Metacritic Announces Games and Format of the Year

December 12, 2009 by Andy Giff  
Filed under News, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox

According to MetaCritic, the best console for quality games in 2009 was the PS3

According to MetaCritic, the best console for quality games in 2009 was the PS3

Metacritic, the renowned website that aggregates review scores from various sources, recently announced their top games and consoles based on various stats and figures.

In terms of consoles, the Wii came in last place with only 28% of their overwhelming 362 games (almost one every day) with an average rating of 75 or higher. It was then followed by the two handhelds in the Nintendo DS and PSP, with the DS around 2.5 times as many games as the PSP in 2009. Next was the Xbox 360 with a median metascore of 70, followed by the PC with a median of 72.5. I know what you’re thinking: “He missed out the PS3 down there with the Wii and DS, right?”. Well no actually, shockingly enough, according to metacritic, the top format for quality games in 2009 was in fact the PS3. The top rated game of 2009 was also on the PS3, in the form of the brilliant Uncharted 2.

Well I doubt anybody expected that, but metacritic is usually a very reliable source for finding out how good games are, given the fact that they take averages from many reliable sources. So well done to Sony I guess.

For more info head over to Metacritic.com and check out their page on it.

DS Flash Carts Backed By Court Ruling

December 6, 2009 by Andy Giff  
Filed under News, Nintendo

Nintendo attempted to sue makers of DS Flash Carts such as the R4

Nintendo attempted to sue makers of DS Flash Carts such as the R4

According to reports, Nintendo recently lost a major court battle in which they attempted to file a law suit against the Divineo group over the production of flash carts for the Nintendo DS.

These flash carts allow users to download custom applications, as well as pirated DS “Roms” which they can then play on their DS’s. These Roms are retail DS games that have been illegally ripped from their cartridges and uploaded for the world to download. This is obviously not good for Nintendo who have probably lost millions in sales given the fact that some of these carts can hold 20+ games.

However, apparantly the judge ruled against Nintendo, saying that developers should be able to openly develop applications for their console. They were also said to have stated that the DS platform should be more like Microsoft’s Windows where anyone can freely develop applications.

Personally I see this as a little bit of an injustice on Nintendo’s part, as the flash carts such as the R4 and M3 blatantly allow users to pirate games. However, the fact that they can turn around and say that they developed it for legitimate purposes, but they can’t stop their users from downloading pirated games kind of makes Nintendo powerless.

Where do you stand in this? Do you think Nintendo should be allowed to have full control over what is allowed to be done with their console? Or do you think that users should be free to do what they wish with it, even if that does include pirating games and affecting Nintendo’s income. Let us know…

New, Bigger DSi Announced

October 29, 2009 by Andy Giff  
Filed under News, Nintendo

The new, much bigger DSi LL/XL

The new, much bigger DSi LL/XL

Nintendo has recently confirmed it’s latest modification of it’s insanely popular handheld. The new DSi LL, as it is currently being called over in Japan, features a 4.2 inch screen (1.3 times bigger than the DSi screen), improved battery life and a jazzy new “Dark Brown” paint job.

Penned for a November 21 release in Japan at a price of 20,000 Yen it will come with three free DSi-ware games including two Brain Age titles. It is apparantly targetting a more mature audience that prefer their handhelds to be larger (with a weight of 314 grams it is hardly suitable to fit in a young child’s pocket).

If you feel like upgrading to the latest DS yet again then you won’t have too long to wait as Nintendo have slated a Quarter 1 2010 release in Europe as the DSi XL. Some may say it is too soon, and also argue that bigger is not necessarily better for a handheld, but the bigger screen will certainly be exciting for some…

New DSi Colours For Europe

September 22, 2009 by Rob Callery  
Filed under News, Nintendo

DSI_colours

Nintendo has announced that three new DSi colours will be available across Europe from the end of October. The metallic blue, light blue and red consoles will be released on October 23rd and will come pre loaded with Flipnote Studio and features that allow you yo upload photos direct to Facebook.

In addition, users that access the DSi Shop with their DSi before March 31 2010 will receive 1000 Nintendo DSi Points for free.

The DSi is currently only availabe in black or white accross europe, altho other versions have been released in Japan and the US.

