Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo’

So you went out to your local video game store and picked up a new game. You play through the first hour, maybe two, and then realize that you have just made a horrible mistake and this isn’t what you thought you were getting. It happens more than you would think. Maybe you were expecting an action RPG and got a platformer, maybe you were expecting a casual game or maybe you just don’t like the play style or mechanics involved. All of this brings up the big question of what do you do with it. The natural thought is that you would return it. Sadly, a lot of stores won’t take returns on video games if the box has been opened. I know for a fact that Toys R Us doesn’t. So you can’t return it to say, Walmart, Target or anything like that if you’ve actually played it. The next place you could go is somewhere more like Gamestop where they do Trade-Ins of games, hardware and accessories and resell them. That sounds like a really great idea right? Here’s the problem, and it all falls on you the consumer. So you buy a $30 DS game, for example. If that game is for the DS and not the 3DS, don’t expect to get more than $5 of Trade-In value, and that’s for a really good popular game. You might remember my misadventures with The Sims 2 Pets for DS. Well, I took that in yesterday to exchange, along with a few other games like Populous DS and Logic Machines, which had all seemed like good ideas at the time of purchase. Four games sold back, for $4 of store credit, and that’s with the Powerup Rewards membership getting me an extra 10% on all trade-ins. And that’s with all 4 games having their case and instructions.

You’re probably wondering how that can possibly make any sense. I mean, that’s approximately $120 in games and I got $4 for it. But the thing is, those games aren’t even really available any more because they’re so out of date. And on top of that, the ones that are just aren’t popular. They’re running about $10 new. The video game market tends to be very much on demand pricing. If a game is the next big thing, super popular and everyone wants it, the price is going to be higher. Just look at the Metroid franchise. At the time of release, The Other M was running around $40 like the usual Wii game. At Gamestop yesterday, it was selling for $10. So if I had bought The Other M back when it was new and gone to trade it in now, Gamestop would be giving me a very small amount of money, enough that when they sell it again at $10 they would still be making some kind of profit.

Its pretty obvious that this system only benefits the game store. After the original purchase, no money is going to the developer and the return is hardly giving the customer any of their money back. So how do we solve this system. My favorite solution, though not one that everyone can employ, is the mantra of Try Before You Buy. The way I usually handle this is through rental of games that I’m interested in trying but aren’t in a franchise I have a lot of faith in. If a new Zelda game, for example, is coming out, I trust the Zelda developers to maintain a certain level of quality, but if I see something completely new and weird, or even a long standing series that I have no experience with and I’m considering buying it, I will rent it first. But not everyone can afford a Gamefly or Blockbuster rental plan. In that case, talk to your friends. See if anyone you know has the game and can let you try it out, or even just give you an opinion. If everyone you know says a game is terrible, chances are its terrible. Another way to avert gaming disaster is to check out a review website like this one here, or Metacritic.

So you tried before you bought, and got opinions, and even checked the Internet and still gamer fail occurred. What’s next? At that point come the options of give it to someone, yardsale it or shove it in a box somewhere. I mean, there’s also Ebay and Craig’s List, but that once again depends on the popularity of the game in question. Honestly, the best way to not have to deal with trading in games is to try really hard to do your homework before purchasing it.

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Nintendo 3DS

Posted: December 26, 2011 in 4.5 Hearts
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I’ve had my little 3DS for a couple months now so I feel like its about time I do a review of the little fellow. First up: the basics. The 3DS comes in 3 different colors, has a touch screen on the bottom half and sports a directional pad and joystick, alongside the start, home, select and x, y, a, b buttons on the front. There are also L and R shoulder buttons, leaving this unit capable of having some pretty complex behaviors, even before you add in the endless behaviors you can add once you start using the 3 cameras and the accelerometers.

My favorite upgrade from the earlier generations of DS is a little silly, I have to admit. The stylus is collapsable. Meaning that now I get a stylus that fits my hand and can collapse down to fit inside the DS unit snugly so it won’t get lost. It also comes preloaded with a bunch of really neat software like an internet browser, AR games, a camera that can take pictures in 2D or 3D, an e-store and it periodically updates itself for newly available free software if you have an internet connection.

The 3D is really quite nice, I wish I could show you pictures. One of the really nice features is a slider on the right of the top screen that allows you to turn up and down the amount of 3D that is being displayed, all the way down to off. That is startlingly useful since playing for too long can result in headaches. Also, DS games from before the advent of 3D can still be played, it just automatically turns the 3D off.

