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28 December 2008

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Plot Synopsis: 7/10
Well, what can i really say about the plot? The story is broken down into the 6 separate Star Wars movies, with each movie being broken down into 5 playable levels. The whole saga spans two generations, and tells a galaxy-wide tale of good versus evil. That being said, if you need more details, I would simply refer you to the movies.
I would have to give the storyline a 7 out of 10. They explain what's going on, at the beginning of each level, but narrowing each 2+ hour long movie down to 5 levels per movie, things occasionally feel a bit jarring. If I hadn't seen the all of the movies, there were plenty of times that I would have wondered "If I just went through all that trouble with THAT character, why am I playing as THIS one, now?"

Game Play: 8/10
Lego Star Wars is your basic platformer. There's lots of running, jumping, collecting items, and killing bad guys. Occasionally, there are levels that involve flying a spaceship through obstacles while shooting down enemy craft, from a point-of-view from above the ship you're flying. There are two different modes for each level: Story Mode, and Free Play Mode. In Story Mode, you are only allowed to play as whatever character(s) the game requires, based on the plots of the movies. As you encounter other characters in Story Mode, they are then unlocked for use in Free play Mode, where you can play as any character you have currently unlocked. (Some characters must be defeated in battle before you can unlock them.)
Each level also contains a special red Lego block. Acquiring this block will unlock one of various features throughout the game, including, but not limited to, cheat functions and mini-games.
My biggest complaint about the gameplay is that everything that can be unlocked must essentially be unlocked twice. First, you have to actually unlock it, then you have to pay (with studs, the in-game currency, which you acquire throughout each level) in order to access them. Also, some of the prices on some of the items is extremely high, when compared to the number of studs you will typically acquire per level.
I'm going to give the gameplay an 8 out of 10. I didn't really have a problem with anything. It wasn't glitchy at all. But, considering the game was developed for a system with a touch screen, they didn't really include the touch screen much. This game could have played just as well on the Game Boy Advance.

Graphics: 8/10
I feel weird saying that the graphics are pretty good, here. They look like Lego blocks. As a result, they remind me of the blockiness of older 8-bit graphics, from the days of the NES. But, ultimately, when playing the game, it is quite clear that everything is supposed to be made of Legos. As such, I have to say that the graphics are pretty good, all things considered.
I'll give the graphics an 8 out of 10. Making everything look like it's made of Legos can get a bit hard to read, when trying to create the illusion of depth (making things look like they're further away than other things), but that's really my only complaint.


Overall Score: 7.67/10
Lost a couple of points for making a game that would work just as well on the previous generation of hand-helds. A couple more points were lost for making a game aimed mostly at people who are already intimately familiar with the storyline of all six movies. Overall, it's not a bad game. It's just not my favorite, either.

26 December 2008

News flash!

I got a PSP! No, it wasn't a Christmas gift, per se. I bought it for myself after selling a number of my older games on eBay. So, yeah, soon, there will be occasional reviews for PSP games popping up on here!

Also, I know I haven't posted a new review in a while. Damn games take time to play through. But I promise, I'm working on a review for Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga right now. I still have to decide which game to review next, after that.

18 December 2008

Changes!

In an effort to keep the site interesting, I will be posting a poll every so often, which will be right at the top of the page, on the right-hand side.

Also, I have added an eBay search widget to the bottom of the page. I figure, the whole point in posting reviews of games is to help other people decide whether or not to spend their own hard-earned money on said games. Therefore, why shouldn't I provide a link to somewhere my readers can buy said games? Seems like a no-brainer, to me.

Also, soon, I will be designing small mini-banners, for people to use to link to this site, if they so desire. I'll post them once they're finished.

That's all, for now!

16 December 2008

My Weight Loss Coach [DS]

My Weight Loss Coach, for the Nintendo DS, was originally supposed to be titled My Fitness Coach. However, in what was purely a marketing move, designed to sell more copies of the game, the name was changed at the last minute to My Weight Loss Coach. That being said, MWLC is a good title to pick up if you're trying to lose a few pounds, or just trying to improve your eating and exercise habits.

When you first start a profile on MWLC, you will be asked a number of questions about your height and weight, as well as your eating and exercise habits. The game then sets daily goals for you, based on your input. At the end of each day, you enter every bit of exercise you did that day, including just walking around, as well as everything you ate or drank throughout the day. Every bit of food gives you calories, which you are then expected to use up with the exercise you do. If you intend to lose weight, your goal would be to use more points with exercise, in a day, than you get from the food you eat. If you are trying to put on some weight, you would then want to get more points from food than you are using up with exercise. In other words, it's all basic math (which the game does for you).

In an effort to help you with the exercise portion of the game, MWLC comes with a pedometer to clip onto the waistband of your pants, which can plug directly into the DS's GBA slot, to upload the number of steps you've taken throughout the day right into the game card. However, Ubisoft was fully aware of the fact that pedometers tend to come loose, while walking, and will occasionally fall and possibly break. As such, they included a way of manually entering the approximate number of steps you've taken throughout the day, in case you need to buy a new pedometer at any point.

Entering the food you've eaten is very detailed, and can actually take a bit of time. The hardest thing, in my opinion, is actually remembering to enter everything you've consumed. If your friend has a bag of potato chips, and you grab a handful of them to tide you over, you have to remember to enter that in, if you want the most accurate results from this game. Also, you have to remember that it isn't just food, but drinks, as well, including any alcoholic beverages you may have had. Basically, every single thing you put into your body should be recorded, for the best results.

It's obviously best to input your food consumption and exercise at the end of the day. Once you do, the game will figure out whether the exercise you're getting and the food you're consuming are balanced. (As I explained before, it's really up to you whether or not you want them to be balanced.) Based on the day's work, the game will create goals for you, for the next day, regarding the amount of food you take in, the number of steps you take with the pedometer, and the amount of exercise you get.

Personally, I think MWLC can be a great tool for getting into better shape, whether that means losing weight, bulking up a bit, or just improving your overall diet. The game provides tutorials on how to do everything, to make things easier, and encourages you to keep going. With games like this, I'm impressed to see Nintendo doing something to respond to accusations that video games are contributing to weight problems and overall laziness among the nation's youth. The interface is very easy to work with, and guides you through everything that needs to happen, and you get some satisfaction from actually meeting your daily goals.

Overall, I would have to score this with a 9.5 out of 10, taking away half a point for giving in to the marketing whores to change the name from My Fitness Coach (which is actually more fitting) to call it My Weight Loss Coach.

14 December 2008

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon [Wii]

Plot Synopsis: 7/10
In this latest offshoot of the Final Fantasy series, you control... you guessed it... a chocobo. You arrive, with your treasure-hunting friend Cid, in a town called Losttime, where everybody seems to have a bit of amnesia. Every time someone is on the verge of remembering something important, the town's clock tower bell rings, causing them to mysteriously forget whatever they were about to remember. Obviously, this is not good, so you take it upon yourself to free the townspeople from the bell's clutches. Along the way, another character named Rafaello arrives to help you.
I'm not really sure if this game is supposed to be a direct sequel to Chocobo Tales for the DS. It involves several of the same characters, but the relationships between them are different than in the DS game.
I give the story a 7 out of 10. The game is clearly geared toward a younger audience than me, but the story was still well-developed enough to keep my interest through to the end., even if a couple of spots were a bit predictable.

Game Play: 6/10
This game is essentially a dungeon crawler in the same vein as Izuna and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, in that each floor of each dungeon you enter is randomly generated, and is never the same twice. There are different jobs available for the chocobo, such as White Mage, Black Mage, Warrior, Thief, as well as other Final Fantasy standards, which must be unlocked as you play through the story. Each job has it's pros and cons that come in handy throughout the game. As you play, you not only level up the chocobo through experience points, but also acquire job points, to level up whatever job you happen to be playing as at that moment. Leveling up the jobs unlocks new abilities or spells for that job. Overall, the game play is nothing terribly new. The game, much like other Chocobo titles, seems to be aimed at a slightly younger audience than the main Final Fantasy series, so it isn't generally too difficult. There were a few times that I had to spend a bit of time leveling up, but for the most part, just playing through was enough to level up enough to proceed through the story.
I give the game play a 6 out of 10. It's a fun game, but didn't really challenge me at any point.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are stylistically similar to Chocobo Tales for the DS, but obviously a few degrees better, due to the fact that Square-Enix had more to work with when developing for the Wii. The stylized look to everything lent itself well to the fact that this is, again, clearly a game aimed at a younger target audience.
I give the graphics an 8 out of 10. They're not mind-blowing, but they work for the overall feel of the game.


