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Review (109): Chrono Trigger

So, during the weekend I went home, and while I was there I downloaded four games for my 3DS, which by now I have all beat. They are Four Swords Anniversary, Mega Man 2, Super Mario Land 2 and Art Academy - first semester. Anyway, finally ready to post my Chrono Trigger review (even though gameSpot hasn't acknowledged the Wii Virtual console version yet).

Chrono Trigger

Score: 10/10
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 20 to 40 hours
CIassification: Amazing

Travel through the age to save the world from Lavos.

Chrono Trigger has made me realise something about myself. Until now I have thought that turn-based RPGs just aren't for me. I might like some of them, but I'll never really love them. Chrono Trigger made me realise that it isn't so much that the genre doesn't work for me as it is that the other turn-based RPGs I've played just aren't good enough.

From the moment I discovered Chrono Trigger's existence, I've been hearing so much great things about the game. I've heard so much praise, but I've always been a bit doubtful because it is an RPG. Even as I downloaded the game from the Wii Shop Channel I kept trying to unhype myself. I told myself that I shouldn't be disappointed if it wasn't as great as people said and that it would probably be one of those games I liked, but didn't love as much as everyone else. As it turns out, I was blown away.

It is hard to pin down what exactly does it for Chrono Trigger, everything just works perfectly. The game starts off in the year 1000AD, when your character Crono goes to a perfectly innocent carnival then end up bumping into a princess and then stumble upon a rift in the time-space continuum that sends him and his friends back to 600AD. From there on you travel into various different eras, from the post-apocalyptic future in the year 2300AD to the dinosaur age 65 million years BC. You'll companions include a robot from the future, a cave woman from the past and a sword-wielding Frog named Frog. You soon discover that the apocalypse happened (or will happen, depending on your perspective) due to the creature Lavos and you and your friends decide to change history and take him down.

Of course, there are some logic flaws in the game, because you can hardly have a time-travel game without it, but in general it treats the time-travelling concept really well. The aesthetics of the different time periods is well executed. From the slight environmental changes between the year 600 and 1000 to the less developed language of the cave people (who consider "Ayla strong" a proper sentence). The ruins of a society with advanced technology in 2300 are really well done.

I wouldn't call the main story that good, but the game makes up for it with interesting characters and societies. At one point in the game you reach a crossroad where you can go fight the boss, but several different side-quests open up. These quests teach you a lot about the different characters and really make you care about them. They are definitely not the kind of side-quests that are just worth playing for the loot.

(SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THIS PARAGRAPH) One of the most memorable quests for me was when Lucca, a girl interested in robots and science in general, goes back in time by herself to a particular point in her childhood. Her dad is an inventor and their house is full of machines. When Lucca was younger there was an incident and her mom accidentally started the machines and ended up losing her legs. Lucca was too young to interfere and turn off the machine. However now that she is back in time, she (that is you), can do something about it. However you must solve a puzzle and if you take too long, you fail. I remember this one particularly because I did fail. I knew the password to turn the machines off was Lara (the name of Lucca's mom), but I didn't figure out where to enter it. When I read a walkthrough afterwards it turned out that I had to press the buttons L, A, R, A on the controller. That I failed really made me understand how Lucca had to be feeling and it made me emotionally involved in her story.

The game was revolutionary back in the time because it had several different endings depending on which side-quests you did. It also has a new game + feature so you can start the game with all the same equipment and you can go beat the final boss right away if you choose to. It is really neat.

Chrono Trigger absolutely nails the music. Of course, since it was originally on the SNES the sound quality is outdated, but the tracks are so unique and so beautiful that it hardly matters. At one point in the game I suddenly had to put down the remote, lean back and enjoy the music, because it was such an amazing soundtrack. More specifically it was Glenn's theme (youtube it).

Good characters and music can get you far, but if you really want to go the distance, a game must also have good gameplay, and that is where I feel most RPGs fall flat. Chrono Trigger on the other hand has a great combat system. You have three people in your party at a time and they all have bars that must fill up before they can attack (how fast depends on their speed). You can use basic attacks, but it is the techniques that makes it interesting. Techniques can either hit single targets, or all targets in a line, all enemies in an area or straight up all enemies. The most interesting part though, is the combined attacks. Two characters that are ready to attack can combine techniques. For instance Crono and Marle have Aura whirl, which is Marle's healing move, but with Crono's cyclone attack spreading it out so it hits everyone (don't ask me how that works). They also all have magic attacks that can be combined. As you approach the end you can even learn triple attacks to deal massive damage.

One thing I particularly like is that the game doesn't have random encounters. The enemies are there and can be seen before you fight them and when you beat them they go away. They might respawn when you leave the area, but it is still way better than random encounters in my opinion. I don't know if it is because I occasionally didn't find the way and thus walked around and fought enemies, but at no point did I need to go grinding to level up, which I'm really happy about. I also like that most times you buy weapons they are actually a notable improvement.

Beyond all that there are so many small details and so many memorable moments that adds to the experience. I like that you can hold down B to run from the get go. Ayla has a "stealing" move called charm that lets her trick a gift from the enemy. I find it funny that when the enemy is immune to the attack, the description says "it was the thought that counted".

So in case you need me to sum it up, let me say it like Ayla would:
Game great. You buy!

The Moncler Outlet with Aircraft Carrier

So, I was browsing the "video suggestions" forum on Loading Ready Run's website, and I came across a spambot. I amused myself by picturing someone from BBC reading it in a very British and documentary-esque voice (I'd love to see someone make a video like that), and it was just so funny I had to share it with you guys:

So remember, read the following in a british documentary voice.

Laowa training ship smoke hidden behind a large Chinese fleet of three aircraft carrier
The moncler outlet with media, said: very not in place. The moncler outlet with evacuation, rescue and anti-piracy task a prominent position on The moncler outlet with aircraft carrier, is clearly misplaced. Ocean-going navy aircraft carrier battle groups are The moncler outlet with backbone. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle groups to 11 for The moncler outlet with main ocean-going navy. So basically you can not say there is no carrier powerful ocean-going navy.
But, as World War II as proof of The moncler outlet with old battleship as ocean-going naval operations in The moncler outlet with core of The moncler outlet with tactics failed. Today, in The moncler outlet with event of a powerful ocean-going naval confrontation, is also likely to prove to The moncler outlet with core of tactical aircraft, naval power will fail. Because nuclear submarines, long-range ship-based missiles, stealth fighters and low altitude planes, and so on means of attack before The moncler outlet with carrier is likely just a floating target.
The moncler outlet with last century, The moncler outlet with U.S. aircraft carrier in India before The moncler outlet with interception stalled, failed to interfere with The moncler outlet with Indian invasion of East Pakistan; Argentina in The moncler outlet with Malvinas Islands naval aircraft carrier not to play, to escape The moncler outlet with British nuclear submarine; well as The moncler outlet with legendary in a country that has nuclear submarines a departure, The moncler outlet with U.S. aircraft carrier on The moncler outlet with back a few hundred miles ... ... are evidence.
U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups in fact The moncler outlet with rest of The moncler outlet with current two main purposes, first, land attack, The moncler outlet with second is The moncler outlet with strong bullying The moncler outlet with weak lean on demonstrations. Let The moncler outlet with real similar to The moncler outlet with U.S. resort to The moncler outlet with late World War II Battle of The moncler outlet with Coral Sea that U.S. and Japanese World War II aircraft carrier, The moncler outlet with possessions that he is reluctant. So lean on strong bullying The moncler outlet with weak U.S. aircraft carrier useful, powerful confrontation is unlikely to be useful.
China's accession to The moncler outlet with club has two aircraft carrier officially disclosed. First, The moncler outlet with chief of staff recently visited The moncler outlet with United States to answer ChenBingDe: carrier is made ... ... The moncler outlet with second is The moncler outlet with official July 27 release by The moncler outlet with Department of Defense spokesman: are transforming a waste carrier, for research testing and training.
and as powerful a symbol of The moncler outlet with Navy, in order to form a real sea combat, you need three aircraft carrier battle groups, such as a fleet maintenance, to replace The moncler outlet with other two formations composed of double shifts or while deployed carrier battle group operations. A general argument is that ocean-going deployment of duty, training, B, C maintenance. This is The moncler outlet with minimum required. However, if The moncler outlet with formation of two groups of six aircraft carrier battle groups, half The moncler outlet with military spending is not enough fear, and recently impossible.
Long March
converted only The moncler outlet with first step hull, also need to develop carrier-based fighter-bombers and carrier-based stereotypes and other carrier-based air early warning aircraft and equipment. No carrier-based aircraft carrier just off The moncler outlet with ability of a large transport ships. Even if all The moncler outlet with equipment in place, and carrier-based air fleet of officers and men, in order to have The moncler outlet with capability, but also to explore The moncler outlet with long-term learning and training. There is an old saying: One year Army, Air Force decade, century Navy. Means to build a national army of old, there may be a year or so; The moncler outlet with era of mechanization to build The moncler outlet with Air Force, did not a decade; to build a strong navy, a century of magnitude of The moncler outlet with undertaking.
development of multi-carrier
large-scale, fast walking pace, The moncler outlet with strategic air force and speed of development ... ... Battle of The moncler outlet with Air Force had to look on a strategic level, we must obey The moncler outlet with national strategy but also to ensure that no errors and delays due to military strategy, national strategy. Today our country to fill this gap in The moncler outlet with construction of aircraft carriers, China's strength is The moncler outlet with new logo. Tomorrow will also fill gaps in service and carrier-based aircraft on The moncler outlet with ship's empty. What we need now is a commensurate with China's great power status, and I adapt to overseas interests, to protect our national interests increasingly global ocean-going navy.
U.S. media: senior officials made outside Mongolia's return to China!
foreign media: China 094 out to destroy The moncler outlet with whole world!
foreign media: China to use artillery to fight The moncler outlet with US-Japan missile air crooked!
terrible: China is The moncler outlet with second nuclear bomb used in combat in The moncler outlet with country!
China a military operation a few years ago that The moncler outlet with United States still afraid!
rankings: The moncler outlet with world's eight most powerful countries fear China!
have to not return: Why is a U.S. military aircraft to China out of control?
China a secret weapon The moncler outlet with U.S. has been reluctant to fight Iran!

Review: Runespell Overture

So, this is the latest game I got hooked on for a couple of days. I really like the game, although it feels kinda like a prototype and something that could need a sequel to be execute it a bit better.

Runespell - Overture (PC, downloadable)

Score: 7.5/10
Difficulty: Easy
Time spent: 10 to 20 hours
CIassification: Innovative

A great concept which I'd like to see them expand upon.

Runespell is based on a very simple idea. How about an RPG set in England in the 1040s where the combat system is a strange mix between solitaire and Poker? As it turns out it makes for a pretty good game.

The combat system is quite interesting. You and the enemy have seven card spots each and you stack cards on top of each other to form poker hands. You can stock whatever card or group of cards on top of each other (as long as you don't end up with more than five cards), but bear in mind that you can't separate cards that have been stacked together. You can not just move your own cards, but take cards from your enemy's card spots as long as you just take one card and not a group.

For each turn you have three attack points which you can use to either stack cards, use a five card combination to attack or use a powercard, if you have enough rage. The strength of the attack depends on your hand. For instance, one pair takes 8 points from the enemy, full house takes 15, five of a kind 20, while straight flush is 40 and royal flush is 50. Your rage builds up when you attack and to a lesser degree when you get attacked. Once you have enough rage, you can activate cards such as calling in an ally to attack, use an elemental attack, put up a shield, get more action points, remove rage from the opponent or give a five hit point boost to all your attack for a limited number of turns.

The battle system is quite deep once you get into it and there are a lot of strategic decisions that goes along with it. Obviously, the big points are in the straight and royal flushes, but they are quite hard to get. So do you use one of your seven spots to try to get it, or maybe two in order to increase your chance? The more stacks you have the less freedom you have to move other cards. I've had battles where I have gone without straight flushes and battles where I have been preparing for a royal flush in every single colour. In addition you have to use your powercards cleverly and it is also smart to look at what your opponent is up to and try to sabotage him by using cards he needs.

I really like the battle system and think it is a great idea, but I can't help but wish they had been a bit heavier on the RPG side of things. There is no EXP or levelling up, so the way you get stronger is by recruiting new allies and getting passive powercards (throughout the course of the game you will get three blessing cards that ups your maximum HP and three secret cards that ups your maximum rage).

Here is a system I think would work. You don't really level up, but for each battle you gain EXP and when you have enough EXP you can spend it on rewards. Rewards could include higher max HP and rage, gaining more rage per attack, each attack taking one point more damage, uping the strength of your allies and making healing cards more effecting. For considerably more EXP you could get an extra action point for each turn, the ability to automatically regenerate some health each turn or maybe an extra card spot. I think it would benefit the game greatly. On the other hand, at least the fact that you get stronger so seldom have made it easier for them to balance the game so that you never need to go grinding, but you never get so powerful you break the game either.

As far as story, graphics and music goes they have really committed to the end-of-the-age-of-Vikings setting. You encounter a lot of Vikings, and also have some as your allies. You also fight a Fenrir wolves, and the old gods, who are now threatened by the popularity of Christianity comes up as an important plot point. One of your allies is even based on a Norwegian king, although in the game they spell his name Harald Hardrada, when it is really Harald Hardraade (with the aa being a letter gameSpot doesn't accept).

All in all, Runespell is a perfect example of making a good game without using too many resources. You move around on a map that looks more like a board game and there are quite few movement animations, enabling them to deliver pretty well on the still graphics and do really well on the design. There is no spoken dialogue, but the dialogue is still quite good. The music is great, though a bit more variety would be nice.

The game ends on a "there will definitely be a sequel" note and follows up by saying straight out that the main character Changeling will be back, so I hope that they will be able to expand on the concept. I just really like the battle system and I think it has a lot of potential. I could even see mythic poker developing into a real offline card game if they polished it and made more powercards. If you think the game sounds interesting, you should definitely go download the free demo on steam.

All the time which goes to waste...

So, it has been a while since the last time I blogged and I haven't played that many games since I beat Super mario bros. I downloaded one, which I mean to post my review on coming Saturday (no promises). I also won't promise getting my Chrono Trigger, 10 seconds run or Red Steel 2 reviews up anytime soon). In general though, I find that between training and school I spend the rest of my time doing very mindless stuff. I have mostly been either viewing The Daily Show and Colbert Nation, or watching let's plays or listen to podcasts while playing mindless flash games like bubble shooter. I've just had a routine where I give a hundred percent intellectually when doing school work and a hundred percent physically when training and in between... not so much.

Anyway, a few updates for those who cares. I've gotten the papers back and passed both of them on the first try. We also turned in the first group assignment and soon I have my first exams (We have an early one that gives a maximum of 50 points and one later on that counts for 100 points). So now I'm in the middle of some heavy reading.

On the training front, yesterday I had my first injury in which I could see the bone. I was jumping onto a "box" (don't know quite how to describe what it is) and I almost made it. I was so close that my brain somehow registered me as being on top of the box and thus commanded me to stand up, which caused me to scrape my legs along the edge of the box. The left leg got it quite badly as the edge cut through the skin on my leg just below the knee, which is where you could see the bone.

Injury might not be the right word thoug. I mean, I didn't bleed that much and it doesn't make me walk funny at all. I skipped training today, but I plan to train tomorrow and I doubt it will be a problem. Still, it did look really gross and I need to call my mom and ask if you need to wash blood-stained clothes differently from other clothes.

Oh, and lastly, if you remember my blog about the watch that run out of battery, the new one I bought just broke. That is to say, not the watch itself, but the plastic that keeps it attached to the wristband. It just suddenly fell off and the jerks at the shop said it would be less expensive to just buy a new watch and also said that I "clearly had to have done something to it", which made me mad. So I'm possibly just going to get new batteries for my old watch which I still have lying around somewhere and then never go to that store ever again.

Koopa Stomping Rampage! EDIT: Victory!

I think I have a tendency to get addicted to games when I have a lot of more important stuff to do. I have my first papers coming up and I've practically gotten addicted to Super Mario Bros. You see, I have never actually beaten that game. I remember getting to world 8 before, but at one point I just decided that I was going to beat it at some point in the nea future. At first I had problem getting through world 6, then I was able to reach level 7-1, which I had many problems with, then it was 7-3 I got stuck on. Once I beat that, I found the boss in world 7 and level 8-1 and 8-2 relatively easy, so world 8-3 was the hard one. Then I finally reached 8-4 with three lives and ran out of time trying to figure out the way, but I got it and today I reached the level with 6 lives left. The problem was that you don't get power-ups in 8-4, so I was small all the time and I had problems getting past the hammer bros. On my last life I took a run of faith and just hoped that he would jump when I thought he would.

And he did

So I reached King Koopa, I ran past his hammers and got close up to him. I hoped that he would jump rather than shoot me with flames.

He did't.

So I guess I'm still going to keep playing it. I have podcasts to listen to though, so I might be wasting time, but at least I waste time in two ways simultaniously.

I played it some more and at one point reached the last level with 7 lives. The first time I reached the King I got close to him and betted on him shooting fire rather than jumping, so I tried to jump above him and de jumped. The second time I hoped he would jump and instead he shoot me with fire. However, third time was the charm and on the third try I ran underneath him and hit the button to get to the princess.


Review (107): Xevious 3D... Also: Really?

So once again the bracket competition this year is a joke. I chose my brackets after which characters I wanted to win rather than which ones I believed would win, so I wasn't surprised I would do poorly, but Yoshi losing to Albert Einstein? Seriously? This really hurts my faith in democracy.

anyway, today's review is a pretty short one. Here it is.

3D CIassic: Xevious

Score: 3.0/10
Difficulty: Hard
Time spent: 10 hours or less
CIassification: Broken

This one really is a waste.

Xevious is the second game in the 3D cIassics series, which remakes NES games for the 3DS by adding 3D effects. The first game was excitebike, for which the 3D actually improved the graphics. This is not the case with Xevious at all.

Now, Xevious is a game where you fly a plane and have to shoot down enemies with one button while bombing ground targets with another button. Both flying and ground bound targets can shoot at you, so you also have to avoid being hit. The farther you reach the tougher the enemies etc, and the challenge is to pay attention to both ground enemies and flying enemies and to divide your attention between attacking and dodging. It is quite challenging and I can understand why this was considered a great game back in the day – particularly the arcade version, but the 3DS version simply doesn't work as well – and it is all because of the graphics.

Now, the only thing 3D does is to make it so that there is a foreground – the sky – and a background – the ground. Rather than adding to the experience, this just makes the game uneasy on the eyes, particularly with the many small particles that are flying over the screen in the foreground, so that is an absolute fail. I doubt there is a single person who would say the game is better with the 3D effects turned on.

However, 3D can be turned off, so the biggest problem for me is the 2D graphics. It is important to remember that the original game was supposed to be played at a television screen. While TV screens back in the NES days were not the size that they are today, they were still considerably larger than the screen of a 3DS – and that is what causes the problems. You see, while the glowing orbs that the enemies try to shoot at you were easy to spot and avoid in the original (I would assume, I haven't played it), in the 3DS version they are really tiny. While this isn't a problem to begin with, it is a huge problem when there are several enemies shooting at you. Ninety percent of the times I die it is because of a shot I simply didn't see.

So there you have it. The 3D version of Xevious is simply a waste of your time and the little money it costs and you really shouldn't bother with it.

So many games!

Now, it would be a lie to say that I don't already have plenty of games to play, but I had an out-of-town decathlon competition this weekend and I needed a game to play on the 3DS, so I went to the shop and bought Pokemon White along with a pre-order for skyward sword.

One thing I had forgotten was that the bus to the airport has wireless internet connection, so I got to download my ten NES games for the ambassador programme. In addition I purchase a game called Chrono Twins from DSiWare, which is pretty awesome. I have practically gotten addicted to Mario and Yoshi, the original Super Mario Bros and Metroid (the last two of whose controls are quite painful). I need to decided not to purchase any more games for at least a month or I'll end up with a really big pile of games that I haven't completed even before 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and Skyward Sword comes out.

What should the criteria be, in your oponion.

I'm talking about the side-kick competition of course. How do you think you should vote. On cuteness, how much the sidekick helps you out in the game (or if playable how good they are), or personality? Or should it just be in general how much the character adds to the game that it's in?

Also, feel free to comment your favorite and spread some propaganda on why he/she/it should win.

Birthday + Review (106): Saints Row 2

Guess got two thumbs and birthday on September 5th?

This guy!

Who has also written a review of saints row 2, so enjoy!

Saints Row 2 (PC):

Score: 8.5/10
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 20 to 40 hours
CIassification: Highly Addictive

Just what a sandbox game should be like

A curious thing about videogames that are parodies is that they often end up being really great games on their own account. Saints Row 2 is a perfect example of such a game. It uses its GTA parody status as an excuse to take itself less seriously, say screw it to realism and just focus on being a fun game.

The game starts as your character wakes up from a coma and then escapes from prison to find that the city has been turn into a glass and steel jungle with the big corporation named Ultor being the king of said jungle. The main character's gang known as the third street saints are practically gone and you need to rebuild it from the ground up in order to take out the three other gangs that fight for dominance.

While the game has many missions as part of the storyline, you will have to do more than just missions. You see, you have a "respect" bar that needs to be filled in order to do a mission, which is the game's way to force you to do some exploring and check out all the other stuff the sandbox has to offer. The most important way to earn respect is through activities. Many of those are races (with several different vehicles, including trucks, helicopters, speedboats and water jets), but far from all of them. There are activities like fighting tournaments, demolition derby's and mayhem and there is also a special kind of race where you drive around in a flame-resistant suit and toss Molotov cocktails to earn bonus seconds (which you will need).

One of my favourite type of activities, which perfectly demonstrates the game's indifference to realism are called insurance fraud. You basically throw yourself in front of cars to get hurt and the game measures the damage in insurance money. You need to reach a certain amount in a limited amount of time to beat the level. The twist is that when you also fill up an "adrenaline" bar and when it is full you go into adrenaline mode, which means you will be flying far when the cars hit you. Since you can also slightly affect you character's path through the air you have to make combos and get hit by several cars and you can literally get several miles in combined travelling distance.

Other ways to gain respect is to drive in an oncoming lane, nearly miss other cars, do a powerslide or kill opposing gang members, with extra points for head shot, nut shot multi kill etc. You get the gangs on you the same way you get police on your neck, so if you go on an opposing gang killing spree you won't have to worry about finding them – they'll find you.

When you do take the story missions there is still a lot of variety. There are the usual "go there, kill that" missions, but there are also many missions where someone else is flying the helicopter or driving the buss and you need to shoot stuff – in some cases with a rocket launcher. There are missions where you fly a helicopter out to a large ship, hijacks it and then defend yourself while people are trying to reclaim it, there are missions where you sword duel with leaders of the Chinese gang (the Ronin) and in one mission you have to cause so much harm in a district that you earn four police stars (which is intense).

As you complete missions your earn neighbourhoods, so you can see how you are taking over the city as more and more Saints (your gang is called the third Street Saints) turn up on the streets. You also get a certain income from the hoods, which you can use to buy yourself new condos and upgrade your apartments. You can also buy shops, or go shopping. The amount of customization in the game is simply ridiculous. There are so many clothes, so much bling and so many tattoos to get and on top of that you can also buy music, which plays on the radio while you are driving.

Speaking of the radio, it is possibly the point where it is easiest to tell that the game is a parody. For instance there is a commercial for a TV show named "the Bukake ninja" and one commercial in which a "second amendment advocate" explains to young Billy why he should wish a .44 Shepard for his birthday and that his mom isn't really afraid of guns – she is afraid of freedom. Those commercials air in between the songs and the songs range from cIassical music, to metal, easy listening, pop etc depending on which channel you choose to listen to.

Look, I could go into so much detail about the game, from the amazing cut scenes, more often than not including strong characters and serious a$$kicking or the nice graphics that are just colourful enough to stand out from the grey-and-brown shooters without looking too children-friendly (which the game definitely isn't), but I think I'm going to have to go to some few flaws before I rap it up.

First of all, the game is a port and as such has several glitches. One time I fell through the top of the water and suddenly got a message saying "press E to open parachute". There are also some things like road curves that affect you more than they should when you drive on them and the game's GPS can sometimes be messing with you. Also, I am a bit bugged by inconsistency like when in gameplay I murdered someone by stabbing a katana through his head and then in the following cut scene he is alive and disarms me. Other than those points and that the artificial intelligence of the enemies and allies aren't top notch, I have nothing bad to say about the end.

The gameplay during combat does not have that much depth to it. It works as well as it has too, and there are several ways to tackle many situations (head shot people, run people over, buy amo for your bazooka), but not much more than that.

In the end, it is a game I would strongly recommend. The missions are good, and the game is quite reasonable with its in-mission save points. The city is huge and full of fun stuff to do. The cut scenes are great and the game focuses on violent scenes through sweet moves rather than just focusing on gore. It is also nice to be able to hijack a plane, fly whenever you want and when you get there simply jump out of the plane and use a parachute to land in the streets unharmed. And when you land, why not attack an opposing gang member with a fire hydrant?

Bracket + Review (105): Tower of Deus

So, I filled out my bracket for the best side-kick of all times. Now, unlike last year I went with the ones I wanted to win rather than the ones I thought would win since I'm not gonna get it correctly anyway. So my top four is Lucca, Midna, Yoshi and Diddy Kong with Midna beating Yoshi in the final. My only prediction for the final result is that neither Yoshi nor Luigi would win, because they are too obvious favorites and many people will vote them down and yell "ha-ha, take that fanboys!"

Anyway, the review.

Go series: Tower of Deus

Score: 7.0/10
Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 hours or less
CIassification: Innovative

Can you climb the tower of the gods?

One thing that has to be said about Tower of Deus, is that it is part of the Go series by Gamebridge, and the name of the series seems to fit the game perfectly. You see, not only is ToD a great game to play on the go, it is also a game in which you can't stay still for very long. You see from the minute you enter the tower, it will start sucking the life force out of you. In each level the challenge is to make it to the portal at the end without dying. You can enter a flying form that allows you to move up a lot faster, but it also means that your life is drained a lot faster, so it is only for the first few levels that you can fly all the way to the goal. In addition to your life automatically draining, hitting spikes or enemies will reduce your life as well.

ToD is a 2D platformer, so the controls are simple. The only buttons you need are A (used to jump and tapped rapidly to fly) and X to enter or exit your winged form. However the controls are not quite smooth. The biggest annoyance in the game is that you can't turn around while in the air when you jump normally. If you are facing in the wrong direction, you have to turn around while on the ground and then jump. This can be a problem when you are standing on a thin platform and turning around means walking a step back, often just so much so that if you jump you can't grab onto the ledge because you are an inch too far out. In general, this game isn't as fast as many platformers. The walking speed is not so high and the animation for getting up from hanging by a ledge is quite slow.

ToD gives you story and tutorial at the same time. At the start of several levels it shows you that a light appear and tells you the message from a god or goddess that wants to help you on your quest. They always try to find legitimate reasons for everything they put in the tower. The explanations doesn't always make sense, but the new features are usually good. From moving platforms to new enemies, to platforms that appear and disappear, to platforms that are only visible for a few seconds at a time, and in the end there are levels in which you can only see within a small radius around you, which can be really intense.

In short, the developers have found a lot of stuff to put in the levels to make the experience good, and it works. The level design coupled with the winged concept and your ever-leaking life bar makes for a game that is both challenging and somewhat strategic. Some times the game parts the tower into two and you have to pick one – often one which involves flying and one that is harder, but you can make without flying and thus save time (and time is life). After a while, you also encounter levels with rising water (or fire), meaning you have two different kinds of time limits. You might get to choose between a way that takes longer, but involves getting a crystal that gives you some of your life back, or one that is shorter, but has no crystal.

Tower of Deus is definitely a game which you buy for the gameplay. The music is pretty good, but the graphics aren't great and the story is a bit strange – in that it doesn't seem to take itself seriously as being more than a tutorial until after you've beaten the last level. It is the gameplay that will keep you playing for all the forty levels (which took me about three hours to beat). After that, there is some replay value in that the game tracks your best time in a level and the combined time. You can for instance aim to get a combined time of less than an hour, but I doubt many of you would try that.

I would not say Tower of Deus is quite up there with the best 2D plattformers, but at least I have never played a game quite like it before and I did enjoy it.