Archive for the 'Nintendo DS' Category

What Nintendo Did Next

What to do when your portable is ruling the waves, your consoles are selling faster than you can produce them and there is this little Gameboy brand waiting in the wings? These are tough times for Nintendo Corp.

But hang in there Mr Nintendo, for we have seen the future and there is hope! A weary traveller called in not more that 2 days ago, full of news from a distant time. Here is his foretelling of what Nintendo did next.

Wii-bird: He told of the return of the grand-daddy of controllers. This time not only wire free but now is fully packed out with multi-directional rumble.

Not only that, he said, but it also comes with a built in charger that plugs into the USB port on the back of your Wii. So no more scurrying around for batteries.

Wii-player: He whispered of using his DS to play Game Boy Advance (GBA) games on his TV. Simply pop in your old GBA cart into the DS and follow the on screen advice to connect wirelessly to the Wii-player channe, and away you go! You can then play those classic GBA titles using your DS as a controller with the action super large on your TV.

Not only that, he said, but you can play GBA games that used the link cable for mulitplayer, against your friends via the Wii Connect 24.

Wii-board: He spoke of a full querty keyboard for the Wii. Complete with holster for the Wii-mote to provide wireless typing fun!

Not only that, he said, but it also has built in game controls for a quick switch of context between movement and typing, for any major MMO’s that may show up on the Wii sometime soon.

gameboyvc.gifWii-boy: He sang with joy about the original Gameboy Virtual Console. For just 100 points, you can buy a packs of original Gameboy games and play them in all their pixelated green/grey full screen glory.

Not only that, he said, but you can play Gameboy Colour titles too, and take advantage of any Super Gameboy features on the cartridge.

Mii-stats: He talked of a new Mii statistics channel to provide graphs and statistics of your Mii’s progress through the games it has played.

Not only that, he said, but this also enables your Mii’s stats to travel with them to other Wii’s, thus enabling comparisons and competition between your friends.

Phew! Well there you have it, the honest to gospel truth. Well that’s what he said anyhow.

Andy Robertson

The Beautiful Game(s)

Don’t you love to be sucked into the experience of a game? You know, the kind of game that has such an intriguing story and cast of characters that you wish you could (and sometimes do) play the game for hours on end? The kind of game that can have flaws, but they simply do not matter? The sort of game that feels like you are getting on a ride you do not want to get off of? Those are the sort of games I look for. In this article, we pay tribute to the top 15 greatest game experiences of all time. If you disagree, feel free to comment on this post with your own top 15.

15. Mortal Kombat

Finish Him! Nuff said? For those who can remember the crowds that would gather around a Mortal Kombat arcade, that is probably all you need to jog your memory. While this game will be remembered for the sight of seeing worried parents, and rabid gamers gathered around an arcade, its game play revolutionized fighting games forever.

14. Psychonauts

After reading about how watered down the ps2 version was by a respected video game magazine, I almost didn’t play this game. But I was very pleasantly surprised to experience one of the most creative platform games ever created. I still do not understand why this game didn’t sell better than it did. If you have not played this game, go buy it, now. Definitely one of the funniest and most entertaining games ever created.

13. Maniac Mansion

Girlfriend gets kidnapped by a green looking Martian family? You have to sneak in, talk to tentacles, microwave hamsters, and radio to other planets to save her from a creepy dungeon beneath the house? What’s not to love about this game? And why hasn’t there been a sequel announced for any systems beyond the NES? Keep the point and click system! Just make it more intuitive, give us voiceovers, and updated graphics! Truly, one of the most imaginative experiences ever in the history of video games.

12. Asherons Call

World of Warcraft fans. Time to pay tribute. Asherons Call was put out by Microsoft back in the late 90’s. For people who saw thru the crap that Everquest was, Asherons Call offered an “ahead of its time” arena in which to pown monsters and guys in black armor, endlessly. Many of its genius ideas were later taken and perfected, and we call that game World of Warcraft.

11. Street Fighter 2

The fighting game of all fighting games. I am hoping Microsoft’s recent decision to acquire Capcom means we may get a respectable online Street Fighter Game. While the EX series was popular in Japan, it did not do as well in the states. The series still has a lot of potential to grow, and I hope to see some enthusiasm around this series again in the future. For now, if you decide to play the classic SF2—no, you cannot attack the elephants in the Dhalism level. You just can’t.

10. River City Ransom

The first game to introduce frequent vomiting. River City Random. *BARF* For those of you who actually had a life in the 80s, let me fill you in. Every time you defeated a character, they would usually throw up. Poor Japanese translation at its best, River City Ransom let you explore small Japanese towns, where you could read and learn about new abilities, eat sushi, burgers, and the smiles are always free! Worth a play on the GBA port for the humor alone, but truly meant to be played 2 player on the NES. Come on Virtual Console!

9. Dance Dance Revolution

D-D-R! I believe this game was made by the government to fight obesity in gamers. OK, not really, but it is a really fun work out. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on one in a shopping mall on your first try, but to wake up and get down to some Sean Paul as a start to your morning work out is pretty nice. Then if you actually like it, get in touch with me so I can own you in online mode.

8. Donkey Kong Country

The colors, the music, the rendered graphics, and the flawless game-play. These things truly made Donkey Kong Country a world in which you could spend days and days in. Too bad it was only a few hours long. This is an example of a game that really did not need to be changed much. Keep the old formula, and give us new graphics to look at, and we will be happy!

7. Zelda 3: A link to the past

Two words. Master Sword. Who can forget running in the sunlight towards the master sword as the animals parted a path for you? If you really want to feel like you are the savior of the world, this is your game. As you adventure into the world, it is not just the story that will keep you playing, but the desire to improve your game experience by acquiring new items. Also a wonderful example of how puzzles in video games should be made.

6. Golden Eye 007

While the Nintendo 64 didn’t offer many hits, the hits it offered were phenomenal. 007 lead the charge of four player game play that has now been adopted by every video game system. All hail. Oh yeah, and paintball mode rules.

5. Tetris DS

Who can’t appreciate the pure genius of this puzzle game? I believe this game was meant to be multiplayer as the online Nintendo DS version shows. Being able to connect wirelessly to anyone in the world to school them in a game of Tetris is pure gamer bliss.

4. Final Fantasy 4

As we all know by know, this was Final Fantasy 2 in the states. The first RPG to come stateside that had such a rich story line. Almost every character dies, and you feel for each one of them. As you progress towards your goal of saving the world, seeing your favorite characters sacrifice themselves for you to continue meant you couldn’t stop till you got there. I am also guessing you still have some Final Fantasy 4 music on your ipod?

3. StarCraft- with Battle.net

Easily the one game that I have spent the most hours playing. Blizzard revolutionized RTS games with this entry. Not only was the game exciting to play by itself, it developed a community of gamers who supported the multiplayer mode with fresh new maps, multiplayer RPGs, clans, tournaments, and all of the online mayhem you could ever ask for. Part of the downside of Blizzard getting rich off of WoW is we may not see a sequel for a long time. Please? Blizzard?

2. Final Fantasy 7

The game that brought RPGs to the mainstream. Final Fantasy 7. If you played RPGs before FF7 came out, you were probably a closet gamer who had to pay $80 for a copy of Final Fantasy 6 for your Super Nintendo. But once Cloud and his gang came to the rescue on the Playstation, in a game that was originally supposed to release on the Nintendo 64, by the way, you were safe to come out of the closet! There with you were a few million other gamers who enjoyed what I consider to be the best story written for a video game, ever. As well as revolutionary FMVs, cut scenes, and an imaginative world which sucked you in from the beginning. I also appreciated the amount of Japanese culture they left in the game. I sort of wish they would keep more of that in the current round of games coming out.

1. World of Warcraft

Here it is. The best gaming experience available right now. World of Warcraft. It appeared on South Park, it has over 6 Million Subscribers (probably more by the time you read this), and it will consume your life, if you let it. It is the alpha and the omega. The perfected MMO as we know it. If you don’t currently own it, its because you’re scared. I will close by quoting Cartman, “Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you.”

Dave Trager

Decision-tris

Sid Meier is often quoted regarding his stance towards an enjoyable game dynamic. For him, the play needs:

“an understandable and enjoyable stream of decisions.”

Reading a recent interview I was reminded again of the wisdom of this statement, proven not least by an impressive catalogue of well recieved games.

tetrisold.gifHowever, I am not so sure it needed to keep him within the turn-based genre typical of the majority of his games. It is possible to engage the play with decisions within a real-time interacting environment.

Back in the day, when Civilisation was a twinkling in Meier’s eye, a little game on the original Gameboy introduced a decision based puzzle game that captured the imagination of many gamers. Together with Nintendo Tennis and Super Mario Land, this formed one part of a killer trilogy in the early days of the platform.

tetris2.gifNintendo’s excellent repackaged and updated version for the DS provides a modern rendering of Meier’s gaming vision, all be it in a very different way. The ever descending blocks provide the player with a stready stream of decision-encounters. Extended play uncovers ever increasing nuances to each decision. As a game deveops each decision affects the other as the simple play mechanic takes hold.

The experience and enjoyment of the game grows as the player needs to learn how to make wiser and quicker decisions. They find themselves honing their ability on many levels to imrpove their chances of survival:

Dead brick technique: How efficiently they can deal with bricks that don’t fit anywhere. They correct decision being the spot where they will case the least dissruption, and hopfully play with the next few bricks to cancel out any detrimental affect.

Start-tris: Key in the mutli-player mode. How quickly can they set-up and trigger a four row clear (tetris), and put the other player on the back foot. This demands both a tidy and quick use of blocks.

Clean up play: How quickly can you elliminate broken lines, after missplaced or dead bricks.

Look ahead: How efficient is their brick management, considering the bricks that are flagged up in the preview tiles.

These together with the already documented, back-to-back and t-spin moves make for a dynamic play experience, that gives Meier’s decision gaming a whole new meaning.

Reality Gap

It is a key element of game design to define how best to imerse the player’s experience in the game world. The best interfaces dissapear as the player feels they are just interacting with the game environment. This enables the player to suspend their disbeleif and become emersed in the game.

A willing suspension of disbelief that accompanies a first-person simulation enables the person who participates to feel what it would be like to have greater personal power. – Brena Laurel

This obviously has echoes of the interface that Nintendo are trying to achieve with the wii. How often have we heard about the key turning moment in Metroid, that felt so solid and emersive.

Merely opening doors requires such a wide range of interactions it’s practically thrilling…It feels great. Exactly like opening a door!

It’s almost as if Nintendo have Laurel on staff, as their design echoes her desire to reach my hands right through the screen and do what I want to do.

dsgap1.gifThere is an interesting case we can discuss in relation to user interface in the recent Yoshi’s Island DS. A key aspect of the game is the ability to throw Yoshi’s eggs across the two screens of the DS. The designers have obviously looked at Yoshi Touch and Go on the DS which had a similar play-mechanic. However they have decided to present this interaction differnetly.

Yoshi Touch and Go - No gap.In Yoshi Touch and Go the space between the two screens on the DS did not exist in the game world. This had the benefit of eliminating any dead space that could not be seen bewteen the two screens. However it made it notoriously hard to fire an egg across the screens. You effectively needed to aim a little higher than it appeared to land the shot.

yoshi2.gifyoshi3.gifIn Yoshi’s Island DS the space between the two screens on the DS is preserved. Although this does mean there is some play area that cannot be seen by the player, you can aim an egg normally.

For me this delivers a much more imersive experience, as I am not jarred out of the game world to make my egg go where i tell it. This far outweighs the dead space between screens, as I can still see this space by looking up or down within the game. As put much more concisley by Howard Rheingold:

That part of a computer game that makes the user step outside the game world, that doesn’t help the user to participate in the pleasure of the game, but acts as a tool for talking to the program — that’s where distance comes in.

This approach has now been proven with good sales success of Yoshi’s Island DS:

We’re very pleased with the performance of Yoshi’s Island DS. DS is becoming a real showcase for great platform games.