Wednesday, September 29, 2010

101-in-1 Sports Megamix

Developer: Nordcurrent
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2010
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official web site

In a nutshell: Quantity over quality.

0:00 The idea of packing 101 sports mini-games onto a single DS cart just strikes me as inherently ridiculous. My equally ridiculous mission: To play and write about all 101 in an hour... or die trying. Aaaand, go!

0:01 Wasted precious seconds creating a file and skipping a dated-looking intro movie. Volleyball makes me turn the DS sideways to move my player left and right using the stylus. Ridiculously simple and already boring. NEXT!

0:02 In Bowling I fling the ball from the bottom touch screen to pins at the top of the top screen. The ball rolls like it’s going through molasses, hitting the pins and knocking them straight down with almost no pin action. NEXT!

0:03 Boxing’s direct overhead perspective reminds me of the old Atari 2600 Boxing game. Move with the d-pad, tap the touchscreen buttons to punch. Kind of interesting, but no time to delve deeper! NEXT!

0:04 For some reason, when my character hits the ball in Tennis, it goes directly out of bounds to the right every time. I don’t have time or interest to figure out why. NEXT!

0:05 Surprisingly, Horse Riding uses button controls rather than the touch screen. I hold right on the d-pad to run, then tap B to jump over hurdles with a ridiculously floaty jump. These horses are jumping the equivalent of ten feet in the air easily. NEXT!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Little King's Story

Developers: Cing, Town Factory
Publisher: Xseed Games
Release Date: July 21, 2009
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Farmville + Pikmin + an extra helping of cute.

0:00 I remember hearing surprisingly good things about this one when it hit last year, and it just now finally came up on my Netflix queue. High hopes abound as a trumpet fanfare and little shadow puppets dance around the preview screen.

0:01 A tinny a capella choir sings over the title screen. A velvet curtain pulls back to reveal two small puppets on popsicle sticks dancing about. "I am more noble than you, and he is more noble than me? The rich are more noble than the poor and those who work hard are more noble than the lazy? Than who is most noble of them all." Heady stuff...

0:02 The camera pans out to reveal a boy playing with the puppets. He follows a family of rats out into the forest, where he finds a magical crown. "They say the boy became a magnificent king, and all people and animals, one and all, they all became his loyal followers. and somehow, in some such way, the boy was no longer lonely." The art style and the voice-over narration are incredibly endearing. I just want to melt..

0:04 "Pomp and Circumstance" plays over options screen for some reason. I turn the difficulty up to Hard because I assume the game is tuned for little kids.

0:05 I choose a "random" file name and get the title "King Xerxes." As I start a new game I'm treated to some soaring music over shots of nature rendered in dreamy pastels. "This is our kingdom, the kingdom of Alpoko. Let's go inside your castle. It's a little slapdash, but isn't it grand nonetheless?" This is all through subtitles of the game's Simlish-style language, unfortunately. The title appears for the third time in five minutes...


Friday, September 24, 2010

Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City

Developers: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: Sept. 21, 2010
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Who knew a cartographer's life was so complicated?

0:00 I vaguely remember playing Etrian Odyssey II for lunch a while back, but I can't find it in my archives. I guess I just remember my friend Bruce going on and on about how awesome the game was.

0:01 "Hie thee to the ocean city, to the Yggdrasil labyrinth... what awaits is time's end; death's demise; a tempestuous dream. A stormy adventure begins." Despite the game's use of "hie thee," the swelling, elegaic music is really getting to me.

0:02 I love how there's a "no wait" option for both message and battle speed. “Fast” is never fast enough for me. I turn on the auto-map, too, because I am lazy.

0:03 Our new game starts in "the regal ocean city Armoroad." It's said to have ruins below the waves, so the Senate invites some explorers. None were strong enough to master the maze. I am one such explorer. "Your hour is at hand." You hear that. MY HOUR! I have a weakness for second-person narratives.

0:04 I'm forced to start in the explorer's guild, where an ethnic-looking guy in a Lawrence of Arabia robe gives me a Guild Certificate,and a bunch of scripts. I name my character "LeetD00D" because I am eight years old.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ninety-Nine Nights II

Developers: Q Entertainment, Feelplus
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: June 29, 2010
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Press X to until everything is dead or you're bored, whichever comes first.

0:00 Can't say I'm really eager to try this one, given the generally negative reviews, but Konami sent it to me earlier this summer so it deserves at least an hour's fair attempt.

0:01 The title screen calls the game "N3II," as does the retail box. Ugh.

