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Review: My Pokémon Ranch

For today’s review, I’m featuring the 1000 point game, My Pokemon Ranch. This is a second party title published by Nintendo which works as a storage method of your pokemon captured in the games Pokemon Diamond Version, Pokemon Pearl Version, and most recently, Pokemon Platinum Version. When you first start up the game, a confirmation screen will show the time and date saved on your Wii Console, and ask if it’s the correct time. After that, you’ll be greeted by the main character of the game, she’ll go into a little ramble then transport you to the ranch. She’ll introduce how it works, and then you’re thrown into the gameplay.
Every day the game will go through a routine. The Ranch Hand will go though dialogue, show that she’s brought pokemon. Add them to the ranch, and then youll just be set to observe, that’s what you’ll be doing, observing the antics of what pokemon will interact with. Admittingly, it does have charm to see how the pokemon will act when you mess around like with the toys that are provided everyday, when idle, what formations they’ll perform and so on. But it gets stale within a matter of minutes and then you’ll want to leave. The ranchn hand will go through more dialogue, ask if the type of pokemon she wants to bring to the ranch is acceptable, then you leave.
The game’s true “use,” comes in the form of being able to transfer your pokemon from Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and/or Platinum. The game attempts to keep you coming back by limiting your initial space, which is 20 pokemon. The ranch will expand once you reach a certain number of pokemon within the ranch. The ranch supports up to 8 different game carts, which seems nice at first but the limitations which were set will put you off. You may not switch ownership of the pokemon between game carts. If you restart your game on one cart, the pokemon within the ranch CANNOT be recovered. You cannnot train or level the pokemon in any way whatsoever. That actually renders the game useless as a storage mechanism because ownership is not interchangable.
The game offers a wide array of features which are a bit irrelevant. First, if you are to connect your Nintendo DS to the game, your pokedex will be checked, and the ranch hand will ask you to capture specific pokemon within a week. The game also supports Miis which will act much like the pokemon. Pictures can be taken within the game and sent to the Wii Message Board or an SD Card. If any of your Wii Console friends own the game also, and WiiConnect24 us active, you will be asked to come visit their ranch and see what pokemon they’ve stored there. To top it all off the art style is grotesque and the pokemon resemble their 2D forms only slightly.

Conclusion:
My Pokemon Ranch is a game with a lot of potential, but is quickly thrown out, with limited connectivity and functionality, although it has charm, it does little to redeem itself in the slightest.

Scores:
Value: 500/1000 Wii Points
Recommendation: Not Recommended
Score: 3/10

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Wii Music

Ah, yes. Wii Music. I remember it well. E3 2008, they say that there’s something ELSE, they’d like to show. Everyone holds their breath, hoping for a Metroid, or Zelda game. Smoke fills the room. What do they show? A drummer, looking like an idiot, making ear-splittingly bad music on a virtual drum set. They then introduce it as Wii Music. For what they just showed, I could EASILY assume it was all about drums. Then, Miyamoto comes out and makes the game look a LITTLE better, and then they ruin the whole thing by showing people wave the Wiimotes around like morons, and bad notes play. They even missed parts entirely! Talk about a misleading first impression.

Wii Music is not like Guitar Hero, or Rock Band, it’s ‘competitors’. Its goal is simple: let everyone have fun while appreciating music. It achieves this goal well, but 70% is too hard, and 10% is too easy. Only about 20% is just right. Now, there are 60+ instruments to choose from, and 50 songs to choose from. Only 7 are Nintendo, however. About 10 attempt to be ‘pop’ music, but fail, but you can skip any song you don’t like, which is a nice touch. Also, there are some great classics, like Troika, Scarborough Fair, and A Little Night Music, which are fantastic.

Controls for the instruments are in a couple categories: Piano/drum, where you just bang around, Wind, which you alternate the 1 and 2 buttons, the Violin and Cello, where you pretend you are playing them while alternating the C and Z buttons on the Nunchuck, and then there’s other, which usually involve waggle. My favorite is the Violin/Cello, as it’s the most elaborate for the main game.

Outside of the main game, you have videos, which are a rather…lackluster feature, but it has it’s uses, namely WiFi. It also has lessons, which you won’t find yourself using very often, some minigames, which are fun, but repetitive, and lastly, the Drum Mode. The drum mode is ridiculously hard, and I could go into a whole review of that SEPERATELY, but I won’t, so in the interest of time, I’ll just say this: It’s TOO hard!

CONCLUSION:

Now, overall, in Wii Music, you get a very mixed package. From the box, it looks like something that Hardcore gamers would NEVER like, but on the inside, it gives the right amount of challenge for ANYONE to make good sounding music! (Especially that damned drum mode…) and the music sounds great for a Wii Game, too!

Score: 7.5/10

$45/$50 retail

Recommended

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: PLÄTTCHEN- Twist ‘n’ Paint

On the review chopping block today is Bplus’ PLATTCHEN- Twist ‘n’ Paint. This is actually Bplus’ first entry onto WiiWare,a very big entry at that. When you first begin the game, you’ll be greeted with a cutscene that explains the story of the game that focuses on the magical gearwheel, the ZeLeLi. You will be asked to make a profile where you will pop bubbles to make your profile name. It’s fustrating when the letters start overlapping, lengthening the process to about 5 minutes to get a devent four letter name in. After that, you’re presented a six by five array of panels. The first row is labelled classic, the second row is Copycat, the third row Mission, fourth is Party, and the fifth one is options. In all three modes, you twist the controller to select a colour, then you select a panel with your IR pointer to change the colour of that panel.
The goal of classic mode is to line up at least four panels called plattchen, of the same colour for them to react, then after a few seconds they will explode, lining up more plattchen will increase your energy bar. The resulting energy is used to fill up your energy bar which is how you complete the level. Run out of energy, or plattchen to connect and you lose. There are MANY, MANY factors concerning strategies, methods, items and what not when it comes to the mechanics, which is a major gripe since it makes learning the game hard, but once you get it, the real challenge will be the puzzles. The game can be controlled using the Wii Remote stand alone, the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, or the Wii Zapper. All have their advantages and disadvantages in their own respects, but they work pretty well.

Classic mode tries to keep the experience fresh by using Fantasies, which are essentially different worlds of the game with their own unique style and music. Most of the fantasies have items to shoot except for one, which is the Japan fantasy. The worlds are nice at first, but can be detrimental, and sometimes fustrating in the latter levels, but those are only two fantasies I’m speaking of, since your in game avatars, called FantasyMEs, which move about the screen can get hurt, and in some cases badly, and losing all of your lives, can cause you to lose the game also. In classic mode, there are one hundred levels in all.

Copycat mode is very simple. Within a time limit, you recreate four pictures displayed at the top left on the field by changing the colour of th plattchen. There are one hundred levels in this mode, and levels are unlocked by making the top seven places in classic mode. Mission mode is straightforward also, it requires you to complete specific taskes indicated by it’s respective introduction screen. Missions are unlocked by making the top 3 in classic mode. Completing levels in both the Copycat and Mission modes earns you time diamonds which are used to unlock special features in the game.
All the modes support up to four player co-op, but in Party mode, Classic is the only available mode to play and supports up to eight players. One player holding a Wii Remote, and one holding a nunchuck. You have the choice of one of the five modes it offers, VS, Out of Control, Split Screen, Destruction, and Bomb Rain, which adds frantic action to each of the levels, a nice addition, but it’d be too chaotic normally.

Conclusion:
Plattchen is a HUGE package, offering levels and modes for MANY hours of play, it doesn’t really get stale. But it often gets fuustrating at points and has an incredibly steep learning curve initially. The game requires commitment to learn the basics, which would turn most off, but looking past that, it’s a experience that is VERY enjoyable.

Scores:
Value: 1000/1000(1200/1500 EU) Wii Points
Recommendation: Not highly recommended
Score: 8/10

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Bit Boy!!

Today’s review will be featuring the 600 point game Bit Boy!! on WiiWare. This game is the third of Bplus’ game offerings, as they intended for a retro style while you go through each of the eras in Bit Boy’s adventure.
When you first start up the game, you’ll be greeted by the Title Screen showing Bit Boy!!, once you press start, you’ll be taken into the story by a set of screens and text. I’m not going to give it away, but a 4-bit monster kidnaps Kubi’s friends and scattered them all throughout the eras in gaming.
The objective of the game is very simple, save Kubi’s friends, and don’t get captured by the monsters, that’s about it on the surface. What the developers intended is that you stay around to collect fruit to increase your score. There are six eras in all, with five levels per era. As you progress you get to attack, starting in the 8-bit era, be sure to use your attacks wisely because they’re limited. If you just blast through the game, it can be finished in under an hour. Yet since this is intended to be a high score game, you’re meant to go back, collect fruit and go for the high score.
There is also a warp mode for each era that can be played where you collect diamonds randomly placed within the levels that replenish temselves. If you’re struck by an enemy, you go to the next level, it goes on like that until you finish the era.
After you complete the game, you can go through again, using Turbo mode where you have 999 lives, 999 attacks, and you get to move really fast, as the credits roll by below.
When going through the eras, you will notice obvious graphical changes, in an effort to keep the authenticity through each era. 32-bit has a long loading screen as a running gag abuot the loading times, if you’re not that patient, you can always skip it with a press of the ‘-‘ button. Then in the 128-bit era, you can use motion controls to jump. My main problem with this one is that, you have to love the 4 bit era’s gameplay, because that’s the game’s core experience in its purest form. If you don’t like it, there’s nothing much to look forward too because the developers didn’t add also the power of each system to its fullest extent, making gameplay pretty stale if you don’t care for the graphical changes, which are meticulously perfect in almost every aspect.

Conclusion: Bit Boy!! is a game intended to go through the eras of gaming, showing what has been done up to now. there’s nothing wrong with the game, but it’s pretty blunt, you have to love the gameplay from 4-bit, or you’re not going to like it, the other modes are a nice addition to keep you coming back for more, it might be one of those once in a while games that you’ll pick up to play in short bursts. If you want to share your high scores with other players, Bplus has its forums open to post yours if you want to compete with others. They can be found at forums.bplus.at.

Scores:
Value: 500/600 Wii Points
Recommendation: Somewhat Recommended
Score: 7/10

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment

Review: Tales of Monkey Island Episode One: Launch of the Screaming Narwhals

Tales of Monkey Island is “a heated series involving the brave but often bumbling Mighty Pirate™ Guybrush, his beloved wife Elaine, and their nemesis, the demon pirate LeChuck.”, in the words of the developers, TellTale games. When the showdown goes up in flames, Guybrush finds himself marooned on a strange island with winds that always blow inward. How will our hero manage to escape this meteorological anomaly? What has become of LeChuck and Elaine? And what’s the story with the infectious voodoo pox that’s spreading across the Caribbean, causing Guybrush and other pirates to act like unruly hooligans? These are just some of the many questions posed in this first chapter.

The series starts off on a ship. Fun. However, the comedy is just amazing, in my opinion. You have to cover your sword in FIZZY magic Root Beer in order to use it to destroy LeChuck. After an intro to the game, and some examples of puzzle solving (cut roots and put them in grog you’ve added breath mints to), you watch a cut scene and end up on an island. While this is trying, of course, to BE cliché, you just can’t escape the feeling that something’s missing-or the island. That’s right, prepare to spend THIS chapter, at least, on the island.
Now, your hand is acting weird, so you go and seek help, but it’s also causing other effects. Without wanting to give TOO much away, this chapter lives up to its name of  “Launch of the Screaming Narwhals”. The audio is superb, and actually better than you’d expect.

Now, here’s my main gripe. Oh no, one thing takes away from this experience dearly, unfortunately. And THAT’S that, because of the massive amount of activity, the controls are very slow. And to be quite honest, the item menu is in an awful location (slide mouse to the right), and the walking controls are fine if you play them like Wallace and Gromit (arrow keys to move), but otherwise, it’s click and DRAG. No, not like Strong Bad or Sam & Max, where you click your destination, you have to physically drag. How unfortunate.

However much this takes away from the play experience, it is still a fun game, and you will probably spend about 2-3 hours on this first episode. It’s a great deal of fun, regardless of the controls, and we’ve been playing the PC version. We hope sincerely the WiiWare version, which will be out sometime this month, will run it smoother, with better controls.

Point Value: 1000/1000 Wii Points

Somewhat recommended .

Final Score: 8/10

July 11, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment