Weekly Review — Red Steel 2

January 23, 2011

When the Wii was first announced there where two game mechanics that everyone got excited for – gunplay and swordplay. Ubisoft answered that excitement with the launch title Red Steel, a game that combined western gunplay and eastern swordplay and excelled in neither. As ambitious as the title was the Wii controller simply wasn’t everything we had hoped it would be.

Fast forward 3 years to the launch of the Wii Motion Plus, the small attachment that brought us a far more accurate motion controller and allowed Ubisoft to give its Red Steel franchise another go.

Aside from swapping between sword fighting and gun fighting, Red Steel 2 has very little in common with its predecessor; it trades its traditional Japanese setting for a cel-shaded old west locale. The game begins with a cut scene of the unnamed hero’s arms tethered to the back of a motorcycle as he is dragged along the desert floor until breaking free, but not before Payne — the leader of the Jackals — steals your prized Sora Katana.

As you attempt to escape the onslaught of Jackals you stumble across your old sword master, Jian, who is being harassed by two gang members. After eliminating the offenders Jian informs you of how important the sword truly is and lends you his katana until you can recover your own.

Everything you do is based on the mission board in the area. There is the main series of missions which progress the primary story and there are the side missions, which will net you extra money (used for purchasing upgrades for your sword and gun as well as new abilities) and provide supplemental story elements. The missions mainly consist of you getting to a certain point on the map while killing everyone you see. It’s a task that sounds monotonous but having the ability to switch between shooting and slicing keeps the battles varied enough to make it a non-issue.

The battles, of course, are what require a detailed look. Does the addition of the Wii Motion Plus fix the issues that plagued the game that came before it? For the most part, yes, the controls do work and put the controls in the original to shame. It does, however, have its share of difficulties as well. First and foremost is the way the game handles switching from gun mode to sword mode. While in gun mode, the Wii remote controls where you’re looking like most other FPS games on the Wii. To switch to sword mode you swing the control like a sword. The problem arises when the game fails to recognize the switch fast enough resulting in the screen jolt in the direction you’re screening.

Another issue is a slight lag between what you’re doing and what’s happening on the screen. The controls are far from unmanageable but it is a little frustrating when your swings don’t exactly match up with what is on screen.

All that said, the game works most of the time and it works pretty well. The battle system is diverse and fun enough to prevent the game from getting stale despite the repetitive nature of the encounters. The setting isn’t as interesting as the urban Japanese setting in the original title, but it’s a far smoother experience even with its few hiccups.



Weekly Review — You’re in the Movies

January 11, 2011

At first glance “You’re in the Movies” might seem like a fun party game to play with some drunken friends. The game films you as you and your friends play mini games that use the Xbox Vision Camera and then strings all of those together in a pre-rendered movie trailer for everyone to watch at the end. Joy.

First of all, there is the matter of setup. If you want to play this game you’ll need to make sure you have a very neutral background; we had to hang sheets from the ceiling behind us in order to have it work at all. Then there is the matter of calibrating everything…first have it take a picture with no one standing in front of the camera and then have each playing character have their own picture taken. The entire series of events is a hassle that has to be done each time you put the disc in.

After that you’re asked to play a series of mini games either by yourself or with the other people you are playing with. The games are pretty similar; you are either running in place or swatting something at your side or some other mundane motion that the game needs to film you doing.

Finally, the game takes all the clips of all the players and puts it into a condensed movie based on the genre you picked at the beginning resulting in something that is mildly entertaining the first time and gets worse and worse the more you play.

The game comes bundled with the camera but if the developers really wanted you to have fun while playing this game they would have bundled it with a handle of Jack Daniels.

1.5/5 GRUs

Weekly Review — Kid Icarus

January 3, 2011

And another thing. I’m changing “Weekly Purchase Review” to just “Weekly Review”. I’ll no longer be reviewing games that I just bought; having all my games on The Grand List gives me a much larger pool of games to review…and it’s not like I ever reviewed games anywhere near the date I purchased it.

Having said that my next review is Kid Icarus, I bought this game LAST YEAR and I’m just getting to the review now.

It's a good thing that crumbling column is not supporting the stairs above it.

According to Urban Dictionary (the only thing more accurate than Wikipedia) when the term “Nintendo hard” it is describing a game that is “As difficult as a typical game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (i.e., ridiculously difficult)”

All sorts of enemies block Pit's way up...like this jackass

It’s true, a lot of the NES games that I’ve been playing have been Nintendo hard and Kid Icarus is no exception. You play as Pit as you travel up to the heavens to defeat Medusa while fighting off hordes of enemies. The levels can begin to feel repetitive after awhile and the game can be a bit relentless at times with it’s difficulty.

