Red Steel 2 Impressions (Wii w/Motion Plus)
February 21, 2011

A few weeks ago I began hearing a lot of talk about Red Steel 2 (Wii). It came strongly recommended by several review sources that I trust (all with gushing praise), and I liked the concept and overall look of the game, so after finding a great online deal last week for the Motion Plus bundle (which basically paid for the cost of the attachment) I bit the bullet and ordered it.

The game arrived late last week, and despite having a number of other games in the queue, I really wanted to fire this one up sooner than later. Being a dyed in the wool true blue Texan it’s an understatement to say a game like this appeals to me, so yesterday afternoon I spent a good 3-4 hours swinging the Wii Remote around the room, doing my best not to look like an idiot, but having a great time all the same. The accuracy of the Motion Plus controller really was impressive (it is necessary to play the game) and I immediately noticed the different nuances that the more controlled movement of the add-on allows. This really is that game that I think a lot of us wanted when the Wii-remote was first introduced and the majority of us envisioned the possibilities that sword fighting, and guns ablazing, might hold.

RS2 invites you don the hat of the last surviving member of the Kusagari Clan following his exile from the group (for reasons unknown as the game begins). The game kicks off as you find yourself tied to the back end of a motorcycle and drug over town until the hero manages to free himself. Not much else is known about your identity beyond this fact, though it’s clear that we’re dealing with an Eastwood type character infused with the skills of a legendary gunman and samurai. And, interestingly, it is this fusion of ‘East meets West’ that gives the game so much character and I’m surprised at just how well the Ubisoft team was able to make this work. In fact, the fusion seems pretty natural after you’ve played the game all of 5-minutes. I don’t imagine there’s going to be a grand narrative to all that’s happening, and so far there hasn’t been, but I don’t think that’s the point of this one. Instead, Red Steel 2 puts you in the boots of a bad#$@ hero, on a dangerously slippy slope, and let’s you become that unstoppable character you’ve always wanted to be — dual armed with a katana and six-shooter no less! I thought this whole approach was exemplified extremely well in a couple of early mission descriptions that informed the hero that ‘he was being hunted and that he might take this opportunity to start hunting them back!’ I love that stuff.

The combat is awful addicting, and upgrades for your character and weapons abound, and so far there’s always that extra incentive to just play for a few more minutes to see what’s around the corner. Additionally, the visuals take advantage of the cel-shading technique (one of my personal favorites) and they look mighty impressive on the Wii. I have seen minor complaints that the game looks a little ‘brown’ at times, but for me, so far they’ve achieved a great visual balance.

Red Steel 2 has definitely exceeded my expectations, and I imagine I’ll be rotating between this and Donkey Kong Country Returns for the foreseeable future. From what I’ve played, I can’t recommend it enough — definitely one you don’t want to miss.



Snow Day? It’s Definitely On!
February 9, 2011

So rare are “lazy days” around here that when I got the call this morning (at 6 am) that the university would be closed due to icy conditions I wasted absolutely no time jumping out of bed, putting on my slippers, and getting comfortable in my chair before firing up my shiny new copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii).

If you’ve been reading the Log for a while you know that I’ve been trying to get my hands on the game for several months now and I’ve probably built it up a little more than I should in my mind given all the praise DKCR has been receiving, but whatever high expectations I had, they were completely blown away by the end of Level 1-1, “Jungle Hijinx.” I happily went through the first several levels soaking in the atmosphere, learning the play mechanics, and spending time with a couple of old virtual buddies. I then turned my attention to getting each of the puzzle pieces, KONG letters, and racking up lives and coins (which apparently come in real handy, real quick if my first Kart race is any indication).

“Sunset Shore,” as seen in the screen shot below, was inspired, I could probably handle an entire DS game created in this style, and I find myself anxious (in more ways than one given the famed difficulty) to see just what they come up with in each new level. Now I know I’m gushing a little here, but perhaps a little perspective is in order. I grew up playing the original Donkey Kong, and fantastic as that experience was to my young eyes, and how I still appreciate it for the great game it is, these things have really come an awful  long way and it’s difficult for me not to be impressed by so many of the offerings we take for granted today.

So, just in case I haven’t aged myself enough, let me end by saying that I suspect this game is going to be far better than a barrel full of monkeys!

Finally It’s On! Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
February 7, 2011

After two months of trying to track down the game at discount, Donkey Kong Country Returns eludes me no more! And while I wasn’t able to get anything resembling the $33 dollar deal that Amazon offered last week (that’s what I get for sleeping), I did pick it up for under $40 in like-new condition.

