Tag Archive: ds


We won’t get caught again

When Pokémon Red/Blue hit North American shores 14 years ago, I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined the phenomenon it would become and continues to be to this day, as the franchise keeps churning out hit games (that, in turn, also lead to truckloads of other merchandise and media). In all that time, though, Pokémon‘s never seen a true sequel. Most of the time, we simply see the same game rehashed over and over again but with new opponents, new areas, or the most popular choice of new Pokémon, which has bloated the Pokédex to more than four times the size of that seen in Red/Blue. Finally, though, we get a direct sequel, and it’s a follow-up to one of the more beloved Pokémon games in recent history in Pokémon Black/White 2.

The game starts like every other Pokémon outing: You choose between a male or female trainer and then set off into the world to become the greatest trainer ever by collecting eight gym badges—and hopefully conclude your adventure by challenging the Elite Four and the Champion to become Champion yourself. Along the way, you’ll also try to bring justice to Pokémon and people in need and promote positive relations between Pokémon and humans by completing sidequests. Much of this revolves around crushing the resurgent Team Plasma, who wish to steal all the Pokémon for their own nefarious purposes.

But as you start to get deeper and deeper into the game, you’ll get a feeling of déjà vu; many of the areas and trainers you’ll meet are exactly the same from the first game—and this is Pokémon Black/White 2’s major flaw. Minor aesthetic changes can’t hide the fact that this game is a soulless carbon copy of its predecessor unlike any other Pokémon release before it.

Now, I understand that Pokémon has used this formula for years, but when you make a sequel and set a game in the exact same universe as the previous title, the story needs a little extra “oomph,” and players need to see more differences from the original game. The first Pokémon Black/White was so adored because it mixed things up for the first time in a long time while still sticking to the core gameplay values. These same values remain in Pokémon Black/White 2, but the story here makes it feel like you’re playing the exact same game most of the time but with a couple of meaningless new side areas like Pokéstar Studios.

The gameplay does at least shine through here, though—it’s still as tight as ever, and there are still few greater feelings in RPGs than capturing a wild Pokémon (especially a legendary one) or overcoming a difficult foe by knowing what types work well against your opponent and actually outplaying them. And some minor gameplay additions do augment the action in positive ways—like the new Challenge and Assist modes that allow you to raise or lower the level of your foes on a second playthrough. Still, all this doesn’t hide the fact that the game just feels like a sad attempt to doll up an experience that seems more like Pokémon Black/White 1.5 instead of Pokémon Black/White 2.

In the end, Pokemon Black/White 2 handles just as tightly as any other game in the franchise’s history, and it’s still fun to play; it would also serve as a great jumping-on point for any newcomers. But for veteran Pokémon players—or even fans of the first Pokémon Black/White—you’ll most likely end up disappointed.

SUMMARY: The story takes a step backward, and the new game modes aren’t that impressive. Mostly, it’s just the same ol’ Jigglypuff song and dance from Pokemon Black/White 2.

  • THE GOOD: A few interesting new locations and game modes.
  • THE BAD: The story takes a step backward and does little to differentiate itself from the previous game.
  • THE UGLY: The fact that the Pokédex is at almost 650 Pokemon now…

SCORE 6.5

Pokemon Black/White 2 are Nintendo DS exclusives. Primary version played for review was Pokemon White 2.

Originally Published: November 16, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Gormiti: Lords of Nature for the Nintendo DS from Konami.

Originally Published: October 22, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com and NationalLampoon.com

At NYCC 2010, I had a chance to talk to Graham Hagmaier about the Goldeneye remake coming out later this year.

Originally Published: October 15, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com and NationalLampoon.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Professor Layton and the Unwound Future for Nintendo DS.

The Best of E3

Originally Published: July 7, 2010, on Lundberg.me, Examiner.com, Original-Gamer.com, PlayerAffinity.com, and ESPNNewYork.com

I know that E3 was three weeks ago, but with the craziness of the World Cup, NBA Free Agency, and the approaching MLB All-Star break, to say we’ve been a little busy here at ESPN would be an understatement. But in our spare time, my expert cameraman/editor Jared Bodden and I, have been toiling away trying to finish these videos to show you some of the great games we saw at E3 and bring you some exclusive interviews with the people behind those games.

One of the most difficult things in this process has been whittling down what we felt were the most worthwhile games to look at, so we broke it down into four videos. The first video is a compilation featuring online and DLC games with the following three videos being a summary of the rest of the best from each day. For the games that we had to cut for the sake of time, I apologize tremendously. I also wish we could have given every game we did feature their own special video.

On that note, without further ado, below is the culmination of my three days at the L.A. Convention Center for E3 2010. I hope you all enjoy.

The first video was my online/DLC game special that features looks at the new Deadliest Warrior game from Spike Games that comes out next Tuesday, DCU Online from Sony Online Entertainment, QuickHit.com and their brand new NFL license, and Blacklight: Tango Down from Ignition Entertainment.

Our first day at E3 was a special day overall and had us see some spectacular looking games for consoles. Our video of Day 1 features Tron and Epic Mickey from Disney Entertainment, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow from Konami, and Test Drive Unlimited 2 from Atari.

On the second day of E3, console games and their peripherals were well represented once more as we looked at Vanquish from SEGA, Shaun White Skateboarding and Ghost Recon: Future Solider from Ubisoft, WWE All-Stars from THQ, and the new Wii Exercise Bike from Big Ben Interactive.

On the last day of E3, we had a chance to look at some of the most hyped games for consoles and some sweet accessories when we looked at Call of Duty: Black Ops and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions from Activision and some sweet products from Nyko and iGUGU.

Videos by Jared Bodden

-Ray Carsillo

Shane Speaks!

Originally Published: June 25, 2010, on ESPNNewYork.com, Lundberg.me, and Examiner.com

Maybe that proclamation is a little more dramatic than necessary, but when a gaming journalism fixture like Shane Satterfield takes a few minutes out of his hectic schedule, in the midst of the pinnacle of the gaming year that is E3, you make sure to let him know you’re appreciative.

Shane, of course, is the Editor-in-Chief for GameTrailers.com and has been covering the games industry for well over a decade. With that in mind, and with us having finally finished putting together all of our E3 videos, I felt it would be a great way to kick off my look back at E3 2010 with the interview I did on Day 2 with Shane.

We covered a bevy of topics from the future of gaming in general to his thoughts on this year’s Expo while we waited for the doors to open to the Los Angeles Convention Center’s South Hall.

Check out my interview with Editor-in-Chief of GameTrailers.com Shane Satterfield below!

Originally Published: June 22, 2010, on Lundberg.me, NationalLampoon.com, and SportsRev.TV

This week I give my winners and losers of E3 and review Super Mario Galaxy 2 for Nintendo Wii and Mega Man Zero Collection for Nintendo DS. My hot chick pick of the week is Lindsey Strutt.

Originally Published: December 19, 2009, on Lundberg.me and Sportsrev.tv

This week features reviews of Captain America: Reborn #5 (of 6) and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for Nintendo DS.

A Whole New World

Originally Published: July 24, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

When you look at the surface of Treasure World for the Nintendo DS, there really doesn’t seem to be a lot to the game.

When you turn the game on you’re immediately introduced to a mystical being that travels the cosmos collecting stardust. As his ship travels around the Milky Way, it runs out of fuel and crash-lands in your backyard. He asks for you to help his robot assistant explore your world and collect enough stardust to refuel his ship so he can go back to exploring the universe.

The game is pretty straightforward, but the difference between it and any other game you will play is that the in-game exploration revolves solely around your real-world interactions. As you walk around the real world, like you’re on an actual treasure hunt, the game utilizes the DS’s wi-fi compatibility to latch onto new wi-fi signals. As you collect more signals and, therefore, more stardust and unique items, you get closer and closer to powering your mystical friends’ ship. This is the entire premise of the game; to walk around the real world and attempt to locate more unique signals in order to have the game’s spaceship return to the stars. It’s almost like a real-world treasure hunt (hence the name of the game).

It sounds simple, right? But when you add in that the collectibles can be used to make original musical compositions, the items can be used to help “disguise” your robot friend, and you can trade items with others who own the game, the game gets a new layer of depth that immediately made me think of the Pokémon series’ original catch phrase, “Gotta Catch’em All!”

After finding enough stardust, the mystical being blasts back off to the sky, but leaves his robot friend behind to help you continue to explore their digital universe (and your real one) as you attempt to collect all of the more than 2,600 items available via trade, stardust purchase, and random exploration.

The game isn’t going to blow you away in terms of looks or plot, but solely on the gimmick of the real-world interaction that the game revolves around. It is a solid premise and it will keep you entertained for a good amount of time as you carry your DS around, knowing that with every step you take you could be getting closer and closer to completing your collection. The game also includes a great safety feature in that you can actually close the DS and put it in your pocket as you travel and it will still collect items and signals. This way, you don’t have to worry about walking into lampposts as you try to collect more items.

Another nice feature that really appeals to the social aspects of the game is the ability to go online and trade codes you find for some of the more rare items in the game, as well as the ability to trade with friends via the DS’s already preeminent wi-fi capabilities.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have the means or the opportunity to just randomly explore and try to collect wi-fi signals in order to beat a video game so once you’ve gone through your daily routine for a few days, the game really loses its luster and appeal as you walk by the same wi-fi signals. This is especially difficult if you’re a child, who is the main target audience for the game, and you rely on your parents as your main source of transportation. Even if you’re out riding your bike, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find 2,600 wi-fi signals.

It’s pretty difficult, too, if you live in a more rural area where the wi-fi signals are fewer due to it being a less populated area. I walked around New York City and found half the treasures in the game in a single day of exploration. I don’t think someone in Omaha, Nebraska, would have the same ease in tracking down signals.

Still though, the collection and trade aspects and, as Nintendo has proven with the Wii, real-life interaction gimmicks are big nowadays, so this game is a solid pickup if you’re looking for something to keep your Nintendo DS warm for a while.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 7.0: The visual aspect isn’t going to be the selling point for this game since you can spend most of your time playing the game with the DS closed. When you do look at the screen though, the graphics are average.

Audio: 9.0: An enjoyable, simple melody serves as the theme for the game and with solid SFX, so you can’t complain about the audio. The aspect that boosts this score, though, is that different items also represent different notes and you can compose your own, more varied music as you collect more items, a la old school, Mario Paint style.

Plot/Plot Development: 3.0: A friendly alien ship crash lands in your backyard and you walk around in the real world in order to fill up its fuel tank so it can blast off again. Obviously, plot was not a big consideration when making this game.

Gameplay: 5.0: This was difficult for me to score because there really isn’t a lot of “playing” going on in the game. The game is glitch-less, which is nice, but most of the game really is just you walking around the real world. So, in good conscience, I couldn’t give it a passing score.

Replay Value: 10.0: One of the major selling points is trying to collect all 2,600 treasures, and that reason alone is enough to give this a phenomenal replay score.

Overall (not an average): 7.0: The social aspects required to trade online and/or in person are nice, but not enough to make this a must-have title. What makes the game so interesting is the avatar customization and the gimmick of walking around trying to collect wi-fi signals like you are on a real-world treasure hunt, and considering there are 2,600 treasures to find, if you really want, you can devote a lot of time to this game.

Treasure World is out now for the Nintendo DS.

-Ray Carsillo

Played on the 4th of July

Originally Published: March 29, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com) and Lundberg.me

When I first got my hands on Big Bang Mini (created by Arkedo and brought to you by SouthPeak Games for Nintendo DS) I was pleasantly surprised. I had in my head that the game would be some sort of Space Invaders knock-off with brighter colors and fireworks from what I had seen and heard of it. Oh, I could not have been more wrong.

Although simple in design, it more than makes up for its lack of depth with non-stop, straight-shooting fun and addictive mayhem; I couldn’t put this game down! If you’re strapped for cash and need something to eat up some battery life on your DS, Big Bang Mini is a solid choice at only $19.99. If you’re anything like me, by the time you’re three stages in, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as you will be completely hooked.

You’re given a ship and the objective of the game is to shoot fireworks at enemies to blow them out of the sky and then collect the stars they drop to advance through the levels. However, it’s not as simple as it may seem; as your missed shots explode and the debris from their ensuing explosions are just as dangerous as enemy fire to your avatar. Not much of a plot, I know, but the game more than makes up for it in gameplay.

The controls are simple yet add a degree of difficulty you don’t find in most of these retro arcade-style shooters. To shoot your fireworks you simply drag the DS’s stylus over the screen to fire in all different directions. To move your ship, you also need to use the stylus to drag your ship around the screen to avoid enemy fire. This lends itself to you only being able to do one thing at a time, dodge or fire, and you can’t advance through the stages by just dodging.

It is difficult at first, but it soon becomes second nature as you develop the necessary balance to start flying and firing all over the screen. This balance gives the gameplay a nice level of difficulty; it’s not impossible, but not a cake walk either. Add in interesting special level-specific powers (usually shields or enemy weapon nullifiers) and a couple of permanent upgrades (homing missiles, stronger fireballs) and what started as a simple Space Invaders or Asteroids-like shooter because a fully fleshed out modern game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Aesthetically the graphics are simple compared to what the DS has shown it can support, but they get the job done. The vibrant colors and themes of each level are a nice change from the dull monotonous palettes in most games nowadays. Each level has its own specific theme and most work well. From the bottom of the ocean, to a snowy mountaintop, to Hong Kong and New York City, the levels are different enough from each other to hold your attention relatively well throughout the game.

The music, on the other hand, is uninspired and the SFX become repetitive to the point where you’ll end up playing most of the time with the volume on your DS off and your iPod on in its place.

There are 90 stages over nine levels, each with its own unique devices to help you or hinder you over the course of the game. If you survive all 90 levels, then you can unlock a Mission Mode that notches up the difficulty even more for hardcore gamers. Add in some other secondary modes (setting high scores, versus, etc.) to flesh out the game and it has enough content to keep you coming back for a long time. Space Invaders…what was I thinking?

Ratings are based on a system of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 6.5: The graphics are solid, but nothing spectacular, especially with the DS’s capabilities. I enjoy bright colors just as much as anyone else, (“The colors Duke, the colors!” You know it’s a good commercial if you’re quoting it a decade later. Kudos to the Popsicle people.) but it takes a lot more than that to impress me graphically. Barely average.

Audio: 5.0: The music is original, but along with the SFX, gets very repetitive very quickly. By the time you get to the 4th or 5th stage of each level, you’re turning off the DS’s volume and plugging in your iPod. Points for originality and that’s it.

Plot/Plot Development: 1.0: You fly, you fire, you dodge, and you blow stuff up. There isn’t anything else to this in terms of plot so I can’t give it a good score.

Gameplay: 9.0: This game more than makes up for the poor score in plot in gameplay. Challenging, yet still fun, this game gives you hours of solid gaming as you blast your way through nine completely different levels with a variety of powers and abilities to help you on your way. Add in several different modes of play and you’ve got a game that will eat up your time like a fat chick shoveling food down at a Chinese buffet.

Replay Value: 8.0: Lots of levels, lots of modes, lots of fun. This will keep you coming back for more for a long while until you beat every level and every extra mission. Or until your battery dies. Whichever comes first (probably the battery).

Overall (not an average): 7.5: A lack of plot aside, this is in the same vein as all the classic arcade shooters. Add in the different take on the control scheme and you’ve got a really solid shooter. Not spectacular, but solid, and for $19.99 it’s a great way to spend some free time.

Big Bang Mini is available now for Nintendo DS.

-Ray Carsillo