Archive for the ‘3 Hearts’ Category

Metroid: The Other M

Posted: May 20, 2011 in 3 Hearts
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I am a huge fan of Samus Aran. I have been for years. I played every one I could get my hands on, from the original Metroid on through time. I loved Metroid Prime, the whole trilogy. I started playing The Other M earlier this week and I’m not sure how I feel. The graphics are beautiful, the cinematics are amazing, its like the entire intro to the game is designed to reward the long time Samus fans and enlighten the new comers. I sat there, watching the opening cinematic and it was like one of my geeky little dreams come true. The cinematic opens with Samus hanging in midair, suspended from a metroid while fighting Mother Brain. Its the ending to Super Metroid, but instead of being rendered in cute little SNES spirtes, its beautifully done in 3D, and along with the fight, you get Samus’s thoughts.

I remember when Metroid looked like this…

That’s one of the things I found interesting about this game. For the first time, I get to hear what Samus is actually thinking. In Metroid Fusion, she had brief moments of thought, but this time she spends a lot of her time thinking and remembering, at least towards the beginning of the game. While its kind of neat, Samus talks way, way too much and has far too many flash backs. But that’s only for the intro, once Adam sends you off on your mission, there are only periodic check-ins.

Now this is what it looks like.

I think the main thing that bothered me about this game is that periodically, in the middle of combat, little boxes would come up to show me how to use special attacks. I admit, jumping on my enemy and blasting a charge beam into their head is pretty awesome, but I don’t need to be reminded how to do it every time I come up against an enemy who needs it used on them to die. And since this is also the mechanic used to teach new special attacks, you can’t really ignore the little boxes, even when they’re about to get you killed.

The control scheme for The Other M is completely unique. Its an odd combination of isometric third person view and first person view based on the orientation of the Wii mote. My main complaint about the controls is that I really really liked the Metroid Prime controls when it was ported to the Wii. Moving the Wii mote to aim and using the nunchuk to move made me really happy, it was like I was Samus. Now? Autotargetting, and really awkward camera angles. They should have just stuck with what they had before.

So, Metroid has always been a fairly on-the-rails game series. What this means is that its very linear. I need x-y-z suit accessory before I can go here or I need to unlike this color of door, etc. This is the first time its ever felt that way. Normally, I feel like there’s a reason for the convoluted puzzles required of me. This time, I’m following the orders of a very annoying commanding officer, listening to flashbacks and still jumping through hoops but now I don’t even get to aim my gun myself.

Have you ever played a game and been completely torn whether you’re actually enjoying it or not? That’s where I am right now with The Other M. I’ll certainly give them that young Samus is really attractive and the story is compelling. But at the same time, the controls are subpar and Samus talks too much. I’m a good half an hour to an hour into the game and I’ve only just gotten into what feels like a Metroid game. It has a weird combination of the old style of 2D gameplay that I grew up with and the 3D gameplay that I loved from the Prime Trilogy. Its an awkward combination and I’m not entirely sure they got it right. Overall, I’m sad to say that Metroid : The Other M only rates a 3 out of 5 hearts.

3/5 zelda hearts

Best of the Old School

Posted: December 1, 2010 in 2 Hearts, 3 Hearts, 4 Hearts, 5 Hearts
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Remember when games were 8bit or less? I do (barely). I remember tottering down the stairs to have my grandmother turn the Atari on for me. Did I mention that the TV had a black & white or color switch? Yeah. This was before kindergarten for me. So, the question becomes which of these classic games is the best? Well, we can start by narrowing it down to the names that have survived through the ages and choose the top 5 to look through. Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Frogger and Asteroids will be the final list for review. Quite the impressive line up of stars, isn’t it? Lets see who comes out on top.

Pong – 1972

Oh, Pong, you are such a special little classic. Two colors…or maybe one color and a background, two players if you have two controllers and all to simulate ping-pong. So, lets see, first off the controls are simple but impossible. Second off, I swear to you the computer cheats. The graphics are so old that they’re adorable rather than bad but I still can’t get over the fact that the computer cheats. I really don’t know what else to say. So here comes the score. I’m sorry its so low, Pong, but well…stop cheating.

Space Invaders – 1980

I love Space Invaders. I had this thing emulated on my graphing calculator, that’s how amazing it is. The aliens are adorable, there’s like three colors and you get more than 1 life. Plus there are levels. For being an old game, Space Invaders has a lot of the things you want in a good, simple game. Sure, its only a one-player game but you can take turns per life or even per game since its not very long. I also really like the fact that Space Invaders is one of the first games I ever experienced where you get a shield to hide behind and can make strategic use of it. I used to drill out a sniper hole in one of the bunkers to shoot safely. Plus, there’s just something special about playing it with a joystick that I miss…I don’t think any of the TVs in my house play nicely with the co-ax cable on my Atari… So, the score.

4/5 HeartsPac-Man – 1980

Pac-Man is an amazing point in gaming history, one of the first arcade games available in the United States that wasn’t a shooter (or Pong). Pac-man was a break in a new direction that opened up an entirely new genre for development. Its got very nice, simple controls and the graphics (in both the classic game and in this flash remake) are adorable. I really like the ghosts too. The gameplay is challenging, but not so hard as to be impossible. Unless of course you’re trying to take screenshots while you play. Then things get interesting. I also really like that the screen wraps left and right. I think this was one of the first games I ever played where that happened instead of having invisible boundaries. And so, the score.

Frogger – 1981

Alright, it might just be me but I totally remember Frogger being way harder when I was a kid. I remember getting mowed down all the time. Especially by that stupid 18-wheeler in the last car lane. I love how cute the graphics are in this remake, but I remember sitting there when I was little and everything was much blockier and less colorful and yet still entrancing. Sadly, though, I think Frogger is just one of those games that didn’t stand up to my childhood memories. I was expecting a challenge. Not something I could nearly do blindfolded.

3/5 zelda heartsAsteroids – 1979

And last but not least, Asteroids. Now, I never had this one on the Atari myself, but I’ve played it at the arcade. I really like the way the controls work. Its like they couldn’t program normal controls so they just made them weird and it feels like you’re actually maneuvering in outer space. I also love the hyperspace button, but I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve killed myself with it. Now, I know I gave Pong a hard time for being white on black, but look! Asteroids managed to make thin lines and irregular shapes. That’s impressive for being this old. Sure, Pong has 7 years on Asteroids, but dang.

4/5 HeartsAnd so, the final winner is: PAC-MAN. Not that anyone is surprised, of course. Pac-Man is a classic above and beyond the caliber of these others. Out of this selection of games, only Frogger and Pac-man spawned series and the Pac-man series was much more long-lived and had many more titles, even if Pac-Land was terrible.

Creeper World

Posted: November 24, 2010 in 3 Hearts, Uncategorized

Wow, its been a while since I last posted here. I guess I got eaten by B term more than I thought. Ok, lets see what I’ve got for today. Well, I’ve got this game demo called Creeper World. Lets give it a try.

Creeper World is a strategy game based on the idea (at least in the demo available at Addicting Games) that you’re playing a simulator to learn to combat the Creep which is trying to destroy all life. I haven’t managed to actually beat the entire demo yet and I’ve been trying for a while. The strategy involved is pretty intense. You need to not only manage your own resources but also keep your defenses tight against both surface and air attacks. There are blasters, surface to air missiles and mortars that you can use to defend your territory and there are also collectors and reactors for making more energy to power your defenses and building more structures. The goal is to power three totems that exist on screen when you start any given level. Once all three totems are activated, then you have succeeded.

The graphics of Creeper World really work nicely with the fact that the game itself says that its a simulator. Its also impressive just how much data they can cram into the little bar at the bottom. You can mouse over areas and get their relative elevation, you can see your energy levels in terms of starvation, depletion and collection. The interface is kind of amazing. The game play on the other hand, well, its simple and entertaining for a while but it gets old fast. It was fun for a while, but after I got to the last level, I was bored.

And what you were waiting for, I’m sure, the score. The graphics are good, the story is cool and plays nicely with the graphics and gameplay. But its pretty boring after a while. In conclusion, I aware Creeper World with a kind of meh 3 out of 5 hearts. It wasn’t anything special.

3/5 zelda heartsIf you want to play Creeper World, you can find it at http://www.addictinggames.com/creeperworld.html. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

CrossworDS

Posted: August 30, 2010 in 3 Hearts
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So I was going to be writing about Band Hero DS today, but it doesn’t play on my bulky first generation DS, only on the nice, shiny new DS lites. Instead, I shall talk about the other game I bought, CrossworDS. At first glance, you’d think this was simply a way to do cross word puzzles on your DS, but this game also includes wordsearch puzzles and anagrams, which made me quite happy. Also, CrossworDS has 4 levels of difficulty which can teach a person how to think in order to solve crossword puzzles. The interface is very intuitive and you can choose to get immediate feed back about mistakes. This is a feature I greatly enjoy since I have a lot of trouble solving cross word puzzles normally. Another thing I’m enjoying is the little culture references. For example: It’s a ____! (4 letters)

The anagram puzzle is pretty similar to some that I have played online and enjoyed greatly. There are a set of letters and you have to form a set of words out of those letters in different arrangements. Unlike most games of this type, there is no time limit. Instead, the game tracks how long it takes you to complete the puzzle. The wordsearch puzzle is pretty much a standard wordsearch puzzle, and they time how long the puzzle takes you.

Unlike most games that use my handwriting as input, CrossworDS doesn’t make a lot of mistakes in interpretation. This is a massive improvement over earlier DS games. Also, I like that you can save one in-progress puzzle of each type at a time, instead of only 1 puzzle of any type.

3/5 zelda heartsAnd to the rating. CrossworDS delivered what it offered. A portable cross word puzzle player with anagrams and wordsearch puzzles. The hand writing parser is better than most, but still not perfect. Over all, this game is good but nothing special. I award it 3 out of 5 Hearts.

Zombie Balloon Heads

Posted: August 29, 2010 in 3 Hearts, Uncategorized

I’m sure you knew that the way to kill a zombie is with a head shot. But did you know that the way to kill a doodle zombie is to shoot it in the head with ink until its head explodes? I bet you didn’t. Well, it is in Zombie Balloon Heads. The basic story behind Zombie Balloon Heads is that a boy was stuck in summer school doing algebra and kept seeing zombies in his math paper. Well, clearly the solution is to shoot them in the head until their heads fill up with ink and they explode. That’s pretty much how you play too. Movement is done using the WASD keys, you rotate between 4 different styles of squirt gun with Q and E and aim and fire with the mouse. The zombies to be defeated get progressively harder as you make your way through the platformer style levels.

The graphics themselves are based on the story behind the game. You’re running around as a little stick figure on lined paper with the levels drawn on it. Dead zombies leave behind a little ink stain. Its very cute, really. You collect more ink to refill your squirt gun and gain experience to buy bigger squirt guns. And since you’re a stick figure, the doodle zombies can eat you. There are normal zombies, big head top hat wearing zombies, zombie dogs, giant zombie birds and all kinds of other hilarious zombies. Its a very creative game and I enjoyed it greatly.

The levels are interesting. Your object is to get from where you are dropped in to an arrow somewhere else in the level. This can be achieved by running all over the place, jumping with or without spring launchers, shooting zombies, sneaking around zombies, going up stairs or ramps, riding moving platforms or really anything else you can think of. My only complaint is that once you learn the layout of a level, the replayability is lost and it is very easy to learn the layout of all the levels.

3/5 zelda heartsAnd now, the rating. Zombie Balloon Heads is a cute, creative game that I was very happy to find. I like the way the backstory ties into the graphics and gameplay. The levels were challenging, even if they were only challenging the first time through. Over all, I award Zombie Balloon Heads with 3 out of 5 Hearts.

Zombie Balloon Heads can be found at http://www.addictinggames.com/zombie-balloon-heads-game.html

Pandemic 2

Posted: August 18, 2010 in 3 Hearts, Uncategorized

Imagine making a plague capable of destroying the entire human population. That’s the object of Pandemic 2. There are two game play modes available in Pandemic 2: realistic and relaxed. Realistic mode has more traits for the diseases and is a longer, more in-depth game. Each mode includes 3 possible disease types to choose from, each of which has different stats to change the way the game goes. The three types are virus, bacteria and parasite. Once you get into the game itself, you can spend evolution points on symptoms such as fever, vomiting and organ failure. You can also gain resistance to different climates and to medicine. There are also four ways your disease can spread that are available for purchase. As your disease becomes more and more known and widespread, the people in the game world will begin to close their borders and try anything to stop your disease from spreading farther. There is a log on the left hand side of the screen that shows you things like weather such as flooding, drought and earthquakes, disease spread and government actions to stop the spread of your disease.

The interface for this game is very easy to use and very logical. There is also a video tutorial available from a link on the start-up of the game. I didn’t find watching the tutorial to be necessary, but some people might need it. Everything is available on a subscreen that can be accessed by clicking on the main play screen and also pauses the game while active so that time stops passing.

The major flaw with Pandemic 2 is inherent to the closing of ports and borders and the way it was designed. There is a little island off of Africa called Madagascar. In Pandemic 2, Madagascar is sort of the holy grail because of how hard it is to infect. There is only 1 port and it closes very quickly at the slightest sign of anything. You can literally have a disease with no symptoms and Madagascar will close its port. The fact that governments begin to act even when there are no symptoms is somewhat bothersome. I can’t even begin to stress how annoying Madagascar is. There are actually a lot of jokes about it if you do a quick little google search. Here’s a link to one that I found to be rather a good example of what it seems like must be happening. http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/CaptainFailcon/SHUTDOWNEVERYTHING.jpg

Well, now I guess I should rate Pandemic 2. The game is fun, albeit long. The interface is easy to use and understand. But what bothers me deeply is that I’m not really sure you can ever win. Please, if you’ve ever managed to win Pandemic 2 WITHOUT starting in Madagascar, I want to hear about it. So I award Pandemic 2 with 3 out of 5 Hearts. 3/5 zelda hearts

For those of you who would like to check out Pandemic 2, you can find it at addictinggames.com or go directly to http://www.addictinggames.com/pandemic2.html

Ninja Run!

Posted: August 13, 2010 in 3 Hearts, Uncategorized

Ninja Run is one of the new games available for free play on AddictingGames.com. Ninja Run is a fairly straight forward platformer with cute, low resolution graphics and very simple mechanics. The only abilities you have as your ninja avatar are to shoot, to jump, to double jump and to control the speed of your running. If the player does nothing, the poor little ninja will run off a cliff. He can’t be a very good ninja then, I suppose. Anyway, so there’s a ninja running along and jumping across breaks in the ground. And then there’s also enemy ninjas. You can use throwing stars to kill the enemy ninjas or just jump over them. If you kill the ninjas, they explode in a cartoony limbs flying everywhere sort of way. Probably not the best for really little kids, but its not really gory like some games so its not too bad.

One of the things I really like about Ninja Run is that unlike other platformers, the location of the platforms and the enemies is randomized every time you start meaning you can’t just muscle memory your way to a higher score. This is something I approve of, especially given how many games I’ve seen where if you play for long enough, you can literally play while blind folded without any extra effort.

Another thing I really liked about the way Ninja Run was designed is that the tutorial phase isn’t drawn out. It just shows you which buttons do which actions and then lets you continue on. And better yet, the tutorial only shows up when you first start playing each session.

One of the things that I don’t exactly like, but might make sense given that you’re a ninja, is the fact that you can change your speed while in mid-air. I’m not sure how I feel about accelerating to save myself from falling off a cliff. This seems like it seriously breaks game physics but it might just be that you’re a ninja. And ninjas can do things like that.

The other thing to note is that while it may look on the surface like a Super Mario clone (I know my mom came over to the computer and thought that’s what I was playing), but it doesn’t feel like one at all when you’re playing. Super Mario is much less fast paced, feels less urgent. Sure, the graphics are vaguely similar and its the same platformer style, but that’s pretty muc3/5 zelda heartsh all the similarity.

And in conclusion, for cute graphics, simple game play, randomization of platforms, and a well done tutorial, despite strange physics and mild violence, but not over the top violence, I award Ninja Run with 3 Hearts. Well done! Ninja Run can be found either by going to addictinggames.com or by going directly to where the creators host it at http://www.mofunzone.com/online_games/ninja_run.shtml#.