Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Only One Week till Metroid: Other M!

If I could go back and change my top ten most anticipated games of 2010 list that I posted near the beginning of the year, I would shove Metroid: Other M straight up to number one. Not just because we found out Zelda Wii (Skyward Sword) wouldn't be coming out this year, but also because the game is actually looking amazing; We've been waiting a whole year for Other M to come out, and now it's only a week away. When the latest Metroid title was announced back at E3 2009, we didn't get a whole lot of new info for months and months, but since a few weeks back (like most other big releases) there's been a massive burst of news, videos, and awesome info about the new game. From that ace live action trailer that was released last week, to the ace story trailer that made me feel like this will be the Nintendo equivalent to Metal Gear Solid, I'm sure because of all this news everyone is excited about Nintendo and Team Ninja's epic collaboration. Because of this sudden burst of Metroid: Other M news, I've decided to do a post on the new game. Think of it as a preview of sorts.

Where to start? How about with the Japanese story trailer that kicked off this sudden hype for the game. The video premiered on the Japanese Nintendo Channel and was kindly posted on Youtube by some chap. It featured less of Samus alone, and more of her with the team of Space Marines you come across at the beginning of the game. It seems Samus Aran is already acquainted with one of the Marines, Anthony Higgs, but the others seem to have different views of the bounty hunter. After all, the group is lead by Adam Malkovich, a fella that Samus seems to have had a few rows with in the past. Later on in the trailer Samus, along with the Space Marines, run into a room only to have a massive disgusting purple alien blob thing fall from the ceiling. This opens up a boss fight which involves Samus battling the beast with her newfound comrades. Later, tragedy follows with screams and shouts from both Sammy and the Marines. Will any of them survive later on? Well, get the game to find out.

Samus' new voice is ace. 
Speaking of videos on the Nintendo Channel, us over here in the UK were treated to a great retrospective of Other M's prequels last week entitled 'Metroid and Me'. The video is narrated by Samus herself, and basically explains most of the key things that have happened all the way up to the climactic Mother Brain fight at the end of Super Metroid that features in Other M as the opening sequence. Great video, especially if you've never played Other M's prequels and want a little back-story. Samus' voice is also perfect in my eyes, though some are calling it a little cheesy. Still, at least it isn't annoying or anything. A real-life Samus starred in a live-action trailer for the game last week. It showed up on the US Nintendo Channel, and involved Samus walking through sections of her past. The scenes shown are things like the incident with Malkovich I mentioned earlier, the Mother Brain fight and others. The live-action trailer is apparently an Ad that the US gets. Our ad is pretty awful though, like most Nintendo TV spots. Oh well.

At the time of posting, the most recent news is some review scores that have popped-up on the internet. japanese gaming site gave it an impressive 9/9/8/9 and some other site by the name of @Gamer gave it a 4/5. So far so good, but what are my views on Other M? Well, it's a definite must buy for me. The game looks amazing and it's too bad it actually comes out the day after I go back to school. Luckily that day is a Friday, so I'll be able to play it over the weekend! It's only one week and two days till Other M hits the UK shelves. Do yourself a favour and buy it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

REVIEW: Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars

Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
[Wii] [8ing/Capcom]
Back in 2008, Capcom released a fighting game for Wii in their Capcom vs series of games. It was called Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes and was unfortunately only released in Japan, and for good reason: Who the hell are Tatsunoko? Allow me to explain, Tatsunoko is a Japanese anime powerhouse that has released several popular cartoons over the past 50 years. While Tatsunoko is essentially the Disney for Japan, it hasn't got quite as much recognition over here in Europe. If you asked a British bloke who Ken the Eagle is and not allowed him to refer to Wikipedia, his answer would probably be "An Eagle called Ken?". With this in mind, Capcom would have to be totally insane risk-takers to release Tatsunoko vs Capcom over here. Well guess what? Capcom are totally insane risk-takers, and they did make the decision to release their completely unknown fighting game to our shores. And not only that, they've also included many new improvements over the original game and dubbed it 'Ultimate All-Stars'. I guess that's for the best really, I mean, does the title Cross Generation of Heroes even make any sense? I think Capcom made a solid move by releasing their top Wii fighter outside of Japan. At the time of writing, I believe that Tatsunoko vs Capcom is the best 'proper' fighting game on the system, unless you count Brawl.

Tatsunoko vs Capcom is the latest game in a long line of Capcom 'vs' titles, which involve tag-team fighting. The player picks two characters out of a large roster made up of characters from two different franchises (in this case it's Tatsunoko and Capcom, obviously) and duke it out on a stage. During fights, players can switch between their two fighters to make for an interesting fighting system that works. TvC is the first game in this series to hit the Wii, and it's certainly up there with some of the best vs games. You could call this the Wii's answer to Street Fighter IV, only a whole lot better game-play wise. TvC takes Street Fighter and turns up the insanity dial as far as it can go. Dare I say it, it's even better than the PS3 and 360 fighter. And with that, let's get into the review.

