Saturday, March 30, 2013

This Smash Bros Demake is a Smashing Good Time

Smashland Screenshot 1

Have you ever wondered how Super Smash Bros. on the Game Boy might play? Wonder no more. Super Smash Land is a Game Boy-ified version of the iconic Nintendo brawler and is everything a fan of the series could ask for. Despite being limited to two buttons and directionals, it manages to retain the Smash Bros feel. The keyboard works great once you get used to it, but I'd love to see controller support added in the future, or even a port to something like the GCW-Zero. In any case, you can download this masterpiece at supersmashland.com

Friday, March 29, 2013

The True Graphical Capability of the GBA

Many people tend to forget that the Gameboy Advance is a 32-bit system, but you can't blame them. Most developers, including Nintendo themselves, did not use the hardware to its full potential. The majority of GBA games were very pixelated and used sprites rather than 3D models, but the PS1 was 32-bit and that had 3D games, so the GBA should have 3D games as well, right? Well, it's not quite as simple as the amount of bits a system has, but it is significant, because the GBA indeed did have some 3D games as well as some gorgeous 2D games. Unfortunately most of these games were not very good, thus they are not often remembered today. Here are a few GBA games that really are incredible feats for the hardware.

Asterix and Obelix XXL












This 3D platformer uses full 3D models for all the characters, while relying on sprites for scenery such as trees. What is really impressive here is not just the 3D models, but also the detailed textures. The game itself is in the vein of Crash Bandicoot, but the graphics easily look like they could be on a PS1.

Need for Speed Underground













Another game that uses 3D models, Need for Speed Underground does a great job of smoothing out the edges of the cars in the game while providing fast-paced gameplay at a steady framerate. The lighting is impressive as well, but the cars are what really shine.

Doom













Doom, the Crysis of its day. This game was ported to everything, but it did not run well on everything. However, Doom on the GBA runs very smoothly and the character models are very detailed and clear, as seen in the screenshot. It was also a full-fledged FPS on a handheld, rarely heard of at the time.

There are plenty more examples of great looking games on the GBA that pushed the hardware to its limits, but the three shown above are the probably the most impressive. Yes, the GBA was capable of producing graphics similar to the PS1.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pay What You Want for this Humble Mobile Bundle


The Humble Bundles have been around for a while now, and previous versions included Android as an option, but this is the first true mobile bundle. Contre Jour, Anomaly Korea, Plants vs. ZombiesBladeslinger and soundtracks for the last three are being offered this time around, but paying over the average will also unlock Metal Slug 3, The Room, and their respective soundtracks. 

These games are strictly for play Android devices, and can be played by downloading the Humble Bundle app. As always, a portion of the sale will support The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play charities, so cough up a dollar at least.

If you haven't already grabbed it, you've got 11 days. https://www.humblebundle.com/

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Color Oil

Mobile devices are home to many a puzzle game, with most being more or less slight variations of the others. Color Oil, while probably not the first of its kind, is a relatively fresh concept. Instead of blocks, columns, and the usual components, each screen starts as a jumbled mess of colored pools of oil. The goal is simple: make everything the same color. 

Play starts at a blob marked "S." This cell's color can be changed by pressing one of the six (five in the beginning levels) colored buttons at the bottom of the screen, causing it to merge with any identically-colored adjacent pools of oil. The challenge lies in completing the level in the minimum number of steps, yielding three stars, which are used to unlock additional level packs. For each step over the minimum, one star is deducted. 

Color Oil is a logic puzzle game, meaning there is a well defined solution for each level. Instead of building something up, like combos in Bejewled or a tower of blocks in Tetris, players will have to logically deconstruct the level by visualizing the most efficient order of moves to reach a uniform pool of oil. While Tetris can be enjoyed forever, Color Oil's divergent gameplay style means the amount of content is limited by the developers' ability to come up with new levels.


There isn't much room to criticize the mechanics of the game, but the interface could use some work. When trying to accumulate enough stars to unlock the next level pack, levels with one or two stars will have to be replayed, but if the level immediately following already has three stars, the player has to return to the main menu before selecting the next incomplete level. It would be less cumbersome to be able to pull up the current pack's array of levels at any time.

