Wii Frustrations

The Nintendo Wii in March became just the second system ever to die on me. The first death was entirely my fault as I tried to escape GCSE revision to play PS2 games. Having had the power lead confiscated I decided to plug the power lead from my printer into it. It fitted, what could possibly go wrong? Well it fried the PS2 and surprisingly I still passed my science GCSE despite forgetting about amps, volts and wattage.

The Wii, however, died likely from age. It suffered from a problem faced by many a disc spinner with either its laser giving out or it losing the will to spin wii discs. It still played gamecube games just fine but thats not helpful when you are enjoying De Blob 2. I was annoyed but the Xbox gets most of the play time these days and it was after all a launch console. A replacement was needed though.

Having decided that the prices for a new console were just too high I started looking at the used ones available. Of course if the price cut by Nintendo dropping the price to £100 had happened a couple of weeks earlier I may have thought differently. Game had a pretty good deal whereby you get a used wii for £70 with a controller. With this as my benchmark I hit avforums and ebay to see if I could better that. After a couple of days searching I bid on an ebay Wii which came with the console, two wiimotes and two nunchuks along with two games in Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles (going for £10 on amazon used) and New Super Mario Bros. I
figured that this at marginally less price than the game offer was a great deal and so bid on it and managed to pick it up.

On the payment screen I noticed that the address was wrong (ie old address) and so I clicked change and gave my new address. I then repeated the payment process with the new address and thought nothing of it. 5 days later I was getting a little worried as there was still no sign of my lovely new console. I emailed the seller and he quickly got back to me with a tracking number. Turns out the package spent three days in Cornwall where he is before heading north and eventually finding its way to Kent on Wednesday night.

On Thursday afternoon I checked the site again and found that delivery had allegedly been refused. I then went, checked again and saw that Ebay had given the old address despite my changing it. I called Interparcel who were handling the delivery and changed the address. They said I would get it tomorrow. Friday came around and again I had a negative answer "courier could not gain access to property". I figured fair enough as Beth was out. I called the Interparcel who told me that HDNL were delivering my parcel for me. I asked them to tell them I wanted to collect the parcel from their depot. Interparcel then told me that HDNL do not allow pickups.

Deciding that this was a load of rubbish I told the lady that they did and it was mentioned when I phoned yesterday that it was possible to do so. The lady changed her mind and said it was fine and HDNL would call me. I have had experiences with HDNL before and none of them have been positive. Amazingly though HDNL did actually call me that evening and gave me their address and opening hours.

The next day (Saturday) I headed off to pick up my parcel at 9am. On receiving it I found that the request for a change of address had not been done on my Thursday afternoon call so the Friday attempt had gone back to my old address again. This led to more cursing about HDNL and now Interparcel. Still at least I had it now and it only took 6 days for it to get from Cornwall into my arms… or 10 since my original order.

On getting home I was eager to open the box and get set up. I did not realise that I was about to get my second round of frustrations. These I shall number:

1) You cannot copy Wiiware or Virtual Console games between consoles. This to me is maddening. I have spent at least £60 on game purchases from the Wii shop channel and now they are not allowing me to move them. Sure DRM makes sense on consoles but this is ridiculous. On my Xbox360 my purchases are tied to my online account so if I move my profile I get access to my games. Why is this so hard for Nintendo? Now I have to keep my old wii around and plug it in every time I fancy playing one of my downloaded games.

2) Copying game saves to an SD card takes time and is a pain in the backside. It needs to be done one by one and then even more annoyingly Super Smash Bros Brawl saves cannot be copied. No reason is displayed it just saves 'save cannot be copied'. FU Nintendo I want my Smash Bros save. The reason apparently is because it has online functionality. I think anyone who has tried the Smash Bros online functionality would dispute that and why should that make a difference (except Nintendo have screwed everything up with friend codes).

3) Copying games from an SD card is even more time consuming and tedious. To copy a game from an SD card the console needs to have seen the game before. This meant a process of putting game disc in, entering the menu, going to the sd card, copying, restarting the wii, removing the disc, repeat 15 times till all games are done. Is save game piracy really something Nintendo needed to plan against?

This all smacks of a company either thinking their hardware is unbreakable or sticking two fingers up to their customers. The experience will certainly make me think twice before even considering a future purchase of a nintendo system, though the 6 month periods with no games and poor online functionality had already made me wonder.

Other companies that don't come out blameless then are ebay for letting me change the address and then not bothering to recognise it (though I accept I should have checked the receipt after the payment went through). Interparcel and HDNL also get the naughty stick for conspiring to make sure I didn't get my package in a timely fashion by ignoring the change of address request I put through and then also lying to me about the possibility of my collecting the package from the depot.

Now that this rant is off my chest I can look at the positives, the wii is here, I have put the wii shop out of view and am not hooking the wii up to my network. I have my save games and miis and I can now play wii games. Overall I still think I got a better deal than if I had gone through game but it came with a lot of frustration.

It also leaves me with the following controversial statement – man I wish Royal Mail handled all deliveries in this country (and never striked)…

Games I’m looking forward to the 1st half of 2011

De Blob 2 – Wii – 25 February
The first de blob game was brilliant. It had a very unique style, the graphical style was great for wii and the sound design was fitting as well. I played through the first game with a rental copy, this time barring any huge issues in the reviews I will buy it on day 1.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn – Wii – 25 February
I put Kirby down in my last list… turns out it only got a 2010 release date in the US and Japan. We schmucks in Europe have to wait till the end of February. Oh well, reviews have been good for this latest kirby game which to me makes it a must buy… Kirby is awesome!

Homefront – Xbox 360 – 11 March
I saw a preview for this game over a year ago, I immediately liked the idea behind the game and the visual style (reminding me of the brilliant Half Life 2). The story revolves around America being invaded by Korea (of all countries) and sees you taking on a role in a resistance of guerilla fighters to win back the country. Heres hoping they pull off a decent storyline to supplement the action.

Shift 2 – Xbox 360 – 25 March
I played the first Shift game for precisely one weekend and while I enjoyed it I wasn’t drawn to play it again. Everything I have seen of this second game looks like an improvement though and so I am optimistic that it could be a good sim racing game… If it has Brands Hatch again like the first did then I am even more likely to be buying it. I won’t make my father try this one though… Who would have thought he was slower at racing games that my mother and my wife… I think I know where I got my racing gaming ability from, my mother is pretty darn good at them.

Portal 2 – Xbox 360 – 22 April
The first portal was fairly well hidden away, it came as an anonymous looking puzzle game in a compilation called ‘the orange box’ which contained the half life 2 episodes. It turns out that this fairly short game could be counted as one of the best games of all time. You are given a portal gun with which you are able to define two portals. Walk through one and you come out of the other. The physics engine made the thing what it was andthe whole thing was beautifully framed by the idea that you are working through a testing facility run by a computer called GLADOS who may well be insane… The sequel promises to be a full length version of this game adding a more fleshed out storyline and some adjustments to the formula. This is the must buy game on this list and will be coming on PS3 and PC as well.

Dirt 3 – Xbox 360 – Q2
Dirt 2 was an odd racing game, in 2009 I gave it my Game of the Year awards. When I say odd I mean so stylistically. The graphics were slightly sepia while the menu system was trying to be perhaps a little too hip and occasionally got in the way but the driving was sublime. The AI was good to drive against and the stages created for the game were great. It also tried to add variety basing itself around the X games. This time out they are going back to their roots a little more. This sounds good to me, improved graphics, improved physics and more of what makes a rally game work? I’ll sign up for that… another day one buy for me.

L.A Noire – Xbox 360 – 20 May
Last year I was very happy to find a decent western game come out (though I have yet to buy/play it). The Leone Spaghetti Western’s are some of my favourite films and the genre had been dying for a decent game to represent it. Another poorly service genre of choice for me is crime. There are not many decent games out there where you play the cop, more often than not you are against the law. This is easier to portray and being the right side of the law in games where its done badly gets boring very fast. The indications are though that LA Noire is a game done right. I really hope so.

The 3DS and its games do not yet make this list. For me the announcement of the console was brilliant. It seemed like such a neat idea but in the 6 months since its unveiling each piece of news has only lessened the hype for me.
First came the news that the 3d can damage your eyes. Sounds to me like the virtual boy all over again. Granted they only mentioned it for children but the effect would be the same for anyone with an extended play.
Then more recently they announced the battery life. The best thing for me about my DS Lite is I do not feel tethered to a charging point, I can happily forget about charging my current DS for months and it will still have juice thanks to a meaty 15 hour battery. The 3DS… is a third of this, which is poor. That wouldn’t even sustain me for a flight to the US thus making it worthless.
Now the price, announced yesterday at $250, while I understand that Nintendo likes to make a profit on every hardware unit they sell this is too much. This is more than their home console and at a time when handheld gaming outside of the mobile phone market has gotten a little tenuous. So what if the 3D is cool, it is still a gimmick and is likely to be turned off fairly quickly by the majority of users.
So I will, as I did with the DS, be waiting for the inevitable lite version. It may take a few years but the updated looks and likely improved battery will make it worth the wait. DS rant over…

I hope that you have enjoyed this list, if there are any games you are looking forward to in the next six months let me know below.

To round out this blog post, you want to watch this video:

As you can see most of my images were taken from ign. Ign rocks yo! De Blob from gamezone

Just a little notice as well… this was my 1000 published blog post… Maybe I should do a celebration post next week.

A late comer

A couple of weeks ago I announced the games that I am looking forward to over the next six months, well Nintendo being the cheeky people they are have announced that a game I thought was coming out near Christmas 2010 is actually coming out this May and so makes this list…

Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Wii – 28th May 2010 (wouldn’t be released on a Sunday like in US so picked the next Friday)

The original Super Mario Galaxy is by far the best game on the wii so far, I voted as such by making it my second favourite game of the decade. It is also my favourite ever mario game (I preferred Sonic in the olden days). The game proved that platforming can be amazing in 3d when done properly combining the best graphics on the system with brilliant physics and a masterful soundtrack. Galaxy 2 promises to be more of the same with similar locales, slightly improved graphics and a typically marioesque daft storyline. Sure this might make Nintendo lazy but surely more of the same isn’t always a bad thing. The first game was so good that I would happily take more of the same. Bring it on Nintendo, this time I’m going to preorder…

In other news Split/Second from my previous list now has a new name and a release date. The game will now be called Split/Second: Velocity and will be release on 21st May.

Games I am looking forward to in 1st half of 2010

This is a list of the games that have already been announced that I am excited about in the next five months. The fact is that it appears that most of the good games coming out this year are coming in this period due to the Modern Warfare 2 effect experienced at the end of last year.

In relative chronological order then:

Mass Effect 2 – Xbox 360 – 29th January 2010

The first game on PC was ranked as my favourite game of the last decade. The second game is supposed to be even better fixing all the issues that I am currently fighting with in trying to complete the first game again… which I have to do before getting this one as it continues on keeping the same save file and being affected by your decisions in the original. The big problem with the original is combat, too often you end up dying for seemingly no reason… that is just not fun, this has been fixed and I am very excited to continue the best gaming story I have had the chance to enjoy.

mass effect 2

Just Cause 2 – Xbox 360 – 26 March 2010

I never got to play the first Just Cause game on the PS2, it looked promising but I have since heard otherwise. This game looks like it can fulfil the promise of the first game largely due to the idea of screwing around with a grappling hook (the image below showing a car having been attached to a fighter jet by grappling hook). That said a recent video has made the controls look a little bit weak so while I think this game could be amazing poor controls could render all the fine work pointless. That said the environments in the game look wonderful and with 10000 km2 to explore there will be hours of fun to be had… fingers crossed for the controls then.

Red Steel 2 – Wii – 26 March 2010

The first red steel game sucked. It was the first fps experience for so many wii gamers and the first with motion controls but it was awful. The controls were horrible, the story was simple and dull and the graphics showed the wii to be lacking. That all said though, there was promise. It remains the best game to feature true sword fighting and so along comes the sequel with the wii peripheral ‘motion plus’ that allows you to get closer to 1-1 motion. The team have also added a stylised cel shaded graphics system that makes up for the lack of power in the wii and it just looks like an improvement all round. A heavier slant towards sword fighting is also evident with the gun fighting now playing second fiddle which makes it immediately cooler. This is the first wii game I have been excited about since last summer so it has a lot to live up for in needing to reinvigorate the wii’s recently weak software lineup. Also don’t worry I am out of sequels now…

Red Dead Redemption – Xbox 360 – 30 April 2010

An open world western game is something I have been wanting to play for years. Back in 2005 a game called Gun came out on the PS2 but it had iffy controls and quickly got annoying. Red Dead Redemption looks to give the genre the GTA treatment thanks to it being developed by Rockstar the team behind that game. If any team can pull off a cool western game you have to believe it can be them.

Split/Second – Xbox 360 – 31 May 2010

This game seems to be a mix between Burnout 2 and Excite Truck in that it is insanely fast frantic racing and the scenery explodes around you. Therefore this game should be epic. That said it also sounds like it could be largely down to luck as to where you finish what with the environmental obstacles causing havoc. Still that should make it very good multiplayer. The other slight issue is its made by Disney… which makes it sound weak. Oh well, I am game, where do I sign up?

So other than the fact that I can’t buy Mass Effect 2 until I have recompleted the first game and then have a gap until the 26 March 2010 when two of these games come out I have a pretty good and spaced out lineup for the next six months.

Other games I can look forward to:

  • Trackmania – wii
  • Backbreaker – Xbox 360: something needs to give Madden some competition and force it to improve its game

All images courtesy of ign.com

Best of the Decade – Games

This has been a decade when gaming technology has come on leaps and bounds. While the 1990’s were the decade of the third dimension the 2000’s have been about innovative control and high definition. That being said, a lot of the best games I have played came out towards the beginning of the decade. This list is largely comprising the games into which I have sunk and will continue to sink a large amount of my time due to their excellence in either single or multiplayer.

Top Ten games of the 2000’s:
10. Burnout 2 – Gamecube – 2003
The original burnout was a hard game especially in multiplayer as the amount of traffic and the lack of boosts made it tricky to finish a race before running out of time (especially when playing with your feet). Burnout 2 addressed this and made it more casual friendly by making it near impossible to fail the checkpoints while incorporating tracks that work brilliantly and are more varied. The multiplayer is mainly what gets this game here, I have spent days playing this game in multiplayer. While the single player mode gets a little dull in an hour or so with a lot of repetition there is much to be done with a friend round. The strong crash junctions provide something for casual gamers (like my wife) to enjoy the game and this is the only game to which I can add that a blind friend of mine managed to beat me… nuff said.

9. Advance Wars – DS – 2005
Turn based strategy you can take with you. This is my favourite war sim. I still enjoy this series of games from its official start on the game boy advance to the latest Days of Ruin reboot. It is addictive and has made many train journeys seem to take no time at all. If they keep making these I will keep buying. The premise being its a little like rock paper scissors with certain units effective against one thing but useless against something else (helicopters vs AA guns anyone). The level design is varied and the story throws up super weapons to make life harder. The perfect travel companion.

8. Timesplitters 2 – Gamecube – 2002
Of all the games with which I have spent time, this is the one that has sucked the most of it. Timesplitters 2 is bar none the best first person shooter I have ever played with its bizarre story mode, humour, many many challenges and create your own level mode. The multiplayer is also very strong with four players running around blowing merry hell out of eachother. College lunchbreaks would not be the same without timesplitters and I will be still playing at the end of the next decade.

7. Dirt 2 – XBox 360 – 2009
While not perfect this game has a lot of variety in its racing, beautiful graphics, spot on controls and a good damage system. It is therefore the best racing game I have played. It is unfortunate that I had to say racing there as the rallying side is a little underwhelming. Lots of fun to be had here though with a rush coming from knowing you are so close to losing everything around the next bend as you fly towards a wall. Exhilarating and good fun at 2am the day after Thanksgiving…

6. Professor Layton – DS – 2008
Professor Layton was a little slow in finding its way to the UK (it came out in the US in 2007) but it did very well for itself last christmas selling out across the country. The mix between brainteasers and a strong story was what caused it to sell so well. With more games Layton coming there will be much more for the public to sink their teeth into. Whats more its a game my wife finishes before I do and anything that encourages her to play games is fine by me.

5. Boom Blox – Wii – 2008
Another game my wife finishes before I do is Boom Blox which is from Steven Spielberg apparently. To my recollection there has been no better party game. I have never had anyone say that they have not enjoyed this game. Its unique style, perfect use of the wii remote (this really could not be on another console) and physics engine that never gets it wrong place this game in here.

4. GTA San Andreas – PS2 – 2004
It might be odd that this is the version of Grand Theft Auto that finds its way into this list after GTA 4 stole the headlines last year but GTA 4 just isn’t fun for me. The PS2 games had a slightly arcadey feel to them especially in their driving mechanic and this is unfortunately missing in the newer game. The story is fun and the game world is more varied than the cityscape of games past. The variety of things you can do in this open world are limited largely by your imagination. The fun to be had in driving a sports car to the top of the games mountain and flying it off the ramp to be found there at high speed is not to be underestimated. This is also the game where the controls were tightest and the missions the least frustrating.

3. Half Life 2 + The Orange Box – PC – 2007
Half Life 2 would probably have been my number one but for a big frustration… Ant Lions, my word do those things make me annoyed, those buggers are also the reason I am not a big fan of HL2: episode 1 which I am sure I will come back to and finish at some point. The story of Half Life 2 is one of the best with a dystopian world where the citizens are oppressed by the combine. Gordon Freeman ends up in the middle of this and has to first stay alive before eventually trying to free humankind. The orange box represents the best value in video game history with Half Life 2 and its two episode packs plus portal (which is by itself one of the best games ever made taking a simple concept and making it addictive) and team fortress 2 (a crazy multiplayer game)… if only it weren’t for the ruddy ant lions…

2. Mario Galaxy – Wii – 2007
I grew up with sega systems therefore I preferred Sonic, I still do not like Nintendo’s flagship series in 2d form. I keep trying but I also keep failing. In 3d though Mario is more interesting while Sonic is a bit crap with endless gimicks ruining what Sonic should be while Nintendo have struck gold with mario keeping to what made it work. This game is the best platformer ever with graphics that while cartoony are also impressive, a control system that is almost perfect and a physics engine that works superbly to make platforming fun again. Sure the story is the same we have played a thousand times and the game can be a bit easy but these things do not cloud such mastery by Nintendo.

1. Mass Effect – PC – 2008
Having now played the start of the Xbox version this game would not be number 1 if it had been played on that platform. The controls are iffy at best while the PC version flowed beautifully. I fully enjoyed my 12 hour experience with this game. The story worked well, I felt emotionally attached to the characters and this is the first RPG since Final Fantasy 8 I have truly enjoyed. This is also the best sci-fi game on the market. The story sees you as one of the unliked human race struggling to make your name in the galaxy. As things start to go awry you go investigating with your team levelling up as you go. The game is set across an epic scale and for those 12 hours I was hooked. I am very much looking forward to the continuation of this series next year, the problem is I need to complete the xbox version of the game first…
The pc game is my game of the decade because it hooked me into its world, showed me that not all rpg games are rubbish and that there is hope for space travel in games.

Here are the games that nearly made the cut:
Race Driver 3, Metroid Prime Trilogy, Fallout 3, Fifa 10, Star wars battlefront, Madden 09, Grid, Wii Sports, Pikmin, F1 ’06

Come back tomorrow for my review of the year.

Images from microsoft.com, niceskybox.files.wordpress.com, ign and the guardian

Boom Blox: Bash Party

The first Boom Blox was a hit taking the simple idea of knocking blocks over with balls and making that concept even more fun. You wonder how much Steven Spielberg contributed to the idea beyond the basic idea but that man is a genius. A year has passed since that game was released and EA have released a sequel again with the great Spielberg stamping his name on it.

The sequel is essentially the same as the original but there are multiple additions and changes to the formula. For example while it might seem like a small change there are now cylindrical blocks. There are also zero gravity and underwater levels that take the already brilliant physics engine to a new level. In terms of the controls, they have been tightened slightly since the first game meaning that they feel slightly more accurate. At the same time though it may have become slightly easier to make a good shot as well. The games style is the same as before with block shaped characters running around making weird noises as you play. They start influencing the levels now though. In some of the underwater levels a giant squid pops up and starts knocking blocks over, in levels where you have to carefully disassemble the tower this adds another level of challenge as you try and catch the blocks before they hit the ground.

There are other changes to the formula as well which include a slingshot mode where you pull back on a block and then fire it at speed at the other blocks and a match three paintball mode where you fire paintballs at a structure to match three blocks of the same colour to make them disappear. Both of these work extremely well. Another addition in the cannon is a little less well thought out, it works, but it could have been better.

The biggest change in the game though is updated ability to create your own levels, in the original this concept worked but was a bit too difficult to use. This time around, every level in the game was created in the level creator so you know exactly what it is possible to create… if you have the time and ability. The upshot of this is that they have properly integrated the internet to transfer levels. You will be shown a button at the bottom of every type of level that will take you to EA’s server and there you can find user and EA generated levels to try and then save to your console. This also means that the game never ends because it is constantly updated and therefore it will last until the next one comes out. The only real problem with the service is that you still cannot play people online. Its no biggy for me though because I prefer having my friends in the same room… being social is kinda underrated these days.

My only other real gripe with the game is the user interface, I understand that they have gone with a kind of theme park, fairground theme to differentiate the levels and it works in single player as you work to progress through each level but I find it downright rubbish in multiplayer as you try desperately to remember where that killer level is hidden. This is where ‘it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ should come in. In the old game you had each game type categorized, for example the shooting gallery games, the pulling down a tower games and the block throwing games were separated from eachother. Now though they are mishmashed together under broader categories of circus, underwater, space and futuristic. I am sorry but this really is not an improvement, I go into the game thinking ‘right we’re playing some slingshot levels’ and then spend 5 minutes trying to find them.

In conclusion, Boom Blox: Bash Party is a brilliant evolution to the series. The controls are tight, the graphics look good for the wii, the physics engine still rocks and it is still the best party game on the wii. From the next version I would hope that we can expect a new online playing mode and 8 player local support (lets be honest there is no reason in Boom Blox why you should be limited to four players). There are some downsides to the new game like the multiplayer user interface but these are forgotten when you consider the vastness of the user generated content available to every player… for free. Whether you own the original Boom Blox or not every wii player should get this game as it is truly brilliant.


House of the Dead: Overkill Review

I am not a fan of horror. Usually the plots are too daft to justify the scares from people running past a window or being hacked up in very bloody ways and therefore I stay well clear. This logic applies to both films and games. I also tend to stay away from light gun games because you don’t get very much control and often the controls (especially on wii) don’t tend to feel that good.

Therefore I was surprised by House of the Dead: Overkill (HOTDO). It is extremely violent and bloody but it also doesn’t take itself at all seriously. It is not for the squeamish or faint of heart but it is rarely scary. The film is pitched like a 70’s horror B Movie and bares a passing resemblance to the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature of 2007. The game sees you hunting down a man named Papa Cesar as he unleashes a mutant virus on the world. The game will see you take on a giant preying mantis, a wheelchair bound telekinetic kid and a whole lot of clowns among other more ghoulish things. It also does controversial things which no other game would dare to do and uses extreme amounts of bad language.

That all taken into account though there is not a lot bad about the game, if you can put up with the gore, controversial subject matter and copious bad language you will have a great time with this game and its silly plot. The graphics are pretty good for a wii game and the control are perfect in that they are strong and accurate and you always feel you can pull of a shot. The levels are set in locations such as a hospital, carnival and train and the design is varied (apart from the fact the screen is dark most of the time). The games sound design is good with strong voice acting even if what they say is a bit poor and obscenity filled. The music backs up the games B Movie vide with some very fitting but disturbing music.

The game doesn’t frustrate you with constant death as you are able to restart where you died with some points pull off your total. It is this high score that you are really aiming for throughout the game. Your aim is to try and rack up the points and it helps with the replay value. There is also a two player version available which for anyone who has played House of the Dead in an arcade will be a handy feature. The only real downside with the presentation is the on rails camera, it swings about as if you are the character and it usually works well but often it gets slightly frustrating with its movement.

In conclusion, if you can handle the blood and subject matter then this is the best lightgun onrails shooter game available on the Wii. It is also the most fun horror game I have played and it is the least PC game available in my opinion. The replayability and multiplayer options are appreciated and make for a fun long lasting game. Well done to Sega for putting it out there.


De Blob Review

It was with some apprehension that I go hold of De Blob. This game is third party in every way and by and large that style of game does not succeed on Wii at all. Happily De Blob exceeded any possible expectations I had about it. The evil Inkt corporation has drained the colour out of the colourful world of Chroma City. You play as Blob who is… a blob of paint. Genius. You are tasked with restoring colour to Chroma City to rescue its inhabitants. This involves bouncing around hitting the buildings while destroing the Inkt army.
The game itself plays well with the control stick being used to move the character around and a quick flick of the wrist making blob jump. It has its moments of pure frustration however, as when multiple enemies attack at once it often will not register all the wrist waggle causing blob just to land near his enemies and be contaminated. This is frustrating when you have done nothing to cause your own demise. If the developer had just moved jump onto a button instead of a motion the game would improve a lot. Other than this the game controls well and it is easy to make the camera point to where you want it to.
The game world is gorgeous in de blob, certainly it looks a bit funky when you have things painted in different colours but this is possibly the best game I have ever played for artistic style. The city is amazing and truly helps the game in every way with no faults whatsoever. Sound design is coupled to this as well with the music depending on what colour blob is and also on the musical style selected at the start of the level.
The game revolves around high scores once the game is completed you are encouraged to go back through and aim for bigger scores in each area. Points are gained from buildings painted and challenges completed. Challenges are set for you by other members of the resistance and include races, battles, converting landmarks and painting things in a theme. It is easy enough to complete a level with a bronze rating as you do not even necesarily have to take on the INKT fortress at the end of each level to complete it but that would mean missing out on some of the best parts of the game.
There are many colours you can make blob that all come from the primary colours (blue, red and yellow) with these you can make him orange, green, purple and brown some challenges require you to be a certain colour to complete them but there is always plenty of paint dotted around the levels for you to use.
The game will take about 10 hours to complete the first time around but there is definitely replay value to be found here. There is also a multiplayer mode which feels a little tacked on. It could be broader and have more modes but it is a fun game to play if you are having friends over.

In conclusion then, De Blob is definitely one of the top third party efforts on the wii console. It brings a very unique and brilliant artistic style and some very fitting music. The game falls down slightly on the control front thanks to an underactive bit of jump waggle that should have just seen the function placed on a button. This is a minor gripe, however, in a game that I generally loved. The lack of depth in the multiplayer is not a big problem either as lets be honest you wouldn’t buy it for the multiplayer but for an amazing experience with a perfect and unique artistic style


Ferrari Challenge review

Now I like racing games. Especially those that strive to be as realistic as possible. Sure I have the time for something like Mario Kart which offers arcade racing fun and true this is really the only way when it comes to online or offline multiplayer. True simulation is hard to managed though, the pinnacle for years has been the Gran Turismo series on the playstation platforms. They feature tight controls and outstanding graphics that push the system. Nintendo have never really had a true simulation game to push the system though. Burnout 2 was the best but that didn’t have realistic tracks.

It is with this in mind that I looked forward to Ferrari Challenge by System 3. The game boasted realistic handling and brilliant graphics and was slated originally for a February 2008 release. That date came and went and then Wii version has only just come out having had its release date pushed back pretty much on a weekly basis. So seven months late, that gave them a lot of extra time to improve upon the game. I was therefore eager to start up my copy and get racing. The game features a large number of cars from Ferrari’s history and it features a good number of tracks such as Silverstone, Monza and Spa. The game is one player only which is a shame but not the end of the world.

You know there is trouble when the home screen has lag but I ignored this and went racing. The only track unlocked at the start of the game is Monza, you unlock the others by coming in third or better at that tracks race. The races are timed and not done by number of laps so if you set the race time to five minutes and take five minutes to do a lap then you will only do two laps. This is a system that takes some getting used to but it works. The problem with it though is that the options are five minutes, fifteen minutes (default), 30 minutes or 45 minutes. Each weekend has two races, I am sorry but 15 minutes is not a fun race length and where is the 10 option? The next problem is that the default wii controls are awful. I had high hopes that the Wii remote with its motion controls would be brilliant for racing games with the ability to steer but in this game and several others with the setup (all but NFS Prostreet and Excite Truck) the cars have understeered horribly. Luckily the game comes with the option to plug in the Nunchuk and its analogue stick. As a comparison around Monza with wii controls I managed 2”04 but with the nunchuk configuration I managed 1”56. That is eight seconds difference. I am beginning to think the Wii motion control cannot be used for steering because developers cannot get the sensitivity right. With the nunchuk configuration though the handling is good and fun. The brakes are not though. I am used to turning all the aids and driving lines off on a game, with the aids on in this game it is too easy with them off it is more of a challenge. Turn off the braking line to show you where to brake and you are screwed. The brakes are unresponsive (I imagine ferrari’s having good braking) and it is very hard to judge on a lap by lap basis where you brake according to speed. So this aid is a must but the others can be turned off.

Next up is graphics and overall they’re good for Wii. The Wii is not the best beast for graphics but I have never felt racing games need to be that clear as long as you can get into it. This game has very good car models and the tracks are realised nicely. I would not recommend the default in car view though as the roof line takes up half the screen (a problem I also had in grid). Also I removed there is not enough customisability with the hud it is either all on (speed, timing, distance to cars ahead and behind, map, position, lap, time left) or all off. This is unsatisfactory as I ended up with all of them off to free screen space and didn’t know how much longer the race was going to be or what speed I was going.

The game incorporates a damage system which is fair play to them. What isn’t though is that it sucks. I drove into a wall at 150mph and the bonnet came off. I saw better damage models than this ten years ago. True it beats Gran Turismo where you just bounce off walls but if you are going to put it in you may as well do it well. The racing itself is fun with the AI providing a challenge at times. For the first time ever (for me at least) the AI cars defend their position but taking a tighter line into corners which made me smile.

In Conclusion this is the best simulation racing game on Wii. That is not hard, however, with nigh on zero competition. The game is fun with decent nunchuk handling and a large variety of very sexy cars and well known tracks that are modelled well. The game does have some areas where it just plain sucks, however. For example the default settings are useless (wiimote steering, in-car camera, 15 min races) but with some tweaking they can be sorted. Also the braking zones are impossible without help and it gets a little monotonous. Overall though if you ignore the problems this is a fun racing game which will keep you… and you alone happy for a few days. Now I am just waiting until Codemasters bring out their F1 game next year.


Boom Blox Review

My first article on this section of my website was about Boom Blox and I finally got a copy of it a month ago. The fact that my wife and I have both completed the main modes of the game should not be taken as a down point as this game truly is brilliant.

I’ll be honest though, the game gets it all wrong at the beginning by aiming at an obviously childish audience. The average twelve year old will be stumped by a lot of this game. The box art doesn’t help either casually teasing with its cartoon characters. Once you go in game though you are in heaven whether playing alone or with others. The basic mode in Boom Blox is opposite jenga. You have a tower of blocks and you have to knock it down with a baseball. You therefore take turns throwing baseballs at the structure knocking blocks off it for points and the round ends when all the blocks are gone. It is made more difficult by a perfect physics engine that judges how hard you throw the ball against the weight of the block along with what is above that block to work out if it will go or stay. The higher the points score the harder to knock it off generally.

What makes this game even better is the shear variety of modes in it. For example there is a mode essentially like jenga where you control a hand and have to remove one block at a time without dislodging a big penalty block on the top. Theres another mood where blocks fly by and you have to shoot them with a gun (like duck shoot). The game has well over a hundred challenges and then if that is not enough there is a level creator to make many more of them.

All of the people I have had around to try this game have enjoyed it especially if they are people who tend not to be interested in gaming (my mother) therefore this is a perfect game for parties.

So to finalise Boom Blox may well be my favourite wii game, it is definitely my favourite game so far this year. It is superb for the simple fact that anyone can play it. Nobody who has tried it so far has told me it was bad. The game is so deep and takes a long time to complete and has a good degree of variety. People may criticize poor third party puzzle games on the wii but this certainly is not one. This review comes with a warning though, this game will make you want to build a tower of cardboard boxes and jump through them. Unfortunately the wife wouldn’t let me…