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Is the DS a dead system now (for non-casuals)?

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What happened to the DS? Is it just me or has it been ages since a good game actually came out on the DS and the only game to really look forward to is Pokemon Platinum? Being a DS owner myself (got a phat and DS Lite at launch), I have really been disappointed in the system for the past year and I'm also disappointed in where it's headed.

The DS had a great 3 years since launch, even though there were a few game droughts in between. We always had something to look forward to on the DS and most games pretty much lived up to their expectations, but what do we have to look forward to now? From what I can see, there are absolutely no anticipated titles for the DS which is quite a shock. I was very shocked that at both E3 and the Nintendo Conference Nintendo hardly announced anything for the DS in terms of software. The only games that come to mind are Pokemon Platinum (same games as Diamond/Pearl with added features) and GTA: Chinatown Wars (which really doesn't seem that good).

Instead of getting more games, we are getting yet another system rehash, the DSi. The question is though, "do we really need it?". Why do we need buy another system rehash if there are no games worth getting on the DS anymore? This is all due to the fact that the DS is purely being kept alive by the casual market. It seems Nintendo have completely shifted their focus towards the casuals now, entirely leaving us hardcore gamers in the shadows.

Overall, I have been pretty disappointed in Nintendo this year. I am actually considering selling my DS soon and, if no good games are announced next year, then my Wii as well. I'm glad that Wii Music hasnt sold well, because hopefully it has made Nintendo realise that they need to put some focus back into the development of hardcore titles. Nintendo really need to keep their hardcore base as we were the ones who helped keep Nintendo alive last generation. What happens if Nintendo makes another bad move and they have no hardcore base?

Back to the Past - Banjo-Kazooie

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I've decided to start yet another monthly segment titled "Back to the Past", where I revisit past games and explain why they were good/bad back in the day and how they have held up now. Feel free to share your thoughts as well.

Since Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is coming out next month, I've decided to look back on the Nintendo 64 cIassic, Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie was one of the three games which I got with my Nintendo 64 on Christmas 1998 (the two games being GoldenEye and Mario Kart 64). Since I was only 8 years old, I did not have a great understanding of the video game industry, so I did not know what to expect of Banjo-Kazooie. All I can say is that Banjo-Kazooie was like no other game I had ever played before.

Incase you haven't played Banjo-Kazooie before, the protagonists of the game are a bear named Banjo and a bird which resides in Banjo's backpack named Kazooie. One day, Banjo's sister Tootie gets kidnapped by the evil witch Gruntilda, who wants to steal Tootie's good looks. Banjo and Kazooie set out on a quest to rescue Tootie but in order to rescue her they must pass through Gruntilda's lair.

What made Banjo-Kazooie so unique back in its time was the level of exploring. The game just had so much...freedom, you could basically go anywhere you wanted at any time and at any place. The exploring element of the game definitely changed the way I looked at platformers in the future.

Banjo-Kazooie was a bit similar to Super Mario 64, but it just had so much more to it. Both games had a HUB world and a set of worlds which you could enter from the HUB, which a lot of other platformers have these days. The major difference is that Banjo-Kazooie is just more open to exploring, rather than following a path layed out for you like in Super Mario 64. You could spend hours exploring the worlds in Banjo-Kazooie looking for new things which you hadn't stumbled across before. This is what made Banjo-Kazooie so much fun as everyone loves to explore.

The main driving force behind Banjo-Kazooie's gameplay is collecting. In order to progress, you had to explore or complete tasks to collect things, which include:

  • Jiggies (golden jigsaw pieces used to unlock more worlds)
  • Music notes (used to unlock more sections of the HUB world)
  • Jinjos (when all five of them are colelcted in a level then you earn a Jiggie)
  • Mumbo skulls (used to transform Banjo/Kazooie into something else)
  • Eggs/Feathers (ammunition for shooting eggs and flying)

Searching each of the worlds for new things was very fun and rewarding, which is why future platformers have used the same gameplay elements of Banjo-Kazooie.

