There are a total of six released M-rated Nintendo DS games: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, theresia, Ultimate Mortal Kombat, Dementium: The Ward, Touch the Dead, and Resident: Evil Deadly Silence (one more game, C.O.R.E. has been rated but not released yet). For over 1100 rated titles on the Nintendo DS, there are just six games considered Mature by the ESRB! That's about one half percent of all DS games. Kotaku has some theories on this, but I'm not really one to analyze the market or audiences - I'm one to play the dang games.
The following is going to be a 10 minute blitz of each of the six released M-rated games for the Nintendo DS, starting with the first released, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, and finishing up with the recent Grand Theft Auto. I already had a friend review the first hour of Chinatown Wars, but a little overlap is okay. I'll say a few things about each game, play it for ten minutes, and then wrap each up with a few more notes about gameplay. I'll also decide if the first 10 minutes are worthy of the M-rating or not. Let's get this started.
This is also a taste of the new first hour review format. Less about numerical scores, more about what I liked and what I didn't. The reviews will be a bit more fleshed out next week as I have more room to roam. Enjoy.
Suikoden Tierkreis for the Nintendo DS is the newest edition to the classic RPG series released last month. It's the first portable original RPG in the series and features all the mainstays, including 108 Stars of Destiny (heroes), turn-based combat, an epic story, and random battles. Tierkreis is German for "zodiac." What that has to do with the game, I do not know, something to do with the Stars of Destiny maybe?
This is of course a guest review by my friend Grant. He recently reviewed the first hour of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and offered to review his newest purchase. We're both big fans of the Suikoden series, though we've played completely different games. I've played 1, 2, and 4, while Grant has played 3, 5, and now Tierkreis. I keep trying to get him to play Suikoden 2 as it's one of the best games ever... but as long as he writes for the site, I don't care. Enjoy Grant's review of Suikoden Tierkreis.
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is an adventure game released in 2006 for Xbox and Windows. It's the sequel to The Longest Journey, a straight point-and-click adventurer released seven years earlier. Dreamfall takes advantage of the beefier hardware and features fully navigable 3D environments that plays more like Shenmue than Syberia. This may very well be the evolution of adventure games right before our eyes.
I never played the original Longest Journey, well, I take that back. I played the demo for a few minutes then turned it off. So much for the first hour of a demo, huh? There's something to be said about starting in the middle of any story driven game, it usually doesn't work. But that's The Longest Journey, and this is Dreamfall! If you're curious about the game after the review, it's readily available on both Steam and Xbox Live Originals on the 360. Check it out, after we check out the first hour of Dreamfall.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is Rockstar's first game for the Nintendo DS and it joins the ranks as one of the few Mature rated titles for the handheld. Developed by Rockstar Leeds, the creators of the PSP GTA games, Chinatown Wars was one of Nintendo's biggest announcements at last year's E3. After the massive scope of the console GTA games, many wondered if the DS could accurately duplicate the experience. If Rockstar can pull it off, prepare to hear pleas for a GTA Wii for many months to come.
This first hour guest review was written by my good friend Grant. I never knew he was a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series so this was quite a surprise when he submitted the review to me. If you're interested in writing for the First Hour in this style or your own, send me an email. Let's get to the first hour of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a 2007 third-person shooter for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3. You control an amnesiac soldier named Wayne on the frigid planet E.D.N. III. Earth has supposedly been devastated from its own problems so humans decided to head out into the galaxy and find a new planet to mess around with. E.D.N. III must have been the only semi-habitable planet they found because there's no way they would have picked this world if they had known better. It has an average temperature of -100 degrees and is filled with horrible, nasty, giant bug monsters.
The game's creator, Keiji Inafune, has an absolute crazy gaming history. The guy helped design Mega Man, worked on the original Street Fighter, and has produced every major Onimusha game. Don't forget that he also worked on Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, one of the best side-scrollers ever. But how did he end up writing a game like Lost Planet? Turns out he used The Thing, the classic John Carpenter movie as inspiration. Not a bad place to start. Neither is the first hour of a video game, so let's get into Lost Planet: Extreme Condition's.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a turn-based role-playing strategy game for the Nintendo DS. It is the eleventh game in the popular Fire Emblem series, but is actually a remake of the original Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light which was released in 1990 only in Japan. Turns out this is really the second remake of the first game, but still the first time gamers outside of Japan have experienced it.
So that's a lot of history just on one story, but you might be wondering what Fire Emblem is in the first place. The series has always pretty much played the same way all these years as a turn-based strategy game. A set of heroes takes on a band of bad guys on a grid-based map. You move all your guys at once and then the bad guys go. There's a twist in Fire Emble though, every character on your team has a name and profile, and if they're killed during battle, they're gone for good. That means you either don't get too attached to your characters, or you reload a level a lot.
All right, let's get into the first hour of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.
The Magic Toy Chest is a PC puzzle game that clearly has roots in The Incredible Machine. Developed by indie Graduate Games, Toy Chest is soon to be released and features over 100 levels with a variety of items and a level editor. I grew up playing The Incredible Machine and was excited when the devs approached me to play this. Physics based puzzle games are generally awesome, just look at the World of Goo last week. Of course, like The Incredible Machine, the Magic Toy Chest is more about solving puzzles like you have the mind of Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist who would draw complex mechanical solutions to simple everyday problems. What's not to like about that?
The Magic Toy Chest takes place in a young boy's house. The style of the graphics and simplicity of gameplay in the first hour definitely lends itself to be a game directed at kids. This isn't a bad thing, but as you'll see there's not much of a challenge to be had early on. Let's just get right down to it, let the first hour of the Magic Toy Chest begin.
World of Goo is a 2D puzzle game for the PC, Mac, Linux, and WiiWare released last year. It was independently made by 2D-Boy and has been a huge hit across the board. The goal of the game is to get the required number of goo balls into each level's pipe. You use the goos to build bridges, towers, and anything else you can imagine and construct. The game's impressive physics are really its highlight, but it doesn't slack in any other areas either.
World of Goo is available in a box, as a direct download, and even over Steam. As you'll see, this game's first hour is so good you'll want to go right out and buy a copy, so don't complain when you can't find it anywhere!
Kudos 2 is a computer game made by indie developer Positech Games. Easiest way to describe it is as a turn-based Sims. You create a character, and balance their stats and needs as you live their life. That's really where the similarities end though as we'll see. In some ways, Kudos 2 seems to have even more potential than the Sims series.
The game is available for both Windows and Mac (just released the other day!), and features absolutely no DRM. One guy, Cliff Harris, makes his living off making video games. I think that's pretty awesome, honestly. Full disclosure, he gave me a review copy to play. This is the first time anyone has ever done that, indie or not, and I feel a bit honored. At the same time, I'm suddenly thrust this new and worrisome responsibility: will the free review copy somehow affect my score of the game? Will it adversely affect the score because I'll be trying too hard not to give it a good score? I will try to be as honest as I possibly can. Now let's get to the first hour of Kudos 2.
Braid is a time-manipulating 2D platformer for the Xbox Live Arcade. You control Tim, a young man trying to get the girl back that he lost... or is he? Either way, the game was independently made by Jonathon Blow and released last year to quite a bit of acclaim. Hailed for its extremely original platforming experience, Braid was the first game I bought for my Xbox 360 after I got it. This is the my experience at playing Braid's first hour for the first time.
February is First Hour's unofficial indy game month, and Braid is just the first of four straight independently made games featured.