Posts Tagged ‘ndsi’

Ivy the Kiwi? (Wii)

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS, Wii
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When I first heard about Ivy the Kiwi, it was in the context of being the new game from Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog. And while that’s a notable fact that may help sales (and is printed right there on the back of the game box), I think Ivy the Kiwi is a game that’s fun enough to stand on its own, without comparisons to any spiny mammals that have fallen from grace.

In Ivy the Kiwi, players don’t control the titular character. The baby bird just runs willy nilly through the levels, and it’s up to players to keep her from dying. They do this by drawing vines across the screen that can act as platforms, walls, ramps, and slingshots. It’s a simple concept, but as the game progresses and Ivy makes her way through more than 100 levels, the difficulty ramps up. I’m impressed with how subtle the difficulty progression was. I didn’t even really notice until I let my roommate play the game at around level 60. He thought the game was impossible. But new concepts are introduced so gradually that they’re barely noticeable while actually playing the game.

The entire game takes place in a storybook, and everything looks like it was printed on old parchment. If you were living in the world of Professor Layton, this is what the videogames would look like. The graphics are simple, but the style is great. The music is light, but catchy, and Ivy has her very own invincibility song.

Both the Wii and DS versions are the same game, at least in terms of the story mode. And the controls for both of them work very well, though I personally preferred the stylus controls on the DS. Drawing lines with my stylus feels more natural than drawing it with the Wii remote. Players can draw up to three vines at a time (the oldest one disappears automatically when a new vine is drawn). Grabbing a vine allows players to use it as a slingshot, shooting Ivy through breakable walls and enemies. You use these mechanics to pull off some really cool things, and it’s rewarding to do the more complicated procedures in the later levels.

While 100 levels is a lot, most of them are easily completed in a minute or so (sometimes as short as 15 seconds). Still, there’s a difference between just passing the level and completing it by earning the 10 feathers scattered throughout each. Getting all 10 feathers is a test of skill that quickly turns the game from a fun casual platformer to a dangerous practice in precise movement and death-defying acrobatics. I imagine the appeal of getting the feathers will likely wear off early on for many gamers. The game doesn’t do a lot to reward the player, so there’s not that drive to finish levels fast or completely. Even the story takes something like 50 levels to continue after the initial cutscene.

The Wii version also includes multiple multiplayer modes, both competitive and cooperative. Competitive allows players to not only draw vines in their window, but also on the other player’s window, sabotaging their progress. It’s fun, in that way where you want to punch everyone in the face when they vine-block you from winning. Co-op allows multiple players to draw vines, which is useful for making some of the later levels easier. It’s more of a girlfriend/parent mode than anything, but it’s a nice addition. (ign)

Published by: Xseed Games
Developed by: Prope
Genre: Platformer
Number of Players: 1-4
Release Date: US: August 24, 2010 , Japan: TBA 2010
MSRP: $29.99
MSRP: JPY ¥3,990.00
E for Everyone: Comic Mischief
Also Available On: Wii, NDSi

Cosmos X2 (NDSi)

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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The Wii Shop is full of side-scrolling spaceship shooters thanks to the Virtual Console and its vast selection of games of that type from back in the ’90s, but the genre isn’t quite so well represented here on DSi — so there may be a chance for Cosmos X2 to make a grab at an audience. This five-dollar DSiWare download looks and plays an awful lot like the 16-bit shooters from the SNES, Genesis and TurboGrafx days. And, luckily, it innovates just enough that it’s not a straight copy of anything you would’ve played before.

The core gimmick in Cosmos X2 is that your ship can swap back and forth between two different “alignments” at any time. Like jumping from Black to White and back again in Ikaruga, the Cosmos craft can hop from Red to Green, Green to Blue, Blue to Red or the vice-versas of any of those duos. Red fires slow-moving but powerful straight shots, Green has a spreader gun and Blue’s bullets are heat-seeking but individually weak.

You pick two of the three to use at the beginning of the game, then manage separate life bars for both throughout the adventure — which is another cool element, because destroying foes will recharge the hit points for the inactive alignment. It feels a bit like tagging out to your partner in a Marvel vs. Capcom game. It’s nice.

The game is otherwise pretty straightforward and the visuals, sound and somewhat leisurely pace of play might not offer much extra “wow” factor for you — but it’s still solid and outfitted with enough extra modes to keep you coming back again and again. There are Easy, Normal and Hard difficulties to conquer, along with unlockable Boss Rush, Survival and Chase modes. Not bad for five bucks. (ign)

Published by: Alten8
Developed by: Saturnine Games
Genre: Shooter
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: US: August 30, 2010
MSRP: $5.00
E for Everyone: Mild Fantasy Violence

Music On: Learning Piano (NDSi)

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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Learning Piano plays out just like any other modern music game at first, in that it gives you a track playing in the background and tasks you to play along with it — hitting the proper notes, in the proper sequence, by tapping on the touch screen with the stylus. The thing that separates this one, though, is that the notes aren’t abstractions. Instead of colored gems streaming down the screen at you, you get the actual sheet music and a real set of piano keys to use in playing along. The effect, then, is that you actually are learning piano — you can use this game to practice a song a couple of times, and then take your skills over to an actual real-world piano and really be able to sit down and tap out the tune.

That might not blow your mind, but I love the simplicity of it — and the feeling that I’m actually getting something out of my time invested in playing the game. Guitar Hero never helped me learn a real guitar, and Rock Band only taught me how to snap drum sticks in half.

This download is also well-presented and pretty feature-packed for just two bucks, too, with 15 different classic songs to unlock and learn from Beethoven, Bach, Verdi and more — you’ve heard them all before. The Wedding March is even in there. And the wayAbylight separated out the difficulty settings is inspired — on the easiest level the game will pause at each note and wait for you to find and play the right one, helping you get your feet wet with each song. Then you step it up to Normal and the song doesn’t pause any more — it just gives you light-up cues for which note to play and when. Then Hard Mode takes those cues away, further pushing your education along. It’s very well thought-out. (ign)

Published by: Abylight
Developed by: Abylight
Genre: Music
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: US: August 30, 2010
MSRP: $2.00
E for Everyone

myNotebook: Pearl (NDSi)

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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MyNotebook: Pearl Screenshot

Nnooo’s myNotebook series kicked off with  Red, Blue, and Green editions late last year – virtual notebooks that offered you 32 digital pages to write or draw on, then save your sketches to your DSi’s memory. The concept was popular, so the developer brought the idea back recently with myNotebook: Carbon, an expanded and upgraded version that offered four times as many pages to play with, along with new functionality that let you output your pages to image files. myNotebook: Pearl, the fifth release in this on-going series, is the very same thing as Carbon was. It’s just in a different color.

If you only need a handful of digital pages to take notes on then there’s no reason to own more than one version of myNotebook, but the thinking behind Nnooo making multiple editions available is the same thinking behind shopping for real-world notebooks – you may need more than one. If you think you’re going to fill up your Red, Blue, Green or Carbon myNotebooks with images and lists that you don’t want to erase, here’s Pearl for another five bucks to give you yet more room to write.

Or you could just prefer the Pearl version’s color scheme to any of the previous four.

Or, if you’re incredibly dedicated to this concept, you could want to own more than one for the unlockables that doing that offers – if you get both Carbon and Pearl, some new paper styles open up for you to use. Only the most hardcore Nnooo devotees will care about that, but hey, I know you’re out there. (ign)

Published by: Nnooo
Developed by: Nnooo
Genre: Productivity
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: US: August 30, 2010
MSRP: $5.00

Hints Hunter (NDSi)

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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Hints Hunter Screenshot

Hints Hunter Screenshot

Hints Hunter bricked my DSi. Seriously. Halfway through playing through its compliment of puzzle challenges, I paused the game – when I hit “resume,” though, the screen went blank. The music kept playing, but the display was totally dark – and every input on the system was unresponsive, even the power button. No resetting to the menu, no turning the handheld off. Nothing. I just had to set the system aside and wait for its batteries to run out, after which time, thankfully, it came back to life with a fresh recharge.
So I can’t in good conscious recommend this game to anyone. Luckily, I wasn’t going to anyway.

Hints Hunter, if you actually brave its broken code long enough to play it, is presented as a series of single-shot brainteasers that are a bit reminiscent of the logic puzzles you’d see in a Professor Layton game. You’re tasked to figure out the solution in each stage, but first you have to figure out what to do at all – oftentimes the object isn’t made clear. This is purposeful, I suppose, since the game wants you to takeadvantage of its included hints – but the method for accessing those clues is also never made clear. (ign)

Genre: Puzzle
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: US: August 2, 2010
MSRP: $5.00
E for Everyone: Comic Mischief

Divergent Shift (NDSi)

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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Starting off as a student project a few years ago, “Reflection” (as it was once called) managed to make enough of a splash in the indie scene to attract the attention of Konami. The publisher picked it up, rebranded it and shipped it into the DSi Shop – but you can definitely still tell that the newly-renamed Divergent Shift is still a student affair.

The art is the giveaway. The character animation and environment graphics lack a degree of professional polish, as does the overall presentation of this tale of a ninja-like girl who shatters a magic mirror. The control of the girl, though, is good – as is the level design. And that’s the main hook, since each stage is split into two.

The DSi’s top screen is reflected and reversed down on the bottom, with some changes – like Chronos Twin DX you’ll have to control two versions of your character at the same time, and the obstacles one encounters will block the other even if they aren’t there in both realities. For example, your girl on the top screen might run into a tree while her reflection on the bottom sees only open space – and you’ll have to figure out a way around the obstruction, running, sliding and wall-jumping to find the path that allows both images of your girl to move forward.

That’s just one half of the gameplay, though. The other, less publicized style of play is when your girl’s shadow appears on the bottom screen – and in those stages, your two simultaneously-controlled characters can become de-synced with one another. So upper girl runs into a tree, and lower girl keeps right on running. You have to constantly manage each girl’s position relative to the other, because if one dies, both do. (ign)

Published by: Konami
Developed by: Intrinsic Games
Genre: Platformer
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: US: August 16, 2010
MSRP: $8.00
E for Everyone: Violent References

myNotebook: Carbon (NDSi)

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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MyNotebook: Carbon Screenshot

I’m a little torn on this one. On the one hand, Nnooo’s myNotebook application offers a useful bit of functionality for your DSi – you can scribble down notes, draw pictures or write to-do lists on its digital pages and keep them safely stored inside your system. On the other hand, we’ve seen it before, and cheaper – myNotebook first launched last November and was made available in BlueRedand Green varieties for just two bucks a pop. This Carbon Black edition will run you five.

You do get more pages here, as the 128 page count in Carbon is four times beefier than the 32 pages that the app’s original editions offered. And if you’re a furious note-taker, or would actually fill up that many different pages with sketches and drawings, that one new upgrade could justify the added expense for you.

But then this newest version of myNotebook also introduces the useful ability to export pages as image files to your DSi memory, which can then be accessed in the DSi Camera app. So you can upload them to Facebook. That’s how I got this amazing Mario rendering I did off the handheld and onto the Internet.

There are also a handful of other, more subtle touches like some new paper styles and a little clock added up in the corner (to keep you from getting carried away doing too much doodling), but all the extra amenities end up just embellishing on the core concept – it’s just a digital notebook. And if all you want is that functionality itself, the 200 Point options could be a better bet. (ign)

Published by: Nnooo
Developed by: Nnooo
Genre: Productivity
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: US: August 16, 2010
MSRP: $5.00

3D Mahjong (NDSi)

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
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The American DSi Shop’s first Mahjong design is a good one. This touch screen take on the classic tile-matching game is presented well, handles nicely and has just the right set of features you’d expect a Mahjong game to include, including options to switch the default, confusing Chinese characters on the tile faces to more easily identifiable American numbers and letters and 50 different starting patterns for how the tiles are laid down on the table. That’s a lot. You’ll be matching for a long time with this one.

3D Mahjong also addresses an issue I’ve had with lots of past Mahjong video games – getting stuck. It’s a common occurrence to not be able to make any more moves in Mahjong, as its rules for when a tile is “locked” and unmovable can frequently lead to dead-ends and stalemates (like playing a game of Klondike Solitaire and running out of playable cards). When that happens in this DSi download, though, you get a nice re-shuffling option that remixes the tile positions until you can play again. So you’ll never invest time in a puzzle only to get down to the last few moves and be unable to make them. That’s nice.

The “3D” part of the package isn’t all that interesting, as the camera controls are odd and trying to play with that viewpoint is unintuitive. But, luckily, it’s just an optional additional bit of visual flare. You can keep the 3D view up on the top screen and play a normal, easy 2D perspective below. (ign)

Published by: Cosmigo
Developed by: Cosmigo
Genre: Board
Release Date: US: August 16, 2010
MSRP: $5.00
E for Everyone

Just Sing! National Anthems Screenshot This basic, boring karaoke download is so limited it’s laughable. It invites you to sing national anthems, which are just about the safest, least offensive and least interesting songs on the planet, and then only gives you five to choose from – and not all of the five are in English.

You’ll proudly present your patriotism with American favorite The Star-Spangled Banner, crooning out about bombs bursting in air with all the pride of a pop star kicking off a baseball game. But then you’ll come up against Brazil’s national anthem, which is entirely in Portuguese. Good luck even knowing how to pronounce the words, much less what pitch to send your voice to.

Even worse than that is Japan’s “Kimigayo,” which is all in Japanese (of course) but also only four lines long. Literally. It’s like playing a Guitar Hero song that only has 10 notes and lasts 15 seconds.

This is the worst, most limited, most boring and most incoherent collection of tracks any music game marketed in America has ever had. Anything positive there might have been to be said about the core karaoke gameplay design is rendered completely moot, because there’s no way anyone could enjoy this abysmal line-up of just five songs, only two of which are in English. And they didn’t even include “O Canada.” (ign)

Genre: Music
Release Date: US: August 16, 2010
MSRP: $2.00
E for Everyone

Absolute Chess (NDSi)

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Nintendo DS/i/3DS
Tags: ,

I’d normally be a bit upset at a game reusing art and assets from another, previously-published title from the same studio — but I kinda dig this “Absolute” brand so far. Absolute BrickBusterkicked off the franchise on DSiWare a few weeks ago, offering an fast and frantic Breakout clone wrapped up with some electric Japanese music, menus and cast of playable characters. Chess, as a slow-paced, thinking man’s strategy board game, is about as far away from Breakout as you can get. And yet Absolute Chesshas the exact same presentation — music, menus and playable cast. I’d normally be upset, but this time I’m just amused.

Probably because the chess itself is so good. Separated into several different difficulty levels that actually play like their descriptions suggest (from novice on up), the player-versus-computer matches here are satisfying and well-presented. It’s probably my favorite chess download on DSiWare – which isn’t that tough a title to claim, seeing as the only competition has been the ugly Chess Challenge! (which was easier to recommend back when it came out in May, when there were zero other competitors to compare it against.)

You’ll also get support for DS Download Play to take on human opponents, and a whole set of missions to accomplish in a separate Challenge Mode — tasks like completing the current game in under a set number of moves, or before a countdown clock runs out of time.

The interface is nice too, offering both D-Pad and stylus control and good art that highlights how each of your pieces is able to move.

  • Published by: Tasuke
  • Developed by: Tasuke
  • Genre: Board
  • Number of Players: 1-2
  • Release Date: US: August 9, 2010
  • MSRP: $2.00
  • E for Everyone

(ign)