The music in Banjo-Kazooie was absolutely stunning. The geniuses at Rare created some of the most catchy and unforgettable music ever in a videogame. The graphics at the time were also amazing. They were sharp and vibrant and overall georgeous to look at. I still think the graphics hold up to this day, which is why they probably aren't being changed in the Live Arcade re-release.

Overall, Banjo-Kazooie is an absoultely amazing game. It is definitely in my top 10 games of all time and should be in everyone elses who has played it. I can't wait until the game gets released on Live Arcade on the 360 next month, so I can play it again and relive the experience.

October in the Music Department

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Nothing much has really happened this month in the music industry that interests me. I have been listening to a lot of Radiohead this month, which is why I ended up buying their album "Hail to the Thief", as it is one of the two Radiohead albums which I didn't own. So far I'm liking the album a lot, definitely has some creative tracks. I would definitely recommend it to all Radiohead fans or people who want to listen to some experimental alternative rock/art rock.


Tomorrow, AC/DC will release their new album "Black Ice" and I must say that I'm not looking too forward to it, as a lot of their later material hasn't been that great. I think they have lost their charm which they hadback in the 70s and 80s, but still, I may purchase the album later on and give it a listen. Also, the new Kaiser Chiefs album "Off With Their Heads" will be released in a few days time. I really like Kaiser Chiefs, but I must say that after listening to the first single off the album "Never Miss a Beat", I'm not really impressed at all. It seems as though they are changing their styIe a bit which I think is totally unecessary, as their previous work has been great. I may pick this up in the future as well, but for now, that's it for October in the music department.

September in the Music Department

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Okay, I haven't made a blog post in ages but now I'm gonna start making them frequently as of now. I've decided to start a feature where I talk about what happens each month in the music industry that interests me. Feel free to make comments or any suggestions as you wish. Also, if you want to know more about my musical interests, just visit my Last.fm profile by clicking the chart box under my banner.

Firslty, the biggest thing to come out this month has to be Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic. Like many Metallica fans, I was very hyped for this album but had a feeling it could be a total flop due to their previous music direction (St. Anger). The first time I listened to the album I quite liked it, some of the songs I really liked (That Was Just Your Life, The Day That Never Comes, All Nightmare Long, Suicide & Redemption, My Apocalypse) but others not so much. Then I gave the album a few more listens and I came to really like some of the other songs (Cyanide, The Unforgiven III, The Judas Kiss). Overall, I think it is a great album, definitely dig the return of the thrash sound, although the album does have some flaws (all the songs contain clipping, the drums are overpowered and I think that some of the songs go for a bit too long and get bit repeditive). If you like heavy/thrash metal, I definitely recommend that you give Death Magnetic a listen

The second biggest thing to happen this month was the death of Pink Floyd member Richard Wright. As a massive Pink Floyd fan, I was certainly upset by his death as he was an amazing pianist/keyboardist and definitely made some important contributions to their music. Rick played a huge part in Pink Floyd's earlier music (1967-1970) where he wrote music along with the other band members, wrote his own songs and sung the lead vocals on quite a few of the songs. Probably my favourite song which Rick Wright co-wrote and performed in is 'The Great Gig in the Sky' off the Dark Side of the Moon, it just proves that he was an amazingly talented pianist. So I finish off by saying rest in peace Richard and thankyou for your amazing contributions to music.

Finally finished my 'Top 5 Games of 2007' list

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Hooray, I finally finished it! Yes, I did start making it a long time (2 months) ago then just left it...and never got back to it, but now I finally decided to finish it and now it's here in all it's completed glory. So just scroll down and take a look for yourselves and feel free to share any views or opinions you might have.

My Top 5 Games of 2007

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Since 2007 has already finished, I've decided to name my overall top 5 games that I played last year. It was pretty difficult to work out since some of the games I played were equally as good, but I feel that the order I have come up with is pretty right. I've also decided to do something new this year, list the pros and cons of the game (so hopefully a game dev reads this and is able to make a perfect game). Anyway, here they are:

5. Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (DS)

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with this game being here, but I don't see how it shouldn't. Pokemon Diamond is definitely one of the games which I played the most this year; it certainly kept me entertained a lot of the time when I was bored or on a long trip. Yeah, it may be yet another Pokemon RPG, but who said they were getting old in the first place? Pokemon RPG's are just downright fun and with the many extras put into Diamond/Pearl, it made the experience even more enjoying. So far I've clocked up nearly 90 hours of playing time; catching and raising Pokemon to make an ultimate party. Despite the lack of sidequests, this game definitely has the best replay value out of any game released this year and was worth every dollar.

Pros:

  • Gameplay; addictive, fun and never gets old
  • Graphics; a nice upgrade from the previous installments that seem to fit the game perfect.
  • Sound; usual nice tunes that get stuck in your head
  • Replay value; you can keep playing this game forever

Cons:

  • Online; great...when you can actually play it: lack of random battle option.
  • Sidequests; there aren't many sidequests besides getting the obvious to find and catch legendaries, and the usual 'catch 'em all'.
  • Map; it could have been better...


Overall Score: 9.2/10

4. Crysis (PC)

What's there to be said about Crysis? Oh yeah, the graphics! The moment I first saw this game in motion, my jaw dropped. The amount of realism in the game was stunning. I knew I had to get this game when it came out and I did so. When I first played the demo, I was fascinated with the amount of detail that had been put into the game, it made me feel as I was actually there, in a live jungle. The realism also creates a large amount of suspence, which I think is a great thing that all modern FPS games should have. When I finally got the full game, I was satisfied playing it...but wasn't too impressed with the game as I thought I would be. I guess it was because of the massive hype that surrounded the game that made me think less of the game, but anyway, it is still a great game in my eyes and it's the third best FPS game I've played this year.

Pros:

  • Graphics; absolutely stunning
  • Art design; the environments are beautiful
  • Realism; feels as if I'm there
  • Sound; definitely suits the mood at all times

Cons:

  • Performance; I run the game at medium-to-high settings and I still get a lot of lag
  • A.I.; characters in the game are pretty stupid and to compensate with the stupidty of the enemies, they put a ton of enemies in the one area which is really annoying
  • Gameplay; Déjà vu is common when playing this game, gameplay mechanics aren't anything special
  • Online; bit lacking, that's all to say probably

Overall Score: 9.3/10

3. Call of Duty 4 (X360)

To be honest, I was unsure about even purchasing this game. I honestly haven't enjoyed the previous Call of Duty games (to me, they felt bland and repeditive) so I was thinking of putting this game off all together. Then I saw the reviews, which seemed extrememly high so I took a risk and bought this game. I can definitely say that the risk payed off, because Call of Duty 4 is a great game. I started the game off by playing through the campaign, which was pretty enjoying, though it was frustrating and a little bit repeditive at times. Overall, the campain was good, but a little too short for my liking. Though what really makes this game shine is the multiplayer. I've never had so much fun playing a game online...ever. The multiplayer was well above my expectations, it just seems perfect. I must admitt that it was quite annoying starting off in multiplayer, since your thrown in games with pro's so you get absolutely owned, but I guess it gives you a lot of practice. The graphics and sound are basically flawless as well, really adds to the realism of this game. Call of Duty 4 is the best online game I have ever played and the second best FPS game of 2007.

Pros:

  • Online; extremely fun, absolutely flawless
  • Graphics; the game looks amazing on my 360, very well optimized
  • Sound; music makes the campaign feel very cinematic, sound effects are perfect


Cons:

  • Single player; short and a little lacking

Overall Score: 9.5/10

2. BioShock (PC)

From the moment I saw glimpes of this game, I was immediately interested. BioShock seemed to be one of the most interesting games I had ever seen; the whole idea blew me away. The 'wow' factor in BioShock is absolutely through the roof, the environments are stunning...the whole atmosphere of the game just entireley sucks you in. BioShock is one of those games that sets a new standard...because of it's level of innovation and creativity. Okay, now to the actual details. BioShock may be only a single player game, but it was definitely an exciting and rewarding single player experience. The game was fun the whole way through, from start to finish. The story of the game was excellent except for the ending, which seemed pretty rushed. The story was a little short though, but the amount of collectibles in the game certainly makes up for this. The graphics in BioShock were absolutely amazing, mainly because of the art design. They couldn't have possibly made a 1960's underwater utopia look any better. The sound was also fantastic, definitely suited the ****of game. BioShock is definitely one of the most interesting games I have ever played and is the best FPS game of 2007.

Pros:

  • Art design; completely sucks you into the game
  • Graphics; the game was very nice on the eyes, very smooth and effective
  • Sound; the string arrangements and the late-50's tunes definitely make the game


Cons:

  • Story; a little short and has a very average ending

Overall Score: 9.6/10

1. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

That's right, Super Mario Galaxy is the best game that I played in 2007. Since it was the next big Mario platformer, my expectations for Galaxy were extremely high. From what I can tell, the game nearly met my expectations (probably because my expectations were too high because it was hyped so much). Super Mario Galaxy is definitely a worthy successor to Super Mario 64, because it's a better a game entirely. Super Mario Galaxy is an extremely enjoying game, honestly, it's just so damn fun that I couldn't let go of it until I got all 120 *SPOILER*, really 121 *END SPOILER* stars. The gameplay of course is perfect, nothing wrong here. The graphics looks amazing from a Wii game, all thanks to the incredible art design that even makes the game look surperior to some PS3 and 360 titles. Sound is groundbreaking as well, the orchestral scores make the game feel so epic and full of life. The only problems I had with Super Mario Galaxy was that it was a little short, I would have preferred it to be as long (or longer) than Super Mario 64. Then also the game gets a little repeditive and frustrating times (all thanks to the 100 purple coin missions). Putting all that aside, Super Mario Galaxy is a very solid game and definitely the best 3D Mario platformer to date. Super Mario Galaxy is the best game of 2007.

Pros:

  • Gameplay; pure bliss
  • Graphics; look smooth and vibrant
  • Art design; what makes the graphics look good; absolutely stunning
  • Sound; original score does make the game feel out of this world


Cons:

It's very hard to catogarise the cons of Super Mario Galaxy, so I'll just list them all:

  • A little short
  • A bit repeditive and frustrating at times

Overall Score: 9.7/10

I'll Be Back

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Well, sorry about not having made a post in my blog for a staggering 5 months now. I have been really, really busy over these past 5 months with certain things (e.g. games, school, doing stuff with freinds, 3 week holiday in the U.S.A etc.), but I promise you all that I'll be back in just under 2 weeks. Be prepared for Ryan to make his Return.

Where did my 2 new badges go?

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Where the heck have my 2 new badges, the Outlier and Hella Old-School badges, gone to? I think it might have just been a glitch and I didn't really deserve them, which is kind of upsetting because I was sort of honoured to get them, but oh well. I really hope that GlitchSpot gets fixed up completely sooner or later.

1000 Posts

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That's right, my third blog post for the day. Anyway, today, I managed to reach 1000 forum posts. I'm pretty happy since I don't go on the forums very often and it's taken my quite a long time to reach 1000. Apart from that, I've got nothing else to really say. Congratulations to myself!

Outlier

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Today I also received another mysterious badge, the 'Outlier Badge'. Quite a few people have received this badge today, but for anyone who doesn't know how you get it, it's for expressing your own opinion frequently and going against the public's opinion (which I occasionally do by the way:P). I'm honoured to be given this badge, as I'm proud of my opinions and like to be given recognition for them. Anyway, keep up the good work my friends and I hope to see you soon in the forums8).