Friday, December 23, 2005

PSP - Games That Look Good

Just like with the PC I'm afraid I don't play PSP games, mostly because I am unwilling to drop 250 large on a PSP. But that doesn't mean I don't have an opinion or two about good PSP games... just don't take my word as gospel truth, it's only an opinion (they might not be as good as I thought they would be).

Final Fantasy VII - Advent's Children
Not a game but a movie on the PSP. Yes, lots of those but only a few I recommend. This is one of them, the movie that should have been Square Enix's first theatrical release instead of the less than stellar movie "starring" Alec Baldwin.
Other recommended movies include Steamboy (Patrick Stewart & Anna Paquin from the X-Men movies) and Ghost in the Shell : Innocence (the GITS theatrical sequel).

Infected
A third person shooter with a twist, and a lovely one at that once you play multiplayer and start to "infect" your opponents with your own avatar (or are infected in turn). Yeah, the game should lose a point for trying to be kind of Matrix-y in it's look and stuff but it's still fun from the looks of it.

Luminos
Just as Medeos is the recommended puzzler for the Nintendo DS, Luminos is the recommended puzzler for the PSP. Both take the tired old Tetris concept and turns it into something worth playing. Definitely a check for you puzzler fans.

Wipeout Pure
I heard this is a solid racer worth checking out, and since I heard it from the people over at X-Play I'm going to assume that it's true to word in recommendation.

X-Men Legends 2 : Rise of Apocalypse
I liked it on the PS2, and thinking of having a portable version of the fun X-Men Legends games sounds too good to be true... mind you it probably is, but just in case it's at least worth checking out and reading a few reviews on it to see if people liked it or not. And who knows, it just might live up to it's PS2 counterpart's excellence... sorry, I mean Xcellence.

Sorry I didn't have much choices, being that I'm more of a Nintendo DS player than a PSP owner, but still at least I had some choices... somebody post and let me know if any of these are not as good as promised please, thanks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Review Expansion in the New Year

Looks like I WILL expand for the new year!
Starting in 2006 you can look forward to Nintendo DS reviews... and once the holidays are over I'll hopefully keep to a schedule and post reviews daily!
Tomorrow I'm going to spin some peeks at recommended Sony PSP & GBA games (even if I really am not the most hyped on the overpriced and flaw slash glitch plagued PSP).
Take care and see you tomorrow!

PC - Games That Look Good

While I use a PC I don't play games on it, it's mostly for work. But that doesn't mean I don't have some good notions about what might be fun to play on the PC.
Here's some of my choices for games you might find interesting for the PC.
Once again in alphabetical order, just so you know. Yeah, I did this before... I think. Did I? Anyway we're only days away from Christmas so now is a good time to get some games... before, you know, it's too late.

Advance Dungeon & Dragons
If you are too impatient to wait for that AD&D Online game in 2006 then try out the strategy game out now. It'll warm you up for the online version (hopefully).

Battlefield 2
Yeah, yeah, it's now out on the PS2 and XBox but if you want a solid first person shooter for multiplayer online action you should check out the PC version. I heard there are some good points about the "Modern Combat" Single Player version, and that helicopter piloting in this one is supposed to be better than the PC version, but still the better of the two (three?) is the PC version, just so you know.

Civilization 4
You can't get more civilized than a world building sim whose previous incarnations drawn such large fans, but having said game voiced over by Leonard Nimoy doesn't hurt either! Very nice!

Far Cry - Instinct
Described by X-Play as "Weekend At Bernie's 2 meets Commando", you take a trip to the tropical side of 1st person shooters where the mercenaries scream like cannon fodder victims in a bad B-grade slasher flick! Gruesome yet oh so interesting.

Half Life 2
If you played the original then you know why this is good, if not now is a good time to check it out. First person shooter that rocks... say, looks like most of my cohices is first person shooters... guess the age of Point & Click and Multimedias like Myst is over, and the age of 1st Person Shooter is on.

Lord of the Rings : Battle for Middle Earth
Want to take a ride with a strategy game that lives in the world of Middle Earth? While some are not the most hyped about this at least it's not another hack and slash button masher like 90% of Lord of the Rings games I've seen to date. And, for me, anything that provides some variety (and heaven forbid some intelligent gameplay) is worth mentioning in my book. Of course strategy alone? Go for Rome : Total War (best of the best), but if you want Strategy AND LOTR tie in this is it.

The Movies
Now I shouldn't be promoting a game that seems more Sims clone than anything, especially since I only have the most base of information on the game, but if it even lives up to half of it's potential from what I heard of it... ah, you better read 5 or so reviews on this game before you go buy it, you know, just to make sure it's not a terrible clone (because nobody likes playing a terrible clone game)!

Rome : Total War
This is the best strategy game I've ever seen on the PC, and the fact that this also has one of the best Expansion games (Barbarian Invasion) doesn't hurt either.

Sexy Beach 2
OHHHHH-kay. No I'm not recommending this because of it's solid gameplay... well, it's good actually from what I heard, in a XXX hentai way... but I just want to Hilaries of the world to know that I'm not afraid to recommend something truly adult every year... like this, even if it's only in Japanese (because nobody will make it in English subtitles due to the Hilaries).
Sexy Beach 2 good. Unfair and Imbalanced Intolerance about video games bad.

World of Warcraft
Why am I not promoting Star Wars Galaxies? Why would I. Now that they're rumored to be shifting gears and kicking up a "WOW" meets whatever style universe (where long term players get the shaft as their data is wiped and cleansed, much like how the Jedi were purged in Episode III) this is not the best time to jump into Galaxies... you know, just in case you buy the WRONG version and your data gets wiped at the rumored purge... in the meantime buy the solid thing, millions play WOW from what I heard and it's fun.

Hopefully that helps you out, if only a little.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Brief Thoughts

Guess I can post tomorrow, but a few brief thoughts...

1-Guess by now you might have heard some of the rumblings from people speaking out against the new Ang Lee movie "Brokeback Mountain", right? Well in one discussion about it it was compared with The Chronicles of Narnia movie and, well, the person said Narnia made more money on it's first week than Brokeback Mountain would make in it's whole run. Yeah. That's all well and good but Narnia is not going to break even at this rate if it continues underwhelming at the box office the way it is. Two weeks gone and the movie has only made 50% or so of it's cost back? That is not a good sign, especially since the movie is going to continue to downgrade in ticket sales as the weeks past! Narnia is in trouble, while Brokeback Mountain, which probably didn't cost 150 million to produce, should at least break even (if not make a small profit) which is more than what Narnia can promise!

