Monday, October 6, 2008
Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii)
I've always been a big fan of Mario's garlic-eating, flatulence-prone, cackling, biggest-***hole-in-the-universe nemesis. Because of this, I'm glad to see that Wario stars in numerous games of his own (although I'd love to see Waluigi get some time in the spotlight). The mustachioed jackass has arrived on the Wii in his first adventure game for the console with Wario Land: Shake It! It's somewhat reminiscent of his Game Boy adventures, as he features his signature moves in a 2D, side-scrolling environment. However, the game takes advantage of the Wii remote by making you vigorously shake about 90% of the items in the environment. Gimmicky, sure, but it's still funny to hear the various grunts and groans coming out of Wario as you do it. Aside from the shaking, you'll also use motion controls to ground pound and aim your throws, among other things. It's a simple side-scrolling formula, but the addition of the mad dash sections at the end of each level makes for some challenging item collection. Would make for a great rental, but is too short and simple to recommend a full purchase.
Final Fantasy IV (DS)
I've had a fairly odd history with RPGs. I never got into them during the heyday of the SNES, but I started to come around after playing through Final Fantasy X. I played a good deal of FF VII but never finished it (cue fanboy hate mail), nine or ten hours of FF IX, and a ludicrous amount of time on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (but only a little of the original FFT - cue more fanboy hate mail). Therefore, I didn't really know what to expect heading into FF IV. Thankfully, it proves to be a fantastic gaming experience that works well on Nintendo's portable. I can't compare it to the SNES original, but I can say with full confidence that it doesn't feel dated whatsoever. The story, characters, abilities, magic, and enemies are all great, and should satisfy both hardcore FF fans and casual/new RPG gamers.
NHL 2K9 (360)
I'm not usually the type to defend EA, but I absolutely have to in the case of the dueling NHL games. EA's series is a visually striking, entertaining experience even for people that don't know the first thing about hockey (me). NHL 2K9, by comparison, is drab, generic, and entirely unoriginal. When the most noticable change to a series' format is the inclusion of between-periods Zamboni races, I think that's a sign some things need to be rethought. It does feature the ability to play full six-on-six online games, but the gameplay isn't solid enough to warrant more than a few games.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 (DS)
Square Enix brings us the next installment in the Tactics series, and it's as love-it-or-hate-it as it's always been. I happen to love it, so I'll gladly take more. If you're the Halo geek type that needs to blow up an alien every 3 seconds to be entertained, then look elsewhere. If you enjoy chess-like battles and a massive amount of character and ability options, then pop FFTA2 in your DS and be prepared for dozens of hours of great gameplay. Throughout your experience with the game, the only real changes that happen from battle to battle are the always-enhancing abilities of your team. This alone was enough to keep me hooked, watching my characters start as lowly soldiers and monks and ending up wielding incredibly powerful weapons and casting devastating spells. This is one formula that somehow hasn't gotten old, despite remaining largely the same.
I've reviewed a ton of racing game, and after doing so many they start to blend together. Thankfully, Pure isn't just another MX vs ATV Offroad Mania Xtreme Derby Rally generic-fest. It features a refreshingly simple (yet fully functional) control scheme and trick-based boost system. At the beginning of each race, you can only perform tricks with the X button. Fill your boost bar enough and you can use Y tricks, followed by B tricks. Fill the entire bar and you can perform a ridiculous special trick that you'll need a lot of air to land. Before each jump, you'll get more airtime if you "preload" by pressing down followed by up on the analog stick. The courses are beautiful, and everything runs at a fantastic framerate despite all the onscreen action. For fans of the offroad racing genre, you couldn't do much better than Pure.
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