Friday, October 31, 2008

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Sept. 30, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Sonic gets an RPG, over a decade after Mario did. Eat it, Sonic!

0:00 I went from being a rampant Sonic fan to a smoldering Sonic fan around the time of Sonic Adventure. Still, the RPG elements and participation of BioWare in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood were enough to at least get me curious.

0:01 In the intro cut scene, lots of quick cuts. Sonic runs. Tails flies his biplane. There's a spaceship. Amy, Knuckles and Tails stand with Sonic. Cut to some in-game footage of some unimpressive 3-D boss battles. The overworld map is much nicer looking, with a cel-shaded Sonic running over a hand-drawn landscape. All four of the main characters stand looking out to the middle distance. I love the high-energy guitar music. Bwreeoow!

0:02 Seems the last guy who rented this game only got to Chapter 1. Not a good sign... New game for me, though. "Some Time Ago..." in Eggman's Floating Castle over Metropolis. The huge ship fires on the city. Sonic and team board from their own mini-ship and attack. "You'll never defeat me," "We'll see about that," etc. Big explosion and the ship starts to go down, causing a huge explosion to engulf the city. Sonic and team fly off on the biplane, apparently unconcerned about the carnage they've left in their wake.

0:03 Present day, on the other side of the world, Sonic gets a phone call as he runs through a field. "CHAPTER 1: HOSTILE RECEPTION." Like, phone reception? "Sonic, you made it, I'm so glad to hear from you." "I'm here, Tails, what's going on." Knuckles has disappeared with the Chaos Emeralds, that's what's going on! Amy's gonna come help Sonic find 'em.

0:06 The touch-screen controls kind of remind me of the DS Zelda game. Touch a place on the screen and Sonic runs over there. Little icons pop up occasionally to let me jump to ledges, speed around loops ... that kind of thing. There are a bunch of rings lying around for me to collect. Pretty mellow so far.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guitar Hero World Tour

Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Oct. 26, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), PS2 Xbox 360, Wii
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Guitar Hero ... now with crappy drums!

0:00 I've played all the previous Guitar Hero games, but haven't even touched this one in previews. I'm especially excited to see how the drums hold up to those from Rock Band, one of my favorite games of all time.

0:13 Jumping the clock forward to account for the time it took to unbox and set up the drums and guitar. The setup is actually a touch more complex than that for Rock Band, although the drums already seem a bit sturdier.

0:14 I put the game in the system. The preview screen blares: "SHARE THE EXPERIENCE! Join together for the definitive rock & roll gaming experience in Guitar Hero World Tour." Jeez, what marketing major dropout wrote that?

0:15 Shocker ... there's a game update that needs to be installed. A 19 MB download delays the start of the game yet more.

0:17 Downloaded, installed and finally ready to go ... after some more loading, of course.

0:18 Logos, then the traditional animated opening. A Kenny G lookalike plays a clarinet on stage in front of a huge, bored-looking crowd. In the wings, a guy with an evil grin and a devil ring looks on. The music notes turn into a spiral that hypnotizes the crowd. A big-haired glam-rock singer gets the "GH" signal on his phone. A girl with a tiny cup of coffee gets the same on her watch. A blonde-haired guy in a white robe gets it in the forest. A pink-haired girl sitting in an airport also receives the call. They all rush to the stage and break the hypnosis with a concentrated blast of pure rock. WHOO!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Samba De Amigo

Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2008
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: Maraca shaking with shaky controls.

0:00 I really enjoyed liked the Dreamcast original until my cheap third-party maraca controllers gave out on me. Here's hoping the Wii remotes are both more accurate and less prone to breakage that those old things.

