hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

DS

Preview: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Apr 30 // Ryan Perez
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (3DS, PC, PlayStation 3 [previewed], PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360) Developer: Sumo Digital Publisher: Sega Release: TBA 2012 Upon selecting a racer, more than one moment saw me pointing to a character and saying aloud, "Oh yeah, I forgot Sega made that game!" Of course, the expected Sonic cast was present: Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Robotnik (I don't call him "Eggman," because this is America, goddamnit). Joining them, though, were characters whom I had forgotten even belonged to the Sega family: Amigo (Samba de Amigo), Beat (Jet Set Radio), and B.D. Joe (Crazy Taxi). It was at that point that I realized Sega actually had a shit-ton of variety and eclecticism within their body of work, and this little racing game was, in a lot of ways, a testament to that. Now, even though I've had my fair share of Sega consoles (everything except for the Sega CD), I can't call myself a "Sega kid." I got my hands on every piece of hardware I could while growing up, no matter the company. Still, that didn't keep the warm feelings of my childhood from brewing in my gut, especially once I took to the roads of the Panzer Dragoon course. While I did play the game in a relatively early state (alpha, to be exact), it was little snippets of nostalgia like these that made me realize that Sega fans were going to be in for a real treat. Considering how much of the company's history the previous All Stars Racing game encapsulated, I can only imagine this follow­-up will provide more of that iconic imagery. "Shit yes," says my 13-year-old, malnourished inner-self. So the nostalgia is a great hook, but how does it play? Well, the "Transformed" in the subtitle actually has significant meaning. During each race, courses will change their structure after every lap. So, naturally, each character's vehicle morphs into the appropriate form. On the Panzer Dragoon course, the first lap had me clattering over a creaky wooden bridge -- a favorite in professional racing, of course. On the second lap, though, a fuckin' dragon burst out of the water and destroyed it! No worries, because B.D. Joe's cab flipped its wheels and presented a nice set of propellers for the water below. Upon reaching that area for the third time, instead of sloshing into the lake, Joe's Chevy Impala took to the skies like Doc Brown's DeLorean, but with less time traveling and more ... well, craziness, I suppose. The elaborate changes in courses not only provided a fresh pace to the otherwise-bland genre of "kart racers," but they also quelled the boredom that can sometimes present itself after the third lap on the same track. Seeing as how I only got to try out two courses (the other being a downhill Super Monkey Ball-themed one), I'm anxious to see what other creative twists Sumo has added to the track selection. Amidst all of this reverential Sega imagery and the nostalgic glow it emanated, I couldn't help but feel a bit of remorse in the end. Seeing the diversity of Sega's franchises under one roof (or skybox) sort of brought to light the tragic reality that, well, while the company has a quality portfolio, it has continued to face more and more hardship. I mean, Transformed featured a roster of characters from games that had absolutely nothing to do with each other -- all of them great, to boot. It now makes less sense to me than it ever did why Sega has taken such a tumble down the staircase of this industry. Goddamned Nintendo has thrived on the same names and faces we've known since the late 80s, yet they have managed to accumulate an Olympic-sized pool of gold bullion. Mascot-themed games provide a rather decent retrospective of a company's history. Super Smash Bros. showed us Nintendo's backstory, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale will compile Sony's, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed does that very thing for Sega. The result is a relatively fun and robust experience that makes you think, "Wait a minute ... if they made that game, then what the hell is the problem?" Oh well, perhaps I don't have the full picture. In fact, I know I don't. For all I know, the Sega execs of old might have blown all the company's money of cocaine and classy hookers. What matters is that, while Sega has taken hit after hit, despite all rules of logic and reality, games like Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed show that they can still make a fun and engaging title ... complimented by a cast from their own great games. Sumo Digital has put a lot of care into making this game its own great experience, even going as far as building the engine from the ground up, as well as implementing their own physics into the gameplay. Transformed plus liquor is a combination that's bound to be worthy of a friendly, split-screen gathering ... err, I mean "fun for the whole family." By the way, this preview taught me one important fact: Max Scoville is rather graceless at competitive racing games. So if you find yourself at a bar with him, and he's downed a few slippery nipples (yes, that's a real drink), the handheld version of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a sure way to win a "wager of the pantsless variety" with him. You didn't hear that from me, though.
 photo

Few developers have a large enough catalog of praised franchises that they can make entire games featuring a variety of their own iconic characters. Nintendo is obviously the leading company that has made a habit of doing th...

Preview: Thundercats for the DS is a simple beat 'em up

Apr 17 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Thundercats (DS)Developer: Aspect Digital EntertainmentPublisher: Namco Bandai GamesRelease: August 2012 The game follows the plot of the new cartoon series somewhat loosely, and sees you in control of Lion-O at the start of the attack on Thundera by the Lizard army, lead by Mumm-Ra and former ally Grune. You move from left to right where you can perform basic ground and air attacks with your trusty Sword of Omens. Enemies will come in different attack patterns, and you can't move forward until everyone has been killed. As you kill enemies, you'll fill up your Sword of Omens meter which once filled lets you shoot a blast of energy from the sword, instantly killing everything in sight. I like to call this attack the "Ho blast," as the sword only fires once Lion-O finishes saying Thunder, Thunder, Thunder ... Thundercats HO!. No, I'm not sorry for my horrible jokes. Activating the Ho blast is done by touching the Sword of Omens located on the bottom screen. Surrounding the sword on the touch screen are fellow Thundercats Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, WilyKat and WilyKit. Once you've found your allies through the story, they'll be able to jump on screen and perform a special move to kill everything on screen. You have to collect Thundercat symbols scattered around levels in order to utilize your ally's abilities first though. You can also collect Thundrillium crystals scattered in a level which goes to unlocking artwork straight from the show. The voice actors from the series will even have some voice overs in the DS adventure. There will even be a section or two where you can drive the ThunderTank! That's about it, really. Your main attacks are pretty basic, and fighting through the hoards of lizards is very easy. The little touches developer Aspect Digital Entertainment put in that calls back to classic beat 'em ups is pretty cute though. You can't move back left, enemies will drop whole cooked turkeys as health pickups, there's a score meter up top, an onscreen prompt appears telling you to continue moving right, and there's even a score tally at the end of each level. The only thing that can hurt this package is if Namco tries to charge more than $19.99 for it. Honestly I can totally see myself recommending this to my little cousins addicted to their Nintendo handhelds, so long as it's reasonably priced that is. THUNDERCATS HO!
 photo

As a big fan of the old school Thundercats, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the new Thundercats series is. Namco Bandai is working on a simple beat 'em up for the DS that ties in with the new series and it's not that b...

PAX: Kingdom Hearts 3D, now with even more Jeff Bridges

Apr 08 // Tony Ponce
As you may have heard previously, Kingdom Hearts 3D for the 3DS features many new Disney worlds to explore, including The Grid from Tron: Legacy. During my hands-on at PAX, I was able to play a build set in The Grid, to get a feel for the new battle mechanics, and to meet Sora and Riku's newest allies. According to the story, Sora and Riku must pass through a series of trials before they can become true Keyblade Masters. They must save the various Disney worlds from the threat of the Dream Eaters, the newest antagonists replacing the Heartless and Nobodies from the previous entries. There are two types of Dream Eaters: Nightmares and Spirits. Obviously, Nightmares are the baddies, whereas Spirits are your friends. In fact, Spirits serve as your AI partners in this game, replacing Donald and Goofy, as well as introducing a Pokémon-esque monster raising twist. I was really disappointed to see these freaky little pinkish blobs tailing behind me through my adventure, but hopefully, the dynamic duo pop up later down the road. So here I am on The Grid, smacking foes with my Keyblade and collecting experience orbs. The fighting is pretty similar to previous titles in the series, with the exception of a new technique that allows you to quickly dash through the air, stick to a wall, then rebound down a different direction. This ability helps speed up the flow of the game and opens up new aerial offensive maneuvers, but the handling takes a little getting used to -- while zooming around, movement is a little finicky. For my demo, I only got to play as Sora. Apparently, both Sora and Riku are off on their own separate but linked adventures, but you can only play as one at a time. A timer in the bottom corner of the screen lets you know how much longer before your current session ends, after which you'll immediately start playing as the other character. Points you accrue during one play session can be spent to enhance the abilities of the other player for the duration of his session. Once that session is finished, you'll return right back to where you left off with the first guy. It sounds a bit confusing, but think of it as a single person shuttling two cars down the highway. Now let's talk about Jeff Bridges. The characters from the movie -- Kevin and Sam Flynn, Quorra, CLU, Rinzler a.k.a. Tron -- are all here in surprisingly great detail. There is an element of exaggeration in their features, but the character models are pretty damn impressive. This was a Japanese build, so the voices weren't in English. I don't think Jeff Bridge's Japanese VA fit him all that well -- Jeff is very mellow and chill, but this dude was very gruff and deep. It was so bizarre, but really cool at the same time. Whatever, though. You get to fight alongside El Duderino himself! And with CLU, you get younger Jeff Bridges absolutely free! Speaking of the voice cast, the English one hasn't been formally announced yet, but Haley Joel Osment is definitely coming back. I don't know how that will work, given that the guy is in his 20s and probably doesn't sound like a squeaky, bright-eyed youth with high hopes and aspirations anymore. I guess that's what sound editing is for. Kingdom Hearts 3D is set for a July 31 launch date in the US. Play it because Jeff Bridges.
 photo

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has Jeff Bridges. Boom. End of preview. ... Fine, I'll tell you more about the rest of the game.

