Saturday, May 14, 2011

I told you I'd be back...

... and with one totally over-used Terminator reference, I can happily say that I have returned to the Old Bits to blog to the masses about general gaming goodness. I've had a busy past year, and I now feel like I finally have the time to post about gaming at least once a week. I've played some interesting stuff recently, and I can't wait to share my thoughts about it.

For starters, today I downloaded a title on XBLA called Nin2-Jump (pronounced "Nin Nin Jump"). It's a platformer that was developed by Cave, who are mainly known for their bullet hell shooters. I love most everything that Cave puts out, and Nin2-Jump is no exception.


This game puts you in the role of Nin-ja who must traverse five worlds, with ten levels in each of them, to save princess Sakura from the stereotypical bad guy who kidnapped her. Yeah, it's light on the story, but so what? The atmosphere more than makes up for it. The game is presented as a shadow puppet show, complete with a silhouette of a MST3K (that's Mystery Science Theater 3000 for you lame-os out there) style audience. The graphics are simple yet beautiful, and the music, while repetitive, fits the game perfectly.

The gameplay in Nin2-Jump is a bit reminiscent of N+ or Super Meat Boy. Each level can be completed within a few minutes each, with emphasis on speed-running, and in order to complete a level, you must collect a set amount of ninja scrolls to open up the exit. The game scores you based on your performance at the end of each stage with an S, A, B, C, or D ranking, in typical Cave fashion. The first couple of worlds consist of just platforming with a few hazards thrown in for good measure, but as the game goes on, it begins to throw enemies at you as well. By the games end, you will be tasked with some pretty intense platforming, seemingly unfair obstacles, and relentlessly spawning enemies.


In order to fight back against these enemies, you can hit the right bumper to activate your ninja power. When activated, Nin-ja essentially has the star power-up from the Super Mario games. He is immune to damage from enemies, but can still take it from spikes and other traps. His ninja power rapidly decreases while it is active, as shown in a bar on the upper right side of the screen, and can be restored by picking up new ninja scrolls. Thankfully, it regenerates itself for some strange reason in the final world.

There are boss battles at the end of each world, and they are very fun ordeals. One boss is a ninja who has a volcano for a head... tell me that's not the best thing you've ever heard. Every boss is in Nin2-Jump is huge and intimidating, and its actually fun trying to figure out their patterns. Surprisingly, and disappointingly, I actually found the bosses to be easier as the game went on though, as a result of Nin-ja gaining the ability to attack mid-way through the game.


The game has a story mode and a score attack mode, both of which offer endless re-playability. There are hidden Cave logo items in each stage that offer an achievement if you can find them all, which helps to add to the replay value as well. I know I'll personally be coming back to Nin2-Jump again and again. The game only costs 400 MS points (that's a measly $5), and until the end of June all of the proceeds from the game will go Japan's disaster relief fund. That alone makes buying this game worth it, but Nin2-Jump is an amazing platformer as well. GET IT!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - Review

Growing up everyone has that game that just sticks, the game they play on a regular basis, despite it not even being a challenge to them anymore. For me that game was The Secret of Monkey Island and its Sequel, LeChucks revenge, both were revamped recently and I thought it was my duty as not only a Monkey Island fan but as a adventure game fan in general to play the upgraded installations of two of the best gaming memories I have.

While the Monkey Island franchise is far from dead, with the arrival of the Tales of Monkey Island episodes, Guybrush has never been in better form, I have to admit I was worried with what they would do to my old pixelated pirate wannabe. I thought I would split this up into two parts, the first for The Secret of Monkey Island, and the second for LeChucks revenge.

Side by Side
So the two biggest things to get excited about are the fact the game has a full voice cast, including Dominic Armato, who has now had his voice in every installment in the Monkey Island series. As always he does a stand out job, all the other roles are voiced fairly  well, I am a bit biased towards some of the voices, but I think it is more to do with the fact that I had my own voices in my mind for years bout how each character should sound, when its the complete opposite, you cant help but feel let down, despite the fact you know no one is to blame.

