Sunday, October 12, 2008

QuickBlog: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

8.5 [Excellent]

Gameplay: 7
Visuals: 6
Music: 8
Sound: 7
Value: 8

Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: TT Games
Multiplayer: Online co-op, offline co-op
Console(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, DS
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
ESRB rating: E10+ (Cartoon violence)
TGG rating: E (Cartoon violence)

Good Points:

Both Lego Star Wars I and II included - Charming humor - Faithful Lego style - Faithful Star Wars style - Great for multiplayer - More extras than you can shake a gaffi stick at (sorry, had to say it)

Not So Good Points:

Gameplay can be simplistic - So can the graphics - The camera can get a little dicey in multiplayer

Lego Star Wars was a great game; Lego Star Wars II was a great sequel; Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is greater than great. It puts both of the previous games into one package and throws in a load of new extras and modes, and if you have the 360 version like I do, shinier graphics and Achievment Points. That being said, it's still all the Lego Star Wars you remember: humorous adventures through a Lego-infused Star Wars parody that is great to play with a friend. Virtually all of the memorable scenes from the movies are here, from Episodes I-VI, giving you the entire Saga to play through from start to finish. From the Death Star attack, to Obi-Wan and Anakin's fateful duel, and even to the iconic "I am your father" moment from The Empire Strikes Back, you'll find yourself in many familiar situations. The entire game is portrayed in a Lego-style tongue in cheek brand of humor, which will cause Star Wars fans (I'm one of them, by the way) to chuckle consistantly throughout the colorful levels. All kinds of details and jokes from Star Wars are present, and the lovable Lego figures look hilariously alike their movie counterparts. It's hard not to crack up when you're playing as a Emperor Palpatine and listening to his famous cackle, or waddling about as C-3PO, only to have your leg sliced off by your companion, leaving you to hop up and down on one leg in a desperate attempt to escape.

Um... the Force is strong with this game! Dang it, now I'm resorting to lame taglines...

The game isn't challenging by any means, but that's just what Lego Star Wars is about. You're there to have some fun, and nothing more; the humor is half the experience. But that doesn't mean there's no challenge at all: in fact, there are tons of things to unlock (and I mean tons), and plenty of challenges to complete. The cast of characters is massive, and you won't find many Star Wars characters unavailable to play as. The numorous Lego figures are brought to life with wonderful animations that really capture their respective characters. The rest of the game looks good as well, though it's not exactly eye-popping considering its fellow 360 games. The sound design is classic Star Wars, from lightsabers to the opening crawl's incredible score, so you can't go wrong there. Overall, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga puts two excellent games together to create a really excellent game, and it shouldn't be missed by any Star Wars fan with a sense of humor out there.

QuickBlog: Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

7.0 [Great]

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 6
Music: 6
Sound: 5
Value: 8

Publisher: Natsume
Developer: TOSE
Multiplayer: N/A
Console(s): Game Boy Advance
Reviewed on: Game Boy Advance
ESRB rating: E (Use of Alchohol)
BMR rating: E (Use of Alchohol)

Good Points:

Lots and lots to do - Adorable livestock - The in-game clock keeps the flow at a brisk pace - Making your own routines and schedules is fun - A boring concept becomes fun

Not So Good Points:

Graphics are a bit washed out and bland - Sound design is extremely simple - Can be confusing, especially at first

The Harvest Moon series holds a special place in my heart. I've played A Wonderful Life, Save the Homeland, Magical Melody, the original Harvest Moon, and of course Friends of Mineral Town, and enjoyed every one of them. Friends of Mineral Town isn't exactly my favorite of the bunch, but it still holds the catchy gameplay and likable charm that Harvest Moon games (usually) have. You play as a farmer just starting his farm, ready to go plow those fields, water those crops, and feed those chickens. The game starts out slow, and I found it hard to get into the swing of things as I floundered my through the days wasting my time. However, after a while, I got the hang of it, and enjoyed myself a lot. While the concecpt of being a farmer isn't exactly an exciting idea for a video game, Friends of Mineral town manages to make it addicting and fun. As all Harvest Moon games work, you go about your daily chores, talk to the locals (and later marry one of the girls if you so desire), shop in town, and tons of other stuff as the accelerated time of day moves from sun up to sun down. There's always plenty to do, with all kinds of goals to work for and items to unlock for your house. You can watch different TV shows that air on different days of the week, stop by the local inn and have a drink, work on growing many types of crops, upgrade your home, cook lots of different varieties of food, and way more on top of that. The graphics aren't much to look at, as they can be rather bland, and the music isn't anything special, but the excellent replay value, gameplay, and depth are to be commended. Another successful Harvest Moon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

QuickBlog: Pokemon Snap

6.5 [Good]

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 7
Music: 6
Sound: 7
Value: 5

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Hal
Multiplayer: N/A
Console(s): Nintendo 64, Wii
Reviewed on: Nintendo 64
ESRB rating: E
BMR rating: E (Mild Cartoon Violence)

Good Points:

Relaxing and unique gameplay - Feels like the Pokemon universe - Grades give you incintive to snap great pictures - You can bonk Meowth on the head with an apple

Not So Good Points:

Short with little replay value - Not much to do but the main attraction - Only 63 Pokemon and a handful of maps

Pokemon Snap is a simple game with an interesting game mechanic. The entire point is to snap pictures of Pokemon (hence the title, "Pokemon Snap"). You play as this photographer guy, employed by Professor Oak, who goes around in this cool yellow buggy-type thing called the Zero-One that travels along a number of locales via a fixed track. You never have direct control over the vehicle; instead, you control your camera in a first-person view. So, in a way, you could call Pokemon Snap a first-person shooter, only you're shooting pictures of the Pokemon instead of actually shooting the Pokemon... which probably wouldn't be very Nintendo-like. But anyway, attempting to locate a Pokemon to snap is just the beginning. Professor Oak judges your picture on how centered the Pokemon was in the frame, what kind of pose the Pokemon was doing (finding hidded ones gives you bonus points), and other various categories. There are also a handful of courses to ride out on, each differing vastly from one another, ranging from a cave filled with electrical devices, a sunny beach, and a firey lava land. Each stage has its own unique route, secrets, and cast of Pokemon. Unfortunately, the number of locations, secrets, and Pokemon is not as high as one would like, especially considering that there's not much left to do once you beat the game. Pokemon Snap is a pretty small game, and doesn't even feature all 151 original Pokemon (a measly 63, in fact), which is a little disappointing. However, despite its shortcomings, Pokemon Snap can be a great deal of fun, especially for Pokemon fans who will appreciate the faithful style of the game, complete with classic Pokemon sounds and catchy music. Considering the fact that it's so cheap these days, it's well worth picking up.