Thursday, 28 October 2010

Feature: My Top Ten Most Anticipated 3DS Games

There's been a ton of 3DS games announced since the console was first revealed at E3 this year, so I thought I might as well make a list of the ten I want more than the other 70-odd. I've actually had this list planned for quite a while, and I reckoned now would be a good time to finally do it because of a lack of features recently. It's certainly difficult to pick just ten titles, but here we go, this is my definitive list. Keep in mind this list was made today (26th October 2010) so any games announced after today obviously don't count because they don't exist yet (time is a weird thing dood). Now that's out of the way, let's begin...

Remind you of Wuhu Island much?
10. Pilotwings: Resort
Ok, I was stuck for choice between Paper Mario 3DS and Pilotwings here, but in the end I had to go with the latter. Despite the fact I have never played a Pilotwings game before, this game simply looks like it will make a more amazing use of the 3D effect. From what we've seen so far, this is essentially the Air Sports games in Wii Sports Resort with a few new modes. The first batch of Screenshots and footage have shown off what is essentially the Island Fly-over mode (in which you fly a plane over Wuhu Island) and another mode where your Mii has a jet-pack strapped to his or her back and has to fly through rings, a mode that has featured in past Pilotwings games. The Skydiving game from Wii Sports Resort would work incredibly well here if it was played from a top-down perspective and tilting the console moved your Mii. Imagine that! A replay mode involving full camera control would be awesome too, and would make great use of the 3D effect. In short, Pilotwings Resort is looking pretty ace, despite the fact it's essentially Wii Sports Resort's Air Sports modes from what we've seen. Definitely one worth keeping your eyes on.
SHIN SHORYUKEN! SSFIV 3D Edition takes a more cartoony approach than Dead or Alive
9. Super Street Fighter IV 3D
I'm going to be completely honest now, I really dislike Street Fighter. I've played the 2nd and 3rd games in the series and I'm certainly not a fan of that button-mashing junk. However, I do love Tatsunoko VS Capcom as you may know, and Super Street Fighter IV was the original game that used that engine, meaning it is essentially different from past Street Fighter games which I despise. With that in mind, I could love Street Fighter IV 3D edition, the new version of the franchise's latest game that's coming to the 3DS. The new innovative features that make use of the 3DS's connectivity options such as SpotPass and StreetPass are well implemented into SSFIV 3D, but they obviously won't work here in the UK (who would actually carry a 3DS around while it's switched on?). The fighting system is also pretty ace, I love that clunky feel that Street Fighter IV has, and it's intact in the 3DS version. With this game, Capcom are also helping the fighting newbies out. Special moves such as Ryu's Shinku Hadouken are usually activated by a mix of button presses and control-stick movements, which could confuse some newcomers to this type of game, so the fine chaps at Capcom are allowing players to use these attacks by pressing an icon on the touch-screen. How very nice of them! If SSFIV 3D lives up to my expectations I'll be glad to get a copy of it. Dead or Alive: Dimensions looks pretty cool too!
Yeah, I realise it says 2010 on there. Mask of Miracle was originally announced for the DS.
8. Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle
Yup, I stuck the 3DS's first main Professor Layton game three spaces behind his recently announced clash with Ace Attorney, but for good reason. I'll get into that later though, because Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle is still looking great thanks to the fact it's revolutionizing the standard Layton gameplay style. Let's face it, the first four games are essentially the same concept. Where The Mask of  Miracle fits in the great Layton timeline is unknown at the time of writing, but the story obviously involves a mask of some sort (I don't speak Japanese, obviously). So, what's this big gameplay change then? Glad you asked. Now, all the character models and backgrounds are fully 3D (in both ways), which is good news. The puzzles look a bit more varied as well, also making use of the 3D effect. We've only seen two of those so far though, one involving the player having to navigate through a maze as a ladybird. Of course, the 2D animated cut-scenes are still intact, but nobody wants them gotten rid of, right? Hopefully the 3D effects will be implemented there too. Every Professor Layton game is pretty much a must-buy for me, since I'm such a big fan of them, and that's why it snags number 8 on this list.
Now, onto the next one...
Persona 3 is one of the greatest RPGs ever made, packing some stunning artwork. Atlus NEED to release this on the 3DS, or else!
7. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona Titles
Bet you didn't expect that! Since Shin Megami Tensei: Persona is one of those 3DS announcements that we know absolutely nothing about, so that's not very surprising. So, how does a game that we know nothing about get into this list? With an astonishing backlog, that's what! You see, the Persona series is well known for being one of the best RPGs on the PS2 and the PSP, and if they port arguably the best game in the series, Persona 3 FES to the 3DS it would be a very happy time for many a RPG fan. Why is this, you ask? I'll explain. The first two Persona games were actually a little weak, and were originally released on the PS1 then ported to the PSP. They were only released in Japan until the PSP updates, but before that happened Atlus made the stupid decision to release Persona 3 in the US and the UK first, when nobody had even heard of the series. Strangely (seriously, this never happens) Persona 3 went down a storm outside of the East and it sold much more copies than expected, giving the developers the excuse to go on and make a definitive version of the title; Persona 3 FES. They also made Persona 4 after, but that's beside the point. As I was saying, if this unknown Persona game turns out to be a remake of Persona 3 FES, that would be literally one of the best things to happen on the system yet. It is likely, as Persona 3 is the best-selling game in the series and it has been ported to the PSP. If you want to know any more about Persona, it involves the protagonists shooting themselves in the head to summon demons. Like? I thought you would...

