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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 14:36:54     -    Patapon (PSP)

    [ entry #2 ]

    GAMEPLAY
    In my second play session my army grew larger with two new classes of Patapon, archers and axemen. I also acquired the defensive stance order, which allows the Patapon to take less damage from enemy attacks. When the army is in the defensive stance, ranged units attack while the axemen protect the front. Changing equipment seems a little simplistic as the player can manually give them to the individual Patapon or optimize the weapon selection for the army.

    This game causes the player to experience flow, as all music games usually do. The game attracted me because I am a big fan of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, and play quite a bit of real-time strategy games although I am not an expert at them. One frustration I had with the game was that if there was some background noise or music, it would throw off my rhythm, making the Patapon stop in their tracks. The game is best played with headphones or in a quiet place.

    DESIGN

    The innovative element found in Patapon is the rhythm-based real-time strategy gameplay that is at the core of the game. It allows players that are not familiar with strategy games to ease into the gameplay like a rhythm game. The game creates conflict by setting up the story and releasing the player into a level filled with enemies and trying to advance to the end of the level. After a level is completed, its difficulty increases.

    The art design of the game is very well done. The simplicity of the black and white Patapon contrasts with the colorful cartoon-like background. Every structure is clearly marked as black and the enemies usually have some color combined with black. The animals found in the world are colored black and white, just like the Patapon which signals to the player that they are not hostile. The game has great value for only being a $20 game.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 14:36:39     -    Patapon (PSP)

    [ entry #1 ]

    SUMMARY
    Patapon is a one player game that combines rhythm and strategy to create a new kind of gameplay. The player takes on the role of the great Patapon who leads the Patapon tribe into battle against the Zitagon army. The basic gameplay consists of pressing four buttons in time with the beat to give orders to your army of Patapon, one-eyed creatures equipped with various tools of destruction.

    GAMEPLAY
    The game progressed through a small story and eventually led me to the first level, where I had a small army of Patapon with spears. I was given instructions on how to move my army forward by pressing a four-button combination in time with the music and the pulsing rectangle that surrounds the screen. The next combination I was able to use was the attack order. There were some animals in the level that I could attack and once they were killed, they dropped money or items, such as meat and stone, used to create more Patapon.

    I felt good while playing the game, as long as I kept pushing the buttons at the right time and nothing distracted me. 10 successful orders in succession get the Patapon in the fever mode, making them perform their orders more effectively, like doing more damage while attacking. The Patapons themselves are fun to watch, moving to the music and repeating orders back to the player as confirmation. They are, dare I say, cute.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:14:03     -    Marble Mania (Wii)

    [ entry #2 ]

    GAMEPLAY

    In my second play session I unlocked the third row of levels, corresponding to the third world. The roadway-themed world was less interesting than the previous dessert-themed world. It didn’t have much color to it, but I noticed a greater change in the level of difficulty. I had a bystander watching me play and at some points he was surprised at how I thought of rotating the board a certain way to advance the ball. I suppose I gained enough experience to get past the learning curve.

    The game’s story is nonexistent. From the main menu, the game shows the player the controls and it jumps right into the puzzles. Near the end of my game session I realized this game is best played in short sessions, maybe half an hour. If you have time to burn, this is a good game for that purpose, but it doesn’t feel as if you accomplish anything.

    DESIGN
    I believe Kororinpa Marble Madness is innovative in its variety of ball types, but I’m not sure, as the only other similar game I’ve played is Super Monkey Ball. The gentle tone of the game is achieved with the light soundtrack of ambient sounds and simple art style. The level design in the game is varied enough to keep it interesting for an hour of play. Each level usually has puzzles that are found in previous levels, plus a new challenge unique to the level.

    The game is easy to learn, but hard to master, as skill is measured by the completion time. Anyone could probably finish a particular puzzle, but not as fast as an experienced player who never lets the ball fall from the board. For those who can complete the levels quickly, it seems that the pacing of rewards in the beginning is too fast. The first set of rewards consists of balls of the same type, but they just make different noises. It either discourages the player from playing more games or makes them want to play more to get better rewards.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:13:40     -    Marble Mania (Wii)

    [ entry #1 ]

    SUMMARY
    Kororinpa Marble Mania is a 1-2 player puzzle game that uses the wiimote’s motion sensors to tilt a board. The goal is to guide a marble along a path, collecting crystals when it collides with them, and reaching the end. As you complete the levels, more levels and marbles are unlocked.

    GAMEPLAY
    At first I tried to collect the required crystals plus the bonus in one run, but I found that I fell off the board many times trying to achieve that goal. When I tilted the wiimote too far I was surprised to see my marble fall off. I didn’t think I could tilt the board completely upside-down. I decided that I’d go through each level without going out of my way to collect risky bonus crystals. I wanted to get good times on each one.

    It was fun to use a ball with a different shape, such as the rugby ball, because it rolled differently. It provided a greater challenge, but I didn’t use it when I wanted to complete a level as quickly as possible. I was awarded a few of the normal balls that were faster and harder to control, as well as a soccer and basketball that had a bouncing quality.

    I found it easier to hold the wiimote with both hands for greater control and precision in my movement. After playing for a while, my arms got tired from holding them out. Resting them on my lap allowed me to play some more.

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