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    Feb 22nd, 2007 at 21:55:24     -    Gradius (NES)

    I think like many other game players who are not adept at the transcending skills of side scrolling shooters this game begins as a frustrating experience and only ends slightly less frustrating. On my second play through I managed to get to the third level which is WAY to hard. The majority of the level requires insane dodging. Even after cracking and using the Konami code it was to now avail.
    Consequently, using the Konami code probably makes this game a more enjoyable experience as the frustration factor goes down plus you'll probably get farther in the game so you'll get to see more of what the game has to offer. Unfortunately, the game doesn't really offer many variations on game play or any other area for that matter. The music remains the same, the levels are all very similar and not very inspired, and most disappointingly the game play offers nothing new except harder challenges. Just Hold A and dodge folks.
    Overall, I don't think my time with Gradius was that well lived. In general, I'm not a big fan of the SHMUP genre. The game play focus is inherently linear and narrow, which is what keeps the genre from achieving the praise and acclamation of genres that have greater versatility and creative capacity. However, games such as Ikaruga show promise with inventive game play mechanics (balance of light and dark) and artistic mysticism, it will be interesting to see if the genre can evolve and revive itself in the future.

    William Tuttle

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Feb 22nd, 2007 at 21:58:17.

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    Feb 21st, 2007 at 22:26:57     -    Gradius (NES)

    I have mixed feelings after playing Gradius. It is a game that does several things well, but also has some setbacks. For the good, Gradius is an impressive game for a title released in 1986. It has many SHMUP elements that I'm sure were very innovative for its day. The game play consists of a one man ship fighting endless waves of enemies. The action is intense from start to finish as enemies are quick and smart as well. The AI of the enemies will lock on to you and shoot and advance from all sides so staying in one spot is not always a good idea. The game features a simple yet entertaining power up system that involves collecting glowing red balls. For each ball you grab you can choose a different level of power up like speed boost, missile, laser, and a very useful shield. This is one of the funner parts of the game play. Another impressive aspect of the game is its visuals, Gradius has a colorful space theme that is driven by lots of speeding enemies and bright explosions.
    Those were the good elements, now its time to mention the bad. For starters this game suffers from the limitations of all SHMUPS: A narrow scope of game play. The game offers essentially the same experience the whole way through. Press A and dodge is about as deep as it gets. Another issue is that this game has a steep difficulty curve. It took me several tries to beat the first level and I couldn't get very far in the second one. While this is one of the important staples of SHMUPS, it also causes non-hardcore players to become frustrated and discouraged very easily. Also, I haven't beaten the game yet, but I believe there are only about 4 or 5 levels in the whole game which maybe the reason for the heightened difficulty. Lastly, the music while enjoyable at first becomes stale quickly and doesn't have the lasting quality of tunes from games like Kirby's Adventure and Zelda.
    These are my impressions from my FIRST game play experience. Maybe some of my opinions will change on the next play through...

    later
    William Tuttle

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    Feb 7th, 2007 at 23:06:14     -    Wii Sports (Wii)

    This is my second log on Wii Sports. This time I going to talk about some of the technical aspects of the game. For starters, the sound department is lacking, but still appropriate to the form of the game. The crowds roar in the ball park, the pins collide on the lanes, however the most important quality of sound design is immersion and Wii Sports does this very well. The Wii-mote has a built in speaker that along with the motion sensing aspect, gives the game a very interactive quality as you hear The slice of a racket or a boxing jab connect with your opponents face.
    The graphics in the game are probably the biggest let down. Not even on par with 1st generation Gamecube games, crowds are flat squares of pixels and the Miis themselves are reminiscent of the FF VII character models, this game is definitely not a visual showcase. Fortunately the game play is too fun to be brought down by its low presentation quality, although I fear that by the end of its life time, game fans might be disappointed by the look of its games when compared to the hardware potential of its two console competitors.
    As I have said before what makes this game so fun is its inventive game play. If the game was played with a normal controller it would be terrible, but one mechanic makes all the difference. The reason this collection of simple sports games is so enjoyable, is because the play experience feels real, the movements, the coordination, the sense of improvement with each play session, gives you the belief that you're not playing within a video game, but interacting with the real world. In a way it does affect your reality, after a few weeks of playing the game, I went bowling with some friends, while I didn't bowl a 230, the feel of the game felt more familiar and natural then previous times.
    All in all, Wii Sports is an intriguing and creatively fun game that is a must play for any one who considers themselves a fan of video games. Its conventions are unlike any other and in fact, gives me great excitement for where this technology can go in the sports genre. MLB baseball any one?

    See ya a round

    Will Tuttle

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    Feb 7th, 2007 at 20:31:08     -    Wii Sports (Wii)

    Wii Sports is Nintendo's sports themed launch title that sets out to show what the new console is capable of. While Wii Sports may not be the pretiest or deepest launch title we've seen (try Zelda: TP for that!) what it lacks in looks it definetely makes up for in simple, fun and innovative gameplay.
    The game consists of 5 sports: tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing, all with unique applications of the Wii-mote controller. All of them are enjoyable, and challenging and become progressively more so as your Mii achieves skill levels. Among my favorites are baseball, bowling and golf because of thier great multiplayer ( however, beware torrents of swearing when a putt is shanked!) For this post I would like to start focusing on the play modes starting with my favorite, baseball.
    The baseball game is very cool. It consits of 2 gameplay varitaions, pitching and hitting. Batting is fairly simple, you just keep your eye on the ball and time your swing. While this may sound quite easy, let me assure the computer becomes very difficult to hit against once you reach high skill levels. Swinging the bat with the wii-mote is a great feeling as you hear the wind breaking the wood and the crack of the ball coming from the controller, it gives you the most imersive feeling you ever experinced in a sports game. And you can really feel yourself becoming more adept and instinctive as you practice and play. The pitching mechanic is the most complex gameplay variation in Wii Sports. Combinations of the A and B buttons aswell as directional buttons can produce several diffrent pitches from high sliders, to outside curve balls. Of course the trusty fast ball is always a good choice when you need a strike, but you really have to put your arm into it to break 90+ mph. All the basemen and defensive players are computer controlled and automatically chase and dive after the ball, and depending on how long it takes them to grab a loose ball determines what base you can reach.
    This is a great mode for multiplayer, especially whe your Mii is facing your best friend's and you crank one out of the park to win the game, after which much gloating ensues. Seriously, this game is great to entertain freinds with.
    In my next post I'll focus on the other modes of play as well as some techincial aspects of the game.

    Until then,

    Will Tuttle

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