I’ve heard nothing but great things, have been itching for another solid platformer, and am really looking forward to reaching the beautiful silhouette levels that I’ve seen in motion (while catching the homage to Mr. Game & Watch to boot). I’ve been warned that it’s a difficult game, but that the satisfying game play, inspired level design, and sense of accomplishment makes it more than worth the effort.

I guess I’ll know soon enough!

[Mr. Game & Watch sprites courtesy of Tanman.]

Kirby Returns for the Wii!
January 28, 2011

Nintendo Japan announced today that everyone’s favorite ‘super tough pink puff’ will be making his way to the Nintendo Wii once more, and in a form that will be more recognizable to fans of the classic Kirby games than his last outing might have been. Innovative titles like Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii), and Kirby: Canvas Curse (DS) are always more than welcome as far as I’m concerned as they’ve obviously made for very successful games, but I’m also happy to hear that a full-fledged console Kirby title is on its way and that it is a return to the conventional side-scolling style that my wife and I have enjoyed so much over the years.

Here’s what we know about the game so far:

また、星のカービィについては、昨年『毛糸のカービィ』を日本とアメリカで発売しましたが、据置型ゲーム機の吸って吐いて変身 する本編のカービィの新作について、大変長らくお待たせしていました。Wii向けの『星のカービィ』の新作を、ハル研究所のチームで開発しています。これ もムービーをご覧ください。


Ha, but seriously, thanks to a Japanese friend of mine this basically tells us that we can expect the return of classic Kirby to the Nintendo Wii and that we will see the game’s release (in Japan at least) in 2011. It also encourages us to check out the (tiny) video preview here, as the larger YouTube version looses a little something in the translation.

I’ll definitely be sure to update you with new info, such as the name of the game, once it becomes available. Can’t wait!

[Source: Nintendo Japan]

Earth Seekers (Wii; Japan)
January 21, 2011

Earth Seekers (アースーシーカー) was announced in Japan as a Nintendo Wii title last June, but for one terrible reason or another it never made a blip on my radar and I’m only catching wind of it now. Though after diving into the details, seeing the battle system, and drooling over the concept art, developer Crafts & Meisters definitely has my attention.

Instantly appealing to the Legend of Zelda fan in me, the game looks to be a world I’d love to explore between it’s vibrant landscapes, lush fields, the giant beasts that roam its surface, and the various nooks and crannies we’ll be searching out alongside the game’s protagonist. Why all the exploration? It appears that in response to a threat to Earth’s very existence, refugee ships are charted into space carrying Earth’s inhabitants as well as their history with them, but when these ships crash on a vast alien world it is up to the game’s heroine to gather up the treasures once more .

Described as an action RPG that will appeal to a broad range of players, Earth Seekers is a meaty game with loads to accomplish and even takes advantage of the DSi to help round out the experience.

Or as Andriasang succinctly explains it:

Earth Seeker will have a companion DSi Ware mini game called “Odekake! Earth Seeker.” This app can be used to do such things as produce new items for use in the Wii version, and clean artifacts that you find along your adventure. Further details will be shared shortly.

As for the amount of time players can expect to potentially get from the game:

Funamizu is currently going through a test play session to check the game. He said that he’s managed to play for 60 hours and believes that he hasn’t even reached the half-way point. It looks like there will be plenty of volume in this latest Wii RPG.

Thus far Earth Seekers hasn’t been announced for North American shores, but there is hope for a Western release so assuming I catch wind of that news (particularly now that I’m looking) I’ll definitely be sure to share it. This would mark my first RPG experience for the Wii should it make it here so I’m crossing my fingers that it does. Looks like good fun.

Visit Earth Seekers‘ official JP site here and enjoy the newly released trailer below!

The Happy Holiday Haul, Part 2
December 22, 2010

For Part 2 of the “happy holiday haul” I’ll look at the gently used games that I picked up (in a couple of cases after a good deal patience over several months).

The  Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (GBC) – One of the most beloved games in the Legend of Zelda franchise and one of the few that I still needed to complete my (not exhaustive) collection. I found a copy complete with box, instructions and the game in very good condition and bit the bullet. I ended up paying ~ $25 for it, but that was a price I was more than willing to pay for this gem.

Game & Watch Gallery 2 & 3 (GBC) – Always on the lookout for Mario-related games that I don’t own, or have never played (and with more than a little bit of nostalgia for the plumber, friends, and Mr. Game & Watch driving me ever towards picking them up) I knew I had to take advantage of a couple of offers to own both of these games, with box and instructions, for a little over $10. The games themselves are pretty simple, but also pretty dang charming. Glad I snatched them up!

