Mar 4th, 2008 at 02:20:10 - Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
Since the game took was played real-time, I couldn’t sell items between 11:00pm – 8:00am. It was annoying if I was very close to paying off my house debt and wanted a bigger house the next day. I found out very quickly that the game was fairly repetitive. You wake up from your bed, check your mail, go gather resources to sell, pay off your debt, expand your house, and in turn you are faced with a newer and larger debt. It’s a cycle of endless debt! The only thing I have to look forward to now are the new seasons to catch new fish and insects.
Speaking of which, the land suddenly turned from white to green the other day when I was playing. The thought of the seasons changing never occurred to me, but since the game takes place in real-time, it has to! Winter was now over and Spring rolled in. The land looks so much more vibrant and alive! There are butterflies, bumble bees, lady bugs, and cockroaches lurking about. New types of fish were also introduced, which was exciting because that meant the museum collection could finally be expanded.
I had several neighbors leave. The first one (Frobert) was okay though. I didn’t like him because he never said anything interesting and only cared about his muscles. He was replaced with a very cute squirrel named Agent S. She fished a lot so challenging and interacting with her was very easy and we got along very well! But a several days of hard work in real life school prevented me from playing and she decided to move out because I wasn’t playing with her! That made me so upset! AH!
The designers managed to design the game with lots of thought on interaction, which is very important for simulation games. Examples include using tools, such as a net to catch insects and a fishing pole to catch fish. Simply swinging the net in the general direction of a bug doesn’t usually catch it, so aiming and timing (especially while targeting flies) is required. Fishing also requires perfecting aim to reduce the amount of time a fish builds up its interested in the bait. Fishing is trivial once it has been mastered but sometimes the ripples in the water catch the player off guard if the bobble goes under too deep (meaning it’s still too early to reel in the line). Not only was interacting physically with the game world required, but the sense of listening to the sounds was also very beneficial. Players can hear insects buzzing and flying around nearby, even if at first he/she doesn’t see them on the screen. This can help the player determine which way to walk to get closer to the bug. When fishing the player sometimes is fooled by the ripples of the water, making it seem the bobble has been taken underneath the water by the fish. If the player listens for the bobble sinking sound, quick reflexes of hitting the “catch” button is more reliable.
Choosing the game to take place in real-time is probably one of the most unique aspects of Animal Crossing. This aspect allows the player to literally feel as if he/she is emerged inside the game. If it’s sunny in game, it’s sunny in real life. If it’s dark in game, it’s dark at night in real life. The seasons change and holidays are celebrated in game during the same time in real life. These subtle aspects make the game feel more real and simulating a second life just seems that much more realistic.
The narration of the game is emergent. There are some pre-determined plots and jobs for the player to choose to complete, but the player’s interaction with the villagers, shop keepers, museum, and et cetera all influence the flow and story of the game. The player can chose to befriend or become archrivals with villagers. Villagers that feel bored in the town will move out if the player doesn’t prevent it. New villagers in the town will interact with the old, and the old villagers are influenced in some way or another by them, such as raising gossip. If the player buys a lot of stuff from Tom Nook’s store, Tom will expand is store to make it larger and carry more items. Whatever the player does in the gameworld will affect the game. Even if the player quits the game without saving a mole will pop up out of the ground and give a lengthy lecture of complaint the very next time he/she logs back on.
The rewards received in the game focused a lot on those of Glory and very little Facility. Occasionally the player can get new tools that enable him/her to interact in newer ways that weren’t possible before, such as getting new tools. To get access to these new facilities the player has to spend bells (currency), which isn’t too much a reward if they have to be bought. New golden tools can be difficult and take time to obtain as well. A lot of the game revolves around the reward of Glory, such as donating as many insects, bugs, paintings, and fish as you can. The only thing that pushes the player to keep on playing is the one goal of upgrading the house to its max size and paying off all of the debts to Tom Nook. This might not be enough to keep players interested.
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Mar 4th, 2008 at 00:12:48 - Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
Animal Crossing is a life simulation video game for the Nintendo DS. The player plays the role of a new resident in a town and interacts in the world by talking to neighbors, store owners, and by poking around in the land with various tools. The game is played in real-time, and many events in the game correspond to holidays, such and Independence Day and Halloween.
I was excited when I first got the game. Many people recommended it to me because I liked other similar simulation games, such as Harvest Moon and The Sims. When I first played I didn’t get to create a character, so I was a little confused. I had to talk to a taxi driver and converse with him, giving out my information, in order to have my character created. I thought that was pretty neat. It was my first indirect character creation I’ve ever encountered.
When I finally reached my new city, I ran around everywhere, learning the game controls, recognizing landmarks and getting to know how to interact with the townsfolk. I shook a tree to let the peaches fall and the animation was quite cute. I actually think style of the entire game is very whimsical and cartoony (NPC animals!), which translated into warm gameplay mood.
After my second day in the game passed (also a new day in real life), a new character moved into the town. I thought it was neat how these characters all had different personality and character designs. They all have their own animal sounds too! The small town seemed to be growing larger everyday. Even Tom Nook’s (the town store) expanded the more I bought from the store.
The setting of the game was winter time and there was snow everywhere. Luckily I could still fish out fish from the lake, river, and ocean to raise money or donate to the museum! I wasn’t sure why peaches were growing on the trees during winter, but there has to be some easy way to get money, right? Some items sell for more bells (the currency) than others, such as peaches for 100 each and shells for 30.
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Feb 20th, 2008 at 21:17:29 - Super Mario World (SNES)
Progression throughout the game felt the same and the flow of the game was pretty consistent. Some levels would branch off in another direction on the world map if unlocked, but the paths would eventually meet again. Levels did get a tad bit more difficult and more lengthy.
As I played I met different colored Yoshi: green, yellow, blue, and red. Each Yoshi has a unique special ability while a shell is in their mouth. The green is a normal Yoshi, yellow can stomp, blue can fly, and red shoots out fireballs. I have to say that I like the yellow Yoshi the best because I like seeing the monsters die or take damage from the stomp. Eating different colored shells also gave me different abilities, so if I couldn’t get my desired yellow Yoshi and was stuck with a green one, I could find a yellow shell to do the job for me!
I know a lot of people like flying, but I think it’s overrated! I found myself not using the feather as much (to fly) because that would ruin the point of playing a platform game. If I’m going to be in the sky most of the time, why would I even be playing the game? Instead I focused on shooting the monsters with fireballs and collected their coins. Besides, platforms are a lot more interesting than the open sky.
Hmm, I didn’t realize story progression too much, but as I entered different worlds (or parts of the map for that matter) there would be new castles, Koopas to kill and new Yoshi’s to rescue. Other than the block of dialog I got after defeating new Koopas, I wasn't fed too much storyline.
The game kept the player feeling safe by allowing many different forms of collecting “ups” or lives. The player can get these by either:
1) Collecting 100 coins
2) Finding green mushrooms within the levels
3) Hitting the top of the tape at the end of each level.
4) Reaching 100 points by cutting the tape at the end of each level.
5) Collecting all of the Yoshi coins in a level
6) Successively Killing or hitting monsters.
By allowing this, the player won’t be discouraged during gameplay if he/she were to die a lot and suddenly get a “Game Over.” That’s never a good sign, but SMW kept a great balance in collecting lives just in case this should ever happen. This is also the main focus of the game’s reward structure. Item collection also allowed for the players to receive an incentive while performing challenges.
One of the more apparent aspects of SMW is the designs of the levels. The average level had a range of platforms and monsters but many extended out into the sky with cloud platforms. Other levels took place in dungeons, castles, haunted houses, under the sea, in a chocolate filled land, and so many others. The large variety of terrain landscapes and sprite palette is amazing. The uses of space in these levels were well arranged as well. If you were in an underground level, the paths designed would wind here and there, but they always had paths that would consistently lead you to the right way. The designs of each level were unique and keep the players on their feet. Unlocking or reaching new levels is always exciting and the game provided plenty in the worlds.
Some of the levels were designed to automatically scroll by itself. By adding this feature, players are encouraged (if not forced) to gather collectible items and travel as quickly and safely as possible. This also changed normal the pace of the levels because the players are required to play in a fixed boundary on the screen. These particular levels also relied a lot on interactive environments, such as platforms that can smash the avatar or an endless pit down below.
Another noticeable aspect of SMW are the power-ups. Mario can get either a mushroom (in which he grows into a taller Mario), a flower (granting flower power, the ability to shoot fireballs), and a feather (granting flying abilities as well as a new defense mechanism). All of these power-ups allow for new verbs to be used that couldn’t be accessed before. They create a larger array of gameplay to be carried out because new languages with the verbs can be used to traverse through the levels.
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 01:48:30.
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Feb 20th, 2008 at 03:13:18 - Super Mario World (SNES)
Super Mario World is a whimsical 2D platform game for the SNES. The player's avatar Mario receives help from his dinosaur friend Yoshi while traveling through seven worlds in search of Princess Peach. Peach has been kidnapped from Bowser and is in desperate need of rescue!
The introduction was very nostalgic. I have forgotten how great the music and the art aspects of the game were. Even though some people don't consider these graphics to be awesome, I personally don't think Mario could be done any other way. The sprites look great being as cartoony as they are and don't need any form of realism to meet the visual expectation of players. Just looking at the game makes me feel like a kid again, something not many games can do!
I forgot some of the controls, but luckily there are tip boxes that updated me on how to play the game in the tutorial levels. Shooting red fire balls actually gave me an incentive to burn up the monsters because I get rewarded with a coin. They don't just die and disappear with no reward like in other games! I also had a really bad habit of trying to create eggs with Yoshi after eating each mob. Too much Yoshi's Island for me.
Mario has a funky twirl jump that I used to find annoying. I would much rather have a normal looking jump than a silly looking one, but it turns out to be quite useful when I need to break some platforms. I don't think I'll ever find myself using only the twirl jump in a level though. Maybe I'll try it later to make gameplay especially interesting.
Ooh, I've never been more surprised in my life when I heard the warning alarm for my time running low! It wasn't something I expected, but I am thankful it's there. I would probably be fooling around, trying to get all of the coins in the most awkward ways possible if there wasn't a timer.
I did like the powerup place holder at the top center of the screen. Sometimes if I timed my jumps wrong, I'd get hit by a monster and lose my super mushroom, flower power or feather ability, but I'd have a back-up if something was there. It kept me safe and it was a good feeling.
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