--- Now Playing ---
In an effort to have a live site rather than a dead one, we've created this page dedicated to games we're enjoying at the moment, and we'll attempt to update it once a week (on the weekend, usually Sunday night) with videos and impressions of what we've played each week.
6/8/09 Wolfenstein 3D is the game most directly responsible for the creation of the 1st person shooter genre, which is currently enjoying tremendous popularity. After the superb Xbox Live Arcade port of Doom, which was actually a nicely enhanced version of Ultimate Doom, we were hoping for an even more enhanced Wolfenstein 3D. Unfortunately, it's a fairly straightforward port. Actually, it does have most of the same enhancements that Doom had, they just don't do much for this game, since it's so much older and simpler. We were hoping that it would be more like the Atari Jaguar version of Wolfenstein, which had all its 2D assets greatly improved to make a much better looking game. But the Jag didn't offer better controls; its controller was awful. But it sure was pretty! But enough text; a picture is worth a thousand words, and video is even better. So check out these comparison shots and videos. In the pictures, the Xbox Live version is on top, and the Jag version is on the bottom.
Here are a couple of videos as well, of Level 1. You'll see some of the other changes made to the Jag version, good and bad: the upgraded sound, but also the lack of directional sprites and somewhat simplified levels (although that's not so bad, they're still very complex). On that note, another small but significant change: the Jaguar version had a great map. There isn't one on the 360, which makes navigating levels quite a chore.
4/18/09 Kororinpa: Marble Mania was a godsend in the early days of the Wii, because it made up for Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz being so bad. It was just what Monkey Ball should've been: an incredibly precise, fun tilt-the-world game that used the remote to do things not possible with a controller, namely having the level tilt up to 180 degrees, so that walls become floors. But it was a very short game, and left us wanting more. The sequel just arrived, and not only that, it added the one thing we wanted from the first game: the ability to hold the remote sideways to play--a small but critical difference in our eyes.
Unfortunately, the new game also added one other thing: a mind-bogglingly stupid "stickiness" that ruins the game. This is difficult to explain, but let me give an example. In the first game, there were a few areas where your ball had to roll through honey, with predictable results: the ball moved much slower and you had to tilt the world much further to disengage it from the sticky mess. Well, Kororinpa 2, by default, seems to have honey coating the entire game world. It feels really hard to get the ball to move, and what's worse, there's a point when the ball seems to become "unstuck" and then it instantly flies off the level. It's a fine line between "stuck to the ground" and "falling off the world". Enough description, though. If a picture's worth a thousand words, then a video's worth a thousand pictures. See for yourself. The video below is of a level that's nearly identical in the two games. The left side is Kororinpa 1 with the default ball, and the right side is Kororinpa 2 with its default ball. The bottom is me controlling each game, using a remote in a steering wheel, which incidentally is a great way to control Kororinpa 1, since it doesn't let you hold the remote sideways.
For the record, there's now a code that lets you unlock a ball with customizable stats (called the Master Higgins Ball) in Korororinpa 2. Using that ball with maxed-out stats (except for the 'bounce' stat, keep that low) makes the game much, much better; pretty much on par with Kororinpa 1. You can find the code at Gamefaqs.com or other code sites.
3/29/09 The Wii has had an online service to buy old console games since a few days after it launched, and has had its WiiWare service to buy original new games for a year now. But the only place to keep the games you buy (if you want to actually play them, that is) is on the Wii itself, which has very little storage space. In a worst-case scenario, the Wii can only hold as few as 3 games internally, meaning you had the choice to delete games or copy them...very slowly...to an SD card for storage, then copy them back later to play.
This week, all that changed, at long last. The Wii can now download games directly to the SD card, and run them from that location as well, with a very short initial load time.
In addition to that, read/write speeds have been improved drastically, SDHC support has been added allowing cards larger than 2GB (up to 32GB) to be used, and there is now a "move" option when managing data between the Wii and the SD card, which means you no longer have to use the two-step process of "copy" and "delete".
In a nutshell, the Wii now has usable storage.
In celebration, we decided to check out several WiiWare titles that we've had our eyes on in the past, but didn't feel like going through the trouble of moving data around
to make room. Check out some clips of what we tried recently.
Onslaught is a First Person Shooter game, but it's an odd one. Or, more accurately, it's more of an old-school one. It's small and quirky and decidely low-budget. But it's not bad. The Wii pointer-based controls work very well, better than they do in some full price retail games. Aside from traditional run-and-gun FPS gameplay, this game has goals such as "protect the base" or "kill all enemies within 5 minutes", and you have two "wingmates" that you can place in formation to help you shoot or watch your back. It's a likeable little game. Here's a video of part of level 2:
Orbient is one of three "Art Style" games released so far on WiiWare. These games are intentionally simple, but are going for the "easy to play, hard to master" school of design. Orbient is a game with only two buttons, which activate gravity and anti-gravity. You play as a roaming planet of sorts, but you're immune to gravity except when you activate it yourself, or activate anti-gravity yourself. The goal is to "eat" planets or moons of your same size in order to grow, and then eventually bring a particular planet into your orbit to win the stage. You can also pick up smaller spheres as moons of your own for bonus points and extra lives. This game is interesting, but has some design flaws, such as moons that can pass directly through one another, but still hit you. Still, it's a $6.00 game and is fun and addicting. Here's a video of level 4:
3/9/09 We're back, with a couple more videos from Deadly Creatures and one from House of the Dead: Overkill. Our previous Deadly Creatures videos only showed the scorpion, so here are a couple of the tarantula in combat:
The House of the Dead: Overkill is a "light gun" game, which makes the Wii an obvious choice for its home. But it's also got to be the game with the most cursing per second we've ever seen. Combine that with its way over-the-top B-movie schtick, and it's hilarious. And that really helps, because under its thickly laid-on skin of hilarity, it's really just a slightly above average light gun shooter. The real "game" part of the game is trying to get all kills and no misses, to build your combo for the most points, and collecting the yellow brain icons. It also has a few nice touches like "Slo Mo-Fo Mode" and some interesting, though not difficult, bosses.
2/8/09 Deadly Creatures had us in its thrall all weekend. It's a fairly simple, straightforward action/adventure game in which you alternately control a tarantula and a scorpion, in their quests to...uh...walk around, eat stuff, and fight off rats, wasps, other spiders and scorpions, lizards, snakes, and so on. The game is pretty decent, aside from all the bugs--and I don't mean insects. The game is practically beta. We have 3 bugs on video, and those are just the lengthy ones that we had time to record. See them on the Bugs page.
On this page, we'll be nice and just talk about how the game itself is. For starters, it has one hell of a cool title screen. It's just creatures running around, but it's so nicely done. Here's a sample of a few of the sequences:
In the game, much of your time is spent in combat. The combat is a fairly simple but likable mix of the Wii remote/nunchuck buttons and gesture-based motion controls, which mostly work very well. The fighting isn't quite normal insect behavior; in fact, some of it borders on Kung Fu. But it's fun and not too terribly over the top. You might even be able to convince a gullible friend that insects actually do these things.
When you play as the scorpion, you have the additional option of finishing off your foes with a Quick Time Event, much like the ones found in Resident Evil 4, God of War, and plenty of other games in recent years. Here's an example video of combat:
Deadly Creatures is a short game. Both of us not only finished it this weekend, but we also both wrapped up a 100% completion on Normal difficulty tonight. But it was fun, it's definitely unique, and despite its lack of polish, we recommend it.
2/8/09 We spent some time this past week with the Resident Evil 5 demo. Our impressions of it are on the new Resident Evil 5 page, but here on the Now Playing page, we'll just jump straight to the videos we made of its excellent split-screen mode. We really like having the same field of vision in split-screen, even though that means there is some unused screen space. Game performance is great in this mode, too--nicely done on Capcom's part. Single-console players should be thrilled to have this mode, and Capcom did the right thing by putting it in, since the game focuses on co-op play.
2/1/09 We played some more Burnout Paradise this weekend (we've owned the game since its release almost a year ago). It's a great pick-up-and-play game, as opposed to a beat-it-and-move-on game like its predecessors. It's just a very different game from earlier entries in the series; an open world game. That's quite a game-changer; races now depend on your knowledge of the game world and/or your ability to read a map while driving. And there is no "Crash Mode", although you can get into some impressive crashes while just driving around.
And that's what we've had fun doing with Burnout Paradise: crashing. The races and other events (like Stunt Events) are fun, but the real fun is just driving around, jumping and crashing. Here's a video of some of our random crashes:
1/25/09 Wii Play is a collection of 9 mini-games. 4 of them are actually fun. Not bad, I guess, for $10 (the game is actually $50, but comes with a Wii Remote that costs $40 separately). The 9th mini-game in particular is great; it's a tank game in the spirit of the old Atari 2600 Combat.
Here's a video montage of the 4 good mini-games: Skeet Shooting (a la Duck Hunt), Laser Hockey (a la Pong), Billiards (the classic 9-ball game), and Tank (a la Combat).
1/14/09 We first picked up Excite Truck shortly after the launch of the Wii. It's a spiritual sequel to Excitebike, the NES classic, but it's quite a departure from that simple game. Excite Truck is a racing game, but a unique one. It emphasizes a lot of things as much as it does winning the race: getting ridiculously huge air, wrecking other trucks, drifting, near-collisions with trees, chain-jumping, air spins, and so on. The game uses a star system where stars are awarded for any of these events, and also for your placing at the end of the race. And it's your stars that determine how well you're ranked.
Add to that a changeable course (hitting certain items will raise or lower the geometry) as well as wide, loosely bordered track with multiple shortcuts and alternate routes, and it adds up to a tremendously fun game. Excite Truck's only real shortcoming (although a major one) is the lack of any real multiplayer. It has a couple of poor split-screen modes, and no LAN or online play at all. It's especially disappointing given how much fun this game is even taking turns. Nintendo (or more accurately, Monster Games, the developer) should release a full-featured sequel to this game. We have our fingers crossed.
Here's a single example race to show off the game:
1/04/09 Band Bros DX update: We've just picked up some software to allow us to make split-screen videos. So, for our first one, we have a Band Bros video featuring all 8 parts of the song on-screen. If you don't know what Band Bros is, check out our Band Bros mini-site to find out. It's a great music game for the DS--released only in Japan, unfortunately. But you can buy it online no matter where you live. Anyway, here's the video:
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