So far I’ve been playing Ocarina of Time 3D and Super Mario 3D Land. Both are extremely good, though I’ve had some trouble with the archery range in the Ocarina of Time. It requires you to aim at the targets by moving the unit around, which invariably ends up with me contorted in some very odd positions because of how I play (lying down with the unit in my lap). Over all, I love the system and the fact that they just keep putting out more free content for it.

Nintendo 3DS

Image by Dekuwa via Flickr

In light of that, I award the Nintendo 3DS with 4.5 out of 5 hearts. It has very few flaws, mostly the fact that the 3D technology results in headaches after more than an hour or so of use for most users.

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Posted: June 10, 2011 in 4.5 Hearts
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There are days when I wonder just what they’re doing over in Nintendo HQ that they produce the games that they do. This is one of them. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is the latest installment in the adventures of a pink balloon-like creature known as Kirby who usually defeats bad guys by sucking things in to him to change his form or to just spit them back out as projectiles. I say usually because its hard to suck things in when you’re a yarn outline. That’s right, you heard me, Kirby is made of yarn now. The basic idea is that an evil wizard known as Yin-Yarn has stolen the magic yarn from Patch Land and then turned Kirby to yarn and sent him to Patch Land. Patch Land is what it sounds like, a world full of fabric and thread and patches and yarn and buttons and beads. Its ruled over by Prince Fluff, who kind of looks like a blue Kirby with a crown.Well, Kirby can’t suck in his foes anymore but by no means is he helpless. He now has all sorts of new transformations just innately available to him because he ate a magical Metamato. So now he can turn into a car or get a parachute or all other manner of odd things. There are 4 different ways to play Kirby’s Epic Yarn, which makes it even more interesting.

Story Mode

Story mode is simply going through the platformer’s levels and beating bosses and collecting beads. There are hidden levels and a lot of content to unlock. There are 7 different worlds to Patch Land, each containing at least 5 levels. I really like the story. Its novel. I mean, who ever heard of a villain who knits their minions. Its a really nice take on the traditional Kirby adventures. The controls are a little difficult to use though. I spent a long time trying to get the hang of grabbing enemies to throw them. Its also very easy to accidentally morph into the car, which is a problem since the car goes twice as fast as Kirby.

Story Mode can, at any time, be played with two players instead of one. I really like this feature. Most games have a multi-player mode and a story mode separately. I also like that the multiplayer option is cooperative rather than competitive. The levels are exactly the same thing in multiplayer that they were in single player. This is both good and bad since it means that all you need to succeed is one player who knows what they’re doing. The abilities added to multiplayer are along the same lines as the sort of thing you get in the New Super Mario Bros for the Wii, the ability to pick each other up, throw each other and bounce on each other’s heads.

Mini-Games

During Story Mode, you can gather furniture which can be used to fill in rooms in an apartment building which unlocks special mini-games. The mini-games, like the story mode, can be played either alone or with another player. The first two of these that I’ve unlocked are a hide and go seek game and a bead gathering speed challenge. Both of them are quite entertaining.

The mini-games, like the Story Mode, can be played cooperatively. Once again, the challenge is exactly the same as it was for single player. As far as I can tell, there are no competitive mini-games.

Overall, I really liked Kirby’s Epic Yarn, especially that it could go from being single player to multiplayer and back at any time. The story line was unique and the game play was, for the most part, quite nice and simple. The controls were only slightly annoying and the characters were compelling. I enjoyed the art quite a bit. I highly suggest checking this one out. I give Kirby’s Epic Yarn a 4.5 out of 5 hearts. It would have been better if the controls were just slightly nicer.

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

Wii U

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I know, I know, giant absence and then posting on an off day. I can’t help it. I just got my first look at the Wii U, Nintendo’s new console out. I have no idea what to say. To be perfectly honest, the first words out of my mouth were “What the hell am I even looking at?” Its got two directional sticks, all the buttons we used to have circa Gamecube and still appears to have motion tracking. There appears be some kind of connector bit down the bottom there. Nintendo finally announced everything, so you can get more information from their website. I bet that’s a touch screen. Shiny.

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

Big Brain Academy DS

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Self improvement through video games. Its an admirable effort, no matter the medium used. One of the major things that video games can provide is an immediate response to mistakes and a comfortable environment in which to fix those mistakes. A great genre that is making use of this is the educational video game. Big Brain Academy for the DS is in this vein. The basic idea is that you are taking classes to increase the size of your brain and then you can also take tests to see how much bigger your brain has gotten. You can relax, we aren’t going to literally weigh your brain. Big Brain Academy is just using a nice simple measurement system (grams) that everyone can relate to and immediately see which one is bigger and thus better.

There are three different play modes to Big Brain Academy: Practice, Test and Versus. In Practice mode, you can play 3 different games for each of the 5 focal areas in brain development. These 5 areas are called compute, identify, think, memorize and analyze. These are the 5 things the entire game focuses on, so they’re going to come up again. There are three levels of difficulty for each game: easy, normal and hard. These games are the same games used in Test mode to find out your level of brain development. During Test mode, you go through one game from each focal area. The game randomly chooses how to test you and the difficulty scales with how well you’re performing to get an accurate assessment.

I really like the graphics in this game. They’re all really cute and simple. I also like the audio, its very relaxing. The controls are very easy to use, especially since they’re entirely based on tapping the screen to choose your answer. All in all, this is a really nice game. There is room on the cartridge for four different user files and each file displays the test results of the user on the grade scale from F to A, including the pluses and minuses. The downside there is that it doesn’t display the most recent score, instead it displays the best score ever received. Meaning that if you do really well and then take a break and start doing terrible, it still displays the best score from before. This is something of a problem, as I’m sure you can understand.

Overall, I enjoyed this game and found only a few small problems with it. As such, I award Big Brain Academy for the DS a 4 out of 5 hearts.

4/5 HeartsAs a note, this is one of the many games that has been made for multiple systems. You might remember an older review of Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree. If you enjoyed that game, or if you think this one sounds like your kind of fun, you should be sure to check out both.

I am all for the betterment of people through video games but it seems to me that a lot of people don’t realize that the game has to be good in order for people to play it. The Biggest Loser for the Wii is one of those games. Have you ever tried to follow along with an exercise video where they use the names for different yoga poses or exercises but don’t once tell you how to do it? That’s how I felt playing this game. Ever heard of upper body twists with knee? Me neither. I can guess what they mean and once the person on the screen starts going, I can follow along, but they dock you points if you aren’t keeping up. To make matters worse, if someone is trying to follow this and doesn’t know how to do the exercises it is possible to hurt themselves pretty easily. I mean, that risk exists with pretty much anything where you don’t have a coach or trainer watching you but still. There are a lot of different ways to make a weight loss focused game without having people get into positions they aren’t in the physical condition to pull off.

So, The Biggest Loser bosts over 60 different exercises and yoga poses, has recipes for healthy food alternatives and has exercise goals that you can set. However, none of that matters, because the user interface is but together so badly that it becomes hard to use. Repeatedly, I went to hit the button to go backwards and discovered that you had to use the B button on the back of the Wiimote, that trying to use what appeared to be an on-screen button would actually start the workout I was trying to exit out of. So instead of me exiting the game, I get roped into another 20 minute cardio session. I know what you’re thinking: turn off the stupid game, right? Ok, sure, you can do that. But shouldn’t the user interface be, well, useable?

So then you get to the exercises themselves. They’re all quite reasonable, the sorts of exercises that anyone should be able to do. But remember, this is supposed to be at least something of a game. I get the whole weight loss thing, and exercise is important, but what this game is missing is that exercise has to be fun. The game is very, very goal oriented but completely lacks any fun factor. This is only made worse by the fact that the game has a hard time figuring out if you’re actually doing what it told you to do. I actually just stood still and moved the Wiimote at one point and got a perfect score and at another point did the exercise properly and got no points.

So here is my biggest complaint about this game. When a game has audio overlays that are supposed to be helpful or whatever, they should really NOT stop each other to play. “Wow, you’re doing a rea-What on earth are you doing?” Yeah, that doesn’t sound natural to you either, does it? This happens to the two coaches in The Biggest Loser game all the time. They’ll be trying to tell you that you’re doing a good job and suddenly its time to do a different exercise, so they have to tell you, so they have the first audio clip turn off and the second one turn on. There has to be a better way to do that.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this game. The workout was intense, but nothing was laid out in any way that was reasonable to use. The audio tracks did all kinds of annoying things. The graphics were comfortably nestled in the uncanny valley where people look like aliens. I give The Biggest Loser a 1 out of 5 hearts. Epic fail.