2-OK, who is playing True Crimes : Streets of NY? As you probably know the game has become the latest magnet for M for Mature video game haters, so that means having to listen to the whiney folks over at FOX News (who seem to use the words "fair and balanced" as more of a gimmick to attract viewers than a solid commitment to viewers) complain about sex and violence in video games.
Me? I'll stick to renting it for review. I have no desire to own this game no matter how M for Mature it is. I'll save my money for the next Grand Theft Auto game.

3-Speaking of things you may or may not do, who amongst you devoted BloodRayne game fans are going to drag yourselves to the theaters at the start of January to watch a so-called "BloodRayne" movie that doesn't even seem to come near to the video games from what I've seen on it. Mind you, though, I have not seen much so maybe you might be pleased with it... but in all considerations that this movie has been effectively given a theatrical burial during the quiet month of January (people who cranked out Academy Award caliber movies and are trying to keep said movies on the judges minds prior to selection are more concerned about this month than anyone else) somehow I don't think this movie is going to be winning many fans hearts... but we'll see.

That's that for now. I'll see you tomorrow, good night, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and take care! (Only a few days left to finish last minute shopping!)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Nintendo DS - Games I Am Hyped About

Now that I'm going to be opening up to reviewing Nintendo DS games over at AnimeBoredom and here I am beginning to develop a list of games I am hyped about. Games I think are going to be worth playing, games... mostly approved by X-Play with a 4 or 5 out of 5. Well, I mostly agree with them anyway review-wise so why not!
No particular order except alphabetical.

Advance Wars
I've been itching to try this on the GBA, now I can play it on the DS! If you like fun strategy combat sims that make with the action in a vibrant manner then you'll be going to war with Advance Wars for the DS! (Though why they couldn't make Advance Wars for the GameCube, instead making a "offspring" called Batalion Wars, is something I don't understand... sure it's fun and recommended, but still...)

Animal Crossing : Wild World
Because it's an addiction adults are not afraid to admit to from the GameCube, why not be hyped about the "sequel" now out on the DS! Addiction returns, and once again full grown adults will not be afraid to admit they play with their animal friends on a daily basis!

Castlevania : Dawn of Sorrow
I haven't played a good side scrolling Castlevania game in a good long while, but now one has finally come (rejoyce in it since... well... the PS2 version "Curse of Darkness" doesn't look so good).

Lunar : Dragon Song & ?
Because somebody must... the one and only RPG for the DS at present, though I saw what looked like a second game of the Lunar series... I hope it's not as bad as Dragon Song.

Mario Kart DS
What? Me hyped about Mario? Well I did have a place in my heart for Mario Kart, ever since I played it on the Super Nintendo, but now it's here with (for the first time) online play via the use of the newly forged Nintendo DS Wi-Fi Connector! That means you can take you Mario Kart-ing worldwide!

Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney
I've been hyped about this for awhile now, it seems, and even posted about this before. So, one more time, because legal wranglings should be portable (and people should have an excuse to yell "OBJECTION!" in public, here's a game that should prove to be most fun. Starring the guy who looks like Roger Smith's twin (you know, that Negotiator from Paradigm City in The Big O (BANDAI))!

Trace Memory
Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment... I reviewed NARC once, didn't I? Anyway this should be kind of fun if you can withstand the irritating star of the game who needs everything "pointed" out over and over again until she figures out what you probably already figured out minutes ago! Oh, and it's short but still... I'm intrigued.

Trauma Center : Under the Knife
First portable law, now portable health care! Next thing you know I'll want to play with a portable politican! Practice the art of medicine and wield the limited power of necromancy (draw a pentagram star to slow time during tricky operations) in this little gem of a doctor game!

Zoo Keeper
One of a pair of Zoo games, this one being the addictive yet simple to master animal matching game that'll have you pointing and clicking like crazy! Oh, yeah!

Zoo Tycoon
One more Zoo game, this time you'll be making a zoo and taking care of the animals (and not just sorting them out). I haven't heard much of this yet but I always have had a fascination with the Tycoon games so I really do want to check this out and see how good it might be... and if it's (bleep) I'll complain like nobody's business, one or the other.

Almost. Pretty soon we'll have some fresh DS reviews to talk about. Soon.
Stay tuned.

PS2 - Prince of Persia : Two Thrones (First Look)

I think I may have already gone over this, but since this is out now and you might yet be looking for one more thing to put under the Christmas tree this might yet bear one more look at...

Are you tired of the new “badass” prince yet? Swore off Prince of Persia games after Warrior Within?
When we first checked in with Prince of Persia for the PS2 we have a loveable platformer with the classic Sands of Time, featuring a young spunky lively Prince who had a youthful approach to the game… and the bad habit of often talking to himself during the game.
That all went bye-bye when the next game, Warrior Within, hit. Fans, understandably, were kind of mixed emotions about the game. I’m sure some loved the new Prince of Persia, others hated it.
But why the change? Apparently not enough people bought Sands of Time. Yeah, the game was great, a solidly made platformer that played excellently and even earned a 5 out of 5 from X-Play… yet it, like similarly loved Viewtiful Joe (GameCube/PS2) got the shaft from gamers who did not fully embrace it.
I can see not embracing Viewtiful Joe since it’s painfully hard to play, but Prince of Persia : Sands of Time? Wasn’t as hard as previous Prince of Persia games were, and I liked the challenge of Sands of Time, so I really don’t know why it wasn’t embraced by more gamers.

Anyway back to Warrior Within. In an attempt to bring back gamers Ubisoft put out the next game, Warrior Within, which featured a more mature Prince with attitude… an attitude that probably rubbed Sands of Time fans the wrong way. Guess it didn’t help, for instance, that fans who were of a younger age (13+) were locked out of Warrior Within with it’s M for Mature (17+) rating. It also didn’t help much that the new platforming frustrated players at time from being too damn difficult (which wasn’t the case with Sands of Time which is one of the reasons why I was such a fan of it in the first place), also certain things like the “runthrough” visions which helped you scope out levels in Sands of Time was missing which was another downer… and did I mention the godawful and inappropriate rock music including that damn “I Will Survive” riff from The Rock’s Scorpion King movie slash game!? Obviously I was not as infatuated with Warrior Within as I was with Sands of Time, and I wasn’t alone in that sentiment either.

Well, here’s ONE MORE CHANCE to fall in love with Prince of Persia all over again… or shun it further depending on your present POV. At the end of 2005 UbiSoft will “reward” us with one more Prince of Persia release for the PS2, Prince of Persia : Two Thrones. And, yes, once again it means the return of the attitude mal-adjusted Prince… maybe. You see, a lot of stuff happened in the last game and lord knows that might have mellowed him out… yeah, right, considering we’re staring at ANOTHER M for Mature game I don’t think he mellowed much. Yeah, that of course means that the Prince is still screwed.

In the aftermath of Sands of Time it looks like the Prince’s chances of making it to a sequel wasn’t so hot when, out from the darkness of nowhere, came the Dahaka. The Dahaka, the so called “invincible fist of fate”, came to kill the Prince of Persia… apparently it blamed the Prince for inspiring the gameplay mechanics in EA’s Catwoman game. Yeah. Anyway time passes and we rejoin the “chase” ten years later, and as the game opens we catch up to the Prince and he’s now a “badass”… so blame Dahaka for the attitude dys-justment… and he’s off to see the Empress, the wonderful Empress of Time! Everybody sing along now! We’re off to see the Empress, the wonderful Empress of… what… alright, alright, I won’t mock The Wizard of OZ in this review. Sorry! Apparently the Prince of Persia has got it in his royal head to go see her since he might be able to talk her out of him having to be dead, or at the very least he could travel back to before she created the “Sands of Time” in the first place to prevent his death… yeah… wait, on the wind, do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of William Shatner laughing.
Why? ‘Cause good old William Shatner knows the truth about time travel, dammit! The cold truth!
So the Prince prevails, knocks the Dahaka to the curb, and picks up a cuddly new girlfriend in the Empress Kaileena… that’s the “Empress of Time” right? And everything is hunky dorry with everything, right?
Hear that? That’s the sound of William Shatner laughing! He’s laughing dammit! Laughing!!
So it’s off to the city of Babylon, where he is going to become the head honcho and marry that babe Kaileena. So what could possibly derail his well laid plans… only logic. Damn you, Spock!

The guy and his ship barely makes it back to Babylon before he gets fired upon by the city itself.
The city has turned against him, Kaileena is gone, and he’s screwed. Figures.
The ship breaks, he washes up on “Deadly Ground”, and does the world a favor by putting Steven Seagal to death before he goes into action mode… well, maybe not that. Anyway he’s screwed, Babylon’s screwed, his pretty girlfriend soon to be wife Kaileena is missing, and he left his Progressive Ship Insurance in his cabin next to his copy of Prince’s Life magazine : basically things can’t get worse… which they do.

And so, because UbiSoft thinks you still love them (or will once you play this) thus begins the gameplay of Two Thrones (the third and possibly final Prince of Persia game)!
Good news : Prince is supposed to not swear like a drunken Spartan warrior, give Kratos a run for his coins in the suicidal moody dept., and you won’t have to listen to 101 sucky rock songs (including no more renditions of “I -- WILL SURVIVE!!” from The Scorpion King to torment you)!
Bad news : The Prince is still a “badass”. His personality from Sands of Time is still MIA.
Now according to what I read they’re supposed to be bringing back the wonder and beauty of the original Sands of Time, which was woefully absent in Warrior Within, but whether they do that or not remains to be seen. After all, didn’t they do Warrior Within because they thought making the Prince a “badass” would improve sales (which it clearly didn’t)? How can we be sure they’d bring back the Prince we all loved from the original Sands of Time? The game promises to bring the Prince back to his heroic self from the original, though whether or not he’ll pick up his “invisible friend” again and start talking to himself once again remains to be seen.

Though if he is a little bit on the darker side I guess you can’t blame him. He’s wandering through a dead city pretty much, more resembling the shattered remains of Raccoon City than the proud jewel of the Middle East. His people, wisely, have scattered and are hiding, yet some still fight against the darkness amidst the oh so pretty streets whose graphics are supposed to make you go “ooohhhh” and not “Oh, boring” as you play the game.

As for the enemies? They seem to be newcomers, clad in strange armor, though if I suspect what I think I suspect then this game has UbiSoft digging into the past to draw forth “The Sea People” (if I remember right their “name”) who waged war against the ancient world and nearly brought civilization to it’s knees. This ancient “race”, of whom scientists are only beginning to unravel in terms of identity, raged across the old world during the time of the Prince (somewhere around that time) and put the kickass on the old civilizations, and if they are the ones who now appear in this game then you’re going to have a hard road to travel since they are not going to be pushovers. Don’t quote me though since I could be wrong.

Though one problem that already comes up from the first press releases is the gameplay, or to be more precise the LENGTH of gameplay! According to the thing I read about it there’ll be a major plot twist that’ll be wrapped up some 12 to 15 hours into the game when it ends… 12 TO 15 HOURS?!?
That has to be shorter than even Sands of Time! Wasn’t that longer? 12-15 hours! Sheesh!
And in another “questionable” moment we have the Prince himself, and a new power… the ability to “hulk” out to a raging “Dark Prince” Prince ala The Suffering or Evil Dead : Regeneration. Yeah, right.
Apparently the corruption of the sand over three games makes a “Dark Prince”, a brutal monster that will reveal the mystery behind the Prince himself… though coping a gameplay aspect of MIDWAY’s The Suffering kind of rules too I suppose, since for all intents and purposes this just seems to be a riff on something that‘s been “Been there, been there. Done that, done that“. And while early notes says this light and dark Prince thing would make for a compelling story, all I see is it making for a more irritating or confusing story. Also it gives them an excuse to slap on gory gameplay worthy of an M for Mature rating. So much for bringing back the old cool of Sands of Time which survived admirably on a T for Teen.
One thing that this duality offers though is new gameplay in that both Princes play differently (obviously the dark Prince would be more of the savage hack/slash type than the regular acrobatic Prince, which hopefully reflects well in how you play each of them during the game). This should hopefully add new layers to the gameplay, though of course it could just as well irritate the hell out of you much like how Warrior Within irritated you, so then again maybe this may or may not work out. We’ll see.

There is something I want to know about this new Prince though. What I want to know is whether this game will bring back the intense-ness of the original game, cut out the irritating parts from the second, and layer in new gameplay mechanics that will compliment the game rather than complicate it. Is that too much to ask for? A game worth raving about? Is it?

Let’s see… what else is this game offering?
- Newly revitalized boss battles (which promises to be improved over Warrior Within which was such a pain in the butt). In the article I read there was hints dropped about the bosses of Two Thrones. Listed was mention of “twins”, though I am sure it’s not the twins from Fatal Frame II : Crimson Butterfly. Also there’s mention of a “flying enemy” as well as a surprise “final boss”… surprise… oh-kay, just as long as it’s not the Empress he’s going to marry, his formerly dead father (died in Sands of Time), a giant Colossus, himself or Bruce Campbell then I’ll be surprised by the final boss… maybe.
- The game promises a mix of classic and new traps and obstacles to overcome, which hopefully is going to be as cool as it sounds.
- Promised new gameplay mechanics will also pop up, again taking advantage of the duality of the Prince and his “Torque Smash” counterpart, including combat styles that are unique to each.
- New puzzles to pit your brain against are promised, totaling 10 or so… what? Only 10 or so! Cheap!
- Oh, and they also rip off Shadow of Rome by adding Chariot race sequences (for escape or pursuit throughout the streets of Babylon)… and no, Charlton Heston will not make a surprise appearance.
I guess that’s OK just as long as the Prince isn’t chariot-jacking his ride ala Grand Theft Auto III slash Vice City slash San Andreas. Though I guess to further irritate the fans they could add a location where the Prince can pimp out his ride… but after Warrior Within I don’t think UbiSoft is going to piss off fans anymore by adding things guaranteed to make fans “angry”… fans angry, fans smash!

