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SirSpudly Blog

Double Time: Link's Crossbow Training and Katamari Damacy

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Since I beat two games in three days I'm just going to group this together. No surprises this time, as most people have heard of (and played) both games on the docket. Remember, just because I'm talking about it does not make it insanely obscure or expensive.

Link's Crossbow Training is a Wii title that comes packed with the Wii Zapper. Since Nintendo felt the need to only sell the game in such an expensive manner, I went the used game route and picked up a copy at Gamestop for $2.69. I popped it in after supper and promised myself that I couldn't possibly be disappointed in such a good deal.

I felt like I was playing a third-person shooter on rails. This could have been done brilliantly, had the game actually used that setting in a cohesive manner. In reality, the sections were just random clips of the game retrofitted to work using only one weapon. On top of that, the one scene from the game did work like LCT is absent from the game (known as the Giant Bird scene). I understand that the reason is likely because Nintendo forced the player to replay that part 7-8 times in a single play-through, but it is also the only time I've played a Panzer Dragoon clone that didn't blatantly use dragons.

57 minutes after I clicked start, I was done. Completely. I mean, I COULD go for 100%, but that would require playing it.

Total Playing Time: 57 minutes Score: 6.5 (once again, high because I only paid $3)

Katamari Damacy is a rather interesting concoction for the PS2 mixed up by Namco back in 2003. The goal of the game was to create stars using spare material on Earth. However, as it is explained, the inhabitants do not want to be sent into the atmosphere to burn brightly for everyone else to see. This is the King of the Cosmos' problem.

Enter the Prince, in a sincere moment of fatherhood, we learn that the King is making his ultimatium on his child by giving him the task of rolling up these unwilling creatures with a Katamari, or globe of near-infinite stickiness. After a minute of explaining how two joysticks are used to move around the enormous ball, the Prince is thrust onto the earth world and put on a timer. When time is up, the globe must be a certain size, or the King will grow angry with his creation and smash it into stardust; forcing the Prince to start all over again.

At first, there is no reason this game couldn't have been on the PS1, the graphics and colors come straight from 1998 and the need to explore the dual joysticks remind me of 1999 and Ape Escape all over again. Then a miracle happens, the katamari reaches a certain number and the game spazzes out in real time. The Prince has become much more powerful, and those things that were angry with you are now very very afraid.

It's time to roll them up. Every last one.

This is the majesty of Katamari Damacy, a true sense of accomplishment and newfound power can be felt several times a minute. The player is in full control of how exactly everything sent into space. Like the prince, eventually the time comes to stop worrying about their livelihood and think of your own. After all, dad's waiting; and you're not the only prince for the job.

I found this on Amazon for $10. It was a reprint, but the only difference is the game case.

Total Playing Time: 13:10 Score: 8.0

Kororinpa: Marble Mania post impression

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Considered the black sheep of Wii games, Hudson's Kororinpa: Marble Mania has the distinction of being one of the only titles on the console to have resale value over MSRP. Buying used is upwards of $60-80, which means not enough copies were produced to meet the growing market demand. I spotted a rental copy for sale at Gamecrazy last week and purchased it without hesitation. For $13.50, I was not about to care how pristine the game was, especially since I hadn't seen a copy since Mercury Meltdown Revolution hit shelves.

So how does it play? Exactly like you would want a game about rolling a marble to play, except Hudson added floating orange crystals to collect before an otherwise arbitrary goal allows you to complete the course. Every stage starts by prompting the wii remote to be held face-up and pointing to the left. From the moment the game clock starts, every movement made by the controller translates into 360 motion on-screen. A fixed camera angle follows your ball around the screen, with obstacles appearing to provide clues as to how to complete each section or find more crystals.

Not everything is connected and bolted down in this crazy marble mania. Obstacles like marble magnets, running treads, and the rotating magnifying glass of doom keep the player from entering a state of Man Vs. 3D maze. Kinetic backgrounds keep the screen from being distracting, and the moving platforms scattered around the middle of the game give you plenty of time to look at them, relaxing and sometimes fooling the player into forgetting there is a maze to finish.

The best part of this game is the incredible marble physics. Balls will bounce around and ricochet off of every surface in the game. Many balls were lost in my play-thru, taking the great plunge of disgrace into the family-friendly environments below. All 24 marbles have different properties as well, making some challenges more difficult if the wrong type is used. Also making high marks is the sound. Everything sounds like these mazes are real, and in an instant everything can sound like a frog crying as you literally drop it down a flight of steps. Hudson did a fantastic job on including a mix of soothing songs and some retro tunes from previous games. I really don't want to give the later away, because Hudson's history of chiptunes is among the catchiest in the profession.

Did I mention perfect rotation? Yeah...best handling Wii game I've ever played. This was created in the era known as "pre-waggle," and features absolutely no gimmicks.

Wii game..no gimmicks...full motion control. No wonder this sells for kingly sums of money.

Ah...but the replay value....really depends on how much you enjoy touching crystals with a sphere. I mean, being a basketball is cool, but being a big roly poly panda is much cooler. The game never specifies how to unlock something, sometimes it is by clearing a certain number of stages, other times it is to finish a course using three different marbles, and some things are only unlocked by collecting trophies for speed or the hidden green crystal in each of the 45 levels. This will unlock 15 additional levels, which rely less on a theme and more on challenges the designers thought were more interesting to include in a theme level.

Sadly, two player is a joke, as it just involves the same puzzles with half the screen, forcing both players to be better than just playing levels by themselves and passing the controller around to get the fastest time.

Final Word: A Wii game anyone can understand. A title everyone should play.

Score: 7.7

A Hotspot non-submission

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Since the Hotspot is completely focused on doing submissions and then eliminating all of those that get more than one. I figure I'll just post whatever comes to mind without getting it vetoed.

For 2-04-09 : Spoil a game with a title....

Final Fantasy VII->The Black Man doesn't die OR Your name is Zack

kinda either or

Knights in the Nightmare...totally coming to the US

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by ATLUS USA. This isn't unexpected, but as an owner of this game, and I am considering buying the english version just to support both companies again on such a great product.

I bought the deluxe edition of Sting's KitN back in November when yes-asia decided to discount it for around $43. At first, I figured this was either a scam or a pirated copy, but luckily it was the real deal. I felt like a rebel buying merchandice that stated "Japan Only."

A rebel of the awesome.

I haven't beaten it yet (there are 30 levels), but the general of flow of gameplay works like this. First, you see a well-drawn storyline sequence (like the other games in the Department of Heaven series), then you are thrust into the grid-based map you will do battle upon. This is followed by the text-heavy portion of the game; party creation and assigning weapons. After setting 2-3 members onto the grid-based map and 4 special attack abilities you start battle.

The combat is very hard to explain. The best way I can describe it is to download the demo of Big Bang Mini and imagine that instead of directly attacking enemies you do it SRPG style. The game plays mostly with the stylus, although the other buttons can do functions like saving one attack for comboing or cancelling an action to prevent Activating an attack lowers your unit's vitality (usually .1-.25 of a point), but if it runs out of points your character's spirit fades forever.

Harsh.

The point is to hit an opponent with a weaker attack to gather crystals (which you must gather with the DS stylus) to use a fully-powered special attack while avoiding enemy attacks in a real time bullet hell. All at once.

Please look forward to it, cause I don't have to.

Three Things I Know are True Nov. 9th, 2008

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Now that I have a small audience, I suppose I can start recording this again. While my older blogs do not feature this heading, but I had always meant to name it this way. The title came from Around the Horn's original host, Max Kellerman, and his method of recapping events he thought were important in the world of sports. I will use it for video games.

1) My love of cheap games has won out over new titles. Last week I found a pristine Pikmin 2 for $12. The 45 minutes I've delved into that were fascinating, and I can totally see why Nintendo wants that title playable on Wii. The majority of my time went to two other games, Kingdom Hearts II and Rogue Galaxy; both of which I purchased at Movie Gallery for $3.99 apiece.

2) Getting 100% on KHII is not worth the time invested, I was 96% at 70 hours and am 98% at 75. The final straw was having to walk back and forth to get class C materials that I would never use just to fill a requirement to see a video of something that was leaked online within the day of the game's original release. And to get a star next to your save file on the browser screen.

I don't need a video game giving me a gold star to say I win at leisure.

3) As I was playing Rogue Galaxy, I kept mulling over the big RPG fight of 2006 between Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XII and Level 5's Rogue Galaxy. As we now know, both titles lead to substantial increases in revenue and was the benchmark for future games. Level 5 used the success to create the Professor Layton Series (which is how most people know them now), and has earned the right to be one of the greatest third party developers in Japan.

But which game do I feel is better? After 50+ hours in each, I am confident the answer really is Rogue Galaxy. While the game features one of the wackiest stories in RPG history, the cast brings credibility without losing the audience in useless catch words or pointless drama.

Also the Platform Gun (and really the point of writing so much backstory), which sole purpose is to create a platform for the character to jump on in the middle of battle. This is hands down the one weapon I equipped whether I needed it or not, because gaining leverage was the most important thing about fighting. That third axis made it even more addictive than FFXII, which was a big a claim then as it is now.

Rogue Galaxy was how Valkyrie Profile: Slimeria should have taken the series. An RPG with platforming truly raised the standard of cross-genre gaming, pulling it off in 3D will definitely happen again this generation, I just hope its sooner than later.

Post Impressions: SMRPG

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I remember renting Super Mario RPG on the SNES. It was one of three games I rented for the system. This is because the third game, Earthbound, had me so enthralled that a thunderstorm fried my system and I couldn't afford $40 to replace the damaged computer chip. I would have been devastated had it not been 1997, and I had some Quest 64 to play.

This is 2008, and I've played over 100 different RPG's since then. I forgot about all of them when I paid $8.56 to finish one of many Super Nintendo games this Sega kid only dreamed playing just a decade ago.

The beginning really sets up the segue for Mario fans to relate to an RPG. Bowser's castle is dark, full of lava, and houses all the memorable enemies from years gone by. The over-world is completely navigable with Mario, who can run, jump, and bounce his way over obstacles in all 8 directions. This culminates into a battle to end all Bowser battles, or at least it would had if not for a peculiar intervention by a completely new enemy. A giant sword named Exor wedges himself firmly into the middle of Bowser's sacred lair, scattering the hero, the damsel, and the villain far throughout the kingdom and claims the dungeon for his own.

The twist, as seen on the box art, is also the only strong story arc in the entire game. From that point onward, the only motivation for the hero is to find the damsel and find transportation back into Bowser's Keep to eliminate this evil. Before finding into Bowser or Princess Toadstool, Mario encounters two interesting characters new to the Mario Bros. universe. Mallow, a thundercloud in search of his true family; and Geno, a child's toy that becomes real after the last wishing star inhabits it. This sets up a bizarre subplot about wishes not being fulfilled because Exor also cut star road on his way to Mario's world. Somehow luck always found Mario, which explains why most NPCs refer to him as a celebrity to his face.

Extra motivation is the key to keeping interest in SMRPG, as explanations are usually unbelievable or happen after you encounter an enemy. For example, you find out Exor's true purpose AFTER defeating him. The same deal with Bowser and why you join his team.

That's right, in a rare moment of sincere kindness, Mario becomes part of the Koopa Troopa. Bowser as a playable character is the highlight of the Mario RPG series, why it took five more titles to repeat this happy occurrence is beyond my grasp. Not an hour after that, Princess Toadstool (which I assume is Peach) manages to escape the castle you returned her to and also becomes a playable character for the rest of the game. Surely, this unpredictability could only have been done by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who happened to produce this game under gaming legend Shigeru Miyamoto.

The RPG elements shine in SMRPG, utilizing non-random encounters, timed actions, and a button based fighting menu that has yet to be copied successfully in today's RPGs. You'll willingly fight extra enemies whenever you buy or find a new weapon, because each has their own sprite and attack animation. Be it a ball on a chain or a frying pan, every weapon will have a moment where the user can hit A to deal extra damage (1.5x normal)

Most of the game boils down to finding and using the over 100 unique items. Which is fun at first, but then gets dull later on when using the legendary items and weapons. I saw one animation of three stars dancing over 400 times because it dealt 100 damage to all enemies. I started to read from web sites every time i used it just to pass the 8 seconds i wasted by taking the cheap way out.

While the paint is wet and contains many colors, much of Super Mario RPG contains the same canvas Square used to paint their other SNES RPGs. Mario fans can play better, but starting here is certainly the way to go.

Play time: 38:12

Score: 7.5

Ahead of its time is now Behind the times

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For the love of Pete & Pete, please stop using the phrase "ahead of its time." Whatever you were talking about is now outdated backwash that only a connoisseur would appreciate.

There is only one thing actually ahead of time, and that was progressivenism. Sadly, they were thrown out of Washington after creating the Prohibition.

Scapegoating was not progressive, yet those who laid the blame stay in power today. No small wonder they are having problems finding someone to blame lately.

To video game sales employees everywhere

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When a customer asks if you know of any RPGs that are at least decent, do NOT lose all intelligence and notify said client that you do not own a DS or that only Square-Enix RPG's are worth playing.

Said client might know of and want to purchase Etrian Odyssey, a game that went out of circulation approximately the same time American children got to experience The World Ends with You. Said client will also notify said employee that because they do not want a sales pitch, they are not shopping at that store until more intelligent staff can be located.

To exemplify, Final Fantasy IV is NOT a hardcore game. Nor is Dragon Quest IV. The only Final Fantasy that focused on gameplay over story were FFIII and FFV, and even then Square was afraid to release it out of Japan.

Abandonware is not hardcore.

The final straw came when I was notified that FFIV had been "Made more difficult for the American audience, because they needed to make it hardcore." In response, I notified him that a video game that is harder than 80% of the DS's library has no purpose existing for bragging rights while games like Bangai-O Spirits or Steel Disaster, which are more difficult than 99% of DS games on the market, fail to sell and are considered disasters.

To the store that notified me that Lunar: Dragon Song was a horrible nostalgic mess and the Gamecrazy crazy enough to have a completely new copy of Etrian Odyssey 1 in stock, I thank you.

The other 5 stores can stove it.

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