Monday, 31 January 2011

Update: One Year of Noodle's Blog - Looking Back on the Highs and Lows and Other Stuff!

Well, it's definitely been quite a year. Today marks the post date of my very first piece of writing on Noodle's Blog, so I've decided to do a 'looking back' thingy to celebrate this special occasion. It's been a roller-coaster of highs and lows over the past year, but all I can really say is thanks for all the positive feedback and comments and stuff. I'd like to give a special mention to Jess (ZeroSuitSamus2) who seems to be the only person who ever reads any of my posts! Anyway, this post is basically a mishmash of stuff, such as what's coming up in 2011 and other things. First though, let's take a look at my blog's highs and lows.

One Year of Noodle's Blog!
When I first started the blog I intended to make it a place to write about a wide variety of things. However, many ideas were scrapped and I decided to make it a gaming-only blog, which in my eyes was a good decision. You honestly don't want to hear me ramble on about crap on fifty different posts each month. Anyway, video games are the hobby I hold most dear, so why not concentrate on that? The main reason I started all this was to get some practice for (hopefully) a job in games journalism in the future. You could essentially call my writing works practice, but I still write them for people to enjoy and stuff like that. That's the whole point, right? Anyway, thanks to everyone who reads all this rubbish, don't think I could have done it without the motivation I've received.

I must admit, I'm very proud of my more recent stuff, particularly the reviews and features I've been posting. Those two types of posts are the ones I work my hardest on to make awesome, and I think the majority of them have turned out as good as I wanted them to. It's become quite clear that I've improved my writing skills since I started up the blog, because my older stuff makes my mouth taste like throw-up! I'll be suplying pieces of writing of a much higher standard this year, hopefully. Speaking of posts, shall we see what's coming up?

Future Posts
I've got quite a few post ideas swirling around my mind, one in particular being a post I promised several months back but failed to deliver: My review of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle for Wii. I reviewed the original No More Heroes title last year and gave it top marks, and the sequel is somehow infinitely better. It'll be up sometime in February, so look forward to that! It's clearly been a long time coming. On top of this, I'll be reviewing GoldenEye 007 for the Wii next month, meaning a double-whammy of reviews (it makes up for the lack of one this month, I guess). I'm also planning on reviewing the excellent Resident Evil 4 sometime this year, but at the moment I'm not so sure when I'll be working on that. In terms of reviews, that's pretty much it except for one last this. That'd be Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance. I've been playing through it recently and I haven't reviewed any GBA games for a while now so I reckoned it'd be a good idea to review that. In terms of features and other posts, I'll definitely be doing a First Impressions post on the 3DS when it comes out on March 25th. Speaking of the 25th of a month (worst seg-way ever) it's my birthday next month, on the 25th on February. I did an update on that last year so expect to see one this year. Happy Birthday to me etc etc. There's also the expected stuff over the course of the year, such as an E3 2011 Review, plenty of gaming-related posts and everything in-between. It's gonna be a great year...

That's all for now doods. I hope you keep reading and hopefully we'll have an even better year in 2011. For now, peace out!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Feature: My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2011

Hey all, and welcome to the 2011 edition of this feature. In February 2010 I posted a piece of writing by the name of 'My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2010'. Now that last year is completely over, we can only look forward to the year ahead, so I've decided to do the feature again in the form of what I'm most looking forward to this year games-wise. Some of the titles in this feature will probably end up rubbish like a couple did last year (Infinite Space, what a shame...) but it's my list so I decide what's on it! Before I begin the top ten, I have to point out one major rule. Because I did a list of my ten most anticipated 3DS games late last year, I won't be including any 3DS games in this list. Just DS and Wii games! Now that's over and done with I'll begin...

10. De Blob: The Underground
I still haven't picked up the original De Blob, the unique platform-adventure game from developer Blue Tongue. Despite this, I know that it was a brilliant title that received some very high scores from many reviewers and I plan to pick it up soon. Unfortunately, the original game sold literally about three or four copies, which would make any gamer assume that they wouldn't have a pop at a sequel. It's funny how that's exactly what they've gone and done. De Blob: The Underground is promising to be even better than the original, with more varied missions and new 2D sections inspired by the Super Mario Galaxy games. It's probably not going to be quite as good as those titles, but De Blob: The Underground is clearly a game to look forward to. Hopefully this one will gain more sales. I'm sure that this game would be higher up on the list if I had played the original, but you can never be too sure. Anyway, I better save up the pennies and try to get my mitts on the original De Blob before The Underground is released later this year, because I've got some catching up to do!

