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Archive for September, 2008

Review #219

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Samba De Amigo
Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Bemani
Release Date 09/25/2008

Wow. Has it really been nearly 8 years to the day when Sonic Team first brought the original Samba De Amigo to the venerable Sega Dreamcast? Man, I’m old. I still remember that SDA was one of the last really big hits for one of the most underrated systems of all time, as well as one of the most expensive. Man, were those maracas pricey. Heck, they still are if you try to get a pair on Ebay.

With the motion sensitive controls of the Wii, it was merely a matter of time before Sega decided to remake one of the first, and most popular, rhythm games of all time. With Gearbox Software taking up the development end from our beloved Sonic Team, one has to wonder if the sequel can hold up to the amazing level of quality the original is remembered for. Either way it’s time to shake your wiimotes like maracas and pray you don’t have wrist strain in the morning!
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What I’ve been up to BESIDES writing video game reviews.

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Oh man was last week busy. In one week I flew from DC to Kansas City, MO, Atlanta, and NYC. Can we say busy as hell. Wow was Kansas City, KS the most depressing place i have ever been. it was Bratislava bad. Everything was dilapidated, condemned or impoverished. It made Gary, Indiana and Camden, NJ look good by comparison.

Events were good. Several thousand people turned out for each one. Greedy greedy people though, all wanting to take as many freebies as they could get their grubby hands on. I’m off to Saint Louis next week so this looks to be a month straight of travel.

Kim and I keep trying to get together but with me travelling all this month and her having her son half the time it’s pretty hard to make our schedules fit. I feel bad about that, as she’s a lot of fun, but what can you do?

I’m going to have to see if they have any interesting haunted houses or the like in the area since it is halloween. And by that I mean the campy little things put out rather than something Smurl or Amityville oriented.

The rabbits woke me up at 4am on the dot. Something scared the unholy crap out of them and it was five minutes of stomping. It woke me right up and I couldn’t get back to sleep for the rest of the morning. I need a nap!

I was going to go to the State Fair down in Richmond this weekend, but a 2.5 hour drive to pay to eat bad food? That’s way too far away. Stupid fair doesn’t even have one-tenth of the bad for you stuff the MN state fair had. Or the cool stuff like gator meat.

October is going to be a busy and weird time for me.

Review #218

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Release Date: 09/25/2008

I’m a huge fan of the original Rhapsody for the PSX. It remains my favorite Nippon Ichi game, as it was a wonderful mix of mirth, whimsy, charm and was accessible by all gamers whereas the Disgaea franchise goes more and more niche with each incarnation. The music of Rhapsody has stuck in my head since it first hit stateside in March of 2000. Now eight and a half years later, the game has been remade, remixed and brought over to the Nintendo DS.

In Japan, the Marl’s Kingdom/Puppet Princess series is very popular and although we’ve only ever had the first game come to America, Tenshi no Present - Marl Oukoku Monogatari, was my first game that I ever imported for the PS2. Another interesting fact about the series is that, much like Working Designs translation of Lunar: Silver Star Story, the general consensus amongst the Japanese gamers is that the English version is superior to the original Japanese, and as such the importation of both games were in huge demand during the heyday of the PSX. I myself ended up shipping nearly half a dozen copies of the Atlus USA published Rhapsody to people in Japan simply because they loved the ENGLISH SOUNDTRACK. That last sentence is a bit of foreshadowing by the way …

I did an interview with the Nippon Ichi about the Rhapsody remake back in August of 2008. Here’s an important snippet I feel needs to be recovered for this review.

DHGF: Currently NIS America is best known for its exceptionally long and complex SRPG’s. Rhapsody however, is one of the shortest RPG’s out there, clocking in at about ten hours. Do you think the ease and briefness of the game will induce a bit of culture shock to NIS fans used to 100 hour games and characters that go over Level 100, or do you think with the DS being so popular with casual gamers, that Rhapsody will act as a “gateway drug” of sorts to not just SRPG’s but Nippon Ichi games in general?

NIS: You have mentioned exactly what we’re trying to aim for with Rhapsody. Since this game is fairly short compared to our SRPG lineups, it gears towards to a more casual audience. We’re hoping that gamers who aren’t as hardcore as our Disgaea fans would pick up Rhapsody and find that we do in fact make non-hardcore games as will. That’s not to say that we won’t be focusing on our SRPG’s, since our main focus will always be towards hardcore titles.

