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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 18:35:22     -    No More Heroes (Wii)

    GAMEPLAY

    There's oh so much more. As you progress in the same money-making period followed by a short level and a boss fight, you begin to find some of the finer elements of this game. Once again I found myself with a few spectators from the noises made by both the fights and laughter.

    No More Heroes is definitely a game that progresses under the assumption that it's the most ridiculous game created (and to my knowledge, it is). As the game goes on and on it makes less and less sense yet you don't feel lost cause the player knows that in the end, the storyline matters very little. I was drawn in from the hundreds of other little changes that made this game so well designed.

    DESIGN

    The game is both linear and open at the same time. They railroad you along and expect the player to do things like earn money. The way in which the player earns the money is totally up to them and can range between such ridiculous jobs as mowing lawns to killing Pizza chain CEO's. The jobs seem to do nothing but get better and better as well. Consider that your first job is picking up coconuts while later on you end up collecting kittens and mowing lawns to make cash. Santa Destroy is an odd town but what they pay people to do is none of my business.

    I was in awe at the amazing gameplay elements you find deeper into the game. For instance, as you progress your beam katana becomes not only more powerful, but millions of times more flashy. An example to this point is how the third katana purchasable has not one but four blades of light on it. You're also allowed to customize your character and change the look of his shirt (or lack thereof), pants, jacket, belt, and sunglasses.

    The levels are bland but they do the job without confusing the player. They create nooks and other small places to hide enemies while keeping the path straight enough that you can easily follow it on your mini-map. Everything is labeled as well. When you come across a locked door the game will inform you as to why it is still locked at this point.

    With well tailored Wii specific controls, I have problems finding faults in this game. Most of the basic attacks are little more than simple button press to keep the player from getting fatigued but the more impressive moves definitely have their share of glory. From the sumo moves to slicing opponents clean in half, this game is a display of what many Wii games should be like.

    This game did something unique though and here's something that got my attention. As the game progresses more American pop culture references begin to show up until even Darth Vader seems to be on your screen. In order to further this effect the characters begin to talk about "the game" you're currently playing and even go so far as to mention how further delays might make get the game renamed to "No More Heroes Forever" (in reference to the seemingly permanently delayed game Duke Nukem Forever). In short, just by playing the game you feel like you're part of some enormous inside joke.

    There are always things to nit pick about and I found quite a few but their size is nothing compared to superior engineering that took place. For instance, when out in the game world of Santa Destroy, Travis seems to lack the ability to do more than push people around and he doesn't really even do that. The collisions are horrible and the retro-style pixelated map made it impossible for me to find anything on my small television.

    Another tiny issue was how the game would heavily punish the player for ambiguous reasons. Things that took 5-10 minutes would have to be repeated due to unannounced and sometimes unidentifiable attacks. Even at full health the player could be destroyed by a barrage of attacks that were unavoidable in nature and it was frustrating to have to redo boss fights for just that reason. Nevertheless, they allow you to restart very close to where you died so even these issues were easily ignored for the most part.

    Overall this is a great game and while I think it could have done without a majority of the cussing, the comic blood effects and general game art style mixed with the amazing gameplay bring a new life to not only this game but hopefully to the field of Wii games hitting the market. I am doing well to take note the things that make No More Heroes such an epic tale.

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    Feb 6th, 2008 at 03:54:35     -    No More Heroes (Wii)

    SUMMARY

    No More Heroes is a Wii exclusive game that details the travels of Travis Touchdown and his ascendancy through the ranks of assassins. After he acquires a beam sword through an online auction, he makes a deal with an agent to become the number one assassin, which is only possible by taking them down one at a time.

    GAMEPLAY

    First off, this game is both stylized to the extreme and hilarious. Travis Touchdown is the perfect character for this job. He sets the mood with horrible yet amazing B Class movie lines and a very caring but destructive attitude. Not only is Travis great, but the villains do a good job of filling in the holes as well. With very Anime-like weapons (a beam sword and a machette with an electric edge), No More Heroes sets you up for a fun play experience.

    The gameplay is very open ended and lets you acquire money for the matches in various ways. You can take on part time jobs which pay handsomely for such menial tasks as collecting garbage, picking up coconuts, and mowing lawns. After completing those, you also have the option of doing shadier work which always includes your beam sword and killing.

    The rail-roading is both obvious but welcome at the same time. The way in which the game leads you around is at your own pace and while you can dally around and do non-story related things, you will ultimately need to continue the story line to progress further.

    Bystanders loved this game. I had a large number of people in my room each time a new boss fight started. Many times they would cheer and laugh at the antics of Travis and the villains. One such example was Destroyo Man, whose crotch laser and Destroyo Cannon had those watching in fits of laughter. In short, they loved it and I have a feeling I'll be asked multiple times if this game can be borrowed once I'm done.

    Finally, the game slowly works the player up, despite throwing them straight into the fray. The initial scene takes you into the mansion of the #10 ranked assassin. His guards attack and become your practice targets while you gain skill and are shown how the game works. Just when you think you understand what's going on they throw you into a boss fight. Before you know it, the crowd is cheering and you are a bit bloody but victorious. No More Heroes is definitely one of the best games for the Wii to hit the market so far.

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    Jan 21st, 2008 at 22:58:38     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    GAMEPLAY

    I began this session expecting more of the same and I pretty much got what I was expecting. I admit that the levels varied somewhat with the addition of surfing and ball rolling but they still were as linear as ever. I played up to the halfway point before stopping to continue this and my discoveries were few but profound.

    The continuing use of small objects with huge gravitational forces is great but sometimes will wreck havoc on the camera and often makes the controls hard to use conceptually. For instance, after turning upside down I must then continue holding the control stick in the same direction for Mario to go the other way. The camera technically hasn't changed angle which leaves it correct but it's confusing to try and visualize it as a player.

    This time I added in a second player to "help" but many times accidents happened that would leave me flying off an edge or very close to doing so. The ability to make Mario jump would also throw me off as my second player randomly would poke Mario and make him spin or jump while I was trying something else. It was helpful at times but more often an aggravation.

    DESIGN

    There are many innovative new ideas to go with the ongoing cliche Mario theme. First off is their great use of the Wii's graphics. In order to make sure the player could see the objects placed against the black backdrop of space, Nintendo had rings of light cast around each object to make sure everything was in sight. During the third boss fight I saw some amazing graphic details such as Bowsers hair blowing in the wind (wait... wind in space?).

    The game has a very clear spacing between levels and the home base. Many times I'd find myself wishing I could go from level to level without dealing with the home base time. While I do understand that it's necessary when a storyline event happens, it's an minor inconvenience I can nitpick about.

    The multiplayer isn't very helpful and seemed like a reason to add a 2 to the back of the box instead of 1.

    Cutscenes are used very often as "in-between" states to introduce a new area, show a bit of the story line, or to give the player a sneak peek at the level they are about to enter. Personally I found the level sneak peeks most helpful in figuring out how I would approach each level, despite how linear each level was. It would give a very pulled back view to show the theme for the level as well which helped create a mood even before Mario enters the level and begins his adventure.

    A great element I saw that will probably be considered when creating my own game is the use of interactive tutorials to get the player used to new control schemes or game ideas. For instance, when Mario first learns to surf they hold you in place while you experiment with the controls and get used to how it works. While I admit that afterwards I still died many times learning the details of how it worked, I was that much wiser for having been shown such a helpful tutorial and probably saved myself a good amount of time.

    The music also gave me a lasting sense of nostalgia from the older games that I loved so dearly. It was nice to see a 3d version of this game and I was pleased with how this addition to the series continued. I would have liked to have seen Nintendo step outside the box with such an innovative concept but they still stayed within their "Mario template".

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    Jan 17th, 2008 at 16:23:57     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    SUMMARY

    In Super Mario Galaxy you play the part of our always faithful plump plumber Mario. Even fans new to the genre will recognize the main villain, Bowser. It's easily becoming a very cliche game quickly. Bowser arrives and catches everyone partying, takes the princess and runs off to his own galaxy. Once again, it's up to our friend in red overalls to save the Princess. The only question in my head right now is, what was she gonna give him?

    GAMEPLAY

    In the first few scenes you're shown the most basic movement controls and the use of the star pointer on the screen. So far, this seems like every other Mario game in existance.

    The characters are all the same but now they're in space. Does this change this at all? Apparently not, as the vacuum of space doesn't really bother neither Peach, Bowser, or Mario.

    Suspending my belief from the game, it's very well built but unfortunately it feels like a mirror of every other Mario game I've played so far. The princess is captured and Mario is sent to save her. While the situation is slightly changed each time, we can assume that the basic principles of Mario are in effect here:
    1) By taking the princess, Bowser has somehow damaged some third party group that proceeds to help Mario not only get the Princess back, but also restore their world.
    2) We have to collect large amounts of something in order to get the Princess back.
    The gimmick this time is that Mario is collecting Star Bits which not only give him extra lives, but can act like treats for the little starlings (the third party that was disrupted by Bowser). This entire time Mr. I-Don't-Need-A-Spacesuit, seems to shoot from one galaxy to another, collecting the Star Bits and Coins in order to get his lady friend back.

    The game is interesting to a degree but even at this early stage the controls will sometimes glitch due to the camera angle and small size of the beginning planets. Hopefully this will be alleviated as I continue deeper but for now it's a minor annoyance every few minutes.

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