0:01 "AMIGO!" screams an unseen crowd on the preview screen, causing a big grin to spring across my face already. Island rhythms play over a high shot of an island. The sun is also grinning and wearing sunglasses. A monkey with maracas and an equally big grin jumps up and down on a parade float traveling through a crowded street. Cut to a spotlight in a dark room, where a bunch of trippy characters are generally jumping around like they're high on a potent mix of crystal meth and ecstasy. Cut to a sandy beach, where they continue to jump and be crazy. Finish on a dramatic edge of a cliff, as they look out into the middle distance. Weird...

0:04 On to the tutorial to learn how the Wii controls work. I'm asked to shake my left hand to determine which remote is which. Intuitive! Then there's a quick calibration where I have to point the Wii remote up, down, left and right. Seems to work pretty well so far.

0:06 "Samba de Amigo turns two of your Wii remotes into a pair of maracas!" The woman saying this sounds like she is on the same mix of meth and ecstasy as the characters. "Try to hit these balls." That's what she said! Really, it is!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fallout 3

Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: Oct. 28, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Growing up in a post-nuclear family.

0:00 While I've never touched any of the previous Fallout games, I've been excited about this one ever since I saw a demo at the Bethesda offices about a year ago.

0:01 "Please Stand By," reads a still frame on a slide projector, followed by slides featuring the Bethesda logos. Then a slide with a hulking beast in a gas mask. As I view the main menu, the background shows slides of a "Grognak the Barbarian" comic, "Nikola Tesla and You!" and an ad saying that "D.C.'s fastest highway is underground!"

0:03 Close-up on a vacuum tube that starts to crackle with energy. Slow zoom out to show it as part of a busted radio playing an old-timey song. Close-up on a dashboard hula girl, then zoom out farther to show it as part of a rusty bus with bombed-out windows. Zoom out farther to show the bus has no back and the wreckage that once was Washington D.C., complete with the Washington Monument in background. That heavily armored gas mask guy turns towards the camera. Fade to black. "Bethesda Software Presents: FALLOUT 3." (Yes, so far it's just been the teaser trailer).

0:06 "War ... War never changes. Since the dawn of human time, when man found the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled ... By 2077, the destructive nature of man could sustain itself no longer." A mushroom cloud rises in the background. The apocalypse was "simply the prologue in another bloody chapter of human history. For man had succeeded in destroying the world. But War ... War never changes." Deep.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, October 27, 2008

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: Oct. 21, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web page (Japanese)

In a nutshell: Ecclesia-tastic

0:00 I have no idea what an Ecclesia is, but I have a good idea what a "Castlevania" is, after playing many games in the series over the last two decades. Super Castlevania IV on the SNES is probably my favorite.

0:01 A ring of light floats onto a girl's forehead as her long black hair blows in the breeze. Some still paintings of monsters and a guy with a gun fly by. A guy studies a closed book. The monsters all get sucked into a white vortex. Close up on a vampire with red eyes. The monsters get sliced in two, one by one. Zoom in on the girl's iris. A tower rises up above a desolate plain. Bats fly by. Aaaaand title!

0:03 "Returning to life time and again since the ancient Middle Ages, the evil Lord Dracula had driven people to terror." The Belmont clan has stopped him time and again. But in the early 1800s, Ecclesia was born as one of many backups for the Belmonts. Many of these backup organizations fell, but Barlowe, the founder of Ecclesia, thinks he might finally have something that can stand up to Dracula this time.

0:04 Shanoa is talking to Albus in an ornate hall. Shanoa has been chosen by Barlowe to be "the bearer." Of bad news? No ... her body's going to be a vessel for Dominus. Albus is mad ... he wanted to be the bearer. The master told Shanoa he's "unfit." By the way, Dominus is "the balde to banish all evil."

0:06 Just like that, I'm in control of Shanoa, jumping across carefully placed platforms that are hanging around this ornate hall for some reason. The 2-D sprite-based animation is excellent ... I love the way Shanoa's long coat flaps in the wind as she falls.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, October 24, 2008

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Developer: Treyarch/Shaba Games
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Oct. 21, 2008
System: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS, PC
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: He flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

0:00 I was a huge Spider-Man fan ... when I was five. Since then I've only kept up loosely with the whole wall-crawler mythos. I played the first movie-based game on the PlayStation2, and felt it was a slightly sub-par brawler.

