Sunday, 28 November 2010

Christmas Update: What's coming up in December

Yo, as you may or may not be aware it'll be the month of Christmas in a few days. Snow began to fall here in the UK yesterday, which was nice. Of course, I'm not here to write about winter-related antics, so I thought I'd bump the post count by letting you guys and gals know what's coming up in the festive season. Let's begin with some reviews...

TWEWY is an amazing game, look forward to the review.
The World Ends With You and No More Heroes 2 Reviews
Above this line of text you'll see the names of two games I'll definitely have reviewed for next month. I originally planned to do NMH2 first, but I've lent it to my mate so that'll have to wait. Instead, I've resorted to the good old DS and got back into The World Ends With You, a frankly amazing game under the Square-Enix label. I'm also playing through Viewtiful Joe 2, but chances are that'll be up at the beginning of next year. The games I'll be reviewing don't really have anything to do with Christmas, but who cares? Then again, NMH2 does begin with a snowfall, that's pretty christmassy.

A-a-a-a-a-a-anniversary! Chrimbo Lists!
Believe it or not, but I began this blog in December last year. What does that mean? Well, I will have been bloggerering (is that a word?) for a year so I'll be sure to look back on my highs and lows in a feature. Another festive themed feature I'll be writing up next month is my 'Christmas Wish list'. Basically it'll be a countdown of my most wanted games for Christmas, built out of games old and new. Among them will be Layton 3 and Donkey Kong Country Returns. Look forward to those.

As well as these reviews and features, I'll also be posting the usual gaming-related antics, as well as a post on what I actually got for christmas. I'll end this post with an apology for not posting as much as I should be recently. Still, school will soon be over for the time being. Merry Christmas!! (Even though it isn't quite Christmas yet...)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

First Impressions: Sin and Punishment 2: Successor of the Skies

Man, that's one hefty title. Anyway, I got my hands on a hidden gem by the name of Sin and Punishment 2 recently, and I'll tell you something: It's awesome. And it's difficult. Very difficult. I knew that the game wouldn't be easy when I picked it up, so I naturally picked the Easy mode for my first playthrough (there's really no shame in that) and even that mode's pretty damn hard.

So what's the whole jist of Sin and Punishment then? Well, you could call it an on-rails shooter with a twist. The slight difference here is that your character is on screen, and can be moved around to dodge bullets and perform melee attacks. Apart from that, this is your average on-rails game but a hell of a lot more mental. Hundreds of enemies swarm around the screen while your character runs at a very fast pace. Bullets are flying all around the screen and explosions are occuring more than often. This really is one of the most technically impressive games on the Wii, and it deserves a big pat on the back for showing off to all those annoying Xbox fanboys. In short, take that!

Sin and Punishment 2 has a fairly ridiculous story, following a teenage kid called Isa who vows to protect his new partner Katchi from something called the Nebulox. Katchi is actually an alien though, and the bad guys want to get their hands on her for their own evil deeds. You won't be playing Sin and Punishent 2 for it's story, however, as the main focus is tooth-shredding action. If you're one of those types who bought a Wii just to play casual stuff like Wii Fit and Boom Blox (both of which I have nothing against) then this game will literally give you a seizure. Well, it won't, but don't get the game anyway. I've kept this one short because there's so much I want to write about in my actual review, which I'll start work on very soon. I've still got No More Heroes 2 and The World Ends with You to deal with first, mind. In the end, get Sin and Punishment 2 if you think you'll like it. Don't get Sin and Punishment 2 if you don't think you'll like it. Sorted!

Thursday, 18 November 2010


SSX On Tour
[Gamecube] [EA Sports BIG]
You know, doing this review makes me kinda sad. "Why did SSX have to die?" and "why are there never any good 'extreme' sports games anymore?" were some of the sentences that flowed through my mind while I was playing SSX On Tour, because the game is pretty awesome. For those among you who aren't aware of the SSX franchise, it's basically the snowboarding equivalent of Tony Hawk from last-gen. The series wasn't very popular until SSX 3 came along, followed on after by SSX On Tour which is surprisingly the game I'll be talking about in just a second. After that, some average Wii game was released under the name and the series died. Shame really. Anywho, let's talk about happier things and get on with this review...

I'm a big fan of SSX, despite my hate of sports games in general (then again, this could be classed as an 'extreme' sports game). With the series, EA have created some games so addictive and re-playable that they still hold out to this day, and I'd consider On Tour the very best on par with SSX 3. The basic concept is that you, a lone human being chucked into the snowboarding universe, must rise up in popularity and turn from an unheard of regular into a snowboarding god. You do this by completing various tasks on your board in the form of Shreds and Tournaments. The Shred challenges involve various different tasks taking place on different parts of a huge mountain. These tasks could be anything from racing against another boarder to reaching the finish line without getting busted by the 'ski-patrol'. They're all pretty varied, and even though they're repeated quite a bit it never gets repetitive thanks to the harder ones being set in other areas of the mountain. There's also almost 200 Shreds in total, so you'll be spending hours trying to complete them all. The tournaments are much bigger levels split into three different types of event; Freestyle, Pipe and Race. Freestyle challenges have you riding down the mountain attempting to both reach the finish line and beat a set score at the same time. Pipe is essentially the same, but much smaller and set on a half-pipe (allowing for some pretty ridiculous combos). Racing is self-explanatory. All in all, SSX On Tour is a pretty big game, even if it is a little repetitive.

The main objective of the game is pretty simple. By completing Shreds and Tournaments, your player earns something called Shred Hype. This hype adds to a total and places you on a leader-board made up of all the other boarders and ski-ers taking on the perilous mountain. Despite the kinda repetitive nature of the Shreds and Tournaments, your playthrough will always be different as some challenges disappear after you complete other stuff. There's a nice page of statistics that can be accessed too, letting you know how many challenges you've completed. Of course, before you begin all these wild challenges you'll need to create a character to represent yourself. At first, this isn't very deep at all with only a few clothes on offer, and to be honest, the customisation aspect of the game really isn't that deep at all. Thankfully, you can spend your hard-earned cash on some better threads later on. Speaking of money, there's a lot to be bought in SSX On Tour. A couple of shops can be accessed from the hub world, which is essentially just a map where you can select challanges to compete in and places to buy stuff. There's 3 different shops, each specifying in different types of items. The Clothing shop sells gear for your character to wear, the Barbers specify in messing with your hair, and the Snowboarding shop sells attributes (upgrades for your character) and the most important items of all: Snowboards (or skis if you picked that option).

The most important thing in gaming has always been gameplay, so how does that hold out in SSX's last hurrah? Pretty well actually. It's a bit like the old Tony Hawk engine, except you perform tricks by holding different combinations of buttons instead of entering commands. Holding a direction or two on the D-Pad gets your character ready for a flip before jumping, and pushing the C-Stick up or down while on the ground allows your Boarder to perform a manual. There isn't as wide a range of tricks here, but there really doesn't need to be. Where the gameplay differs from that of it's skateboarding rival (back then anyway...) is the special meter. At the bottom of the screen you'll see a meter that is filled up by performing tricks. Once the meter is full, it turns gold and the player is able to perform some pretty ridiculous special tricks by holding the C-Stick in certain directions while air-bound. These special tricks apparently "defy the laws of the space-time continuum", but they really just slow down time and pan the camera round your player, as well as scoring massive points. And that's basically it! SSX On Tour offers some pretty good gameplay, all in all.

In the end SSX On Tour is a very accomplished game with few flaws, but I do have a large niggle with the title that you may or may not disagree with. That niggle would be the game's soundtrack. Sure, there's some nice tunes here and there, but when you compare it to past SSX games (SSX

SSX On Tour is one of the best sports game of last generation, and it's certainly a title worth picking up. The game's available on multiple platforms, but the Gamecube version is the best thanks to an exclusive area called 'Nintendo Village' and the ability to play as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach in the game's Quick Play option. If you're into these sorts of games and have something to play SSX On Tour on, by all means buy it!


Can I just mention also that I couldn't find any good images for this review, so we''ll just have to stick with text. Sowwey!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

REVIEW: Warioware Inc.

Warioware Inc.  
[GBA] [Nintendo]
It's the game that started the madness. A madness so ridiculous it's a wonder it actually worked. That madness would be a case of Microgame mania, introduced in the original Warioware game for the Game Boy Advance. For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of Microgames, they could be summed up as 5-second minigames involving tasks so simple, two or three words could be used to explain them. Anything from pressing a button at a certain time to dodging obstacles with the directional-pad would be the controls for a Microgame, as the ones on Warioware Inc. only involve the A button and the D-pad. Of course, it's oh so much deeper than that.

Here's some examples of the many Microgames packed into Warioware. Nope, no need to thank me!
Warioware Inc has a simple but fairly ridiculous story. Wario is lazily resting on his sofa, indulging in a spot of good old TV. He obviously couldn't be arsed to change channels, so the news is on. Suddenly, a reporter appears on screen outside of a game store, saying there's a boom in game sales (strangely, he's holding up a copy of Pyoro). Wario sees this as an opportunity to make a game of his own and rake in the cash, so he does just that. He creates his videogame stupidly fast, labelling it Warioware Inc. You, as a player of Wario's game, are tasked with completing it. It's a fairly crazy story to follow, but it works and acts as the setup for the brilliant game within. After passing the title screen, a menu comes up showing multiple empty squares, bar one. These squares are the actual levels in Warioware Inc, each involving a character and a stash of themed microgames for you to play. Each level is introduced by another ridiculous cutscene involving the character. Beat all the levels, and you beat the game. Simple, no? The introductory level keeps things simple and acts as a sort-of tutorial for what's to come. You are presented with several microgames, and a boss. The boss stages aren't timed like the regular microgames, instead asking you to figure out how to beat the game. The first boss, for example, involves Wario and a ball and chain hanging from the ceiling. Pressing the A-button will make Wario punch the ball, forcing it to swing back and forth. You need to time several punches correctly before Wario charges up for a final uppercut, breaking the ball and chain into pieces. It's pretty satisfying, and the boss stages are some of the most enjoyable parts of the game. Every main level has one boss, adding up to a good amount of these.

9-Volt's levels have always been the best, because you're almost always guarenteed retro-style minigames
So, Warioware Inc is jam packed with Microgames, but is there anything else in the package to mix things up? Certainly. When you beat a level with a high score, a Minigame is unlocked. Any DSi owners who are online will already be aware of Pyoro and Paper Plane, both of which feature in Warioware Inc as some of the unlockable Minigames, but there's plenty more in there. Despite not having as big a screen as the DSi or the XL, the Minigames still work well. It's pretty fun trying to beat your high scores in these modes and they're also a fun diversion from the main game. Heck, there's even a Dr. Mario clone in there called Dr. Wario, complete with slightly different sprites and sillier background music. There's also some 2-player Minigames, but I didn't have a chance to play these with anyone.

Even after you beat the game, Warioware Inc still begs you to take more. Even on your first playthrough you won't have unlocked every character's Microgames, so it's nice to go back and play past levels to beat your scores and unlock every Microgame. There's also a nice Boss Rush mode, which has you facing off against only Boss Microgames three times over, always increasing in difficulty. An 'Easy Mode' was also chucked in, but it seems they just did that for the sake of it. Aside from all this, there's still more Minigames that can be unlocked which is nice. Overall Warioware Inc has pretty good replay-value, which is great because it's definitely a more 'pick up and play' game. It'll take you no time at all to beat the main game, but there's still enough stuff to have you coming back for a few more sessions. If you've got a GBA, get this game! And hey, why not check out the other games in the series too?


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Why I Couldn't be Happier about Sonic's Return to Form

Have you heard the news? That's right, Sonic has officially backed away from silly gimmicks, broken The Sonic Cycle and saved his spikey skin, and I couldn't be happier. Sonic Colours on Wii and DS along with the downloadable Sonic 4: Episode 1 have received rave reviews from many a journalist recently, and if Sega continue to make Sonic games as awesome as these then the blue dude is officially awesome for the first time since the Mega Drive and Sega CD days. Of course, I liked Sonic Unleashed a lot, but I was clearly in the minority. This time though, things are oh so different. Now that Sonic Colours and Sonic 4 have received these rave reviews, fans and gamers in general who know about Sonic can rest easy. All those years of pain and stupid gimmicks are finally over, and the 'Hog has a bright future ahead of him. Although, there is that new Sonic Riders game coming to the Xbox's Kinect line, but just ignore that.

Weirdly, Sega have made the decision to remove all the 'bad' Sonic games from shelves, including last year's awful Sonic and the Black Knight. This is pretty good news, and a clever move from the company in my eyes. Why? Picture the scene. There's a guy who wants to get into Sonic games, but doesn't know the slightest thing about them. He picks up an awful title in the series and takes it as a first impression, imprinting the fact that "all Sonic games suck" into his mind and never buy a Sonic game ever again. So if Sega take away all these ruined titles, they'll get more sales. And of course, more money for Sega means more money to produce more awesome Sonic games. Everyone's a winner!

A while ago Sega also confirmed the next Sonic title in the main series, before Colours is even out! It sounds awesome, and is a great celebration of all (good) things Sonic-related. Apparently they're doing another 'Sonic Unleashed daytime levels' style game like Colours, but it'll be set in such classic stages as the mighty Green Hill Zone. I know we've got to wait until sometime next year 'till we can discover anything more about this game, but just the confirmation is enough to make fans go nuts. 2011 certainly is looking like an awesome year for gaming already, and if the new Sonic game is any good it'll definitely contribute to the oh-so lovely awesomeness raised by the likes of the 3DS and Skyward Sword. Roll on next year!