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The Generation Gap (Sonic Generations, XBOX/PS3

Sonic, Sonic, Sonic. A while ago, you and I used to be friends. Do you remember what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened – Sonic and The Secret Rings happened, buddy boy. And I found your gameplay stilted, the story and characters charmless and somewhat tired, and despite a passable attempt to shoehorn a Mario Party-esque multiplayer minigame into what was already a hugely drawn-out yawnfest of a game, I went off you pretty quickly. The release of Sonic and The Black Knight with the same clumsy, frantic motion commands only served to rub salt in the wounds. My head was turned slightly by the time Sonic Unleashed was…erm, unleashed, and I felt you’d taken a small step back towards the welcoming, fun (and thankfully mute) Sonic of yesteryear.

So when I heard about Sonic Generations, I was dubious. Was I ready to let Sonic back into my life?

Like a former addict, I hit the streets in search of leads, determined to know what I was getting myself into.

“The ultimate celebration of 20 years of Sonic gaming, Sonic Generations delivers the definitive gaming experience for Sonic fans new and old,” bleats SEGA.

Well, I guess I count as the ‘old’ Sonic fan, seeing as though I’m old enough to remember the original games. And I’d quite happily admit, hand over fist, that I much preferred them to any of Sonic’s recent fare. I finally bit the bullet when my fiance brought the game home shortly before Christmas. If this couldn’t endear me to the speedy blue sodhat once more, I vowed I would give up.

The intro video begins with a party. Yay! It’s Sonic’s birthday! Forgive me for not bringing a gift. Everyone’s favourite critter pals (and Amy Rose) are here. But something is amiss. A giant hole is torn in the fabric of space and time, and our friends (and Amy Rose) are sucked into it, only to reappear in a vapid white wasteland. But what’s this? TWO SONICS?!

On one hand, we have Old Sonic. Side-scrolling super speed platforming, ring-collecting, Robotnik-bashing Old Sonic. No need for half the forest to lend him a hand or gimmicky plots ripped from Arabian Nights, he just knuckles down (no pun intended) and gets on with it. On the other, New Sonic. With his entourage of buddies, aerial move-busting and ‘cool’ streamlined design, New Sonic looks like that kid on Facebook with 500 friends and a profile picture of himself on a skateboard in mid-air. And they’re going to have to team up if they’re ever going to restore their homeworlds. “Aha!”, I thought. “This is the test. This game is either going to be a fantastic blend of the best parts of every Sonic game, or it’s going to be like waxing: painful and unnecessary.”

The game is firstly split into Acts One and Two, playable in any order. Act One, as you’d expect, is Old School Sonic. With all the momentum and heady speed of the first games including the original music, it’s easy to forget I’m playing this in 2012, which is bliss. I’m interrupted now and again by a Chao bleating helpful tips at me such as “If you lose all your rings, YOOOOUUUU’LL DIIIIIIIIIIEEEE”, but then I remember there will be some gamers out there who have never played a Sonic game before. As I whizz through the first level with its impressive graphics, I’m quite happy that this will be some people’s first impression of Sonic. It beats the hell out of Secret Rings. There’s a good selection of vintage levels, and the artwork reminds me of the gorgeous design of Donkey Kong Country Returns or Rayman Origins – almost. Sometimes there’s a little too much going on, which can be distracting.

Act Two plunges us into ‘3D’ Sonic. The levels consist of forward scrolling at an impressive (and sometimes distracting) pace – you really have to concentrate: miss one move and you’re toast. This causes the most upset in our household when we keep dying at the same point in each level. “This isn’t what Sonic’s about!” cries my fiance. “You don’t get stuck in a Sonic game!”  I’m mostly inclined to agree. A lot of the forward-scrolling play is about timing, as seen in a level which heralds the return of Silver the Hedgehog, who angrily flings debris at Sonic as you pursue him. Miss a move or two and you’re out. This can be a source of irritation for people who aren’t fans of repeating an attack sequence over and over and over to win.

As with most Sonic games, your performance gets a rank at the end of each level. Obviously, faster times and higher scores get you As and Bs, which in turn gives you unlockable content such as concept art, songs and character bios.

But the majority of the unlockable content is gained through ‘Challenge Gates’, which are exactly what the name suggests – levels with a unique challenge. Sometimes you have to race your doppelganger, sometimes you have to get to the ending holding only one ring, and more often than not you have to call on the expertise of your friends. This is quite a good idea: especially since I was not looking forward to endlessly having to deal with a barrage of irritating ‘Verb’ The ‘Noun’ critters which I assumed would dog you throughout gameplay. The Challenge Gates are an excellent way of utilizing each pal’s abilities – for example, Vector the Crocodile can toss you across large gaps, or Amy Rose can extend jump height by walloping you with her offensively large mallet (there’s a lot to be said for PMS power).

Since this game came out almost alongside Sonic Colours, the ability-enhancing sprites make an appearance. Since I hadn’t played Colours, I was a little un-nerved to see Sonic suddenly turn a nasty shade of cyan and start flinging himself about. Some of the abilities were a little hard to pick up on, and I kept forgetting that you could only use them once before you had to ‘refill’. To be honest, it put me off Colours a little bit. I could barely remember where the jump button was: how was I supposed to remember that light blue gives you a rocket ability and yellow makes you breathe fire and magenta makes you skilled at archaeology and green makes you…blah blah. I almost thanked God for the Chao yelling instructions in my ear. (Which you CAN turn off, something certain other games could do well to notice. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Navi.)

So we have the short, pudgy and mercifully quiet Sonic of yore, and the wise-cracking, chilidog-scarfing Sonic of recent gaming: and they seem to mesh fairly well together. The barren wasteland becomes smattered with colour as you play, collecting more chums and places to visit. The whole thing seems rather celebratory (as well it might, after all it was Sonic’s birthday), as if the goal was to applaud Sonic’s best efforts all along. I feel like I’ve actually achieved something, instead of feeling like I’ve been cheated as I had done in recent years.

Overall, the game is easy to pick up and get into. It’s not too hard or too easy, so it won’t alienate gamers old or new. It’s like a grab bag in the sense that certain gamers will find some elements superfluous – Generation One gamers may be frustrated by the game’s efforts to introduce new gaming aspects such as the Colours cameo noted above or Sonic’s animal pals, whereas New Generation gamers might not particularly care about the collectible content or the aesthetic of the Act One levels, but none of the niggles are enough to make either want to stop playing. Your personal mileage may vary, and you’re more than entitled to disagree with me if you want to.

Happy Birthday Sonic, and thanks for the invite.

(I will point out one more thing – sometimes, the ‘order’ of the game can get confusing. My other half is still missing the last Chaos Emerald and for the life of him can’t figure out where it is. Hasn’t stopped him playing it though.)



It’s a Small World, After All

We’ve had Disneyland, Disney World, and now there’s Disney Universe. I guess it was only a matter of time before Uncle Walt went interplanetary.

Not the name of Eisner’s next frontier into space, Disney Universe is actually the title of the up-coming Disney multi-player, multi-character platformer-cum-action bash-em-up; coming to Wii, PS3 and digital download at the end of this month. If that sounds a bit chaotic, that’s because it is.

In recent years, Disney have been embracing the meta-textual. Whether it’s seeing Belle stood next to Mulan in the Disney Princesses merchandise, or having Captain Jack Sparrow fight alongside Goofy and Donald Duck in the Kingdom Hearts game series. Disney have obviously taken note from the Superfriends series and have realised every kids’ dream of creating a fighting team of their favourite heroes and villains. Aladdin and Mufasa and Hades all in one troupe? Yeeeeah!

Except no. Sorry. There’s a limit imposed on this inter-story interaction. Take a look at the front of your Disney Princesses lunchbox (don’t worry, I know you have one and it’s OK) and notice how none of the characters are looking each other in the eye. It’s all a bit Stepford Wives, isn’t it? But according to Disney, it’s so they don’t “spoil the magic” of the original stories. I kind of see the point – as a child of the eighties and nineties I know my Maleficents from my Gastons but if they start mingling together, how are future generations going to know who’s who and what’s where?

So how are Disney going to keep both parties happy? The answer is simple: Cosplay.

Either that's a guy in a suit or Pumbaa ate something that disagreed with him.

