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Talking Point: Nintendo Follows Up on Their Strange eMail

Since posting, the strange eMail we got from Nintendo prompted controversy, so we decided to get to the bottom of why we got something like that. Our response from Nintendo was this:

Hello,
Thank you for contacting Nintendo. I’m happy to address your concerns regarding that response and the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Let me give you the real answer about the Virtual Console first.

Each week we make available a mix of Virtual Console, WiiWare, and DSiWare games. Combined, these services currently provide gamers with hundreds of fun and interesting downloadable games to choose from. There is no preset schedule as to how many games will become available in a given week, but I can assure you that many more Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Nintendo DSiWare games are on the way!

As for the response, I have no idea where it came from. You already noted that there’s a lot of short-hand and as we are writing official email for a business, we don’t do things like capitalize “NO” or any other words. We also sign all of our email as they are all answered by real people.
Sincerely,
R.M. Ricketts
Nintendo of America Inc.

So this representative says that because of their llittle mix up method, we did not recieve Virtual Console games for two whole weeks. So either someone was doing a lousy job, or we got an incredibly dim representative.

August 1, 2009 Posted by | Talking Points | , | 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

Interview: Gaijin Games

Thank you so much for taking your time to let me interview your team.
I assume this is your short amount of down time before getting to work
on your next project?
Actually, we’re well under way with the next project.  We pretty much start new projects the workday after completing our previous ones.  No rest for the weary!

About your team’s recently completed project, BIT.TRIP: CORE, how does
your team think about the challenge to the player with the new input
method?
In regards to thinking up these challenges, we pretty much start with a concept that sounds good on paper, and then we pretty much just start running with it.  The first part of our development cycle is a prototyping phase.  We take our ideas and we get them on screen as quickly as possible, whether pretty or ugly.  We get them in a playable state.  Then we fine tune that prototype until we have something that is fun regardless of graphics, score, music, or anything.  Settling on a challenging and engaging input method and gameplay style is the single most important thing we can do, so we do that first and we let it take as long as it needs to take before we move on.

As you have before, BIT.TRIP: CORE follows the canon story of the
character CommanderVideo, is the story in the rising action still?
Definitely.  This is merely chapter 2 in CommanderVideo’s story, so it’s still early on.  We’ve got a lot of ideas for how we’re going to bring the story to climax and then conclusion, but I’m going to save those for another time.  😉  Let me put it this way: There is a definite story arc, and each game in the series has a definite theme.  Let us know if you pick up on what they are!

When do you expect the climax to unfold, just later in the story or
the last game?
If I told you that, wouldn’t it kinda be a spoiler?  😉  It is coming though.

I’ve noticed in gameplay videos, you added small squares at the bottom
left corner of the screen to signify what transtion the player is on
in the level, did your team add that to revise a common gripe about
the game?
I’m not sure how common a gripe it was that led to the inclusion of the map in the lower left, although it might help with people knowing roughly the next time they’re going to be able to blink.  🙂  We wanted a way to let the player know what kind of progress they were making so that they could pace themselves as they move through the levels.  With one of the other new features–the Bomb, a one-time use item–it becomes important to know how far along you are, so you don’t use your bomb too early in the level.

Does your team often listen to common input so your team can provide a
good experience for the player?
Yes.  We try to read most, if not all, comments posted on sites about our games.  Sometimes that’s harder than others, and there’s only so many hours in the day to get our work done as well as keep up with the community, but we definitely do try.  In fact, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on our blog.  A lot of the input from BIT.TRIP BEAT didn’t come in early enough for us to incorporate a lot of it into CORE, but for BIT.TRIP ???? (Game 3), we’re definitely weaving some of the online feedback we’ve gotten into the game.

I also understand that you outsource your music? How does that work?
Who makes what parts of the song in the level?
Yeah, we don’t have a Composer or Sound Engineer in-house, so we outsource that aspect of development.  It works pretty well, although it would always be better to have someone internal working alongside the team.  We talk on the phone a lot, and we send our Composer video footage of the game bi-weekly so that they can make the songs (in all their different layers), all sound effects, etc.  Also, to set the tone of each game, we’ve collaborated with established chiptune artists who have provided the Main Menu music as well as the Credits music.  For BIT.TRIP CORE, the first thing you’ll hear are the tunes of Bubblyfish.  In BIT.TRIP BEAT, Bit Shifter provided these "bookends" to the game.

Again, I can’t thank you enough that you took your time to do this
interview with me, does your team have anything else they’d like to
say?
You’re absolutely welcome!  We’d love to chat with you again!  Just drop us a line!  In closing, we’d like to remind gamers out there to keep your imaginations active and we hope that you enjoy our games as much as we do!

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Interviews | , , | Leave a comment

Review: Niki- Rock ‘n’ Ball

Today’s review will feature a game from Austria, Niki- Rock ‘n’ Ball for 500 Wii Points. It’s a very simplistic game with a few options, but provides hours of gameplay. When you first start up the game, it’ll go into a series of pictures describing the story of Niki- Rock ‘n’ Ball left off from PLÄTTCHEN- Twist ‘n’ Paint, but that’s another game for a different time. After describing the story, you’re thrown into the main menu. All it offers is for your character, Niki, to go left or right, you’ll go to the same place regardless at the beginning of the game.

The gameplay is quite simple since it was based off a few retro games with Bplus’ own unique twist. Before I go into the main objective, I must clarify one thing right now. You do NOT control Niki, you control the stage AROUND him, please keep that in mind. So that means if you were to just jump in the air you wouldn’t be able to control Niki since you can’t actually move the stage to make him go anywhere. The game offers two ways to control the stage; the Wii Style control has you move left and right while shaking or using A to jump. There is also Retro Style where you hold the Wii Remote horizontally and use the buttons to move the stage. Both are interchangeable in the menu or using the ‘-‘ button in game. But back to the point, the objective is simple, you must collect all of the ZeLeLi Pearls in order and defeat all of the enemies to proceed to the next level. You must be timely though, because after 3 minutes, the stage begins to fill with water, making it difficult to traverse the stage, and if the water reaches the top, Niki will reach a watery grave. The game offers you five lives, but you can gain one back by obtaining all of the ZeLeLi pearls. There is also a fireball power up that makes you invincible, increases your speed and jumping height for a short time.

The game is 40 levels long, broken into four 10 level worlds. The game also has a steep learning curve getting incredibly hard around world 3. To complete the game 100% after beating the levels is to get medals, which are earned by finishing a level within a short time, if you cannot beat it alone, you may also call upon a friend and use Co-op, co-op isn’t much different, the game plays the same, although you both share lives, and are allowed to bounce off each other for strategy.

Conclusion:

Niki- Rock ‘n’ Ball is a developer’s attempt at using their modern art styles with a retro application. It worked out quite well, except for the occasional minor gripes of the enemy AI and SMALL glitches, it’s a great package for the price point.

Scores:

Value: 500/500 Wii Points

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Score: 8/10

July 4, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment

Nintendo Download: 22nd June, 2009

As always, Nintendo updates their downloadable shop with new titles, with Drill Sergeant Mindstrong, NEVES Plus, and Family Mini Golf for WiiWare, SimEarth: The Living Planet for the Virtual Console and Art Style: Boxlife for Nintendo DSiWare. To be honest, there’s nothing exactly wrong with the WiiWare releases, but they seems to be a bit weird, always great to have additions regardless, but this could have been a great week had they added a much awaited game. As per usual, the Virtual Console gets one game this week, and you can hear in the far distances, Nintendo fanboys crying, the DSi offering seems to be quite intriguing though, I want to be sure to check that out when I get my DSi. Here’s Nintendo’s Press Release below.

"NINTENDO DOWNLOAD: CUT STRAIGHT TO THE FUN WITH PAPER, PLANETS, PUZZLES, MIND GAMES AND MINI GOLF

June 22, 2009

Familiar activities get a funky boost with this week’s additions to the Wii™ Shop Channel and Nintendo DSi Shop™. A trio of fresh WiiWare™ titles will have players wrapping their minds around unique puzzles, entertaining brain drills and awesome mini-golf courses. A new Art Style™ game for Nintendo DSiWare™ turns cutting paper into a cool hand-held gaming challenge. And simple things like air and weather conditions become exciting game elements in the latest classic offering on the Virtual Console™.

WiiWare

Drill Sergeant Mindstrong
Publisher:
XSEED Games
Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older) – Mild Language, Mild Violence
Price: 800 Wii Points™
Description: Line up and get ready to use your mind. Drill Sergeant Mindstrong is a party game that allows up to four people to play at once. Players become boot-camp trainees under the tough Drill Sergeant Mindstrong, going through mind-boggling, mind-training games. The rules are simple, but concentration and quick thinking are key. Become the top boot of your class and earn promotions based on your efforts. This game is best played with friends and family.

NEVES Plus™
Publisher:
YUKES Company of America
Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Price: 600 Wii Points
Description:Try your hand at the newest puzzle craze to come out of Japan, NEVES Plus! Enhanced for WiiWare, NEVES Plus not only retains all the simple, mind-bending tangram-based game play from the original Nintendo DS™ version, but also includes new multiplayer modes wrapped up in an Egyptian theme. This time, you and up to three others can work together to move, rotate and flip the seven Lucky stones into each of the 500-plus silhouette puzzles. You can also challenge one another in new multiplayer modes such as Versus, Speed, Lucky Number and Party Mode. Whether you play every mode by yourself or with friends, NEVES Plus is set to charm you with harder-than-they-look silhouette puzzles.

Family Mini Golf
Publisher:
Aksys Games
Players: 1-8
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Price: 500 Wii Points
Description: Daddy, Mommy, Sarah and Billy are back for some mini-golf action. Play through multiple golf courses that contain obstacles ranging from bumpers to speed ramps to fans and more. Up to eight players can play together using a single Wii Remote™ controller. You can download new courses to expand your fun-filled mini-golf experience, creating even more complex and difficult challenges to overcome. Can you conquer all the courses and become the mini-golf champion?

Nintendo DSiWare

Art Style: BOXLIFE™
Publisher:
Nintendo
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points™
Description: Climb the corporate ladder in the world of BOXLIFE using your wits and… paper? Use the Nintendo DSi™ stylus to cut and then manipulate the paper into a box shape. Be careful-if you’re not efficient with your cuts, you’ll waste paper and be penalized. R&D mode teaches you new patterns and challenges you to complete various ranks, while FACTORY mode gives you the chance to earn money by making as many boxes as possible from an endless sheet of paper. Success in each mode brings its own reward: Clear ranks to earn a promotion, change your character’s appearance, and use your earnings to acquire new items for your character’s miniature garden. With this game’s stylish graphics and catchy sounds, thinking inside the box isn’t such a bad thing.

Virtual Console

SimEarth™: The Living Planet
Original platform:
TurboGrafx16 CD-ROM
Publisher: Hudson Entertainment
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) – Violent References
Price: 800 Wii Points
Description: An entire planet becomes your laboratory in this large-scale simulation game. Players help foster new life and promote its evolution into life forms of higher intelligence. Guide civilization along the path of evolution until it can achieve Exodus, the ultimate goal of settling on another planet. The basic challenge of the game is to maintain a comfortable environment for the life forms by adjusting atmospheric and geological parameters. Small organisms called Prokaryote and Trichordate will grow and evolve into a multitude of life forms. Making a drastic change is a recipe for disaster. The key to success is making small adjustments and watching how the life forms react. SimEarth also includes planets with environments different from Earth, such as Mars and Venus. Try your hand at terraforming these planets with harsh conditions and creating a world where life can thrive.

Nintendo adds new titles to the Nintendo DSi Shop and the Wii Shop Channel at 9 a.m. Pacific time on Mondays. Users with broadband Internet access can redeem Wii Points or Nintendo DSi Points to download the games. Wii Points can be purchased in the Wii Shop Channel. Nintendo DSi Points can be purchased in the Nintendo DSi Shop. A Nintendo Points Card™ can be purchased at retail locations. All points from one Nintendo Points Card must be redeemed in either the Nintendo DSi Shop or the Wii Shop Channel. They are not transferable and cannot be divided between the two systems.

Remember that both Wii and Nintendo DSi feature parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit Wii.com or NintendoDSi.com."

June 22, 2009 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment