Peggle (XBL) – Review

cover Keeping this really short and simple – the Peggle translation to Xbox Live is pretty much all forms of awesome, with the "Peggle Party" addition for XBox Live being a perfect touch.

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations – Review (DS, Import)

Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations - CoverThe third entry in Capcom’s Ace Attorney series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, continues with the same core gameplay and presentation from the previous games, but manages to bring a much more interesting story with elements that carry over not only between cases, but as well as from the previous two games. While there’s the usual issues with the text display being naggingly slow when you want it fast, or that there’s a few puzzles that may take a bit of time to wrap your head around, the game is the strongest entry in the series to date. (Of course, it should be noted that I am reviewing the Import version, which has the “early” English localization which does have a few notable flaws, which Capcom says they will have fixed for the North American version. I am ignoring any such problems in my review).

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS) – Review Repost

Ace Attorney - CoverFor those that miss text adventures or LucasArts style games, or like anything offbeat, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attoney for the DS is definitely a fun, strong plot and character-driven game that can fill the niche with some pretty good brain-teasing puzzles.

Phoenix Wright, simply, is one of those odd Japanese games, based weakly on their classic dating sims, that has been translated to English and brought onto the DS platform. In Phoenix Wright, you play as Phoenix, a just-off-the-bench defense attorney on his first 5 cases in court, defending the innocent of murder charges. The game is set in the near future, where the justice system has been radically revises as to have all criminal court cases take at most 3 days, thus requiring a significant burden of proof on the defendant. As the player, you have to work your lawyer-y skills in court to disprove witnesses’ testimony with evidence and information that you collect, and prevent the prosecution from overruling you. The game, while based on the idea of Japanese dating simulations, feels that it has strong comedic influences from the Adult Swim show, “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” in that shouts of “Objection!” and “Hold it!” stand out like the cartoon onomatopoeia effects from Batman, key points are punctuated with fighting sound effects, and the bumbling attitude of Phoenix, though the game’s plot is still (mostly) firmly grounded in reality. I think it’s more that stateside, without the popularity of Harvey Birdman, this game would have had little chance to succeed without a major media push, but with it, the game can easily become popular by word-of-mouth.
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Overlord (360) – Review

Overlord - CoverOverlord, developed by Trimuph Studios and distributed by Codemasters, is a game in the same vein of play like Pikmin, a mix of a third-person fantasy hack-and-slash and minimal RTS elements.  The game is pretty fun, offering puzzles and monsters that are just right in difficulty, an entertaining story, and plenty to do outside of the main plot with only minimal problems.

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Overlord (360) – Initial Impressions

(Ok, not quite initial, I’m about 1/2 through, but first time I posted on this).

Overlord is definitely an interesting game; its fashioned off of one of the best games ever, Pikmin, but adds a few twists.  Basically, you’re an evil being (read: somewhere around lawful evil to chaotic good in D&D terms) that needs to rebuild his castle, but to do this, you need to do good deeds to rid the world of nasty evil (chaotic evil!).  To do this, you can’t fight off those hordes yourself but you get access to minions.  Like Pikmin’s Pikmin, your minions come in 4 varierties: Browns are good fighters but otherwise have no special power; Reds can use fireballs from a range and can douse fires; Greens can withstand and neutralize poison and can perform nasty back-attacks; and Blues can attack magic beings, use magic and regenerate others, and can cross through water (the others can’t), but are the weakest fighters.  You “sweep” your minions around the levels as well as set vantage points; you can control all of them at once, or by color, or a small subgroup, and usually it’s a matter of puzzle solving: monsters are there, but it’s usually how you face them that is the puzzle.  For example, monsters wandering around in water need to be lured to land to allow the more powerful minions attack.  Minions themselves will wreck havoc on boxes and the like about, collecting the items for themselves to use as weapons and armor, while giving you money, life and magic potions they find.

Destroying monsters gives you life force for your minions (each color tracked separately), but you can use your minions to upgrade your armor as well.

The game has a decidedly twisted bent, reminding me much of the humor in the (newer) The Bard’s Tale.  E.g. in this game, halflings (read: hobbits) are evil, and their hero “Melvin” is so rotund as to make him a tricky boss.

The only major issue with it is the lack of camera controls: the left stick is used for movement, the right is used to sweep your minions; moving around will move the camera, but I found the easiest way is to turn in the direction you want to look and then tapping a shoulder button to make the camera jump that way.  Also, the game feels like it was built off the Fable engine, not so much in the gameplay, but just how the people respond to you, how the camera follows you around, etc… which is not the best engine, but so far, it hasn’t failed me yet in the game.

Crush (PSP) – Review

Crush - CoverCrush, developed by Zoë Mode and distributed by Sega, is a platform puzzler for the Playstation Portable, and may be one of the most unique, challenging, and playable games for the system in a long time.   The game features the ability to “crush” a 3D level down into a 2D platformer, along the lines of Super Paper Mario but with many different elements and tactics that can be used.  It is not easy, but nor is it difficult nor unforgiving, and really makes for a great puzzle game for the PSP.

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Lumines II (PSP) – Review

Lumines II - CoverWith the success of Lumines as a launch title for the PSP last year, it was no surpise to see a follow up to the game, though surprisingly with the game out for XBox Live and soon for the PS3, it may seem a bit much Lumines overkill. Particularly with the fact that the core gameplay hasn’t changed, the only direction that Lumines can be taken is to add more “skins” and visual improves to the game. For the most part, that’s what Lumines II, developed by Q? Entertainment and distributed by Buena Vista Games, for the PSP offers; old skins have been included and redone, but the game features a lot more skins as well as licensed music from a variety of modern artists. Unfortunately, while the core game is still good, it doesn’t have the freshness that the first game had, and the inclusion of sort artists, over others, feels more like a way to push the music as opposed to selecting the best music for the game.

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