Multiplayer and more with Kid Icarus: Uprising

Feb 22 // Wesley Ruscher
Kid Icarus UprisingDeveloper: Project Sora                Publisher: NintendoRelease: March 23, 2012Twice the the Pit, twice the multiplayer madness.Beyond Uprising’s single-player escapade lies two multiplayer modes --available online or locally -- for stylus soldiers to duke it out in: Free-For-All and Light vs. Dark. Each mode allows players to take their best weapon and power setups into the field for some heavenly warrior-on-warrior action. Up to 16 slots can be customized ahead of time (or prior to battle), with a 17th slot designated as a random weapon and power distributor. Once a desired setup is selected, players will enter a practice arena where they can test their selected gear while waiting for the contest to begin. Each mode supports six players, with the game assigning CPU determined fighters to fill any slots left vacant. In Free-For-All, the objective is rather simple: have the highest score at the end of the match to win. Score is controlled by the weapons each player has equipped. The more powerful the weapon, the higher the value it possesses. When one player kills another, that value is thus added to their score. So, while more powerful weapons contain higher values, they run the risk of building an opponent's score faster, which can be disadvantageous to novice players.Light vs. Dark -- a team based mode -- was by far the most original of the two offerings. At its core, it is a 3-on-3 battle to the end. What separates it from being run-of-the-mill is the life meter that each team shares during the match. When a player dies, their team’s overall health reduces based on the value of that member’s weapon. Once the meter is completely depleted, the player who died last becomes either Pit or Dark Pit (depending on their team affiliation), is given a new weapon at random and has increased strength and agility for the duration of the match. From this point on it’s up to the opposing team to hunt down the rival Pit and kill him to secure the victory. While both modes offer their own levels of fun, I found Light vs. Dark to be the more well rounded of two multiplayer experiences. The combination of a shared life meter and the strategy needed in weapon selection provided an engaging multiplayer affair. Like Free-For-All, there is a definite risk-versus-reward component, which keeps this mode -- well, both actually -- from coming off as just another deathmatch shooter. Don’t like your weapon, then make a better one. In our single-player preview, it was mentioned that over the course of Pit’s adventure, the angelic warrior would stumble upon countless amounts of weapons from nine different classes -- each with their own unique properties and stats. And while going through the game at higher intensities (the game’s difficulty system) and playing multiplayer rewards players with stronger and better weapons; what’s a player to do when the doubles start piling up? That’s where the Weapon Fusion system comes into play. While a player cannot craft a weapon they have not found in the game (further encouraging players to up the intensity) the ability to take one weapon and pass on its beneficial stats to a pre-existing weapon type serves as the main motivation for constantly crafting. For example, some weapons contain properties which increase a player’s running speed while equipped. Being able to transfer this ability to a large weapon (i.e. clubs or cannons) is beneficial because these weapon classes hinder both Pit’s speed and endurance, making him more susceptible to enemy attacks. Once two weapons are merged, both are lost but each new weapon created can be endlessly forged with others to the heart’s content. Unfortunately this part of the preview was hands-off, but with what seems like an almost infinite amount of weapons and an easy to navigate menu -- which breaks down weapon fusion results prior to fusing -- it’s simple to see how one could spend hours on end making the perfect weapon.  Make some bling, then share it on the streets. Uprising’s Street Pass mode merely functions as an extension to the weapon crafting system. Taking any weapon available, a player can turn it into a gem to be shared with whomever comes in contact with their 3DS. On the flip side, once one is received, a player has three options for that gem. It can be directly changed into the weapon it represents (for a price), fused with another gem in possession, or outright converted into hearts -- the games form of currency -- to be used elsewhere in the game. The Street Pass mode is simple, but the fact that any weapon can be received from the kindness of stranger feels like a fun, mysterious way to trade -- though I guess one could always be a dick and share their most worthless weapon. I guess I’ll have to wait till PAX East to find out. Putting the foot down -- final thoughts. Between the single and multiplayer offerings in Kid Icarus: Uprising there is a lot of content to digest. The weapon fusion system, paired with the Street Pass functionality, looks to provide an addictive component to an already solid game. I enjoyed my time with the multiplayer and though the ground component of the single-player was my least favorite experience when I previewed the game back in January, it transitions itself better than I would have imagined in a competitive scenario. Look to take flight with Pit this March 23, when Kid Icarus: Uprising soars into stores for the 3DS.
 photo

It goes without saying that Nintendo has a lot riding on the revival of their winged warrior in Kid Icarus: Uprising. It’s the first major, first-party release of the year for the thriving 3DS and something even more...

Preview: Mixing it up with MLB 2K12

Feb 17 // Samit Sarkar
MLB 2K12 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed], PC, Wii, PSP, DS, PlayStation 2)Developer: Visual ConceptsPublisher: 2K SportsRelease: March 6, 2012MSRP: $59.99 (PS3, 360) / $69.99 (360 Combo Pack with NBA 2K12)It's unclear at this point whether Take-Two will renew its exclusive licensing agreement with Major League Baseball. But even if this is the last MLB 2K game, the developers at Visual Concepts aren't phoning it in: they're focusing on fixing gameplay instead of buzzword-filled new features, and I give them credit for that. It's not a flashy approach, but if they pull it off, I expect fans to give the game a better reception.Visual Concepts has fixated on the pitcher-batter confrontation, the heart of baseball. Unlike McGilberry in his perfect game, real MLB pitchers constantly mix up their strategies for attacking hitters. That's what separates them from minor-league hurlers: they rarely abuse a pitch or return to a particular location in a certain situation. They have to adapt because they're facing MLB hitters, who got to the big-league level by punishing pitchers who became predictable. If you tend to go with, say, a splitter in the dirt on 0-2, and a shoulder-high fastball on a 1-2 count, hitters in MLB 2K12 will quickly pick up on that habit and learn to lay off. In addition, if the pitcher you're playing with has four or five pitches in his repertoire, and you consistently stick to one or two, batters will come to expect them -- and when a hitter knows what to look for, he's much more dangerous. (The game determines the baseline frequencies for each pitcher -- whether he tends to throw a certain pitch 8% of the time or 28% of the time -- from his Inside Edge scouting data.)MLB 2K12 gives you a good deal of feedback to tip you off to your tendencies. Analyst Steve Phillips might point one out with a comment. The visual feedback is more immediate and noticeable. All of your pitches are lined up on the left side of the screen as circular icons with numerical effectiveness ratings. If you're beginning to overuse a pitch (that is, throwing it too often compared to the Inside Edge data), the icon's background will turn from a neutral teal to yellow. That's a warning that you're becoming too predictable. If you continue to throw that pitch, the background will eventually become red, which lets you know that hitters are starting to look for it above your other options.It's also important to mix up your location and keep hitters on their toes. Going to the down-and-away well too often will cause that corner of the strike zone to turn black, which is a sign that you should go elsewhere. It'll be tougher to hit your spots, though, since Visual Concepts has tweaked breaking balls to be more realistic. You won't get the same sharp break on a 12-6 curveball if you start it above the strike zone as if you start it chest-high. At any time, you can pull up a screen showing exactly how many pitches you've thrown in each area, as well as Inside Edge data that illustrates a pitcher's real-life pitch frequencies. In practice, the adaptive hitting AI indeed made my life miserable when I began to overuse my fastball. A pitch's effectiveness rating also drops when you give up hits with it, and it varies from hitter to hitter. I only spent an hour or so with the game, but I had a couple of long innings because batters began to hammer my outside-corner heater after they learned to expect that pitch in that spot. That was doubly true for Albert Pujols. He smacked my fastball in his first at-bat for a single, and when I faced him again two innings later, I noticed that the fastball's rating had decreased. It appears that MLB 2K12 will really force you to adapt just as real pitchers do.Visual Concepts hasn't neglected hitting, either. Criticisms of past MLB 2K games always mentioned that they lacked hit variety -- it seemed as if you'd keep seeing the same soft liners to infielders. New ball physics this year have greatly improved hit variety and distribution, and it's all tied to the pitch that was thrown and the way the hitter made contact, just as it should be.Throwing in the field has also seen a significant upgrade. The new throw meter dynamically responds to your fielder's position. If you're charging a slow roller and you cue up a throw that your fielder has to make on the run, the green section of the throw meter will be much smaller than it would have been had you allowed him to set his feet before throwing to first. Of course, the meter also depends on the skill of the fielder in question, so someone with a more accurate arm will have a larger "sweet spot" even if someone's upending him with a slide as he's releasing the ball. The one new mode in MLB 2K12 is called MLB Today Season, and it's a spin on the traditional season setups in sports games. It allows you to play along with a real-life team, one game at a time. Let's say you're a Dodgers fan, and they lost the first two games of the 2012 season to the Padres. The MLB Today engine will import the exact scores and statistics from those games into your MLB Today Season, and you can pick up from there with the next game on April 7th and try to alter the course of the Dodgers' season.MLB Today Season forces you to play game-by-game, so you can't play at any pace other than that of your team's real-life counterpart. But by the end of September, the real Dodgers might be languishing in fourth place while your in-game Dodgers are celebrating an NL West crown!My Player has also seen a tweak in the direction of NBA 2K12: you'll select a role for your player that will affect the way your attributes develop. Speedsters won't hit a lot of home runs, but they'll be able to run down balls in the gap and steal a lot of bases. Sluggers, on the other hand, won't be fleet of foot. I'm still not sure that MLB 2K12 will be a legitimate competitor to Sony's MLB 12 The Show. But I liked what I saw, and it appears that the competition will be as close as it's ever been between these two franchises. Here's hoping Visual Concepts finally gets it right.
 photo

This is the third year in a row that 2K Sports is holding its Perfect Game Challenge for its MLB 2K series. They're changing the format this time, but previously, the first person to throw a verified perfect game would win $1...

Preview: Devil Survivor 2 is great, has high-set boobs

Jan 30 // Dale North
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 (Nintendo DS)Developer: AtlusPublisher: AtlusRelease: February 28, 2012 Death and disaster is back for this second game. Something like an earthquake strikes Tokyo right about when a group of high school teens find a crazy video website called Nicaea. This online site lets its users watch movies that depict their friends' deaths. They quickly find that these "death clips" are more like predictions for the future, so they set out to prevent their deaths as well as the deaths of others, armed with the newfound ability to summon demons from an application on their cellphones. It turns out that the Tokyo earthquake was not the only disaster in Japan, and while investigating this the teens run into a strange government organization that seems to know all about the demons, phone apps and other disasters. The group reluctantly joins forces with this organization while trying to make sense of it all.  DS2 brings a new story and some small gameplay improvements to the original forumla. The battle system is almost exactly the same as that of Devil Survivor, so fans of that neat mix of strategy and turn-based action are going to eat this one up. You'll control four teams throughout the game, each consisting of one human and two summoned demons. As in the first game you're free to trade these demons out and participate in an auction to acquire new ones. You can also fuse demons to create new ones, and you're open to pick from your favorite abilities from the two for your new creation. Fans of deep customization and endless tinkering are going to be in heaven while hell goes on all around them. There's a new focus on characters and relationships with the game's Fate system. As the story progresses, the main character and his friends, Io, Daichi and Joe, will have conversations that put you in the driver's seat, guiding their interactions. As you get to know your friends and others, you form this Fate with them, and from there your interactions can eventually open up different abilities and effects. This will remind Persona fans of the Social Link system, and much like in those games, creating strong relationships will benefit the player in the long run. This new system certainly makes dialogue time more interesting. Devil Survivor 2 is a great looking game, even on the aging DS. I hope they redo this game with an Overclocked version for the 3DS, like they did with Devil Survivor, but as it stands now, it's still looks and sounds great, even on the small screens. The game's art style is attractive by any measure, but fans of ridiculous breasts will enjoy DS2's character design. One of the main characters, Io Nitta, has boobs that seem to defy gravity. As the game progresses and more characters are introduced, each female seems to up the ante. These girls and Atlus' character designer make no apologies about the chests in this game. Look for our full review of Devil Survivor 2 next month, and get your DS charged up for its release on February 28.
 photo

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor was like a dream come true for me. One of my most-loved game makers took my favorite genre (strategy role-playing) and fused it with the demon collecting fun and turn-based battles of other ...