In many ways, the game has already drawn comparisons to Little Big Planet. You get to pick your character from a roster of 40 (most of which you will obtain by completing in-game challenges), ranging from relative newbies like Wall-E and EVE to familiar faces like TRON and Simba. There are six worlds, each inspired by the Disney/Pixar universe to explore. It certainly has the same cute, fantasy charm of Little Big Planet series: when you consider that the last major Disney game was the startlingly dark Epic Mickey, Disney Universe seems like the perfect antidote.

But is it enough? On my search for screenshots, I’ve spotted avatars of a few of my favourite characters, but underneath every article or YouTube video there’s always the alternative view. “Why isn’t there a Hades one?” or “Where’s the ‘Under the Sea’ level?”. I sort of agree – how are six worlds considered a ‘Universe’? Kingdom Hearts had more worlds than that – granted KH wasn’t a short game, but it was more RPG than Action-Adventure. How long do you expect players to find collecting coins and bashing scenery fun in the same six areas before they get a bit bored? You can’t please ’em all, can you Disney.

While speculation is still rife about the game’s content, Disney Interactive have been dangling a juicy prospect in front of cynics such as I: downloadable content. Suddenly it all makes sense! How perfect! It’s like a less fiddly version of The Sims: you set up in a relatively small world and then add to it over time. Over exactly how much time is yet to be known, as DI are keeping famously tight-lipped.

The game looks like a lot of fun, and it might just snatch the title of “Most Played Casual Party Game” from under Super Smash Bros. Brawl nose in my household, but I can’t help but stress the emphasis on ‘casual’. Just as I would recommend Twilight Princess and Donkey Kong Country to fans of SSBB, so would I recommend Kingdom Hearts or Epic Mickey to those unsure about Disney Universe‘s longevity, or those thinking it looks a bit ‘young’ for them. Keep an eye out for it later this month: it’s sure to be the stand-out title in casual Action-Adventure games until long after Christmas.

(Released October 28th for Wii, PS3 and PC digital download.)


Katamari Dammit!

If you walk around my flat bare-footed, crap will get stuck to your feet.

I don’t mean literal crap – I’m not that slovenly – but it will start with maybe a little dust mote. Then maybe a feather from the pillows. Then a bit of stray leaf that blows in from outside. With me, I’ve become so used to it that it doesn’t at all surprise me when I look down and find next door’s cat halfway up my shin.

Imagine my surprise when I came across Beautiful Katamari, a game that has successfully encapsulated my domestic inanities.

OK, when I say ‘surprise’, I’m lying a bit. Katamari is almost as old as that thing where you go to step out of someone’s way but then you both move to the right and end up doing this stupid little dance thing until one of you finally crouches into the foetal position and cries “OH GOD STOP”. Much like people do when I start talking. But I spotted Beautiful Katamari in the local game store and was urged to buy it by the nearest member of staff after I confessed to once playing early installment Katamari Damacy.

For those of you that don’t know, the idea behind any Katamari game is that you roll a sticky ball around brightly-coloured dynamic environments in order to pick up items that are smaller than you, thus creating a ball with an infinitely larger diameter. It’s a harder task than you imagine, especially when you roll yourself  merrily towards a Dayglo anime Thermos and then bounce viciously off of it because you didn’t realise you were smaller than it.

Just like having to pick bulb filaments out of my heel every so often, Beautiful Katamari is a little bit frustrating. The gameplay is actually fun – they could have just stuck the same formula (small member of Royalty rolls ball around) into different locations (supermarket, cafe, City centre, S&M dungeon) but they’ve added innovative twists to the later stages. For instance, you have to recreate the planet Mars, and in order to do so you need to roll up enough hot items to reach a certain temperature in a world peppered with spicy sauce and jalapeno pizzas as well as snowmen and fire extinguishers.

The most unforgivable thing in the world – sadly – is one of the main characters. The story is that the King of All Cosmos, an overzealous megalomaniac with a penchant for phallic headwear was playing tennis with his wife one day, until he managed to crack a hole in the bloody sky and lose most of the heavenly bodies in it. As the mute Prince, you have to do Daddy’s bidding and gather a bundle of objects together to recreate the planets.

This would be fine if King Purpletights would just leave you alone. The screens are already packed full: what with 3D yogurt pots and crayons flying about and the Prince and his ball smack in the middle, the last thing you’d want is some giant speech bubble obstructing your view. But oh, Big Daddy King is all too happy to oblige when it comes to giving you what you don’t want. And Heaven forfend you start rolling without him: he launches into a tirade of anger, finishing with “We are NOT speaking to you!”. Which would make you cheer, only as soon as you turn a corner, he feeds you an obscure Star Trek quote and insults your abilities.

Despite my whingeing, I’m really enjoying the game and am actually going back to re-play levels – something I haven’t done since Arkham Asylum. It’s part puzzle, part roaming platformer, and a hell of a lot more fun that picking Christmas tree needles out of your toes.


Welcome to the Fear Factory

You know that advert for a certain brand of frozen foods with the stupid Polar Bear? The one that lives in people’s fridges, judging their choice of foods and pestering unsuspecting suckers on holiday. Cute and cuddly for some; makes me want to punt the TV with my foot and hide behind the sofa. But why? As Brian Conley would say, “It’s a puppet”. It can’t hurt me.

People can’t help but have quirky fears. And it doesn’t help when games developers keep slipping in the odd red herring to keep sales of brown underwear on the rise.

I’m not talking about your obvious horror – you know, things that go bump in the night and then eat your face off when you come to seek out the source of the noise. I’m talking about the things that you know can’t hurt you really, but that creep the hell out of you nevertheless. Here’s a little list I spent some horrible agonising time compiling.


Oh good God, where do I start. From a game that looks like Mario-branded fuzzy felts came this vision of horror. She looks like a cute little girl, talks like a cute little girl, then her head spins around and legs grow out of her torso like a cute little…um…oh. And her war cry is her own name. She’s a master of disguise, but if you’re smart enough (i.e. over age 3) to see through her masquerade then you’ll realise you’re leading your comrades to her spidery brand of doom.



Everybody knows this, surely. That choral sound whenever you booted up a game on your Sega console. SEEE-GAAA! It’s jaunty, it’s classic, it’s bloody horrifying. No, hear me out: it is. It doesn’t even sound like people, and when I try and imagine it as a choral piece I imagine a bunch of doomed and vengeful spirits trapped inside my Dreamcast, ready to burst out in the night a wreak revenge on the girl that forces them to sing against their will. Even the ‘lighter’ version, used before later games such as Sonic 3D Blast, doesn’t dispel my fear either. Or is it just me?



For all his chubby Italian charm, Mario is a repeat offender when it comes to bowel-shattering weirdofear. This boss takes the form of a giant mole. Sounds harmless, right? Not if you consider that in reality moles are squinty little creatures with massive claws and snub noses. This is a giant cartoon version, and you know how cartoons exaggerate reality? And have you heard the noise this thing makes? Imagine the cries emitted by Brian Blessed as he is encased in carbonite, a la Han Solo. It’s chilling.



This little sod puts the ‘Monster’ in ‘Pocket Monster’. I mean, look at it: it’s a coffin. With arms. And if you look at its PokeDex entry in Black Version: “It has been said that they swallow those that get too close and turn them into mummies.” Surely in order to train these Pokemon you have to get close to them? Yeah, that’s right, their trainers. I don’t know about you but I’m burying this one in the storage box system and never getting the bugger out again.



I had an ex-boyfriend who was a walking train wreck apart from his taste in games (hey, doesn’t everyone?). One day he confessed to having a recurring nightmare: he was playing Sonic and died mid-level, only to find the end-game music got stuck on the last note. He turned off the game: it didn’t stop. He turned off the console, unplugged everything and ran out of his room but still the sound followed him all the way, droning in his ears. He couldn’t hear anything else, just the last note of that Game Over music. I wasn’t convinced until I played the game again some time later, and as much as I hate to admit it, he’s right.



I had a rabbit a few years ago. Her name was Misty; she was pure white, timid and cute, and the best thing about her was that not once did she open her jaw up to three times the width of her own face and scream “DAAAAAAAAAH!” in a blood-curdling voice. I used to like Rayman as well; I could even see past the slightly creepy way his arms and legs were separate from the rest of him. And now you’re expected to make these eldritch abominations sing, dance and play party games avoiding the glaring fact: they’re freakish. You expect to find them crouched over the corpses of their own kind, eating the entrails.



