Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are you ready to return to Silent Hill?

I don't know about you, but I thought the Silent Hill film was freaky beyond belief. Oh, sure, some of the writing and acting was horrible, but the special effects were great--and that's really all that really mattered. The guy who came out of the toilet (you know, he of the rapidly flickering tongue and a penchant for crawling around on his stomach) still gives me the creeps.

Anyway, the fact that there have been four games (with more to come) and a movie based around the ghostly burg means the story has to have a sizable group of fans. They're likely to be pleased with the news that Silent Hill: The Arcade is on its way to Japan and the U.S.

If you ask me, this sounds like a perfect turn for the series, especially considering it's being released in the arcades. Not that I go to arcades anymore. Maybe it'll be released for the home systems (Wii!) eventually?

There goes my self-respect...

I guess there's no use hiding the fact that I'm infatuated with Square's upcoming DS release, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. Oh, I'm not as interested in it as I am FF Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, FF XII: Revenant Wings or even Heroes of Mana, but since those games have yet to be announced for the U.S., I have to make do with games that are on their way to our shores.

FF Fables definitely seems a bit "kiddie," and I'm not so sure how I feel about it being centered around mini-games, but after seeing the preview videos posted to I have to admit I'm more interested than ever before.

In particular, take a look at this video of the game's card battles:

Not only does the art style look amazing (especially the origami-like summons), but it features the series' old-school battle music.

I guess I know what I'll be playing in April (well, when I'm not working my way through Super Paper Mario on the Wii). Hopefully I'll be playing some other Square goodness soon after as well.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Past-Due Review: Kid Icarus (Wii VC)

Say "hello" to the hardest game to grace the NES.

Compared to the challenging Kid Icarus, most of the system's other headliners paled in comparison. Yes, that includes the mighty Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and even Metroid.

What makes Kid Icarus (now available for purchase and download from the Wii's Shop Channel) so darn difficult? I'd love to say it's the masterful level design or impressive artificial intelligence, but in all honesty it's because the game is cheap--really, horribly, insanely cheap.

Somehow, some way, I mastered this game when I was a kid. That's saying something, because when I first played it on my Wii a few days ago I had a hard time getting through the first level. If you're like me, you'll find yourself going through the same level over and over again for one reason or another--usually because you keep falling to your death at a certain point. (You'll become quite acquainted with--and disgusted by--the game over screen that declares "I'm Finished!")

So, yes, the game's cheap. But hopefully you noted something I said along with that assertion: that I continued to play the level over and over again regardless of the all-too-common death scenes. That's because along with being hard and cheap, Kid Icarus is a blast to play.

When it was released, the game was unlike anything that came before it. It wasn't as straightforward or action-oriented as Super Mario Bros., but it wasn't as wide open and spacious as Metroid, either (though it does share a similar "feel" to that great game).

The game places you in control of Pit, a fallen angel much like the titular 'Icarus,' as he wanders Angel Land and attempts to rescue the goddess Palutena, who has been imprisoned by the evil Medusa. Angel Land is quite the kingdom, featuring expansive 2D environments that scroll both horizontally and vertically. After traipsing though a few of those levels (three, to be exact), Pit is thrown into a maze-like dungeon that ultimately ends with a bad guy that has to be disposed of before Pit can move on to the next world.

Considering Kid Icarus was one of the first games released on the NES, it looks remarkably sharp and colorful. Controlling Pit is an enjoyably tight experience, despite the many level-design quirks that force you into a premature death. Rounding out the package, the music is charming and memorable, especially the title tune.

Whether or not you're able to move beyond the game's difficulty is up to you. Just know that giving the game a chance is a worthwhile endeavor--even if the old "helper" codes no longer work on the Wii.

I want to be a fishing master!

I'm not sure why, but I've followed Hudson's Wii fishing game (Fishing Master) ever since it was first shown last year. I'm not at all a fisherman in real life, and the only time I've ever enjoyed fishing in a game has been in the more recent entries into the Zelda series.

Regardless, I think Fishing Master looks quite enticing, and I hope Hudson considers bringing it to the U.S. (or maybe Konami will pick up their slack, considering they're bringing over Hudson's Kororinpa and Wing Island).

Watch the trailer for yourself, then tell me if I'm right on the money or completely out of my mind.

Konami's in the mood for Parodius one again

Well, sort of.

According to a bit of news posted earlier today on, Konami is readying an arcade successor to its wonderful Parodius series of games. The name of this new game is Otomedius, and it apparently includes touch-screen functionality and networked multiplayer modes.

Hmmm, a 2D schmup with touch-screen capabilities--wonder if it will be prepped for release on the DS as well?

Reggie opens up to MTV has just posted an interview with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime (appropriately titled, "Where Are All The Wiis, DS Lites?"), and although Reggie lets loose with lots of PR double-speak he also shares a bit of previously unreleased info.

Take, for instance, his comments on the possibility of releasing a translated Mother 3 in the U.S.:

"It certainly is a franchise near and dear to his heart, and it's something I'm trying to get smart on to understand whether or not there is an opportunity here," he told reporter Stephen Totilo. "But certainly I've seen the success in Japan. That hasn't gone unnoticed. And it's certainly something we're looking at."

Even more interesting to me, though, were Reggie's comments on upcoming Wii channels.

"We have a tremendous amount of old Nintendo Power [magazine] content, for example, that we could present to consumers as a way to get smart about Virtual Console," he said.

I can't believe no one has thought of that before! I remember the good 'ol days of Nintendo Power, and it certainly did run a lot of tips and walkthroughs for many of its games. Why not regurgitate that info for VC releases?

Very interesting. I'm glad mysteries remain that we gamers aren't privy to. Now if Nintendo would just solve the darn shortage issues and also pull their heads out of their bums regarding online play...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

SRPGs strike again in Dragon Shadow Spell

I love SRPGs. Doesn't matter who makes them or what system they appear on--if it fits the definition of an SRPG, I'm on it like white on rice.

Well, it seems Japanese PS2 fans have been thrown a mighty bone with the recently released Dragon Shadow Spell (created by Flight Plan, who also gave us the great Summon Night series on Ps1/2).

I haven't played the game myself--just gazed longingly at screen shots like most people--but someone at Siliconera has spent some quality time with it and seems quite happy with the results. Maybe when I get some disposable cash I'll pick up a copy myself.

In the meantime, take a gander at Roli O's review.

Will Wii welcome previously Japan-only games?

A very interesting conversation has taken place between Wired's Chris Kohler and Nintendo of America's George Harrison that could be of interest to retro nerds like myself.

Apparently Kohler asked if Nintendo has given any thought to translating games previously limited to the Japanese market. Here's what Harrison had to say:

"We are aware that there are some very successful Japanese franchises that have a small following in the US, and that they could never be reached by putting these products out at retail. We’re open to games released in Japan if we can get them translated properly."

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for any of these games to be released over here, but just the fact that Harrison commented on it in the not-quite affirmative made my ears stand at attention. Fingers crossed that something comes of it eventually...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Springtime for Tingle in Germany

And the rest of Europe, from the sound of it.

According to the Official Nintendo Magazine (a Brit publication), Nintendo's "Tingle RPG" (the actual name is quite a tongue twister: Freshly Picked Tingle’s Rosey Rupeeland) will be released on the other side of the pond in March.

Rumor has it the game will be coming to the U.S. as well. Let's hope we get a little Tingle love this spring as well!

Maybe next year I'll stitch my sweetie a Valentine like this one...

I have no idea who made this sweet Valentine--it was posted to earlier today--but it sure is great! The person made one featuring Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man (why isn't she a missus?) as well, but this one was far cuter in my estimation.

Now the talented cross stitcher has to send out a pattern for the rest of us to follow (assuming we know how to cross stitch, which I don't).

Square-Enix entering the "brain game" market?

An interesting rumor just popped up on the German gaming site, Apparently, everyone's favorite maker of console RPGs has registered a trademark that could lead one to believe a brain-training game may be in the works. No idea what said trademark is, so that's news for another day, I guess.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Who likes to vote? You guessed it: Wii like to vote!

Well, Nintendo sure pulled a strange rabbit out of the hat today--a new channel for rabid Wii users!

The "Everybody Votes" channel allows gamers to cast votes (using Miis) on a variety of Nintendo-penned questions (such as, "Which is a more romantic Valentine's gift? Chocolates or roses?"). After voting, you're given a chance to predict the overall outcome of the poll as well.

Nintendo hasn't released the results of any of the polls yet, but it seems they will eventually and also will let users know how their predictions fared.

It's all rather simple and pointless--like most of the add-on Wii channels--but also kind of cool, cute and fun (if you ask me).

Rumor patrol: Okami coming to the Wii?

One of the PS2's best and most underappreciated games may be on the way to the Wii, if a rumor being spread by is anything to go by.

According to the site, "a reliable industry insider unaffiliated with Capcom told us that the company is seriously considering creating a Wii version and may even be working on it as we speak."

Although a representative from Capcom UK officially denied the game will be making its way to the Wii, it's hard not to believe IGN's rumor may have some teeth. Ever since Okami's release, critics and fans alike have been discussing how perfectly the game's controls would be suited to Nintendo's newest console.

I, for one, hope the rumors are true and we'll see Okami 1.5 (or whatever they decide to call it) on the Wii by the end of the year!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Past-Due Review: Super Princess Peach (DS)

When it comes to Super Princess Peach for the Nintendo DS, I have just four words to say to naysayers who have yet to play the game: Don't believe the hate.

That's not to say the game is perfect (or even great, for that matter). But the first game starring Mario's main squeeze is far from a bad game, either. In fact, it's quite a solid entry into the Japanese giant's platforming portfolio.

I won't bore you with the details surrounding Peach's foray into the two-dimensional world of the gut-wrenchingly named Vibe Island. Suffice it to say there's a quirky backstory that supports her quest to save Mario, though it's as threadbare as a 5-year-old's binky.

It's what happens after you skip by the story sequences that matters, right? And that's where Peach shows what's beneath her ruffled skirt (you know what I mean--I think).

For the most part, Super Princess Peach is as tight and solid as any Mario, Wario or Yoshi game on the market. She animates well, handles well and has quite the repertoire of moves (many of which involve her peppy parasol, while the rest involve her super-power emotions).

Unfortunately, most of those moves are negated by the fact that every character, save the end-of-level bosses, can be killed with a simple whack of Peach's umbrella. You heard it: every single one. I know the game is aimed at prepubescent, game-phobic girls, but couldn't the developers have put all of their creativity to better use? We get some of the same great abilities seen in Yoshi platformers (floating, ground pounding, enemy inhaling) but there's nothing to do with them.

That faux-Mario feeling rears its ugly head again while contemplating the game's appearance. Peach, her enemies and her surroundings all are suitably cute and colorful. Some are even downright pretty--and the bosses are impressively drawn and animated to boot. Yet overall the game seems a bit bland or watered down compared to Nintendo's other side-scrolling offerings like New Super Mario Bros. and Yoshi's Island DS. Still, it's far from ugly and at worst can be called "clean and cartoonish."

If that sounds like something you can stomach, take the above review as the push you need to go pick up a copy of the game. If a tight and competent (if not altogether amazing) platformer starring Mario's muse sounds like a nightmare come to life, safe your hard-earned bucks for something a bit more manly.

What do you think of the Final Fantasy remake for PSP?

When I first heard Square once again was updating the original Final Fantasy for the PSP, I was intrigued. New graphics, music, movies? Sign me up!

Well, after seeing the first screen shots, I'm not sure what to think. The graphics have been overhauled, as Square promised, but I'm not sure it's for the better. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something cheap/cheesy about them. I'd much prefer they either give it the 3D treatment like Final Fantasy III on the DS or something else entirely (maybe a CG look like in Hudson's Bonk and Adventure Island remakes that appeared on the PS2 and GC a few years ago?).

I'll reserve final judgement until I see the game in motion. Until then, feast your eyes on this pic, which is about the best I've seen thus far.

It's official - Super Paper Mario coming in April

Today started with a pleasant surprise in the long-awaited release of Kid Icarus on the Wii VC, and here comes pleasant surprise number two: Nintendo has confirmed the release of Super Paper Mario for the Wii on April 9. Yippee!

Here's the cheeky release Nintendo sent out to the real gaming press:

"Nintendo of America requests the pleasure of your company at the marriage of Peach to Bowser on the 9th day of April 2007.

"The nuptials will take place at the beginning of Super Paper Mario, which will be available for Nintendo's hot new Wii home video game system. Those who wish to attend--or thwart--the ceremony will need to switch between 2-D and 3-D."

The day finally has come - Kid Icarus on the Wii VC!

This is the day I've been awaiting for quite some time--the day Nintendo finally makes available Kid Icarus on the Wii Virtual Console. I know some gamers could care less, but Kid Icarus was one of my favorite NES games (and thus one of my favorite games overall).

Also available today are two other NES classics: Ice Climber and Kirby's Adventure. I'm going to pass on Ice Climber, but I may have to pick up Kirby as I've never played it but have heard good things about it.