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Topics - famicomplicated

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TalkBack / Mario Kart DS (Wii U) Review Mini
« on: April 23, 2015, 02:03:30 AM »

Anyone want another Mario Kart game on Wii U?

OK let’s get the weird facts out the way first; by the end of 2015, there will be four Mario Kart games available to download from the Wii U eShop - two of them handheld games. Additionally weird is that aside from Mario Kart 8, none of them offer the staple local multiplayer modes, immediately negating a large portion of the games.

Mario Kart DS is most famously known for kickstarting the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection on the Nintendo DS. Here on Wii U, that mode functions as a reminder that the service no longer exists, as it is completely non-functional. This basically makes Mario Kart DS a single-player-only game, which leads into the more positive part of this review because it has one of the series’ best single-player modes and it is awesome. The missions in Mission Mode consist of several short challenges that are designed to teach you how to use the items or skills you’ll need to be a successful kart racer. Things start off easy like powersliding through gates or shooting green shells at Monty Moles, but this leads up to some devious time-based challenges and boss battles. There is an incredible amount of variety here, and every course and character is used. There are even unique stages only used for this mode. Online leaderboards didn’t exist back then - nor do they now - but you are given a three-star rating after every mission so completionists can enjoy perfecting every stage then bragging about it on Miiverse.

Grand Prix is the mode that unlocks new racers and karts and like the Mission Mode, a grade is given after completing every cup and this matters if you want to unlock everything. The rubber banding is not quite as bad as the later console games, and the blue shell can be defeated with a well placed bomb. There are some great new and retro tracks here, with Waluigi Pinball and Delfino Plaza being the most memorable. There is something fitting about playing the SNES stages in this retro style that pleases me.

The only other mode open to play is (ironically) the Battle Mode. Here you can play against seven CPUs, individually or in teams, and fight it out in Balloon Battle or Coin Runners. The seminal N64 Block Fort makes an appearance, and really makes you lament its absence in Mario Kart 8. Display methods work surprisingly well on Wii U, splitting the screens across the TV and GamePad look fine, as does putting both screens on the controller for off TV play.

Mario Kart DS is a weird game to recommend when it’s on a console with a modern version that has functional online modes and beautiful HD graphics. However, it is nice to play through Mission Mode again, one of the best Mario Kart single player modes outside of Mario Kart Wii’s (also defunct) tournament mode. If you’re fine with having a completely single-player Mario Kart game, go ahead and download it; it’s one of the series’ best. If not, Mario Kart DS is probably best left alone!

TalkBack / Donkey Kong 64 (Wii U) Review Mini
« on: April 22, 2015, 03:23:16 AM »

Does it still have style and grace, or is it just a funny face?

Donkey Kong 64 was often talked of as the game where Rareware overdid their tried and tested “collect multiple A to unlock area B” game design formula, even back in 1999! Designed as a 3D update to the classic 2D Donkey Kong Country games, you get to see a lot of familiar enemies and locations, albeit represented in chunky polygons. Donkey and Diddy make a return, along with Dixie and Kiddy lookalikes Tiny and Chunky, as well as the frightening orangutan called Lanky.

The game’s structure is similar to other Rareware 3D platformers like Banjo Kazooie; collect golden things (bananas) to gain access to a new world. But there’s a catch. To fight the boss of each world, you have to feed a hippo regular bananas (stay with me) in order to open a gate. Once you beat the boss, you get a key that unlocks the next world. To recap; get golden bananas, then regular bananas, beat the boss, get the key, go on to the next world. Sounds simple, but the twist (and it’s a big twist) is that the amount of regular bananas required to unlock bosses increases exponentially. Here’s the killer - each Kong has 100 of their own colored bananas to find per level. You actually only need 75 of each color to 100% the game, so you can ignore some, but there’s still a hell of a lot of bananas just to proceed to each successive world.

Collecting the golden bananas is done by accomplishing various tasks; shooting switches, finding hidden areas, helping friendly characters, defeating specific enemies, or even flying through hoops with Diddy’s jetpack. However to get all of the bananas, you are going to need to collect and use even more items, many of which require ammo or other perishable doodads. Crystal coconuts, banana film, musical instruments, pineapples (and four other fruit/nut weapons), banana coins, and orange grenades are all dotted around each level for you to use. Some items and switches are color-coded and require a specific Kong to activate or collect. This leads to a lot of backtracking to a Kong barrel to switch characters. In fact, you will spend most of your time in DK64 backtracking, even to do just the minimum requirments to pass onto the next world. This ultimately ruins the flow of the game, and compared to the masterpiece that is Super Mario 64, it can feel incredibly antiquated and frustrating. The controls are also quite clumsy, especially on the Wii U controllers. You can definitely feel the disconnect between this emulation and old analog sticks such as when walking along a narrow path or aiming in first person.

Despite all these shortcomings and annoyances, this is a charming game. The music is joyous and creates a fantastic atmosphere. All the themes are memorable and reminiscent of earlier Rareware games such as Banjo Kazooie. Other aspects of the audio design are also great, like the sound effects, voice clips and of course, the DK Rap.

It is hard to recommend DK64 in this day and age, yet it is equally hard to completely dismiss it. If you have the time and patience to collect all the things necessary to proceed through this game, and you have a hankering for a 3D Rareware platformer, this is all you’re going to get on a modern Nintendo system. If you are going in fresh expecting this to be a good follow up to Nintendo’s seminal Mario 64, you may find yourself getting quickly frustrated with all the arbitrary barriers and backtracking.

Nintendo Gaming / What do you expect to pay for Wii U at launch?
« on: July 05, 2012, 01:33:12 AM »
FYI: Nintendo have stated that the console and GamePad will be in the box at minimum. Pack-ins are not confirmed, and possibly haven't even been decided on yet!

With the release of Goldeneye 007 on Wii, the debate of which control setup works best for first-person shooters is yet again a topic of discussion.
This is the forum thread to vote and discuss which is your favourite.

