Tag Archives: Nintendo

Pokemon Y Review (8/10)

Send help, I did it again. Ever since Pokémon Ruby, I have always told myself; No More. Stop, each game is the same, save for a graphical face lift here, a slew of new monsters there. You’ll never “catch ‘em all” I tell myself bitterly. 151, maybe even 300 was doable but I’m an old man now. I’ll be long dead on the fateful day they reveal a new pokedex, bringing the number up to a round one million Pokémon.

But of course I bought Diamond and loved it. I bought Black and Black 2 and I loved them. I sat there squinting at my DS through teary eyes, wondering how Game Freak can still coerce me into buying the same game on an almost annual basis. Pokémon is like heroin, with more strange colourful monsters. Or maybe less, come to think of it.

And so Pokémon X and Y were announced, with their promises of brining the series into a fully resplendent 3D world. I looked on cynically, cackling from beneath my Pikachu bed sheets that I don’t really have. “It’s the same game!” I cried. “How much can 3D really change things? I am 100% not getting this one”.

I bought it. Of course I did.

Although as it turns out, 3D really has made this iteration of the age old series the freshest since Gold and Silver. The graphical update has given the game a level of detail that adds a certain degree of engagement with the world that I’ve never really had before.  This is helped in no small part by the brilliant character customization system. You choose what you look like right down to the socks, and it’s fantastic entering a new city to see what new clothes you can track down.

The battles in particular, are finally interesting to watch. Instead of looking at a selection of static sprites and a slowly moving health bar, we finally have dynamic, swooping fights, with Pokémon reacting to pain and being impressed when they dish out a brutal attack. I guarantee you will care more about your Charmander when you actually see it in pain.

The region of Kalos itself is a great looking place. For the majority of the time, we play in the usual top down perspective which is a little disappointing. But when the camera swoops down as you cross as a river or approach a large building on the horizon, you’re reminded just what the 3DS can do. This is undoubtedly a pretty looking game. Think Pokémon Colloseum but less shit.

While we never expect much from a Pokémon story, X and Y really drop the ball here. I barely cared or remembered what was going on, or even who the real bad guy was. Team Flare were a generic, uninspired bunch with no clear motivation. Bring back Team Rocket and be done with it.

It would be remiss of me to finish this review without mentioning Mega Evolutions, the new gimmick for this entry in the series. For a start, it looks really, really cool seeing your Charizard or Gyrados power up and get even more brutal. However, there are only about four other people in the entire game who can also mega evolve, so it feels like a bit of a cop out in 99% of battles.

And therein lies my biggest problem with these new Pokémon. It is far too easy. I’m far from being even halfway good at these games, yet I finished them without losing one battle or even coming close to doing so. This was in part due to Mega Evolutions and in part due to Super Training, a new series of mini games which let you bump up whatever stats a Pokémon has that you feel could be better. While this is great for getting an edge in online battles, it ensures that you’re all but invincible for the main game.

After you’ve knocked back the main game, there’s precious little to do. Three legendaries to catch, one pathetic side quest and next to no new areas to explore and we have the most disappointing post game experience since Ruby/Sapphire. On top of that, there is essentially nowhere to train up your 70+s besides the Elite Four and that’s just a ballache.

Sure, there’s the daunting task of catching them all and the great online features should keep things interesting for a while, but exploring new areas was always my favourite part of finishing a Pokémon game, so I’m a little let down. Maybe Game Freak will release some kind of update with new areas and a little more to do.

Pokémon Y is by no means the best game in the series, but it is the best looking and the most engaging. Let down only by a shoddy story and an easy difficulty, I’d recommend it to fans of the series, but I know you’re probably already playing it.,

The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD Review (8.5/10)

The original Wind Waker for the Gamecube, released in 2003 was undoubtedly one of the finest games on the system and arguably one of the greatest games of the past twenty years. Its unrivalled sense of exploration, excellent combat and charming cartoon visuals have ensured that even a decade later, it’s a brilliant looking game that is still fun to play. How has Nintendo managed to improve this gem with their new HD update for the Wii U?

For a start, it’s absolutely gorgeous. This remake isn’t merely the same graphics translated to HD, but a complete overhaul of new textures, character models and lighting. Sailing across the deep blue sea, as the sky blurs into the horizon and the sun sets, bathing your boat in a deep orange is a joy.

The juxtaposition of the wide blue expanses of the open sea, and the dark, moody lighting of the many dungeons and caves scattered through the land constantly serves to keep things fresh and interesting. When you finally emerge victorious from a dank dungeon, the bright skies of the open world are a genuinely welcome reward.

Occasionally, stepping into the glow of a torch can cast your cel shaded character into an ugly light, making them look almost clay like. It’s fairly off-putting, but for the most part, the updated lighting serves the varied locales and colourful characters well.

Of course, a pretty looking game means nothing if it’s no fun to play. Thankfully, Wind Waker HD builds on everything that made the original so great and adds a selection of subtle tweaks and improvements.

Playing with the gamepad is a revelation. As your inventory and maps are all ready for instant viewing on the touch screen controller, you never actually have to pause the game to stop the action. You can simply drag up the items you require on the gamepad while the action rages on, on your television.

The gamepad also serves to make sailing less of a chore. One of the biggest complaints many people had with the original Wind Waker was the sailing. It was too slow, too laborious and you spent too much time doing it.

No more do you have to pause to check where exactly you are, simply glance at the gamepad to reaffirm your location. No more do you have the spend so much time sailing, as a new item in the game reduces your sailing time by half and doesn’t require you stop to change the direction of the wind every few minutes.

Nintendo also realises it’s just as important to leave what worked alone. The excellent combat, engaging story and massive open world all remain intact. Fighting enemies has never been more satisfying, as Link’s varied arsenal offers a variety of ways to dispatch a foe, ensuring combat never gets stagnant.

The wide open sea offers more freedom than any other Zelda game. While many have complained that Wind Waker’s large world had nothing to it, I would point them in the direction of the various enemy watchtowers, pirate bases, giant sea monsters and dozens upon dozens of islands littered with secrets. Wind Waker’s fantastic sense of exploration is one of it’s stronger aspects, almost making up for the length and difficulty.

And it’s in terms of length and difficulty that made up my mind when reviewing this game. Hero mode, available from the start, offers more of a challenge for this notoriously easy of Zeldas. However, once you get a certain number of hearts and bottles for fairies and potions, it becomes nearly indistinguishable from normal mode.

Length has been the major sore point. I was always annoyed with the length of Wind Waker, mostly because I love it so much and hate that it has to end. The game has been made even shorter with the streamlining of the Triforce fetch quest, a quest I personally enjoyed as it encouraged you to delve into the exploration and treasure hunting aspect of the game.

Of course, I can understand why that has had to be streamlined. What I cannot understand is why there is no extra content. Two dungeons were cut from the original due to time constraints and this was the perfect opportunity to include these lost dungeons. Nintendo didn’t want to alter the flow of the game, fine. But the fact that they didn’t put them in as optional post game challenges is an unforgivable missed opportunity

While Nintendo may have missed a chance to include some much needed extra content, this is still the definite way to experience the most underrated of Zeldas.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review (9.8/10)

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So the other day I was just riding the train, when a cat got all up in my face and started pestering me. He was asking me all these personal questions about who I was and where I was going, which was annoying to say the least. When I finally got off the train, I was accosted by an assortment of various animals.

The dog among them, who I took to be their leader, started demanding I be the mayor of their freakish little town. The dog dragged me around, yapping all sorts of things about houses and rent and planning permits. I was in such a state of shock that all I can recall is a bizarre ritual that involved the tribe watching me plant a tree and being made to sleep in a tent.

It’s two days later and a kindly racoon has given me a house (for a price), but their seems to be no way out of this hellish world I am trapped in. There are no princesses to save, no world in peril and not the slightest sign of any danger. I love it.

At the time of writing this review, I’ve only racked up about ten hours of playtime. I am more than aware that there are many, many hours left in this game. The Animal Crossing series has always felt to me like a quaint little old British children’s cartoon. Nothing ever happens. The day is formulaic; catch fish and bugs, gather fruit and try and make enough money to pay off your loans all while occasionally chatting with the strange animal folk that live next door.

So what is it that makes a game about trading turnip with sheep so insanely addictive? Especially for me, as an avid hater of games like The Sims.

