Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Developer: Metia Interactive
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Release Date: April 30, 2007
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: "It's up to you to guide CUBE around the things CUBE can't go through."

0:01 The menu is pretty minimalist. Looks like they slapped it together at the last minute.
0:02 I work my way over to the training area without any training. The camera controls make my head spin.
0:04 When I roll over the side accidentally I stick to the wall instead of falling off. I was not expecting that.
0:07 I'm only on the second training level and already my head is spinning. The constant change of perspective by rolling around all sides of the level in 3D takes getting used to.
0:09 The constant loading is pretty annoying. It's just a few seconds every level, but it happens when you restart the level too.There's also a few second of autosaving after each level. Teeters the line between slightly annoying and unforgivable.
0:11 "Don't roll into bombs." "Avoid the bullets fired by shooters." Words to live by. Nice to see some action/reflex elements in a puzzle game.
0:19 Holy crap! Ai is a big spiky cube that shoots bullets. He's like a goth cube.
0:20 Finally done with training. Lots of building blocks to play with: traps, walls, buttons, etc. Let's see what they can do with them.
0:25 Level 4 actually requires some thought and a restart. I'm getting vertigo from all this rotating.
0:31 Level 7's the first one that really gives me trouble. I have to figure out how to push a block into just the right place. Turns out you have to use another block as a platform. Tricksy.
0:34 I really like the percussion-heavy background music. They're catchy without being repetitive and annoying.
0:40 The easy mode levels show some inventiveness, but they're too straightforward and over in 30 seconds or less. Time to move on to something harder.
0:41 Or not... apparently the harder levels are locked until you finish the earlier levels. WHo are they to tell me what levels I'm ready for? At least you can skip levels you can't finish.
0:43 This game is messing with my spatial relations. As I type I expect the laptop screen to rotate. A sure sign of a good game.
0:44 One problem with the camera... it can be hard to tell if a bomb is in front of you or slightly above or to the side. It's only slightly annoying so far, but I can see it being a potentially big problem.
0:52 Level 14 annoyingly includes a key that you can't get if you pass by it.
0:58 Remember that bomb problem I mentioned a few minutes ago? I die again and again in level 15 to bombs I didn't know were threats. Groan.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? Just to see what more complex puzzles they can come up with.

This review based on a retail copy rented from GameFly.

Paying the bills

Are you a fan of gaming? Think you've got what it takes to outwit players from all around the world? Test your skills in our Online Poker Rooms" today!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Developer: Introversion
Publisher: Introversion
System: PC
Release Date: Sept. 29, 2006
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Shall we play a game? How about Global Thermonuclear War?

0:01 I love the green on black colors in the intro screen. Very WarGames (see "In a Nutshell")
0:02 Tutorial time. Apparently destroying the world is a complex process.
0:04 I love the sort of low dirge playing in the background. Really nerve-wracking.
0:05 "Silos in air defense mode are very effective at taking down nukes." I knew there was something unrealistic about this game.
0:07 The tutorial feels very tense even though the enemy isn't firing at me. Mostly because of the great music. I'm still getting the hang of the interface ... clicks don't always do what I expect.
0:11 Things move painfully slowly in "real time." I thought World War III was supposed to be quick and painless. Thank god you can speed up the timer significantly.
0:13 "UAE hit, 2.0 million dead." The text pops up as if this occurrence was the most natural thing in the world. Chilling.
0:20 "Move your subs as close to the enemy coastline as possible and lets rack up some MegaDeaths." What, the band?
0:25 Tokyo hit, 9.5M dead. The music swells and slows like a whimpering record player. I love it!
0:31 My first real battle against the CPU. There's an oceanic skirmish, and then not much happens for a while. Watching war from this high up is excruciatingly clinical.
0:36 After a very slow start, everything happens at once. They launched first, I swear. I quickly lose 67 to -8.
0:41 The Asians seem to have used their nukes too soon. I'm launching a bunch, and a few get through. Bombers coming to their aid. I'm closing in: 58-10.
0:43 The countdown timer ends my attack prematurely. I "lose" the tutorial battle 58-20. Of course, the real losers are the millions of dead people. I'm not very good at this.
0:46 I love the rolling demo, it just lets the computer play itself, like a beautifully destructive screen saver.
0:52 This time I'm controlling the Russians. A lot more land to defend. Try to use my fleets and fighters more strategically.
0:58 After falling behind 141 to -71, I realize I have no idea what I'm doing. I just can't keep track of all this stuff at once. I wish things were a little more automatic.
1:04 I narrow it to 123 to -34 before it's over. Still ... ugh.

Would I play this game for more than an hour: Maybe.
Why? I lovethe aestethic and the idea, but I can't seem to wrap my brain around the strategy.

This game based on a demo version downloaded from the official Web site.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Red Steel

Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Nov. 19, 2006
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: T

In a nutshell: Red = blood. Steel = swords and guns.

0:01 The intro screen has you pick up a "New Profile" ticket and drag it on to a panel. Um, why can't I just click the A button?
0:03 "Look at these fish Scott, aren't they pretty." As opening lines go, there are worse. Not that I can think of any at the moment.
0:04 The entire game industry seems enamored with these comic-book panel cut scenes at the moment. The voice acting is pretty good, but the writing is a little too expository for my tastes.
0:06 The subtitles don't translate the Japanese speech, just transliterate it.
0:07 Someone just shot my girlfriend's dad and we're ready for action! I don't have a gun yet, so there's not much I can do but listen to the pleas of my girlfriend as she's taken off.
0:09 My character's arm moves along with the aiming reticle. Very distracting. I like using a push of the Nunchuk to push stuff over/open.
0:10 My first firefight. The aiming with the remote is a little tough to get used to. When you aim too far left or right, the screen jerks to that side. Why can't reticle just stay in the middle of the screen as your view moves?
0:12 Being able to lock the camera on enemies is a nice touch. It keeps the camera steady but still requires you to aim. Pushing the remote in and out to zoom is awkward.
0:15 Pet peeve #1: If I'm not active shot for about 5 seconds I seem to regain all my health. Takes away lots of the tension.
0:17 "You can only carry two weapons at a time." That's bull. I could stuff at least 5 guns in my pants. Er, don't ask me how I know that.
0:18 Nice of them to give me unlimited Uzi ammo to shoot up the stockroom. Seriously, it's fun.
0:21 I take out three guys with guns blazing and end up on the brink of death. But after I stand in a corner for five seconds, I'm good as new.
0:25 I regain my health once or twice in the middle of a firefight, I regain my health twice. Can I at least turn this effect down or something? i can't seem to keep remote pointed at screen, or aim with consistency.
0:29 And with the push of an elevator button, the first mission ends a bit anticlimactically. My accuracy was awful, but my zero respect points earned me an A. Wha?
0:30 "A sword? Here? Take it!" A plot device? Here? Take it!
0:31 "Watch out for his attacks. Try to dodge them, left or right." Thanks, Obvious-Man!
0:33 The dodging controls are decent enough, but I can't get the game to register my swings. Also, I can't fight the nagging feeling that I could just, um, shoot the guy with my gun. We are fleeing for our lives here... who cares about the honorable thing to do?
0:36 The defensive controls seem to work great in sword fighting, but I can't seem to get the slashes to register most of the time.
0:37 I decide not to kill the guy and get 50 "respects" I didn't know you could pluralize that word.
0:43 Upon walking into an empty room. "Kuso... they're everywhere." Uh... does this guy have early onset dementia or something?
0:44 "A sword and a gun brought me back... not prayers." Uh, don't mention the guy wielding the sword and gun or anything. "This suite might not hold them off long." Does the suite have some sort of laser defense?
0:48 You might think defending a suite against dozens of intruders for 200 seconds is hard. You'd be wrong. It's easy... as long as you have a couch to hide behind to "catch your breath."
0:50 The graphics are a bit reminiscent of GoldenEye on the N64 with a little more polish.
0:51 The piano makes hilariously pathetic noises when you shoot it. The little things matter!
0:53 I'm actually moderately impressed by the enemy AI. They move between cover and don't expose themselves very much. Too bad it's so easy to restore health, or it might be a bit of a challenge.
0:55 The background singers repeat " I see... you very gooooood" over and over until I want to shoot myself. Also, what's with cricket chirping noises every few steps?
0:58 These sword fights are ridiculously easy. Half the time I don't even have to block or dodge, I just slash them. Oh, and after five gut shots from a sword, my health is just fine. Thanks for asking.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No
Why? Annoying controls, generic, repetitive gameplay and an overly forgiving health system.

