Friday, August 31, 2012

Escape From Buckingham Palace In New Zombi U Trailer

Creepy and tense are words few games can claim in today's market unless they are independently produced and even those are limited.  Zombi U just keeps getting better with each new trailer released by Ubisoft and their latest is no different featuring an attempted escape from Buckingham Palace.  One of the more unique aspects of this game is the European setting which is not common in most games, especially horror, which are normally set in a random North American town.  As shown in the video, this setting helps add a lot of tension in the way of historical buildings being seen in an uncharacteristic state of disrepair.  Scheduled to launch this Christmas, Zombi U continues to stand out as one of the best and most original Wii U launch titles.  Thank you Ubisoft!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

La-Mulana Whips WiiWare Into Shape September 20

La-Mulana, an amazing "Metroidvania" style action adventure game for PC and WiiWare, has just popped up on Nintendo Of America's website with a September 20, 2012 release date.  Developed by Nigoro and released in Japan last year, the game seemingly lost its chance for a stateside release when former publisher Nicalis backed out of the project.  One of the better WiiWare releases, La Mulana had gathered quite a few fans in both North America and Europe who were pretty upset at the news that they wouldn't be able to get the game on Nintendo's little white box. Fans can now rejoice thanks to EnjoyUp Games who have taken up publishing the adventure in both the US and PAL regions. If you enjoy a good challenge and  like Metroidvania games with an Indiana Jones vibe, get your Wii prepped with 1000 WiiWare Points by September 20.

La-Mulana TGS 2010 Trailer

Pokemon Developers Show Their Rhythm In New Game

Game Freak, developers of the most successful RPG series of all time have occasionally flexed their creativity with other great games in the past.  Games such as Pulseman (Wii Virtual Console) and Drill Dozer (Game Boy Advance) have proven that the company is more than a one trick pony and their newest title looks to continue that tradition. Rhythm Hunter: HarmoKnight is set to hit the 3DS in Japan this year with a stateside release likely in early 2013. HarmoKnight is a rhythm platform game in the same vein as the WiiWare hit Bit.Trip Runner developed by Gaijin Games. Gameplay involves your hero auto running through side scrolling stages while you are responsible for dodging obstacles and attacking enemies. The rhythm aspect comes into play with the background music and your actions triggering the notes. When played skillfully, you will enter an almost zen-like state of concentration where you are purely reacting without thinking. Based on their past non-Pokemon games, this is one to keep an eye on.


Animal Crossing Jumps Out At 3DS Players!

Animal Crossing: Jump Out! will launch in Japan November 8 making a western debut in March 2013 likely due to the immense translation work.  Some new details have surfaced about the game showing that the series is FINALLY getting some much needed updates:

  • Your house can now be customized outside to match your unique layouts on the inside
  • You decide what shops to build which offers a town that caters to your play style.
  • You can change store hours which is excellent for the night owls out there.
  • Adjust the town to fit your gameplay and personal style which puts the game more in line with The Sims.
  • Exchange custom clothing via QR Codes offering a lot of cool possibilities with social media
  • Furniture colors can be changed once again illustrating a more personalized type of game

Animal Crossing, a series that was looking a bit tired in City Folk, is showing an level of freshness that could make this a truly must have 3DS title.  It's nice to see Nintendo evolving their games to better suit newer game advances without compromising their original and unique "Nintendo" design.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Club Nintendo August Rewards Update #4

Nintendo has updated their downloadable Club Nintendo rewards today replacing 3D Classics Excitebike with Tennis for the 3DS Virtual Console.  The expiration date for this offer is now September 9 and the price is 150 coins.  Be sure to check back September 3 for the next reward, most likely for WiiWare or Wii Virtual Console.

Tennis - Nintendo 3DS
150 Coins (Available Until September 9)

Castlevania II Patch Has Vanquished The Horrible Night

Ever since the Angry Video Game Nerd did his now infamous review of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for the NES, it seems to be insanely popular for people to hate on this game.  While I am a huge fan of the AVGN and admit that his points are very valid, I have to confess that I am a big fan of Castlevania II for the NES.  It has a lot of well known problems but a lot of these come from the fact that it was originally a Famicom disk drive game in Japan.  This means that it should have had a save feature similar to The Legend of Zelda when being brought stateside but battery backed cartridges were a risky expense for a game so different from the original.  The other major issue was the cryptically poor translation that turned the game into what is affectionately called a "Nintendo Power Game" which means you basically need a guide to decipher how to progress through the game.  There are other issues such as the day/night transition but honestly, I always enjoyed the ambition and exploratory nature of the game.  It was the first step into the brilliant "Metroidvania" gameplay style that would result in some of the finest games in the entire series.

