The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) – ~12hr

I’m just about to start the third full-fledged dungeon in the game, and the game still amazes me in the level of detail and the like.  They still manage to include all the usual Zelda instruments (the bow and arrow, the boomerang) but make changes to make the slightly different.  I’ve yet to be stimied by anything, but only because the game spends time to hint you though aspects and makes you think of secondary uses for your equipment and the features around the various rooms and landscapes.  I’ve seen people mention how they get stuck in the villiage at the very start, but I think if you can work your way through that and think of the same types of tricks there, you can work your way through most of these dungeons, so far, without too much difficulty.

I also think that having had recently played Okami for the PS2 helped a lot, since the same sort of dual-use puzzle items came up there.  Just knowing what you have in your inventory and thinking a bit laterially helps many times.  Mind you, to this point, the game is mostly straightforward as you unlock more of the world to explore, but I’m expecting, but hopefully not on the same scale, a Tingle-like quest — at least getting from one end to the other is much easier than in Windwaker.

And even though this isn’t the most advanced graphic system, the rendering of the characters is very impressive.  Really, Link and several other characters have really haunting eyes and excellent use of facial expressions that go well with the game.

Tony Hawk Project 8 (360) – ~2hrs

I’m glad to see that there’s (literally) classic Tony Hawk mission modes (the ones that you have to complete SCORE, COMBO, and the like) in the various sections of the town (oh, and yes, no loading screens between sections, but less obvious where the section boundaries are, unlike in American Wasteland).  The new ‘make a trick’ mode is nice if a little difficult to get use to, but it allows you to control how your feet move, and thus how the board spins, in order to make up tricks on the fly.

I had to look around but I was rather surprised to find that Jason Lee in virtual persona was in the game (he was in the skating world before he turned to acting).

I much prefer the general attitude this game has compared to the “lets make chaos” that the last several Tony Hawk games had.  Instead, focusing on you becoming a rising star is a good way to approach a skating game.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) ~ 6hr in

Even though the game starts off slow, once you actually hit the part about the Twilight Princess, the game takes a very delicious Zelda-like turn, and becomes much better paced.  I’ve gotten past the 1st dungeon (the one with the monkeys) and while a typical classic Zelda dungeon in every way, the Wii controls make it a breeze to get through.

As a curiousity, I’m wondering how much either Twilight Princess had on Okami (for the PS2), or vice versa, as we’ve got wolves freeing cursed lands in both, though the major part of game play is vastly different.

Gears of War (360) – Review

Gears of War Cover “Gears of War” produced by Epic Games and distributed by Microsoft for the Xbox 360, may not offer a drastic difference from many first-person or third-person shooters, but manages to introduce several tactical elements and enough variety of battle situations, in addition to excellent graphics and sound for a highly immersive experience, to bring together an extremely tight game that is very enjoyable to play. Continue reading

More Wii Launch Titles – First Impressions

Picked up a couple more Wii launch titles after hearing only good things about them.

Rayman: Raving Rabbids (sic) – While within the Rayman universe, this is set up more as a mini/party game as opposed to a platformer that the series was of the past.  It reminds me more like Warioware mini-games, though not at the pace that Warioware worked at.  However, there’s a definite bent of humor in the game, and also makes me excited for both the Wii Warioware and the next Mario Party games using the Wiimote.

ExciteTruck – Maybe not the most realistic racing simulation ever, but I do like the idea of using the remote as a steering wheel, and shows yet another way the remote can be used.   Unfortunately it seems to lack online multiplayer which would have sealed the deal on it being a great game, but still is damn fun.

I am really looking forward to games about 6 to 12 months for the Wii right now, as people learn what and what doesn’t work with the Remote and to see what comes about in terms of even newer gameplay.

Nintendo Wii Release Titles – Initial Impressions

Finally got my pre-ordered Wii from Amazon last night after some question of where my order had disappeared to within the Amazon system.  Thankfully, it arrived when I expected it, and within a few minutes I was up and running with it.   (My Wii code is 8538 8031 5411 6139 for those interested).

I really really like the Wii interface, when compared to the PS3 and the 360.  And getting used to the Wiimote is rather quick; the rumble feedback is probably the thing that makes this work really well in addition to the visual indicators and the speaker in the Wiimote.

Wii Sports – I used to bowl and had a decent average (150 range), and I’m rather impressed how well using the Wiimote can simulate the bowling movement  and other physics of just the bowl itself (though I have to back off a bit on my spin since there’s nowhere close to the same weight as with a real ball.)   Golf feels natural as well, and definitely a different take compared to most console-based golf games.  Tennis, baseball and boxing feel a bit weird but likely I wasn’t giving myself enough room (as I was mostly testing the games out).  Nintendo definitely did right in including this game with the base system – it makes the Wii usable out of the box and demonstrates the power of the Wiimote, plus adds a significant physical element to actually playing the games.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz – The gameplay itself is not much different from any other Monkey Ball title, but the use of the Wiimote is what makes this unique, and may be the best game you can get to learn how touchy the Wiimote is and how to fine tune your movements with it.  I’m also pleased to see a lot more minigames with this (at least 20 it looks like), though I’ve only played a handful so far.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion – I know this is basically a remake of Trauma Center: Under the Knife for the DS with an added chapter, but the game plays a lot differently from the DS touchscreen to the Wiimote, in that you have an easier time of selecting the tools you need for the operation with the nunchuck, but you have a little less accuracy with the pointer from the Wiimote, though the game appears to be giving you a lot of sensitivity.  To me, despite knowing the cases, it still feels like a whole new game.  It also seems to show that it is possible to take a game concept that relies strongly on the DS touchscreen and make it into a Wii game  (Kirby’s Canvas Curse and Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents are two titles that come to mind immediately; I also wouldn’t mind seeing Phoenix Wright brough to the Wii in this manner).

Red Steel – Take a standard first-person shooter, and add in the elements of stand-up arcade shooters that have gun controls (like Time Crsis or House of the Dead) and you get the foundations of Red Steel; you use the nunchuck to move (WASL style), the Wiimote to look (the mouse in conjunction with WASL), and then use objects and reload by moving the nunchuck up or down appropriately.   Haven’t got a katana yet (though I know it will be there!), and the controls are a little tricky at first but if I spent a bit more time, I’m sure they would start to come naturally, but in general, these add a new level of interaction with first person or third person shooters that isn’t possible with controllers on the other systems.  Unfortunately, the graphics are a bit clunky, and maybe I rushed too fast through the look calibration proceedure as the sensitivity for looking is just a bit too high, though I know I can change this in game.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Still at the first village, but so far this game works nicely with the Wiimote/nunchuck, and still has the same feel as any Zelda game (though closer to Orcania of Time and Mogana’s Mask in terms of art and stylings, even when you look past the cel-shading issue from Wind Waker – it’s just the feel of the game; maybe it’s just the fact that most of the world you’re in isn’t underwater and thus feels less sparse than Wind Waker.  Still haven’t gotten to combat but I expect that to be interesting.

At this point, with some time on both the PS3 and the Wii, and what I’ve done with the 360 to date, I think that Nintendo is going to come out on top in this round.  The Wiimote is a rather ingenius device and, like the touchscreen on the DS, will offer new ways to play game genres that have otherwise become stale; and yet you can still fall back to classic controls for titles that really need them.  I’ve heard good things about how EA’s done Madden 07 for the Wii, and also good things on Rayman, so I will likely pick these titles up as well.  However, I can’t wait for Super Mario Galaxy and in particular the next Metroid game – if Red Steel is any indication, first person shooters are going to be completely revolutized on the Wii.

Final Fantasy III (NDS) – Initial Impressions

FFIII is one of those I’ve not played (To wit: I’ve completed FFI and II via the Dawn of Soul advance, working on FFIV through GBA, completed FFVII and it’s Dirge of Cerberus, FFX, and FFX-2, as well as a good way through FFTA), though I know they’ve taken the usual sprite based graphics and made the game into a simplified 3D representation (much like the 3D recreations of Nethack) but keeping the gameplay the same.  It’s easy to tell that the dungeons are based on a 2D sprite map, but at the same time, they’ve done a good job to give it a unique feel. 

My only nit so far is that the character animations take a bit of time to complete, and you can’t easily skip the battle win scene.  Of course, I’ve only just made it to the first town, and if I’ve heard correctly, there’s a few difficult parts if one’s not prepared this early.

Every Extend Extra (PSP) – Initial Impressions

The little freeware game Every Extend gets a port by Q Entertainment (the same people that made Lumines and Meteos) into a nice little game that works well on the PSP.  If you’ve not played the original (free to download from the above link), the idea is that you beat the game by blowing your ship up as to create chain reactions of the various objects that fly across the screen; you each more ships with more points, so you always have to be looking for large combos to score with.  The play in EEE is little different, but now they’ve added ‘drives’ similar to Lumines’ skins with music (and game play tied to the music like from Rez) and graphics to keep each level fresh.  It works fine with the PSP controls.  It’s a nice change of pace from the usual PSP fare.

Gears of War (360) – ~3hr in

(Can’t give a better time estimate, and I know the game’s divided into Acts, but I can’t tell if I’m still in Act 1 or 2. I’m in a chapter called “China Shop” for those that have played it).

I think this is a game like “Killzone” was for me – my initial impression was rather poor, but now that I’ve gotten a few more of the more interesting weapons (the kill-from-above satellite weapon, for example), and with a few more different types of enemies to keep track of, it’s starting to grow on me. I’ve getting used to the cover system and using your team to your advantage, and I think that was keep to getting used to the game and now I can appreciate the story and the graphics, which are, needless to say, stunning.

I’m rather excited to get through this only to see how multiplayer works, as I’ve heard it’s a riot.

Yoshi’s Island DS (NDS) – Initial Impressions

Well, no complaints here – they took the same basic forumla from the first Yoshi’s Island, including the style of graphics and the approach to scoring each stage, add in a few more twists (such as the ability to change ‘babies’ which can affect parts of the level you can reach), and you have a great game already.  It uses the two screens like in Sonic Rush – the level’s shown across both though you can control if you want to see higher or lower than where you are presently.  Have yet to use the touch screen for anything, but I don’t expect that from a platformer necessarily.