That feeling sticks with you a while.
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External Hard Drive. Having one built in would increase the price of the system
and not everyone will go digital.
It's Windy! Hey Windy.
This immediately brings forward one of the biggest problems with Dawn of the New World. Emil, our hero, starts as a whiny, apologetic, pathetic loser who suddenly gains the power of bad-assery, yet somehow remains a whiny, apologetic, pathetic loser in the process. Though he slowly gains confidence through his lady-friend, Marta, Emil will be a thorn in your side for almost the entire game. It feels out of place for the main character to be that annoyingly whiny, especially considering for how long it goes on. I don't care how it works into the story. Heroes are supposed to be manly, because we want to play as manly men. Not whiny kids.
Thank goodness you can choose to control other party members in battle! The battle system has been improved upon tremendously with the addition of a free-run button and the ability to equip more than four Artes (special moves) thanks to the motion controls of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Because the battles are more open this time, setting up a good formation and then maneuvering your characters into a favorable position is more important than ever. It's very easy to get surrounded if you don't watch what you're running into. Still, often times the battlefield feels clogged up because of how your partners and enemies seem to roam around freely themselves without really staying in some pre-determined battle formation. While you do have some control over how characters act and what moves they can perform, battles usually turn into free-for-alls.
This is especially true when you are using captured monsters to fight alongside you. New World introduces the ability to ally with enemy monsters and have them join your party. Unfortunately, you go about capturing them through some very confusing elemental system that somehow determines whether or not you can capture a monster from that battle. After joining your party, captured monsters can learn new skills, including very useful healing Artes. Because different monsters have different elemental alliances, adding them to your party when entering certain areas can be helpful.
However, there is never a point in the game where having monsters fight with you is any significant advantage over main characters. Since you can never directly control them, and they cannot use items, friendly monsters don't feel like they're really a part of your team, but rather just out there doing their own thing. In fact, it never really feels like you have a solid party at all, particularly because the characters from the original game will constantly join and leave the group as the story dictates. You never have a chance to build up a stable platform that you're comfortable with, which ultimately ruins the flow of the game.
Still, the one thing that the Tales games have always excelled at is telling a good story. Optional skits further explain the story behind all of the characters, and if you decide to read through them all you'll learn quite a bit about the heroes. However, even that comes at the expense of speedy gameplay, as everything stops when you activate one of the skits. There really should be some way for the skits to take place simultaneously with the action. Despite that, the story is really the thing that gets you through the beginning of the game, if only because you want to know why Lloyd (the main character from the first game) killed Emil's parents. About the time when you find out is also, conveniently, about the time when the game actually starts to become much more tolerable. Even so, that's asking quite a lot to have to sit through a lot of slow conversation and curious story branches early on.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is going to disappoint a lot of people, particularly fans of the original GameCube epic. Naturally, it would be hard to live up to the original, but the sequel feels uninspired. It's still a good game on its own merits, mostly because the battle system is still solid and it's addicting to try to string together the biggest combo possible. However, the constant whining from Emil, a party that never feels like it has a foundation, and poor pacing and flow make waiting for the good stuff an exercise in patience, where it should be an exercise in fun.
The game can take 100 hours to complete if you really want to go after all the subquests, monsters, and optional goodies. However, unlike the original, which took as many as 80 legitimate hours to complete, this will only take half of that. Because the majority of the game is optional, whether or not you decide to explore it comes down to how much you can tolerate its weaker parts.
Dawn of the New World is a moderately enjoyable game, but there will be plenty of times when you wonder why you keep bothering with it. It may be because the battle gameplay is good fun, or that the story is interesting enough to keep your attention. Or maybe you've got a high tolerance for annoying lead characters.
Though I personally am starting to be annoyed by it, I believe the channels system for the Wii Menu is a good idea when considering those who maybe aren't so technologically advanced enough to navigate through more complex menu systems such as the PlayStation 3 XMB or the (now) old Xbox 360 dashboard. The thing is, though, that as we've just seen with the Xbox 360, the front end interface of a game console can be radically altered with a simple software update. There's no reason why a similar makeover couldn't be possible on the Wii.