 9. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II
I'm awful at the original Sonic the Hedgehog games, and when I say awful I mean awful. in Christmas 2009 my brother bought me a copy of Sonic Mega Collection for the Gamecube, a title that packs the original three Mega-Drive games (as well as some of the spin-offs) on a single disk. To this day, I've only managed to complete Sonic 2 due to my undeniable suckage at the games (and old 2D platformers in general, for that matter). So, why is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II on my top ten, then? Well, it's thanks to the homing attack system that was introduced in the first of the episodic series, that for me looks to make things a hell of a lot less annoying. I didn't pick up the first episode of Sonic 4, purely because I haven't had any Nintendo points for quite a while, but if I did I'm sure I would've enjoyed it more than the originals from what I've seen. For those who don't know, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a modern revamp of the original Mega-Drive games that strays away from the gimmicks, pointless characters and terrible voice acting that we've seen in more recent Sonic games (except froms Colours, of course). Sonic 4 is released in downloadable episodic chunks across many platforms including WiiWare, the second of which is set to bring back a 'Classic character who we've seen before'. People who fully completed Episode I will know who this mystery character is, and don't seem to be complaining. We don't know much else about Sonic 4: Episode II, but I'm already looking forward to it!

8. Kirby's Epic Yarn
The last two games on this list have had a single previous installment that I haven't played. This takes it to the next level though, because to my utmost shame I've never played a Kirby game before, and I have no excuse for this! Still, that's probably going to change this year, since I'm planning on getting Kirby's Epic Yarn for the Wii to redeem my sins. That isn't the only reason though, because Kirby's Epic Yarn is actually a pretty awesome game. It annoyingly came out in America months ago, but that means we already have a good idea of what's to come. Reviewers have given Epic yarn some very positive scores, despite its slightly easy nature. I say slightly easy, but I mean very easy. Believe it or not, but you can't even die in this game! Still, some games aren't always about insane difficulty and Epic Yarn is one of those games because it has a brilliant charm backing it up. This charm mostly comes from the touching story, and more importantly the art-style. I've talked about this in the past, but Epic Yarn has a unique visual flair, where everything is made out of fabric, patches and thread (or yarn if you don't know how to speak proper English). It's a lovely idea that is clearly well implemented into the story, but I'll save that segment for the review. Kirby's Epic Yarn is out really soon, so be sure to pick it up! Now, onto the next game.

7. Professor Layton and the Spectre's Flute
With the massive excitement over the two upcoming Professor Layton 3DS titles, it's easy to forget that the top-hatted dude has one final DS adventure coming out. This title seems to raise a hell of a lot of questions. Namely, will we be seeing Professor Layton and the Spectre's Flute out much earlier than the previous DS games? Will we see two Professor Layton games in the UK in a single year? Will The Spectre's Flute even be released outside of Japan at all? Too many questions, all of which should hopefully be answered very soon. The fourth Professor Layton game sees the introduction of the professor's first apprentice, as well as a story involving how he first met his current sidekick Luke and a mystery about a town that is attacked by a huge monster called Majin every fortnight. This title doesn't really introduce anything new to the series, as it's been out in Japan for who knows how long, but it will open up the second trilogy that will be followed on by the 3DS games. I'm certainly looking forward to it. Hopefully it'll see the light of day outside of Japan very soon...

6. Pokemon Black/White
I'll admit it, I'm not much of a fan of the newer 'main' Pokemon games. I didn't really like Pokemon Platinum too much, and I didn't pick up HeartGold or SoulSilver, despite Gold being my favourite Pokemon title. There's something wrong with me, I know, but I just can't get into the new games. I can't really seem to figure out what it is that pushes them away from me. Still, since it's announcement in February last year I'm genuinely very excited about the next generation of Pokemon games. Pokemon Black and White promise hundreds of new Pokemon, many cool new wifi features and an actual brand new plot-line, something that oh so many main Pokemon games have lacked. Everything appears to have been updated graphically, with much more impressive animated sprites and a dynamic camera that opens up new possibilities for the series. Pokemon Black and White look like they're going to be the best installments to the Pokemon series yet. A last hurrah for the DS before the handheld's inevitable death. Speaking of DS games, look what's up next...

