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    May 21st, 2018
Handheld (P)reviews
Anthony | Tuesday, June 23, 2015 @ 12:44 AM
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
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Platform: 3DS, MAC, PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, X360 & XOne
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Genre: Action
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: N/A
Age Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date:
Nov. 11, 2014
MSRP: $19.99+ USD
Gameplay: 8
Visual Appeal: 9
Audio Appeal: 10
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

The story starts off with the typical cliche of the bad guys, led by Lex Luthor and the Joker, attempting to take control of the Watchtower so that they can take over the world. You may know the bad guys collectively as the Legion of Doom. However, approaching the Watchtower from space is Brainiac, a living computer that collects knowledge by shrinking whole populations and placing them into bottles. This forces the Legion and the Justice League to join together to save Earth. The first half of the story is rather linear. Once Brainiac is on the ropes, the open world becomes available and free play is enabled. Transportation between the Batcave, the Hall of Justice and the Watchtower are all a matter of walking into a portal.

Following the success of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Batman 3 introduces to the LEGO Batman series the gadget wheel and the big-figs. Characters like Batman, Robin, Lex Luthor and the Joker have multiple costumes in which they can change that help solve different puzzles. Some other characters have transformations or special abilities that are activated by holding down a specific button. While the previous games in the series provided the costume changes when they were needed, this game requires a lot more thought into what gadgets will be useful in certain scenarios since once they are unlocked, they are always available. This added difficulty also provides a slight detriment since it is not always clear what needs to be done to complete a level.

Clancy Brown is back as the voice of Lex Luthor and with him he brings Adam West and Conan O'Brien as themselves. Most of the voice cast from the previous games in the series also make a return. As with the previous games, the music is a mix of series and movie orchestral sets. When Superman and Wonder Woman fly, their theme songs play in a sort of looping muzak tone.

It is easy to tell that this game has had a little polish applied in comparison to LEGO Batman 2. The colors are a bit more vibrant and there is a slight bit of added detail. Then again, it could be from not being in the gloomy Gotham City for the entirety of the game. When you spend too long in Gotham, anywhere else seems like Oz.

LEGO Batman 3 is a fun game to play for those who love LEGO and DC Comics. To top it off, there are over 100 characters to unlock and play. Think of it like practice for LEGO Dimensions and the LEGO Worlds MMO.




Anthony | Thursday, June 18, 2015 @ 1:46 AM
LEGO Jurassic World
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Platform: 3DS, MAC, PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, X360 & XOne
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Genre: Action
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: N/A
Age Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date:
Jun. 12, 2015
MSRP: $29.99+ USD
Gameplay: 10
Visual Appeal: 8
Audio Appeal: 8
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

Featuring all four Jurassic Park movies, LEGO Jurassic World is a dream game for those who are both LEGO and dinosaur fans. While it may only take about two hours to complete each movie's story, the open world is ripe with adventure. Players can also free play the movies' story levels as well as complete various tasks on each of the islands where the movies take place. These can include helping sick dinosaurs to races and even saving hapless island visitors.

Players can start off playing either the first movie or the newest. Completing the first movie unlocks the second and completing the second unlocks the third. Along the way players can collect amber so that they may unlock dinosaurs. In free play, they can play as baby versions while splicing the adults together in the DNA lab. LEGO games are known for collecting, so there is ample opportunity to unlock all of the characters, vehicles, dinosaurs and bonus content.

The audio from the movies is heavily used, both in music and voice work. Sometimes the audio clips sound a little out of place simply because of their quality compared to the rest of the game. There is a little bit of additional voice acting conducted by sound-a-like voice actors to fill in gaps that the movies do not have in relation to the gameplay. Once in a while there is audio chirping.

Graphically, the game looks as good as any other LEGO game. However, there are a few graphical glitches here and there. Some of the glitches have to do with the transitions between scenes and switching action. All in all, it does not detract from the fun.




Anthony | Friday, June 05, 2015 @ 11:38 PM
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
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Platform: 3DS, DS, MAC, OUYA, PC, PS3, Vita, Wii, Wii U & X360
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Genre: Action
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: N/A
Age Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date:
May 21, 2013
MSRP: $19.99+ USD
Gameplay: 9
Visual Appeal: 9
Audio Appeal: 10
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

A number of years ago, LEGO Star Wars was released. It featured the stories from the three original movies. You know the ones with Luke Skywalker, not Anakin. I thought that such video game makeovers in the form of LEGO could not get any better. The fact is, after playing a few similar LEGO games I began to find the formula of completing a story level just to end up at a hub to free play that same level over again to be boring. That was why I did not pick up the original LEGO Batman game.

Beginning with LEGO Batman 2, outside of the original story mode, the world of the game is open. The story levels only contain about a third of the possible activities that players can partake. In addition, until the Free Play mode is unlocked, only certain characters can be used in the story levels. Additional characters and vehicles can be unlocked in the open world. Eventually players are able to create custom characters in the Batcave using parts unlocked during play.

LEGO video games have never suffered from looking or sounding bad, but this time every character has a voice actor behind them. Prior to this game, most LEGO characters had generic grunts. Unlike the Batman Arkham video game series, this game is not voiced by the Justice League animated series voice actors. Well, except for Clancy Brown returning as Lex Luthor. Troy Baker, Mark Hamill's replacement as the Joker, provides the voice for Batman.

This game is perfect for casual gamers because it is rather laid back and the controls are simple. There are almost no time limits, switching is almost a no-brainer and the mysteries of the open world can be completed at one's leisure. The DC and Marvel games after this one are a little bit tougher, so this game is a good jumping off point.




Anthony | Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 5:41 PM
J-Stars Victory Vs.
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Platform: PS3, PS4 & Vita
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: 2 - 4
Age Rating: Teen
Release Date:
Mar. 19, 2014
MSRP: $59.99+ USD
Gameplay: 9
Visual Appeal: 9
Audio Appeal: 9
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

J-Stars Victory Versus brings characters from the Shonen Jump mangas together for an epic battle. Each character is given unique attacks, movements and other traits that have been previously seen in one form or another. This game is the ultimate fan service and in the summer of 2015, it will be re-released with an English version under the name of J-Stars Victory Versus Plus. The revision will feature English contexts, dialog and menus with a new arcade mode.

From the main menu, this game offers four general play modes. J-Adventure is a single player story mode with four different chapters. Players travel along in a ship battling various characters and completing quest goals. Victory Mode is a modified single player battle mode where the player must meet specific objectives. Free Battle is where up to two players can complete locally, whereas Online Battle allows for up to four players to compete via the Internet in ranked and non-ranked battles. As players progress through each mode, they can earn currency that can be spent it in the J-Point Shop. They can then use J-Customization to apply purchased modifications accordingly.

The most notable difference between this game and those strictly based upon one of the animes or mangas are the controls. While each button is generally assigned to a similar type of movement, not all characters can do the same things. For example, Goku can fly across an arena where other characters may only be able to run or super jump. Where Naruto can muster a Rasengan, other characters may just be able to use a special charged attack. Perhaps one of the flashiest attacks in the game is a full team attack and if lucky, it can be performed multiple times in a row. The key to mastering the controls is a complete understanding of a character's capabilities.

The game's animation style is closely tied to how each character looks in the mangas. With that said, the arenas are a mix of highly detailed computer graphics as well as flourishes from both the animes and mangas. Many fan favorites from a number of mangas are playable and voiced by their Japanese anime voice cast, if available. The game music is taken straight from the animes with a few pieces specifically made for the game. The background sounds and effects will be familiar to fans of the Dragonball, Naruto and One Piece games.

English speaking fans have been waiting for many years for an English version of the Shonen Jump games and finally one will be available. With characters from over 30 different Shonen Jump series, J-Stars Victory Versus Plus will be a hard game to pass up.




Anthony | Thursday, January 22, 2015 @ 5:13 AM
Mortal Kombat
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Platform: PC, PS3, 360 & Vita
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: 2 - 8
Age Rating: Mature
Release Date:
Apr. 19, 2011
MSRP: $14.99+ USD
Gameplay: 9
Visual Appeal: 10
Audio Appeal: 9
Re-Playability: 9
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

Since the 1990s, Mortal Kombat has been a staple in the fighting game genre. Even though the company that makes the games has gone through ownership and publisher changes, it still produced one of the best fighters on the market. Going back to its roots on a new generation of consoles, this is the ninth Mortal Kombat game.

Players may have gotten used to the blown up size of the kombatants list over the last two decades. With each game, more players have been added. This reboot of the series brings the list of kombatants down to a core set of fighters based mainly from the first three games of the series. It even includes a fighter from Warner Brothers, never seen before in Mortal Kombat.

The only thing that never really changes in Mortal Kombat is the controls. There are two punches, two kicks, a block and a throw button. In recent iterations, the ability to change fighting styles has been added. The goal of the game still remains to beat the living crap out of the opponent so that one can produce a finishing move. Along the way, it is cool to perform a few combos and introduced in this game, x-ray moves. X-ray moves are brutal moves that can inflict a lot of damage and display it occurring at the muscular and skeletal levels. There is also the ability to have tag team matches.

As the first high definition Mortal Kombat game, it is the most realistic. The detail to the characters is astounding. The light effects are accurate. For example, a fireball actually lights up the character sending it, receiving it and the ground below it. As with other previous Mortal Kombat games the dialog is limited, but done well. The sound effects zoom from side to side of the screen as players and attacks are tossed around.

The online mode offers the typical one-on-one match style as well as tag team and king of the kill. The Komplete Edition released on August 6, 2013 with all of the downloadable content as well as various music and video tracks. Longtime fans of Mortal Kombat should really appreciate the re-envisioning of the story and fighting fans will enjoy the action.




Anthony | Thursday, January 22, 2015 @ 5:09 AM
Rock Band 3 & Rock Band Blitz
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Platform: DS, PS3, 360 & Wii
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Backbone Entertainment & Harmonix Music Systems
Genre: Music
Number of Players: 1 - 7 & 1
Number of Players Online: 2 - 8 & N/A
Age Rating: Teen
Release Date:
Oct. 26, 2010 & Aug. 28, 2012
MSRP: $19.99 & 9.99 USD
Gameplay: 9
Visual Appeal: 9
Audio Appeal: 10
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

You have just started a rock band, but you have to start off by playing at small gigs. As you continue to draw fans, you upgrade from a van to a bus, then to a plane. Your fan base has become so large that is it bigger than some metropolitan populations. That is how a player will progress in Rock Band 3.

Rock Band 3 attempts to set itself apart from its main competition by enabling players to incorporate real instruments into the game known as Pro mode. Players can still use their plastic lead guitar, bass guitar, drums or voice to play. However, Rock Band 3 incorporated Beatles: Rock Band's harmony feature, allowing for three total singers, and added the electronic keyboard.

As a music game, the graphics do not necessarily need to be the best, but they do edge out other music games on the market ever so slightly. The game disc holds over 80 songs and players can access most of their stored music from other Rock Band games as well as download more songs. This time, Rock Band 3 seems to have a broader focus on lesser known acts as indicated by the introduction of its Rock Band Network. As of January 2015, Harmonix still releases new tracks for Rock Band on the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. The catalog stretches to over 2,000 tracks and is compatible with Rock Band Blitz.

While players can compete locally with up to seven players, online a band is limited to only four components. That is okay as long as players can still shred against or with others. In addition, players can share their progress via social media and the Rock Band website.

Released only to the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 as standalone downloadable content, Rock Band Blitz was introduced as a means to introduce new people to music video games. Releasing with 25 songs, able to access all previously downloaded songs and able to download additional tracks, this gives players a potential to obtain over 2,000 tracks. To top it off, Rock Band Blitz uses the console's native controller. Thus, there is no need to purchase any instruments, plastic or otherwise.

Working similarly to how the instruments work in the main series, players attempt to match gems with the beat. However, in Rock Band Blitz, the player plays every instrument and must slide back and forth along the chords to maximize combos. The higher the multiplier means the better the score. While this game does not have a multiplayer option, player's scores are compared to their friends and there is some minimal social media interaction.

Rock Band 3 and Rock Band Blitz offer two different methods of enjoying the same music. Video game players who love modern rock music should give these games a try.




Anthony | Sunday, January 18, 2015 @ 1:10 AM
Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
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Platform: 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: 1
Number of Players Online: 2 - 4
Age Rating: Everyone
Release Date:
Nov. 21, 2014
MSRP: $39.99 USD
Gameplay: 10
Visual Appeal: 10
Audio Appeal: 9
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 10
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

Continuing the strides taken by Pokemon X & Y, Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire (ORAS) add even more features to the game that should appeal to both avid Pokemon collectors and competitors. Pokemon ORAS takes players back to the Hoenn region a few years after the original Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire adventure. While many of the story points will be familiar to some players, a few of the settings in the game have changed drastically. It is up to the players to discover the new mysteries in Hoenn.

Once players reach a certain point in the game, they are granted the PokeNav Plus. This improved PokeNav includes features from Pokemon X & Y, including the Player Search System (PSS), Pokemon-Amie and Super Training. In issue 261 of Game Informer, Associate Editor Kyle Hilliard stated that "Forgettable distractions like Pokemon-Amie and Super Training also return, and are best left ignored." Any dedicated Pokemon player can tell by that comment that Hilliard is just a casual player. Pokemon-Amie is an important tool for obtaining certain Pokemon, most notably a specific evolutionary form of Eevee. Super Training is the easiest way to train Pokemon effort values. Any highly competitive Pokemon player looking to build the perfect team considers it the most important tool. In the future, perhaps Hilliard should consider why such tools exist in the first place before making comments that downplay their importance amongst more dedicated players.

The PokeNav Plus also now offers features that players have long wished to have. The DexNav informs players about which Pokemon in the current area have been captured. It also gives clues about how many Pokemon still have not yet been captured. The AreaNav is a map of the entire Hoenn region. The highlighted paths are the routes that the player has taken. Once a player can use fly outside of battle with a Pokemon or can soar with Latias or Latios, those locations can be accessed from the air. The BuzzNav displays Pokemon news from a player's adventures as well as those of players that they have met. It also reveals when a mirage island has appeared.

The audio and visual quality is similar to that of Pokemon X & Y, so there is no need to retread those details. However, while the games are built on generally the same software, there are some incompatibilities. For example, Pokemon ORAS has items, moves, mega and primal evolutions that Pokemon X & Y do not. Thus, in a battle where there is a player using Pokemon X and the other is using Pokemon Omega Ruby, the new items, moves and evolutions would be disabled. In trades, Pokemon with the newer items, moves and evolutionary stones would not be able to be traded from Pokemon ORAS to Pokemon X & Y.

Once again, the main series of Pokemon games have kept its traditions intact with players battling, trading and training. New additions keep bringing players back with each new release. Plus, with The Pokemon Company International ratcheting up competitive support for these games at its live event, there is seemingly no end to what is possible for Pokemon.

Just a heads up, Pokemon Bank is compatible with these games. For only five United States dollars a year, it is a worthwhile investment to be able to store your Pokemon and transfer them to future generations.




Anthony | Sunday, January 18, 2015 @ 1:08 AM
Super Smash Bros. 3DS & Wii U
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Platform: 3DS & Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Bandai Namco Games
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1 - 4 & 1 - 8
Number of Players Online: 2 - 4
Age Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date:
Oct. 3, 2014 & Nov. 21, 2014
MSRP: $39.99 & $59.99 USD
Gameplay: 10
Visual Appeal: 10
Audio Appeal: 10
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 10
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

Keeping with the consistent trend of improvements that has been seen in-between games from older generations, Super Smash Brothers for this generation of Nintendo consoles is jam-packed with content.

While the 3DS and Wii U versions vary in a few modes, the general Smash modes of play are exactly the same. The fact is, they have to be or else the 3DS version would be unable to connect to the Wii U version for local play. While the Wii U version supports up to eight players in local play, both versions support four players online. The Wii U version allows for a second local player. Players can play for fun or glory. Glory has more rigid rules and a player's win and loss record is maintained.

Keeping the downloadable content in mind and if you only count the Miis once, there are 50 different characters in the games. There are also over 70 different stages in the games combined when considering the fact that a few stages are the same across versions. Many of the stages also return from the previous versions of the game. Perhaps the most interesting part is that a few of the stages introduce some new mechanics, including the ability to move from the foreground to the background and back. Most stages can also be converted to their Omega mode which is simply a large, flat field.

Both versions of Super Smash Brothers have Amiibo support. The Amiibos can be trained through fighting. Each Amiibo can also be customized with items and their attacks can be changed once they are unlocked. Once saved, the Amiibos can be loaded onto any 3DS or Wii U to compete. The game's characters can also be customized similarly to the Amiibo, however their enhancements are limited.

Both games offer the ability to earn trophies by various means. Each play earns coins which can be used to buy trophies. Otherwise, they are unlocked through meeting certain goals. The trophies add an extra incentive for those with a collector's vibe to play.

Now on to the exclusive features... The Wii U version sports high definition graphics and the 3DS version offers a stereoscopic 3D view. The Wii U version offers Smash Tour, Special Orders and Event mode. Smash Tour is a board game where players gather trophies and assemble a team for battle. Special Orders features Master Hand and Crazy Hand. Players must meet certain requirements issued by the Hands to earn rewards. The Event mode returns with such classic games as Home Run and Multi-Man Melee. Plus, the Wii U supports eight different control types. The 3DS version offers a Smash Run and StreetSmash modes. Smash Run is similar to the Wii version where players have a certain amount of time to run a maze, meeting goals and raising statistics before reaching a final boss battle. StreetSmash is a StreetPass game where players compete via disc weapons.

The one thing that has not changed in Super Smash Brothers is the ability to customize stage music. Once unlocked, each stage can randomly load a specific soundtrack set by the player. These soundtracks can be new, classic or updated classic video game music.

If players enjoyed the previous incarnations of Super Smash Brothers, they should love these. With all of the updates and new features, it is hard to find a reason not to smash!




Anthony | Sunday, January 18, 2015 @ 1:00 AM
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
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Platform: PS3, 360 & Vita
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Artdink
Genre: Fighting
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: 2 - 8
Age Rating: Teen
Release Date:
Jan. 28, 2014
MSRP: $29.99 USD
Gameplay: 8
Visual Appeal: 9
Audio Appeal: 9
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 9
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

Dragon Ball games have been plagued by not having the best online fidelity. The first Dragon Ball game online was the Wii's Budokai Tenkaichi 3. Even if the connection was local, the lag was an embarrassment. It was not until the Raging Blast series that the online two player battles had some consistent stability, at least with a local connection. For whatever reason, it was decided to create a game that allows up to eight players to connect via the Internet. One has to admit, it is often not as bad as expected. Some games with a full roster of eight players can run smoothly. It is when that one player with a horrid connection sneaks in that the fun is ruined.

The controls are different from previous Dragon Ball Z games. Instead of giving each face button multiple functions or menus based upon which trigger is being held down, they are limited to a single function. This is perhaps to create a more even ground for players who may not be too advanced with fighting games. One button is for melee, another for ki and so on. The control pad has been delegated to issuing commands, such as in a role playing game.

The characters do not transform. Perhaps this is also to balance the game. However, the longer someone plays the game, the more items that they can unlock that can be used to customize characters. There are so many characters to choose from, it is hard to tell who could be the most powerful. The weaker the base statistics are on a character, the more customization items they can hold.

The areas in the game are much larger than those in the Raging Blast series. There is a rather impressive amount of detail. The overall animations are a little toned down from previous games, perhaps to reduce the chance of lag online. The sound is as good as ever and like always, the voice work is provided by the FUNimation anime cast.

The story mode follows down the main arcs of the Dragon Ball Z television series and through some of the movies, leading to the Battle of Gods. There are greater rewards the higher the completion grade for each stage. In some cases, a higher grade unlocks an alternative story path. It is worth the effort to go back to earlier stage once more powerful characters are unlocked to get better grades. Unlike with Ultimate Tenkaichi, the super-sized boss battles are not an effort in futility. Once the weakness is found, ordering the team to focus their attacks on the same spot makes quick work of the boss.

If one enjoys the Dragon Ball Z fighting games, this one is different enough from the previous ones to be worth a look. There is a feeling of accomplishment that comes with gaining experience with a character and powering them up.




Anthony | Sunday, January 18, 2015 @ 12:59 AM
Pokemon X & Y
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Platform: 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: 1
Number of Players Online: 2 - 4
Age Rating: Everyone
Release Date:
Oct. 12, 2013
MSRP: $39.99 USD
Gameplay: 10
Visual Appeal: 10
Audio Appeal: 9
Re-Playability: 10
Overall Rating: 10
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

The main series of Pokemon games rarely change from generation to generation. They all still require that trainers collect Pokemon, train them, evolve them and compete against others with them. However, in the cases where the games leap to new generation of hardware, new features arise. Pokemon X & Y is a leap from the previous generation of Pokemon games thanks to much needed graphical improvements as well as play mechanics.

While the gameplay essentially remains the same from those of previous versions, the ease of accessing features to compete, trade and train has improved significantly. Once certain actions are taken to obtain the C-Gear, three new features appear at the bottom of the screen. The Player Search System (PSS) enables players to easily connect with other players locally or via the Internet. Players can battle, trade and grant each other O-Powers. O-Powers provide boosts to certain abilities for a limited amount of time. Pokemon-Amie is a means to increase friendship with Pokemon through feeding and the playing of games. It is also the means to obtaining a specific evolutionary form of Eevee. Super Training is the quickest way to improve a Pokemon's effort values. Highly competitive players should find the feature to be an easier method for maximizing a Pokemon's statistics than the alternative battling of assorted wild Pokemon.

Until this generation of Pokemon games, the sprites that were used were blocky. Now you can see your character and Pokemon in all of their glory. You can even customize your character's outfits. During certain battles and cinematics, the 3D feature can be enabled to reveal some fantastic animation. The attention to detail and the changed visual perspective is certainly a welcomed change.

The soundtrack in these games, while superior in quality to previous games, is essentially the same music as previous games in the series with a few newly added tracks. However, this generation of Pokemon games does offer voice chat. Players may decide to enable the chat prior to connecting with other players. Its quality is not the best, especially when there is ambient sound.

The main series of Pokemon games have never suffered from not being re-playable. It is part of why Pokemon games have a higher resale value than some others. The truly dedicated players out there keep every copy of Pokemon that they have obtained, which makes for slim pickings in the pre-owned Pokemon inventory of some stores.

Perhaps the two biggest selling points of Pokemon X & Y are the over 60 new Kalos region Pokemon and the mega evolutions. The increased size of the Pokedex appeals to the collectors while the mega evolutions appeal to the competitive players. All in all, these games are worthy of a Pokemon player's attention.

Just a heads up, Pokemon Bank is compatible with these games. For only five United States dollars a year, it is a worthwhile investment to be able to store your Pokemon and transfer them to future generations.




Anthony | Monday, December 29, 2008 @ 7:12 AM
Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades
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Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Genre: Music
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: N/A
Age Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date:
Nov. 14, 2008
MSRP: $34.99 USD
Gameplay: 7
Visual Appeal: 6
Audio Appeal: 8
Re-Playability: 5
Overall Rating: 7
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

 The popularity of the Guitar Hero series is undeniable.  Love it or really love it, people are buying the games off the shelves and rocking out to the music.  While Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades does not have any fancy guitars, drums or microphones like the console Guitar Hero games do, it does get a nifty handheld fret bar that is similar to selecting notes on the frets of a guitar.  The device simply plugs in to the Game Boy Advance slot and players hold the Nintendo DS sideways using the touch screen to strum.

 There are a few noted differences in this version of On Tour in comparison to the original.  First, there are three play modes.  The play modes include the guitar story, the bass story and a guitar duel.  Second, there is a few tweaks to the touch screen display including Star Power activation.  The problem is that the new display arrangement reduces the field for strumming.  Finally, the song lists is now similar to that of the console versions of Guitar Hero and feature more of the popular songs.

 A feature that was previously available in the original game, but no one could use it, was the ability to exchange songs between the versions of On Tour.  That is right, if a player has the original On Tour and another has On Tour Decades, they can play songs from each version in the versus modes.  What happens is the song is temporarily downloaded in to the Nintendo DS' memory and is purged when the song is completed.

 The game's sound is near the best the Nintendo DS can serve.  While it may be in stereo, like in the original, there seems to be a little bit of over modulation in the audio.  Over modulation is that static a player hears when the sound becomes louder than the game system can handle.  Turning down the game system does not help.  However, for the best audio results, wear a stereo headset.  Graphically the game is equal to the original.  The menus and backgrounds have changed, but the result is essentially the same.

 This game contains more songs than the original dating back to the 70s to more recent times.  To unlock every song, players must play through each of the venues.  What is missing is a lack of an online mode and unless there is another player with either On Tour game around quite often, there is little reason to keep playing.

 If you love music games and either cannot afford a game console, the Guitar Hero games or perhaps love to travel, this game is for you.  If you already own the console versions of Guitar Hero and do not travel, you may simply be wasting your money.




Anthony | Thursday, July 10, 2008 @ 1:26 AM
Guitar Hero: On Tour
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Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Genre: Music
Number of Players: 1 - 2
Number of Players Online: N/A
Age Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date:
Jun. 22, 2008
MSRP: $49.99 USD
Gameplay: 7
Visual Appeal: 6
Audio Appeal: 8
Re-Playability: 5
Overall Rating: 7
Website: Connect

Applications

Video Games

 Guitar Hero's first outing on a handheld gaming system is quite imaginative.  This version of Guitar Hero uses the Nintendo DS' lower screen as the guitar you strum with a pick.  The upper screen is where the notes appear.  In addition, an attachable fret bar fits into the Game Boy Advance slot.  The fret bar comes with an additional extender for people with larger hands.

 The game looks good, even though the interface is rather basic.  At the start of a song, the backgrounds zoom in to reveal the band on stage.  The animation is good and there is no noticeable slowdown when a large number of notes appear at once.  The concept is the same as the other Guitar Hero games.  When a player sees a gem, they press the fret of the same color and strum.  Strumming causes the strings on the guitar in the lower screen to vibrate.  Also on the lower screen is a whammy bar that can be used to build up Star Power on long notes.

 There are 25 songs ranging from the 1970s to the new millennium.  Some noticeable clicks seem to be over modulation in a few songs.  There are also a few occasions where the long notes seem to end prematurely.  It is best to wear a headset while playing the game to get the full experience of the stereo music.

 The re-playability of this game is lacking.  There is no online versus mode, only local wireless.  In local wireless mode, players can play songs or battle.  With only 25 songs and no ability to download more, there is no real reason to play after completing a difficulty unless the player really likes a song or two.  The hope is that future music collections will be released to utilize the fret bar.

 There are a few final notes.  Hold the Nintendo DS as instructed via the manual and the game's opening screen.  After a while, playing the game while supporting the weight of the system may cause some discomfort.  Also, find a comfortable position for holding the guitar pick stylus.  If held the wrong way it may slip out of position.




Anthony | Saturday, June 07, 2008 @ 6:29 AM
Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon Series 1 & 2
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Platform: GBA & DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: ChunSoft
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: 1
Number of Players Online: N/A
Age Rating: Everyone
Release Date:
Sep. 10, 2006 & Apr. 20, 2008
MSRP: $34.99 USD
Gameplay: 8
Visual Appeal: 7
Audio Appeal: 7
Re-Playability: 6
Overall Rating: 7
Website: Connect

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Video Games

Combined, there are four games in the Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon's two series. In the first series, there was Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, on the Game Boy Advance, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team, on the Nintendo Dual Screen. The second series came about a year and a half later with Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, both released on the Nintendo DS. Since the games are near identical in their execution, this review will cover the important points and differences between the first and second series before discussing the similarities.

The story in both games is that the player is a Pokemon who has lost his or her memory. The problem is that he or she was originally human. The goal of the story is for the player to discover who he or she is while investigating strange occurrences that may lead to their identity. In the first series, there are major earthquakes tearing the region apart. In the second series, a thief is stealing time gears and causing time to stop. In both series many Pokemon are turning bad and it is the player's job to stop the bad Pokemon and solve the mystery with the help of a partner Pokemon.

There are a few issues to keep in mind. In the first series, players can rescue each other using passwords if one uses the GBA version. If both players use a DS, rescues can be achieved either wirelessly or with passwords. In the second series players can rescue each other wirelessly, using passwords or via the Internet using friend codes. However, the games in series one and two do not interact with each other.

From this point on, everything will be combined. It makes sense seeing as how the games are all essentially the same with slight differences.

The game play is par for the course when it comes to a role-playing game. The difference is that fact the game does not change the top-down perspective to switch to a side view for battle, as some games have been known to do. The play is still turn based. The dungeons themselves are randomly generated. There is no way for anyone to memorize important locations. This feature adds an extra challenge.

Visually the game is nothing special. The sprites are easily identifiable and the backgrounds and rendering is done well. There is little difference between how the GBA and DS displays anything worth making mention of except the fact that the GBA only has one screen. The option menu allows the player to decide how to display the map, team and other items on the screens for both the GBA and DS versions.

The audio quality is also nothing special. None of the Pokemon has their well-known sounds. The music is standard fair; at least it is in stereo.

Re-playability is in the eye of the beholder. There is the option to save friends in the short time everyone still plays the game. In addition, Nintendo offers the ability to receive stranger rescue requests via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. After the main story mode there is the opportunity to evolve and discover new Pokemon and locations. Both series boast the ability to collect a majority of available Pokemon at the time of their releases.

Overall, the game is a decent RPG for fans of Pokemon. Hardcore role players may discover the game ends too soon. It takes a veteran player less than twenty-five hours to solve the main story if they do not go out of their way to do anything else.





 
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