Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

Weinercast Wednesday! January 28, 2009

Filed under: DS,Games,WeinerCast — Gwyddia @ 8:16 am
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The Weinercast is go! This week: Gaming On The Go.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.

 

WeinerCast Wednesday! GVGA Edition December 31, 2008

The Weinercast is go! This week: Gwyddia Hosts The 2008 Gnome Video Game Awards.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.

 

I’m Blind December 29, 2008

Filed under: DS,Industry,Nintendo,Other Folks,Wii — Gwyddia @ 3:42 pm
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The folks at Joystiq used this image today in their daily commentary about Nintendo printing money. The story isn’t news, but the picture made me want to cry. So I decided to share. “Enjoy”.

My EYES...

My EYES...

 

Weekend Woundup December 15, 2008

Lots of news that I’m not sure that I classify as news over the last couple days. More like a bunch of shinies. Well, I like shinies, so here goes.

– GTA Chinatown Wars will be for DS released on St. Patrick’s Day. Get your drink on IRL and in-game.

GTAIV Lost and Damned screens look smoother than original GTAIV.

– Brutal Legend trailer:

– God of War trailer, now with 4x texture resolution!

– i ❤ Katamari his the iPhone. Praise Ceiling Cat.

 

5th Cell Scribbles For The Moon December 6, 2008

Filed under: DS,Games,Other Folks,Previews,Uncategorized — Gwyddia @ 2:04 pm

As promised, game developer 5th Cell announced their next DS game on Friday in an IGN exclusive.  The game is Scribblenauts, an incredibly ambitious title that will have players scribbling words onscreen to solve puzzles in a platfoming-type adventure.

 

The level 5th Cell showed featured main character Maxwell scribbling the word “ladder” to make a ladder appear to scale a great height.  I think I could easily spend a few hours scribbling “puppy”, “kitty”, “mouse”, and any other critter that came to mind, just to see if they’d appear.  This would seem to fit with the game’s tagline of “Write Anything, Solve Everything.”

 

Check out this gameplay footage from 5th Cell, which is so entertaining I will even forgive them the horrendous error of writing “100’s” with an apostrophe.

 
For even more scribbly goodness, head over to IGN for their exclusive interview with 5TH Cell’s co-founder and creative director Jeremiah Slaczka.

 

Animal Crossing Racial Slur Causing ESRB Fracas

Filed under: DS,Games,Nintendo,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 1:49 pm
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baadsheep
Here’s the back story: a racial epithet made its way into the speech of an Animal Crossing character. The epithet was user-created and only found in fourteen review copies of the game, all of which have been recalled and changed. Now, of course, people are pointing fingers at the ESRB, saying that their ratings system is a failure for letting something like this slip through.

 

Simply put, no. The ESRB warning on any game with online play clearly states that “Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB”. This is because online content can change a game at a moment’s notice, and the ESRB aren’t a psychic Gestapo. Further, this was a bad joke found not in the retail version of the game, but in a very small number of pre-release copies. The issue was discovered and dealt with quickly and efficiently.

 

The ESRB could not have caught this, nor should they have. I, for one, do not want the ESRB or anyone else constantly looking over my online shoulder. Every online content provider has an abuse notification system for cases just like this, and if the swift reprisal here is any indication, that system worked.

 

Finally, remember that the people who saw this “atrocity” were fourteen adults in the media – not impressionable kids. If you really think your precious little snowflake lacks the maturity to handle the vagaries of an online experience, play with them or don’t allow them to play. Only if players and parents take the responsibility for monitoring their own online experience can we have worldwide gaming that is open and available to the community at large.

 

No Peter Venkman In Next Gen Ghostbusters? December 3, 2008

Filed under: DS,Games,Kotaku,Other Folks — Gwyddia @ 12:29 pm
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[Ed. note]: As of about 9:00 EST, Kotaku has corrected their error. 

 

I ain't afraid of no mic.

I ain't afraid of no mic.

According to Kotaku’s story today on Ghostbusters DS, the next-gen versions of the game will not feature Bill Murray’s classic wisecracker Peter Venkman.  It seems that the DS version will have him though, because there is no voice-acting in that version. This stands in stark contrast to Kotaku’s earlier story about Bill Murray enjoying recording his game dialogue so much he would actually consider a third movie.

 

 

In fact, Murray himself has appeared on Conan O’Brien and the Today Show talking about the voice work that he has already put in the can. I’m thinking this is a blown call by the big K, and we can expect to see and hear Dr. Venkman in due course.

 

[Edit: Check out this trailer that clearly features Bill Murray.]

 

Review: Chrono Trigger DS November 29, 2008

 

Can we come in?

Can we come in?

In the Year of Our Ceiling Cat Nineteen and Ninety-Five, Square released a little game called Chrono Trigger.  The story is simple – young adventurers save the world – but with a twist – by porting through time.  Due to its epic nature, branching storyline, and multiple endings, Chrono Trigger is widely considered to be one of the best RPGs of all time.

 

 

Wikipedia rightly describes the Chrono Trigger developers as the “dream team” – Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Aoki, Kazuhiko Aoki, and composer Nobuo Uematsu. Yuuji Horii and artist Akira Toriyama.  Masato Kato wrote most of the plot and composer Yasunori Mitsuda scored the game with Uematsu finishing it when Mitsuda became ill.

 

Art:

The art is classic Horii and Toryiama – anime figures, large foreheads, and bright colors.  The DS version includes the well-received anime cutscenes from the 2001 North American PlayStation release, now without load times!  Unlike the recent Final Fantasy remakes, however, the art hasn’t been given a total 3-D makeover. Instead, the sprites have been polished up a bit and given more fluid animation, but the original distinctive art style is there.

 

Gameplay:

Lots of screen real estate across two screens.

Lots of screen real estate across two screens.

Like the original, Chrono Trigger DS uses an Active Time battle system, meaning that each character may only act when their timer is up.  Different characters have different physical and magical attacks, including advanced physical attacks called “techs”.  What Chrono Trigger added to the RPG genre was the concept of cooperative techs – combining up to three characters’ techs to create double or triple attacks. Notably, there is no apparent slowdown when using even the flashiest of techs. 

 

The DS version has two play modes – “DS Mode” and “Classic Mode”.  DS mode allows you to use both the touchscreen buttons for controls, and Classic mode is a play setup identical to the original SNES version. There are other features exclusive to each mode, such as a DS Mode option to toggle between ‘Walk’ and ‘Run’.

 

The DS version adds some new dungeons, including the Dimensional Vortex and Lost Sanctum.  The first of these is only available when player’s complete the game, and leads to a new, fourteenth different ending.  The second is another endgame dungeon for folks who love to grind their way up as high as they can.

 

Finally, the DS version offers an unneccessary arena system.  Apparently believing that all JRPGs must have a Monster Hunter element to them, Squeenix makes this feature available the first time you save the game.  When you enter the arena, you get the option of controlling a small malleable creature known as a Smidge.  You can send your Smidge to any of the seven periods of time to train them, and then you can battle other trainers, er, players, via DS wireless.

 

Overall:

Useless arena aside, this is a very faithful translation of a beloved original.  Like Dragon Quest IV, the source material still holds up over a decade later, and the DS developers respected that fact.  As a result, like Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger on DS is an excellent game with everything you remember and nothing substantially screwed up by modernization.  

 

For being an amazing RPG now available in pocket-size, Chrono Trigger DS gets 5 Weiners out of 5.

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Review: Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood October 6, 2008

Filed under: 3 weiners,BioWare,DS,Games,Reviews — Gwyddia @ 2:15 pm
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The original Sonic design.

In the beginning there was a hedgehog. Well, maybe more in the post-beginning/pre-middle. Certainly in the early 16-bit era. Yes, by 1991 there was Sonic The Hedgehog. (Note: The “T” in “The” is properly capitalized. Sonic creator Naoto Ōshima registered Sonic with The as his middle name.) Over the last 17 years there have been over 30 Sonic and Sonic-related titles, including such highs as Sonic 2 and Sonic CD, and such lows as Sonic Heroes and Sonic and the Secret Rings.

 

Super speed also leads to jaundice.

Super speed also leads to jaundice.

 

Several of those games have had RPG elements. Chaos Emerald and chao collection could earn the Blue Blur extra powers or lives.  Most games post-Sonic Adventure featured a “Super Sonic” mode, giving the ‘hog even more speed after he collected 50 precious, precious rings.  In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, BioWare has taken these power-ups several steps further in an attempt to turn Sonic into a “real live” role-playing game.

 

On a pure mechanics level, they succeeded.  Sonic forms a party, gets quests, earns experience, levels up and collects loot.  The party’s static skills increase automatically with each level, but the player can assign one bonus point to a stat of their choice each level. Every level also brings five more action points that you can either spend on a talent or save for higher levels of a talent.  Pretty standard fare, with the exception of Chaos – cute little creatures which you can collect, hatch, and bond with to add abilities to your team.

 

Say it COW, spell it CHAO!

Say it COW, spell it CHAO!

The real question is how this stop-and-go framework fits a game world that is all about speed.  The answer is that mostly, it doesn’t.  BioWare has a knack for making pause-and-play gameplay seem fluid (see KOTOR), but mere fluidity is not enough for Sonic The Hedgehog. The developers tried to include running puzzles and loop-de-loops aplenty, but the fact that you have to select Sonic then push a button to enter the loop then have no control whatsoever over where you land or what you do during the “speed boost” completely destroys the illusion of fast.

 

Whee!  Talking and button-pressing!

Whee! Talking and button-pressing!

Where BioWare does try to allow for real speed, it is a complicated mess.  It seems as if they tried to combine their own inimitable style of pause-and-play with the 2.5D action-RPG battles of Nintendo’s  Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. The problem is that Mario is all about good jumps and better timing, and Sonic is all about running like hell, which does not lend itself to drawn-out battles.  The stylus-controlled special abilities minigames are ill-explained and imprecise, and every special move requires a metric ton of minigame action to pull off.  It makes you want to just hit Attack over and over and over.

 

All of that being said, the game is not terrible.  The visuals are charming and do hold true to classic Sonic style.  The RPG format in and of itself is an interesting twist for an overused, yet beloved, video game character. And BioWare does bring the story.  For a Sonic game, this baby is deep.  A plot with turns, surprises and revelations, all adding to the Sonic “canon”.  I think the problem is that Sonic doesn’t really need a canon. Sonic needs another good 2D game full of speed and color.  I wish that Team Sonic would take a page from Mega Man 9 and go solidly retro the next time out.  Unfortunately, as the next few Sonic games include Sonic Unleashed (featuring a were-Sonic)  and a sequel to the super-odd Sonic and the Secret Rings, I don’t think I’m going to get my wish any time soon.

 

For being a colorful and often witty addition to the Sonic family while also being unfittingly slow and imprecise, I’m giving Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood 3 Weiners out of 5.

 

Preview: Professor Laytonmania October 3, 2008

Filed under: DS,Games,Previews,Uncategorized — Gwyddia @ 2:55 pm
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A typical "Curious Village" puzzle.

A typical "Curious Village" puzzle.

People love puzzles.  Japanese people doubly so (see Brain Age, SuDuKo, Go, etc.).  Thus, a few years ago Level-5 rolled up all the puzzles they could find in one tidy package called Professor Layton and the Curious Village. The DS title featured Layton, a natty professor, and Luke, his apprentice, solving puzzle after puzzle in order to unravel a townwide mystery.  Curious Village landed Stateside about a year after its Japanese release, much to the delight of brainfreaks everywhere.

 

The Curious Village sold over 700,000 units in Japan in 2007 and was the top selling game for the Nintendo DS in the United States in the first three weeks after its release, so you know there are sequels.

 

The first sequel is Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box.  This time Layton and Luke are off to visit the Professor’s mentor, who sent them a letter about a mysterious box.  This title, released in Japan in November of 2007, features three distinct areas, including a train and two villages. There are also new meta-games including collecting items to exercise your hamster and brewing the perfect cup of tea.  The game sold over 800,000 copies in Japan as of July 2008.  The U.S. port of Pandora’s Box was confirmed in February 2008, and U.S. gamers are expecting to see it here sometime in November 2008.

Brain game or train game?

Brain game or train game?

 

This has not kept Level-5 from going full steam ahead with Professor Layton 3, however.  They recently released a trailer for Professor Layton and the Last Time Travel.  This time Layton travels to future London for unknown reasons. You can check out the trailer here (in Japanese):

The Weiner enjoyed Curious Village. Some of the puzzles, such as obtaining 4 ounces of water with only a 3 ounce and 5 ounce glass, are classics. It was a thrill to solve piles and piles of these chestnuts. I wonder, however, how many more old saws they can haul out. Are there enough classic puzzles for three games? If not, are there enough new puzzles and variations to keep things interesting and challenging? We’ll have more on this when Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box and Professor Layton and the Last Time Travel are released in America.