Overall Score: 7/10
This game is not necessarily the best game for die-hard Final Fantasy fans. But, if you like dungeon crawlers like Izuna and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, by all means, pick this game up. It's fun, and it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Super Dodgeball Brawlers [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 8/10
Super Dodgeball Brawlers is the latest in the cult classic Super Dodgeball series, which dates all the way back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System. All in all, the appeal to the Super Dodgeball franchise is simply beating the hell out of your opponents, and watching each player's little angel float up to the heavens as you pummel their team senselessly. Luckily, in updating the game, Aksys didn't bother getting too involved with concepts like "story". This series never had much of a story to begin with, and what little story was there was never the main draw of the game, anyway.
I give the "story" to this game an 8 out of 10. There's not much to it, but there doesn't need to be. And really, why mess with a set-up that has worked just fine for at least 20 years now?

Game Play: 9/10
The basic set-up is the same. You can play a tournament consisting of one match after another until you beat a set number of teams for the championship, or you can play individual games against another player. One new feature in Brawlers is the (up to) 8 player Brawl mode, which uses the DS's wireless multiplayer feature. Another new feature is the ability to pick and choose abilities to create your own team, which is nice for players like myself, who have favorites on each country's team. The biggest problem I have with the game is the lack of WiFi. I think being able to take the Versus mode or Brawl mode online would have made this the ultimate Super Dodgeball title, but oh well.
I give the game play a 9 out of 10. Aksys kept the basic controls the same, and added some nice new features that long-time fans of the franchise can really appreciate. The only thing that could make this better would be the ability to take the multiplayer aspects online.

Graphics: 5/10
The graphics are only slightly updated from the original NES game. Now, they look like the game would be right at home on the SNES. However, the overall graphic style of the game is very cartoony, and doesn't really need to be much more elaborate. The style works just fine for the franchise. I don't really see anywhere they could improve without compromising the style that fans of the franchise have come to know and love.
Now, admittedly, as much as I am a fan of the franchise, the graphics have always been a tender topic for me. I think that the style lends itself well to some of the more comical details of the game, such as when a player is low on energy, and has to stand there recovering from a hit before he can play again. But, unfortunately, sometimes, the characters are a bit too stylized, and don't really read well.
I give the graphics a 5 out of 10. They're what I expect of the franchise, but I think they can be problematic at times.

Overall Score: 7.33/10
If the series had just started with a better style for the graphics, this latest update would be great. The game play is a lot of fun, and Aksys added some great features. The graphics, though, are a real weak point for not just Brawlers, but the whole series. Unfortunately, it's too late to turn back now.

13 December 2008

Dragon Quest Swords [Wii]

Plot Synopsis: 6/10
Basic DQ storyline, here. Bad guy went on a rampage years earlier. He was banished by a band of heroes. Bad guy has now somehow returned to power. New band of heroes has to stop him again. And who plays the hero that everyone decides to team up with? That's right: you. So you go through the usual trials and tribulations, making yourself stronger, finding the items you need, gaining experience through fighting, acquiring gold to buy what you need to get by. Same basic story set-up as DQ8, but with different characters. At times, things feel a bit rushed, and relatively unexplained.
I give the story a 6 out of 10. It isn't a bad story, per se. But Squenix really could have tried harder to make this story a bit different from the same re-hashed Dragon Quest story we've played through before.

Game Play: 7/10
The game play can be a bit tricky. Battle scenes are dependent on swinging the Wii remote like a sword. The catch is, how your character swings his sword depends on how you are holding the remote. You are told, during the tutorial at the start of the game, to hold your remote so that all buttons except the trigger are facing up and obviously the sensor on the front is facing the screen. Assuming you are doing this, your character will swing the sword however you swing the remote. If you are holding the sword at a bit of an angle, however, your character will swing the sword differently than you do.
On the plus side, as you play, and use different swords, you learn techniques called "Master Strokes". Each of these requires a different movement of the remote in order to charge up your strike, ranging from shaking it violently up and down to continuously drawing a circle as fast as you can. This is one of the few moments where i feel like the game did something different from anything Squenix had done before. Of course, that's most likely because this was one of the first games they released for the Wii.
Thus, I give the game play a 7 out of 10. It's a good concept, but it seems to me that there are still a few bugs to work out.

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics on Dragon Quest Swords are roughly the same as the graphics on Dragon Quest 8 for the PS2. So I give them a 7 out of 10. My only complaint here is that, since they were working on a next-gen console, maybe Squenix could have made sure there was a more noticeable improvement over DQ8's graphics, even if it was only minor. I know the Wii isn't about graphical capabilities, but it is still a next-gen system. Oh well. Maybe the graphics in Dragon Quest IX will be better.

Overall Score: 6.67/10
I can't help but feel like Squenix really phoned this one in. We've seen the story before. We've seen the swing-the-remote-like-a-sword game play before. We've seen the graphics before. It almost seems like they made this game just to test out the Wii's capabilities for their own knowledge rather than making it for the fans of the Dragon Quest series to play. Like I said about the graphics, maybe Dragon Quest IX will be better.

Spore Creatures [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 4/10
Pretty basic idea, here. You play a small creature with the ability to "evolve" bigger, better, stronger body parts to help you survive. At the start of the game, you witness the bad guy doing bad things, and decide that you have to stop him. You hijack one of his spaceships and follow him around from one planet to the next (there are only 6 planets total) until you finally catch up to him and fight him. On your way to fight him, you run into challenges that block your progress, where you have to help out some of the other native creatures before you can proceed. The challenges range in difficulty, but most are relatively easy. Only one gave me a bit of a hard time.
I'm giving the plot a 4 out of 10, because it... well... it just plain could have been better. There just wasn't much to it. I don't know. Maybe, because of how open ended the creature design aspect of the game is, they didn't have much room left for things like story. If it were up to me, though, I'd have tried to do a bit more with the story.

Game Play: 8/10
The game play in Spore Creatures is pretty intuitive. I never even actually read the instruction manual. Replacing body parts involves a simple drag-and-drop interface. Battle primarily involves simply dragging the stylus across your opponent. There are tutorials at the beginning of the game for everything, so even the less-intuitive stuff is explained pretty thoroughly. No big problems, but nothing overly innovative, either. I did appreciate the fact that dragging the stylus across your opponent in battle helped to make you feel a bit more directly involved in the battles, though, compared to simply pressing one button to attack. Nice touch.
I give the game play an 8 out of 10, simply because of how easy it is to master. I'd have liked to see a bit more innovation here, but then I would probably have had to read the manual to figure it out. I guess I can't have my cake and eat it, too.

Graphics: 6/10
The graphics in Spore Creatures have a cut-paper look reminiscent of Drawn to Life. This look, thankfully, has yet to be horribly over-used. The downside to using this look is the relative lack of detail. Granted, in a game designed for a handheld system with a screen smaller than a business card, it's hard to get too detailed with the graphics, but I feel that this style caused some items to read poorly due, partially, to the size restraints of the DS screens. At times, I even found myself sitting and staring at the screen trying to figure out what a particular item was, and I wasn't even looking at the monsters when I experienced this. The look could have worked if the game had been developed for the Wii instead of the DS, but the small screen did more harm than good, visually.
I give the graphics a 6 out of 10. I think, given the relative lack of detail one gets when using a cut-paper style of animating, and the relative lack of detail one gets when working with such a small screen, perhaps this look wasn't the best choice.

Overall Score: 6/10
This game's biggest downfall, in my opinion, is the relative utter lack of a story. You chase the bad guy down and help out the natives along the way. It's been done so many times, it's impossible to count them all. If EA had done more with the story, this game would be a lot better.

Welcome, one and all!

Thank you all, for coming to my site! Here at Dragonfly's Review Corner, I will be posting reviews I've written for various video games. Well, that's pretty much all there is to it. I hope you find the information I post to be useful in your gaming experience, whether looking for a new game to play, or figuring out what game to buy that friend or loved one in your life.

I'll start posting the reviews I currently have very soon, so stay tuned!