Those of us who play a lot of video games know the power that music brings to them. We all have our favorite classic tunes, and we know the feeling of hearing a great piece of music while playing a game. Personally I am a huge fan of game music, listening to soundtracks and remixes of soundtracks in my everyday life.
Video Games Live is a show designed to bring the joys of video game music to the greater public. The show consists of an orchestra playing music from games while footage from the game plays on big screens, accompanied by a light show and sometimes stage antics.
Last week I had the privilege of attending this show. For those of you who are stalking me online, let's just get this out of the way. I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the show was just outside the city April 1st.
Now for those of you who listen to the podcast, you will know that myself and one of our other writers, Michael T, were planning on attending the show in February but it was canceled. Although we're still not completely sure why, they rescheduled it at a different venue about six weeks later.
This is a first for us, but this is our second full review of The Legend
of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on the First Hour. Paul first reviewed the game in
early February and praised it for its stellar action and improved
controls over Phantom Hourglass. He did note some
issues with the train in the game, and while most of my opinions will
echo his, I would like to get my thoughts down before I move on to other
This is Nintendo's second attempt at going for an entirely stylus-driven Zelda experience. I'm actually still a bit shocked that this works. It's not perfect, but it is definitely not substantially worse than playing a console Zelda game, and in some ways works better than the old 2D games. Paul said he noticed improvements in the control, but either it's been so long since I played Phantom Hourglass that I didn't notice, or... they didn't make any improvements. I'm guessing the former as I was rarely frustrated with the game control-wise.
Just like to quickly mention how awesome it is that we got two Legend of Zelda games on the Nintendo DS, especially considering it was nearly three years after the system debuted that Phantom Hourglass finally landed. It'd be great to see a third, but I imagine Nintendo will be refocusing their efforts on the DSi or 3DS at this point. Hey, you can always hire Capcom to make more portable iterations.
I received Borderlands from my brother-in-law for Christmas, but didn't have the opportunity to play it until my other brother-in-law was over to visit and asked to play it. I watched him play while trying out the new Miles Edgeworth game, but Borderlands really grabbed my attention.
He chose to play as a berserker, and after the initial bus ride cutscene, he was on Pandora and kicking butt. The game was very open but it always seemed like he had something to do. There were a couple of quest givers, he was leveling up, finding new guns, shooting more and more enemies. He played for about two hours and had taken out the game's first boss after a few attempts, and then it was my turn to give it a go.
I can't believe I left this game on my shelf for so long, it's... awesome. I haven't played a game like it since World of Warcraft. The open world feels big and intimidating, but it's one of those perfect examples of sandbox non-linearity with just the right amount of linear guidance. The quests keep coming and I just kept leveling up. There were skill points to earn and bigger and better guns to collect. I'm already hooked.
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber is a mixed game, and has had mixed reviews. Some hold it as the holy grail of RPG/Strategy gaming, while others find it about as entertaining as a box of rocks.
I’m of the former. When I saw this game in Nintendo Power, and read about it, it was all new to me. I never played its SNES predecessor. But it looked so awesome. Being an RPG fan, and desperately wanting a reason to play my Nintendo 64 other than to play Super Smash Bros. or Star Fox. The game Quest 64 left a terrible taste in my mouth and made me desperately want a Playstation for some good RPG games.
The playing of this game by me will discover whether this game achieves that goal, and if that goal is worthy. Are SNES RPGs still relevant? Have we moved on, or will the sense of nostalgia be enough to reel us in?
Glory of Heracles was actually a series of games in Japan published by Data East since 1987. Nintendo acquired the rights when Data East went bankrupt in 2003. This is the first game to make it to the west; apparently Nintendo is hoping to pull a Fire Emblem.
Here it is, the fifth episode of The First Hour Podcast! In this episode, Paul and Greg discuss their views on the 3DS announcement, another writer (also named Paul) drops in to talk about the latest Pokemon games, and Mike returns to give his opinion of Final Fantasy XIII. And that's not all!
