Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Late on posts, just in time for Christmas Cheer!

For more than a month and a half, work has pretty much consumed most of my time, leaving practically no time for posts. And within those 90+ days, there have been new games added to my library and to my little spare time. I'll probably do some fast and quick posting, but my goal is to get all my posts done before Christmas.

Just so everyone knows what to expect, here's a short list of what posts will be coming in the next couple of days:

- at least 5+ new games
- one game completed
- a gift from Nintendo
- random posts for random rants

And before I probably will forget, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Two new Capcom DS games to occupy my portable time, plus the main course

Thanks to Amazon's Capcom deals, I binged on a couple of titles that will satisfy some portable itch. The first is Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, a spin-off of the much-popular courtroom drama. Instead of playing a defense attorney, you play as the prosecutioner Miles Edgeworth who, in parallel flair, also sports a female sidekick. In a change of pace, the crime scenes are now walkable rooms to explore and examine, instead of static images as the Phoenix Wright series have relied heavily on in previous installments. Me? I'm just looking for more great story-telling from the long-running series.

The second is Megaman Zero Collection, a collaboration of all 4 games and bonus content into one tiny cartridge. While it's not Megaman himself, the gameplay remains ever as hectic and challenging as any Megaman title to date. Plus, with a beautiful artistic aesthetic, unlocking artwork will be all the more sweeter as you progress through the games.

And finally, one of the most anticipated games I've been looking forward to all year...Rock Band 3, with keyboard. This needs no explanation. I mean, just look at it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary Event, San Francisco

The streets of San Francisco were alive with Giants fever as they were starting Game 2 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers in their home turf. Fans that were not in the stadium quickly populated nearby bars to catch all the action, including Taverna Avertine. Downstairs, however, there were people that were more than just Giants fans.

Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. video game on the NES amidst the appropriately-themed brick-and-pipe-lined basement of the bar. Decorations of plush bricks and question mark blocks lay stacked by the bottom of the stairs as I made my descent, and the familiar theme music of World 1-1 and Mario jump flooded my ears. There were 3 TVs hooked up to 25th-anniversary red Wii consoles, all sporting the latest Wii-mote Plus controllers.

The event invited press in a friendly competition to see who could acquire the fastest speed run (best out of three) through World 1-1. It didn't take long for people to figure out the best path to take for the fastest time. However, once people did, everyone was calculating minute details on how to shave off seconds from the timer. Of course, this meant that people were playing WAY more than the "best of 3 runs," but no one seemed to mind the repetition, let alone playing a game that's 25 years old.

Pretty soon, friendly questions on which pipe leads to the underground section and how to tackle the stairs faded, and determination was set in the air. My official end time (after 3 tries) was at 365, or 35 seconds to complete World 1-1. Unofficially, however, my time was 3 seconds faster at 368, or 32 seconds. Andrew, the rep there taking down scores, playfully writes down the latter score, just for the "record."

During the evening, there were small quiz sections where winners received more Mario-themed prizes, but the top prize, a red Wii console, went out to the fastest official speed run for the evening, which turned out to be 366, or 34 seconds. Unofficially, someone eventually completed World 1-1 in 31 seconds, one whole second faster than my personal best! I commend him for his accomplishment, since he practically spent the rest of the evening perfecting his speed run to the most granular detail.

In the end, the event was a spectacular gathering of people who can't, nay refuse to forget a classic game such as Super Mario Bros. There was even a "confessional" chair set up for guests to reminisce and record on video about their first experiences and fondest memories of Mario in their lives. And despite the minor distraction of the Giants winning Game 2 of the series that night, the event made everyone feel like kids again, crowding around a game that reminded us how many of our gaming lives began.

More pictures from the event are below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow whips it good.

I don't know how Castlevania: Lords of Shadow slipped past my radar, but it's a game that I completely overlooked. No previews, no reviews, not even a small video of the game in action. That said, after putting in a few hours into the game, I can honestly say I'm absolutely hooked. And I never thought I'd say that about a 3D Castlevania game, too.

Seriously, though...the game is freaken gorgeous. Playing it through on Hard, and it's brutally good.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed...finished!

While the game was plagued with some of the most terrible bugs I've seen in years, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was still an enjoyable game. I probably did more force grabs than any other Force power available, but could anyone blame me? Yeah, I was a Jedi, I had a lightsaber - but I couldn't chuck it a hundred feet ahead of me, can I?

Despite the sometimes-button-mash gameplay, the story was an interesting one to play out. Being a rogue Jedi and able to take down anyone, whether Rebel or Empire, is liberating. If they're in your way, take 'em out. It's just that simple.

I think, in the end, I'm just glad I'm done with the game. Not for the buggy gameplay, not for the interesting storyline...but simply for the fact that I don't have to see those weird fish-like eyeballs of your main character. Seriously, those are some drug-induced eyes...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Force Unleashed all over Borderlands

It's been a while since I binged out on some games, so I've decided to tackle two of some games released a while back.

Borderlands: Since no one I know is playing Uncharted 2 online, I've come to an agreement with my Borderlands friend and agreed to play with him co-op if he plays Uncharted 2 co-op with me later.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: The sequel has re-peaked my interest in the franchise again, and Guybrush Threepwood will be a playable character in the game as well! Now THAT'S some LucasArts love there!!

Both Borderlands and Force Unleashed were games I sampled and tried in the past, but just never really got into them. But, in dusting off some games to blow through and play, I thought "what the hell" and gave them another try. And I'm enjoying it!

I think for a while, I was aching for a FPS game to the point of checking out any Modern Warfare or Medal of Honor game. With Borderlands, not only can I satisfy that need, but I can buddy up with my friend online and bust it out co-op!

With Force Unleashed, I think I underestimated the to speak. Force Pushing guards off cliffs and using it to hurl heavy objects to enemies far away is both intuitive and engrossingly fun! Sure, the fighting is sometimes mindless lightsaber action, but anything to hear the "whoosh" sound it makes as it cuts the air.

By the end of the month, both games will have received some sort of update treatment on retail shelves. Borderlands: GOTY edition has been already released, which contains all 4 DLC content in one game disc. The end of October will see the release of The Force Unleashed 2, so the first game will probably be pushed up the "finished" queue.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Little Big Planet PSP...finished!

While creating levels is possible in both the PS3 and PSP version, the PSP controls make things a little more complicated in the portable version of Little Big Planet. The game, like its big-brother version, has a decent story going on for it, with regular level progression and item collecting. But the placement of stickers was so painful - to have to hold the L2 trigger button while rotating AND scaling the sticker using only the analog stick? That is beyond annoying.

So this is why this game will only receive my playthrough attention. I'll leave the level creation to its PS3 counterpart, where it's easier to share levels anyways.


Sometimes it's just good to play a game just to purely kill time, and that's what Flower allowed me to do. There's no one to kill, no missions to complete, and no cluttered HUD to observe - just going with the flow and riding the wind.

And the game wasn't really begging to be finished. I just found myself idle between games, and thought that I haven't played it in a while. And before I knew it, it's finished.

Flower's calming atmosphere and music are enough for me to return to it again when I need a break from any big-name games. Or if I want some nice and pleasant background on my TV.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Something freaky at

I'm all for Rock Band, and am completely looking forward to the third installment coming out October 26th. But right now, if you visit, the splash image you see for Snoop Dogg Pack 01 before the video plays out is an oddly-disproportionate head on (what I think is) a drummer's body. Here, take a look for yourself:

Maybe it's just me, but don't you think it's just a bit "muppety"?

Open wide and say "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!"

New Scott Pilgrim DLC coming in November

Just when I can't get enough of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, Ubisoft also decides to reveal that new DLC will be available in November, around the same time the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray.

For just a mere $1.99 on PSN, or 160 Microsoft Points on XBLM, Ubisoft plans to add one more character into the roster - Knives Chau - as well as 2 new gameplay modes: Dodgeball mode, and Arena mode. Dodgeball mode, I can imagine, would probably match the stylings of Super Dodgeball of yesteryear. Arena mode, on the other hand, will be more just a simple brawler with weapons sprawled all over the place.

In addition to the DLC, a patch will also be released to resolve some difficulty balancing issues in the game, incorporate drop-in/drop-out co-op, and a slew of other issues.

I never expected any patch, let alone new DLC, to come to this already awesome comic and game. And with my November anticipation already dashed by the delay of Little Big Planet 2, I embrace this news with open arms.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World DVD/Blu-Ray is scheduled to release November 9th.

Beyond Good and Evil Re-Release in HD Next Year

It's been almost 7 years since Beyond Good and Evil was silently released and generated its own cult following despite poor marketing practices. If you were one of the few that missed out on a well-told game, you're in luck. Ubisoft has revealed that they will be re-releasing the game to the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network sometime in 2011. Not only will it be looking better in 1080p, but the game will sport new character models and textures, a re-mastered soundtrack, and Achievements/Trophies support.

While this is no sequel news, this most assuredly acknowledges the yearn for this game and its characters. I know I've been buzzing about the game's sequel for quite some time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Randomness: Chip

Drawing was a big hobby of mine when I was young. I drew things from still-life to anime to portraits to....this.

Normally I'm good at writing down the date on my drawings, too. But yeah...I forgot what inspired/compelled me to draw this video-game-console-influenced character. You can even see the erased areas where I made adjustments. And the "Chip" name above was all computer-fied. I'm guessing I was trying to make a friend out of my SNES.

Heck, I just noticed this, but I even included a scribble on it shadowing where the embossed "Nintendo" logo was on the actual system.

I know I wasn't drinking back then, so I'll chalk this up under "childhood boredom." Really, there is no other reason I could think of that would explain this.

Also, the black line on the top was some dust, not some weird antennae sticking from the top.

Enjoy this weird, random image!

Monday, September 27, 2010

WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase: Everything but the D.I.Y.

As you know, I just purchased WarioWare D.I.Y. last week for the DS, and it's a great little app to create some of your own WarioWare mini-game creations. Going through the tutorials alone has opened up my eyes to the games a person can create and share.

But, despite the emphasis of sharing games with friends, the sad reality is that not everyone may be invested to purchase the game AND become active in sharing creative content. Which is why I find WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase to be an ideal solution to show off your creations.

At 800 Wii points (or $8), you get a dedicated channel on your Wii purely to play WarioWare D.I.Y. games. The channel itself comes with its own set of game content that's different from the ones on the DS version. It appears they took a full list of WarioWare games and split it in half - one half going to the DS version, and the other going to the Wii. But while the channel has its own array of games, the heart of it lies in downloading new games to play, whether created by other players or Nintendo.

While new content only surfaces up on a weekly basis, it's still a kick to check out people's creative mini-games. And while there's a limited amount you can download from this mode, the channel really shines when you upload your own content to the channel. This allows you to really show off your creations without forcing your friends to huddle over a small screen to enjoy them.

There are a few setbacks with this WiiWare version of the game. For starters, without the DS game, you're not really getting enough bang for your buck. While there are games there you can play on its own, a large part of content relies on downloads of other people's games and uploads of your own. Another argument is the graphics. Now, knowing that the channel's an accompaniment to the DS game, the games are just blown-up games from the DS version, so there technically IS an inconsistency. However, people just getting the channel by itself will no doubt find the transitions from crisp cartoony graphics to fuzzy, blown-up DS graphics to be annoying. Also, remember that this WiiWare title has NONE of the game-creating elements as its DS version does, so don't purchase it with the intent of creating your own games.

Lastly, paying $8 for a limited amount of content would be considered a waste of cash if you don't have the DS game to pair it with.

Heh, I think I can probably sum up this review with a mini-game!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WarioWare D.I.Y. and creative content

The month of August for me was very slow indeed. For well over a month, I have left this blog barren and empty, devoid of interesting news or articles. Here are a list of things that can either stand alone or be combined to explain my absense:

-Tons of work
-Hot days of summer making me sleep more
-Lack of interesting games that came out (I'll pretend that Metroid: Other M never was released)
-New cat (5 months old)
-Being creative

That last one is of particular interest because I've re-invested my love for games that allow creative content. There's no feeling out there quite like the feeling you get when you see your own ideas come to life in a level you create from the ground up. And while I did get some gaming done during my month-long hiatus, a majority of the time spent was with Little Big Planet.

Remember when I mentioned a long, long time ago that Little Big Planet has lots of replay value, and that it never gets old as long as there are good ideas? Well, firing up the community servers in-game, I still find lots of people creating absolutely incredible levels - levels that just simply blow your mind! I mean, people are not only creating great levels to play, but adding their own community keys in the levels for a player to continue the adventure, because there is still more levels to tell the story! And there's so much talent out there that these levels are more impressive that the original game's levels!

It's because of this creative surge that I went ahead and got myself WarioWare D.I.Y., which gives players the ability to make short 3-second mini-game in the same vein as the popular WarioWare franchise. All you need is a background, some objects, background music, and some simple actions, and you have an instant game! As simple as that sounds, you'd be surprised how creative these "games" can get.

Let's see what I can make!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game...finished!!

I've read the comics, I've watched the movie, and now I've played the game, which is a small mix of both, with a bit of Paul Robertson weirdness thrown in. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a visual blend of references pulled from everything in general and slapped into a "River-City Ransom"-esque game allowing 4-player co-op in the same room. And the game plays splendidly...when it works.

What probably bothered me the most was the game's inconsistent save feature. At times, I would progress a full 6 levels and then go back to the world map, then power out. When I returned to the game, that 6 levels of progression are wiped clean when I returned. After some OCD, I left my save demons to rest only after verifying through clean exit to the title screen before returning to the game. No game should exit without an exhaustive test of the save feature, and it's sad to see a game so awesome like this get neglected in that department.

Another annoying feature is the lag the game sometimes had when trying to access the pause menu at times, sometimes reaching as long as a full 3 seconds before anything would register. Add to that one game freeze so far, and the whole thing would've been a recipe for disaster if it was a game I didn't absolutely love.

The game is initially slow to get the ball rolling, and, if you have a short temper, can be quite frustrating to deal with. Your character starts with a simple jump and set of attacks, and all your stats are zero to begin with, so you will get beat up, and fast. It's not until you take advantage of all the stat-building items you can purchase before you can really enjoy the game for what it's worth - a really awesome street brawler with TONS of enemies. You have stats for your strength, defense, speed, and willpower, all of which can be leveled up (maximum 100 points) through items purchased throughout the game. But it takes more than increased stats to give you a fighting edge; you'll need extra moves, and those are acquired over time as you level up. From performing dash attacks to double-jumping, you will amass a vast array of attacks against any enemy.

And all the moves you learn are practical. Initially you only have a simple block and your attacks, so you have no choice but to go on the offensive. Later on, you develop stronger attacks, and even an evade and recovery ability to keep you in the fight longer. I went from being completely offensive to holding a defense first to performing evade tactics first before anything. Before I knew it, I took out large groups of enemies in no time.

Did I forget to add that a joystick makes the experience even more arcade-y? Like, say, a Street Fighter IV TE joystick? I've grown so accustomed to the stick that I fumble horribly on a regular controller now.

Finally, to those people that won't play/buy the game because of the lack of online co-op...GET OVER YOURSELF!! The game stands to be one of those great games you can play again and again by yourself, and is an absolute blast to play with 2 or more people IN THE SAME ROOM!! Who wants to deal with people that jump online to play a little bit, only to exit unexpectedly just to fuck you over? At least if everyone's in the same room, you can use something called a "pause" button and resume back into gameplay. But to deny a game because of its lacking online possibilities is very selfish of ANY gamer.

Overall, despite the games shortcomings, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is one that, for a measly $10, will give any gamer wonderful visual easter eggs, awesome 8-bit music, and plenty of replay value. You'd be denying yourself a stellar game if you didn't pick this up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Paul Robertson + Anamanaguchi = Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

That's the only thing I should say to people to convince them that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is awesome - both eye and ear candy! Oh, and there's 4-player simultaneous ass-kicking. C'mon!

Did I forget to mention that the game is only $10 on PSN now?

Oh, and don't let the "no online 4-player co-op" scare you away from this purchase. Why does a game absolutely need online for it to validate a purchase?? I mean:
  1. It's Paul Robertson. He's been making made-up video-game videos for some time, it's about time one of them became real!
  2. It's Anamanaguchi! Awesome 8-bit music and mixes. If you haven't listened to Dawn Metropolis, I urge you to check them out!
I've said my peace. Now I'm going to defeat some evil exes.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I finally completed DeathSpank over the weekend, with 100% in trophies to boot. I think DeathSpank falls in a category of those people who are fans of the creator, much like how Brutal Legend was great for those that were fans of Tim Schafer and his works. Players who enjoyed Ron Gilbert’s Monkey Island series and humor will enjoy the wit that gets tossed around in DeathSpank.

As fun and enjoyable the game was, there were, however, large amounts of grinding and item gathering. And while the humor was great, they were nestled in small morsels mostly at the beginning and near the end, leaving the entire game in the middle almost devoid of any elaborate humor. I had an awesome time in the beginning and end with lengthy random conversations with the NPCs, but the people in-between had little or nothing to say to keep the humor mill running.

The gameplay was also a bit unbalanced overall. While there were plenty of weapons to equip and use, all you really need is a good melee weapon, one or two weapons with special powers, and a really good crossbow. Sadly, most of my battles were spent doing ranged attacks at a safe distance. And even if I received damage, the food system was so terribly broken that I never really found a need to use potions, except during boss battles when I don’t have 8 seconds to consume food.

The game does give you a variety of weapons to use, and tries to enforce level restrictions and elemental improvements for its usage. But the hero cards that allow you to use equipment 1-2 levels higher than your current level defeat the former, and any stronger melee damage defeats the latter. And the only indicator you have that any elemental weapon is NOT working is the word “resist” above the enemy only AFTER you attack. The game could have used some enemy log to keep track of weaknesses or something.

The special runes are probably the most underrated items used in the game. They grant players to combine the use of two special weapons used at the same time for a greater combined effect. But, with an inventory system largely focused on a visual format, the runes surprisingly come with text descriptions on what to use.

Don’t forget that this is a Ron Gilbert game, and nothing would be complete without any puzzle-solving elements. Sadly, this felt a little lacking – almost like a half-finished Monkey Island game. I had items in my inventory that I almost NEVER used, making me wonder if I had truly finished all of the side quests. And believe me, I completed a HEFTY amount of them.

Despite my gripes with the game, the battles were solid and fun, and who doesn’t like going around taking out swarms of enemies at once? For a $15 experience, I think it would’ve been a better value at $10. But, considering it has been about 15 days since I bought the game, it was worth the $1-per-day to enjoy the game for what it’s worth.

Friday, August 6, 2010

When I'm too busy to play games...

...I read. And when I'm too lazy to read, I read graphic novels. With the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie coming out shortly, I thought it would be interesting to read all 6 volumes of the graphic novel (the 6th volume just came out this past July 20th).

Even before the movie was announced, I had some small interest in Scott Pilgrim. It seemed to be a graphic novel that didn't take itself too seriously, with an interesting plot and distinct style. Add to that the short but concise volume set, and you have a quick winner in my book.

And after checking out the interactive trailer that was just released, the movie will have plenty of nods to Scott Pilgrim fans from minute details here and there to full comic-to-screen recreations. Now, would I recommend you to read the novels before watching the movie?

Personally, if you read the books before the movie, you'll have a greater appreciation on how the movie's executed to match as close as possible the events in the book. Heck, it would probably make you question less what's going on, giving you more time to just enjoy the movie for what it's worth. I wonder how many of the critics that gave poor reviews actually read the books.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World comes out in theaters August 13th. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game comes out August 10th on PSN, and August 25th on XBLA.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trinity Universe and Big Bang Mini arrive

I think I did a hefty amount of avoidance when it comes to NIS America and their JRPGs (Mostly because I'm terrible at finishing them. I'm looking at all you Disgaea games), so to succumb and try out Trinity Universe now at almost a month after a release is a new record for me. Hopefully this is better than Cross Edge.

Big Bang Mini, on the other hand, was only delayed for so long because I was looking for a good deal to bite on it. I've borrowed and played the game before, so I know what to expect - great gameplay, great music (which is still free to download from their site), and unique style makes the game a replayable classic. Did I mention there's single-cart 2-player mode?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DeathSpank leaves a strange craving...

I can't quite place it...demos are usually just that - a sample of gameplay to give you a taste, usually over-patronizing in tutorials, and end way too early before you get to try out the really cool stuff.

The DeathSpank demo does none of that; the demo feels like the full game, there's no countless windows of tutorial messages to clutter up your limited experience, and at one point, there is a timer in the upper-right corner ticking down from 20 minutes - probably a timer for how much time left you have to play the demo. The timer could've practically have been irrelevant to me, since the game sold me before that even went up.

I'll admit, I really had no initial anticipation for Deathspank. All I knew about it was it was created by Ron Gilbert (of Monkey Island fame) and a couple of videos. It wasn't until I actually sat down with the demo that I heard for the first time what the game sounded like.