Consider already that Nintendo is fixing (kind of) a major flaw in the hardware, the lack of storage space, with some promised software updates. Initially, Wii Channels or Virtual Console games could not be accessed directly off of an SD card, and the deletion process recommended by Nintendo to help clear up space was so convoluted and inconvenient that it was probably costing Nintendo lost sales in the long run. The fix, which will come in a future update, will no doubt help alleviate these issues. A previous software update has sped up the SD transfer process, showing that's it's possible to improve upon hardware with the right kind of software.
The thing that's most promising about this, however, is that it's completely possible for the Wii of 2010 to be orders of magnitude better than the Wii of 2006, even if both are using the exact same hardware. Nintendo could find some optimizations here and there to speed up the Wii Shop Channel, or perhaps rebuild it from the ground up to be just as easy to use as the Nintendo Channel. The possible future addition of memory expansion could require more advanced memory management tools, making it easier to sift through several dozen game saves, Wii Channels, WiiWare games, Virtual Console games, and other saved data.
Going even further, Nintendo could totally overhaul the Wii Menu if it felt so inclined, perhaps turning it into a more fully-featured menu where some of the stock channels are built-in to the menu or more tightly integrated into the console. Perhaps other channels could be collapsed into each other, like the Virtual Console Channel idea that many would like to see become an option, wherein all of your VC games can be accessed via a single channel. In fact, the concept of channels could be dumped entirely for a better layout or a more appropriate one depending on how much functionality Nintendo adds on to the console in subsequent, future updates.
Who knows? Maybe Nintendo can unlock DVD player functionality for all with the proper firmware update, as long as the console is technically capable of doing it in the first place. That's the neat thing about console updates nowadays, because you never know what fresh ideas, performance enhancements, bug fixes, and other goodies will be delivered to your hardware every time you update. This is only possible in an Internet-connected age. Nintendo's new console hardware will come eventually, but as long as Nintendo keeps evolving and refining the built-in software residing on the actual Wii console (and it keeps producing games we want to play on it), it may be something we won't much mind waiting for.
i like the idea of these games, i just wish nintendo wouldn't cap it at $5. All the art style games would be nice at 2-400 point range. That way you can buy it with remainder points.
Rotohex is a puzzle game wherein triangular tiles fall into a hexagonal playfield. By rotating pieces within a hexagonal cursor, players must create solid, six-piece hexes which will clear away, opening up more room for tiles to tinkle down. The game ends when the playfield fills to the brim. Gameplay centers around clearing hexes of a target color and generally keeping the field from getting too full. When cleared within a hex, special tiles can cause a hole to open at the bottom and drain extra tiles to get you out of danger, or cause all tiles of a certain color to switch to that of an adjacent tile, making it that much easier to clear away hexes of the required target color.
Solo mode is the initial challenge players will be faced with. Clearing six hexes of a target color will add a new tile color to the game, ultimately bringing eight different colors into the mix. The unique nature of the rotating, hexagonal cursor means it can be pretty challenging to spin the correct tiles into the correct position fast enough to stay ahead of the raining tiles. It's key to keep your special tiles ready to put into a hex so you can use them in a pinch. As you get close to completing Solo the difficulty ramps up considerably, giving you extra pressure to clear it. It's a very enjoyable challenge.
Special tiles are neat because they change functionality with every rotation, meaning you need to make sure it will do what you want as you slide it into position. I found that the color-swap ability is extremely useful when there's space available to work with, since getting tiles to switch to the target color makes clearing the required six hexes that much easier. However, sometimes the nature of hexagonal rotation will cause you to spend way too much time clearing a hex, so you need to be very efficient and plan to clear hexes as quickly as possible.
Rotohex has added a new mode from Dialhex called Sprint. Here the goal is to clear six hexes of the target color as quickly as possible. This mode gets more and more difficult as you add more colors to the playfield, since there will be fewer tiles of the color you need to beat the round. On top of that, tiles fall in at a hopelessly fast rate. If you're not clearing tiles one after the other in this mode you're going to fail very quickly. I'm having no luck whatsoever clearing the five-color mode; I’m lucky to get four out of six of the required colors. I can't imagine how impossible it gets when there are eight colors to deal with. Still, this mode is pretty much the ultimate challenge for someone who can easily deal with Solo mode, gets bored by the endless deluge of tiles in Endless mode, and has no problem beating up a buddy in the game's traditional garbage-dumping Versus mode
The thing I like most about Rotohex, especially when compared to the GBA version, is the upgraded sound. There's a Lumines-esque soothing feel to it, complemented by the tinkle of the falling tiles and the mood change accompanied by an ever-changing color palette. In an attempt to pretty up the flat playfield, a mirror-like reflective border rings the hexagon, though this has the negative effect of making it difficult of seeing where the border actually lies. Another strike against the game is the sometimes unwieldy Wii Remote pointer controls. It can be hard to get the cursor exactly where you need it in a hurry and keep it there, which is why I prefer to play the game holding the remote in the classic sideways position.
Besides these issues, the only other problem with the game is perhaps its largest one: there isn't as much depth as you wish there was. For me, the addition of Sprint mode adds much more replay value to a game I've already played, but I still find it lacking in other areas. Then again, considering the game's low WiiWare-friendly price point, it's a good deal in the end. More than anything, I'm glad that Nintendo is finally releasing these games to the American game-buying public in one form or another. Let's hope we see more Art Style games on WiiWare in the near future.
Not bad at all considering its low price, but you'll really feel like there should have been more to this game then what you get.
Rotohex is by no means the best puzzle game you will play this year, but I recommended it solely on the basis of it being a completely different puzzle game that will challenge you in new ways.
That's because the US has no real public transportation infrastructure so everyone uses a car and you can't really play a game while driving (illegal activities excluded). In areas where you can actually get on the bus and end up where you want to be in time a portable game system makes sense because your hands are free and you don't have to control a ton of metal moving at lethal velocities.
Actually, no. That would be a sustaining innovation and would give another manufacturer the opportunity to destroy Nintendo. Reggie already said it, Nintendo is always trying to disrupt itself so noone else gets the chance.
For the longest time, Nintendo has always dubbed itself a “games only” company. Every piece of hardware it made was strictly for playing video games, and that was it. Nintendo never considered media players, cameras, or any of that other stuff to be integral to the enjoyment of playing games (preferably its own games). Yet, starting with the Wii and now the DSi, Nintendo has seemed to realize that that extra functionality is beginning to come essential when it comes to creating a value proposition for hardware.
For as long as I've owned portable devices, I've found that the portability aspect of them is a misnomer. Yes, you can take them anywhere you'd please, but most of the time there's little reason to do so. For instance, of the portable devices I have—including an original Nintendo DS, a Game Boy micro (yes, I know), a PSP, a point-and-shoot camera, and my trusty iPhone—I only carry my phone with me on a regular basis, and have absolutely no reason to take anything else anywhere I go. The iPhone is essentially all of the above: Obviously, it's a smartphone I can use to get on the Internet, but I can also take pictures and play games on it. Although it's not the best camera I own and it's not the best game player I own, the simple fact of the matter everything I could need is all in one device. That means I only need to take one device with me, instead of two or three. Portability only works when it's convenient, and hassling with carrying more than one “portable” makes things less than convenient.
In light of this, the Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo itself, seems to be headed in the right direction. Although cameras have been tied with game systems for a while now, including Nintendo's own Game Boy Camera, the fact that Nintendo built cameras in to the hardware means the feature needs to be taken seriously. Not just because there's a camera facing the user for gameplay purposes, but that the outward-facing camera was put there with the specific purpose of taking pictures of whatever happens to be around. Everyone in Japan has a better camera than what's in the Nintendo DSi, including the one that's likely housed inside of their keitai, or mobile phones. But now that's it's there, people will use it, which gives people one more reason to use their DSi day-in and day-out.
The reason why Sony has always pushed the PlayStation brand as an all-in-one set-top box solution is because it feels that having one device, for one price, will meet all your home entertainment needs. As the global economy worsens and money becomes an issue for many people, this line of thinking makes sense. Granted, paying $400 for anything when money is tight is a stretch to begin with, but when it comes time to put that money down, you'd want a device to do as much as possible, i.e., why buy a $500 Blu-ray player when you can get a Blu-ray player, game console, Internet hub, media player, and George Foreman grill for the same price? This is why the PlayStation 2 took off. It was a value proposition, even at a high price. The PS3 should begin to come charging back for the same reason. People pay for things that offer them convenience, something that Sony hinges its entire hardware strategy on.
Nintendo is surely starting to realize that if it stays games-only, it's not going to be a major player. The Wii is still primarily a games-only device, but Nintendo is pushing it as something you'd want to put in your living room and have the whole family use. The photo channel and the SD slot built-in to the Wii, along with the Internet Channel and other various utility channels, showed that Nintendo was beginning to expand the functionality of what its hardware could do. Nintendo will say that stuff is in there so the users can have more fun, but ultimately it's in there so Nintendo won't fall behind in the consumer electronics world and be stuck in the one-trick pony business model. Nintendo took the initiative with the Nintendo DSi and broke out of that model in a way that few expected them to, giving the system a multi-use purpose without abandoning its core functionality.
Which brings me back to the Wii. Many years from now, we're going to look back at the Wii and realize how utterly brilliant Nintendo was with its design and marketing. I guarantee you this will be taught and brought up in marketing and advertising classes in the not-too-distant future. What I'm starting to realize about the Wii—and the Nintendo DSi helped me see this—is that Nintendo is using the Wii as the starting point for its inevitable global takeover. No joke: Because Nintendo is reaching out to so many new consumers and telling them how great the games experience is, and also showing them that the Wii can do a little more than just play games, Nintendo is basically training people to believe that Nintendo is the way to go for home entertainment in the future. The features that Nintendo is adding to the Wii gives that many more people an excuse to use the console every day, which Nintendo is absolutely hell-bent on seeing happen. Ditto for Internet features.
Point is, when Nintendo decides to roll out Wii 2, Wii HD, Twii, Xii, or whatever Nintendo is going to call it, a throng of new consumers will have been so used to using the Wii and Nintendo's services that they will first look to Nintendo for the next version. To make sure Nintendo cashes in on this captive audience, it's going to need to put in more functionality in it than ever before (while still keeping the price reasonable, obviously) so that it can stay relevant in the living room of the future. Nintendo is already experimenting with streaming television and movie delivery services in Japan, and this is being done through a console that people said was just two GameCubes duct-taped together. Just think of what Nintendo might be able to do when it tapes on a third.
In Disaster: Day of Crisis, a former marine and rescue specialist named Ray finds himself in the middle of Blue Ridge City when it gets hit with a series of natural disasters triggered by a massive earthquake. Expect fires, tornadoes, fire tornadoes, a tsunami, floods, and a volcanic eruption—and that's just for starters. The initial earthquake was predicted by a rogue military group called STORM, which then uses the inaccessible city as their “hideout” to hold the United States hostage with a nuclear warhead that they’ve somehow come across. Ray is trying to rescue Lisa, the sister of his former partner, whom has been kidnapped by STORM. So not only does Ray need to deal with the STORM threat, but everything Mother Nature is throwing at him. As the title implies, the action takes place over the course of a single day.
There are a variety of gameplay styles within the main adventure. The game is built upon a standard adventure model, where Ray walks around a given part of the city from Point A to Point B, generally looking around to try to rescue anyone that may need help. In the process, you may be required to lift debris off of someone and pull them to safety, clean and bandage a victim’s wounds, or even administer CPR. These rescue sequences often use Wii Remote motion controls in conjunction with timed button presses. Rescues are optional, but completing them will earn you additional points that you can use to upgrade Ray’s attributes and abilities.
Players have different meters and indicators they need to worry about at any given time. The most important ones are the stamina and life meters. Stamina slowly drains at all times, and the only way to keep Ray from running out is to eat food. Food can be found around the levels by busting open containers around the levels. If Ray runs out of stamina or takes damage otherwise, he loses a chunk of the life bar. Life will also start to drain away if Ray stays inside a smoky area for too long. Furthermore, smoke fills the lungs meter, which will eventually go down on its own once Ray is in clear air, or can be rapidly returned to normal by repeatedly taking deep breaths with the Z Button. Performing this action is particularly annoying since you need to press the button several times to reset the lungs meter to normal, even if it only shows them as 10-20% filled initially.
Another meter only shows up when you are engaged in a gun battle. Whenever STORM finds Ray, the game switches over to a shooting mode, which plays a little bit like Namco’s Time Crisis games. Ray can duck behind cover by holding the Z Button, letting go of which makes Ray pop out so you can start shooting. The game gives clear warning when someone is about to shoot—a bright red cursor on the gun barrel of an enemy flashes just before they fire—giving you time to get your shots in. This warning system makes the shooting portion feel really easy, as if the game is holding your hand through it. By holding down the C Button, Ray enters concentration mode, which zooms the view in and makes it much easier to score devastating headshots. He can only stay in this mode for a limited time though, as indicated by another on-screen meter.
These gun battles feel generally slow, but I’m finding that they're beginning to pick up somewhat now that I’m more than three hours into the game. Another positive development is the ability to upgrade my current weapons and buy new ones with the battle points I’ve earned from doing well in the gun sequences. I’ve come across one really tough boss battle up to this point so far, but for the most part they’re a matter of hiding behind cover until a pre-determined opportunity presents itself, at which point you just pop up, aim the Wii Remote pointer at the giant, purple “shoot me to win” targets, then move on to the next area.
You can easily tell that Disaster: Day of Crisis is a few years late to the Wii party from its first few chapters. A game that frequently involves waggle-punching random containers strewn about a level to reveal important, life-sustaining items is one with a design that’s tired and redundant. Apparently, our hero is strong enough to bust open metal mailboxes or giant boulders with just two or three bare-fisted punches, but what makes this really ridiculous is that, at least so far, busting up breakable items is the sole purpose of motion-activated punching. Truly, it’s the definition of “waggle” in the despicable sense of the word.
The game basically tells you where to go and what to shoot (at least in the first few hours on normal difficulty), and thus the entire product has a “tutorial” feel to it. It’s as if I’m being told how the Wii experience is supposed to work when I'm playing Disaster, but I already know this thanks to two years of experience playing Wii games. The driving sequences just hammer this point home, since all you do in two of the first three of them is navigate from one place to another, essentially accomplishing absolutely nothing. In the other one, you are trying to outrun a tsunami—the only problem with this being that the camera looks behind you, and so you can’t see the cars you need to swerve around until the last moment, if you even manage to stay on the bridge that’s crumbling beneath you.
While my first impression of Disaster: Day of Crisis has left me somewhat underwhelmed, I did like some of the cut-scenes (wait until you see that tsunami head into the downtown area), and the story introduced an interesting plot twist early on. That’s more than enough for me to keep playing it and see what the full product will bring to the table, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is basically a 2006 game that's been shelved until 2008. I don’t know if the later chapters or scenarios will be much different, but based on what I’ve played so far, it doesn’t look all that promising.
However, that also means that people who want a wide variety of songs or a large selection to choose from will be abruptly disappointed by what the game has to offer. If Aerosmith isn't your cup of tea, this game is obviously not for you. The majority of songs are provided by the titular band, although Aerosmith did hand-pick songs from other artists from the likes of Joan Jett, The Kinks, Lenny Kravitz, Stone Temple Pilots, and Run DMC. That variety is short-lived, since three out of every five songs per venue in career mode are from Aerosmith, as are all of the bonus songs.
While I do enjoy listening to the band, and some of their iconic songs just beg to be played with a plastic guitar, bringing all their most popular songs together in one game just doesn't do it for me. It is especially deflating that there are only 41 songs in the game (29 from Aerosmith and derivatives), which is a lot less than GH players are accustomed to for a game that costs the same as the flagship titles.