Ah, nothing like trawling through the landscape with a herd of Pikmin as your wards. Ooh look, a butterfly. Ooh look, a lovely pool of water. Ooh look, an egg. Let’s smash it open. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT. It looks like a ghost’s abortion. Make it go away, Olimar. I suppose that’s what you get for smashing up eggs.


Author Terry Pratchett once explored the notion of bad dreams in his writing, and he came up with the idea that the worst nightmares are normal things gone wrong. Everyday objects turning evil. Amen, Terry.

Night night, sleep tight. Don’t let your alarm clock bite.


Lone Wolf Cub (Okamiden – Nintendo DS)

It’s a bit weird when Deities have kids. Take the Greeks: they either leap out of their parents’ heads, or discarded testicles end up morphing into grown women. Then if they’re not eating each other, they’re breeding with each other.

Thankfully Okamiden‘s tale of the prodigal son is not quite as decadent. The main protagonist is Chibiterasu, son of wolf-Goddess Amaterasu of Okami fame. As the cute and excitable Chibi, you must follow the path set by your mother with the guidance of chirping bug-guide Issun.

I’d like to point out that despite my best intentions, I never sat down and played Okami properly. However, I did manage to wrangle myself a quick demo thanks to a Game store manager friend. Maybe I’m a little under-qualified, but the main differences between both games are pretty obvious.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess what the main differences will be: just look at the platforms. You could never hope to recapture the visuals of the Wii on the handheld DS – at least not at the moment. Look at Mariokart DS versus Mariokart Wii: there’s no comparison. So perhaps it isn’t fair of me to say that if Okami is akin to Hokusai, Okamiden is a crayon replica.  Brush strokes aren’t quite as smooth, and scenery didn’t quite ‘blend’: Chibi stood out as a completely separate object from the background, reminding me of a time when polygons ruled supreme and everything looked like a virtual Mount Rushmore. It made me feel a tiny bit like Okamiden was a step back a few generations rather than the bright young thing it promised to be.

For all my (possibly unjustified) picking at the visuals, the gameplay is as fun and frisky as Chibiterasu himself. Your circle pads unleash a bundle of smooth melee attacks so Chibi can bash and crash his way through enemies, bushes and crockery like there’s no tomorrow. Chibi can now leap and even vine whip his way across the landscapes, but beware of lag between sections of the game: sometimes you can find yourself having to wait (admittedly only a few seconds) for the game to catch up. The stylus lends itself elegantly to sweeping brushstrokes, and it’s a lot of fun to swirl and sweep your way through battles (although you do have to watch your ink pot level, running out mid-flow is a bit of a downer).

We all know how much kids hate being compared to their parents, but you can’t help but notice that Okamiden feels like a big game stuffed into a small console when stood beside Okami. Play on and you’ll be rewarded with Chibi’s new abilities, innovative boss fights and lush dungeons.

With its dynamic battle system and dungeon-style route map, it’s easy to compare Okamiden to the Zelda franchise – in fact, reviews from ONM to IGN have recommended Okamiden to fans of Link’s adventures. If you’re not a fan of Zelda, I say pick up Okamiden anyway. The puzzles are more likely to raise a chuckle than a furrowed brow, but the game itself is just like Chibi himself: cute, charming, and easy to follow.


New Wii, 3D, E3, Yippee!

WARNING: If you don’t want to know what was announced at the live E3 Nintendo announcements that aired this evening, don’t go any further: I’m not going to cover the whole thing at the risk of this becoming a novel, but I will be revealing a lot of what went on and giving my two penn’orth.


Such is the love for gaming in our household, we awaited the Nintendo conference live from E3 like the visit of a much loved relative. The flat was cleaned, the projector wheeled out and pointed at a bare wall, the drinks poured and sofa cushions fluffed in eager anticipation. When the momentous occasion arrived we sat with eyes glued to our wall.

