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TalkBack / REVIEWS: Little King's Story
« on: August 25, 2009, 03:29:34 PM »
Expand your empire by commanding a cute little king who only looks sweet and innocent.

 I find it rare these days that any game captures my complete attention from the get go. Usually long plot introductions or excessive character development stands in the way of gameplay, let alone allowing me to get a feel for what I’m in for. With Little King’s Story, I was completely taken with the game within five minutes of play. Within that short span of time I was given a clear perspective of everything that would be expected of me throughout the rest of the game, along with a tour of by far the cutest kingdom ever created. Before I knew it I was seven hours deep into Little King’s Story with an expanded kingdom, a fabulous flower garden, and dozens of well trained minions at my disposal with absolutely no willpower to stop playing.    

The best way to describe Little King’s Story is a perfect blend of Nintendo's Pikmin series and Square Enix's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. Players assume the role of a little king who must expand his kingdom by defeating enemies around the world and claiming their land for himself. To do this, the king must utilize the power of his people and their different job classes, such as soldiers, animal hunters, farmers, and many others that appear during later parts of the game. Each of these job classes has a specialty, whether it is ranged attacking during battle (hunters), or building bridges (carpenter) to reach new locations.    

Similar to My Life as a King, players will also utilize the talents of their citizens in order to earn the means (in this case money) to build new structures. This in turn opens up the kingdom to new citizens as well as new jobs, which further expand the kingdom and bring the experience full-circle.    

These different job classes and their roles in the field can be likened most closely to those in Pikmin. As in Pikmin,a player needs only toss a party member in order to get them to do something. Simply target an item or enemy with Z, line up with it, and start tossing away! For example, as the king and his party walk through an unknown part of the world, they encounter a large log in their path which must be cut down. Simply throw the right party members at it and it will be cut down in no time. If there is an enemy ahead, toss a soldier onto him and sit back while he grabs tightly to the little monster and whacks him senseless. As players progress they can upgrade their party in different ways; two prominent upgrades include a party expansion, and new battle formations to utilize while in the field.    

Of course, what fun would the game be if defeating enemies was always as simple as charging them with a gigantic army? On the contrary, the most shocking aspect of Little King’s Story is its challenge level. Though the game starts off very relaxed, players will quickly be thrown into the fire. This challenge begins at the start of the second half of the game, when the kingdom's citizens begin sending in letters containing quests for the king to complete. The difficulty of a particular quest is rated from one to five stars and up to five quests can be accepted at once. If I learned one thing very quickly from these letters, it is that the star difficulty rankings lie…hard. I was waltzing arrogantly into one star challenges with my brutish force of sixteen citizens, fully expecting to annihilate whatever lie ahead. You can imagine my surprise when the little headlines began rolling across the bottom of my screen announcing the death of my soldiers, one-by-one.      

For players who aren’t that interested in restarting their system each time they mess up a challenge, the good news is that most of the citizen's quests are entirely optional. Usually, these quests net players a prize worth a large sum of money, or in certain cases new buildings which add a much higher number of citizens to the population.    

While the citizen’s quests can be a prescription for grey hairs and broken Wii Remotes, boss battles are surprisingly quite the opposite. Every boss battle within Little King’s Story is incredibly unique, and when I say unique, I really mean unconventional and insane. Although the first few boss encounters simply require players to try out multiple army combinations until they find success, others take the concept of a boss battle to whole new dimensions. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say I hope that all of you stayed awake during Geography class, and that you’ve been brushing up on your pinball skills.  The varying nature of each of these extreme battles provides for a sense of excitement, and most certainly accomplishment for bringing down such unique foes.    

There are also numerous side quests which could keep any player busy for hours. There’s treasure hunting, a seemingly simple task which is actually a vital part of the game. Any items found sustain the economy and allow players to build new homes, job class buildings, and multiple other structures that serve many miscellaneous purposes. Another side quest has the king aiding Ginger Kyde, a wandering artist who has lost his paintings. Players must search the world in order to find the lost paintings and return them to poor Ginger (it is interesting to note that all the art pieces players will seek are real pieces of fan art).  These pieces of art, once found, can also be used to decorate the king’s castle.    

It is nearly impossible to avoid being completely enamored with everything in sight right from the game's introduction. The characters and animals are small and cartoonish, with an overloaded cuteness factor reminiscent of Harvest Moon. Every building, object, and character within the game is saturated with color and the little graphic subtleties - such as leaves being heart-shaped - makes the presentation appealing and unforgettable.    

Besides the incredibly fun questing, interesting exploring, and satisfying kingdom expansions there are so many other wonderful subtleties to take in. One that I couldn’t get enough of was marrying my citizens. If you see hearts above two citizens’ heads, grab them and toss them into the church where they will be promptly married. Then two seconds later a bird will swoop down with a little child, rounding out their new little family.  The characters inhabiting the world are silly and hilarious, with enough crazy - and often suggestive - things to say to keep players thoroughly entertained.    

In the past I could've only dreamt about a game that was both cute and challenging, and yet here it is. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. Aiming can be an issue many times during battles, mainly thanks to awkward camera angles. Targeting an enemy doesn’t actually lock onto them; instead, it merely brings up a targeting system where a line depicts the path of any thrown party members. Players often wind up tossing their soldiers towards the wrong enemy, or into a wall, especially with multiple enemies present.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the pathfinding of the characters was similar to that of Pikmin. However, instead of rushing the closest enemy, the troops will merely stand around confused until they rush back to the king on their own, or are called back. This problem is remedied later on with an expensive party upgrade , but for a game so based on strategy-based battles, this should have been a standard feature from the get-go.    

Little King’s Story is a prime example of how a game can be cute and colorful, yet still challenging and fulfilling. With all that this game has to offer, there is sure to be something here for all types of gamers of any skill level. No Wii owner should overlook this fantastic and unique experience.


  • Many fulfilling side quests
  • Gorgeous presentation
  • Challenging

  •        Cons:
  • Battle mechanics can be inaccurate

  •                Graphics:  9.0
           There's no other way to say it: the art direction in Little King's Story is simply gorgeous. Every house, tree, character, and flower has been detailed to the fullest extent.

                   Sound:  8.0
           The background noise is simply fantastic and the gibberish voice acting fits the game perfectly. Thanks to the public domain arrangements , most players will recognize and appreciate the game's oddly refreshing soundtrack which includes Beethoven’s ninth symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker.

                   Control:  8.0
           Other than minor issues with aiming the tossing of villagers, Little King’s Story controls extremely well.

                          Gameplay:  9.0
           The entire Little King’s Story play experience is incredibly fun from beginning to end. With a wide challenge spectrum, there is plenty of content to afford a leisurely or aggressive play experience that never becomes too over or underwhelming.


           Lastability:  8.0
           Long after every quest is completed there are multiple side quests to keep players busy, whether it is treasure hunting to earn extra money or seeking lost paintings.


           Final:  9.0
           Little King’s Story is a wonderful addition to the Wii library, combining a healthy dose of charm alongside plenty of challenge. There’s something for everyone in this title, and no one should go without playing it.      

    TalkBack / REVIEWS: Dawn of Discovery
    « on: August 11, 2009, 04:16:32 AM »
    Grow a colony from the ground up in this brand new simulation…then wonder where the last 15 hours of your life went.

     Back when I was young, there was a game available for the PC called Sim Town; it was a simplified version of the world-renowned Sim City. All I could do was place buildings, build schools and parks as my people asked for them, and win awards. It was simplistic, addicting, and indescribably fun. As gaming has progressed, simulations have become clogged with excruciating detail, destroying the original formula that, despite being elementary, worked extremely well. Dawn of Discovery is a return to that formula, blending old school ideas with modern flair to create a unique gaming experience Wii owners are sure to appreciate.    

    Released as Anno 1404 outside of North America, Dawn of Discovery is actually the latest entry in the popular European Anno series. Set in the year 1404 A.D., Dawn of Discovery is an incredibly fun, addicting experience that takes players through all the trials and tribulations of settling new lands.    

    When starting a new game, there are two different modes to choose from: Continuous and Story . Within Story mode, players follow the story of Prince Edward who, by order of his father King George, must find new land to settle in order to provide food and new shelter for their kingdom’s starving inhabitants. Edward is joined by an advisor Cornelius and a brash young explorer named Evelyn, who offer guidance to players throughout each new obstacle while providing constant feedback.    