It's a simple game, but don't mistake simplicity for lack of challenge. Color Oil's 190 levels (290 in the $1.99 Pro version) are sure to have players occupied until we're all flying around in hover cars that convert CO2 into rainbows.

Color Oil free | Pro

Developer: KyWorks

Saturday, March 23, 2013

20 Free Android Games That Are Actually Worth Playing

While the Apple store takes the cake in terms of the sheer amount of games available, Google's Android platform has been gaining ground. There are thousands of free games available, but it's not always easy to wade through the piles of virtual shit that plague it. In an effort to find games that are more than complex Skinner Boxes with banal gameplay dressed up in pretty visuals, I've come up with the following list, in no particular order.

1. Zen Pinball HD by Zen Studios

Zen Pinball HD Android
Zen Studios has come to be known as the definitive creator of high quality pinball games that feature a wide variety of intricate tables, great graphics, and physics that are practically indistinguishable from the real thing. Zen Pinball HD features one free table, "Sorcerer's Lair," and has an additional seventeen tables available for purchase. Even so, the default table is enjoyable enough to warrant the download.

2. PAC-CHOMP! by Namco Bandai

Pac Chomp Android
PAC-CHOMP! is Namco Bandai's take on the age-old match three puzzler, and they've pulled it off with flying colors.  The game distinguishes itself not only with the Pac-Man theme, but also introduces a couple of interesting mechanics. Each of the four quadrants of the board can be rotated to create new combination possibilities, and there are power pellets that, if eaten, turn the ghosts blue and lets the player go on an eating spree by granting direct control of Pac-Man. The paid version has additional features, but there is plenty of fun to be had without spending a penny.

3. Pew Pew by Jean-François Geyelin

Pew Pew Android
Geometry Wars was a wildly successful twin-stick shooter that spawned countless clones, and while it might not be fair to call Pew Pew a clone per-se, it is clearly heavily inspired by it. Similarities aside, Pew Pew brings some interesting game modes to the table, including passively dodging obstacles, surviving an assault from all directions, and even a tribute to the classic Asteroids. Scores can be compared online, and players can re-watch their performances. The twin stick controls work surprisingly well for a touch screen, and are fully customizable. If a thumb does slip though, the game automatically pauses. Now that's forward thinking.

4. StarDash Free by OrangePixel

StarDash Android
Handheld gaming has advanced tremendously over the years, but it's nice to see a throwback now and again. StarDash pays homage to the Game Boy era, with retro monochromatic graphics, catchy chiptune music, and simple run-and-jump controls. It also walks the walk, with solid gameplay and challenging level design.

5. TETRIS Free by Electronic Arts

tetris android
EA is a company we all love to hate, and perhaps for good reason, but screwing up Tetris is nigh impossible. This version features crisp, vibrant visuals, catchy music, and controls that are perfectly optimized for the touch screen. Slide left and right to move the block, tap to rotate, and a satisfying downward slide slams it into place. Tetris is Tetris is Tetris, and this version is worth playing.

6. Galaxy Conquest by Arclite Systems

Those of us that used to play games on InstantAction will remember Galcon as the simple but challenging space conquest RTS. Others may have it on Steam. Gamers with a few bucks to spare can play it in all its glory on Android or iOS, but like great cereal, successful games have their clones. Galaxy Conquest, while not quite as sweet, retains most of what makes Galcon so enjoyable and the touch screen is well suited for the click-and-drag gameplay mechanics.

7. Zenonia Series by GAMEVIL

The mobile gaming market is dominated by pick-up-and-play software designed to fill in those odd gaps of time throughout our days like waiting for your microwaveable burrito, or your dog to finish his business outside. Now that you're thinking about dog turds and questionable meat product, the Zenonia series of games are ones to sit down with. Having established itself as one the quintessential action RPG series in the Android market, its worlds are vibrant and well-detailed and their stories engaging. The gameplay is exceptionally smooth and varied among the games' distinct classes, providing plenty of replay value. Full Review

8. Chess Free by AI Factory Limited

I feel like I'm cheating a bit here as the game of chess has been around for centuries, but fans of the game will appreciate the ability to carry a chess board in their pocket. Players can play against AI of varying difficulty, or another human (only locally, unfortunately). Features include a timer, match playback, and the ability to export a match's PGN. It's chess.

