Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wii's Motion Controls are a problem?

Stephen Totillo seemed to need to get some frustration off his chest.

Mostly I feel sorry for Stephen. I think he missed out on a lot of fun. We still really enjoy Mario Party 8 here, and there have been a lot of great motion games, and of course a lot of bad ones. The thing is that often it does make the game better b/c of the way it feels.
I know he disagrees, but I found Mario Kart Wii the best Mario Kart, and after playing with my wavebird for a long while, I converted entirely to the wheel, simply b/c I had more fun playing that way.

NCAA Football was an awful game for Wii, except that tackling people by throwing your arms forward was so rewarding, and it made the game into a fun sort of arcade football romp.

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings had great fistacuffs that were simply a blast to play. Punching was very rewarding and funny, I loved the motion controls.

Boom Blox is another great example, the game is much better b/c of the controls, it just feels better.

...and of course the Wii goes beyond Motion Controls.
LEGO Star Wars used the speaker in the remote perfectly. For anyone who used to run around with guns trying to make laser blaster sounds when you were a kid, this game is for you!

The pointer is probably the best thing to happen to the console since motion controls. I love being able to point at the screen. It's an under-appreciated big plus on the Wii. I was so much happier with the controls of Metroid Prime 3 than of the original :).

The original motion lead to MP+. Who says it should have worked this way from the beginning. Why? No one thought anything of motion controls before the Wii, Microsoft said it was a dead end. It needed to work first before it was perfected. That is like saying the Atari 2600 was a failure b/c it wasn't the Super NES. It paved the path. Without the first generation of Motion Controls we wouldn't have ever had the second.

The Wii made gaming reach adults who have lost interest in it otherwise. Games like WiiFit and WiiMusic are enlightening and make you think about the world around you in a different way. They have purpose to playing, something that is sorely lacking in gaming. WiiSports is of course fun for groups, and when my dad says to make sure I bring the Wii when I visit, you know something major has changed.

Honestly I lost a lot of respect when Stephen went to Kotaku, it's Wii-hater central. He's become more like that site's audience and taken on a lot of that frightened core bias against the Wii, and I feel for him. It sounds like he's not having as much fun as he used to have, and is instead finding a lot of inner anger. I gotta tell yah I'm not on-board with it. The Wii is my all-time favorite console. I've never had so much fun, I've never had such enlightenment and increased awareness of the world around me through video games. I don't know what more the console could be doing that it isn't, but I'm sure Nintendo will continue to come up with something different.

...and I'm sure they'll be scorned for doing it.
Stop the scorning, relax! There is so much fun to be had, and I've never had so much as with the Wii.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings

Indiana Jones is a legend. One that was somewhat tarnished by last year's movie, which I was enjoying ok until the crazy silly ending. As an Indy fan, I was very excited for the new game, but I should mention the type of fan I am before proceeding. I own one of the movies on DVD, one on VHS, and I played through Lego Indiana Jones on a rental last year (I still believe it the least interesting of the 3 LEGO games on Wii and it is the only one I don't own).

With that in mind, let me say I'm really enjoying the Staff of Kings. I've been puzzled by some of the reviews I've seen about it, and felt I had to write something to its defense.

First off, I agree with some of the points the reviews have made. The contextual fighting is sometimes difficult, and the motion controls don't always succeed. However, I was very surprised at how well they did work. Unlike Dragon Quest Swords, where I felt my moves were hardly ever recognized, most all my attacks in Indy are (the exception being the hooking motion, so I just avoid it). Coming out of E3 and playing with Motion Plus, I had forgotten that even without Motion Plus the Wii controller can detect a good amount of motion, and Indy is one of the better games at detecting it.

This feeling partially stems from the fighting in the game being so fun. It is comical fistacuffs that fits right into the movies and left my entire family laughing on multiple occasions. The environmental fighting is really a lot of fun. In rooms there are lots of different ways to attack your opponents, including objects to pick up, things like bookcases to pull down, and places you can smash the enemies into objects like aquariums and desks. It's some of the most fun fighting I've done in a game and is made better by the feeling of the motion controls.

The environments look nice, my wife commented that the game was very pretty, which is abnormal for her to mention. I like the look overall and have been surprised by the many negative remarks about the visuals. They are quite varied with many different locations, all of which are lush and interesting. It's not Metroid, but it's a good-looking game in my opinion, and I don't understand the negativity that I've seen in reviews about the visuals.

I think the hardest part of reviewing games is that most people tend to become nit-critics. It's easy to focus on little things and start docking a game points like a check-list, but games are games, not paintings!

I took this game into work and it drew a large crowd that did not want to turn away. At first the play was in the Co-Op adventure, which wasn't really all that great frankly. It lacks the fighting and adds a lot of vehicle stages, some of which are alright, others of which are frustrating (rafting I'm looking at you). However, people wanted to keep playing. Then the single-player started and it turned into a 'just one more level' thing.

I understood that as I'd felt the same way at home. I knew it wasn't perfect, but the storyline was good and I wanted to know what was happening next...but much more so, I really was enjoying the game for the msot part. There are some great, great moments in the game (and a few awful ones). What the game does really well though is be compeling. In two days I played nearly 6 hours on my own and another couple at work. I play a lot of Wii, but that many hours on consecutive weekdays is abnormal. I'm sure I'll finish the game today.

You can talk all you want about games on a critical level, but playing a game like mad until you finish it is about the best endorsement you can give a game and that is the endorsement I give Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings. If you like wandering through South American temples looking for lost artifacts and tossing bad-guys over cliffs, you should definitely give this game a look.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Super Metroid, Ninja Combat & NCAA Football

Thanks to my 3 year old son waking up at 5am I ended up playing a lot more yesterday than I planned.

At the early hour I was looking for something to keep him occupied and so I purchased Ninja Combat through the VC. Of course Ninja Combat is a bad game. The voice acting is horrible, the game becomes ridiculously hard after the 3rd level, showing its arcade eating roots, and there are balance issues throughout (such as the weapons that can be picked up that are completely useless). Still, I've always enjoyed the game. It's a good game for Co-Op play as you really need two people to do well, and with two good players, the result is satisfying, at least for 3 levels.

Speaking of bad games, after playing Super Metroid for the first time, I jumped back into NCAA Football, which despite its many shortcomings has been a game I've really enjoyed. Just like real NCAA Football, if you disregard the old men deciding who is the champion by voting on it and just focus on the action of each game individually, it can be a lot of fun. I really enjoy the all-play controls and the sense of accomplishment when I thrust my remote down and my player lays out the opposing QB. The graphics are just flat-out bad, there are AI issues all over, and there aren't many modes, but I've been really enjoying NCAA on the Wii, despite it not being a great game. It's just fun, and if you go in not looking for realism or depth, you'll find a decent arcade-y football game.

So I should end with the one 'good' game I played yesterday, my first foray into Super Metroid. I'd planned on getting it a long time ago, but then it was released on the VC the same time as Metroid Prime 3, so I put it off again. The demo in SSBB got me interested again as I loved the pixel-work. My first impressions (I got as far as the charge beam) were that I can see why the game is so well loved, but it didn't suck me in like the Prime series (at least 1 & 3 of that series) has. The slighly un-smooth movement of the parallax made me slightly nauseated, and the controls definitely take some getting used to. In the end I feel like it is a game you need to play a lot over a short period of time, which really doesn't reward my random play habits, making me think it will likely take awhile for me to get through it. It certainly didn't suck me in with its magic like Lost Winds did, but over time I expect I'll become more aware of Metroid's goodness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

VC: Streets of Rage & Gunstar Heros

Didn't have much time to play yesterday, and whenever that happens I always end up playing one of the too many to fit on the Wii's small memory VC games that I have. Yesterday it started with Streets of Rage, which always impresses me (apparently not enough to try the sequel) and Gunstar Heroes, which always just floors me.

Gunstar Heros, is without a doubt one of the best side-scrolling shooters ever. Of course it isn't easy, which means I don't get to play with my kids and so I have to miss out one of the best features of the game: Co-Op. IGN talked about Gunstar Heroes being a secret weapon of the Wii when it was first released, and unfortunately, I think people just missed the ship on this one.

If you don't have Gunstar Heroes on your Wii, you absolutely should. The visuals are fantastic, the weapon stacking keeps the game interesting through a million replays, and the levels offer variety and progression that is seldom seen. It's a wonderfully orchestrated game that is one of those hidden gems in the mountains of VC garbage.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First-Impression: Dragon Quest: Swords

Dragon Quest: Swords is a game I was excited about as I still feel like I'm an RPG lover, even if I never have the time to play such long games anymore. On that note, it seemed like it might be a perfect game as it was sure to be shorter than any other RPG game.

The game starts out very slowly, as is common with RPG games, and I found myself wanting to skip all the dialogue, which in the early going is entirely voiced and of decent quality.

I've never played a fighter on rails before, the closest thing I could compare the game to is Ghost Squad or Time Crisis. That comparison is also where my misgivings of the title came into play. The Wiimote is used for swinging your sword. You can swing in many angles or jab the screen. The imprecision in doing so, however, was disappointing. It was pretty common, especially in the early going, to swing and miss the enemy because you swung sideways and you needed to swing down.

I got the feel for it after awhile, but what I didn't get was a strong sensation of satisfaction with my swings. The occasional swing felt 'good' like hitting a homerun ball, but for the most part I didn't feel all that connected.

The other issue I had with the game was the pacing, which I would thus far call dreadfully slow. My least favorite enemy type is the projectile type. You use your shield to block, and being able to move it all around the screen is somewhat cool, but the time it takes to block all the shots fired at you is painful. Most turn-based battle systems would be an upgrade. That same sense of pacing is found throughout the game, where getting to the action seems to require a long walk through tedium.

So far I'm about an hour in and I'm not sure I'll be playing much more. Playing the game does make me want to get my copy of Tales of Symphonia back out, but it didn't really make me itch for the next level of Dragon Quest.