This may be decided on a game-by-game basis for some, but I'm looking for a general opinion, which do you tend to lean towards and why?

If you swear by classic controls, what puts you off pointer controls? (and vice-versa)

In games that allow both control methods in multiplayer mode (like Goldeneye), do you find more success using one method over another?

Keep it clean and stick to the FPS genre, thank you please  :D

General Chat / Questions for the NWR Japan crew
« on: June 04, 2010, 02:29:02 AM »
Anyone interested in sending questions to the NWR Japan team may do so here. Either myself, Matt Walker, Danny Bivens or Minoru Yamaizumi will try our best to answer them.

Anything about Japan is welcomed, although games related would be preferred of course!

Edit: We'll answer them in the order they were asked, also we'd prefer questions with topics that are "safe for work" if you please!

Edit 2: Updated with the full Japan crew.  :D

TalkBack / Wii Need Meaningful Achievements!
« on: December 17, 2009, 05:37:56 PM »

  There has been some recent debate around the web about the necessity of an integrated online achievements system for either the Wii or Nintendo’s next console.  Well, I’m here to say that in a way we already have the groundwork for a potentially awesome system, that unlike the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 gives real products to the customer - Club Nintendo!    

OK, so earning coins for buying products which you can exchange for gifts is not comparable to the achievements / trophies systems on the other consoles, but I think it’s a great stepping stone for the next console.    

Imagine this.  Upon inserting your newly-bought game into your Wii HD, the console recognizes it and asks you if you want to register it with Club Nintendo.  You agree, and get 500 coins - all without leaving the disk channel.    

Now imagine an unlock system like the one in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for every single game. Now, your next 500 coins will have to be earned by meeting certain tasks in the game. You beat “New Super Mario Bros. Wii 2 HD: Yoshi’s Safari” and you get 50 coins and the ability to play as Luigi; you collect all the stars with your eyes closed, and you get 100 coins and a new title screen.    

I’m talking about unlocks and coins (basically achievement points) being tied together.  You get an in-game reward and a real world reward at the same time – imagine the joy!    

Not only will you feel like playing games for the sake of showing your friends your coin stash, but you’ll be able to get real stuff to play too.    

Imagine collecting enough coins in Starfox Wii HD, exchanging them for Nintendo Points, and buying the N64 version on Virtual Console. I’m pretty sure a system like this would get all sorts of gamers onto Nintendo’s console. After all, not everyone likes to play games just for achievements points, but I’m pretty sure anyone would play games to completion to get presents, downloadable games, and Virtual Console titles.    

Club Nintendo already exists in every major region across the world, with certain differences in the gifts available.  This doesn’t have to change. What does have to change is the way we can access, earn and exchange the coins/stars – it has to be unified and put to good use.    

The current problem with Nintendo's setup is that the only way to earn presents from Club Nintendo is to just “spend more money on games”.  The problem with the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 achievement systems is that they are ultimately an utter a waste of time, other than for bragging rights.    

If you put these two systems together, gamers would have great reasons to play games to completion, buy more games, and brag to their friends (if you like that kind of thing).  In the process, they would get some awesome swag and/or games that they will have earned thanks to their own skill and determination.    

I know the chances of this dream scenario happening are slim, but even if we get a half-baked Nintendofied version of this system, it would be pretty awesome.    

Personally, I’d rather get a Mario hat than a platinum trophy any day of the week.

TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles
« on: October 04, 2009, 03:08:13 PM »
NWR played an updated demo of the graphically impressive sequel to Umberalla Chronicles at TGS.

 We were shown a brand new level of the sequel to Umbrella Chronicles at a Capcom press event during this year’s Tokyo Games Show.    

This brand new level had Leon Kennedy and Jack Krauser investigating a village somewhere in South America. The look was more reminiscent of the daytime African scenes of Resident Evil 5 than the previous games' dark and gloomy levels, proving that you don’t need to have all the lights turned off to scare people. I should note that Darkside Chronicles is not at all related to RE 5; this all takes place during Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica.    

Graphically, Darkside Chronicles is a step up from Umbrella Chronicles, and the character models especially took me by surprise in how good they looked and animated. At times, I second-guessed myself as to whether it was a pre-rendered cinema or in-game engine cut scene, a fine compliment to the graphical improvements for sure.    

The action took place in various huts and walkways around the village, which were suspended above some murky looking water. This meant most of the enemies were either bursting out of doors or coming from the water itself.  I noticed some unintentionally cute looking zombie frogs and some rabid piranha fish, the latter being incredibly hard to hit due to their small size and incredible speed.    

The final showdown started off in a huge cabin at the end of the level, with a sexy lady called Manuela being held captive next to a weird egg looking thing.  No sooner had Leon shot the egg, however, that it jumped up and revealed itself to be the end of a tentacle attached to a huge monster. After several shots in the face, the monster swims down and out of the cabin, taking the action outside.  Your typical water-based monster battle ensues, trying to hit the boss whenever it pokes its body out the water or lunges out. It was quite challenging, and the tentacled-beast managed to kill me twice.    

Other than graphical improvements and a new storyline, nothing much has changed here as far as I can tell. Reloading is done with a shake of the Wii Remote, pressing A picks up items, the D-pad changes weapons, the cursor is always on screen and can’t be changed (at least in this demo). The designers have said they have studied camcorder movements and tried to replicate that in the game, but I felt there was too much screen shake in this sequel. This could put some players off, as I know excessive and constant camera movement can be unsettling to some people. Of course, this could be easily avoided if Capcom included camera shake as an adjustable setting, like in the recent Dead Space: Extraction.    

Darkside Chronicles is due for release on November 17th in North America.

TalkBack / How I Almost Played FF: CC: The Crystal Bearers
« on: September 26, 2009, 09:29:26 PM »

  Nearing the end of the final media day of the Tokyo Game Show, NWR headed over to the Square Enix booth to see if there were any games we could have missed.    

We spotted a long booth with several empty Wii kiosks, with no line at all – mustn’t be a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy we thought, until we realised what it was: the Wii-exclusive Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles single-player adventure RPG game, the Crystal Bearers!    

When I started up the game the booth assistant asked me if I wanted to start in the middle of a level, or from the beginning of the game.  I thought for a moment, then decided on starting a new game from the start, figuring I could at least see the opening cinema and maybe learn a bit about the story.    

Big mistake.    

After about two to three minutes of dialogue between the crew of a huge airship, the opening sequence starts.   It’s the same scene from the trailer, in which a young blonde-haired guy on top of the ship holds a huge mini-gun and then proceeds to jump off shouting, “Yahoo!”.    

Finally I had control, and the Wii pointer came on screen. I could blast away at some huge birds attacking the ship as I glided through the air, which was very cool.    

But as soon as I started to take control, it was taken away again!  Another long sequence of the main character fighting hand-to-hand with a long-necked bird-looking guy, who he had just pulled out of a swirling blue portal.    

After another lengthy cut scene introducing a large warrior-type guy and a girl who likes to take photos of everything, the ship starts to go down and I get control again.    

This time I’m using the analogue stick to control the airship through a canyon, chasing some bad guys up ahead while trying not to crash into the sides.    

This lasted about a minute, and then the ship crashed and scraped along the ground until it eventually came to a stop right next to a huge city.  Another lengthy cinema starts, and lots of talking ensues.    

I’ve now been “playing” the game for almost 15 minutes, but I'm finally controlling my guy around the town. I point to an object and lift it with my force-like powers, and I move it around in the air for a bit and then throw it across the room.    

That was the point when I got a tap on my shoulder.    

Time’s up, sir.    

No wonder there wasn’t a queue to play this, since anyone watching in line probably had almost the same experience as the person holding the Wii Remote!    

To be fair though, it does look pretty with a feeling of good production values, and now more than ever do I want to play this game properly and see what the combat is like.

TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Monster Hunter Tri
« on: September 27, 2009, 02:48:54 AM »
We go hands-on with the English language demo at TGS.

 There’s been a lot of want for this game in the West. It seems anyone who lays eyes on the gorgeous screen-filling dragons and learns that it’s an online 4-player Wii exclusive can’t help get excited, and with good cause.    

NWR were lucky enough to get a private showing of Monster Hunter Tri behind closed doors, which makes sense as no one on the Tokyo Game Show floor would want to play an English version of a game they’ve been playing for over a month.    

The demo was very similar to the Japanese demo shown at last year’s show, four players linked together by a pseudo-internet that Capcom had set up for people to experience the game's online mode.    

Quests generally involve building up knowledge about a particularly large beast until you know enough to go and kill it.  Killing monsters gives you new weapons and armour, which is Monster Hunter’s version of leveling up; your character does not actually increase in level.    

Killing a particularly difficult dragon might give you some kick-ass suit made out of its hide, or a weapon made out of some part of its body.  I thought that this was a pretty novel concept that reminded me of the boss battle rewards from the Metroid series.    

There are only about twelve worlds where these monsters reside, but they will change depending on how far players are into the game.  The first time you play in a world, you might just be collecting information about the monster’s movements, collecting mushrooms, etc., and thus the area available to you will be quite small.    

Later on when you’re suited up and ready to slay some big daddy beasts, the level will be entirely open to you – and the monsters.  After the game has been cleared entirely, levels will apparently change in other ways too, including palette swaps and other differences.  As Monster Hunter is an almost endless game, these changes will probably help people pushing the 300-hour mark squeeze even more out of it.    

Traditional control seems to be the main focus for Capcom when promoting this game; the Classic Controller is even packed in with a version of the game in Japan. I don’t know whether this is a knock against motion control, or if it’s just to convert as many PlayStation users as possible.    

We were using the new black Classic Controller Pro to control our hunters.  The left analogue was used for movement, and the right one was used to move the camera.  Maybe it was because I’ve just replayed Mario Galaxy, but I thought the movement was very digital, almost as if I was using a D-Pad. To be fair, I don’t think analogue movement is relevant in Monster Hunter, but it feels like Capcom kept it in to please the PlayStation and PSP converts.    

From the eight or so premade characters available from the beginning of the demo, I opted for the guy with a long sword – apparently good for beginners.    

I had fun slashing away at the various small monsters I stumbled upon on our way to the final boss showdown. I liked how the world had a nice continuity to it, loading times were short, and it really feels like you are exploring some kind of alternate reality safari. Animals walk around in groups; several baby monsters will closely follow mothers, and some are docile while others will attack if you get too close.    

When we reached the big monster at the end, we all began to attack it from various sides.  Things were going well until it let out a loud screech into the air as if calling for help.  That’s when an even bigger monster crashed down into the arena, knocking all of us back. The Capcom rep told us politely to “get the hell out of here” as we weren’t equipped to take on that bad mother of a monster just yet.  We gave chase to the boss monster we originally intended to kill; my teammate gave the final blow and the team cheered at our victory.  Loot for everyone!    

My only reservation regarding Monster Hunter Tri at this point is whether or not the quick loading times are realistic approximations of what the real online play will be like for players.  The Capcom rep assured me that they aren’t using friend codes, and the online experience will be more close to what you would find on other systems.  Then you have to consider that you have to purchase Hunter Credit making it more similar to an MMORPG business model for people who want to play online.    

The Japanese version does not have any Wii Speak functionality, but apparently it will be in the North American version. Whether this will be restricted to lobby chatting or is included in-game remains to be seen, however.    

I was assured that the single player experience would also be enjoyable, similar to how it was for other multiplayer-focused games like Phantasy Star Online.    

Offline players will be happy to learn that player data can be stored on a Wii Remote, taken to a friend's house, and then used for play in the split-screen two player mode.  In a time when split-screen versions of games are being phased out in favour of online-only games, I think certain people will be very pleased with this addition.    

Monster Hunter Tri is scheduled for a March 2010 release in North America.

TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Puyo Puyo 7
« on: September 27, 2009, 02:43:23 AM »
It's not to be confused with Killer 7.

