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I'm a Ryerson University Journalism graduate and freelance Journalist/Blogger extraordinaire with a soft spot for video games and technology.

I've been gaming my entire life and blog extensively about my travels through gamedom on my website
GameJudgment or follow me on Twitter at Patrick_ORourke.

Gaming is me, without video games I really can't define my self as a human being - it's a somewhat sad reality but oh so very true.
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Rhythm Heaven Fever is absolutely bizarre.

One of the last major Wii releases, itís the kind of game that only appeals to a very specific audience. Itís quirky, interesting, and at times also amazingly unforgiving and frustrating.

The game features over 50 rhythm related mini games. For the most part, these games are all relatively ridiculous and feature extremely cute characterized animals, occasionally catchy retro video game music and impossibly difficult rhythm tasks. Some of these mini games are entertaining but there are many that feel like they are almost impossible to complete. I personally commend anyone thatís able to get past the game that forces you to high five cute monkeys on a clock to an impossible beat.

Rhythm Heaven Fever also just might be one of the simplest games Iíve ever played. Every single mini game is controlled by pressing either the Wiimoteís A or B button to the beat of animation and music. Occasionally to spice things up, youíll have to press both buttons at the same time. Some harder mini games feature alternating beats that seem to require having some sort of formal musical knowledge (otherwise I have no idea how anyone could possible complete them).

At times, having the ability to feel the gameís music is extremely important and some games are impossible to complete if you donít have this ability. Following auditory and visual cues is also essential to being successful in Rhythm Heaven Feverís later extremely difficult levels. When a mini game is completed (sometimes this isnít an easy task) and a required score is achieved, a new game is unlocked.

In many ways, these mini games seem ridiculous, but thatís also part of the gameís charm. For example, one game has you pressing A in time with two monkeys who are continually throwing golf balls at your character. You need to make your character swing his golf club in time with the golf balls. This might sound easy, but it isnít. In another mini game, your character is sitting on a park bench on a date. All of a sudden soccer balls, footballs and basketballs start bouncing past and you are informed that you need to press A every time a ball zooms past your foot. If you fail, your date leaves the park bench unsatisfied. Neither of these mini games makes sense. Theyíre crazy, but thatís also why they are so fun.

Figuring out each mini-gameís cadence and beat is Rhythm Heaven Feverís greatest challenge and at times it becomes ridiculously frustrating. The short tutorial before each mini game starts, often isnít enough to understand that particular gameís rhythm. When you finally do figure out a gameís beat, Rhythm Heaven Fever becomes a lot of fun.

The titleís art style is colourful and clean, making it stand out from darker grittier music and rhythm based titles like Guitar Hero or Rockband. Graphically, Rhythm Heaven Fever is very simple, but its distinct art direction works in the titleís favour. It adds to the gameís overall quirky feel.

The game also features a multiplayer mode that allows two people to play through the gameís various titlesí mini games. In this mode, bonus points are awarded for how in sync the two players are over the course of the game.

The big problem is that itís not really much of a comprehensive video game in the traditional sense. Itís more of a collection of various rhythm fueled strange mini-games and the kind of title you might find in the Android or iPhone appstore. This makes justifying the titleís $29.99 budget price a little difficult. In the end, Rhythm Heaven Fever offers a unique experience and Iíve never played a game quite like it.

Overall Score: 7/10

Judgment: Buy it! But only if youíre into music/rhythm games


Follow me on Twitter @Patrick_ORourke

Welcome to my new video show Dumpster Diving. Every episode Iíll be profiling a new terrible video game and explaining exactly why it sucks so excruciatingly bad.

This episode focuses on Cold Stone Creamery Scoop It Up and like I say in the video, it truly is quite possibly one of the worst game I have every played in my entire life.

Check out the video at this

If you have any suggestions for Dumpster Diving or if youíd like me to cover a specific game let me know in the comments section.

