Game reviews and editorials. Simple, and clear.

Posts tagged ‘nintendo’

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Developer: EAD Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Action/Adventure
Release Date:
GB
June 6, 1993 (JP)
August 1993 (NA)
December 1993 (EU)
GBC
December 1, 1998 (NA)
December 12, 1998 (JP)
January 1, 1999 (EU)
3DS
June 7, 2011
Rating: E
MSRP: $5.99

Link’s Awakening brings all of the action and excitement, and of course, storyline into a portable adventure much bigger than the two inch gray cartridges they were packed into. Typically, when gamers see a franchise come to a handheld, we brace for a watered down, wannabe version of the original. With Link’s Awakening, that is far from the case. In fact, this adventure is very close to the title prior to it in scale. Being re-released for the 3DS has given me yet another opportunity to enjoy this timeless classic once more. My review will be covering both the original and the DX version, and I most recently completed it on the 3DS.

The story begins with a red-headed girl named Marin, who finds Link unconscious on the beach. Worried, she brings him back to her hut where she lives with Tarin. When Link awakens, he notices that he is no longer in Hyrule and does not recognize his surroundings. Marin explains that he is on an island by the name of Koholint, and that his boat must have capsized in the water at some point. With his mind a little foggy, he takes his shield from Tarin, and sets off to find a way off the seemingly isolated island. He comes across his sword and is encountered by an owl, who states that the only way off the island is by awakening the Wind Fish. This can only be done by collecting the eight Instruments of the Sirens from the temples on the land. Throughout the course of the game, the story is told and secrets are revealed further by the owl.

Sticking to what the fans love, Nintendo has retained the top-down method of exploration in this game. The old motto ‘don’t fix what’s not broken’ applies here, and works well, especially for this game in particular. The old formula of going from one dungeon to another, fighting a boss, and moving on until the very end has been retained and should not feel unfamiliar to anyone. I did notice, however that the dungeons felt very short (I was beating them very quickly), generally completing the first five to six dungeons in about 15 minutes a piece. This was also not my first time ever playing this game, so I for the most part knew exactly where I had to go.

Fighting enemies and progressing through the game itself is both simple and difficult. I lump these two in the same category, simply for the fact that to get through certain areas of the game, the player is required to use items at given points. Items and basic equipment (sword and shield) are all kept in the inventory screen and assigned to either the A or B buttons. With that being said, there are points in the game where there is a LOT of pressing start just to change equipment to match a given situation. While it isn’t as bad in the beginning of the game, it starts becoming very irritating towards the end. This is especially true when an item is needed to lift an object, an item is needed to jump, and an item is needed to jump further. It can definitely be time consuming (think Iron Boots from Ocarina of Time).

There are also portions of the game that are played in a sort of side scrolling style, similar to Zelda II. These parts are few and far between, but add a very unique way of looking at the game when they are required. Needless to say, it is much more appropriately executed than it was in Zelda II. There are also plenty of items to garner throughout the game, and surprisingly enough, are actually used frequently beyond the dungeon they are obtained in.

Even though the original Game Boy (and later the Game Boy Color) didn’t have much to speak of in terms of sound output, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening had some very beautiful soundtracks to match the game. There were a few tunes that were very catchy, and overall provided a joyous experience while playing. For its time, the graphics weren’t all that bad, but improved tenfold at the release of the DX version. The colors enabled players to see a much more vibrant world, and enemies who would once be lost amongst the olive green screen are now completely identifiable.

This game in particular plays host to a variety of other Nintendo character that can be found throughout the adventure, and is a nice surprise if they are able to be found and recognized. There are also a few side quests that can be done during the progression of the game, and in the DX version, there was an entirely new dungeon offered to players that made the game a little more ‘colorful.’ This dungeon was added in as a way of showing of the capabilities of the then revolutionary Game Boy Color.