Preview: Two hours of flight with Kid Icarus: Uprising

Jan 19 // Wesley Ruscher
Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)Developer: Project SoraPublisher: NintendoRelease: March 23, 2012  I have to say, it felt a little surreal playing a near finished copy of Uprising earlier this week. While the game excited both fans and the press alike, all the way back in the Summer of 2010, it's sort of became Nintendo's version of Sony's Last Guardian -- a game that should now be titled the "Lost Guardian." Luckily, Nintendo fans have escaped the same fate with Kid Icarus: Uprising, and can finally take Pit on his much anticipated legendary adventure this March 23. Without getting into too much the story, Uprising follows the events of the original NES game. The evil Medusa (who was destroyed by Pit in the first game) has been reborn and, like all evil villains, seeks to destroy mankind. This is where Pit comes in; he's a hero, so naturally it's up to him to save the world. It's a simple premise, but one that sets the stage for an adventure that hopefully is not as forgettable as his past endeavors. Set in a world loosely based off Greek mythology, it only takes a fleeting moment to be captivated by the beauty that Kid Icarus: Uprising brings to the 3DS. There's a certain magic that Nintendo is known for and the team at Project Sora -- lead by Kirby and Super Smash Bros. designer Masahiro Sakurai -- has created a game that not only stands up to some of the companies most respected franchises visually, but also ushers in a new level of 3D fidelity that has yet to be witnessed on Nintendo's portable powerhouse.It's kind of a shame that no video or screen can truly capture how gorgeous Uprising is -- as soaring the skies and blasting enemies (classic and new alike) is even more spectacular in 3D mode. From the lush vistas visited in the beginning levels to the spectacular, psychedelic-like flight amongst the stars -- battling space pirates -- it's hard not to be taken back by just how impressive the 3D visuals are in the game's flying sequences. Where Uprising loses a little of its visual pop though, is in the land-based sections of each chapter. Every chapter in the game is broken up into two parts: flight and ground. While the ground levels are impressive in their own rights, they fail to capture the exhilarating intensity of the flight sections for mainly two reasons: freedom and chaos. Having freedom is never a bad thing, and in Uprising's case this still holds true for the most part. It's just that the each flight section is an on-rails shooter (akin to Panzer Dragoon or Sin and Punishment) and because of that, Uprising guides its players through amazing set piece after set piece. A literal roller coaster of visual and shooting splendor, that is hard to replicate on the ground.Chaos on the other hand, is the game's biggest visual detractor when it comes to the 3D department. In flight the chaos is controlled. The ground, on the other hand, opens up more complexity to the combat -- especially when the games difficulty, called intensity is turned up -- and (in my experience) causes the 3D's sweet spot to constantly shift with the frantic movement of one's hand. While I know, the 3D can be turned off, Uprising does such an amazing job with the immersive technology, it's hard not to want to play the game this way throughout, regardless of how intense the action is. Increasing a chapter's intensity is by far Uprising's biggest gameplay hook. Ranging on a scale from 0.0 to 9.0 (2.0 is the game's default level) and adjustable in increments of one tenths, players can alter the difficulty of any chapter in the attempt to earn more of the games currency; hearts. The higher the intensity, the higher the rewards in chapter -- both in terms of hearts awarded and weapons discovered. For players who just want play Uprising for the story, they can (for a price of hearts) drop the intensity below 2.0. I was told it makes the game a cake walk, making it perfect for the casual player or those who want to better understand a chapter's layout. I had a chance to play the game at intensity well beyond the 2.0 level and while I made it through the first chapter somewhat unscathed, I was easy fodder on later stages due to the increased and more relentless enemy AI. Those looking for a Nintendo game that will test all their reflexes should look no further.So for those wondering how Uprising plays... well that is sort of a mixed bag. For the most part combat is relatively simple. The circle pad controls movement, the L button attacks, and the stylus aims. It can be a little cramping, but for those who prefer to game at home, the stand announced for Japan is coming with the US version and does alleviate some of the hand-numbing issues. During combat, depending on the proximity of an enemy (regardless of being in flight or on the ground) Pit's attacks will alter. When enemies are far, his weapons act like a gun -- providing ranged attacks -- but when up close, he instead changes his tactics to melee strikes. Holding down the L button creates a rapid fire shot -- highly useful on the smaller airborne enemies -- but when the reticule is left to build, a powerful charge blast can be released to decimate larger foes. Knowing when and where to switch from ranged to close attacks, as well as when to charge an attack becomes ever important in the games later stages and when the intensity is turned up to insane levels. In my travels through Uprising I came across a few enemies that were more than a handful if I tried to battle them with the wrong style of attack. There's a want to try to just blast everything to bits, but surprisingly there is actually a lot of depth to Uprising's combat, especially when playing the ground game. Using the stylus to control Pits movement on the ground does come with a slight adjustment period, but after a level or two it all becomes second nature. Flicks of the stylus control Pits head and the camera, while the circle pad handles overall movement. For those who played Metroid Prime Hunters on the DS, there is instant level of familiarity in this setup. On top of the standard move set, quick flicks of the circle pad afford Pit with some useful dashing abilities and, like the Smash Bros. series, when timed properly with an attack create a much stronger offensive strike. Helping to build Pits offense are nine different weapon types: blade, bow, cannon, arm, claws, palm, orbitar, club and staff. The blade is Pits standard, all-purpose weapon, but with the variety available there is a solution to be found for any of his problems. I got my hands on the lightning quick, melee focused claws; the tactile and powerful cannon; and the long ranged dual-blasting orbitars, but it wasn't until I got Pit's paws on the cumbersome club that smiting fools turned into a "guilty pleasure" for me. With the Black Club (pictured below) fully charged, I was able to launch devastating cannon balls that were great for clearing out enemies. Having such a powerful weapon makes Pit nearly unstoppable, but there is a price for this unbound strength. Due to its massive size, Pit's agility and stamina are greatly reduced throughout the level. Often after dashing, I found Pit out of gas and in need of a moment to recuperate -- leaving him vulnerable to attacks. Choosing the right weapon for a chapter can be tricky at first -- as only after death can one be switched out for another. Thankfully, Uprising encourages multiple playthroughs, due to its intensity level rewards and constantly improving weapon drops. In my playthrough, I came across multiple variants of each type of weapon. Players will also find identical named weapons, but they will differ in their value and bonuses (i.e. 2X speed, or no fall back from enemy damage) making them unique in their own special way. When weapons start piling up they can be sold -- as well as purchased -- in what is called the Arms Alter. It's just one of the many ways to constantly keep upgrading Pit's arsenal.Speaking of upgrades, weapons aren't the only way to improve Pit's prowess. Powers, which can be found during any given chapter, are perks that can give Pit the upper hand in his quest. There are a variety of powers ranging from the Sky Jump -- which lets Pit jump high -- to the Mega Laser -- which as it sounds shoots a deadly blast that can help the angelic warrior out of a tight situation. What makes Pit's powers extra unique is in how they are quipped. Similar to Resident Evil 4's items storage system, each power comes in the form of a puzzle piece (varying in size and shape) and has to be carefully fitted in a confined equipment square. Up to four arrangements can be planned ahead of time, with one formation equipped at time. There is even an auto-fill that selects the overall best configuration for those who don't want to put too much effort into it. The auto-fill is fairly simple though, and does not allow a player, to say, choose an optimized offensive configuration for example. I feel like I only scratched the surface with Kid Icarus: Uprising and to be honest I left a few things out. For example in some levels -- which I can't say which -- there are vehicles for Pit to pilot (though I can't tell you what they are like either). That being said, Uprising is one of the deepest games to hit the portable market in quite some time and should please gamers of all types. Expect more to come in the next few months about Nintendo's much anticipated 3DS game that is set for March 23. I, for one, am definitely excited to find out more.  
 photo

"I can't believe I'm actually flying!" These are some of the first words that Nintendo's, once forgotten hero, Pit utters in disbelief during the opening moments of Kid Icarus: Uprising -- his long awaited return to the foref...

VVVVVV for the 3DS is... well, it's VVVVVV

Dec 21 // Casey Baker
VVVVVV(Nintendo eShop)Developer: NicalisPublisher: NicalisRelease: Q1 2012 If you've never experienced the gloriousness of VVVVVV, I can assure you right now that this is a worthy addition to your 3DS library, even if it happened to be a lazy 2D port. In a nutshell, VVVVVV is a platforming game with the seemingly simple mechanic of switching gravity so that your character is either traversing on the ceiling or on the floor. Except, as you quickly learn whilst traveling through the Metroidvania-style levels, this simple mechanism is exploited in every imaginable way to make the game as difficult as possible yet still somehow addictive enough to seem like the next checkpoint is just... within... reach... Fortunately, VVVVVV is not simply a port. While the graphics stay as steadfast and simple as ever (with pretty much everything rendered in a rudimentary ASCII art style), the addition of a third dimension does make the game pop out a little more and give you just a little bit more depth perception. Just don't go into this game expecting a Super Mario 3D Land abundance of depth detail, or even the same sort of detail given to Pushmo. The game is still simple ASCII art, after all. Expect a nice level of layered 3D much in the same vein of Nintendo's 3D Classics and you'll be fine. The biggest addition to VVVVVV for the 3DS comes in the extra "player-created" levels that are accessible at any time in the main menu screen and are never locked out to you or dependent on your progress in the game. There are tons and tons of levels in this list, including levels created by indie designers such as Minecraft's Notch. I got a chance to check out some of these levels, and I can assure you that they are all ridiculously hard and you will die many, many times. I asked Tyrone if there would be a level editor to create even more levels, and he told me that while no plans for such were in place just yet, it really depended on fan feedback and how popular the game becomes on the eShop. Will VVVVVV be as glorious on the 3DS as it has been on PCs and Macs across America? Possibly. It will definitely make you want to either throw your 3DS across the room or try that damn level just one ... more ... time ...
 photo

During the eShop preview event, Tyrone Rodriguez of Nicalis was on hand to demonstrate the 3DS iteration of the revered, renowned, and hard-as-balls VVVVVV. I can confirm here officially - the game is still as insanely difficult and as infuriatingly addictive as ever. As for new additions to the VVVVVV gameplay structure, well...

Colors! 3D lets you doodle in three dimensions

Dec 21 // Casey Baker
Colors! 3D (Nintendo eShop)Developer: Collecting SmilesPublisher: Collecting SmilesRelease: January 2012MSRP: $6.99 (US) I sat down with Jens Andersson, the founder of Collecting Smiles (and lead designer for The Darkness). He handed me a 3DS and showed me a few of the tutorial parts of Colors! 3D to help me understand how someone is even able to paint and draw three-dimensional images. Colors! 3D relies on five layers/planes on the Z-axis -- at any time, you can switch between any one of the layers and begin drawing and painting to your heart's content. What I really love about this is that it allows you to basically create diorama-like images where, for example, clouds float in the background while an animal grazes in the foreground and a windmill sits somewhere between those two planes. What's also really cool about this is that, at any time, you can press left on the digital pad and the application will begin to rotate the image so that you can look at all five planes at once and understand immediately where they sit in 3D space. Though the DS homebrew application's pressure-sensitive screen is no longer a part of the application's paintbrush thickness designator, deciding how thick you want your paintbrush is made incredibly easy with a slider on the right side of the screen. In fact, sliders for both thickness and opacity of your paintbrush sit on the right side while color selection and paintbrush type are found on the left. From there, you can pretty much go nuts with your doodles or sketches, while more advanced options sit in an inventory at the bottom of the screen (including a mode where you can take 2D images from your 3DS camera to work from). When you want to switch planes, simply press a button that allows you to switch from one to the next; if you paint with the 3D enabled, you can generally tell which plane you're painting on without having to keep checking by rotating your image. If this all sounds a little complicated, spending five minutes with the application is probably enough to get even the most casual of doodlers over the learning curve, as all of the controls feel intuitive and easily accessible. After the tutorial, Jens switched gears a little and showed me the collaborative mode with a fellow artist. In this mode, you and up to three other local users of Colors! 3D can jump onto a canvas and demonstrate your own creative talents on the painting, and the program saves your work even if one of you jumps offline. Having an actual artist on the other end, I was more than a little hesitant to add anything to the already cool painting he had begun, so instead I listened in and watched on my screen as changes to the painting were made in real time. Finally, Jens showed me one more cool feature that'll be great for the younger crowd: the ability to download images that are basically coloring book templates from the Colors! Live site. The great thing about these templates is that you simply cannot color outside of the lines. Though there is no "fill" button that cheapens the experience by instantly adding swatches of color, you don't have to worry about accidentally coloring over lines or creating a mess of an image based off your own low level of skill. You can color in areas with wild abandon and your work will look amazing. Jens even intimated to me that there are subtle little filters such as shaders that add a little bit more polish to what you're coloring in. My initial impression of Colors! 3D was incredibly promising. I've spent hours in the eShop's (unrelated) Inchworm Animation Studio making ridiculous little doodles, and though this application won't include animation besides the ability to watch one's work being created, the aspect of creating awesome little 3D diorama-like images or using 3D in new and interesting ways has me excited for the possibilities... ... especially the idea of creating horrible three-dimensional nightmares of corgis, Ekans, and flying Chou Aniki musclemen with fellow Dtoid staff.
 photo

One of the most exciting eShop games I had a chance to preview last week wasn't actually a game. It was an application and a continuation of a fan favorite DS homebrew app that never carried over to DSiWare (though it did mak...