The setlist will probably be the ultimate factor in whether or not Guitar Hero Aerosmith is a game you'll want to pick up, but for those on the fence, there are some remarkable improvements to other areas of the game. Most obvious among those is how great the Wii version looks. Vicarious Visions did a great job with their from-the-ground-up production. Characters are fantastically animated and the virtual Aerosmith fits in perfectly. The audio quality sounds pretty nice (and it's really in stereo and surround sound this time), and it feels like the strumming issues from Guitar Hero III have been resolved for the most part. Of course, all the online gameplay modes have been preserved and work great, complete with on-screen notification when your friends want to challenge you to an online rock-off.
It's for those reasons why Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is still a good game for those interested. The relatively small selection of tracks, lack of track variety, and laughable amount of bonus content are potential negatives for those on the fence, but the bottom line for this Guitar Hero game is that you either like Aerosmith or you don't. If you love them to death, this game should be in your collection. If you don't care for them, don't get it. If you think you're somewhere in the middle, you should ask yourself if you really need to spend the money on what amounts to a glorified expansion pack with Guitar Hero: World Tour looming on the horizon.
Forty-one songs won't seem like a lot after you breeze through the six-tier career mode, with only 11 of them being unlockable bonuses. Replay value is standard for a Guitar Hero game, but it really feels like there is some meat missing from the Aerosmith version.
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is simply another good Guitar Hero game with a different set of songs, that's technically improved from its predecessors in many ways. That in itself is not a bad thing, but only big fans of the band will get the most enjoyment out of it.
With the promise of more songs available through the Wii's Pay & Play downloadable content service, as well as a potential endless supply of free, user-created tracks through Activision's free GHTunes service (see our impressions for more on that), there will be plenty of new music to come back to. World Tour will be available for all platforms on October 28, 2008.
The Guitar Hero World Tour Set List:
Before diving in to the details of the different modes and features of World Tour, first there's the matter of explaining the changes in the Guitar Hero formula that were required to fit in drumming and singing. Bass and guitar playing have some new tweaks. Bass players need to worry about strumming an open pick (done while not hitting any fret buttons) and guitar players have some new note patterns to learn. Some tricky sequences I noted during my play time were, among others, needing to hold down each note of a hammer-on, and hammering-on multiple lower notes while simultaneously holding down a higher one. The new note patterns appear to be an attempt to bring some difficulty back to the higher levels of the game. I saw some songs that were not afraid to overwhelm players with notes. To make things a little easier for those trickier passages, star power notes now always appear in the note highway, even if star power is already activated.
Singers playing World Tour will have an easier time of keeping track of their voice tone. It's very easy to see where the game is registering your voice and it's obvious if you're singing too low or too high. I didn't play enough songs to see if there was something else for singers to do in songs with large portions of singer silence, but I do hope there is something for them to do there.
Drummers will find that the wireless drum kit and drumming gameplay is probably as close as you're going to get to the real thing without having to pay for the real thing, though it's not without its faults. World Tour has a five-pad kit with a kick pedal, which means there are six things you'll need to keep track of. The layout of the note chart matches the layout of the kit, for the most part, which means the only thing you'll need to be careful of is the adjustable cymbal pads. I found my drumsticks getting caught underneath them every once in while, snapping any note streaks that I had at the time. They weren't as quiet as I was expecting, but they're still not bad. Regardless, because the kit is two-tiered and has velocity-sensitive pads (the harder you hit them, the louder the sound) it feels very good to play on.
The new hardware for the new Guitar Hero game appeared to be designed with some of the new gameplay changes in mind. For one, singers and drummers can activate star power at any time. Singers can just scream into the mic and drummers can crash both cymbals at the same time. Obviously, guitar players can do it at will with a guitar tilt to the sky, but a change to the guitar can make it easier to activate in those streaming note sections. A large, long star power button has been added to the guitar a little further down the body, about where your palm would normally rest while strumming. Slamming on the button with your palm—it takes a good deal of pressure to use, likely to avoid accidental presses—will also juice things up and double your individual multiplier.
Special guitar solo sections are also new to the game. When one of these sections come along, you can use the new sliding touch pad on the lower portion of the guitar neck. This area of the guitar is best used to nail those fast up-and-down note patterns without the need to strum. The touch pad feels very nice under the fingers, although it might be difficult to just pick it up and start nailing combos. It takes a different set of skills to be able to "feel" how far up and down it you should go to hit the correct notes in the solos, but I suppose it's similar to how you'd play a real guitar in the same situation.