Super Mario 64 DS

September 21, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Reviews

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Overview

Title: Super Mario 64 DS

Release Date: December 2, 2004 (JA) November 22, 2004 (US) March 11, 2005 (EU)

Developer/Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Platformer

Platform[s]: Nintendo DS

Storyline

Back in ’96 a well known plumber made his three-dimensional debut on quite a popular gaming platform, namely, the N64 – in 2004 a Nintendo DS remake was released.  Essentially the plot is mostly the same.  Despite her tendency to spend significant portions of time in Bowser’s prisons, Princess Peach (apparently a domestic goddess now) decides to bake a cake; she then sends a letter inviting Mario for a little munch on the said cake.  The moustached Plumber promptly heads to the castle, closely followed by Luigi and Wario… and so the story begins. Overall, the plot is typical of the Mario series – light-hearted, consistent fun!

Gameplay

Chances are if you’re reading this that you’ve already played the original, or at least know what the game is about.  So I’m going to begin by summing up the main additions to the DS version and then build on my explanation of the gameplay experience from there.

  • Super Mario 64 DS now has four playable characters.
  • The amount of Stars found in the game has increased from 120 to 150.
  • Controls.  After all, the player no longer has access to an analogue stick.
  • Character Caps which allow you to transform into other characters mid-level.
  • Multiplayer.
  • Minigames

The four playable characters are: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Wario with the game initially forcing you to play as Yoshi until you free Mario (which requires 8 Power Stars).  Each character has unique moves, and also controls differently in terms of speed and power.  As it happens Luigi has the advantage in this respect.  He manoeuvres a little easier and can jump significantly higher letting him skip certain platforms and challenges.  Diehard fans won’t like this I’m sure!

The extra added Power Stars present much more of a challenge, as before the aim is to complete levels (often multiple times) to earn stars which then unlock more levels.  Sure you don’t need every star to complete the game but to unlock every level hidden within Peach’s castle and to get the full Super Mario 64 DS experience it’s certainly something worth considering.

Controlling your character in Mario 64 DS is not going to be easy for everyone.  For some people the lack of analogue control is actually going to be what stops them enjoying the experience as whole.  As a player you’re presented with two ways to direct Mario & Co. one is via the d-pad (and remember the original M64 was designed to steer away from this) then another is through the DS’s stylus which is the only way to get precise accurate movements.  At first this is somewhat difficult as to pull off all the required move the player must juggle use of the Stylus, D-Pad and buttons – after a while this does become second nature but only once the initial learning curve has been conquered and lets face it, there are some who wont stay that long!

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In the original SM64, Mario could collect caps which presented him with a number of abilities.  There was the ‘Winged Cap’, ‘Metal Cap’ and ‘Invisible Cap’ now however our plump plumber is limited by only being able to float whilst Wario can turn into metal, Luigi can turn invisible and Yoshi can shoot fireballs. Much like N64 hit these “character specific” abilities aren’t available where and when the player chooses them but only when the character touches a special object before this was various ‘Power Caps’ this time it’s a ‘Power Flower’.  There’s also the Feather which enables Mario to fly.  Finally there are ‘Character Caps’ which are (obviously) unique to the NDS – with these characters can take the form of other characters (in appearance and ability at least) mid-level, these caps can be knocked off the character and must then be re-attained.

This is a Nintendo DS launch title.  Certain aspects were required in order to advertise the handheld’s true capabilities.  Touch control is one and wireless multiplayer is another.  As you know by now SM64DS has both!  Only one cartridge is required; everyone else can join via downloaded play.  Well, when I say everyone else I actually mean three other players.  Basically four different coloured Yoshis are dumped onto a map and have to battle it out for stars, to add variety the maps also contain Mario, Luigi and Wario Caps which means a variety of attacks in order to steal those stars.  It’s all great fun but more maps would have been nice.

Everything about the original SM64 is as you’d expect from a platformer.  Levels were filled with complicated jumps, traps and obstacles as well as numerous enemies.  All this remains the same for the NDS remake but with a special added extra: mini-games.  These said minigames are accessible in a room within Peach’s castle but can only be unlocked by catching rabbits in the main game.

