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Archive for January, 1970

The Legend of Heroes Ships to Retail Stores

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Cypress, CA, November 15, 2005 - Bandai Games Inc. today announced that "The Legend of Heroes™: A Tear of Vermillion™" for the PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) system has shipped to retail outlets. This beautiful role-playing game recounts the epic tale of Avin, a 17-year old boy in search of his sister who was taken by the disciples of Octum, the god of Darkness. With a trusty animal companion at his side, Avin must journey through one of the most dazzling 3-D environments available on the PSP system.

"’The Legend of Heroes’ truly delivers the classic elements of a traditional role-playing game: a fully-fleshed out fantasy universe, an incredible storyline, and a large cast of characters," said Brian Glazebrook, Production Manager at Bandai Games. "With Minako Iwasaki�s outstanding character designs and meticulously detailed world, this game is the best looking role-playing title on the PSP this holiday season."

Developed by legendary Nihon Falcom in Tokyo, "The Legend of Heroes™: A Tear of Vermillion™" is the second installment in a remarkable Japanese series known as "Gagharv Trilogy." Featuring more than 100 distinctive characters, over 50 hours of gameplay, and an extensive storyline, "The Legends of Heroes™: A Tear of Vermillion™" will bewitch both casual gamers and role-playing enthusiasts alike.

"The Legend of Heroes™: A Tear of Vermillion™" is rated "T" for Teen and retails at $39.99. More information about the game is available on www.BandaiGames.com.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Preview

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

From the famous game developer of the Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar is bringing a new Grand Theft Auto game to the PSP entitled Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Speculations say that this game will feature multiplayer games that will surely make GTA fans happy. Featuring all 3D environments, Grand Theft Auto Liberty Cities will offer us sweet graphics in our PSP.

For the very first time, Rockstar is giving the game a bigger focus on the game’s multiplayer feature. LCS currently offers seven gameplay modes with up to six players battling each other.

Here are the three known Multiplayer modes:

Liberty City Survivors
Players of this game with the most kills before the Time Limit has been reached, wins the game. If you kill another player however, you’ll earn a point but if you kill yourself (Suicide), a point will be lost.

Players of the game can team up with 6 party members killing some group of gangs. Whoever has the most kills when the time limit has been reached wins the game.

Protection Racket
Your mission in this mode is to protect the limos you’re using from incoming attackers. This mode has 2 rounds. Each gang members will be automatically be assigned in defending or attacking roles. Whoever destroies the four limos in the Defender’s base, the roles of the Attacking & defending game will switch and the second round will begin. The time it takes for the limos to be destroyed the first round will now be displayed on the screen and will be counting down. The new attacking gang must now destroy the limos within the time limit or the other gang will win the game.

Get Stretch
The final multiplayer mode known to exist is Get Stretch.

In this mode, Each gang must steal their opponent’s gang’s car and return it to your homebase while protecting their own gang care from being stolen. Use everything you have to protect it. Your gang car will automatically returned to your base after a short period of time, if it is unattended by the opposing gang. Whoever makes the most captures in the given time limit will win the game.

There you have it, 3 multiplayer modes are currently known to exist, but using the Infastructure for this game is currently unknown.

You may wonder what will the story be like in this game. Well, Tony Cipriani is back in the game! Tony must make things right this time after getting caught up in a killing of a made man. He must travel through the streets of Liberty City as he fights his way through a devastating city, he must use any of the necessary weapons that he can find to stop the madness in the city and makes things in order (drug trafficking, political corruption, union strikes, and many more!)

One new added addition this game is an ability to make Tony change outfits. Different outfits can be obtainable by completing certain missions.

We’re hoping that the game’s framerate wouldn’t be bad and the lag wouldn’t happen, which would ruin a big part of a rating on GTA. Grand Theft Auto is also a free roam game, meaning you can explore Liberty City as you wish.

If you’ve played any of the Grand Theft Auto games for the Playstation 2 console, you’ll know what to expect! Side missions, cars, awesome musics, and many more!

Now that you know what to expect, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is set to be released this October 25th to your game retailers with the retail price of $49.99

Stay tuned for our in-depth review of the game!

Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Tony Hawk American Wasteland

Tony Hawk American Wasteland is the newest game in the long running Tony Hawk franchise. The game starts off with you the skater who leaves his home town and travels to LA to become the next big skater. When arriving you meet Mindy who shows you around the city and shows you the ropes of city.

The gameplay consists of completeting task (goals) to earn money and pieces to help put together the best skatepark ever scene.The one nice thing about this game is more like the older games and while you can get off of your board and run around like the THUG series the game is more focused on the skateboarding aspect of the game. The games difficulty factor is particularly hard and now when you are to do an objective it shows you what you are supposed to do by displaying the buttons you are to press and when it takes a notch out of the because instead of figuring anything out it’s simplified down.You are able to control and ride BMX bikes which handle a lot different then the skate board but it is pretty solid overall and is fun

The graphics in this game are nice and look a lot like the previous THUG games.The art style in this game is interlaced with comic book like scenes from time to time.The environments are said to be streamed so there is no loading and for the most part it is.Between each area there are long strips of ground where you can skate and grind and play in while it’s basically a loading but it’s still cool instead of going to a blank still screen you can still play (look for this feature in many upcoming games).The environments however seem a little empty in some of the previous games the enviroments had a lot to them this one just didn’t seem to it felt a little weak.

Tony Hawk games are always known for there massive multigenre soundtracks and this one in no exception but the soundtrack in this game is the weakest yet.I found myself listening to the cd player while playing this as there is no really good rememberable music in this that I would want to listen to while play this game some artists on the games soundtrack are

-My chemical Romance
-Saves the day
-Fall Out Boy
-Taking back Sunday

While I do like some of the bands and you may be fans of some of them but the songs in this game just aren’t great

There online component in this game allows you to go online and compete against other players however unless you’re a super pro prepare to lose.Let’s just say the people online are serious players and can pretty much triple your score in the first 20 seconds.Still it’s fun to get online and just skate around and it will be more fun if you keep in mind your about to gets crushed.The single player game for the most part is pretty easy and most “hardcore” gamers will breeze through rather fast because of the fact it seems so much more simplified.

While the previous Tony Hawk games were all about destruction and character cameos this one goes back to the roots which is skating. Overall it isn’t the best in the series but it’s not bad, Tony Hawk fans will be fine with this one and will have fun and so will newer people to the franchise (although I suggest you play the older ones first) but I think the hardcore gamers may just find this either too easy or just not that interesting because it is essentially the same game as before.

Capcom Classics Collection Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Capcom has been around for many; many years and now they have released a collection of their classic games on one disc. 22 games come compiled into this collection

-1943 Kai
-Bionic Commando
-Exed Exes
-Final Fight
-Forgotten Worlds
-Ghost N’ Goblins
-Ghouls N’ Ghosts
-Legendary Wings
-Pirate Ship Higemaru
-Section Z
-Son Son
-Street Fighter II
-Street Fighter II Champion Edition
-Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting
-Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts
-Vulgus (Capcom’s first game ever)

This is a collection each game has it’s own storyline. Overall however a lot of the games have simple stories that don’t make a lot of sense. I would suggest doing some research on each game back-story and main story lines

This entire collection is compiled of Capcoms classics and features games from the Nes/Snes era.Graphics are 2D and at the time most had very good graphics.By today’s standards they are obviously low quality but don’t let the fact that these are older looking games turn you away from this set the games are excellent

Many games to choose from 22 to be exact all versions of the Nes and Snes Ghost and goblins are here, Street fighter, Gun.Smoke , and many other all very fun.There is some top down shooters, side scrolling platformers, Action games present here.

Again being that these are older games the audio is low. However just hearing the Ghost and Goblins tune in the background as you slay zombies and rescue the girl never gets old and for older gamers out there who may remember when these games came out the music is great, for those not familiar with the older games you may think it sounds weak.

The fun that can be had with this compilation is great.Out of all of the collections that have been released to this date this is by far the best.Wether it be Street fighter II or Ghost and Goblins this set has something for everyone and everyone.Just going back and playing these again was great and also I would highly recommend a pick up on this title to maybe see where Capcom started.The disc also has a section packed with special features for extra added bonus.

All I can say is I had a ton of fun and still am with this collection and I highly recommend it especially for you old school gamers and for you gamers that may not be familiar with older games maybe this will be the collection to get you hooked.

Wild ARMS: Alter Code F Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

When is the last time gamers played the very first Wild ARMS game for the Playstation console? Probably a long time.. The game Wild Arms was originally released for the Playstation Console in the year 1997. It was one of the very first RPGs to be released and was later followed by Final Fantasy VII. Over eight years later, Media Vision and Agetec Inc. have decided to bring back the very first Wild ARMS game entitled, Wild ARMS: Alter Code F for the Playstation 2 console with brand new graphics, improved gameplay, added features, and more playable characters in the United States.

What can you expect in this game? By comparing the very first Wild ARMS for the Playstation console and the PS2 version, you’ll see lots of changes that help to improve the game and it lives up to the expectation of RPG Gamers and the Wild ARMS fan.

1000 years ago, a war was waged between the Metal Demons, Elws, Humans, and Guardians, who were fighting for the land that they deserved. As Elws, Human, and Guardians joined forces, they drove away all the Metal Demons and sealed on what they called, “The Mother”. As soon as the war ended, Elws left the land with their technology, Guardians were peacefully sealed away and lost their power, and humans lived peacefully in what they called, Earth.

Years later, the three wanderers of Filgaia are binded together by fate to prevent the revival of the “Mother” and have a pact with the Guardians:

Rudy - a young boy that travels througout Filgaia hoping to find a place to live peacefully. His ARMs, a destructive weapon that he posses, makes society turn against him, fearing that he’s the destroyer.

Jack - a treasure hunter that wants to find the “Absolute Power” with the help of his friend, Hanpan.

Cecilia - A princess of Adlehyde with gifted powers that allow her to communicate with Guardians.

As these three young people journey throughout Filgaia, friends along the way will help them achieve their ultimate goal. Not like the PSOne version of Wild ARMS, Media Vision adds several playable characters that can be recruited as you progress through the story in this game. One of the characters that can be recruited is Jane Maxwell.

One of the major improvements in the remake version of the first Wild ARMs game is the graphics. If you’ve played the PSOne version, you’ll see how bad the graphics at that time. With the advanced technology today, Media Vision manages to create 3D graphics for each part of the surrounding made in the game.

Character models are done well in this game and it makes the game feel much more alive than the first one. You can see the characters’ emotions as they talk and their movements. As for the environments and dungeons in this game, Media Vision really took their time to redesign every town, forest, and dungeon in the game.

There are parts in the game that you’ll see a FMV sequence which are awesome to watch.

One of the disappointments I have in this game is that Media Vision didn’t add any voice overs to make me feel the conversation alive. I never expected the game to be voice overed but it’s the only thing to make this game a perfect remake of a classic RPG.

Some of the music used in this game is remastered from the Playstation version of the game. The music used in this game isn’t annoying like any of the RPGs out there.

There are a lot of things that are added in the remake version of Wild ARMs. If you’ve played the past Wild ARMs game, there are some added features in this game. One of these added features is the Encounter Meter. This meter allows you to prevent random encounters. Another feature added in ths game is the search function. Just like in Wild ARMs 2 and Wild ARMs 3, you have to search towns and dungeons by yourself in the world map. To do this, you have to press the Square button.

The Vitality Gauge has also been added in this game that heals you after battle. If however one of your characters died, your HP will decrease temporarily and it can only be increased again to the permanent HP by going to the Inn or using the Nectar Juice.

Some dungeons that you’ve go through in this game can be revisited ,which is unlike the original Wild ARMs where you can’t visit them again. There are also optional bosses that you can fight to level your characters. Some of the names such as dungeons and items are renamed.