 Sitting right next door to the Monkey Ball Step & Roll booth at TGS was the latest in Sega’s other long-running franchise, Puyo Puyo 7.    

There isn't a whole lot new to report in this version.   It controls simply enough with the Wii Remote on its side, it looks decent with sharp colours and nice shiny blobby-looking blobs, it’s got plenty of crazy characters - it’s Puyo Puyo. What more do you need to know?    

I played a best-of-three multiplayer game with the booth babe.  As you clear the Puyos, a gauge fills up along the side; pull off some nice chain combos and it will increase faster.    

When the gauge reaches the top lots of crazy cool things can happen.  During my games I filled up my gauge a few times; the first time, my screen got replaced with a set of Puyos perfectly set up for a massive combo. All I did was drop one Puyo and a seemingly endless chain was triggered, earning me big points and dropping loads of grey unmovable Puyo’s onto my opponent’s screen. Nice.    

Other times my screen was replaced with huge screen-filling Puyos.  Now instead of having to link four Puyos I only had to link three, as the screen could now only hold 4x3 Puyos.  This caused some massive grey Puyos to be dumped on player two’s screen, hilarity ensued.    

I had great fun with it, and I’m not saying that only because I won 3-0.    

Puyo Puyo 7 is set to be released on November 26 in Japan.

TalkBack / IMPRESSIONS: Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll
« on: September 27, 2009, 02:39:49 AM »
Warning: Never tilt a monkey with your feet in real life.

 Sega had a playable demo of the newest iteration of the Monkey Ball series, the Wii Balance Board-controlled Monkey Ball: Athletic (Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll outside of Japan).    

Graphically and musically, nothing much has changed. This is pretty much the same game you’ll have played on the GameCube or Wii, with the main focus of this version of course being the new control scheme.    

Controlling the monkeys reminded me a lot of the bubble-balancing mini-game from Wii Fit, mixed with the iPhone version of Monkey Ball.    

In Wii Fit, players have to shift their entire body weight to control the character purposefully and accurately, as a quick slam down with your heel at the last second will not help you get back in the direction you want to go.  It’s the same here in Monkey Ball.    

As for the iPhone/iPod Touch version, the physical feeling of moving the entire level with your body is what reminded me of that.  When it’s a part of your body moving in sync with the monkey, it makes it a lot harder to spam the controls or get lucky.    

When playing with the Balance Board, the Wii Remote does nothing except pause and speed up the starting animation of each level.  Jumping is not in this version.    

Those without a Balance Board can play the game using the Wii Remote control scheme from Banana Blitz.    

The TGS demo had only 10 easy levels to complete, and they all had railings on the side to prevent fall offs, but I could imagine the later levels getting incredibly challenging.    

I found the pressure of controlling the level precisely - but without taking too long -  an exciting feeling to have in a Monkey Ball game, although I do wonder if I’d have felt the same if there were no railings.    

For those with Balance Boards who are interested in playing this game, I’d recommend dusting off Wii Fit and practicing the bubble game, possibly while playing Monkey Ball on your iPhone at the same time – then I think you’ll be fully trained for this version.

TalkBack / Help Me, I'm a Gachapon Addict!
« on: September 23, 2009, 12:56:38 AM »

  I wasn't much of a collector before I came to live in Japan, other than videogames and the occasional magazine.   Figures, toys and the like never interested me at all, as all they did was clog up precious shelf space and collect dust as they have no use other than to look cool.    

I started noticing that these "toy egg" vending machines were everywhere in Japan, not only in arcades and videogame stores, but even supermarkets and shopping malls.    

More often than not they were tiny figures or toys from various animes, that most people outside of Japan have probably never even heard of.   However' one out of every twenty or so I'd spot a rare Nintendo-related treat.    

The beauty of them is that they aren't cheap-looking knock-offs; they are Nintendo approved, and therefore look exactly like they should (most of the time).    

It started off innocently enough: a Super Mushroom-shaped key-ring for my house keys. A valid purchase, but one that quickly led to the desire to have another for my bike key, my spare key and anything else I could think of.    

So next came the Golden Mushroom, Mega Mushroom, Bullet Bill and the banana skin, and before I knew it I'd gotten the whole set. I guess I was pretty lucky that I'd got a different one every time I dropped my money in and turned the dial to get my fresh egg of goodness.    

It's not always like that however, as I quickly learned with my next obsession: magnets.    

First it was an awesome-looking superstar to hold a couple of photos on my fridge, but this again soon led into wanting the whole set; however, this time I wasn't so lucky with my prizes. Now every time I go to get some milk, I'm faced with six angry-looking Bullet Bills to remind me of my failure.    

But I didn't stop there. After that it was Mario Kart miniatures to celebrate the release of Mario Kart Wii. In my attempt to get a full set I ended up with two Marios and three Bowsers.    

Then something hit me, like a rebounding power ball to the face.  The other day I bought a mini-replica of a Nintendo DS complete with a tiny DS cart.  I just paid 200 yen ($2) for a thumb-sized version of a console I already own, but actually does nothing at all...what the hell am I doing here?!    

Heck, I even considered dropping however much it took to get the complete collection of miniature games to slot into my tiny handheld pretend system.    

I'm a freaking gachapon addict!  Now I'm not sure if I should reduce my gatchpon habit to one a month, or just go cold turkey and stop looking at gachapon machines altogether.    

Then again, I did see an awesome-looking mobile phone screen wiping cloth in the shape of a Goomba the other day...

TalkBack / Club Nintendo Offers New Wii Remote Color in Japan
« on: June 07, 2009, 05:30:54 PM »
Wii Sports Resort owners get a chance to win an exclusive colored Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo

 Club Nintendo of Japan announced a competition for members to win one of five thousand exclusive light blue Wii Remote and Nunchuk sets.    

The competition is open to anyone registering their copy of Wii Sports Resort from June 25 to August 1.    

This comes hot on the heels of Nintendo announcing the first  ">colored variant of the Wii console in Japan.    