0:01 Spidey flits about the walls of New York buildings and watches as various company logos appear on video billboards. Seems like a lot of work just to see a few ads, Spidey.

0:02 Spidey appears crouched and ready in a small band against a grey background. Intense violin-based music completes the title screen. "New Game" is the only selectable option on the menu, so off we go.

0:03 Spidey walks slowly and calmly, head held low, as an etude plays. All around him, there's carnage. He breaks into a run and dives off the roof of a building. "You know what that does to you," says a disembodied voice. "You know how it can change you." Spidey swings around a bit, bounces off some walls and enemies that are loitering around. The camera is set in real tight on his back through it all. "When this is said and done, who will the people remember as their savior?" says disembodied voice No. 2. Man ... this is heady stuff for a comic book game.

0:04 And I'm immediately in control of the "Prelude" mission. A car crashes in the distance and I run off the rooftop to investigate. As I slide down the skyscraper wall, the camera turns 90 degrees to make the wall seem like the ground. Trippy.

0:05 I mash the X button to take out some grey-suited "symbiotes." Very stylish attacks, including some impressive slow-mo on the fourth hit of the combo. You can really feel the impact of all the blows.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hail to the Chimp

Developer: Wideload Games
Publisher: Gamecock
Release Date: June 24, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: A political satire made into a farce of a game.

0:00 I'm a fan of politics, games and humor, so something that combines all three should be a slam dunk. Still, the general reception the game got has me less than optimistic.

0:01 Oh, what a shock, version 1.02 of the software has to be downloaded. At least it's only a 24 MB update, so it should take too long.

0:04 Three minutes of downloading and we're done. That has to be a record for the PS3...

0:05 Cut to a deserted island with a large yellow, mustachioed clam. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls ... let me introduce Hail to the Chimp," says the high-voiced clam. He goes on about how clams have been abused. "Power to the clams ... kneel, things with knees! Kneel before your true masters!" Then, "from the GRR newsroom, it's ... the news." Woodchuck Chumley talks about a democratic election to replace the king of the animals.

0:07 Cut to a commercial for "Just for Gorillas" fur color. "Now silverback is just an honorary title." Heh. Then a stylish ad for Spanish armadillo Santo.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Far Cry 2

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Oct. 22, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: If looks could kill...

0:00 My computer at the time wasn't up to running the original Far Cry. In fact, it probably still isn't up to the task. Still, this Xbox 360 version of Far Cry 2 should allow me to shoot stuff in the jungle at a decent frame rate.

0:01 A handy little poster/map falls out of the game case as I open it. Reminds me of the old The Legend of Zelda for the NES. I always envied my friends for their little maps, which weren't included in my used copy. *Sniff*

0:02 Sure enough, there's a downloadable update available. It installs in record time, though. "Need help? Visit," says the loading screen. I bet the guide publishers aren't happy about that.

0:03 A conflagration engulfs the screen, then dissipates to show the game title in flames. There's some gentle chanting in the background. I set the brightness and the main menu appears in a field notebook.

0:04 The selectable difficulties are Easy, Normal, Hardcore and Infamous. On Infamous, you aren't allowed to use a crosshair. I'll take Normal, thanks.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fable 2

Developer: Lionhead
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Oct. 21, 2008
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: A plodding introduction to an epic tale.

0:00 I'm vaguely fond of action-RPGs, but I came to the original Xbox too late to really dive into the original Fable. Fable 2 has all sorts of buzz to live up to.

0:01 A downloadable update is available, which I find somewhat surprising since the game was officially released less than half an hour ago. The download only takes a few seconds. Thank god this isn't a PS3 game!

0:02 The title appears in white lightning in front of an oddly silent forest. As I hit the A button, a vaguely British voice intones: "And so our story begins."

0:04 "But who is the hero of this game?" I can choose to be a boy or a girl, both of whom look thoroughly modern despite the Renaissance-style setting. "And let HIS destiny unfold," says the voice.

0:05 After some longish loading, a cut scene: A bird lands on a wrecked pillar, then flies through a winter forest and into to a massive town. Zoom in close on the town: A man in a large top hat coughs roughly as people go about their daily business. In the background, a medieval choir chants. The bird flits off a roof and we get a slow-mo, "Matrix"-like pan shot of a bit of poop, which lands on my character's head. "I hear that's lucky," says my companion Rose, "Like finding a four leaf clover ... though I think I'd prefer the clover." She calls me "Little Sparrow."

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Metapost: The First Hour

This Sunday I got a rather surprising e-mail from one Greg Noe, the creator of "The First Hour" blog. Greg writes weekly game reviews based on just the first hour of play, just like I do here daily at Games for Lunch. That's not the surprising part; I've gotten similar e-mails from the creators of other sites. The surprising part is that, apparently, Greg has been doing this for 15 months (nearly as long as I have) without either of us knowing about the other until now.

A recent post on The First Hour, Greg says he was a bit discouraged when he found he wasn't actually "unique among the vast sea of video game reviewers and journalists." Still, I'm glad to read that this initial shock isn't leading Greg to stop his work. There isn't any special talent I have that makes me uniquely qualified to write hour-long game reviews. In fact, I think as many people as possible should take up the form as a way to analyze how they feel about games and improve their writing and critical thinking skills.

Anyway, if you like Games for Lunch, you'll probably also enjoy The First Hour, seeing as they're practically exactly alike. Although, as Greg notes, he has a lot more screenshots with his reviews. Maybe I should do something about that...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mega Man Star Force 2: Zerker X Ninja

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: June 24, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site (Japanese)

In a nutshell: Diaries of a fifth-grade Mega Man.

0:00 I'm a big fan of the Mega Man series, but I've never played these RPG-like spinoff games. With my broken laptop preventing me from effectively taking notes on any console games, though, it seems like the perfect time to open this oddly named chestnut.

0:01 "In the days of old there was a Tribe that moved like wind and reigned over the land..." Then some anime robots jump around in full, anime-styled, double-screen regalia. The title appears with techno music and a streaky background. Whoo!

0:02 I get to choose between Zerker and Ninja modes. Since I have no idea what a "Zerker" is, I go with Ninja.

0:04 "I will set Zerker to Auto Brother" says a little blue slime thing. Er ... thanks? I name my Auto Brother Zerker "Zerker!!!!" Then I have to decide his age and gender. Oh lord, I really do not care...

0:05 "The year is 220X ... Owing to the rapid advance in wave technology, people are able to enjoy a life of ease and convenience." I'm Geo Stelar, a "fifth-grader in this future society." He's rarely left his room since his dad died, but an alien with an EM body, Omega-Xis, merged with him (is that what they're calling it these days?) to become ... Mega Man! Then FM-ians attacked Earth and Mega Man saved them. Hooray for backstory!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, October 17, 2008

SimCity Creator

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2008
Systems: Nintendo DS (reviewed), Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: A pocket metropolis.

0:00 I was a huge SimCity 2000 fan back in middle school, but I haven't touched the series since. Here's hoping this brings back my latent love of virtual urban planning.

0:01 "Build a city for the ages," says a plain white text message on a stark black background. Then a title screen in a penthouse office.

0:02 "Welcome! To the world of SimCity (tm)!" Why! Are you speaking like that!? "Out of all the games you could have bought, we thank you for choosing SimCity Creator." I don't have the heart to tell her I got my copy for free from EA.

0:03 The woman disappears and in comes the bespectacled, anime-styled "Mister! Maxis!" in a puff of smoke. "I've had my eye on SimCity ever since SimCity DS." That's some subtle name-dropping there, mister.

