This site reviews the first hour, and only the first hour, of video games. It gives a minute by minute look at what is potentially a deal breaker for many games. If a game isn't fun during the initial hour, why should we expect the last 10 to 50 hours to be any different? The First Hour updates every few days with a new game review. Please contact greg@firsthour.net for comments, game suggestions, or if you'd like to write for the site.

The Magic Toy Chest

First Hour Review

The Magic Toy Chest CoverThe 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

First Hour Review

World of Goo CoverWorld 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!

Mass Effect: Ascension

Book Review

Mass Effect Ascension CoverMass Effect: Ascension is a novel written by Drew Karpyshyn. It is the sequel novel to Mass Effect: Revelation, and also a sequel to Mass Effect, the Xbox 360 game. The book takes place about two months after the events in Mass Effect, but because of the game's different endings, it has to be pretty vague about things. Reading Ascension before playing the game won't spoil much of anything... but chances are you aren't reading these books unless you've played the game.

I originally read Revelation in late 2007 and then played Mass Effect in early 2008. Ascension was released in July of last year and I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago. I'm not going to do any formal reviewing, just talk about a few things that jumped out at me.

Kudos 2

First Hour Review

Kudos 2 CoverKudos 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

First Hour Review

Braid CoverBraid 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.

February is indie games month at the First Hour

In February, I will be celebrating the independent developer by reviewing the first hour of four indie-made games! A few weeks ago I played Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble, an independently made video game from Mousechief. I had so much fun doing it, and actually communicating with someone that helped make the game, that I decided to keep playing them. Starting tomorrow will be the first hour of Braid, followed by Kudos 2, then World of Goo, and finally a game I haven't decided on yet! If you know of a great indie game that has a fun first hour, send me a note!

Super Bowl XLIII

Sports Pre-enactment

Tecmo Super Bowl CoverSuper Bowl XLIII will be played in a few days between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, so that means it's time for my second annual Tecmo Super Bowl preview of the big game. Last year, Tecmo Super Bowl and I correctly predicted the winner of Super Bowl XLII, an epic battle between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. The Patriots were heavily favored and undefeated at the time, and while nearly everyone picked them, Tecmo Super Bowl predicted the Giants would overcome, and they did!

Last year, Madden picked the Patriots, and lost. This year, they're going with the Steelers, but who is Tecmo Super Bowl picking? Remember, the teams playing are based off their 1990 counterparts! Also, don't place any bets based on this game, results are guaranteed to be as accurate as any other football video game. On with the show!

Post game update: So the Steelers ended up winning, not without drama though. Tecmo Super Bowl is now only one for two when the First Hour is involved, so I think next year I'll be preenacting with a slightly rougher game...

Kung Fu Panda

Full Review

Kung fu Panda CoverKung Fu Panda was a free game with my Xbox 360. When was the last time you got games with your system (yes, games, as Lego Indiana Jones was packed in too)? The Wii restarted a great trend by including Wii Sports, and sure, it was the Xbox 360 Holiday Bundle, but it's so nice to have something to play when you first plug it in. Did you know that I got three(!) games included with my Super Nintendo? Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and Super Mario All-Stars. It was the single greatest day of my childhood.

So Kung Fu Panda is the new video game based off the movie of the same name. Have you seen it? If so, you will probably enjoy this game for as long as it lasts (not that long). If you haven't seen it, you probably won't appreciate the humor it has to offer. That is, until you see the movie. Let's just get into my review of Kung Fu Panda for the Xbox 360, all score are out of 10.

Lost Odyssey

First Hour Review

Lost Odyssey CoverLost Odyssey is an Xbox 360 role-playing game from Mistwalker, a development studio formed a few years ago by the creator of the Final Fantasy series. This is their second console release, the first being Blue Dragon. Lost Odyssey was released about a year ago and got pretty average reviews, but hey, the game spans four discs. I haven't played a four disc game since Final Fantasy IX, but those were CDs, not DVDs. This makes the game a bit intimidating to even try, but I'm guessing most of the data is taken up by the voices. The game supports five spoken languages! Well, enough about this nonsense, we'll only be playing one hour, and let's get into it.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

Full Review

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney CoverApollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the latest Ace Attorney game for the Nintendo DS. It's the fourth game in the series and the first to star our new hero, Apollo Justice. This has been a sensitive point for fans as the series has focused on Phoenix Wright for three games, and all of a sudden Capcom decides to go in a different direction. Well, if you've skipped Apollo Justice because of this, you will soon find out you have a game you must play.

I previously reviewed the third Ace Attorney game, Trials and Tribulations, here last year. Check it out if you want to see where the series left off and a basic introduction to the gameplay featured in the games. I'm actually really excited for the next game in the series... well, a new series technically. Perfect Prosecutor: Miles Edgeworth is getting released in Japan in a few months. Courtroom drama and comedy from the other side of the room!

Let's get on with my review of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, all scores are out of 10.

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