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Archive for March, 2010

Review #347

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking
Developer: Indies Zero
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Genre: Cookbook
Release Date: 03/28/2010

Nintendo’s systems have certainly become a great place for cooking related titles. Although the Wii has seen games like Hell’s Kitchen or Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked, The DS has been the chef’s system of choice with high quality products like My Healthy Cooking Coach, Personal Trainer: Cooking, and Gourmet Chef. Of course it’s also been host to crappy products like What’s Cooking: Jaime Oliver, but then they can’t all be winners.

As a guy that cooks a lot, I’ve become a big fan of these digital cookbooks, if only for the amount of space they save me. I mean, a 300 recipe cookbook would take up a big chunk of a bookshelf, but a DS cart with the same recipes? Not so much. Even better, this time Indies Zero, creators of the title that started this all, Personal Trainer: Cooking has teamed up with America’s Test Kitchen. For those of you who aren’t sure what ATK is, well here is a brief summary. America’s Test Kitchen is the most watched cooking TV show on Public Television and it uses the staff and recipes of Cooks Illustrated Magazine. It’s head and shoulders above anything currently shown on the horrible Food Network right now, so check it out!

Now for the most part, ATK is just Personal Trainer: Cooking with some new recipes along with some innovations and changes. At $19.99, it’s a fraction of what most paper cookbooks cost, but is it worth getting if you have one (or both) of the other two digital cookbooks for the DS?
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Review #346

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010


Blue Toad Murder Files: Episodes 1-3 Bundle
Developer: Relentless Software
Publisher: Sony
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 03/25/2010

We’re big fans of the old point and click Adventure game genre here at Diehard GameFAN and I have personally waited YEARS for something like this to come out for the Playstation 3. Before now, the closest we had was the video game version of LOST, and that was merely okay. For the past few months, I’ve been sitting here muttering as England has received multiple episodes of Blue Toad Murder Files at £6.29 each. I’ve been tempted to snag them via my Euro PSN account, but at ten bucks a pop, it put the full game at $60, or twice what the average adventure game costs on PC. So I waited. Finally a few days ago, I was rewarded not only with the release of the first episode of BTMF, but we were immediately brought up to speed as all three episodes that have been released are now here in the US, with a bundle price of $14.99 for all three. $30 for all six episodes was more like it (plus I wouldn’t have to use my old UK bank account that has set without a withdrawal for about seven years), so here we are with the review.

The three big issues surrounding this game are:

1) Is there an audience for Adventure games on the North American PS3 since they tend to be a PC mainstay (although the DS and Wii have slowly been getting some) and it tends to be more of a European thing, to the point where most games in this genre are developed by small European companies like Darkling Room, White Birds or the like?

2) Can the gameplay of an Adventure game translate well onto the PS3? I found the port of the Wallace and Grommit serial Adventure games to the 360 to have pretty crappy controls, and the few Wii Adventure games I have played haven’t fared too well either.

3) Is it any good? After all, Relentless Software has only done the Buzz! games up until now.

So are the Blue Toad Murder Files worth investing your hard earned money in or is this second foray (Siren: Blood Curse was the first.) into PS3 episodic content a flop?
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Review #345

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Rage of the Gladiator
Publisher: Ghostfire Games
Developer: Ghostfire Games
Genre: First Person Action
Release Date: 03/22/2010

When I first saw trailers and info appear about Rage of the Gladiator I said to myself, “That looks like a fantasy version of Punch-Out!!” What a simple yet brilliant concept, right? Well, after playing through both the normal and challenge modes of the game I can honestly say it IS a fantasy version of Punch-Out!!. Now just because something mimics a popular first party Nintendo title, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good. Remember all the horrible Super Mario Bros. wanna-be platformers in the 8-Bit era that made you want to stab your eyes out?

So is Rage of the Gladiator a sorry-second rate knock off with a fresh coat of paint, or a surprisingly good find?
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Review #344

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Heavy Rain
Publisher: Sony
Developer: quanticdream
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 02/23/2010

That’s right. I’m finally getting around to reviewing this. You’re probably wondering what took so long. Well first, I wanted to wFait for the Heavy Rain Chronicles DLC to come out so I could see how it tied in with the main game, if at all. Then I had a ton of other reviews to write. Then came Pokemon Week and the thirteen different articles I had to write for that. That’s over 100 pages on Pokemon. Oy.

The real reason though is that I wanted to see all the endings and I refused to use a guide, YouTube videos or the like. It was just me and my intuition. So as you can imagine, that took a bit of time with all the other stuff I do on the site here. The hilarious (in retrospect) thing is that I finally got the “Perfect Crime” endings, only to realize I was logged in under my Japanese PSN account (as I was downloading a few games) and so that gold trophy along with the “See All Endings” one are the only trophies on the Japanese account and my poor US one has some bare spots. C’est la vie. In other words, we have a pretty late Heavy Rain review, but we had the first Heavy Rain Chronicles review out there. Checks and balances.

Now I’m a big fan of adventure games in genre, but especially cinematic ones. Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace, Dracula Unleashed, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, BrainDead 13 and so on are all games I own and have beaten countless times. There is also the Casebook series which our own Mark B. has reviewed. The funny thing is that even though I like this subgenre of point and click games, I really didn’t like quanticdream’s last title, Indigo Prophecy. I thought the first third of the game was awesome, the middle was okay and the last third was the biggest train wreck I had seen in years. So half of me was optimistic that they had learned their lesson while the other half remembered the alien conspiracy and psychic children crap that Indigo Prophecy turned into and shuddered.

So how was Heavy Rain? It is worth of the unbelievable amount of GAME OF THE YEAR talk that surrounds it? Is it an overhyped piece of drivel? Is it somewhere in between?
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Review #343

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Note: #342 was a Diehard GameFAN exclusive of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver. Go there to read it.

Pokemon Ranger: Hikari no Kiseki
Publisher: Nintendo of Japan
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 03/10/2010

While here in North America we have been celebrating the release of Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver, Japan has been enjoying their own Pokemon release this week – that of ポケモンレンジャー 光の軌跡 AKA Hikari no Kiseki, AKA Pokemon Ranger: Locus of Light, which some are translating as Tracks of Light or Path of Light. Technically none of these are right as it should be Runes of Light based on the gameplay, but we’ll all have to wait and see what the official US name will be. This is the third Pokemon Ranger title. In 2006, the original won Best Action RPG from us and in 2008 the sequel, Shadows of Almia was nominated for three awards, but failed to win any.

More than likely, Pokemon Ranger 3 will see a US release towards the very end of the year so it’s special abilities and Legendary Pokemon that can be transferred into the Generation IV core games can be utilized. Does the new game bring anything different to the table or is the third Generation of Pokemon Ranger titles as lackluster as the third generation of the core RPG’s?
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Review #341

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Calling
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 3/9/2010

Japanese Horror games have a lot of parallels with the RPG market. Both were started in the west. Early US RPG’s were things like Ultima, Wizardry, The Bard’s Tale the SSI Dungeons & Dragons video games and so on. Early horror games included Haunted House, Uninvited, Shadow of the Comet and Alone in the Dark. Eventually both genres really took hold in Japan and Japan began to outdo the West in both these genres in terms of quantity, and some might say quality as well. The mid to late 1990’s would be the peak of both genres in Japan. The RPG market had the Phantasy Star games, Shining Force, and Final Fantasy VII exploded the genre to new heights of popularity. In the horror market, Japan gave us titles like Echo Night, Clock Tower, Hellnight/Dark Messiah and more. At the same time, although the West’s production of both genres fell during this time, when a game hit, it hit big. Planescape: Torment is an example for RPG’s and The 7th Guest is a perfect example for horror games.

In the past few years though, Japan’s level of quality seems to have slid in both regards allowing some to say the West is back on top in terms of who makes the best in both genres. With games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Neverwinter Nights, Vampire: The Masquerade and Dragon Age, Western RPG’s have had something of a revival. If we look at our own site, Western RPG’s have won our RPG of the year award for the past two years. Again, horror games have taken a similar route. Japan has either taken the actual horror content out of the games with titles like Resident Evil 4 & 5 that are now more action titles than ones meant to induce terror, or they have made subpar games that fail in quality and tone like Ju-On. Meanwhile the West has had new life breathed into their horror games, displaying a staggering amount of creativity with titles like The Last Crown, Barrow Hill, Tomb of Zojir and more. Even a title like Becky Brogan, which is geared for younger and/or casual gamers tends to elicit a stronger feeling of creepiness than most j-horror games these days. Now there are obvious exceptions like the recent Silent Hill and Theresia that shows Japan is still trying to creep gamers out, but no one would say J-Horror is at the level of quality it was at a decade ago.

So now here we are with Calling. In my hands-on preview of the game, I said the game had potential and that I was hopeful that this came could recapture the magic of the quality J-Horror titles of yesteryear. So did Calling live up to its potential, or did we have another Illbleed on our hands?
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Review #340

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Heavy Rain Chronicles Episode 1: The Taxidermist
Developer: Quanticdream
Publisher: Sony
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 03/05/2010

Heavy Rain Chronicles is a downloadable series of games that continues the look and feel of Heavy Rain. The first episode is currently only available to people who preordered Heavy Rain and I have to admit, the way Sony handled the DLC was a two-fold faux pas. First, you had to wait over a week after purchasing the game to even use the voucher code. Then once the PSN Store was updated on March 4th, everyone discovered that the code for Heavy Rain Chronicles wasn’t working. Sony finally got things fixed in the wee hours of March 5th, but between those two issues and the 24 hour down time for the older PS3 models, Sony had some pretty big consume relations issues.

All that aside though, what matters is the game. As of this review’s writing, HRC: Episode One is only available to people who preordered Heavy Rain, but the voucher does say it has a $4.99 value, so it’s only a matter of time before the content is for sale in the store. I’m purposely keeping this separate from my actual Heavy Rain review, which I have yet to finish as I’m waiting to get everything in the game (including) all endings before I post my thoughts on it, and I’m also avoiding both spoilers and YouTube footage. What can I say? I’m anal about my Interactive Cinema. You should have seen me as a kid trying to log all the possible death scenes in Dragon’s Lair.

So how was The Taxidermist? Do the chronicles look like they have potential, or should Heavy Rain been left an island unto itself?
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