Could this mean we will see more colored Wii Remotes and Wii consoles appearing in the future, as was shown when the Wii was first announced at  ">E3 2005?    

Members of Club Nintendo Japan can register their copies of Wii Sports Resort at the official page.

TalkBack / Konami Announces Contra Rebirth for WiiWare
« on: May 09, 2009, 08:47:23 PM »
The twelfth game in the series will be exclusive to Nintendo's online store.

 Recently, Konami announced via their official Japanese website that a brand new entry in the Contra series will be released for WiiWare under the title Contra: Rebirth.    

Contra is a run-and-gun shooting arcade game in which players control a commando fighting waves of enemies. The 1987 original was first ported to the NES and made famous by its simultaneous co-operative play. The last sequel in the main series to appear on a Nintendo console was Contra III: The Alien Wars on the SNES in 1992.    

Contra: Rebirth will feature updated 2D visuals, and retain the classic co-operative gameplay that made the original famous.    

Contra : Rebirth will cost 1000 Nintendo Points and will be available via the Japanese Wii Shop Channel on May 12.    

Currently there is no word on release outside of Japan.

TalkBack / Monster Hunter G Takes Japan By Storm
« on: May 05, 2009, 02:15:41 AM »
The sales success bodes well for the future release of Monster Hunter 3, but Wii sales still down.

 The week ending April 26 saw the remake of the PlayStation 2 best seller Monster Hunter G come out on the Wii and go straight to the top spot of the Media Create sales charts.    

Despite this strong debut, Monster Hunter G is actually just a taste of what's to come for Wii gamers. Capcom has the latest fully-fledged entry in the series, Monster Hunter Tri, set for a summer launch.    

Monster Hunter G is available in Japan as a stand-alone game or as a package with a special MH-themed classic controller. The bundling of the classic controller may well be a way to entice previous players of the franchise, who experienced the games on the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, onto Nintendo's radical new platform.    

However, the Wii title wasn’t the only Monster Hunter game to reach the top 10. The consistent best-seller Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G on the PSP was in the charts again at No.5. The PSP titles are by far the biggest sellers on Sony’s portable system, helping sell hardware every week - and this week was no exception.    

The PSP outsold the Nintendo DSi by a few thousand units as it has done for several weeks now, but what is more surprising is that the PlayStation 3 has also been outselling the Wii for many weeks as well.    

Whether the release of Monster Hunter games on the Wii will affect hardware sales the same way it has for the PSP remains to be seen. So far it doesn't seem to have had much effect, as Wii sales remained anemic at just over 18,000 units according to Media Create.

TalkBack / PREVIEWS: Takt of Magic
« on: April 18, 2009, 05:07:22 AM »
Taito and Nintendo are cooking up a real-time RPG exclusive to the Wii with a decent control system and possible online play.

 Takt of Magic is a Wii exclusive action RPG developed by Taito in collaboration with Nintendo. That information alone seems to be enough to get people interested in this title, and with good reason.    

The game uses a real-time battle and exploration system. For example, players can use magic to affect the environment, solve puzzles, and kill enemies while walking around the overworld.    

During battles, players must cast spells, lay traps, and avoid danger by using the Wii Remote pointer. Managing all the characters' actions at the same time seems to be very streamlined and simple to perform with a system of simple points and clicks.    

There will apparently be 100 magic spells in the game; however, the only ones currently known are ones based around the fire, water, earth and wind elements.  With the press of a button, an on overlay appears on the screen with the main character's arms brandishing a magic staff, which moves in real-time with the pointer.    

Simple shapes are then drawn on the screen which will be recognised and instantly turned into spells for the player to use. Examples shown so far were a zigzag line, which created a wall of earth to shield from arrows shooting across a path, and a circular shape that produced wind and put out a burning house. Others include shooting fireballs with downward strikes to attack, and a water spell to heal the group.    

The status of the hero characters will be shown by smiley or frowning faces above their heads, so players can easily see who is in need of healing.   Up to four teammates can be selected to fight alongside you. Final details about multiplayer are not known at this point, but a Nintendo Wi-Fi logo can be clearly seen on the official website. We can all hope that this will turn out to be online cooperative play.    

Takt of Magic will be released on May 21 in Japan. There is currently no word yet on a release in any other region.

TalkBack / Iwata Asks : Rhythm Heaven
« on: April 02, 2009, 12:09:40 PM »
The latest interview with the Nintendo President is translated just before the game's North American release.

 The latest in the Iwata Asks series of interviews is with the team behind Rhythm Heaven (known as Rhythm Tengoku in Japan, and Rhythm Paradise in PAL territories).    

The interview has been available for some time on the Nintendo of Japan website, but to commemorate the release of the game in North America it has now been fully translated.    

The interview covers many of the unusual aspects of the development for this game. Iwata notes that for the first time, dance lessons were provided for all development staff as the fastest way to become aware of rhythm.    

The original Rhythm Tengoku was a GameBoy Advance title that was never released outside of Japan, but was popular as an import title due to its recognisable music and rhythm game mechanics.    

Rhythm Heaven is based on the Japanese Nintendo DS sequel known as Rhythm Tengoku Gold.  It has undergone a massive translation process, with all the music tracks containing Japanese vocals dubbed into English.    

Rhythm Heaven will be released on April 5th in North America, and Rhythm Paradise will follow on May 1st in Europe.

Chris Redfield shoots ahead of Mario & Luigi

 The power of the Biohazard (Resident Evil) brand was really felt these past few weeks; it affected the software chart and even the hardware sales.  The sales of Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 may explain a surge in sales of PlayStation games as a whole.  The positive reception and strong sales of the long-awaited action game even rolled over onto the Xbox 360 version, which currently sits at the 12th position.    

As per usual, Nintendo also had good sales with it's first party software with Mario and Luigi RPG 3 continuing to sell well. It sold the same amount as the newly released Picross 3D.  The Play On Wii version of Pikmin 2 also made a decent entry at 6th; it will be interesting to see which title in this series reigns supreme in Japan.    