9. Mole Kart by Elite Games

Fans of Mario Kart will feel right at home with Mole Kart. It features vibrant graphics, a drift boost mechanic, and wacky powerups. That's all well and good, but the biggest advantage this game has over other free Kart racers on Android is that it DOESN'T FORCE THE TILT CONTROL GIMMICK. Nothing's more frustrating than trying to play a game that would otherwise be halfway decent, but fails miserably due to inaccurate controls. The worst part of it all is that this game is unplayable on lower-end devices, so the only alternatives (that I could find anyway) are tilt-controlled kart racers. Of course, using My Boy to play some Mario Kart: Super Circuit is another option.

10. Pixel Kingdom by SmashGames

pixel kingdom android screenshot
At it's core, Pixel Kingdom is a game most of us have played before. Enemies scroll from the mysterious other side of the field, and the player needs to defend their side/castle with an assortment of units. The field is divided into three lanes. As enemies approach, defending is as simple as tapping a unit and a corresponding lane. Units cost mana to deploy, but players can opt to save up mana to purchase a mana boost, which starts at ten mana and doubles each time, but will speed up the mana generation rate. Spending mana wisely and deciding which order to send out units to deal with the various ranged/melee enemy units makes the game highly addicting and a lot of fun. My only complaint is the fact that unit prices make an enormous jump from 2500 and under to 22000 gold and up, which I can only assume is designed to encourage in-app purchases. Full Review

11. Bricknoid by Driant Games

Brick-breaking games are a starting place for many indie developers so it's no surprise the Android market is flooded with them. Of the three I played, Bricknoid was the most fun. It's packed with content, featuring over 100 levels, your standard laser, paddle enlarge/shrink powerups etc., and a unique "challenge mode" where new lines of blocks periodically appear from above the screen, pushing the rest down.

12. Super Laser: The Alien Fighter by EpicForce Entertainment Ltd

Google Play is filled with shmups. It's a genre that's easy to make a game around, but making one worth playing is another story. Super Laser: The Alien Fighter is worth a look, but not recommended for anyone with a weak constitution. It features your standard scrolling gameplay with predetermined patterns of enemies, a boss at the end of each stage, a few different weapon types that can be upgraded multiple times, and the standard orbital helpers, which can actually be launched as bombs. It's downright difficult, but it's a satisfying challenge.

13. Tower Defense by Com2uS

The aptly named Tower Defense is all about defending--you guessed it--a tower. Each level has predetermined paths on which enemy creeps march through. Players will need to strategically build a variety of turrets along the edges of these paths in order to keep the enemy forces at bay. A simple tried-and-true formula that's always a good time.

14. Angry Birds Space by Rovio Mobile Ltd

The obligatory Angry Birds inclusion. These may very well be the most played games in the mobile scene, and for good reason. They're simple but challenging and have cute, marketable mascots. Angry Birds Space keeps things fresh by adding orbital forces into the mix. 

15. Temple Run 2 by Imangi Studios

There are an endless number of endless runners on the Android platform but not an endless amount of time to try them all. The original Temple Run was a huge success, and it's sequel only improves upon the formula. The player controls an explorer who bursts from a temple with a menacing beast in pursuit. The randomly generated levels will require quick reflexes in order to jump, slide, and turn through the paths. Temple Run 2 will have players hooked as they try to beat their score. PITFALL! would probably have taken this slot, but it was too beefy for my device. 

16. Street Fight by Playphone

Street Fight plays like something straight from the '90s. It's your typical side-scrolling beat-em-up with some interesting elements like equipment and unlockable skills. The game controls well, with a virtual stick to move, a single button for basic attacks and hot-keys for skills. There is more reading than one would expect from a beat-em-up and it's poorly translated, but also skippable. Street Fight is classic arcade action and a lot of fun.

17. Major Mayhem by [adult swim] games

The best way I can think to describe Major Mayhem is as a side-scrolling on-rails shooter. The Major has been ordered to take out the enemy scum, who are apparently a fan of cliche's and have kidnapped his girlfriend. As he runs through the battlefield he'll come to a stop at certain intervals. Enemy ninjas pop up and can be shot with a tap. The fun lies in trying to shoot accurately to rack up bonuses. It's very polished and majorly fun.

18. Pixel Dungeon by watabou

Pixel Dungeon is one of the few roguelikes (think Dragon Crystal) that I've come across on Android. Simply put, it does the genre justice. Dungeons are randomly generated, so players have no chance to grow accustomed to their surroundings. Rats are among the weakest enemies, but even they can spell defeat if not taken seriously. It's currently in beta with 15 levels total, but the developer plans to add more.

19. Critical Strike Portable by Studio OnMars

Critical Strike Portable has everything a trigger-happy FPS fan could want on a mobile device. The gameplay is surprisingly smooth, there are a variety of weapons and maps, but most importantly, there is cross-platform online multiplayer. Touch-based controls aren't exactly ideal for a shooter, so those with bluetooth controllers will be glad to know they're supported.

20.  Fenix Box by Green Lava Studios

Last, but not least, Fenix Box is as minimalist as it gets. It's a death-counter game, as I like to call them, similar to 10 Second Run. Though it looks like a platformer, there is no limit to consecutive jumps. Players can literally fly around the screen, and the edges are connected. There are 90 cleverly designed levels to navigate through, but no save points. Go big or go home. 

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Related Post: Enhancing Android Gaming: Controllers and Consoles

Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

uncharted golden abyss vita 

Before I start talking about this Vita launch title, I have to contextualize this review. I don't think Uncharted 3 is as good as many people think it it is. When compared to Drake's second outing, Among Thieves, it is a lesser game. Drake's Deception sacrificed gameplay for the sake of telling a cinematic story. There is no denying it is a tremendous achievement, but I felt that Naughty Dog was forcing unnecessary semi-interactive sections down my throat in order to make me "feel" something. I found it less fun to play than the prequel which felt like a real roller-coaster of story, gameplay, set-pieces, incidental detail and exploration. In fact, Uncharted 2 reminded me of Resident Evil 4, one of my top 10! Uncharted 3 felt more linear and claustrophobic, even the big shout-outs had less options. I don't think that the exploration and fighting was combined as well either.

I purchased a PS Vita at midnight on the 22nd of February. My birthday is on the 25th so I knew I would get at least some of the money back. I got Uncharted: Golden Abyss with it because I wanted to buy something that would really show off the system. And it did, the game looked quite amazing. However, after a few hours I gave up thinking "God, why is this game so badly designed? There are so many boring mini-games and why am I having to partake in these rather dull shout-outs?" I traded it in and never played it again...

Until a month ago when I subscribed to PS Plus. I now realise that I still had a bitter taste in my mouth from Uncharted 3, because this is a really good game! A year on from release and it is still arguably the best looking game on the system. The developers seem to know this because they have integrated a game-mechanic whereby you take photos of certain objects or landscapes. For example, near the beginning of the game you will come to a beautifully composed shot of a rope bridge in front of a waterfall. It is a marvel to see it in real-time on a 5-inch screen, the OLED technology giving a new vibrancy to the familiar jungle setting.

uncharted golden abyss vita screenshotLooking good, let's take a picture!
Anyone who has played a previous game in the series will know what to expect. The experience consists of a mixture between cover-based shooting, platforming and puzzle solving. It is certainly fun. Drake controls effortlessly and animates almost as well as his PS3 counterpart. The shooting is well serviced by the analogue sticks and gyroscopic controls for precision aiming. It certainly feels like a smaller production; there aren't any crazy set-pieces such as the train or the ship. However, the scope makes sense considering the hardware and is still quite surprising for a launch game.

