Friday, February 27, 2009

Kivi's Underworld

Developer: Soldak Entertainment
Publisher: Soldak Entertainment
Release Date: March 11, 2008
System: PC
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Start with Diablo, then take out the cool stuff...

0:00 James Fudge forwarded me a notice about this "casual hack-and-slash game" a few months ago. I seem to remember it seeming like it was worth at least an hour.

0:01 Ethereal music plays over a simple menu screen, including a glowing blue title with a sword through it. I try to "Play" but it tells me I first have to create a New User. OK then! So, hello to Ace, who plays on the Normal difficulty where "Everything is normal." Tutorial time ... go!

0:04 My character stands with simple armor and a sword in a relatively empty medieval hall. Everything's viewed from an isometric perspective, with inky black edges in the areas I haven't seen. Click on the ground and my guy walks there with some decent animation. Reminds me a lot of Diablo already, except the walking seems a little slower-paced. I can pull levers, step on switches, and use keys to open doors. Pretty standard stuff so far.

0:06 "OK, enough locked doors already. Let's learn about something more interesting: combat." Hey, tutorial author, do you want a job writing Games for Lunch? You already have the pithiness down.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prinny: Can I Really be the Hero?

Developer: NIS
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2009
System: PSP
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Dood, it's, actually kind of easy so far, dood.

0:00 When our own James Fudge called this "one of the hardest games I've played in a long time" and "a hardcore platformer featuring some familiar platforming elements," I knew GameStop was getting my $40.

0:01 The title screen features a large red penguin slashing the title. Dark, tilting windmills are in the background along with some nice peppy violin music.

0:02 The difficulties are "Standard" and "Hell's Finest." Man, they aren't messing around here, are they? Based on James' description, I think I'll stick with Standard, which allows three hits before dying. I can change during play if I pick wrongly, a very nice touch.

0:03 "Oh crap, dood! I'm so late!" says a chirpy voice off-screen. A rotund purple penguin runs in and is taunted by a talking sign: "late late late for your fate fate fate!" Some bombs start falling from the sky and the penguin starts freaking out and rushing towards a castle. I'm loving the expressive animation and hand-drawn sprites.

0:05 Already I'm in control. A sign tells me how to double jump, so I guess we can check off that prerequisite for "good platform game."

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sega Superstar Tennis

Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: March 17, 2008
System: Wii (reviewed), PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Unforgettable characters play forgettable tennis.

0:00 What can I say, ever since I played Mario Golf/Tennis, I'm a sucker for cute characters in unpopular sports (See: Hot Shots Tennis, We Love Golf, etc.). I'm a big Sega fan in general, too, so I'm looking forward to playing with some classic characters.

0:01 Aiai from Super Monkey Ball bounces a ball and serves to Beat from Jet Set Radio. Ulala from Space Channel 5 returns the ball with an overhead Smash, then Amigo from Samba de Amigo does some wall jumps off a cliff and hits it back. Nights from, er, NiGHTS hits it to Dr. Eggman from Sonic, who uses an octo-handed backpack to smash it at Sonic. The Hedgehog runs through a loop, jumps off a springboard, and bends the racket as he smashes the ball into Eggman's face! Confetti falls and everyone (except Eggman) is jumping and happy as the title screen appears. I'm pretty sure they aren't playing tennis by the real rules, though.

0:03 There are three different control modes ... one that's like Wii Sports Tennis where you just swing the Wii Remote, one where you swing and move around with the Nunchuk, and one where you hold the Remote like an NES controller. Let's try the Nunchuk/swinging hybrid. Wait, that means I have to stand up, huh? Grooooan.

0:05 I can choose between Male and Female umpire voices? GAME OF THE YEAR!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dead Space

Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Publisher: EA
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2008
System: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: In space, no one can hear you run out of ammo.

0:00 I'm only, what, five months late to the party on this game that everyone says is a must-play? I'm looking forward to diving in, but simultaneously scared that it won't live up to the exceedingly high expectations set by everyone.

0:01 An EA logo fades out and the title fades in on what looks like a reddish dust storm or the inside of a vein or something. Now that's how you introduce a game!

0:02 Before I can hit start, an ethereal voice starts singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" as the camera cuts to external space shots of elaborate space freighters drifting. The song continues into the unfamiliar verses: "When the blazing sun is gone/When the nothing shines upon/Then you shine your little light/Twinkle, twinkle, all the night..." As it does the song is intercut with scenes from inside the ships of corpses in space suits and horrible attacks from misshapen monsters making ear-screeching sounds. "Though I know not what you are/Twinkle, twinkle, little star." CREEPY!

0:04 New Game difficulty choices are Easy, Medium and Hard. I don't want to wimp out and pick Easy, but I'm probably going to want to actually get through the game, so I don't want Medium to be too hard. Aw hell, Medium it is.

0:05 "ELECTRONIC ARTS PRESENTS AN EA REDWOOD SHORES PRODUCTION: DEAD SPACE." The scene starts as static, then the camera zooms out to show a blue-and-white video message from a girl. "Isaac, it's me. I wish I could talk to you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry about everything. It's all falling apart here. I can't believe what's happening." She looks kind of harried. Zoom out more to show me sitting on the bridge of a spaceship going through hyperspace, with two others standing in front of me. "How many times you watch that thing?" asks one of them. "I guess you really miss her. Don't worry, you'll be able to look her up when we're on board." We jump out of hyperspace and the pair introduces me to the USG Ishimura, the "biggest planet-cracker in her class." It was on a mining mission, but now we're responding to a distress call. "You'd think with 1,000 people onboard, someone would pick up the phone." Dun dun DUN!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, February 23, 2009

NASCAR Kart Racing

Developer: EA Sports Freestyle
Publisher: EA
Release Date: Feb. 10, 2009
System: Wii
ESRB Rating: E

In a nutshell: No, it doesn't make any more sense after you play it.
0:00 The fact that a game as unlikely and self-contradictory as NASCAR Kart Racing even exists is reason enough to give it an hour-long test drive, as far as I'm concerned.

0:01 A bit of loading, then no fuss, no muss; we're already at the title screen. There are two helmeted racers sticking out of what look like roofless, miniature versions of NASCAR cars. Their heads stick out above the top of the windshield. The most generic rock music I've ever heard plays in the background. Oh man, this is going to be exquisitely painful.

0:02 "Welcome! I'm your guide, Flagman Fred," says a crazed-looking man who speaks in an odd pidgin. "There are three things you need to know before getting started!" Is one of them "abandon all hope?" Apparently not. They are: 1) Stick close to your teammates to earn boost; 2) Run in to "Pit Lollipops" (no, I don't know what that means) for random power-ups; and 3) Powerslide. "You're all set! Start your engine and have fun!" I'll do at least one of those!

0:04 Twelve manga-fied versions NASCAR drivers are selectable, with 12 more to unlock. Each has different rankings in Slide, Zone, Grind (what is this, Tony Hawk?) and Boost. I go with Kyle Busch because half of his name is totally awesome. I also get to pick a teammate, whose stats will be added to mine. Dale Ernhardt, Jr. is Kyle's perfect complement. Hooray for balance!

0:06 Four courses out of 12 are selectable in the Quick Race: Talladega, Cactus Pass, Beltway Battle and Junkyard. Boy, after Talladega they really started ignoring that NASCAR license quickly, huh?

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, February 20, 2009

Noby Noby Boy

Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Feb. 19, 2009
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site (Japanese)

In a nutshell: What Katamari Damacy would be like if it wasn't much fun.

0:00 I've loved Katamari Damacy ever since I first saw it at E3 2004 (and that was before it was cool to like it!), so I'm obviously psyched about this latest release from that game's creator. Still, I'm a bit worried about how empty and content-free the teaser videos have been.

0:01 Oompah-heavy tuba music plays as "2/20/2009 Friday" is spelled out in small flowers. A standard warning about auto-saving and only features, and then a little yellow sprite with a halo flies in. "Okay! I'm going to create new save data now," he says. Thanks for the info, little guy!

0:02 In the corner, a sleeping 3-D parrot dreams of a flapping 2-D parrot. Then he flies away. "Hang on ... Now loading ... Almost done ... Now loading ... Wait a sec ... Now loading..." says the helpful sprite.

0:03 There's a house with a Pinocchio-like nose, two windows for eyes and a roof that looks like a rainbow wig. The house spins in a void and then sprouts a yard with some Katamari-style figures moving about: a dog with a cat on its back, a person jogging, a bunch of soccer balls, etc. The sprite flies in again. "Are you ready. Let's start with the BOY quiz. Guess the controls for BOY. Question 1: How do you make BOY walk?" On the bottom of the screen is a helpful hint: Q: Move the left and ***** sticks." Hmm ... what's the opposite of left again?

0:05 So the left stick moves the head of BOY's snakelike, rainbow-colored body, while the right stick moves the tail. Both controls feel a little loose, but I guess precision isn't the name of the game here. As I move around, a dog gets stuck to my body and starts riding around.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blitz: The League II

Developer: Midway
Publisher: Midway
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2008
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: FUMBLE!
0:00 I was a huge Blitz fan back in high school, but haven't touched the series since NFL Blitz 2000, and I've heard the series has changed quite a bit since then. The Crispy game room has an unopened copy, though, so I figure it's worth checking out.

0:01 I'm not counting the literally FIVE MINUTES it took to open the shrink wrap on this game in the running count. What is wrong with me today?

0:02 A quick downloaded update, some animated logos and some loading and then some truly awful rap plays over the menu screen. The Campaign option is kind of intriguing, but this is the type of game that was always meant for "Quick Play," which is what I choose to start with.

0:04 The Philadelphia Brawlers? The Houston Riders? The New York Nightmare? What the hell is this? I guess I forgot that the game no longer has the NFL license ... I go with the Washington Redhawks, which is surprisingly less offensive than Washington's real team name.

0:05 "You think you know how to play football? If you don't know how to use Clash, you don't know a thing!" says a voiceover for a video tutorial. Basically, holding the left trigger and tapping a button does super-cool moves like jukes, perfect catches and "dirty hits" in super-slow motion. This drains your clash meter, which gets built up by other good plays. You can also earn "Clash Icons" for big moves and build up an "Unleashed Meter" for a one-time ultra-mega-super-duper move.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad

Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Release Date: Feb. 10, 2009
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), Wii
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Follow the bouncing breasts.

0:00 The bemused coverage this game has received has made me just curious enough to try it out in the Crispy game room while I'm visiting the NYC offices. Hey, it saves me the trouble of renting it, at least.

0:01 The loading screen has some cute little hand-drawn zombies trundling about on the bottom. "Warning: This game contains scenes of extreme violence and intense imagery." Um ... DUH!

0:02 The menu options include Story, Survival, Practice, Quest and Dress Up. OK ... one of those doesn't belong in that list. I just have to see the Dress Up mode before continuing.

0:03 Sure enough, there's a character standing there in an extremely revealing bikini holding three swords, one in each hand and a third on a thigh holster. Apparently I have no outfits or other options (hair color, etc.) unlocked, so she's just going to stand there mostly naked. What a shame. The smooth jazz piano music playing in the background is incongruous, to say the least.

0:04 The options screen includes the ability to choose your own blood color: Red, Pink or White. How thoughtful!

0:05 "Chapter 1: The Third Zombie Incident." What? You mean I missed the first two?

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Feb. 16, 2009
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E-10+
Official Web site

In a nutshell: OMG you guys if your guy dies he's, like, really dead!

0:00 The sum total of my experience with this series is about five minutes spent with the first GBA version at a 2003 media event. That and Roy and Marth in Super Smash Bros., of course.

0:01 A hazy, overhead view of an island over somber strings. Cut to a drawing of Roy (or perhaps Marth?) looking up through the haze at a girl with wings. Cut to a drawing of him fighting, another of a guy preparing to draw a sword against a horde. More drawings show a wizard with a staff, a child on a throne, a mighty slash through a dragon's hide. A close-up on a sword. Fade to white, then lightning in front of a castle. A white-bearded, devious-looking man. More lightning and ... title! Well, that was pointlessly vague.

0:03 In Hard mode, enemies are "Up to five degrees tougher." I don't know what that means, but it sounds a lot tougher! Normal mode, with its "special prologue" for beginners, sounds more my speed.

0:04 "Long ago, Medeus, king of the dragonkin, conquered the continent of Archanea." Duh! Tell me something I don't know. Age of fear and despair blah blah unlikely hero blah blah divine blade blah blah peace blah blah one century later blah blah fiendish sorcerer blah blah darkness threatened the kingdom again blah.

0:05 The king of Altea is off fighting while his son Marth stays home and tends to the kingdom. Until one day ... "Prince Marth ... Are you awake? Beggin' your pardon, sire, but the princess has asked to see you." A little early-morning booty call for Marth, eh? Heh heh heh.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, February 13, 2009

NBA 09: The Inside

Developer: SCE Studios San Diego
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: Oct. 7, 2008
Systems: PS3 (reviewed), PS2, PSP
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: What fun is a basketball game if you can't push people over and do thirty-foot dunks?

0:00 I usually only enjoy basketball games of the NBA Jam/NBA Street variety, but this one has been staring at me from my shelf for months, making me feel guilty that Sony sent it to me and I haven't played it yet. So I guess I'll give it the old college try.

0:01 Shocker, there's a 49 MB downloadable update available. Now I remember the other reason I was loathe to try this one out ... it's on the PS3.

0:04 53-percent downloaded so far. I've been passing the time by listening to this excellent Harvey Danger album. It's free! Go download it! NOW!

0:06 The download and install are done. That really wasn't too bad. The music helped the time pass quickly.

0:07 Oh, looks like I spoke too soon ... now we're "Installing game data files. Please do not turn off your system or eject the disc or BUY AN XBOX 360 during this process." I may have embellished that message a little bit...

0:09 57 percent. The install is pretty fast, but still slow enough to make me want to just bust out the DS for some Retro Game Challenge.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Retro Game Challenge

Developer: Indies Zero
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: Feb. 10, 2009
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1989.

0:00 As a big retro gamer, the idea of playing a game based on playing retro games intrigues me. The actual gameplay in Retro Game Challenge didn't actually intrigue me that much for the five minutes I played it at E3 '08. Let's see if that changes...

0:01 Some quick static and old-school TV test patterns flash by, then some retro-sounding bells play as the title appears on a slow-scrolling starry background. And I didn't even have to blow in the cartridge!

0:02 My gender choices are simply M and F. I name my guy Ace and we're off, with the story scrolling by in Star Wars-style yellow-on-black lettering. "Having been utterly defeated by his friends in every current-gen multiplayer game, Arino longed to become a game master." So he digitized himself into a DS and haunts gamers with retro challenges. "You have been challenged ... on his home turf ... the '80s." Yes! I love the '80s!

0:04 "Now you've done it! You've turned it on!" says an angular 3-D face that reminds me of Brain Age's Dr. Kawashima, except he's wearing a crown. He's Game Master Arino. "You're quite the gamer, yes? It's so obvious!" What gave me away? With a cry of "Gaaaaaaaame! Oooooooooooon!!" he turns me into a kid and sends me back to the '80s.

0:06 So it's 1984 but it's not the real 1984 because Cosmic Gate just came out and that's like not even a real game in the real world, but anyway me and this other kid are on the bottom screen and the TV is on the top screen and the other kid is Arino and he says "Who're you? What are you doing in my house?" and I tell him the story of how a future version of him sent me back in time and he says "Wow, you're kinda weird," and I think this game is kinda weird...

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valkyria Chronicles

Developer: Sega WOW
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Nov. 4, 2008
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: War is hell. Charming, well written, strategic hell.

0:00 I've heard lots of vague praise being bandied about for Valkyria Chronicles. Could it be the first turn-based strategy game to draw me in since Advance Wars? We'll see...

0:01 The preview screen eschews music and flashy graphics for a simple message: "The year is EC 1935. As the outbreak of the Second European War transforms Welkin Gunther's homeland into a battlefield, he and his ragtag militia squad fight to protect what they hold most dear in this active simulation RPG." Well, now we don't need an intro cut scene, right?

0:02 This minute spent mostly loading that intro cut scene we don't need. A hand-drawn tank starts as a rough sketch, then gets color and ink amid languid string music. Two people ride atop the tank towards a windmill. A HUGE battle-tank bashes through a wall. A phalanx of armored men (robots?) appears in a smoky city. A girl releases tiny points of light towards the windmill. A king speaks to his generals. A glowing blue woman stands atop a tank, guiding her troops. A sniper fires at a bunker. A tank-rider sends up a flare. Soldiers salute. Tanks fire. A tank emerges from the water. A drawbridge raises. Black-and-white photographs of war scenes ... and a beach? A woman hugs her comrade. No sound effects throughout ... just those lovely, lovely strings. Very touching.

0:05 To the title screen, with a fire kicking up flaming ash in the background. The strings are replaced with horns. The menu has an "install" option that's thankfully optional -- I don't want to waste 10 minutes of my hour installing. *cough Metal Gear Solid 4 cough*

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rygar: The Battle for Argus

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
Release Date: Feb. 3, 2009
System: Wii (reviewed), PS2
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Warning: Diskarmor may rust with age.

0:00 I've actually played through the PS2 Rygar that Rygar: The Battle of Argus is heavily based on, but I remember very little of it besides a vague feeling of enjoyment. Let's see how the game has held up over the years, shall we?

0:01 The horn flourish on the preview screen is just so ridiculously short and peppy, I can't help but grin.

0:02 In contrast to the preview, the loading and title screens proceed with nary a sound. Everything looks kind of grainy, even for a Wii game ... have I been spoiled by HD so quickly?

0:03 Ah ... turning down the anti-aliasing in the options menu helps the graphics ... now it doesn't look like an N64 game. Anyway, the gameplay options are "Conquest Mode "and "Gladiator Mode." I'm honestly not sure which one is the "story," so I go with the first one, Conquest.

0:04 "Several years have passed since Rome destroyed the Egyptian dynasty." Argus, on the Mediterranean Sea, is part of that dynasty. Rygar has "nothing left but the will to fight ... I have no family, and all my memories have been consumed by fighting." Cut to Princess Harmonia: "Rygar, I praise you as a man of merit. Your brave composure brings me peace of mind." Women say that to me all the time in real life! Anyway, Rygar and the princess both realize they had the same portentous dream, but before they can discuss it over tea, a huge green minotaur comes into the coliseum. "We are Titans. True rulers of the Earth!" says a lady accompanying the minotaur. A winged devil-type picks up the princess, and Rygar is knocked into a huge fissure in the ground. Wow, this story is incoherent and bad so far.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, February 9, 2009


Developer: That Game Company
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2009
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: The world's most artistic flight simulator.
0:00 I feel like I've been hearing about the beautiful wonder that is this game for years now. I wasn't a huge fan of the developer's previous Flow, but I'm still vaguely looking forward to this one.

0:01 The preview screen lays it out for me: "Tilt the controller to soar. Press any button to blow wind. Relax, enjoy." Nice and simple. I'm already digging the gentle harp music.

0:02 An explanatory graphic shows how to tilt the controller -- forward and back and left to right, not on the plane parallel to the floor. The game begins in a gray apartment with a weak little stem of a plant sitting in a pot by a window, with clothes hanging on the line outside. A quick tilt of the controller zooms in on the stem, which has a glowing bulb. "Hold any button" and the screen fades to black. Video of a city street comes up, with car lights flying by in super-speed. A police siren blares in the background. Zoom out to show a twisted black skyline. Then fade to black and fade in on a single yellow flower, sitting in a verdant field with beautiful flowing grass and gentle wind. Harp music again. OK, but what happened to the city?

0:04 Pressing a button blows a petal off the flower, setting it into bloom with a piano chord. Tilting the controller blows the petal gently left and right. Wheee!

0:05 Holding down any button blows my petal forward with the wind while also zooming out the camera to a nice, wide angle. The field seems to go on forever. I see some white dandelions over in the distance ... maybe that's where I should go?

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Friday, February 6, 2009


Developers: Dain Saint and William Stallwood
Publisher: Cipher Prime
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2009
System: PC
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Pure beauty distilled into a puzzle game.
0:00 I played the demo version of this for literally 30 seconds before being distracted by something shiny. Since then, it seems EVERYBODY has been talking about it and saying how great/amazing/beautiful it is. Now that the final version is out, I decided to take everybody's advice and pay for the full version. OK everybody, you'd better be right!

0:01 I do like the gentle piano music that plays along with the animated logo. Very synchronous. I don't like the jerky animation on the various icons in the intro cut scene, though. Maybe I need to turn down the Flash quality? Ah, that's better.

0:02 Just like that, we're in fullscreen mode and "HAJIMEMASHITE 1:1" is starting. A gentle rain of white particles falls down the left part of the screen. In the center, a clear ball with a right-pointing arrow on it. On the right, a few horizontal bars, like a gain meter on a stereo. I move the circle into the stream of white, bending it towards the gain meter and playing some gentle, repetitive piano music in the process. The meter fills up and the level is done. I like the way the particles don't all bend in exactly the same way ... there's an organic margin of error in there.

0:04 Level 1:2 has the white rain flowing leftward and an up-arrow circle that can be used to hit the nearby meter. Super-easy so far.

0:05 Level 1:3 is a little more involved, with two circles and two boxes. The second box adds a sonorous bass to the now-familiar piano. Very nice.

0:06 Level 1:4 adds a third box with beautiful violins. The music is incredibly soothing ... I can feel the stress melting away!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MySims Kingdom

Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Publisher: EA
Release Date: Oct. 28, 2008
Systems: Wii (reviewed), DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: The Cutest Wandolier

0:00 I liked the original MySims quite a bit, despite never actually going back to spend much more time with it after my initial hour. I hope this one has a little more "game" to it and a little less directionless building/exploration.

0:01 The preview screen has an incredibly cheery piano tune that expands into a trumpet and horn fanfare. I listen to it a few times on repeat -- it's just so vibrant!

0:02 Some quick loading, then some Sims on a wooden ship. They come to a kingdom where the king welcomes them. They build a bridge, then get cupcakes. Back on the boat, one guy is sitting on a cupcake. He builds a windmill and a set of speakers for a DJ. The group gets scared in a graveyard. A castle gets built and everyone cheers in front of a statue of someone. Then a rough transition: "Please connect the Nunchuk to the Wii Remote." Whoops!

0:03 The same cheery music plays over a simple menu screen with stained-glass Sims scrolling in the background. "New Game" or "Load Game" are the only options, and only one of them makes sense to me.

0:04 "Once upon a time there was a great kingdom that covered the entire world." You hear that, kids? Hegemony is great! All the lands were ruled by "a kind and wise king: Me, King Roland." He's humble, too!

0:05 Some Sims are Wandoliers who can pick up stuff with a magic wand and build it somewhere close by. But some of the Wandoliers have wandered away, leaving parts of the kingdom in disrepair. Jerks!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gravity Bone

Developer: Brendon Chung
Publisher: Blendo Games
Release Date: September 2008
System: PC
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Heh, this is a pretty cute ga -- what? It's over?!?!

0:00 I don't even remember where I first heard about this game, but it's been sitting un-downloaded in a Firefox tab for weeks now. Judging by the official Web page, a lot of people have been writing about it recently, so it can't be all that bad, right?

0:01 The title appears as I travel down an elevator with elaborate wrought iron gating. Blocky people stand around chattering in suits and dresses as big band music plays. They sound like Charlie Brown's teacher talking in those old Peanuts cartoons. A sign says "Welcome to the Saturday Club" and tells me to use WASD to move around and the mouse to look. In the background, old-fashioned planes fly in front of mountains. Let's do this!

0:03 I walk around the party a bit, and nothing happens. When I try to talk to a party guest, a card pops up in front of me. It's from "TELETRAN SEVEN, private contracting service -- THE SATURDAY CLUB. Business initiative. Wetwork. Go to the FURNACE ROOM." OK ... it's something to do, I guess.

0:04 As I walk up the stairs, a Secret Service-looking guy with sunglasses follows me with his head. He looks sufficiently humorless.

0:05 Through the kitchen to the furnace room, where I jump over the furnace and find a suitcase with a tape recorder. "Deliver this drink to the man with the red hair," it repeats tinnily. OK ... it's something to do, I guess.

0:06 Red hair, red hair ... there he is, looking over the balcony upstairs and wearing a red suit. He takes the drink, guzzles it down, and burps a green gas. "FIND THE EXIT," the game tells me. OK ... it's something to do, I guess.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Killzone 2

Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Feb. 27, 2009
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Those ghastly Helghast are at it again!

0:00 I never played the original Killzone, but I've of course followed the ludicrous hype surrounding Killzone 2. Can it possibly look as good as that E3 demo? Let's find out!

0:01 This game can be played in 13 different languages?! Ye gods!

0:02 "My people, sons and daughters of Albion (I think), this much I vow, the history of these days will be written in black. By crushing the armies of our enemy, by seizing the weapons they thought to turn against us, we were fighting for our very existence. If there are those that would deny us peace ... then we will unleash such terrible vengeance that generations yet unborn will cry out in anguish." Zoom out from the shot of the ashen-faced speaker to military men watching the speech on a screen. The second wave of a human invasion fleet is launching, and is due to arrive at the alien planet in two weeks. The soldiers walk outside, and the camera zooms out to show huge rocket launch towers. Soaring John Williams-style music plays as we zoom way out to a high-up view of Earth. "They started this war when they invaded Neptune ... it's up to us to conclude it."

0:05 Pan across a spaceship and then down to the battlefield on a brownish alien world. "The enemy may shatter our bodies, but they cannot break our spirit. Even now they advance on our homeworld to take by force what they cannot claim by right. We will SMITE the invaders from our skies." I think this is the Helghast leader ... good voice acting, whoever it is. Humans are getting gunned down left and right. "Fighting as one hand, one heart, one soul. We will shatter their dream and haunt their nightmares. ... As we rise again from the ruins of our cities, they will know than Helghan belongs to the Helghast." Well, the similar names were a clue.

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer

Monday, February 2, 2009

Savage Moon

Developer: FluffyLogic
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Jan. 29, 2008
System: PS3
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Boring Tower Defense

0:00 I can't say I'm too psyched about playing yet another tower defense game right now, especially when PixelJunk Monsters fills that niche on my PS3 just fine. Still, Sony sent me a voucher to download this one, so it deserves its due.

0:01 This minute spent installing the 207 MB file that I spent 20 minutes downloading. I won't count that download time in the hour because I'm trying to be the bigger man here.

0:02 "PRIOR TO PLAY SEE THE SAFETY AND SUPPORT SECTION IN YOUR PS3 MANUAL." That's a bit worrying ... I don't remember that at the beginning of other PS3 games. Then we're right to a menu/title screen, with a driving drum beat and some transparent gears whirring in the background.

0:03 The controls list one button for "Open menu/Select tower/Select option" and one button for "Cancel/Close menu." The rest is just camera controls. I don't know whether that's a nice simplicity or just overly simplistic...

0:04 This minute spent scrolling through a 14-part EULA before I can start the freakin' game. The first level is called "Agamemnon" on "Moon Nebula XIPE." Wait, moon nebula? I'm no astronomer, but I'm pretty sure those words don't go together.

0:05 A quick pan over a desolate, red moonscape with some machines and pipes laid throughout. "Welcome Commander. I am Lieutenant Major Durutti, and I am here to train you for your assignment code-named 'Savage Moon.'" OK then!

Read the full review at Crispy Gamer