If you ever get tired of playing the music that comes in the game, you might want to consider making your own. Guitar Hero World Tour will feature what could very well be the most ambitious mode ever thought up for an online-enabled music game.
The music creation mode will allow you to literally lay down your own tracks for band play in the game. This means you can create your own music, from scratch, complete with up to five instruments. Only three of them will be playable, of course (two guitars and drums, no vocals), but the tools are available to get pretty deep with exactly how you want to put your song together. There are dozens upon dozens of different sounds across multiple instruments, from three different guitar types (lead, rhythm, and bass), drums, and keyboard, among others. The sample songs I got to check out sounded a bit more like a midi file than a rock anthem, but the renditions of Fur Elise and Flight of the Bumblebee I saw were convincing enough for me.
The mode is split into two parts, which are integrated with each other. In a jam session you can mess around with the instruments and try to find the sounds you want to use. You also can record portions of your instrument playing, either individually or as a group. This recorded music can then be imported into the recording studio portion, where you'd actually go to officially record the song and edit notes directly. In either mode, you can select sound sets on the fly through the pause menu, as well as change the chord set the guitars use. Raising or lowering the neck of a guitar while playing will let you change the octave range of the notes you're playing, giving you even more options when jamming on the guitar.
Music creation will be the cornerstone of a new service Activision will be launching with the game called GHTunes. Players who think they've got a hot song on their hands can submit their song to GHTunes, complete with customized album art and other information. People will easily be able to find songs created by their friends. More importantly, GHTunes will keep a daily, weekly, and all-time list of the most popular songs. Songs can be rated upon completion to help weed out the no-hit wonders from the epic rock anthems. Songs from GHTunes will be free to download. This service is on top of the regular paid song download service that will also come standard with the game.
Yes, that's right: The Wii version of World Tour will have DLC, just like the versions of the game on the consoles with the hard drives. It's not clear how much space downloadable songs will take up, but chances are if you're a heavy downloader of music, you're going to want to invest in a bunch of SD cards (if you haven't already). As if that wasn't good news for Wii owners, here's something else that might surprise you.
Mii Jam Session is a special mode exclusive to the Wii version, where you can select a Mii on your console and play around with the guitar, making music with every action you perform. While you could technically do the same thing in the recording studio, the difference in jamming with your Miis is that a lot of the music that comes out is automatic. The angle of your guitar and whether or not you hold down the star power button will change what sounds a guitar makes when played, and it's very easy to get some cool sounds going. This mode is very fun, and also somewhat educational for new players. Cards with note patterns appear on-screen, prompting people to try and follow them if they'd like to do so. A drummer can join in the fun as well, though the drum kit is limited in options. However, one of those options is the ability to use a cowbell, so it makes up for it.
The jam session mode is very simple, very shallow, and above all else, very fun. Unlike Nintendo's attempt to bring music to the musically disabled (Wii Music, cough), World Tour caters to the lowest common denominator while still making it fun for experienced gamers to jump in and play around for a bit. Anyone can grab a guitar and pretend to be a rock star without needing to worry about keeping their combo going or holding back bandmates in the main mode. I spent a good deal of time messing around, seeing what music I could make. I almost managed to do Mary Had a Little Lamb on my guitar, but I couldn't quite find the right note. (Hold down all five fret buttons, if you can manage it, for a secret surprise!)
Here's the bottom line on Guitar Hero World Tour, based on what I've seen of it so far: It's going to revolutionize the music game genre. The original Guitar Hero did it the first time, and World Tour has the pieces to do it again. It truly feels like it's going to be a complete band game experience, and totally something worth upgrading for, even if you've already invested in that other band game.
The first mode I tried out was the guitar section. Here, a guitar is displayed on the touch screen with up and down arrows scrolling down from the left and right side. When an arrow crosses the middle of the guitar, you need to literally "strum" across the guitar in the direction indicated by the arrow. The stream of arrows and the resulting strumming motions mimic the motion of strumming on a real guitar convincingly. The arrows don't exclusively alternate between up-down-up-down, either. Sometimes you need to perform several strums in one direction, and other times a double arrow will show up, requiring you to quickly do an up/down motion in one note, similar to that of a whammy. The guitar mode was quite challenging and a pretty pleasant surprise for me, even after having played Guitar Hero: On Tour.
Next up was the bass guitar. Instead of being a copy of the guitar mode, bass mode plays much more like its real-world counterpart. Four strings appear on the touch screen, and small circles begin to come in from the side on the different strings. An arrow will appear above one of the strings, telling you exactly where to pluck it to play the note correctly. The arrow could appear anywhere on any string at any time. This felt a bit random on the first few songs, but after getting used to it a bit it made sense to differentiate the bass mode from the regular guitar mode in this way. I'm still not sure if this was the best way to organize it, but credit is due to Konami for making the bass and guitar sections unique game modes.
I didn't get to try out the game's vocal mode, and I only had a brief glimpse of the game's drum modes. It plays pretty much as you'd expect with a DS game, with a touch-screen drum kit and a line of notes to be played on the bottom. I only tried it for a moment, but I was immediately turned off by the fact that it's quite difficult to follow the notes on the top screen and hit the right drum on the bottom screen without taking your eyes off one or the other.
Then again, that could also be because I'm a stubborn pro and went straight for one of the harder difficulties. Even if you're experienced in the field of music games, there's still a learning curve to get used to a different system of gameplay. Rock Revolution has four different systems of gameplay in one package, just like the modern console music games. Of course, it's hard to carry around a guitar, bass, microphone, and full drum kit in your pocket ... unless, of course, it's all inside a single DS game card.
Hasbro Family Game Night will feature six board games: Sorry!, Battleship, Boggle, Connect Four, Yahtzee, and Sorry! Sliders. These games are pretty much carbon-copies of their real-world counterparts, but with the obvious advantages of having the console keep track of scores and having nothing to set up or put away when you're done. (In fact, selecting a game from the main menu will open up the box for that game, set everything up, and then put everything neatly in its place when finished before returning to its virtual shelf.) Additionally, each game will allow you to customize popular house rules and alternate game modes to keep the games fresh each time you play.
One of the games I got to try out was Battleship. The version in Hasbro Family Game Night was in full 3D, complete with a water-logged board, perfect for placing your five ships. The game I played against another person had salvo rules activated, meaning I could fire as many shots per round as I had ships remaining. The outcome of that game isn't important (I won, of course!) but I got a really good idea that this rendition had a lot of neat details put in. The boards of the two competing players are placed back-to-back, just like they would be in an actual game, and between turns the camera swoops around to the other board. Ship pieces are hidden from view to both players once they've been placed to prevent peeking. By pointing the Wii Remote at the upper portion of your board, you can select which squares to target and fire away. The squares were a little small to easily select where you wanted to shoot, and there was no option to undo an errant choice. Still, the game was fun and the presentation was very nice.
Another game I got to try out was Sorry! Sliders, a new game that Hasbro will be releasing later this year. It's related to the classic Sorry! game in name and pieces only, as this game is more akin to the Olympic sport of curling than anything else. There's a spinning scoring zone in the center of the game board. The Wii Remote is used to "bowl" a Sorry! game piece from the outer edge of the board (the actual board game will have small ball bearings on the bottom of the pieces) as close to the center as possible. Play rotates between up to four players, and the idea is to knock pieces out of the scoring area. The weight of the pieces when throwing them toward the center felt quite realistic, and as long as four players can get together and a lot of pieces get thrown around, the game looks as if it would be good fun.
All the games I played in Hasbro Family Game Night were fun. Even Connect Four, which has an option to play continuously in a set time limit and to use special chips that affect the game board in some way, like blocking a column or pushing out all pieces underneath it. The concept of taking these classic board games and spicing them up in ways that only a video game can is a very good idea, and if the price is right then getting six board games for the price of two or three might be a deal too good to pass up, particularly for the kind of new audience the Wii is attracting these days.
they are making it as if it is "the new Mega Man 3, because we wanted to surpass what we did in Mega Man 2."