This review is based on a retail copy provided by Nintendo.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Parappa the Rapper (PSP)

Developer: SCEI
Publisher: SCEI
Release Date: July 17, 2007
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Kick, punch, you all remember, Chop Chop back again, yes, forever.

0:01 I can't actually start the game because I have to run a firmware update. The firmware update won't run because the battery is at 44%. The fact that the PSP is plugged into the wall doesn't seem to matter. I'll continue when the battery is charged.
0:15 I check on the charging system and find it's charged enough to update.
0:16 Firmware update completed, restarting the system. This intro seems familiar. Oh yeah, maybe because I saw it on the original PlayStation game ten years ago...
0:17 "When Jet Baby loves, she loves all of the children." What's this game rated again? Also, Parappa orders water? Who orders water at Chunky Burger?
0:18 I decide to try downloading some song remixes from the Internet, because that's really the only justification for this $30 portable re-release of a ten-year-old game as far as I'm concerned.
0:20 Two minutes of entering my wireless settings later, and I'm almost ready to start.
0:21 Connecting... the "key information exchange timed out," whatever that means. Trying again.
0:22 One more time...
0:25 Still not working... I wonder why they couldn't have just included some remixes on the disc itself.
0:26 After running through setup again and checking some web settings, it finally works. I'm finally ready to downloading after I read (read: skip) two screen worth of licensing agreement.
0:28 Finally downloading. I choose "Music A" for Stage 1 because I am a big fan of the "A" genre of music. Seriously, why don't they give some sort of description of these remixes before you download them?
0:32 I'm finally done downloading a remix for every stage. Time to play! Wait... apparently the stuff I just downloaded is locked. I have to beat the non-remixed stage first? ARGH! I did that ten years ago! Can't I just plug in my PlayStation memory card or something?
0:33 "You gotta do what? I gotta believe" You really do have to believe in order to play this game.
0:37 Finished playing through Chop Chop Master Onion's stage yet again. One of the things that has always bugged me about this game -- it's hard to tell whether or not you're on beat. The evaluations come late and don't tell you which notes you actually missed. The freestyle system is hard to master too.
0:38 All right, now the first downloaded remix is unlocked. This should be fun.
0:41 It's... sort of a twangy western version of the song. Same lyrics, same buttons, same timing, same everything except the background instruments. This is what I wasted 15 minutes on?
0:42 Back to the main game. The cut scenes are just as endearingly weird as ever.
0:44 "When I say boom boom boom/You say bam bam bam/No pause in between/Come on let's jam." For some reason I've always loved this line.
0:45 I complete the stage with no mistakes. It's practically muscle memory at this point.
0:46 The next stage is titled "My Dad's Gonna Bite Me." What's this game... never mind. It's too easy.
0:47 "All you ever need is to be nice and friendly." Later: "Money money money is all you need." Make up your mind, Master Fleaswallow!
0:49 The next stage is a cooking show. "My style is rich, dope, phat, in which/We'll make a cake today that looks rich." That almost sounds like English.
0:50 "The other day I was called a little turkey/But I'm a chicken, got it, ya beef jerky?" This line always cracks me up for no good reason.
0:52 I fail the song, but I have no idea why. I thought I was doing OK, actually...
0:53 This time I don't even make it to the end of the song. Nuts to this... time to try some more remixes.
0:56 The driving test remix has a techno beat with lots of sound effects. Pretty cool.
0:58 The Stage 3 remix is surf anthem reggae? I never thought I would hear those two sounds combined. But it works pretty well!

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Reluctantly.
Why? Only to hear all the remixes. And because I haven't technically played for an hour yet.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.

Metapost: RSS For Lunch

Tired of constantly refreshing the Games For Lunch homepage in the fervent hope that the day's update has been posted? Let our handy new RSS feed do the work for you! Use the handy links on the right to add GFL to your favorite web-based RSS reader. Or just copy the following feed address into your RSS solution of choice:


If you're already subscribed to the old Atom feed from Blogger, please switch your subscription to this address. Welcome to the exciting world of Web 2.0!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 14, 2005
System: GameCube
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Probably the world's first and only bongo-controlled platform game.

