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Video games, PC games, or other interactive media that's currently caught my attention ...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

I've been playing Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks since it came out, and I'm pretty sold on it.

It's a great little adventurer that fits into the Zelda canon, with intuitive but clever puzzles that are for the most part challenging without being frustrating. It's got the trademark fun and humor inherent with the franchise (Princess Zelda is particularly a hoot).

I'll save my larger write-up for when I'm further into (or finishing) the game, but there are a couple of rocky spots in Hyrule.

First, I'm not all that thrilled with the train mechanic. It feels gimmicky, and while core to the story, I wonder if it was a good design choice, or maybe fast travel has ruined me and my patience.

Second, I dislike requiring the stylus to make a player move, because it gets in the way of being able to see what's happening on screen. I like having the D-pad as an option to move around the screen, and since there are (at least right now) unused buttons that could be assigned to the map and menu screens, using the D-pad for these functions (and requiring the stylus for movement) feel like forcing the DS mechanics for the sake of enforcing the DS mechanics.

Lastly (for now), the sketchy directional control of upgrades like the whirlwind are sucky at best, causing frustrating battle moments and required replays. Not fun.

But these are nits compared to the overall game, and that's why I call them out -- the whole game is great, so these shortcomings shouldn't be seen as taking away from the overall experience.

More later ....

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chrono Trigger

I'm on the road a lot lately the last several weeks, so that means I'm DSing it.

Having missed Chrono Trigger the first time around, I'm now playing it on the Nintendo DS, and it's stellar.

Being updated to take advantage of the DS control scheme and touch screen is keen, as is the implementation of dual screen support. I also dig the the real-time battle option.

I'm spoiled; not sure I could have played this JRPG the first time around, but the "DS enhanced" version really works for me.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer (NDS)

I picked up Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer for the Nintendo DS because I wanted to play a polished roguelike on the handheld.

Liking it so far, though I think after it, I want to find a darker roguelike game. If I can't find one, I may make one.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Legendary Starfy (NDS)

I wanted to grab a quick platformer for my recent cross-continental travel, and I'd heard good things about The Legendary Starfy for the Nintendo DS.

It's a fun, goofy, solid little NDS 2D platfrom title that makes good use of the two screens, and marginal use of the touch screen (in that you need to touch to select some things on menus, etc.

I like the whimsical nature of it, and think it'll be a fun platform offering with decent story and jokes to keep me playing through.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Dragon Ball: Origins (NDS)

I'm playing Dragon Ball: Origins as one of the half-dozen titles I'm rotating through my Nintendo DS.

This is a fun little, stylus-dependent game, and it's a great gift to franchise fans. Its implementation style fits nicely with the quirky Dragon Ball IP style (gone grittier in later Dragon Ball Z and GT incarnations).

I totally dig getting reintroduced to longtime favorite characters, and unlocking figures for display and animating, while a little gimmicky, is something I really appreciate.

It's not all perfect, of course -- in particular, the stylus-only combat can be a bit dicey, and I don't like that I have to use the stylus for moving around -- I'd much rather use the D-Pad in a more straightforward way.

I'm probably 10-15% through this overall massive little title, so I'll hopefully write more about it later.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

I'm finally giving up on Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, even though it's a great game.

Co-workers Vince and Mike shamed me into playing it, I'm glad they did, it's awesome, but I've been stuck at the very end for too long, and there are too many good games to play for me to keep beating my head against a wall.

This is a great strategy title for the Nintendo DS not just from the mechanics (air, land, and sea, units are diverse, complex, and surprisingly deep), but for the little morality lessons and characterizations packed into Nintendo's touch-screen handheld. While some of the villains are a bit stereotypical 2D J-pop, protagonists Brenner and Will, in particular, are quite a bit of fun (even if they are bit Captain America and Bucky).

You basically pit your military units against the game's AI or a friend over wi-fi (haven't tried the latter), and try to capture bases and/or wipe out all of the opposing force(s).

I dig the interface, it was easy to get into buying and deploying forces, and (up until the end) has a great learning curve.

Oddly, my favorite part of the game is the story / conversation mechanic. Check out the official Website and click on any of the characters to see it, but in essence it's two 2D cutouts talking to each other, with animation limited to eyes and mouths, and fading out of the listener and fading in of the speaker. Worked for me really well for some reason, and I'm going to play with it some more with mock ups and such for my own projects.

Anyway, good little addicting strategy game for Nintendo DS with high production values, solid story, and some elevating attributes. High recommend.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Orcs & Elves (NDS)

I played id Software's Orcs & Elves, because I'm a fan of the first-person dungeon crawler genre.

While not the best entry in the genre (for me), Orcs & Elves is a fun, engaging, fairly addictive Nintendo DS title -- especially since you can easily get it on the cheap (less than $15)

Originally a mobile (phone game), the Nintendo DS version shows its legacy roots, in that more content should have been created for the latter version.

That said, I definitely like the map and touch-screen inventory management implementation, and spellcasting on the DS is pretty slick, even if a bit gimmicky.

You can use the touch screen to navigate, but I recommend the directional pad, and the implementation of the NDS bumpers for turning (a shortcoming in other genre implementations), is much appreciated.

I wish there were more art assets for the NDS version -- that part, in particular, seems necessarily skimped on.

Overall, it's a very playable NDS title, and I recommend it for both fans of the genre, and people wanting to get their feet wet with it.

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