Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Poll #8: "Which operating system are you using?" results


My eighth and final poll of the year has concluded and the results are in:

Which operating system are you using? (49 total votes)
  • Windows XP - 38% (19 votes)
  • Windows Vista - 36% (18 votes)
  • Mac OS X - 12% (6 votes)
  • Linux - 6% (3 votes)
  • Other - 6% (3 votes)
Windows XP and Windows Vista were neck and neck for most of the polling session. But XP pulled ahead near the end. Apple's operating system came in third with six votes, 12% of the overall. The options, Linux and Other tied for fourth with three votes each.

I was surprised there weren't more votes from Mac users. I voted for Windows XP because that's what I've been using for the longest time. And it's still working excellent. But I'm actually thinking about getting a Mac because they're really cool and super sexy. But first I've got to get the money.

After two non-game related polls, we're back to video games, and the latest poll is "Which system had the strongest year in 2008?"

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

My gaming New Year's resolutions

It's New Year's Eve. And you know what that means, the start of a new year. It also means people will be making resolutions. People will resolve to go on diets, quit smoking, get out of debt, or just spend more time with families. Those are all great. But this is a gaming blog, not a lifestyle blog, so today I've compiled a list of my "gaming New Year's resolutions."

Finish unfinished games
This is probably the biggest one. I have quite a few games that I've bought but haven't beaten. It really peeves me when I have games that are unfinished, but I keep buying more. So in 2009 it's my goal to complete all of my unfinished Wii games, which are Boom Blox, Zack & Wiki, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Lego Star Wars, SSX Blur, Blast Works, and Okami. I know, that's a lot of games, but most of them I'm close to completing, so it shouldn't be too hard.

Don't go on a single reviewer's opinion
I don't do this a lot. But occasionally I'll base my purchase of a game off one review. That usually isn't the wisest since people have different opinions. Which can lead to some regrettable purchases.

Spend my money wisely
This one relates to the previous one. Sometimes I've been like, "Oh the game's getting high 7's and low 8's," and then I'll go and buy it. But perhaps the genre or game series isn't really for me. One example is Blast Works: Build Trade Destroy. I bought it because it was getting favorable reviews from a lot of sites and magazines. But in those reviews the reviewers stated it might not be a good purchase if you don't want to spend the time creating all the levels. Once I'd bought it, I found this to be the case and haven't played much of it since (the custom level modes are a bit too complicated for me, and I'm not creative enough for them).

There you have, three gaming New Year's resolutions I'm making. What about you? Are you making any game related resolutions?

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wii: Best games of 2008

The Nintendo Wii had an interesting year in terms of games. Nintendo's first-party lineup was pretty lacking, but WiiWare and third parties definitely helped supply quality. The way this article is going to work is that I'll be going through the biggest games of 2008 chronologically, starting with No More Heroes in January and ending with the last big game of the year. I'll be leaving out two games, Runner-up Game of the Year and Game of the Year to be listed at the very end.

All in all, these games aren't ones I'm recommending you borrow or rent. These eleven games are what I think you should go out and purchase, no doubt about it. Since the economy isn't doing too great, some people may not have the resources to do this. That's what the last two games are for. These couple of titles are the two best games of the year and what I recommend over all else. And with a combined price of $65, it shouldn't put you back
too much. So without further ado, the first game of my "Wii: Best games of 2008" feature is the ultra-violent and super-stylized...


No More Heroes
Wii
Ubisoft
January 22, 2008
My Score:
8/10

No More Heroes for the Wii is probably the most mature and badass title on this list. The game is chock full of style and personality. HUDs and menus are made up of pixels and in game graphics are cel-shaded. Killing an enemy results in an almost comical explosion of blood that's in no way realistic. The combat is equally awesome as it's a mixture of button mashing, motion controls, and combos. You play as Travis Touchdown, a typical otaku, who gets a laser sword over an internet auction and sets off to become the number one assassin by killing the top ten assassins. The boss battles are very memorable and will challenge you like none other.

Excerpt from review: "No More Heroes is pretty long game with a whole lot of personality and graphical style. The high points of the game, the awesome boss battles and entertaining combat, more than make up for the game's low points, most notably the lack of graphical polish and poor open world. I'd recommend a buy to almost anyone who loves action, are "allowed" to play M-rated games, and wants a solid twelve to fifteen hour experience." Full review here.



Okami

Wii
Capcom
April 15, 2008
My score: TBD

There have been a number of ports onto the Wii. Generally, they're not all that great. But Capcom breaks the mold by porting over the PS2 game Okami, developed by the now disbanded Clover Studios (who were behind other games such as Vietiful Joe). In short, there's only one way to describe Capcom's Okami: a work of art. The entire game's visuals are vibrant and stunning Japanese watercolor. Graphical impressions aside, what you have in Okami is Capcom's very own Legend of Zelda game. The influences are obvious as you'll traverse huge worlds, explore dangerous dungeons, and solve ingenious puzzles. The biggest innovation is the Celestial Brush, now controlled via the Wii remote IR rather than the PS2's analog stick. Many different moves come with it. Some offensive, like drawing slashes through enemies or creating bombs, while others are more for interacting with the environment, such as creating lily pads to cross deep rivers and blooming trees that were otherwise dead. It's a beautiful game and a huge one at that.

Excerpt from review: Review is coming. Haven't played enough of the game. I will edit this post once my official review is up. -Kyle



Mario Kart Wii
Wii
Nintendo
April 27, 2008
My Score:
8/10

The Mario Kart series is a staple for any Nintendo console. This time around the Wii's unique motion controls make the game even more fun with the plastic Wii Wheel. You'll race all of your favorite Nintendo characters, from Mario and Bowser to Koopa and Birdo, around awesomely fun and unique tracks with crazy items like turtle shells and bananas at your disposal. The online's some of the best on the Wii (because of the connectivity speed, it's lag-free play, and it's addicting nature). Plus the game's accessible to pretty much all ages. Control picky people needn't worry either; a plethora of control options await, including GameCube controller support.

Excerpt from review: "Mario Kart Wii is a great game. And it'll last you a while, especially in the online areas. But it's not for everyone. If you didn't like the other Mario Karts or like more realistic, less random racing like F-Zero, then this isn't for you. But I liked it and what it brought to the Mario Kart table, such as bikes, tricks, Miis, and a great online." Full review here.



Boom Blox
Wii
Electronic Arts
May 6, 2008
My score:
9/10

At a first glance, Boom Blox looks like a kids game. And I don't blame you. But after sinking many hours of gameplay into it like I did, I think you'll say differently. Sure the game's great for kids, at least the early levels. But on the Hard and Master levels, the game really challenges you. But what differs the game from so many others are the excellent controls and great use of the Wii remote. The level of force you put into your throw is accurately represented in the game. The game's great in both the single and multiplayer options. Plus it comes with an awesome and deep "Create" mode that utilizes the remote's IR well.

Excerpt from review: "Boom Blox is a great game. The great single- and multiplayer puzzles are the high points of the game and more than makes up for the average visuals and music. Plus, it's going to last you a long time. Maybe not just trying to beat every puzzles, but also trying to get gold, that's going to take a while." Full review here.



