Chase Down This New Platformer

There’s a new platforming game coming to a DS near you! The Chase stars chibi-styled Felix and Felicity who are rushing to meet up for a date. With the clock counting down and inclement weather slowing you down, you must draw the paths the pair will take for their romantic get-together.

The game is scheduled for a February release.

The game is said to play out like Kirby’s Canvas Curse and Yoshi’s Touch & Go.

Ah, Young Love!

Ah, Young Love!

Mirror’s Edge and Banjo Kazooie demos are now available

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Before you mention it, yes I am a bit late on this news bit, however a certain LittleBigGame has taken all my free time away. Now available on XBLA and PSN is a demo for Mirror’s Edge, a first person platformer for the 360 and PS3. The demo gives you a tutorial level as well as the first stage from the game. From what I played it is just how I imagined it, a great new game that tries something new and succedes, it’s good to take risks!

Next Up this week is a demo for Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts on the XBLA. This demo is huge, you basicaly have the entire first world to play around it spanning multiple levels. From what I have played, it looks amazing and certainly feels like the classic Banjo we love, except with vehicles…alot of them. Infact I am still trying to decide if I like the vehicles yet and that is something I will likely have to decide come the games release this month.

Review – Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)


Developer/Publisher: Konami
Year: 2008
Fun Fact: the 10th Castlevania game released this decade (I think)

There’s been a handheld Castlevania game every single year since 2001 (counting the GBA port of the original NES game) but Order of Ecclesia is the BEST, which is quite an accomplishment given the extremely high regard and ratings the other releases have received. The latest release, starring fair, amnesiac maiden Shonoa, takes some of the strongest elements of past Castlevania games and combines them into an airtight new game.

Introduced in Ecclesia is a world map, breaking somewhat from the strict Metroidvania setup of most of Castlevania outings since 1997. The world map works more or less like you’d expect allowing the player to move freely from one area to another. The areas are unveiled over the course of the game and provide a wide variety. Some areas are basically straightforward action levels similar to what one might expect from pre-1997 Castlevanias. Others require more exploration and treasure-hunting. In other words, if you love the Metroidvania playing style, it’s still here, but it’s not the exclusive design idea.

The game features all of the RPG elements of recent Castlevanias, as well as side quests that seem somewhat Zelda-ish, as in inane little errands performed by request. Some of these side jaunts will reward the player with useful items, while some seem less worthwhile. Magic Points are included and every single offensive maneuver uses some of them but, thankfully, they auto-replenish. The items that use most of the magic are ‘glyphs’ aka weapons. Glyphs are somewhat similar to previous Castlevania ideas in that many of them are dropped by enemies and provide some new ability. The glyphs are equipped just like weapons and used in the same manner. Various glyphs can be combined for abilities and especially strong attacks. Some can also affect performance and status – my favorite allows Shonoa to move at seriously fast speeds.

Unlike most of the Koji Igarashi-produced Castlevania titles, Ecclesia is actually difficult! I died many, many times at the hands of bosses, especially. In fact, it was equipment that got me through the final boss fights more than my stats. Along with the surprisingly high difficulty level is a surprisingly high-quality story. It’s not epic but it makes some sense and offers something more than the ‘some jerk wants to resurrect Dracula’ line.

Grade: A+
Conclusion: Get it!

Heck No! Keep The Cat We Know!

First, the good news: sounds like that Klonoa re-make for the Nintendo Wii will be coming stateside.

The bad news? Our favorite floppy-eared cat-like creature may be re-modeled as a bat. Yes, a bat. This isn’t your typical character re-design. It’s an overhaul. A new character.

Now, it’s not for sure…yet. How do we know it’s even possible?

Namco Bandai has sent out surveys (according to GoNintendo’s RMC) that ask questions about the game. Among them is, you guessed it, the question on whether or not Klonoa should be re-invented as a bat.

Love it or hate it?

Love it or hate it?

What do you think?

Developing…

Review – Metroid Prime Hunters (DS)

Developer: Nintendo Software Technology Corporation
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 2006
Fun fact: from the developers of the platformers Bionic Commando: Elite Forces (GBC) and Mario vs. Donkey Kong (GBA).

All right, here’s the same disclaimer I provided when I reviewed Metroid Prime 2: perhaps Metroid Prime Hunters isn’t truly a platformer but it descends from a fine platforming dynasty and there’s definitely a lot of platforming going on. With that out of the way, it should be noted that Hunters is much more of a platformer than the other Prime entries. In fact, it has one classic platformer element that, if memory serves, has never been in another Metroid game: bottomless pits that instantly kill you!

If you expect Hunters to be somewhat dumbed down compared to the other Prime entries, give yourself a cookie. The exploration elements are much simpler (I figured most of them out for myself for a change). The total explorable area in the game is much smaller than in other games in the series. Additionally, the game is basically level-based and there is a low variety of bosses.

Fortunately, it turns out that sometimes being dumb ain’t so bad. Really, does every Metroid installment have to be the same? The level-based aspect is actually a refreshing change. The main negative aspect of this feature is that there’s definitely a formula in EACH level that goes like this: wander around, fight a rival bounty hunter, find three artifacts that activate a boss portal, fight a boss, and then race back to your ship under tight time constraints. There are really only two boss types between the levels, meaning you repeatedly fight a variation of a spinning pillar and a tentacled eyeball.

In spite of the formulaity, there is a lot to enjoy in the action-heavy design. Unlike many claims, the game is NOT merely a first person shooter in a Metroid setting – there are still many puzzles to unravel and atmospheric areas that don’t have any enemies at all. Speaking of atmosphere, it’s just what you’d hope for in a Metroid adventure. The graphics and audio are great and in line with the template established by the GameCube Prime games.

Finally, the controls – you use the d-pad or buttons to move side-to-side or back-and-forth, a shoulder button to fire, and the stylus to do everything else, at least in the standard control setup. This is somewhat awkward as you basically have to hold the DS unit with one hand and constantly use the stylus with the other. I got used to it fairly quickly but during long play stretches I felt mild annoyance in my hands.

Play the GameCube Metroid Primes first and then check out this high-quality diversion for a different take.

Grade: B+
Personal conclusion: Who knew Samus had rival bounty hunters?

Review – Wario Land Shake It! (Wii)


Developer: Good Feel
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 2008
Fun Fact: the 8th platformer/action game starring Wario (or 10th if you count Super Mario 64 DS and Yoshi’s Island DS).

Sometimes people grow up with a video game franchise and they defend it no matter how crappy the series becomes. Other people grow up with a series and overreact to any slip in quality. When it comes to the Wario Land series, I might fall into the latter group. I just could not get into Wario Land Shake It!. Unlike the wretched Wario: Master of Disguise, there aren’t any glaring mistakes but the level design can certainly be described as uninspired. Many of the situations and layouts reminded me of other games. For whatever reason, the original Yoshi’s Island often sprung to mind but always in a negative contrast sort of way. Continue reading

New Castlevania Order of Ecclesia trailer begs you to buy

This is the brand new TGS 08 trailer for the upcoming Castlevania Order of Ecclesia on the DS. If this video does not convince you to buy the game later this month than nothing will. Great soundtrack as usual, screen filling sprite based enemies (without slowdown? I’m sold) and a fresh take on the series introducing a very heavy emphasis on magic rather than weapons, as well as a quicker “sling-like” navigation through levels. I believe the DS Castlevania games are among some of the finest 2D games in recent memory and Ecclesia seems to not disappoint in this regard.