Archive for December, 2008

12/16 Review-Shaun White Snowboarding (Wii)

December 17, 2008

Hey gamers, long time no talk but my absence is with good reason. Below are the games I have been enjoying since the last post…
-Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
-WiiFit
-Smackdown vs Raw 09′
-Madden 09′ All Play
-World of Goo
-Kid Icarus
-Pokemon Pearl
-Castlevania
-Space Invaders Get Even
-Call of Duty: World At War
…and finally…
-Animal Crossing: City Folk…I know, I know. I hated the game and I get that but there’s still something addicting to this game. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up to it. I don’t believe I was too harsh on it. In fact some days I figure I wasn’t harsh enough. Anyways, maybe it needs that second chance…or…maybe it’s just a train wreck of a game that I can’t turn away from…yeah…that sounds good.

At this point I usually try to interject a humorous story about something that happened this past week, but honestly, I don’t have one that doesn’t embarrass me. I know I should be honest, but I honestly intend to keep this PG and my story wouldn’t do that. We’ll just leave it at this…I discovered that Sam Adams Winter Lager is the greatest seasonal beer ever made, and it’s a true America beer. Needless to say, I was a HUGE patriot this weekend!

Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip (Wii)
I’ll start this out by saying I haven’t played a snowboarding game in quite some time. I believe it was the first SSX on the Gamecube…or maybe PS2…I don’t remember, but that was the last snowboarding game I’ve played and that was a long time ago. They never really appealed to me. They were fun for the first hour but then it became more of the same. They are very repetitive and it’s kind of like NASCAR, how many times can you really have fun going down a hill? Well…enter Shaun White Snowboarding.

First things first, if you don’t own a balance board or don’t plan on getting one, you can pretty much skip the rest of the review. Why? Well, this game with the traditional Wii control screen is fairly boring and causes sharp pains in your forearm. I played it traditionally for about a half hour before my forearm felt like it had been Saw II’ed into a pit of hypodermic needles. That was not fun, but that was only after I had discovered how much fun it was on the balance board…ONTO THE FUN!

The genesis of getting this game started with two friends of mine because we figured how bad can it really be? They only owned WiiFit for the board, and I up to this point had avoided the board because of a lack of games. Thankfully this game came around otherwise I’d never get on that board.

The first thing I noticed about this game was how absolutely lackluster the menus are. Yeah, they’re stylized in the same manner as the game, but they didn’t jump out at me and were completely unremarkable. The same goes for the music. It’s all licensed but the ‘hot’ artists of today but I’d be damned if I could remember one of the songs. The positive of this? We burned through them and jumped directly into the multi-player mode.

The first thing you need to do is configure the board and find the absolute middle so it caters to your balance. This became a small ordeal as we screwed that up a few times. No fault of the game, we’re all just a little dumb and we don’t know how to read directions.

Finally, we were able to get the board centered and it was onto the actual game portion. You are given a map with different accessible mountains. We selected the most basic mountain and decided racing would be the safest bet for us noobs so the game wouldn’t completely pwn us (yes, I’m trying to speak gamer). Now the game really kicks off.

The game enters the race mode and the first thing you notice is wow, this game is a gorgeous game on the Wii. You really get a sense of height, distance, and how big these mountains actually are. The look of it just socked me in the stomach. It was as if Wolverine had leapt through my window, rained fists down upon my skull, and then drank my Winter Lagers in his final humiliation. In the end, it was simply phenomenal but you only have a few seconds to take in the art before you’re thrown down the hill.

Now you have to learn the controls, and you learn them quick. Since the balance board is positioned like a snowboard, you work it like a snowboard. You stand with your knees slightly bent, tilting forward moves you right, tilting back moves you left, leaning right you stop, and left makes you crouch and go faster. This control scheme, once you get used to it, is PHENOMENAL. Simply put, no other snow boarding game can now compare based on shear controls alone, but we’re not finished yet…

You still need to pull of tricks which requires the Wii remote which I hope you’re still holding. After all, I never said to put it down! Anyways, the easiest way to describe it in short terms is certain button combinations create certain moves which gets you points. These points are then used to pull of different special moves or win competitions that are point based, but how do you pull of these tricks? Well, numerous jumps are placed throughout each level and this is where the knee bending comes into play. To jump you simply extend your knees out(DON’T JUMP!) and it sends you high into the air so you can pull of some incredible tricks and in some instances pull of tricks that go directly into grinding a rail. This aspect was amazing and a complete blast. You truly get a sense of speed and height. Compound that with the added desperation to complete that last rotation, and you have one amazing experience!

My friends and I spent a good 2-3 hours playing in the different modes and each mountain offered a new and exciting challenge. On top of that, the more we got used to the controls, the more complicated the tricks got and the higher the point totals as we all competed to out do each other. That right there is the selling point. This game should be included within the definition for the Wii. The Wii was created for games like this, and Ubisoft did a masterful job in their first snowboarding outing. I truly recommend this game for any party, family function, or get together you have. If you play this with someone who doesn’t enjoy it then I suggest you not only take them out of your 5, but you may want to think about taking them out of your life all together.

Now, I know I’ve done a lot to paint this as the greatest snow boarding game, but I suppose I better add the one negative as my throw away comment. The dialog in the game is horrendous. Ok, horrendous isn’t even the correct word for it…it’s horrterreousible…that’s right it’s horrible, terrible, and horrendous all in one. There’s no doubt a sequel will be made, but before that happens, the writers who did that should be fired. Take my word for it, during the single player mode, skip all voice work…it’s just not worth losing that time forever.

In the end, I give Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip 4 black diamonds out of 5

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Review-Animal Crossing: City Folk 12/01/2008

December 1, 2008

Hey folks! So sorry about the delay but I’ve been playing a lot of new/old games lately, and I was trying to decide which game would be appropriate for my next review. Also, I was working on my Holiday Game recommendations but I was having a rough time with it, and before I knew it Black Friday was over. So, I have to apologize for that. Finally, after numerous games played I came to the conclusion that I have to write about Animal Crossing:City Folk for the Wii. I have a lot to say about this…ah hmmm…gem.

Animal Crossing: City Folk

For those new to the Animal Crossing world, it is a series that first began in Japan on the Nintendo 64. It was being ported to the United States about the same time Gamecube was unleashed on the world, and instead of appearing on the N64 it was ported over to the Gamecube and became an immediate hit. It had a very long life on the Gamecube until finally making its way over to the Nintendo DS, and finally the Wii has their version, Animal Crossing: City Folk.

Now, what is Animal Crossing? Well, it’s just about the oddest life simulator on the market if you can call it that. You take the role of a human looking creature who is moving to a town that you name, but the system creates. Hidden within this village are two shops (retail and clothing), a town hall, a train or bus stop depending on the game, and a museum. The Gamecube version also contains a police station which has since been replaced with town guards who stand by an entrance that you can use for WiFi play. Basically the point of the game is to earn AC’s monetary unit, bells, and use those to upgrade your house, enhance your wardrobe, purchase furniture, and donate to the local town hall.

In the inaugural Gamecube game, you could receive original, playable NES games but Nintendo unwisely has taken that feature out. Why? I don’t know because it was hands down the best feature of the original game. Something else that has been replaced since the original version is a separate island that was accessed via the Game Boy Advanced. It has been replaced by the cold chill of nothingness. It has left an absolute void in my heart because I had a lot of fun and made a lot of bells on that tiny island!

So now I know what you’re thinking. How in the world can a game that sounds like that become a million+ unit seller on each system it’s been on (except for the Wii, time will tell)? It’s easy. This game preys on the same notion that Pokemon feeds on but with a much more unusual twist. The game is all about collecting things. You collect fish which in turn rewards you with a golden fishing rod. You collect bugs to get a golden net. Hell, you even collect presents floating around the world with balloons to get a golden slingshot! There’s also rewards for donating money, getting your hair styled a certain amount of times in a row, and finally just purchasing a large sum of items to upgrade the stores in your town. Also, the game runs off real time so a holiday might be here today and gone tomorrow and with that goes the holiday specific items. It’s all about collecting, no more, no less but it is something I have found addicting for two iterations of this game…until now…

The first reaction I had when I first turned on the game was, “Wow, I’ve seen this intro two times already. There is nothing new here…maybe later…”. So, I get into town and I’m told to pick out my house…just like the other two. Then, after my house is chosen, I’m told to visit Tom Nook (the shop keeper through all three games) to pay off my debt. Oh boy! Here it is, here is where the game will change! I get to Tom Nooks and this little raccoon puts me in a strikingly familiar uniform and has me perform THE SAME EXACT JOBS I’VE DONE ON TWO OTHER GAMES! Tom Nook, at this point, needs to be choked out by a python that is in the midst of getting death rolled by a croc. Then his body needs to be snatched from the pythonidile combination and stewed over an open fire to be enjoyed by my vindictive taste buds. I’m livid. Nintendo had eight years from their last platform Animal Crossing and three years from Animal Crossing on the DS to make something, anything new and what did the brain trust their say, “Well, it’s worked twice already! Lets do it again!”. It’s basically like Nintendo saying, “Hey, why don’t we have Mario save the princess for yet another game”. We all know they’d never do that! Right? Riiiiiight?

I quickly found out why they added the wrist strap to their controller as I tried to whip mine in fury only to have it hang onto my wrist and smacking me in the balls on my follow-through. If I didn’t hate this ‘New’ Animal Crossing before, I certainly did now! I’m not gonna lie, I put this game down for a while. So about two hours later I returned to the game because I knew they did, in fact, have one new feature. They added a city you could visit and I guess that sort of takes the place of the missing island. So I finish up my jobs in record time because, lets be real, I knew what they were before that, I go fishing for some bells, and I take a bus trip to the city. What I found…or didn’t find…in the city shocked me even more.

For the most part, besides the Wii Speak feature which I’m not even getting into here, is the city you can visit. Hell, the game is called Animal Crossing: City Folk. I mean, when you put a feature of the game in the title of your game that feature better be huge! I’m not expecting a city on Grand Theft Auto’s level but I expect multiple stores and maybe even two floors. I expect something along the lines of Olmec’s temple from Legends of the Hidden Temple to fit in with the quirkiness of the game. You know, crazy and wacky ways to get to different areas of the city only be to attacked by natives…ok…maybe not attacked but crazy and wacky none-the-less. What I’m about to list below is the list of things to do in this city. No, not just the city but the BIG enhancement to Animal Crossing…
Redd’s Black Market
A Theater
A Balloon Salesman
The HRA Office
Gracie’s shopping (which has the same inventory day in and day out)
A shoe Shiner
Shampoodle’s hair salon
A fortune teller
An auction house.

Ok, so they put 8 things into this city. I say 8 things because most of these areas…AREN’T EVEN NEW! Redd, the fortune teller, and the HRA have been in EVERY game. Shampoodles was in Wild World, and Gracie has been at least name dropped in every game. That’s five or the eight city offices that aren’t even new! The other three items? I’m sorry but they’re useless. I have found zero reason to visit the balloon man, shoe shiner, or the theater. The auctions you can do at these places do not, I repeat, do not add anything to the game. Especially the auction house which you can only use if you have registered friends into Animal Crossing, a process I don’t even want to get into, and that’s it.

So, what is my final take on this game? Well, I ended up playing it for two torturous weeks in the attempt of finding anything new. I even put a game of Halo on hold last night while friends were over to visit KK Slider and get a CD from him (another feature in EVERY game), but I have found zero redeeming qualities to this game. What I suggest is taking this game and use it to flash light into the eyes of gorillas at a zoo. Just when the gorillas get extremely agitated, you whip the disk at them so in their fury, they destroy it in a crazy rage. Then, since gorillas are so smart, they memorize the word Nintendo, discover where their home office is and put the developers through the same hell I was put through while playing this game. My holiday recommendation? Save 40 dollars and buy the far superior Gamecube version for ten bucks at a used game store.

Finally, I forgot to initiate my scoring system in the last post but it’s debuting here. I will be doing a 1-5 scale (No halves. Reviewers who use half points are lazy in my opinion. Make up your minds). One is the lowest and five is the highest and the scale will have a theme revolving around the game. Therefore, Animal Crossing: City Folk gets a 1 Annoying Villager out of 5.

PS: If I had to go back and review the initial Animal Crossing for the Gamecube, that game would receive 4 Golden Shovels out of 5.