  • 01. [PS3] Musou Orochi Z (KOEI) 112,000 / New Entry  
  • 02. [PS3] Resident Evil 5 (Capcom) 61,000 / 381,000  
  • 03. [NDS] Picross 3D (Nintendo) 38,000 / New Entry  
  • 04. [NDS] Mario & Luigi RPG 3 (Nintendo) 38,000 / 389,000  
  • 05. [PSP] Shin Sangoku Musou (KOEI) 33,000 / 316,000  
  • 06. [WII] Play On Wii: Pikmin 2 (Nintendo) 29,000 / New Entry  
  • 07. [PS3] Ryu ga Gotoku 3 (SEGA) 24,000 / 449,000  
  • 08. [NDS] Seventh Dragon (SEGA) 22,000 / 102,000  
  • 09. [PSP] Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP the Best) (Capcom) 16,000 / 484,000  
  • 10. [PSP] Resistance Retaliation (SCE) 16,000 / New Entry  

As previously mentioned, the hardware sales the past few weeks have been very different to past months.  This is the first time in several months since PlayStation 3 has beaten out the Wii, most likely due to the Resident Evil 5 bundle.  Last week, the Xbox 360 outsold the Wii, which was when Star Ocean: The Last Hope was released.  With PSP also outselling both versions of the DS combined,  will Nintendo manage to climb back on top of hardware sales?    

  • PSP 43,463  
  • PS3 28,014  
  • DSi 27,564  
  • Wii 17,941  
  • DS Lite 11,571
  • Xbox 360 8,378  
  • PS2 4,844  

TalkBack / REVIEWS: Tropix
« on: March 16, 2009, 09:59:51 PM »
Eleven cell phone games on a single DS Card? No thanks.

 From the moment you turn on Tropix, you get the feeling that this shouldn’t be a DS game. The character sprites are small, pixelated, and poorly animated; the game selection is uninspired; and the music and sound effects are horrendous. No, I didn’t pick up my cell phone by accident; Real Networks is really trying to sell you free browser games for a lot more than nothing.    

The eleven mini-games (listed below) are tied together with a tropical island getaway theme. Sudoku, Solitaire, word puzzles...all the games have been seen elsewhere before. Just replace the blocks with fruit, add a deserted island backdrop, and put some faint steel drums playing in the background, and you’ll have a pretty accurate idea of what this title is about.    

Not all the games are available at the start. To unlock the rest (including the most fun ones), you must earn sand dollars and purchase items with which you decorate the island. The items available are broken into fun, food, and comfort categories, and are used to fill up three bars of the same name. Once you place enough items on the island to fill up the meters you unlock a new mini-game.  Earn even more sand dollars and you can purchase a new island, starting the process all over again.    

It sounds like a neat idea, but there are only three objects in each category, with one item usually being worth much more than the other two, so your island ends up being littered with 25 tiki torches or star fruit trees and nothing else.  Is this a tropical island or a dumping ground for unwanted garden accessories?    

Sand dollars are earned by playing the mini games themselves. Completing a level in a game earns you cash, but if you need to quit early, you get a little bit just for trying. This is actually one of the few redeeming features of the title: it encourages you to play each game towards the one main goal of getting more money.    

However, each new island I bought was simply a change of background graphics that opened up more levels of the same games I had already unlocked. This basically means slightly more difficult or incrementally sped up versions of games you’ve just spent hours playing. Not the biggest of motivations to earn those sand bucks. Even so, this feature gives the title way more longevity than if it were just a simple select-play-and-quit kind of affair, and that should be commended, at least.    

However, the games themselves should not. Allow me to run down the games on offer:    

Solitaire – it’s Solitaire, but this time the cards are tropical!    

Jungle Jump – It’s kind of like climbing and swinging on the vines from Donkey Kong Country, if it were controlled with a stylus and played horribly. Put simply, the swing mechanics don't work, and you end up dying a lot because of it.    

Cocobowl – This bowling game's stylus controls are twitchy and unforgiving, which makes playing a frustrating experience. The variety of bowling lanes, each visually more painful than the one before it, have pin sprites of NES quality. The developers owe me an optician’s appointment for this. Not fun.    

Cascade – This is a tile matching game. Match three fruits together by swapping two tiles at a time. As the difficulty increases, parts of the grid freeze up, making some tiles impossible to move. Stylus control works well, and the graphics are inoffensive. I had the most fun with this one.    

Water Words - A simple word search game where you have to link letters together in a grid to form words. This is probably one of the stronger games, as it rewards you for finding longer words and gives crossword-style hints to bonus words found in the puzzle. The dictionary of accepted words is a bit suspect, however.    

Puffer Popper – The player fires coloured balls at an oncoming procession of bubbles. This is another of the stronger games, as it feels more like a video game than the others. Despite that, though, it’s a Luxor clone with cell phone graphics.    

Sandoku (unlockable) – It’s Sudoku, cleverly re-titled! It's complete crap, with no handwriting input and horrible text that hurts your eyes and soul. Next!    

Parasail (unlockable)– Use the stylus to move a paragliding monkey up and down to collect bananas. You can also pick up coconuts and drop them on things for bonuses, which is quite fun. This one can provide a short, fun diversion.    

Shell Game (unlockable) – Find the pearl under a shell. (Yes, that's all!)    

The other games available that I didn’t unlock were Beach Bash and Trijong.    

Most of these uninspired games are broken into a traditional level format (1-1, 1-2, etc.), and some of them have boss battles at the end of each section. For example in parasailing you have to beat the boss by picking up and throwing rocks at him. This is a nice idea, but it’s a shame that it appears to be the same puffer fish boss character for every single mini game. This level structure, in which you play the same mini-game again and again until you quit, quickly gets boring.  Nintendo had the better idea with Clubhouse Games, in which a different mini-game was played one after the other, forcing the player to experience all the game had to offer. And while switching between games manually in Tropix might seem like a good idea, its menu system is slow and badly organised, with confusing icons only making things worse.    