Mighty Switch Force has an 'Ugly Checkpoint Dog'

Dec 15 // Casey Baker
Mighty Switch Force (Nintendo eShop)Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: WayForward TechnologiesRelease: December 22 (EU),  TBA (US) In Mighty Switch Force, you control your cyborg character in a way that's reminiscent of the Mega Man X series (a similar shooting mechanic plus tight and responsive but not overly difficult jumping) while trying to find all five Hooligan Sisters throughout each level. The biggest twist comes in a form similar to earlier WayForward games (such as Mighty Flip Champs) -- a simple mechanic that progressively offers more complex and engaging situations. When you first begin, you're not given any sort of tutorial on what you must do and instead have to figure out how to traverse the levels with special platforms that "flip" in and out of the foreground depending on a button press. As you beat each level, a new twist is added to the mechanic, such as enemies that can only be killed through smart use of the platforms or specialized platforms that give you added abilities when you interact with them. The art style of the game is wonderful, with interesting enemies and all kinds of activity in both the foreground and background. In one stage, for example, I noticed a running monorail repeatedly charging through in the distance while everything else was happening up front. The 3D is implemented quite well -- it's predominately sprite-based with layered 3D, sort of like the 3D Classics updates only with more depth and thought given to events happening in the background. The game will feature a total of 16 levels, with the added challenge of clearing each level under the par time. Though the levels are initially pretty short, they become more complex as you get further and new mind-bending puzzles are thrown in at every juncture. Fortunately, you have your trusty "Ugly Checkpoint Dog" (it's actual name) popping up whenever you reach a new puzzle segment, twitching spasmodically and wagging its tail while waiting patiently for your death. This game will not be a particularly lengthy excursion by any means (maybe a couple hours for the first playthrough), though the great art style and generally fluid and responsive gameplay will keep you coming back for more. Personally, I'm excited for Mighty Switch Force, and at a price that promises to be quite a bit under the $10 mark, I don't think this infectiously humorous and entertaining game should be passed up. As an added bonus, the soundtrack by the esteemed Jake Kaufman will be released for free the same day as the game! Enjoy a free track right now! Jake Kaufman - Mighty Switch Force OST - "BGM - Yummy"
 photo

During a session with some of Nintendo's first- and third-party 3DS eShop game developers yesterday, I got a chance to check out the (incredibly promising) future of the eShop. I first got some hands-on time with WayForward's...

Preview: Fractured Soul: Deep Void

Nov 29 // Wesley Ruscher
Fractured Soul: Deep Void (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Endgame StudiosPublisher: UTV Ignition GamesRelease: Summer 2012 The world of Fractured Soul is set amidst the cold bleak confines of outer space. In this solitude of the final frontier you are thrust into the role of Jake Desaul, a man trying to come to grasp with the state of perpetual limbo that has befallen him. See, Jake has acquired a neat trick which has granted him the ability to switch between two physical bodies -- which conveniently enough are located on each screen -- and he must use this new skill to unravel the mysteries that have surrounded him. As in any typical platformer, Jake has the standard running and jumping mechanics at his disposal, but he also possesses a blaster for the baddies and a jetpack for those oh so hard to reach places. My initial hands-on demo threw me into a relatively straightforward level. Enemies only appeared on one screen at a time and switching screens -- with the shoulder buttons -- provided the strategy needed in avoiding enemy fire. It's a simple mechanic for dodging conflict, but I found later levels ramp up the combat with aggressive foes on both screens simultaneous. The puzzle-platforming aspect in this first area was juvenile at best. My progression was halted until I switched screens to climb a ladder that was only available on the other, but later levels really ramp up the difficulty and involvement of both screens. There are many areas where you will have to switch back and forth between screens to navigate a series of platforms. With not every platform available on one screen, there is a lot of liberty for Fractured Soul to mix up the unique aspect of having to traverse the game on two screens.Each game world contains its own special twist on the game's design to help spice up the difficulty and freshness. There was a world completely submerged in water -- slowing Jake's movement speeds -- an ice stage -- complete with a slippery floor -- and a brutally difficult reverse gravity level which really makes one think when jumping and switching states. These changes in each level's dynamics really helps in making every one stand out from the last. Puzzle-platforming isn't the only form of action in Fractured Soul. Side-scrolling shoot-'em-up fans should be excited to know that there are some horizontal stages that provide an intense amount of fun. These levels were by far the most enjoyable one I played -- mainly due to my infatuation with the genre -- thanks to the game's primary mechanic of having to navigate both screens. As waves of enemies fall, jumping back and forth to destroy every enemy fighter is as challenging as fun. Fractured Soul: Deep Void may not be the most visually polished game to land on the 3DS, but it shows the promise for being a unique and challenging experience. It ditches the 3D crutch that has supported many of the handheld's games and instead focuses on what Nintendo's handheld does best: two-screen gaming. With a launch set for next summer, fans of action, platformers, puzzle, and even old-school shoot-'em-ups may find something special when Fractured Soul arrives.
 photo

The Nintendo 3DS is a system built around two simple concepts: portable 3D and dual-screen gaming. Unfortunately, the latter usually finds itself lent to making our experiences less intrusive by acting as a placeholder for ma...

Preview: Planet Crashers 3D

Nov 22 // Wesley Ruscher
Planet Crashers 3D (Nintendo 3DS) Developer: Renegade Kid Publisher: UTV Ignition Games Release: March, 2012 At first glance, Planet Crashers 3D recalls found memories of some of Nintendo’s finest games. It sports the charm of Animal Crossing and mixes it with the rotating planet terrains of the Super Mario Galaxy series. The worlds I saw were bright and colorful and full of eccentric characters that should strike a chord with anyone looking for a light-hearted RPG romp on Nintendo’s little device. Though Planet Crashers 3D supports a joyful look from top to bottom, RPG fans should pay attention. Underneath the modest hood is a fairly deep character customization system that allows for a lot of freedom when designing a protagonist for saving the universe. There’s much to adjust; from eye and skin color all the way to hair and outfit style. It’s not at the level of a Saints Row: The Third character creator, but you will be surprised at the various amounts of freaks that can be birthed in this humble system. Once my hero was ready, I dropped into the game’s home area, Lush Greeny, and began to explore the vivid surroundings. As I ran around, I was really taken back by how impressive the depth of the 3D is. With small planet worlds to explore, the constant rotation allows for the background layers to stack and increase the 3D sensation. The graphics may be on the more simple side of things, but each of the three worlds I saw had its own distinct personality which helped make them memorable. The second world I saw, Haunted Reach, evoked a very Nightmare Before Christmas feel in both its look and music. Running around town I talked to a few of the NPCs -- which carry the typical banter one would find in an RPG -- checked out a few shops, and eventually took a quick dive into one of the dungeon areas. As you collect quests from characters or a quest board in each area -- in the hopes to learn enough about the threatening evil to progress to the next world-- eventually you will make your way into the game’s main areas for combat. Inside Haunted Reach's dungeon I encountered a pair of bizarre and skinny Santa Claus-looking enemies. Combat in Planet Crashers 3D is performed in a traditional turn-based manner, so anyone familiar with the genre's tactics should find combat a breeze. These were the only enemies I encountered, but I was deviously surprised that I was thwarting the likes of a jolly old St. Nicholas with a giant pencil rather than the typical fodder that is expected. It’s the little quirks like this that remind that the same folks who made the haunting Dementium games haven’t lost their creative touch even when changing up genres and themes. Planet Crashers 3D is a warm and friendly dungeon crawl that supports visual style made for the Nickelodeon crowd. Dismissing this game on looks alone may be a big mistake as there is a deep customizable RPG to be found underneath all the cute fuzziness. My time with it was short, but the nostalgic feeling it imparted has put the game on my radar. And really, why not as it covers two things the world could always use more of: RPGs and 3DS games.
 photo

It goes without saying that Nintendo’s handheld needs games. As the system has been out for roughly eight months. one genre -- more than others -- that could use a little kick on the butt is the one that found such an i...

Resident Evil: Revelations looks fantastic

Oct 31 // Steven Hansen
Resident Evil: Revelations (Nintendo 3DS) Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: February 7, 2012 Much of Revelations is said to take place on an enormous, derelict ship, which I imagine will lend itself nicely to the game’s aim of returning to the horror elements the series is known for. Also back are various series mainstays, including Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, who will be joined by a handful of new faces, including the fourth playable characters, the pair Keith Lumley and Quint Cetcham. When Chris and his partner Jessica go missing, Jill and BSAA operative Parker Luciani are dispatched to the ship to find them. Lumley, Asian and the taller of the two, and Cetcham, Caucasian, were described as “a pair of otakus.” In the gameplay segment that featured them, they appeared to be in a snowy, mountainous environment and had some surprisingly oddball dialogue -- the terms “yo” and “for real?” were used -- brought to life by some bizarrely camp English voice acting. In the developer-played demo of these two characters, also showcased was the Genesis Bio Scanner which, aside from scanning the environment and enemies, is a necessity for locating the new Invisible Hunters, a pack of which ambushed the pair. Aside from the supposed return to horror, the most interesting aspect of the game is the promise of “the best Resident Evil story.” While that could be taken as a company simply doing their job in hyping and heralding their product, it becomes a much more reasonable assertion when you factor in the external writer brought on to handle the script. The script was written by Dai Sato, who has worked on such anime series as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Ghost in the Shell -- some of the most popular anime ever created, especially among Western audiences. Cowboy Bebop alone is THE BEST THING. Needless to say, I’m intrigued. What’s more, Sato, who has been doing more writing for videogames as of late, is actually a longtime Resident Evil fan and was completely excited to work on the project. One other interesting tidbit is that the game features full voice work in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese. You can also mix and match subtitle language and voice acting, which is a neat addition, especially for anyone studying any of these as a second language. Personally, I’ll be playing in Italian (with English subtitles) should I get the game -- and not just because Jill’s Italian voice actress sounded the sexiest out of the bunch. My actual hands-on time with the game was limited to Raid Mode, Revelations’ local and online cooperative multiplayer component. I’m told the game plays similar to Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, and it doesn’t play much different from either of the last two main, console Resident Evil games. Your characters stop to shoot and melee, unless you’re outfitted with the Circle Pad Pro, while the touch screen displays a map and your inventory. There are a wealth of gameplay customization options, including three button layouts (four including the Circle Pad Pro’s unique mapping), first-person or over the shoulder aiming, and even different colored laser sights for the visually impaired or fantastically stylish. There is also an option to increase, by two levels, the depth of field provided by the 3DS’s display outside of the 3DS’ inherent slider. When I bumped it up to either option past “normal,” the display was always a mess and difficult to see for me, but on its normal setting I thought the 3D actually produced a nice effect. I was rather impressed by the graphics as well. At various points there were a good deal of enemies on screen and the animations were particularly fluid. Raid Mode is sort of a linear version of the increasingly ubiquitous “horde” mode. You progress through 20 different levels, on two different difficulty settings, and your aim is to survive and kill all the creatures along the way. Zombies and other monsters occasionally drop keys that allow you to progress further, as well as ammo, which can be appropriately scarce. One you clear a level of all enemies and reach the end, you’ll find a rotating, floating gold coin, which you hilariously punch, causing it to shatter, in order to complete the level. Stage ranking is basically based on how quickly you complete stages, though a whole slew of other statistics are shown after completing a stage and you’re rewarded with new guns or parts after each level, the quality and rarity of which are mostly contingent on your performance, even if there is a bit of a randomness factor. I played a good deal of Raid Mode and enjoyed my time with it. Even early on, it has a certain addictive quality to it that encourages you to want to keep playing it, especially when I tried the seventh level and lost several times over. (Though that might just be stubbornness that compelled me to continue.) The difficulty doesn’t scale, so some of the earlier levels, which are already a bit of a breeze, might be unfairly easy in multiplayer, but the fact that the seventh level bested me multiple times, though I was going solo, is enough to show there’s going to be a sufficient challenge to the game -- and I wasn’t even in the harder difficulty setting which was still locked on the units I played on. Raid Mode was definitely fun, but I’m still more excited to see more of the campaign mode, especially with the promises of great writing and good old fashioned scares. Of course, if you really want the latter, it’s recommended you play the game with some headphones on and in the dark. Got to set the mood.
 photo