LostWinds
WiiWare
Frontier
May 12, 2008
My score:
9/10

Nintendo WiiWare service launched May 12, 2008. At launch there were six titles, including Defend Your Castle, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, and LostWinds. It may have been a launch title, but LostWinds kicked off Nintendo's new service with a bang. The title showed what downloadable games are: smaller, innovative titles that can be priced lower. All in all the game's around four or so hours. So it's not all that long. But the gameplay's is unlike anything seen on the Wii. Your cursor controls the wind as you move a little boy Teku along. Draw lines to summon gusts of wind. With the controls come some innovative puzzles such as blowing fire into a barrier or carrying water to a plant. LostWinds' presentation is also really great. Even if it was a launch title, LostWinds is still one of the best WiiWare games in my opinion.

Excerpt from review: "I think LostWinds is the best you can get from Nintendo's WiiWare service. It's entertaining and keep you hooked until the credits. It's short, but the graphics and audio really keep the game moving." Full review here.



Wario Land: Shake It!
Wii
Nintendo
September 22, 2008
My score: 8
/10

Most of the time, visuals are what you experience first with a game. And Wario Land: Shake It!'s are fluid and look like an excellent hand drawn cartoon. Aside from the beautiful style, the gameplay is much like the great 2D platformers of old. The controls are precise, what humor there is is "laugh-out-loudable," and the level design is top notch. The shaking (as the sub-title implies) is a bit annoying, but other uses for the motion controls, such as balancing or aiming by tilting is great.

Excerpt from review: "While Wario Land: Shake It! doesn't do much for the genre and its core game isn't all that long, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't have some fun with the game. The motion controls are used nicely, albeit the shaking in some parts. The hidden depth of game, and the flat out amazing visual style make this one heck of a game and definitely worth your purchase." Full review here.



Mega Man 9
WiiWare
Capcom
September 22, 2008
My score:
9/10

After years filled with countless Mega Man spin-offs (most of them sub-par), Capcom has opted to go back to Mega Man's roots with Mega Man 9. With it's 8-bit graphics, 8-bit music (which, by the way, is excellent), and 8-bit difficulty, fans of the original NES titles are sure to be pleased by this one. In some areas, the game may feel unforgiving, but it's just goes to show how lax your reflexes have come in this day and age. The game plays almost identical to the original Mega Man and Mega Man 2 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It's your job to take down Dr. Wily's eight robots in any order you like. But there's strategy in the order you choose, each Robot Master is vulnerable to another one's weapon, which you obtain after beating said boss.

Excerpt from review: "A truly challenging game. It's fun and goes back to those golden days of gaming. But expect to throw the controller down more than once." Full review here.



de Blob
Wii
THQ
September 22, 2008
My score:
TBD

The Wii is home to some really unique titles. Boom Blox, Wii Sports, and Zack & Wiki are a few of the innovative titles on the Wii. These kinds of games are both a whole lot of fun and a refreshing take on their genres and video games as a whole. de Blob is another of these games. It a new kind of platforming game. The premise is that the city has been drained of color by a the sinister I.N.K.T. corporation. It's your job to color the city. You join up with a band of colorful, painting revolutionaries and the rest is history. The presentation is one of the many high points of the game, as the graphics are some of the more impressive on the Wii. The upbeat music is awesome and changes with every color you obtain. It's one of the few third-party games on Wii that really pushes the system.

Excerpt from review: Once again the review is coming and I'll edit this feature once I've written my full review. -Kyle



Art Style: ORBIENT
WiiWare
Nintendo
September 29, 2008
My score:
8/10

There have been three Art Style games, ORBIENT, CUBELLO, and ROTOHEX, released on Nintendo's WiiWare service. Two were remakes of GBA bit Generations, while the other was a completely new game . Art Style: ORBIENT was the only one I downloaded, therefore it's the only one on this list. But I've read that it's the best of the three, so if there's anywhere to start, it's this one. ORBIENT's a remake of the Japan-only GBA game Orbital. The premise is simple but gets tough later on. You control a little planetoid with the power of controlling the gravity and anti-gravity. You orbit stars trying to absorb certain ones until you meet a certain goal. It's a very addictive and super unique little title.

Excerpt from review: "Art Style: ORBIENT is a simple title that uses it's core concept, gravity, and really expands on it. It's a unique little game overall. The graphics may not break any records, but the strangely enjoyable music and lasting value will make this a definite must to most. Plus with the $6.00 price tag, I'd recommend ORBIENT to almost anyone." Full review here.



Runner-up Wii 2008 Game of the Year


Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Wii
Nintendo
March 9, 2008
My score:
TBD

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the most hyped game for the Wii and possibly this generation of consoles. It's the ultimate Nintendo fan-service game. And if you're a fan of Nintendo and you have yet to pick up this game, you're either short on money or have your priorities way out of whack.
The game is one of the best multiplayer games I've played in a long time. While the online may be seriously lacking and the single player portions average, Brawl more than makes up for these complaints with super entertaining local multiplayer. It's so hectic, so random (yet strategic), and so damn fun that you'll almost never tire of the party aspects. Plus, it's got layers and layers of fan-service with collectibles such as trophies, stickers, and music and unlockables such as stages, characters, and assistants called Assist Trophies. With all the content SSBB has, it'll last you hundreds of hours.

Excerpt from review: My third game on this list still in need of a review. Don't worry, this'll be the one I put out first. Until then, let me just say this: the game rocks. Buy it. -Kyle



Wii 2008 Game of the Year


World of Goo
WiiWare
2D Boy
October 13, 2008
My Score: 10
/10

Even with the monumental game that is Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I felt one other game topped the rest of the Wii's 2008 lineup. That game is World of Goo. It may not have an epic, 30+ hours main game. It may not have awesome 32-player online. Yet World of Goo is one of the most fun, innovative, and memorable experiences of 2008. The game is ridden with charm and style. Every level is unique, and the game as a whole is very entertaining. Each level generally has you picking up and attaching goo balls together to build your way up to a pipe. There's so much variation in level design, objectives, and the types of goo balls that no two levels feel the same. If you must download one WiiWare game this year, make it World of Goo. If you must play only one Wii game this year, make it World of Goo. It's that good.

Excerpt from review: "
World of Goo is one of the best games I've played this year and a great WiiWare title overall. With enough content and fun to be priced as a full retail (or slightly lower), World of Goo is a must-have. It tops downloadable favorites of mine in both style and presentation. Though it has very minor flaws, the $15 game is well worth the Wii Points." Full review here.



Other notable games:
These are the games I either didn't get to play, or I didn't feel quite good enough for the main part of this article, but you might want to give a try if you're a fan of the series or genre. (I grouped similar games together to save space.)
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk
  • Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour
  • Wii Fit and Wii Music
  • The other two Art Style games: CUBELLO and ROTOHEX
  • Bully: Scholarship Edition
  • Toki Tori
  • Dr. Mario Online Rx and Tetris Party
  • Blast Works
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People Episodes 1-5
And thus concludes my "Wii: Best games of 2008" article. I hope everyone's having a good holiday, and I hope everyone (who celebrates it) had a Merry Christmas!