In the end, when it’s all said and done, the game has abit to overcome.
After Warrior Within and the rather disappointing outcome from that UbiSoft is going to have to swing hard to take Two Thrones over the fence to score a homerun with fans who were not so enamored with the previous outing offered by them. Still what they offer above does sound good, and if the game is as hot as the images I’ve seen so far (tossing the things that lagged from Warrior Within and not adding new things that’ll chase players away) we might have a winner on our hands.
Still, with a promise of only 12 to 15 hours of gameplay and 10 or so puzzles to work through I’m kind of bummed from the word go on this. I guess only the actual release itself will remove any concerns I have about this, but that is something for my full review in the near future. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sorry! Longest delay to date!

Once the holidays end hopefully constant regular reviews will be the norm once again, sorry about the delays. Take care and sorry again (Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas in case I forget to wish you it on Christmas Eve this coming Saturday).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (GBA)

It comes but once a year… more or less. And for some once a year is more than enough.
No I don’t mean Christmas, New Year’s, or even St. Patrick’s Day. I mean a new Harry Potter game release, mainly Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which is the game of 2005, the halfway point of the Harry Potter trilogy. And to celebrate, more or less, we’re talking Potter this time out with a fistful of reviews. Two for the GBA, and one for the consoles (in this case the PS2).
For the GBA it’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year 1) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year 4), while for the PS2 we have the last Harry Potter game prior to this new one (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). This is the latest game, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (for the GBA).

It’s Year 4, and Harry, Hermione and Ron (family and all) are going to catch the Quidditch World Cup and the epic battle between Ireland and Bulgeria! However before you know it Death Eaters are attacking the camp, and the game rolls right into action from there. However just confronting the Death Eaters isn’t the end of it because this year’s going to be different at Hogwarts this year.
Besides the fact that there’s a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (a man who lives the Mulder way of conspiracy theories, “Mad Eye” Moody), there’s also the TriWizard Tournament which will pit the students of Hogwarts against two rival wizarding schools in a competition that has been banned for some years but is now finally making a comeback. And surprise, surprise, it seems that after the champions are picked (one for each school) the device of the picking (the title’s “Goblet of Fire”) craps out and spits up a fourth name… oh, Harry Potter… big surprise. Oh, and it looks like Potter’s old nemesis Voldemort is coming back (gee, wonder who “arraigned” to have Potter in the TriWizard tournament), and this sets up a cliffhanger that sets the stage for Order of the Phoenix (Year 5).

Now for the gameplay. I bet you’ll think that the game is going to be a drag since the major console version seems to be an action oriented downer (removing the last bits of fun from Prisoner of Azkaban), but believe it or not you’ll actually find the embracing of action orientation in the Potter games works here!
The game’s action pacing is better here, and it makes the most sense since you’d expect that out of a portable. Unlike the larger console games which you expect more, the action orientation of Goblet of Fire works out well and the game is actually workable. The game’s fun, though you’ll probably put this one to bed in 10 or so hours there’s quirks here that make the game fun.

Let’s start off with the team aspect. Like Prisoner of Azkaban you’ll be using all three characters, though instead of switching off between the three you’ll choose at the start which one you’ll run with and the other two will back you up (by pressing the L button you can call your partners to come and assist you in levitating things and fighting). And while the powers are generic here (unlike Prisoner of Azkaban) you don’t have to fuss with selecting powers. This time out the powers automatically pre-select, giving you the right power for the right task which makes everything flow more smoothly without the stop and go of having to swap out powers to pick the right power for the right task. Also because of this you’ll always have two spells at the ready (shot powers A button, and streaming powers on the B). The upside is that you don’t have to fuss with a selection process to pick the spell you need, but the downside is there’s less originality or chances to mix and match spells on your own. But if you’d rather just play and fuss about picking out spells then this system will work well for you. Another thing that should work well for you in the whole teamwork thing. Since you don’t have to jump from character to character you won’t have to worry about monitoring everyone’s health meters (the others that are AI controlled seem to be rather invincible from what I’ve seen of it), and for the most part it works well though sometimes the teamwork thing does suffer from the occasional snafu (as characters will sometimes ignore you, or not use their magic if you are standing where they want to set up, throwing them off their “groove” as it were making them stand about waiting for you to move before they move into position and start spellcasting -- mostly Wingardium Leviosa since the only time you really need them is to move heavy objects, they seem capable of attacking on their own without being told to attack about half of the time.)

Then there’s the whole card thing. In previous games the card thing was not very vital, but this time out it’ll actually have a purpose. Besides collecting cards that use images from the movie (actual images of the actual cast of the movie), and containing little bits of info about said characters, the cards also contain your abilities and powers. You collect cards that contain your magic (yes) but you also can gain special cards that unlock team abilities (this happens when you collect an entire set from a level, which opens access to a special team card from the Weasley’s card shop for purchase -- a continuation from Prisoner of Azkaban game when the Weasley brothers set up their shop in Hogwarts).
The team cards enhance the three abilitys of the game, mainly attack, defense and speed (the higher these stats are the easier it is for you during gameplay).

Oh, did I mention this game has a bonus section that is unlockable? It does! However it’s not easy to unlock the extras, ‘cause I am still working on it. I defeated the game, nothing. I am almost done collecting all the cards and TriWizard Tournament points… maybe that’ll do something. Well, at least the whole thing of unlockable extras means the game has some replay value that’ll keep you at it past the completion point of the game. And that, by the way, is a nice thing (yes) since previous Potter games didn’t have this kind of extras (like Prisoner of Azkaban for the consoles which meant you had little reason to replay the game after you beat it the first time out).

