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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 01:11:56     -    Mario Kart DS (DS)

    GAMEPLAY
    The second round of gameplay wasn't all that much different from the first. One thing that I did notice was that I got bored a lot more easily. Once all of the challenges have been met, there is not a whole lot one can do. I guess the challenge is to beat your best times, but once you play a level a couple of times, it doesn't seem as exciting. I can only play for a certain amount of time before feeling that it's very repetitive. The Mirror levels help to combat this, but after a while you lose interest with all the backwards stuff.I think I'm making it sound like it's not fun at all, which is not my objective. It is very fun . . . for a while. It just loses some replay value. It really needs more levels. Or some other new aspect that gives me a reason to play after I've beaten the game.

    When you beat the game, you are able to choose from any kart that is available for any character. This is pretty fun. You can have a huge character driving a tiny kart, or a tiny character driving a huge kart. This mildly amusing situation adds very little to the overall gaming experience, but there is very little to say. It's a fun game, but it kinda wears thin.

    DESIGN
    One of the many interesting design aspects of this game, is the variation of attributes for the karts. The minor differences in the abilities can make all the difference. For instance, in some races I would like to have a kart that had a high top speed, but in others, the top speed wouldn't matter so much, so I would choose a kart that would have a sharper turning radius. If I could go faster around the corners, then I wouldn't need to make up speed on the straightaways.

    Having several tracks from past versions of the game is another great design concept. This gives people who have not played those games several new levels, and people who have played them a nostalgic feeling. Not only are these "retro levels" great nostalgia, but they are also fantastically designed. This great design makes them seem better than the new levels at times.

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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 01:37:02     -    Mario Kart DS (DS)

    SUMMARY
    Mario Kart DS is a worthy addition to one of the best racing franchises in gaming. You control one of a variety of playable characters, racing against each other for dominance of the track, and of course the trophy. Getting new trophies unlocks new levels and once you beat all of the levels you can move up to a higher racing class, this keeps the challenge going. The cartoony aspects of this game make it fun for the whole family!

    GAMEPLAY
    Mario Kart is always fun to play. There is just something about putting these familiar characters into a new setting that excites the blood. Plus, there is just something so gratifying in shooting a perfectly timed turtle shell at your enemy's back, or blasting through other karts when you have "star power." So I guess what I'm getting at is that the items are fun.

    The cartoonish characters also make it very easy to form emotional attachments. The little phrases that they shout out can very easily become part of one's normal vocabulary. My favorite character (Luigi) always gives a sharp "Wahaa!" as he passes opponents. I have noticed myself producing this high pitched noise from time to time. This suggests a very good connection between character and player. My favorite games are ones where I create these emotional bonds with characters that have very little depth.

    The WiFi connection makes it possible to play with other players in the vicinity (thanks to cruznet, I am unable to connect to people from far away). As always, games are more fun when many people are competing to win. The close calls are made even more painful or joyous when you can see the look on your opponent's face.

    Overall this is a very fun game. Good job Nintendo!

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:23:59     -    Wii Sports (Wii)

    GAMEPLAY
    The second round of gameplay did not give me much more insight. However, it was a little strange that no matter how many games I played, it did not seem very repetitive. Sure, after a while I got a little bored with the games, but (with the exception of Bowling) they all seemed to keep me thinking that a new outcome could be reached.

    Since there aren't any real "characters" in the game, you can't form any real emotional attachment to them, but it is nice to see your friend's Miis on your baseball team or sitting in the audience cheering you on. In a way, the emotional attachment seems to be placed more on the games themselves; one can like one game a lot and hate another.

    DESIGN
    One design element that really makes the game work is the sound. The different familiar sports sounds help put the player in the sporting venue. For example, in Tennis, you hear the echo of the ball hitting the rackets and the ground, giving a feel of a very open game world. While play is proceeding, you hear nothing from the crowd, however when someone scores the crowd cheers. This makes the reward system so much better. Along with your points, you also get cheers. There are cheers when your opponent scores, but they're not for you, and you know it. While there is a quiet atmosphere in Tennis, a more noisy background in Bowling gives the player a more laid back feeling. It's less formal and more fun.

    The only game where level design really comes into play is Golf. These levels are fairly simple, as they should be. However, on several occasions the player must choose whether they should go for the risk and get the big reward, or play it safe and get an average score. These decisions often lead to quadruple bogeys, however, they do add an interesting element to the game.

    This is without a doubt the quintessential game for the Wii. It provides a great start in figuring out how exactly to use these new controls. Future generations will undoubtedly look back on this game as a crucial step in gaming history.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 16:21:07     -    Wii Sports (Wii)

    SUMMARY
    Wii Sports is usually the very first game people play for the Wii. Its new style of control was the first showcase of the new system's ability for motion detection. Wii sports has five different games that you can play: Tennis. Baseball, Bowling, Golf and Boxing. Each one of these games has different controls designed to mimic the motions of real sports. In addition to the games themselves, there are also various training modes for each game, designed to hone your skills and to further gameplay.

    GAMEPLAY
    Tennis is without a doubt my favorite game. In tennis, you must swing the remote when the ball comes to you, pretty simple. However, the timing of the swings prove difficult to master. The sooner you hit the ball, the more to the left it goes, and the longer you wait to hit it, the more to the right it goes. This becomes very fun, trying to time your swings so your opponent cannot reach the ball in time. One strange thing about this mode is that you cannot control how your player moves, I'm still not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

    Baseball, in my opinion has the sharpest learning curve. It is very hard to hit the ball at first, however once you get this down, it is very easy to hit homers every time. The aiming of the ball is the same as in tennis, you hit too soon and it goes left, wait too long and it goes right.Baseball is also the game that least resembles the real sport in that you only bat and pitch and the separation between single,double, triple and home run seem very distinct.

    If Baseball least resembles real life, Bowling is the game that feels most like bowling. The controls make you mimic real bowling motions and it has the somewhat boring atmosphere of a real bowling alley.

    Golf proves to be the hardest sport on Wii Sports. The controls don't always seem to work correctly and it's hard to know exactly how hard to swing. However, when you get everything right, there is nary a more satisfying feeling in the world.

    Boxing is the sport that makes for the best workout. Punching and dodging gets the blood stirring and defies that stereotype of lazy gamers sitting on the couch all day doing nothing.

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