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 Nov 16, 2007 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
* November Games

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Personal Stuff/Random News
So, a few games finished, a few started... full reviews later, this is just some "thoughts".

Metroid Prime - it was fun to play, but I don't see myself going back to play it again. The idea of sending around "friend tickets" to help other people unlock half the "bonus content" seems cool in theory, but it shouldn't be the only way to get there; most of the friends I have with a Wii don't go online with it all that regularly, they use it for games at home and Virtual Console.

Tony Hawk's Proving Grounds - every time they try to "innovate", it seems that the games get needlessly complex or overzealous. Moving to a "persistent world" with missions instead of timed runs was a good thing, but in the latest iteration they have done the following:

  • Hidden from the user the means by which statistics (grind, air, etc) can be increased
  • Replaced "focus" completely with the much-more-annoying-to-use "Nail the Trick" bit
  • Screwed up the graphics - sorry guys, but you're deep in the wrong portion of the Uncanny Valley, the people don't look like people, they look like zombies.

    That being said, what's good:

  • The integration of the park-creator stuff into the game as a whole, allowing the creation of new lines on the fly

    They need to let this series have a couple years' rest, and come back to it fresh. It's starting to resemble those cheesy sports games where it's the same engine every year and all you get is more shoelace detail and updated rosters.

    Super Mario Galaxy - in a word, weird. It's a cool idea, I just don't know how it will pan out for extended play. Plus, the second player has the ability to both help and hurt the main player, and my second player is terminally amused by the fact that he can force me to spin-jump at odd times.

    Guitar Hero III - Now that my 360 is back, I can give this a solid look. The PS2 version has load times that are almost to the point that you could run off and grab a snack before it finally starts. On the 360, it's smooth as silk, and the graphics are a LOT sharper.

    Upsides:

  • Solid graphics
  • Improved controller - finally there's a wireless guitar for the 360.

    Downsides:

  • "Boss fights" to advance - it took quite a bit of time to work out how to "defeat" someone in battle mode. Part of the reason I'd previously encouraged the GH series for parents with kids is that it's never been about making the other guy screw up, it's about playing legitimately better than they do.
  • Song lineup - once you get past the first couple sets, it's almost all 2005 and later songs in a game subtitled "Legends of Rock." How about some more legitimate classics?

    Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass - Tycho at Penny Arcade said (I'm paraphrasing here) that if you spend an hour with the game, you'll be amazed and astounded at the DS touch screen controls.

    I'm willing to accept that as valid, but I submit that once you hit the ten hour mark, and start picking up some of the other items, you're going to see some serious issues.

    The thing with the touch screen is that it offers up some cool new possibilities - 2D Zelda titles had always been limited mostly to the 8-way joystick method of using things like the sword, grappling hook, and boomerang.

    Now, you can program the boomerang and Bombchu to do complex loops. You can even make them fly/run in circles in a single spot for around 30 seconds to catch mindless enemies who will just walk right into them and get conked in the head or blown up.

    You can point the grappling hook and bow shots anywhere, even off screen. This is good.

    The problem is, only in ONE instance - the Bombchu - does the game actually give you the time to use these. In the rest, using them in a pressure situation is still limited to a "tap this" setup and you have to forego the ability to control your movement to do it.

    There's also trying to aim the sword shots once your sword can shoot blasts... short version is, "forget it." It's far more effective to have the grappling hook or hammer up and just tap the enemy repeatedly.

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