As Nintendo America President Reggie Fils-Amie said, this time last year we learnt that we would be able to experience glasses-free 3D. With the 3DS now among our presence, we eagerly awaited the dawn of the latest titles. I’m going to walk you through some of the titles that caught my eye:

Mariokart 3DS: Well, it wouldn’t be E3 without Mario would it? Nintendo may be famous for flogging the metaphorical horse, but Mariokart has always done something new. Karts are customise-able, as illustrated by a hilarious clip of Mario barging along on a monster truck. There are new tracks, obviously – but they feature new terrain such as underwater dives and flight tracks, complete with glider wings sprouting out of the top of your Kart. There is a host of new and old tracks including what appears to be a Luigi’s Mansion course. And, speaking of the little brother…

Luigi’s Mansion 2: I wonder how many other gamers out there found this announcement to be the numero uno pleasant surprise of the day? After a long wait (heck, there have been three new consoles between this installment and the first one) we’re now promised a 3D version of a game that was made for 3D in the first place (it was, honest). New features include several mansions instead of just one, and what appears to be a host of new gadgets for the Green Meanie.

Starfox 64 3D: In contrast to the above new release games, Nintendo promises us a smart new release of an old classic. It looks like the 3DS technology has been fully exploited; using the dual screens to de-clutter your flight path, allowing you to pilot your craft as if you were truly at the steering wheel, and utilizing the online play function to allow you to interact with your rival pilots, even allowing you to gloat victoriously (or blubber at your loss) in front of players from around the world.

Mario 3DS: What do you get when you take the mechanics from Super Mario Galaxy, blend with the gameplay from Super Mario 64 and throw in a little tanooki? It looks like Mario’s had a little futuristic-meets-retro makeover; either that or he’s mastered Doctor Who-style time travel. In all seriousness, this looks like a refreshing take on the staple Mario platformer, and with all the Mario we’re expecting over the next couple of years I think this is just the tonic.

Kid Icarus: Since Pit’s welcome appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Kid Icarus fans have nearly broken their fingers from crossing them so hard that Pit would get another game under his item-packed belt. It looks exciting, and as if in homage to the game that popularized his return, there is even a four-way melee-style battle game in which you fight off the opposing game’s angel.

Of course, with two very different gamers in the house there were going to be some times when one of us wasn’t listening. Neither of us were particularly excited about John Ricatello, the CEO of EA Games’ appearance, but as a commenter on the Official Nintendo site’s chat feed pointed out,  once you’ve got the attention and support of the world’s largest independent videogame company, you know you’re winning the race.

I’m going to say very little about the next generation of Nintendo home console, except that I half-guessed the name as soon as Reggie Fils-Amie started talking about “we” and “you” and “unity”. My bets were on something as daft as “Yuu” making the grade, only to be pipped by Reg who announced it as the Wii-U. There were sniggers and scoffs, but as I pointed out, people laughed at the name “Wii” until it took casual and hardcore gamers by storm, whether they were playing it or merely admiring from a distance. The advent of the handheld ‘remote’ doubling up as a console in itself looks innovative and widely acceptable, and it will be very interesting to see what Nintendo will do as far as backwards compatibility goes. Oh pants, I fear I’ve said too much.

Without further ado, I leave you with a quote from Shigeru Miyamoto himself:

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about Rock n’ Roll.”


CastleMania [Demo Review]

It’s been a long time since I played a Castlevania game: in fact, I think I was in a training bra and Steps were in the chart. So when my other half downloaded Castlevania: Lords of Shadow from Xbox Demos I was quite intrigued. Since he is more familiar with the series, I duly let him play it first (while secretly canvassing him for opinions).

My first impression was a soft, low whistle: it looks good. Water trickles and glistens, lightning flashes and enemies explode in showers of gore like kamikaze tomatoes.

But is a pretty face enough? Mr Neety certainly didn’t think so. His gaming melting pot consists of a goulash of puzzlers and platformers with a sprinkling of FPS whereas my pot is chock-full of action-adventure and RPG goodness. So he was a little surprised when performing a move took him into a 15-second cutscene: something we both encountered in other games such as Resident Evil 5’s interactive cutscenes. While he believes “cinematic gameplay” such as this is unnecessary padding, I find it helps play flow.

Attack range was another dividing line: as it was a demo, you begin with just a sword and whip. The sword creates a nice mid-range swipe but the whip can reach a ridiculous length, snaring enemies right across the field. Again this wasn’t at all a problem for me who is long used to full-scope attacks from Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasies alike, but the Mister found having instant access to such a long-range attack cheapened initial gameplay.

At the end of our experience, I will be downloading the full game and playing it, whereas the Mister would happily ignore it. The same occurred with Bit.Trip Runner for the Wii: it sits in the Wii menu, glinting at me forlornly when I ignore it to play Super Paper Mario. 

Maybe there’s something I’ll never fully understand about why certain games divide people in such a way, but isn’t that what makes it all the more fun? I could get the same headache asking why certain people like dark chocolate better than milk. I’ll only drive myself and you guys up the wall. Until then, I’m quite happy to stick to my favourites as the Mister is happy to stick to his.


Wild Blogger Appears!

As I traipse around my modest two-bed flat, I am tripping over games. I mean, literally tripping. This morning I fell prey to a copy of Spindizzy Worlds and slid almost gracefully across the living room. This is my life: surrounded by plastic boxes, tripping over console wires and perpetually running out of shelf space. Welcome to my world.

My name (or gamertag) is Neety and my game is…well, just about anything really. I’m as happy filling zombies full of lead on Resident Evil as I am spread-eagled on the sofa with Pokemon Silver (what this says about my personality I dread to think). In addition to my growing console collection, I have my own blog that covers everything from games to music to hot topics. In my spare time, I’m either playing or cleaning up games or chilling with my turtles, who are neither teenage, mutant or ninja.

So I’ve been around a little bit, doing reviews and articles in odd places and now thanks to Donna and the wonders of Twitter I am here, a newbie; my hands hovering over the laptop as if I were Solid Snake trying to pull off the ultimate headshot. From me, you can expect to catch reviews of games from Animal Crossing to Zero Wing as well as my views on what’s right (or wrong) with the gaming world.

It was my birthday recently, so imagine my utter delight when in amongst my presents nestled a copy of Pokemon White.

Since Pokemon has been around since the Year Dot, I don’t feel the need to explain the gameplay basic – and oddly enough, White feels the same way too, starting you right off with your first Pokemon and leaving you to meander off on your path to victory. Come on, it purrs in your ear. I’ve been around, baby, but I’m back to take you on a riiiiide.

As you would expect from an older franchise, there are new features to the game. Following straight on from dual battling in Diamond and Pearl versions, there is now three-way battling. Another prominent innovation is the advent of your ‘lifelong friends’, a boy and girl pair who join you on your trip, popping in and touching base with you every so often. I was quite pleased about this – they’ll friendly battle you occasionally and drop by with gifts, saving you the tedium of running all the way back to the starting town that previous games made you do. There’s even a new enemy – gone are the flaky Rockets and maniacal Galactics to make way for a new threat – in this early stage of play, I can only describe them as PETA with fancy costumes.

Thankfully the game concept itself remains uncomplicated (your basic Adventure/Strategy RPG), making it accessible to Pokemon stalwarts and newbies alike, and it still has the charm of the older games thanks to the gorgeous display on the DS that the Game Boy Colour could sadly never hope to replicate. Controlling is pretty easy; the touchscreen turns into your battle control panel allowing for a cleaner layout during fights, and when you’re exploring it turns into your communications device, allowing you to connect with both NPCs and your friends. Here is my word of warning: if you don’t have DS Wi-fi enabled, do it before you get started. If you’re like me and plunge into the game without reading the manual first (cough cough), you will find that you get to a critical point and have to stop and fiddle about with your router until you can go any further in the game.

Despite this initial hiccup, this is a game I would thoroughly recommend: particularly to newer games who would find themselves less impressed by the aesthetic of the older games.

To cap off my thoughts for the day, I was thinking about how great it is to be a girl gamer. From getting invited to your boyfriend’s mates place and trouncing them all at COD, to walking into a game shop and surprising the staff by going gooey over Batman: Arkham Asylum. The world may pretend to be a big modern man, but there’s no hiding its surprise when a lightgun-toting girl pops up out of nowhere. That’s where I’m in my element. Viva games. Viva girls. Viva girl gamers!