they eventually found what they were looking for, with only a couple of sentences of advice from a lonely old man to guide them.

Since the dawning of the 3D era of gaming (dating back to the 64-bit Nintendo 64), Zelda adapted a new style: home turf –> field –> dungeon –> field –> dungeon, etc., with side-quests in between those steps. Various characters, signs, and other clues throughout the games provided the player with multiple hints of where they needed to go next to proceed. Console Zelda games that have used this formula include: Ocarina of Time (N64), Majora’s Mask (N64), Wind Waker (GameCube, with the “field” portion of the game substituted with the sea), and Twilight Princess (GameCube and Wii). Some players feel that this formula does not allow them the freedom to explore the map of the world as the formula in the 2D gaming era did.

Obviously, not all fans of the series or gamers in general are in agreement. Some argue that all Zelda games should have used the original exploration style with little in-game help. Others feel that the games from the 3D era are fine as they are, not too easy, and they favor the back-and-forth feel. Others still feel that all of the individual games are  efficient as they are, with all of their own respective styles of play.

Eiji Aonuma, the director of Nintendo’s upcoming Zelda title for the Wii (tentatively titled “Zelda: Wii 2” at this point and slated for release at the end of this year), has said that the new game will break away from the field–>dungeon–>field style, and provide for more exploration of Hyrule in between quests and also less of what some players refer to as “hand-holding” from the game. 

Currently the only official piece of art for the game, this image comes from GamePro's website.

 

We live in the age of cyber space, and whether or not players receive much in-game tips and advice, odds are that, from the time of release of the title, at most there will be a lag of a few weeks until fan and even official walkthroughs begin to surface on the web.

If you’re interested in hearing more details about the change in the upcoming Zelda title’s formula, or you want to read discussions and debates between gamers, check out the article on Zelda Universe here

This new Zelda game is also confirmed to be compatible with Wii’s MotionPlus device, which allows better precision between player movements and on-screen renderings. Aonuma told gaming website Andriasang that with the new controls, “Link’s sword and the controller that you’re holding become one.”

The new Zelda title is rumored to be making some sort of appearance at E3, perhaps even with a playable demo. Find out more by reading GamePro’s article here

My question to any of you who have played games from the Zelda series would be: Which style of play do you prefer? The exploration of the old-school games, or the back-and-forth feel of the newer generation games? Do you have a specific favorite title?

Topics and More About Me

Since we’re supposed to post at least twice a week, I was thinking I could do one post each week about the current news in the world of gaming, and then one post dedicated to a certain console or genre of game. Video games have been a part of my life since my earliest memories, so throughout my experience as a gamer I’ve had and loved many different systems. Today I am a collector of oldschool game consoles. The ones I was not fortunate enough to have as a child are the ones I have to collect, otherwise I have kept all of the old consoles my brother or I ever had, and of course have kept them all in great condition (as much as possible of course, there were many a controllers thrown by my older brother back in the day). What do you guys think? Are you fans of oldschool games as well as what’s currently popular, or are you all about the new HD graphics and online capabilities and built-in Blu-ray players?