    Story mode is split into seven chapters, each of which expands upon Edward’s tale and presents new obstacles to overcome. Within the first chapter, players are given an island to settle and are guided through gameplay basics by Evelyn and Cornelius. The first tasks include building lumberjack huts in order to gather building materials, fishing huts for food, and dairy farms for milk. After all, in order for settlers to move in, they must have food and building materials to create their shelters. Once basic needs are fulfilled, players can start building their towns, one house at a time. It’s this gradual introduction of new concepts that makes the game so addictive and appealing. Players will find that just as they have mastered all of the tools and strategies needed to be successful for one chapter, a new slew of items and buildings open up in the next.    

    This is where the greatest part of this title comes in to play: the strategic element. In later chapters, players are given access to more than one island, and certain islands may be better suited for growing a particular crop, which is determined by the fertility level of a particular good. Others may be too small for a decently sized settlement and thus are better used for dairy farms, stone and iron ore mills, lumberjack huts, etc. On others, the fertility levels for all supported crops may be so low that it only makes sense to utilize the island for a large settlement.    

    Eventually, settlers will wish to advance in their civilization level and will demand particular goods or services from the player. These demands introduce new buildings, crops, and goods, such as herbs, spices, hemp for clothes, and clay for pottery. As settlers increase their social level, the rate at which they may be taxed also increases. This brings in more money, which allows players to build more structures in order to support a larger colony.    

    As the chapters progress, players will find themselves associating with other cultures and gaining new technologies, such as the water pump, which is acquired through establishing a good relationship with the Orient. Players will need to complete achievements in order to unlock new island locations, build shipyards to travel to new locales, manage the needs of an ever-increasing population, and defend their colonies at all costs against fire, illness, and invaders.    

    Even though each chapter within Story mode has a set goal, there is never any rush to complete it. The beautiful part about this game is that it caters to all types of players. For experienced gamers, just as the challenge level seems to be falling, a disaster will strike in one of your colonies, requiring you to think critically on the best way to solve the issue. For the more relaxed gamer, you can simply think things through slowly and take your time at a calmer pace.    

    At the conclusion of Story mode, players will have mastered all the knowledge and techniques for growing a successful civilization. Even after the main quest, which contains more than fifteen hours of gameplay itself, players can take on the challenge of Continuous mode, which allows them to customize their own map in order to make the experience as hard or easy as desired.    

    There aren’t enough words to describe what an incredibly fun experience Dawn of Discovery is. Whenever I thought I had it all figured out, the game threw another challenge at me, keeping the gameplay fresh and forcing me to keep thinking. This game is sadistically addicting and can make five hours of gameplay feel like just one. This is by far one of the best titles on Wii and is a must-own for all players.


  • Open gameplay concept
  • Pacing is excellent
  • Impressive presentation

  •        Cons:
  • Slowdown issues

  •                Graphics:  9.0
           From far away or zoomed in close, Dawn of Discovery is a pleasure to look at. It’s cartoony yet realistic. Whether it's the smoke rising from the chimneys, or the animals frolicking through the woods, the subtle details are what make the game shine.

                   Sound:  8.0
           Dawn of Discovery revolves around its sound effects. While the background music is upbeat and catchy, it is obviously not designed to be front and center. Little touches make the experience more enjoyable, including the sound of crashing waves and wagons rolling through the streets.

                   Control:  9.0
           Pointing and clicking has never been easier, and whether players are placing a house or sailing through the waters, they are sure to be impressed with how smoothly the game controls.

                          Gameplay:  9.0
           The word "fun" doesn’t even begin to describe Dawn of Discovery. The pace is fantastic, challenges always arise just when players think they have it all figured out, and managing multiple islands full of people requires focus and attention.


           Lastability:  9.0
           There is unlimited potential for replay with Dawn of Discovery. After the main quest has ended, Continuous mode allows players to customize their own experiences, where the possibilities are endless.


           Final:  9.0
           Dawn of Discovery is a fantastic addition to the Wii library and makes excellent use of all the Wii has to offer. It’s a great title for gamers of all ages and skill levels; the game is hard enough to keep experienced gamers satisfied while being evenly-paced for beginners to also enjoy.      

    TalkBack / PREVIEWS: Arc Rise Fantasia
    « on: August 03, 2009, 04:45:15 PM »
    The Japanese role-playing game will launch in North America next year.

     Arc Rise Fantasia is the latest effort from IMAGEEPOCH INC., developers of the DS title Luminous Arc. The team has combined forces with Marvelous, Yasunori Matsura, composer for the Guilty Gear and Xenosaga series, and Kenichi Yoshida, Eureka Seven character designer, to develop a traditional role-playing game for Wii.    

    The game takes place in the world of Fulheim, a land that has thrived for many years in prosper due to the use of the luminescent technology called “reys.” An empire within Fulheim, named Meridia, is under a terrible threat from “Containment Dragons,” which, according to reports from other locations around the world, cause an unnatural phenomenon the people call “crystallization”.    

    Killing these beasts is unfortunately not even an option for the people since the dragon carcasses poison the air upon their death. As word is spread to the city of Meridian of the impending invasion of these dragons upon the town, two individuals stand up to prevent this disaster from happening: L‘arc, a soldier from the imperial army, and Als, who is the second prince of Meridia. Although both of these men will fight for the safety and well being of their people, they will discover that harmony “comes with a very high price.”    

    Arc Rise Fantasia is an RPG that combines airships, magic, and dragons in an epic storyline that features modern gameplay innovations with elements of classic Japanese role-playing concepts.  In addition to classic turn-based fighting, players will be able to implement string- based attacks by drawing from the same Action Points (AP) gauge. These string functions can be used by just one or many characters to unleash a powerful attack. Summoning creatures to help in battle is also another important aspect in this title, and not only will they be especially useful in battle, but can also provide useful information to players in order to help with their quest.    

    Arc Rise Fantasia is expected to release Q1 2010 exclusively for Wii in North America.

    TalkBack / Re: REVIEWS: The Legendary Starfy
    « on: July 15, 2009, 11:18:11 AM »
    While you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, and I appreciate your feedback, I would like to address a few points from your argument.

    First, you stated that you are only on the third level and thus basing all of your assumptions for the rest of this title on the fact that you haven’t even played halfway through this game. I will admit, up until the third area the exploration is a bit weak, however after the fourth, and especially later areas, it does at least become a bit more time consuming in order to find everything. Also, just because the exploration isn’t challenging doesn’t mean that it can’t be interesting and rewarding. As a matter of fact, the third area contains levels where yet to be learned Starfy abilities, Starly, and upgraded Bunston abilities will bar a player from finding all the chests, so it’s nearly impossible to be one hundred percent successful at the point you are in the game.

    Also to clear up a point that may have been confusing in my review, I was at no point ever comparing the exploration element in The Legendary Starfy to that of Zelda. My Zelda comparison was aimed at the similarities between collection the crystal shard pieces and that of putting the triforce back together.

    However I do agree with you on some points. I too was disappointed that the costumes couldn’t be fashioned on Starfy for in-game play. In fact I thought it was almost a tease or a cop out on Nintendo’s part, but I was smitten enough to see Starfy dressed as a Reindeer so I thought I’d let it slide. The level of ease at which the game can be tackled was also my biggest frustration throughout, and while it left me wanting more at times, it didn’t destroy the overall experience of the game for me. As I stated clearly in my review, if you are a gamer who requires a challenge, this title is certainly not for you.

    TalkBack / REVIEWS: The Legendary Starfy
    « on: July 15, 2009, 12:13:47 AM »
    On land or under the sea, this game has platforming, exploration, and plenty of extras to keep everyone happy.

     The Starfy series began way back in 2002 on the Game Boy Advance with the Japan-only title, Densetsu no Starfy. Over the next several years, four sequels, which were also Japan exclusives, were released. This year, the series is finally available to the western world with the fifth entry in the series, The Legendary Starfy. This title features staples of many popular Nintendo franchises including Super Mario, Kirby and even Zelda. They are all combined into a bright and colorful adventure that is well worth the wait.    

    The Legendary Starfy is a 2-D platformer that follows the tale of Prince Starfy, who is on a quest to help a mysterious rabbit named Bunston avoid capture by an evil group known as the Dire Pirate Squad. Starfy, with the aid of Bunston and a slew of other characters, must seek out the broken crystal shards in order for Bunston to return home and save his people.    

    The game is split into eight different areas. Much like a Super Mario title, players must navigate several sublevels before fighting an end boss in return for a crystal shard, thus moving on to the next area. The Starfy universe takes place above land and below water. Starfy has many different abilities for use on each of these terrains, such as  the basic star spin which is useful for killing enemies on land and in water. Learning to utilize all of Starfy’s moves in conjunction with one another is a large staple of the game, not only because of its platforming nature, but because The Legendary Starfy is very heavily based on exploration . Bunston also comes to Starfy’s aid with his transformation ability, which allows Starfy to become one of four unique creatures (seal, dragon, chicken and ghost), each with their own special abilities.    

    While reaching the end of a level allows players to move onward in the main story line, each level offers several hidden treasure chests containing miscellaneous items, doors which open secret levels after completing a challenge, upgrades to one of Bunston’s four transformation forms and large pockets of pearls which can be spent on clothing in the submenu. Some items that players may seek within chests include journal pages from Moe’s diary, clothing items which cannot be bought and extra heart gems that give Starfy an extra life unit when three are found. Finding some of these hidden chests require abilities that Starfy has yet to learn or Bunston upgrades, so players may have to backtrack often in order to complete the game one hundred percent. In certain levels players will even need to enlist the help of a friend via local single card wireless. They will control Starfy’s little sister Starly who has her own unique set of moves which include the ability to crawl through tight spaces and jump much higher than Starfy can on land.    

     Replaying levels to find hidden chests, secret areas and transformation upgrades isn't the only thing that will keep players coming back for more. There are several alternative modes, including the dress up Starfy mode where players can combine items of clothing they have either purchased or found,  in hopes of creating a “Special”, which is an entertaining little scene based around Starfy’s particular costume. There are also mini-games, which become unlocked as players progress through the main storyline. My personal favorite is  the cooking mini-game where players must try to make as many Takoyaki balls as possible within a time limit. The mini-game is simple, fun, and controls very well. Lastly, when players complete the main storyline they unlock three new features, including a randomized toy dispenser which, for a small fee of five coins, nets players an in-game toy similar to the trophy lottery system in Super Smash Bros Melee. Trying to collect them all will undoubtedly keep interested players occupied.    


      The only real disappointment with this title comes from the utter lack of challenge throughout . Although thorough exploration of each level requires some time and effort, surviving through each one is by no means a difficult  task. Without any real challenge, The Legendary Starfy lacks a satisfying sense of accomplishment for players.    

    Western gamers have waited quite a while to see Starfy on our home front, and The Legendary Starfy is a bright and charming introduction to this series with a great play experience that has much to offer long after the main campaign has ended. Fans of 2D Nintendo platformers such as Kirby and Super Mario will surely be entertained by this enjoyable title. While the challenge level leaves something to be desired, the good aspects certainly outweigh the bad, and we can only hope that the Western gaming world will continue to see more of Starfy and his outrageous companions in the future.


  • Exploring is incredibly fun
  • Great additional content

  •        Cons:
  • Too Easy

  •                Graphics:  8.0
           Starfy’s universe both above and below the sea are colorful and vibrant. The subtle animation effects and three-dimensional backgrounds help give the game a unique feel and a bit of extra personality.

                   Sound:  7.0
           Although the music is bouncy and bright, it doesn't leave a lasting impression like other Nintendo titles tend to.

                   Control:  9.0
           When it comes to control schemes, Nintendo kept it simple using a traditional control scheme combining the D-pad with button pressing. No matter which environment Starfy is in, his movements always feel smooth and responsive. Only in certain Bunston transformation forms can the controls become a bit sloppy, creating a moment of annoyance for players.

                          Gameplay:  8.0
           The combination of platforming underwater and on land is incredibly fun and allows players to combine multiple moves, not only to traverse the level but also  to seek out hidden objects or areas. Not to mention, the bonus content can keep players entertained for hours alone. The only downside is that the game is simply too easy.


           Lastability:  8.0
           The main campaign itself will keep players going for at least eight hours without returning to each level to seek hidden treasures and power upgrades. If backtracking isn’t appealing, then one of the included mini-games or other applications contain a good amount of entertainment value for extended play.


           Final:  8.0
           The Legendary Starfy has all the right elements needed to compete for a top spot among other Nintendo IPs. The platforming is great, the exploration is a top-notch, and the extras are entertaining; however, anyone interested in a challenge will be sorely disappointed.      

    TalkBack / Re: REVIEWS: Ghostbusters: The Video Game
    « on: July 03, 2009, 04:57:24 PM »
    Obviously, I got the short end of the Ghostbusters review stick.
    Damn you, Chessa!

    Well, I guess I can try to sell the DS game and then go buy this...

    That's the spirit! Now you'll have five whole dollars to put towards the Wii version.

    TalkBack / REVIEWS: Ghostbusters: The Video Game
    « on: July 03, 2009, 02:28:57 PM »
    The Ghostbusters are back and you're the new recruit in this incredibly fun addition to the series.

     I suppose there’s no real way to avoid admitting that I have been a Ghostbusters fanatic since I was young. Obviously when I heard a Ghostbusters title was in the works, written by and starring my idols of the eighties, I knew I had to have the game. I wanted the returning characters to capture their original personalities, the ghosts to be aggressive, and to be immersed in the universe. Happily, I found all of that within the first few minutes of this game. While I wish the game offered a less linear gameplay concept, as a long-time fan of the property I am extremely happy with the overall experience.    

    When players pop in the game for the first time, they  will notice that the opening presentation is identical to the one seen right before the two movies begin. This is a strong foreshadowing of what to expect when starting the game. Ghostbusters: The Videogame plays like an interactive movie where every word and scenario is scripted and nothing happens at random.    

    After several hilarious and wonderful introduction conversations starring the old Ghostbusters, Janine, Slimer, and the player character, the crew heads out on their first mission. When leaving to tackle a mission, players are given the option of playing alone or cooperatively. While wrangling spooks and specters alone certainly creates a feeling of accomplishment, co-op play is way too much fun to pass down, despite the occasional slowdown when too much is happening on screen.    

    The first mission takes players to the Sedgewick Hotel, where Slimer has escaped and is wreaking havoc. Fans of the first movie will certainly be delighted as they play through this scenario, which features familiar characters and locales. This first mission, aside from being obvious fan service, eases players into the controls, tools, and gameplay they will utilize throughout the rest of the game, including the proton pack, PKE meter, and the trap.As players progress through more levels, proton pack upgrades such as the slime blaster are acquired which may used alone, or in conjunction with another beam to solve puzzles and/or capture ghosts.    

    Capturing, or defeating a ghost, isn’t as simple as pointing a proton beam and firing at it. Many times, in order to even begin the capturing process, a ghost must first be worn down. This is done by continuously hitting the ghost with your proton stream. As the game progresses, there will be various types of ghosts that require different beams to fully wear it down. Once worn, a second life bar will appear when players finally wrangle the ghost. Having more than one proton beam holding a ghost makes the process much easier, especially for more powerful entities. In order to finally capture the ghost, players will need to slam the ghost into submission. This is done with a variety of Wii Remote gestures in the direction specified by the on-screen arrows. Players can throw a trap at this point by holding "Z" on the Nunchuk and thrusting it forward. After that, players must simply guide the ghost into the trap.    

    Aside from battling and capturing ghosts, players must try to locate hidden art pages and scans for Tobin’s Spirit Guide, which are located in each chapter of every level. Scans are obtained by equipping the PKE meter and scanning any objects that make the reticle glow green. Art pages are usually hidden within objects, so players will often find themselves destroying everything in their path. As a humorous addition, the monetary amount of destruction is tallied, along with the number of scans and art pages collected for a final ranking at the end of every chapter within a level. Collecting these pages and scans, aside from allowing players to grasp a deeper understanding of things within the Ghostbusters universe, also unlocks helpful abilities, such as shorter scanning time, faster life rejuvenation, and eliminating proton pack overheating.    

