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    Sep 29th, 2009 at 17:39:40     -    3D Tetris (VB)

    One aspect of 3D Tetris that makes it stand out from an ordinary Tetris games is provided by the inherit isolation of the VB. When playing, I found myself very much drawn into the game and I was able to better concentrate on completing game objectives, without distractions. For example, when playing I cannot see anything but the game, there is visible clock to let me know how much time has passed and the lack of multiplayer interface allows me to stay focused. Granted, this observation is true for all VB games, however, I found this quality valuable to solving difficult 3D matrices.

    The music in 3D Tetris is noticeable repetitive even after 5 minutes of game play.

    Something that immediately stands-out able 3D Tetris is that the environment is always "wiggling", or rotating back and forth on its own. The player can also optionally press the left button underneath the controller to switching the viewing angle. There are 3 viewing angle possibilities and can be cycled through by repressing change angle button. Even after changing the viewing perspective, the environment continues to wiggle, back and fourth providing a good sense of the whole cube environment without becoming a distraction.

    Time played: 15 min

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    Sep 29th, 2009 at 15:34:23     -    Mario Clash (VB)

    Mario Clash offers a very simple starting menu consisting of only three options: “Game Start”, “Top Sore” and “Brightness [adjustment]”. Next to the “Game Start” option, the player can adjust the starting level, between 1 and 40.

    Mario Clash is very, very different from any Mario game I have played. For example, the game is a non-“scroller”. Instead, the entire game area is contained within the visible window frame, with wrap devices on both sides of the screen. The player can warp between two platforms, or screen layers: the foreground and background. Unfortunately, Mario Clash makes little use of the VB stereoscopic capabilities making it a mellow experience. To experiment, I played with only one eye and little was left to be desired from a dual-eye experience. As a mater a fact, using one eye made the display appear sharper and places seemingly less strain on the single eye than what otherwise two eyes would experience individually. What this suggests is that Mario Clash could be played on a traditional 2D interface and offers little, if any, benefits on a stereoscopic device such as the VB.

    I was more intrigued by the “Game Over” screen than any other 3D aspects of the game. Mario Clash displays a sharp, overbearing picture of Mario’s face on a background of clouds. Then the player’s score is overlaid at the center of the screen and is projected forward, giving the impression that numbers are being pushed to the player’s face. Unfortunately the gameplay does not offer any similar or impressive stereoscopic effects.

    Honestly, Mario Clash is a little disappointing. I successfully cleared only the first three levels. I was unable to get further without a better understanding of how to kill the more robust turtles. Mario Clash includes a count-down timer requiring the player to complete the level in a certain amount of time or fail, I suppose – I never ran out of time. Assuming the level is cleared successfully, the player can be rewarded bonus points for “Technical” and “Time” merits.

    To get a better understanding of what other, more advanced levels have in store for the player; I manually invoked the level selections, in no particular order. I quickly realized the game offers very little variety in map designs aside from more difficult enemy obstacles to overcome. I suppose even if I mastered the techniques the game would likely becoming repetitive anyway for the remaining 36 levels.

    Time played: 15 min + 15 min (5 min break in-between)

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    Sep 27th, 2009 at 18:12:23     -    Vertical Force (VB)

    Stage 4 in Vertical Force is graphically intense. The floating land barriers and large spaceships resemble PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards), like a motherboard layout for PC. Although at times it seems there is too much on the screen at once, I appreciate the level of detail the designers put into designing the nice, sharp graphics.

    I didn’t mention this before, but I also like how the sound intensity changes depending upon the altitude of my spaceship (high/how). The change in sound amplitude reinforces the idea of the (true) 3rd dimension, namely depth.

    I have really enjoyed playing Vertical Force. In fairness to other games, I do need to criticize the storyline behind Vertical Force, or the lack of. Seriously, I have not seen any mentions of a story / plot in the game. However, I do not have the original box / game manual, which is where the story is printed sometimes. Storylines matter to some people, but honestly I don’t care to read much about a game. I appreciate the pick-up-and-go nature, and easy to learn to controls. Instant action is perfect for me.

    Time played: 15 min

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    Sep 27th, 2009 at 17:16:55     -    Vertical Force (VB)

    In my previous entry I commented on how I had trouble distinguishing between certain spites that appear similar on the display. The VB is really the first system I have played that offers a single color output, expect maybe for some old DOS games I played when I was really young, but I never I really invested any significant time into them. Although color on the VB Virtual Boy would be a “nice to have”, the absence of color does not subtract from the game play experience. The artists crafted some really neat graphics with only 32-levels of pixel intensity.

    I am also content with the graphical output in Virtual Force. Despite the underwhelming 384x224 hardware resolution limit, each pixel is sharp, the screen outputs a consistent brightness and it never flickers.

    Something that is clearly lacking in Vertical Force is smarter opponents. For example: the bosses are not very intelligent and function in a predicable manner. The “smartest” agents I have witnesses so far are missiles that follow the spaceship. The missals appear to use a simple shortest line-of-sight algorithm; however, they can be difficult to dodge nevertheless. Considering the hardware era the VB was conceived in, I am not at all disappointed with the lack of AI. I figured it would be a noteworthy to mention in the context of today’s games and how far things have come along.

    Time played: 10 min

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