0:04 The measly six letters allotted for the city name aren't enough for either "Kyleton" or "Orlandia." I go with the more generic "Kville," but they change it to "Kville City." D'oh!

0:06 I get six more characters for a slogan. They suggest "Hello." I enter "E=MC2." How scientific, eh?

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Valhalla Knights 2

Developer: Marvelous Entertainment
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2008
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: I'm all for the destruction of the gods who made this game.

0:00 I proudly admit to never having heard of the original Valhalla Knights, much less its sequel, but XSEED Games was kind enough to furnish a copy, so away we go!

0:01 But first I have to update my PSP's firmware. Oh Sony ... you are so ridiculously predictable.

0:03 The reason for the new firmware? "New effects have been added to the visual player under 'Music.'" This is why I'm wasting my time? Really?

0:06 Complete. That was relatively painless, actually, probably because it didn't involve any Internet downloading.

0:07 The title appears over a starry field. "The Day of Judgment." Quick images of ethereal clocks and angel wings. "We saw a goddess descend ... she birthed a foul being upon the world and cursed mankind with despair. The gods have forsaken us." Heady orchestral music. Some crystals explode. Two knights look at each other. Extreme close up on their faces. "All for the sake of destroying the gods." Man ... melodrama much?

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SOCOM: Confrontation

Developer: Slant Six Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2008
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Now loading....

0:00 I've never actually played a SOCOM game before, but I figured SOCOM: Confrontation is as good a time as any to start. And Crispy Gamer agreed!

0:01 The usual "game" option on the XMB is accompanied by a "Game Data Installer" option. I decide to see what that's all about.

0:02 There's no progress bar on the installation screen ... it just says "Installing...". Cryptic. I guess I just have to assume it's working through the 2701 MB of data it has to put on the hard drive. Hopefully it'll make the game run faster in the end.

0:04 The back of the box says the game "requires" 3.1 GB of hard drive space, so maybe this installation isn't just an option?

0:05 Hoo boy... this semi-literate message board post seems to confirm that the installation is required and predicts I'll have to wait 15 minutes for it to finish. Yikes!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, October 13, 2008


Developer: Phil Hassey
Publisher: Imitation Pickles
Release Date: 2007
Systems: PC (reviewed), Mac, iPhone
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Real-time Space Risk

0:00 A glowing write-up on Boing Boing Gadgets combined with a "free to play in your browser" price point made this one a no-brainer for me.

0:04 Four minutes spent registering for the site and installing a bloated Firefox plug-in... Still better than the average PS3 game...

0:05 On to Practice mode first to figure out what the heck is going on. A simple, one-page instruction screen pops up. Click a planet, use the scroll wheel to choose a percentage, then right-click another planet to send that many ships in real time. Seems relatively simple.

0:07 The tutorial level is already done ... exceedingly simple, of course. Really liking the interface ... makes it easy to keep track of the situation without having to scroll around the map or overly interpret what you're looking at. I like the little "pshew!" sound the ships make when they attack a planet, too.

0:09 Tutorial 2 is a little tougher, but not substantially. The game recommends taking the big planets with a few ships, then using their production powers to gain a tactical advantage. I'm a bit shocked by how fast this strategy works.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, October 10, 2008

Commando: Steel Disaster

Developer: Mana Comp Software
Publisher: XS Games
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Not a disaster, but hard as steel.

0:00 Yet another game I had never heard of until it showed up in my mailbox. The back of the box makes it look like a Metal Slug knockoff, which gets my hopes up a bit.

0:01 Synth-heavy metal-techno plays over a sprawling, two-screen image of a Commando with a huge gun slung over his shoulder. Normal and Hard are the selectable difficulties. I hate choosing the lowest available level, but I'm not quite ready to dive in to "Hard."

0:03 "Emergency! Emergency!" says Jessica. "Hey, what's wrong," asks Storm, the guy from the title screen. "Snow Lab is being attacked by X-1." Not Snow Lab! Apparently X-1 is OUR newest weapon, but it went berserk and attacked. The dialogue boxes don't have a space after the periods ... VERY annoying.

0:04 Just like that, I'm racing in on a snowmobile. I can jump over land mines and lean back to fire at rocket pack-equipped enemies in the air. This is fun!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Buzz!: Quiz TV

Developer: Relentless Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2008
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: The PS3 puts all its power behind ... trivia questions...

0:00 I liked the original, PlayStation 2 Buzz! The Mega Quiz a decent amount, but I could never get my friends to feel the same way. I'm looking forward to always having online opponents available in this version.

0:01 Before I even start, I love the peppy, quiz show music on the PlayStation 3 menu screen. I also like the new, wireless buzzers, although I can see finding eight AA batteries for four players would be annoying.

0:02 Speaking of "Before we start," the game tells me I need to download a whopping 207 MB update for "version 1.10." Wow ... I'm glad I don't have friends over ... they'd be getting annoyed right about now.

0:06 36 percent done with that download. My imaginary guests are complaining that the nachos are getting cold.

0:09 60 percent done. One of my imaginary guests is already throwing up in the bathroom after too much Johnnie Walker.

0:15 Installing. Too bad half my imaginary guests have gone home for the night and vowed never to come to my "lame-ass downloading parties" ever again.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Developer: Day 1 Studios
Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date: Oct. 7, 2008
System: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3
ESRB Rating: T

In a nutshell: All it's cracked up to be.

0:00 I'm not the world's biggest FPS fan, but I am looking forward to playing around with the Havok system that was shown off so well in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

0:01 The game's logo sits on a lightly lit piece of asphalt, which explodes with a magma-infused fissure between the syllables. On to the menu screen, where a creepy marine with body armor and a big-ass gun stands in front of scenes from the game with somber music in the background. Seems cluttered...

0:03 The difficulties are Casual, Standard and Hardcore. I like the description for Casual: "The Pacificans cower and grovel as you smash your way to victory." That sounds like fun, but I choose Standard to avoid charges that I'm a wimp.

0:04 The loading screen teaches me a bit about ground deformation. For instance, did you know people go slower when going up hills? I know! Revolutionary!

0:05 "How did it come to this? By the 22nd century, global climate change was irreversible." It took that long? Anyway, the Midwest became a water-filled wasteland and the country is now divided by a 200-mile-wide Mississippi. Each side of the country saw a different way of human evolution. The East passed the Defense of Humanity act, making substantial genetic modification a federal crime. The West seceded in response, with a new capital of San Francisco and a new leader named Sheridan, who says, "You can't stand in the way of progress." The president says Sheridan is a "dangerous threat." I'm impressed with the concept, as well as the writing and presentation, so far.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

Developer: Big Fish Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Sept. 8, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: I'm still looking for what's supposed to make this game interesting.
0:00 I feel like Nintendo has been sending me press releases about this game for years now. I'm expecting something along the lines of Professor Layton, maybe with some Phoenix Wright mixed in.

0:01 "To seek and solve: You be the detective," reads the intro screen. Some mysterious music plays amidst a title screen crowded with junk.

0:02 I like the old-style typewriter used for name entry. Rookie or Detective difficulties: The latter is timed and has fewer hints. I'm feeling cocky ... let's go for Detective!

0:03 "Prelude: It's good to be Phil T. Rich." OH, THE PUNS! One year ago ... "Welcome, Detective. I'm Phil T. Rich. Thank you for helping me with this trifling matter." He looks like Richie Rich all grown up. Complete with monocle!

0:04 Phil lost some priceless items that he needs to get back to the Louvre. Good lord! You'd think the Louvre would be a little more discriminating!

0:05 So I can scroll around a very detailed, very cluttered scene with the d-pad. I'm looking amidst the clutter for a detective badge. Why the Louvre needs that, I'm not sure. I hope the whole game isn't just this hunt and find stuff...

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, October 3, 2008

We Ski

Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: May 13, 2008
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

0:00 I picked this one up mainly to see if it could improve on the overly touchy performance of the "Slalom" mini-game in Wii Fit. I'm hopeful that it can ... after all, Namco's Alpine Racer arcade series is one of my all-time favorites.

0:05 This first five minutes spent getting my Wii Balance Board out of its box, inserting the batteries, and struggling to get it synced to my system. My Wii Fit regimen has, er, lapsed a little bit.

0:09 The game requires 81 blocks of space for save data? What is it using all that space for? Anyway, this means I have to copy Strong Bad to my SD card and delete it, which takes a surprisingly long time.

0:10 Finally ready to go. A snowy title screen comes in with some winter bells and a children's chorus screaming "WE SKI!"

0:11 "Lean your body to the left and right to turn." Doesn't get much simpler than that.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mister Slime

Developer: Lexis Numérique
Publisher: Southpeak Interactive
Release Date: July 15, 2008
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Slimy yet not very satisfying

0:00 Truth be told, I added this game to my GameFly queue based almost solely on the title. To me, the name hearkens back to the NES days, where a title like "Mister Slime" was descriptive enough, dagnabbit!

0:01 Jump directly to a simple title screen with bouncy, slightly mysterious music. The options screen has a setting for "Sensitive" or "Normal" microphone reception. Bad sign. Selectable difficulties are Easy and Normal. Doesn't that make Normal "Hard"?

0:03 "Lost within the confines of the universe, there exists a world inhabited by strange and fascinating creatures." The Slimes and the Axons are at war over the planet's resources. Every 40 years there are "ritual battles." The music has somehow gotten bouncier.

0:04 "Slimy! Still daydreaming! The Axons could attack at any moment," says a girl slime to our Mr. Slime. These little green blobs have three stretchy arms sticking out at odd angles from their amorphous, 2-D bodies.

0:06 Well, it's ... unique, I'll give it that. I actually have four arms, and I can tap little on-screen anchors to reach out and grab them. Then I tap my other arms to let go and slink around the level. I can stretch for faraway anchors, too. Seems like it would be a bit of an annoying way to get around, in real life.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mega Man 9

Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site (Japanese)

In a nutshell: Busting it old school
0:00 I've been looking forward to this one ever since I heard it was being done in the old NES style of simple gameplay and graphics. I loved Mega Man 2 and 3 decades ago, and Mega Man X and Mega Man Powered Up later. I'm not a total obsessive or anything, though.

0:01 Dr. Wily on his hands and knees, in pixilated black and white: "I'm so sorry. Please forgive me!" The year 20XX, and the world breathes "a collective sigh of relief" now that Mega Man (MM) has defeated Dr. Wily ... yet again. "But then..." The background turns red and explosions rock the city. Robots are running amok! In Dr. Light's house, MM and Light watch the news. Dr. Wily comes on TV: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not my doing." He blames Dr. Light, who designed the robots and, Wily alleges, has had evil designs all the time. He has video of Dr. Light telling Dr. Wily that it's "time to take over the world," with Wily resisting. I don't believe anything unless I see it on YouTube...

0:03 Wily has a Swiss bank account set up to take donations to help stop Dr. Light. Light's phone is ringing off the hook with people complaining. What are we gonna do? "For starters, I'm going to do something about those robots!" says MM. "You haven't done this in a while," says Dr. Light with a sly wink to the player.

0:04 On to the title screen. I'm absolutely LOVING the retro action music. The full-screen, low-color pixel graphics look surprisingly good, even so many years after they were state-of-the-art.

0:05 Seeing messages like "Leaderboards" and "Achievements" and "Return to Xbox Live" in the decidedly 8-bit menu is a bit disconcerting.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer