ghosts

The Last Story

Full Review

Last Story CoverThere’s a narrow alley tucked into a corner of the industrial castle town, hidden behind the bustling Arena Square. Armorsmiths and swordcrafts crowd the path, talking shop and hawking wares to passersby in a gaunt corridor of tiny workrooms. In the alley’s only empty corner, a lean brute presses an elderly shopkeep against the grimy concrete and slyly demands a cut of profit.

It’s a place foul with sweat and industry. It swelters with forge and struggle. A stroll from end to end offers a glimpse of the desperation that is life for these lower class tradesman. They fight for survival, crammed into a corner of the last thriving city on the last prospering island in a rotting world.

The locals call this slum strip Artisan’s Way. It has an effortless narrative density that's so refreshing to see in a JRPG. The Last Story could have been about this place. It’s not. The Last Story is about a vampiric meteor that shoots giant lasers.

The Blackwell Legacy

Indie Impression

Blackwell Legacy CoverWhen we were selecting games for our new Indie Impression column, variety was the most important factor. We've had a cartoony roguelike, fast-paced platformer, and a spelunking adventure, all relatively action oriented games in their own right, but it turns out, one of the most popular genres for indie developers is the point and click adventure. Thanks to tools such as Adventure Game Studio, even you can make your own Monkey Island.

The Blackwell Legacy is the first title in a series of point and click adventure games developed by Wadjet Eye Games. With the first three games recently included in an Indie Royale bundle, our growing backlog of unplayed games seemed to double in one day. So in an effort to possibly kill three birds with one stone, we decided to check out the first Blackwell game and see if this series is worth playing.

As usual, impressions are presented individually, with a variety of time put into the game. If you have a suggestion on an indie title to highlight, or are a developer yourself, leave a comment or shoot us an email.

Super Mario 3D Land

Full Review

Super Mario 3d Land CoverUpon starting Super Mario 3D Land, I was placing internal bets on whether the game would be filed with the 2D or the 3D Mario experiences. Miyamoto and the team say they combined the approachability of 2D Mario with the freedom of the third dimension, but one of the two styles must win out, right?

Exactly fourteen hours of playtime later, the answer still eludes me. There's bits of Super Mario Galaxy and pieces of New Super Mario Bros in the game, and it leans heavily towards the former. What's keeping me from committing 3D Land to the 2D Mario pile is all the Sonic Adventure mucking things up.

Despite the disappointment, elation, and outright disdain that those three names likely bring up, they ultimately mean little for the actual quality of the game. It would be difficult to argue that Super Mario 3D Land is anything other than the Nintendo 3DS' most compelling purchase to date. But it's also the first Mario title in several years that I can't just rave about.

2011-2012 NHL Regular Season and 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sports Pre-enactment

nhl 12 CoverLast November, I ran the first annual FirstHour.net NHL season and playoff predictions using EA Sports' NHL 11. I think the only prediction that could even be stretched as "correct" was that Alex Ovechkin would have the worst offensive season of his career (though even my NHL 11 sim did not predict he would finish with a paltry 32 goals). And although the Atlanta Thrashers didn't win the Stanley Cup in 2011, something pretty important did happen to that franchise during the playoffs...

Well, here we are again. A new NHL season, a new NHL game. This year, we'll see if the official FirstHour.net predictions are more accurate using the new NHL 12. Don't worry about our track record: this is the year, people. Put all your money where we say to. And disregard that some of these predictions are already impossible.

End of Playoffs update: Well, that does it for NHL hockey this summer. Congrats to the Los Angeles Kings on their first Stanley Cup victory. We certainly didn’t predict that. We didn’t predict a lot of things that happened this year, but we improved on last year’s airball. This post has been updated with the verdict on each of our predictions.

Wii Play Motion - Video

First Hour Review

wii Play Motion Cover"Gathering dust" has become the meme of regretful Wii owners everywhere. I can't even count the number of times I've seen these words used to complain about the dearth of worthwhile Wii games. As someone who has found plenty of variety and quality in Gamecube 1.1's software lineup, I've let out innumerable deep sighs in response.

And yet, I must admit that my Wii has sat silent for over six months now. After a year that I wouldn't hesitate to call the system's very best, even the most forgiving Nintendo fanboys couldn't deny that Wii has been a ghost town in 2011.

But all that changes now, as I just picked up the brand new Wii Play Motion! Yes, I think it's safe to say that the 2011 Wii drought is officially over. Because if anything can get hardcore gamers excited about Wii again, it's a minigame collection bundled with a controller!

All sarcasm aside, Wii Play Motion's various motion-centric minigames were created by several different studios, tasked with outdoing each other in finding a fun and unique use of the bundled-in Wii Remote+'s capabilities. Featuring such contributors as Prope (Yuji Naka's new studio) and Good-Feel (the minds behind the excellent Wario Land: Shake It and Kirby's Epic Yarn), it at least has an interesting pedigree. Or a collection of interesting pedigrees, I guess.

So I synced my pretty new Wii Remote+ and popped in the disc. In just over an hour, I tried out every singleplayer minigame in the collection (as far as I know). And lucky you, I recorded video of all of them! Hopefully each video will give you an idea of how the player interacts with the minigame and what kind of depth it may offer.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Full Review

Ghost Trick Phantom Detective CoverI've been anticipating Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for a while now. As a big fan (but totally burned out) of the Ace Attorney series, I was excited for Phoenix Wright's creator's next vision. It's an odd one, that's for sure, but holds on to the humor, great cast of characters, and overwhelming charm that made the Ace Attorney series so great.

In Ghost Trick, you unsurprisingly play as a ghost. The idea is you can manipulate objects from the ghostly dimension to save people's lives and ultimately, find out who you are and why you were killed. The Phoenix Wright-like mystery is present throughout the game and many of the questions aren't answered until the last action is taken, but it's a fun and original ride all the way there.

Phantom Detective shouldn't be a game that can be explained easily, but its first half-hour managed to do a pretty bang-up job. Check that out for an early walkthrough of all the concepts and in-depth gameplay elements the game explains to you quickly and efficiently.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Half-Hour Handheld

Ghost Trick Phantom Detective CoverI'm a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series, but after the fifth and latest game, Miles Edgeworth, I feel that the series is in dire need for a reboot. We may get that later this year in the bizarre pairing of Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, but my wish might have come even earlier with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. Created by the original Phoenix Wright lead, Shu Takumi, Ghost Trick seems to be where the creative juices are being funneled into now.

Released last week outside of Japan on the Nintendo DS, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective replaces the Ace Attorney game we usually see released around this time of year. Buzz was high for this game, but after watching a few videos, I had no idea what to expect out of this title. The main character is dead, there are timed puzzles to save people from dying, and you can possess objects a la The Haunting: Starring Polterguy or Geist. It all just seemed so... weird.

But I trust the Ace Attorney developers, so I'm going to give Ghost Trick a half-hour of my time to see if it's worth playing. Here are those first 30 minutes with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.

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