I personally enjoyed this game because of the added features and improved graphics. There are lots of things to do in this game besides going through the story. There are optional dungeons, bosses, and much more. Media Vision recorded Wild ARMs: Alter Code F to dual layer DVD which holds twice the capacity of a normal DVD. With over 60 hours of gameplay, there will be much fun.

The game could’ve been better if there are voice overs added in this game. It’s such a disappointment not to see the characters talking. As you can see most RPGs released today have voice overs added; however, this won’t change my opinion about the game.

I personally enjoy playing the game! If you’re truly a RPG gamer or a Wild ARMs fan, this game is a must-have this holiday season. Trust me, I and Agetec won’t disappoint you!

Check our game guide for this game!

Suikoden Tactics Preview

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Rhapsodia, a new spin off game of the Suikoden Series is said to be coming out this September in Japan. This highly anticipated game in the series takes place several years after Suikoden IV. If you’re familiar with the characters of Suikoden IV, you will see some returning characters in Rhapsodia like Lino En Kuldes, Kika, Kenneth, Mizuki and Akaghi.

With joined forces with Hudson Soft, Konami changed the gameplay by switching from a traditional RPG to a strategy based RPG and 3D graphics to cell shaded ones.

There are many mysteries surrounding this game. We don’t know if there will be a True Rune involved or if the story of this game will be like the past Suikoden games.

We will have more information as the release date approaches.

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is the sequel of the first Pokemon RPG game for the Nintendo Gamecube, Pokemon Colosseum. The first Pokemon game for the Nintendo Gamecube recieved different scores from various game sites. Some say the GBA Pokemon games are better than this one, and some say Pokemon Colosseum is one of the best games in the Pokemon series. Now that Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is out, some of you might wonder what exactly is the difference between Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD? Is it worth getting? Well, all of your questions regarding this game will be answered in this review.

It’s been 5 years since the first Shadow Pokemon incident happened in the Orre Region, caused by Team Cipher. Rumors said that an evil organization is emerging and planning to conquer the world by using Shadow Pokemon as their weapons. Their biggest project in development is XD001, a Pokemon that can’t be purified (can’t change from darkness back to normal)!

You’ll start your adventure in a Pokemon HQ Lab where your mom asks you to find your little sister. As you progress throughout the story, interesting plots will be revealed. It’s your job to capture Shadow Pokemon and purify them all and save the Pokemon world.

Lots of familiar characters will appear in this game including the famous villain dancer, Miror B.

The graphics of Pokemon XD are basically the same as Pokemon Colosseum. Pokemon sprites are reused in this game. If you’ve played the first Pokemon game for the Nintendo Gamecube, you’ll know what graphics are. For those gamers who plans to get this game and worries about graphics, it looks decent and very well done.

The soundtrack in this game is really quite entertaining. Some of them are used over again from the very first Pokemon game for the Nintendo Gamecube but some are all brand new and really fun to hear. If you’re battling a trainer and you’re having a hard time beating it, the battle soundtrack will annoy you as it gets repitative.

Lots of things are added that will make people get this game. The library of Shadow Pokemon to catch and purify was expanded from 48 to 80+. 2 new Pokemon are introduced in this game but they were not catchable: Munchlax, the pre-evolved form of Snorlax and Bonsly, the pre-evolved form of Sudowoodo. These 2 new Pokemon are signs of an upcoming set of Pokemon soon to be released!

One of the exciting things that’s been added in this game is the Battle Bingo, and Battle Sims. These 2 things will make battling fun and enjoyable. Some of you might find it boring and repitative but it’s fun because you can have a chance to use a legendary Pokemon and the 2 new introduced pokemon in the series.

Gamers who played the Pokemon GBA games might wonder if there are wild Pokemon to catch. The answer is Yes! Nintendo brought back the Wild Pokemon in this game but only in 3 places and called PokeSpots (Oasis, Cave, and Rock)! These 3 PokeSpots holds different kinds of Pokemon. There are known to be 12 catchable Wild Pokemon.

The controls of this game are pretty basic and really easy to get used to. It’s very straight forward and new gamers to this series won’t get annoyed.

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is compatible with the previous GBA Pokemon games. By using a Nintendo Gamecube - Gameboy Advance Cable, you can transfer your Pokemon from the game to your GBA to expand your PokeDex. However, you must beat the main part of the game before you can transfer your Pokemon

One of the reason why Pokemon is still alive today is the fun factor. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness shares the same fun factor of the GBA games. Players of this game can battle their friends by importing their GBA Pokemon to the game.

Ok.. I’m done telling you what to expect from this game and it’s up for you to decide. I found this game interesting and really worth getting. If you’re a new gamer to the series, I suggest renting it first but if you’re a Pokemon fan, this is a must have!

Mario Kart DS Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Mario Kart has come out for the DS, and it is one of the first WiFi enabled games to finally be released, after a year of the DS’s life span. It has been well worth the wait. Combining a classic and amazingly fun game with the ability to play anybody around the world in a moment’s time is awesome and in the case of MK:DS, has been performed brilliantly.

First however, let me talk about the non-WiFi features. There is single player, of course, as well as local multiplayer. There is both single and multi-card multiplayer as well, up to eight players.

From those, there are your Grand Prix, single race (VS), Time Trial, two Battle modes, and a new Missions mode.

Grand Prix mode is fairly expansive, with two sets of GP’s; the Nitro and Retro Cups. The Nitro Cups are composed of all new tracks, most of which are pretty cool, while the Retro Cups are compiled from tracks from previous MK games, from the SNES, GBA, N64, and even GCN. There are four cups in each set, and four tracks in each cup, making up 32 tracks. Then of course, if you have played any MK game, you will know that there are three skill levels; 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. At first, I thought the game played a little too slow, like, it did not feel like you drove fast at all, however, this is only during the 50cc races.

The single races are just that. Pick a track from any of the cups you have unlocked and enjoy.