Seeing this game re-released for me was very nostalgic, but I am extremely happy to see it available to another generation of gamers. If you own a 3DS and have access/permission to purchase this game, I highly recommend it. It is a very good deal for being such a solid game. The only thing I did not approve of in this newest remake for the 3DS is that pressing start is actually quite awkward.  However, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a timeless adventure that will ring the hearts of both old fans and new alike.

Overall: 8.0 / 10.0

Likes:
+ Original story
+ Big adventure
+ Hold in select when booting the game for the 3DS. ;)

Dislikes:
– Item switching is cumbersome
– On the 3DS, pressing start is somewhat of a challenge.

Innovative:
~ Link can jump!
~ Handhelds can have full fledged titles
~ Hyrule isn’t the only place for adventure

Advertisements

Soul Blazer

Developer: Quintet
Publisher: Enix
Genre: Action/RPG
Release Date: SNES
January 31, 1992 (JP)
November 27, 1992 (NA)
January 27, 1994 (PAL)
Rating: None
MSRP: Unknown

Soul Blazer is one of those games right up there with the other SNES ‘legends’ that I can pick up anytime and just play it through. It never gets old, and while it is not the most perfect game out there, it still has a great fun factor that is associated with it.

Soul Blazer starts off as “The Master” explains to the hero (named Blazer), that the world is being overrun by Deathtoll, and he must free the souls of the villagers and animals that Deathtoll has imprisoned. The objective is to take Blazer through these various worlds, defeating monster spawn points and ‘freeing’ the souls. This is usually followed up at the very end of each world with a boss, which often releases the soul of the most important individual in each town, and pushes the story forward. Told through each character, the story is actually quite involved. The only issue is that it can be easily overlooked if there is no speaking done with the other characters. I have read elsewhere that there is an element of love between Blazer and another character in the game, but I don’t remember seeing it. Still, the story is well written for being as old as it is, and does well fleshing out exactly what is going on, and how the people feel.

The game is played out like a typical action RPG. Experience points are gained through fighting the monsters on the field. There are no separate ‘instanced’ battles, and everything happens in real time. The main method of attacking is a sword, and there are magic spells that are granted as the game progresses forward. It is possible to miss spells and weapons through the game, but it will hinder and possibly even halt progress in some instances. The enemies are relatively predictable, and would seem to offer no challenge, however I had found myself dying on various parts due to the sheer power of the enemies. There is no place to truly grind out levels, so Blazer is kept at a level that is on par or slightly above that of the enemies he is facing.

Swords, shields and armor are collected and boost your attack and defense respectively. The magic that is obtainable throughout the game are powered by gems, which are collected via fighting enemies, opening treasures, etc.  however by collecting  a certain set of items, Blazer is granted with the ability to use magic infinitely. Each weapon and magic spell have various uses through the game, providing the player with countless ways to defeat their enemies. There are some enemies that carry specific resistances and can only be killed via one or two specific methods. Items in the game are held in an inventory, but only one item of any kind can be held at one point. Fortunately, they are all fairly effective so there is really no need for more, unless you are a really terrible gamer.

The music is not as epic in this game as it is in most SNES games, however there are plenty of memorable jams that will be remembered after the game is shut off. Quintet does tend to recycle some tunes from it, giving quite a few of the towns the exact same song. There is also a song that plays just before the save that I could really do without, due to it’s tendency to be obnoxiously loud. The music that is played during boss fights and most of the exploration, though, is some of the catchier stuff to listen to. Fortunately, that is where most of the time spent playing takes place.

As this game was a bit newer and longer, there is a battery back up to allow for three save files at one time. Overall, there is probably about 10 to 12 hours of play time, meaning the game could be completed in one sitting. However beyond the completion of the game there are really no extra features or reasons to play through again. Any time I have picked the game back up to play it, I would just start another save file and get to work again. Then again, this game is a little older, so the challenges all came from playing the game the first time around, anyway.