I think a great deal of it lies in the atmosphere. The whole game constantly feels like a hug, or a hot cup of tea. You can dip in and out whenever you like. The game never tells you to do anything or demands anything from you. The only thing gently pushing you along is the real time aspect of the game, meaning certain shops open and close, or certain things can be done at certain times.

But even this can be adjusted through your mayoral powers. A new aspect of the Animal Crossing and one which adds on another few dozen hours of playtime. You also feel more invested in the town than you might have in previous entries. Jobs like weeding and watering the plants feel like less of a chore now you are actually the boss instead of just some guy.

Being the mayor also affords you the ability to build bridges, benches, streetlights and all kinds of other stuff. I wouldn’t know yet, as I haven’t gained the approval of the villagers. It seems easy enough however, as I’m on 85% at the moment. The extra level of customization is a welcome touch.

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Of course while every day generally follows the same outline, there are enough differences to make you actually want to return again and again. The town receives new visitors and passerby every now and again. The most recent of which for me was a chameleon who held a bug catching contest in the town, obviously so he could eat the entries. Something I thought was a nice comedic touch.

The shops also offer new stock each day and I haven’t even come to close to upgrading and fully unlocking every shop on the high street. I really enjoy the fortune cookies, which can be exchanged for various Nintendo items. On my first two tries I got Link from Zelda’s clothes and boots, which sent the fanboy in me into a slight frenzy.

Then there are the changing seasons. Since the game moves in real time and we’re mid Summer, I won’t be seeing this for a while. I refuse to adjust the clock and time travel because it completely defeats the object of the game and besides, even if I have stopped playing by September, this means I’ll still boot up the game just to see how things have changed and I’ll probably get sucked right back in till Christmas.

The game is absolutely crammed full of charm and humor. You actually want to talk to the NPC’s because they are genuinely funny and engaging characters, each with their own personality. My personal favorite at the moment is a dog I taught to say “pass the weed”. I’m easy pleased.

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I’ve managed to write this much about a game I have barely scratched the surface of. I know I have dozens upon dozens more hours of play ahead of me and so much more to see and do. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is more than worth the tawdry price of thirty quid considering you’ll be playing it for months. I couldn’t recommend a more engaging, relaxing and downright enjoyable game if I tried.

Ten New Faces That Need to Join Smash Bros. 4

yesterday’s glorious E3 trailer showcased three brand new characters to the Nintendo fighting franchise. Mega Man and Animal Crossing Villager were the two predictable but still great entries, while the Wii Fit trainer was a brilliantly mental surprise.

But we can assume that the surprises won’t stop there, so here are ten characters that I think should join the line up. Quick word before we start; I know this has been done to death, but it’s my blog so screw you.

Oh, and if there happens to be a third party character in here, it’s because they are associated with Nintendo in some way (That’s how Smash Bros. works). If you were expecting to see Master Chief or the guy on the front of Pringle tubes, you are gonna be disappointed.

Also, one character per franchise. I only include this rule for myself, otherwise I would end up putting in ten Zelda characters.

Ridley (Metroid series)

For the past three generations of Smash Bros. games, Samus Aran has been the only character to represent her series. Fair enough, the whole point of Metroid is isolation but that reptilian bastard Ridley is probably one of the most popular bosses in Nintendo history.

They may have to scale down his size a little, but he could be a great flying/heavy character using his tail and flames for some badass long ranged attacks, while his claws get shit done up close.

His Final Smash could be turning into Meta Ridley in a Giga Bowser/Ganon style where he’s afforded a small window of time to destroy every living thing on screen.

Young Link (The Legend of Zelda series)

I know he was in Melee and was exactly the same as Link so just hold up a sec. I’m talking Link from Majora’s Mask. Similar to the Pokemon Trainer, a certain move could turn him into Goron, Deku, and Zora link, all with their own attacks.

Of course the Final Smash would have to be Fierce Deity Link. Come to FUCK SHIT UP.

Raichu (Pokemon series)

Screw Pikachu. Yeah, he’s the mascot of Pokemon and the famous face that everyone loves, but Raichu is so much more. You just know he’s a tough guy, plus he’s cuter than Pikachu and that tail could be used for some cool attacks.

