Sunday, February 26, 2006

$20 game of the week: Arc the lad: Twilight of the Spirits (PS2)

Arc the lad was one of the first games released for the Original Playstation in Japan. However, it wouldn't be until late in the system's life cycle that it would come over here, thanks to the now defunct Working Designs in the form of a 6 CD pack chock full of extras in the usual Working Designs style. It contained the series's three entries, which gave players the entire saga of the struggle against Darkness. The thing I liked best was that each sequel took place only a short period of time after the previous entry vs the "thousands of years after the big battle" cop out of %95 of most other RPG franchises. Upon reading that SCEA of Japan was planning a PS2 sequel, I was somewhat skeptical, especially after Arc 3's grand finale (Which in itself wasn't even suppose to be released). This game takes place thousands of years after ARc 3, (but this time is understandable, seeing as how it would be impossible to follow up on the events of Arc 3) and it tells the storyline of the war between two races; Human and Deimos, and an evil empire which seeks to subjugate them both. In the middle of all this are two heroes, Kharg and Darc, both twins being born to a Human mother and Deimos father, but were seperated at birth. You will alternate between both, and see the storyline from both viewpoints, and makes you feel sympathetic towards both causes. WHen the two brothers finally do meet, it's a lead-in to some very big plot twists. ALthough the combat engine has some flaws (having to buy spirit stones to cast spells), the new free walking is a welcome treat versus the grid based Strategy battles of not only Arc the lad, but most other Strategy RPGs. It may not be FInal Fantasy of Kingdom hearts, but this is worth checking out especially if you're a fan of the series.

New Super Mario Brothers info

penny-arcade forum has the scoop from Nintendo Power's latest issue. It looks pretty clear that this is going to have some of the greatest elements of the original SMB as well as a few things incorporated from SMW and SM64. MAY 7 CANNOT COME FAST ENOUGH.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Meteos

In Meteos, a puzzle game from Q Entertainment, you manipulate falling blocks into patterns of 3 of the same color vertically or horizontally in order to clear them from the screen. No! I swear this isn't like Puzzle League! or Dr Mario! or even Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine! Meteos can be played with the D-pad for greater accuracy, but using the stylus to move blocks around is much faster (though you will drag the wrong block from time to time, its quicker to correct that mistake). The real originality of this titles shines through with being about to launch your blocks back up into the air when you've cleared them. They'll take all the blocks on top of them as well, though your planetary gravity will make them fall back down if theres too many. Never fear, just make some more matches and they'll blast away. Action doesn't take long to get fast and furious. Playing the same game for more than a few minutes will mean blocks falling at an almost unmanagable speed! This is where reflexes for making quick color matches comes in handy as you can clear sometimes 30 or 40 blocks at a time with a couple moves. The game keeps count of all the blocks you clear, and you can use those to buy items, planets (each with specific tile sets), and sounds from the game. Multiplayer is also a blast and you can easily slap together a 4 player game off only 1 game card. This is really an ideal title for those of us waiting for Tetris DS to come out or still keeping their DS' GBA slot warm with Wario Ware or some other great pick-up-and-play title. Puzzle games never really die or get old, so even though this one has been out since middle of last year, its still worth picking up if you haven't already. Meteos Trailer

Super Mario Brothers Race - Google Video

Head-to-Headrace on the original Super Mario Brothers. Some amazing stunts used on this, runs about 6 and a half minutes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Soul Calibur III: Arcade Edition

Over the weekend Kotaku got the jump on reporting about the SCIII's jump to arcades Now it looks likea preview from 1UP.com has even more details. Oh man, I just notice the owl-looking character and was about bust out some photoshop, but someone beat me to it! O RLY? YA RLY.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

$20 game of the week: Star Wars - Knights of the old republic

I like star wars, but some people can name every alien in the cantina scene, piss and moan over the extra minutes in the special editions, and argue to this day over weather Han or Greedo shot first, and that's just scary. I'm not big on PC style RPGs, but this game is impressive. From the story line (which evolves as you become good or evil) to the cast of characters, this game is probably one of the better Star Wars tie ins. If George Lucas got the people at Bioware to write the script for Episodes 1 - 3, then they would have turned out much better than they did. My only complaint is the Real time - turn based hybrid battle system. It's kinda retarded looking at them swipe each other and hoping that the enemie's HP falls down in time. It would have been so much more cooler to actually control the jedi powers yourself.

Chicago

Not unlike Ferris Bueller, I spent my day off in Chicago having an unheard amount of fun with 2 of my friends (powet forum regulars TheOrange and Phil Bond). First up was GameWorks. Instead of tokens or quarters they use some weird card system that depending on the day will subtract either points or time after you swipe into your cabinet of choice. As advanced and cool as this sound, the system was DOWN when we arrived and so all we could do was stare at the Mario Kart arcade machine. A helpful attendant gave a free play while we waited for the card system to be fixed and we sat down to enjoy some MK action. The action was less than spectacular. We were not impressed and realized we were missing nothing by not having a machine closer to home. Then the card system was working again so we gave the game another go. Wow. What a difference. After adjusting to the controls and weapons system a little bit we were having a great time. We tried most of the tracks and the ultimate conclusion is if these tracks and weapons don't make it into the Revolution Mario Kart it'll be a shame. Elsewhere in GameWorks, my friends tried Guitar Freaks, a precursor to the PS2 hit Guitar Hero. This game actually did suck, as it lacked any licensed music and controlled a lot simpler. We had to hop out of there and head for another arcade, Nickel City, for the Soul Calibur III regional tournament. Powet forum regular Phil Bond has been in Soul Calibur tournaments for longer than the site has been around, and though Chicago hosts some of the best players in the world, this was to be a great learning experience. Nickel City charges $2 to get in and then after that none of the games take quarters or tokens, just nickels. Dropping 8 coins into the Mario Kart machine there felt like a lot but for only 40 cents a play it wasn't bad. In the back of the arcade there was 2 rows of Free-Play machines. Older games, but still some really good stuff. Mortal Kombat 1, Killer Instinct 2, a half dozen variations of Street Fighter, TMNT the arcade game, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris... yeah it was really worth the $2 to get in there to play all these games until you got tired. I got a bag of nickels and ended up only really spending it on San Fransisco Rush 2049, which I've got on dreamcast in a closet somewhere. It was a real throwback to about 6 years ago. After a breif intermission at a Chinese Buffet and JToy (an import shop formerly located in the Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa), we retired to TheOrange's apartment. There we played some real Guitar Hero, Mario Kart and Meteos on DS, and I got to see what Halo 2 looks like on an xbox 360 (cleaner graphics, higher frame rate!). It was the most sunrise-to-sunset gaming I'd done a long, long while. Why haven't we done this before?

Monday, February 13, 2006

How to make your DS not "lite"

Much ado about the slimmed and trimmed DS Lite. But what if we want a BIGGER DS? You could pop on a 4GB MAX Media Playerfor $225 smackers and make your system heavier and more functional! For just heavy and not fucntional, have some cake Damn I'm hungry and want to watch Lost now.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

$20 game of the week: Morrowind - Game of th eyear edition (Xbox PS2)

This is an enhanced version of the third installment of the Elder Scrolls series, complete with all the content from Bloodmoon and Tribunal, the two expansion packs. I wasn't even into PC style RPGS until this came along. Imagine the free roaming gameplay of Grand theft auto taken to a whole new level, in which you could go anywhere and do anything you wanted. THe whole world is open to you and you do not have to be confined by the main plot. Wanna rise to the top of a guild? Practice magic? Hunt for treasure in ancient tombs? WHatever you can think of it's here. Only few issues with it are the combat, and the fact that besides teleporting, there is no alternative to walking across th eland. However, both of these issues will be corrected in the upcomming xbox 360 sequel, Oblivion.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Peak at PS3 Development Kits

Kikizo Games has an exclusive hands on with the final PS3 devkit running near final hardware, all backed up by anonymous developer comments. The site is probably getting hammered with links right now so it takes a minute to load a page, but its an interesting read.