Posts Tagged ‘ Nintendo ’

DSi Review

Nintendo’s DS handheld has already been through a facelift once in the past, moving from a clunky and unattractive form to the stylised Lite version that saw new colours and better button placement. It was something more for the iPod generation.
Many would argue that any changes to the Lite console is needless and unwanted, However Nintendo feel that it is once again time for change and with it comes the DSi.

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The DSi is in essence a DS Lite but with more bells and whistles. Compared to it’s older brother, the DSi is the arrogant talented younger sibling whose constant superiority confuses and shames it’s older counterpart.
With more to play with in this iteration, Nintendo seem to be looking to turn the DS into a portable Wii.
By giving the base menu a complete overhaul to make it look and act like a Wii, This feels like a whole new console rather than a reboot. Upon starting up the DSi, after being greeted by the usual warning screen, You will see that you now have many channels at your disposal. These act just like the Wii dashboard and each channel will house your many applications that will build up over time.

So how do you fill these channels?
To answer this question you need to know what is new with the DSi compared to the DS Lite.
The most apparent changes are the addition of two cameras, one on the outside and one on the hinge inside the unit. You also now have the ability to use SD memory cards inside the DSi, This will enable you to play music and video content as well as saving pictures and programs to the card.
So the camera channel is one of the few channels you’ll start with and along with that you’ll notice a Nintendo store as well. Venturing in here you will see that you can download games and additional channels in exchange for Nintendo points which you also use on the Wii.

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Inside the Nintendo store you can download your next channel which is another new feature of the DSi, an internet browser. You could go online with the previous DS but you would need a cartridge to allow you to do it. Now it’s stored on your home menu you can fire it up and browse until your hearts content.
Browsing the net is a simple affair and the stylus is great as a replacement mouse. You can do pretty much anything you would with a PC except any heavy duty video streaming and such. However checking your e-mails and favourite sites is now an ability you have while on the go, assuming you’re near a wifi hotspot.

So other than taking pictures and manipulating them, buying DSiWare on the Nintendo store and browsing the net, What else is new?
Well, the Gameboy advance slot is now gone, a shame for anyone who loves portable retro gaming or strumming away the time on guitar hero, But everything else is additions.
The screen is now bigger, growing by 0.25 inches, which doesn’t sound much but is definitely noticeable. Along with the screen getting bigger the unit itself has shrunk;
Nintendo DSi: Width 137mm, Length 74.9mm, Thickness 18.9mm (touch pen is approx. 92mm in length)
Nintendo DS Lite: Width 133mm, Length 73.9mm, Thickness 21.5mm (touch pen is approx. 87.5mm in length)

With these being the main changes to the unit, you can overlook the fact that the power switch from the side of the DS Lite is now a button on the inside of the unit and the volume slider is now a toggle switch on the side rather than on the bottom.

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The last major change is purely cosmetic, the DS Lite had a gloss sheen to it but this has been ousted for a chalky matt finish. At first a great decision to eliminate fingerprints however if you manage to catch it with a fingernail or something similar it will have a temporary scuff which looks ugly. Not a huge issue but on a black unit it can be slightly off putting.

Is the upgrade worthwhile?
Yes, if you want to use the raft of DSi only games that Nintendo are bound to release once the console is in full swing. The cameras are fun for the first hour and then are forgotten, this will be until the inevitable series of games that truly utilises the new additions.
Most of these new features will only really be used if you don’t have an iPod or indeed something portable to watch video content on.
Only if these things are a necessity for you or you don’t already own Nintendo’s handheld should you purchase a DSi. Otherwise you may not be blown away by changes seen.
That being said it’s a fun console and kids will have a great time with the camera and it’s software included.

Another great handheld from the greats, but was it really needed? The decision is yours.

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Feature: Long Live the GBA!

With the advent of the new Nintendo DSi, I thought it important to go a step back and see how far portable gaming has come over the years. It’s a shame that, with all the new functions that the DSi possesses, the function to be able to play Game Boy Advance games has been omitted. The Game Boy Advance was a fantastic piece of kit and those who played it will remember how many brilliant games there were for it. With GBA backwards functionality lost it’s hard to see how much longer the words “Game Boy” will last in the industry.

The GBA brought us a hell of a lot of great games, from pocket-sized incarnations of some of our favourite console games, to handheld exclusive adventures and ports of classic SNES and Sega Mega Drive games. It was a powerful little beast considering when it was released. It was able to play massive SNES games (that would have been on cartridges 10 times the size of GBA ones) a mere 6 years after their initial releases. Ever thought you’d be playing Donkey Kong Country on a screen smaller than a credit card? Amazing stuff.

And so, I bring to you, a pocket sized collection of reviews of some of the GBA’s best (and worst) games, no bigger than the handheld console itself. Long live the memory of the Game Boy Advance!


Advance Wars – Smart and engrossing.

Altered Beast : Guardian of the Realms – Just plain wrong

Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge – Colourful and absorbing .

Bomberman Tournament – Lazy and odd one player.

Crash 2: N-Tranced – Good fun for the little ones.

Crash Bandicoot XS – Impressive downscaled Crash but too short.

Donkey Kong Country – Great fun and well ported

Donkey Kong Country 2 – Excellent, even better than the first.

Donkey Kong Country 3 – Good but the worst of the Kongs.

Dragonball Z: Legacy of Goku 2 – Odd battling experience.

Earthworm Jim – Depressing port; nothing like the original

Earthworm Jim 2 – Sickeningly bad. Ported just as badly as EWJ.

Fire Pro Wrestling – Interesting take on pocket grappling.

F-Zero GP Legend – Fast but story is pointless.

Gunstar Future Heroes – Fantastic take on the classic shooter.

Kirby and the Amazing Mirror – Confusing mazes but good clean fun.

Konami Krazy Racers – Charming racer – with Ninja from MGS!

Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy – Cute lego based romp

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong – Clever reincarnation of the arcade classic.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit – Retro karting fun. Great in multiplayer.

Metroid Fusion – Flashy action, an incredible pocket metroid.

Monsters Inc. – Boring, clearly has had no thought put in.

Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green – Feels like a step backwards

Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire – Average; New ‘mon are all daft.

Rayman – Pretty and impressive port.

Sonic Advance – Blisteringly fast – a worthy Sonic game.

Sonic Advance 2 – All over the place but great fun

Sonic Advance 3 – Slow by Sonic’s standards but OK.

Spyro 2: Season of Flame – Huge collect-em-up.

Spyro Adventure – A lot of collecting and talking but enjoyable.

Spyro: Season of Ice – Some frustrating areas but mostly good.

Super Mario Advance – Well ported attack on nostalgia.

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World – Wonderful adventure.

Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island – Clumsy controls.

Super Mario Advance 4: Mario Bros 3 – Frustratingly put together.

Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo Revival – Classic, frantic fighting fun.

Tekken Advance – Sluggish port of an otherwise great fighter.

The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past – Ageing well. A good caper.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – Outstanding skater for such a small device.

Warioware Inc – Frenzied minigame action.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

With the advent of the new Zelda game, “Spirit Tracks”, announced at this year’s Game Developer’s Convention, I felt it about time that I passed judgment on the last console based Zelda affair, the excellent Twilight Princess.

From the word go, this game has Zelda written all over it. You awake as a young farm boy who lives life in a quaint and quiet little village in the Kingdom of Hyrule. Enter something bad and brooding that dubs our little adventurer “The Chosen One” that causes him to start an epic adventure across the whole Kingdom of Hyrule, as well as some other random parallel universe that will surely come into play later on. If you have ever played any kind of Zelda game before then you will know what to expect.

This time around, our hero is controlled with the Wiimote and the nunchuck. Link is moved with the analogue stick and all weapons are mapped to the Wiimote. You can assign a weapon or item to B and use it whenever you wish, and seamlessly integrate these with sword slashes, assigned to a flick of the Wiimote. Whoever over at Nintendo decided that Link should be controlled in this way deserves a huge kiss and a massive raise, because it feels like the most natural control scheme ever, and I can honestly say that I cannot think of a better control scheme from any game I’ve ever played. There are points in the game where Link turns into a Wolf (won’t spoil why) but even in canine form Link is a dream to control. Even items that require aiming allow you to point the remote and aim on screen, and it works so well.

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The game is ported from the Gamecube game which came out at the same time as the Wii incarnation and is literally flipped horizontally so that Links sword lies in his right hand, the same as you will be holding the Wiimote. The graphics, despite being ported from the GC are very good, and although I’ve seen the Wii do better, the attention to detail is unbelievable. Locales are expansive, varied and incredibly well designed. You will find yourself in a multitude of different environment from a gloomily misty wood all the way to the top of a blizzard-ridden mountain, all of them created and rendered to perfection. There is absolutely no pop-up, and every character from the gargantuan bosses you will fight to each blade of grass waving in the wind, each is animated exceptionally well.

Unfortunately, and strangely for a Zelda game, the story is quite dull to follow and is very slow to pick up. The pace at the beginning is very sluggish, the opening dungeon particularly has a lot of areas where it is not obvious what to do and can cause some frustration considering that the first should be the easiest. The first few dungeons also start with an enormously laboured Easter-egg style hunt for these little electric bugs that open the dungeon when you kill all of them. This type of mission feels like more of a chore than anything and is a strange addition; it feels very out of place in the Zelda universe.

As the game gets under way there are a number of questions that are raised, what is this Twilight realm, what are these creatures (some of the enemies you come across are terrifically menacing) and what do they want? These don’t really get answered until about halfway through the game and by this point, I found that I didn’t actually care anymore. The story, despite being your typical Zelda parallel universes fare, is rather lame and I found myself not enjoying it nearly as much as that of the story in Ocarina of Time. It’s not very engrossing and it feels like a mishmash of previous Zelda stories that seems as though it has not had a lot of extra thought put it into it.

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That being said, the game really picks up about the time of the second dungeon, and I found myself hooked after that. The areas are huge and well themed, the puzzles satisfying (and not too frustrating) and the boss fights are truly spectacular, definitely some of the best of the whole series. Some are on a real Shadow of the Colossus type scale. You will actually be climbing up some of the bosses in some cases just to find a weak spot. These fights are tremendously exciting and very well thought out by the boffins at Ninty.

With the exception of one item (which I’ll go into in a second), the majority of the weapons you get in each dungeon are just rehashes of previous games’ weapons and mostly given silly names. Instead of a hookshot, you have a clawshot. Instead of the Hammer, you have a ball on a chain. Though completing Zelda puzzles is always going to be fun, you will find yourself doing similar things to what you’ve always done, be it breaking something that can only be broken with the ball and chain or getting somewhere that can only be reached with the clawshot. It all begins to feel very familiar after a while.

This is my main gripe with the game. Whilst Zelda is always going to be an exceptionally fun and epic adventure, Nintendo don’t seem to be doing anything to bring it to the new generation; ideas of old just seem to keep being rehashed. The only next gen thing about this game, really, is the control scheme; everything else wouldn’t seem out of place on the N64.

It’s a real shame because Twilight Princess is a beautiful and solid game; it just doesn’t really bring anything new to the fray. The tried and tested Zelda formula works very well, but for how long will it last? Will  we still be getting games in this format in ten years time? Will we still want to go to a dungeon, do a few puzzles, fight a boss and repeat?

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My cynicism was diluted slightly when I unlocked the “Spinner” – a Zelda weapon unlike anything I’ve seen before. Link sits atop a spinning spiked platform, which can be used to chop up enemies, as well as lock into ridges on walls to get around and complete certain puzzles. This, to me, was an example of the breath of fresh air I think the series needs. Puzzles based around the spinner felt all new and it’s rather disheartening that the rest of the game couldn’t follow up on something like this.

All pessimism aside, this really is the best Zelda game ever (yes, better than Ocarina, I said it!). If you pick it up it’ll keep you busy for absolutely ages. The fights are epic, the controls work brilliantly well and it’s hugely satisfying when completing some of the harder puzzles in the dungeons. It’s just unfortunate that it’s more of the same and it’s difficult to peg how much longer it’ll last.

Hi-Score – Perfect Controls, Epic Boss battles, Satisfying Puzzles, Detailed Environments.

Lo-Score – Game is slow to start. Some new ideas but not enough of them.

Final Score –  9 out of 10

GDC: Nintendo

Well, It’s that time of the year. GDC is here and currently steaming ahead in San Francisco.
With none of us unfortunately able to be there we’re bringing you the most important content after each Keynote speech.
Today it was down to Nintendo to kick off the proceedings.

First piece of news was more screenshots and video content for the “Wiimake” of Punch Out.
These speak for themselves in terms of hype.

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Nintendo told us today that the Wii would be the console of choice for Final Fantasy fans. Alongside Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My life as a darklord (I know, What a title!!) is Final Fantasy IV: The after years.
There is only one screenshot available at the moment but it looks gorgeous.

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Another moment in the Keynote speech was a test of the new WarioWare game which is featured on the new DSi. WarioWare Snapped will use the cameras on Nintendo’s newest Hardware a lot like an eyetoy.
Unfortunately the screen shots don’t really show off the game, but you can get an idea of what it’s like.

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