His Final Smash? A shit load of electricity rains down from the sky and destroys everyone in it’s path.

Tom Nook (Animal Crossing series)

We all saw the trailer. That terrifying glint of murder in the villager’s eyes. Such an agent of chaos needs a counterpart to keep it in check. The Ying to his Yang, the light to his dark.

Tom Nook could fulfill that purpose. I’m not entirely sure what his moveset would be, besides throwing bags of money and maybe setting his twin nephews on everyone, but he’d be a laugh to play as.

His Final Smash would probably involve him dropping a house on someone, I imagine.

Mii (Miiverse)

I was unsure about this at first, but if the Wii Fit trainer is in it, I am certain that the Mii is gonna put in an appearance now.

He/she will likely use all manner of Wii Sports items like golf clubs and bowling balls to attack.

Their Final Smash could be a horde of thousands of miis, swarming the screen like locusts and laying waste to the stage.

Leon S. Kennedy (Resident Evil series)

Not really a Nintendo character, but he did star in Resident Evil 4 which was one of the best games to ever grace a Nintendo console, so that’s close enough in my book.

He’d play similar to Snake did in Brawl, except less stealthy and maybe more hand to hand, using a knife. Or he could just pistol whip everyone. That’d work.

Maybe his Final Smash could include some heavy artillery? Possibly a rocket launcher that homed in on whoever was in the lead.

Toad (Super Mario series)

If nothing else, poor old Toad should finally get a spot on the roster on the grounds that he’s been used as Princess Peach’s bitch in the last two games. Nothing more than a human shield, a cruel mockery of the proud Toad name.

He’d be a zippy little fella with fairly light melee attacks and possibly the ability to lob poison shrooms at foes.

His Final Smash would involve him consuming a mega mushroom and crushing his enemies into the dirt.

Tetris Block (Tetris series)

I have absolutely no helpful suggestions or hints as to how it could possibly work as a character. I just know I want to see it happen. Maybe it could just ram into enemies at full speed and for a Final Smash cover the screen in Tetris blocks (Tetri?).

Can you tell I’m regretting my one character per franchise rule yet?

Slippy Toad (Starfox series)

I hate this guy. You hate this guy. Fox McCloud hates this guy. The only reason I want him as a character is so I can beat him remorselessly and without end. Even his Final Smash should just be him lying down and letting everyone stomp on him.

On the other hand, he could just replace Sandbag as an item and we can have Sandbag as a character…

Master Hand (Smash Bros. series)

Because if you tell me you don’t want to play as a giant laser shooting hand, you are a liar sir. It’s about time we finally got to play as the main bad guy of the series (The glitch in Melee doesn’t count).

We know he has a rounded move set, and having four of them on the screen at any one time would be chaos. They’d need to figure out how he could use items but I’m already sold on the idea.

For his Final Smash, he could call up his old buddy, Crazy Hand for twice the er… craziness.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me what an ignorant idiot I am in true Internet Comment fashion.

Wii Fit Trainer Joins the Fight in Smash Bros. 4

Right…

I’m not entirely what’s going on here, or indeed who’s idea it was to include such a strange character choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s going to be a pretty handy character when we get down to the meat and ‘taters of the fighting, but if we don’t get Ridley or Dark Samus or some other Metroid character besides Samus for once because of this, I shan’t be best pleased.

The trainer is one of the new fighters joining the roster, including Mega Man and the Animal Crossing Villager. Expect more updates to come in pretty sharpish.

Nintendo at E3: Did we win?

Well, Nintendo could have prepared a half hour presentation showing us a guided tour of a homeless man’s prolapsed anus and they still would have looked better than Microsoft.

What Nintendo needed to do, was to show us that the Wii U is worth buying. They needed to show us some grade A, top banana, cream of the crop games. Did they? Let’s take a look.

Mario Kart 8

Check. This game looks absolutely fantastic in HD. Add in the fact that bikes from Mario Kart wii are back, as are the air gliders and submarine sections from Mario Kart 7 and we have a winner. The fact we have some mad as shit anti grav tracks and presumably smooth as anything online play won’t hurt this game either.

Donkey Kong

MEH. When I heard Retro Studios were working on a new game for Nintendo, I wanted Metroid Prime 4. HD METROID. Who the hell cares about some dull ape that made a name for himself by throwing barrels at an Italian? Not me, that’s for sure. I highly doubt I’m the only one that felt shortchanged by this news.

The Wind Waker HD

Right in the childhood. Nintendo shamelessly emotionally blackmail their fans into buying a Wii U for this updated gem. Improved sailing mechanics and an updated feature that connects to the Miiverse already show us this game is more than just a new lick of paint. Now we just need those dungeons that were cut from the original put back in and an orchestral soundtrack. Make it happen, big N.

Mario 3D World

The question we were all asking when we heard about a new 3D Mario was “where can they go after Galaxy 1 and 2?”. To ripping off one of their handheld entries it turns out. Slightly underwhelming, this one. I suppose Mario 3D land was a great game, and the cat suit and four player mode certainly does look interesting. Sadly, this just doesn’t wow me in the same way that Galaxy did.

Super Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS

Awwwwwwwwyeah. That’s what we wanted to see. Nintendo possibly pulled off the biggest troll of E3 (unless Microsoft is having us all on) by opening up the trailer as if it was an Animal Crossing game, only to reveal that the villager will be a playable character.

The 3DS version looks decent enough, although I’m not sold on those cel shaded graphics yet. The Wii U version however, looks amazing. We’ve got most of the same characters back, Link, Mario, Samus etc along with some groovy new stages and some guy called Mega Man? Whoever he is.

Third Party Goodness

From Rayman to Batman, the Wii U is loaded up with content (something it was sorely lacking) and plenty of reasons for us to choose Nintendo over Microsoft or Sony. Whether or not you do, is entirely your choice. Just remember which console has crazy plumbers driving anti grav go karts though, okay?

 

What Needs to Happen for Nintendo at E3

E3 is a joyous time of year. But like Christmas, or New Year’s Eve, it’s a time that comes burdened with a considerable amount of expectation, inevitable disappointment and drunk uncles that fall asleep on the sofa after Doctor Who is finished. Maybe not that last one, actually (although I’ve never been to E3, so who knows?).

The point I’m trying to make is that more often than not, people come away a little disappointed when they’re expecting to see every single game that they’ve heard a rumour for. Of course, when they don’t see that trailer for Halo 5, or that screenshot of Mario 128, or any sign of an Xbox One game, they feel cheated.

Of course, usually we hear announcements that more than make up for any let downs. The first ever trailer for Twilight Princess, demos of Mario Galaxy… top shelf Nintendo magic right there.

However, this year Nintendo have something to prove. Not for the 3DS mind, that machine is currently going from strength to strength. What we need, what Nintendo fanboys all over the globe are chomping at the bloody bit for, are more than just a handful of great games for the Wii U. 

We know we’re getting demos/glimpses of Smash Bros WiiU, a new 3D Mario, Mario Kart, Pikmin 3 and Wind Waker Wii U. This alone would make it a great year to be a Nintendo fan and those games are certainly the reason I’m wasting a chunk of my student loan in September to finally pick up a Wii U.

But this year Nintendo need to absolutely destroy the competition and drown us in a sea of major releases. If nothing else, I want to see Microsoft look even dumber than they already do.

It’s about time we got a look at a properly, brand new HD Zelda Wii U. I am more than happy to replay my favorite Zelda game remade in HD while I wait for the real thing, but I need something. That glorious Nintendo tech demo has invaded my dreams at night man. Gimme something more!

Mario Bros 4. None of this New Super Mario Bros bollocks, give me a gorgeous, HD side scrolling Mario game completely driven by original ideas and packed with secrets. Also, get rid of the god awful NSMB music. Seriously. Just stop.

I’m dreaming pretty big here and with so many big titles already being shown it is unlikely that we’ll get many more surprises, if any. But Nintendo clearly has something up it’s sleeve for this years event.

Lest you think me greedy, we part ways with one final, plaintive request; We know Retro Studios has been working on something. Please, by the power of Grey Skull, let it be Metroid Prime 4. The Prime trilogy was the dogs bollocks of first person shooters, fuck your Halo you bloody ponces. Other M was a great game, but I need to be able to shoot that scaly bastard Ridley in the face in glorious, first person HD.

Looking Back: Pokemon Crystal Version

Even the game cartridge sparkled with promise. I mean, it looked like it was made out of fucking crystal how cool is that? Of course, now I’m aware it isn’t crystal but don’t go telling that to an eight year old me.

That’s what Pokemon Crystal is to me. Memories. Really, really great ones too. It was the first Pokemon game I ever played, brought from the top floor of a strange smelling comic book store in Nottingham second hand.

The cardboard box was all crumpled, the previous owner was called Sam and he had a level 98 Meganium he had tastefully nicknamed tits.

I can remember throwing my Master Ball at a Skarmory because I thought it was a legendary Pokemon and I very vividly remember getting massively stuck on the second gym every time she brought out Sycther and getting my big sister to do it for me.

Maybe it’s just because Crystal was my first Pokemon game that I remember loving it so vividly and that it is the only Pokemon game I can happily replay without getting bored one bit. But I think it’s more than that. I genuinely think that Crystal was the pinnacle of Pokemon.

For a start, there were some welcome additions to the Pokedex but we hadn’t yet reached an overwhelming and ridiculous number. The starter Pokemon weren’t as cool as the likes of Charmander or Squirtle but they weren’t completely shit either.

The introduction of baby pokemon was also a nice inclusion, even though they were pretty shit and Espeon and Umbreon were and still are the dons of the Eeveelutions.

Then there was a natty little day and night system, a radio and a phone. All awesome things that were weirdly dropped for Ruby and Sapphire. Clock based events, like only being able to catch Lapras on a Friday night added to the immersion of a huge game.

And what more than anything else made this game feel so colossal? Two motherfucking regions. I pretty much lost my eight year old shit when a fat guy first told me I had set foot in Kanto. Further shit was lost when I realised that I could pick up eight more badges and explore an entirely new land just as big as Johto was.

Frankly I have felt cheated from every single subsequent Pokemon entry. I always expect to be told I can go off and explore another land and every time I am dissapointed. An extra eight badges and the chance to go off and lay the beat down on Red, the all time pimp daddy trainer deluxe? I’ll take that over getting to go see maybe one or two more towns or a shitty little island cheers.

I literally cannot get bored of playing though Crystal. It is a faultless game that tugs at my nostalgia strings to the max and has destroyed hours of my life (in a good way, I think).

Looking Back: The Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past is a faultless game. Released for the Super Nintendo in the 90s, a sequel was announced just last month and the internet pretty much collectively lost their minds. That’s how popular this two decade old game is.

And it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t be in love with it. For a start, the game is huge. Two completely different and giant overworlds to explore in the game’s genius light/dark world mechanic added an entirely new level to exploration. Gamers would discover that an action in one world could affect an object or environment in the other. That’s some sophisticated design for the time.

While the original Zelda laid the foundation for mass exploration, ALTTP hands down nailed it. For a start, it was actually worth looking around as it all looked and sounded beautiful, had secret items and upgrades everywhere and was littered with NPCs that added to the rich backstory of the game.

Speaking of the story, this is the first Zelda to weave a genuinely captivating yarn. Eight maidens being kidnapped for mysterious purposes, an evil wizard that assassinates the king, the death of your uncle and a prison break all occur in the first half hour of the game. I haven’t even mentioned some of the genuine twists and shocks that pop up. After games that basically boiled down to “go here and do this”, we had a refreshing change of pace.

It was the first Zelda to offer up huge, challenging and puzzling boss fights. For the first time you couldn’t win by simply going at it with your sword. The bosses required analysis and careful study to pinpoint and exploit weaknesses. Once you’d done that, you could go at it with your sword. But you’d earned it, so it was satisfying as hell.

The sheer amount of weapons to discover in Link’s armoury was truly a joy. Tracking down the bow and arrow, the hookshot and the Master Sword all felt massively rewarding. Add to that optional items like an invisibility cloak and medallions that essentially butchered anything onscreen and you were in business.

People say Ocarina of Time changed the series, but I say it all started here. This was when The Legend of Zelda stopped being good and started being so much more. I would argue that out of every game from this generation, A Link to the Past holds up the best. Check it out for yourself.