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a game I knew very little about. When I was about eight years old, a few of my friends said it was "the destroyer of worlds." Not just difficult, but impossible. None of my friends could progress very far, and as an eight year old, I wanted to prove to them that I was superior. Unfortunately, none of them would lend it to me, and I never really had the money to buy it and every time I went to the video store to rent it, it was always out. I don't know if it was just that popular, or if they lost it. I'm guessing the latter.
Now, I understand that it was made in 1991 by Capcom. It’s been ported to a bunch of different gaming platforms including the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable and Virtual Console on the Wii.
It is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and also loosely related to Demon's Crest. I've played games like Contra and got pretty far before hitting a mark that was impassable for me, even at the wee ages of nine. So I figured… how hard can this game be? Here's the first hour of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
This spoiler-filled Audio Visual Experience of Time Gentlemen, Please! contains both potential puzzle/adventuring hints as well as possibly direct spoilers, up to and including the ending of the game. If you are interested in playing the game and have yet to do so (check the less spoilertastic article on the game), then you may wish to avoid this article. Otherwise, enjoy the experience of this fun little indie adventure game. Also as a sidenote, due to a bug with the game engine, no dialogue was captured on the images until the last few images, when some setting changes fixed the issue (as a result, somewhat reducing spoilering but also reducing fun). Warning: potential spoilers below.
So as I'm moving through my Steam backlog, my next games are the adventure duo Ben There, Dan That! and its sequel Time Gentlemen, Please! Both are old-school 2d adventure games, harking back to classics such as Maniac Mansion, Loom, Monkey Island and Sam & Max (admittedly, none of which I have played aside from the free Sam & Max episode on Steam).
In case you aren't familiar with the PC adventure game genre, they're dialogue-heavy puzzle/detective games of a sort. You walk around, talk to people, pick things up, interact with objects and generally figure out ways to progress to your next or overall objective. It's generally very simple to play, not requiring twitch skills or muscle memory like most modern games and can be taken at whatever pace you wish. The humor of the games are by far their biggest draw, with large amounts of clever, lighthearted, endearing dialogue. Of course, then the dialogue is the main draw of the genre and allows it to stand out over say, an electronic version of Clue. Other significant factors towards the final product include ambience, intelligent pacing and a basic yet effective control scheme. The genre as a whole has a fairly rabid dedicated fanbase. This is in contrast to the majority of the gaming world, who doesn't even know that the genre exists.
I loved Super Mario 64. It was the first game I ever played on what is
one of my favorite consoles, and my memories of the game have stuck
with me to this day. The running, the jumping, the exploration of huge
levels, it was incredible. Mario made the best transition to 3D ever,
well, until Ocarina of Time
came around. The next 3D Mario iteration was Super Mario Sunshine,
which I was less then enthused about. I'm not sure if it was the water
pack gimmick or what, but I was never convinced that it would be worth
playing. Nintendo has finally delivered its third true 3D Mario game
(well, two and a half years ago) with Super Mario Galaxy. While it is almost unrecognizable in terms of what a Mario game should be like, it plays just like Mario 64 did 14 years ago: awesomely.
Galaxy's gimmick is that instead of featuring one giant, flat plane, each world is made up of small, Little Prince-like planets and objects. Gravity and physics are now Mario's biggest friend and foe, as you're constantly being challenged in new ways to jump and explore. I love games like Braid and Portal that challenge me to think and play different, Super Mario Galaxy joins that elite group, in my opinion.
Mario Galaxy 2 is due in less than two months, and it'll probably be
the first Wii game I buy at launch in over three years. I'd love to
have a first hour review of that game at launch (hint, hint, Nintendo),
but I've got a first hour review of this game also on the back burner.
Here's my full review of Super Mario Galaxy. I collected all 120 stars
in the game which took me about 25-30 hours.