0:01 Pressing the start button to start a game is so passe. Clapping your hands to start is where it's at.
0:02 Instead of ponderous text, the game uses simple on-screen pictures to tell you how to play. Hitting the right bongo moves right, left bongo moves left, both together jump, and clap is attack/action. The whole tutorial is over in about a minute. This is how it should be done!
0:04 The focus of the first level seems to be getting you to beat the bongos as much as possible. I have to take off my ring because of the constant clapping.
0:05 Monkeys in the background clap and play instruments with the background music. The little things matter!
0:06 A little bonus game has you pounding bongos as fast as possible to eat bananas. Again, the point seems to be maximum drum beatage.
0:09 The levels so far are pretty straightforward and easy to blaze through in a couple of minutes. If you stop to look for secrets, though, there's much more to them.
0:10 Frog's blow up into Shrek-style balloons when you clap. So cute! The whole game, in fact, is full of a vibrancy and life that used to be much more common in games. What happened?
0:12 Already at the first boss battle, a one-on-one fight with the dreadlocked "Dread Kong." I know it's the first boss and all, but I beat him simply by constantly banging the drums. He doesn't even touch me. No strategy at all... way too easy.
0:14 The kingdoms so far are called Banana, Orange and Watermelon. I sense a pattern....
0:15 I start the next level riding a bull?! No cut scenes or explanatory text, just dive right in. Nice and old school.
0:17 The level ends with a bull-jumping contest off a ski-jump. Loads of fun. Then I'm into the next level within five seconds. The pace in frenetic!
0:21 Annoyance #1: There's a big, zoomed in Donkey Kong in the corner for no apparent reason. Totally unnecessary.
0:22 The second boss battle is better. I have to jump, latch on to an egg, and beat it with bongos. Still easy, but at least there's some strategy and sense of a threat.
0:25 This minute primarily spent clapping, to great effect.
0:27 Donkey Kong spikes the pig-like enemies into each other, volleyball style. Whee!
0:31 One of the most striking things about the game: the camera zooms in dramatically to highlight important moments. Helps with the timing and pacing.
0:37 My palms and elbows are sore from all the pounding. A game hasn't hurt me this much since Dance Dance Revolution.
0:42 Turret Tusk is most interesting boss yet. I clap to pick up pineapple grandes,turn then clap again to throw them. For a game with only four inputs, they manage to squeeze out a lot of control versatility.
0:48 I've encountered so much weird stuff, I don't know where to start. There are flowers floating everywhere, I ride on giant birds and red stretchy parachutes, electrified kumquats are weapons, etc. etc. It's like Donkey Kong in Wonderland.
0:51 I'm picking up on stringing banana collection together to get large combos going. It's lots of fun to try and stay in the air for more points.
0:52 My arms hurt as I type this.
0:56 The most surreal moment yet, Donkey Kong is sucked into a flower and spit out in a floating soap bubble.I like the light, floaty music.
0:58 Swimming controls a little awkwardly. DK naturally floats up, the bongos make him swim down and to the side slightly. This is the opposite of most platformers, where you naturally sink. Does DK just have a lot of air in his head?
1:01 The gentle flow of most levels reminds me of Loco Roco, except with much better control.
1:03 Karate Kong is an actual hard boss. Finally. Another one-on-one battle, but this time I actually have to clap to dodge his attacks, then find an opening. Interesting timing fun.

Would I play this game for more than an hour: Hell yes!
Why? Just to see what other crazy stuff there is. But I think I'll rest my weary arms first...

This review is based on a retail version purchased from Gamestop, with the Bongos, for $10. Cheap!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

Developer: Konami/Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: Dec. 5, 2006
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Miniature Gear Solid.

0:01 Every MGS game should start with that little 12-note intro from the original PlayStation game. Alas this one does not.
0:02 "Input your name. You may not use lowercase letters." What a silly requirement.
0:04 I forgot how nice hand drawn art can look on the PSP screen. So bright and hi-res. Gotta love that MGS voice acting, too. The flying comic book panel styling was a good way to go.
0:06 Still blathering on about the Philosopher's Legacy. CIA took half in Snake Easter. I'd probably understand this better if I actually bothered to finish Metal Gear Solid 3.
0:07 OMG, finally some gameplay. So I'm walking around a smallish cell for about 30 seconds. Then ... another cut scene. Great. This one doesn't even have voice acting. Boo.
0:09 I escape the cell and find a new sneaking suit. Oh joy, more cut scenes! That was nearly a whole minute without them. At least there's voice acting this time.
0:11 I find out I'm on the "Peninsula of the dead" in South America. It doesn't show up on maps, because it's cool like that. This dialogue sounds like a history textbook. The Russians built ICBMs here, or tried to, but then abandoned it, or something. This is apparently one year after the SALT treaty. So... not present day then.
0:12 The other prisoner I've been talking to is Roy Campbell. Anyone who's played a Metal Gear Solid game will find that terribly cool. Anyone else will be like "huh?"
0:13 I hate it when in-game character say stuff like "press the L button to ready the weapon." How the hell do they know what an L button is? I know I should suspend my disbelief, but that stuff just takes me right out of the moment.
0:14 I shoot Roy Campbell in the face with a tranquilizer dart as soon as I get control back. He just yells at me. Lame.
0:17 Despite the analog control, I can't seem to sneak up on a guard. Luckily he crumples with a few well-placed punches.
0:18 I'm an idiot. Holding down triangle makes you sneak. Please disregard the idiotic reviewer who wrote that comment a minute ago.
0:19 The way to get by the imposing-looking electronic gate? Sneak under it. I am not impressed with the security on this compound.
0:23 This is playing more like an action game than a stealth game. Maybe that's just because I suck at not getting spotted.
0:25 Man, that was a little more than ten minutes without a cut scene. What's going on?
0:27 A brief sample of the game's "simple" controls. Hold triangle and right to sidle along a wall. Without letting go, hold L to jump out. Then, still without letting go of anything, hit square to fire. Four fingers, four buttons for what should be a simple move. Argh!
0:29 A codec communication scene with Para-medic from MGS3. "It's good to hear your voice again." Funny, I don't hear any voices. Snake is a fugitive from the Pentagon, they think he's leading the rebels or something. I'm sure MGS-philes are just eating this up. I'm just bored.
0:31 More codec calls. Some people are using state secrets as leverage to try to create and independent military nation. Now it's getting interesting. I have to capture the ringleader. I have to gather allies. The green berets are here too. Whoo!
0:34 OH GOD YET ANOTHER CUT SCENE! Campbell has a broken leg and a fever. Boo hoo. I can use codec frequency 140.85 to talk with him. Another cute nod to MGS-heads.
0:36 Roy's gonna drive me to various locations to perform discrete missions. It's weird to have an MGS game broken into stages, but I guess that's to be expected on a portable system.
0:37 Eight minutes after I first lost control, I get to play again. NO WAIT! Another codec call.
0:38 There we go, more actual gameplay. I have to sneak up and listen to people. So much for the action game.
0:39 GRAH! I'm walking around for LITERALLY ten second when another cut scene pops up. Guards are gossiping about what weapon they're protecting. THE GAME'S FREAKIN' CALLED METAL GEAR SOLID!
0:41 Sneak sneak sneak. Oops! Almost spotted. Dive behind a box! When you do get to play, it can be fun. Damn, someone sees my foot and I'm dead before I can get up. Freakin' awkward controls!
0:42 I have to watch these cut scenes again? I just watched them two minutes ago. At least I can skip through with the X button, but still, very annoying.
0:45 Spotted again, killed again, not looking forward to skipping the cut scenes again.
0:48 Another pet peeve... Snake can't seem to climb a six foot box. You're a super-solider! Just reach your hands up and climb!
0:50 I'm in the middle of a firefight, but I pick up some documents, and then apparently I can spare some time to talk to Campbell on the codec. Hail of bullets? What hail of bullets? Then he tells me to "hoof it back to the truck" and like magic I'm done with the stage. Lame.
0:52 Now Campbell is telling me to "sow dischord among the enemy." This provides some interesting possibilities. Too bad it took nearly an hour to get to them. The rebel commander is named Gene. Like genetics. Like the core scientific concept of the series. Oh Kojima. You ham.
0:57 OK, my task is to knock a guy out and drag him back to the truck. The "knock a guy out" part takes approximately 10 seconds. Now I have to drag him back, but he won't come down the conveniently placed crate staircase. Isn't there a handicapped-accessible ramp or something?
0:58. I figure out that if I position the solider perfectly I can drop him down the stairs.ANOTHER cut scene. This is getting ridiculous.
1:01 The cut scene is still going. Some random guard spouts a bunch of political backstory. "We were abandoned by our own country." TOO MUCH EXPOSITION. Real people do not talk like this. It's like dueling philosophy professors. More MGS3 reminiscence, I think. I turn off the game before the cut scene can finish.