The only real downsides to this game were the controls at some points and the alignment of Blazer’s sword. The controls themselves were fluid and easy to maneuver Blazer around the map. This could potentially put Blazer in trouble, however, as the loose and quick movement is as much a benefit as it is a curse. I often found myself running too far forward and smashing into the enemies, or not running close enough to actually hit them. I got used to it as the game played on, but there is definitely a learning curve. Not to mention Blazer does not run in ordinal directions. This can sometimes be frustrating when trying to step on the soul releasing switch, but it never bothered me enough to mind. The other thing that must be watched is Blazer’s sword strafing. Holding down either one of the shoulder buttons will make Blazer extend his sword outwards and continually face that direction. The issue arises when you are facing north. For some ungodly reason, Blazer’s sword is actually shorter when he is facing north, and therefore is more prone to being hit. I am not sure why this is, but it is quite easily the worse glitch in the game.

Overall, Soul Blazer is definitely worth playing at least once in a lifetime, as there are lots of positives to the game to allow the negatives to mean anything. There is a solid, comprehensive story if the time is taken out to chat with the characters. As I stated before, the game can be completed in as little as 10 hours, if not faster, and has it’s memorable qualities. After all, we wouldn’t be writing about it 19 years later to share our experiences, now would we?

Overall: 6.5 / 10.0

Likes:
+Interesting gameplay
+Rather fleshed out characters
+Bold story

Dislikes:
-Controls are a bit sketchy
-Odd sprite glitches
-Final boss was insanely tough

Innovative:
~Second game to utilize soul saving system
~Did I mention the story?
~Missable equipment and spells

Pilotwings Resort

Developer: Monster Games/Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Flight Simulation
Release Date: 3DS
NA – March 25, 2011
EU – March 27, 2011
JP – April 14, 2011
AU – April 14, 2011
Rating: ESRB E
MSRP: $39.99

When the need for a casual flight sim, with easy going objectives and a laid back feel arises, Pilotwings Resort steps up and rises to the call. Having nearly a 15 year break from the franchise, Nintendo chose an ideal time to launch a sequel to the franchise. I was certain that a game of this caliber, with a very small fan base of only the most hardcore gamers would be laid to rest after the Nintendo 64 title, Pilotwings 64, was launched. However, born anew under the turn of the new revolution for handheld games, Pilotwings Resort brings all of the fun into a whole new dimension.

Pilotwings Resort is very self explanatory from the moment the game is turned on through each and every menu. From the title screen, there are two separate game modes available: Mission Mode and Free Flight Mode. The other menu option (aside from Options) is Diorama, where unlockable images of the vehicles are placed to view. Fans may recognize the island that the game takes place on. It is none other than Wuhu island, the same place used in Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort.

In Mission mode, the objective is to advance through the classes, starting at Training and ending with Platinum, totaling 42 missions all together. Each mission is assigned a specific vehicle that must be used to complete the objectives while being graded on the very familiar scale. This scale measures how fast the mission was completed (with a time set to obtain the most points), how many rings/orbs/speed panels must be obtained, landing impact, and landing accuracy. These points are then tallied up at the end of a stage and give a ranking of one, two or three stars. The three stars can also be outlined in red, signifying a perfect score (140/140, for example).

Free flight mode isn’t as simple as it sounds. Using any vehicle, the player is able to freely fly about the island with only one restriction: a time limit. While flying, there are balloons, rings, trophies, stunt rings and information circles that can be flown into to collect. As those items are obtained, more time is given during free flight, and dioramas are unlocked. The vehicles available to use are based on which ones were unlocked during the Mission mode, so there is a lot of reliance upon each game mode to complete the game. The game also requires the player to use all of the vehicles to obtain the different balloons and rings, as only the ones applicable to the vehicle being used are actually highlighted and able to be accessed during that flight.

Some of the new features that they’ve added is the ability to use a Mii saved on the console to be the avatar within the game. The Mii isn’t blatantly visible except when a mission is over, or the vehicle has been wrecked in some manner. Speaking of, wrecking in this game no longer constitutes an immediate mission failure, but rather restarts the aircraft in the last viable place to continue the mission. This makes for a much more fluid experience as the player is no longer required to restart from the very beginning just because of one simple mistake. There are also the addition of speed plates. These plates require the vehicle to be traveling at a certain speed to break through them and score the points. This can also be challenging, as the plates must be broken towards the center as well to obtain the maximum points. Therefore accuracy and speed are both needed to ensure a good score at the end of a level. There are also a few brand new vehicles that have been added to the repertoire that add quite a new flair to the game. While I will not spoil all of them, I will talk about one: the squirrel suit. Quite easily the biggest surprise, the character starts off with a jet pack, and after flying through a special ring, the Mii throws off the jet pack. Much like sky diving was in the old games, the character is plummeted towards the island. However, the suit that the Mii is equipped with is webbed under the arms and legs, allowing for wind resistance to slow and maneuver the character within the sky. It absolutely blew me away the first time I saw it.

Visually, the game is beautiful. With no 3D, it is easy to see that the 3DS makes leaps and bounds above the DS/DSi’s graphics. With much smoother polygons, as well as a further visibility range, it is quite easy to see the difference between the two systems, and just how much raw power that the 3DS is capable of. Where the “awe factor” really comes into play is the 3D aspect. It took my eyes a bit of getting used to, but, as stated in my 3DS first impression, that the 3D slider does not make the images pop out of the console, but rather adds depth to the game, allowing the player to determine distance with greater ease. Rings are much more easy to fly through, there is no more last minute correcting to fly into an orb, and accidental tree smashing are no longer a problem. The aircraft’s relative distance to everything in it’s surroundings are all very clear now. This became very apparent when I had to fly through a cave. I (nearly) made it through without hitting a wall. I got a little bold, however, and went a bit faster than I should have.

Musically, the game does retain the peaceful soundtracks that I can remember from the older games. Flying a hand glider will present much softer music than, say, using a jet pack. I personally was not overly impressed, and actually don’t feel like I am missing anything when I turn it down to listen to something else. Still, the game is not renowned for its impeccable soundtrack, and therefore, I have not judged too harshly on it. It still goes with saying that listening to the soundtrack will not spur the urge to hunt on import sites to purchase a copy to listen to outside of the game.

A few things I wish they had or kept within the game were the second rendition of the hand glider. In the Nintendo 64 version the player was presented with a hand glider that had an enormous wingspan. It looked a lot more incredible flying with that than the stumpy hand glider that is usable in this game. Also, I miss having the instructors for each flight class. A flight simulator is hard to give ‘personality’ to, but those instructors, who were done away with after the first game added personality and flair to the game. They were proud when the player’s score was high, disappointed when it was sad, and angry when the player made foolish mistakes. It might just be my own personal preference, but I do believe they added an element into a flight sim that simply will not be found anywhere else. With the addition of the 3DS’s new online capabilities, some way of sharing best times or even flying with friends would have been a simple, yet effective way to prolong the life of the game. While it has a decent amount of re-playability, Pilotwings Resort, unfortunately, will not last forever.

Overall, for brand new 3DS owners, Pilotwings Resort is the perfect game to not only demonstrate the capabilities of the 3D features, but also a perfect introduction game to ease the player’s way into the 3D gaming realm. Without being high stress, games like this are few and far between. Offering seven vehicles, 42 missions, and hundreds of collectibles during Free Flight mode, there is enough content in this game, despite its multi-player drawbacks, to make Pilotwings Resort a solid game to own.

