Pokemon has been around since 1998. The story lines have always been the same. A small town kid wants to become the ultimate Pokemon Master. To do so the player travels around the region to capture Pokemon. They then train their Pokemon to fight at the highest level, and collect gym badges for beating opponents in the Pokemon League. Along the way the player has to fight a team of villains that are trying to take over the world of Pokemon and it is up to you to stop them. Are you up for it or has the formula to this long and beloved franchise gotten stale? (more…)
November 5, 1991. You have to travel that far back to find the last entry in the Kid Icarus franchise, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters for the Nintendo Game Boy. Let’s try and put that in context for a second. That’s the year that grunge music became a phenomenon with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind album, the year that bomber jackets were all the rage in the fashion world and the year Silence of the Lambs was released in theatres. So when you say that Kid Icarus fans have been waiting a while for a new game in the franchise, a while means a really long time.
With the release of Kid Icarus: Uprising, Nintendo’s cult-hit franchise is finally making a return. Twenty years later and angel warrior Pit is back on another Nintendo handheld going toe-to-toe with the forces of a reborn Medusa. But unfortunately, Kid Icarus: Uprising is also a return to the stylus focused control options that were prominent on the original DS. Previous high profile 3DS games like Resident Evil: Revelations and Super Mario 3D Land used the touch screen only when necessary and primarily to compliment gameplay. Uprising’s entire control scheme depends on it. The game even comes with a stand to place your system on to help make it more comfortable to play. This is a huge problem. Not only does this make Kid Icarus the most unportable portable game since I can remember, it ruins what could have been a glorious return (twenty years people!) for the franchise.
Get that 3DS stand out for support because you’re going to need it.
Uprising reimagines the Kid Icarus experience by combining on-rails shooter segments with ground-based sections that blend combat and exploration. Pit never learned to fly so Lady Paletuna grants him the ability five minutes at a time. Each level will begin with Pit flying through the sky and shooting enemies with an assortment of bows and blades before plummeting back to ground.
You control Pit during these on-rails segments with the Circle Pad and fire with the L Button. You aim with your right hand with the stylus on the touch screen. This causes all the 3DS’ weight to shift into your left hand which is just downright uncomfortable. My hand was cramping up so severely after playing through the first two levels that I had to set it down and take a break. That’s a big problem. To be fair, the controls do work quite well for the flying segments. The ground combat sections are a different story altogether.
On the ground, the circle pad controls Pit’s movement, the L button is used for melee and shooting attacks. The stylus is used to aim and to move the camera with quick slashes in any direction. The camera will continue to scroll in that direction until you tap the touch screen again to stop the camera in the desired direction. Dodging is initiated by a quick flick on the circle pad in any direction.
There are some options for changing the control scheme but none really work that well. You can set aiming or movement to the face buttons or you can play lefty with the Circle Pad Pro but you can’t use the Circle Pad Pro to control both movement and aiming. This is unfortunate because this addition would have been a godsend. There’s so much going on in the ground battles that frustration is a constant when you can’t get Pit to react like you want or move in the direction intended. Because the dodge mechanic is initiated by a quick flick of the Circle Pad, the problematic camera controls can lead to many cheap deaths. You’re extremely likely to fall off the side of a platform while attempting to dodge because you’re not facing the proper direction to begin with.
If you can get past the horrible control problems, Uprising is actually quite charming. During the whole time you’re playing, Pit and Paletuna are bantering back and forth to each other. Yes, the dialogue is quite corny, but having a Nintendo character that’s actually full of character is great. There are no cutscenes though so the dialogue exchanges are limited to the touch screen. Sometimes even enemies chime in with responses and you even get a look at enemies in their original sprite forms while this is happening as well. All great fan service.
Pit is also highly customizable in Uprising. You have a large selection of equippable weapons to choose from like bows, blades and clubs, each with dozens of different variants. You unlock more weapons by completing levels on harder intensity levels or by opening random treasure chests while exploring. Each of these weapons has bonuses like “+1 charged shot” or “+2 dash.” You can even fuse two weapons into a new weapon that combine the characteristics of the two weapons that were fused.