The only Metal Gear game Iíve ever played is Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance on the Xbox. I enjoyed the title, but Iíve never completely understood the draw of the Metal Gear franchise. I enjoy the games, theyíre solid and fun, Iím just not a huge fan of the series. After spending a short amount of time with Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D at a recent Nintendo press event in Toronto, the Metal Gear series might just have a new fan.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is a faithful remake of the original PlayStation 2 classic. This means little to me (I never had the opportunity to play the original title), but fans of the franchise will love how faithful Konamiís remake is to the original title. Snake Eater is a stealth action title, so if plotting calculated attacks on enemies isnít your idea of a fun time, then the entire Metal Gear franchise probably wonít appeal to you. For those who love carefully laid assaults, this is your bread and butter.

Snake Eater is renowned for its wide open levels and wildlife filled environments, a major change of pace for the usually claustrophobic franchise. When the title was first released, this was an innovative first for the Metal Gear franchise. The title also features an interesting close quarters combat system and allows you to choose how to get past your enemies, either by sneaking around them, using them as a human shield, or preforming a devistating choke hold.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D also features a health system that monitors specific injuries on Snakeís body. If you break your arm, youíll need to find a way to patch it up. The gameís stamina system also forces you to be constantly on the lookout for food to keep Snake alive.

Graphically, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is a little disappointing. A few months ago a number of gaming publications complained that the gameís environments and characters looked blurry and that the colour pallet made the entire experience too dark.

To me, the graphics look muddy and dreary.

Not much has changed. While the environments look beautiful, the entire game seems to be under some sort of haze (itís almost like Iím playing without glasses on at times). It would have been nice to see more of a graphical update on the newer hardware.

The titleís new 3D effect works well, but doesnít exactly add to the game. Iíd need to spend more time with it before deciding if it actually affects gameplay. The only other big change to this remake is the ability to change weapons and items with the 3DSís touch screen.

My main complaint during my short play-through was with the gameís controls. The Circle Pad Pro set up wasnít available at the event, so an awkward control scheme that uses the 3DSís A, B, X and Y buttons as a means of controlling the gameís camera was featured instead. This method of controlling the game is adequate, but isnít ideal and I couldnít help but wish for another joystick.

This latest iteration of the Metal Gear franchise seems like itís shaping up nicely. Metal Gear Solid: 3D Snake Eater is coming out in North America on February 21, 2012.
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I never played the original Kid Icarus, but Kid Icarus Uprising, a 20-years-later re-imagining of the franchise, seems solid so far.

DS or 3DS titles that feature touch screen based controls have never appealed to me (I hate Kirby Mass Attackís control scheme), but Kid Icarus Uprising controls rather smoothly. That doesnít, however, mean the controls arenít somewhat annoying. During my short time with the game at a recent Nintendo press event in Toronto, I quickly realized that holding the 3DS and using the stylus to aim your characterís reticule doesnít feel natural. The title adopts a similar control scheme to Metroid Prime Huntersí for the Nintendo DS (another touchscreen based shooter).

Itís strange to wrap your hand around the 3DSís joystick and still hold the handheld on an angle that allows you to constantly maintain contact with the its touch screen. Apparently there are alternative control schemes that allow you to use the recently released Circle pad Pro, but this method of control wasnít available at the event I attended.

This is probably why the game comes with a visually amusing stand that is supposed to help hold the console and make playing the game easier. Playing Kid Icarus Uprising on a crowded bus Ė or anywhere you donít have access to a table Ė wonít be comfortable. The camera also seemed wonky at times, but this was probably due to the titleís relatively awkward control scheme. At times itís quite difficult to pinpoint exactly which direction you want Pit (the gameís main character) to face.

Awkward and strange, but useful for controlling Kid Icarus.

Graphically, Kid Icarus is stunning and rivals Resident Evil Revelations as the 3DSí best looking game. Itís colourful, vibrant, flashy and eye catching. At times, itís hard to believe that Kid Icarus Uprising is on a handheld console.

Kid Icarus Uprisingís gameplay is unique and Iíve never played a title quite like it. Itís part on-rails shooter (like Star Fox), part third person shooter, and somehow manages to mix the two genres seamlessly. During my short time with the game, I played through an on-rails shooting level and a on-foot ground level.

It also features a variety of unique weapons and the ability to perform melee or ranged attacks on the gameís various colourful enemies. At times, the number of on screen assailants in the game becomes overwhelming and it takes a while to get used to the breakneck pace. It also allows you to bet hearts (the gameís currency) by altering the titleís difficulty. If you manage to complete a level at a higher difficulty level, youíre rewarded with more hearts, if you fail, you lose the hearts youíve bet. This is an interesting gameplay mechanic and heightens the stakes for every level you play.

There are also deeper strategic elements to the game. In certain situations melee attacks are the best way to take down enemies, but under other circumstances ranged attacks are the best option. Different weapons are also more effective against select enemies. This gives Kid Icarus Uprising more depth than the average third person shooter and adds a number of RPG-like elements. The game also features local and online multiplayer and utilizes augmented reality cards, but none of these features were available during my short preview with the game.

The controls might be a little awkward, but the game seems solid and unique so far. Kid Icarus Uprising comes out in North America on March 23, 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS.
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Kirbyís Mass Attack for DS features ingredients common to great video games, but it just doesnít manage to get them together. The title offers vibrant graphics and a classic Nintendo character (Kirby), but thatís where the appeal ends.

Iím a big fan of Nintendoís long-running Kirby franchise and Iíve played a number of titles in the series. I even recently reviewed Kirbyís Return To Dreamland, a solid homage to the pink puffballís platforming roots. I wish I could say that Kirbyís Mass Attack was a solid game, but I canít.

Itís the control scheme that really holds the title back. Kirbyís Mass Attack is controlled by taping the DSís touch screen (with a stylus) to move Kirby around. Using your fingers to touch the screen is an option, but it really isnít accurate enough to pull off some of the gameís more precise moves.

Stylus controlled titles have never matched the precise control capability of traditional buttons, the very same reason I had difficulties with the platformsí two Zelda titles; Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass. The stylus is simply an awkward way to control a video game and causes my hands to cramp. This isnít the last time weíll see this control scheme either. The upcoming 3DS title, Kid Icarus: Uprising, also heavily utilizes the handheldís stylus.

In Kirby Mass Attack, you move a horde of Kirbys through five different worlds. If you click on an enemy, the pink fluff balls engulf it in a flurry of attacks. If one of your many Kirbyís gets hit by an enemy, they turn blue. When they get hit again, they turn into a ghost and you must click on the phantom Kirby to bring him back into your mob. Holding the stylus down on your mob of Kirbys you can float them through the air to a specific location. If you manage to lose all of your Kirbys Ė this is extremely hard as the game is relatively easy Ė then you have to restart the level. In order to multiply your Kirbys, you need to collect fruit by destroying the titleís various enemies and obstacle. The more fruit you obtain, the more Kirbys you will have at your disposal.

The controls may sound simple Ė because they are Ė but that doesnít make them fun or effective. I found it surprisingly difficult to move my Kirbys through the gameís puzzles. Many of the later levels require you to separate your gang of Kirbys and control them on an individual basis. Doing this is nearly impossible with a stylus. Controlling a game like this with a stylus feels awkward and I constantly found myself wishing I could just use the DSís buttons to direct my army of little pink balls.

The graphics may be impressive for a DS title, but the controls certainly aren't.

The gameís graphics are also impressive, especially for a DS title. Theyíre vibrant, colourful and inviting, although, after playing 3DS games for the last few months, they do seem a little blurry and low resolution. The titleís sound is standard Kirby fair, child-like music and cute high pitched voices and noises, but this is to be expected; Mass Attack is a Kirby title afterall.

I find it hard to get past Mass Attackís awkward control scheme. Controls are the backbone of every video game and playing a DS game exclusively with a stylus just isnít enjoyable, especially when featured in a title that requires precision and careful timing. As the DSís swan song title, Kirby Mass Attack just doesnít deliver. The graphics are great and itís good to see Kirby back in another portable adventure, but I find it really hard to recommend this title to anyone, even hardcore Kirby fans.

More than anything, a games visuals, audio and controls need to create an experience that is fun. Kirby Mass Attack isnít fun.

Overall Score: 5/10

Follow me on Twitter at Patrick_ORourke
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Final Fantasy XIII is the only video game I have ever returned to a store. Yes, it was that bad, and I absolutely hated it. Square Enix, why are you releasing a sequel to a game that was generally resented by even Final Fantasyís most hardcore fans? It just doesnít make sense.

When I was younger, the release of a Final Fantasy game always seemed like a special occasion. New entries in the franchise came out every few years and gamers everywhere were certain each Final Fantasy title would offer quality, narrative driven gaming. Now it feels like a new Final Fantasy title comes out every few months and, most of the time, these new games arenít even good.

In my mind, there always seemed to be a rivalry between the Final Fantasy and Zelda series. Iím not sure if this was a reality in the larger gaming community, but it was the case in my circle of friends. Zelda fans would scoff at Final Fantasyís tactical turn based battles using the term Ďoutdated.í Final Fantasy fans, on the other hand, would view Zeldaís action-oriented gameplay as overly simple and state that the story line was sparse on details.

The Super Nintendoís under-appreciated Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III in the U.S.) remains my favourite in the franchise. Itís engrossing story, stylish graphics, and general atmosphere set the stage for Final Fantasy VII, a title many people feel is the pinacle of the series.

Although I havenít played every game in the series (I have played most), I know that the franchise has certain elements that draw me into its colourful world. Exploration, character development, compelling story telling (although contrived and stereotypical) and beautiful graphics are what make Final Fantasy appeal to me. When it comes to more recent Final Fantasy titles, itís sometimes hard to look past characterís androgynous designs, carefully constructed bangs, and strange clothing. But deep down, most Final Fantasy titles are genuinely enjoyable games, chock full of great experiences and entertainment. This was not the case with Final Fantasy XIII.

Sometimes it's hard to look past the beautifully crafed hair and see the video game underneath.

Final Fantasy XIII is one of the worst RPGís Iíve ever played. The plot makes little sense and is non-existant for the majority of the game (I gave up after approximately 24 hours of playing). Also, the Paradigm battle system is ridiculous and basically fights the gameís battles for you. Half of why I enjoy Final Fantasyís turnbased battle system is because they allow me to be extremely tactical and the Paradigm system ruined this. There are also no non-player characters (NPCís) to interact with, no towns to explore and there is generally nothing exciting to do at all.

Final Fantasy XIII amounts to nothing more than a beautiful looking, terribly designed on-rails RPG. The game basically plays like this: you walk down a long graphically stunning coridor, fighting enemy after enemy. I know that the gameís world opened up considerably approximately 25 hours in, but there was no incentive to stick with Final Fantasy XIII for that long. Anyone I know that purchased the game gave up long before the 20 hour mark.

What Final Fantasy XIII did, was destroy everything that made the Final Fantasy franchise so appealing.

Then Square Enix released another Final Fantasy title, this time it was an MMORPG for the PC, Final Fantasy XIV. Iíve never played the game, but from what Iíve read, I gather that itís unfinished, absolutely terrible and filled with glitches. I have heard that the game has drastically improved since its initial release, but why put out an unfinished video game in the first place?

My point is this; why should I care about a sequel to a terrible video game? Why not start over and create Final Fantasy XV? Maybe then Iíd pay attention to Squareís barrage of press releases. Itís not like Final Fantasy XIIIís characters are compelling or interesting, and I donít think there are many fans out there actually asking for a sequel.

Apparently XIII-2 features a plot that revolves around time travel and a lot of exploration, but it also brings back an overly simple battle system and unimaginitive characters. This isnít enough to win me back. I used to be a loyal fan of the franchise, but after Final Fantasy XIII? I donít think I can ever trust Square Enix again.

Iíll wait to see review scores.
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