Posts Tagged ‘ Wii ’

A look to the past, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

A look to the past, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

In honor of one of my favorite games being named the 00s era game of the decade by gamefaqs.com (if by a slim margin) I will be taking a look back at a game that was, once, one of the most underrated Legend of Zelda games, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

It's so angry!

Released in the year 2000 for N64, and rereleased in mid-2009 for the Wii Virtual Console (only 1000 points ~ 10 dollars), Majora’s mask takes place immediately following the events of Ocarina of Time(OOT), a rare bit of continuity for the Zelda series. In fact, Majora’s Mask is radically different from most other Zelda games (Wind Fish not included). Skip ahead to avoid a few spoilers, but besides Link and the Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask lacks the common features of most Zelda games. There’s no princess to save, Link is in Termina, not Hyrule, and the evil overlord isn’t even Gannon, instead the role falls to some unnamed child who stole a mask. There aren’t even eight proper dungeons to defeat, only four (Though there are four other kinda dungeons…never mind). This drastic uniqueness, despite its criticisms, is what makes Majora’s Mask one of the most fun Zelda games I have played.

By our powers combined!

I suppose only having 4 dungeons is warranted since Link only has 3 days to save the world before the angry moon crashes into Clock Town, destroying pretty much everything, by summoning the four giants trapped by the evil magic of the evil Majora’s Mask. Yes, he has the magical Ocarina of Time that lets him go back to the beginning of the 72 hours, but that’s beside the point. At its heart, Majora’s Mask is still very much a Zelda game, taking many of the enemy models straight from OOT. You swing your sword, shoot arrows, and generally kill things, at least when you are in human form. Thanks to the Happy Mask Salesman and the Skull Kid (the evil guy who wants to crash the moon into the world), Link gains three form changing masks that morph his body into one of the three prevalent races of Termina, Zora, Goron, and Deku. Each racial form gives Link different powers and weaknesses, like hopping on water and drowning that he will need to face the dungeons looming in the future. And the mask theme continues on as Link must collect masks that, while a couple are very useful, don’t amount to more than a few heart pieces or another mask. But if he collects them all then you get the overpowered Fierce Deity mask for the final battle. It is totally worth it.

The guy at the top looks kinda familiar...

Over the course of the game, you are constantly reminded of the three day time limit as a large clock at the bottom of the screen quickly counts down the hours until ultimate destruction. While the gameplay is mostly standard Zelda faire, the clock allows Majora’s Mask to have an unprecedented storytelling instrument that has not been seen in a game since. Before someone claims that Dead Rising did it too, it didn’t. Dead Rising (DR) is pedestrian at best compared to Majora’s Mask. DR gives you hours to complete generic task that are otherwise static and unchanging within the timespan. Majora’s Mask, on the other hand, features and entirely scripted world in sync with the movement of the hands of the clock. You can know exactly where the Postman is, down to the square of tile, based on the time of day. There is one quest line in the game (The missing son Kafei) that has a few very specific timed events that must be completed to successfully finish the quest in its entirety. Miss one or do too much and you have to start over. The rest of the people and Clock Town also change from day to day, reflecting on and discussing the growing moon in the sky. Without any interference from Link these people would continue the same paths until the end of time, which is, coincidentally, a few days away.

Any one else remember "green"?

Graphics wise, Majora’s Mask was pretty sweet back in the day.  That was top of the line for the N64, you even had to buy upgrades for your console to even play it, a price well paid for a few Assassin’s Creed-esque landscapes the game had in store.  Back in the day when a $20 add-on was a big deal, before the plastic instrument of Guitar Hero took off.  Granted there wasn’t bloom lighting back then to hide the polygons, but those were better days when there were more colors than brown and gunmetal gray.  Majora’s Mask was state of the art when it came out and, despite the elitist standards of today, looked and still looks pretty dang good.

If you have never played The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and own an N64 or a Wii, now would be the perfect time to pick up a copy and spend a few days away from the princess, especially in the after Christmas lull of new video games. You will not be disappointed.

Some things never change.

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Xbox Kinect

Project Natal AKA Xbox Wii60

I can't let you do that, Dave.

If you were one of the few boys and girls who were able to get their hands on an Xbox Kinect this Christmas season feel joyful that you didn’t have to shell out the 150 dollars to turn your Xbox 360 into an Xbox Wii60. I’m not saying that the Wii is superior in every way to the Kinect…oh wait, I am. Over the past few weeks I was granted the opportunity to experience the Xbox Kinect and, frankly, I was unimpressed. Before details are gotten into, I’d like to issue a brief disclaimer: I did not buy a Kinect, instead I spent many hours playing with the demo version at my local Best Buy. This may have colored my experience a tad, but I probably did more to move Kinects in those 3 days than did any of the salesmen people men. That being said, let’s carry on.

What am I supposed to throw down in rage now?