It turns out that a dedicated fan known as TheAlmightyGuru took up the task of fixing many of the numerous flaws in a ROM patch titled Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Redaction.  With the exception of the password system, just about every nagging flaw has been fixed.  Here's a short list of some of the improvements (A full list can be found here on the download page for the patch):
  • Dialogue has been completely rewritten resulting in useful clues and hints.
  • Text has been sped up which makes talking to people less of a hassle
  • Day/Night transition has been changed from 10 seconds down to 4 seconds making the game flow MUCH smoother
  • Sign graphics have been tweeked making it much easier to keep track of where you've been and where you need to go. 
The only thing that would make this better would be an actual cartridge release but a ROM and your favorite emulator will have to do.  Make sure you own the original cartridge before downloading the ROM.  Click here to download the patch from The Almighty Guru's site!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

SNES Carts: Nintendo VS. Third Party Games

Have you ever looked at your SNES collection and wondered what the significance of the colored block just to the upper right of the game title that is visible from both the spine and front of the cartridge?  It is actually a quick method of identifying who produced the game.  It may seem odd and it is exclusive to the US Super Nintendo library but it allows anyone to quickly figure out whether a game was put out by Nintendo or one of the many third party publishers of the SNES era.  There are 3 different block colors and knowing what they mean can help when quickly glancing at a large SNES collection:

Red rectangle - Nintendo Published Release

Gold rectangle - Nintendo Published "Player's Choice" Re-release.  These titles also feature the distinctive gold "Player's Choice" star medal on the cover label.

Purple rectangle - Third Party Published Release

With a few exceptions, Nintendo published games also feature the title on the end label printed in the same font and distinctive teal text (NOTE: The original Donkey Kong Country featured yellow text to better contrast with the jungle background).

A notable exception to this rule is StarFox which features the actual StarFox logo but oddly enough, the rare StarFox Weekend Competition Cart features the traditional end label with teal text and recognizable font.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In The Eye Of Zombi U - Episode 1

Ubisoft has just released the first in what will be a series of mini-documentaries logging the creation process of the fresh new survival horror game, Zombi U. Considering the fact that true survival horror games are largely ignored when compared to titles like Madden and Call of Duty, the level of coverage Zombi U is receiving is quite welcome.  Simply put, if the actual game lives up to the concept, this will be a real treat for survival horror fans everywhere.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Original Gold Cartridge Turns 25 Today

While last year marked the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series, today marks the day when Zelda made it's US debut in the form of the now legendary gold cartridge originally released August 22, 1988.  This is because in Japan, Zelda was a yellow floppy disc game for the Famicom Disk Drive, an add-on to the Japanese Nintendo, The Famicom or "Family Computer".  It wasn't until the US release that the series would get the classic gold cartridge and battery backup feature that meant you wouldn't have to complete the epic in one sitting, something that was very different for US NES owners.  Personally, this was the game that set me on my path with video games and to this day, I find myself playing this amazing game every couple months in one form or another.

Read More About This Groundbreaking Game...

The Last Story Unboxed In All Its Glory

The Last Story has finally been released and as expected, XSEED Games has produced a beautiful package that puts most other "Limited Edition" releases to shame in its simplicity and elegance.  Personally, I like my limited editions to be a bit more focused and conservative than other recent releases meant to simply cash in on fans.  XSEED has always done a good job of keeping things simple and affordable while still offering fans nice packages with bonuses they actually want.  The Last Story pre-order edition includes:

  • Special Custom Box made to look like a book complete with embossed character art and big enough to hold everything included.
  • 7 track premium soundtrack CD limited to pre-order copies
  • 44 page fully color Art Book
  • Game, Case & 39 page full color instruction manual
The instruction manual is really nice when you consider that most manuals are nothing more than 2-3 pages of black & white images only showing basic controls and this manual gives you everything needed like the manuals of old.  Most importantly, they didn't mess with the gorgeous artwork which is absolutely stunning when compared to many other JRPG's.  The whole package invokes some of the best classic Final Fantasy's which makes sense considering its lineage.  Below is my personal pre-order edition of the game spread out in all of its glory.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Club Nintendo August Rewards Update #3

Nintendo has updated their downloadable Club Nintendo rewards replacing WiiWare title Fluidity with Virtual Console sports title NES Play Action Football.  The expiration date for this offer is now September 2 and the price is 100 coins.  Be sure to check back August 27 for the next reward, which will likely be on eShop or 3DS Virtual Console.

NES Play Action Football - Virtual Console
100 Coins (Available Until September 2)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gorgeous New Trine 2: Goblin Menace Trailer

Frozenbyte, makers of the excellent Trine series, has released a new trailer for their upcoming Trine 2: Goblin Menace DLC which will be included with the Trine 2: Director's Cut launching this fall on the Wii U eShop.  Fan's of 2D platform games on the Wii are in for a treat when Wii U launches this fall.  Between Super Mario, Rayman and Trine, old school platform gamer's need look no further than Nintendo's HD console for their fix.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hyrule Historia Is Officially Being Released In The West!

