Tag Archive | "game consoles"

A Last Look at Gaming on the Nintendo DS

It will not be long before Japanese game giant Nintendo announces that the production of the NDS handheld game console will finally cease. Initial estimates are saying this could happen sometime around 2012, though some insist that the device will still be in production until 2013. Regardless, the Nintendo DS has taken hold of the handheld gaming industry ever since it first came out last 2004 and has never let go since.

Naturally, a game system’s true strength lies in its games and the NDS’ game library caters to the whole palette of gamers from super casual to the almost deeply hardcore. Titles range from the as-expected Nintendo lineup of favorites such as Metroid, Super Mario and Star Fox, and a few new additions such as Animal Crossing. From third party developers, there are plenty of point and click adventures such as Trace Memory, Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton and several others. A new innovation is the touch-reliant gaming genre, which introduced titles such as The World Ends with You, Knights in the Nightmare and Rub Rabbits –titles whole gameplay factor relied heavily on the touch screen controls. Of course, the user input method was also encouraging for the development of many strategy games such as Advance Wars, FF Tactics Advance DS and many more. Between all these titles are a deluge of music games like Rock Band and Ouendan. As well as plenty of innovative and off-beat titles such as Brain Age, Love Plus, Hotel Dusk and so much more. Nintendo knew that with its unique dual-screen approach, they would start a new trend in the gaming industry –and they did.

The choice to be innovative with the system came with the development of better resistive touch screen technology. Back in 2003 to 2004 (the development period for the DS), capacitive touch screens were pretty much unheard of, let alone multi touch capabilities. For its time, the DS’ stylus based gaming opened up plenty of doors for game makers. For some, it was Nintendo’s courage to double up the screen which made the DS truly shine. Aside from the touch screen between the cursor pad and the buttons, the flip lid has a regular screen –allowing games to display two completely different visuals at the same time. Some games used this feature minimally –using the secondary screen as a map or inventory window. Others use it as an integral part of the game, where players control aspects of the two screens at the same time.

On its own the DS also served a few other purposes. The device can be used as a desk clock complete with its own alarm –not quite the best use for it, but you can if you want to. And the built in Pictochat feature allows you to communicate with drawn images with other DS users. It sounds silly, but you could lose a good couple of hours just having fun with it. Our personal favorite however, is the GBA backwards compatibility feature. You can simply plug in a GBA cart in the bottom of the device and the main system menu of the DS will offer you a choice of choosing which game to boot.

The new 3DS is offering just as much as the NDS (except the backwards compatibility bit) and offers many new features. But with the NDS’ already established gaming library, and the fact that it is already in the hands of over 50 million gamers worldwide, means that it will be a long time before this Nintendo handheld legend fades away.

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Party Host and More: the Nintendo Wii

The Wii is taking the concept of friendly get-togethers into a whole new realm with its motion gaming controls and multiplayer functionalities. Of course, figuring out which titles to go for is not exactly the easiest thing to do –especially when there are hundreds to choose from. Here are four of our most recommended titles to help you figure out which games would best your party needs.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Sometimes, there is nothing that can hold down the hyperactive needs of a preteen boy –let alone four of them. Fortunately, Nintendo’s four-way beat-em-up 2D fighter promises plenty of fast paced action to keep even the most hardcore player of the bunch focused on the game. Smash Brothers brings back a great lineup of Iconic Nintendo characters such as Mario, Samus, Fox, Zelda and more into a free spirited battle tournament. Parents watching on will appreciate many of the old and new Nintendo franchise cameos ranging from the Game and Watch era to the more recent Animal Crossing and Nintendogs title. Metal Gear Solid fans will also be happy to see Snake pop up as a playable character.

Boom Blox

When EA announced that Steven Spielberg was working on a game, we were wondering what kind of fantastic stories he would be bringing to interactive life. Nobody expected that the man would spearhead the creation of a game that would later take spotlight of any party: Boom Blox. It sounds silly and even the concept is hard to take seriously: you throw balls at blocks. But give the game a quick whirl and after five minutes, you and your friends will be addicted.

The game pits you against your friends in turn based ball-throwing battles where you each pit your accuracy and skill at strategic block knocking. There are various gameplay objectives such as blowing up a specific number of blocks or knocking off blocks in a certain order to win. Highly replayable, intuitive controls and an overall fun gameplay experience makes this title a must have for parties.

Wario Ware Smooth Moves

Of course, when it comes to motion gaming, you have to bring out Wario Ware Smooth Moves. Players take turns as they each try to do various motions in order to achieve the various stage objectives. Each stage only lasts a few seconds or so you players have to think fast about what to do. On a multiplayer game, you and your friends have to communicate fast in order to pass the WiiMote (you only use one) around to the next player. Fun, frantic and certain to tire payers out within an hour or two; this is the best way to whip up an appetite before serving the hors d’oeuvres.

Wii Sports

It is old and comes free with your Nintendo Wii, yet Wii Sports is still a much recommended title for those who want to have various activities without having to change discs a lot. Players get to participate in various sports such as tennis, boxing, billiards, air hockey and more. The best part here is that you can get your friends to make custom Miis to use prior to the game –as each player can select their own Mii avatar to play.

The next time you become the designated host of a party and are stumped on what to do; do not hesitate to fire up the Wii and buy some new batteries for the controllers. This little home console will solve all your entertaining needs.

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Solving Mysteries on the NDS, One Touch at a Time

The Nintendo DS plays host to a treasure trove of great games, and plenty of which fall under the mystery adventure genre. If you are a looking for a good point and click adventure that will keep you on your toes, here are our favorite mystery games for the NDS.

Hotel Dusk

With amazing visuals, a deep, intricate storyline and a unique way of playing on the DS, Hotel Dusk certainly has it all made. Players will have to flip their DS sideways (with options for left-handed users) and play with the screens in a vertical orientation. This provides the illusion of having a single screen –a visual effect that heavily influences the gameplay. In Hotel Dusk, players are in control of Kyle Hyde, a former NYPD officer in search of his old partner, Brian Bradley. His quest leads him to the mysterious Hotel Dusk, and there players will have to explore the various rooms, lobbies and passageways to seek out clues about what happened to Brian. The hotel is also occupied by various tenants and staff, talking with these people will reveal further information about the mystery of Brian’s whereabouts and the twisted past of Hotel Dusk itself. The story is very deep, involving a rich back story about art fraud, mysterious criminal organizations and false identities. Armchair detectives will certainly have a field day with this game.

Time Hollow

Time travel is one of the most difficult science fiction elements to make use of, and Konami’s Junko Kawano certainly made this one a solid work of art. The game places players in control of Ethan Kairos and together with the “hollow pen” players are able to create portals in time in order to observe or directly interfere with events of the past. With both of his parents suddenly disappearing, Ethan finds his world changed as if his parents had died a full five years ago. With his own friends mysteriously dying one after another, Ethan must seek out clues about the past and chase after another mysterious individual who also uses a hollow pen. The story is well written and it paces along at a pretty good rate. Much of the narration provides plenty of concise bits of information that players need to understand the game world and the overall story. Depending on the player’s actions, one of several possible endings may be unlocked –and only by solving all the mysteries can a true alternate ending be found.

Trace Memory

When Ashley Robbins celebrated her 14th birthday, she certainly did not expect to receive a gift from her father –who was supposed to have died when she was just three years old. The gift, a device called the DTS is uniquely designed to work only for Ashley. Along with this strange contraption is an invitation from her father who tells her to go to “Blood Edward Island”. Thus starts the plot for Trace Memory, a deeply moving mystery solving game that places players in the heart of a mysterious island, accompanied only by a ghost with no memories and faced with puzzles every step of the way. The stylus controls both movement and puzzle solving so expect to be using the touch screen a lot. AS with all mystery games, Trace Memory’s intricate storyline will only reveal its greatest secrets to the most inquisitive of players.

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Wii for Two: Two Cooperative Games for the Win

Everybody loves to talk about the many multiplayer aspects of the Wii, how impressive the system is for entertaining plenty of people and how well it functions for the family in general. But for standard two player games – that is an issue that is often unanswered yet much valued by hardcore players. So today, we are giving you our favorite cooperative games for the Nintendo Wii. Of course, with plenty of great two player campaigns available on the Wii, we’ve decided to serve up a pair of titles that will really want to make you work with a friend: a couple of the best horror games.

Obscure: the Aftermath

Survival horror games tend to lose their fright factor when there’s more than one player –take Resident Evil 5 for example. But there are times when even having more company doesn’t take the fright away. Enter “Obscure: the Aftermath”. This scary little masterpiece is a sequel to the original Obscure and introduces players to the two survivors of the first game and a whole new bunch of college coeds.

The game is scary, disturbing and frantic. When a bizarre sexually transmitted demonic plague starts creeping about the school, players must controls various pairs of characters through obstacles and puzzles as they try to escape chainsaw wielding psychopaths, mutated flying monsters and a whole host of other malicious beings. The cooperative aspect really shines through as players must support and protect each other. Gone are the days when you are safely picking a lock on a door (which often opens up a user interfaces that temporarily halts any enemies). In Obscure, you will have to count on your partner to shoot down any nasty things that might be coming up your back. For the ultimate in a two player scare fest, we definitely recommend playing this game.

House of the Dead: Overkill

Normally, when people talk about on-rails shooters for the Wii, the Resident Evil Chronicle titles (Umbrella and Darkside) are among the first to be mentioned. But when you want to have a little more fun shooting down zombies and just enjoying with your buddy, then you will certainly want to pop in House of the Dead: Overkill instead.

This game features plenty of 70’s inspired fashion; grind house movie visuals and enough swearing to make a B-movie starring Samuel Jackson blush. It is funny, witty and still surprisingly dark. The game is considered to be a prequel of all the HotD games –showing players the early beginnings of lead character Agent G –the heavy language in the game comes from the second main character, Isaac Washington. The cooperative aspect of the game mainly involves shooting everything onscreen as fast as possible –which is certainly easier with two players. For bosses however, a little more communication and planning are required in order to get the best ranks.

Alone, players will still be able to enjoy, play and finish these two games. But in two-player mode, players get to experience a rich and fulfilling cooperative gameplay aspect that the titles have been truly designed for. If you have not had the chance to try either Obscure: the Aftermath or HotD: Overkill, then now is the best time to bring your best friend over for some real gaming action.

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Clash of the Handhelds: NDS vs the PSP

Nintendo has been the king of the hill when it comes to handheld gaming. Starting with the launch of the original Game and Watch devices, the company started small, focusing only delivering simple gaming enjoyment to players worldwide. With the launch of the Gameboy, the Japanese game company opened up a whole new industry with the very first handheld gaming console. The rest has been history, with the launch of several other devices, Nintendo has knocked out competitors such as Sega’s GameGear, the Wonderswan, and the Nokia N-Gage (among others).

With the launch of the DS, it seemed that nothing could ever come close to Nintendo’s throne. Until Sony launched the PSP; featuring a wide screen display, graphics that surpassed the original Playstation One and support from a wide range of game developers, many knew that the two systems would clash against each other for market share. And they did.

The PSP won over many gamers for its very hardcore choices of game titles, its multimedia playback features and its WiFi capabilities. The DS on the other hand took on a much larger market, targeting both hardcore gamers and casual players at the same time –taking in crowds that the PSP could not cater with its lack of casual titles. In terms of market performance, the NDS dominated the handheld gaming industry –leading the sales against the PSP with a difference of millions.

Of course, the DS lacked many of the side features that the PSP offered. But this helped give the DS an edge: a lesser price tag. Even with the more sophisticated DSi, it was still a lot less tech-heavy than Sony handheld. And with the introduction of smart phones with WiFi browsing and media playback, less people saw the need for having a more expensive gaming device that is over-laden with features that their phones can do.

Naturally, many gamers own both devices –as the number of exclusive titles for each device is quite extensive, there are plenty of reasons to own both. The PSP concentrated heavily on time-consuming hardcore titles as well as some very addictive multiplayer games. The DS on the other hand, was perfect for quick gaming sessions with its lighter game content and less competitive titles. It also helped that the DS had access to a wide range of Nintendo exclusive IPs such as Mario, Animal Crossing, Pokemon and more.

In terms of hardware, the PSP is obviously much stronger of the two. While the DS did have two screens, it had very low 3D graphics capabilities and could only render screens at a limited resolution. The PSP on the other hand, could easily handle PS games without so much as a single slowdown and has an even faster loading speed than the original console. Because of this, many of the games on the DS tended to be sprite based while the PSP enjoyed a bigger abundance of 3D polygon titles.

So who won the war? The DS obviously made a lot more money for Nintendo than what the PSP did for Sony. But the PSP is also the first handheld –while Nintendo has had plenty of experience in the industry and is obviously far more established. With the recent launch of the 3DS and the upcoming NGP, the two game companies are going to go at it again. Either company could very well take the lead, but one thing is for sure, we gamers will have plenty to look forward to.

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Getting More Out of Your Wii

Nintendo’s motion controlled gaming console is considered to be one of the top systems in terms of overall entertainment. While its value to hardcore gamers may not be on the same level as the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360, the Wii has more to offer to a broader market of casual gamers and of course, families.

If the Wii is currently on the center of your home entertainment system, with the console playing host to friends and family, you might want to consider investing a little bit of money and time to grab these very useful accessories.

First off, the Wii Balance Board –normally, we would not recommend getting a console peripheral that is only useful for one game (Wii Fit), but in this case, the Balance Board is a must have. Not only do you get to do really amusing things on it (you can test which among your friends can balance best on one foot), but there are plenty of useful applications that use the board. These applications mainly improve exercises that help you keep track of your weight –something that many gamers would appreciate.

When it comes to pointless accessories that offer loads of fun, nothing beats the various add-ons to the WiiMote controller. They range from simple items such as a sword, shield, tennis racket and the like. While they do not add any functional value (some even make playing a little harder), it is always fun to see your friends waving a plastic sword at virtual enemies onscreen.

Speaking of playing in front of a screen, get better WiiMote straps. Nintendo’s WiiMote comes with straps that are used to tie the controller to the player’s wrist (which will help prevent people from accidentally throwing the controller). There are already countless tales of various plasma and HD television screen that have been smashed by an over-eager player’s WiiMote. Better straps would help fasten the controller to the wrist better –just be sure to tell all your users to put on the straps when they play!

Aside from the usual array of swords and hammers, there are a few WiiMote add-ons that actually help, such as the steering wheel, the gun-grips and yes, even the Link crossbow (from Link’s Crossbow Training). These do not necessarily help you aim better –as most of us are far more lethal with a remote control style grip. But they do actually enhance the gameplay experience. There is also an additional extra motion sensing device that goes on the bottom of the WiiMote as well –which helps tracking your movements a lot more accurate.

To get more out of your gaming on the Wii, it is a good idea to buy rechargeable batteries. There are two variants. One is the typical AA battery size that replaces the standard batteries. The other is a Lithium Ion based battery that replaces the standard battery and the battery cover. The good thing about the L-ion battery is that is often comes with a charging dock so that you can be sure that every time you play, your controller is all charged up and ready to go.

So the next time you find yourself with a little extra gaming budget. You might want to pass out on grabbing the latest game releases and instead, look for some worthwhile purchases that would enhance your gaming experience with your current library.

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