Graphics

The Nintendo DS could probably have presented Mario 64 DS with slightly better graphics but the fact of the matter is it’s a remake and an improved one at that, as the texturing and polygon counts are clearly superior to Super Mario 64.  Yes there are bugs, errors and graphical glitches but that’s to be expected really.

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Sound

The audio is mostly the same as before but with a little bit of remixing here and there.  The soundtrack is upbeat as per usual with Mario games.  Peach now opens the game with a fully voiced introduction, something entirely uncommon with Nintendo and phasing effects have been added to emulate a multi-speaker environment with the console’s stereo speakers.

Overall Score & Replayability

Well, what we have is an enhanced remake of a Nintendo classic.  Graphically this is a better version, acoustically this is a better version and in terms of replayability this is a much superior version – the extra stars and extra characters mean more of a challenge and for those that choose it much longer gameplay.  Is this a perfect game?  No, the controls just take too much getting used to, but all-in-all this is definitely one of the best Mario experiences remade for an altogether richer experience… and it works.

Mystery Case Files: Millionheir

September 21, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Reviews

MysteryCaseFiles

Overview

Title: Mystery Case Files: Millionheir

Release Date: September 8, 2008 (US) February 6, 2009 (US) October 16, 2008 (AU)

Developer/Publisher: Big Fish Games/Nintendo

Genre: Adventure/Puzzle

Platform[s]: Nintendo DS

Storyline

The official plot synopsis attached to the game opens up something like this:

Eccentric millionaire Phil T. Rich has disappeared!  Only one person can find out what happened, and that’s you, Detective.”

Basically, the above mentioned millionaire is missing, is he dead? Has he been kidnapped? Well, that’s up to you to find out. It’s all a little cliché yes, but that doesn’t stop it being a whole heap of fun!

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Gameplay

The MCF games have been around since 2005 now; they all share the same basic principle – the player is presented with a mystery which they must solve by completing multiple hidden object puzzles.  The larger mystery is usually composed of several smaller ones.  Millionheir presents more of the same, but this time the series moves from the PC to the Nintendo DS, which works brilliantly, there are few examples of the NDS being used to its full potential but this is one.  Perhaps this is why Nintendo decided to include the game in their “Touch! Generations” franchise?

Gameplay is a combination of hidden object, jigsaw and slider puzzles accompanied by the obvious mystery theme but what makes Millionheir a step-up from PC counterparts Huntsville, Return to Ravenhearst and Madame Fate is the use of the stylus and microphone.  Having trouble finding a banana in the hidden object scene?  Then use one of your detection tools, such as the X-Ray machine – guide it with the stylus and find the object.  I won’t spoil the experience by saying what other tools there are and how they’re associated with the console’s features but this make the game feel very much interactive.

I would expect the casual and family markets to take a strong interest in MCFM, though fans of the smash hit Professor Layton and the Curious Village will find themselves a little bit disappointed I think, this is a one trick pony which although engaging and fun is more focused on the “Where’s Wally/Waldo” style gameplay… everything else is just an added feature!  Obviously this would mean that the difficulty is not too extreme and that someone with a bit of experience looking for cleverly hidden objects amidst a jumble of similar and random objects would beat the game in a weekend of play.

Oh and guess what?  The game even has a fun competitive multiplayer!  Battle it out against friends.  Same gameplay – more pressure.

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Graphics

Visually there isn’t all that much to say, the graphics are all quite comical, there is subtle humour with almost every image and in regards to the actual puzzles themselves – well – expect an awful lot of pictures and though cluttered (as they’re intended to be) everything is interestingly, solidly designed.

Sound

Acoustically everything fits into place absolutely perfectly. Music can be heard eerily populating the background. Sound effects accompany every scene as they should and all-in-all these things help to pull players into the atmosphere of the game.

Overall Score & Replayability

MCFH will remain fresh even after multiple playthroughs. It always provides something to do and yet where it lacks is by being a little bit too easy and by not having a serious storyline (just a sequence of clichés and puns). This is a game that you should buy; it’s worth owning but not as a serious title of which you pour your effort into, you can buy Professor Layton for that, but rather it’s a pick-up-and-play experience for car journeys, relative visits and rainy weekends.

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