It’s a fun game but it feels a little dated and I feel having grown up without a NES has spoiled my ability to find joy in games like Kid Icarus.

3.5/5 GRUs

Weekly Purchase Review – Donkey Kong Country Returns

December 27, 2010

Here it is, the review for Donkey Kong Country Returns. There isn’t a lot I can say about this game that every other review has stated but I wrote one anyway…

The end of 2010 has been incredibly nostalgic for video games. Starting with Goldeneye for the Wii, then it was Donkey Kong Country Returns, and then the return of the Golden Sun series. Yep, it’s a good time to be a gamer who was also a gamer a decade or two ago. The focus of this review is Donkey Kong Country Returns, the next installment in the Donkey Kong Country series which hasn’t seen a game since DKC3 in 1996 for the SNES.

DKCR is classic side scrolling action on the Wii, similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Unlike NSMB, however, DKCR is damn near impossible. The game starts off easy enough but ramps up in difficulty pretty early on in the best way imaginable.

Level design is varied and incredibly creative. From mine carts to rockets and classic side scrolling levels, each level feels wholly unique. Too few games of this caliber come out nowadays and it’s unfortunate because Donkey Kong Country Returns is definitely one of the best games to come out this year.

4.75/5 GRUs

Grand List Update/Weekly Purchase Review

December 12, 2010

Just the one game this time. This is probably the last game I’ll be buying before Christmas.

-Super Mario All Stars Limited Edition (Wii)

As far as initial impressions go, the Limited Edition is a bit underwhelming with a 20 track CD containing 10 sound effects (That’s right, bleeps and bloops make up 50% of the entire CD) and an art book that quickly glances at 11 out of the ∞ games that Mario has appeared in. But for 30 bucks I can hardly complain The game(s) are great if not too faithful to the source at times…it is exactly the same as the original Super Mario All Stars.

3.5/5 GRUs

(PS, this counts as a WPR)

Weekly Purchase Review – Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

November 23, 2010

There’s something about exploring the Star Wars expanded universe that is incredibly satisfying in the nerdiest way imaginable, especially when it’s in video game format which is exactly what Shadows of the Empire is. I remember borrowing this game from Max a long time ago but I don’t actually remember playing it so this was a pretty fresh experience for me.

I stole this picture from Google. shhhhh

After revisiting many N64 games I’ve noticed a recurring theme among them…unruly controls. It seems there was no agreed upon way of controlling your character in a 3D space so like most N64 games Shadows of the Empire takes some getting used to. I can’t tell you how many cliffs (which apparently there are a lot of in Echo Base) I fell off because of control issues.

Once you finally feel comfortable with the controls you’ll discover the uninspired game play of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t stand out incredibly well on the N64. You play as Dash Rendar in either 1st or 3rd person and occasionally in a vehicle. It’s a pretty standard run and gun action game with the Star Wars licensing being the only thing that makes you want to keep playing.

3.5/5 GRUs

Weekly Purchase Review – Contra III: The Alien Wars

November 17, 2010

Wow! 3 Weekly Purchase Reviews and this one is on time! Each week I’ll be buying a game from Play N’ Trade/Disc Replay or choosing a game from my catalog of unplayed games that I own and writing a short review for it. This week’s game is Contra III: The Alien Wars.

I walked in to Play N Trade with no intention of buying anything until I saw Contra III. I know Konami’s track record on the SNES and I know how awesome the Contra series is so it was an instant buy.

No need for a tutorial. Now hang onto that pipe over the inferno while a plume of flames erupts in front of you.

As I mentioned above Konami’s catalog of SNES games is beyond phenomenal and The Alien Wars is no exception to that rule. Contra III is an outstanding, if not insanely difficult, game that improves on Contra and Super C in pretty much every way. The controls feeling tighter and a little more responsive and the ability to carry 2 guns is a much appreciated addition. Not only does the game offer classic Contra side scrolling action but there are also levels that feature a top down view. While not as satisfying to play, the top down levels are still well done and help the game avoid feeling stale.

Whoever decided to include a boss every 30 seconds...thank you.

If you have a SNES I suggest you seek this one out or if you can’t find it? Try getting Contra 4 for the DS.

4.5/5 Game Review Units