Posts Tagged ‘wii’

Fenimore Fillmore: The Westerner (Wii)

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Wii
Tags: ,
If you plucked Guybrush Threepwood off of Monkey Island and plopped him down in the Old West instead, you’d end up with Fenimore Fillmore – a half-heroic, half-helpless cowboy who somehow manages to save the day, even while tripping over his own boots. He’s a character who’s starred in a handful of different point-and-click adventure games on the PC throughout the past 15 years, and now he’s making his console debut. It’s just not in an original adventure.Fenimore Fillmore: The Westerner is a renamed port of 2004’s Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure. It was the second of Fillmore’s starring roles and fairly fun in what it offered (you can read our review of it here), but it was brought down by a variety of glitches and game-crashing bugs. Here on WiiWare, crashes don’t seem to be an issue any more. But there are new problems in place.

All the game’s voice acting has been removed. That vocal work was one of the design’s strengths six years ago, but WiiWare’s digital space constraints must have forced the developers to give it the axe for this edition, resulting in dialogue scenes with oddly silent characters moving their mouths but only having text readouts to convey their speech. It also makes the music seem more repetitive and annoying – with no layer of conversation on top of the background tunes, your ears end up fixating on the same looping melodies, playing out over and over again.

You’d look puzzled, too, if your parents named you Fenimore.

The visuals also take a bit of a knock in the transition, and that’s especially obvious early on – the game’s logo is cut off on the top of the title screen because of the resolution difference (I’d assume). The camera is hard to handle, and you’ll sometimes end up with unnatural and obscured angles when you’re just trying to take a look around. And the characters also appear a bit too lifeless and plastic, too, which may be more attributable to the age of the 3D work than any technical issue – they remind me of PIXAR’s earliest humans. The ones that didn’t look human at all.

Finally, though the Wii Remote proves to be a suitable swap-in for the original mouse-and-cursor control for most of the slow-paced, pointing-and-clicking parts of the adventure, it can prove frustrating in the game’s fast-paced shooting challenges. That’s where my patience for games ported to Wii, instead of developed specifically for the Wii in the first place, runs thin.

Had all those annoyances not been there, the game actually might not have been that bad. There’s a winsome humor to main character Fenimore and his interactions with the farmers, cattle ranchers and mischievous kids he comes across are enjoyably tongue-in-cheek, even without the voice work.

And the gameplay is standard good point-and-click fun, with Fenimore comically grabbing every loose object he can get his hands on to store in his magically infinite invisible inventory, just in case he needs it later to solve a puzzle. And he will, as much of the game’s challenge comes from figuring out which items to use where, or which to combine together. Or what to feed to the horse. (ign)

  • Published by: Nobilis
  • Developed by: Revistronic
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: US: September 6, 2010
  • MSRP: $10.00
  • E for Everyone: Cartoon Violence, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco

Dolphin SVN r6199

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Emulator
Tags: , , ,

EmuCR:DolphinDolphin SVN r6199 is released.Dolphin is the first Gamecube emulator able to run commercial games! Dolphin is a great Gamecube(NGC) and Wii emulator.It has a partial Wii support and plays most Gamecube games. OpenCL is enabled in this build.

Dolphin SVN changelog:
r6199
Emulation accuracy improvements

* Implemented HID4.SBE flag
* Implemented but disabled MSR[IR] and MSR[DR]
* In-lined ISI exception calls
* Fixed and verified exception handling according to docs
* Code clean-up in the memory functions

Download:Dolphin SVN r6199 x86
Download:Dolphin SVN r6199 x64
Source:Here

(emuCR)

Call of Duty: Black Ops for PC will ship with dedicated server support this November, but there’s a catch.

Activision and Treyarch studios announced it has partnered with GameServers.com to offer exclusive dedicated server rentals when the game launches.

“We are extremely excited about this unprecedented relationship with Activision to offer dedicated servers exclusively for Black Ops”, said GameServers CEO David Aninowsky. “We are placing a great amount of pressure on ourselves to ensure that we exceed any and all expectations.”

According to GameServers’ pre-order page, ranked servers will cost $14.95 a month for an 18 max player limit. Discounts are offered for monthly prepays. Unranked servers will cost $0.99 a month per player up to maximum of 24. Teamspeak support will have an additional fee. Discounts will be offered for a 3, 6, and 12 month prepay.

Treyarch Community Manager Josh Olin said this partnership will provide high-quality servers at an affordable rate for the game.

“If players want to run a dedicated Ranked or Unranked server on the PC, they will have to rent one through GameServers,” Olin told IGN. “Treyarch will be providing a fleet of ‘Day-1 Servers’ (through GameServers) which will be up and operational on November 9th.

“Nobody will have to rent a dedicated server through GameServers in order to play the game,” says Olin. “But for anybody who wants to run their own server, it will be run from GameServers.com.”

Olin added that this partnership adds the advantage of much more effective anti-cheating and hacking moderation.

“If you rent a server, you will still have the ability to Kick, Ban, and Configure it the way you see fit,” Olin added. “Of course Ranked servers will have some set configurations that can’t be messed with; but you will still have the power to administrate your servers as a customer of GameServers.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops ships for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 9. (ign)

  • Published by: Activision
  • Developed by: Treyarch
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Release Date: US: November 9, 2010  , Japan: TBA 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • RP-T+ for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Nintendo DS, Wireless, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,  Wii, PC

Previewing games can be a funny business. You’re either under the watchful gaze of the developers themselves as they unveil their progeny for the very first time or part of a scrum of people keeping one eye on the game at hand and the other scoping out to see if the lady with the tray of tiny burgers is coming any nearer. In the best case we get to play in the office, although that’s with the constant interruptions of the phone and under the guilt of leaving an untended inbox.

It’s all a far cry from games’ natural habitat – a room full of friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon, everyone feet up and juggling slices of pizza, cans of beer and controllers – but that’s how we got to enjoy the near-final code of FIFA 11 this weekend.

Away from the din of developers reciting feature lists and the overpowering stench of excitement from a convention’s show-floor, it’s possible at last to really see how a game is shaping up and coming together. We’ve already been through what’s new, but this, at last, was a chance to see what really works.

FIFA 11’s not got the benefit of one big new feature to wow people with – there’s no game changer like the 360 degree dribbling that was introduced last year, nor the myriad headline improvements of 09 that helped establish FIFA as the premier football game series. What it does have is refinement and polish alongside countless little advances that do their very best to eradicate any of the faults of FIFA’s past.

There’s none of the dumb-headed positioning from your A.I partners, none of the moments of crass stupidity from your keeper as he lays the ball off into the path of the opposition and none of the frustrations from another cheap chipped goal. Instead, there’s a whole load of quality. Passes are now more technical, requiring a little more thought and a lot more care before spreading the ball around the field, and wide play is now more likely to be rewarded with a crisply met header than before. The result is a game that’s much more reliable than before, and one that steps even closer to aping the flow of the real thing.

It’s got a lot more character than before too. Part of that’s from the new suite of animations as players stumble and falter in their pursuit of the ball, and part of it’s from the improved likenesses across the board. “But Phil Neville looks grotesque” protested a friend. Yes. Yes he does.

The way the personality of each player is reflected in how they play is the most impressive thing, however. On the squad selection screen players have symbols by their names signifying their special attributes; Torres, for example, is both a Speedster and an Acrobat, meaning he’s more likely to perform the spectacular in the box and can sprint with gusto. Gerrard, meanwhile, is a Crosser, Playmaker and Engine among other things, a complete midfielder who can perform at his best for almost the entire 90 minutes. Learn a team well enough and you’ll soon know who can do what and tailor your play accordingly. It’s all the more gratifying when you know the team from what’s just happened on Saturday afternoon.

There’s some more surprising ways that the personality plays out on the pitch. Different referees now officiate the action, each one with their own character; some will reach for their top pocket if you so much as glare at an opposition player, while others will happily let everyone kick seven shades out of each other before so much as awarding a free kick.

Some additions aren’t as welcome though. For the first time handballs are introduced, and it’s unsurprisingly infuriating especially given the frequency with which it occurs. Penalties are often given against you through no fault of your own, and if we weren’t so placid (or, more truthfully, sedated by the blend of warm beer and mounds of melted cheese we’d just imbibed) we’d have destroyed a controller or two. Thankfully it’s optional and defaulted off. We’d recommend you leave it that way.

Otherwise it’s looking like another exceptional outing for FIFA. There’s a lot more to discuss – we’ve yet to scratch the surface of either the new career modes or put a serious spell between the sticks – but all that will come in the full review in the next few weeks. (ign)

  • Published by: Electronic Arts
  • Developed by: EA Canada
  • Genre: Sports
  • Release Date:
    US: September 28, 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • RP for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox 360, iPhone, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3
  • Also known as: FIFA 11

Dolphin SVN r6193

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Emulator
Tags: , , ,

EmuCR:DolphinDolphin SVN r6193 is released.Dolphin is the first Gamecube emulator able to run commercial games! Dolphin is a great Gamecube(NGC) and Wii emulator.It has a partial Wii support and plays most Gamecube games. OpenCL is enabled in this build.

Dolphin SVN changelog:
r6193
Jit64/JitIL: Enabled block merging to improved the performance. This improves the fps 4-5 faster in some games. However it decreases the fps 10 slower in other games, MP2 and etc. In this commit, the actual block merging is disabled. If you want to try block merging, please set FUNCTION_FOLLOWING_THRESHOLD to a positive integer.
Increased the size of code buffer to prevent cache clearing with block merging.

Download:Dolphin SVN r6193 x86
Download:Dolphin SVN r6193 x64
Source:Here

(emuCR)

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions PictureYour friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back. In fact, four Spider-Men are back for Shattered Dimensions, a game that celebrates the wallcrawler’s various incarnations. These four Spider-Men inhabit different worlds with different gameplay styles and unexpected variations on well-known villains. If you think you’ve seen it all with Spider-Man games, think again. (Go ahead, think. I’ll be here waiting.) Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensionshas some incredible Spider-Man moments, but plenty of familiar issues that prevent it from being the Arkham Asylum of the Spider-Man universe.

Mysterio is after a powerful tablet that will make him more than just a lame illusionist. But the pieces of the tablet have been spread out across four dimensions. Fortunately, each dimension has its own version of Spider-Man. There’s the Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Noir Spidey and Spider-Man 2099. Each has unique abilities, a different visual style, and even different voice actors pulled from Spidey’s long television history (including Dan Gilvezan of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends fame).

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions PictureAs you hunt down the pieces of the tablet, you’ll get a first-hand look at Spidey’s notorious Rogue’s Gallery. What’s cool about Shattered Dimensions is that each world can bring drastic changes to familiar foes. The Noir Green Goblin is a circus freak, 2099’s Doctor Octopus is a chick, Ultimate Electro is living electricity sans lame green and yellow costume. The intros for each boss, which come at the start of the level, are handled brilliantly. There’s a sense of drama in Shattered Dimensions that has been missing from Spidey games for years.

But that drama is all in the way the villains are presented (along with some truly epic boss battles). The story itself is weak. I mean, Spider-Man goes from level to level chasing and then beating a boss to collect a piece of the tablet… that is the plot. Spoilers.

The story has no pull to it, but here are plenty of good things that kept me playing, even as the plot fell completely flat. Each level has 15 challenges to tackle and those challenges unlock upgrades to your character and a slew of cool bonus costumes. Who wouldn’t want to play as Bag-Man Spidey of Fantastic Four fame or the Scarlet Spider? The challenges are sensibly constructed and pretty much always stuff that doesn’t force you to break from the main game. You might disarm five mercenaries instead of smacking them with your fists to win a challenge, earn some Spidey points to spend on upgrades, and reveal more of the level’s available tasks. These challenges were a big help in keeping the naturally repetitive nature of an action game like this from feeling tedious.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions PictureThe biggest change from recent Spider-Man games is that there’s no giant, open New York City to swing through. Instead, you have well-crafted, linear levels that offer little freedom for exploration but have more flavor than Activision’s usual virtual Manhattan. This is a smart break from the usual formula and probably saved Shattered Dimensions from becoming a big empty world filled with fetch quests. But it also leads to one major problem — too often the levels take place in confined indoors areas, which causes the camera to flip out. Why can’t anyone make a Spider-Man game with a good camera? Some of this can be blame on the nature of a Spidey game — quick pace, lots of swarming enemies — but some of this lies firmly on the shoulders of developer Beenox. If I am crawling on a ceiling to get the drop on enemies below me, the camera should not be focused on Spider-Man. That’s just too obvious not to have been fixed before this game hit store shelves.

I did mention there’s a lot of fast-paced action. And that’s handled well. Much of the action is stuff we’ve seen before. Spidey kicks, punches, and webslings his way through enemies. But there are some welcome wrinkles, mostly brought on by the four different versions of the Webslinger.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions ScreenshotThe Amazing Spider-Man world is the classic Spidey world and ol’ Webhead has the same powers and skills as would be expected. The strength here is in the unique levels and in the boss battles, which are, for the most part, really solid.

The Noir Spider-Man isn’t nearly as strong and relies of stealth to take out enemies. He needs to use the shadows. If spotted, alarms are raised and Spidey is shot to hell. It’s not a perfect stealth system, though. Noir Spidey takes a page from the recent Splinter Cell, where the colors in the world bleed out when you are in shadows and (presumably) hidden. Problem is, the world’s design is heavily desaturated to begin with, so there’s not a ton of visual different between being in shadows and being in the open. In other words, sometimes I thought I was hidden only to still be spotted. The stealth stuff is a great idea, but it’s far from perfect.

Ultimate Spider-Man wears the Venom suit and can enter rage mode to truly punish his enemies. While this Spider-Man isn’t too different from his Amazing counterpart, the big difference is in seeing the change in enemies. Carnage is just a dumb, dumb enemy in the Amazing world, but is actually quite horrific in the Ultimate world. So using the Ultimate version leads to this uniquely horrific level unlike anything in previous Spider-Man games.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions ScreenshotAnd the 2099 version can enter an Accelerated Vision mode that slows time, allowing him to dodge missiles and pummel enemies with greater ease. There are also some slick HALO jump sequences where Spidey has to chase villains while rocketing towards the ground.

Regardless of the version of Spider-Man, all of them have a few moments where they enter first-person hand-to-hand combat. I’ve got to imagine someone thought this would be cool to test out, then everyone realized far too late into development that this idea was completely stupid and not something anyone would ever, in a million years, want in a Spider-Man game. What were they thinking?

The good news for Spidey fans is that there are some spectacular levels in Shattered Dimensions, enough to overcome some dumb design choices and annoyances (Oh boy, save more civilians!). The Sandman level is so incredibly cool. For much of the level, Sandman is a giant tornado, destroying the level as you chase him, forcing Spidey to zip along the pieces of debris. And the enemies are sand creatures, which must be doused with water to harm. What a great level.

That’s not to say every level is a work of genius. There are a few that are a little frustrating or, at least, less inspired. But I’ll take a few mediocre levels if it means getting to enjoy a few fantastic ones.

And most importantly, the four Spider-Men are brought together in an intelligent way for the final battle. I was really worried that some dumb final gimmick would ruin this game, but that’s not the case. Don’t worry, you won’t have some sort of super-merged Spider-Man battling Mysterio for the fate of the world. (ign)

Published by: Activision
Developed by: Beenox
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: September 7, 2010
MSRP: $59.99
T for Teen: Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Also Available On: Xbox 360, NDS, Wii, PS 3

H.A.W.X. 2 (Xbox 360)

Posted: September 8, 2010 in PC, Playstation 3, Wii, XBOX 360
Tags: , , , , ,
I pull back on the stick and slam my throttle forward, gaining as much altitude and distance as I can, but it’s not working. There are six MiGs on my ass, all with active locks and an endless supply of missiles that seem just a little more accurate than mine, and none appear to be running out of flares the way I did five minutes ago. As I pull hard turns at G-forces that in reality would tear my plane apart to avoid a never-ending stream of missiles, I look at my radar to see where my wingmen are, and as I see a swarm of yellow arrows around me, I see a pair of green arrows kilometers away, seemingly flying in circles.Welcome to H.A.W.X.2.

Just 18 months after Ubisoft’s uneven opening foray into modern air combat, the H.A.W.X. squadron is again taking to the skies, now with take-offs and landing sequences, mid-air refueling, and four-player co-operative play through the campaign. Unfortunately, inconsistent level design and underwhelming multiplayer hurt H.A.W.X. 2’s appeal.


H.A.W.X.2. actually makes a pretty strong initial impression. While the visuals are still a little iffy – the planes look pretty good, and so do the environments, but the in-engine cutscenes have some pretty awful-looking human characters and major framerate issues – the experience of turning on your engines and taxiing to a runway to begin takeoff procedures is immersive and engaging, especially using Namco’s Flight Stick peripheral from Ace Combat 6, which is fully supported here as it was in the last game. I’ll give H.A.W.X.2 this: it generally guides you through some daunting new mechanics quite well, and gives a number of options depending on how comfortable you become with the nuances of things like carrier landings.

Controls are a different story. Using the standard controller, H.A.W.X. 2 can be a difficult game to get a handle on. While it’s not a simulator by any means, the controls are still complicated. They are not intuitively mapped onto face buttons and bumpers and triggers. You can make it work, sure, but it often feels like you’re fighting control shortcomings as much as any MiG. However, with the aforementioned flight sticks, it’s almost like a different game.

I feel conflicted here as a reviewer. I’m not the type to demand the use of racing wheels for games like Forza 3 or the Gran Turismo series, for example; I think it’s important that a game work and be enjoyable with the most common standard control method available. But you really will get more out of H.A.W.X. 2 with a supported flight stick and throttle than you will with a controller, both in immersion and overall control of your aircraft.

Of course, you still get the same design problems whether you’re using a flight stick or standard controller. While Ubisoft has stressed the inclusion of co-op as a major feature in H.A.W.X. 2, it’s a pain in the exhaust port to play. You need to create an unranked lobby from the multiplayer menu and select the co-op mode from the menu, as well as a mission, to fly alongside your friends against the forces of… er, whatever political movement the Tom Clancy franchise has specified as evil this week, I guess. It’s 2010, and while this isn’t different than every other Tom Clancy title that’s preceded H.A.W.X. 2 this generation, it would have been nice to see a more elegant and user-friendly implementation of the co-op experience here.


You’ll want to learn to make co-op happen though, I assure you. H.A.W.X. 2 has been designed for co-op play, to the point where it feels like there wasn’t much play-testing done for solo pilots making their way through the campaign. This wouldn’t be an issue if the friendly AI wasn’t so idiotic and the enemy AI so aggressive and robotically precise. The situation I described in the introduction? Completely legit, and it happened repeatedly.

Other missions found me by myself, chased by a pair of preternaturally skilled MiGs in an aircraft without missiles across a night sky dominated by anti-aircraft fire and no assistance at all. This resulted in a dogfight that lasted upwards of half an hour. I’m all for tension and hairy combat situations, but after 10 minutes of attempting to line up supersonic aircraft in my sights while trying not to stall my plane, I wasn’t having fun. It was frustratingly tedious. At least in co-op, when you run out of missiles after shooting down 60 enemy aircraft, you can crash into the ground and respawn with a full weapon loadout. And yes, that really happened, too.

H.A.W.X. 2 feels excessively padded in single-player by situations like these, where you’ll find yourself pulling G’s that would make an astronaut wet himself as you fly in circles for upwards of an hour trying to shake, lock on, and shoot down dozens of enemy planes. While these are broken up every few missions by UAV or C130 sequences (which feature appearances by a Russian special operative who bears a striking resemblance to Kestrel from this year’s Splinter Cell: Conviction co-op mode). Co-op mode shortens some missions, but difficulty spikes remain, and you may find you have a hard time drafting willing wingmen to go the distance through one or two missions, much less the entire campaign.

Competitive multiplayer hasn’t changed much from the previous game, and it continues to underwhelm. While there are now de rigeur inclusions of leveling, perks, and plane unlocks, the underlying dogfighting mechanic fails to satisfy. More skilled players are likely to run rampant all over newer pilots, while players of similar skill levels will likely find themselves locked in protracted dogfights that feel more anticlimactic than triumphant. (ign)

Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Romania
Genre: Flight Action
Release Date: US: September 7, 2010
MSRP: $49.99
T for Teen: Language, Violence
Also Available On: WiiPlayStation 3PC

Puzzle Agent iPhone

Posted: September 8, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod, PC, Wii
Tags: , , , , ,
The differences between homage, inspired by, and outright copycat narrow as you move down the sliding scale. Telltale Games‘ new Puzzle Agent is obviously born out of a collective admiration for Professor Layton’s awesome DS adventures. And though the desire to emulate a great game is perfectly understandable, Puzzle Agent adheres so close to the Layton formula of narrative-puzzle-narrative-puzzle that it’s distracting. Hell, you even search scenes for pieces of gum instead of coins to activate hints.However, to outright dismiss FBI Puzzle Research agent Nelson Tethers as Layton without a top hat is to partially miss the point. Once the similarities between Puzzle Agent and Professor Layton have been fully digested, you can begin to appreciate the best parts of Tethers’ adventure: the wonderful art style and the interesting story.

Tethers has been sent to the freezing Fargo-like burgh of Scoggins, Minnesota to reopen a shuttered eraser factory. To do so, he must talk to the locals, piece together an increasingly oddball plot, and, as expected, solve puzzles using a very basic – but also accessible – tap-and-click interface. There are over 30 puzzles in Puzzle Agent; the majority of them are required to sniff out the culprit behind the factory closure. They include math puzzles, logic exercises, and spatial thinking tricks.

Arrange the food, Agent Tethers.


To be sure, the weakest link in Tethers’ case is the puzzles themselves, which would have absolutely devastated Puzzle Agent if it didn’t have charms elsewhere. Looking over the list, I see that only half of them really entertained me. Far too often, Puzzle Agent relies on basic shape-arrangement exercises that are not really brain-teasers. And Telltale repeats some of these puzzles entirely too often, such as returning to a snowmobile pathing puzzle where you drop logs to create an escape route. Another offender is tile-rotating. Twist these worms. Spin those stovepipe pieces. Rotate these hiking routes. Enough already.

The logic puzzles are much better, such as an exercise where you must visualize a line of crows to deduce the minimum number of the birds on a wire. The trouble here, though, is that the difficulty of the logic puzzles is all over the map. And the placement of tough puzzles is also uneven. The final puzzle is a great stumper, but it’s preceded by two softballs: follow a cord through a tangle and arrange some objects into a specific shape. There is no danger of getting puzzles (and there are several object-placement exercises throughout the case) like these wrong, which robs Puzzle Agent of suspense. You just sit there and click around until you have the final shape. There’s truly no need to use hints on these types of puzzles, and they account for a lot of Tethers’ teasers. I don’t necessarily want to be beaten over the head, but Telltale leaves the safety net under Tethers for the whole game.

It’s too bad that the core puzzling isn’t as strong as Puzzle Agent’s excellent art direction. Telltale hired Graham Annable, creator of the spectacularly macabre Grickle strips and animations, to design Puzzle Agent’s look. It was Telltale’s most inspired decision in the creation of Puzzle Agent, as this game looks like no other. The simple line art is both evocative and creepy, especially when the storyline – which I enjoyed quite a bit – takes a dark turn.

Puzzle Agent is blurry and washed out.


Unfortunately, this brilliant art is under-served by the porting process from PC to iPhone. Puzzle Agent looks fuzzy and washed out whenever an element is in motion or part of a backdrop. The moment something stops at the center of attention, typically Tethers in a scene, he looks fine. But the saturation and blurriness around him is distracting. Game-killing? No, not at all. But it does a real disservice to Puzzle Agent’s strongest element. (ign)

Published by: Telltale Games
Developed by: Telltale Games
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: US: September 2, 2010
RP for Rating Pending
Also Available On: PCMaciPadWii

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Picture The Brave and the Bold series on Cartoon network pits comic books most popular hero, Batman, with some of the lesser known DC characters. Rather than teaming with Wonder Woman or Superman, the Caped Crusader takes to the streets with Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, and Red Tornado. That premise carries into the DS game, which highlights some lesser known heroes and villains but still centers on Batman.

As we quickly learn, the world seems to be going to Hell and Superman’s on vaca, so it’s up to Batman and friends to travel the globe cleaning the clocks of a variety of villains. Some you will surely know (Catwoman, The Joker, Scarecrow) and others are more of the laughable variety (Clock King, Gentleman Ghost, Black Mantis). Regardless of what you might think of these foes, each antagonist poses some different challenge for the Dark Knight.

Brave and the Bold on DS is a single-player game, but you can switch between Batman and his ally at any time with a tap to the touch screen. Though you always have Batman at your side, your ally changes with each level and they have unique abilities necessary for getting past certain obstacles. These are simple challenges, so no puzzles that will tax your noggin. But there are definitely a few tough platforming parts. Fortunately, Brave and the Bold has tons of checkpoints, so you’ll never have to go back far if Batman dies.

Batman’s pals each have one or two things that make them different. Plastic man can turn his hands into mallets to smash through walls. Red Tornado can hover across chasms. Aquaman can call forth a fish to strike enemies (oh, stupid stupid Aquaman).

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Picture You might be wondering how Batman (no superpowers) can hang with people like Green Lantern. Well, as you play you collect bat symbols, which can be used to buy upgrades at the Batcave. This includes practical stuff like increased punching power and extra armor and those eccentric little toys the Batman loves. Batarangs that deliver an electric shock, force fields, and more. When playing as Batman, you can select your utility belt item of choice.

Eventually, Batman becomes far more powerful than his friends and it becomes smarter to keep him on screen much more than anyone else. It’s always good to offer ways to improve your character, but there is a bit of a balancing issue here. I already think Green Arrow is silly. Having him feel underpowered compared to Batman doesn’t make me want to use him at all.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a pretty short experience, beatable in under three hours. Most of the levels are good, with one true standout. The battle against Scarecrow is awesome and certainly a model for the creativity and challenge that would have been nice to see more consistently throughout the campaign.

Aside from the short single-player story, there are some bonuses. If you have the Wii version of Brave and the Bold, you can use the DS to connect with your console and play as Batmite. As Batmite, you drop power-ups, bombs and anvils on the screen. That’s it. It’s pretty boring.

More interesting is the Challenge Room, which includes several different options to extend gameplay. These include battling bosses, beating areas with Batman’s allies, and surviving hordes of enemies.

Batman’s latest adventure is a good, but short yarn on DS. It would have been nice to see more variety in the levels and to have the guest characters used in more interesting ways, but it’s a solid game nonetheless. If you’ve been itching for a good Batman game, give this one a go. It won’t last long, but it’s satisfying. (ign)

Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developed by: WayForward Technologies
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: September 7, 2010
MSRP: $29.99
E10+ for Everyone 10+: Cartoon Violence
Also Available On: Wii

Top Spin 3 (Xbox 360)

Posted: September 8, 2010 in Playstation 3, Wii, XBOX 360
Tags: , , ,

Top Spin 3 was one of the best tennis simulations ever made. It delivered tough-to-learn control mechanics that did a good job of conveying the complexities and general difficulty of the sport. WithTop Spin 42K Sports is peeling a few layers of difficulty off of the sim tennis game in hopes of bringing in a new audience while still retaining the gameplay that tennis aficionados have come to expect. Top Spin 4 isn’t launching until 2011 so the version I played in New York last week was admittedly early, but it still had some serious promise in both the visual and gameplay departments.

2K kicked off the demo with a look at the introductory video to the game, which showcased many of the athletes who will make up “the largest lineup ever in a tennis game” according to 2K Sports. Among the most notable players in the trailer were Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. While Pistol Pete appeared in the first Top Spin, this is the first time that the two greatest American tennis players in history will be able to compete against each other in the same game. As an added bonus, if you pre-order the game at GameStop you’ll be treated to a downloadable Retro Agassi, long hair and all. No news yet on if his hair will be a removable wig.

The early demo that I got to play featured only Roger Federer and Andy Murray as playable characters on the very Arthur Ashe Stadium court where our demo took place. Ironically enough, Federer was actually wearing the same shirt in the game as he was in his match that day at the US Open, so it goes without saying that the look of the players is fairly accurate to the way they look in real life.

The same thinking applies to the player’s movement as well. At least for most of the animations. 2K is bringing the same signature style moves that give life to its NBA 2K series to Top Spin 4, so if you’re like me and know Federer’s backhand from Sampras’s, the game should show those differences. There were a few occasions in my time with Top Spin 4 when a forehand or backhand groundstroke would look more generic than it should’ve, but those instances were few in number.

Top Spin 4’s gameplay is taking a slightly different approach than in previous years. For starters, there is now a three-tiered meter underneath your player that builds as you wind up for a shot. The more the meter builds, the harder and more accurate your shot will be. Of course, the pace and placement is also dependent on your ability to release the shot button (A for flat spin, B for top spin, X for slice and Y for lob) at the proper time in the animation. Failing to do so will yield a limp return and an easy put-away for your opponent.

The depth of this control mechanic was revealed the more I played. As in real tennis, if you hit a hard shot at your opponent, he’s going to have less time to respond with a hard shot of his own. That translates in-game to your opponent having to hold their shot button as soon as you hit your aggressive shot to even have a prayer of reaching the third tier of power. It might sound a bit frustrating, but that’s the nature of the game. The server has an instant advantage if he’s able to slam a 130 mile per hour serve at you because you simply won’t be able to react fast enough to fire an aggressive return back. Of course, if you’re feeling daring you can always hold the right trigger during one of your shots to go for a risk shot or hold the left trigger to hit an inside out forehand or backhand. These different modifiers up the difficulty of the shot but can really help you get back in a point if you’re scrambling. Oh, and Federer’s ‘tweener is definitely in Top Spin 4.

Other nuances include a turbo button, which helps you serve and volley and sprint for tough-to-reach shots, and a stamina gauge that depletes significantly through the course of a point. It also gradually loses pieces of its maximum allotment if you repeatedly run your player into the ground point after point.

One issue that I did have with the gameplay was that the speed of professional tennis wasn’t quite present yet. My average serve speed when playing with Federer had to be just over 100, a far cry from his first serve speeds in real life despite me maxing out his meter every time. I’d like the developers to ship Top Spin 4 with one difficulty setting for amateur players where ball speeds are lessened and player movements are a bit more forgiving, and one mode for veterans where it’s possible to crank the 130 mile per hour serves and thunderous groundstrokes that some of these players are known to hit.

Top Spin 4 is looking like a faithful addition to the sim series. It adds some nice wrinkles to the gameplay formula that lend themselves to the realistic nature of the franchise while making it a bit easier to simply pick up a controller and get into a match. Now if only they could provide two separate gameplay experiences – one for the hardcore and one for the mainstream fan – then Top Spin 4 would have all its bases covered. (ign)