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wii: 2008 year in review

2008 was definitely a strange year for the Wii. We saw events that made longtime Nintendo fans doubt their relationship with the Big N. We saw the launch of Nintendo's downloadable game service WiiWare. And we saw a lack of first party games towards the end of the year that ultimately resulted in mixed feelings from the "core" gaming crowd. Today I'll be looking back on the past year (as if it hasn't already been done by hundreds of other blogs and game sites) and stating my thoughts on 2008 as a whole. I'll break this into four sections: games, news, events, and the future of the Wii. Enjoy!

Games of 2008
Nintendo published a measly 8 titles (in the US) in 2008. The Big N kicked off '08 with the casual, soothing game that is Endless Ocean in January. Next up, in March was Super Smash Bros. Brawl. One of the biggest games (on the hype-meter) for a Nintendo system in a long time. The game's also one of the Wii's greatest with super-balanced and fun gameplay. April saw Mario Kart Wii released with it's awesome online and hectic races. While May of 2008 was home to the release of a landmark title for Nintendo: Wii Fit. With it's innovative gameplay and how it fits specifically into Nintendo's Blue Ocean Strategy, this one's still selling millions into the holidays.

In the rest of the year we got the other half of Nintendo's '08 lineup. This half: not so great. While Wario Land: Shake It! was a pretty awesome, retroish game, Mario Super Sluggers, Wii Music, and Animal Crossing: City Folk were all received generally less favorably, with complaints such as not enough gameplay (Wii Music) and way too similar to the GameCube and DS versions (Animal Crossing). All in all, I feel Nintendo's 2008 games were lacking. Super Smash Bros. Brawl was of course the biggest, but it was really scheduled for 2007! Nintendo really needs to step it up in 2009.

As for third-parties, we got a decent amount of quality titles to do what Nintendon't. Despite the continual tsunami of Petz titles, Imagine games, and minigame fests, many third-parties are starting to get the Wii. 2008 saw some of the best third-party games to hit Nintendo's shiny white box since it's launch. We saw releases of Boom Blox, No More Heroes, Blast Works, a Guitar Hero and Rock that can rival the other systems', ports of the PS2 hits Okami and Bully, and de Blob: all great games.

The Virtual Console service has been a huge success for Nintendo. It lets older gamers relish in nostalgia and new gamers experience some of the classics. But it wasn't until 2008 that Wii owners could download original titles via the WiiWare service Nintendo launched in May. Some became instant classics like World of Goo and Mega Man 9. Despite huge titles like these, WiiWare was home to some other great releases, such as a LostWinds, Tetris, Dr. Mario, and intriguing new series from Nintendo called Art Style. But much like the Wii's retail library, for every World of Goo and LostWinds, we get a dozen Frat Party: Beer Pongs and SPOGS Racings. Despite these blemishes, WiiWare had a fairly good first year in my opinion.

News of 2008
Probably the biggest news throughout the year was how Nintendo now full swing in their "expanded audience" ideas with titles like Wii Fit and Wii Music to prove it. While these ideas are great and are really what'll keep the industry alive in the end, more "core" gamers like myself couldn't help but feel left out.

As for sales, the Wii is breaking records and taking names. It sold 800,000 units on Thanksgiving weekend alone (in the states only!), that's almost as many as the 360 sold that entire month. The Wii seems like an unstoppable juggernaut when it comes to selling hardware, as it's two years after the Wii's release, and it's still unlikely you'll walk into a store a see a Wii.

One of the bigger things to happen on the Wii this year was the launch of WiiWare. With it came original, smaller titles that were filled to the brim with quality. After a fairly good launch, a drought of any good WiiWare games struck the system, but once fall and winter came around, we started seeing some of the better games emerging like World of Goo and the Strong Bad series.

Two new peripherals were announced this year; one which was released. They were the WiiSpeak microphone and Wii MotionPlus device. WiiSpeak came out right along side Animal Crossing: City Folk and finally allowed voice chat in Wii games (unfortunately AC:CF is the only to support it at the moment). Wii MotionPlus was leaked shortly before E3 2008 and was showcased at 2008's Electronic Entertainment Expo. It allows "true 1:1" controls and is going to be packaged with WiiSports Resort. A definite game to keep your eyes on.

And finally, Club Nintendo was released a few weeks ago. Users found the overall experience to be buggy and slow. But if you ever did log on, you'd find a place to register all your Wii, DS, and WiiWare games, earn coins for filling out surveys, and purchase Nintendo fan-service items with those coins. The biggest and best thing available currently is a Game and Watch collection for the DS going for 800 coins. Currently, the site's down for maintenance, which is good, seeing as my experiences with it have been ridden with login errors and massive slowdown.

Events of 2008
The first of the three major 2008 events was Nintendo's Spring Media Summit. It was here we first learned about WiiWare. Mario Super Sluggers was also announced to be developed by Namco. Those were the only two big announcements at the show, but many first- and third-party games were showcased which resulted in a plethora of previews and impressions from major game outlets like IGN.

Ahh, E3 2008, such memories I have of you. And let me tell you: they're (mostly) not good. Here was when many brokenhearted fans claimed, "Nintendo's given up on the hardcore!!" Nintendo seemed to give the hardcore, longtime Nintendo fans the cold shoulder by showing off only their casual lineup including games like Animal Crossing: City Folk and Wii Sports Resort. No news of a new Pikmin or Zelda came from the press conference. (But at least later into the show Miyamoto confirmed the Mario and Zelda teams are working and that Pikmin 3 is in the works.) Oh, and that not-so-surprise-showing-of-Miyamoto-with-a-kickass-game... didn't happen. He showed off Wii Music in one of the most ridiculous presentations I've ever seen. E3 was deader than a doornail this year, and Nintendo's showing made many want it to die out all together. But fret not, as E3 2009 will supposedly be restored back to it's former glory. Let's just hope Nintendo can put on a quality show that time around.

And finally, we have Nintendo's Fall Media Summit. This is more of an apology to the hardcore for E3 than anything else. While the main attraction was no doubt the latest Nintendo DS model, the DSi, the Wii saw some great news come out of the event as well. We got announcements for two big, first-party games, Punch-Out!! Wii and Sin & Punshiment 2. From the show also came confirmation of the rumored "storage solution." Iwata announced you'd now be able to save Wii Shop items directly to the SD card. The show also saw announcements of minor games like an Endless Ocean sequel, Trace Memory 2, and Cosmic Walker (think Endless Ocean in space, and it looks awesome!). It may have been an apology to the "core" Nintendo fan, but the show was still one of Nintendo's high points of the year.

The future: 2009 and beyond
While the Wii's 2008 year may not have been all that great, the future is definitely shaping up. We already know of quite a few games that are going to make '09 all the better. To name a few... we'll be getting MadWorld, the Conduit, House of the Dead: Overkill, Punch-Out!!, Sin & Punishment 2, Muramasu: the Demon Blade, Wii Sports Restort, Cosmic Walker, LIT (WiiWare), and Cave Story (WiiWare). Plus we already know of sequels for third-party Wii hits Boom Blox and No More Heroes. Thanks for reading, and here's to an awesome 2009.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from World 1-1


Merry Christmas to everyone out there (who celebrates it) and to all of you who don't, hope you're having a great day off and an awesome holiday season! -Kyle

Monday, December 15, 2008

Poll #7: "Which web browser are you using?" results


My seventh poll's over and here's the results:

Which web browser are you using? (57 total votes)
  • Internet Explorer - 5% (3 votes)
  • Firefox - 66% (38 votes)
  • Safari - 8% (5 votes)
  • Opera - 8% (5 votes)
  • Google Chrome - 1% (1 vote)
  • Wii web browser - 8% (5 votes)
  • DS web browser - 0% (0 votes)
  • Other - 0% (0 votes)
Firefox got by with an easy win, accumulating two-thirds of the votes. But it's not without good reason; Firefox is my favorite web browser as it's fast, looks nice, and includes all the features I need for web browsing. I'll stop now since this is turning into something of an advertisment. Apple's Safari browser, the Opera browser, and the Wii Internet Channel (running on Opera) all tied for second with 5 votes each (8% overall).

And of course, the latest poll is up. Poll #8 is a lot like it's predecessor, except this time, the question is "Which operating system are you using?"

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No More Heroes (Wii) review


Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Ubisoft
Date Released: January 22, 2008 (USA)
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

Suda51, director and writer of No More Heroes, has been behind quite a few crazy games, most notably killer7 for the GameCube. More recently he helped bring Fatal Frame IV out to the Wii in Japan. No More Heroes is quite possibly his craziest game yet. But does crazy equal quality?

In No More Heroes, you're an lucha libre-loving, otaku punk named Travis Touchdown. He lives, near broke, in a small hotel room in a fictional, Californian city named Santa Destroy with his cat Jeane. He meets a pretty girl, named Sylvia Christe, in a bar one night. She offers him the job of an assassin for the United Assassin's Association, or the UAA. He's tasked of killing the top eleven assassin and become number one. The story's actually very good, the characters very insane and awesome, and there's a good enough number of twists (mostly near the climax) that you'll want to stick with it to the end.

Another thing that needs to be noted is the assortment of amazing characters that Suda51 created in the game. From the bosses and villains to the store clerks and gym masters, there are some awesome characters to be found. There's psychopaths like Travis himself and less crazy yet still weird people like Destroyman, a postman who dresses up like a superhero to duke it out with you. If you're looking for a wonderfully zany cast of characters, No More Heroes will certainly satisfy.

The gameplay is broken up into two different sections: boss battles and open world. The former is where the game shines. You enter the bosses level at some checkpoint throughout Santa Destroy, from there you have to dispatch room after room of goons until you reach the highly memorable and difficult boss battle. You'll usually be fighting upwards of eight to ten enemies per room. It's a pretty standard, linear fare. You kill all the enemies in room. Door opens to next room. Repeat until at boss. But it's still really entertaining. Plus there's variations in certain levels, such as having to run over enemies on your bike or use the remote Wii Sports-style as a bat and hit a ball through a line of enemies.

It can get a bit repetitive and feel like a chore. But once your reach the boss battle at the end of each, you realize it's definitely worth it. The boss battles are definitely the highlight of the game. Each one will challenge both your skill and your determination. Plus every one is drastically different from the last. If there's one thing that No More Heroes does the best, it's the boss battles.

While the boss battles are entertaining and memorable, what about the other part of the game: the open world between each battle? Is it as good? Not exactly. Santa Destroy isn't really that great of a city. There's very little to do without stepping onto icons to start up missions. Nothing like GTA or anything. Outside of missions, all there really is to do is ride your bike around. The controls of your bike take some time to learn, but it entertains a bit. That being said, there's nothing to do on your bike either, except just ride around. Any pedestrians or cars are practically moving props. Cars will actually stop if you stand in front of them and just wait for you to move. No honking, no yelling, no lifelikeness at all. And the most fun you can have with pedestrians is run them over, which gets old quick, since you can't talk to or interact with them in any other way.

Since there's not much to do in the open world, it's pretty much a hub. But instead of being a good hub world (like Super Mario Galaxy's), it's way to open. With far distances between each place you need to go, it does feel lacking. But in the world there are several shops (such as a clothes store, a video store for learning new moves, and a gym for working out), your motel room (where you can save, change clothes, watch videos, or play with your cat) and two places to earn money.

The first is where you'll gain part time jobs, which are unlocked after beating bosses. These include working at a gas station, picking up trash, rescuing kittens, killing scorpions, and mowing lawns. Do good in these and you'll unlock assassination missions. These missions can be accessed through the second mentioned building, the UAA assignment building. The missions that you can take range from killing the head of a pizza joint to killing as many goons as you can in a set time. Besides these missions you get from the UAA, driving around on your bike you may notice several other assassination missions you can undertake while away from the head offices of the UAA.

But even if the part-time jobs and assassination missions are entertaining, they are lacking to. Mainly they're lacking a retry option. Say that either you failed a mission, or you want to redo a mission because it earned you some big money... Once back in the open world, he mission icon is gone, so you can't restart a mission. So you have to hop on your bike and head back to open up another mission, and it's a major annoyance.

In an action game like No More Heroes, where a big portion of your time is spent fighting hordes of enemies, room after room, the combat either makes or breaks the game. In NMH's case, the combat is super entertaining and super stylized. It's some of the best fun I've had in a while. Basic combat is a mix of your laser sword moves, which can be upgraded later in the game, and lucha libre wrestling techniques, which you learn more of as you progress.

Mostly though, you'll attack with your beam sword (think lightsaber ripoff). Attacking with it is mapped to the A button. No Zelda-sword-swinging-gestures in this one. Generally, you'll button mash the A button until the enemies life is down to almost zero, then the screen turns gray and action stops. A pixalated arrow appears, prompting you to gesture in a certain way finishing the enemy off. The position of the Wii remote, whether it's pointing up or down when you're mashing the A button, determines whether the attack is high or low. Some enemies and bosses guard especially to on position, so you'll have to change it up to get the best results.

But the combat options don't end there. If you hold the A button, your laser sword starts the glow and shake; when you release the button a powerful attack is unleashed. Again, whether it's a high or low attack determines the outcome. But wait! The combat doesn't stop there! If you happen to lock blades with another sword-, crowbar-, or baseball bat-wielding enemy, a Wii remote appears on screen and circling it are a bunch of giant pixels. This prompts you to move the Wii remote in circles as fast as you can. If you win the blade lock, you'll get a chance at a finishing move right then and there. Using the laser sword too often results in the loss of battery. When this happens you'll have to press 1 and waggle the Wii remote back and forth as fast as possible to recharge it. This adds even more depth to the combat as you'll have to charge it in strategic places. Every time you kill an enemy, three slot machine icons appear. If they match up you get a super-powerful ability called a Dark Side move, which will devastate the battlefield with huge attacks and slow-mo finishers.