Likes:
+3D is gorgeous
+Lots of objectives
+New vehicles

Dislikes:
-Soundtrack is okay at best
-No multi-player functionality
-Re-playability is low after game completion

Innovative:
~Vehicles
~Crash Sequence
~Free Flight Mode is Objective oriented

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Kirby’s Epic Yarn – Nintendo – Nintendo Wii

When E3 aired online last year, I know Nintendo fanboys like myself went nuts over some of the titles that were being previewed. This excitement only got stronger when we saw that a lot of the titles were coming out before the year’s end (Zelda didn’t though… boo.) This was one of those games. My first impression of it just watching the video: awesome. After beating it, I feel no less.

The game stars our wonderful pink pile of puff in yet another adventure where he is helping out his friends from impending doom. This time, however, it is not King Dedede that is terrorizing Dream Land, but a new threat by the name of Yin-Yarn, an evil sorcerer of sorts from the world of Patch Land. Frustrated with Kirby’s attempt to eat his Max Tomato, Yin Yarn sucks Kirby up into a sock… and turns him to yarn!

I know, epic right? The storyline is absolutely adorable though. It is narrated like a children’s storybook, and you cannot help but grin every time the narrator tries to get angry. He uses his own voice to make the voices of all the characters while telling the story, and it brings you back to the days when your teachers read the books for you. The story does not lack though. It has, albeit a simple, beginning, middle and end as it should, and it is not broken in the least.

With Kirby’s new look comes so many opportunities for Nintendo to make Kirby look adorable, and boy, did they nail it on the head. From turning into a mini-submarine while swimming, to changing into a parachute while gliding, each and every form that Kirby possesses is absolutely squee-worthy. But enough with the aesthetics. Onward to the nitty gritty!

The game itself is solid. I couldn’t find a single fault in how it is laid out and played whatsoever. The objective of each stage is simple: run through the stage, collecting as many beads as possible, find two hidden patches, and a music CD in each stage (assuming you’re looking to get 100%). You don’t ever die in the game. Jumping off a cliff, however will force a fairy to come pick you up out of the hole, dropping all of your hard earned beads back into it. Receiving ‘damage’ will also make your beads explode all over the place. You can pick them back up for a limited time, but they fade away rather quickly. Kirby cannot fly in this game, but it adds a new level of difficulty to the game. Gone are the days when you can simply coast in the sky from beginning to end and complete a stage. Besides, you’ll be too busy collecting beads on the ground, swinging your yarn around like a whip to worry about flying.

Musically, the game impresses me on every level. Each stage has it’s own track (that can be collected, as mentioned above) to listen to at any time in the game, and it is one of the most beautiful OSTs I’ve heard in such a long time. Each song is perfect for the stage your playing, completely setting the mood for how the stage is supposed to feel. Music is very important to me in a game, for an annoying soundtrack can cause you to lose your patience quickly. I can assure you that the only time you notice the music is when you realise just how awesome it is, and continue to sing the songs well after you stop playing. It feels like old SNES music in terms of likability, but with today’s technology, if that makes sense.

Graphically, the game looks exactly how it should. The colors are vibrant, and the stage interaction with the whole ‘yarn’ feel is awesome. Some of the points in the game (like when you unzip the background) just leave you with your mouth open at how cool it looks. Moments like that make you have to think of things on a new level.

The multi player feature is actually a step above what it has been in the previous games. Multi player does consist of you playing as Prince Fluff, the Prince of Patch Land as you would with any other Kirby game. The Prince has all the same moves and abilities as Kirby does, and functions exactly the same. Where they took the step above is when you obtain the patches to transform Kirby into the super transformations. For example, in single player, Tank Kirby can move his head up and down, and shoot missiles from his mouth. With a second player, you can now swing the tank arm around, allowing for extra damage at melee range. There are nine total transformations all together (if I remember correctly) and each one has a little quirk like that between single and multi player.

The re-playability of the game is sort of non-existent if you received 100%. I haven’t really found a reason to pick it back up other than to show people the cuteness, or if they were interested in seeing it. I don’t know if it will live up to Kirby Superstar in that aspect, at least in my own opinion. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pick it up though.

Overall, the game is a great game, and they took the old formula, added a little jazz to it, and reinvented the wheel with a bigger, stronger tire. This is how these games should be done, honestly: preserving the old style by adding new-age game play twists with it. If you’re a fan at all of Nintendo, or even own a Wii, I would highly recommend adding this game to anyone’s collection.

Rating:
9.5 / 10.0

Metroid: Other M – Nintendo/Team Ninja – Nintendo Wii

Seeing previews for this game brought along a lot of mixed reactions. I was happy and scared at the same time. Here they were making a game that was side scrolling again, just as I have always loved them, but I saw elements of FPS and the only thing I could think was “Oh God, I hope they don’t screw this up.” The franchise isn’t bad anymore, but it certainly isn’t what it used to be. I guess for the kind of gamer I am, this could be said about a lot of different game franchises. This game didn’t completely disappoint, but it certainly was no Super Metroid like I was hoping it was to be. As a matter of fact, when I first beat the game I was 100% satisfied, but in retrospect, I realise the more I think about it, the more disappointed I was.

The game takes place directly after Super Metroid. There are a lot of references in the story from Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, so if you haven’t played one or both, please jump off a brid- .. that is get yourself copies of each and play them. They’ll be worth your time alone. Unfortunately, after you have played them I’m afraid that this game will simply not live up to them at all.

You play the game about 90% in a third person view. This way, the controls are fluid, and simple. There’s really nothing you can say bad about them, because they are as easy as the NES. Running, jumping and shooting all done on the D-pad and two buttons (the wiimote is held sideways). Where things get a little fishy is the FPS part of the game. To access it, you must turn the wiimote and point it at the screen. This usually causes issues, because you point it and Samus immediately starts looking up, or to the side, or whichever way she feels like it while your wiimote figures out where it is on the screen. You’ll find that you have to get into this mode to shoot missiles too, because you can’t do it any other way. A bit of a downer, but what can you do?

Throughout the game, you gain access to your abilities not by finding them, but by being given permission to use them by a certain character in the game. Really? Samus is supposed to be this extremely awesome bounty hunter who works on her own will, doing as she pleases, and in this game she has to ask permission to use her weapons? Kinda weak if you ask me. At least you still have to find energy tanks and missile upgrades. Speaking of, each missile upgrade only gives you one extra missile, but in return, you practically get infinite missiles. They added a feature called ‘focus’ where if you hold your wiimote in the air and press A, you regain all of your missiles. You can do this too when your health is red to regain a small chunk of health. It sounds cheap, but it’s a lot harder to do than you think.

The exploration is relatively linear, and you follow a guided path almost the entire time. This takes away from the Super Metroid feel of it, and shortens play time immensely. Add this in with the fact that everything you are ordered to do is almost identical, and you’ll find yourself getting slightly bored with it.

The one strong suit of the game is the visuals. Team Ninja did a wonderful job rendering the CG animations, and even owners of PS3’s and 360’s have to stop and ‘wow’ at what they made the Wii put out. They gave a new twist on the way the different beams look as well, so that was a nice surprise. Visually, the game is quite appealing to look at, and never once was I disappointed.

Aside from one small element in the story, the overall scope of the story was excellent. They gave Samus a full fledged personality, which for most of it, I can definitely see her having. There were one or two things that I would have changed personally, or to be quite frank, not put in at all, but I was able to overlook those flaws until the end of the game.

Overall, the game was fun to play, and I was glad to see it move out of the FPS era. However, I think the programmers forgot how to make a decent third person game, and half heartedly put this together. I’m afraid to say this, but had I known what this game was going to produce, I would have just rented it and beat it then. I definitely believe it’s worth playing, but if a friend has a copy, just borrow theirs.

I’m starting to lose faith in the Metroid franchise. It truly is a shame that the games from the 80’s and 90’s are still worth replaying, while the others will probably sit on my shelf for the rest of time to come (until my kids play them, anyways).

Rating:
6.75 / 10

Super Smash Brothers Brawl – Nintendo/HAL Labratories – Nintendo Wii

When you see a game having a sequal, you generally expect there to be a lot of improvements from the previous (assuming the formula was a bit shabby) and you want new features. Brawl encompasses everything you would expect, plus a little more.

Still one of the best party games out there, SSBB has made some significant improvements over the previous. I’m going to try my best to capture them all.

We’ll start with the game modes. There are countless modes that are available to you right off the bat, followed by two that are unlockable (sorry, gotta play through the game to find out what they are. Hehe.). They brought back the Home Run Contest, Smash The Targets, and Multi Man Brawl. We’ll start with those:

Home Run Contest is a game where you have to inflict as much damage as you can on a sandbag, then with a home run bat, smash hit it as far as you can within 10 seconds. This game was always fun but they made a substantial improvement on it. Around the circumference of the starting platform they put an invisible shield that prevents the bag from falling off accidentally. However, this shield will break if you repeatedly beat the sandbag off of it.

Smash The Targets (formerly known as Break The Targets) is a mode where you run a character through a level filled with targets and try to break them as fast as possible. In the past, each characher had his or her own individual course. This time around there is a default stage but there are five levels. With each level you progress, the targets become smaller and the stage much more hazardous. Its definitely a plus.

Multi Man Brawl is essentially a bunch of different challenges that you can do against generic characters. In the original everything was called melee (100 man melee, endless melee) and they changed it to brawl (10 minute brawl, cruel brawl). Not significant, but just shows they pay attention to detail. Also the wire frames have been replaced by colored alloys. Its a neat change. They kind of look like spacemen. Heh.

Now onwards to what was Adventure mode, and classic mode:

Adventure mode has been renamed to The Subspace Emmisary. This one has much more of a storyline (and a wonderful one at that) and is really very awesome. No longer are you limited to using one character throughout the mode, but you are given an option depending on what is going on in the story. Also, the cutscenes have no spoken words, and yet I found myself gasping and laughing during surprising and funny parts, respectively.

Classic mode is back in all of its glory and needs no real introduction. You play through 12 stages of characters and fight the Master Hand at the end. Its been this way since the original, and holds true.

Something I noticed about all the modes is that the AI is really intelligent this time around. I mean REALLY smart people here. Playing on a difficulty above hard is near impossible, and I’m a pretty good player.

Another thing they added, is that every single player mode can be done cooperatively with a friend. This, in my opinion is wonderful. It adds so much more potential to the game.

There are all new events for you to play through, and again, all can be done cooperatively. The difference in this mode is that single player events and multiplayer events are slightly different, so they count them as separate events. So when you fire up your game and only see 10 events, breathe easy, there’s really 20.

Graphically there’s no tremendous improvement. The backgrounds are a bit more sparkly, and the character models are rendered a bit smoother, but aside from that there are no real big changes. They did add widescreen compatibilty so all of you with enormous tvs can smash on your friends in full 16:9 glory.

Musically, however, is a different story. The amount of music and the quality of this music is simply outstanding. They have so many old and new music for you that you will constantly be excited about each new song. But it gets even better. They now allow you adjust the music frequency so you can hear more of what you want, and less of what you don’t. For example, the Zelda stage,Bridge of Eldrin, they play four songs: Legend of Zelda Theme, Ocarina of Time Melody, Hyrule Field, and the Twilight Princess field theme. Since I love the OoT melody so much, I have that playing as frequently as possible. No more crossing your fingers and hoping the Zelda temple played the Fire Emblem theme. Hahaha.

There is also a custom stage builder, where you can create your dream battlefield, with whatever music you want, and play on it. You can even send that stage to your friends so they can play too.

The items are extensive too. There are old favorites and new ones, but two items that really stand out are the smash ball and the assist trophy.

The smash ball incorporates a new feature called a Final Smash. Basically this is like the creme de la creme of all attacks. It does severe amounts of damage and almost always kills your opponent if they have over 30% of damage before being hit. They are unique to the character and look amazing.

The assist trophys are just an added perk if you are a Nintendo fanboy such as myself. Grabbing this item, you have a random Nintendo character pop from inside. Be it Lyn from Fire Emblem, or a Labrador puppy from Nintendogs, they really put thought into these. Each character that pops out does something that’s a signature move in collaboration with its game. Even Little Mac made it!

Ahh man, all this. Does it get any better? Yep. The characters:

The first thing I said when I saw the characters was wow. I was simply blown away. 35 total characters, which is definitely the most yet. This doesn’t count two transformations: Zelda to Shiek and Samus to Zero Suit Samus. How about them apples? And believe me when I say that each of these characters are absolutely phenomenal. I still wish they would make a few of them more unique but hey, there are more than enough characters to fill your needs somewhere.

So with that all being said, you’re probably wondering if there is a flaw in this game. Unfortunately there is, but it doesn’t even lie in the game itself. The load times are not so great. The game is a dual layer disk so it takes the Wii greater effort to find the data it needs, and the most load time I’ve run into was about 8 or 9 seconds. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up when you want to play a quick game.

Overall though this game is above and beyond everything it has ever done. If you’re thinking about getting into the series for the first time, and are on the fence about it, climb on over, its definitely worth it. Even if you played (or own) the other two games, buy this one too, because there are enough things to do to keep you busy for a long time.

Did I mention there is a wall of unlockables? :]

Rating:
9.5 / 10

Excite Truck – Nintendo – Nintendo Wii

When I first looked at this game, I was so skeptical about it. I peered it and eyeballed it and even tried a demo in a store, and still wasn’t impressed with it. But I figured, what the hell, I’m going to rent it and see what its all about. And now, after playing for at least 2 and a half hours, I’m going to buy it.

Gosh, where to start? The speed in this game is just out of this world. It puts a new meaning to you’re either first or last. And let me tell you, if you try and blink, you will be last. Don’t think its too fast to play though, its perfect in that aspect. The game is just…whoa. Imagine if you syphoned down like 4 energy drinks. That would be the equivilent of the speed this game is on. Its insane.

Its not your typical racer either. The game is all about the high flying, rubber burning speed from start to end. The jumps in this game are phenominal, and its just like, you can’t help but laugh when you come crashing on top of someone, or when you’re playing two players, and your friend laughs because you hit a jump and they see you fly in front of them on their screen. Its just outrageous how much fun this game can be.

The controls I’m happy, and a little disappointed in. But not disappointed in the wrong ways mind you. What they did for the controls works. They have the buttons doing your gas, brakes, and boost, while tilting your controller back and forth is the way to steer. They are flawless in this manner, and work wonderously with the game. However, a method of switching over to normal controls would have been a bit of a help, because there have been times when I forgot that if you’re not holding the controller horizontal, then your truck will drift off to either side. It became a fuss when I started getting tired, and wanted to lay down. Haha.

Visually, the game is beautiful. The graphics are rendered well, and things are smooth. Even with mass chaos going on (truck wrecks, flames from your boosts, etc) there isn’t one drop of lag, which makes for a promising game. The only time the game slows down is when you wreck, but its intentional to dramatize the crash.

Now, something that really put the icing on the cake is custom soundtracks. Should you have an SD card loaded into your Wii, with MP3’s on there, the game will recognize them, and you can jam to your favorite hits while you race. I nearly had a stroke when I saw the option. And chaning your music is easy as pie. I’ve never played a racing game that was this user friendly. It just really amazed me.

Overall the game is marvelous, and going from not really wanting to play, to oh my God I need this game right now, is really something, especially for me. If you own a Wii, you should defintely have this game as well.

Rating:

9.0 / 10