Time trial can get pretty nice. Like any time trial, you just pick any track and race through three laps to see if you can get the fastest time. After you complete a race, your ghost data is saved so you can “race” yourself and try for a better time. The ghost data is very nice, mostly due to the use of the bottom screen. In all the races, the bottom screen acts as a map, which I will get into later, but in Time Trial, it records all your driving and moves, with color codes for boosts, drifting, and regular driving, so you can know what you did last time, via your ghost data, which is really cool.

If your time is good enough, you will unlock the Staff Ghost data, which is probably the fastest time any Nintendo employee finished that track, so have yourself a challenge and try to beat him/her. And unlike MK:DD for the GCN, these ghosts are saved, thankfully. We all know what a fiasco that was.

Also, you can send, or recieve for that matter, ghost data from other players, locally. So you can trade times with your friends and play against there ghosts, which is pretty cool. You can only have one ghost data of your own for each track, which makes sense, and also 10 ghosts from your friends total.

There are two battles modes; the regular Balloon Battle, and then Shine Runners. Balloon Battle has been revamped a little bit to use a particular DS feature, which is pretty inventive. You see, when you start a Balloon Battle, you only start with one balloon inflated, out of five balloons. So in order to inflate the other ballons, you have to blow into the microphone!!! Hehe, you have to admit, it’s pretty cool. However, you can hold the Select button instead, but it takes longer to inflate. Like usual, you can only have 3 balloons at once though. Also, if you run into an opponent with a mushroom boost or star, then you steal a balloon, if you have a free slot open that is. Do not forget to inflate your balloons, for if you only have one inflatted and lose it, then you lose even if you have uninflatted balloons.

There are six courses to play on in Battle Mode, the same ones in both Balloon Battle and Shine Runners. Now, in Shine Runners, there are numerous Shine Sprites scattered throughout the level, with the goal being to collect as many as possible. If someone gets hit with an item or falls of the course, then they lose a Shine Sprite, if they had one that is, so anyone can then go to where they got hit and pick up the Shine. After a certain amount of time, the player with the least amount of Shines will be kicked out. This pattern returns until there is only one survivor. It can get pretty intense.

In all these multiplayer games, Battles and VS, you can not only use computer players, which is awesome for battle, but you can also set up teams, which is sweet. You can only make two teams, but it is a pretty cool feature.

The last mode is your new Missions mode. This is a single player mode in which you strive to complete little mini-missions in six levels, with eight challenges and one boss per level. These missions range from “Collect all the coins,” to “Drive through the gates,” to “Finish first,” and even to “Do 5 Power-Slides.” These missions are not entire races, just short little challenges. They are pretty cool, and the later levels provide a lot of challenge actually.

These missions, as well as the GP’s, are ranked from three stars to one star, and then from A-E, with the triple star being the best grade and “E” being the worst. This is what provides the most challenge and drive to play these missions over and over again, trying to complete them in a fast enough time to get a better rating.

Multiplayer is set up in a very nice fashion; of which I wish WiFi was set up in. There are four rooms, each of which can fit in 8 players, and the names of the players are listed, which is very nice and easy to see who you will be playing with and then select such players.

Now for the WiFi, the reason this game pwns so much. Please bare with me, for this section will probably be a long one, and then I will talk about more general game mechanics and what not. I will not be giving a lesson in how to connect via WiFi, but put it simply that you can either go to a hotspot, at a library, McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc; or, if you have DSL or cable internet, get a wireless router or the Nintendo WiFi Connector and connect that way. So once you are in a hotspot, you go to the Nintendo WFC option and connect. Once you connect, you will be given a Friend Code, which is a 12-digit number, in which you can exchange with your friends in order to play them via one of the WiFi modes.

There are four options you can choose from to “choose” who you will be playing against: Regional, Worldwide, Friends, and Rivals. Regional races take players from in your country, while worldwide takes any player who is currently connected and available to play with. Once you have recieved some Friend Codes from your buds, you can enter them and then play against your friends using the Friends option. You can have up to 60 friends, and their stats of games you’ve played together will be saved to your game, which is always good. The Rivals option will set you up to play against others that are around your same skill level, probably in accordance to your Win/Lose record.

Here’s the main problem with WiFi: you cannot choose who you will play against. It is not the worst thing in the world, but it would have been nice to have a lobby system of some sort, like Multiplayer, instead of being randomly matched up against people. Other than that, the WiFi is good. There is no lag during gameplay or anything of the sort. Sometimes, it does take a little while to find players to race against, but that is probably because the game is very new and not too many people have it or access to WiFi at this time, but I’m sure that problem will change. Another “bad” thing about WiFi is that like in your normal racing, you cannot drag items behind you, like a banana or shell…but that is a minor complaint.

Now, with the WiFi, you can only play againt three other players, which is not bad by any means, but eight would have been better. Anyways, the gameplay is like a GP, in which you play four tracks, getting points for how well you place each time. This is a cool part though; you get to choose which track to play on, out of 20 tracks. Well, each player chooses one track, and either the track with the highest votes is the one played on, or it is randomly selected from the four choices.

WiFi makes the game a lot more fun, just knowing that you are playing with fellow gamers is awesome, but of course this is coming from a guy who does not get the chance to play against too many actual people. It’s just fun though, the competition, and frustrating with those cheaters out there…*grumble* You know the type, those guys who hold onto those red turtle shells unto you reach the finish line when you are in first, only to hit you making you finish 3rd or last….gah… :P
Also, you can connect your DS to nintendo’s site, nintendowifi.com, which will record all of your stats and if you are good enough, or play enough matches, then you will show up on the scoreboard, which would be pretty cool. Also, you will be one of the ones listed as online so you can see all the people who are currently playing.

Then you have all your records. In the Records area, you can look at all you and your friends’ records, from wins and losses in WiFi, battle, and vs., to times in Time Trials, and scores and times in GP’s. The records are set up nicely, very clear and smooth looking. Good stuff.

