Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tao's Adventure: Curse of the Demon Seal (DS)

Reviewed by Kit
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Hello, Boys and Girls, and welcome to another installment of Review That Game! Today's game is Tao's Adventure, a DS game of not so epic proportions. As you read the review, you might notice that the game sounds familiar. Perhaps similar to Azure Dreams? Well, this is a somewhat sequal to that classic gem. So shall we continue with this review?
Story: The game begins with young Tao wandering around his town learning how to cast magic. He's known as an air caster, though he learns spells of all elements. While in his lesson, something happens. His father realizing something is wrong, seals Tao in a bubble and leaves. When Tao gets out he discovers that all but a handful of his people has been turned to stone. As the youngest and most magical survivor, Tao must go to the Demon Tower in Modomino to find the egg of the creature that stoned his people. Only with this can a medicine be made. At Modomino, Tao learns that most of the townspeople hate him. Apparently his people sealed away the monsters in the tower at the cost of people's lives, and that is unforgivable. Anyhow, that is the plot of this game. It's not particularly deep, but then again, neither was its predecesor. 3/5
Graphics: There's nothing particular appealing about the graphics. They are somewhat small, and lackign detail as all action takes place on the top screen. Items in the dungeon are sometimes hard to notice. In towns, you'll sometimes run behind buildings, but the shading does not indict very well when the building is right in front of you. The game looks like an early PS game, and really could have been better done. 2/5
Audio: The music is scratchy in town, though it retains a nice deserty feel. In the towers it has a more mild sound that does not take away from your actual purpose. 3/5
Gameplay: First off, this is a stylus only game. You can use the direction pad for moving, but that is it. Actions must be done with the stylus. When in the dungeon, things play out like Azure Dreams. Since, you the reader, might not have played thazt, I will go into detail. Every move you make is also a move the monsters can make. Also the dungeon is laid out in a grid pattern. On the ground are treasures to be picked up. When you confront a monster, you must be next to them to attack or cast magic. Magic is done by drawing the proper runes with the stylus. This can be tedious as you have to have the main points of the rune in the proper place. That is, don't draw the rune on the side if it's supposed to be in the middle. As you explore the dungeon you'll find monster eggs which you can hatch to have monsters fighting at your side. Another thing to note, the dungeon is not randomly generated, and you can leave at any point and return to the floor you've been on (with a spell of course). Levels earned in the tower are kept even when you leave the tower. Overall, not bad gameplay, though the stylus only system does make things tedious, especially if you hit the screen accidently before attacking (it will make you turn in another direction). 3/5
Replay: Without anything to make each replay unique, there is a low chance of popping in the game again. 1/5
Overall: It tries, but it fails. At best Tao is a mediocre game. At worst it is slow and tedious with nothing innovative. Pick it up if you really have no problems climbing a giant tower, otherwise there are better games to play with. 2/5

Monday, April 24, 2006

Shadow Hearts (PS2)

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Yuuki, your master of disaster here to give you my review of Shadow Hearts: From the New World. I've dabbled in the series a bit but nothing heavy so you could say this is more or less a first for me. So let's go.

Gameplay: Your basic Rpg with your basic controls and such. A feature I found terribly entertaining after awhile, is the judgement rings which you use to basically do everything. The ring simply requires you to hit the button at the right time, this is used for a number of things from attack to haggling at the item shop. Another feature which I personally couldn't decide if it was annoying or cool was the fact that every character had a unique way of gaining new skills and abilities. Some seemed a bit long and annoying others were quite entertaining. 3/5

You'll take the role of Johnny a 16 year-old detective who lost a good chunk of his memory in a fire that killed his mom and sister. You'll soon become involved in hunting and killing these horrible other worldly creatures with your band of freaks and oddities. These range from an Italian ninja who was trained by a giant cat in the amazon, said giant cat, an idian princess who transforms into spirits, and more. All of which can be either really funny or just plain stupid, its up to you. Far as I was concerned the majority of it was running from point A to point B nothing great here. 3/5

This game wasn't pushing any envelopes but, it didn't really leave anything to be desired. Cutscenes were really pretty and the in-game stuff was nice. There was a bit of love for the fanboys in the from of naked indian woman cutscenes that occur each time she transforms...or well does anything. Magic is your typical bang and zap stuff no big and special skill aren't really all that cool. 3/5

Not bad here some of the music is really odd like the rest of the game but managed to become kind of endearing. Cutscenes and important conversations has pretty good voice acting and so do all your battles. After awhile you start to really find the odd music really cute and you start having the desire to kill the ninja guy...he's just annoying. 3/5

Yeah unless your a really big fan of the series and possibly have a brain tumor I wouldn't invest in playing this game more than maybe twice...and only if you don't unlock everything the first time through. Its really not that bad but it is time consuming since the first third of the game is spammed with explanation screens about characters and skills and all kinds of things. 2/5

To put it simply your either going to love it, hate, or die from the absolute ridiculousness of it. Yes at times the plot was interesting and at times I wanted to shoot the developers who design these oh so insane random characters, but I did have fun playing if for no other reason except I wanted to see how very insane it was. 3/5

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (GC)

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Yuuki here to do my review of the newest installment to the great Harvest Moon series. Let me simply say this...ZOMG I LOVE THIS GAME. In former versions there were usually a few bugs that everyone just ignored cause the game was still good. In the newest installment the designers have made a near flawless game.

Gameplay: Simple controls as always. Harvest Moon is by far not a complicated game in the sense of controls. Your basic day can consist of a great many tasks and adventures. These can range from the more obvious things such as farming, clearing land, tending to animals. Some nice new features are things like the friend page in the menu which tells you how much friendship you have with everyone not just possible husband/wives. You also have rival that you try to beat out by shipping more each day, this doesn't really gain anything but a sense of satisfaction. My only complaint would be the occassional glitch when you accidently feed something to your animals when you were clearly aiming for the shipping box. 5/5

Ok so your happy Rancher boy/girl depending on which you choose. You come to this little town to start a life hurray! You'll have the choice of 3 plots of land 1 is good for animals and is reallly big but has bad soil, 1 has good soil and is a medium size, the last is quit small but has really good soil and is near the river where its easy to fish. Most would suggest the last as its really the best but choose as you will. From there you go about your new life building freindships upgrading your farm. Though there is a slightly deeper plot. The most beloved Harvest Goddess has been turned to stone and its upto to you to save her. This is simple enough as all you have to do is find the magic notes which are gained by preforming most of your everyday tasks and through friendship. A few though are a bit more difficult. 5/5

Harvest Moon has always been a friend to the cute big head characters and this is no different. The joy of this isn't so much that the graphics are bright and pretty its more that all your favorite characters from previous games return as well as some new ones. You won't walk around for hours marveling at the awesome depth of the graphics but they are quite pleasant and fit right into the cute little world of Harvest Moon. 5/5

Characters have voices though they only really consist of a sorta "Hi" or something to that affect said when conversation is started or their little sounds of Joy when you give them a gift they like. Most days will be filled with the light calming BGMs and they sounds of animals and such. Nothing grand but, again its Harvest Moon so it all just fits well together. 5/5

Replay: If your an insanely dedicated and committed person with a strat guide you can find all 100 notes by the end of the second year. Even if you aren't you'll probably want to play through at least twice or more just to try out different spouse and differenent land plots and such. Theres alot to this game more than I could talk about here so I would definately say play it at least twice. 5/5

Its Harvest Moon people they basically coat the game cases with crack you have to buy it. I'm sure there are people out there who aren't fans of the series I just haven't met them. So even with the glitches which are few and far between so much that I really can't remember any being really annoying, this is totally a great game and in my opinion better than even the well loved N64 version. Pick it up and pass it around you'll be glad you did. 5/5

Friday, April 14, 2006

Kit's Rant #2

I'm all for people reviewing a game as they see fit. Certainly that's what we do here. And it would be silly of me to expect everyone to have the same opinions of a game, but upon reading this one particular review, I question this free will. This review that has upset me so? Why it's the Naruto: Clash of Ninja review in the May 2006 issue of Nintendo Power. Of course they could not be expected to hate the game as much as Yuuki or I did. However, this review made me cough up bile. Let me quote it now.
"Naruto: Clash of Ninja is easily the best fighting game based on an anime lisence to reach North America"-- True, there's a limit to them, but Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale is definitely better.
"Retaining the look and feel of the Naruto anime series with its beautiful graphics and high-quality voiceovers"--Yeah...the graphics weren't bad. But I wouldn't call them impressive. They did keep in the Naruto style, so let's let that part slide. High-quality voiceovers...the pain....the pain....
"Clash of Ninja manages to be fun whether you're a fan of the series or not"--I'm not a huge fan of the series, Yuuki is. Neither of us had fun playing it.
"It's a rewarding game with a well-tuned fighting system and loads of replay value"--there were three moves, no diversity, and hell if I had to play that anymore I'd start screaming.
"Believe it!"--anyone ending a review with that annoying overused phrase obviously should have his brain examined.

Ok, it's not much of a rant. Certainly I have no point. I just could not let this review slide. Pick up Naruto if you trust Nintendo. That's you're choice. Keep it safely on the shelves if you trust Yuuki and Me. And have a lovely day.

Oh and just in case you forgot the review....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Age of Empires: The Age of Kings (DS)

Reviewed by Kit
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This isn't your everyday Age of Empires. For one thing it's on a DS. For another, it's it now turn based. Do these changes work? Let's find out, shall we?
Graphics: Age of Empires has never been known for its outstanding graphics, and this one is no different. The characters look small and you have trouble seeing them at times. Basically shrink the computer screen to the size of the DS screen and that's your pic. Character art is mediocre. 2/5
Audio: The battle music is not particularly interesting, but it's not that important to the game. There are the noises of combat when you pit your army against opponents, and these are reasonable. Nothing particularly impressive though. 3/5
Gameplay: It's very simple. You start with a villager, a hero, and a weakling melee. You move the villager to either build a mill on some wheat, a mine on some gold, or a town center wherever you want. Most buildings must be built directly next to the town center, so you will eventually need to build another one or two. Farms can be built next to mills. You will need these to increase food production. Each turn characters can do one thing (build a farm, attack an enemy, walk around aimlessly). All buildings take one turn to produce. All characters take one turn to "create". Of course there are different types of warriors for your army, and as you progress through the ages, more become available. Spearmen are good against cavalry, archers are good against everything (and weak to everything) and cavalry is good....well against the weak non spearmen. If all else fails, send the cavalry out to scout for you. You can create seige weapons eventually, and these take one whole turn to load up, so don't move them if you want them to attack that turn. All in all, it's simple to master, and then tedious. 3/5
Story: There are mission modes to play through that give you stories of the various heroes from the 5 armies of choice, but none of these are particularly interesting. If you pick up the game, you will most likely use campaign mode, where you choose your enemies and their difficulty level. 2/5
Replay: It's fun to play multiple times. It consumes time, and you get to conquer the world over and over again. However, things become boring after a while. The maps aren't particularly large, and after a while there's nothing to do but slowly destroy all those around you. 4/5
Overall: It's not a bad game. It does its job by keeping you busy, but it's not the computer game. It lacks something the the PC versions have. Still if you like tactical games, feel free to pick this up. 3/5

Friday, April 07, 2006

Yuuki's Rant #1

Okay Kit had her chance to rant now its my turn. Hurray someone gave the spaz public forum to vent his insanity onto! Anyway so let me begin with the subjects I plan to touch on. First I wanna talk about why some series need to be phased out. Then I will touch on the recent rise in paper thin characters. Finally I will end with simple moaning and complaining about people who put to much emphasis on a single part of a game rather than the game as a whole. Continue if you dare.

Recently I had the joy of playing Grandia 3 which in all truth wasn't a bad game but, it also wasn't the great game that people have been making it out to be. Also everyone has been making so much hype about FFXII and people actually thought X and X-2 were great. Those people are stupid. Both games weren't bad but, by far weren't gems. The games visually were at the top of their game buts story wise they left alot to be desire. And the new FF Tactics was fun and cute but no where near as good as the orginal. They tried and failed miserably at making the story as deep and provoking as the orginal's. In Grandia 3's case you just simply didn't care about the 2 main characters. They were both stereotypical heros. He was naive and cute and she had a mildly troubled past and a world saving agenda. Hello people how many times have we seen this. How about a hero who is lazy, snide, and, doesn't carry a sword and suck at magic. Like a snarky Archer or maybe promiscuous Dancer girl. No, fanboys just love the A Class mute retard sword weilding fighter with the balls to fight evil. This brings me to my next topic, bad character design. Okay so you can basically take almost every FF white mage female character and lay them over 1 another and they'd all be the same chick with different hair and clothes. All main male leads are required to weild a sword. Here's something I bet most people didn't know in "Bushido" (the japanese art of the samurai) The famed katana was actually rarely used. It was actually a last resort weapon, they were more common to use a bow or a long weapon such as a pike or spear. So I say give a hero a spear, a bow, or anything that isn't a sword for Christ sakes. Seriously people your basically playing the same game recolored. Is that what this genre has become? People desiring the same crap at jacked up prices. If that's true your dumb, if you'd actually like something different (which doesn't mean the old school stuff) try a game like Bard's Tale, Radiata Stories, Disgaea. You people who are so over zealous about how pretty a game looks rather than how good the story is or people who are over obsessed with games changing so much from the orginals and being so hardcore to the old stuff. Neither is good, yes alot fo the old games rock but they aren't visually or game play impressive for the most part. Games today lack the depth of previous installments in long series and the long series tend to snuff out the under dogs, because people don't buy what they haven't play 500 times before. Seriously people come out of your shells and buy the random obscure game and go "oooo" and "ahhh...this actually is kinda fun not great but, fun." That way designers will go "Hey they liked something new," and the next one will be a little bit better and hopefully this will lead to a change in this genre we call RPGs...though this is unlikely but, I have little faith in humanity.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires (PS2)

Reviewed by Kit and Yuuki
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If you have heard of the Dynasty Warrior games, then you might have an idea of what they are. Large armies that are essentially felled by one super general (who you control). There are more Dynasty Warrior games out there than one would think possible. If you include the first (which was a fighting game) and the spin off series (Samurai Warriors) then you have more Warriors games than Pokemon games. The best definition Dynasty Warriors is hack and slash. You have obscene weapons and slaughter many many people around you. And if you didn't know, Dynasty Warriors is based off Chinese history that has been mythified over time. The story is known as The Three Kingdoms and takes describes events of the Han Dynasty. Well, if we went into the full story you would never get to the review, so here it goes.
Audio: The voice acting of the sries has gone down hill from previous game incarnations, but that's not that important. The background music is appropriate, and now it is possible to pick any background music from previous games for the battles. 2/5
Graphics: Nothing spectacular, but the graphics are pretty decent. Costumes are well detailed and the peopel look like people. Key officers have their own appearance which makes them distinguishable. There is a problem with disappearing troops when you get into a particularly crowded area. 3/5
Gameplay: Unlike most Dynasty Warriors, this is more of a strategy game than simple hack and slash. You begin the game running one of 25 regions in China, and the ultimate goal is to run them all. Each turn you have a number of decisions you can make to replenish troops or produce new items. You number of decisions are based on how many territories you own, so is how many generals/lieutenants you have. Though your controlled officer is much stronger than almost any other person on the field, you do need troops to secure bases and slow down the enemy. You earn money by controlling lands, apparently the peasants fund your wars. Besides being able to restore troops and create new items, you can also buy tactics, such as razing, which sets enemy troops on fire. In battles you run around attacking enemies and attempt to take over enemy bases. In order to win the battle you must take the enemy base or defeat the enemy general. Neither is possible if you cannot take the bases surrounding the main base. Fighting is simple. You use square button for basic attacks, triangle buttons for charged attacks, and the circle button for uber attacks known as musou. The square and triangle attacks link up for combos. Also there is the option to create generals. These can be imported from your Dynasty Warriors 5 or 5 XL games. They are highly customizable from their costume to their weapon to their voice and appearance. Like all the important generals, they can do serious damage in the hands of the player. 4/5
Story: There is actually a complex story to the background, but in the interest of saving time, we won't go into it all. Instead, let's talk about the basics. There are three main kingdoms that emerge during this time: Shu, Wei, and Wu. They are run by three men: Lei Bei, Cao Cao, and Sun Jiang. Of course there are other peopel who want power, and in this game you can see some of the other main people attempting to take power, but they story doesn't really care about most of them. 4/5
Replay: The games are really addictive. Empires is a longer game than the other Dynasty Warriors, mostly because it takes time to control China. You will want to play through mulitple times to unlock mulitple endings as well as art in the gallery. 4/5
Overall: The game is fun, and good for getting out aggression. There is nothing like killing hundreds of people to relieve anger. The gameplay is easy to use, and if the strategy part seems complicated at first, it does get easier with time. Slower than Dynasty Warriors 4 Empires, it is still fun. There are multi-player options as well, allowing two peopel to participate in battles at the same time. This becomes especially useful when the enemies over power you, as AI is not the best. 3/5