Erm, lasers? It doesn't exactly fit, but fair enough
6. Kid Icarus Uprising
Okay, so Uprising technically isn't close at all to the original Kid Icarus game on the NES, but it doesn't need to be because the new 3DS game is looking awesome as. I mean, how can a winged angel armed with guns who flies around slaying demons of the Underworld and dodging lasers that don't even fit in with the rest of the game not be cool? Anywho, I'm really looking forward to Uprising, mostly because it's by the same guys who brought us Smash Bros. Brawl, but also because it's very reminiscent of Sin and Punishment, the classic on-rails futuristic shooter that recently got a Wii reboot (google it kids). As well as being an on-rails shooter at times, Kid Icarus Uprising sometimes takes to the ground for some land-battle action. Here you have complete freedom of movement and aiming, which is a nice touch. We haven't heard a massive amount about Uprising since it's announcement at E3, but hopefully we'll find out more soon enough. Finally, there's the controls for Uprising. People who played a demo at the 3DS conference last month complained about a slightly iffy control system that makes it difficult to aim, but the developers say they are working on it. Hopefully this flaw will be fixed. Now for the other Layton game...
Later on Phoenix and Layton team up to bring down the evil plot.
5. Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney
Yup, I'm looking forward to Layton's recently announced crossover more than the other title. I'll tell you why immediately. You see, it's not because the so-called 'legendary' Phoenix Wright is teaming up with the professor, but instead because the game's story simply looks better. When I watched a translated version of the game's trailer (cheers for that ONM) I genuinely got excited. It involves a girl who is accused of being a witch, who lives in a town controlled by a man known as the 'Storyteller' who writes books. That doesn't sound very sinister, but when I go on to say these books control what happens in the whole town you'll be changing your mind. As ever, Layton and his cockney partner Luke go to investigate, teaming up with Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey from the Ace Attorney series. It looks pretty damn good, that's for sure, despite the fact we haven't seen any actual gameplay yet. Will it be like the main Layton games, or something new? Who knows. I can't wait to find out more about this one, another definite must-buy. Now onto something a little more controversial.
They've certainly recaptured the original. Can they improve some of the flawed game design?

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Best game ever? Sorry, Ocarina of Time? I think not, my friend. Granted, Ocarina is a good game and it was amazing when it was originally released for the N64, but it's essentially broken in my eyes. The game never told you what to do, meaning you had to figure out where to go in the rather large overworld map. It was technically a bit of a mess, so when I heard that Nintendo were working on a newer updated version of Ocarina of Time, with fixed dungeons and a better structure, I got hyped. More hyped than Link finally getting the girl at the end of The Wind Waker, and that's hype at it's best! Although I would've preferred a remake of The Wind Waker it's nice to see they're finally working on a fixed remake of the original game. Although, that fact does bring Ocarina of Time 3D a little lower down the list for me, since it is just a remake, not an entirely new game like the majority of other 3DS games announced. Still, I'm glad they're 'trying again' with this one. Hopefully it'll end up better than the original, but we'll see...
Chris Redfield stars in this one as a main character.
3. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries/Revelations
I simply cannot pick between these two games for multiple reasons. The Mercenaries looks like it could be a better choice, thanks to the fact that they're making what is essentially a game in itself with much more stuff crammed in. Revelations on the other hand, is an entirely new Resident Evil game. So which is better? There's only one way to find out, FI... Well, it depends on the reviews I suppose. It would be nice if Capcom packaged these two games together in some kind of collectors box to stop people from deciding on which game to buy and which game to leave. I must say I'm looking forward to The Mercenaries more, simply because we'll be able to play what is simply a port of Resi 4 and 5's Mercenaries modes with much more to boot. Although, if Revelations end up having an unlockable Mercenaries mode I might just have to get that instead. Whatever though, really. God, the amount of times I've said Mercenaries here is ridiculous, huh?
We've only seen screenshots of Mario and Luigi so far, but hopefully more characters will be revealed soon enough.

2. Mario Kart 3DS
You most probably definitely saw this one coming, didn't you? Mario Kart would be amazing on the 3DS thanks to the console's wireless functions. Granted, Mario Kart Wii's online is brilliant already, but with things like Spotpass imagine how much better it would be! And on top of that, MK3DS looks like it's going to offer a whole lot else. Some of the new tracks we've seen look like they're going to mix things up a bit, with things like Wuhu Island and a track very similar to the bird level in Galaxy 2 included. There's also a brilliant looking track where you burst through the front doors of Peach's Castle and race inside the building. It's all pretty cool when it comes to tracks for the next iteration of Mario Kart, but what else? Glad you asked, because the 3D has enhanced the items too. The blooper has been a practically useless item in past Mario Karts, spraying an amount of ink on your screen. It didn't harm the player at all really, but now that it's in 3D the item becomes much more enhanced. It's almost like having ink sprayed into your eyes!! Except nothing like that. If the next iteration of the Mario Kart series lives up to my expectations, especially in the online-play, it will definitely be the best game in the series yet. Roll on release date!

Naked Snake looks a little different from the model we saw in Snake Eater.

1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D Edition
Admit it, this was inevitable. The vast majority of people have stuck Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater at the top of their lists, purely because it looks stunning. The brilliant teaser trailer shown at the 3DS Conference last month showed off some pretty cool stuff, and even though this was by no means the actual game, it looked simply eye-popping. It starts off with Snake rustling through the forests, running into various deadly creatures; A snake pops out from a log and goes straight up in the protagonists eyesight, allowing for some brilliant use of the 3D effects. Snake also comes across an alligator and some traps. Some wasps also appear at some point too. If the final game makes use of the 3DS's 3D capabilities as well as the brilliant teaser trailer, it will definitely be one of the handheld's first hurrah's. It's set for release next year (well, in Japan at least) so hopefully we'll be seeing Snake Eater in the launch window. I've got very high expectations for it (obviously, it is number one on this list, after all...) so hopefully it will end up as amazing as everyone wants it to be. Snake Eater on the PS2 is already a brilliant game, but this remake is set to rock socks.

There we have it. I hope you enjoyed reading this list at least as much as I enjoyed writing it! Next up is my second Gamecube review, so be sure to check that out when it's finished. Over and out for now doods...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Now That's Unexpected! - Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright!

Wowee. Upon arriving at home, having a few goes at SSX On Tour and switching on the computer, one of the most unexpected announcements slapped me in the face when I opened up ONM. Yup, you read that title right, in one of the least expected crossovers in gaming, the mighty Professor Layton and top Attorney Phoenix Wright will be starring side by side in a single release. The name of this game? Um, Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright.

Level 5, the developers of all the Professor Layton games announced this game today at their conference. The title will be released for the 3DS, and like the regular Layton titles it will feature animated cutscenes featuring Phoenix himself, along with his partner Maya (apologies if I got that wrong, I know next to nothing about Ace Attorney). Shu Takumi, who wrote the script for the Phoenix Wright games will be writing the script, and Level 5 will be developing the game itself. No actual gameplay screens or footage has been revealed yet, but they did announce the game along with a trailer and some nice pieces of artwork. In short, it looks pretty good in terms of style.

Few story details have been revealed, just the fact that Phoenix pays Layton and Luke a visit to show them who's boss. Later on though, they end up working together to solve a mystery much more important than a bunch of squabbling middle-aged men. Sounds interesting enough, and the cutscene footage shown in the announcement trailer appears slightly more serious than the usual Layton stuff. It involves witches or something. I was very intrigued by Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright, it's a pretty odd game in general. Bet nobody even thought of this crossover, but here it is. Hopefully it'll turn out good, and hopefully they'll actually release it here.

Friday, 15 October 2010

REVIEW: Metroid: Other M

Metroid: Other M
[Wii] [Nintendo/Team Ninja]
Nintendo and Team Ninja's highly experimental new Metroid game hit our shelves more than a month ago with mixed reactions. Some reviewers rated the game really low for a first-party Nintendo title, while others gave it around 8/10. In the end, Other M got an average score of 7.9 on Metacritic showing that the game is clearly one of the most marmite Nintendo games ever released. So, do I love it or hate it? In short, yes, I do love Metroid: Other M. While it's not quite up there with most other Metroid titles, I still reckon it's an extremely high-quality game well worth a place in your Wii collection. Why do I love it though? Read on and find out...

Nintendo first announced the latest Metroid game back at E3 2009 and it gained a hell of a lot of hype, becoming one of the most anticipated announcements at that conference. Since the Prime Trilogy was completed, a new Metroid game was inevitable and Nintendo made the wild decision to work on it with Team Ninja, branding it Project M. Throughout development, Team Ninja have introduced many ideas to the table, which clearly show. Some of these new ideas don't quite work, which could be why Other M received such a mixed response. Other ideas fit Other M well, such as a nice mix between third and first-person gameplay. You play the game with just the Wii Remote on it's own, with the ability to switch from a third-person perspective to a helmet view simply by pointing at the screen. It works very well and Team Ninja should be applauded for bringing this feature to the Metroid table. On the other hand, some of the new ideas sort of ruin the experience a bit. There's some really iffy sections in the middle of cutscenes where Samus Aran is stuck in first person view and cannot move, which tells the player that he or she needs to track down a hidden object in the scenery. These sections are terrible, as there's no outline to scannable objects making it take absolutely forever to find these items. Thankfully, there's only two or three of these throughout the entire game, but with that in mind it surely would've been easy to drop them. Another controversial new gameplay element introduced by Team Ninja is the recharge system. There are no health packs this time, instead being replaced by a system where the players are allowed to recharge health themselves. Before you get too angry, this can only be done when Samus is very low on health and has reached a critical status. It also takes a little while to recharge the health bar, and you can only fully charge a one energy tank (at first). I like this idea and I reckon it works well, especially in the game's plentiful and tough boss fights where you need to find a safe time to recharge, getting the adrenaline pumping.

A ton of concept art went into the development of Other M, and these superb images can be unlocked by snagging more and more items
Of course, Other M as a whole is very new for Metroid. The game is played in a 3rd person perspective, and could be considered 2D in 3D, except you can move in and out of the screen. It revolutionises Metroid in the same way that the Prime games did by offering something new and fresh. However, Other M is very similar to the 2D games in terms of formula, bearing a lot of resemblance to the last 2D Metroid game; Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. Much like that game, Other M's setting is split into several 'sectors', each offering a different type of locale. In one sector you could be running and blasting around in moody and deserted spaceship corridors, and in another sector you could be blasting aliens in a fiery, burning landscape. It's very hard to believe, with the game's setting being a spaceship, but it's a very weird place in general. I won't spoil anything though.

Other M may revolutionise the Metroid formula by mixing gameplay styles, but it still resembles the 2D game the most.
There's a much more diverse story in Metroid: Other M, and it's arguably one of the best aspects of the game. The amazing in-game and CGI cutscenes tell the game's tale with absolutely amazing amounts of quality. Seriously, this stuff is definitely up the with the Metal Gear Solid series in terms of cinematics, and believe me, Other M is packed full of 'em. The story follows on directly from the SNES's Super Metroid, in a spectacular re-telling of that game's ending. Samus is battling the massive Mother Brain, and after her escape she finds herself unconscious at Galactic Federation HQ. After doing her report and leaving in her starship, she receives a distress call from a remote part of space know as a 'Baby's Cry'. This distress call is coming from the mysterious Bottle Ship, where the game takes place. Shortly after her arrival, Samus runs into a squad of Galactic Federation marines, including her old CO Adam Malkovich (any people who've played Fusion will surely recognise that name) and one of her colleagues, Anthony Higgs (a very likeable man indeed) back from when she worked under the Galactic Federation herself. Samus and Adam have a rather shakey relationship, due to a certain 'incident' but she decides to join the squad for their safety. Following orders from Adam, Samus now has to help the other team members investigate the Bottle Ship and find out who exactly sent the distress call. That's all I'm saying, but things get increasingly more complicated and interesting later on. I'll leave you guys to find out what happens.

Samus's human side is shown off a lot more in Other M, thanks to full voice acting
While Other M's story is very good, the game is a bit short. I clocked the end credits at about 8 hours which is a decent length for any normal game, but for Metroid it's a little too short. After all, previous titles in the series have lasted ages, especially the original Prime. However, there is still the option to go for 100% and try to snag all the items, as well as a side-quest after the end credits to get stuck into, but once you've done all that you've seen everything Other M has to offer. Obviously though, with such a great story and such awesome gameplay it's hard not to revisit Other M (as I am doing at the time of writing) allowing for more hours to be clocked before you finally leave the game alone. If you're planning on just buying the game, rushing through it in a quick blast and not bothering with any of the other stuff then I'd recommend a rent, but if not you should definitely try to play the game in concentrated blasts. As well as being a little too short, Metroid is also a little flawed in the difficulty aspect. I wouldn't say Other M is easy, but it isn't hard enough for a Metroid game, making it much easier to rush through without many problems. Don't get me wrong, you will die a lot, especially during boss fights, but Samus respawns in the same room making it easy to just correct what you did wrong and advance. These flaws and the minor control issues take a few points off Other M's score, but it's still a very good game.

Well, that's why I love Other M. I can see people feeling a little let down with the frustrating aspects of the game, and some will love or hate the recharge system, but if you push that stuff aside it's a very enjoyable experience. Recommended to any fans of Metroid, and hardcore gamers in general. Really great game. For now, over and out from me!