    The one aspect of the game that really pulls it all together is the incredible voice acting and sound work. Every piece of music in this game comes straight from the movies, and it’s simply incredible how well each piece matches the in-game scenarios so well. The proton beams have the same familiar ring, and the slime sounds just as disgusting as ever. The voice acting goes above and beyond, as each character’s original cast member reignites the personality that made each of the Ghostbusters so unique. The opening sequence reunites players with neurotic Egon, gullible Ray, skittish Winston, and of course, Peter the womanizer.    

    The real disappointment of the title comes from its incredible linearity. I was fully expecting to be able to cruise around in Ecto-1 throughout Manhattan, with several missions in different locales racked up on some sort of “To Do” list that I could tackle in any order. After realizing that I was stuck playing the game in a predetermined fashion, I had at least some other small hopes that, if I couldn’t speed through Manhattan at will, perhaps, just maybe, I could run around the awesome Ghostbusters headquarters and interact with the countless items. But no, I couldn’t do that either. At least I was able to slide down the pole, which made me feel a little better.    

    Ghostbusters: The Video Game does a fantastic job tying in with the legacy of the movies. The appearance of most of the core crew in the game, as well as an interesting story and witty dialog, creates an experience that is unlike anything seen in a game before. Fans of Ghostbusters shouldn't hesitate in picking this fantastic title up. Those who aren't huge fans of the source material won't be as enthralled with the title; however, the gameplay and controls are both solid, and though extremely linear, the game provides for an interesting ride.


  • Co-op mode is a blast
  • Original cast and music add to the authentic feel
  • Funny dialogue

  •        Cons:
  • Slowdown with two players
  • Lack of real challenge
  • Too linear

  •                Graphics:  7.0
           Although the cartoonish graphical style presented in Ghostbusters certainly matches the humorous feel, the jagged textures and fuzzy animation drag down the overall presentation.

                   Sound:  9.0
           All the music and proton sound effects used within the game are derived directly from the movies themselves, and these elements truly give it an immersive Ghostbusters feel.

                   Control:  8.0
           The controls are, for the most part, incredibly responsive. However, when the reticule gets lost off screen it can sometimes be frustrating to reposition a character’s point of view, especially in a frantic situation.

                          Gameplay:  8.0
           As players navigate the levels, ghosts aren’t the only things they need to worry about. They’ll conquer puzzles, uncover hidden pathways, and search for items as they weave through interesting locales. As the game progresses, the combination of all these aspects becomes more complex, creating an increasingly enjoyable experience.


           Lastability:  6.0
           After completing the main quest, there is little to come back to, besides searching for undiscovered art pages and missed scans. While obtaining all of these objects unlocks different items and upgrades, they will only be put to good use on a second playthrough.


           Final:  8.0
           Ignoring the lack of freedom players have in regards to exploring the Ghostbusters universe, this title lives up to my hopes and expectations as a life-long fan of the series. The humor, story, sounds, characters, and settings blend together in a wonderful mix that truly captures the essence of Ghostbusters. Every fan of the series should, if not must, experience this title for himself.      

    TalkBack / Ignition Releases First Trailer for Nostalgia
    « on: June 17, 2009, 06:29:00 PM »
    The DS RPG that seems to take inspiration from Skies of Arcadia receives its first official trailer.

     Today, Ignition released the first official trailer for the air-based DS RPG, Nostalgia.    

    Coming this fall, the game follows the main character Eddy and a cast of Londoners as they travel the world.    

    For further information, check out our E3 preview and impressions on the upcoming game.    

    TalkBack / Re: Okaeri! Chibi-Robo! Happy Richie Oosouji?!?!
    « on: June 16, 2009, 03:46:58 PM »
    While I'm glad that another Chibi Robo is in the works, I'm sort of disappointed it's for the DS and not for Wii. I wasn't a big fan of the last DS Chibi Robo, so I'm hoping for this upcoming version, it's more like the original.

    TalkBack / REVIEWS: Gardening Mama
    « on: June 16, 2009, 04:11:23 PM »
    Mama’s new career choice still has some weeds to pick out.

     I was completely enamored with the Cooking Mama series the moment I played the first title on the DS. It was a unique concept at the time, and the game was a quick, easy, and fun pick-up-and-play title I could always count on. Unfortunately, since the original, the series has had a rapid decline in quality, with a couple of Wii titles succeeding it. For this reason it was refreshing to see Mama switching gears and throwing in her oven mitts for a pair of gloves in Gardening Mama for the DS. While the concept is new, it still suffers from many of the same vices as its predecessors.    

    Unlike Cooking Mama, Gardening Mama isn’t as simple as completing a set of mini-games for an evaluation. Instead, players are given access to multiple types of gardens, including a rose, flower, fruit, and vegetable garden. As players successfully maintain and blossom different plants, new ones are unlocked. The key difference between the two titles is that Gardening Mama requires players to go through multiple series of mini-games to grow a plant before they accomplish their goal, whereas in Cooking Mama, players need only to complete the mini-games associated with a single dish. Also, gameplay in Gardening Mama is stretched out in a more linear fashion, requiring players to balance caring for multiple plants that are in different stages of growth, at a time.    

    Players begin gardening with Mama by planting a seed or bulb, depending on what he or she chooses to grow. Once that set of mini-games is completed an icon appears next to the plant indicating that it is in the growing process. Players must then move on to grow, or care for, another plant. Once the plant completes the initial step in its growing phase, players have a variety of tasks to complete including watering, removing insects, tying down vines, removing thorns, and applying fertilizer. If players neglect a particular plant for too long, a frantic headline rolls across the screen stating that a particular plant is wilting. Although the plant will be fine for two or three rounds, if it is not tended to within this time frame it will wilt and die. The amount of time between growing phases isn’t determined by time in the traditional sense. Rather, time progresses with each set of mini-games. After the entire series of mini-games are completed for a given plant, players receive a rating for their work. Completing each of the mini-games perfectly will net players a gold medal.    

    There are dozens of different plants to grow in a variety of locations;, however, there just isn’t enough variety in the game to sustain the sort of time and effort investment the game sometimes requires. There is no instant gratification to be had, and unfortunately, with the exception of the fruits and vegetables, the only way to re-grow the flowers is to wait for them to die and start over again.    

      This brings me to one of the best aspects about Gardening Mama: earning prizes. During every mini-game a clock counts down the remaining time a player has. If players are able to complete a mini-game within a specific amount of time, they are awarded a bonus point. For the price of three bonus points players can choose one of three prize boxes containing a random prize. Possible prizes include new articles of clothing and accessories to dress up Mama, decorations that can be used in the Flower Garden, and by far the best prize, fertilizers that allow players to grow special flowers. These flowers can unlock a new garden where these special flowers can be grown at any point, and then exchanged over WiFi with friends. The type of fertilizer a player chooses can also impact which color the plant will become, and how many fruits/vegetables grow.    

    Sadly, controlling Gardening Mama seemed to be my biggest challenge throughout the game. Sometimes the controls worked, sometimes they didn’t, and sometimes I had to retry a single mini-game within the larger set several times just to figure out what the game was asking me to do. Even though arrows and other on-screen cues indicate how players are supposed to perform the designated task, often they are not clear enough to demonstrate exactly what you must do. In some of the instances where the directions were clear, the game expected extreme precision with gestures, and my actions were not precise enough to effectively perform the task. For example, in one of the mini-games you must scoop out soil in different increments. The amount of soil removed is determined by how fast the stylus is swiped across the screen. As one would expect, consistently scooping out the proper amount of soil was near impossible.    

    By far my most hated game throughout my time with Gardening Mama was the seemingly easy task of pulling the pot off of the plant. Pulling this plastic covering off of the plant never seemed to happen in just one stylus swipe, thus forcing a frenzied swiping of the stylus across the DS screen until the damn thing finally decided to come off.    

    Furthermore, moving around the garden is unnecessarily slow and the window of vision is so small that it can sometimes take a tediously long amount of time to figure out which plants need tending to.    

    While there isn’t much to talk about regarding the title's soundtrack, the voice acting is simply too terrible, yet hilarious, not to mention. From the moment a player turns on the game they are subjected to absolutely horrendous voice acting, clearly performed by an individual whose native language is not English. Whenever the in-game commentator speaks, it's a good thing that there is text on screen, because the dialog is so butchered it leaves players completely baffled as to what the actress is attempting to say. One of the best examples is terrific, which when spoken sounds like "terlific." I still can’t keep myself together when I hear the game attempt to say, "Don’t worry, Mama will take care of it." Honestly, some of the best moments I had with the game were laughing hysterically at, and mimicking, the  voicing of Gardening Mama.    