Onto the cool gameplay mechanics and specifics of the new features and what not. I guess the characters would be a logical place to start. You start out with eight characters to choose from, each with two character-specific karts. Throughout the game, you can unlock a few more characters and another kart for each one. Each character is in a certain weight class; light, medium, or heavy, of which have certain general stats. The light characters have good acceleration, but low high speed, while it is the opposite with the heavy characters. You can also nudge people around which can be pretty fun, if you are the big guy that is, because you can knock people off the track, or into bananas and other such objects; hehe, it can be fun. Back to the idea of stats, each kart has its own stats, with attributes in Speed, Acceleration, Weight, Handling, Drift, and Items.

There are two new items, although I like to say that there are three, since the bob-omb is kind of new, although it was in MK:DD. The bob-omb is a sweet weapon. Anyways, the two true new items are the Blooper and Bullet Bill. If you use the Blooper, then any player in front of you will get ink shot at them that will partially cover their screen and obstruct their vision, making it very difficult to see where to go. The Bullet Bill acts like the Chain Chomp did in MK:DD, but it is a little different. Using this item will actually turn you into a Bullet Bill for a short period in time, in which you are launched forward, descimating any opponent in your way.

Some weapons and items have changed however. The blue shell that attacks the first place player explodes like it did in MK:DD which is a welcomed change. When you get hit by any explosive, you lose whatever item you had, which is unfortunate. When you get struck by lighting, turned small, and then hit, you do not get flattened, but merely knocked around, which is dissapointing. A nice change is that pretty much any item can be sent backwards. Now, you can send red shells backwards, although I am pretty sure that if you do that then they will not lock on. Also, when you get triple shells, you can send any of those backwards as well, which is another welcomed change.

The new tracks are pretty cool, in that they have a nostalgic feeling to them, brining in enemies and elements from old Mario games, like that evil sun guy from Super Mario 3, and those sewer mole guys that are on the flying ships also in SM3. It is nice to see such elements and characters being used; brings a smile to your face.

A really cool feature, that is mostly important for multiplayer and WiFi, is that you can create your own emblem and put it on your kart; the emblem will also be displayed as a little cursor over your kart to point out which player is which. The emblem maker is pretty nice, with all the necessary tools. There are multiple sized brushes to use, as well as an eraser and filler tool. There are numerous colors and many “badges” or pre-made shapes you can use. The area to make your emblem is set up in a grid system, in very tiny pixels, so you can make fairly good icons if you are artistically inclined to begin with. I’ve raced a few times on WiFi and people had some crazy cool icons, like a metroid and all kinds of awesome stuff. You can make some really good stuff.

Being a DS game, there must be some use for the other screen, in this case being the bottom screen, which is used as a very useful map. The map has two views; one that shows the entire track, and the other that is a more detailed and zoomed in view which is very helpful. This closed-up view will give you a better idea of how close enemies are, as well as show you items and objects that are coming at you, like turtle shells coming from behind, or bananas scattered on the road. It will also show item boxes, which is helpful in determining if it is a real item box or a fake one, for the fake ones will show up red on the map.

Also, the bottom screen shows the placement of the players, from 1st to last, and also what item each person has, which can be VERY handy in certain situations, hehe. Like during this one race I had via WiFi. I had a blue turtle shell that takes out the 1st place guy, and I was in 1st place, with two other guys right behind me. I slammed on my breaks to get someone else to get in 1st so I could cream them, but they knew what I had and also slammed on their breaks…It was hilarious. So yes, the bottom screen is very useful. Like I said, it can be used to see where your competitors are, so you can block them off if they are trying to pass, or try not to get directly in front of them if they have an item and so forth. You just have to play smart and you can use the bottom screen in very intelligable ways.

The controls are very simple. “A” is accelerate, “B” is brake, “L” fires an item, while “R” jumps and holding it down allows you to drift. While drifting, you can press the D-pad left and right multiple times in order to gain a chance to Power-Slide, which is an extra little boost. It is a simple skill to learn that can be very useful to gain that extra edge. You click the touch screen to change the map view. You can also use the other regular buttons to switch the map’s view or use items.

Well, that is it. Mario Kart DS provides a lot of nice modes and challenges, and with the implementation of WiFi, you will be playing for months and months to come, playing against hundreds of thousands of gamers like yourself. It is classic Mario Karting at its best, with the same old awesome items and weapons, classic characters of which you will find a favorite, which you probably already have in MK’ing past, with sweet-looking karts and awesome tracks. You cannot lose with this game, possibly the best the DS has to offer, especially with WiFi. Also, Nintendo can give the game patches, making the WiFi experience even better and more efficient. I have seen the future of the DS, and let me tell you, it looks good.

Metroid Prime Pinball Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Fuse’s second attempt at a pinball game using a Nintendo franchise, with its first being Mario Pinball, is much better than the former.

This time around, Fuse has implemented many Metroid Prime elements into this pinball title, creating some great action and awesome gameplay that greatly reflect the gameplay in Prime, strangely enough, since the genres are so different.

The first thing you will notice when you power on this puppy is the graphics. They are simply stunning and translated very well from the GCN to the DS. There are many things you will see that will instantly remind you of Prime from the Cube. It’s amazing how well they could transplant the graphics to this game. It is very apparent that Retro Studies helped out in this feat.

All of the tables, which relate directly to a section and environment of Metroid Prime, such as the Phazon Mines, Tallon Overworld, or Phendrana Drifts, are amazingly redesigned to fit the game and display the worlds brilliantly and are at once very reminiscent and will remind the player of them. The detail and shear beauty of the tables are just outstanding, and if you have played Prime, then you will just be flabbergasted at how the tables remind you of Prime’s environments.

Aside from the gameplay itself, the other thing that makes a Prime game is its enemies, and again, Metroid Prime Pinball delivers the same feeling as past Prime games. The enemies vary from the regular ones that appear all the time, such as Metroids, Shriekbats, Space Pirates, and Triclops, to the beautifully rendered bosses. I don’t know how Fuse did it, but the bosses look exactly like the one’s from Prime. Even though they have been shrunken to fit the DS’s screens, they still look amazing; from Thardus, to an Omega Pirate, to Metroid Prime herself; it’s incredible.

Also, the effects are very nice. The items on-screen look very nice, and the little explosions and boss’s moves are excellently displayed, such as Metroid Prime’s acid attack or the Omega Pirate’s earthquake attack. I cannot emphasize enough how great the graphics are.

They seem like they came directly from Metroid Prime Hunters, although these games are being developed by completely different people. I mean, the menus and other screens are very reminiscent of MPH. One disappointment is that there are no real cutscenes. There are two or three little four second or so scenes which are pretty stunning, again like MPH’s, but they are very short and just a nice little touch, nothing more.

There is not really a story to Metroid Prime Pinball, however, it is apparent that it draws directly from Metroid Prime for the GCN, for, although there are no cutscenes are any story telling, the tables flow in such a way that follows Prime’s story line. So, if you have not played and beaten Prime, then you may not get the full enjoyment and understanding out of MPP.

The audio is another department that is seemingly integrated into MPP from Prime’s own music and sound effects. The music from every environment is taken from the ones from Prime, as is other music, such as the ominous Space Pirates’ presence, or the Metroids’ shrieking entrance.

The controls are very simple and intuitive, with many ways to manipulate the flippers. You can use either the shoulder buttons to control the flippers, the D-pad alone, or the left d-pad for the left flipper and the A button for the right, so there are many options to choose from, assuring that you will find one you like.

The B button is used to place bombs, and like in many Metroid games, you have three regenerating bombs to use. Then, once you unlock them, power bombs can be used with the Y button, however you only have one that you can store and have to wait to pick up another one from a fallen enemy. X is used only while in Combat mode to fire missiles.

Another nice feature to the controls is that you tilt by using the touch screen. So you move the touch screen in any direction you want the tilt to be in, however I find this kind of difficult to do since you will be so focused on the ball, and you cannot really flick the flippers and tilt at the same time, but you may find a way.

The gameplay itself is nice and varied, with lots of little modes and mini-games to play, not just slinging Samus around hitting bumpers and lights. For starters, you are indeed Samus in her morph ball, but not all the time. As Samus, you have a health meter, so be weary of those Metroids and other enemies that will do damage to you. Like in any Metroid game though, enemies will occasionally drop health that you can pick up. And like I mentioned before, you can drop bombs like you could in any Metroid game while in morph ball form to hurt enemies or get a little upwards boost. Power bombs do damage to all the enemies on your screen, so save those up.

If you go around a particular loop five times to spell out the word S-A-M-U-S, then you will ready the Combat Saucer, which is in the middle of the two main tables. Here, you will uncurl from your ball and take Samus’ normal form. Then, you will fire off a constant burage of arm canon fire to attack the incoming enemy, which will continually attack until the entire wave is complete. In this little mini-game, you can be hit four times before it ends and you fail. It starts out slow and easy, but then enemies will come pouring at you from left and right, coming from the top screen. Also, once you have unlocked the missiles, you can use those to help, although you can only carry four or five.

Another sweet mini-game that has been implemented, while short, is the use of the screw attack to jump between two walls, killing enemies along the way, to reach the top to get an item of great worth. You jump from wall to wall using the shoulder buttons, and if you fall out of the rhythm, then you will fail, so it will take a try or two to get the hang of it. It is pretty short and easy to accomplish though, which takes away from what it could have possibly been, but it’s a nice little feature, adding to the entire Samus experience as a whole.

There are many more little mini-games and modes, but these occur when Samus is in her morph ball form. Firstly, there is your traditional multiball, of which there is one really cool way of it being done. You see, you have to hit this one target a few times, which opens up this little chamber, and once inside you see Samus’ DNA being replicated and then turned into clones, which are your other balls; it’s pretty sweet. Then you have your Phazon multiball, which consists of two colored balls, red and blue. The red ball can collect the red Phazon, while the blue can collect the blue Phazon, racking you in some major points. With the multiball mode, there are certain ramps that you can take which will give you a Jackpot, Double Jackpot, and then Super Jackpot, of which can be increased by hitting a certain set of bumpers.

Then there are other modes that you activate by hitting your ball into Holograph Mode Selector. There are about four or fives modes to be had from here, all of which are pretty much the same, but involve different enemy types. These include Metroids, Space Pirates, and these burrowing bugs. You have a limited amount of time in which to defeat all of these creatures, but you can get a five second bonus each time by hitting the Holograph Selector.

And with the aformentioned modes, excluding multiball, there are three levels of difficulty each, ascending after completely the previous one. These usually just mean that there will be multiple waves of enemies, making the modes harder to complete. There are also three levels per board, meaning I believe, that the modes will start on that level…

Some other elements worth mentioning is that, for a limited time, there is a force field in between the two flippers to prevent your ball from falling into the unknown, a.k.a. losing. It’s nice and very helpful. Also to prevent losing a ball, there are kickbacks; ya know, those things on each side that kick your ball back up. And since MPP has incorporated so many good ideas from Prime, the kickback system does it again, for the kickbacks are actually those cool morph ball piston things that propel you along ceratin tracks, or are used to manevour through others.

Like many other pinball games, probably just about all of them, you get a bonus after you lose a ball. This is called your Bounty Bonus, and is accumulated from the number of each type of enemy you killed, the specials you collected, and is then multiplyed by how many Bounty Multiplayers you got. These are gotten by running over a certain number of lights, and you can get up to 10x. These bonuses accumulate every ball, so they continually increase, creating some pretty high scores which can come in handy; for instance, if you lose your last ball, that Bounty Bonus could net you an extra ball, saving your round.

There is also this Award Scanner, that you have to activate once by hitting the ball into it, and then again to get the bonus. These bonuses range from Big Points, to an extra ball, to missile refills and so forth. It always gives you something good and works off a spinner/roulette-type mechanic, ya know.

And of course, it would not be a pinball game without a set of high scores, so the top 5-10 high scores, depending on the mode, is saved and always there for you or a friend to beat. And of course, you can place your initials down to claim the score.

There are three modes in MPP: Multi Mission, Single Mission, and Multiplayer. You start off with the two main boards in Single Mission mode, where you try to get the highest score. In Multi Mission mode, you start off at one of the two main boards that are available in Single Mission and then work your way to collect Artifacts and then transport to other mini-boards, where your goal is to gain a new weapon and defeat the boss. Once you have defeated the boss, the board becomes available in the Single Mission mode, where you fight to get the fastest time. This brings in the problem of MPP.

While there are two very nice, full boards, there are four mini-boards that are meant to be beaten in a minute or so. This is the problem. There are not enough boards to keep you entertained for too much longer after you have completed them. Now, do not get me wrong, the boards are pretty awesome, especially the first time you play on them, but it is ignorant to think that you will play them again and again when they are so easily beaten and do not have much depth. Also, after the time you spend playing one of the two good boards for 45 minutes getting a huge high score, you probably will not have much desire to do so again, so with only those two big boards and four small ones, MPP may not take you too long until you get tired of it.

One small redeeming factor is that after you have beaten Multi Mission, you unlock Expert Mode, which starts out each board at Lv. 2 and makes things much more difficult and extends the play out of the game.

Then there is the Multiplayer. In multiplayer mode, you can have an outstanding 8 players competing at one time, which is pretty impressive. However, you can only play on one board, Magmoor Caverns, which is not available any other way. Do not fret though, for you can “practice” this board by yourself and still get the chance to play it even if you do not have others around, so I am very thankful for that myself, since I know I will not have anyone to play with, so I did not miss out on the board.

In order to win, you must accumulate 100,000 points, which can get tricky. If you lose a ball, then your points decrease to the point where you go one rank back. The ranks are shown on-screen in the board, as is a cool little line with the placement of each player. You can do some special things, like hit a target a few times to send your morph ball up a spider track to get a special “S” worth many points. Also, if you hit a few other targets, you can send some Metroids to your opponents, hehe.

It’s just the translation from Prime to MPP is so good…everything, with the environments and enemies. Like, with the Metroids and Triclops, they attack you the same way they would in Prime, and you attack them the same way as well, mostly. Like, Metroids can grab you and you escape by placing a bomb, and you have to destroy the Triclops by planting a bomb for them to eat…It’s just done very well and the similarites are very noticeable and nice for those who are fans of the series.

The bosses are another thing that are just sweet. They are all pretty cool and diverse, and taking direct from Prime, but they retain all of their coolness and style. It is kind of unfortunate however that you defeat all the bosses by using the same method of flicing Samus at them, and doing some extra damage with missiles and Power Bombs, but the bosses still keep things interesting. Also, each one of them has a health meter to show how much health they still have left, so it’s just nice to know.

A special Rumble Pack comes packaged with MPP, which will undoubtabley be used for future DS games, although it should not be compatible with previous ones. The rumble pack is nice and works very well with MPP. It seems to be more geared towards the pinball game, and not like other rumble packs, but only future games will make it known exactly how it can be used. It just seems to rumble and make this noise when hitting certain things, and not when you hit any wall or anything, like an actual pinball table would do. So it will be interesting to see how future games will use it, and if it will work appropriately.

Metroid Prime Pinball is a phenomenal game, with awesome graphics, audio, and many other elements that are very remniscent of Metroid Prime. The pinball physics are done very well, and have not fallen victim to the clunky physics of Mario Pinball, so you can be precise with your flipper hits. Also, you will not get cheated like in other pinball games when the ball falls from great heights directly in the middle with no chance of saving it, so frustrations are kept to a minimum, although MPP is still a challenging experience. MPP would have just been an outstanding game if Fuse added in another two or so full-fledged tables, but the lack just creates too short a game that will be over much sooner than you would like. It is a shame, although MPP is still one of the best pinball games for any handheld.

Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix Review

Thursday, January 1st, 1970 by Zach Potts

Finally, a Dance Dance Revolution game for the Gamecube but with a little twist from our favorite plumber, Mario. Oh, is there anything he can’t do?

Nintendo always finds a way to spice up every genre of game and add a special touch to many others, such as SSX: On Tour to NBA Street V3, but this time, with DDR. It’s the same old DDR feel and flavor, but with a little something extra…a little…Nintendo magic.

If you’ve never played a DDR game, then allow me to explain the basics. Very simply, arrows appear on-screen and you must match them by stomping on the dance pad when they get to the correct spot on-screen. Now, this may sound simple, but believe me, the songs, rhythme, and speed can get pretty out of hand for beginners.

But do not fret, for there are five difficulty levels, with “Easy” giving beginners a nice place to start, and “Super Hard” challenging even seasoned veterans. There is ALWAYS room to improve in DDR and this installment is no exception. It can get crazy, with arrows flying up screen, one after the other calling for lighting quick feet, not letting up for a second; it can get frantic.

Just to clarify, this is indeed a DDR game, developed by Konami, so the basic gameplay and everything is all the same; it’s not some rip-off. So you can expect the same great dancing gameplay as is in any other DDR game.

Of course, a major part of DDR is the combo and rating system. For every “great” and “perfect” you get, you get another “point” towards your combo; and like Donkey Konga, your combos can reach heights of 100 to 200 and even more, depending on the difficulty level of the song, so practice, practice, practice. Also like Donkey Konga, which is set in the same basic genre, you can also get “early” or “late” and a “miss” on the notes, so be careful and ever vigilant.

At the end of the song, a rating screen will come up, telling you how many of each grade you scored and what your final grade is, between A and F, as well as your highest combo, and of course your final score. These will all be recorded for you to look at in the Records section, which is always nice.

Those are the basics of the game, but now on to the specifics and to what Nintendo added in to make this DDR like no other.

The first thing you are obviously going to notice is the huge box the game comes in. Now, Nintendo would not leave you hanging, so the dance pad comes packaged with the game, at the low low price of $49.99, so no need to worry about shelling out a ton of extra cash for this title. However, I do not believe extra mats will be sold at retailers, so instead, you have to purchase them direct from Nintendo’s online store.

However, you can, for whatever reason, choose to play with the regular GCN controller. I do not see how much enjoyment you could possibly get out of the game this way though, since it completely defeats the purpose, but at least it’s an option if you want to play some multiplayer and only have one mat, I guess.

Anyways, the mat itself is pretty stylin’, with a sillouette of Mario dancing in the middle, with the four arrows, A and B buttons, and Z and Start as well, so you can completely control the game and navigate the menus using the mat. The sensors for the buttons are good and sensitive, and you cannot feel them or anything.

I do not know if I really like the mat, personally, simply because of the material used on top. The bottom is good however, and would probably not move around on wood or tile floors. The top though is…flaky…kind of…I have to say it mostly feels and moves like wax paper, so it is kind of noisy and I do not like to be on it because I feel like I am going to ruin it. However that is not the case; the pad is very resiliant and well made, no worries. I would have just liked it to have been made of a sturdier feeling material, but truthfully, it is fine.

The core aspect and first thing you will notice about the game is its Story Mode. Now, I have not played another DDR game, but I would assume that this is the first to have a story mode.

The story itself is pretty…odd. You play as either Mario or Luigi and you instantly find out that the four Music Keys have been stolen. Toad comes to your door and warns you of the possible disaster and aids you in your journey to retrieve the Keys.

Story Mode is seperated into four different worlds, each split up into four other levels, plus a fifth world with a couple levels. Each world is unique, but familiar in the Mario universe. Now, you do not actually move around and decide where to go; the game is set on rails and you simply do the dancing parts as Toad guides you around.

Every other level or so you must complete a mini-game, all of which are pretty cool. There are 12 to unlock in all, however, there could have been a few more. The mini-games are decent, but most are either extremelly short or too simple, with one requiring you to merely jump on the two side arrows and then off one time. So some of these mini-games will have next to no replay value, while others will have you playing again and again. Once you play a mini-game, you unlock it to be played at anytime in the Mini-game Mode.

As is with the mini-games in Story Mode, once you have played a song, you unlock it to be played in Free Play. When you start the game for the first time, you only have one song to play in Free Play mode, so you are forced to play Story Mode to get them all. There are 25+ songs, not sure exactly how many, and most are Nintendo related, although a few are not present in any Nintendo game.

The songs come from Mario, Mario 3, Mario Kart: Double Dash, and many more games, most of which are fairly familiar and will strike you with a sense of nostalgia, which is nice, however the song list should have been more diverse, and much longer. It would have been nice if there were some Donkey Kong, Star Fox, and Zelda tunes as well, but unfortunately the list is rather limited to Mario games, which is not bad, but it could have been much, much better.

Back to Story Mode, as you beat levels and mini-games, you get coins, which can then be used to purchase items from the store that is in each level. These stores have 3 items each, all of which help boost your Dance Meter, for if it completely depletes, you lose. The items are nice, and a new one appears each world.

Mario, or Luigi, has some nice moves as well, going with a different dancing style every few songs to keep things interesting, although you may not notice, being completely focused on the arrows. The dancing, or whatever else he may be doing while you are dancing, always relates to the story at hand, trying to get across a river or out of a pipe, whatever it may be, which is nice, although the premises are pretty ridiculous. The backgrounds, both while dancing and while running around in Story Mode, are kind of flat and could have been better, but I suppose graphics are not that important in such a game.

And at the last level of each world, you have to do a dance off versus some other computer opponent, which adds a little diversity, since you must beat him instead of just survive, but it is basically the same thing.

Story mode is fun though, although a little too short, but you will see a bunch of familiar characters and enemies in each world, which is always cool, and with two difficulties, both plumber bros. to play as, and EX mode after you complete Story Mode for the first time, it will have you coming back for more and more.

So, once you have played your way through Story Mode, you can go on over to Free Play, where you can play the songs you have unlocked in any of four, and then five, difficulty levels, which like I said early, can get pretty frantic and out of control.

All of your results and final grades will be recorded, so you can always replay the songs and try to get all A’s, which is one heck of a feat to accomplish. And each song has stats, which can be found in the Information section. There is also a section where you can look at all the things you have accomplished in the game, sort of like what SSBM has.

But, I mean, Nintendo could do better than that…a few mini-games and story mode? Come on. Huh? What’s that? There IS more? Oh….ok. Yes, there is this mode titled Mush Mode, which, along with the regular arrows throws some interesting enemies and items at you, which you must, like the arrows, time your foot work correctly to defeat. These enemies range from Goombas and Koopa Troopa, to Bullet Bills and Boos. Naturally, these enemies have varying ways to defeat them and interesting effects. For example, you must hit the Koopa Troops twice to defeat them, while the Bullet Bills move faster than the arrows, and if you miss a Boo, King Boo will come on-screen and block your view; so it is very important to learn what each of these things do, for there is even one that if you hit, you will freeze for a short period of time, possibly destroying your combo and Dance Meter. And of course with multiplayer, the fun is, well, multiplied.

Some more interesting things worth mentioning is the humor in Story Mode, which is always good for a chuckle here and there.

There is also this Workout feature that will calculate the calories you have lost for every session you play, which is pretty cool. Also, you can show your parents and give them undeniable proof that video games ARE good for you :P.

There are not really any problems with the game, although a few things that could have made it better. For one, the song list, but I have already mentioned that. Another thing would have been to include more characters, even though they do not effect gameplay, but it would have been nice to have been able to dance as other characters, such as Peach, Toad, Bowser, etc.

Another annoying thing is the announcer, who is the same from the other DDR games, which is cool, but he says the same things over and over again, which get old fast. If he were to simply have a few more lines and phrases it would have made it much better and less repetitive.

With the easy difficulty on Story Mode, for some reason they only use the left and right arrows to dance, so the moves get repetitive since there are only so many combos you can do with the two buttons.

Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix is a solid game, throughout. There are a few minial problems, but these can easily be overlooked. It’s a great game and new genre that the GCN has needed for some time, one that will entertain both DDR beginners and verterans alike, and with the many difficulties, keep everyone on their toes, no matter what their skill level, making them better and better each time they play.