Archive for the 'Video Games' Category


Holy Crap!

I was looking through my new Star Wars book when I came across this…


so awesome…


Super Metroid (10/10)

Now, when Super Metroid first came out, I was a mere 5 years old and about 2 years away from my first gaming console (Sega Genesis) so my experience with gaming was limited to only a few select titles I had managed to play.  It was not until the Metroid Prime Trilogy that I really got into Metroid.  But thanks to the joys of Nintendo’s Virtual Console, I can now play the classic Metroid games, including Super Metroid for the SNES.

Now, you can’t really review Super Metroid (or any Metroid game for that matter) without talking about the amazing atmosphere the game creates.  The planet of Zebes is diverse and wonderful.  The graphics are beautiful and the music is perfect.  You really get the sense that you are on this other planet and can become immersed in the game on a level that is rare for any game.  And while I could have used a little more story, the small narrative fits in well with the game and offers a lot more plot than many of the game’s contemporaries.

The platforming controls great and feels more natural than in most games.  I found that the aiming takes a little getting used too,  but once you have mastered it, it becomes second-nature.  There is a nice variety in the assortment of weapons and abilities available to Samus and the rate at which new upgrades are found progresses at a steady rate, so the gameplay never quite gets stale.

The level design is superb.  The world of Zebes is huge and each room seems to almost have its own personality.  The sense of exploration that accompanies this game is amazing, and there is always another little secret around the corner.  And you are encouraged to explore every nook and cranny as doing so yields special power-ups that will help out out later in the game.  However, this is where the game’s first problem comes into focus.  While exploring the world is endless fun, you are bound to get lost in the huge, non-linear world.  I have spent more time that I would like to admit wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do next.  As much as I’d hate to admit it, I would probably still be lost if it were not for the innovation of

The combat is fun, and the boss battles are where it really shines.  There is a nice variety of bosses and mini-bosses.  Some of them require special strategy to defeat and others just have to be shot over and over.  Both types are fun and challenging and will have you yelling at the screen and cheering when the battle is over.  Though, there was one particular boss battle towards the end of the game where the difficulty spikes far too much.  This boss is insanely hard and feels more cheap than challenging.  However, if you can get past it and make it to the final battle, you will be well rewarded as the final battle of the game is quite possibly the most intense, most exciting battle I have ever played in a game.  It is challenging and will require all your skills, yet it is not like cheap like that other boss.  It is one of the few game segments so exciting and so intense, that just playing it causes your heart to race and will provide you with an adrenaline rush that will last far after the ending credits.

All in all, Super Metroid is a masterpiece of a game.  It was amazing then and it still holds up just as well today.  For 800 Wii points, this game is well worth your investment.


Pokémon: Soul Silver Version (Mini Review)

As anyone who reads this site regularity knows, I love to review games.  And as I gain experience with reviews and analyzing games, my reviews are getting longer and longer.  However, there are some games that I don’t feel I can review in full.  There are many reasons why I may feel like this, but the prime reason would be time.  Sometimes when I want to review a game I look back and see that is has been months since I have played it.  I might can replay it (assuming I did not borrow it) but I would just be replaying levels and the game would have lost its initial freshness.

And this is where the min-reviews come in.  These are tiny reviews that just sums up my views on the game in a couple paragraphs.

So here it is, I promised it nearly a month ago, but I am finally getting around to reviewing Pokémon: Soul Silver.

It is tempting to say that if you’ve played one Pokémon game, you’ve played them all and in many ways that is true.  The same basic formula has not really changed.  However, having been one of the rare people to go straight from Yellow to Soul Silver I can see that the series has evolved quite a bit over the years.  Imagine my surprise at learning that you can breed your Pokémon!

The game is very addicting.  Collecting your Pokémon, naming them, training them, etc. is very fond and if you are anything like me, you will almost find yourself starting to develop an attachment them for the little buggers.  The dialogue sounds like a moody 12 year old wrote it, but I actually like that.  It feels nostalgic and childlike.  The fact that you can name your arch-nemisis is very fun (I chose Kevin…idk why, it just sounds menacing to me).

The world of Pokémon is expansive with lots of stuff to do and lots of areas to explore.  The game is cute, charming, adventurous, and just plain fun…for the most part.  Unfortunately the turn based combat of the game becomes boring to the point of painful after a while.  If you are a big RPG player and you don’t mind repetitive turn based combat, then you will love this game.  If you are like me and lack the patience to finish most turn based RPGs, then you may want to borrow it from a friend or something…because it does get repetitive after a while.

But if you can get past the combat, then this is a wonderful game and I can’t recommend it enough.


A Letter to Ridley

Dear Sir Madam pterodactyl Ridley,

I am writing to express concern over our latest encounter at Norfair (or, as many people are calling it, “No Fair!”).

You see, you are simply too fierce an opponent.  I know, I know, it is your job to challenge the player but you’re tricks are just plain mean.  I know you don’t have a health bar, but if you did I assume it would have 270 different layers.

You seem to be able to withstand my entire arsenal of Missiles, Super Missiles, and Power Bombs.  Not to mention, you can even attack me when I am using the Screw Attack.  Your tail is neigh but invulnerable, and you use it like a pogo stick which is terrifying, if not somewhat funny to watch.  Furthermore, you can fly.  Granted, I have Space Jump and unlimited jumps, but there is no way I can keep up with you in the air.

And as if your strength, speed, and wings weren’t enough, did you really have to fill the bottom of the room with lava?  I mean seriously, lava!  Isn’t that a little cliche’?  Do you know how easy it is to fall into that stuff while you are hopping along the tiny strip of land?  It’s really hard!

Furthermore, I thought my last suit upgrade was supposed to make me invulnerable to lava!  What the heck?!  What is this magic lava?!  That is just plain evil!

And don’t even get me started on the fireballs coming out of your mouth.  What is this, an episode of Scooby Doo?  Did you just eat a spicy pepper before this battle?  You are the most difficult second hardest boss battle I have ever encountered!

Though, to be honest your sheer level of difficulty would not be so bad if not for your great distance from the nearest save spot.  I have to transverse 5 rooms to get to you, including one room with two silver space pirates.  They are hard enough, but then I have to stand infront of one of those spawn pipes and shoot little enemies for 5 mins to regain my health and ammo!  I spend longer preparing to fight you than I actually spend fighting you!

Granted, I do like that you lost the armor.  It is nice to not have to aim for your mouth any more.  I also appreciate the awesome background music that plays during our fights.  But it would be nice if you could just take a chill-pill.  There is no need to be so cranky.

I shall be returning tonight to try to kill you.  I would appreciate a little more cooperation this time around.  Ok?  Thank you!

You Nemisis,

Samus (aka James R)


Club Ninendo Platinum Prize, 2010!

Yay!  I got my club Nintendo Prize today!  I made a video where I show off my shiny prize.  Why?  Because I have nothing better to do with my life!


Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game [PS3] (9/10)

Scott Pilgrim *knows* videogames.  One of the biggest appeals of the series (for me anyways) was the sheer amount of videogame nerd shout outs in the movie (and I assume in the books).  So it would make sense that a franchise that has so much respect for the videogaming art would be able to produce an awesome videogame, right?  Right!

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a blast to play.  From what I understand, the gameplay itself is almost a carbon copy of River City Ransom for the NES.  And while I have not actually played River City Ransom, I can say that they seem pretty similar from what I have seen.

you have 4 awesome characters to choose from

On the surface Scott Pilgrim looks like a very simple Beat-Em-Up.  You walk from right to left and clobber every enemy you encounter until you reach the evil-ex at the end of the level.  But there is hidden depth to the combat system. At the start of the game, you have the standard attacks available, as you beat up bad guys, you can earn experience which leads to leveling up.  Every level up, and you get a new move.  Before long you will be countering attacks, dodging, grabbing enemies, and performing sweet combos. The progression of learning new moves is well paced and helps keep the game from feeling repetitive, since you usually have a new move to try. The combat itself it really fun and there is nothing like the rush you get after pulling off a cool move.  You can pick up almost everything and turn it into a melee weapon or a projectile.  You even have special attack that allows you to summon Knives Chau, who does something different depending on who called her.

Now, if you have not guessed already from my talk of leveling up, Scott Pilgrim does indeed have RPG elements in addition to the regular Beat-Em-Up action.  You level up as you progress until you reach a maximum of 16 levels.  You also have different attributes (such as speed and willpower) that can be leveled up separately by buying items such as dvds and t-shirts at stores.  (unfortunately, you cannot wear the different T-Shirts you buy, but at the character select screen, you can choose one of 4 color schemes for your character’s wardrobe)  Oddly enough, when you buy an item you won’t know exactly what it does until after you bought it…though the name and description gives you a hint (Hot Chocolate: A Heart Warming Beverage – Heals Health) which is actually a nice idea as it brings a little mystery into the item buying process.

Co-Op is a blast

But Scott Pilgrim does not really shine as a single player game.  Co-op is where this game truly shines.  It is alway fun to work together with a friend to fight hordes of baddies.  When working together you have a few extra options available.  For example, when a player dies, the other one has a few brief seconds to revive his fallen partner.  Also if every player taunts at the same moment, they unleash a devastating attack.  But of course, co-op would not be complete if you could not hinder your partner as easily as help them.  It is possible to pick up your partner and throw him (or use him as a weapon) which hurts them a lot.  Also thrown items hurt you even if you or your partner threw them.

There are a few issues with the game, however.  I did encounter some glitches, including two times when I had to reset the game because it because unplayable.  Also, there are some issues with the controls.  Specifically, the motion.  If you use the d-pad, it is hard to run, but if you use the analogue stick it is hard to control your speed at all.  However, the game is playable and while the control takes some getting used to, it does get easy to use eventually.

Item Shops are awesome

The presentation of this game is amazing.  The cute retro graphics are beautiful (though they look a little distorted on a standard definition TV in my experience) and the short, but sweet cutscenes in between each level are so adorable, you head may explode.  There are videogame references everywhere, from smashing “?” blocks for coins, to buying a “speedy the porcupine” powerup, or traveling between levels using an overhead map in the vein of Mario World.  And the amazing chiptune music will be stuck in your head all week.  The overall look and atmosphere of this game will blow your mind.

There are two extra modes, Boss Rush and Survial Horror.  The first is pretty self explanatory, but Survival Horror may require some explanation.  Basically, you just fight hordes and hordes of zombies.  Both modes are fun little diversions and also great for getting extra practice.  However, the only way to unlock them is through the use of cheat codes (another classic gaming callback).  There are actually many different hidden things that can only be unlocked through cheat codes.  None of them make the game easier, just modify it to add “blood” or change coins into animals or something.

Granted, the game does get a little repetitive after a while, as most beat-em-ups do.  But all in all, this game offers a lot of replay value, be it replaying the game as a different character or playing one of the extra modes.  There is always something fun to do, especially if you have a friend handy.  This short game (only 7 levels) is well worth your 10 dollars.  To be honest, I have fallen in lesbians with this game.

(btw, there is some DLC coming out for this game next week for $2 which adds 2 new game modes and the ability to play as Knives (it also is supposed to fix some glitches)…expect a mini review for the DLC later this month)


My Evolution as a Gamer

[Disclaimer: this is a fairly personal article and I do tend to ramble a bit.  But I felt like I needed to write this down.]

I fully intended to sit down at this computer and start preparing for my Review of Pokemon: Soul Silver.  I really did.  I sit staring at a blank screen, taking in my impressions of the game.  Trying to separate my personal tastes and preferences from the subject matter so that I could review the game fairly.  (I am not much of an RPG fan but I know when reviewing one I have to think from the perspective of a RPG lovers so that I could see the game as a whole.)  From there I could find its strengths and its weaknesses and discuss them accordingly.

This is my process.  I analyze a game and really think about what I feel makes it stand out.  I try to take a break for a day or two between playing the game and reviewing it so that I will have time to let the game sink in.  Also, I *typically* try to finish the game before I review it…though on certain occasions I feel compelled to leave early when the game starts to feel more like work than play (see the Prince of Persia remake/reboot thingy for the PS3)

But all in all, I really do put a lot of thought into my reviews.  Anyone who has been reading my blog for any period of time may notice this as in the past year my average game review length has tripled.  I spend more time analyzing the games I play and I put deeper though into them than I ever have before.

But just what has caused this sudden interest in what makes games great?  Several sources, not the least of which is my good friend Earl whose love of cinema has evolved over the years before my very eyes.  I have watched him transform from a movie buff, to a movie nerd, to a true film critic.  And in many of the same ways I have followed the same evolution with my love of games.  (though I still have a long ways to go)

Another source of my interest in gaming can be attributed to a few key games, a few masterpieces, that helped to define gaming for me.  The chief of which would probably be the Zelda and Uncharted series.  Looking back, my review for Uncharted 2 is not very well written.  Granted, it is much better than my earliest reviews (my 151 word review of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 is one of my most shameful moments as a both gamer and as a writer) but it demonstrates a lack of understanding and it was only written 5 months ago.

Age and experience are also considerations.  I have been playing games since as long as I remember.  I grew up on Mario, Sonic, and Earthworm Jim.  But I never stepped outside of my “comfort zone” until I was near high-school.  I never played a large variety of games.  Sure I always had Mario and Sonic but my first encounters with Metorid was not until the Prime Series came out and I had not truly tasted the glory that is Zelda until only 9th or 10th grade.  (I am now in my second year of college, btw) but as soon as I was introduced into these series I began to devour them (especially zelda having played nearly 8 of the games in the series already…though I have only beat 5 of them…NES games are hard!…) and it was also around this time that I was introduced to more Mature games and the glory that is FPS.  (I just started Bioshock this week)  As I experienced more variety in the different types of games I started to realize what made them likable and that is when I really started getting into gaming as more than just a hobby.

But perhaps one of the biggest factors in my evolutions as a gamer is the gaming community.  Particularly IGN and Gamespot.  I have been reading their reviews for games for years and while I tend to agree with IGN’s reviews a little more, I love the gamespot community.  I love reading the soapbox articles and I love listening to the Hotspot.  The above mentioned factors prepared me to be able to look at games with a more critical eye but the gaming community game me the tools and the vocabulary to express what gaming means to me.

Now to some people this may all seem rather silly that I would put so much thought into a game, or a cartoon, or even a comic book.  And I can see their point, I recently read an interview with Stan Lee where he said “But when you think about it, a movie or a comic book or a video game, they’re words and they’re pictures, and there is something special about telling a story on two fronts”.  And he is right.  For thousands of years, people have been exploring fiction and these worlds of fantasy and make-believe have helped to define humankind as a whole.  These new forms of media are the newest forms of this and video games hold a special place for me because they allow an experience unlike any other, be it that you are saving a princess from a koopa, exploring the wonderful island of myst, or lobbing grenades at the enemy troops.

Looking back, I can see how these different aspects of my life allowed me to evolve as a gamer.  I went from casual fan to hardcore fan.  I am currently majoring in Computer Science in the hopes that I may one day become a game programmer.  And I am getting more out of my gaming experiences than I ever have before.  And these experiences have not just defined me as a gamer, as I feel I have been given a greater insight into fiction in general, and thus a better insight into the human condition and why we see the world the way we do.

And I want to thank you for that.  Thank you Earl for inspiring me with your film reviews.  Thank you Gage for lending to me some of the best games I have played.  Thank you IGN and Gamepot for giving me a source to turn to for gaming news, and for teaching me how to analyze a game.  Thank you game developers for making the games that turned me into a gamer.  Thank you wordpress for providing me with a place to write my thoughts down for the world to see (on all matters, not just videogames).  And thank you to everyone who reads my blog, your comments make my day!

Thank you all, as you have made me who I am today.


Transformers: War for Cybertron [PS3] (8.5/10)

Transformers: More than meets the eye! Transfomers: Robots in disguise!

Ahh….Transfomers…what’s not to like? There are Autobots and there are Decpticons, and they are fighting and stuff….oh, and there is Optimus Prime, who is awesome. Yeah …Ok, I have a confession… Growing up, I never really watched the Transformers series or played with the action figures. Really, all I know is what Michael Bay taught me. Therefore, I can’t say how well War for Cybertron fits in with the series.

War for Cybertron is a prequel that takes place during the war between the Autobots and Decepticons as they battle for their home world of Cybertron. All in all, the story is actually really well told. It felt a little campy at times, but I think that’s what they were going for. It was all very endearing and I got the feeling that there were a lot of references meant for fans of the series that were going over my head.

The game controls like a standard 3rd person shooter. Analogue sticks to move, L1 to aim and R1 to fire. (why they did not use L2 and R2 I will never know) X jump, click in Right stick to melee, etc. The controls feel really great, and are very responsive.

Tearing through Transformers throughout the games’ two campaigns (Autobot and Decepticon) Is a blast. You begin each mission by picking one of three playable characters. (the characters available vary depending on the mission) Each character has a different weapon and two special abilities. One of the abilities is one that the character always has (cloak, use a shield, dash in a certain direction, etc.) and others can only be used once you have collected enough energon by destroying enemies. (whirlwind attack, temerarily become super strong, etc.) This keeps all the characters from feeling the same.

There is a nice variety of weapons and you are allowed to carry two at any given time. (The one you start with an an additional one) You have your shotgun-like weapons, your pistol-like weapons, snipers, rifles, missile launchers, etc. You can even rip turrets off of their stands and carry them around (how cool is that?)

As you progress through the missions the characters will talk to each other and their witty banter is great. If the War for Cybertron characters are anything like the ones in the animated series, then I really need to watch the cartoon. It is as corny as can be…but in an endearing way. I really grew to like these characters even if I can’t understand a word soundwave says…

“But wait”, you say, “Isn’t this game called Transfomers? What about the …you know, Transforming!” I’m glad you asked that question! At any time during the game, you can simply clicking in the left analogue stick will make your character instantly transform into his vehicle mode. (note: you can change this to the triangle button if you keep clicking in the stick by mistake like I did) The transforming animation is awesome. When I first started playing I just kept transforming back and forth just to watch the animation. You can transform at any given moment, even in midair. (which allows for some really cool moments)

and after you transform, it almost becomes a different game. The aim button becomes the accelerator and before you know it you are zipping across stages with ease. Each vehicle comes with its own weapon and it is great to zip around a stage firing in every direction.

In addition to turning into ground based vehicles, there are certain missions that allow you to fly. These missions are always extra fun and lead to some of my favorite moments in the game. Unfortunately, there are only two of these missions (out of 10). It is a real shame that the developers did not throw in more.

However, as much as I love playing as a vehicle, it is not a perfect experience. In the land levels, the developers don’t give you much incentive to transform and you spend most of the time humanoid form. Granted, there are a few times when you need to be a vehicle and those times are almost always fun, but the game really leans towards the shooter mechanics. Also, in the flight sections, some of the dogfights with other transformers feels a little off…your only weapon is a lock on missile and since you have to hold the reticule over the enemy to lock on, you find yourself flying to the edge of the battle standing completely still and firing rockets. Dogfights should be fast paced and action packed and these really were not.

That being said some of the best moments in the game were in vehicles and I do applaud the developers for at least trying to make the slower shooter gameplay mesh with the fast paced vehicle play. This is a hard franchise to turn into a game, and my research on the subject shows that there have been a lot of crappy transformers games out there. (and by research, I mean IGN…and Wikipedia)

Cyberton also features a large variety of gameplay modes. Unfortunately, almost no one plays it. The only modes I were able to try were team deathmatch, online co-op, and escalation. You should be familiar with the first two, but the latter may require some explanation. Basically, escalation is just a handful of players fighting off waves of NPCs. All three modes are fun little diversions but I don’t expect that most players will spend a lot of time with them.

I do have a few other problems with the game. It does get repetitive after a while, and the lack of split-screen co-op is a shame. (I wanted to play with my brother so badly!) That said, War for Cyberton is a great game. If you are a fan of the series, get it. This is the transformer experience you have been waiting for. If you are not a fan, still consider buying it as it is a good game and just may turn you into a fan.

Autobots, Roll out!

(P.S. this game has the coolest ending credits sequence since portal)


Pokemon Apokelypse

Check out this awesome fan made trailer for a live-action Pokemon movie.

[btw, I did not make this]


Super Mario Galaxy 2 (10/10)

Ok, as many of you may know, I while I loved Mario Galaxy 1, I found it to be really overrated. The same, however, cannot be said of the latest installment of the franchise, the aptly named Mario Galaxy 2.

Now for those of you who missed the first game, I will fill you in on the details of the plot. Browser kidnaps peach (but they’re in space) and mario, with the assistance of a luma (think baby star) must save her. And that is pretty much the same plot for the second game. I mean, seriously, there is not much of a difference here.

Granted, Galaxy 2 has Rosalina (Peach’s counterpart) and galaxy 2 has Lubba (Patrick Star’s drunk counterpart). I am not really sure how I feel about this. Sure Rosalina was so sweet it was almost sickening always going around talking about mario’s “special one” and reading bedtime stories and whatnaught. But Lubba was so annoying. It was like Mr. Miyamoto said, “Do you know what this game needs? A stereotypical southern mechanic named bubba…no, lubba!” However, Lubba does bring about some good moments. He seems to be the only one in the game aware of how surreal everthing around him is. “Mario, why did you just bring a flower with eyes onto the ship? What kind of a flower has eyes? And what is that green thing that just hatched from that egg? Eww..make it stop liking me!”

The hub world is vastly improved. Rather than having one big hub that you have to transverse to travel from level to level, you are given a realitively small hub world to play around in. As soon as you are ready to go to the next level, just head to the captain’s wheel and you will be given a map of the current world that will let you pick your level (ala Super Mario Bros 3) This is a welcome change and makes playing level after level much easier.

The level design in Galaxy 2 is brilliant. Scores better than its predecessor, Galaxy 2 takes the concept of gravity manipulation and planet hopping and takes it to the next level. The key to the amazing level designs is the sheer amount of variety packed into this game. You will never feel like you are doing the same thing twice. This is due, in part, to the wonderful powerups. All the old powerups from Galaxy 1 are here, along with a few new ones. (including a drill that lets you tunnel through planets and a cloud powerup that lets you create platforms) Also, there are 2d levels mixed in with the regular 3d ones. The 2d levels play just like a Mario game should, leaving you with lots of platforming awesomeness.

But by far the most welcome addition to Galaxy 2 is Yoshi. Yes, you can now take Yoshi out for a spin, and it was worth the wait. He controls similarly to Mario. To get him to eat items, just point at them with the wiimote and press “B”. Along with the chaos that Yoshi can inflict, he also has his own series of powerups, including a pepper that makes him run super fast, and a berry that makes him float like a balloon. Yoshi, We love you!

The difficulty in this game has certainly increased ranging from “that was pretty tough” to “OMGWTFBBQ! WHY MIYAMOTO?! WHY!?”. The increased difficulty should please any hardcore mario player. But for those of us who … suck. There is still hope! There is a player help feature similar to that in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Or for those of us who feel that is cheating, you can always do what I did and get your brother to help by being player 2.

Yeah, there is a muliplayer mode, but it is not much. Player 2 can pick up coins, hold baddies still, and make cheering and booing nosies with the second wiimote. It really serves no function other than helping an inexperienced (or in my case untalented) player get though a tough level. However, it is still a nice addition.

The presentation for this game is awesome. The graphics are… well, this is a Mario game for the wii, but all things considered, it looks nice. The score is great. All the music is orchestrated, and it is as catchy as it is epic.

Overall, buy this game. Seriously, you won’t regret it. Have’nt played Galaxy 1 yet? It does’nt matter, go buy this game.

Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your username...


What I'm Playing:

  • BioShock(PS3)
  • Super Mario World (SNES)
  • Call of Duty 4: Moden Warfare (PS3)
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64 VC)
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