So it all boils down to this: are any of these games fun enough to warrant a purchase? The short answer is no, not really. Only two, possibly three, of these games are fun, and even then only for very short bursts. While the money system is a good idea, its implementation is poor, requiring far too much repetitive play to unlock every game. With Clubhouse Games already covering more of the mini-games in Tropix, and cheaper (if not free) versions available for your computer or cell phone via a web search, there's no reason to play Tropix on your DS.


  • Mostly functional touch controls
  • Theoretically has good longevity

  •        Cons:
  • Very few games
  • Few of the games are fun
  • Cell Phone Graphics
  • Unrewarding goals

  •                Graphics:  4.0
           The games strongly show their Flash and cell phone roots. Sprites look like they are from the 1980’s era, and not in a good way.

                   Sound:  1.0
           Very poor. I turned the volume down most of the time while playing this.

                   Control:  4.0
           The basic touch controls are functionally sound. Some controls for individual games, such as the Jungle Swing, don’t work well.

                          Gameplay:  3.0
           Few of the games could be considered fun—most of them are the opposite.


           Lastability:  6.0
           Do I feel the least bit inclined to spend the next few weeks saving up so I can buy a slightly different background to my island and more levels of the same mini-games? No, not really, but someone else might.


           Final:  4.0
           Tropix consists of shallow mini-games that should be streamed from a browser and not stored on a DS card. The presentation is poor, most of the games aren’t fun, and it generally feels like a waste of time. Nintendo did this way better in Clubhouse Games, and that was years ago with scores more games.      

    TalkBack / Nintendo DS Mandatory in Select Japanese Schools
    « on: March 15, 2009, 01:12:55 AM »
    This isn't the first time that Nintendo's handhelds, or even commercial brands,  have entered the classroom as learning tools.

     The Board of Education in Osaka, Japan have distributed Nintendo DS systems to ten elementary and junior high schools in the region.  The systems have been subsidised by the government and are rented to the schools rather than sold. Every student in the selected schools has been issued a DS handheld and will be required to use a variety of educational software in lessons.    

      There was some concern that the schools were in essence collaborating with video game manufacturers in accepting the handheld consoles into the classroom, but the Board of Education has decided that there are no conflicts of interest. The control of what software students use is clearly in the hands of each individual school.    

    This isn't close to being the first time the Nintendo DS has made it into the classroom for educational reasons. Last year, NWR reported on Tokyo's Joshi Gakuen all-girls junior high school involvement in a test involving using the DS to teach English.   In Japan, there are scores more educational and non-game titles than in other regions. Many have been top 10 sellers, like Nintendo's own Kanji training.    

    In fact, using commercial products in classrooms is not actually a new idea, character themed school books have been used before. Pingu, Doraemon and Pokemon branded educational material are among some of the most popular.

    TalkBack / Accidental Racism
    « on: March 01, 2009, 07:04:42 AM »

      There's a little secret I'd like to share with my fellow online readers here, something that many people are not aware of when posting comments online: every time you type the word "Jap" you sound like a racist.    

    I see it often on message boards and comment threads.  I know these people don't say it to be offensive; it's just a convenient way to write three letters instead of eight, right?  Well I'm here to tell you that laziness isn't an excuse for dropping the J-bomb.  It's never acceptable to do so, and there are other ways to type it!    

    Take the recent Olympics for instance.   Did you hear the announcers commenting on how fast the "Japs" were at swimming?  Or about how the "Japs" were doing on the leader boards?  No.  That's because the abbreviation used is JPN.  That is not accidental.  If the tournament organisers used the other abbreviation, it might have caused an international incident!    

    Accidental racism is not confined to message boards either.  The last time I was back in the UK I stepped into a bakery and saw a "Jap Biscuit" (a cookie to US readers).  None of my friends seemed bothered by it, but when I asked "What if it was called a Chink Cookie?" they suddenly got my point.   Some people don't realise that both of those terms are equal in their disgusting bigotry.    

    Living in Japan I am made more aware of this of course, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stop this kind of accidental casual racism so prominent back in my own country -  and on the web.    

    In fact, if you trace the origins of the term "Jap" it's an outdated derogatory World War II term.  It's something an old bigot might use when talking about the Japanese, but hardly something appropriate for a message board comment.    

    There is some good news, however.  Certain online gaming stores have recently changed their game labelling from JAP/USA to NTSC-J/NTSC-U, a positive step indeed.    

      In closing, the next time you want to big up a new Japanese game or comment on how crazy the Japanese are, try these accepted abbreviations:    

    Japan - Jpn, Jp
     Japanese - Jpse, Jpnse
     Japanese RPG - J-RPG, Jpse RPG

    Let's show our love of Jpse games without hating on the people of Jpn!

    TalkBack / Smash Bros. Director Forms New Studio with Nintendo
    « on: February 19, 2009, 11:53:15 PM »
    Sakurai and co. are making new games, and they won't be casual.

     Revealed through a recent "Iwata Asks" interview, Masahiro Sakurai, best known for his work on the Smash Bros. series, has formed a new studio called Project Sora. The development studio will be a second-party subsidiary of Nintendo, which will own a 72% stake, and has actually been operating out of Tokyo since January this year.    

    During the interview Sakurai dropped several hints about what games the new studio is working on. Although no titles, genres, or even systems were mentioned, one thing is clear from Sakurai: they are not interested in making any Brain Training games or other casual products. It appears that Project Sora will be focused on the traditional gaming market.    

    Another detail that emerged from the interview: Smash Bros. fans hoping for a portable DS version should give up on that dream immediately. Sakurai himself said the studio's project will not be a SSB game but something entirely new and original.    

    The official website states that the game will be a two-year project, suggesting that Project Sora's project won't land until 2011. The team is currently advertising job openings for 3D modelers, game designers, and programmers.    

    Be sure to check Nintendo World Report for updates concerning Mr Sakurai and Project Sora.

    How often do two Final Fantasy games for two different Nintendo platforms get released on the same day?

     As could have been expected, the DS version of FF CC: Echoes of Time outsold its Wii sister title by almost five times as much. How many of those people buying  the titles bought both together for link-up play is unknown, but Square Enix are no doubt hoping each title will persuade customers to buy the other.    

    Elsewhere, the second Play It On Wii title, Mario Tennis GC, is clearly still the favourite GameCube remake so far, breaking 100,000 in sales. Taiko Drum Master for the Wii, which comes with the huge drum peripheral for about $80 US, got a surge in sales this week and sold more than Wii Fit.    

    01. [PSP] Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2 (Namco Bandai) 213,000 / New Entry
     02. [PSP] Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (Konami) 109,000 / New Entry
     03. [PS2] Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 (Konami) 108,000 / New Entry
     04. [NDS] Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (Square Enix) 102,000 / New
     05. [PSP] Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP the Best) (Capcom) 23,000 / 380,000
     06. [WII] Taiko Drum Master Wii (Namco Bandai) 22,000 / 339,000
     07. [WII] Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (Square Enix) 22,000 / New
     08. [WII] Play It On Wii: Mario Tennis (Nintendo) 20,000 / 108,000
     09. [NDS] Rhythm Heaven Gold (Nintendo) 20,000 / 1,634,000
     10. [WII] Wii Fit (Nintendo) 19,000 / 3,215,000

    On the hardware front, the DSi still is out front, while the DS Lite sales are lessening with each passing week.   It is doubtful this means Nintendo will halt DS Lite production anytime soon, but it is definitely something to keep watch of.    

    This week also saw Wii sales fall a bit, putting the PlayStation 3 only a few thousand units behind. The Xbox 360 also overtook the PlayStation 2 in weekly sales, possibly due to the release of Ninja Blade which sits at No.19 in the charts.    

    01. DSi - 55,613
     02. PSP - 44,135
     03. Wii - 23,278
     04. PS3 - 17,405
     05. DS Lite - 15,147
     06. Xbox 360 - 8,107
     07. PS2 - 5,334

    TalkBack / Iwata Q&A
    « on: February 06, 2009, 08:08:10 PM »
    The Nintendo big cheese answers questions about Wii Music's "failure," DSi pricing, the upcoming storage solution, and more.

     President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata recently sat down with journalists to answer questions after the company's third quarter financial briefing and turned out to be surprisingly forthright on the company's successes and failures. His answers covered a wide range of topics and provided interesting info on upcoming developments for the company.    

    Sales of first party software was a major part of the Q&A; one reporter queried Iwata about whether he considered Wii Music a failure since it had only sold 400,000 units in Japan (the game has moved an additional 2 million units in overseas markets). This was substantially less than the sales of earlier hits like Wii Sports and Wii Fit.    

    In response, Iwata pointed out that Brain Age did not sell well in its first few weeks on sale either, reaching around only 45,000 units during its launch week. However, Brain Age went on to become one of the biggest sellers for Nintendo.   However, Iwata admitted that he felt Nintendo has failed somewhat in conveying the charm of Wii Music and that currently people's responses to the title were either immensely positive or extremely negative. He expressed hoped to change the perception of the title and said that he hoped it would become another evergreen seller.    

    Iwata also expressed disappointment that Nintendo failed to deliver a product or service last year that could get the Japanese market really excited. He divulged that both Animal Crossing and Wii Music were below expectations in that department despite strong momentum overseas. Iwata said that Nintendo was working hard to ensure that they rectify this situation and that they already have more ideas to prevent this happening in 2009.    

    Concerning the DSi launching elsewhere in the world, Iwata said that the newer model would ship alongside the existing DSLite model. This is how Nintendo has handled the DSi in Japan, and Iwata said that overseas markets would see similar price differences between their two DS models.   For comparison, the camera-enabled DSi currently sells for about $180 in Japan, while the DS Lite goes for about $150.    

    When asked about a promotional campaign Iwata had mentioned at the DSi launch, wherein which 500 Nintendo Points would be given to anyone who connects their Wii to the Internet, he restated that it would indeed be happening this spring in Japan.    

    Then, just to quash any fears Wii owners may have concerning storage problems, Iwata also reconfirmed that around the same period there would also be a system update to address space issues.   No final details are known, except that it will involve SD cards in some fashion. Whether or not this means allowing booting games from the SD cards, or simply a fast way of swapping games from the Wii menu to the cards and back, remains to be seen.    

    Iwata covered many other questions during the Q&A, so be sure to read the english transcript of the session here.

    The new trailer comes with the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time disk in Japan and is the most we've seen of the long-anticipated Square-Enix Wii title.

     For some time many people expected that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: the Crystal Bearers had been quietly cancelled. The single player Wii exclusive RPG had previously only been shown in tiny segments from trade show trailers.    

    But thanks to the recently released Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, the Wii/DS connectivity title,  a new trailer was included as an added bonus on the disk.    

    The trailers starts with several minutes of gameplay showing the game’s main protagonist moving and throwing enemies using a kind of ‘force’ power. Elsewhere in the trailer the same power is used to flip switches and move objects around, or to throw for an attack.    

    The battle system appears to be mostly pointer based, allowing players to highlight enemies or items. It looks very fast paced and takes place entirely in real time, keeping the feel of previous Crystal Chronicle games.    

    The amount of gesture control is unknown at the moment, but a section was shown riding on the back of a wooden cart, where players appear to have to use motion to slash at enemies.    

    Fans of Chocobo riding will also be glad to know that the feature appears to be in this game as a method of traversing the environments.    

    Not much is known about the characters or story at this point, but from various points in the trailer, we can ascertain some tit-bits of information.    

    The main character appears to have been requested to save this world from a great danger, he is a ‘Crystal Bearer’ and therefore is in great demand for his services. A crystal supposedly gives him his ability, and there also appear to be evil characters with the same power. The climax of the trailer was the protection of a huge crystal that apparently brings balance to the world.    

    Previous trailers showed some flying/skydiving sections, and again were prominent in the new trailer. However it is still unclear if that is gameplay or cut scene-based action.    

    Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is set for a 2009 release in Japan.

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