Would I play this game for more than an hour: Probably not.
Why? It's OK when you actually get to play, but the story is the usual slow, overwrought mess that characterizes every MGS game since the first.

This review based ona retail copy rented from GameFly.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Metapost: Games for Lunch en Francaise

The Games for Lunch concept continues to sweep the globe. Belgium's own Stephane Josephy has just started "Apres une heure de jeu" ("After one hour of play") which, appropriately enough, reviews games after just an hour of play. Apparently his snooty French attitude is too good for a pedestrian game like Surf's Up, but besides that I can't find anything wrong with the site.

So now we have French and Spanish ... what language will the GFL juggernaut roll over next? German? Swahili? Esperanto? Stay tuned ...

Point Blank DS

Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: June 14, 2006
System: DS
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Who needs a light gun when you've got a stylus?

0:01 The title screen features a balding professor and a giant parrot with headphones. OK ... that should be easy to explain ...
0:02 I loved this game in the arcades, so obviously I'll pick arcade mode first. The "Advanced" difficulty sounds a little less insane than, um, "Insane."
0:03 You'd think just clicking on stuff instead of shooting would be easy. It's not... these little guys move fast. I hit nine targets when I need 10.
0:05 One problem that wasn't present in the light gun version -- the stylus blocks your view of part of the screen. Annoying.
0:06 The next test is one of those gator-whacking arcade games. I love those! But I only get 39 out of 40. Rats!
0:09 Quite a good variety of game types. Some tests let you go nuts and just tap everywhere. Others require careful aim and planning. Keeps things fresh.
0:10 That was quick, I'm already at the final stage. I like the specific rankings. My accuracy needs work, but my "attention" is great. Hey, if I didn't pay attention, how could I write incredibly insightful blogs like this one?
0:12: I'm obviously too advanced for Advanced ... let's check out the Insane difficulty.
0:14 Three stages attempted, three lives lost. I guess I was insane to try insane mode, eh? EH?
0:15 This game sports some harsh penalties ... hit the wrong color target once and you automatically fail the whole test. It was just as harsh in the arcades, but still ...
0:18 I finally fall into a bit of a groove in Insane difficulty ... it only takes me one continue to finish 8 stages. Some of these targets are very small. A lot of my shots look like they should hit but somehow miss. Is the touch screen sensitive enough?
0:20 I decide to try out the interestingly named "Brain Massage" next. Like Brain Age plus some "mass," I guess.
0:23 This mode has tests suited to specific tasks. I get a 72% "Alienated Alien" rating, whatever that means. "Don't ask me for the earth, I'm not the leader." says the green, headphoned parrot. Um, did someone mistake you for the supreme ruler of the planet?
0:26 Next up is the "Good Luck" category, with games about ... what else? ... shooting colored targets. Wait a minute ... there seems to me to be no luck involved at all. What's going on here?
0:29 The "Eagle Eye" tests all seem focused on tapping things quickly and over and over. This time I'm rated "full bodied sommelier. Just random enough to make me giggle.
0:31 I totally fail a "Shoot the Differences" test. Years of training with Highlights for Children magazine were apparently not enough.
0:33 I totally embarass myself with a "sick doctor" rating in the Mental Focus tests. Focus, Kyle, FOCUS!
0:36 Apparently shooting criminals mindlessly is more my speed. I love the carboard cutout aesthetic for the criminal targets.
0:39 "Are You Stressed?" I am after playing these super-stressful tests. Jeez! "You need more training. Do 110 sets of shadow sniping before you go to sleep." I smell a Jack Thompson lawsuit in the making.
0:42 While the game loses something without the sound effects, the music is very annoying. Why can't I turn it off in the options?
0:43 This test has you sheering sheep with your bullets. I'm pretty sure any farmer will tell you that doesn't actually work.
0:48 My latest rating is as a "Wrestling Beautician" with a "Lucha Facial." What's this game rated again?
0:50 I'm just now noticing that almost every game gives you unlimited ammo, in stark contrast to the arcade original. Are they expecting you to miss?
0:55 I take five minutes to play the remaining tests in free play. I love the one where you shoot debris thrown from an orchestra audience. The animation when you screw up is hilarious.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? Despite some flaws, it's still pretty endearing and fun to tap away at. Not sure how long it will last though.

This review is based ona retail copy rented from GameFly.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Picross DS

Developer: Jupiter
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: July 30, 2007
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E (for Everyone)
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Nonograms DS

0:01 Tutorials are for wimps. I remember having to figure all this out for myself back on Mario's Picross. Still, the dual screens allow for nice big tutorial text and play area.
0:02 I fill in my first five boxes and ... it freezes? What is this, and Xbox 360 game or something? What's going on?
0:03 Back again, no freeze this time. Weird.
0:05 There's no way to skip the tutorial, or even make it faster. I know this stuff! Let me at the game!
0:07 The tutorial finally comes to a conclusion. My little 5x5 doggy picture gets colorized and runs around. SO CUTE!
0:08 Whoops, the tutorial isn't over. There's yet another example puzzle. ARGH!
0:09 OK, now it's really over. They had to explain the hint roulette? Really? That's like a help section for the help section. What kind of idiots do they think are playing? (Don't answer that.)
0:11 I choose the Free mode for "intermediate to advanced players" because I'm cool like that. Another tutorial? LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH!
0:12 OK, this tutorial explained the "Try it Out" mode ... like a scratch pad overlay to work out thorny problems. Neat idea.
0:13 Not a bad selection of puzzles. I count 60 in this mode alone.
0:17 Four minutes in and the drum-heavy rock music is already getting on my nerves. Let's try "House."
0:18 This is like a lounge singer version of house music. Less mind-numbingly irritating than the rock music though.
0:20 Interesting. If I use the d-pad, I can switch between X's and marks without having to move the stylus. Not sure if I like this or not yet.
0:21 My first puzzle is done in six minutes. It looks like a jumping purse monster. Oh, it's a hamburger? If you say so. The game keeps marking the wrong boxes. In the "Normal" mode this would mean time penalties. Bad news.
0:27 I'm beginning to realize that writing about the actual gameplay of a puzzle game like this would be extremely boring. But I'll try to keep you updated. Um... I just filled in a row of five marks then made a couple of Xs. Whoo!
0:28 OK if I can't comment on the gameplay, I can comment on the interface. I like how the numbers get lighter when you've completed them, but then when you come back it looks like you've made a mistake. Maybe they're too hard to see?
0:30 6:27 completion time for this level. That's the ugliest turkey I've ever seen. Let's try a real tough one... level 4, 15x15 puzzle. BRING IT ON!
0:32 ANOTHER tutorial. This one on zooming in and out for puzzles, which seems really annoying. Wait a minute... the original didn't need zooming for 15x15 puzzles... and that was on the tiny little original Game Boy screen. Apparently the touch screen is not precise enough for these big puzzles. I'll switch to the button control mode and squint, I guess.
0:39 Wow... I've made three huge mistakes on this puzzle and had to backtrack each time. I'd hate to see this in the less forgiving Normal mode.
0:43 Again I run into a logical contradiction. Nice to see they included some puzzles that are tough for regular players. I decide to quit out and try something else.
0:47 The Easy Creation mode is an interesting addition ... you draw a picture with the stylus and it makes a puzzle for you. Neat idea, but why can't I make one bigger than 10x10?
0:50 I get stuck plying a puzzle I created. If I didn't know what it was supposed to be I think it might well be impossible. Doesn't the game check for this?
0:52 Apparently it does. All the 20x20 puzzles I make in the regular Create mode get rejected. Luckily there's a "correct" button that makes the puzzle possible -- and much uglier.
0:56 This time they rate my puzzle at 2 stars of difficulty (out of 4), but I can't make hide nor hair of it when I try it. Bah, I know what it's supposed to be anyway. Can't wait to try some player-created puzzles downloaded off Wi-Fi.
0:59 Daily Play mode has a speed round that goes through five simple puzzles quickly. I finish in two minutes. A nice test of mental acuity, but why are the other Daily Play modes still locked?