      In all, there are just certain rotten parts of the Mama series formula that the developers continue to overlook every time a new edition comes out. While Gardening Mama comes very close to being a leader in the series, glitchy controls and gameplay that can become tedious and boring hold it back from being a truly enjoyable title.


  • More focused gameplay
  • Unlockable and customizable features

  •        Cons:
  • Unreliable controls
  • Redoing entire mini-game sets for a gold medal
  • Waiting for a plant to die so it can be replayed

  •                Graphics:  8.5
           This is one department where Gardening Mama truly shines. All of the gardens are colorful, vibrant, and just overall pretty. Even within the mini-games the graphics shine, as everything is well represented in the game's unique style.

                   Sound:  6.0
           The music itself is nothing special or memorable. The voice acting is so bad it’s actually funny, yet all humor aside, there really is no excuse for this type of performance in a video game localization today.

                   Control:  6.0
           Most of the time , the mini-games control flawlessly, but it’s that small remaining percentage that brings down the overall experience. Needlessly replaying entire sets of mini-games due to finicky controls is extremely frustrating.

                          Gameplay:  7.0
           Stepping away from the Cooking Mama formula, Gardening Mama’s gameplay allows players the freedom to tend to multiple plants within several gardens, and even personalize their screen and flower gardens with items they win by acquiring bonuses. The real downfall comes after every plant has been grown, as playing through the same games can often become boring and tiring.


           Lastability:  6.0
           After all prizes have been won and every plant has been grown to a gold medal standard, there is very little to come back to, especially considering the massive effort that goes into growing one plant. Unlike in Cooking Mama, there is no instant pick-up-and-play gratification here.


           Final:  7.0
           By no means is Gardening Mama a bad game; in fact, it is a lot of fun after players conquer the learning curve associated with the controls. The freedom to maintain multiple colorful gardens, grow an array of different fruits and vegetables, and earn prizes makes this a unique and worthy entry in the Mama series. With a bit of patience anyone can enjoy this title, but I would recommend only gardening enthusiasts and Cooking Mama fans spring for it.      

    TalkBack / PREVIEWS: Astro Boy: The Video Game
    « on: June 10, 2009, 03:41:03 PM »
    Astro Boy sets out on another high flying adventure.

     Astro Boy has been a familiar icon worldwide since the manga and television adaptation was first broadcast in Japan in 1963. The series set the standard for the animated art style which later became known as anime. Since then, Astro Boy has been seen in TV remakes, films, and video games including High Voltage's newest addition to the franchise, Astro Boy for Wii. This new Astro Boy title will follow the same story as the new animated movie, set to release October 23.    

    Astro Boy is a young robot who was built by the brilliant scientist, Tenma. Because of the blue power embedded inside of him, Astro Boy has superpowers such as X-Ray vision, incredible strength, and the ability to fly at blazing speeds. Astro Boy's story begins when he wanders off on an adventure in search of acceptance. Through this journey Astro Boy learns human emotions, as well as what it feels like to be human. While on his adventures, he discovers that back home his family and friends are in danger and must travel back to his home of Metro City in order to save them.    

    The game is very reminiscent of classic arcade style titles, combining platforming, shooting and flight-based modes all in one. Players control Astro Boy and move along a 2-D plane, set within a completely 3-D world. While traversing the levels, players must watch out for background hazards and enemies that need to be avoided on the frontal plane. Combat is a combination of melee attacks mixed with artillery. Players will be able to punch, kick, laser, slide kick, and even throw stunned enemies at one another. There are also four super attacks, based on Astro Boy’s iconic powers. These attacks are the laser cannon, butt machine gun, drill attack, and refresh health. Killing enemies fills an orange bar on the top of the screen, which allows Astro Boy to perform these super powers. Depending on which difficulty setting a player chooses, the amount of max superpowers that may be queued decreases.    

    Generally, players will find themselves encountering two types of levels: on ground and in air. Players will see many of the locales from the movie as well as brand new levels created by High Voltage Software in the Astro Boy universe. While on land, players will be able to collect secret blueprints hidden throughout the levels. Finding these, will allow players to increase their stats: health, jets, laser, and power.    

    While navigating through the air players must avoid harmful obstacles while destroying enemies. As players are focused on their gameplay duties, the background will feature a sweeping full 3-D moving environment.    

    Astro Boy will also offer a two player drop-in-and-out cooperative mode, where the second player will control another Astro Boy. In addition to co-op play, players will be able battle head-to-head in Arena mode, where players will fight waves upon waves of mechanized enemies.    

    There are four difficulty setting with Hero being the hardest. These multiple skill levels are said to provide challenge for a variety of players. Players will also have fully customizable controls thanks to High Voltage Software leveraging the Quantum3 Engine to make the game.    

    The developers of Astro Boy have stated that they expect the title to be about six to eight hours long. Players will be able to extend their experience with the arena and multiplayer modes, as well as the multiple difficulty settings, and upgrades.    

    Astro Boy: The Video Game for Wii is expected to release during October 2009 to coincide with the release of the movie on October 23.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked
    « on: June 08, 2009, 02:49:17 PM »
    Cook authentic Food Network dishes in real time with feedback from some of Food Network's biggest stars.

     Unlike many other cooking games, dish preparation in Food Network Cook or be Cooked! is intended to be an authentic experience. Not only is the game intended to be a mode of entertainment, but also a good cooking tool that realistically guides players through the preparation of a home cooked meal.    

    There are thirty recipes contained in the game, and each one is a real recipe taken from the Food Network's very own cook book. The kitchen, tools, and utensils players will use to prepare their digital meals are all created to look as realistic as possible. Not only are the graphics intended to provoke a feeling of realism but all of the minute details players follow as well. All of the cooking temperatures, times, ingredients, and cookware used in the game are what players would actually use in real life to replicate the same meal. During certain sections of meal preparation indicators such as "too hot" or "too cold" will indicate that the player must adjust cooking temperature. The game itself, especially the first time through, is more of a training tool than a game. If players desired, the second play through can even be used as a cook-along.    

    The cooking times for all meals runs in real time, so if a steak requires fifteen minutes between preparation and completion, fifteen real minutes will tick by. However, if players do not desire to sit for fifteen minutes while their digital steak sizzles, pressing the "-" button fast forwards. Many times during a recipe, there will be more than one item that must be completed in order to fully finish the meal. At the beginning of each level there is an amount of time indicating how long from start to finish it should take to prepare that one food item in particular, and players should pay close attention to these times. All food items that complete a meal should be finished in close proximity to one another in order to have created a hot meal. As players finish each step that goes into preparing the meal, they will receive points that will count towards their final meal rating.    

    Once the entire meal is prepared, it will be evaluated by a famous Food Network chef who will give players feedback on their performance. Players will be evaluated on their accuracy, speed, and overall performance. If a player manages to acquire the gold chef hat, they are the ultimate chef and have perfected a meal.    

    While it is important to be quick, Food Network Cooked or be Cooked! is still very much focused on realism, and any attempt to rush through a step will result in a slip up. For example, if players try to shake the salt shaker too fast, the cap will come off and the dishes score will be lowered.    

    After having played through one recipe in the demo it was obvious that the controls were smooth and truly gave the player a sense of realism. Each cooking step took me through a more realistic set of cooking tasks then I have seen in any other food title. The meal was cooked from scratch until finish without any mini-game interruption or evaluation and truly captured an authentic cooking experience. Funny enough, the game was very reminiscent of Order Up!, of course the meal preparation was much more realistic and it lacked the cartoony feel. I have to say that I am very excited to see the completed form of this title and I believe that it will certainly appeal to gamers of all ages and skill levels.    

    Food Network Cooked or Be Cooked! will also feature a multiplayer mode where two chefs can either battle one another or work cooperatively on a meal. The game is expected to release Q4 2009.

    TalkBack / PREVIEWS: Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition
    « on: June 08, 2009, 01:22:50 PM »
    Travel through Africa on a journey to capture photographs of different wildlife.

     In Natsume's Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition, players travel through African  in an attempt to capture its indigenous wildlife on film.    

    Unlike Natsume's other title, Afrika, Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition is more "adventurous and cartoony." The playable world is completely 3-D, and while the characters themselves certainly have a cartoony style, the animals players encounter are much less so. All the animals have been created true to real life including patterns of movement as well as outward appearance.    

    Players will begin their photographic journey accompanied by their robot partner in a Jeep that runs along a set path in the African Safari. With the Nunchuk, players can move the camera left and right in order to gain a broader perspective of the overall environment. Along the sides of the trail there are often boxes that contain useless items which will aid players along their journey. Players must keep their eyes peeled for these containers at all times and click on them quickly in order to net the prizes they contain. The binoculars are a handy tool that will allow players to see boxes sooner, as well as wildlife.    

    While traveling down the path, players must also be on the lookout for dust clouds. These clouds indicate the presence of wildlife, and photo opportunities. Much like Pokemon Snap for the N64, photos taken in Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition should be taken with care. At any time, players can only hold up to twenty-eight pictures in their camera, so they should be saved for specific photo opportunity moments. When players click on a dust cloud and choose to investigate, they are brought to an area  with a large radius that is outline by a red circle. Many times with certain species, players must approach them very carefully in order to not scare the animal outside the radius, thus losing their photo opportunity.    

    Once a player has had enough of taking photos, finding items, or has simply run out of film, they can choose to return to their camp. Upon returning to camp, players must choose their three best pictures to send back to headquarters in order to be evaluated. One by one the editor carefully scans each photograph and after a humorous cutscene, he delivers the final evaluation: a passing gold, silver, or bronze medal, or the failing "no good." The editor is not only responsible for evaluating photos, but also for requesting a specific photo for players to take each day. For example, if players take a picture of an elephant bathing, it will net players a priceless shot.    

    Money is earned for good photographs and can be used to unlock items in the shop. One unique unlockable item type are the transformation sets. These sets allow players to blend in and get closer to the specific species of the set in order to take better pictures.    

    Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Expedition is currently being developed by Natsume and is expected to release this fall.    

    Lauren Lewandoski contributed to this article.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Mini Ninjas
    « on: June 04, 2009, 07:19:00 AM »
    This game has amazing charm potential but lacks much pizazz.

     Today I stopped by the Mini Ninjas booth to get a sneak peak at the upcoming Io Interactive and Eidos Entertainment title.    

    The demo for Mini Ninjas was very basic and basically highlighted the combat and very simple puzzle solving elements. From the start, I walked along a linear dirt path surrounded by swaying grass and occasional standing lanterns with animals prancing around in close proximity.    

    My first obstacle was to cross a burning bridge that had been split apart in the middle. With no obvious way to get around it, the game finally felt bad for my suffering and explained that I was able to possess animals. Pushing down on the D-Pad in front of an animal allowed me to possess the animal for a period of time: until I hit down once again, or took damage from some source. I was able to possess a chicken-like animal and attempted to fly over the burning bridge. In a series of events I can only assume was intentional, my chicken got toasted and I was thrown into the river.    

    From here, I discovered that Hiro, the main character, has the ability to remove his hat in the water for use as a raft. So I hopped into my new hat boat, which humerously looks as though I was riding in a giant bowl of ramen, and cruised on over to the shore where I encountered my first battle.    

    Basic combat utilizes the “B” button for a standard sword attack, and hitting “A” allows players to jump out of harms way. Enemies drop golden energy orbs which are used to build up red power orbs that can be released for a special, and much stronger, attack. I did not play the demo long enough to see one of these special moves in person.    

    Other elements of gameplay include being able to switch between characters that have different abilities including Futo, a brutish ninja who wields a large hammer and is very strong against enemies.    

    One thing I strongly have to compliment concerning mini ninjas is the camera: it was very responsive and consistently remained behind me without any choppy movements.    

    From what I saw, I don’t think the demo truly represented Mini Ninjas true potential. The experience altogether left me apathetic to a real opinion on this title. I think it definitely has the right formula to be great and I look forward to playing the finished project.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Squishy Tank
    « on: June 04, 2009, 07:18:00 AM »
    Match tiles of similar colors to explode invading mini tanks.

     Squishy Tank is an interesting little game whose title may leave players tilting their head in wonder at first. The entire concept of the game is actually incredibly simple: tap groups of three or more similar colored tiles on the bottom DS screen in order to blow up tanks that are slowly invading the top screen. If the tanks are not destroyed, within a time frame depicted by a slowly decreasing bar on the top screen, the level is lost and must be replayed to continue onward.    

    Realistically, that’s all there really is to the game; however, there are several modes to the game that change up the gameplay. There is classic play, which consists of numerous levels in which the challenge becomes increasingly more difficult as the game continues.    

    There is also survival, a mode which I was unable to play because it was locked out of the demo. Time attack mode requires players to finish a level within a certain amount of time, and Challenge mode has players battling to complete a given quest. According to PR material, there are power ups and items that players can acquire in order to make successfully completing levels easier, but once again I was unable to see any of these in action.    

    By far the most quirky of all the modes in Squishy Tank was collection mode, where players have the option of dressing a tank in different costumes, adding hats, or other accessories that were locked out of the demo. If players aren’t in the mood for dress up, they can simply go to collection mode and mercilessly poke the squishy tank and listen to him complain and cry.    

    Squishy Tank seems like a great pick-up-and play title that has some potential for lasting appeal. Some drawbacks include bland graphics including dull color schemes and uninteresting tank explosion animation.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Rabbids Go Home
    « on: June 03, 2009, 08:54:41 PM »
    As it turns out, building a junk ladder to the moon is a lot of fun.

     Rayman's Raving Rabbids has often been the brunt of many jokes and often looked down upon for its shallow mini-game collection that mostly appeals to casual Wii owners.    

    But, these aren't Rayman's Raving Rabbids, no these are independent Rabbids who just want to travel back to their home on the moon. Both the trailer and demonstration at the Ubisoft conference had me less than interested in ever playing the game. But today I figured I'd give the game a try and was pleasantly surprised at how simply entertaining it actually was.    

    The demo was the same depicted at the Ubisoft Press Conference and I was in control of a Rabbid pushing another Rabbid in a shopping cart. The ultimate goal: gather as much crap as I could possibly handle. The first thing I noticed was how well the controls responded. There was no unresponsiveness when swerving around corners or pulling off a tight turn and even frantic sporadic movements in random directions didn't throw off the smooth flow of the cart. The shopping cart itself is equipped with a boost that helps catch up to speedy creatures that really don't want to become part of that trash pile. When a certain speed is reached, blue sparks will shoot from beneath the car indicating that a super boost can now be released. I didn't really see any good reason to use the super boost other than for shooting really high into the air off of one of the skateboarding ramps and making my Rabbid scream like hell.    

    When a player is faced with enemies, shaking the Wii Remote attacks and renders the enemy vulnerable at which point they can then be picked up by the Rabbids. Basically players should ride around in their cart attempting to hit everything and anything they can see. You never know when hitting a seamlessly unimportant object will net you some more junk for the moon pile.    

    While the graphics weren't incredibly impressive they don't really have any reason to be. The bright and cartoony art style that accompanies the game fits the personality well. The subtle aspects of the game are what make it incredibly hilarious at times. It was pretty humorous to smash a wandering human and knock all of their clothes off as they scream in shame and fear. Although the demo was short and not incredibly packed with action, Raving Rabbids has potential to be quite an entertaining game.

    Based on the bestselling novels by James Patterson this title will feature three club members on a mission to solve a gruesome murder.

     Based on the best selling Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson, Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion is being developed by THQ for Nintendo DS and DSi. Previously, the Women’s Murder Club game series was exclusive to the PC and was extremely well received by fans of James Patterson and the mystery genre alike, according to the game's publisher.    

    Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion follows a brand new storyline and is designed to play like an interactive novel with story-based gameplay.  The title centers on completing mini-games which include finding hidden objects and solving puzzles in an effort solve the mystery. Some of the more specific responsibilities that players will take on throughout the title include interrogating suspects and using forensic science to uncover clues.  Players will take the role of Women’s Club members Lindsay, Claire, and Cindy who must investigate a number of murders targeting beautiful women which are seemingly unrelated to one another.    

    Additionally, players experiencing the game will be able to create their own mystery by utilizing the DSi camera.    

    Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion will release October 13th, 2009. An MSRP has yet to be announced.    

     FOR NINTENDO DSi™ and DS™    

    Best-Selling Author Brings an All-New Story to the Women’s Murder Club Series    

    AGOURA HILLS, CA – June 3, 2009 – THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI) and I-play today announced that Women’s Murder Club is currently in development for Nintendo DSi™ and DS™, and is scheduled for release this fall.  Based on James Patterson’s best-selling Women’s Murder Club series, Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion is the only Nintendo DSi™ and DS™ game that immerses fans in the mysterious and suspenseful world of the Women’s Murder Club.    

    “When I dreamed up the ladies of the Women’s Murder Club, I knew they were women of action; women on the go,” said James Patterson.  “I never dreamed they could come to life like they have in the Nintendo DS version.  This new game gives fans a chance to become a member of the Women’s Murder Club anytime, anywhere.”    

    “The Women’s Murder Club recently debuted on PC and has been received extremely well by James Patterson’s fans and amateur sleuths alike,” said Doug Clemmer, senior vice president for THQ.  “With an all new storyline and game play designed to take full advantage of the DS and DSi’s unique features, James Patterson is bringing his gripping story lines and signature story-telling style to yet another medium for fans to enjoy.”    

    About James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion
     In Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion, players step into the investigative shoes of the Women’s Murder Club members, Lindsay, Claire and Cindy, where they investigate a string of seemingly unrelated murders as they unfold.  Beautiful women go missing and turn up dead around every corner, and the clues point to the least likely of suspects.    

    With engrossing, story-driven gameplay and thought-provoking mini-games, Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion lets players immerse themselves in a classic Patterson mystery as they examine locations for clues, and interrogate witnesses and suspects alike.  A distinct mix of hidden object and puzzle gameplay, Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion lets players become a part of the Women’s Murder Club.  Additionally, a unique DSi™ feature allows fans to create their own mystery by utilizing the DSi™ camera!

    TalkBack / PREVIEWS: Nostalgia
    « on: June 03, 2009, 04:28:41 PM »
    A Beautiful RPG that takes players throughout a nineteenth century world exploring locations all around the world.

     Nostalgia was originally released in Japan on November 6, 2008 and was met with moderate launch figures of 7,930 copies during its first week. In December of 2008 the announcement was made to the rest of the world that Ignition Entertainment had acquired the publishing rights to the title.    

    Red Entertainment is the developer for this "epic RPG" that is set within an alternate universe taking place in the real world during the nineteenth century. The main character is a young boy named Eddie, whose famous explorer father has gone missing. When Eddie decides to search for his father he finds that his journey will be anything but easy and ends up on an adventure of his own.    

    Eddie, along with a group of three other companions named Pad, Melody, and Fiona, traverse the globe in a steam powered zeppelin. Players travel from world to world by flying the zeppelin across a lush 3-D universe that is broad and expansive, leaving room for plenty of hidden locations and exploration. The characters are also completely 3-D and feature a cartoonish and childish look. Both characters and environments are bright, colorful, and overall very beautiful. Unlike many other games, Nostalgia doesn't just center the camera on the ship floating above the clouds itself, but rather focuses farther back giving players a wide view of the world where they can even see other non-threatening ships floating by.    

    Although Nostalgia is primarily an RPG this does not limit the title to being solely linear. While the main storyline tends to follow a straight path, there are many quests that players can accept and complete throughout their journey. Players will make their way through several dungeons located in different locations including London (where the story begins), Egypt, and New York. Traps are present throughout dungeons, for example hidden panels that will drop players to a lower level, so players must always watch for patterns in trap locations and do their best to avoid them.    

    The combat in Nostalgia takes place in two different locations: on land and in the air. While in the air traveling to other locations, players will encounter random battles. There are four playable characters in total and as characters battle an enemy they must also keep a mindful eye on the health of their ship. Enemies will not simply attack the plane to reduce the health bar, but rather they will attack specific parts of the ships such as the guns, engines, and wings. This element was designed to add an extra element of needed strategy into the title instead of simply focusing on traditional combat. If the ships condition is becoming a matter of concern, there is the option of fixing the ship for the compromise of a character forfeiting a turn.    

    On the ground players also encounter random battles and combat is generally standard for an RPG title: the four players take turns attacking the enemy. In addition to attacking, players can use special abilities, heal, and use items. The four characters a player begins with are the only ones that will be playable throughout the game. Each of the four tends to have their own strength and choice of weapon. The main character Eddie uses mainly melee attacks with his sword while the other male character Pad uses guns. The two female characters have the most magic and Melody with her staff is a great choice for healing whereas Fiona and her scepter are useful for powerful magic spells.    

    The enemies in Nostalgia are a broad and wide variety of creatures. While there are many different species of monsters present, mummies within the Egypt level for example, there are many “mechanized evil” creatures also. When the party or the ship, while in the air, loses all health, the game is over and players must begin at the next save point. The game from beginning to end is expected to take players around twenty-five to thirty hours to complete.    

    Nostalgia will release during Q3 of 2009. A definitive MSRP has yet to be announced.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Endless Ocean 2
    « on: June 03, 2009, 06:13:00 AM »
    Even more stunningly beautiful and serene than the original.

     The First Endless Ocean was a quiet serene journey throughout the ocean scanning for treasure, searching for secret areas, and discovering new breeds of ocean life. Endless Ocean 2 is strikingly similar but without a doubt much more graphically impressive than its predecessor.    

    Unfortunately much of the E3 demo I played was in Japanese, and I couldn’t navigate the menus as easily as I had wanted to. Much of what I experienced occurred under water as I navigated my diver throughout the ocean. The first thing I noticed immediately was the incredible fluidity of the controls. In the last Endless Ocean, while the control generally worked well, there was often a general feeling of choppiness as you guided your character through the water. However, I didn’t experience that with this squeal; wherever I pointed my reticule the diver followed, even turning around wasn’t frustrating as turning around underwater tends to me in many games.    

    The graphical presentation was very impressive. The light hitting the rocks wasn’t fuzzy or shaky and the detail of the light reflection on the sand sets a perfect mood. The fish move a bit more realistically than in the original and the interaction between the player and the fish is much more realistic feeling.    

    I was unfortunately not able to adequately navigate all the ins-and-outs of the title, and even the man stationed at the booth couldn’t offer me much guidance in the way of scouring through the menu. However, from what I did play, the game is gorgeous and anyway who enjoyed the previous title will certainly appreciate it.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
    « on: June 03, 2009, 06:10:00 AM »
    No more terrible controls or camera for this silent hill, only an exciting adventure with amazing graphics.

     For me, one of my big guilty pleasures in life is a good survival horror, something that usually leaves me scared like a five year old girl and pausing the game every two seconds while I regain my sanity. Silent Hill is a series that always intrigued me and I was always absolutely hooked on the story. There was really just one problem with the series as a whole: the controls were horrendous.    

    By controls of course I am not only referring to the controls themselves but also the terrible camera, combat, and the fact that trying to figure out where to go can sometimes be a major pain. However, I am very happy to report that with the newest installment in the series, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, these issues have been addressed.    

    Before I get into anything about the actual E3 demo, I have to compliment the graphics as they looked absolute incredible, far better than anything I would have expected coming from the Wii. The textures looked crisp, the character looked great, and the light reflecting from the flashlights beam wasn’t fuzzy or shaky at all. Overall I’d have to say great job to the team with graphics, the game looks amazing.    

    Shattered Memories deviates fairly heavily from the original Silent Hill formula that many veterans would be familiar with. Just to name a few right off the bat there are no more: frustrating controls, bad combat, and aimless walking. Now let me elaborate on these points.    

    First the controls, how I hated them and fought endlessly with them in nearly every Silent Hill title I have ever played. In Shattered Memories the controls could not be more fluid and smooth. The character is controlled with the Nunchuck and this allows for accurate three-hundred sixty degrees of motion, which is necessary considering my next point.    

    That point is the combat in the game, or should I say the lack thereof. That’s right Silent Hill fans, there is no longer any combat whatsoever in this title. Shattered Memories is completely based upon avoiding enemies at all cost, although it is certainly harder than it may seem. When an enemy is close a static sound can be heard and the screen will become a bit fuzzy; this is definitely the time to run away. If an enemy happens to grab the character, players have to push their Nunchuck and Wii Remotes in a specified direction, which is shown on screen. It is important to note that outrunning enemies is necessary as they will continue to give chase, and since you can’t kill them…run, run, run.    

    Another great addition was a highlighted path that demonstrates where the player must go next. Walls, edges and doors are all highlighted blue in order to direct the player. Now this may seem as though it takes much of the challenge out of the game but navigating a dark world with a small flashlight beam while evading several monsters at a time tends to disorient and confuse players adding a new challenge to the title that was previously based upon killing enemies.    

    In addition to all the wonderful fixers included in this new title, Shattered Memories also contains some unique features that make the gameplay feel more immersive. One of these is based around a cell phone that the main character carries around and will receive numerous call on throughout the game. When a call comes in the voice on the other side of the phone doesn’t come through on the tv speakers but rather uses the speaker in the Wii Remote, requiring the players to put the Wii Remote to their ears as if they were answering a real phone. Unfortunately, due to the incredibly loud noise that completely engulfed the show floor, I was unable to really get a good feel for how well the sound came through.    

    The other interesting feature that I truly enjoyed was the peaking ability. I am, sad to admit, one of those gamers who whines as they have to turn a corner or open up a door. Ever since the dogs burst through the window in the original Resident Evil, I have been scarred. Onward then. In Shattered Memories players have two options when opening a door. The first is to simple run into the door barging it open regardless of what awaits them on the other side. The second is to slowly approach the door and tap the “A” button which allows players to take a small peek as to what is hiding on the other side.    

    All in all, I was incredibly impressed with the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories demo. Everything I griped about with original Silent Hills has been fixed and the overall presentation is simply amazing. I couldn’t really get a good grasp on the creepiness factor since loud booming noises and lots of yelling people don’t really create a creepy ambiance as well as being alone at two in the morning playing in the pitch black. I am very interested to see the final project and I think we should all be very excited for this release.

    TalkBack / Mario Vs. Donkey Kong and WarioWare: D.I.Y. Announced
    « on: June 02, 2009, 07:31:13 PM »
    A new Warioware and Mario Vs. Donkey Kong focus on user generated content.

     Today at the Nintendo press conference Nintendo revealed two new DS titles, WarioWare D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) for a retail release, and Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again for DSiWare.    

    Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again will be the third installment in the Mario Vs. Donkey Kong series. The familiar puzzle-solving elements that comprised the previous titles in the series will return with all new challenges and brain twisters.    

    However, the real highlight this time around is the level editor. Players will be able to test and design their own levels and either keep them all to themselves, or share them with others via the Nintendo WiFi Connection. Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again will be available June 8 on the DSiWare Channel.    

    Warioware D.I.Y. is a title based completely upon user generated content. The entire premise of this title is that the player creates their own challenges. With the mini-game creating tools players can draw, color, speed up, and animate their own minigames to any specifics they desire. Not only will players be able to manipulate the puzzles and time of the mini-games, but also the music that they are set to. Players will also be able to share created level via WiFi with other players. A definitive release date has not yet been confirmed.

    TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: G-Force
    « on: June 03, 2009, 03:38:52 AM »
    Guinea Pig-Heroes in our Hands!

     Video games based on movies are usually not a good idea, most of the time they are hurriedly thrown together and tossed out on shelves to parents who will buy anything their child demands. Yet, sometimes a title comes out that surprised you, and believe me, today at the Disney booth I was very surprised.    

    G-Force is a Disney movie due out at the end of July and follows the story of a group of guinea pigs and their fly friend who are attempting to stop an evil billionaire from taking over the world. G-Force the game is a title that is a combination of puzzle solving, action, and platforming which follows the main character, Darwin the guinea pig, and his sidekick Mooch as they attempt to stop a government plan.    

    So I go into the demo expecting cute prancing little guinea pigs and wound up…shooting lasers and using electrical whips against living toasters whose bottom plates split open revealing a smothering hot underbelly and are hell-bent on taking out my characters cute furry butt.    

    I was almost beside myself as I was locking onto targets and shooting beams at these enemies which would explode in defeat. Next I was involved in a challenge in which I was required to stop a door with large spikes from constantly smashing together so I could pass.    

    The intensity, and challenge level, of this title was almost overwhelming as it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The graphics took me aback slightly too. The environments themselves didn’t look overly special but the guinea pig himself was perfect! I have four guinea pigs at home and I could barely take my eyes away in amazement because the main character looked and moved exactly like a real guinea pig.    

    After playing this title I’m not sure if I’m entirely convinced that it could wind up being a surprise hit, but I will certainly be keeping my eye on it.  G-Force the game will release on July 21 2009 for Wii at an MSRP $49.99.

    TalkBack / Send Photos to Facebook With Your DSi
    « on: June 02, 2009, 10:55:32 PM »
    Pictures captured with the DSi camera can now be uploaded directly to facebook.

     Technology has made connectivity a persistent feature of day to day life. With just a touch of a button anyone can make phone calls, check email, video chat, and even watch movies.    

    Nintendo recognizes this trend in the constant improvement on utilizing new and fresh pieces of technology to keep people constantly connected. Today at the E3 Nintendo Press Conference, Nintendo discussed their desire to allow consumers to make the DSi a truly personalized system for each and every owner. Because of this they announced they will be giving their consumers the ability to upload photos taken on their DSi onto Facebook once they have had their fill of face warping and contrast changing.    

    This new service will be available during Summer of 2009.

    TalkBack / PREVIEWS: Wii Fit Plus
    « on: June 02, 2009, 10:44:56 PM »
    Wii Fit Plus adds new features and exercises to the popular series.

     In response to the incredible global success of Wii Fit, and the ever increasing popularity of fitness games, Nintendo has announced Wii Fit Plus, a sequel that expands upon their popular franchise.    

    While some of the more specific details concerning Wii Fit Plus were kept under wraps, we learned a number of interesting facts about the upcoming title.    

    First, unlike its predecessor, Wii Fit Plus allows players to access their favorite, and most used, exercises and store them within a locker room. Originally, players had to exit in and out of several menus in order to reach their next desired exercise. Now, several workouts can be stored in one area for convenient access.    

    In addition to the locker room, details concerning the workouts themselves have been revealed. Wii Fit Plus will contain six new yoga workouts, as well as fifteen other new exercises to choose from. Some of these new exercises include juggling, skateboarding, dodging cannonballs, and Perfect 10: an exercise in which players must move their bodies in order to hit oncoming numbers that will ultimately need to total the number ten.    

    The last detail revealed about the upcoming title is the total calorie counter. Unlike Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus will not just tally the total calories burned for one game and then reset the counter, but rather it will keep track of all the calories burned throughout a workout session.    

    Wii Fit Plus will be available for purchase during Q3 2009 with or without a bundled balance board. A prospective MSRP has yet to be announced.

    TalkBack / PREVIEWS: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
    « on: June 02, 2009, 10:37:10 PM »
    Now with video!

     After some speculation that there would be a new New Super Mario Bros. title announced due to a picture from IGN, Nintendo officially revealed New Super Mario Bros Wii at their E3 Press Conference.    

    The real surprise in this announcement lies in the fact that it will not be a traditional sequel to its predecessor on the DS. Instead, New Super Mario Bros. Wii features up-to-four player cooperative play in which players will have the option of controlling Mario, Luigi, and two different colored toads.    

    The game appears just as bright and vibrant as its predecessor, and also sees the return of the star coin collecting. We saw familiar staples of the Super Mario franchise as well as new features that have never been seen before.    

    Not only will players be able to traverse levels with one another but their characters will also have the ability to interact with one another. One interaction demonstrated a few times on stage was the ability to pick up another player’s characters and carry them and/or throw them at blocks and enemies. Another new addition is the Propeller Suit, which wraps a tight jumpsuit with a little propeller overhead onto the player’s character. By acquiring this suit players will be able to travel to higher areas of a level by shaking the Wii Remote.    

    In addition to new suits and co-operative play we saw hidden areas contained within the landscape and in case of an unfortunate death, players are brought back to life in bubbles. There is also ranking system at the end of each level which weighs out and compares the performances of each player in order to hand out a ranking.    

    New Super Mario Bros. Wii is expected to release worldwide during Q4 2009.    


    Here's Neal playing the castle level.

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