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift (DS) – Been trying to hunt this one down forever at a good, deeply discounted price, and managed to pick it up for $11 recently. I love games like this that offer so much depth of play and while I seldom have the time necessary these days to immerse myself as long as I’d like, I’m certainly hoping for the opportunity.

Heroes of Mana (DS) – I mentioned yesterday how much I enjoy Ryoma Ito’s art and that’s what originally attracted me to this game beyond the strategy elements and conventions that I love about these games. I’ve heard good and bad about the experience the game offers, but for me, there’s a lot more going for it than against it as I’ve tried to weed through commentary about the game. I found it for less than $15 so I went ahead and jumped at the offer.

Thanks for taking a few moments to check out my holiday haul with me, I’ve still got a few hopefuls to pick up, but I’m more than happy with what I was able to accomplish this year where my video game collection is concerned. Here’s hoping you find some treasures under your own tree this year. Whatever the case, I still wish you good folks a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Happy Holiday Haul, Part 1
December 22, 2010

Like so many of you, I like to try and take advantage of all the crazy sales at the end of the year and while I expected to pick up a few games, I ended up finding deals all over the place for new and used games and thought I’d share what I was able to get (I should point out that I sold some older games of mine as well which helped finance most of this). I hope y’all have had some good fortune as well on the game front, and would be happy to hear of your accomplishments if you’re inclined to share.

With no further ado then, the 2010 “happy holiday haul” so far:

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii) – Fortunately, I was able to obtain Kirby’s Epic Yarn for free after taking advantage of an online credit promotion Amazon had last month that we took advantage of. I believe it was discounted to ~ $34.99 when I picked it up, which left me some additional credit. My wife and I are looking forward to playing this together as big Kirby fans, and I always appreciate the rare game that allows us to do that.

Super Scribblenauts (DS) – During one of their holiday sales, Amazon had the game discounted to $24.99 and with the remaining credit I had with Amazon I was able to pick up the game for $12.99. My wife enjoys a number of the smaller iPhone games available so I thought that she might be interested in this. After explaining the concept behind the game her interest was peaked and I bit the bullet so that she could have something to play while I’m wrapped up in a game of my own. Likewise, while my wife’s english is very good for a Japanese native that has only been in America 4 years, the game has the side benefit of introducing her to new words and concepts which has already proven fun. Oh, yea, she didn’t wait until Christmas to open it up…

Mario Kart Wii (Wii) – I love this game. I’ve enthusiastically played Mario Kart since fatefully discovering it on the Nintendo 64 those many years ago and the series just get’s better and better all the time (incidentally, the DS version is probably my favorite in the series to date). My Dad actually purchased this for my nieces a couple of years back for Christmas and I spent countless hours mastering the courses and unlocking content over at his place when I’d visit. Alas, the nieces lost the game at some point as they played at the house and I figured I’d ask my wife for a copy of my own for Christmas (no worries, I’ll share with the yung-uns). We were able to find it online for ~ $39 (incl. the Wii Wheel) and its sitting under the tree as her gift to me.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) – I’ll try to condense this a little, but I hadn’t picked the sequel up yet as I had lent my copy of the original SMG to my sister’s family to play and they spent the good part of a year playing the heck out of it and I’m only about half-way through the first as a result. I love what I’ve been able to experience so far and I wanted to pick up the sequel when it was discounted, so I found it on Black Friday at Target for ~ $36 dollars. A great price for a game worth a heck of a lot more by all indications. Can’t wait to fire it up! And how about that Yoshi!?

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS) – I’ve had my eye on this one since it was announced largely due to the compelling art style, slick presentation, and throwback game play and after finding it for $15 online during one of Amazon’s holiday sales I had to snatch it up. Saving it for a “rainy day” down the road as I noted here a few weeks back.

Super Mario All-Stars (Wii) – Here’s a confession: I never actually owned a Super Nintendo. I must have been a Sophomore or Junior in high school when the console was just reaching the height of its popularity, and while I would have loved to have played the system more (had to relegate that to Street Fighter II sessions at a friends house) time was at a real premium in those days.  Long story short, I missed Super Mario All-Stars on the system and wanted to own each of these games on one disc (though I certainly would have loved even more Mario games on one disc) and finally play through those “lost levels.”

Sonic Unleashed (Wii) – I actually picked this up as part of a promotion Walmart was having where if you purchased a Wii remote (which we needed for the games above as I only had the one) you received a free game out of a selection of a dozen or so titles. I’m an old school Sonic fan and while I’ve heard “yea’s” and “nays” about the Werehog portions of the game, I’ve heard almost nothing but great things about the side-scrolling Sonic sections and figured that for the price of free that I’d best take advantage of the chance to play ’em.