So has NIS America managed to achieve their goal? Is the Rhapsody remake going to be their first real hit with the mainstream audience? Will it remain a sleeper/cult hit for those that pick it up? Or perhaps, it ’s such a SNAFU that the game has become exactly the opposite of the intentions NIS claimed to have with the DS remake. Let’s find out together.
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Review #217

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Hi! Hamtaro Ham-Ham Challenge
Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Alphadream Corporation
Genre: Mini-Games
Release Date: 09/25/2008

Although it is odd to actually type it out, if I had to name the most consistent video game franchise I could think of in regards to quality, the Hamtaro franchise would probably be at the top. It’s had three solid Adventure games, a game on the GBA that is arguably the best sports title for the system, and now Alphadream, the masters of both the Hamtaro and Mario and Luigi series have brought Hamtaro back for a fifth game. I for one couldn’t be happier. I love Hamtaro, I own all the DVD’s and hell, I first met fellow DHGF staffer Matt Yaeger through my praise of Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak

This time around though, the game is geared for very small children. We’re talking single digit age kids. Considering that I am far older than that, I was a bit nervous about reviewing this game, as what appeals to an 8 year old doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. Well, except for Pokemon. In the end, my love of Hamtaro and Alphadream got me to pick up the cart and reunite with some old friends called the Ham-Hams. So was the game at the same level of quality Hamtaro titles are known for, or is this the first black mark in a nearly flawless series.
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Review #216

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Commando: Steel Disaster (NDS)
Publisher: XS Games
Developer: Manasoft
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Release Date: 09/02/2008

Ah, my beloved Metal Slug, how I have missed thee. Your signature graphics style, your run and gun gameplay, your SNK Boss Syndrome type difficulty, and your wonderful tongue planted firmly in your virtual cheek. I remember when I was able to rant and wax poetically about Metal Slug 3 for the Xbox in my formative years as a budding game reviewer.

Wait. What’s that you say? This ISN’T a Metal Slug game? But it looks like one! It sounds like one! It uses the same gameplay as one! Oh, it’s Commando: Steel Disaster. I guess it’s NOT a new member of the MS family, but it sure wants to be one.

Can developer Manasoft and publisher XS Games do the legacy of SNK’s 2-D shooter series proud, or is this a clone/rip-off that probably should have been left on the drawing board?
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Why the Bloody Hell Do These Songs Always Get Stuck In My Head?

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Go Team Weekend!

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Oh my god are my calves killing me. Never do 6+ hours of DDR in 24 hours along with your normal workouts and stair climbs. Holy shit are they sore.

DDR review is done and in the bag.

I’m going to the VA State Fair next weekend or the weekend after that, depending on who comes with. it appears to be quite different from the MN “Food on a stick” event. This one had chimps doing rodeos and duck races. It’s also totally missing a list of all the food vendors so I have no way to plan my gluttony in advance. FAIL.

Lots of packages lately thanks to that Paperbackswap.com and swapadvd.com. Poor mailman.

Also, since everyone else is doing it:

I could survive for 1 minute, 41 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Review #215

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Bemani
Genre: Bemani
Release Date: 9/18/2008

Last year around this time I reviewed the first Hottest Party. It was the first DDR for the Wii and I had a lot of fun with it. In the past I’ve never really been into dance games, with Pump it Up: Exceed being the best in the genre I had played up to that point. Hottest Party 1 however allowed me to use my hands and offered a lot of interesting modes, which quickly made it my preferred rhythm-based video game.

The second Hottest Party is very similar to the first, and yet in many ways different. DDR games are, for the most party, cookie cutter games that live and die by the quality of the songs and the new modes added to the game. Does this second installment of Hottest Party hold up, or should Wii owners just stick with the first one?
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Review #214

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People: Episode Two: Strongbadia the Free
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 09/16/2008

Last month, Telltale Games debuted the first in its series of stand alone episodic adventure games featuring the cast and crew of Homestar Runner. The first game, Homestar Ruiner, was a lot of fun and was a perfect blend between the cartoon characters, the world they live in, and point & click fun. Strongbadia the Free is a very similar game and clocks in at only two and a half hours, compared to the four or so of Episode One. Does Episode Two manage to start a streak of quality for the series, or does the Homestar Runner cast experience a sophomore slump?
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Well then.

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008