In short? The GBA’s Goblet of Fire has got interesting quirks (like the difficult rhythm game during the Yule Ball, the flying sequence during the 1st Task which wasn’t a ripoff of Superman 64 meets Super Return of the JedI, and more) but the game is also short. But with the unlockable extras and the power ups that can be gained by collecting all the cards in the game (which means multiple playing of levels to find hidden cards and earning enough Bertie Botts Every Flavour Bean to buy all the cards in Weasley’s shoppe) you’ll find yourself playing this above and beyond just beating this game (which is probably more than you can say of the console version which you probably won’t play again once you beat it). Oh, and did I mention the multiplayer option so two people can team up and play? Yeah, this doesn’t have the feel of the Nintendo DS and the ability for two people to play the same game without owning the same game, but it’s still good and if you know someone who has the game then you can most definitely squeeze more playability out of this without missing a beat. My only real complaint is then that this is probably going to be the last hurrah for the GBA in terms of Harry Potter franchise games. By the time Order of the Phoenix rolls around they’re probably going to phase out GBA versions in favor of Nintendo DS ports. Sad, but most likely which makes it the second system it has been phased out of (the first being the PSOne whose last game was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I have praised as being a rather fun Potter game).
Ok, let’s break this down.

Harry Potter and the Breakdown of GBA Year 4
What’s Hot?
The game is actually good. With a better replay value on this version over the big console version (if Prisoner of Azkaban was any indication as to how little replay value the console version will probably have), the game might have abit more of an appeal than the big one. Yes, it probably looks sweet on the graphics and all that, but if the game is short and has zero replay value it won’t make sense to own it if the game plays so simply and has no replay value.
Yes, eventually you’ll unlock all the content and yes you’ll complete the game, but still with the Yule Ball mini game providing some real challenge for your fingers (try to defeat all the levels of difficulty on all three songs) you might find some reason to come back to this from time to time, if only to replay the rhythm game.

What’s Not?
For a portable version it’s not half bad. And at least it makes sense for it to be action oriented, unlike the console version of Goblet of Fire from which I expected more content (but probably will be disappointed with in terms of content). Oh, and eventually I’d like to see the Potter cast ACTUALLY DO THEIR OWN VOICE ACTING! That means you three (“Harry”, “Hermione” and “Ron”!)

Moments to Remember?
The Yule Ball rhythm mini game.

What to Ignore?
Why does it sound that (after hearing the same short phrase over and over again) Hermione is saying something -- off? She has two lines to call for help… “Come here!” and “Help me!”… and after hearing it over and over again (sometimes in rapid succession if the two you’re calling don’t move right away or come to assist that fast) -- well, let’s say that’s all I’ll say about that.

Overall?
It’s sad but this is probably going to be the final hurrah for the GBA on the Potter front, though I guess that’s OK despite the fact that the dumbed down “action emphasis” of the game only works on the portables (while you’ll probably want more out of the bigger version of the Goblet of Fire game). Still if you are looking for a Potter fix and you don’t want to drop $40-$50 large on the console version then you might be happier with the smaller GBA fix. It’ll fill your need for Potter, and it’ll not put as big a whammy on your pocketbook as the $50 Potter. Just for the gamer who’d want a little Potter, since a little Potter may go a long way… sorry, bad pun.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PS2)

It comes but once a year… more or less. And for some once a year is more than enough.
No I don’t mean Christmas, New Year’s, or even St. Patrick‘s Day. I mean a new Harry Potter game release, mainly Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which is the game of 2005, the halfway point of the Harry Potter trilogy. And to celebrate, more or less, we’re talking Potter this time out with a fistful of reviews. Two for the GBA, and one for the consoles (in this case the PS2).
For the GBA it’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year 1) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year 4), while for the PS2 we have the last Harry Potter game prior to this new one (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). This is Prisoner of Azkaban, the 3rd game of the series (and probably the last to feature the game’s “freeroaming” gameplay capacity, especially in consideration that EAGames seemingly has killed off that option to make the games more “fun”… if such a thing was possible all things considered).

You know the drill. It’s year 3 and Harry Potter has just blew up his least favorite auntie into cannon fodder for the Macy‘s Thanksgiving Day Parade, meaning it’s time for Harry to pull a runaway bride act and vanish -- which doesn’t last long. He’s found, and everything is A-OK so he can go back to Hogwarts without worry… gee, wonder why, maybe it has to do with the fact that he’s being hunted by a certain escaped prisoner named Sirius Black?

Unfortunately the game doesn’t start with the bloviating of Harry’s wicked aunt (in O‘Reilly-isms), which might have actually been cute (or disturbing)… let‘s see, repeatedly tap the X button the blow up Aunt... Uh, never mind. The game starts off on the train to Hogwarts as you get down once again with the way to work your Potter (as well as your Weasley)… as well as the game’s new team-up option, dueling, and the ability to assist your partner character (Ron helping Harry in this instance) as you get your first look at your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Lupin (no relation to the thief Lupin III) and your first look at a Dementor of Azkaban. Dementors, who seem to have the fashion sense of RingWraiths of the Lord of the Ring, are after Black but don’t seem too disposed to also go gunning for Potter from time to time since he seems “tasty“ (which is odd since they’re supposed to be protecting Potter).

Good thing there’s a brand new layer of gameplay to help Harry (and you) get through the new year.
The new gameplay includes co-op with Ron and Hermione (swapping characters to solve certain puzzles), a new “dueling” system, and new “mini games”.
Let’s start with the co-op system. This time out you’ve gained the ability to team up with Ron and Hermione for tag team adventuring (depending on whose available that is, sometimes only one of the two is available for certain challenges). This means you can use each of the three main characters, as well as their specific traits and skills, to solve puzzles and get through certain platforming levels. Oh, yeah, as of this game the franchise takes on an even more platformy aspect, which is still far more intelligent gameplay than the present game which seems to emphasis more on “action” that “intelligent thought”.

There’s still the freeroaming aspect (which they seemingly have spade and neutered out of Goblet of Fire), which allows you to roam freely throughout the game… as long as you mute the sound to the game. Apparently while you can freeroam in this game (to find Famous Witches & Wizards Cards, Bertie Bott Every Flavor Beans and other things) the game’s AI characters seem to have it in their mind to nag you to death about you freeroaming about. This time out the game plays in “days” (chapters), and each day is one chapter. Once the “day” is done you have the opportunity to freeroam… too bad your two AI partners seem to want to follow you, nagging all the way about how they can’t think of a thing to do and it’s time to turn in… people? Whose calling the shots here? Think that’s me! Stop whining!

Let’s see… if you can get over the fact that the trio are occasionally whiney when you want to try and enjoy the freeroaming aspect of the game what else is there to complain about… how about how this game furthers the distance the games seems to be fostering between being true to the books slash movies and going off on it’s own direction. Obviously it can’t be a true translation since the novel (and movie) were not exactly made to be exciting in terms of video game content, but still it could have been somewhat more true to the story than it is. You start a day, maybe go to class or something, then go through a long platforming level in order to learn some spells or whatever (but spell learning is somehow worked into whatever it is your doing on each day). I think the only game to date that was most in tune with at least the movie version of the story was Chamber of Secrets (even adding the lost “Deathday” scene from the novel that didn’t make it into the movie), though I think Chamber of Secrets has nothing to fear in this respect since I somehow don’t think Goblet of Fire will be any truer to the source material than Prisoner of Azkaban was.

Learning spells in this game is abit easier than before. Before you had to do a mini game where you match a sequence of button pushes to an AI characters button pushes to learn a spell, this time out you just need to find a spellbook on a pedestal in order to learn new spells (quicker spell learning is accomplished this way). Furthermore spells are specific to each character. Each character has the ability to learn spells that are unique to them (as opposed to just having the same magic spells plastered on each character in a rather uniform manner), which adds to the gameplay since it means only a certain character can accomplish certain tasks (and the way you manage each character and their skills will determine how you overcome certain obstacles).

Then you have other things that make the game interesting. The ability to fly Buckbeak at certain times of the game, for instance. Confrontations with Dementors during the game. The quicker and easier learning curve on new magic (mentioned above). The game being split into days (which means you can have more time to yourself to freeroam if you wish).

But the game just isn’t the good, there’s the bad in it as well.
The game is woefully simple, despite the platforming premise and the ability to use all three characters which should make it sound as if there‘s depth to the challenge, the game is still easily beaten in about 10 or so hours (and there’s little replay value in the game unless you are a die hard Harry Potter fan).
Then there’s the fact that the game seems to have an allergic reaction to you exploring on your own. As I mentioned above the game, split into days, has you tackling a set amount of tasks each day, then you have freetime to yourself once you‘re done with the day‘s tasks. However once you are done with each day’s task the two AI controlled partners (depending on who you play as) can’t stop telling you how much they want you to end the day and move on, even if you are exploring the game and looking for extras.
You have no idea how much I’d wish the two characters the AI controls during these sequences would just shut the hell up already! All this yak yak yak yak! Stop it already! What’s the point of having the freedom to roam the school grounds if the game constantly wants to spoil it for you by nagging you to death!

Basically it’s a simple game… though apparently not that simple since EAGames thinks the only way to improve sales is to dumb the franchise down even further. Right. That’ll work. If this keeps up it’ll come to the point that you should be able to beat a Harry Potter game in one afternoon, not even breaking a sweat at the complete lack of challenge (which, if it hasn’t happened with Goblet of Fire, should be happening soon if EAGames insists on continuing the dumb down the franchise game after game).
The Breakdown should sum up my finishing thoughts.

Harry Potter and the Breakdown of PS2 Year 3 (game 2)
What’s Hot?
Well, believe it or not, the game is kind of hot. At least it holds onto a few final aspects of good that came from the previous games before they were all completely destroyed (allegedly) in Goblet of Fire.
But this may be the last hoorah for several things, like freeroaming gameplay and intelligent thought in gameplay. Apparently the franchise is only going to sell if the game is simple minded action button mashing… whatever the reason for this lack of reason from EAGames concerning their games? I have no idea, no idea whatsoever… it’s probably not a good thing, though, that compelled them to do what they did.

What’s Not?
HOWEVER the game is probably not going to be winning over Platformer gamers anytime soon.
The game is just way too easy, meaning gameplay shouldn’t take you all that long to beat.
Add to that whiney AI partners who can’t seem to stop nagging you when they shouldn’t be nagging you, and a game filled with “cannon fodder” voice actors (since apparently most of the cast couldn’t be bothered to voice dub their own characters) and you have a game that might drive players away.
And, yes, it can only get worse with Goblet of Fire since there seems to be no bottom to the depths of despair and lowered expectation gameplay the game can fall into. Hopefully the Nintendo DS version turns out to be more intelligent than the PS2 slash Xbox slash GameCube version.

Moments to Remember?
There are moments here and there, but they are too few and far between for my tastes.

What to Ignore?
Probably the Golden Rule, since the Golden Rule is broken with such relish in this game.
What is the Golden Rule? It’s the one where I tell you that, if possible, the people who made the movie or something the game is based on should take the time to actually be in said game. I mean what is the point of playing a game like this if the people you came to spend quality tie with couldn’t find the time to be in said game. If they didn’t waste time being in this game, you shouldn’t waste your time playing this game.

Overall?
A mixed bag of good and bad, this is probably only going to be appealing to the Harry Potter fans. However if you are Potter-curious you might be convinced to buy this, especially since the game should be on sale right now for $20 or less. But, again, you’ll either need to be a Potter-maniac or just really forgiving of the game’s shortcomings. Yes, it’s not as bad as Harry Potter : Quidditch World Cup (nothing is worse), but then again I think it could have been a little better. Ditto with the new game, it should have aimed higher yet it fell short of expectations. EAGames needs to learn it’s lessons, preferably now, before it’s too late, and no amount of fan support will be able to save the Potter gaming franchise.
But I guess we’ll have to wait and see, especially since it’s a long ways off before we even think of seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix out for game systems.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

GBA - Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone

It comes but once a year… more or less. And for some once a year is more than enough.
No I don’t mean Christmas, New Year’s, or even St. Patrick’s Day. I mean a new Harry Potter game release, mainly Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which is the game of 2005, the halfway point of the Harry Potter trilogy. And to celebrate, more or less, we’re talking Potter this time out with a fistful of reviews. Two for the GBA (one now and one shortly), and one for the consoles (in this case the PS2).
For the GBA it’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year 1) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year 3), while for the PS2 we have the last Harry Potter game prior to this new one (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). This is Sorcerer’s Stone (aka Philosopher’s Stone), 1st game of the series

It’s Year 1, the beginning. It all begins with The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, as he grows of age and enrolls into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Of course it can’t just be a nice quiet first year since that would be rather boring. So besides your first year classes you’ll also have to struggle with a bully (Malfoy and his goons) and a mystery concerning a mysterious rock called the Sorcerer’s Stone (aka the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK version).
The rest you know. Either you read the book, or seen the movie, or played the original PSOne version of the game, one of these. So instead of talking up the game let’s talk about what makes the GBA version of the game different from the PSOne version.

- The first thing you’ll note is that the game has no freeroaming aspect, which is how the new Goblet of Fire game for the major consoles is supposed to play (from what I heard). The world of the game is Hogwarts, which consists of a small school grounds with a few spots to visit, and a tall “tower” of a castle with seven floors and a dungeon level. With all that you’d think there’d be freeroaming, right? Well all roaming is controlled by locked doors, insuring that you only access certain areas when the game says you can access them. Considering this is a hand held that isn’t much of a hardship, especially since most of the game looks alike in anycase.

- The whole thrust of the game can be summed up in two words. Stealth & Mazes.
Part of the game is stealth, where you wandering through dark corridors trying to avoid being spotted by students and teachers to do a variety of things. Meet Malfoy for a duel, steal something from Snape’s storeroom, etc. By the way this part of the game really requires use of a GameBoy Advance SP since you’ll need the game’s lit screen to see what the heck you’re doing on these levels… either that or you’ll need to sit in a well lit (and I do mean well lit) room. One or the other.

The other part is mazes, as you’ll have to go through maze after maze working platformer style action sequence in order to “earn” new spells. First you do the standard rhythm and roll of motion games (follow the control motions of the person teaching the spell three times in order to master the spell), then you have to collect stuff in order to prove you have mastered the spell.

This pattern doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes you don’t have to gather stuff to master the spell (for instance after Hermione teaches you a door unlocking spell you “master” it by sneaking downstairs through dark corridors to meet Malfoy), and sometimes you don’t have to do a memory game (sometimes you have to go through mazes for other things, like potion ingredients).

- Flying, believe it or not, is easier on “Advanced” mode. Trust me, it’s easier. Otherwise it’s the Spyhunter of flying (overhead view). If you didn’t think the “art” of playing Quidditch could be any harder? This game makes it harder.

- You have things to gather, but not the same way you do in the PSOne version.
You collect Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans, but not as “currency” to buy things! Instead they’re just to restore your health (and that’s it). You have items to collect during the game, a few things but you have things to collect. Collecting chocolate frogs this time won’t replenish health, instead it’s used to reward Witches and Wizard cards which goes into your card folio (search everything for chocolate frogs which yield cards).

Just because this is a shrinky dink does that mean the game is worse than the PSOne version?
Hmm… I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it depends on you. Mind you the fact this game depends abit too much of mazes and stealth “missions” you might not like this as much as the PSOne version (which doesn’t dip so much into that). But it’s a shrinky little version of the game so they tried the best they could.
The breakdown will sum it up.

Harry Potter and the Breakdown of GBA Year 1
What’s Hot?
Well it is a shrinky Harry Potter game, and you really will have to be a Harry Potter fan to be hot on this version. I guess the game won’t appeal for a wider range of players until the recent Prisoner of Azkaban GBA game but I still have to review that before I say more. It’s not a completely horrible game, and if you are a Potter fan you might be hot for it… and right now you should be able to find it for under $20 since it’s been out since 2001, so for a low cost Potter game it might be worth your while to check out.

What’s Not?
If you are not a major fan of the stealth or maze thing then you might not like this, that and the game is abit repetitive in gameplay. Learn a spell, walk a maze. Sneak about, walk a maze. Do a rhythm game, walk a maze… basically the same things over and over again for the most part.
If you are a Harry Potter fan you might be hot for this little handheld version, if not you might not be so enamoured with this no matter how little it cost to buy.

Moments to Remember?
Hummm… ahhh… nothing much, sorry. Basically it’s a portable and it could have been better, but it’ll fill the small need for Harry Potter, like if you were (for instance) waiting in line for Goblet of Fire tickets or sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to begin. This game would do you well to fill that small gap while you wait to see the latest Potter, for instance. Nothing memorable, but it’ll round out your collection and you could do worse than Sorcerer’s Stone (Quidditch World Cup for the GBA for instance).

What to Ignore?
If you thought the recent games strayed far from the original material then you haven’t seen anything yet! This game has several moments completely rewritten from the original to justify the game’s “levels”. For instance Hermione is crying in the girl’s bathroom NOT because Ron mouthed off at her, but maybe because Harry “broke” his promise about the spell she taught him… maybe.
That and the game seems to think you need to hear Harry comment on every single Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Bean he swallows (even if you hear the same comments over and over again).

Overall?
Straight 50/50 here. Harry Potter fans will be checking this out, while anti-Potter resistors will probably pan this faster than you can say “Chocolate Frog Burping Noise Making Undead Female Nurse Zombies from Silent Hill 4 : The Room”… though why you’d want to say such a thing… never mind.
It’s not a horrible game, but it’s not the best Potter. Somehow I think the 3rd game might fare better in rating… though it would be nice if the 2nd game is the best since I said in the past how good the 2nd game is.
Guess we’ll find out soon, if I can find a copy somewhere… anywhere. Oh, well.

Gifts For The Christmas Holiday (2005)

No, I don't feel the urgent need to say "Christmas" every other post, unlike certain factions who seem to think that there's some sort of "war" on Christmas and everyone must be forced to say "Christmas" or display nativity scenes to prove their holiday spirit. I did like it how those in the Christian equation of it seem to not like the thing about everyone wanting to be inclusionary... makes sense since they would absolutely die if they ever had to include gays and lesbians in anything of theirs.

But since we're smarter than the bickers and their pissing matches about Christmas and the "war" on Christmas because we all celebrate the holidays equally be it Christmas, Channukah (sorry if I mispelled), Kwanza (again sorry), New Years, and whatever other holidays I missed (sorry) here's my list of games to check out for each system.

GameBoy Advance
Dynasty Warriors Advance
If you enjoyed the console version you'll come back to take your favorite Koei game on the road with Dynasty Warriors Advance for the GBA.

Final Fantasy IV Advance
The latest Final Fantasy on the little GBA is here, and that's all I need to say. Final Fantasy. GBA. Nuff said.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I guess if you have to fill a undeniable Potter fixation then try the GBA version. At least the damnable "Action emphasis" fixation EA has works on the GBA version (because you expect the portable to emphasis the action, meaning you'll get what you're looking for and then some on this version). With some added gimmicks like the rhythm game at the Yule ball, the fact that this time the card collecting unlocks useable abilities, as well as unlockable extras? This might be the best GBA version of Harry Potter I have seen to date (and I might even like this better than the PS2 console version!)

Need for Speed (GBA)
There's a Need for Speed on the GBA, and for once it isn't using the over the head Spyhunter viewing mode like Midnight Club. I haven't played this yet but I have hopes this will not disappoint. Guess I need to review this soon.

GameCube
Batallion Wars
Believe it or not this game is tied to the Advanced Wars series, despite the fact it seemingly has nothing in common with the Advanced Wars series! Go out and destroy the enemy in this bliss filled shooter that just cooks for the GameCube! Another reason why GameCube ownership isn't always a bad thing (despite the fact most of the games are bad).

Fire Emblem : Path of Radiance
If you've played Fire Emblem and Fire Emblem : Sacred Stones for the GBA then you know why you've come back to play the first Fire Emblem for the GameCube... if not then this is as good a chance as any to play this fan fave game.

Resident Evil 4
Best game of 2005 and one of the reasons why people own a GameCube in the first place! Though games that rock for the GameCube are few and far between this is one of those games that rocks.

Super Mario Baseball
Yeah, you'd think I would never ever have a Mario title on this list, but this is a good game and if you are burned out playing classic baseball games then this might be the cure for the common baseball game.

Nintendo DS
Animal Crossing : Wild World
The addiction that adults are not afraid to admit that they play is back, and now on the DS. Take your village into the world, and link to other players near and far using either the infrared link or the Wi-Fi connection! It's your favorite 24/7 addiction advanced and improved, oh joy!

NintenDogs
While it's not going to be my cup of gaming, you might find the virtual experience of owning a "dog" in cyberspace to be something you might like. With a version for every dog lover, containing just about every dog type known (make sure to buy the version that fits the owner's personality the best), you should be able to find the NintenDogs that is right for you.

Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney
Because legal wrangling should be portable, a game that makes the act of screaming "OBJECTION" a joy to behold!

Trauma Center : Under the Knife
Cut cut paste paste operate oper -- quick! Sketch a pentagram to slow time to buy more time to operate!! Ok... cut cut stitch stitch close close... whew! Yeah, a game about virtual surgery is actually fun! Oh, yeah!

PC
Battlefield 2
This works out far better on the PC than the PS2 or XBox! Because the console versions are way stripped down the only way to fully enjoy this military shooter is on the PC, where you get the full monty of wonders which you'll enjoy to the fullest! Yes, if you want you can still check out the console versions but if you have an ultra beefy PC that can handle the job, then go for it.

Rome Total War : Barbarian Invasion
Along with Rome : Total War this expansion pack brings more ancient bang for the buck! If you played the original you'll understand why this is going to be a treasured part of your collection. If not? Then you'll need to get both the original and expansion (for twice the fun)!

Serious Sam II
I haven't played this, but I heard only good words about this PC shooter. And if you can get this nice slice of shooter for only $30 that's all the more incentive to check this slick gamer out. It's not as deep as either Half-Life 2 or HALO 2, mind you, but for $30 it's still worth owning.

PS2
Incredible Hulk : Ultimate Destruction
Hands down the best MARVEL game of 2005 (next to X-Men Legends 2) you'll finally get a freeroaming Grand Theft Auto clone that actually lives up to the promise of being a Grand Theft Auto clone worth playing! Take the Hulk out and go SMASH things, and have fun doing so! Joy, SMASH, joy!

Ratchet : Deadlock'd
Ok, it's got an emphasis on arena combat this time out (unlike previous Ratchet & Clank games) but it's still a solid gaming experience. If you've played the last three games (like I have) then you'll be getting this one!

Resident Evil 4
Because it was fun on the GameCube, it's going to be fun on the PS2. One of the best games of 2005, this is going to be worth owning if you love well made 1st person shooters with a survival horror slant. It's the game that reinvented the RE franchise, and it'll reinvent the way you play survival horror games! The only thing that'll make it better is the PS3/XBox360 release of Resident Evil 5 in the near future (inspired by... what the... Black Hawk Down?!? You're kidding me... you're not? What the...)

Sly 3 : Honor Among Thieves
The finale of the PS2 Sly series, it's the best of the three and closes the franchise up in grand style. It's the kiss off, but what a kiss off! So long, Sly! We loved you on the PS2!!... now hurry up and get a PS3 version ready!

We Love Katamari
Because we loved the original, we return for a whole new round of rolling up the contents of the world (so they may be burned up to create the stars in the sky... or in this case the planets). The sequel brings you back to the Katamari of old with a few new tricks and new cousins to roll up and use.

X-Men Legends 2 : Rise of Apocalypse
If you loved the original then go out and get the sequel. If you haven't played the original then here's the best time to do so, especially since you can get it in Greatest Hits format for $20 (a savings in my books)!

XBox360
I know nothing about the XBox360... but I know what I think looks good.
Call of Duty 2 : Big Red One
Dead or Alive 4
Kamino
Perfect Dark Zero
But that's just what I think looks good. You better do some homework on these before you buy, just to make sure you find the game that is best for you.

What did I miss...
50 Cent : Bulletproof
Merry Christmas! A third person shooter starring 50 cents that seems to... be a clone of The Punisher (THQ)... say what? I guess if you are a 50 cent fan then you should like the game, but only because there's a ton of music videos and stuff with him in this. Otherwise it seems to be a so-so shooter, and if you are looking for a good shooter there are so much better ones than 50 Cent : Bulletproof.

Peter Jackson's King Kong
Despite the fact quite a few reviewers seem to be so enamoured with this I am not so sold on this game. It's halfway fun, but not my favorite.

The Matrix : Path of Neo
Oh, joy, ANOTHER game "starring" Keanu Reeves. Did he at least actually DO this game? Considering he didn't have the time to "Star" in Constantine I'm wondering if he had the time to "Star" in the game that's all about the Keanu... sheesh.

Well, that's that. The rest is up to you. Happy gaming!

Friday, December 09, 2005

GBA - Some Tasty New Picks

If you've seen the latest commericals for the GBA then you've seen that they've got some tasty new gaming picks for the Christmas season, and for once there looks like there's some nice picks for the GBA!

Tony Hawk has a new game
I'm guessing it's American Wasteland, Tony Hawk's newest game, now on the GBA. From the commercial I say the game looks pretty sweet for the GBA... then again the previous games looked somewhat interesting as well so if you're a Tony Hawk fan then you might find this little portable to possibly be worth at least glancing at.

A whole new racer
Previous racers on the GBA have been less than sterling. With the exception of Banjo Pilots and possibly Mario Kart for the GBA I can't think of anything that looked even halfway decent for the GBA... until now. Now there's a Need For Speed game coming and it's finally a decent racer from appearances for the GBA. The biggest thing, from the commercial, is the camera angle (behind the car instead of overhead ala Spyhunter which was used for Midnight Club's GBA version). If the rest of the game plays as good as it looks then this might be a racer for your GBA to consider... of course considering the last Need for Speed for the Nintendo DS and PSP looked so nice yet fell so short you have to be abit forgiving of this version since it's probably the only good looking game for the GBA for race fans (so even if it is abit pedestrian in the gameplay at least it's a leap above Midnight Club in terms of graphics and gameplay... then again anything is a leap above Midnight Club in terms of graphics and gameplay so that's not much to say in Need For Speed's defense.)

Final Fantasy IV
You know I love Final Fantasy for the GBA.
I own Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the GBA, I own Final Fantasy I - II : Dawn of Souls for the GBA... did they put out Final Fantasy III yet? Anyway now I'm looking forward to reviewing Final Fantasy IV for the GBA... which is, what, Final Fantasy from the NES? Final Fantasy II from the NES? One of those.

At least the GBA isn't being left out in terms of noteworthy games for the holiday season, though they do seem to be missing a port of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (though I am digging back in time to review past Harry Potters for the GBA in future reviews). Now all they need to do is bring Final Fantasy to the Nintendo DS (or at least a decent Nintendo 64 era RPG) and I'll be one happy portable owner.
We'll see, we'll see.