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Groovin’ Blocks Review: Keep The Beat

August 24, 2009

Groovin Blocks

About a year ago, Empty Clip Studios released their first game on Nintendo’s WiiWare platform called, “Groovin’ Blocks,” and, even though it is one of the highest rated games on the service, there’s a good possibility that some gamers (like myself) may have missed it, not having a chance to play it. Well, if there are any Wii owners that didn’t catch it the first time around, and are fans of the whole falling-block genre, you’re in luck; Empty Clip and Zoo Games have released a version 1.5 of the game at retail, and you can give the enhanced version of the game a shot, at a discounted price. [Read more]

Wii Sports Resort Review: Nintendo Takes You On Vacation

August 19, 2009

Wii Sports Resort

“Wii Sports” was the game that sold millions of Wiis. Not only was it the first game to be packed in with a console in years, but it also demonstrated to the Wii’s unique motion capabilities to anyone that was willing to give them a shot. Three years later, the follow up, “Wii Sports Resort” has been released to show off what the new controller add-on, Wii MotionPlus, can bring to the table. But, as any hardcore gamer that owns a Wii can tell you, the shine on Nintendo’s White Knight is starting to fade, and, for some people, this release runs to possibility of crossing the line between innovation and over-hyped gimmick. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes with the game to realize that the hype is well deserved, and that “Wii Sports Resort” is a solid product. [Read more]

Bit.Trip Core Review: What Rhythm Games Would Have Been Like On The 2600

August 7, 2009

Bit.Trip Core

“Keep it simple, stupid.” It’s a phrase that’s been guiding the way for innovation for many, many years, and sadly, it’s also one that’s frequently overlooked when it comes to video games. Fortunately, the Bit.Trip series from Aksys Games is a new franchise that is looking to define itself with that exact phrase, and its latest entry, “Bit.Trip Core” manages to keep very true to that mindset. [Read more]

The Conduit Review: The Big Fish … With Guns

July 27, 2009

The Conduit

Hype can be a very dangerous thing, and there isn’t any game currently out for the Wii right now that was released with more hype than Sega’s latest, “The Conduit.” It was supposed to be the salvation for the hardcore gamers that are willing to venture to the Kingdom of the Wii. It’s a AAA-level, FPS on a party-game console that’s basically running last generation’s tech. Does it live up to everything we were told it was going to be? Is it the must-play Wii game of the summer for “core gamers”? Will the world come to an end with Washington D.C. as the epicenter? Am I really going to end this opening paragraph with a self-referential question? [Read more]

Roogoo: Twisted Towers Review: Peg-In-Hole Gets Complicated

July 22, 2009

Roogoo Twisted Towers

Southpeak Games may be a fairly new player in the video game market, but they aren’t holding back in terms of the uniqueness and quality of their releases. The company has received various levels of acclaim courtesy of their console releases across every genre, including “Two Worlds” and “X-Blades.” Southpeak has also made a name for themselves on the philanthropic side of gaming as well, having given over $12.9 million to the development of independent gaming, and the presentation of it to the mainstream markets. One of those independent companies, Spidermonk Enterainment, received the 2009 Best Puzzler award at this year’s E3, courtesy of 411mania.com, for their recently released Wii title, “Roogoo: Twisted Towers.” [Read more]

Swords and Soldiers Review: de Blob’s Creators Make An RTS

July 2, 2009

Swords and Soldiers

Every now and then a WiiWare game comes out and catches people off-guard, because really, who’s expecting something good from that platform? (Certainly not Nintendo, who neglected to mention anything about it at this year’s E3 press conference, and barely even showcased it at their booth.) However, after making your way through a lot of the shovelware that has found its way to Nintendo’s downloadable service, there are some gems, the latest of which is Romino Games’ “Swords and Soldiers.”

Developed by the same team that brought the world “de Blob,” “Swords and Soldiers” is unlike anything else that’s available on the Wii – it’s an accessible (it’s a good word here) real-time strategy game that takes out all the complexity of the genre, but leaves in all the fun. Throughout the course of the game you play as three different factions all with goals they need to accomplish (most of which involve food) and you have a wealth of units, attacks, and spells to help you accomplish them. It’s a familiar genre for gamers that have been around for a while, but since it is usually fairly complex, has scared away many potential newcomers over the years; “Swords and Soldiers” will do a good job of bringing them back. [Read more]

Let’s Tap Review: Hardcore Tapping

June 26, 2009

Let's Tap

In video games, there’s a fine line between innovation and annoying feature, and Sega’s latest Wii release, “Let’s Tap” toes that line very dangerously. It’s a creative new game from Sonic the Hedgehog’s creator Yuji Naka and his new studio Probe. The selling point for “Let’s Tap” is that it’s entirely motion controlled, and while that’s not groundbreaking in today’s market, you don’t have to use a camera to play, and there’s (mostly) no extra peripherals needed. Again, that’s still not entirely original since most Wii games fit both of those descriptions, but in “Let’s Tap” you can play the whole game without ever laying a finger on the Wii remote – the entire game is controlled by tapping. [Read more]

Punch-Out!! Review: Back In The Ring With A Vengeance

June 8, 2009

Punch-Out!!

It’s always been amazing to me how some video game franchises can withstand the test of time, and others just fade away. It’s been 15 years since gamers have been able to get their hands on a new “Punch-Out!!” game from Nintendo, but with the release of the Wii everything old is new again (except “Kid Icarus” apparently). Whether it’s your first time stepping into the ring with Little Mac, or just your first time since Nintendo felt the need to put the word “super” in the title of all their games (even the not so super ones), “Punch-Out!!” on the Wii is a welcome experience. [Read more]

Klonoa Review: Is He A Cat Or A Rabbit?

May 22, 2009

Klonoa

Video game remakes have been occurring more and more this console generation than ever before. With the advent of Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, it’s become extremely easy, and less risky for publishers to reach into their back catalogs and push out a rehashed “classic” from the mid 1980s. Some are better than others, but all of them prey on the sense of nostalgia that is virtually omnipresent in gamers over the age of 22. And that works because a lot of the games that have been re-released, your “Pac-Man”s and your “Galaga”s, are games that people are lifelong fans of, but does that same theory work when the game in question isn’t as well known as “Dig Dug”? Well, Namco Bandai (coincidentally the publisher of all of the aforementioned games) has set out to answer that question with the re-release of the lesser known PS1 game, “Klonoa.” [Read more]

Major Minor’s Majestic March Review: One Time, At Band Camp…

May 14, 2009

Major Minor's Majestic March

There is absolutely something to be said about innovation, especially in the world of video games. It’s not something that comes along every day, and when it does, there’s always a level of trepidation on the game publisher’s behalf over how well it is going to be received by the always-hard-to-impress gaming public. “Major Minor’s Majestic March” is one of those titles that offers a taste of innovation, but, overall may fail to wow a lot of gamers.

“Major Minor” is basically a new take on what is becoming a very saturated corner of the market - rhythm games. However, it is less like your more traditional games in the genre, your “Rock Band”s or “Guitar Hero”s and more like the video game version of a metronome. While that may not sound as appealing as rocking out to covers of Black Sabbath, keep in mind the creative vision behind Majesco’s latest Wii title is the same one that really introduced the entire rhythm genre to the mainstream over twelve years ago, with a rapping dog, and an onion. [Read more]

World of Goo Review: Puzzles With a Creamy Filling Inside

April 8, 2009

World of Goo

When it comes to puzzle games, most recognize the simple gameplay and progressive designs that eventually get harder, and require more skill and knowledge that has been acquired through the game. This method of learning and practical application has been the staple for most puzzle games since the beginning of time; stick the right row of blocks into the correct place, fire the right kind of orb over the field into the right order, send the psychotic green-haired mooks into different roles-as taught to you be the handbook and tutorial-to the end of the level. It’s a very efficient system. In 2D Boy’s award-winning “World of Goo” no such learning period exists. [Read more]

BIT.TRIP BEAT Review: Bleep Bloop Heaven

March 24, 2009

Bit.Trip BEAT

Has gaming gotten to the point yet where it’s no longer “innovative” to create a game that’s inspired by the 1980s? With the re-releases of many updated classics on Xbox Live, “Mega Man 9”’s successful “updated” release, and the revitalization of 8-bit culture courtesy of games like “Retro Game Challenge” and cultural benchmarks like chiptunes, are video games coming full circle, or are gamers just being marketed gaming’s latest fad? If Akysys Games’ latest WiiWare release “BIT.TRIP BEAT” has anything to say about it, it’s the former, and not yet the latter.

Innovation is in the eye of the beholder, and when it comes to “Bit.Trip.Beat” I can’t yet tell if it can be considered “innovative” because my eyes are still tearing up… ya know, in a good way. Reminiscent of the modern day classic “Lumines,” “BIT.TRIP” melds simple gamplay, bright colors, and a uniquely integrated soundtrack to create an entirely new gaming experience. Well… calling it “entirely unique” might be a bit of a stretch… perhaps calling it “an experience inspired by games have haven’t been seen in many years” would be more appropriate. [Read more]

MadWorld Review: Paint the Town Red

March 12, 2009

MadWorld

With the endless sea of sequels and generic rehashes the video game industry is saturated with, it’s a nice change of pace to see a small developer, taken under the wing of Sega, to produce a truly unique experience. With its Frank Miller signature look, barrage of pop cultural references, and ridiculous amount of unrealistic violence, this breath of fresh air will infamously be known as “MadWorld.” This short but fun beat ‘em up is developed by Platinum Games (made up of the key members of the team that formerly worked for the creative powerhouse Clover Studios), and, depending on what type of person you are, you might either love it or hate it.

The first thing worth talking about, because it’s the first thing you’ll notice about “MadWorld,” is the graphics. As you can tell by looking at any trailer or screenshot, there is a heavy influence from comic books, with Sin City stylistically leading the pack. Does it work? Yes. The characters and environments are so stylized due to the black and white look that you can easily tell things apart. One aspect that helps makes the graphics work even further is as you progress through a level, you’ll notice that many objects tend to say indefinitely. For example, that guy you slammed into the Rose Bud (spikes on the wall) with a sign through his head? He’s still there. The sight of an empty level transforming into a wallpaper of corpses would bring a smile to those with the right sense of humor. As a nice little bonus, surprisingly, unlike most Wii games, “MadWorld” doesn’t look terrible on a HDTV. [Read more]

Evasive Space Review: Lost In Space

February 24, 2009

Evasive Space
Lately, it seems it usually takes a really good reason for a lot of Wii owners turn on their systems, sit down, and play something that isn’t “Wii Sports,” “Rock Band,” and/or ”Guitar Hero.” After all, those are some of the best party games that have been released in the last few years, and that’s why the Wii has become a party system for a lot of owners – only to be played when guests are over. However, if you look really hard, there are a few reasons to turn on your console, and load up a game, and sit and play, even if company isn’t over. “Evasive Space” is one of those games, developed by High Voltage, and published by Akinai Games, it was released last week via WiiWare. It may not be “the next big thing” but it does offer quite a bit of fun in a small package.

“Evasive Space” has a very loose story about a Stellar Guardian named Konki who has to reignite the universe by collecting stolen constellation stones, and defeating the evil Dr. Dark Matter. It’s not a great story by any means, and it’s told through text boxes that preempt each level. The blandness of the story, as well as its presentation is one of my few complaints about the game, but it’s easy to look past, when compared to the gameplay. In fact, you’ll most likely find yourself ignoring the story completely, and focusing mainly on beating the levels, after all that’s really the heart of this game. [Read more]

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