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? I freaking love nonograms, and this version sports a nice interface and plenty of brain-benders. Too bad the stylus doesn't add much.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Nintendo.

Metapost: One Hour Reviews en Espanol

If you enjoy Games For Lunch and speak Spanish, then you'll probably also enjoy Your Review in 1 Hour. Mario Fernandez's site was inspired by the Games For Lunch concept of experiential reviews based on ridiculously quick impressions. My Spanish is a little rusty, but I still enjoyed Mario's review of Mario Slam Basketball, which called the game a "table hockey marmoset." Wait, that can't be right. Stupid internet translator!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hot Shots Tennis

Developer: Clap Hanz
Publisher: Sony/SCEA
Release Date: July 17, 2007
System: PS2
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Hot Shots Golf ... now with more tennis!

0:01 The tennis-outfit-wearing faceless colored blobs on the menu screens are simultaneously the cutest and most disturbing things I've ever seen.
0:04 The balls have big Xs, Os and triangles to indicate what type of shot has been hit. Nice, but a little distracting. I prefer the subtle colors in Rockstar's Table Tennis.
0:05 The controls are pretty intuitive -- point the analog stick where you want the ball to go when you hit it. I love the lunging animations when you miss the ball.
0:07 I just got smacked in the face. A little "CONK" appears above my head. CUTE!
0:09 When the ball hits the net, a little "THOP!" word balloon appears. The little things matter!
0:11 I thought I was doing well, but I get an E for the first practice session. Only 7.7% sweet spot hits. What does that mean?
0:14 On to serve training. Holy crap it's hard. Everything seems to go out or just barely hit the line. If I hit the O button it's a little easier, if less effective.
0:15 I get an F on the serves. An F! I can't seem to get my serves to go in, and I can't figure out why. This game is mean!
0:21 I feel like I do a lot better at volleys, but I still end up with an E rating. 28.3 sweet spot hits though... not sure what I'm doing differently.
0:28 I get through all six levels of smash practice, but just barely. I love the on-court interface that shows just where to stand for smashes. Some more serve practice and I'll be ready for the real thing, I think.
0:29 Ah ha, I think I got it! The little rabbit means I'm too fast, and the turtle means I'm too slow. A little music note is just right! Now I'm on the trolley.
0:32 Armed with my new knowledge, I improve from an F to ... an E. I'm not used to having to be this precise with my timing just to get the serve in. It's kind of nice.
0:33 "Meet Ashley, a tennis beauty." Hi Ashley! "Let's have a good match." "Let's be friends." Man, what a cutthroat competitor.
0:35 The replay shows a pretty distinct upskirt shot of Ashley. Hell-looo Ashley! What's this game rated again?
0:39 I have to get used to not hitting the button before the ball gets there. Most other tennis games I've played don't care as much about timing. Again, kind of nice.
0:40 I win four games without breaking a sweat. The ball really responds well to placement commands, and the interface makes it easy to tell where balls coming at you are going to go. "Tennis is just so ... mmm .... wonderful!" Yes it is, Ashley. Yes it is.
0:43 Beginner difficulty is a little easy, so I go to the Fun Time Tennis Challenge. My opponent is at "Tennis Level 5," whatever that means. I put on some weights to make it harder for me and turn on some of the wacky rules -- slow motion and odd bounces.
0:46 Wow these weights suck. Luckily the slow-mo helps my reaction time.
0:47 A soccer ball just bounced through the court for no apparent reason. You won't see that in Virtua Tennis.
0:53 My last smash left a hole in the concrete. Nice!
0:55 After three games that go to deuce, I get used to the weights and run circles around the guy. It's still too easy. Why aren't the harder difficulties available right out?

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? Great interface, accurate controls and cute graphics. I just hope the difficulty picks up.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Release Date:
June 19, 2007
Xbox 360 (reviewed), Windows, PS3
ESRB Rating: E (for Everyone)
Official Web site

In a nutshell:
Mud without the water. And with cars.

0:01 Classical music is not a good fit for the intro. Good thing it quickly transitions into ... generic hard rock? If you can't use "My Favorite Game," why bother?
0:02 “This demo is not representative of final game quality.” That gets me excited for the hour to come.
0:03 This is the most elaborate menu screen I've ever seen. Flat panels float against a stark off-white background. Everything flies around with a smooth whoosh. It's like something out of Minority Report.
0:04 “Pick your car, go race, it's that simple.” Did we really need to get a celebrity voice actor to say that? Also: What's with the moaning lady sound effect and the techno background music?
0:05 A variety of gameplay stats fly by during the loading screen. Funny to see them all at zero before my first race.
0:06 So my very first race in a game called DiRT is full of ... you guessed it ... grass and asphalt. Seriously. Also, my opponent isn't even on the same track as me? Now that's excitement!
0:07 I lose by seven seconds in Rookie difficulty. I am shamed. This can not stand.
0:10 I win this time by a good four seconds. The key seems to be not crashing into walls. Who knew?
0:12 I jumped 64.59 feet? When?
0:13 My second race is a hill climb. Again I'm all alone on the track. It's like racing without the race. At least there's dirt this time.
0:13 I fall off a cliff and into some bushes. Within a second I'm good as new. For a game that strives for realism in cars and tracks, this is just lame.
0:15 I fall off again, but this time I try to struggle back up. I get caught on the rocks for five seconds. Only after I let myself fall do I get reset. Here's a great life lesson for you: if you make a mistake, don't try to correct it... just exacerbate it until some magical force bails you out.
0:18 Longest distance without crashing: 0.35 miles. That's true in real life too.
0:20 Things are going pretty well, then I take a turn too tightly and destroy the entire front half of my car. It is literally totaled. Two seconds later, I'm driving off again in a fully functional car. Wow.
0:22 I love the way my ultra-damaged car looks, but the engine sounds like it's falling apart every time I shift gears. Very annoying.
0:26 Wow. I go up on two wheels, do a 360 flip, and careen over a cliff, landing nose first 20 feet down. 'Tis but a flesh wound! I go on racing a second later and win by a second or so. “Yes, you won! Enjoy that champagne. Ah... all that champagne.” Is my ear-man a lush?
0:28 The game quits me out of the demo without me even asking. What if I want to play more, huh? Are they afraid I'll have too much fun if I keep playing?
0:31 Now this is more like it. The CORR dune buggy race has other cars. On the first turn I get knocked onto the grass, only to come careening back to sideswipe the very same car in an orgy of destruction. YEEHAW!
0:34 Try the CORR race again on Amateur difficulty. This time terminal damage and mechanical damage are on, whatever that means.
0:35 I love these stats. Apparently I traveled 21 feet on two wheels in the last race. Who knew?
0:36 I love how the camera doesn't stay still behind you. It kind of leans into turns and jerks around on the bumps. Very engaging.
0:38 I just figured out how to switch camera views. The in-car views are a lot harder, but a lot cooler to look at. The sense of speed from the front bumper view is amazing.
0:42 This game seems to be treading a fine line between arcade racer and simulation. It pulls it off pretty well, actually.
0:46 The engine whine is so nice... when it stops. Luckily I can turn it off in the options.
0:56 I finally win in Amateur difficulty. “I'm excited, sponsors are ecstatic, you must be feeling pretty good." At least I'm included in there somewhere.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Maybe.
Why? It's a decent enough racing game, but Motorstorm is more exciting, generally.

This review based on a demo version found on the Official Xbox Magazine's August '07 demo disc.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eternal Sonata

Developer: Tri-Crescendo
Publisher:Namco Bandai
Release date: Sept. 2007
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Rating Pending
Official web site

In a nutshell: Your standard RPG set in a composer's deathbed dream. No I'm not kidding.

0:01 “Hi there. Do you want me to teach you about battles.” Such natural dialogue. I have this conversation practically every day.
0:03 My first battle is with some sort of hopping ... pumpkin ... thing. “I'm ready to go, all I have to do is let loose.” What's this game rated, again?
0:04 Interesting battle system with five-second timed turns that allow for free roaming real-time attacks. A timed blocking option is also nice.
0:06 The forest environment is brilliantly lit with bright colors and a gentle soundtrack. It creates a nice atmosphere.
0:07 The game freezes in mid-battle. And this disk is fresh out of the polybag, too.
0:08 I speed through menus and such and get back to the first battle quickly. “So whaddya think?" my character asks after a battle. Who's he talking to?
0:10 Battles so far are pretty simple, but at least they're a) avoidable and b) more than just choosing “attack” from a menu.
0:12 “Huh, I'm not gonna lose.” Probably not, if the battles stay this easy.
0:13 I just noticed the character names are Allegretto, Polka and Beat. Oh those wacky Japanese and their musical puns.
0:16 Finally, a different enemy. This guy is a bigger pumpkin thing with bad breath that does a lot of damage. Still easily defeated, but nice to change things up.
0:17 So far, I can't see any reason not to use the special attacks exclusively. They do a lot more damage, and there seems to be no limit to their use. What's the deal?
0:18 In Tenuto Village, the chickens cluck when you try to talk to them. Nice! But they don't scatter when you walk near them. In fact, they block your path. Not nice!
0:19 “They say a really scary monster lives deep inside the forest.” “What a nice day. The sun is out and shining brightly.” And they say video game writing can't stand up to fine literature.
0:23 Apparently, the same monsters I've been fighting are being prepared in a stew. Also, these monsters are called “Very Very Emptys” Wha?
0:24 Two creepy twin girls in a field of flowers. Shades of FFVII and The Shining. The flower field itself is beautiful though.
0:25 I found a “score piece” and now I'm performing a musical session. Instead of the expected rhythm mini-game, though, basically the game just plays the music for you and then you get an item. Boo. Maybe it'll be more interesting later when I have more pieces to choose from.
0:28 The repeated, short, stuttering stops for loading are getting a little tired.
0:30 Deeper into the forest now. A guy explains why not to do special attacks exclusively... regular attacks power them up. Strategery!
0:32 Holy crap! The enemies got a lot tougher very quickly. I almost lose Allegretto, but he survives and levels up, along with his colleagues.
0:35 Battles are a bit easier after the level up. Thank god.
0:39 You can switch camera views with the L trigger. Good for getting an overview of the battlefield.
0:45 Note to demo developers ... don't include a one-button "reset" option from the pause screen. If you do, please offer a confirmation prompt or something before ELIMINATING A HALF HOUR'S WORTH OF PROGRESS IN ONE FELL SWOOP! Not that I'm bitter.
0:46 Forget this, I'm not going through all that again.

Would I play this game for more than an hour?
Why? Interesting battle system and aesthetic, but the story is key in an RPG, and it's impossible to evaluate so far.

This review based on a demo version included in the August issue of the Official Xbox Magazine

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cooking Mama: Cook Off

Developer: Office Create
Publisher: Majesco
Release Date: March 20, 2007
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E (for Everyone)
Official Web site

In a nutshell: All the fun of cooking with none of the actual usefulness.