5. Okamiden
To my utmost shame I've never had a chance to experience Okami, the fantastical Zelda-esque Wii and PS2 game from Capcom's Clover Studios, the same guys who worked on the likes of Viewtiful Joe and its sequel. Still, better late than never, and after I've finished that I'll be able to get stuck into Okami's sequel, Okamiden. To be released for the DS this year, Okamiden is looking to be another final bit of magic for the DS when it is released over here later this year. The original Okami was made unique partly through it's paint mechanic. The paint system is a clever idea that was a hallmark of the original, allowing players to draw symbols to solve puzzles and fend off various beasties in battle. The system looks to be improved on heavily with the DS, thanks to the wonders of the stylus. I'm mostly looking forward to Okamiden simply because it's coming from Clover Studios, but also because it is a brilliant adventure game in it's own right. It'll undoubtedly be the last great game released for the handheld before the 3DS completely takes over the handheld market. It's great to see we're ending the console's lifeline on an extremely high note. Roll on Okamiden!

4. Mario Sports Mix
Back when Mario Sports Mix was first announced at E3 2010 I was a little skeptical, but now that I've seen the game in action (it's been out in Japan for a while now) I can admit that I honestly think it looks awesome. For those unaware of this new Mario sports compilation, it's a collection of four different sports in one package, with local and online multiplayer, addictive gameplay and plenty of expected spins on the sports in question. Dodgeball, Hockey, Basketball and Volleyball are the four sports you'll be playing in Mario Sports Mix, each of which can be played by various Mario characters as well as your Mii. Oh, did I mention this game is developed by Square-Enix? Because of that various Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest characters make some ridiculous cameo appearances. Judging by footage of the Japanese release of Mario Sports Mix, the game is looking really addictive, especially when it comes to multiplayer. As I mentioned earlier, you can play locally or online in Mario Sports Mix, and whilst playing online the game is apparently lag-free. I reckon I'll be sitting on the sofa indulging in some local multiplayer though, simply for the ability to brag to the loser in person. If you've played one of the many Mario sports games before, you'll know exactly what to expect with this one. But this time, it'll be four times the action. I realise that was cheesy as hell. Anyway, only three left now...

3. The Last Story
I showed my anticipation for The Last Story in a blog post I did last year and my god, it's looking even more amazing now. The Last Story is the apparent 'final game' (it's called The 'Last' Story for a reason, y'know) from Sakaguchi-san, the creator of Final Fantasy. The developer has been hyping up his final release by promising that it will be his best game ever. Now that's certainly saying something, because if this can beat the likes of Final Fantasy IV and VII, then we're in for one of the best games on the Wii. It's a fully fledged RPG promising to feature a massive game world, tons of quests and an epic main storyline to get your teeth stuck into. The graphics are also incredible, showing off the true potential of the Wii's visual capabilities. On top of all this, the game features a brilliant-looking real-time battle system, where you and your party equip various weapons such as huge swords and guns to fend off enemies and the like. In a nice touch, you can give out commands to your comrades by speaking to them during fights. It sounds pretty clever, and If The Last Story lives up to the hype, it will be one of the very best titles on the console. We haven't seen or heard a massive amount about the game yet, but judging from what we've seen so far it looks like a brilliant game and could be a contender for best RPG on Wii.

2. Conduit 2
Believe it or not, I actually loved The Conduit. Sure, the game didn't quite live up to the ridiculous hype following its release, but if you looked at the game with that aside, then it was actually very good. It had brilliant online multiplayer, an engaging storyline, very impressive visuals and some superb voice-acting that added up to make a very enjoyable title. When I discovered there was a sequel on the way I got excited! Developers High Voltage software aren't really hyping up Conduit 2 (yes, there's no 'the') at all this time, instead, they're letting the game do the talking. And the sort of stuff the gameplay trailers and news stories have been blurting out sounds incredible. The sequel is promising to fix all the original game's problems, such as the slightly boring level designs that have now been replaced with varied locations, rather than just Washington D.C. Throughout the game, you'll be visiting oil-rigs, Aztec ruins, abandoned subways and jungles, among many others. The variety in levels isn't the only thing that has changed though, because we'll be seeing some ridiculously innovative weapon designs in Conduit 2, as made evident in a recent trailer. Let's take the Phase Rifle as an example: This sniping weapon has the ability to see and shoot through walls after being charged-up, and is described as the perfect camper-killer. Also among the Conduit 2 arsenal is a weapon that fires explosive bugs and a deployable turret to fend off aliens and the like. High Voltage have also added some little touches, such as the ability to look down sights this time, and to my untmost excitement, local split-screen multiplayer, something that most modern FPS games lack. Conduit 2 looks like it could beat GoldenEye and claim the title of the best shooter on Wii. It's just under two months until the game's out too, so we'll find out very soon if it turns out to claim that title. Now for the final game on the list.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
How could The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword not be the number one game on this list. Being the massive Zelda fan that I am, I couldn't be looking more forward to 2011's biggest Wii release, and the best thing is it's only a matter of months before it hits the shelves. Skyward Sword is the first home console Zelda game since Twilight Princess hit the GameCube and Wii in December 2006. That statement clearly shows how exciting the release of a new non-handheld Zelda game in five years is. You see, Twilight Princess has always been my personal greatest game of all time, and now that there's a possible contender coming up, I simply can't wait. Skyward Sword has been hyped up to be a huge step forward from past Zelda games, which have basically followed the same structure in every release (set-piece, dungeon, set-piece, dungeon etc etc). This time however, the experience is going to be much more streamlined. For example, the dungeons will probably be a part of the overworld, or something, giving way for a huge puzzle-filled game-world like the sort you'll find in the Metroid games. It's just a guess, and Nintendo probably have much more up their sleeves than simply that, but I'm hoping they don't stray too far away from the classic formula. Now I think it's time I should write about the many items you'll find in Skyward Sword. Many classic pieces Zelda equipment (such as bombs, a Bow and the like) are confirmed for the newest game, but I reckon they'll feel like all-new fresh items thanks to the inclusion of MotionPlus control. The 1:1 precision controls will clearly enhance the Zelda experience, whether you're chucking and rolling bombs, pulling back the nunchuk to load you bow or swinging your sword around like a madman. The new items also look cool, and are clearly inspired by Wii Sports Resort; The Beetle is controlled exactly like the Airplane from that game, the sword in the game is clearly inspired by Wii Sports Resort Swordplay, and if the Boomerang is included I reckon it'll be reminiscent of the Frisbee. Not all the items have been revealed yet, but I'm looking forward to what's to come. We haven't really heard anything since E3 about Skyward Sword, but we won't have long to wait until the Zelda floodgates are broken open so we can finally find out more about the new adventure. For now though, we can only look forward to what will be an incredible game.

So now you know my top ten most anticipated Wii and DS games of the coming months. I hope you enjoyed reading the 2011 edition of this feature! I'll almost definitely have one up this time next year. Feel free to have your say in the comments section and if you want, you can put what you're most looking forward to! For now, this is me looking forward to these awesome looking games and ending the post...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

3DS Release Date and Price Announced!

It's the moment we've all been waiting for. One of the most anticipated handheld consoles ever has finally had its release date and price announced. Yup, the 3DS will be hitting the UK shelves on the 25th of March 2011, at a hefty but worth it price of £230. Well, at least it isn't £300 like all those rumours suggested. They announced the console's details for Europe at the recent 3DS event in Amsterdam, where they also showed several new English trailers for some of the many games. Super Street Fighter IV 3D is clearly going to be a launch title, as it looks pretty much finished and shedloads of info have been pouring out over these past few weeks. Alongside a trailer for that, we also got some new footage of Dead or Alive: Dimensions, showing a Metroid: Other M stage in action. Exciting, no?

Among the other titles on show were the two confirmed Virtual Console games, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and Super Mario Land, both of which are Game Boy and Game Boy Colour titles. They're not in 3D, but it's nice to see them running on the new handheld. Some Augmented Reality games were also shown off, including Face Raiders, a shooting gallery style game where you shoot images of faces taken with the camera. Pretty creepy, but since we're getting this and many other AR games for free, we can't really complain. On top of all this, trailers for many other titles were shown off. There was no sign of Metal Gear Solid, to my dissapointment, but with everything else to make up for that game's absence I really don't care so much.

The cheapest (trusted) place to get a 3DS seems to be Asda, at £217 for the console in either of the available colours. They also seem to be doing bundles, with titles like Super Monkey Ball 3D, Street Fighter IV and Dead or Alive. I'll certainly be trying to save as much money as possible so I can get Resident Evil soon after the 3DS arrives, so I think the best place to pre-order the handheld will be at Asda. Who said supermarkets selling games was a bad thing? Be sure to get the pre-orders in kids! They will have been cleared off the shelves before long...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

First Impressions: GoldenEye 007

I know I'm a little late on this one, but better late than never eh? In November last year a remake of Rare's N64 classic FPS GoldenEye was published for the Wii. I didn't pick it up due to the fact I was and still am saving up for a 3DS, but when I saw it for a measly price in CEX recently, I just couldn't help myself. So, is GoldenEye 007 a travesty that fails to capture the magic of the original, or is it a future classic worthy of the GoldenEye name. Let's find out...

Developers Eurocom were calling the new GoldenEye game a re-imagining of the original rather than a bog-standard remake for a reason, and that's because the new game strays away from being a successor to the original, and instead more of a tribute. Despite this, they put a hell of a lot of work into the Wii edition as well as enough new features and ideas that help make this version its own game. For starters, James Bond is played by the current Bond actor Daniel Craig rather than Piers Brosnan, who starred in the original GoldenEye film and game (something to do with legal issues). The story has also been fully re-written, taking the same sort of plot and a couple of returning levels and using them as the mould for a new GoldenEye story. The First level takes place in the Dam, and is clearly the setting inspired most by the original game. Alec Trevelyan, or agent 006, is Bond's partner for a mission to investigate a Russian base for some reason. At times, you'll be teaming up with 006 to take out enemy troops and opening doors for each other. It's one of the many clever ideas implemented into GoldenEye 007, and it makes the game a more clever and streamlined shooter than something like TimeSplitters or even the original GoldenEye, where you simply push forward and kill anyone you see.

This level, set in a Siberian warzone, has to be one of my favourites.
I personally wouldn't consider GoldenEye 007 a 'future classic'. I can't see people talking about this re-working of the original as much as the N64 version which gamers across the world still praise and play to this day. In truth though, the new version is a very, very well-made title, and one of the very best shooters on the Wii if not the best. It's even got Split-Screen multiplayer, something that modern FPS games on other consoles seem to lack. On top of this, there's an expansive online multiplayer mode with 52 levels and plenty of ace unlockables to be found. GoldenEye 007 is a truly great game, and a worthy successor to the original classic. Look forward to the inevitable review.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Finally, Some Non-Blurry 3DS Footage!

Yesterday the lovely guys at Nintendo 3DS headed over to the Nintendo World 2011 event in Japan. Spread over 3 days, this event marks the first public demonstration of the 3DS. Multiple titles were available to play, including Kid Icarus Uprising (which has now had an ace glossy make-over) and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries. So far Nintendo 3DS Blog have only uploaded footage of those two games, but that's enough to do a quick post on how excited I am about them! They also posted a ton of photos and images of the event, revealing the apparent Japanese box-art for a ton of games as well as some new Augmented Reality games! There should be some more footage of them up later, but for now let's just stick to Resident Evil and Kid Icarus.

Here's a screenshot of Nintendo's Kid Icarus presentation. It looks a lot better when it's playing though, so head over to and watch it!
Nintendo showed off the new Kid Icarus game in the form of a presentation, which revealed that the game has undergone a bit of a graphical movement since E3. A lot of the on-foot sections were shown in the footage, revealing that Pit has a dashing move of sorts to dodge enemy fire. There's also a satisfying pause when Pit hits enemies with melee attacks (or if he gets hit himself, for that matter). Even the aiming reticule looks different! I'm starting to want Uprising more and more. Don't forget that this game is being developed by the same guys who worked on Super Smash Bros Brawl. Even that should be enough to spread the excitement. I'm pretty damn sure that Uprising is going to be a launch title, as it seems to be the game that they're backing the most. Before that, I'll be watching the footage back furiously.

The guys in Japan also filmed some footage of them playing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries. As you may know, I've been looking forward to this game a lot since its announcement. I'm a big fan of the modern Resi games, especially Resident Evil 4. And while I'm looking forward to Revelations, I think I'm a bit more excited about the more action-packed antics of The Mercenaries. The video that was posted showed the first footage of the new aiming system in action. Now you can move your character while aiming and looking down the sights of the gun. The A, B, X and Y face buttons allow your character to perform melee moves, but there's more than one this time. Now there's even more ways to neutralize zombies! You can also quickly change your weapons, rather than pausing the game and equipping them from an attache case. The Mercenaries is looking stunning, fast-paced and addictive. I can't wait for it!

So, there's only more exciting news and footage incoming, which I'll probably do a post on when the event finishes in a few days. Until then, happy drooling! You can check out the images and footage here: