Category: Games and Hobbies

Clash of the Titans 3D

by redshift

Clash of the Titans really doesn’t deserve the bad reviews it’s getting. If you like mythology at all, you’ll probably like it. They did take a few liberties with the story, but all movies do. The 3D effects were understated and didn’t detract from the movie like so many are claiming. Overall, good effort, and didn’t disappoint me as a fan of Greek mythology.

Broken Pixels

by redshift

Highly recommended: the Broken Pixels podcast. Hilarious reviews of 15+ year old games. The default player name in China Warrior was “fuckchop.”

Mother of All Wii Game Reviews: Part Two

by redshift

And now, for the continuation of part one of the mother of all Wii game reviews…

8. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz: 1/5

This is another easy place to start, because Super Monkey Ball is terrible. For your own sanity and wallet, do not even rent this game.

Super Monkey Ball has two game modes. The first is classic Monkey Ball, where you roll your crazy little monkey down a Marble Madness-esque course encased in a balloon. The only challenge is in trying to master the frustrating controls. Level design is boring, frustrating, or both.

They didn’t even make the Wii remote enjoyable to use in such an obvious avenue for motion sensitivity. The controls were fairly responsive, to the point of oversensitivity, but were not customizable. You have to hold the remote pointing toward the television, as opposed to sideways like an NES controller, which would make much more sense to me. It became uncomfortable after only two levels. On top of the discomfort, your wrist is just not designed to make quick movements in the manner they intend, which could even lead to RSI.

So, let’s ignore the first game mode. The second is even worse. Sad, really. It’s a collection of 50 minigames a la Wii Sports or Wii Play, though shorter, not replayable, and less fun in general. In fact, most of the games don’t even behave as the (briefly shown, opaque) instructions claim. Several don’t work at all. I can only remember two or three of the 50 minigames. My only guess is that the “monkey ball” portion was in development when an executive saw the success of minigame-style Wii titles and insisted on their inclusion. The result is truly painful.

9. Super Smash Bros. Brawl: 4.5/5

Great little fighter. I don’t think Brawl is as expansive as most other reviews say, but there is a lot of content. The main fighting mode is great. There are at least 40 characters and 50 levels, and with the level editor you can make interesting new ones. If you’re new to Super Smash Bros., you might be surprised to find that fights aren’t just melee combat. Levels come alive and present various obstacles throughout the fight. They’re also much larger than in most fighting games and present multiple areas and tiers for variety. Many aspects of the rules of combat can be adjusted to your liking. Some are serious, some for fun, like wearing a flower on your head or breathing fiery curry breath.

On top of standard combat, one of my favorite challenges is the Event mode. There are different events for single player and multiplayer, and there’s a good amount of variety in the goals. One mode involves killing 50 enemies in one loop around the course. Another involves beating all of the original Smash Bros. characters in one round. Another involves beating colored koopa troopas in a certain order. They’re challenging and they offer difficulty levels and trophies to keep you coming back.

There is a single player mode, called Subspace Emissary, but it feels… odd. It’s reminiscent of an old-school platformer with new graphics. Honestly, this is my only complaint about the game, and it’s why I can’t give a perfect 5/5 score. There just isn’t enough unique about this mode to keep my interest. It has its moments – I particularly like the Donkey Kong levels – but there are just as many annoying moments. You can’t pick your characters for a large portion of the mode, and you often get stuck with Pit. Since Pit is a new addition to Brawl, I can understand the reason for this, but he’s also not as polished as the returning characters and tends to annoy.

There are a few other mini-modes, like a coin-shooting game and sticker collection, but they’re not really worth discussing. Feel free to ignore them and enjoy the Brawl and Event modes, which really are classic. Recommended for almost anyone, though I’d strongly advise you play with a friend or three.

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Mother of All Wii Game Reviews: Part One

by redshift

We at Halffull don’t take the easy route. It would be too simple to write ordinary reviews. Let’s up the ante.

How about fourteen Wii game reviews?!

1. Super Mario Galaxy: 5/5

This is an easy place to start because the game is delightful. It’s a true spiritual successor to Super Mario 64 and is every bit as fun to play.

The addictive elements are there – quick gameplay, content that’s always fresh, beautiful graphics, and intuitive controls. You can play for 10 minutes and feel a sense of accomplishment by getting a star, or you can play for hours and complete whole worlds.

The controls are intuitive, even in a vast 3d setting, and the levels are forgiving if you misstep. Motion controls are used just enough not to be cumbersome. You point at the screen with the remote to shoot projectiles, and shake the remote to spin Mario like a top, which is now one of the main gameplay mechanics.

The game design is classic Miyamoto. You never repeat the same puzzle twice. Each level feels like a new adventure. Visually, you can see the trend towards a younger audience that started way back with the Yoshi games on SNES , but it’s almost endearing. Plus, if you really don’t like the children’s stories, they’re entirely optional. You still get a great game. Highly recommended if you’ve ever liked a Mario title.

2. Warioware: Smooth Moves: 4/5

Reviews of Warioware have been polarized. Metacritic shows generally favorable reviews, but scores range from 56 to 100 and user reviews average 6.5. I assume this is because of the nature of the game – a sort of extreme version of the minigame trend we see with many Wii games.

Personally, I like minigames, whether standalone or baked into full games. They give you an opportunity to try different things at a rapid pace. Warioware takes this to the extreme with just about the shortest games imaginable – 3 to 5 seconds on average. It gives you just enough time to get a sense of what’s going on, then you immediately have to solve the puzzle by moving the remote in whatever seems like the correct way. There are so many microgames that they built a full game on 3-5 second experiences. Sure, it won’t last you as long as Super Mario Galaxy, but it’s the type of game you can return to many times because you definitely won’t remember all of the challenges.

The games are based on a set of controller styles, such as “The Elephant,” which involves you holding the remote straight out from your nose like a trunk, or “The Waiter,” where you balance the remote flat on the palm of your hand. You have to change styles very quickly between microgames , particularly near the end of the game where you’re only given a second or two to change posture. This keeps the energy high and keeps the strange looks coming.

The game was challenging enough to stay interesting for the 3-4 hours it took to beat. (This does not include any time going back and replaying the games.) For the most part, the controls worked as expected, though there were one or two games (out of around 100) that I couldn’t figure out. Recommended if you like minigames and have a sense of humor.

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by redshift

If you haven’t heard of Will Wright’s new game Spore, I highly recommend you check it out. Then watch the videos and be blown away.

[edit] I’m so sad reading this after the fact.

Game Developers Are Out Of Control

by blue midget

The Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game craze is sweeping the globe, and there’s a game out there for almost everyone. Do you want to be a Jedi Knight? You can! Do you want to live in outer space like a pirate, mining resources and fighting enemy groups? You can! Do you want to be an elf, prancing around through the trees like Legolas? Go for it, fairy!

And the games keep on coming. Every gaming company out there seems to be working on their own online game, where millions of people across the globe can come together in a glorious bloodbath, shooting and stabbing or nuking each other for the sake of phat lewts and glory! Or they’re an elf traipsing through the treetops saying things like “Come thou brother, let us dine together on the fruit of the land and not our noble friends of ye olde forest!”

Given my current list of priorities and commitments, I really only have time for one online game. To pay for a second or third online game would be a waste – to me, anyway. (That $15 per month is latte money – and no one, not even a good game, is going to come between me and an egg nog latte.) However, I do like to sign up for the occasional beta if the title interests me. On the other hand, I have a friend who is kind of a gaming slut – he gives it away to all of the games. And as such, signs up for everything.

The Lord of the Rings Online Beta has opened its doors to a new batch of wannabe testers (myself included) for their stress test. When I received my notification, I emailed my game slut friend to ask him if he was also invited to the stress test. The email I received in response sounded offended, yet befuddled, as he relayed to me that he was not invited. Instead, he received the invitation for the following beta:

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The Gamer’s Life

by blue midget

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a community is “a group of people living together in one place; a group of people with a common religion, race, or profession; the holding of certain attitudes and interests in common.” Thusly, those who play computer games have also become a community known either as “the gaming community” or simply “gamers”. Within the community, many smaller groups make up the collective. For example, we have those who just like to play solitaire and minesweeper, and consider themselves people who play computer games, but are really not considered gamers by the rest of the community. And rightfully so – there’s a big difference between a gripping 15-minute game of spider solitaire (addicting as it is) to a bajillion-hour game of Everquest. There are the strategy game-players, the roleplaying (RPG) gamers, as well as the first-person shooters – and many, many more. In this last group, there is a bit of elitism and snobbery to be found. Many of the first-person shooters feel themselves above and beyond people who play other games, and they snub their noses at those who play the RPG’s. Let’s not beat around the bush – those who play only first-person shooters (for example, Doom) think of themselves higher than the rest of the gaming community. As an example I give you: Every other time I walk into an EB Games.
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I eat babies

by redshift

And I kill people all day long because I play video games 😦

Jack Thompson is my hero

Jack Thompson owns

1000 Blank White Cards

by redshift

I’d like to take this opportunity to present to you, dear reader, a delightful little game that has caused a huge lack of boredom in our area.

I give you 1000 Blank White Cards, courtesy of the Discordians. Here are the rules:

Make your own game.

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Rooster Teeth Productions: Red vs Blue

by blue midget

A couple of years ago, some guys got together and started making a movie inside of the Microsoft game Halo. At first no one cared. But after a while, it gained popularity until it became a huge hit. They have since branched out into other games (Sim City, F.E.A.R.) but are still going strong with their original hit, Red vs. Blue. They have a rolling archive for anyone who is not a sponsor, so if you have any interest, head on over and take a gander at Episodes 1 & 2. You will need to download them and there is a bit of cursing involved so it’s not safe for work. I would definitely suggest that you watch both episodes before you decide whether or not you like them – and they definitely get more funny every time.

Be aware that because this is a rolling archive, if you don’t download them by the end of the week, they will be gone and you’ll have to wait until they rotate through the entire series again.