The one major addition to the game makes sense and actually adds quite a lot to the experience. Being a fortune hunter, Nate picks up objects and treasures throughout the levels. in the previous games they would simply be added to a list and eventually lead to trophies. However, Golden Abyss puts each piece of treasure or photo onto a specific research page. It makes you feel like the things you are gathering have more purpose and shows how they are connected. It actually gave me an incentive to look away from the beaten track and try to find as many collectibles as possible. Drake also has a backpack which helps ground the character in reality. How else is he going to carry all that treasure Naughty Dog!?
It's not all good though, Sony Bend has made a few mistakes along the way that hold the game back. Overenthusiastic use of the hardware's feature-set is the biggest problem with the game. Tracing where you want to climb is cool, and there is a great moment at the beginning of the game where you can grab an enemy while hanging under him by touching him with your finger. However, both of these actions are optional. It seems the ones that require using touch in order to work don't function properly!? The two worst culprits are the machete-slicing and hand-to-hand combat segments. The slicing has a real problem registering a zig-zag. I had to repeat the motion about 15 times at one particular point, it was not fun. The hand to hand combat would have probably worked better if the motions were done using the analogue sticks, like the Fight Night series. While the charcoal rubbing is a cool idea, the amount of times it is used beggars belief. After your 10th rubbing you'll start to find it contrived. After your 20th, it just becomes a self-referential joke.

uncharted golden abyss vita screenshot
Not so good...
The story is well told and the game does a good job at making you feel like a part of the investigation. All the actors are very good and add some charm and charisma to the proceedings. There are issues though, namely the characters. Aside from Jason Dante, the new characters are not as entertaining as those in the previous games. The villain, Roberto Guerro could have been taken from a straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal movie (I love those movies by the way, but for all the wrong reasons!). When Sully turns up the whole game improves though and it manages to keep you fully motivated to the end.

Speaking of the ending, I thought that the lead up to the final fight with Guerro was a great use of the traversal and combat mechanics put together. It is one of the best moments in the game and I was completely engrossed despite being on a crowded train on the underground. Sony Bend have done a great job with this game. It has its faults, but its a very promising start. I really can't wait to see what Sony Bend can do with a sequel because if the team can make launch game of this quality, their next will be unmissable. In the meantime, hit this up!

Find Uncharted: Golden Abyss on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2012-02-14
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Sony Bend

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: WipEout 2048

wipeout 2048 vita boxart

No one was aware at the time, but the launch of WipEout 2048 marked the end of an era. SCE Studio Liverpool was a developer that defined the ethos of the Playstation brand in Europe with the launch of the original WipEout back in 1995. This was a stylish and futuristic game for a new console that was aimed, not at kids, but everyone. It had a soundtrack featuring the songs that people were dancing to at clubs on Friday nights. It had high speed flying ships with realistic physics. It had a beautiful front-end designed by The Design Republic, who were making covers for albums by Aphex Twin, Autechre and Pulp. It was a statement saying "Video games are cool and they are the future, right now."

wipeout playstation boxart
The original WipEout box art
Since then, WipEout has become synonymous with Playstation, and Psygnosis was bought by Sony and re-named SCE Studio Liverpool. The franchise has always been at the bleeding edge technologically, while not sacrificing amazing gameplay. It showed off what the PSP was capable of at launch with WipEout Pure. WipEout Pulse took those foundations and improved upon them, delivering a stellar sequel. WipEout HD is still one of the few games to fulfill the original promise of 1080p at 60fps on PS3 and was a PSN game that made retail releases look lacking. Which brings us to WipEout 2048, which is now sadly the last game made by the developer. Has the Studio kept its reputation for getting the most out of Sony's hardware?

Somewhat ironically, this is chronologically the first game in the series. Set in the year 2048, it is the first Anti-Gravity Racing Championship (AGRC). Being set this early, the city that holds the tracks looks a bit more familiar. You will see some classical buildings as you race around the lower street levels. You will even find yourself gliding through a park! The higher levels give way to some of the more sci-fi inspired architecture the series is famous for. While technically marvelous, being set earlier means the game doesn't look as smooth or clean as previous games in the series. There is an abundance of visual clutter around you: adverts, trees, spectators, buildings, floats and more. It can get distracting and cause a few missed turns. It took me longer to learn some of these courses than those in WipEout HD, for example. I prefer the more futuristic style of old, but I can't deny that the developer has done it again when it comes to the visuals. This game is a technical feast.

wipeout 2048 vita
The juxtaposition of the old and new structures is interesting
The controls are great; the Vita's analogue sticks are responsive and reliable. It certainly feels like the WipEout we know and love, while also serving as a good entry point for newcomers. The courses are also a bit wider which helps as well. Speaking of the courses, they are nicely varied. As the campaign progresses through three years, more are made available. I had a blast ducking under bridges in Metro Park, trying to find shortcuts to the higher level in Subway and taking an extremely fast trip though Queens Mall. There are 10 overall, which isn't much really, but they are all solid. My two favourites would have to be Downtown and Sol. Downtown's first few corners take place in a Baroque palazzo, then lead up to a beautiful evening skyline and back down again into an eclectic mishmash of buildings. The majestic Sol is only available in the final third of the campaign, AGRC 2050 and boy is it worth the wait. Being one of the "newest" courses in the game, it closely resembles that classic WipEout minimalist track design. It takes place high up in the sky and features daring jumps and turns with no walls keeping you safe! It also looks breathtakingly beautiful.

wipeout 2048 vita
Sol is magnificent
There are a variety of different events: Race, Combat, Time Trial, Speed Lap and Zone. For each event you can Pass or earn an Elite Pass, gaining you more points. Races are always fun. Seasoned players will find weapons more useful without taking the emphasis away from driving. Time Trial needs no explanation, I found trying to get the Elite Pass times compelling. Speed Laps are separated from the campaign and are a test against yourself. A ghost is saved of your fastest run so that you can see where you need to improve. Combat has seen the most changes. Previously titled Eliminator, it is now simply a full-on onslaught. Keep on destroying ships with your weapons to accumulate points in the allotted time. There are no points awarded for racing, so I would recommend using whichever ship has the best firepower. The wider courses have allowed for a much more engaging experience in this mode. I used to hate Eliminator,  but now the Combat events are some of the best in this game. They also highlight the attention to detail the developer has put into the special effects, particularly some awesome particles on the missile. Zone is my favourite event. It involves racing around the track for as long as you can while your ship gets progressively faster. You have to survive for as many "zones," or segments of track, as possible. What makes Zone a particular highlight is the neon-abstract filter it puts over the game. Bright colours that morph and change while you complete zones look absolutely stunning on the Vita's OLED screen. It really has to be seen to be believed.

wipeout 2048 vita
Zone events show off what your Vita's screen can do
The soundtrack suits the game beautifully, but is quite small so you'll be hearing the same tunes a lot. However, I never got bored of hearing The Prodigy as I sped past my opponents. Sound design in general is excellent, all of the weapons and ships have realistic effects. Each ship team has their own HUD voice which is a nice detail. In fact, the presentation as a whole is immaculate, particularly the campaign grids.

Multiplayer is something I haven't spent much time on, but it is laid out in a similar manner to the single-player campaign. I think it is a great decision by the developers to turn what could have been a lobby menu into a whole additional campaign grid. One element that does suffer though, is Combat events. I played an event online and no one was actually moving forward, they were staying in one place waiting for people to come near them. I found it boring and it ruined the game. All other events were marvelous though.

One special mention must be made of the photo mode. At any point you can pause the game and take photos. This mode lets you move the camera around, add blur and change the depth of field as well. It can result in some beautiful images. Every screenshot in this review was taken by me. They are all saved onto the Vita and easily sent to the computer via USB. I think it's a great feature for the system.
wipeout 2048 vita
Photo mode has some wonderful effects
Overall, SCE Studio Liverpool have delivered another great game that utilizes its host hardware beautifully. As the studio's final release and potentially the final WipEout, perhaps it is apt for it to end where it all began. However, I think that WipEout HD should be considered the definitive version of the series. Luckily, just before SCE Studio Liverpool closed, they released DLC that added the whole of WipEout HD and Fury onto 2048. It is a free download if you have already purchased it on PS3. Now that is how you go out in style. 

Find WipEout 2048 on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2012-02-14
Publisher: SCE Studio Liverpool
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity Demo Impressions

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity 3DS

I was in elementary school when the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon came out. I played it quite a bit, but I never really understood it. Today, I still don't understand it. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity reinforces the idea that this series is just a stripped down version of a regular Pokemon game that is far more fit to be a $10 download than a $40 retail release. Not only is the game not very good, but the demo is not very good either.

The demo starts off at the very beginning of the game. It does this because you can transfer your save game from the demo to the retail version when the game is released soon. However this means instead of actually being able to demo the game, you must first sit through 20 minutes of poor writing and a boring story. Wow does this game have some awful writing. Nintendo is all about simplicity and childishness, but this game takes it way too far. It actually seems like a first grader just wrote a bunch of run-on-sentences and submitted them to Nintendo as fan fiction. Nintendo was drunk at the time and thought the first grader's writing was the actual plot to the game they were making so they used it.

Gameplay is extremely disappointing as well. Dungeons are all straight and almost 2D in appearance, making the circle pad almost unusable. The combat could put a baby on cocaine to sleep in an instant because it it kind-of-real-time-but-not-really and requires the use of a single button for almost the entire length of a dungeon. When you finally get out of the first dungeon, you are greeted to more terrible writing.

I wish I knew why the Mystery Dungeon series still exists, but I don't. Nobody buys the games, nobody likes the games, most people haven't even heard of the games. Yet for some strange reason Nintendo keeps pumping them out. I'm fine with that, just keep the games away from me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

3D Classics: Kid Icarus and Starship Defense up for grabs on Club Nintendo

kid icarus starship defense club nintendo

The latest digital downloads are up on Club Nintendo. Among them are the 3D Classics version of Kid Icarus and Starship Defense, a tower defense type of game originally released on DSiWare. If there's one common theme between these two games, it's challenge. Kid Icarus always ends with me in the fetal position, and I've been stuck on some of the last stages of Starship Defense for a while now. The games cost 150 coins each and will be available until 4/7.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Calculators Aren't Just For Doing Math

sho minamimoto holding calculator

It's 11:00 am, you're sitting in class factoring binomials for the nth time and your grumbling stomach reminds you of the feast to be had as soon as the hour's up. The unbearable hunger and soul-deadening boredom from repeatedly solving the same types of problems is enough to slow time to a pace not fit for a snail. You decide to pull out a phone/game boy to pass the time, but don't get further than the second stage before the tyrannical teacher's gaze fixates on the contraband. If you're lucky, you'll get a warning. If you're being instructed by Hitler, then you may be without the device for the rest of the day or even year.

There are solutions! Many of our schools supplied us with TI-83 calculators, or maybe none at all. These saw a lot of mediocre homebrew titles, and even some great ones like Portal: Prelude, but the graphics left a lot to be desired. Luckily for the youngsters of today, there exist machines like the TI-Nspire CX which are more or less pocket computers. There are dozens of games available that actually resemble something someone would want to play. If that wasn't enough, they can also be used as an expensive game boy color emulator. No longer do students need to hide the textbook OVER the comic, for the textbook and comic are now one in the same.

Okay... bad analogy, but the idea's the same. Just try not to break into dance after beating the Elite Four with your lvl 100 Pikachu or they may grow suspicious.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Humble Bundle with Android 5 is live

humble bundle android 5

The Humble Bundle group's focus is raising money for charities by selling games at a user-defined price. The latest bundle offers Beat Hazard Ultra, Dynamite Jack, Solar 2, and NightSky HD to anyone willing to pay at least a penny. Keep in mind that anyone not willing to shell out more than what could be found on the ground in a span of 10 minutes will actually cost the site money due to server costs. The incentive to pay at least a dollar comes in the form of Steam keys for each of the games on top of the DRM-free downloads. Paying more than the average (currently $6.64) will also unlock Super Hexagon and Dungeon Defenders with all its DLC. Donations are split between Humble Bundle, the game developers, and the charity organizations. Users can customize the split to change the amounts each group will receive.

Those without an Android device can still enjoy the games on PC or Mac. If you needed an excuse to buy more games, you can feel good doing it.