Successfully trigger Joe the Condor's counter-attack move and you get this cool visual effect.
As I mentioned earlier, TvC's gameplay involves 2 vs 2 battles. You can pick characters from the Tatsunoko side, the Capcom side or a mix of both brands. On the more well-known Capcom side, you've got the regulars like Ryu and Chun-Li from Street Fighter as well as the PTX-40A robot from Lost Planet, Mega Man Volnutt and the hilarious Frank West from the Dead Rising series, among many others. On the Tatsunoko side, there's a selection of Japanese characters from franchises you may not have heard of, but that honestly doesn't matter. I wouldn't consider the fact that the vast majority of people won't know half the character roster in this game a problem, as the completely insane, extremely Japanese nature of TvC makes up for it. The fighting system is perfect, the characters are cool and unique, and the special moves are utterly insane. Each fighter has several special moves known as Hyper Combos, most of which can be used by pressing two of the three attack buttons at once after moving the control stick in a certain way. After entering the command, your character will use one of his or her Hyper Combos, which do massive damage to your opponent if it successfully hits them. One of the great things about TvC is picking a character and checking out their Hyper Combos simply because they're awesome. Ryu for example can use his signature 'Shinku Hadouken' move on enemies as a special move, shooting a massive blue laser into the opposition's face. If the move hits, of course.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

An Old Feature: The Legend of Zelda Retrospective Part 1

Once again, I've dug up another piece of writing from my past. I wrote this just after my Disgaea review, and it recieved much positive feedback. The grammar's not quite up to scratch with my newer stuff, but I thought I might as well post it here anyway. And before you ask, I never continued this feature, but may redo the whole thing sometime in the future. Enjoy...

The legend of Zelda retrospective
Part 1
The legend of Zelda is probably one of the most celebrated video game series’ ever. It’s been going on since Nintendo’s first console and after two Zelda games being announced this year I’m making my tribute. Today I’ll be taking a look at the first five games to be released.

The legend of Zelda 
[nes/gc/gba/virtual console]
Released in 1986 for the Famicom disk system in Japan and then on the NES a year later in the UK and America, the legend of Zelda was the first proper adventure game which opened the door to the greatest series of all time. It was also the first game to make use of a save function and the first to sell over a million copies. The game featured a huge over world map along with a total of six dungeons and a deep, lengthy storyline. As the tale goes, Ganon the prince of darkness has stolen the triforce of power and has used it to lay siege upon the kingdom of Hyrule unleashing dangerous monsters across the land. In an attempt to steal her triforce piece, the pesky pig captures princess Zelda and it’s then up to the hero of the story, Link to save her and slay the evil lord. And in case you haven’t had enough, once you have finished the story you have access to a ‘quest 2’ mode in which you play through the game again but with a higher difficulty and some cool twists. The easiest way to obtain this adventure is through wii’s virtual console service but if you have the cash and an NES system you can pick it up off eBay. The game is also available on the gamecube in the legend of Zelda collector’s edition and on the gameboy advance. I really recommend you pick this title up now.


Zelda II: the adventure of link 
[nes/gc/gba/virtual console]
Zelda II is mostly considered to be the black sheep of the series by many fans due to its strange game play differences. Link is older in this game however despite the many years that have gone by since he defeated Ganon, there is still an evil presence in the land. A magic spell saw to it that if Link was killed and his blood was sprinkled on Ganon's ashes, the evil lord would return. As a result, Ganon’s minions are out in force to kill Link, who at the same time turns 16. All of a sudden he finds that a triforce mark has appeared on the back of his hand and he then goes to his friend Impa, one of the sages for help. In the meantime, Zelda is drifting into an eternal sleep thanks to a magical curse placed on her by a mysterious sorcerer and it’s once again up to link to save her from certain death by sleep, while avoiding getting himself killed. In order to access Hyrule castle where the princess is sleeping, link must collect pieces of the triforce of courage, which is engraved on the back of his hand.

As I mentioned before, Zelda II has a slightly different formula to the other titles in the series.
The reason for this is because adventure of link is a side-scroller like Mario or sonic games, but that doesn’t make it a platformer at all. Another unique feature of Zelda II is its exp system, not featured in any other Zelda game to date. Every time you level up, you are given the option to upgrade one of your three stats: stamina, which increases your defensive power, attack, which increases your offensive power and magic, which boosts the power of the magic spells you will learning. In conclusion, Zelda II: the adventure of link is well worth a purchase, but it’s simply not as good as the original. The game is available on the same consoles as Zelda 1, but it’s probably cheapest to get on VC again.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

A TWEWY Sequel? Yes Please.

Let's face it, everyone who has their hands on Square-Enix's amazingly different Shibuya-based RPG The World Ends with You wants a sequel. I've been wanting Square to announce it ever since I first got the game in November last year (after a month of waiting, damn lazy eBayers). I've poured 75 hours into TWEWY at the time of posting, and I'm currently attempting to master every single one of the game's Pins. For those of you who don't know what that means, buy the game immediately, it'll only set you back about 15 to 20 quid. I clearly love The World Ends with You, so when I heard a few days back that the game's director is interested in making a sequel, I hopped aboard yet another hype-train.

In these exact words, Testuya Nomura told American Nintendo Magazine Nintendo Power, "I definitely want to make a sequel. I'm very busy working on other titles right now, but when the time is right, I would love to make another installment of The World Ends with You." Awesome. But that leaves us with a lot of questions, like, how exactly do you follow on from the original title's storyline? I won't spoil anything but you can't really continue TWEWY's story, as it stops at a happy ending that will stay happy, unless it's cliche'd. Maybe they ought to introduce some new protagonists who are thrown into The Reapers' Game, or possibly make a prequel to the original. Whatever Testuya's team come up with it better be a storyline that works, rather than making a boring cliched sequel.

The original game had a whopping 302 pins that could be found, but will they be included in the sequel?

It's not just the story that matters, what about the other features that made the original so unique? Surely they've gotta hold on to the battle system they had in the original, but possibly improve on that a bit? Then there's the subject of the music. It'll take forever to make some new songs, as all the tracks in the original were sung by J-pop bands. Will they just hold on to the original's music? If so, that'd be a bit lazy. Also is the matter of new pins. I reckon they should just hold on to every single pin from the original game, and then design a couple hundred more each with new uses. In fact, they really should try to improve on every aspect of the original if they want to make this a better game.

Finally, the setting of TWEWY 2. Will it be in Shibuya again? Will it take place in The Reapers Game? So many questions that need to be answered. In my eyes, the team should either set the sequel in a new location, or keep Shibuya, but improve on it and possibly expand it to new areas. We don't know anything about the sequel so far apart from the fact that there may be one if the director gets his way. If we do get confirmation of a second game, will they even stick it on the DS, or go 3D with Nintendo's new console? There's too many questions, and we all want Testuya's team to answer them, but for now, we can only speculate.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

REVIEW: No More Heroes

No More Heroes
[Wii] [Grasshopper Manufacture]
Every once in a while, a game comes along that looks so unique, it seems too good to be true. And it usually is. Take High Voltage Software's The Conduit as an example of this. They hyped it up with their amazing new Quantum graphics system, making their new Wii first-person shooter look comparable to Xbox 360 and PS3 games. Because of this, the various trailers that were shown and general fanboyism, gamers hyped to be "the" FPS on Wii that could rival even the best FPS games on other systems. In the end though, it ended up getting only decent review scores because the game was short and the levels were linear, probably because High Voltage were concentrating too much on their precious Quantum engine rather than actually trying to make The Conduit as enjoyable as possible. A case of style over substance is an appropriate explanation. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Why the hell are you talking about The Conduit?! Isn't this supposed to be a review of No More Heroes?" Well yeah, it is, and I've not been talking about High Voltage Software's disappointing title for nothing. As I mentioned before, The Conduit (and various other games released before and after it) had a sad case of style over substance. That's where legendary maniac game dev Suda51 comes in with his madcap Wii game No More Heroes. Why? Because not only was the game's stylish meter going off the charts, it's substance levels were pretty high too. And with that, let's get into my review.

When No More Heroes was first announced, gamers knew it was going to be a smash hit for the Wii. Coming from the devious minds behind Gamecube and PS2 classic Killer7, No More Heroes took the action game genre and turned it into something spectacular, funny and oh so weird. The story is pretty complex (strangely, some of it is only mentioned in the instruction booklet!) but can luckily for me it can be explained in a simple manner. Meet Travis Touchdown, a hygiene-impaired slob who one day runs into smokin' hot chick Silvia Christel, a devilish woman who just happens to run the United Assassination Association in Travis' hometown of Santa Destroy. After ending up killing a drifter in the ranked assassination tournament, Travis becomes an officially ranked UAA assassin, with nowhere to go but all the way to number one, And with that, he is set with the challenge of killing the ten weird and wacky ranked assassins above him. Of course, that's just the basic plot, but it's enough to explain the story of the game without spoiling anything. When you first slap the game disk into the Wii, the game kicks off almost instantly. After watching the opening sequence, you begin the game as Travis riding his trusty Schpeltiger bike into a mansion owned by the 10th ranked boss in the UAA rankings. After chopping a few grunts in half and rudely kicking the door down, Travis shouts "It's game time!" and the player takes control.