(See Part 2)

Are A Couple of Dragon Quest Games Headed Our Way?
December 16, 2010

A couple of gaming news outlets have reported that recent Game Stop Power Up Rewards listings reveal that Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 for the Nintendo DS and Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road Victory for the Wii may be coming to Western shores, but that we’re not supposed to know about it just yet.

If true this is great news, as I was thiiiiiiis close to trying to devise a way of talking my wife into getting a Japanese region Wii console as it was (hey’s she’s from Japan, it could work) so that I could play all the Dragon Quest games we just don’t get over here. Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road Victory was one of the games I really wanted to try so here’s hoping  Square-Enix and Nintendo make this happen! In the meantime, I’ll try and keep my excitement in check…

Stay tuned!

[Source: Destructoid]

Games as Gifts (It’s On Like Donkey Kong! TM)
November 29, 2010

With a few notable exceptions, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii last Christmas (thanks again hon), it’s not often that I get games as gifts for Christmas anymore.

Despite my obvious love for the hobby I suppose my family and friends have long thought to themselves that (a) if I want a game I’ll simply pick it up myself, (b) that they have no idea what I already own and don’t want to risk duplicating something in my collection, or (c) that they can’t spare the admitted expense. All of which I understand completely. And yes, I’ll ignore the possibility that they just want me to grow up — ha, surely they’ve given up on that by now!

But I actually really miss those days when I’d anxiously pull away the paper on a gift Christmas morning to find an Atari or NES game (or two) staring back at me that my parents knew I was champing at the bit for. So this year, with family and friends asking me what I would like, I’m trying an experiment and outright telling them that I”d love to play Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) because I know opening up a gift like that would be almost as much fun as it was when I was still knee high to a grasshopper.

Ha, and if it doesn’t work — well — I’ll just pick it up myself (that’ll show ’em).

Q4 2010: What I’m Picking Up…
September 27, 2010

There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. As always, Fall and Winter seasons are jam packed with dozen(s) of releases and while I can only manage to snag a couple of these games at launch this year, here’s what I’m looking forward to picking up:

Epic Mickey (Wii) – I love classic Disney and am grateful to have bookshelves lined with classic comics featuring Carl Barks’ Duck tales, Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse adventures, and video collections chronicling Disney’s pioneering animation from the 1930’s to present. I treasure these, and while I’m always a little hesitant to hear of a Disney game release (given their hit-and-miss natures) it didn’t take long for Warren Spector’s Epic Mickey to win me over. It definitely didn’t hurt to find out that Spector is a huge fan of Disney’s classic source material and that he was a huge Floyd  Gottfredson fan, as is evident in his interviews. Knowing as much immediately let me know that he’d have a firm grasp on Disney’s flagship hero (given that Gottfredson really refined Mickey’s appeal as a character) and that I’ll likely appreciate the direction that the game takes. And…Oswald! Thus far I’ve been fascinated by most all the info. that’s been garnered and previews that we’ve seen and am awful excited to see what Spector and Disney Interactive Studios pull off here in the end. Look for it on November 30th.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii) – I don’t know anyone that’s spent any time with a Kirby game that doesn’t love the “super tough creme puff’ already, but after seeing what they had cooked up for Kirby in his newest (and long anticipated) adventure I was sold on the…ahem…yarn that they were creating. Kirby games have innovated from the beginning (starting on the surface with his ability to “copy” his foes abilities) and it appears that Kirby’s Epic Yarn looks to not only continue the trend, but blow it out of the water by placing him in a world made of yarn and various textures, adding multi-player components and retaining (and amping up) that “fun factor” that the series is so well known for.  Another plus in the games favor is that my wife enjoys playing Kirby games so this may be something we’ll be able to play together and I always look forward to that. Look for it on October 17th.

Believe it or not, these are the only two titles I plan to pick up at, or right around launch. Not that I don’t want to purchase a dozen more,  but my entertainment funds are a little more limited these days now that I’ve started a family. That said,  in the months to follow I do plan on looking seriously into the following titles as well:

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Konami; available on the PS3 & Xbox 360 on October 5th)
  • Costume Quest (Double Fine Productions; available on PSN and Xbox Live in October)
  • Final Fantasy: Heroes of Light (Square-Enix; available on the Nintendo DS October 5th)
  • The Sly Collection (Sony; available on the PS3 November 16th)
  • Vanquish (Sega; available on the PS3 & Xbox 360 on October 19th)

What’s more, it appears Q1 and Q2 2011 aren’t going to let up in the least. What’s your forecast for the coming months, what games are you looking forward to most?