As far as my Kinect adventures went, I was only able to play a single game, with six subgames, Kinect sports. KSports, as I shall refer to it from henceforth, is the direct analog of Wii Sports, being that they are the exact same game, one being slightly shinier than the other. KSports features fun and innovative games like Bowling, Boxing, Volleyball, Track and Field, Ping Pong, and Soccer. Whatever happened to Baseball and Golf I’ll never know. KSports is a game, I hope anyway, designed to display the capabilities of the Kinect. Yes, it should be fun, but it is there to show what exactly the contraption can do. Wii Sports is, mechanically speaking, the best game available for the Wii. If you are a Wii owner and anyone ever complains about the Wii’s “Terrible motion controls” pop in your copy of Wii Sports to correct them and tell them to take it to the independent developer next time rather than the solid hardware. The minigames in Wii Sports simply work leaving all failure squarely on the fault of the player, which I suppose is good for this type of thing.

If only it worked that well, lefty.

KSports, however, did not leave me with such a feeling of hardware competency. Take bowling for example, simple, right? Grab a ball, throw it at some pins and hope they all fall down. Unlike actual bowling, throwing a virtual ball is often a lot easier and makes us forget how terrible we really are at the sport. Sadly, though, the Kinect fails to mimic this fine activity, demonstrating one of its many flaws. While the KSports bowling is fun there is one flaw that, at first, may not seem like much, but you can’t put spin on the ball when you throw it. At first this doesn’t seem like much but, for one, it shows the limited nature of the Kinect in that it lacks the ability to see fine detail, like the Wii can, and that you can not accidentally put spin on the ball. After that I scored a perfect game by standing perfectly still raising my clenched fist behind me then swinging it straight forward. Strike every time. There was an old man who was very impressed and bought one soon after. What does this mean for the Kinect overall? I means that it can’t do anything overly complicated with it, which is probably why golf was removed, and that the Kinect will be forever bound to the realm of awkward dancing machinations.

 

Because I play in a bright green room, too.

After that I tried my hand, ironically enough, at a game of soccer. And by soccer I mean some kind of crazy Russian dance. Any actual skill or expertise you have with Soccer is pointless in this arena where the game is determined by moving your feet in one of the (up to 3) directions allowed or, as is the entirety of the volleyball game, block the ball with your hands, as the goalie of course. It doesn’t actually matter which how you move your feet when playing, only that you do move and hope the ball goes in a direction you wanted. This flaw falls squarely on the Kinect this time. After a few failed games I went into the settings and discovered that the Kinect was unable to recognize my feet and head at the same time, regardless of how far away I stood. If i was too close the camera wasn’t big enough and if I was too far it couldn’t decide where my head was. Obviously, the Kinect could use a few more dots for articulation, but alas, ’tis a bit late for that. Just hope that the ball doesn’t get close enough to put you in goalie mode, because they will score. The Kinect is painfully slow at recognizing well…pretty much anything and this is nowhere as obvious as when you are goal tending. Wanted to block that kick? Shoulda started moving before they kicked it. This happens in Volleyball and Ping Pong, but since waving your hands around is the main function of the game the timing becomes easier to predict, assuming it wants to register anything at all. The Wii was at least pretty responsive, years ahead of the Kinect.

Every. Single. Time.

Next on the list is Boxing. I don’t actually have anything bad to say about Boxing. It was pretty fun but still suffered from many of the same problems as the others, but least notably. And Track and Field? No idea what I was supposed to do. No instructions were given. I think I was supposed to run or something. Overall, anyone who wants a Wii either already has one or isn’t going to shell out the money for a Kinect, which is not significantly cheaper than an entire Wii console. The Wii, now four years old, got it right on day one and the Kinect and the PlayStation move are just cheap attempts to earn some more money by Microsoft and Sony. I haven’t had a chance to mess with the voice control features, but from what I’ve heard it is cool but not enough of a redeeming feature to save the Kinect. My final thought: Don’t give Microsoft more money, give the Wii some love again and maybe they’ll release another Zelda game.

They mad.

Extra Credit: If you want some more insightful commentary on the Kinect and Move in relation to the Wii, check out this episode of Extra Credits over at the escapist, right below Yahtzee.

Metroid Other M: Old, new, but nothing borrowed.

Posted on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 12:28am
Similar to the proposed cover for the sequel.

From the people that brought you Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball (Team Ninja) comes the latest installment in Nintendo’s classic Metroid series, aptly titled Metroid: Other M.  The game takes place after Samus Aran’s second encounter with the Metroid (In Super Metroid for SNES) and claims to tell the “Cinematic story of Samus Aran’s past.”  Very much a throwback to both classic and more recent games in the series, Other M strives to provide an experience that young and old gamers can enjoy, with all the plasma shooting, morph ball rolling, and item collecting expected from a Metroid game.

No nunchuck required!

To achieve this mixture of the archaic and new, Wii style, Other M introduces a new and “innovative” way to use the Wii-mote to control Samus.  The game switches between a third person view with automatic aiming that allows the player to (somewhat) awkwardly control Samus’ movements with the D-Pad and a stationary first person view with full gun control firmly in the hands of the player, all depending on the orientation of the Wii-mote.  Holding the controller sideways moves the camera to the third person view, often forcing Samus and enemies out of frame, while pointing it at the screen shifts to first person and allows the player to look everywhere along with the capacity to shoot missiles.  While at first this sounds cool, the Wii-mote’s sketchy motion sensor can be easily confused when the player attempts to switch between these frames of reference, which does present a problem if the player happens to be in the middle of combat.  This issue is somewhat alleviated as you become used to the control set, but can still be a problem even for an experienced player.

So pret–IT BURNS!

While flailing about with the Wii-mote, be sure to take in the world around Samus.  The Wii takes every chance it can to show that it can be as gorgeous as other next-gen consoles.  Cinematic cut scenes are filled with fantastic visuals of flowing Nebulas and wonderfully detailed interiors of space ships, along with a few shameless sweeps of Samus’ unsuited figure.  Other M does, however, noticeably lower those standards when the player takes control.  While still better looking than something you might find on Wii Sports, this does create an awkward impression as the game attempts to transition between game and cinematic, giving the same feeling as someone splicing handy-cam shots into a high-budget Hollywood movie.  It flows, but gives a slight bump to remind they player that they are, in fact, playing a video game.

Sadly, the in game graphics are not the only lacking element of Other M.  While the out of game backstory is fantastic, the in game story is noticeably worse.  The game gets credit for being the first in the Metroid line to attempt to include plot somewhere besides the instruction manual, the writing will need to improve if Nintendo tries again.  The two story lines to have one connecting factor that should be removed completely:  Samus’ voice actor.  I’m unsure if she was intentional or not, but The woman voicing Samus speaks in a monotone staccato that sounds like she is struggling to read and speak the words at the same time.  (I know Samus is blonde, but not that blonde.)

oooo, shiny…

Combine that with the fact that her voice is just plain annoying and you may find it better to turn on subtitles and mute the TV rather than listen to her deliver the majority of the dialogue.

One other thing of note are, what I have dubbed, look puzzles.  After you experience a few of these, you will know instantly by the accompanying sense of terror of what you have encountered.  The first thing that happens in these “Puzzles” is that you are locked into first person view and forbidden from continuing away from it until you convince Samus to lock onto whatever thing the game wants you to see.  At first, they’re simple things.  An obviously out of place emblem on a space ship, a weird shaking thing, but they get worse.  Eventually, you are wasting 10-20 minutes playing detective trying to lock-on to the particular green stain that will advance the game.  They serve no purpose but to waste time and could be easily cut entirely without anyone missing them.

Do you see what we’re looking for?

Despite a few mild annoyances, Other M is like any traditional Metroid game.  There’s plenty of 2-d platforming and morph ball rolling through questionably placed shafts for any diehard fan.  It is, overall, too easy, compared with other Metroid games, especially when auto-aim does all the hard work for you.  This does allow anyone, regardless of skill, to breeze through the game and experience the wonderful journey into the Metroid universe.  This is a game for anyone, old fan or new to the series, and should provide at least a few hours of entertainment.

100% completion.

Megaman 10: GUAHHHHH!

Oh MegaMan box art…

Recently released for download on the Wii’s virtual console and for PS3 (360 owners will have to wait until the end of the month), MegaMan 10 is a veritable blast from the past. Like something ripped straight from an old NES cartridge, this sidescrolling platformer stays true to its classic roots.

MegaMan 10 looks and works very much the same as the originals (after the first) did. The story is negligible, something about Roboenza, but is otherwise the same.

How do robots even get sick?

You are still the Blue Bomber with your trusty arm gun ready to fight your way to the eight robot masters and give them what for, after which you viciously rip off and cannibalize their weaponry for your own use.

Traversing the levels in 10 is, by far, the most difficult part. The difficulty curve, like many MegaMan games, is incredibly varied. Some levels are incredibly easy to travers while a select few (notably Strike Man’s) will leavy you screaming at the TV for hours on end. Unlike its predecessor from 2009, MegaMan 9, the game is doable and offers some chance of seeing the end credits.

Also of note is the reintroduction of Protoman, MegaMan’s longtime counterpart, as a playable character something unheard of in the previous installation. Playing as the mysterious android leaves something to be desired though. Protoman is exactly like Mega Man, except that he is red, wears a scarf, and brandishes a shield in addition to his arm cannon. The shield allows Protoman to block projectiles while jumping but at the cost of a slightly slower fire rate and a high pitched whilstling that you get to hear every time you die, which will happen.

Since the advent of full 3d game environments, the classic 2-d sidescrolling platformers fell to the wayside, with development studios preferring to make their games with a more realistic tone. After that the almost primitive 2-d games were tossed aside for their more valued upgrades. Recently, though, downloadable gaming has enabled 2-d games to flourish amongst the 3-d behemoths. Games like MegaMan 9 and 10, the nostalgic return to the Final Fantasy universe FFIV: The After years, and the incredibly artistic Braid, each of which are only available via online download, have tapped the growing generations of gamers childhood memories and continued to make something worth buying that anyone can enjoy. Hopefully, this reestablishment of 2-d gaming will continue on for many years to come.

Protip: Beat Pump Man first.
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