That is some bubbly music. “Let's Cook!” I practice on some minestrone soup.
0:02 “Not bad, keep going!” I need that kind of encouragement after a grueling 10-second bout with a can opener...
0:03 As opposed to opening the can, peeling the veggies actually takes some fine pointer control. Seems tougher than actually peeling veggies, in fact. “Wonderful. Better than mama!” What's with that accent? It's like a mix of French and Japanese. Creepy.
0:07 The actual final preparation is a timing mini-game with an instructional crawl at the bottom. If real recipes were presented like this, maybe I'd be a better cook.
0:08 Time for the real thing. It's still separated into preparation sections, the only difference is you can't repeat them.
0:12 Done with the actual test. I get 814 points and a silver medal. Too easy. I think I'll try the newly opened Challenge mode.
0:13 This is more like it! There are now minimal pauses between the preparation steps and a much tougher time limit. I'm too slow on the peeling but the rest goes off without a hitch. I only get 598 points this time.
0:17 Beef in wine sauce this time. No practice mode necessary.
0:19 I can see why the army uses peeling potatoes as punishment. Or, rather, I can see why Beetle Bailey does...
0:20 In Cooking Mama, I get perfect mincing by wildly shaking my hand up and down violently. In real life, my hand would be a bloody stump.
0:22 The butter coating mini-game is the most engaging so far. Tilt the remote to slide the butter around the pan -- it's like something out of Monkey Ball or Mario Party. What's more, it actually requires real skill, not just fast movement!
0:24 1145 points and another silver medal. Challenge go!
0:28 Interesting timing for the stir fry. You have to know what burns quickest and put the ingredients in in the right order. It's like they expect me to know something about real cooking! Crazy!
0:30 936 points, cleared easily. Yawn. I jump ahead to a page 3 recipe... lasagna!
0:31 The egg-cracking mini-game actually seems to detect how hard you move the remote. Most other Wii games I've played aren't this precisely sensitive.
0:33 For some reason, the rolling pin game asks you to jerk the remote back and forth rather than something silly like ... I don't know ... rolling it like a pin?
0:34 The minced meat mini-game is oddly sickening. Something about the sound of wet meat through a grinder. Ew.
0:35 Gah, there are like a million steps to making lasagna. Who knew?
0:39 I fail the baking step when I miss the off button with the remote. Mama's eyes turn to fire and my final lasagna is a twisted mess. NOT GOOD!
0:40 Enough of this solitary nonsense. I go against a computer-controlled "friend" in a Pirogi cook off. I can almost hear the Iron Chef announcer. PIROGI BATTLE!
0:42 The shaping mini-game actually hurts my elbow with overly repetitive motions. Didn't they learn anything from the Mario Party fiasco?
0:47 The computer opponent is surprisingly decent, but I'm still ahead by nearly 100 points going into the final battle. I could see this being fun against a real human. Where's the online play I so richly deserve?
0:49 Oh no! Total failure at the deep frying game means I lose by a good 50 points! My hubris was my downfall! That and my inability to drop pirogies in a pot with a remote. Still, I get a flower pot for my kitchen, so hey, not all bad.
0:50 Rice cake battle next! How hard can it be?
0:51 Now I'm washing pots ... I'm still finding new mini-games after almost an hour. Variety is the spice of life. Paprika is the spice of cooking *rim shot*
0:52 I fail the washing mini-game because I can't figure out how to pour water out from a pot. I'd like to think that, in real life, this would not be a problem.
0:53 The next mini-game is called "Pound the Mochi"?! What's this game rated, again? I also like the warning to “take care not to accidentally hit your hand." Where was that during the mincing mini-game?
0:55 That mochi can sure take a pounding, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.
0:57 I lose big time. Guess I need more practice pounding the mochi. NO THAT WILL NEVER GET OLD!

Would I play this game for more than an hour?
Why? I still don't think I've seen all the mini-games, and I'd like to try real multiplayer. Plus I like pounding the mochi. STILL NOT OLD!

This review based on a retail copy rented from GameFly.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Developer: Zoe Mode
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: May 29, 2007
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: E10+ (for Everyone 10 and older)
Official Web site

In a nutshell: You got 3D platformer in my 2D platformer!

0:01 “This isn't how I dreamt life would turn out. Then again, what kid dreams of being hospitalized for insomnia.” I hope the game doesn't put me to sleep (rim shot).
0:03 Danny has a nice, sleepy slump in his posture. The little things matter!
0:04 Danny on the camera controls: “Seems pretty simple.” And it does.
0:06 Nice satisfying clap to crush the 3D and 2D together. TYou can get side and also top-down views. Nice.
0:07 “You need to collect marbles to open the exit, but given your psychological condition, they could be anywhere.” I smiled.
0:09 Most of this minute was spent watching a loading screen.
0:10 Different types of blocks have different properties in 2D and 3D. I'm worried I won't beable to remember which is which.
0:12 I climb around the back of a level to find some marbles, go to 2D to climb, and then back to 3D to reach the exit. Super Paper Mario was never this clever. First puzzle already more clever than Super Paper Mario.
0:14 “Oh, a block is moving. It's a dream come true.” This line is uttered with such a lack of enthusiasm that I almost cried with joy.
0:16 The doctor explaining the controls thinks that Sisyphus is a modern rock band? Even I know who Sisyphus is... and I'm not even a doctor!
0:18 Using the crush move to crush giant cockroaches = awesome!
0:22 More cut scene goodness. Danny was a cook, working late hours. Great still images and voice acting, pacing. I'm seriously impressed.
0:24 First real level. Moving the camera and figuring when to crush takes some getting used to, but I figure it out pretty quickly.
0:26 You can't fall off the level by running too far. A very nice feature -- don't have to worry so much about fine control. It's all about the puzzles.
0:27 I get a C on the second level. Takes me too long and too many crushes to figure out where to go.
0:30 Puzzle three has the first real brain bender. I've got to remember that far off things can become close. Tricksy.
0:33 I get a D on level 4. Getting tough quickly
0:39 Tough to find the one space where I can crush and still stand.
0:44 Camera angle changes = annoying.
0:48 Holy crap. The solution to this stage involves pushing a boulder then crushing in real time, all while finding a place to hide. At least the solution I find does... it might not be the best/right.
0:50 “You think I'm terrified of sand castles?” “What happened at the beach Danny?” Cut scene intrigue!
0:53 Crushing a cockroach with a giant orange ball = double awesome.
0:55 My percentages keep getting lower and lower. At this point I'm just happy to finish the level...

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? Original concept and great execution. Plus I love puzzle platformers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mega Man: Powered Up

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: March 14, 2006
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: All the goodness of the original Mega Man, now with bigger heads.

0:01 I like the classic video in the intro. Also: Big-headed Mega Man = SO CUTE
0:03 “It may seem rather sudden to you, but I've decided to take over the world.” Thanks, Dr. Exposition... I mean, Dr. Wily.
0:04 New-style mode starts Mega Man out without a suit or a blaster. Interesting. This section is all too brief, though.
0:07 The first boss is a hopping thing that's entirely too simple. Bring on the tough stuff!
0:08 Guts Man should not talk! For that matter, neither should Mega Man! But they do!
0:10 I die three straight times trying to make the very first series of jumps in Guts Man's stage. THERE'S the challenge.
0:13 Glitch alert: You can break through the pick-axe throwers' shields by standing really close to them. Lame.
0:15 More deaths from later tough jumps. Back to the beginning of the level. Sigh.
0:17 This update really captures the old school feel, right down to the slowdown. I hope it's intentional.
0:19 There's a lot of stuff I can't get yet. Gonna have to come back to these levels multiple times, I guess.
0:20 I forgot how annoying these propeller guys were. Now I remember. Turns out, it's "very."
0:21 Game over #3, but I'm getting closer to Guts Man each time.
0:23 Three more quick deaths. Nuts to this, time to try another stage.
0:24 Time Man: “Time's up.” Ugh.
0:25 Swinging pendulums make tough obstacles. Probably wouldn't have been possible on the NES. How far we've come.
0:30 Smart level design. Time Man's stage requires some excellent timing to get by pendulums, appropriately enough.
0:31 I get by the swinging pendulums after many tries, then die during a simple jump for a ladder. D'oh!
0:32 Animation is nice and vibrant, as are the colors. Mega Man kind of squishes when he runs into a wall. The little things matter!
0:34 I die AGAIN on the same ladder jump. ARGH!
0:37 MADE IT! Boss time.
0:38 Time Man: "You're early for your appointment." Mega Man: "Huh? What appointment, Time Man?" Time Man: "Oh joy, by being early you've given us an extra 0.3 seconds." This is supposed to be coherent?
0:40 Thrilling battle with Time Man -- I beat him with one energy left. Whoo! But wait... instead of exploding, he falls down, and Mega Man asks, “You 'k?"
0:41 Dr. Light: “Thanks to your mercy and kindness, I can now repair this robot.” Mercy? Kindness? This is the game where you shoot things, right?
0:43 I decide to try the Challenge Mode I just unlocked. 100 different challenges! Whoa!
0:44 First challenge is a nice little jumping test, with a lot of really tough jumps. You know, the ones where you have to jump from the very edge of the platform? The ones you hate? Yeah, those.
0:45 Precision jumps over pits of deadly spikes. This is what gaming's all about.
0:48 After dying about ten times, I'm no longer sure this is what gaming is all about. But I'm not giving up.
0:50 DONE! The second challenge took five minutes! All 100 is gonna take a while.
0:51 Jumping frog enemies kills me in one hit. Oh, and I can't fire. Eep!
0:58 Eight straight minutes of jumping frogs and I'm no closer to winning. Bleh.

Would I play this game for more than an hour: Yes.
Why? Great, classic gameplay and a ton of stuff to do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Developer: Taito
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Feb. 15, 2007
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Er, exit.

0:01 Any intro that includes a picture of a cat thinking "I am hungry" amid scenes of life saving daring-do is all right by me!
0:02 My character is an "escapeologist?" That's not a word...
0:04 For an escape expert, he sure walks slowly and deliberately.
0:05 You're telling me how to climb a ladder? Shut up for chrissakes I know how to climb a ladder, Jesus, ow my ear!
0:06 Ah, the R button makes you run. Looks much better and feels more natural.
0:07 I fall and hurt my leg while trying to climb down a rope. The writhing in pain animation is a nice touch.
0:10 So now I can run, but climbing ladders and stairs is still painfully slow. I guess this is a nod to realism? Would it kill them to put a fast forward button?
0:11 So I have to push square to pick up key, square again to use key, the circle to open the door. All this could be automatic.
0:13 Nice variety of hazards/objects so far. Fire, elevator, switches, iron bars, ladders, ropes. Lots of options for good puzzling.
0:15 The game specifically points out that men and women have the same abilities. Very egalitarian.
0:17 I have to stand in just the right place to use ladder. These controls are becoming a major annoyance.
0:18 When you tell your companion to stop, they give out a plaintive “Why?” Cute touch.
0:21 This is getting complicated. I have to instruct a young guy to help an adult over a box. Lots of stuff to remember!
0:27 If this chef says he's hungry one more time...
0:28 The voice acting is simple, direct, and mercifully short. “Take it,” “Gotcha...” “I can't!” Adds to the play flow nicely.
0:31 More positioning problems... this kid won't get in the right place for me to help him. Take another step, damnit!
0:39 What should be a simple puzzle is marred by bad controls. I should be able to push this stretcher onto the switch, but I keep going too far.
0:48 I'm an idiot. The elevator goes up an extra floor, meaning I don't need to use the stretcher to hit the switch. My bad.
0:50 “Got to save those people from a roasting before my cappuccino gets cold.” Now there's a guy who knows his priorities.
0:52 It takes a second to jump after you hit the jump button, a la Prince of Persia. Very annoying. Message to developers ... when I hit the jump button, I want to jump NOW.
0:56 I jump to a much later level just for kicks. I have no idea what I'm doing. Maybe by the time I finish all the other levels I'd be good enough.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Maybe.
Why? The puzzles show promise, but the controls and pacing are infuriating.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Virtua Tennis 3

Developer: Sega AM3
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: March 20, 2007
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PSP, PC
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Pong HD.

0:01 The intro. switches between live video and the in-game models. The models don't hold up so well under direct, close-up comparison.
0:02 Controls seem pretty simple, as usual for the series. Top spin, slice, lob.
0:03 My first power slam at the net. So satisfying!
0:05 I hit the dirt to get a tough shot. I'm loving the fluid animations, especially the dive. The effect wears off on the pug-ugly close ups after the points though.
0:07 Computer gets a zinger by me. I'm already getting complacent.
0:08 Nadal pulls off a fancy under the leg shot that seems wholly unnecessary. Fun to watch though.
0:11 Maria Sharapova is five years younger than me? I am SO OLD!
Sharapova seems to unlock the composite court. I can't really tell the difference from the clay -- the both play nice and fast. I like the sneaker squeaking sound effects though.
0:13 The X button mangnetizes to ball a bit. I can be four steps away and I'll still run for it. Disconcerting.
0:14 Oh no don't zoom in on Sharapova's face oh god the humanity my eyes I'm blind.
0:16 I finally max out the serve gauge and get an ace. Refreshingly hard to get perfect.
0:17 There's a lob button, but no drop shot button. In fact, I can't figure out how to do a drop shot consistently. The slice only does it about half the time.
0:20 I don't understand how the prize money and rankings work. Even if I don't lose a single point, I get a D ranking. Huh?
0:22 This time Sharapova's on clay. So how did I unlock the super-secret composite court?
0:24 I like the little, appreciative crowd noise when you make a tough shot.
0:25 I win my final points hitting nothing but X. No directions, no movement, just the X button magnetizing me to the ball. It's maaaaaaagic!
0:26 Now a grass court! Don't let me choose or anything. With the random distribution, I could have put the demo down without knowing it was ever there.
0:29 The grass court felt just like the others. Maybe I'm just not at a high enough level of play yet.
0:30 I hit a ball out. My first in a half hour.
0:31 I'm liking the behind the back camera option. Much more thrilling and challenging. Where's the first-person tennis option?
0:33 This time I got an unforced error but a C ranking. What's going on?
0:38 I'm running out of stuff to do in the demo. I try and find out if I can win with Venus Williams' slice exclusively. Turns out I can, it just takes a little longer.
0:43 It's harder, but not impossible, to win with only lobs. The trick is to get the opponent off balance. It extends the challenge, and the value of demo, at least.
0:45 I hit a high, floating lob to the right. My opponent runs off the screen to the left, then tries to race back. There's a difference between easy to beat and incredulously bad.
0:50 I just noticd my jersey has no stain after a dive in the clay. Lame.
0:51 Finally finish my lobs-only match without losing a game. Whoo. That was... fun?
0:54 The full version includes "multi-set tennis." Someone was padding the feature list.
0:58 Try to set up a match with nothing but smash winners. This is tough, because you have to lead the opponent into lobbing it to you, and you can't beat her any other way. End up with 4 out of 8 and a B ranking. So I get more prize money when I smash it? Interesting...

Would I buy this game based on the demo? No
Why? I already own Virtua Tennis for the Dreamcast, and this just doesn't seem different enough.