DeathSpank's voice actor has the baritone of Qwark from Ratchet and Clank, and the allure of Zap Brannigan from Futurama. His personality is the perfect mixture of suave and heroic stupidity. All his interactions with the locals are reminiscent of "Monkey Island" brand humor, with multiple dialogue selections to carry conversations on wide tangents. And while the voice acting can get as slow as being hand-fed every spoonful of syllable, everyone else's role shines through. (Just found out now that it's Townsend Coleman, the same person that voiced The Tick from the animated series. That explains a lot!)

If you've ever played any Animal Crossing game after Wild World, the environment will be familiar ground. The terrain is like a long conveyor belt, simulating a vanishing horizon near the top of the screen, and adjusts as you traverse the world. It's both a visual treat and a practical gameplay element.

What's probably the most engrossing part is what everyone touts as the "Diablo-like" equipment system, where you can equip yourself with items, weapons, and armor picked up as you progress. And the game spares no time taking itself seriously with item names like "Cleaver of Cleavening." What it boils down to is an RPG of mixing and matching equipment based on the situation, using what works best at that moment.

Bottom line, if you like Ron Gilbert humor and mindless enemy killings, you'll enjoy DeathSpank. Hell, in the time I took to write this article, I've downloaded the full game!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finally received my Zero T-Shirt!

Thanks to Capcom-Unity and their awesome Mega Man Zero Collection fan event, everyone that attended got a free shirt mailed to them. And mine finally arrived! Gaze at the awesomeness that is Zero in this winning T-shirt design!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2...120 stars complete!

Just like the first game, I've completed Super Mario Galaxy 2 with its own 120 stars, but not without some sweat and tears. While I believe the difficulty factor was increased a notch, it didn't feel as difficult as the first one. However, they did bring back that cursed 8-bit Mario level that everyone practically hated for its purple-coin challenge with an added twist, and made a rolling-ball level on a Rainbow-Road track. Kudos to Nintendo for busting out the familiar "OMGWTF was that" references!

And like the first game, there's another set of 120 stars to collect in the form of Green Prankster stars littered in all the levels. Basically, for every star that existed in each level, another green star is there. And some of them are located in very sneaky places! I'm into 160+ stars now, so look out in the future for another post for possibly a FULL completion of a game!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

E3 2010: Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Hands-On

The call for more Castlevania 2D games has been answered a number of times, so expecting another version to appear at E3 is practically a no-brainer. But what if no story were attached to it? What if all you were tasked to do was to slaughter all of Dracula's minions just for the sake of it? Enter the arcade-y stylings of Castlevania: Harmony of Despair.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair takes the tried-and-true 2D platformer and boiled it down to a saucy reduction of pure flavor; gone are the story elements that generally weave through all the boss battles, the lengthy backtracking through the ENTIRE castle to accomplish goals, and even the use of the map as a tool. What's left are small, short bursts of vampire-whipping levels with a starting point and a boss battle goal, all on a level designed straight on the map. What's even more amusing is the three different zoom modes you can set on the level. So, you can zoom up to a normal playing perspective, a partial zoom-out to see all nearby rooms surrounding you, or a full-blown, where-the-hell-am-I zoom out where you see practically EVERYTHING.

The demo of the game had 5 selectable characters, most of which are actually from the DS games. Apart from Alucard from Symphony of the Night, there is Soma Cruz, Shanoa, and the dual of Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin from Dawn of Sorrow, Order of Ecclesia, and Portrait of Ruin, respectively. Each character also comes with their own set of special abilities they can perform with magic, all triggered Smash Bros. style by pressing a direction and the B button.

There are even unique game mechanics that characters carry with them from their previous titles. For example, Shanoa's ability in Order of Ecclesia was her surrounding sphere that allowed her to lock onto gems in levels, and you would used the stylus to drag her in one direction from the gem in a slingshot-like fashion to release and launch her to hard-to-reach areas. In the levels themselves, certain rooms will contain these gems that only Shanoa will be able to utilize. Depending on what character you choose, your level traversing options may vary.

The level structures all follow a set format: a starting point, a big boss location, and a time limit. What's awesome is that everything's happening all at once before you; enemies in every room are moving around in their own pace, platforms and pendulums are swinging around waiting to be used, and the boss can suddenly wake up and dish out an attack that crosses through the entire map aimed squarely at you. This time it's you against the entire map, and if you're not careful, the map will win.

In addition to the single-player mode, there will be a co-op mode (which will bring about harder bosses to take down) and survival mode. Games can also host up to 6 players simultaneously, and will be online. Expect Castlevania: Harmony of Despair to be released on Xbox Live Arcade on August 4th.

Friday, July 2, 2010

E3 2010: Sonic Colors Hands-On

On the floor, I decided to humor myself and see how horrible Sonic Colors on the Wii would turn out to be. Turns out, I was in for a surprise.

Not only was Sonic Colors fun to play, but it felt like a Sonic game; a game more focused on speed and agility without all the added minor gameplay elements. Getting from point A to point B was straight-forward, and the attacks were a mere button press away as you auto-lock your enemies without missing a beat. With a mix of small 3D elements and 2D platformer, it almost plays like a good (dare I say it) Mario game! Even with the added color elements, all of which perform a specific action like drilling or increased speed, Sonic Colors doesn't stray too far from its original roots.

With all due respect, this is a game I'm sure Sonic fans will revel in, since it feels like a big-brother version of Sonic Rush on the DS. Coincidentally, the DS version of Sonic Colors follows the same vein as Sonic Rush, bringing another 2D Sonic Game to the portable console.

Sonic Colors comes out on the Wii and DS this Fall 2010.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

E3 2010: Goldeneye 007 Hands-On

Goldeneye for the N64 was a great title in its time, and one of the pioneers in promoting Nintendo's 4-port system toward friendly game-night gatherings. But in all honesty, it's been quite some time since I've played the game to really make any comparisons to today's remake. In the end, however, the memories that remain are the game's strong multiplayer presence, its fine gameplay, and different modes to play as. And, in that light, Goldeneye 007 for the Wii certainly lives up to it.

I got to start a two-player game with another person on the floor. I was playing as Oddjob on the Classic Controller, while my opponent was Jaws. The first thing I noticed was how the controls were a bit flighty, making me feel like I wasn't really walking on the floor. I'm sure after some personal tweaking that this is an easy issue to resolve. Also, my Oddjob character had his special trademark hat-throwing attack as his special, which I went nuts over before I got killed. As for the weapons, they were still satisfying to aim and fire at your opponent. The graphics are a nice upgrade from the much-more-blockier designs the N64 version were filled with, and adequate enough for a Wii remake; there wasn't any over-the-top glossy textures or extravagant backgrounds necessary to make the game stand out any more than it should.

Overall, the time spent in the game just whisked me away to a magical memory when gamers were still virgin FPS players, and tea-bagging was still an afternoon activity with real tea. Sure, Goldeneye 007 is a remake and not the original port of its N64 counterpart, and there will be people completely opposed to that simple fact - but the sensation of the game is still alive in spirit, and I'm sure people will gladly overlook that just to relive their childhood once more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2...finished!

It was a lukewarm reception, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 is now finished. As to it being complete, well, that's another matter entirely. If any Mario player is dedicated, the game is quite short going off the bare minimum. Even with the often double-backing I did to get some out-of-the-way stars that were just for completion's sake, the game still felt shorter than I thought. However, I've only secured only about 80+ stars, still far from collecting them all

Still, the level structures were well-thought of, and the game keeps itself quite fresh at times, so you never feel like anything's really the same. A gaming classic amongst Mario titles, for sure.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

E3 2010: I finally got my hands on the Nintendo 3DS, but I'm tired

But I'll say this: The 3D works well, it's very awesome, and I want it NOW! More details and impressions/suggestions later!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

E3 2010: Hands-on with...

Dragon Quest: Sentinels of the Starry Skies on the Nintendo DS! The game is much more surprising than I thought, and is a very-welcomed addition to the series. Stay tuned to for impressions!

E3 2010: Lost in Shadow

This game is beautiful. Will have more on this game later.

E3 2010: Day 2 coverage begins today

I'm finding that having a blackberry for blog coverage is more useful than I realized. So you'll see on-the-floor E3 coverage sprinkled throughout the day!

E3 2010: Nintendo 3DS up real close

And behind glass. The lines were WAY too long to check it out, so all you get for now are pictures.

The system looks pretty slick there with its nicely-formed analog stick.

Notice how the Select, Home, and Start keys are right below the touch screen? And you can see the SD-card slot and volume control from this angle, too.

The back of the system also shows the two cameras used to make your own 3D images!

And the back of the system shows the power adaptor port, 3DS/DS slot, stylus holder, and infra-red port.

Hopefully the lines aren't so bad tomorrow for me to get a better hands-on of the actual device, as well as the highly-touted 3D experience.