The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo’

Shannon’s Latest Addiction: Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquillity

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on October 29, 2008

Yup, another videogame review.  I know it’s not my normal gig, but it’s been taking up so much of my time lately that I’ve got little else to write on!  XD  Oh well!

Harvest Moons first game on the Wii

Harvest Moon's first game on the Wii

Basics:

System: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Natsume
Rating: Everyone

Concept:

Your character has a farm or a ranch and must grow crops and raise animals to make money.  Using this money you build a bigger and better home and woo a mate to start your family.  In addition to this “life simulation” aspect of the game there is a plot/subplot that adds a more magical element to the game play.  Your goal is to restore the rainbows to your new island home and help return the Harvest Goddess to her rightful home in the island’s sacred tree.  The major theme is persevering nature and restoring economic prosperity and happiness to the island residents.

Controls:

There aren’t many games designed to be played with either the Wiimote and the Nunchuck or the Classic Controller, thus the motion sensing aspects of the game are limited.  There are a few place in the game where you can optionally use motion sensitive controls, but it’s never necessary.

New character design is cute, but gives a new maturity to the game

New character design is cute, but gives a new maturity to the game

Graphics:

Graphically this game is a tough one to describe.  From a technical standpoint this game suffers from low end graphics.  The Wii just isn’t a graphics friendly machine.  However, the designers have once again made the best of things.

This installment of the Harvest Moon franchise brings in a new character designer who keeps the very cute look of the past game but gives the characters distinct ages (you’re not a 12 year old running a farm anymore), races and personalities.  That’s an amazing feat when your working with low end detail and Mii inspired character models, but it works.  This is mostly due to distinct and colorful costume and hair design.  Realism is out the window on this one (lime green hair on a 40 year old grocer anyone?) but who cares!  It’s CUTE!

Background trees and shrubs blend with cartoony characters in beautiful harmony

Background trees and shrubs blend with cartoony characters in beautiful harmony

The biggest improvement in the graphics has come from more natural looking environments.  Items you can interact with remain somewhat cartoony but the texture foliage is far more realistic.  It’s quiet nice.  The background blends in but at the same time, is a distinct entity all it’s own.

Sound:

Sound isn’t a big element in any of the Harvest Moon games, and this is no exception.  Fluffy, wispy music plays in the background and changes based on both the season and the location you’re in.  The music and most of the sound effects are unobtrusive.  I swear that Harvest Moon designers want their game to be the kind you can play with the sound off.  And you can.  No gameplay elements are cued by sound.  However, the sound is nice filler.  I don’t like it, and I don’t hate it.  It works well and that’s cool by me.

Gameplay:

Time is the main reference point in this game and everything you do changes bases on the day of the week and the season.  All characters in the game keep a weekly schedule that the player must be aware of to effectivly interact with story characters as well as with the townies they may wish to someday marry.  By the same token shops in the game have days that they close and festival days require the player to keep a mental

Yes, that IS an Ostrtrich and yes, you can have one!

Yes, that IS an Ostrtrich and yes, you can have one!

tally similar to the one they keep for their real life activities. Thus, organizational skills are a must to get full enjoyment of this game.

With everything you do in this game you can do the bare minimum to survive or you can go out and try to raise every crop, every kind of animal, catch each type of fish and cook every possible dish.  Neither way will change the story but changes the game play based on player tastes.

This version of Harvest Moon brings in new animals, and new crops, as well as a new cooking implements and a few other things miscellaneous things.  All in all this game is great and super addictive.

There are many roads to saving the Harvest Goddess

There are many roads to saving the Harvest Goddess

Replayability:

That’s really where this game makes it’s money.  There are so many small day to day interactions that can change how the game is played that there are infinite outcomes and experiences.  Obviously, you can play as either gender, and then marry several different spouses to get different endings, but there are so many more ways the game can change that there is no end to the fun in this game.

Overall:

A+ Wicked game and I love it.  This is the most in depth Harvest Moon game yet.  If you played one of the previous games and felt it was silly to spend so many hours farming this game will rekindle your interest with more acitivities to do in your character’s free time as well as optional ways of earning money.  More characters to meet in this game provides a ton of virety and incremental additions of characters and items keeps the game interesting for hours.

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Boo!

Posted by 1forfun on October 21, 2008

So, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I for one have been extraordinarily slow to get back into school and work. One of the pitfalls I didn’t see coming when I was thinking about blog topics was the time it would take. Not only does it involve writing(which is the least of the time spent) but I now spend increasing amounts of time at King of Trade, as well as time playing games. My roommate and I now have two versions of Spyro, and spend a considerable amount of time on both. Just prior to Thanksgiving I bought myself Luigi’s Mansion for the Game Cube. Needless to say that’s what I spent the great majority of the weekend doing. There is something very satisfying about sucking up ghosts.

I also love that this game features Luigi on a mission to save Mario, a departure from the norm.

The game begins with Luigi discovering that he has won a mansion, and he must come claim his prize. Mario was supposed to meet him there, but arrived before Luigi and was taken hostage by the ghosts inside. Luigi teams up with Professor E. Gadd’s Poltergust 3000 to suck up the specters in the  various rooms. The game is very linear, with a clearly laid out path for Luigi to follow. Every ghoul in a room must be captured before the next room is opened sort of thing.

This game is simple enough to figure out, and I’m more than half finished, my issue is related to the controls. the main control stick moves Luigi, while the C-stick controls which direction the Poltergust faces. I’ve never been one to have good coordination in that area. I’ve tried to play Halo and I alwys end up facing the completely wrong direction. This is much easier to control than Halo, but is still hindering my boss fight.

Overall though it is a very amusing game. The developers have created several different types of ghost, some elemental that require an opposing element to defeat, some portrait ghosts which you have to be sneaky enough to catch off guard, some who pop out randomly in the hallways, and of course the classic Boo, who like to play hide and seek in the furniture.

It is clearly a children’s game (rated E for Everyone) but still fun none the less, and still far more apealing than the neverending piles of homework.

Flipull

Flipull is a problem solving game. There are several differently patterned blocks arranged in a square on the screen. You play as a small orange blob, and your objective is to clear the blocks from a ladder on the other side of the screen. You start off with a block to toss at the others, either matching one of the patterns or a blue block which can be used to clear any of the patterns. You throw your block at matching blocks to clear them, and pick up the pattern that is behind the one you just cleared. In later levels there will be obstacles stopping you from getting a straight shot at some of the blocks, requiring more strategy. In the expert mode, there are fewer squares to clear but only one way to complete each level.

Tetris

Probably the classic puzzle game, tetris has had dozens of incarnations. My favourite is the unofficial NES version made by Tengen. trying to fit all the shapes together, each made of 4 blocks and each fitting in different spaces, really made you think fast about where something would best fit, as well as where the next peice might fit. Also, i love the russian dancers who appear down the middle of the screen between levels. The more points you get the more dancers you get, up to six. The top two dancers are women, and dance differently than the men on the bottom four rows.

Dr. Mario

Similar in idea to Tetris, except there are germs of 3 different colours on each level that must be cleared with the pills that mario throws down. each pill has 2 halves, and each half is one of the 3 germ colours. The player must make stacks of four of the same colour to clear the set. Once all the germs have been cleared, the level is complete.

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Samba de Amigo: A Positive review

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on October 16, 2008

Normally this is where I start talking about the social implication of some new piece of technology or internet craze, but not today!

Samba de Amigo is bright and colorfull even in the box!

May I present to you:  Shannon’s First Game Review (on this site)!

So what game am I reviewing?  Well if you happened to read the title you know that I’m reviewing Samba de Amigo and if you didn’t read the title, you should know now.  If you failed to read all of this, get out.  Seriously.

Ok now that we’re rid of any hangers on I’d like to start by saying that Samba de Amigo is not a good game.  It’s a great game!  XD  Now on to the rest!

Basics:

System: Nintendo Wii

Publisher: Gearbox Software/Sega
Rating: Everyone

It's like a children's cereal mated with a box of crayons...

It's like children's cereal mated with a box of crayons...

Graphics:

Standard Wii graphics here.  Failry last gen, but polished and cool looking.  Character and enviornmental design suit the game perfectly with lots of bright colors and cute (sometimes gender ambigious) characters.  Backgrounds range from stages, to street parades to “floating in space” psychedelic moments.  It’s a great mix that doesn’t take away from the one screen instructions.

Sound effects:

Annoying!  Turn down your Wiimote volume on this one or you won’t be able to hear the music from the TV over the stupid noises coming out of the controls!

Music:

Gender is totally subjective with the Rio character (until you read the manual, then he's male).

Nice arrangement of music, lots of choice.  Some tracks are covers, but some are licenced.  There are a lot of remixes in this game, but they’re generally not bad and all serve the purpose of taking the original song and giving it a Samaba flair.

Gameplay:

There are a handful of different modes to choose from but all of them use the same “flail to the beat” interface that makes you love and hate the game at the same time.  The “Dance” commands give you a heck of a work out as you wave your arms around in longer fluid motions rather than the short maraca shaking moves, and the “Pose” commands give you a break… where you can stand and look silly.

But it’s soooo much fun!

Multiplayer co-op and vs modes make it fun to play with friends.  There are two single player modes that offer a lot of pick up and play action that gets you shaking it to the beat far more than you’d care to admit to your friends.

You place the Wiimote in one and the nunchuck in the other

Controls:

Yes, there are 3 ways to play this game!

1) Nunchuck and Wiimote:  This is pretty standard and aside from occasionally batting yourself with the cable between the two controllers it works very well.  If you really love this game it could be worth getting a wireless nunchuck, or you can opt for option 2.

2) Wiimote X2:  You can use two wiimotes to shake your booty without any cords in the way.  This game maxes out at two players because of this (the system can only support up to 4 wiimotes) but it really is the best way to play.

3) Maraca add ons:  Jam you nunchuck and your Wiimote in to the giant red plastic maracas and break your arms with the added weight!  These things are huge and heavy!  But they make the game a great work out and you feel like a real musician…. kinda.  I’m not sold on these things yet, but they’re cute.  I like that you can remove the beads in them if you don’t like the shaker noise, though to be honest, it’s not that loud.

Creepy Monkey...

Creepy Monkey...

Complaints:

I want character selection!  I do not want to play as the small creepy monkey, I want to play as the butterfly girl!

Please make more Downloadable Content!  XD

Compliments:

Hurray for reviving an under appreciated Dreamcast came!

Great job including Mii’s from the player’s Wii in the game backgrounds.  Super cute!

Overall:

Buy it if you love rhythm games and don’t mind looking a little silly with friends.  It really is fun, despite what you think.  Put this in the closet next to you DDR mat and indulge in your secret shame!  (Or in my case, not so secret!)

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Generation Gap?

Posted by 1forfun on October 10, 2008

With the Thanksgiving long weekend upon us, I thought I’d talk a bit about family this week. My thought process started off with a conversation I had with my Granny awhile back. She lives in a retirement home, and the board decided they would look into getting a Nintendo Wii for the games room in the building. I thought this was a pretty neat idea, having all these seniors learning to use a game console, and the Wii is the perfect choice, particularly with it’s Wii fit. It has the potential to keep everyone active no matter the weather or other limitations. I have to admit it had the added attraction of being available for my use when I come to visit.

However this also made me realize that I don’t want to be playing video games with my Granny. That’s something I do with my friends, and I somehow the thought just seems odd. My Granny is the one who taught me to play crib and double series and many many other games that I loved throughout my childhood and still love today. These are the types of games that I want to play when i visit my Granny, mostly because of the memories, but also because I have no one else to play many of these games with, because most of my friends aren’t familiar with these games.

I for one don’t think a generation gap is a terrible thing at all. I’m all for my Granny playing Wii fit and whatever other games she wants too, just like I support my Grandma using MSN (always an interesting conversation point by the way) but at the same time, I can’t help but feel that we’re losing out on board games and card games. Labyrinth and Skip Bo, Clue and Monopoly, even solitare and freecell, how many people could even play without their computers? I for one look forward to a Thanksgiving of board games and cards along with good food, because I know come Tuesday I’ll be right back to my electronic entertainment.

 

 

Lunar Ball

This is a pretty awesome version of pool. Aside from having a variety of oddly shaped pool tables, which makes it more difficult to clear, you can also adjust the friction of the pool table, ranging from alot of friction and having to shoot the ball twice to get it anywhere, to almsot no friction, and having to wait two minutes for your cue ball to stop bouncing off the sides. Another thing I like about this game is that you can select a level. This is usefull because it gives everyone a change to try out all the different table designs without having to play through them all everytime.

http://www.nesguide.com/games/lunarpool/    The table layouts start getting weird at about 3 minutes.

 

Pinball

A classic. though it wouldn’t seem like it at first, this game actually features MArio in a bonus level you access by getting the pinball through a particular chute. This game, like arcade pinball, is about getting the most points, which makes the 2 player mode more enjoyable. Pinball is one of those games that requires little skill and little attention to still  be entertaining. Not one I played often, just because you can only play for so long before it becomes too simple, but fun none the less on occassion.

http://www.nesguide.com/games/pinball/

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A touch of Nostalgia

Posted by 1forfun on September 26, 2008

Who doesn’t remember Sesame Street. Back when it actually used to be Sesame Street. I for one used to watch the show all the time. Back before they changed it at least. So I was pretty pshyched when I found a Sesame Street game at the pawn shop. Needless to say I bought it, and now that my NES is once again in working order, I had to try out Countdown.

It was simple enought to figure out, you select a number at random from a spinning wheel of numbers 1-10, and then have to go through the level and collect that number, either as a numeral or as a cluster of objects. The levels however, are a little different from what I expected. Being that it is a Sesame Street game, I expected the levels to be on the street. The first level is, but after that you progress to a forest, and the wild west, prehistoric times and even the moon.  That’s pretty much the entire game. It’s alright for small children, but once you can count past 10, the game loses almost all of it’s interest and all of it’s challenge. Not that I regret owning it, since it’s a pretty cool bit of childhood, but you can also play online here, in higher quality to boot.

If you were a fan of the count in your younger days, it’s worth a look just to hear the count laugh again, ah ah ah!

Also in relation to Shannon’s post about casual gamers and hard core gamers and the games that used to satisfy both, i thought I’d look back at some of my favourite games on the NES that used to keep me “casually” entertained. (In no particular order)

Ice Climbers

With the popularity of the super Smash Bros. series, it always amuses me how few people I know have actually played the original Ice Climbers game. This game is essentially you playing as an ice climber trying to break ice blocks in order to get to the top of the mountain. Along the way you face seals who will recreate the ice layers you are trying to break through, falling icicles and birds diving at you. Each level has a different vegetable to collect for extra points, and at the top of each mountain is a small bonus level. If you are playing 2 player, it’s a race to the bonus level because only one of you can complete it. An added bonus of playing 2 player is that you can stun your opponent, and become quite annoying… Did I mention I have a younger brother?

Antarctic Adventure

This is another game set in rather chilly temperatures. You play as a penguin racing around the antarctic in several sections. meanwhile you have to avoid the seals and crevaces and collect fish. Hitting either a seal or a crevace won’t hurt you, you’ll just bounce off to the side, but it’s a timed race, so it gets annoying. This game was really a matter of challenging yourself to get farther than you had last time, something I always found really difficult, but the penguin is just so cute.

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