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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 03:59:44     -    Nights: Journey of Dreams (Wii)

    Alright, so it turns out NiGHTS is a guy. They called him 'he'. Who knew? I swear his voice is female. But whatever. Probably not important.

    On a different note, I beat not only that mission but that entire world, and got the White Ideya- which represents Purity, I think. I could be wrong. But yay. Go me.

    NiGHTS is actually considerably more versatile than I originally thought he was. Turns out he can become a boat, and a dolphin. And probably other stuff later. It's kinda random, but I like it. Makes the gameplay interesting. When you enter a level, you never really have any idea at all what you'll be asked to do. And besides, every game needs some measure of randomness in it, just because.

    Honestly, I seriously think I haven't played enough of this game to really talk about its gameplay. Every other level something new is thrown at you, and sometimes that completely changes things. Other times it just modifies what you were doing before. But it manages to keep it interesting. I approve.

    Just by looking at it, you can tell that a lot of NiGHT's design was put into how it looked. The worlds look awesome. Their art budget is way bigger than mine. Mainly because my game doesn't have an art budget. It sucks. Anyway, the game looks incredible. And that's only a small part of the level design. Making 3D worlds, even with only 2D cardinality, is no easy task. Especially when that 2D path changes every time you accomplish an objective.

    Also, it has characters! Most games, you hear about how they have an awesome story. Well, so far I'm not too interested in the story of this game. I'm interested in the characters. They're awesome and they have backgrounds and personalities and I love it. I want to know who NiGHTS is, why he's helping, what his relation is with the bad guy (who looks like a male version of NiGHTS. Yes, I know NiGHTS is a guy. He looks female, we already went over this). And the voice acting is excellent, and there are cutscenes before every single mission. Not just each world, but each mission. It's awesome. I likes.

    In short, this game intrigues me. It is quite possibly the first game I've played where I didn't play it just to beat it, or to do everything in it (Yes, I'm a completionist. So sue me). I find I want to play this game because I want to learn more about it. It intrigues me. And the fact that it intrigues me intrigues me more. Savvy?

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:24:14     -    Nights: Journey of Dreams (Wii)

    NiGHTS takes place in the world of dreams, Nightopia. You play as one of two main characters, either a boy or a girl, as they explore this dreamworld, which is on the verge of being taken over by the Nightmarens and the world of Nightmare. There to help you out is NiGHTS, a whimsical jester-like creature who you can control as he/she/it traverses the various levels accomplishing various tasks, all in search of the missing Ideya (pronounced eye-day-ah) that apparently all dreamers have but you lost, and must get back to save the world. Theirs, not ours. Or maybe both, I'm not sure yet, I haven't played that much.

    Confused yet? Yeah, well, bear with me.

    For most of the levels (every level I've played so far, though I hear there are walking levels as well), you take control of NiGHTS (through some rather Dragonball-Z-esqe fusion ability NiGHTS apparently has) and control him/her/it... look, I don't know what gender NiGHTS is. Let's call it a her for the time being, because that's what he/she- whatever's voice sounds like. Sound good? Great.

    Anyway, you control her as you loop and fly through the levels, in a world that looks 3D but is really a 2D path on rails. You have a strange looping vacuum ability that you use as an attack- NiGHTS leaves a trail behind her as she flies, and if you make a complete circle with it, it makes a bubble that is simultaneously capable of defeating enemies and sucking up various powerup objects. Or, for most enemies, you can just grab an enemy and swing around it once, which accomplishes the same looping attack and is far easier to pull off.

    But let's talk about things being easy to pull off, shall we? There are letter grades on each mission, and so far I've never been able to pull off anything above a C because it's darn hard to pull off anything at all. I'm currently stuck on something like the third level because I have to save innocent little cotton-ball people from being sucked into a black hole by sucking them up with that looping attack and it's really frigging hard to pull off. And if five of them are sucked in, you lose and have to start over. And though it's structured kind of like Mario 64 in that there are various worlds, each with multiple missions in them, it insists you do them in a certain order, and therefore I cannot move on until I beat this one frustrating level. I call this bad game design, how about you?

    But aside from the frustration of controlling NiGHTS, it actually turns out to be rather fun. I mean, flying through a brilliantly colored world where you can do anything is everyone's dream, right? Or, at the very least, flying in 2D cardinality is this game's dream- world. Alright, I'll stop making bad jokes. But until I got stuck, I was enjoying myself. So perhaps I'll give it another go.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:45:25.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 04:54:38     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    Huzzah. My faith in the Mario series has been restored. Turns out I was right to give them the benefit of the doubt- after the first observatory dome, the levels get considerably more interesting. Apparently they did actually have competent level designers. It's still Super Mario 64 in space- there's no point in even trying to deny that. But they have introduced enough new things for me to keep my interest even though they're using the same tired old plot again and again.

    Gameplay got significantly more interesting in the second and third observatory domes, including everything from blowing Mario around in a bubble to turning into a Boo to racing through space by pulling yourself along with Pull Stars. I became interested once again. Also, I actually got a plot piece- the Princess Peach look-alike, Rosalina, seems to actually have a story behind her. I am intrigued, because I really don't know anything at all about her and her Luma friends (the Luma are a race of little star people).

    However, I did notice some issues with it, as well- particularly in the controls and handling. It could be argued that Super Mario Galaxy comes as close to 3D cardinality as any game ever has. It's not just move around flat plane and jump. It's move around sphere, jump, get attracted to some other object's gravity field, and suddenly you're upside-down. Unfortunately, the Wiimote and Nunchuk are not really designed to handle 3D cardinality, and thus there are some control issues where it's hard to tell exactly which way I ought to tilt the controls stick to make Mario go where I want him to. Also, the camera is independent, and while you can override it to some degree with the control pad, it's a little awkward to actually do so, so occasionally there are camera issues. So far it's just cases of times when the camera won't point in the direction I want it to. I haven't seen any actual camera glitches yet, which is good.

    Another major thing I noticed about the gameplay: It's a Mario game. It probably does have a difficulty curve, but I hardly notice it. Especially on bosses, where I expect them to be difficult and then they're not. In my personal opinion, if a boss doesn't kill you the first time you face him, something is wrong with the boss. But this is merely a personal preference on my part- I simply prefer games which present a greater challenge than this one does. I am sure there are other people who would find Super Mario Galaxy to be just difficult enough for them.

    The basic design of the game seems to be centered around one idea: "Lol. We have gravity. What kind of crazy stuff can we do with it?" Answer: Lots of crazy stuff. In some cases, gravity is completely arbitrary and makes a 180 degree switch if you cross a certain point. Places like these will have arrows on the walls showing which way gravity is pointing where, though, just so it isn't completely impossible. There are other places where if you cross to a wall at a certain point, it becomes the floor- anywhere else and it's still a wall. Many other places are simply miniature planets, a simple sphere that you can stand anywhere on. Other times it's disks where you can be rightside up or upside down. And every so often it's platforms where if you walk off the edge you die. Usually this is shown with corners- if there is a corner, you'll fall off. If the edge is rounded, you can walk on it. Although this is not an absolute rule, it's pretty reliable.

    Level design was also a big thing in this game, because it has so many levels and they're all completely different. I've been in a beehive, a haunted house, a space junkyard, a mountain riddled with cannons, a figure-eight track of water suspended in midair, and a place that was essentially a giant bowl. Each level manages to have its own feel to it, while still remaining in the same style so they don't seem out of place being together in the same game. This is probably far harder to do than it sounds, and is definitely an integral part of level design- making levels that are different enough to be interesting, yet close enough that they don't violently clash with each other. Super Mario Galaxy does this quite well, I think. And this is probably the thing I'm going to think about when I make my own game, which has levels of its own, but rather lacks a complicated 3D gravity engine.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:37:28     -    Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    In the latest installment of the Mario series, Mario has finally headed out to the final frontier: outer space. Princess Peach has been kidnapped (again) and it's up to Mario to save her. Trouble is, this time Bowser has a spaceship. Mario ought to get one of those. But since he doesn't have one, he is once again up to his old tricks of platforming through various planets and galaxies in search of Power Stars.

    Super Mario Galaxy's opening cutscene is suspiciously familiar. A letter from Princess Peach brings Mario to her side, only to have the party interrupted by Bowser's untimely arrival and kidnap of Princess Peach. Mario tags along, but is quickly found and blasted into deep space. In an amazing lack of oxygen deprivation, he wakes up on another planet and is told by a Princess Peach look-alike that he must go to various galaxies in search of Power Stars to save the princess.

    Have you noticed it yet? Yup, it's Super Mario 64. In space. Almost down to the last plot device.

    I'm sure we're supposed to be very impressed with your gravity engine, Nintendo, but that's not an excuse to make the same game twice. After playing for about an hour and a half, I've beaten the first bowser challenge and have unlocked the next observatory, but I can't help but already be bored. It's standard-issue Mario platforming. They've added in a few new tricks, like sections where gravity is by no means fixed and you'll find yourself on the ceiling very easily, and the levels have changed from planes to spheres, but I can't help feeling like I've done it before. What new content there is they use well- but there's not nearly enough of it.

    Not to say that the game is bad- it's a standard Mario game, and they're almost never bad. And certainly if you've never played Super Mario 64 it will be a new experience for you. And I can give it the benefit of the doubt for now- it's entirely possible that the first set of galaxies are the easy ones, and it will get better in later galaxies. And the one bonus mission I played- Rocky Road in the Sweet Sweet Galaxy- was genuinely challenging and I liked it. So the game definitely has potential. But we'll see. Perhaps I shall find new challenges in the second observatory.

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    Entries written to date: 10
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    1Final Fantasy XII (PS2)Playing
    2Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)Playing
    3Nights: Journey of Dreams (Wii)Playing
    4Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)Playing
    5The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (Wii)Finished playing


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