Tag Archive: wii

The pink puffball still packs a punch

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since I first put Kirby’s Dream Land into my Game Boy and bounced the pink puffball—though he appeared more white on the limited color palette of the handheld—around Green Greens. With almost two dozen more starring roles across all of Nintendo’s platforms since then—and, of course, a couple of smaller roles in games like Super Smash Bros.—few other gaming icons are as deserving of their own celebratory collector’s edition.

Kirby’s Dream Collection compiles six of Kirby’s earliest and most iconic titles in Kirby’s Dream Land (Game Boy), Kirby’s Adventure (NES), Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy), Kirby Super Star (SNES), Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES), and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64) in their completely original versions. The package also comes with a detailed art book highlighting Kirby’s designs over the past two decades; a 45-track, 60-minute-long music CD with original and remastered tracks from all of Kirby’s adventures, and three episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, the Saturday-morning cartoon Kirby starred in for 100 episodes.

Now, the skeptic would say that Nintendo simply just slapped some ROMs onto a disc in order to capitalize on Kirby’s anniversary, and they wouldn’t be completely wrong. Nintendo fanboys would say that Nintendo’s simply trying to keep the experiences authentic and preserve the classic gameplay. And they wouldn’t be wrong, either. But I know that, personally I would’ve loved some updated graphics or even some color in the Game Boy entries—and for the games to completely fit my 42-inch TV screen.

The lack of new polish on these older titles also hurts the collection’s appeal to younger gamers who may be less familiar with Kirby and want to learn about this classic gaming protagonist. Don’t worry—this won’t turn into a “back in my day!” review—but I’m sure younger gamers’ heads will explode at the concept of playing a game that looked like the original Kirby’s Dream Land compared to the kind of graphical output they may be used to with modern systems.

Now, just because the aesthetics of these classic games don’t enter the modern era in any way doesn’t mean the platforming and puzzle action don’t translate. The NES and Game Boy games feel just as tight as they did two decades ago, and they translate perfectly to the Wiimote. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the later games, especially Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, actually felt better than I remembered with the simple new Wiimote layout. Though, maybe it’s just that the Wiimote feels better in my hands than the N64 controller did.

Aside from the six original games, Kirby’s Dream Collection also features an interactive timeline showing key dates in Kirby history as well as a bevy of new challenge levels inspired by his most recent Wii adventure, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. These unique levels have an old-school arcade feel as you specialize in one of Kirby’s powers, whether it’s Beam, Sword, Spear—or one of the many others featured in that game—and attempt to clear the level and set a high score while also beating the time limit. As you set certain scores in each level, you’ll then unlock the right to attempt other, more-difficult-to-wield abilities.

If you’re a big Kirby fan and grew up with him like I did, this is a nice total package. The games don’t completely stand the test of time, but this offers older gamers a nice chance to reminisce and see how far we’ve come. Plus, considering the $39.99 price tag and all the extra features the package comes with, Kirby’s Dream Collection reminds us that’s it OK to think pink every now and again.

SUMMARY: Not all of the games in this classic collection stand the full test of time, but for die-hard Kirby fans, the entire package is more than worth the price tag.

  • THE GOOD: Six games, an hour of music, an art book, and three cartoons makes this a sweet package.
  • THE BAD: No graphical enhancement whatsoever—really just a bunch of ROMs.
  • THE UGLY: You ever stop to think about what Kirby’s enemies must go through when they get eaten?

SCORE: 8.0

Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition is a Wii exclusive.

THE BUZZ: Activision and Hasbro have announced Transformers: Prime, a video game based off The Hub TV show and that will be available exclusively on Nintendo’s Wii, 3DS, and DS platforms this fall.

EGM’S TAKE: “Transformers: Prime” is a hugely popular show on The Hub and so it is no surprise that a digital extension of that brand would be made at some point. The timing for the release of the game is also ideal as it will go hand in hand with the release of Fall of Cybertron, offering Transformers fans on all systems an option of some sort when looking to get their Robots in Disguise fix.

With Arcee, Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Ratchet, and Bulkhead all confirmed to be playable in the game, fans should get a good amount of variety in terms of action set in the Prime universe. Also, it has been said that you will have to cultivate the relationships between the Autobots and their three human friends from the show as Team Prime looks to take down Megatron once and for all.

The game is being developed by Now Production for the Wii and 3DS and Altron Corporation for the DS version. If you would like to see the reveal trailer, feel free to check it out below!

What do you folks think? Does it make sense for Nintendo to take the cartoon oriented Transformers game? Would you rather play this game or Fall of Cybertron if you could only have one? Let us know what you think with comments below!

Birth of a hero

As reserved and conservative as they may come across at times, Nintendo knows how to celebrate the big moments. Mario’s 25th anniversary saw the release of a limited-edition Super Mario All-Stars, reminding us that it’s OK to look back on the past and appreciate those old games for what they were—and what they’ve done for so many of us as gamers. Well, now another Nintendo mainstay’s joined the 25th-anniversary club, and he’s got a brand-new game that pays tribute in its own special way: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Featuring classic elements, characters, and enemies from many of the best Zelda games of the past—with plenty of nuances to make it its own standalone title—Skyward Sword’s conceived as a prequel to Ocarina of Time, a title not only considered by many to be the best Zelda game of all time, but also one of the best videogames of all time. Those are some pretty heavy Iron Boots to fill.

Skyward Sword opens with a brief history of Skyloft, an island in the sky created by the Goddess to save humanity from the massive monsters that populate the earth below. To protect the remaining people, the Goddess devised a cloud barrier that would both keep humans off the land and the monsters out of the sky. Once this backstory’s established, we find Link, as always, oversleeping. Zelda—who’s portrayed as Link’s lifelong friend in this game—sends a majestic bird called a Loftwing to wake up our pointy-eared hero, and he heads over to the statue of the Goddess as Zelda prepares for a traditional Skyloft ceremony. After a short opening quest that introduces Skyloft’s many denizens, Link must participate in the ceremony, which serves as the game’s flying tutorial. Once victorious, Link and Zelda embark on a celebratory flight across the clouds until a dark tornado from beneath the fluffy barrier reaches up and knocks Zelda off her Loftwing. Link must now find a way down below the cloud barrier—and, in the process, fulfill his ultimate destiny.

The first thing you’ll notice is the distinctive look the adventure takes this time around. Strongly inspired by impressionist art, Skyward Sword will take your breath away as it mixes elements from Wind Waker and Twilight Princess to suggest the feel of a living painting. But this new graphical style also has gameplay elements in mind, as it allows for exaggerated enemy designs that still maintain elements of realism. That creates more obvious strengths and weaknesses in many of the foes Link faces, and it’s also an obvious nod to the controls—but more on those later. You’re constantly solving puzzles and meeting challenging foes even when you’re not dungeon-crawling, which adds a lot of playtime to the overall adventure. The audio’s also brilliant, featuring a full orchestral composition that seamlessly flows with the story. And, of course, music once again plays an integral role—a traditional Zelda motif for many years now. All in all, this game will please your eyes and ears better than any Wii release—aside from, perhaps, the Mario Galaxy titles.

Skyward Sword lays enough groundwork so you can see how this is indeed a prequel to Ocarina, but you’ll also notice parallels to later games in the series: Link’s crimson-colored Loftwing acts as Link’s transportation in the air much like the King of Red Lions does for Wind Waker’s oceans. And Fi, the spirit of the titular Skyward Sword, acts much like Navi does in Ocarina, locking onto targets and providing hints and information when needed. These elements work well, and I’m sure they’ll stir up timeline enthusiasts once they see all the connections, but it’s when you start to scratch past the surface of Skyward Sword that you begin to see some of the flaws. Though many key elements from past games are still present, like exploring diverse regions, conquering puzzle-laden temples, and collecting fantastic items to help you overcome larger-than-life bosses, some changes might irk fans—beyond the fact that Link starts with six hearts instead of the traditional three.

The most blatant annoyance storywise definitely has to be Zelda’s disempowerment. Though she still plays this society’s role of princess as the knight headmaster’s daughter, she almost comes off as pining for Link from the second you meet her. In the EGM offices, we likened it to Metroid: Other M’s unfortunate relationship between Samus and Adam. I understand that Zelda and Link are played off as best friends in this game, but she just comes across as reliant upon Link long before she falls below the clouds—following him around like a lovesick puppy and hoping he’ll win the ceremonial festivities so they can take a celebratory ride together above the clouds. You could argue that since this may be the very first Zelda, she hasn’t yet evolved the characteristics that come with being a princess of a large kingdom. Still, it just comes off wrong and dampens the moments when she tries to be the more strong-willed character we’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

In the grand scheme of things, this could be construed as minor, but what really keeps Skyward Sword from reaching the level of several of its predecessors is the control scheme. Remember how I mentioned that the visual design emphasizes enemy strengths and weaknesses? Well, this graphical quirk comes from the conscious decision to make Skyward Sword too reliant on motion controls and Wii MotionPlus—and it’s this element that singlehandedly holds the game back from elite status.

Twilight Princess’ motion controls worked because the game was more forgiving of your movements; simple flicks of your wrist would provide the desired results. Now, due to the enemy design revolving around the motion-control gimmick and being forced to use the MotionPlus—which follows you too well—you’re often pulled out of the immersion, because you’re constantly reminded that you are holding a controller whenever the controller doesn’t do what you want.

A perfect example is the miniboss you face in the first temple. It’s a Stalfos, a Zelda enemy staple from the very beginning. This dual-sword-wielding skeleton towers over Link, so in order to do damage, you must swing where the Stalfos isn’t blocking. If he’s holding his swords horizontally, you must swing horizontally through the gap; if he’s holding them vertically, you strike vertically. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and have played a good amount of button-mashers over the years—or even just older Zelda titles—your instinct is to attack hard and fast. But if you swing too fast, even with MotionPlus, Link won’t be able to catch up to you. Or, worse yet—since I’ve yet to meet someone who prefers to play games standing up—if you’re sitting down, it’s impossible to swing the controller perfectly horizontally or vertically every time, and you’ll often have to reset your position, destroying the illusion of immersion.

Another failure of Wii MotionPlus comes with bombs. For the first time in the series, you can roll bombs into crevices and holes instead of just dropping them or throwing them, and this is necessary at certain points to open doors or take down particular enemies. The problem, though, comes from the way most people hold a Wiimote. Think about it: You have your thumb on the A button, your index finger on the trigger, and your other fingers wrapped around where the batteries are stored. If you attempt to roll something, like in Wii Sports Bowling, you’re going to turn the Wiimote to its side so that the bottom of your hand faces toward the sky. The problem in Skyward Sword is that this makes the bombs sail far off to the right of your intended target and forces you to overcompensate with an uncomfortable palm-down technique more akin to throwing a bocce ball.

So, yeah, the controls are pretty rough. And it breaks my heart, because I think this could’ve been one of the greatest Zelda games yet had the controls just worked. But, despite the controls, this is still a great Zelda game. You’re looking at a 30-hour-plus adventure if you’re a Heart Container fiend like myself—and probably still a good 20 hours if you’re just looking to complete the story, even if all those fetch quests get a little tiring after a while. Even with cruddy controls, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is still an epic adventure worthy of the franchise—and it should absolutely be played by all fans of the series.

SUMMARY: Skyward Sword has all the elements of a spectacular Zelda tale, but poor controls prevent this from reaching an Ocarina-like level.

  • THE GOOD: Classic Zelda elements remind us of 25 years of greatness
  • THE BAD: Poor motion controls remind us of 5 years of flailing futility
  • THE UGLY: The hole in my living-room wall after throwing the Wiimote through it in frustration

SCORE: 8.5

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a Nintendo Wii exclusive and therefore reviewed only on the Wii.

Originally Published: March 8, 2011, on Original-Gamer.com

At the 2011 SEGA Spring Showcase, I had a chance to talk with David Pellas, the Design Director from High Voltage Software and SEGA’s Conduit 2. David and I talked about the massive facelift given to the franchise and what fans can expect from this go around with Mr. Ford and the ASE. New weapons, more locales, and huge bosses just scratch the surface of what was talked about in anticipation of this Wii-exclusive’s April 19, 2011, release.

Don’t Come Out of the Shadow

Originally Published: February 27, 2011, on my StrongProtector profile on GiantBomb.com

Often in games, shadows are nothing more than minor details we look at when deciding how good the graphics are. But what if the entire story of a game revolved around these barely acknowledged details?

Lost in Shadow from Hudson Entertainment begins at the top of a mighty tower that stretches far beyond the clouds. There, someone who looks like a cheap Darth Vader wannabe strikes a boy in chains with a sword and the boy’s shadow slips away. The cloaked figure then takes the shadow and flings it as far as he can from the top of the tower. The shadow, after landing, longs to be whole, and must now manipulate light in order to ride the shadows of his surroundings back up to the top of the massive tower and find out why the cloaked figure would do such a thing as separate a boy from his shadow.

I remember playing a demo of Lost in Shadow at the 2010 New York ComicCon and I absolutely fell in love with that early concept. Of course, I only had the opportunity to play the handful of tutorial levels, but it was enough to get me excited about this game, which makes it even tougher for me now to see it end up wallowing in mediocrity.

The concept of Lost in Shadow is a great one and turns your typical platformer on its head. Only with the assistance of a little fairy friend that helps lost shadows called a Spangle, can you interact with the real world and move around loose pipes, steel girders, and the light sources in the room in order to help lay out the shadow path that will allow you to climb up to the next floor of the tower. On top of this, you must also collect three Monitor Eyes per level that will allow you to remove shadow barriers at the end of each floor that are trying to keep you from advancing further. This pushes you to not only try to move through each level, but explore it thoroughly as you do so as it is the only way to find the Monitor Eyes.

It wouldn’t be much of a game though if you were just moving around the environment and constantly climbing. No, the shadows of horrific creatures like giant spiders and lizards, shadow turrets, and other traps line the tower’s floors and will require you to find a weapon to help vanquish these terrors as you continue your quest for unification.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to this game once you get past the first ten floors and learn the concepts you’ll use throughout the game because you’ll start to realize there is a pattern. That repeats for another 60 floors. Although the concept of Lost in Shadow is very original, the gameplay and level design is actually very uninspired.

You’ll find yourself having to solve the same puzzles and traps over and over again that by the time you even move halfway up the tower, you might just give up due to boredom. The game will probably only take most gamers about ten hours to beat, but it becomes such a chore to constantly have to repeat yourself, that it will feel like you’re putting in a lot more time. Never mind the fetch quests dropped on you later in the game that force you to then backtrack throughout the tower.

If you’re a completionist, you’ll want to pull your hair out by the time you’re done with Lost in Shadow as you’ll think you’re finally getting close to finishing and them some other inane and repetitive task is given to you and you’ll just end up screaming “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Okay, so I admit I’m a bit of angry gamer, but Lost in Shadow will test the patience of even the most hardcore gamers out there.

And it’s not just the gameplay that is dull and uninspired. The graphics for the game are a mixed bag. The handful of cutscenes throughout the game are nicely done and the shadow effects are great especially considering they make up the game’s entire concept, but the level backgrounds are just bland with the same handful of tones used throughout most of the game. It gets really tiresome to just look at the same green, blue, and yellow walls over and over. Combine this with the steampunk wet dream inspired foreground of rustic steam pipes and silver gears and there is nothing that really screams out visually in Lost in Shadow.

The graphics aren’t nearly as bad as the sound though. No voice acting whatsoever and the same monotonous theme that plays throughout all the game’s levels will probably give you a headache by the time you’re only a couple of hours in. The only thing that had less effort go into it than the sound for this game was the level area names like “Factory” followed up shortly thereafter by… “2nd Factory”.

One saving grace at least for Lost in Shadow is that the controls are pretty tight. Your shadow seems to sail on certain jumps and then fall short on others and the game can be a little finicky when it comes to performing actions like moving blocks or pulling levers, but for the most part everything seems to operate as it should. It’s just the fact that you have to perform the same motions with no variety whatsoever over and over again in the game’s 70-plus levels that will wear on you.

When all is said and done, Lost in Shadow was a terrific concept that hoped that would be enough to make it a great game. Too many cut corners though combined with a lot of unnecessary and repetitive levels makes this one of the more painful 10 hour games I’ve ever played. If your curiosity gets the better of you, then maybe Lost in Shadow is worth a rental, but I’d think twice before I added this permanently to my collection, even with it only being a budget title priced at $39.99.

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

Graphics: 6.5: The bland colors get repetitive after a while and there is really nothing that jumps out about the steampunk designs of this 2.5D world, but since most of the game is done in shadows and bland colors anyway, it’s not that big a deal.

Sound: 4.0: No voice acting whatsoever coupled with 70-plus levels of the same instrumental music repeated over and over again will drive you absolutely insane.

Plot/Plot Development: 7.0: An original idea can only carry you so far. The game is so drawn out over the repetitive levels that although the beginning of the game is very intriguing, you’ll lose interest too much over time. Bonus points for trying something different though.

Gameplay: 5.0: A very simple puzzle platformer with the enemies thrown in seeming more like an after thought. The controls are very tight, but the puzzles are so repetitive you might fall asleep.

Replay Value: 1.0: Any game that you can walk away from and be happy never playing again or finishing is rare for me, but I wish I didn’t have to finish this game for a review. I want most of the ten hours I put into this game back.

Overall (not an average): 5.0: An original idea can only take a game so far and although the concept for Lost in Shadow was indeed special, so many other cut corners really take this down to the point where even as a budget title I cannot recommend this beyond a cheap rental if your curiosity gets the better of you.


Originally Published: January 23, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Sonic and the Black Knight for the Nintendo Wii from SEGA.

Originally Published: January 8, 2011, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Link’s Crossbow Training for the Nintendo Wii.

Originally Published: January 7, 2011, on NationalLampoon.com and Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Frobot from Fugazo Games for Wiiware and the Nintendo Wii.

Originally Published: January 4, 2011, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Need for Speed: Carbon for the Nintendo Wii from EA.

Originally Published: December 24, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Pokemon Battle Revolution for the Nintendo Wii.