Monday, December 31, 2007

Review: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Platform: Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release: November 2007

Super Mario Galaxy is a divine, awe-inspiring title that deserves your attention more than any other release this year.

Every generation there’s always at least one title that shocks you with just how marvelous it is. I was wondering when I’d find that in the next-gen. Sure, there’s been plenty of great releases on all of the current consoles up to now – but none have truly amazed me with their quality. Enter Super Mario Galaxy, a wondrous, highly-imaginative title that shows us that clever level design and spectacular game play are the true reasons to game in the next-gen.

I honestly wasn’t desperately excited to play this one at first. Super Mario Sunshine managed to earn positive reviews as well, but that title failed to truly impress me (with it’s rather derivative game play and somewhat yawn-inducing design). On the Wii, however, it’s a whole new experience.

The Wii controls work beautifully here. Save for one or two special levels where they’re somewhat finicky, they’ll become second-nature within minutes of playing. The camera has always been a major complaint for 3D plat formers, but I have to say, I really didn’t have an issue with it in Galaxy.

With oodles of levels to explore and stars to collect (and a rather swell secret for those skilled gamers who manage to get ‘em all), you’ll definitely feel like you’ve got your money’s worth with Galaxy. The great thing about it is, every planet feels like a whole unique experience – not one minute during this title did I feel bored, and that’s not something you can say very often about a video game. It’s incredible at how imaginative Galaxy is – not only in the visuals (they’re far below the other consoles in terms of raw graphical power, but in terms of overall design, they’re way ahead of many games on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360) but in terms of new power ups, level design, and game play challenge variety.

Difficulty-wise, I’d say Galaxy is just right. It’s easy enough for your little cousin to beat it – but not without retrying some of the more challenging levels over and over again. More games should strive to have this perfect difficulty balance.

Overall, if you haven’t experienced the sensation that is Super Mario Galaxy, you should immediately get off this website, run to your nearest retailer, and purchase a copy. It’s a divine, awe-inspiring title that deserves your attention more than any other release this year. Although that may sound like a rather tall claim, once you immerse yourself into the wonder that is Galaxy you’ll never be able to put the Wii remote down.

Rating: 9.7 (out of 10)

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Games That Never Were #2: Frame City Killer (Xbox 360)

Frame City Killer was a Namco published/developed Xbox 360 title announced even before the launch of the console itself. Originally predicted to hit Microsoft's (then) brand new console in early 2006, it was quietly scrapped by the company after a poor reception at a past E3 and because of major development issues.

An action game in the spirit of Max Payne, Frame City Killer should have been technologically sound because it supported the Unreal Engine 3. However, according to many sources, it had severe frame rate issues and graphical glitches that kept it from seeing an actual release. Take a peek at this in-game screen shot:

Did the world really have room for another generic third-person shooter anyway? Despite the numerous quality issues already mentioned, perhaps a crowded market for this genre was another reason Namco decided to can this game rather than to spend time to fix its problems.


Past entries in this series:
Games That Never Were #1: Capcom Fighting All-Stars

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Japan and Their Top 50 Favorite 360 Games

Although the Xbox 360 is faring better than most other U.S. based consoles in Japan, when your other competition is, um, the original Xbox and the 3DO, that’s not really saying much… Regardless, it’s interesting to see that, while the 360 seems to be doing a bit better than its predecessor in the Land of the Rising Sun (with such titles that would appeal to the average Japanese consumer like the RPG Blue Dragon) it’s still not quite selling like hot cakes. Is it a Western bias or is it a lack of software that appeals to the Japanese market? Whatever it is, here is a list of the top 50 best selling Xbox 360 games in Japan, complete with the number of copies sold for each title.

1. Blue Dragon - 203,740
02. Dead or Alive 4 - 108,618
03. Ace Combat 6 - 83,045
04. Halo 3 - 82,987
05. Ridge Racer 6 - 73,501
06. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 72,274
07. Trusty Bell - 70,244
08. Gears of War - 68,270
09. Dead Rising - 68,078
10. Lost Planet - 61,555
11. DEAD OR ALIVE Xtreme 2 60544
12. Lost Odyssey - 60,376
13. Idolm@ster - 48,695
14. Dynasty Warriors 6 - 44,292
15. Assasin's Creed - 41,436
16. Ninetynine Nights - 38,019
17. Forza Motorsports - 2 31,255
18. Rumble Roses XX - 29,187
19. Crackdown - 28,588
20. Culdcept Saga - 27,960
21. Earth Defense Force 3 - 27,087
22. Perfect Dark Zero - 26,085
23. Test Drive Unlimited - 25,788
24. PGR3 - 25,058
25. Beautiful Katamari - 24,186
26. World Soccer Winning Eleven X - 21,904
27. Armored Core 4 - 21,096
28. Dead Rising (Xbox 360 Platinum Collection) - 20,325 (total sales 88,313)
29. [eM] eNCHANT arM - 20,233
30. Saint's Row - 18,593
31. Rainbow Six Vegas - 18,592
32. Oneechanbara vorteX - 18,443
33. Need for Speed Most Wanted - 17,973
34. Bulletwitch - 16,241
35. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 - 15,994
36. PlayOnline/Final Fantasy XI All-in-One Pack 2006 - 15,754
37. World Soccer Winning Eleven 2008 - 15,090
38. Idolm@ster (Xbox 360 Platinum Collection) - 14,864 (total sales 63,559)
39. Earth Defense Force 3 (Xbox 360 Platinum Collection) - 14,707 (total sales 41,794)
40. Final Fantasy XI Wings of the Goddess Expansion - 14,412
41. Call of Duty 3 - 14,194
42. Virtua Fighter 5 Live Arena - 13,169
43. Chrome Hounds - 13,110
44. Tenchu Z - 12,974
45. Project Sylpheed - 12,283
46. PGR 4 - 12,237
47. Viva Pinata - 12,184
48. Godfather - 11,670
49. Dynasty Warriors 5 Special - 10,957
50. Bulletwitch (Xbox360 Platinum Collection) - 10,857


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Would Taking Away Your Christmas Gift Convince You to Stop Smoking Pot?

What do you do when you come home from work early only to discover your 15-year old son smoking weed? Sell his beloved Christmas gift, of course.

At least that's what one Canadian father did. In a public, rather humiliating eBay auction that ended up selling for o $9,000 after an intense bidding war, a dad sold his son's copy of Guitar Hero III for the Wii - a burdensome game to track down this time of year - to punish him for lighting up a joint with his "delinquent" (as the auction author describes them) buddies.

Although there's a large chance that the story provided on the auction page is a bogus gimmick (and the fact that the vast majority of the bidders were newly registered members who kept continuously adding money just for kicks, and not to actually pay), it is an intriguing conversation piece nonetheless. Hey, I've seen auctions similar to this in the past, and they always seem to attract tons of attention. Still, if your auction gets over-run by jokers who will just keep bidding only not pay in the end, do you really want that type of attention?


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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Street Fighter IV Official Info Released!

Maybe you've heard of the highly-acclaimed Street Fighter series. Its second entry was perhaps the most successful fighting title of all time, and the third is considered one of the best 2D fighters from genre enthusiasts. Still doesn't ring a bell? Well, then perhaps this site isn't for you, because not only do I often bring this marvelous series up in my articles, but it's a franchise that even your mother probably knows about.

For those of you still here, Capcom has finally spilled the beans on Street Fighter IV in this month's issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM). Although it has been speculated by some that it will feature a 3D engine, Capcom has confirmed that the game will indeed play as a 2D fighter (albeit with 3D graphics, ala King of Fighters 2006). The developer has said that they want to pack in as many familiar faces from the classic Street Fighter II as possible, but will also feature a wide-variety of new warriors to chose from (and will have a better gender balance unlike past alliterations in the series).

Lacking parries, alpha counters, air blocking, and other features found in past games in the series, it seems as if the developers are looking at a more accessible feel for this entry. Not too much else is known as this point (Capcom has confirmed that it's only 2% complete... and they didn't reveal what consoles it's coming for, either), but for the full story, be sure to grab a copy of this month's EGM.

Source: Electronic Gaming Monthly, January 2008

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Goozex - Sign Up and Receive a Fresh New Game For Your Library!

Whenever someone offers you something free in life, there's usually a catch to it. And when they claim there's not one, it's typical for the average person to become highly suspicious.

No, this is not like one of those shady 'Free iPod offers' you frequently see in pop-up ads across the 'net. If you sign up for Goozex, one of the fastest growing game trading sites on the internet, you will receive 100 free trade points right away for just simply signing up. Whether you chose to continue to use the service is up to you, but you can still pick any title that costs 100 points on the site... and you'll get it shipped to you for free!

Although titles range in price based upon quailty/supply and demand, with over 6,500 available, you're bound to find something you want for the low cost of $0.00. Since you don't have to enter any credit card information, it's worth giving a shot. I currently have a Ridge Racer V coming my way for the handsome sum of nothing...

Note: This is not a referral link, nor am I benefiting from posting this in any way. I am just posting this to inform other gamers about a service I figure they'd be interested in.

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