In Super Smash Bros, Director Masahiro Sakurai stripped the fighting game genre of its finger-tangling combos and built a new style from the core sensation he enjoyed the most: the dynamic "ad lib" nature of the fights. It was arguably the Nintendo 64's best game. In Kirby Air Ride, Sakurai boiled down the racing game to drifting and acceleration, then layered that core with Kirby flair and garish extras. It wasn't exactly the next Smash Bros.
Now, Sakurai's "disassembly and reassembly" approach takes on the shooter in Kid Icarus: Uprising. The father of Kirby and Smash Bros has transformed a quirky NES action platformer into half corridor shooter and half third-person shooter. It's no Smash success, but it's far from Air Ride's mediocre curiosity as well.
Earlier this month, I played through the original Kid Icarus for the first time. It's a golden-age Nintendo oddity with a novel mishmash of action and RPG (novel in 1986, anyway) that provides more frustration than fun. It's okay, I guess.
But through the years, enough fans yearned for a revival of Kid Icarus that an online petition could always be found on any sizable video game forum. Unfortunately for these die-hards, Nintendo never gives its fans exactly what they want: it instead creates something new that resembles fan demands. Besides, Kid Icarus was a strange game. The only aspect of it I could see living on was the oddball Cupid Versus Eggplants theme.
Apparently Nintendo saw that too, because the new Kid Icarus: Uprising celebrates its strange heritage in a game style closer to Star Fox than a return to the original's platforming-action formula. Lifetime Kid Icarus fans are no doubt disappointed, but I couldn't be happier: the rail-shooting half of Uprising bears a strong resemblance to my 2010 Game of the Year, Sin & Punishment Star Successor, and the on-foot arena melees look no less enjoyable. Could Kid Icarus: Uprising be the 3DS's first worthy purchase of 2012?
The original Sin & Punishment was released in late 2000 for the N64. Due to developer Treasure's cancellation of its North American release, the game never made it outside of Japan until its rerelease for the Wii's Virtual Console seven years later. Its success, combined with the prospect of creating an all new experience utilizing the Wii's motion controls prompted the Treasure team to make a sequel; Sin & Punishment: Star Successor.
Control in Star Successor is done via the Wii Remote and Nunchuck by default. Motion controls are implemented perfectly, allowing for smooth, precise targeting, though I found my wrist getting strained after long periods (there's a joke in there somewhere). You can also use the Classic Controller, GameCube Controller, or Wii Zapper, but I feel the standard setup works best.
Editor's Note: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is Jonathan's second review here at The First Hour. This review was previously posted at IGN and Destructoid. Nate has previously written a first hour review of the game also.
Back when I was a kid, I loved telling people about things that I enjoyed. I would explain, in excessive detail, how amazing whatever I had just witnessed was. I distinctly remember recounting the entirety of a particularly amazing Simpsons episode to a friend in grade school, to the point where he rolled his eyes and walked away in disbelief of my obsession. I understood that he couldn't appreciate the episode without watching it and that my overexcited babbling would do Leonard Nimoy's brilliant guest appearance no justice, but I couldn't stop myself. I find myself thinking back on old times like this one because, as I sit down to write first hour reviews for this site, I look at the massive walls of text that result from my sixty minutes with some very entertaining games and think about just how powerless those words are compared to the experience in my mind.
On that note, I've had to do some significant editing to this first hour review of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. I knew I would enjoy the game after playing through its prequel a few weeks ago for the first time, but my enthusiastic ramblings from that first hour were anything but concise. I threw out a lot of what I had originally written, and it's still far longer than the average first hour review here. If you want the long and short of it up front, just imagine playing Star Fox 64 with one hand and House of the Dead with the other and you've got the jist of Star Successor. Only this version of Star Fox 64 is much more difficult, and this version of House of the Dead has dozens of things to shoot on the screen almost all the time.
I'll just go ahead and say it up front: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is a serious contender for my game of the year. I do hope the text gives you an idea of how the game works and whether or not you should go out and buy it right this very minute, but one glance at the sheer length of this review should let you know just how much I enjoyed it.
Every Monday morning since the Wii craze began in November 2006, the Wii
Shop Channel has been updated with new downloadable titles to purchase.
The Virtual Console, one of the Wii's few enticing tidbits to core
gamers at launch, promised to make all our favorite classic games
through the N64 era available on one piece of hardware. Things started
out strong for the VC, which reached the 100-game milestone just over
six months after launch. It seems Nintendo just couldn't keep that pace,
however, as the first seven months of 2010 have seen less than twenty
new retro titles. With obvious Nintendo classics like Star
Fox, Yoshi's Island, Pilotwings 64, and Excitebike 64 still waiting to
be let loose -- in addition to the many unseen third party games worth
revisiting -- it seems far too early for the Virtual Console to receive
less than one title a week.
The future of the Virtual Console was looking bright in 2007, however, when Nintendo decided to make the N64 import classic Sin & Punishment available outside of Asia for the first time. It seems Treasure always planned a western release, as all the voice acting was performed in English (with Japanese subtitles), even in the original Japanese cartridge. The rumor is that a dried-up N64 market in 2000 made the niche developer think twice. In a rare showing of extra effort on Nintendo's part, Sin & Punishment was the first of a small collection of games formerly exclusive to Japan to make it to the Americas. It probably didn't take that much effort, though, since the only translation required was in the main menu and tutorials. The original Japanese subtitles persist even in the localized version.
I'd always planned on putting down the $12 to try Sin & Punishment at some point, but I figured the recent release of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for the Wii makes this as good a time as any. Might as well snag the N64 game for some context, right? I downloaded the game with the intent of completing a first hour review for our readers, but it seems there isn't a whole lot to talk about beyond that first sixty minutes, so this has been upgraded to full review status. Lucky you!
It should be little surprise for anyone who knows me that my most exciting development from E3 was the unveiling of Child of Eden. Kept hidden for two years in development, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Q? Entertainment and Ubisoft (with a little help from Joel McHale) announced the title to the world to start off the Ubi conference. Mizuguchi took the lead, presenting a demo level paired with the 360's Kinect motion capture system. While most detailed information on the title is still sparse and hard to find, bits and pieces of information are beginning to sift around, most of which sound quite promising. Here is what we know so far...
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.