Considering that I’m such a lazy gamer, I’ve been infected with the sudden need to dance, and party, and just be lively. After meeting the Ubisoft Reflections guys in Newcastle, I got a shot at Just Dance 3 for Xbox 360 and it was a barrel of laughs! Still unsure of whether I should venture out and grab Just Dance 4, I took a trip to the Metro-centre where the same guys were helping GAME celebrate it’s release. I had a blast there too, and quickly decided to rush out and buy the latest instalment of Just Dance.
Like any music game, the songs available are important to the player. Previous Just Dance games failed to disappoint with songs such as Funky Town, Barbra Streisand and Party Rock Anthem. The new game also has a great range of songs, making playing JD a great addition to any party. I’ll name a few I can think of:
Las Ketchup – Asjere (The Ketchup Song)
One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful
Flo Rida – Good Feeling
Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger
Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give you up
So there’s a few of the songs available and it keeps to the tone that was set by the previous titles. There are a few songs that I wish weren’t there, but that’s all down to personal preference. I don’t quite understand Skrillex for example, but I’ll still give it a go.
Dance Move Precision
Like all dance games, they ask you to complete a few moves and they grade you with an overall star rating and a mini grade for how you pull off each move. Whereas Dance Central make their grading of moves a little more visible (around the dancers feet and glowing limbs if you do it wrong) JD places it above your character and next to your dance-card.
You do get better scores for better precision, naturally. However, when the game has you twirling, ducking, weaving, and more it’s very hard to see what you’re meant to be doing, and you start to ignore your grades.
Just Sweat Mode
Just Sweat is the JD equivalent of a dance workout. There are multiple classes in which to choose from, sorted by the style of music they use, and add in a few extra short routines specifically for the workout such as stretching. There are a few workout length choices too, ranging from 10 mins to 45 mins, and I’m sure I saw a 1 hr workout in there somewhere. Nevertheless, I tried them all out in a bid to get fit for Halloween…
They are pretty good I must say. I started at 10 mins but it didn’t seem like long enough for me. I was only just working up this sweat that the mode had so promised me, but was soon to regret choosing a 45 minute cheerleader workout. My shoulders are still sore now, probably has more to do with the fact I’m rather unfit. The routine was great, it lets you know when they are cool down sections and intense sections, and tells you the calories you’ve burned at the end. My only issue with the calorie count is that, unlike DC where they ask you for weight, this game does not, so it makes me wonder how it’s calculating this…?
I can’t really think of the downsides of this game, but if I had to share what I thought was bad…
– I couldn’t play this on the Wii because every time I do, I seems to whack myself with the Wii-mote. It’s hardly a complaint but when you do hit yourself it really hurts.
– Playing certain songs by yourself allows you to realise how lonely you are. Barry White’s song is a 4 player dance group and you can look really silly doing it alone. The same with Asjere, Time of my Life and Time Warp. Forever Alone 😛
– Justin Bieber (but that’s down to preference)
– With bigger dance groups you need more space otherwise it becomes difficult. The Wii doesn’t have so much of a problem, but the Kinect needs to see everyone and they all need to be in the right place otherwise it goes a bit nuts.
– Not enough DLC songs but I suppose the developers need a little more time to add them.
– There’s also the problems that accompany most motion gaming, such as calibration of the sensor, which can become a little irritating but it’s not a major issue.
In conclusion I’d say that Just Dance 4 is a great party game and is a lot more fun when with friends, as you can have a laugh at each other whilst doing the silly routines they have planned out for you. It’s still good as a 1-player game but it feels a little more like a chore after a few songs. Plus, after a while a few of the songs you’ve never heard before start to grow on you. Just need some more songs to dance to and I’ll be happy.
This Afternoon was the Nintendo E3 conference, and the one I was most looking forward to.
It started off strong with Shigeru Miyamoto announcing Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. With a new species of Pikmin, the Rock Pikmin, and a team of up to 100 of the little creatures you can get them to find food or take down an enemy, you can even get them to carry materials to build bridges or use the Rock Pikmin to break down large objects using the motion plus on the wiimote. You can also play the game from the new Wii U game pad.
Next up Reggie took to the stage and announced The New Super Mario Bro’s U.
Yep Mario is back , this time for the Wii U; The gameplay looks similar to older Mario titles, but there’s also boost mode which allows up to for people to play together on the same console, either using wiimotes or the game pad.
The last title I’m going to mention is Scribblenauts Unlimited.
The new game will allow players to bring their own creations to life and bring it to life on the game, and share them with friends; There will also be a Co-Op mode.
There was a ton of other titles announced aswell : Batman Arkham City : Armoured Edition , Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Tank Tank Tank! by Namco; Tekken Tag Tournament 2; Trine 2: Director’s Cut; Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Aliens Colonial Marines ,Lego City Undercover , Zombi U, Rayman Legends, A new Rabbids game and NintendoLand ( a party game)
There was also a few 3DS titles they mentioned, but I’ll give you more details tomorrow once their 3DS only conference is over.
Okay so the Ubisoft conference has just ended at E3 and we’ve got some awesome things coming. The highlights for me are Assassin’s Creed 3 and the new game, Watch Dogs. Also, new Spinter Cell and Farcry 3 to come, plus some new shiny stuff for the Wii-U.
Assassin’s Creed 3 looks super sexy. Timeframe-wise we’re in the American Civil War era, so lots of wilderness and snow and wild animals, plus you get to run through the tree tops. How kool is that. Have a look at the video.[youtube http://youtu.be/gZrklEy9ohQ?hd=1]
Then we have a completely new IP called Watch Dogs. Personally I think the name is a bit lack lustre, but I’m willing to forgive if it’s as awesome all the way through as what they’ve just shown us. Have a look.[youtube http://youtu.be/0dTOnyp58NM?hd=1]
Now I’m waiting for the Sony conference, but have a look at the whole of the Ubisoft presentation for yourself. (Jump to the 18min mark for the beginning)[youtube http://youtu.be/aKRWubusKBU?t=18m]
So there’s now two Zelda games on the Wii, the first being Twilight Princess (Which I will play again properly when I find a cheap game cube version, cause given the chance I will not use motion control) and the second being Skyward Sword, which is not only the most recent Zelda game out, but also a prequel to all the Zelda games before it; Confused yet? Lets see if I can explain this.
You see up until recently the Zelda time line had been a thing of speculation, every fan had his or her idea of what game went where , which gave way to forums upon forums of fans arguing that their timeline made more sense; so along with Skyward Sword, Shigeru Miyamoto ; who I guess got fed up his fans ,finally released an official timeline, with Skyward Sword starting the who epic saga off.
Like I said at the beginning , Skyward Sword is the second Zelda game on the Wii and is as determined as Twilight princess to shove the whole motion control thing in our faces. You start the game, like most of the zelda games, with naming the protagonist, I’m unoriginal and boring I stuck with his official name: Link. After a quick cut scene we cut to link asleep in bed only to be interrupted by a giant bird who spits a letter at him ( I wish I was making this up ) the letter is from Zelda , who in this game is Links childhood friend as opposed to the Princess we all know her as from other games, after a quick read of the note link leaps off the bed and hands the control over to you.
Using the circle pad on the nunchuck makes movement easy and fluid , the camera is reasonably well-behaved, only occasionally looking at the sky instead of what your meant to be doing, but a quick tap of the ‘Z’ button and the camera centres itself , so no worries there. Running and jumping are again straight forward aswell; unfortunately the motion control isn’t so smooth. Even with addition of the Wii motion plus, there’s still a delay with links movements, and trying to roll a bomb can be a nightmare if the sensor isn’t positioned in just the right way; throwing a bomb is simple, with the bombs selected bit ‘B’ , move into position and give the wiimote a small flick, but to roll a bomb, you have to raise the wiimote in the air whilst your positioning yourself, but with the delay link doesn’t always register that you want him to roll it right away, so you end up being blown up because our spiky eared hero won’t respond to your commands, all you can do there is throw the bomb before it blows and try again.
One of the first things I noticed about Skyward Sword , when I first turned it on, was the art style.
Look at that, its gorgeous! we’re welcomed into the world by bright colours and a cartoony art style which looks like the cell shaded versions like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess all rolled into one , and throwing the music into the mix makes it pretty on the eyes and the ears.
It would’ve been nice to have had more to do whilst in the over world, soaring through the sky on your loftwing is fun, but there is not enough to do, with the five main floating islands being host to mini games or shopping, the smaller pieces of rock that hover in the sky are either empty or have treasure chests that you can only open once you find their goddess cube equivalent in one of the levels below the clouds.
I guess, overall, I can only really recommend Skyward Sword to people who are already fans of the Zelda series, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be the first in the series, the game still expects the player to have a certain amount of knowledge of the world and lore before they even start playing, so whilst fans will probably feel right at home in skyward sword, to the people who want to get into the Zelda series…..Start anywhere else in the series and pick up some of the history before you try out skyward sword, otherwise a lot of the story may not make a lot of sense.
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.
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.)
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.
MIMI from SUPER PAPER MARIO
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.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 3
THE SEGA CHORUS from SEGA GAMES SERIES
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?
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 6
MAJOR BURROWS from SUPER MARIO GALAXY
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.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 2
COFAGRIGUS from POKEMON BLACK/WHITE
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.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 5
GAME OVER MUSIC from SONIC SERIES
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.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
RABBIDS from RAYMAN SERIES
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.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
THE SMOKY PROGG from PIKMIN 2
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.
SHIT-A-BRICK RATING: 4
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.
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.
ON WITH THE HYPE!
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.”