Familiar faces have had a lift.
 The second 'big thing' is the graphics have been completely overhauled in brand spanking new HD (my, oh my, how that word sells today), while for there era the graphics of the original looked great, they look extremely pixelated and muddy by today's standards. Some of the characters looked a bit odd compared to there original versions. The biggest problem I have with these 'enhancements' to the graphics is that Guybrush looks nothing like he does in the later games, From Cure of Monkey Island onwards he has had a look that they stuck to, I know his meant to be a younger version, but he looks like a slightly retarded brat with a crew cut, instead of the dopey and lovable (I said it!) face he sports in later games, I was instantly let down by this aspect. One feature I did like is the option to switch in and out of 'classic mode' on the fly, meaning if you are playing the game and want to see what the original looked like in that scene you can at the press of a button, great addition!

Same old Monkey Island Charm
Now everyone who played adventure games in the 90's loved the SCUMM engine, and its interface was used in countless games, for the remake I wasn't expecting them to use SCUMM interface for the remake as it feels very outdated, however they did the opposite of what I thought they would do and included a 'right click to change action' interface that was seen in there competitor (Sierra) games during there peak of success, why they did this is utterly beyond me and I really didn't like it, at times it is really annoying to have to scroll through the options to get to what you want, I feel that it should have sported a similar interface to The Curse of Monkey Island, it might sound petty, but it took away from the game quite a bit.

After I got over the small issues with the graphics and the engine, at its core its the same game I know and love and was well worth another play through, if you are a fan, I highly recommend it, if you have never played it, you missed out and should get your hands on it, I love Monkey Island and am glad that not only it is making a comeback, but the genre in general.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Christmas NiGHTS - Video Review

A two level demo of NiGHTS into Dreams for the Sega Saturn, Christmas NiGHTS is often overlooked due to its 'demo' status, watch on to find out why this is a must own for all Saturn owners.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Altered Beast - Video Review

The much loved pack-in title for the Sega Megadrive (Genesis), is the game able to rise from its grave or is it better left dead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heaps of reviews, change in navigation and some news!

While the blog has not been getting all that much love lately, that is soon to change.

First off the bat I have posted some archived reviews I wrote quite awhile ago, these include, Super Mario Bros, Hook, Kung Fu and many more. From now on all reviews will be completly new and in a differant format than past reviews, ie no more scoring system. It will just be me, and jfe2 when he returns, talking about how we felt about games in a much less formal layout.

All of these reviews can be found in the new and revamped reviews section which makes navigating much easier, the same has been done for the video's section all of which is in a new navigation bar just below the banner!

Also a new video review of Altered Beast on the Sega Megadrive / Genesis will be out shortly.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Im not going to even explain the history of Harry Potter, we all know where it came from and the media darling that it is today. As is the case with pretty much any worth while movie (and many not so worth while) a game is not far behind to cash in. Usually these games are just horrible, and EA has a long list of horrible movie tie-ins. So does the latest Harry Potter game installment follow this trend? Lets find out.

Gameplay (7 out of 10)
Now to be honest, I hate all the Harry Potter games, they are just boring and make you want to fall asleep with there cliche's left right and center and boring game engines.

EA has finally done something right, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a worthwhile game, never thought I would say it about a Harry Potter game, but they have completely revamped the way the games engine is set out. The easiest way to describe it is like the. Grand Theft Auto : Hogwarts. You follow a similar style of mission progression as the GTA games, look on your map, find somebody, get a mission and off you go. I didn't think it would work, but they have mixed it up enough to feel original and not a GTA rip off. It is so free roaming its not funny, you are literally discovering new things every time you walk through a hallway (and believe me there are a lot of hallways).

I wont go into the story line, as I'm sure most of you know it, but if you don't, pick up the book or watch the movie because you wont find out about it here. I will go into the what I will call 'Wii-Wand' the wiimote as the wand adds an awesome feeling to play, and works fairly well, there are a set of 6 (if I remember correctly) hand patterns (which are just pulling back, circle motion, etc) that do either 6 combat spells (if you in combat) or 6 non-combat spells (For exploring the castle, etc). I do have one problem and its always with the same spell (Forgot its name but its the Fire spell) it at times can take as long as 5 or 6 shots at the spell to cast (it involves waving the wand left and right with lamps, etc selected) and can get frustrating, but other than that, the wii-mote to wand is awesome.

Sound (9.5 out of 10)
The sound in this game is something that is just amazing, they have got many of the actors from the movies to do the voice acting, which is awesome as it makes it feel a lot more universal. The music has both tunes from the music and its own music which are really amazing and breathtaking to be created for a video game (Think Lord of The Rings / Harry Potter style tunes that are created for a game). Every character, no matter how small seems to have a voice of there own. The environmental sounds are great as well, walking past portraits hanging on the walls you can hear them having conversations. The same goes with students, before you know it you will be up to date with all the Hogwarts gossip. Really top notch sound here, no complaints from me at all.

Graphics (7 out of 10)
The only downfall in this game is of course its graphics, its character models are fairly basic and there are more jaggies than you could pock a stick at. Then why did I score it so high your asking? Because theres more to graphics than poly counts and AA levels. The lighting used in this game is great, when you walk through a hallway with light shining in through the windows, it just looks beautiful, the entire castle looks beautiful, I will go on with that now.

The castle, first and foremost, is HUGE, its just massive. If your not following the footsteps of your map you will find yourself getting lost quite often. There are no, I repeat, no loading screens at all. When you walk though a door the hallway behind you fades away and you walk around the castle without single load, it really is great. The entire game looks like a piece of art, it is just beautiful to look at, despite it high amount of jaggies ,etc

The games cut scenes use the next gen versions engine with pre-rendered scenes (If you have played Call Of Duty 3 you know what im talking about)

There is one thing I disliked a bit, was the stiff animation in Harry's walk, its the character we are going to see walking in front of our camera for the entire game, he really should be animated nicely, but he just looks a bit stiff and when your on a long walk it can really annoy you.

Replay Value (7 out of 10)
When you finish the game you are greeted with 'The Never ending Day' in which you can walk around the castle and finish any of the side missions you didn't finish while playing the game through as well as unlocking Videos (Which have interviews with the cast and game crew of the game and movies) and trophy's in the room of rewards, so once its finished, there is still quite a bit to do. There are also a few mini-games through out the game such as its own version of marbles, snap, memory and a few others, though you wont play those for long other than to get another trophy in your rewards room. So theres no brick wall on gameplay one you have finished the main story.

Overall (7.625 out of 10)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a curve ball I never expected to play, I purchased it for my 12 year old sister, after watching her play for awhile I tried it out and was surprised, it is a solid game and to get this form a movie tie in, one that has a horrible game past as Harry Potter, and its from EA. I found it amazing the game turned out the way it did. Im no massive fan, I have read the books and watch the movies when they come to dvd, thats about it. If you have been looking for a Harry Potter game but the past releases have turned you off (as they did to me), this is the title for you. Even if you just like a good adventure, I would recommend this game. If you can look past the shotty models and the problems with the spells every now and again it is a fairly amusing game. Surprisingly (Didn't think it would happen when I first heard of another Harry Potter game) this gets the thumbs up from me.

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon

Final Fantasy, a name that holds perhaps more responsibility for quality then any other franchise, It helped secure the PS2's place as the dominant console of its generation, and before that helped RPG fans find there new home on Nintendo consoles. Since the main series departure from Nintendo consoles Final Fantasy titles spin off titles have been average at best. Is the latest Wii exclusive any different? Lets find out!

Gameplay (5.5 out of 10)
What is an RPG without its gameplay elements? Well its nothing, Chocobo's Dungeon takes what was there in the past Chocobo titles (On the PS1 and NDS) and builds upon them, its overtly dumbed down so that if this is your first RPG ever you wont have a problem with leveling up and equipping items, it may not be enough for hard RPG fans, but there is enough in your hands that you should be able to enjoy it. Pick items up by stepping over them and equipped them (Three equip spaces ,one for ATK, DEF and other special items) via the menu system, basic stuff.When it comes to leveling up the player has utterly nothing to do with it, you fight, get EXP points, level up, rinse and repeat.

The battle engine is again fairly basic, you walk around randomly generated dungeons (In the same fashion you have in past Chocobo games) while trying to get to the level floor with a wide arrange of enemy's in your way, you attack by facing an enemy and pressing attack, very basic but some
strategy does come into play, like when your out numbered and you walk down a thing hall so that you can fight enemy's one on one. The only thing that brings the battle system back from being overtly basic to the point its boring is the fact you have special moves, more of which you learn along the way and the ability you use items (Which is expected as its an RPG). The battle system is basic, but it gets the job done.

The story is actually quite a lot better then I thought it would be and surprised me quite a bit. To paint a basic picture while Cid is trying to get a gem in a sand castle him and his partner chocobo ( guessed it Chocobo, what a great writing team over at Square Enix) who you control
are sucked into a vortex and end up in a far away land where people hear a bell that rings, and there memories are lost. Cid falls victim to said bell, a girl comes and says she will try to help you, then a baby is randomly born from a egg, the baby has the ability to go into peoples minds and open a portal to it so that we, Chocobo, can enter peoples minds (AKA Randomly generated dungeons mentioned before) get the memories back and go on with the story.... Amazing stuff, maybe not, but its better then Squares last outing on the Wii, That abortion of a Dragons Quest game.

Sound (9.5 out of 10)
The sound in Chocobo's Dungeon is really awesome, we have a remix of past Final Fantasy tracks that have been beefed up, slowed down and some that sound nothing like the originals but still rock, the music, as it is in most Square Enix titles is well above par. Now before I popped the game into the Wii there was one thing I was not sure about, would it have full speech? Dragon Quest had speech, but it was utterly horrible and only really during cut scenes, Chocobo's Dungeon has speech for pretty much all important parts of the game with some of the less important town folks and so on appearing in text (Much like was done in FFXII). Overall the sound is on par with a 'real' Final Fantasy, compared to there last outing on the Wii, sound has taken a massive leap forward.

Graphics (6 of 10)
Now this bugs me to tears, why does every developer decide the Wii has to have some cartoony look to it other then going for realistic due to the systems power, Im sick of the bull**** japanese cartoony looking graphics that keep getting shoveled onto the Wii, they could have easily made the game look like Final Fantasy X, but they didnt! That being said, the graphics do suite the game (I know you love how much I contradict myself, well I do too) they do them well, but there is nothing overtly special about them, look at the screenshots, I don't have much else to say about them really.

Replay Value (6 out of 10)
Now some people will say, random dungeons, sounds like an RPG I can play again once I have finished it, but the question that needs to be asked is, why would you really want to play it through again, the dungeons and battle system are not fun enough to really deserve a replay, the story while better than I expected and presented better than I expected hardly deserves a retelling. Im giving it a 6 just for the random dungeons and if you wanted to play it through again it would be differant, but the whole game is made of random dungeons, so it wouldnt feel that fresh or new.

Overall (6.75 out of 10)
While Chocobo's Dungeon is slightly lackluster for a game bearing the Final Fantasy name, can we expect anything more? Not really. The game is a step in the right direction for the Chocobo series, and the Wii is so deprived of RPG titles that Wii owners like myself owe it to themselves to pick up anything they can get. If you like RPG's pick it up when you find it for a cheap price, I got it for again $40 USD when my uncle posted it over to me, not really worth the 40 bucks, but it was worth a play through. Find it cheap and give it a play. It doesn't hold up to a numbered Final Fantasy game, but as far as spin offs go, its a pretty decent little game.