Much to the dismay of a certain contingent of fans, the Resident Evil series has slowly moved away from its survival-horror roots and towards a more action-oriented style as of late. Those pining for the days of claustrophobi...

Hands-on with the Nintendo 3DS Circle Pad Pro

Oct 31 // Steven Hansen
The 3DS augmented with the Circle Pad Pro was surprisingly lightweight, though it adds plenty of bulk to what is meant to be a portable system. The contours added to the back of the unit almost made me feel like I was holding a SEGA Saturn controller and gave the unit a rather sturdy feel. I found my right middle finger naturally resting under the right contour, which actually caused a bit of discomfort during my time with the unit. I tried remedying this by resting both middle and index fingers on the two sets of right and left triggers, as one might with a console controller, but I couldn’t comfortably fit both fingers over the limited surface area, as the original shoulder buttons are still quite tiny. More troubling is how tenuous my grip on the second nub felt. I’m not sure if I have particularly long fingers, but the second nub felt uncomfortably close to my thumb and I couldn’t find a comfortable way to rest my thumb on the nub and operate it without feeling like I’d slip off at any given moment. There was just something about operating both circle pads at once that left me feeling inexplicably off kilter. Maybe I just need more time to get acclimated to the Circle Pad Pro or maybe these concerns are somehow unique to how I hold the 3DS, but they were there. Playing Resident Evil: Revelations, specifically, with the Circle Pad Pro, took some getting used to. This was a bit of surprise, as I figured I’d be more at home with the ubiquitous control scheme the Circle Pad Pro affords. In fact, I managed to have more trouble aiming and shooting using the Circle Pad Pro than without, though my proficiency with the scheme did slowly improve as my time with it went on. Aiming also seemed a bit sluggish when using the Circle Pad Pro at the normal aiming speed and I had to go into the game options and turn it up to the maximum setting to alleviate the problem, at which point the controls felt a bit more responsive. The biggest difference to Resident Evil: Revelations’ Circle Pad Pro control scheme is the ability to move and shoot at the same time, the lack of which, for some reason, seems to be a big criticism of the most recent Resident Evil titles by a certain subset of the gaming community. If you count yourself among this contingent, then the second nub is obviously going to be the way to go. The Circle Pad Pro did its job and though I don’t feel like it added anything to my Resident Evil: Revelations experience, I recognize that plenty of people might prefer what has become a ubiquitous control scheme for shooting games. As for the unit itself, it feels solid, but it remains to be seen if the slight discomfort and instability I experienced is just something that needs to be overcome or something that could prove more disconcerting.
 photo

September 6, 2011. A day that will live in infamy. Nubageddon. The day Nintendo announced the “Slide Pad Expansion,” the second nub’s cradle attachment. Now officially known as the Circle Pad Pro, presumably because…it’s for pros (?), I got to play a videogame using this incredibly divisive piece of plastic.

An extensive hands-on look at Mario Kart 7

Oct 21 // Steven Hansen
Mario Kart 7 (3DS) Developer: Nintendo/Retro Studios, Inc. Publisher: Nintendo Release: December 1, 2011 (JP) / December 2, 2011 (EU) / December 4, 2011 (NA) If you’ve played a Mario Kart game in the past, particularly Mario Kart DS, you’ll be right at home with Mario Kart 7. At the onset, I instinctively darted over to Yoshi, Dry Bones being absent, and proceeded to the kart select screen. The kart select screen prompts you to mix and match a kart body, wheels, and a gliding apparatus, the latter of which automatically deploys during certain segments of the games (more on that later), and all of which have their own statistics, tailored to your personal driving style. As usual, there were a variety of options, plenty of which were hidden and locked away, waiting to be unlocked. The two new characters I can clue you in on are Metal Mario and Lakitu, though neither was playable during my time. I was able to race through four cups, one at 50cc and 100cc, two at 150cc, over local play (four people, four computer controlled) and everything I remember from years of playing Mario Kart rushed back to me. I was a bit hesitant, at first, about having to use the 3DS’s circle pad, but it proved a commendable steering wheel proxy, though building up boosts with it while drifting felt a bit unfamiliar. Also, I’m still pretty good at Mario Kart. There are eight Grand Prix cups, two of which were locked during my hands-on time, boasting a wide variety of Mario Kart levels past and present. Unfortunately, I have yet to see Moo Moo Farm, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it makes it in there. Those cows are just too cute. One new, big feature in Mario Kart 7 is the first-person camera mode, akin to the “cockpit modes” of conventional racing games, though the wheel moves as if possessed, as there are no hands on it in this view. You can shift into and out of first-person mode on the fly with a push up or down on the directional pad, respectively. I only played in first-person a bit, but it was an interesting perspective. You can elect to steer with either the 3DS gyroscope or continue using the circle pad, though there is no way to disable gyroscope controls should you end up fancying this mode and want to use it with the circle pad without the fear of mistakenly drifting off the road (unless you’re super good at holding still). The gyroscope controls seemed to handle better than I vaguely remember the Wii version of the game handling before I switched immediately to the GameCube controller, but it was hard enough for me to get my head around this new perspective, so I tended to default back to the circle pad when I played in first-person. While the cockpit mode in Mario Kart 7 is an entirely optional affair, there have been a few subtle, but noticeable changes to the core gameplay as well. Jumping (right shoulder button) when going off ramps causes your racer to do a boastful little trick, which gives you a slight boost when you touchdown again. A few tracks also submerge you in water, which now leads to a propeller appearing at the back of your kart, so you maintain normal speed. The Tanooki tail also makes its way into the Mario Kart arsenal and it’s as adorable as I mentioned it was in my Super Mario 3D Land preview. It even spins as your propeller when you’re underwater! As mentioned prior, karts also deploy gliding mechanisms when sent airborne for a prolonged period of time, which I found fun. A few levels even seemed to have shortcuts only reachable by careful gliding. Blue shells also come careening after the first place racer on the ground now, making them liable to wreck the day of more than just their ultimate target. Coins are also back, instantly reminding me of the hours I sunk in Mario Kart Super Circuit collecting every coin in each level, though Mario Kart 7 limits you to a maximum of ten coins, which again serve the gameplay purpose of increasing your top speed. I’m sure the novelty will wear off on some of these changes quickly, but they’re welcomed additions to the core gameplay that worked well with the experience. Though I was playing Mario Kart in what is arguably the best way to play, locally, I also have the details on some of the online multiplayer components. Sticking to the local front for a moment, single-card play is once again supported, meaning only one person among friends has to own the game for everyone to be able to race against each other, though leeches are restricted to racing with Shy Guy in a default kart. Both modes support two to eight players. One of the coolest online features is the ability to make and join custom communities, which, as I understand it, act analogous to PC gamers playing on specific servers. Communities, once created, are assigned a numerical code, which others can use to find and join them and, when searching for an online game, you can filter by communities you’re a part of, as well as similarly ranked opponents or friends. As far as I know, there isn’t a limit to the number of communities you can be a part of, though your “racer card” only keeps track of a finite amount. The racer card keeps track of your record and similar, interesting statistical minutiae and can be distributed through the 3DS’s street pass feature. Ghost racing data can be distributed and collected in a similar way. I played with the 3D cranked all the way up for the majority of the time and, while I suppose it looks nice, I was much more impressed by just seeing the game’s deliciously vibrant color palette on the 3DS’s higher resolution screen. Perhaps I’m still not accustom to playing the 3DS, but I found myself frequently having to readjust my eyes or the screen position when I drifted, unconsciously, out of position and had to deal with briefly distorted screen ghosting -- and this was with my arms stabilized on a table. Still, visually, the game is a treat to look at. Mario Kart 7 is Mario Kart, which is fantastic. There is still little more infuriating than getting rocked by a blue shell on the final lap, and little more rewarding than coming back and finishing that lap in first. Time will tell if it can equal the pure elegance of Mario Kart DS, but it’s looking like it can reignite Mario Kart fever and prove to be a well-crafted, addicting experience worthy of the Mario Kart name.
 photo

I’m of the mind that Mario Kart DS is the best in the series, one of the best games on the DS and a shining example of well executed gameplay. Accordingly, Mario Kart 7 seems like it could be a game ready to stand out f...

Hands-on: Kid Icarus Uprising

Oct 20 // David Rayfield
I'll be honest. I have not played either of the previous Kid Icarus games. However, I'm well aware of some of the reverence that Nintendo fans have for the series and going into this demo I tried my best to disconnect myself from that, simply looking upon the third in the series as just another game. The Nintendo booth at the EB Games Expo was expansive with a heavy emphasis on the 3DS. Four handhelds were running Uprising and it had been busy most of the morning. When I finally grabbed it, I seemed to be the only one; the Mario Kart 7 demo drawing most people away. Protagonist Pit was already in the air. From a third-person perspective, the flight controls felt natural and easy with the 3DS' circle pad. Moving Pit through the sky was a breeze and when the floating enemies showed up, it was tons of fun to attack them through the clouds. The depth of the environments looked amazing in 3D. At this point, I was excited to play more. The backdrops of landmass far below Pit were incredibly detailed and with the 3D slider turned all the way on, they became real, tangible locations. I was all the more surprised when Pit flew down in between buildings to fight some enemies on the ground. All the action took place on the top screen of the 3DS. The bottom screen was reserved for story-based text conversations between Pit and the goddess of light, Palutena. While in the air, a colossal Medusa appeared and I engaged in what seemed to be a short boss battle. Using Pit's barrel roll (yes, I did a barrel roll), I managed to avoid her attacks. While I was doing so, in the midst of battle, I glanced down to the bottom screen to notice story text scrolling past. Pit and Palutena were talking to each other. Granted, it was just encouragement from Palutena and energetic battle cries from Pit, but I completely missed it as I was too busy fighting Medusa. When the game took over control and landed Pit in a courtyard, the 3D once again shined. Tiny as they were, I noticed alleyways and balconies on the nearby buildings just before wave after wave of enemies headed my way. I could switch quite quickly between weapons, using a bow and a sword. When the enemies hit, the screen filled with attacks and I had to be constantly on the move. Sidestepping attacks and dishing out some of my own required pretty much all of my attention, otherwise Pit's life would be over. Halfway through the battle I glanced down to the bottom screen to see Pit and Palutena talking again. The text scrolled across the screen and I immediately realised I had again missed quite a large amount of what they were saying. The top screen during a battle afforded very little room for error and even glancing down for a few seconds proved costly. Now, I consider myself a relatively fast reader but there was a problem with trying to keep up with anything the two main characters were saying while I was getting bombarded with projectiles. This wasn't simply encouraging remarks I was missing anymore either, Palutena was relating story points and directions about the enemies (possibly improving my chances in battle). It was strange. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing. The developers, Project Sora, had specifically inserted text on the bottom screen that was important to the story during a battle. Which seemed to be only time you couldn't really afford to look at it. I tried to be quicker in glancing at the text but then it became more about me fighting the game rather than Pit fighting monsters. Perhaps speed readers will have no trouble with this feature. They glance for a split-second, absorb all the information and then go right back to the action. I certainly couldn't manage it every time. And as far as I know, a large portion of the people buying Kid Icarus: Uprising will be kids. Kids who might not be able to keep up with the quick-paced conversations. Finishing the demo, I was confused. Was this feature present throughout the entire game? And if it was, how would that impact the story and the overall game as you progress through it? Sure, you can say "Story in a Kid Icarus game? Who cares?" but wouldn't it be preferable to know why you're fighting in the first place? And not just fighting to stay alive so you can read the story?
 photo

For the most part, the games I saw and played at the EB Games Expo were impressive. None really disappointed me or made me lose hope in a franchise. Some weren't for me, some made me want to pre-order that very same minute.&n...

Hands-on: Rayman Origins

Oct 20 // David Rayfield
2D platformers have seen something of a resurgence in recent years, with one small caveat. Most of the resurgence has been due to downloads. Braid, Super Meat Boy, Outland and even Shadow Complex have made a significant impact on the genre. Rayman Origins, though, will be asking full price when it is released on a disc in November; a change from its initially planned format as an episodic, downloadable title. But this shouldn't worry anyone who has a chance to play the game beforehand. Like a smack to the face, the game is downright gorgeous. Its striking art style of painted colours and vibrant backgrounds look good in screenshots, but to see it in motion on a huge screen is impressive. The controller I picked up belonged to series character Globox (the big blue one) as the couple next to me was controlling Rayman himself and one of the insect 'teenies'.  I learned later that the game moves at 60 frames per second and this came as no surprise. Even with three characters (out of four) playing and a ton of other madcap insanity on screen, Rayman Origins moves so smoothly it's almost not even worth thinking about. It's as if the game has never even heard of the concept of 'framerate issues'. The action itself is pretty familiar to anyone who has played platformers. Running, jumping and using the environment to fight enemies and collect items is pretty standard here. One thing I noticed as we were playing was the obvious similarity to New Super Mario Bros Wii. The frantic multiplayer co-op even places you in a bubble when you die that can only be burst by another player to allow you to continue. Having now played both games, though, I can say the co-op felt a bit over the top in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, whereas here it seems more suited to the gameplay. Using other players to help you get items seems to be more of a focus in Origins, and less emphasis is placed on the frustration of accidentally causing another player's death. Being propelled across the screen via wind ducts and trampolines is only enjoyable due to the game's precise controls. There are so many precarious edges and deadly spikes in the environment that it becomes tense not to die at every turn and if the controls were even a tiny bit less responsive, some frustration would creep in.  I never expected a Rayman game to be this enchanting. A lot of it has to do with how the game looks, but the characters and the overall feel of the game is just so charming it's difficult to put down even in my brief stint with it. When the demo ended, the couple next to me didn't have much to say. They simply nodded and left. As if to say "Yeah, we'll be buying this one". Honestly, as it stands now, I don't blame them.
 photo

The Rayman Origins booth at the EB Games Expo on Australia's Gold Coast was an area I thought would be largely ignored. Given the hours people were waiting to play Battlefield 3 or merely watch a section of The Elder Scrolls ...

EB Expo 2011: Mario Kart 7 hands-on

Oct 17 // David Rayfield
One of the main features I've been wanting to see is, of course, the 3D effect. However, I hold off until I get a feel for the controls. As I begin my race in Mario's signature red kart, I first get a sense of the course. The Nintendo rep at the booth tells me that, while it doesn't have a name yet, the track will be in the final game.  A mixture of tropics, sand, and even underwater sections greet me as I use the circle pad to take corners. Almost immediately, I feel completely at ease steering in this manner. It feels smooth and natural while also giving me precise control of my handling. As I experience the speed of the demo, Bowser and Peach both speed past me as I fail to notice the bridge ahead. I'm suddenly underwater, where a section of the track continues. The water makes the kart feel floaty without sacrificing much control over my maneuverability. I turn the 3D slider all the way to max, and the track opens up in a way I did not expect. Platform sections become huge and engrossing, and the surrounding environments envelop the course. I have to be careful, as slight movement of the screen causes the 3D effect to ghost a little, causing me to lose concentration. As I cross the start line, series stalwart Lakitu appears on his cloud, holding up the checkered flag. While only briefly flashing past, both him and his 'Final Lap' sign sit fully formed in the sky in surprisingly amazing three dimensions. The highlight of the demo is certainly the hang gliding section. In addition to being able to now customize your karts with upgrades, a hang glider attachment is now fitted for every racer. It automatically pops out at certain points in the track, and it is great fun. Floating past Peach to gain a third place victory is a fantastic feeling. It is regrettably a short demo, but in the end, I'm honestly shocked. I thought I was done with Mario Kart! I had been playing the series as far back as I can remember, and my interest had started to wane. If this demo of Mario Kart 7 is any indication, I'll be jumping back into it with a great deal of excitement when it is released in December. Every aspect seems effortless and injects new life into a potentially aging franchise. I can't wait to play more!
 photo

In the long history of the Mario Kart franchise, fans have been divided on which entry is the best. Many maintain that nothing will ever exceed the sheer fun of the original Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo, while othe...

Preview: NASCAR Unleashed

Oct 10 // Wesley Ruscher
NASCAR Unleashed  (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Previewed], Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Firebrand GamesPublisher: ActivisionRelease: November 1, 2011 Typically NASCAR games have stayed true to the sport by following the simulation path with real tracks, real drivers, and all the team sponsorships one could handle. Fans of NASCAR shouldn’t fear too much that their beloved pastime has been mangled though with this more lighthearted take on the sport. Fifteen of NASCAR’s most prolific drivers lend their likenesses and cars complete with sponsors in Unleashed. Whether you favor the winner of the last five Sprint Cup Series championships Jimmie Johnson or up-and-comer Joey ‘Sliced Bread” Logano, you will have to save the debate of who’s the best for the tracks as each drivers car handles and performs the same. There is no advantage from whom you pick and even the unlockable upgrades acquired for each ride are merely cosmetic. At it’s heart NASCAR Unleashed is about fast fun-filled racing, that encompasses the soul of NASCAR -- bumping and rubbing -- and the white-knuckle action of turbo boosting and car checking that made the Burnout series what it is today. It doesn’t need to get caught up in the semantics of car specs and customization to be a fully enjoyable racer, which is indicative by the games graphics. The car design feels slightly Pixar-esque and the bright and wild course designs will have fans who were expecting all left turns in for a treat. Without the pressure of having to figure out who was the best driver, I chose what any gamer would drift towards. From the moment the first green flag waved, my Mountain Dew powered car bolted out like a caffeine fulled firecracker off the line. The controls strike a balance somewhere between Burnout and the classic Daytona USA, making powersliding into my first corner as natural as should be. The mechanics behind NASCAR Unleashed are easy to pick up and the constant action that unfolds throughout keeps the racing highly entertaining. The key to winning is aggression and slipstreaming which builds turbo boosts for the all important tactical advantage. Drafting opponents is the safest way to acquire turbo, but the more tenacious will prefer slamming opponents off the track in the attempts to take the checkered flag. Checking the opposition comes with risks though. The rough bumping and rubbing will eventually accumulate damage on both you and your enemies, leading to one’s momentary demise and the release of some slick hazardous oil. Spinning out of control from a wrecked racer is probably the lesser of two evils that comes from the dastardly defense. When the smoke clears the returned racer becomes your rival with desire to even the score. It’s sometime unavoidable to not create a few rivals during a race, with the aggressive nature of the A.I. and the often congested nature of the tracks. NASCAR Unleashed keeps the racing tight throughout do to some rubber banding. While I’m not a fan of this sort of design, I will say it keeps things interesting when you can go from first to last and vice versa all on the final lap. The majority of the racing in NASCAR Unleashed takes place in its Championship mode. The path laid before, while not completely linear -- as it offers order selection and optional side events -- puts racers through six legendary tracks. Daytona International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, and Homestead-Miami Speedway are just a few tracks that lay the foundation for some of the game's courses. While six tracks definitely falls on the short side, each available track offers multiple variants to help decrease the repetitiveness. One moment you’re hugging the walls of Talladega, the next you’re drifting through some beach chairs at Daytona.Beyond the excitement of the race, NASCAR Unleashed keeps its virtual drivers busy with a progressive award system. Each race completed earns points that overtime unlock different aesthetic enhancements for each driver and car combo in the game. The higher placed finish, amount of drafting, and rivals created all add the points accumulated at the end of each race. There are also in-race challenges such as smashing a certain amount of road obstacles or completing “x” amount of drifts that further enhance ones score. It’s a nice dynamic that helps keep makes each race a little more than just finishing first. Outside of Championship mode, a time trial and quick race mode can be selected to hone one’s skills on any given track. Seamless two-player support is as well accessible from any one of the race modes allowing heated competition amongst friends without the need to back out into another menu. I got a quick chance to test out the split screen multiplayer -- which unfortunately is the only form of multiplayer across all versions -- and the game played just as fast and smoothly as it did in single-player. The lack of online multiplayer is perhaps my biggest concern for NASCAR Unleashed.  The game will be budgeted at $40, but I’m not quite sure if that is cheap enough. My time was not long enough to pass final judgement on the game, but from what I gathered NASCAR Unleashed may be better served as a PSN and XBLA title. I’ll let the reviewers make the final call, because regardless of price NASCAR Unleashed is a fast and energetic ride that both hardcore and casual fans can like.
 photo

I’m no Dale North when it comes to my love of racing games, but that doesn't mean I don't fancy the occasional white-knuckle thrill ride. NASCAR games in the past have tended to be more about bumping and rubbing and making left turns rather than the adrenaline inducing action of say the Burnout series. That changes this fall when NASCAR Unleashed crashes its way onto store shelves.

Preview in a pub: Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Oct 07 // Wesley Ruscher
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (Nintendo DS) Developer: Level-5 Publisher: Nintendo Released: October 17, 2011 As we stared at the first puzzle, scratching our heads, we began to hear other teams in the pub celebrating as they came to its conclusion. The clock was ticking, and we all wondered if Nintendo really did invite us just to make us all feel a little stupid. When the one-minute warning went out, an epiphany hit one of my teammates and jubilation commenced. I've always associated the Layton series with being a more single-player endeavor -- though I do enjoy peering over my girlfriend's shoulder while she's playing in an attempt to outwit her -- but fast and frantically working in a team environment brought a whole new level of enjoyment from this game I had not expected. Thinking back on it, the puzzle was quite simple -- probably the reason it was the first choice -- but it got us all thinking on the same wave length. Seven coins were laid out before us, five showing heads and two showing tails. The challenge was to have an even amount of coins show both heads and tails under the restrictions of only moving and flipping over one coin. If you know the answer already, you're a smarter person than me or any of my teammates, but I won't unravel its simple intricacy here. With the first challenge down, our team was soon on a roll. We took down the next six consecutive puzzles with only a couple of close calls. Professor Layton and the Last Specter still incorporates the assist functions of previous iterations, such as notetaking in the memo and buying hints when in a predicament. For the sake of this contest, we were banned from using the hint option, but to be honest, I don't think it would have helped by the time we hit the hard puzzles. The first of the hard puzzles had us trying to figure out the code to open a locked door. An equation of shapes, representing numbers, held the key to our dilemma. It may have been some of the fine English alcohol we had consumed prior to the puzzle solving, but something told us we were in over our heads here. If you weren't aware, most journalists are only journalists because they are horrible at math. We went on to fail the next two puzzles, one dealing with pattern recognition and the other some simpler shape manipulation. We probably should have figured out the last one, but defeat had reared its ugly little head and our brains were out of gas. Part of the mystery and fascination I have always found with the series has been the clever ways the puzzles integrate with genuinely intriguing narrative. While I can't attest from my hands-on time with the latest that the professor's origin story is as captivating as his later adventures, I do feel confident from the limited puzzles I played that the charming brain-twisting trials seem to be up to par. Professor Layton and the Last Specter promises the most puzzles to grace the series, and if that's not enough, there is also a bonus 100-hour RPG -- complete with Earthbound-esque visuals -- called London Life to keep the most diligent of gamers thoroughly occupied. This may be the fourth and final foray for the Nintendo DS, but for those who've missed out on this spectacular series -- or those 3DS owners still yearning for some quality content -- The Last Specter looks to be the perfect place to become proper with the professor.
 photo

When one thinks of great games on the Nintendo DS, it is hard not to think about any one of the Professor Layton games. Level-5's brilliantly charming and whimsical puzzle-solving adventure series is all but synonymous...

 photo

Tanooki tails are all the rage in Super Mario 3D Land


Oct 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Super Mario 3D Land is a hybrid sort of affair that has beautifully merged the gameplay style of a 3D Mario game into the style of an old school Mario-like adventure. The levels are open, open enough to make it see...

Preview: The Adventures of Tintin: The Game

Oct 01 // Lori Navarro
  The Adventures of Tintin: The Game (PlayStation 3, PC, Wii, DS, 3DS, Xbox 360 [Previewed])Developer: UbisoftPublisher: Ubisoft MontrealRelease: December 2011     As for the game itself, there are three modes: the story mode, the co-op mode and the challenge mode. We were able to view four of the mini-games from the story mode that involved typical Tintin adventures -- swordfighting with pirates, shooting from a running vehicle and maneuvering an aircraft.     The swordfighting was more fun than I imagined. From the third-person perspective of Tintin, you get into a tussle with a crew of pirates. With the power of Kinect, you can do two basic moves against them -- slashing and parrying. By slashing, you wave your arm around like the Star Wars kid, only this time you are given the impression that you are actually hitting people. When parrying blows, there would be cues on the screen when to hold up your hand to block.    At one point, the pirates would be shooting cannonballs at you so you have to swing them back at the pirates at the appropriate time. Other pirates would be better protected so you also have to time your strikes whenever they have their shields down.  So yes, the movements were guided, which probably made the game pretty easy once you got the hang of the movements. But it was just so fun, and the visuals and musical scoring really captured the spirit of a swashbuckling adventure.   The next adventure has Tintin driving a bike with Captain Haddock or shooting from the passenger seat, depending on which mode you choose. Hand movements guide the direction of the vehicle and likewise help you aim and shoot at the targets.  In the aerial flight simulation, you have to pretend to fly the plane through hoops in the sky. This is part of Tintin’s mission to take aerial photographs from exotic locales around the world. The Adventures of Tintin: The Game seems to me like something that can be enjoyed by the young ‘uns but also fans old and new alike. Its fantastical elements breathe new life into longtime fans’ nostalgia while incorporating a little bit everything in its storyline to use the breadth of the Kinect technology.
 photo

When I got the chance to demo The Adventures of Tintin: The Game, the first question I asked is if Snowy is a playable character. If you’ve watched the cartoons or read the comics, you probably know that Snowy is a...

TGS: The good and the bad of MGS: Snake Eater 3DS

Sep 16 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
I'm happy to say that the 3D visual effects are good. I mean really good. I am so sick of 3D at this point but I have to say I was impressed considering I've hated most 3D visuals that the 3DS has attempted thus far. It helps that the overall game itself looks extremely good on the handheld. Some of the best graphics to grace the system so far in my opinion.  The bad part of the 3D effects come into play when you have to look at the bottom screen. I felt like I was getting cross-eyed when I would go to from top screen to bottom screen each time I needed to access the menus, equipment and other items. All the HUD content is at least on the bottom screen leaving for an unobstructed view on the top screen. Controls, while not horrible, also suffer a bit from the lack of a second analog nub. Sure, you can get the most amazing accessory ever invented to go twin stick, unless of course you're one of those people that would rather eat railroad spikes than pay $15-ish dollars for something that should have been on the 3DS from the start (don't even get me started on the need for batteries for that thing.) So anyway, you'll use the four face buttons to move the camera around, which if you've ever done that on any DS or PSP game before, then you know how much it slows down every aspect of a game whenever attempting anything. I kept over-correcting myself every time I moved the camera around Snake, for example. Snake Eater will also make use of gyro controls for some sections (like moving the system right and left to tightrope walk over a rope bridge.) Then you have the photo-camouflage mode where you can use the 3DS camera to take a picture of anything and apply it as your camouflage. Above you can see my camouflage for Snake, which is based on my arm. I was hoping for tan and black strips (Note: I'm really hairy) but it seems the photo-camouflage feature is limited to just one primary color. Also note that you have to stop the game and access the 3DS camera app in order to get new pictures. Otherwise you can simply access whatever is in your library already within the game to change camo colors. So that's Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D in a nutshell. Never have I seen such a conflicting situation when it comes to videogames. It's good on the 3DS, but you know you're going to have a much better time on the HD console ports.
 photo

You know what had me the most excited for the 3DS when it was first announced? Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D. I skipped the game the first time around and was looking forward to eating snakes and stuff in 3D. Then the Met...

 photo

TGS: Hands-on with Tekken 3D Prime Edition for 3DS


Sep 14
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Tekken! It's coming to the 3DS as well and holy crap it looks gorgeous, even in 3D! All the action on the top screen for Tekken 3D Prime Edition is done in 60 frames per second so the action looks very fluid and crisp. A...

Aliens: Infestation is Metroid with Xenomorphs OH GOD!

Aug 30 // Jim Sterling
As if my hyperbole wasn't enough of a clue, Infestation plays like a sidescrolling shooter with a variety of large, open maps designed for exploration. Like all good "Metroidvania" games, there are plenty of closed-off areas that require special tools found later in the game, encouraging backtracking. Such areas include elavators that require keycards and gooey blockages that need to be burned away with flamethrowers.  The game starts with four playable Marines, each with their own personalities, and up to nineteen are encountered and collected throughout the game. When one Marine dies, another takes his or her place, and trust me, they can die. In fact, they can even fall prey to a Facehugger, becoming impregnated and eventually giving "birth" to a Xenomorph. Marines taken down by Alien Warriors will be dragged to a nest, and players have a limited amount of time to stage a rescue, lest they too become unwilling mothers.  As far as combat goes, this is a brutal game with little room for forgiveness. Aliens are more than happy to burst from floors, skitter on ceilings, and relentlessly pursue fleeing players. Xenomorphs hate standing still, and will dash across floors, sometimes even performing their own little feints to confuse players. Every Alien is a threat, and players need some nerve to take them down.  Players get access to the obligatory Pulse Rifle and a pistol. Holding the left shoulder button makes a Marine hold its ground so directional fire can be utilized -- crucial to tackling ceiling-loving Aliens. More weapons can be unlocked, along with grenades and other unique tools.  As well as standard exploration and combat, there will be Power Loader combat and sections where you're firing from a speeding vehicle. The demo also included a particularly challenging battle against an Alien Queen, in which I had to fend off multiple Facehuggers while throwing explosives in the bitch's head. She took down three of my Marines before she amusingly fell face-first to the ground.   I absolutely loved what I got to play of the game and I'm very much looking forward to playing more. The beautiful sprite-based animations, comic-book personality, surprising atmosphere and panic-inducing challenge sets the scene for what might be one of the best Aliens games ever made. I can't wait to get my hands on more!
 photo

SEGA's booth was fairly lavish this year, with huge signs, flashy lights, ladies dressed like Colonial Marines, and ... one fairly quiet man, wandering around with a DS. He was completely nondescript, fairly easy to miss, and...

Hands-on with Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2

Aug 03 // Robert Fooks
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (DS)Developer: TOSE Publisher: Square Enix (Japan) / Nintendo (US, Euro) To be released: March 31, 2011 (Japan) / September 19, 2011 (US) / October 7, 2011 (EU) The first thing new players will notice is the host of new and improved fully 3D graphics and effects which outshine the visual experience of the original Dragon Quest Monsters Joker in nearly every way imaginable. After taking in the graphics, I got some hands-on time with the head-to-head local multiplayer tournament portion of DQMJ2. After receiving a brief overview of its features, I felt confident in my ability to choose a competent line up of monsters. Naturally, I made a team which rivaled the 2008 Detroit Lion's considerable ability to defy the laws of chance. I was soon competing for victory with my first, and equally under informed, foe in a similar fashion as two Tee Ball teams might “compete for victory.” After a short battle, I found myself basking in the sweet, sultry essence of victory. That was simply the rise before the fall. The final battle saw me crash and burn, earning myself about as much glory as Battlefield Earth earned money. Wi-Fi and local multiplayer is supported by DQMJ2 in several formats and all three regional versions (US, Japan and Europe) are compatible with each other when utilizing the Wi-Fi features. Players can engage in “Tag Mode” which will exchange the monster party data of two players, allowing both individuals to fight each other’s parties without the player's input. Owners of Dragon Quest IX may also engage in tag mode with the new game. For those of you who would rather get together with some friends and flip open a couple of DSs, head-to-head and eight person tournament modes are available locally. One-on-one Wi-Fi battles is also included in the game's already impressive suite of multiplayer functionality and players may choose to have opponents selected for them at random or they may even challenge those on their friends list.  Such small scale competition may sate the thirst for dominance of some, but for the truly competitive at heart, the Wi-Fi tournament will be your bread and butter. The Wi-Fi tournament, held every week, will see players all across the country duking it out for points as they fight for the honor of being “that guy.” Prizes for winning the tournament range from rare monsters to access to items which will help give you the upper hand in your future Dragon Quest endeavors. Just in case you require proof of your exploits, a leaderboard, hosted by Nintendo.com, will be available should the need arise to validate your gaming prowess. Combat was sufficiently streamlined and quite intuitive to my beginner’s eye. Even though I lacked a great deal of experience with the games platform and genre, the controls felt natural and after a single round of multiplayer I would say I could demonstrate a competent grasp of the combat mechanics. DQMJ2 allows players to exercise varying levels of control over their minions during combat such as letting the computer handle the decision making for them. Control freaks may also plan out their own intricately woven assaults, forcing their foes to weather their wit as well as their brawn. Different physical attacks and spells are available for use depending on the monster you use. Provided the user is familiar with the effects of their available magic, knowing ones opponent can go a long way towards winning as certain elemental attacks will have varying consequences when used on different monsters. Monsters come in three sizes; small, medium and large. Having personally witnessed a medium sized monster fill most of the screen, I can only imagine the large ones are comparable to battleships with legs. The size of your monster will also determine how many monsters you can have on a battlefield. So you can either have three small monsters, one small and one medium monster or just one giant monster up against your opponent. Players will be able to easily swap to different monsters right from the item menu too. Through a process of Synthesis, players may attempt to combine monsters with the goal of creating a new and unique creature which will hopefully dispense win while pwning in your name. This system of combining and creating monsters seems promising as the game boasts over 240 unique skill trees which can be “bred” into your new monsters. Finding the right monsters to mix and match might not be as easy as it first seems though. As in previous installments of the Dragon Quest series, a full day/night cycle will determine which monsters are roaming the wild at any given time. If one wishes to scout the perfect pair of monsters for their next synthesized creation, they just might have to explore the island in every condition possible. The game’s single-player storyline, though nothing to get overly excited about, succeeds in providing context to the events of the game. As players advance through the single-player story, they must rescue missing people by exploring and defeating boss monsters of epic proportions. To put it simply, a child who wishes nothing more than to be a Monster Scout, has stowed away on a massive airship destined for the World Monster Championship. Under mysterious circumstances, the ship, passengers and all, becomes marooned on a feral island inhabited by the very monsters he wishes to scout. With little more than able feet and a thirst for the destiny he so desires, the child ventures forth from the relative harborage of the airship’s mangled husk in search of adventure. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is a fun and charming game that anyone will be able to pick up easily. Dragon Quest fans will definitely enjoy the latest DS offering and it's just nice to see there's still some good support left on Nintendo's non-3D handheld.
 photo

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (DQMJ2) is the upcoming monster hunting role-playing game for the DS. The player assumes the role of a child who quite possibly aspires to follow in the footsteps of Michael Vick as he captures...

Renegade Kid bringing ATV Wild Ride to the 3DS

Jul 29 // Nick Chester
[embed]207394:40045[/embed] With its follow up, Renegade Kid hopes to inject the ATV Wild Ride with a shot of adrenaline, bringing it up to par with console experiences. Renegade Kid is promising twice as much content as the original: 12 exotic locales, six of them new to the series; 48 tracks, half of them built specifically for ATV Wild Ride 3D. All of the tracks have been enhanced in ways that will take advantage of the 3D graphical capabilities of the 3DS, as well. This means that the classic tracks fans of the original already know and love will look better and play smoother than ever. "The 3DS is very powerful," Renegade Kid's Jools Watsham tells me, "which means more detailed environments with bigger vistas, and a bevy of cool visual effects such as shadow maps, particles, specular highlights, mipmaps, and the nifty stereoscopic 3D effect, of course. "In a nutshell, our original vision of the game can truly be realized on the 3DS." Renegade Kid also listened to feedback from critics and gamers on the original title, most of which Watsham says were positive. With the core gameplay already tight, the developer is focusing more on adding even more airborne tricks and track diversity, including more "dramatic elevation changes." The developer is also expanding the benefits of the game's trick system as well, with something it's calling "Wild Ride" mode. Successfully performing three difficult tricks in a row will cause you to enter "Wild Ride" mode, which Watsham likens to NBA Jam's "On Fire." In this mode, you'll be locked into a super speed, Nitro-style boost for a limited amount of time, which should encourage players to try out riskier tricks. ATV Wild Ride 3D is also getting an oft-requested feature that was absent in the original: online play, in addition to local, for up to four players. As of right now, Renegade Kid doesn't have a publisher for the title, which made diving into development headfirst a bit of a risk. "Yes, starting the development of a game without funding is a little risky," Watsham admits. "But this is how we started Renegade Kid." "Dementium started without the aid of a publisher," he recalls of the the first-person survival horror/action title for the DS. "In fact, the DS version of ATV Wild Ride also started this way. We created a playable demo of the game and shopped it around." The key is believing in the product, he says, knowing they have something special players want. "We believe we're creating something that offers a fun and unique gameplay experience for the 3DS," he says, "so we keep the faith that publishers will think so too." Another Renegade Kid title, Mutant Mudds, is being self-published on Nintendo's 3DS eShop. While it's possible that the racer could end up on the eShop, the project's scope means a developer will be needed to see it to completion. "We're a small studio and have limited funds," Watsham explains. "We need to find a publishing partner to complete the development of ATV Wild Ride 3D, whether it's release on eShop or at retail." We'll have more on ATV Wild Ride 3D as Renegade Kid moves through development. Given how solid the original title was, fans of extreme racing and kicking up dirt may have a solid reason to pick up a 3DS when the title's complete. Follow the latest updates on the official ATV Wild Ride 3D website.
 photo

Renegade Kid's Destineer-published Nintendo DS title, ATV Wild Ride, hit the market at an odd time earlier this year. With the Nintendo 3DS just ready to launch and promising more everything than the current handheld, the sol...

So many Kirbys! Kirby Mass Attack preview

Jul 14 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
[embed]203224:39139[/embed] Kirby Mass Attack (DS)Developer: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoTo be released: September 19 This time around you need to use your little Kirby army to get through the game, as opposed to the traditional consuming of your enemy's abilities. You start off with one Kirby and must collect fruit to fill up a meter to get more Kirbys. You can get up to ten, after which you'll just continue to accumulate points for collecting fruits. Having multiple Kirbys will be key in order to progress, as there are numerous obstacles and paths that can only be accessed by a certain amount of the pink heroes. Certain obstacles, like giant plants for example, can only be pulled down if you have a few Kirbys latched on. Levels themselves need a minimum amount of Kirbys before you can enter them too, such as the boss stage that requires all ten Kirbys. There will be plenty of replayability too as you go to levels multiple times in order to collect goodies you missed the first go-around like special coins due to lack of Kirbys. Other than that, you can proceed to any level on a map in any order you want, so long as you have the right number of Kirbys. Even though you have a little army, the controls are simple enough so that all the Kirbys respond together. You just tap or hold on the touch screen to move your Kirbys forward. To attack, you tap on an enemy and watch your Kirbys swarm over their target. By doing a flicking motion with the stylus, you can fling your Kirbys at enemies or blocks. You'll also be able to guide your Kirbys by drawing a path, like in Kirby: Canvas Curse. By holding down the stylus on the touch screen, all the Kirbys will clamor around the point you're touching. They'll then follow the path you trace until you've hit the line's length limit. When a Kirby gets hurt, it'll turn blue. If it gets hurt again, it turns into an angel and drifts away. Angel Kirbys can be saved by flicking another Kirby to pull them back down. If the angel escapes though, you can just repeat the whole fruit-collecting thing to bring it one back -- there's plenty of fruit to spare. There's also a healing loop located at the mid-point of each level to heal blue Kirbys. That's basically the gist of it. It's an odd-sounding concept, but just watch the trailer above to get a basic sense of it all. Despite the weird premise, Kirby Mass Attack was plenty of fun. Controls were simple and intuitive, and you're a horrible, inhuman filth monster if you don't like Kirby!
 photo

Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby! Yes, I'm excited for a new Kirby game, but the reason I just repeated the pink little suckball's name is because that's exactly how many Kirbys you'll be controlling in Kirby Mass Attack. An evil villain has split Kirby up into ten pieces, and you need to find a way to put Kirby back together as one.

The next Harry Potter has a very Gears of War feel

Jul 11 // John Speerbrecker
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS, PC)Developer: EA Bright LightPublisher: Electronic ArtsTo be released: July 12, 2011 There are quite a few other similarities between this game and Gears of War. For example, in Harry Potter, you lead a team of grizzled high school veterans against hordes of Death Eaters. In Gears, you lead a team of grizzly military types against evil aliens. Your lead character in Harry Potter has a scar on his face as does Marcus Phoenix of Gears. They both like making big explosions and running around with their friends blowing stuff up too.  The team says that they have addressed what the fans were asking for from the previous version of Deathly Hallows, such as being able to play as other characters in the story. During the demonstration,  Professor McGonagall was used to fight off one of the giant bosses in the game. They also simplified the control scheme. Each spell in Harry's arsenal is mapped to a button on the controller and you simply pull the R trigger on the controller to cast whichever spell is equipped. There is quite a bit of strategy in the way that you will have to defeat your enemies. Certain spells are just for defeating your enemy's shields and other spells are for dealing damage. You will have to find the right method of knowing which spell is going to be needed to take out the bad guys. Later in the game, you will also get the Apparate spell which will allow Harry to teleport to nearby cover in case of a surprise attack which seemed to happen often. This game is a great starting point for kids whose parents will not let them have the Gears experience or if they are just Harry Potter fans in general. Either way, it is definitely a game that can be enjoyed by all. If you really want to spoil this game, there is a movie that will be coming out on Friday based on the exact same story. You should watch it. It's a big deal, apparently. 
 photo

During the EA Summer showcase, the newest entry to the Harry Potter videogame series was available to check out just before it becomes available this Tuesday. In this final chapter of the story, you must save the world and yo...

E3: Jimpressions of Shinobi 3DS

Jun 12 // Jim Sterling
Shinobi 3DS does a terrific job of bringing back the old school feeling of the Shinobi series, where methodical progress and well-timed movements are key to victory. The most important move is the Parry, which will be needed to fend off the attacks of enemies. Failure to master the parry command will result in death.  Like the old games, opposing Ninja will duck and jump while tossing knives at you. Your Parry only defends for a second, so you'll need to time your movements with the enemy perfectly before unleashing your own attacks. This consideration of enemy movement, and knowing when to parry, move and attack, leads to a game that more modern players may not appreciate due to its slower pace. Shinobi fans will feel right at home, though.  Shinobi 3DS is definitely more forgiving than its Genesis ancestors. The player can absorb a lot more damage before facing death, and health items are a bit more liberally spread than before. Nevertheless, the game still puts up a good fight, especially with some of the tricky environmental navigation. Spikes and pitfalls continually threaten the player's life, and you'll need some quick reflexes to utilize the grappling hook, wall-jump and avoid all manner of traps.  For the most part, the controls worked well enough, but I did find a few commands sluggish, especially the wall-jumping. The protagonist could do with being a little more responsive, but it's certainly not a dealbreaker.  Graphically, the game is certainly not the best looking on the 3DS, but it's got a really excellent use of color and a stylized, cartoon-like appearance that I found quite endearing. The game's magic attacks are especially impressive, and really pop out at you with the 3D slider on. The minimalist approach to visuals won't impress everybody, but I think it helps make the game look pretty unique. I found Shinobi 3DS' demo pretty enjoyable. It wasn't a stunning revelation but it was a fun sidescroller with a very welcome respect for the series' eighties/nineties roots. It throws up familiar enemies, a cool horse-riding section, and the kind of thoughtful action gaming that we haven't seen since ... well, since Shinobi's heyday, I suppose.  So yeah, I guess I liked it!
 photo

My love for Shinobi is palpable. I had one of those six-in-one Genesis cartridges as a kid, and The Revenge of Shinobi was one of the most played titles on the collection. I was never a big fan of the series' move to 3D last ...


  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter?
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -