Tag Archive | "games"

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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The Playstation Network Goes Portable

Sony’s Playstation Network is considered by many to be superior to its only competitor, Xbox Live. The free service, availability of plenty of content and the sheer fact that it transcends the base console (the Playstation 3) are all major reasons to support it. Speaking of transcending, the PSN is accessible to the PS3 as well as through regular web browsers and of course, the Playstation Portable.

At this point, a little clarification is needed. Since the introduction of the PSP’s web browser (starting with version 2.0 of the PSP firmware), there has already been access for the PSP on Sony’s official network. This was launched in 2005. The service known as the Playstation Network would be launched a full year later –at which point, going to the Sony official page through the PSP would link directly to the PSN. By 2008, the 5.00 firmware update would provide PSP owners with a new PSN XMB icon which allowed them to get online on the network instantly. This same update also allowed users to register Playstation accounts for the device itself.

For the most part, most of PSN’s regular services are available for the PSP. This includes obtaining the latest news from the official Playstation blog, being able to check the latest trailers and gameplay videos for upcoming games, get new themes and wallpapers for the PSP and of course, access downloadable content such as PSP Minis, full PS games and add-ons for existing titles.

The big thing missing from the PSP’s PSN network is the ability to keep track of trophies –which is more due to the fact that PSP games do not come with trophies (it has been confirmed that the upcoming NGP will have trophy support ), and also, being able to track PSN friends.

Unlike the PS3 version of the PSN, the PSP does not have a feature similar to the PS Home. Originally, a 3D avatar-based software for the PSP was being developed under the name of PSP Room (which used the infinity symbol for the double “o”). This project got past the initial development stages and reached up to beta testing. However, due to issues that Sony has chosen to keep secret, the game was canceled.

Recently, Sony has opened up Playstation Plus options for users who want to get a little extra value from the PSN Store. Subscription based special access privileges are granted to users who pay an extra monthly fee. These include free content such PSP Minis, PSone Classics and expansion packs for existing games. Aside from all the free stuff, players also get special discounted rates on many items as well as access to exclusive content (media, wallpapers and in some rare cases, Plus-only DLC content for certain first party titles).

For the average PSP gamer, having access to the PSN is a godsend. It provides plenty of great content at no cost, and delivers information and free stuff right at your fingertips; making it the perfect way to catch up with all things Sony, gaming and portable.

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Channel Surfing on Your Nintendo Wii

The Wii gives the game console experience with a whole new twist: turning your favorite Nintendo party machine into a multipurpose hub for the family with its add-on channels. First time users of the system will notice that the main screen of the system OS features a whole swath of empty channels. With the main game channel placed on the upper left corner and the Mii channel on the second slot, one wonders what else can be added. Here’s a quick list of all the great additional content that Nintendo has to offer for your Wii.

First up is the official Nintendo Channel. From here, players can get the latest new on all things Nintendo and more. Previews, demos and video interviews regarding upcoming games and features are updated frequently on this channel. It also allows you to grab very exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming WiiWare titles as well.

Another great channel to have is the Wii Shop channel. This is the place to go for all downloadable content. There are both WiiWare and Virtual Console games, as well as additional channels that can be purchased. From here, players can load up their account with Wii Points as well as send gifts to the people on their Wii friends list.

Of course, once you have downloaded your favorite games, it is time to play them! The Virtual Console not a single channel but a multipurpose tool that emulates the Neo Geo, the old NES, SNES and N64 consoles, Sega’s Genesis and even the TurboGrafx 16 system. Each game for the various consoles will appear on the main screen as a separate channel.

Going back to your Miis, there’s a great way to enjoy your personal avatar outside of the default Mii channel. Enter the Check Mii Out channel. This is the place to go to if you want to see other people’s creations, to compare avatar designs and to compete in special weekly challenges (usually a create-a-Mii with a theme). If you did not get to join the competition, you can still join the fun by becoming part of the judging system.

And while we are on the topic of socializing with other Nintendo users, the Everybody Votes channel is one interesting polling system. Here, various questions are asked of the population in general. It’s a great big giant survey machine for the Nintendo community and is a great way to see how far or similar your view is from the public opinion. The statistics are provided in a daily basis and there are new polls to answer each week. The great part about this is that if you have got questions of your own, you can also add them to the poll.

The Nintendo News channel is a great way to introduce your non-computer savvy folks (or roommates) to the power of RSS driven news content. There is local and international news coverage on a wide range of topics (politics, science, sports, entertainment and more). Most of the content is from Reuters so users can be assured of the accuracy of details. Be warned however, as most news is often bad news -so some parents might keep their children from this content until they reach a certain age of comprehension.

Last on our list is the photo channel. From here, users can access image content stored on an SD card to view the content on the TV. This works best for system using component cables in order to achieve the best image quality. Also, the Wii will detect any MP3 music files on the card and play it as a background to your slideshow.

If you have not added any of these amazing channels on your Wii, now is the perfect time to set up your WiFi connection and experience all the useful and fun functionalities that the console has to offer.

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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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Sony’s Playstation Portable Takes on the Nintendo DS

For the most part, the handheld console market has been heavily divided between the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. Together, these two devices literally controlled the industry, and despite the advent of app gaming for smart phones, game developers know that if they wanted to produce big games, it would be on either one of these two.

Of course, there is a distinct difference between the two devices and while the ideal is to have both (and have access to both gaming libraries), one simply cannot help but compare. So here it is: the PSP vs DS showdown.

Model to Model

One of the biggest arguments that DS owners make is that the later versions of the DS matches that of the PSP. However, on a side by side comparison, the only DS to get a leg up is the DS XL –which offers a larger screen (there is no PSP version with a screen larger or smaller than the original). However, even this is not that big a deal, the PSP’s screen size is still packing a higher resolution. Other features such as the DSi’s browser, media player and camera have all been available since the first PSP device –though the camera is an external attachment that hooks up on top of the PSP. To match the DS’s microphone, the PSP introduced a mic jack for the PSP-2000 model and a built in mic for the PSP-3000.

Input Controls

Sony’s PSP brings to players a directional pad, an analog nub, four buttons and two shoulder buttons. The Nintendo DS makes use of a resistive touch screen instead of a nub. While the DS has an advantage of a second screen, the fact is that most games hardly utilize the secondary screen for any worthwhile purpose (nothing that a pop-out menu on a single screen layout could not change). And even titles that seemed reliant on the touch screen (GTA: Chinatown Wars, Knights in the Nightmare), eventually were ported to the PSP without any control issues. The big drawback for the DS is that they did not make use of a capacitive touch screen (in fairness, the technology was not common back then). Since players would need to hold a stylus with one hand, supporting the entire device with the other hand became slightly difficult. This was especially the case for the first edition of the NDS which was particularly heavy for just one hand.

Portability

Right off the bat, the PSP’s better with its’ quick hibernate mode and simple controls. As with any device that makes use of a stylus, DS players have to be mindful of where they place their sticks. The quick hibernate mode gets a special mention since you never know at what point in the game you will be when your train reaches your stop. While placing down the lid of the DS sets the game into sleep mode, the battery drain is strong. The PSP allows players to quickly press up the power button and send the entire device into hibernation. This lets you head off the train, get to work/class and return to your game at the exact point where you left off later in the evening. With the DS, you’ll be praying the whole time that the battery does not run out.

Hardcore Games

There is no lack of casual gaming titles for both devices. But with established hardcore titles, the PSP has a much larger library. So far, Nintendo has been doing great with many of its big-name first party developed games such as the Pokemon series, Metroid and innumerable Zelda and Mario games. With third party developers however, Sony has more to offer. Capcom’s Monster Hunter series pushes the PSP’s connectivity features to the forefront by emphasizing multiplayer gaming (other such games include Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat X2 and Godz Eater Burst, Sega’s Phantasy Star Portable series, Square Enix’ Lord of Arcana, and Konami’s MGS: Peace Walker). Other major franchises such as the “City Stories” for Grand Theft Auto also appear on the PSP as full games as opposed to the sprite based mini-games that appear on the NDS.

While this may seem one-sided, the NDS is not without its good points. But for the most part, there is very little that the Nintendo device has to offer for the hardcore gaming market. As we mentioned above, a gamer’s true ideal still lies in being able to get both systems and play all the great games available!

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Backtracking on Your Wii: GameCube Gaming

One of the many great features about the Wii is that it is compatible with plenty of old games. Many are already quite familiar with the many Virtual Console games which allow you to play NES, SNES, N64, Megadrive and other platform titles on the Wii. Of course, players will have to use the classic controller in order to play the games properly.

But one great feature of the Wii that is being overlooked is that it can play GameCube games. There are four dedicated ports on the system to plug in the old GC controllers and 2 memory card slots for save file access. No need to worry about the smaller GameCube discs, simply pop them into the disc tray and the Wii will automatically center it for you. If you are asking, ‘what is so good about the GameCube?’ -here is a quick list of our top picks.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

No fan of this generation-transcending work of science fiction can go without experiencing the amazing gameplay that Rogue Leader has to offer. Featuring plenty of amazing voice over work, sound effects that seem to pop right out of the move and a gameplay that truly places you in the heat of the action, this game takes Star Wars interactivity to a whole new level. The game also features a whole array of ships ranging from the well known X-Wing to the more obscure A-Wing as players fly off in missions that coincide with the events of the original trilogy.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

We have a love-hate relationship with this game. Silicon Knights was given plenty of freedom with the remake of the original Metal Gear Solid game for the Playstation and had it graphically updated for the GameCube. The result is a visually stunning work of art that comes pretty close to the graphics for Sons of Liberty on the PS2. The gameplay has also been adjusted to bring in controls and functions available in the PS2 sequel.

The downside is that the Knights had a little too much freedom with Twin Snakes. While the general storyline has not been changed, minor character details have been adjusted. Otacon has become a Nintendo fanboy, Snake has turned into a bit of an acrobat –among others. While the canon story has not been altered, fans of the series felt that the changes were too out of character. Still, for those who have yet to play the MGS series, this title is a great way to be initiated into the world of stealth based action gameplay.

Animal Crossing

Oh, we already know, there is Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Wii. But somehow, nothing beats the charm and feel of the original AC for the GameCube. Most importantly, this is a great way for old GC owners to continue their towns and their game. The GC version of this life simulation game plays a lot simpler and less stylized than the newer version –which is something that a lot of the older fans of the series would appreciate. In any case, if you have been missing out on KK Slider’s weekend concerts and are not planning to play the new AC game, this might be the best time to take the game out of storage and pop it in for a trip back to your town.

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