Any self respecting Legend of Zelda fan knows about Hyrule Hystoria, Nintendo's official tome of all things Zelda.  Previously a Japan exclusive released last year for the 25th Anniversary of the legendary and groundbreaking adventure series.  Fans in the west have been begging for an english translation and it seems that Dark Horse Comics are stepping up to release this amazing book in January 2013.  This hardcover beauty will be packed with 272 full color pages spanning 25 years of this legendary series.  The book features a wealth of content including:

  • Introduction by series creator Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Covers the full history of the series all the way up to Skyward Sword
  • Includes Official Timeline which finally puts to rest many years of fan debate on where the games fit in relation to each other
  • In-depth behind the scenes information on the creation of the games
  • Never before seen concept art
The official date is January 29, 2013 with the price set at $34.99.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New LEGO The Lord Of The Rings Trailer

New Zombi U Trailer Is Horrifyingly Great!

Ubisoft released a new trailer today for their highly anticipated Wii U exclusive, Zombi U.  The trailer showcases a return to true survival horror with a disembodied voice apparently able to view your every move and give you survival tips.  It's actually pretty creepy and makes you wonder if the guide is playing a deadly game with you or actually trying to help you escape the hellish outbreak.  Personally, every new trailer released for this game makes me want it more.

Luigi And The Belmont's Slip Into 2013

Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate are both getting the boot into 2013, most likely to help beef up the 3DS lineup for the early half of the year.  Surprisingly, both games would have been perfect October releases making their delay an odd choice.  The added time should allow the development teams to polish these games further and hopefully turn them into something special.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Trailer, Release Date And Box Art

Nintendo has posted box art and a new trailer for the upcoming adventure game, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.  The Level 5 developed Professor Layton series has grown into a very successful franchise that shows no signs of slowing down.  Downloadable content in the form of new puzzles has been a hallmark of the series and Level 5 is pulling out all the stops with their latest game.  Starting on launch day, you will be able to download one additional puzzle per day for 365 days.  That means a year's worth of additional content at no additional charge, Nintendo sure knows how to take care of their fans and not milk them when it comes to DLC.  The game is set to hit stores October 28.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fluidity Sequel Coming Soon To 3DS

Nintendo has just revealed that WiiWare hit Fluidity is getting a sequel on the 3DS eShop.  Little is known right now outside of the title, Fluidity: Spin Cycle, and the release which is scheduled for Q4 2012.  Nintendo seems to be doing its best to grow their expanding list of original downloadable games which is nice considering that state of the market today.

Club Nintendo August Rewards Update #2

Nintendo has updated their downloadable Club Nintendo rewards today replacing Golf with 3D Classics Excitebike for the 3DS.  The expiration date for this offer is now August 26 and the price is 150 coins.  Be sure to check back August 20 for the next reward, most likely for WiiWare or Wii Virtual Console.
3D Classics Excitebike - Nintendo 3DS
150 Coins (Available Until August 26)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nintendo Land, The Pack-In Question?

As we approach the end of 2012, Nintendo is gearing up to release full details on the Wii U launch.  Within the next month, I expect that we will know the price, launch titles, hardware colors, etc.  A big question looms over the hardware that could make or break one game in particular, will Nintendo Land be a pack in or not?

To answer this question, we need to look at the three possible launch options.

  • Pack-In Disc/Software:  This option would be the best in terms of penetration and recognition.  In the same way Wii Sports defined the Wii and spawned a million imitator's, Nintendo Land could define the gameplay and online functionality of the Wii U in a very critical way.  A pack in disc is nice but to maximize cost/profit ratio of the hardware, Nintendo should have this software pre-installed on every Wii U ensuring that everyone can play both online and off right out of the box.  
  • Downloadable: If Nintendo doesn't want to give it away, they should allow players to pay for a digital version of the game.  Better yet, give the lobby and 1 of the mini-games away with the system at launch as bait and allow the gamer's to pay for each game module separately from the Wii U eShop.  This allows the gamer's choice of what they want to buy and Nintendo can sell a greater amount by keeping the price down.  The constant access to the game from the system memory would also go a long way towards keeping people playing with others.
  • Separate Retail Disc: I feel this would destroy the potential of this game.  What has been shown is in no way strong enough as a standalone retail priced title, there is simply not enough depth.  Don't get me wrong, even failures like Wii Music sold a couple million copies but honestly it hurt Nintendo's image in a long lasting way that should be avoided by future Nintendo titles.  In our new digital age, people are not going to want to swap this disc in and out of their console all the time and I fear that this game which should be a celebration of Nintendo will eventually be a forgotten part of their past.
In the end, Nintendo Land may show a level of gameplay depth and value that destroys all of these arguments but it could also hurt Nintendo and be branded as the same type of mini-game cash-in that cannibalized the Wii library and drove fans away.  Which option would you like if given the choice?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gold Nunchuk Shines On Club Nintendo

