Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Six shooters + samurai swords = kickass

Another short article. I think I may start posting a lot more of these with a larger feature or review here and there, rather than empty, post-less weeks.

Just today we got the first details of Red Steel 2. The original was a fairly huge game in terms of hype, as it took advantage both of the Wii's major innovations: IR pointer controls and motion controls. Unfortunately it failed to live up to these standards with clunky controls and overall unenjoyable gameplay. While it (mostly) bombed with critics, it went on to sell over a million copies. But now that the Wii's been out for over two years... enter Red Steel 2!

Katana-wielding cowboys and a cel-shaded art style? Count me in!

While we haven't gained much information about it from the two preview pictures of the next issue of Nintendo Power, there's been enough to have me fairly excited. For one, the pictures show a dude with a cowboy hat, a revolver, and a samurai sword. Wild-west meets oriental east is a combination not seen in a lot of things, whether it's movies, video games, or anything else. It's a very unique concept that is appealing much like ninjas vs. pirates.

The issue also reconfirms MotionPlus, which fits perfect with this game and its precision based sword combat. Also you may notice the cel-shaded art style seen on the cover; whether this is just concept art and not in game graphics is yet to be seen, but I hope these are the actual graphics, for it has the potential of looking very great stylistically!

All in all, I hope that the added benefits of Wii MotionPlus and not having to be rushed out for a launch title, Red Steel 2 can end up being a great game and everything its prequel should have been. But I also hope that Ubisoft doesn't hurry to get it out as one of the first Wii MotionPlus titles, dooming it like they did with the first. I'm remaining optimistic at this point, but only time will tell how the game really turns out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So many games, so little money

Extremely short article this time around. Don't worry though, I have several larger post ideas that hopefully can all be made into reality.

I've become to realize something over the past few days: there are a lot of great Wii games coming out. Maybe a couple aren't up the the caliber of "hardcore" as MadWorld and The House of the Dead: Overkill, but there are some quality games releasing in the coming months.

Socking King Hippo in the stomach, just one of many great experiences to be had this May!

I haven't even picked up the surprisingly awesome looking Excitebots: Trick Racing. Then there's Punch-Out!!, the Boom Blox sequel, and Klonoa coming out this May. That's not even mentioning New Play Control! versions of Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (due out in May as well) and Pikmin 2 (no solid release date for North America, but it'll most likely be here sooner than later since Europe's already gotten it). Some of the listed Wii games may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there's no denying May is hope to quality releases. But even in the months following May we'll see the releases of huge titles like The Conduit and Wii Sports Resort, not to mention Little King's Story.

That's a total of nine games I'm really looking forward to. And that's nine reasons I'm very happy to be a Wii owner. But what I'm not happy about is having to spend money on all nine of these games! With this school year nearing it's end (it can't come soon enough!) I'll have to start looking for a summer job to pay for all these. Because I certainly don't want to miss out on some great Wii fun. How about you? Are you loving the support the Wii's getting? Is your wallet hurting as well?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poll #16 results

Be sure to check out the newly crafted World 1-1 Review Archive on the right sidebar to catch up on any World 1-1 reviews you may have missed. (I got/stole the idea from SuperPhillip Central and Everyview.)

Unfortunately, much like the previous poll, Poll #16 had few votes (at least compared to earlier World 1-1 polls). The results are as follows...

How do you like your sports games? (16 total votes)
  • Arcadey - 31% (5 votes)
  • Realistic - 12% (2 votes)
  • Like them both - 37% (6 votes)
  • I don't play sports games - 18% (3 votes)
Even with very few votes, the voting choices are all very close in the end results. The vote for liking both arcadey and realistic sports games won by one vote count over primarily arcadey. The option, "Realistic", came in last barely earning less votes than "I don't play sports games".

I voted for the first choice, as I prefer arcadey sports titles (like Punch-Out!!) over realistic sports sims. While I've played some sports games like Madden and MLB games at friend's houses, I never really enjoy them. But I do love games like the Mario Kart, they're just a lot more "fun" in my eyes as they strive for you to be entertained rather than be accurate represent the sports.

Poll #17 is up as well. Chances are a lot of you play quite a bit of video games; this is a video game blog after all. But just how much do you actually play? Some of us have work and school to have to deal with, while others have a lot more free time to play all the video games they want. My poll question this week is "How many hours a week would you say you spend playing video games?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bit.Trip Beat (WiiWare) review

Bit.Trip Beat (WiiWare)
Developer: Gaijin Games
Publisher: Aksys Games
Date Released: March 16, 2009 (USA)
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Retro gaming has definitely become more prominent in the last few years, with remakes of classic games like Bionic Commando Rearmed and whole new games with a retro styles such as Mega Man 9 or Retro Game Challenge paying off for developers by appealing to the old school gamers with their nostalgic gameplay and/or visuals and audio. While Space Invaders has been remade in Space Invaders Extreme, it's a bit surprising the granddaddy of all gaming, Pong has yet to see a remake with such a caliber of flashy visuals and nostalgic fun. But the first game of the Bit.Trip series is here, titled Bit.Trip Beat and while not exactly a sequel or remake of Pong, you can sure tell it's been heavily influenced by the game.

Much like Space Invaders Extreme is a lot like the original game on drugs with it's flashy graphics and hectic shooting fun, Bit.Trip Beat is a lot like Pong knocked up with a whole lot of illegal substances doing some crazy things (gameplay-wise). But this doesn't describe the game well enough, seeing as there's actually a lot more to it than the basic game of Pong.

The basics of Bit.Trip Beat involve you controlling a paddle on the left of the screen, and instead of another player on the right, a constant stream of different colored and different choreographed pixels known as beats that you must repel back. All of this is done with some of the simplest controls in gaming. Holding the Wii remote on its side and tilting forward and back controls your paddled seamlessly. It might take a little while to adjust, but once you get a hang of it, you'll be deflecting beats easily. While this may turn some people off, without D-pad control and all, I can say that this way works brilliantly, mimics the old-school paddle, and in the end is much faster than digital input. No other buttons are used other than 2 for menu selection. Though in game all the buttons on the Wii remote respond with different chiptune bleeps and bloops that are purely for fun and in no way affect the main game.

Deflecting little bouncing/flying pixels may not seem hard, but after playing this game I'm sure you'll be thinking exactly the opposite. Where the game really ramps up in difficulty is in the different types of beats (Pong balls) that fly across the screen at you. At first just basic yellow blocks that fly towards you are all you have to deflect, which is relatively easy. But from then on more and more beats are thrown at you with increasingly difficult patterns and speeds that certainly doesn't add up to a cake walk. There's such a variety of beats that even when nearing the end of the game newer ones are still blasting towards your paddle; there's fast beats, hesitating beats, beats linked together, beats that bounce off the walls: the list goes on and on.

Other than normal (relatively speaking of course) beats that all you have to deflect, there's certain power-up beats that can grow, shrink, freeze, or duplicate your paddle. Some are good while others are bad so you have the option of skipping them by merely not hitting them, but as all other beats it will still count against you. Count against you how? In the game, while playing, you'll notice two meters, the Mega and Nether, located on the top and bottom respectively. Fill the Mega meter by continually hitting beats back and you'll be transported to Mega mode with flashier graphics, more dynamic music, and the chance to get even higher scores by racking up the combos (think of it somewhat like Star Power in Guitar Hero). Miss too many in this and your back to the normal mode. In this one, miss too many and you're sent to Nether mode which is black and white, totally devoid of music and rhythm (other than the single monotonous sound that comes out of the Wii remote speaker replacing the normal beeps and boops), and very reminiscent of the original 70's Pong game. As you might have guessed missing too many beats in Nether mode and its game over for you.

At the end of each stage you face off with a boss that are one of the more memorable experiences of each level. Each stage's end level boss is different from the last, and I don't want to ruin anything, but they're very much inspired by Pong and Pong-like titles such as Breakout. Also included in the overall package is 4-player co-op which is a lot of fun to play with a friend. It does get harder the more players you add, as paddles become increasingly smaller with each new player. However, it's not all well: the different paddles differentiate in color but aren't staggered position-wise, so there's a lot of confusing overlapping to be had that makes co-op a whole lot less fun than it should have been.

But deflecting beats and facing off against pixelated bosses is only half of Bit.Trip Beat, the other 50% is the presentation, namely the style of graphics and engaging music. The music and sounds of the game are quite the showpiece, as the game relies heavily on the musical rhythm. There's always a background beat that holds the game together in a musical sense. Each beat that you repel adds a sound to the ever growing soundtrack. It's a really impressive thing to see, hear and play. Along with the audio are the fantastically abstract backgrounds and very Atari 2600-esque pixel style. Everything from the in game objects to text that's barely legible with such big pixels screams mid- to late-70's gaming.

Probably the major complaint of Bit.Trip Beat would be the lack of lasting value. There's only three stages, each of which is about 12 to 15 minutes long. But don't let these number deceive you into thinking the game hardly lasts even an hour, it'll last you upwards of eight hours approximately to finish the game. The stages, mainly the second and third, are taxingly difficult and really stay true to the hardcore old-school by having you play them for hours and hours until mastering every beat pattern to complete them. I did find the stages to be a bit too long though, especially seeing how dying sends you back to the very beginning. All of this could've been solved by mid-way check points or even splitting the three stage in half into six smaller levels.

Another complaint I had with the game was how much went unexplained. The game does very little in teaching you anything. There's no tutorial mode, so you'll have to get a hang of it in the beginning of the first level. It also doesn't tell you that to keep a stage unlocked you have to get a high score in the previous one. I never had the problem, as you'll score somewhere in the high scores most of the time, but I'm sure it can get annoying to those who barely beat a level. Speaking of high scores, it's disappointing to see only local leaderboards. A game like this so centered around replaying stages to get higher combos and beat previous scores, it's unfortunate to not see online leaderboards.

Overall Thoughts

Gaijin Games really nailed the whole retro-revival style both graphically and with the impressive music that coincides with the gameplay perfectly. Bit.Trip Beat's a whole lot of fun and is a really unique WiiWare game that's perfectly priced at $6. One of the better WiiWare games to date and comes with my highest recommendation.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poll #15 results

First let me apologize for my absence from World 1-1 for the past two weeks and for the lateness of this post. Due to some things to deal with in the "real world" and a mild case of writer's block for your's truly, I just didn't have the enthusiasm to post. Let's hope all that's over and I can get back to my regular two, three, four, or more posts a week (OK, so not that regular) schedule.

First I'd like to announce bit of a change in the polls: now they're going to be weekly, rather than bimonthly. This gives me the chance to have a lot more polls and free up a day each week to post results. Speaking of which, there will be a "poll results" post and a new poll alway up on Saturday (except for this one), usually somewhere around 4:00 Pacific Time. And now to your regularly scheduled poll results...

Poll number fifteen has concluded with a fairly small total vote count (as probably due to lack of posting lately). Here's the results to said poll:

Do you read gaming magazines? (17 total votes)
  • Yes, I subscribe to one or more - 58% (10 votes)
  • Yes, I buy issues occasionally - 29% (5 votes)
  • No, I don't read them - 11% (2 votes)
Without a lot of votes it's not entirely accurate to say which choice was the most popular. But I think it's pretty safe to say the first, the subscription choice, is the most popular as it garnered almost 60% of the votes. Coming in second was 29% for buying issues occasionally. And finally, last (and least) was two votes from people who don't read gaming magazines at all.

I voted for the first choice as I subscribe to two magazines, Game Informer and Nintendo Power. As I've said before, I really am loving my subscription to Nintendo Power and each month I'm treated with great previews and lots of nice screens and reviews. As for GI, I really like the magazine too, albeit the sometimes lack of Nintendo content. It has a lot of great gaming articles to read and always scores on big exclusive cover stories.

Once again, there's a brand spankin' new poll up. Sports are one of the popular genres of video games. Whether it's realistic sports simulations like Madden and Tiger Woods or arcadey and hectic games like Punch-Out!! and the Mario sports games, sports titles cater to a large audience. But it's my question to you, "How do you like your sports games?" Arcadey? Or realistic?

Comments or questions? Drop an email to or leave a comment below...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gaming Forecast - April 2009 *UPDATED*

The Gaming Forecast is back one again. The month of April has noticeably less games than previous months, but there's still some big releases to be found.

Gaming Forecast April 2009
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: Yoshi's Universe (Wii, Apr. 1st)
  • Nintendo DSi (Apr. 5th)
  • Pop+ Solo (DS, Apr. 5th)
  • Rhythm Heaven (DS, Apr. 5th)
  • Samurai Shodown Anthology (Wii, Apr. 7th)
  • C.O.R.E. (DS, Apr. 14th)
  • Excitebots: Trick Racing (Wii, Apr. 20th)
  • Steal Princess (DS, Apr. 21st)
  • Puzzle Kingdoms (Wii and DS, Apr. 28th)
Note: Dates are subject to change.

By far the biggest release this week is Super Mario Galaxy 2: Yoshi's Universe. Releasing today, the sequel to 2007's biggest Wii game looks as great as the original and then some. Yoshi finally makes a return (being absent from SMG). The game looks really fantastic and even longer and better than the first. I really can't wait to pick up my copy.

*UPDATE* It seems someone was playing a cruel April Fool's joke on me (or was I the one playing it?). Sadly Super Mario Galaxy 2: Yoshi's Universe is only a figment of someone's imagination (or was it my imagination?). Though I really do hope we get a Galaxy sequel on the Wii; Galaxy was just too great to have to wait for another console.

Another huge release this April is the DSi's North American launch on the 5th. (It launches in Europe as well, only a couple of days earlier.) My game spending money has been spent in the last few months, but once I get some more I'll be sure to purchase both a DSi and a copy of Rhythm Heaven. I managed to play the demo of Rhythm Heaven on the Nintendo Channel and I found it was excellent. On the Wii side of things Excitebots looks great as well, and I'm going to look into that game as well.

While April doesn't have a large number of games like both February and March, it stands a pretty good fight with quality over quantity. What about you? Besides Super Mario Galaxy 2 (I mean, that's a must buy for a Wii owner), what are you interested in this month? Are you picking up a DSi?

Comments or questions? See any games I missed? Drop an email to or leave a comment below...