You also equip powers that allow you to heal yourself, set an invisible mine trap or turn your enemies into idols. Each power is represented by shapes similar to Tetris blocks. You get a loadout block and must arrange as many power shapes into your loadout block as possible. The more you can fit, the more powers you go into battle with. This is a very unique idea and works quite well.
Uprising also has a multiplayer (the game refers to it as Together Mode) component. You can battle it out locally or over the Nintendo Network in a six-player free-for-all mode or Light vs Dark battles. In this mode, each team has a life meter. Once this meter is empty, one of the players will become either Pit or Dark Pit. Once they are defeated, the game is over so it is imperative that players protect their angel.
Each multiplayer match begins with you setting your weapons and powers. Each weapon affects your character’s speed and stamina. Since there are so many weapons, each opponent can feel drastically different. I found it surprising that Uprising even had such a fleshed out multiplayer component to begin with. But unfortunately, the irritating control scheme grows much more frustrating when opponents are now being controlled by other humans.
Uprising could have been a truly great game. The aerial combat sections are fantastic and the sheer amount of unlockables and customizable weapons is astounding. Unfortunately, these are bogged down by atrocious controls and bland ground combat sections. Hopefully these issues are corrected for another Kid Icarus portable game or maybe (even more likely) a Wii U version in the future.
Child of Eden
The on-rails aerial sections in Uprising will remind gamers of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Child of Eden. Both look gorgeous as the camera dips back and forth through areas and both require precision to clear the screen of all enemies. Child of Eden’s levels change through subsequent playthroughs depending on the player’s previous performance and style. Gamers can also change the amount of challenge in Uprising by changing the Intensity Level affecting enemy strength and unlocking bonuses for completion on higher difficulties.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Smash Bros. series creator Masahiro Sakurai’s influence in Uprising is apparent throughout. Uprising’s menu is quite reminiscent of the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Each is divided into shapes with different modes you can jump right into. The amount of unlockables in both are tremendous and Pit’s dodge mechanic is the same as performing a Smash Attack. Let’s not forget that the current avatar for Pit was introduced in Brawl for the first time as well.
A minor miracle happened on Thursday, January 19 of this year. No, there was no water turning into wine or even a vision of the Virgin Mary on some random peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was something much more subtle. That was the day that Resident Evil 6 was announced (with a full trailer to boot) to the surprise of most gamers. Granted, a new entry into a popular franchise is always expected but this actually threw us jaded gamers for a loop. Everyone was all about Resident Evil 6 on popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
At the time of the announcement, I remember I was a bit confused. Capcom was already releasing two new installments in the Resident Evil franchise within the upcoming two months. Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City was set to release in March on consoles and Resident Evil Revelations was hitting retail in only a few weeks on the Nintendo 3DS. With that announcement and the barrage of hype for Resident Evil 6, Revelations seemed to be cast in a corner, all alone, just begging for attention. It’s really too bad. Not only is Revelations one of the best games on the 3DS, it has a meaty single-player campaign (about seven to nine hours) and it’s better than the last major release of the franchise, the mediocre Resident Evil 5.
Starring both of the series’ original protagonists, Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, Revelations shifts back and forth between the survival-horror roots of the franchise and the more action-friendly set pieces found in later installments. By combining both of these styles, Revelations finds its own and succeeds in spite of itself (why do you have to be so crazy with your characters Capcom?).
Grab some green herbs, a shotgun and put down that typewriter ribbon (you don’t need that anymore silly). Continue after the break to find out why you shouldn’t ignore this portable survival-horror entry.
DaGeDar is a brand of toy balls that apparently are somewhat popular with the kiddos. These collectible balls can be purchased in retail stores throughout the country as well as Hot Wheels inspired race tracks to race them through. There are many different DaGeDar (or dags for short) that one can collect, each one with a different “spirit within” of animals from both reality and fantasy.
With a toy brand that mixes racing and collectibles, of course it makes sense that DaGeDar would branch out into the videogame world. It would have been almost criminal if they hadn’t. DaGeDar includes one-hundred different dags to unlock and over thirty courses to race through. Taking all this into consideration, you might think that DaGeDar has potential to be a fun, silly racer that both kids and adults could enjoy. What could go wrong?
Well, a couple things really hinder DaGeDar from being a worthy contender for your hard earned handheld gaming income. There is one reason in particular that will not go unnoticed by anyone who plays DaGeDar and it deserves to be mentioned right from the start.
THIS GAME IS FREAKING DIFFICULT!!
Not sure what GameMill Entertainment was trying to accomplish with a difficulty level this brutal. There is not even an option to adjust it. Combine a huge difficulty level with the game’s target demographic, young kids, and this could really fuel a tantrum of epic proportions. This is not to say that the game seems designed to be hard. The actual game’s setup is quite simple.
You begin with ten dags unlocked. Each dag is rated from one to five in three different categories: speed, acceleration and control. You control your dag with the directional pad (or with the circle pad if you are playing a 3DS). The B button is used to jump and the Y button uses your turbo which you collect by rolling through bluish spheres on the race track. The touch screen is not used in any gameplay related way. You can use it to quit your game or choose one of the four gameplay modes from the menu: Championship, Time Attack, Practice Race or Multiplayer.
In Championship mode, you race your dag competitively against another AI controlled dag. Each race is a best three out of five series on five different tracks. Each track is presented in side-scrolling 2D and resembles levels from Sonic games on the Sega Genesis. Each track consists of jumps and loops you need to turbo through. Winning these series will unlock new levels. These new levels can be practiced in another game mode, Time Attack, and beating the target time will unlock new dags you can use to race the AI. Win enough races and graduate from the Novice League, to the Pro League and eventually the Master League. This is all pretty straightforward stuff.
The problem is that the AI is not joking around. I did not witness the AI make any mistakes in my time with the game. This forces the player to literally learn every single track to a tee in Time Attack mode to help progress through the game in Championship mode. This is super frustrating and repetitive. Not a good combination.
What could have helped out with this problem could have been some sort of weapons system. Fine, let the AI be super quick and never miss any maneuver. But give the player some sort of counter that they can pick up. This game is screaming for super-abilities. Why have one hundred different dags if they all sort of feel the same? None of the dags seem all that noticeably different from the others.
If you’re going to go the Pokemon route with the whole “gotta catch âem all” approach, make it mean something. Super-abilities could have kept the game fresh and given the hook needed to want to unlock more dags and see what they could do. Having bat inspired dags that could fly over specific sections or dragon inspired ones that could breathe fire to stop your opponent would have opened up so many strategic possibilities. Right now the only real difference between dags seems to be cosmetic.
When you do learn a track, it can be quite fun to turbo through loops and jump into cannons that will shoot you ahead of your competition. The levels do have alternate routes that you can learn that will shave seconds off your lap time. Forcing players to take these to win though is a huge misstep. The amount of time it takes to learn each track is not worth the headache.
There is a Multiplayer Mode available that will help alleviate the pain associated with the all powerful AI. You can race one-on-one with a friend through either single-card or multi-card play. There is no online multiplayer to be found though.
Overall, DaGeDar is a letdown. It could have capitalized on the brand’s growing popularity to be a must have stocking stuffer for the kiddos this holiday. As it stands, it is just a frustrating racer that can be rewarding if you put the time (too much!) into it.
It has been a long nine months since the Nintendo 3DS was released here in North America. During that time there has been a significant price cut to the fledgling system, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata received a fifty percent pay cut and an anemic amount of titles were released that one could point to as a system-seller.
Two of those titles were remakes of Nintendo classics from over a decade ago (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D) and one was a glorified mini-game (Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D). While all of them were pretty to look at, none really legitimized the system’s main selling-point: glasses-free 3D.
This week we got our hands on Super Mario 3D Land. While most real-life plumbers must have a rough job, Mario’s seems particularly difficult at the moment. Not only must he prove that 3D can be a revolutionary game play addition, he must also give consumers a reason to believe that a Nintendo 3DS would be worth purchasing this Holiday at all. All this while saving the day and delivering another quality game that Mario fans have come to expect.
Did he succeed?
Grab your tanooki suit (maybe some mushrooms too if you’re feeling adventurous), head down a warp pipe and find out on the other side.
Every gamer wants to get fit, at least thatâs the assumption we can make whenever a new motion system comes out and a fitness game is inevitably available at launch. With the new systems available on the Kinect and the Wii, fitness games can now track your weight or watch your motions automatically, making sure youâre doing everything right and offering their best passive-aggressive suggestions.
But those systems are expensive, and require a lot of space in your home. What if there was a portable game, say for the Nintendo DS, that offered you an exercise program? Why, you could take it to the gym and use it there as it tells you what exercises to do on which machines. Throw in some basic nutrition tips with a way to track them, and find a good GBA game for the backup slot so you have something to play while on the bus to the gym, and youâd have a pretty good set-up.
Personal Fitness for Men gives us a small taste of this, but interface issues and a screwy nutrition regiment prevent this from being a particularly helpful portable fitness game.
Read more after the jump.
Those kids really like those vampires nowadays, I hear. I mean, we’ve been seeing them everywhere, from movies to primetime, and now weâre finally getting them in video games again. Thereâs only one problem: games about vampires have never been good. Castlevania gets a pass, but if itâs not about Dracula, itâs not any fun. From Vampire Rain to Legacy of Cain, thereâs just something about vampires that stink a game up. The same thing can be said for games about witches, such as Bullet Witch and Doki Doki Majo Shinpan. Many games involving pointed hats and broomsticks tend to get bogged down by poor graphics and problematic gameplay.
So, what can be said about this game that inexplicably features both? Witches and Vampires is technically a roleplaying game. It has turn-based combat and fetch quests and leveling up and all the other elements, so sure, I guess itâs a roleplaying game. But it does so many things just plain poorly that you might have a hard time realize that itâs anything but a painful experience.
Find out more after the break.
Build it! Trap it! Snap it! Solve it! Improve it! Remove it! Those six verbs, which are essentially the tagline to this title, were practically the basis of my thinking when delving into the quirky, yet some-what challenging puzzler, Mechanic Master 2. The DS has been a viable handheld for puzzle titles, all of which have their own unique brand of tinkering with our noggins. Mechanic Master 2, like its predecessor, borrows heavily from The Incredible Machine (a great old-school computer title that everyone needs to play once in their lifetime), a Rube Goldberg-esque computer title. Not much has changed apparently in the two years since the last Mechanic Master title hit the DS, as the fun, but sloppy gameplay remains intact.
Mechanic Master 2 is by no means a rip-off, but just a shameless homage to what the first game presented with its brain-teasing puzzles (all of which revolve around an alien invasion). Although, does the game’s 100-plus levels and mere three game modes make this title a worthwhile addition, considering its modest $20 price tag? Well, yes and no. Mechanic Master 2, in short, can be described as an ugly, but sometimes enticing bargain.
Hit the jump to see why this Mechanic Master 2 review is kind of short and to the point, much like its cheap price point. Zing!
The seminal series that everyone mentions when they talk about console roleplaying games, Final Fantasy, has been the butt of many jokes for years now; with its gunblades and its Sephiroths and its Tiduses and itâs just such an easy target. But a lot of people who denounce the past 10 years of Final Fantasy will constantly talk about how great Final Fantasy 1-6 was, how the games on the NES and SNES were pinnacles of the series, and itâs all been downhill since.
Of course, itâs not like the gameplay and perspectives of the early Final Fantasy games are dead. Heck, those first six games have been re-released on nearly every handheld console over and over again, to the consternation of the naysayers. Thus the confusion when Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light was announced. âSo, another rerelease of the first game? Stop exploiting us!â But itâs actually a brand new game, using a lot of the conceits from the earlier FF games; fantasy only, turn-based combat, ability to change class at set moments, a relatively uncomplicated combat system. Basically exactly what people have been screaming for years now; a gaiden game to rule them all.
So is it any good? Wellâ¦itâs good enough. Find out more after the jump.