Nintendo of America quietly updated their Club Nintendo Rewards today.  Surprisingly, they have brought over the Gold Nunchuk which was formerly limited to Japan and Australia.  While some may scoff at the 900 Coin price tag, it does at least fall in line with the rest of their rewards pricing.  The odd thing about this is the timing, this piece is the other half of the Zelda: Skyward Sword limited edition Wii Remote released last year which seems like odd timing but at least we finally got it which might be a sign of better rewards in the future.  If you're interested, get it soon because it is listed as a Limited Time Offer.  Grab yours now!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

OUYA Makes Video Game History Today!

As its Kickstarter campaign winds down with only 8 hours to go, OUYA has captured the imaginations of both gamer's and developer's worldwide in a way not possible only a couple years ago.  With more than 8 million dollars and over 60,000 backers (myself included), this little console that could has netted the attention of huge developer's such as Namco Bandai and SquareEnix which bodes well for some major franchise titles to come to the system with a confirmation on Final Fantasy III already in the bag.  Numerous indie developer's have promised a wide variety of games such as Minecraft with many Kickstarter campaigns cropping up already which promises a massive influx of brand new IP's as well as some established favorites.  Topping off the many announcements during its 30 day funding run, the media potential is already staggering with a massive set list of confirmed programs & services ready to satisfy your media needs such as:

  • TuneIn
  • iHeartRadio
  • VEVO Music
  • XBMC
  • Plex
  • OnLive

Considering the almost equal amount of negative press to positive, OUYA has really stepped up to the plate and delivered far more than any previous "potential" console such as the Phantom ever could.  While the mainstream cried that an "open source" console could never work, I believe those were the typical cries of the establishment scared of change.  While a company such as Nintendo will find ways to survive on the strength of their innovation and software, Sony and Microsoft finally have something to truly be afraid of and it's not each other.  OUYA still has to make it to release but instead of simply getting their foot in the door, they have smashed through that door with a f#@king sledge hammer!  Who else is insanely excited for March 2013?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Club Nintendo August Rewards Update #1

Nintendo has updated their downloadable Club Nintendo rewards replacing WiiWare title Bonsai Barber with WiiWare puzzle adventure title Fluidity.  The expiration date for this offer is now August 19 and the price is 150 coins.  Be sure to check back August 12 for the next reward, which will likely be on eShop or 3DS Virtual Console.

Fluidity - WiiWare
150 Coins (Available Until August 19)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Monster Tale Review

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is shaping up to be one impressive 3DS exclusive adventure but my interest for the game shot through the roof after playing the most recent game of the developer Dreamrift, Monster Tale.  Much of the team comes from an impressive DS puzzle/platform game called Henry Hatsworth but for me, the almost unknown Monster Tale released last year for the Nintendo DS has me absolutely captivated.  Never before has a completely new and original game so perfectly blended together so much that I love.  Trying to explain the elements outside of breaking everything down individually is too difficult so here's a quick breakdown of how the game elements relate to other games:

  • Mega Man X: The abilities of wall climbing, wrist blaster and charge blast all make the main character of Ellie feel like a baddass version of X and this feeling is amped even more considering she doesn't have all the clunky armor, just her dress and satchel.  Honestly, after seeing this, I wish Mega Man was given to Dreamrift to flesh out into a full action/adventure game series which would go a long way to revitalizing the series.
  • Metroid/Castlevania: This game is a Metroidvania all the way and I couldn't be more happy about that considering how underused this sub-genre is compared to things like RPG's, FPS and Sandbox games.  The game even improves upon this by indicating on the map your next objective without being pushy, something even Metroid Fusion couldn't get completely right.  Your health ups and abilities are boosted by finding them like Metroid but can be enhanced at shops like Castlevania.  This is a perfect compromise that keeps the game challenging despite its kid friendly presentation.
  • Pokemon: You have a partner monster in the game that gains experience/levels up but is also used outside of battle to overcome obstacles for Ellie.  This monster also learns new abilities and even evolves and grows into different elemental versions of itself.  You find yourself battling just to upgrade your partner and learn new powers.  It's an awesome mechanic that allows you to become attached to your monster without overwhelming you like the Pokemon series had in the Red/Blue era.

Overall, I can't recommend this game enough.  Its got a little something for everyone and wraps it all in excellent presentation featuring great music, attractive graphics and compelling gameplay.