0:02 The options screen lets me change between UI Types A, B and C, but doesn't tell me what the difference between them is. Also, I can't seem to navigate the screen with the analog stick --- I need to use the d-pad for no apparent reason. These are small things, but they don't bode well.

0:03 I start a new game. A purplish lady's hand drops a purple gem into a shimmering armored chest. A large clawed hand reaches for the female hand. Fade to white and up to smoky battlefield. A guy with long flowing white hair kneels with a dead white-haired girl in his arms and screams. An old-fashioned map is engulfed in fire. Flaming meteors shoot down through an overcast sky. Armored goblin hordes are frozen mid-rush as the camera zooms by dramatically. A knight starts cutting through their ranks like a knife through blood-spurting butter. His helmet gets knocked off, showing long, flowing white hair, as he takes out a dozen or so goblins with a single energy slash, then stands for a dramatic pose. Then he slams his swords into the ground and summons some orange energy blades that explode to clear the area around him. What the hell is going on?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

Developer: Treasure
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 27, 2010
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Bullet heaven.

0:00 I played this for literally five seconds or so at some E3 or another without really feeling it. I know the original Sin & Punishment is held up as some sort of paragon by hardcore shmup fans, so my expectations are kind of high.

0:01 I can hear the Wii disc drive going a bit nutso as the game loads on a black screen. Synth-heavy Japanese techno playing over the title screen reminds me a bit of Metroid Prime. The Wii Remote pointer I use to enter my file name is a lizard, for some reason.

0:02 I can use the Remote and Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, the Gamecube controller or the Wii Zapper. Personally I'd rather have one well-designed control option than three confusing ones...

0:05 After some options setting, I start a new single-player game on Normal difficulty. I go with female Kachi rather than male Isa, figuring I'll need her auto-lock ability to help me through what's supposed to be a very tough game.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Green Day: Rock Band

Developers: Harmonix, Demiurge Studios
Publisher: MTV Games
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii
Release Date: June 8, 2010
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Hitchin' a Ride on Rock Band's popularity

0:00 This game got shipped to my apartment just after I left for England for the summer, so I haven't tried it despite technically having it all summer. I'm expecting Rock Band with Green Day songs, which shouldn't be hard to fulfill.

0:01 I'm not counting the time it took to drag my Rock Band instruments out of storage and set them up. This is lucky for the game, because the process took longer than I expected. Also, I know this is the kind of game that's best played drunk with a group of friends, but I'm actually one of those weirdos that plays it sober and alone, to improve my fake musical skills.

0:02 The camera zooms down a red thoroughfare. Planes drop bombs and a goth girl pulls a grenade and throws it at some bird- and dog-headed monsters as "Welcome to Paradise' plays in the background. Um... huh?

0:03 "Longview" transitions into ‘Jesus of Suburbia" in the background as the game creates a song cache, save data, etc. I skip the calibration.

0:05 Looking around the options. This is the first time I've seen "super speed" and and "performance mode" in the options, or maybe I'm just forgetting them from earlier games.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Minecraft Alpha

Developer: Markus Persson
Publisher: Markus Persson
Release Date: May 17, 2009 (Alpha)
System: PC
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web site

In a nutshell: I'm almost entirely sure I'm doing this wrong.

0:00 I've been hearing a lot of buzz for this quirky indie title, but not enough to really know what it’s about or how it works. Hopefully it'll be easy to dive into with no prior knowledge...

0:01 I decide to try the in-browser version rather than wasting time on a download. The game still spends a good minute downloading Java files, though.

0:02 No music, no fancy introduction, just the MINECRAFT title with a pulsing yellow “Woo, worldofminecraft” message on the top. “Play tutorial level” is grayed out, which is kind of unsettling. I guess I'm on my own...

0:03 I go with Normal difficulty rather than Peaceful, Easy or Hard. Peaceful does sound rather peaceful, though.

0:04 I start up a new single-player game and the game spends a few seconds generating a new world from scratch. I see that world from a first-person perspective. My environment is made up of a series of cubes arranged to resemble a snowy world with lots of tiered cliffs. To my right: a steep mountain. In front of me: an ocean with a far off island continent.

0:05 I have a targeting reticle and what looks like brown stick as a weapon. Clicking pushes the stick forward a bit lamely. The only sound is that of my footsteps crunching in the snow.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Developer: Level 5
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Sept. 12, 2010
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Simple puzzles, even simpler protagonists.

0:00 I liked the first Professor Layton DS game for its mix of clever puzzles and cute British charm. I put down the second game midway through, though, as the prevalence of sliding puzzles began to grate on me.

0:01 The piano and violin music on the title screen is ominous and catchy at the same time.

0:02 "This is a work of fiction," says the disclaimer. What, people were confused by this? Fade to an animated video of a bustling London street. A double decker bus trundles by. Cut to the bus interior. "It just doesn't seem to add up professor," says toe-headed Luke. "I honestly thought you were pulling my leg," Top-hatted Professor Layton replies. "What? I wouldn't dream of it." Um, what's going on?

0:03 Cut to a shadowy figure that looks like Luke, writing a letter. "Professor, I hope this letter finds you well. As for me, I'm in quite a predicament." The letter writer is from ten years in the future, when London has been thrown into turmoil. He tells the recipient to go the the clock shop. It's from "Your student, Luke Triton." Whhhaaaaa?

0:04 Layton's voice sounds a little more gravelly and less British than previous games. Maybe it's just my imagination? Anyway, Luke and Layton joke about time travelling postmen and how even future-Luke is too stupid to do anything without Layton's help. The "strange letter" gets filed in "Unsolved Mysteries." I loved that show!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Guilty Party

Developer: Wideload Games
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Release Date: Aug. 31, 2010
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Why is this game so endearing? It's a mystery...

0:00 Usually I wouldn't be this excited about yet another Wii party game, but I've heard surprisingly positive things about this title from people I respect, so I jumped at the chance to get a review copy.

0:01 I know I'm supposed to play this game with multiple people, but I'm a lonely misanthrope so I'm just gonna go it alone today. Nice tinkly spy music loops on the preview screen.

0:02 Loading, logos and the title appears in front of a salt-and-pepper-bearded man, contemplating something in an ornate chair. '60s style doo-wop singers come in: "There's been a crime/A crook is on the loose/You have to act/Before he cooks your goose. ... You have to find the guilty party before the guilty party finds you!" Catchy.

0:03 On to story mode, where I have my chocie of six stereotypical-looking detectives. I go with big fat lug in a fedora, Max. I can only choose the Rookie difficulty and the Prologue chapter. What is it with party games locking content? I was forced to play the single player version of WarioWare: Smooth Moves at a party recently because we didn't have the multiplayer mode unlocked yet. Ugh.

0:06 More loading. Love the piano-heavy backing music. "I see you've accepted my offer in a refresher course in the art of detection," says salt-and-pepper beard (S&PB) to all six detectives. "Mom said we can't have dinner unless we humor you," says Max.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dead Rising: Case Zero

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Sept. 28, 2010
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M

In a nutshell: Beats paying $60 to try out the full game, but doesn't beat paying $0 for a demo.

0:00 I shelled out the five bucks to download this one after hearing from a few sources that it was much more than just a demo for Dead Rising 2. I played the Wii's "Chop 'Till You Drop" version of the original game, which left me a little bit wanting.

0:01 Lots of logos, then a plain title screen quickly fades to a gas station with shambling zombies. "THIS AREA OBSERVED BY COMMUNITY WATCH CITIZENS" says a green street sign. I guess they're watching the zombies shamble all over their community, then?

0:03 My wife, watching from the couch: "This isn't Left 4 Dead? I mean it looks like Left 4 Dead. Not just because it has zombies, but the style too." My wife is very perceptive.

0:04 Some decently long loading precedes a shot of an open road. "This is Rebecca Chang reporting live from outside Las Vegas," says a tinny radio voice. The zombie outbreak has left 100,000 dead and one million may be infected. The military has set up a 50-mile perimeter outside the city, and they have shoot-to-kill orders. So... things are bad, then.

0:05 A guy gets out of a beat up pickup truck. The lettering on his orange shirt reads "IJIEK" for some reason. He walks over to gas pump cautiously and starts filling up. Personally, I'm shocked the pumps still work in the middle of a zombie apocalypse...


Metapost: Just when I think I'm out...

Oh, it's you. Hi there. How's it going. What? Oh, you thought I was serious with that last metapost where I said goodbye to Games for Lunch after 500 posts? Oh, you're so gullible. Don't you know not to take what I write so seriously? Jeez, lighten UP!

OK, seriously, I did think Games for Lunch was done for good when I wrote that last post. But life has a funny way of changing things up on you. In this case, the change up came in the form of an opportunity to write Games for Lunch over at new site Gameroni.

Games for Lunch will be running there in much the same format it always did, with one small change -- the schedule is now set for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, rather than every weekday (I'll change the header image soon). While this might seem like a large scale back in the quantity of GfL posts, regular readers will know I've never really been able to keep up the five-days-a-week schedule consistently. In fact, in 2008 and 2009 I averaged roughly three GfL posts a week, so this should be the perfect schedule (for me, at least).

Enough mindless chatter... as Radiation Dude would say, up and let's go!