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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:28:55     -    Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS)

    GameLog Entry #2

    GAMEPLAY
    The second session of my experience with DKR was much more enjoyable. I got more of a handle of using the touch screen. The game later adds puzzles and other actions where the stylus is necessary, and not just using boosts and popping balloons. There is certainly a lot you can do in this game once you get through the first hour or so, adding to the enjoyment and keeping the player engaged. Things such as vehicle upgrades, custom colors for your vehicles, and hidden rewards become more accessible.

    However, the narrative is still dry and uninteresting, and I have still found nothing that distinguishes one character from another (except for voice and sprite). Nevertheless, the game is still fun.

    The multiplayer also has many features such as your basic race as well as a battle mode. While in single player, there doesn't allow for much interaction with others, as the player become so absorbed. The game really requires a lot of concentration navigating the tracks and looking for powerups and shortcuts. However, the multiplayer action allows for some decent trash talking and good clean fun.


    DESIGN
    The themed areas of the game is an interesting element for a racing game. As far as I've played, there are dinosoar, ice/snow, and water themed areas. Different courses require different kinds of vehicles. Some tracks are designed for race karts, while others (like water and ice) are designed for hovercraft. Still others, such as caves, or volcanos, make use of aircraft. Each vehicle and terrain has different levels of traction, maneuverability, and speed.

    The variety of level designs and the artwork of the gameworld are elements that make the game appealing and fun. The game's core mechanic, racing, has different twists, such as one-on-one battles with bosses using a combination of buttons, the stylus and/the D-pad. Levels get progressively harder, yet there is an ability to upgrade your vehicle. These options and variations make the game less repetitive, supporting longer gameplay.

    The game has a relatively smart AI. Your opponents can maneuver around you, fire at you, take shortcuts, use boosts, and take advantage of other things players might use to give themselves an edge. At the same time, the level of difficulty only very gradually increases to avoid steep learning curves.

    The reward structure is also very nice. In each race, you can go for a number of coins scattered around the track that you can later use for upgrades, and you are also rewarded each time you win a race. Also, the boss rewards are generous, but not so much that the game gets incredibly easier.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 01:08:43     -    Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS)

    GameLog Entry #1

    SUMMARY
    In Diddy Kong Racing (DKR) DS, players play as their favorite Diddy Kong family and friends character in Mario Kart fassion. Some aspects that differentiate it from Mario Kart is an Adventure Mode, where the players motive is to win races to complete the narrative. Players collect golden balloons by winning races, and these are used to access new areas and enter new races. It is almost an exact replica of DKR for the N64, but with added touchscreen features and games.

    GAMEPLAY
    The game has the great nostalgic feel of the original but in the palm of your hand. The core mechanic is great fun (though not original), but the added touch screen gameplay is a little awkward and seemed to just be thrown in to make it different. The screen can be used to spin the wheels before the start of the race for an added boost, but that feature is difficult to use. It requires you to quickly switch between the stylus and the buttons, which doesn't seem well thought out.

    The characters look great in 3D on the DS, and the graphics match those of the N64, yet there isn't much else to them. There is no backstory or special abilities for any one character. It seems to just be a different sprite for the same object, if you will.

    The narrative, while a nice idea, doesn't seem to really fit well, or even seem necessary, for a racing game. To be honest, I'm not even sure what it is, except that you are attempting to collect all the pieces of an amulet in order to access the final boss, known as Wizpig. There is not much motivation inspired by the narrative, except at the end of each race, though that isn't very interesting either. If you win the race, your friend Taj the elephant rewards you with a golden balloon, and if you don't win, Wizpig will stand over you and laugh at you.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:26:59     -    Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Gamelog Entry #2

    GAMEPLAY
    Playing the game for the second hour was certainly more enjoyable than the first as the controls became easier and easier. Eventually, I began the appreciate the controls so much I began to wonder why other games can’t be this simple. Being able to pick up people and eventually cars and buildings certainly became a great aspect of the game. Not only does the player get the satisfaction of completing the level requirements, but the longer you play, your Katamari becomes exponentially larger.

    The dialogue between the prince and the king are certainly humorous before, during, and after each level, despite whether you win or not. It can make you smile, and it can hurt your pride. Yet the negative emotions it may evoke in your character are always comical and would not deter the average gamer from continuing.

    My opinion of the games story line is that it’s almost unnecessary. You don’t necessarily need the motivation from the story to want to play or beat your objectives. You simply experience the joy of picking things up as you collide with and roll over them. This is especially true in the multiplayer mode (which I only tried shortly). It certainly allows for a good amount of trash talking, chasing, and humiliating the other player if your able to grow your ball enough to pick up your opponents.


    DESIGN
    The control scheme is certainly one of the most innovative elements. There are rarely any games that involve only using the control sticks. The relatively intuitive (though difficult at first) controls make the gameplay fun and different. The hook of the game, rolling up random things around the gameworld, is so simple and easy to understand that any player can easily understand the goal and can get an idea on how to get there.

    There are a few drawbacks that make the game seem somewhat repetitive at times. There seem to be only three or four worlds in the game that gradually expand while playing through the game. However, it does seem that you’re seeing so much of the same thing in each instance. Additionally, the music can sometimes grow to be a bit annoying (but surprisingly catchy). If I had a say in the development, I’d have included a soundtrack more inline with our popular culture and more distinct levels.

    The gameworld certainly creates a playful tone that is perfectly in tune with the playful nature of the game. The worlds, while based on real objects and settings of our world, can be somewhat fantasy and cartoonish, which adds to the overall positive feeling of the game. It’s this sort of fantastic spin on our real world that keeps the player interested and having fun.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:57:44     -    Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Gamelog Entry #1

    SUMMARY
    Katamary Damacy is an innovative puzzle game for the PS2. The story begins with the King of the Universe apparently partying a little too hard and knocking all the stars out of the sky. Its up to you, the Prince, to roll up random items scattered around the levels to grow larger and larger “Katamaries” (large balls of stuff) that will be turned into stars and constellations if you grow them large enough in the allotted time.

    GAMEPLAY
    The gameplay is certainly unique. Your character controls the Katamari with only the two joysticks on the controller. You manipulate them to roll forward, backward, to the side, to turn, make quick turnarounds, and get speed boosts. There is definitely a learning curve here in the controls, and picking up momentum while navigating your oddly shaped ball around is difficult and frustrating at first. Not only are you picking up things smaller than you, but you have to avoid things larger than you.

    The beginning levels are more or less unexciting since your only picking up mice, tacks, erasers, and if you get pretty big, pets. However, the levels are still challenging and somewhat addicting. Not only do you want to achieve your goal, but you want to avoid being scolded and humiliated by the “King,” your dad.

    The blocky animation, cheesy music, and hilarious sound effects, all contribute to a more or less enjoyable experience – even if you have not quite got the rhythm down. The back story that takes place between the levels is definitely a little confusing and out of the ordinary, but that is the experience you feel playing the game as a whole.

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    1Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS)Playing
    2Katamari Damacy (PS2)Playing
    3Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)Playing
    4Mario Party (N64)Playing
    5The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)Playing

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