I never played Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64. I guess the original was noteworthy for making the controls on a console FPS slighty less sucky. Well, that and the ability to play head-to-head with friends using a postage stamp sized corner of the screen. The Wii refresh of Godeneye improves upon the analog stick controls by using the much more FPS friendly numchuck and Wiimote control scheme that worked so well in the Metroid Prime games. Sure, it’s not even close to the precision of a PC mouse and keyboard, but it’s perfect for playing while sitting back on the couch.
The game itself is really good. There’s a decent amount of variety in game play and the story and cut-scenes kept me pushing forward. I especially liked the stealthier sections of the game. Like everything else about a Wii vs. PC FPS, the stealth seems kinda dumbed down, but, then again’and maybe I’m just cutting the Wii some slack’I didn’t mind it at all.
I have tried the split-screen multiplayer too and it’s fun too. However, you need more than two people to make it really work.
Okami follows much the same formula of a typical Zelda game. You proceed through the game by defeating the boss at the end of a dungeon only to gain a power that gives you access to the next dungeon. Between each dungeon there are overworld levels to explore, wandering enemies to battle, items to collect, fish to fish and characters to bore you with endless unskippable dialogue.
It all sounds very mediocre, right? But where Okami sets itself apart is in its Japanese woodblock inspired rendering and art design. It’s not quite as sharp as the cover art would suggest, but it remains a colorful and playful world filled with tons of unique looking characters and enemies.
My biggest complaint, and this is kinda backwards, is that the game is just too long. There were at least three occasions when I thought that *this* boss battle would be the last. Thirty-six hours later I finally beat the game, and by that time I just wanted to move on to something else. The story is alright, but after the third time you defeat the big baddie who was advertised as the ultimate evil and destroyer of worlds, you stop caring about the narrative. The aforementioned endless dialogue doesn’t help either.
I guess the best way to describe Other M would be “disappointing.” Judging from screenshots of the game you would assume that this was simply a return to the 2-D side-scrolling roots of the franchise. That would have been a good thing. Instead, this is a weird third-person/first-person hybrid game that has you constantly flipping the Wiimote around to change views. This is not quite as awful as it sounds, but the game would be much better if they had just chosen to go one way or the other. As it stands, the 2-D sections of the game, which could have emphasized platforming and twitch skills, are dumbed down to “press right and hit fire… the auto-aim will do the rest.” The 3-D parts are equally disappointing. Unlike the Prime series, exploration and investigation don’t really play a role here. The first-person perspective is mostly used to charge up your super-missiles and lock on to targets.
On top of the awkward game mechanics is an equally awkward storyline. This is the first time the the Metroid series has been given a largely dialogue driven story with tons of long cut-scenes and voice acting. As bad as it was, I didn’t mind this too much. The problem for me was that it was overused. Most of the time a cut-scene would involve Samus sulking and simply restating what the player just saw happen two seconds ago. Rather than advancing the story, she’s just brooding like a fourteen year-old goth kid. In fact, I would have preferred if she simply recited some of her bad high school poetry every ten minutes or so.
This game is noteworthy for its incredible, painterly art style. The characters and backgrounds are all rendered with vibrant colors and broad brushstrokes all in glorious 2-D. Thankfully, the art stays away from a typical nerdy anime style. I would think more Japanese artists would want to stray from drawing the same way Speed Racer and every other Japanese cartoon was drawn for the past forty years.
The game play is mostly side scrolling, hack-and-slash fighting. There are role playing elements and you have a bit of choice as to how to develop your character. However, for the most part, I was just following arrows and equipping the newest swords I forged. Despite this rather brainless game play, I found myself having fun just going through the motions of combat in order to see the next wild boss or discover the next paper-thin plot point in the narrative. Also, by making it impossible to collect all the swords on your first play through, the developers give you a nice tempting carrot for O.C.D. repeat play.
Season two is more of the same point-and-click adventuring that was done so well in Season one. The puzzles are definitely a little less straightforward and found myself relying on the built in hinting system more than last time around. The humor and storytelling are still intact though. Most of the characters from season one reappear and are as strange as ever. There are quite a few new faces as well including a foppish German vampire, a gun toting Santa and even the dark lord Satan himself.
The main problem with this game is in its implementation on the Wii platform. The loading times are unbearable and the animation is jerky. I was hoping that these problems would have been addressed in this version but I guess Tell Tale didn’t put any effort into this port. I can live with dumbed down graphics, just get the thing to run smoothly fellas. Next time around I am going to be playing season three on my PC instead.
This is one of the best games you can buy for the Wii. There are nearly a dozen classic Williams pinball tables emulated in this collection (apparently other platforms offer even more tables) and just about every one in the game is great. My favorites are Taxi, Funhouse and Whirlwind. Jive Time and Fire Power are the weak spots, but even those two have their charm. The physics of the machines are spot on and the controls are flawless: you can even nudge the tables buy shaking the Wiimotes… perfect. Being able to play these classics without having to worry about losing quarters gives you the chance to learn the rule-sets of each table and actually become a skilled player. Playing pinball as a kid I never realized how deep the mechanics of a well-designed table actually were. Most of the time I would just resort to spamming the flippers and hope to hit something. Most of the time the balls would just drain down the sides within a few seconds. Now I know better. Pinball Hall of Fame will step you through the rules of each table in a nice fly-by tutorial. As I am writing this, I just got around 23 million on Whirlwind! My only complaint would be is the game’s lack of wide screen support. I want a Williams collection Vol. 2, please!
After many months of playing I have finally finished all three of the games included in this excellent limited edition box-set. The game(s) come in a nice metal tin with a clear plastic outer sleeve. Normally, I don’t care too much about this sort of thing, but it was a nice surprise when I first opened the package to find that they put a little thought into the design. Apparently, this is out-of-print and now fetches prices near $100 on Amazon (when I got it, it was $25, new).
The set contains three games: Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime: Echoes and Metroid Prime: Corruption. The the first two are GameCube games that have been upgraded with Wiimote controls and widescreen graphics. The Prime games are first-person shooters with more emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration rather than the actual shooting part. The FPS mechanics work admirably on the Wii but are just wonky enough that I’m glad that they are not the focus here.
Of the three, I liked Corruption the best. This is probably because there was a plot in which you actively participated. This is as opposed to the optional (and dare I say boring) text pickups you needed to read in the first two games in order to follow the story. Granted, this is not even close to the narrative hooks of Half-Life 2 or most other PC FPS games, but the story isn’t the end-all in Metroid. What keeps you coming back is the beautifully designed worlds that you explore and the satisfying boss battles scattered throughout the game.
I have written about The Ocarina of Time on this Web site before. That game is considered one of the best games ever, and I don’t dispute that assertion. Twilight Princess is nearly as good. In fact, it is practically the same game… or at least that’s what it feels like. Now, lack of originality isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case. Nintendo has been able to play with the zany Zelda mechanics in their DS versions of the series, and quite frankly, they don’t work quite as well as the tried and true format laid out back on the N64.
On the Wii the formula is kept fresh with improved controls (for the most part), better visuals and a brand new story line. This isn’t Mass Effect in terms of narrative, but at least the designers took the time to develop a few primary characters and keep your over-arching goals clear. The whole Twilight dark world schtick has been done before (Metroid Prime: Echoes) but it works here too. Your ability to become a wolf and use its enhanced senses is one of the highlights of gameplay.
If I have any complaints about the game they would have to be my general dislike of the Wii waggle controls for fighting, some really ugly character designs (especially the human characters) and a lack of variation in the design of the later dungeons (they are not bad, I would have like to see the mechanics change more drastically from dungeon to dungeon. Think Super Mario Galaxy). Otherwise, it was an engaging and fun game from beginning to end. One of the best I played all year.
Dead Space Extraction is yet another “on-rails” Wii shooter game. The Wii, with its pointer controls, is the perfect platform for these kinds of games. House of the Dead: Overkill is probably the best in this genre and, coming from that arcade-tastic game to this, Extraction will take a bit of getting used to. For one thing, the controls don’t quite work with the Wii zapper as it was meant to be used. In addition to your basic shooting and changing weapons, you can use a beam to grab power-ups and items. That means you’ll need to get to those buttons on top of the Wiimote during the frantic firefights. Also, there’s a bit too much spaztic controller waggling for my tastes. However, in lieu of a point-based arcade game, you get a pretty engaging story-based game with lot of dialogue and character development and, when you are finally allowed to shoot stuff, the shooting mechanics are pretty solid.
The Conduit is one of the few games for the Wii that makes an honest attempt to appeal to hardcore gamers. It boasts graphics that are about as good as you can get on the Wii’s dated hardware, online multiplayer, and lots of first-person shooting and killing. Unfortunately, the game comes across more as a tech demo rather than a truly compelling action game. Don’t get me wrong, the game can be fun and the Wii control scheme is about as close as you are going to get to the twitch responsiveness of a PC based FPS, but it suffers from uninspired level design and a by-the-book game plot: An alien invasion? Ya don’t say. Government conspiracies? Who’da thunkit? This game had a lot of potential, and I hope the developers will concentrate a little more on variety and story for the sequel.