Another part of the combat is the wrestling moves. Pulling these of are a lot like finishers with the laser sword. To activate them you have to stun an enemy with a kick or punch with the B button, which doesn't always work, especially when the enemy guards against high or low attacks. When an enemy's stunned, little stars will circle their head. This is the time to press B again and start up a wrestling moves. Two pixelated arrows prompt you to move the remote and Nunchuk in certain directions. These do a sizable amount of damage and are especially useful when fighting bosses. No More Heroes combat is a whole lot of fun and is something every gamer needs to experience.

Just like the combat and story are out of this world and awesome, so is the game's style. NMH is filled to the brim with style and personality. The game's cel-shaded and in your face. For crying out loud, to save, you have to find a toilet so Travis can take a dump! That's how wacky this game is. The game has a huge retro feel, with tons of things like menus and the HUD make up of over sized pixel blocks. Whenever you pull a Dark Side move, instead of a countdown time or load bar, a pixelated tiger walking towards a finish flag shows how much time you have left with that move. It's crazy things like that that make the game's visuals so memorable. Even if the game's style is enjoyable, the graphics are lacking in some areas. Especially in the open world where frequent pop-up and lack of textures are noticeable. That being said, I still really enjoyed the game's style.

The game has a ton of pop culture references, especially from media like Star Wars, with a famous quote (yes that quote) and the lightsaber-esque sword. As for music, what there is original and very enjoyable. I said "what there is" because there's not a whole lot of variety in the game's soundtrack, which is disappointing.

As for lasting value, the game will probably last you upwards of fifteen hours. There's not a whole lot to do once you've completed the main game. You can collect T-shirts and Lovikov balls which can be exchanged with a drunk Russian for new abilities, but that's about it. The game starts off with two difficulties, Sweet and Mild, Mild being the harder of the two. But once you beat the game on either difficulty, you unlock the Bitter setting, which is pretty dang challenging.

Overall Thoughts

No More Heroes is pretty long game with a whole lot of personality and graphical style. The high points of the game, the awesome boss battles and entertaining combat, more than make up for the game's low points, most notably the lack of graphical polish and poor open world. I'd recommend a buy to almost anyone who loves action, are "allowed" to play M-rated games, and wants a solid twelve to fifteen hour experience.

8/10

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip (Wii) impressions

Decided to not do a review on the game, since I don't have Wii Balance Board, nor did I play more than three to four hours of the game. I rented it from a local movie/game store. It was pretty expensive, so I only got if for a night. This'll be pretty much like a review, except no scores or anything. -Kyle


Also For: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP, Playstation 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Date Released: November 16, 2008 (USA)
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

Shaun White Snowboarding has come to a plethora of systems (pretty much every one on the market right now). But on the Wii, we're getting something a bit different from 360 and PS3. With the subtitle "Road Trip" comes a whole new graphical style and in game structure. Is it the better game? I can't tell you that, since I haven't played the other versions. But is it good? I can tell you that in my impressions below.

The storyline of the game is nicely voice acted and includes some pretty good cutscenes. You and your crew are following Shaun White around the world to different mountains to snowboard the heck out of them. At the beginning you only have access to two characters. But after each mountain you'll gain another. You don't meet up with Shaun until completing the last mountain, but with him and his superior skills you can take down any other rock you left unturned.

The basic flow of the game is in mission-like levels. Each level has a primary and secondary objective. The primary ones are required completed to advances, as they earn you event tickets. While the secondary ones are harder and earn you other extras. There are four general types of goals: Score x number of points, make it down the mountain in x number of minutes, a combination of the previous two, or collect x number of crowns/pieces of trash. The collecting ones are rather tedious, as you'd rather be just snowboarding. Besides that and the annoying half-pipe levels, the objectives are generally a lot of fun.

At the start of the game you only have access to one mountain in Alaska, but you'll unlock others such as Europe, Park City, and Japan. On each mountain are half a dozen or so objectives. You go through them in a pretty linear progression. At the start of each location, only one mission is open. Beat that and you'll get an event ticket. Each mission is unlocked with a certain amount of tickets and the final run of the mountain, where you gain another member to your expanding crew, is unlocked when you have accumulated five tickets.

Since I don't own Wii Fit, I didn't get to try out the Balance Board controls, which critics say is essential for the game. Nonetheless, I found the remote-only controls to work very well. You control the basic movements of your selected snowboarder by tilting the Wii remote. A is to crouch, in which you gain speed, but lack precise turning. The B button is to slow down and carve, especially useful in the collecting levels. Flicking the controller up causes your character to jump. When in the air (from jumps or drops) gesturing with the remote in different directions does the tricks. To make more variety in your tricks, pressing either A, B, or the two combined allows you to pull off different tricks. I found the controls to work surprisingly well.

The multiplayer included is pretty nice. You have co-op and competitive. To unlock courses though, you'll have to play through co-op. It's split-screen only, so the lack of only co-op is disappointing. But who was expecting that? It's a Wii game... sigh.

The game does go pretty easy on you. You'll be surprised at just how magnetized your board is to rails. On which it's pretty rare to fall off. And sure, you have to time your tricks to not mess them up, but it's not as difficult as some other snowboarding games such as SSX. Overall, it's a pretty dang easy game , albeit an entertaining one.

Ubisoft decided to ditch the realistic graphics of it's hi-def brethren and go with a cartoony, colorful art style. And their choice was for the better. Wii games that have tried to be realistic have failed in this day and age, so style trumps realism (as is evident with No More Heroes, Wario Land, and Mega Man 9). The style is really nice and the cutscenes that come with it are equally pleasing. The music's average, with some nice upbeat tunes here and there. Plus, there's some nice voice work in Road Trip. What I really found nice was the change from the norm. Instead of you just choosing a snowboarder and shredding it up, you choose a snowboarder and a camera man/woman. What results from this is some nice graphical touches such as the PAUSE and REC words at the beginning of each run and break-ups in the camera feeds after big jumps.

I rented the game for only a day from a local movie store and am glad of it. The game's short, and I ripped through the main game in three to four hours. There may have been a bit more for me to complete, with all the secondary objectives and runs I missed, though all in all it's a short-lived experience. Though the multiplayer is a fun distraction too.

Overall Thoughts

I found the overall game to be fun and the style enjoyable. Though it may have been a bit short and went pretty easy on you, I'd still recommend at least a rent to anyone reading, especially if you have a Balance Board, since I heard that's supposed to be even better.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Scribblenauts

Scribblenauts is a game recently announced on IGN developed by the guys at 5th Cell, who are responsible for the innovative Drawn to Life and Lock's Quest. IGN got the first videos and an exclusive interview with one of the developers (found here). The game looks really awesome. So today, I decided I'd write up my two cents on the game.

First of all, let me explain the overall concept. You're Maxwell and the goal of each level is to get to the Starite (think of it like the Stars in the 3D Super Marios). Instead of platforming, shooting, or brawling your way to the finish of each level, it's up to your imagination to get each Starite. The innovation in the game is that anything you write appears.

In the first trailer (found at the previous link) it shows the Starite up on a tree. Then it shows all the different ways to get it down. First, the player writes ladder, and a ladder appears. The ladder's placed against the tree and Maxwell climbs it and gets the Starite. Then it shows Maxwell creating a football and throwing it to knock down the Starite. And finally it shows the player write "beaver" and a beaver appears and then sets off to cut down the tree, once again completing the objective.

The concept has a huge amount of potential. The developers specifically said that they're working to make any noun you can think of (inappropriate nouns excluded of course) available in the game. Things even interact with each other like they would in real life. Wood will burn, animals will eat other animals, etc.

Scribblenauts is supposed to have hundred's of levels. And even if you beat the game, think of how much replay value there is! Just going back and trying to solve each puzzle in a different way than before presents a challenge. Plus the game sounds like an awesome sandbox game. Just boot it up and get to experimenting anything you want. In the interview with IGN, Jeremiah Slaczka (one of the game designers) said that pretty much anything will go. He said if you wrote the word "tsunami", a huge tidal wave would actually sweep across the screen, probably killing your character. So think what would happen when writing other natural disaster like hurricanes or tornadoes. Or see how different animals interact with each other. The lasting power in this one seems incredibly strong.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle

I changed the banner temporarly for the holidays (using my mediocre Photoshop skills). Check out the Santa hat on Super Mario Galaxy Mario and Rudolph's nose on Baby Mario. :D -Kyle

I loved the original No More Heroes. I loved the awesome style, crazy characters, and oh-so-fun combat. When I heard Suda51 had started to work on a sequel: No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, of course I was excited. Even so, the first game had it's fair share of problems. NMH:DS is scheduled for a 2010 release, giving it plenty of time to iron out the flaws of the first. Read on to find how I think the sequel should be.

Better open world/More confined hub world
One of the major disappointments of the original No More Heroes was the lacking open world. It was basically a hub for missions. There wasn't really anything to do other than ride your bike to the next objective. The people and cars were pretty lifeless. Nothing like a GTA or Saint's Row.

So in the second, I hope Suda and his team work to make the open world a lot better. The other option would be to confine it a bit more too. Make it more of an overworld map that you use the IR pointer to select buildings/missions. Both ideas would work, but since Suda himself said they were working to make the open world a lot better, it'll probably the former.

Limited MotionPlus
When I heard that Suda hadn't even looked into Wii MotionPlus, but he would, I hoped for the better. What better? That if he used it, it'd be sparingly.

The original had very awesome fighting. Generally, you'd swing your beam katana (aka lightsaber) with the A button. The general position of the Wii remote would determine if the attack was high or low. Once you got the enemy down to it's final bit of health, the screen would go gray, everything would go super slow-mo, and an giant pixelated arrow would appear on the screen, prompting you to swing the remote in the indicated direction, finishing the foe off. It was highly stylized and highly badass.

So what I'm getting at here is I really don't want the second game to use Wii MotionPlus to mimic a real sword. Sure it'd be cool if you had new finishers with forward and backward directions, but no Red Steel-like movements, please!

Polish, polish, polish (with extra polish)
The original had a very awesome cel-shaded style. It may have looked cool, but the game wasn't very polished. The game was ridden with graphical flaws. For example, driving in the open world you'd notice horrible draw distances, with palm trees appears only twenty or so feet away from you (in the game). Since the game's not due until 2010, I'm pretty confident Suda51 and his team will bring out the game with it's presentation very polished.

Don't know what game(s) I'm talking about? Check out No More Heroes (the original for only twenty bucks at Amazon) or the trailer of the sequel.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Christmas list

Dear Santa, this Christmas, I want... oh crap... I'm too old for that. Okay, never mind, today's post will be about what I want for Christmas from relatives and parents. Hopefully I get most of it!

Games
The only two games I'm asking for are de Blob and Animal Crossing: City Folk, both for Wii. As for de Blob, I really should buy this myself, since it's an awesome third-party game. I usually do this with these types of games (i.e. Boom Blox, No More Heroes, Blast Works) to support developers, but since Christmas is coming up, I said, heck with it I'll ask for it as a gift. Animal Crossing on the other hand doesn't appeal to me as much for me to spend my hard earned cash on. So I won't be getting that unless it's as a gift.

Movies/DVD's
The three DVD's I want this year are the stellar Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Wall-E. I loved all three of those and a DVD edition (2-disc collector's edition special features and all) would be great. Another thing I'd love to get but since it's has somewhat of a hefty price tag, I don't know if I'll be receiving it this year is the complete Batman: The Animated Series on DVD. I heard the show was awesome but never really saw much of it when it was on. A few months ago I saw a couple of episodes and really liked it. Since it's won Emmys and all, I figure it's gotta be pretty good. (Check it out here, yeah, it looks awesome!)

Other
Other than that I usually tell people to get me gift cards, particularly those VISA ones and Apple iTunes ones (for my tunes).

There you have... oh heck with it...

Dear Santa, this year I've been very, very good and want de Blob, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Iron Man, Wall-E, The Dark Knight, Batman: The Animated Series on DVD, and peace on earth.
Sincerely, Kyle

Santa's reaction: "Ho ho ho, what a greedy boy we have here. I draw the line at the Wall-E DVD, no peace on earth for you little boy."

Aww man... So anyways, what's on your Christmas list?

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gaming magazines: A thing of the past?

In this day and age, the internet dominates every form of media. Need music? Most likely you'll download it online from somewhere like iTunes. Need airplanes tickets? Chances are it's easiest through the World Wide Web. What I'm getting at here is the internet is the pinnacle of convenience. It'll offer a plethora of sites for even the strangest Google search. Sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and Google have made the internet miles ahead of plain useless; they make it almost a necessity.

Going along with this is the game industry. When it all started out, the only way to get your latest Nintendo and Sega news were either by word of mouth or a magazine such as Nintendo Power. Nowadays the number one source for game news, previews, and reviews is the internet. Why? Because it can be updated literally 24/7. This easily bests the monthly format of magazines. But does that necessarily mean magazines should be forgotten and left behind as relics of the 80's and 90's eras of video games? My answer: no.

Today gaming magazines may not be at the prime they once were due to the internet, but there's still quite a few gaming magazines to choose from. Some off the top of my head are Game Informer, Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, Official Xbox Magazine, and Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Most of these are doing pretty dang well. Sure Nintendo Power's not as great as it was back in the day, due to the internet and the fact it's no long owned by Nintendo. But the magazine still offers exclusive interviews and game coverage. Not to mention the norm for game websites and magazines: previews and reviews.

Some may say the game magazine industry will die of sometime in the not to distant future. You know what I say? BS. First off, some of the big gaming magazines (particularly Game Informer and Nintendo Power) get all kinds of exclusive first looks at games. Generally, I've found GI gets Xbox 360 and PS3 exclusives, with the occasional PC feature, and Nintendo Power gets the big Nintendo system ones. Sure some sites like IGN get occasional exclusives, but not nearly in the numbers that print magazines do. While most of the tidbits in the news sections are old to anyone who follows the internet, the previews and reviews usually are as well-written and informative as those found on the web. Another smaller reason is that some magazines (particularly OXM) feature a demo disc with each issue, something free websites could never do. And one final point: game magazines are portable. So they're a lot easier accessed when on trips or to pass the time when away from the keyboard.

Sure, online gaming sources do plenty of things better. They can provide videos and keep you more up to date daily. Plus they can offer the view of both big, paid industry gamers (for a lack of better terminology) and smaller gamers who just game for fun. The average Joe's opinion can be expressed a lot easier through blogs and reader reviews than print magazines allow.

But with magazines, you really can't beat that feeling of getting a new issue in the mail. Then in the next week or so you'll find yourself reading it everywhere... on the toilet, curled up on the couch, or before bed. The large amount of reviews and articles all at once is a refreshing break from the constant trickle of editorials and reviews that gaming sites supply. So sure websites and blogs may be the quickest and easiest ways to obtain gaming info. But are they the best? Some would argue, yes. Others, no. I feel they both have their places, and print magazines are definitely not a thing of the past.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Amazon.com deals

Not anything huge like I was planning, just a small little post. -Kyle

My Thanksgiving vacation was very nice. I got to spend some quality time with grandparents and other family over in the Midwest. The Thanksgiving lunch and dinner we had were excellent. While I was there I knew I would be missing GoNintendo and IGN updates, which I read daily. Plus I'd be missing all those posts from great blogs like SuperPhillip Central, Everyview, and I've Never Liked Your Spinach Puffs.

So I knew that when I got home, I'd have a lot of reading to do, and that didn't sound bad to me! But little did I know I had missed some of the best Amazon.com deals that I'd seen in a while. Some were Black Friday, others just random or Gold Box deals (whatever that means). While I was away I missed Sonic Unleashed, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, and Okami deals! Two of those I borrowed, loved, but haven't really gotten around to purchasing (Rez 4 and Okami). The other few I was holding out since they didn't look all that great but with a price tag like they had, I'd definitely lay down some money for them.

Long story short, I'm ticked that I missed some good deals on on some games I'd really like to have picked up. Guess I'll just have to pay the regular price and support the developers (dang!) or just put it on my Christmas list. Probably the latter.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Poll #6 "Generally, what is your opinion on game delays?" results

I'm back, after my week long Thanksgiving vacation! I hope everyone else's Thanksgiving was as good and as filling as mine. I actually got back last night, but was too dead tired from traveling to post anything... Sorry! Look for my next post tomorrow. -Kyle


My sixth poll has finished, the results are as follows:

Generally, what is your opinion on game delays? (24 total votes)
  • Great, more development time to make the game better. - 50% (12 votes)
  • Horrible, I need the game now! - 12% (3 votes)
  • Meh, I'll get the game whenever it comes out. - 38% (9 votes)
It seems from the results, people don't mind delays as they generally mean more time to up the game's quality. The second most votes was by those who didn't really care about delays, they're just going to buy it whenever the hell it comes out. And finally, there's that small portion of voters who generally hate delays.

I voted the first option as I feel more time will help the game. Though there was one exception to this, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I was angry both times the game was delayed (more the first though). I wanted that game right then! But the wait was worth it... I guess.

And as always, my next poll is up. This time it's not really video game related, I'm just curious. The question is "Which web browser are you using?" And by that I mean right now, not generally, but at this exact moment viewing this exact page.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Friday, November 21, 2008

What I'm Playing - Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Episode 4: Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Another month, another article about what I'm playing. I've changed the name of the articles from "Games I've Been Playing Lately" to "What I'm Playing". Though if anyone can think of a catchier name, give me a holler (via comment section or email).

Once again it's seems I'm struck with the four games that have been consuming my time (a curse or more likely a blessing?) This month, it's a lot more varied than last edition. This time around I've been playing a NES game, SNES game, Wii game, and Nintendo DS game.

Okami

System: Wii
If there was one game to show the world why games are art, it'd be Okami. The Japanese art style is so very and beautiful. And the epic, Zelda style adventure that comes with it is just as stellar. As of writing, I'm not very far, but far enough to tell it's a damn good game.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

System: Nintendo DS
This was my second time starting a save on Phantom Hourglass. I made it roughly halfway through it the first time, then my brother let a friend borrow it, who erased my save (since there's only two save slots, which kinda sucks). I started a new game a week or so ago and have been playing the hell out of it whenever I have free time. I love both the art style and unique controls, though it is a bit easier than most Zelda games. Once I'm finished writing this, I'm going to plop down on either my bed or couch and finish the game. I'm on the last run of the Temple of the Ocean King and about to face Bellum!

EDIT: OK, that was a bit disappointing (the fight with Bellum). I'm currently on stage two of the three levels of the fight. I'm on the one where you face off against him on the ship, which is hard, but so far the fight hasn't been all that epic...

EDIT 2: Finished the game... w00t! The final, final boss fight is pretty fun, but not nearly as awesome as some of the various temple boss fights, at least in my opinion. It was an awesome game and had a good ending.

Super Metroid

System: SNES (via Virtual Console via Wii)
I've had a surplus of Virtual Console games that I download, play for a little while, and then move on. I've decided to go back and beat all of my VC games. The first I picked was Super Metroid. There's a definite reason this is considered one of the greatest of all time: it's good. I've never fully completed it, but I pretty far into the game.

Super Mario Bros. 3

System: NES (via Virtual Console via Wii)
Another of my VC games I'm playing. This, alongside Galaxy, are my favorite of the Super Mario series (of which I love every single one). I'm currently on World 3 of the game, so I've still got a ways to go.

There you have it, the four games I've been playing lately.

Maybe you've noticed the rapid stream of editorials and articles I've been posting; this is because I'm going to be gone from Saturday, the 22nd, until the next Saturday, the 29th. I'll be visiting grandparents across the country for Thanksgiving. If I can get on a computer somehow there, I'll post something, but if not, have a great Turkey Day! -Kyle

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People

The Chapman brothers' cartoon Homestar Runner are hilarious and very well done. I'm a big fan of the cartoons. Because of this, I thought the Strong Bad games on WiiWare would be great. Turns out I'm wrong. No, they're not bad games, very well done games actually. Just they aren't for me.

I downloaded the first a few weeks ago and played through it... barely. I just never really got the puzzles, as most of them were way to abstract for me. Maybe it's just point and click adventures aren't for me? Except I loved Zack & Wiki, which I decided is a different style of point and click (one I find way more enjoyable). I managed to make it through the entire first episode. But I had to use GameFAQs more than once, which pretty much defeates the purpose of the games. So later, I bought Episode 2, vowing not to use an FAQ or guide. But soon into the game I get stuck and haven't played it since. I guess they're just not for me. Even if I'm an avid Homestarruner.com fan.

My final impressions of the game are this. While the gameplay didn't appeal to me, the polish and humor were great. Every character was voice acted by the Chapman brother which definitely makes it feel a lot more like the cartoons. The game is a definite buy for point and click adventure enthusiasts or fans of the show (as long as they somewhat like pointing and clicking, which I did not).

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Wii: Two years come and gone

Today marks the two year anniversary of the ground breaking console from Nintendo: the Wii. It was two years ago on November 19, 2006 when gamers first got their hands on the revolutionary little box, put in the Wii Sports disc (and soon after Twilight Princess) and experienced the marvel that is the Wii. Simply put, it did a lot of new things for the industry particularly with its motion controls and IR pointer. Todays article will be looking back on the highs and lows of the Wiis two years of awesomeness!

Software

Primarily a game system is supposed to have a good catalog of games. And a Nintendo system is supposed to have a great catalog of first party franchises. Nintendo didn't fail this description for sure. Don't believe me, lets see... The Legend of Zelda? Check. Super Mario? Check. Paper Mario? Check. Super Smash Bros? Check. Metroid Prime? Check. Mario Kart? Check. Wario Land/WarioWare? Check and check. Animal Crossing? Check. In the first two years people! That's pretty damn good. And that's not even mentioning some of the new IPs like Endless Ocean or the Wii Sports/Play/Fit/Music series.

As for the third parties on Wii, there's some quality here too. In the two years of Wii, we've had several different strategies for third parties: ports, minigame collections, and games that make use of the system made by developers who get what the Wiis about. The ones your looking for (if you haven't already guessed) usually fall in the latter category (though there's been several good ports, Okami and Bully, and several good minigame collections, such as Rayman Raving Rabbids). The Wii is home to some of the uniquest titles this generations, particularly No More Heroes and Boom Blox.

To round up software, here's a list of the top 10 games I feel every owner of the Wii should have:

Super Mario Galaxy
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
Boom Blox
Super Paper Mario
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
No More Heroes
Mario Kart Wii

Online

The Wii's online is definitely lacking. Whether it's lag (Super Smash Bros. Brawl) or annoying restrictions such as friend codes and limited chatting Nintendo has a lot of work to do in this area. Out of Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Nintendo's clearly behind. Though Mario Kart Wii's online should be mentioned as it's the best Wii online game to date (at least in my opinion). The unique ranking system and the fact that it gets around friend codes (somewhat) are some solid concepts that Nintendo definitely needs to build on in later online games. Not to mention pretty much every race loads and run quickly and lag free.

Downloadable Archive

Nintendo's Virtual Console is a prime reason to buy the Wii. Whether the reason is that you missed out on some of the greatest games or want some nostalgic playtime, the VC is sure to satisfy. Though lately Nintendo's been releasing some games with questionable quality, you'll be sure to find some greats in there.

The WiiWare service was launched on May 12th, 2008 in North America. It's seen a equal amount of shovelware and gems. Instead of having to sift through the forty or so titles already released, here's a top 5 list of WiiWare games that are must haves:

World of Goo
Mega Man 9
LostWinds
Toki Tori
Dr. Mario Online Rx

Hardware/Controllers

The Wii's a tough little system and we've seen no major hardware failures (and definitely nothing like Microsoft's Red Ring of Death scenario) thank god. Though there have been quite a few controller improvements, mostly to make it safer and less likely for moronic fools to break their TV. In the last two years we've seen different remote straps and a Wii "condom" that protects the controller if it drops.

The main controllers you need are the Wii Remote and Nunchuk which have seen virtually no changes in the previous two years. There's been a lot of peripherals that generally are a waste of money. Thankfully Nintendo is leading the pack in quality. Plus they're doing it the smart way by packaging them with games. Though I think Nintendo's pretty much done as many fans and Nintendo representatives feels there's been enough peripherals... as do I. The notable peripherals are the Wii Wheel (a shell for the remote that works pretty damn well) and the Wii Fit board (an ingenious device that calculates weight and position that can be used in games like Shaun White Snowboarding).

One thing Nintendo definitely needs improvement in is storage solutions. They announced a crappy alternative recently that doesn't really help. And with lots of quality on both WiiWare and the Virtual Console, we need all the space we can get!

Sales

Selling the console is something that Nintendo needs no help in. 24 months after the system's launch, the console is still hard to find! If recent NPD numbers are to be believed the Wii out sold the PS3, 360, and PSP combined this October!

Nintendo's Blue Ocean Strategy

Though it's angered many a Nintendo fan, Nintendo's casual approach nowadays is definitely working. Even if they're a radical change from the norm, a number of the innovative, casual titles this generation do possess the charm and fun that gaming's all about. Wii owners may feel abandoned this holiday season with only Wii Music and Animal Crossing: City Folk, but I don't believe the "OMG Nintendo's abandoning the hardcore!!1!" rants. Especially with their 2009 plans, detailed below.

The Future of Wii

The Future of the Wii is looking pretty nice. In 2009, we'll see a lot of AAA third- and first-party titles. At Nintendo's Fall Media Summit, they announced some big games such as Punch-Out!! for the Wii and a Sin & Punishment sequal. Plus we have Play on the Wii titles and a slew of hardcore titles, such as the Conduit, MadWorld, and House of the Dead: Overkill. And those are only the ones we know about! Yep, the future of the Wii is definitely shaping up, even after the shaky, first two years.

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Play on the Wii" titles

The Play on the Wii titles (known as Wii de Asobu in Japan) are an interesting concept that I really like. Since I never had the privilege of owning a GameCube, I missed out on some of the great titles it offered. This is what Nintendo had in mind as some gamers (especially those new to the industry) might not have played a lot of the hits from the Gamecube.

There are several things that really interest me. First off, if news/rumors from GoNintendo are to be believed, we'll see them released with a $30 price tag. Which is nice, seeing as they're not new games. Well, that's not exactly true. Another thing that has me interested is the addition of more levels and Wii specific controls, making the game feel new and fresh. For example, Pikmin, will be coming to this selection and with it IR for controlling the Pikmin, which is nice and shows the potential of the inevitable Pikmin 3. The only title that's been confirmed with new content so far is Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, but I can expect some of the others will have new levels too.

I don't really get why people complain about them, particularly the people who've already played them. It's not like Nintendo is forcing you to buy them. And for those of you who say Nintendo should spend their time and resources on bigger projects like Pikmin 3 and Punch-Out!!, I really don't think Nintendo's using very much of the development teams to make these. I mean even with the new controls and content, they're basically ports from the GameCube.

The games that have been confirmed so far are Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, Pikmin, Chibi-Robo!, Pikmin 2, Mario Power Tennis, Metroid Prime, and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The control options for all are pretty obvious, and have potential. Take Metroid Prime, now imagine Metroid Prime 3's awesome controls built in. For Mario Tennis? A Wii Sports style of control. There's still a few other titles I feel Nintendo should add to the list, and probably will sometime. The two I can think of off the top of my head are Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Super Mario Sunshine wouldn't use the Wii's controls a whole lot, but the game would still be a nice addition. And for Wind Waker, I could see Twilight Princess controls, which worked great.

As I've said in previous posts, 2009 is going to be a great year for the Wii, both first- and third party. Plus we also have the Play on the Wii titles to look forward to too! (At least I hope they'll get released sometime in '09)

Comments or questions? Drop an email to kylehogg@gmail.com or leave a comment below...