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12 August 2009

Opoona [Wii]

Plot Synopsis: 8/10
Opoona is about a family who's spaceship is attacked, at which point they crash land on a nearby planet. The three children (incluing Opoona, the main character), having gotten into escape pods at the last moment, came out of the wreck with relatively light injuries, but their parents were in worse shape. Thus, they set out on a quest to try to get what they need to heal their parents, while trying to contribute to society on the planet they find themselves on.
I'll give the plot an 8 out of 10. It's a refreshing variation on the usual "I have to save so-and-so!" type of story that pollutes video games. It also seems to have a bit of a message about contributing to society as a whole instead of just acting with just your own interests in mind.

Game Play: 7/10
A lot of the controls are handled by the Wii controller's nunchuck attachment, but I feel like they didn't need to be. It almost feels like they programmed the game that way just for the sake of including the attachment, even though it wasn't entirely necessary. Even the main characters' attacks, in the battle scenes, are controlled with the joystick on the nunchuck.
Beyond that, the controls are pretty intuitive. Nunchuck joystick controls your movement. B-trigger and the Z-button both bring up the menu screen. The only thing tricky is getting the camera angle to revert back to looking at things from behind Opoona, as you have to press the C and Z buttons on the nunchuck at the same time, which occasionally results in bringing up the menu screen by accident.
The battle sequences are nice, because they're not always just aim-then-fire. Occasionally, you find yourself in a situation where you have to send your attack around an obstacle to reach your enemies. There is also a 2-minute limit on each battle. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but there will occasionally be bombs on the battlefield that will detonate and damage you if you damage them, thus preventing you from using an attack that damages everything on the battlefield. It presents an interesting challenge, and keeps things from being too easy and boring.
I'll give the game play a 7 out of 10. The controls are relatively intuitive, but I don't think the nunchuck attachment was really necessary. Also, there are a couple of battles where the 2-minute timer becomes downright problematic, but for the most part, it isn't an issue. Most battles are usually decided within about 15 or 20 seconds, once you're really into the game.

Graphics: 6/10
The graphics are very stylized, and a bit cartoony. I think that helps offset the relative darkness of the "we have to help mom and dad before they die from their injuries" aspect of the story. It's clear, from the graphics, that in spite of the story, the developers were not going for a dark and gritty ├╝ber-serious game. The graphics are also fairly easy to read. I don't remember any instances where I couldn't tell what something was supposed to be, so they clearly did their job well enough.
I'll give the graphics a 6 out of 10. Admittedly, I'm letting my own personal opinion of the graphics weigh in on the score, here. I just didn't like the visual style.

Audio: 5/10
No voice acting in this game. The music is just your standard, forgettable, looped video game background music. Nothing spectacular about it at all. It isn't so horrible that I feel a need to set the TV to mute, but it's not great, either. The sound effects work fine. They do what they need to do, and don't sound weird or out-of-place. Although, the sound of the hoverboard does remind me a bit of the Jetsons.
I'll give the audio a 5 out of 10. Some of the points lost for the boring music were regained by the adequate sound effects.

Overall Score: 6.5/10
I don't really know what else to say, here. The game was mediocre at best. I highly doubt I'll ever bother playing through it a second time. It was fun enough, but it has little to no replay value, in my opinion.

09 August 2009

Dementium: The Ward [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 2/10
In Dementium: The Ward, you play a character who has awoken inside a bloody, seemingly-abandoned mental institution. Outside the building, it is night time, and there is a thunderstorm going on. Oh, and of course, the power has gone out. So, instead of getting the hell out of there, like a normal person would, you decide to try to restore the power and find out what the hell is going on. Which, of course, is a good thing, since otherwise, we'd have no game. As you explore the building, you begin to encounter horrifying monsters that just shouldn't exist. Unfortunately, the basics of this concept have not just been done before, but were done better (Resident Evil, anyone?). The end (don't worry, I won't give it away) left much to be desired. I'm still not really sure what was supposed to have happened.
As a result, i have no choice but to give the plot a 2 out of 10. Just not impressed.

Game Play: 7/10
Dementium is a First-Person Shooter. A lot of the basic movement and weapon selection were handled via the DS's touch screen. The rest is the same basic mechanics as many other FPS titles out there. In other words, shoot the creatures that jump out at you as you walk around.
I'll give the game play a 7 out of 10. In my opinion, there are still some bugs to work out, but I really appreciate that the game developers took the time to work the DS's touch screen in to something tried and true like a First-Person Shooter format.

Graphics: 8/10
I have no complaints about the graphics. Generally speaking, the times I couldn't tell what something was, it was either because it was a monster, or it was an item that, for the sake of progressing the story, I was supposed to get closer to and examine anyway. Otherwise, it was pretty easy to figure out what I was looking at, at any given moment.
I'll give the graphics and 8 out of 10. They did their job, and did it well. As I said, no complaints.

Audio: 8/10
The voice-acting was good. The only characters that sounded over-the-top were the ones that were SUPPOSED to sound that way. Everyone else just sounded normal and natural. The music was unfortunately a bit cliched and overdone. You had your typical minor-key piano melodies over distorted guitars. The occasional creepy sound effects. Basically, your average horror game music. There was some good placement of sound effects throughout the game, though, that added well to the creepiness factor of the game.
I'll therefore give the audio an 8 out of 10. I probably would have scored it higher if the music, itself, wasn't cliched and overdone for this genre.

Overall Score: 6.25/10
Honestly, the numbers average out to a higher score than I was expecting. The plot is where this game really falls apart. I can't say it would have been a great game with a better plot, but it would have been a step up from this game. By the time I got around to playing this game, the developer had already announced a sequel. After playing this one, I highly doubt I will bother picking up the sequel.

Boing! Docomodake DS [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 3/10
Boing! Docomodake DS is a game based on the mascot character for a Japanese cell phone company. Papa Docomodake's family has gotten lost, and it is up to you to find each member of the family in time for the annual festival in nearby Docomodake forest. Once you've found them all, the game is over.
I'll give the plot a 3 out of 10. It's a fairly cliched concept, and nothing is fleshed out beyond what you're told on the back of the game case. If you've read the two sentences on the case that describe the game, you know the entire story.

Game Play: 7/10
You control Papa Docomodake, a mushroom-like creature who can split into several smaller versions of himself. When you start the game, you can separate into 4. As the game progresses, the number of smaller Docomos you can split into increases. These smaller Docomos, called Roly-Polys, can be used for a number of purposes. They can be stacked to build a makeshift ladder for you to climb. They can be thrown at certain enemies, obstacles, or switches. They can be used to weigh things down. You get the idea. They serve as a sort of all-purpose tool.
Progressing through the game is done by solving puzzles to make your way through the obstacles in front of you. More often than not, this requires the use of your Roly-Polys. Unfortunately, while things do get a bit more complicated, the further into the game you get, the methods are usually similar enough that I tended to get a bit bored, if I tried to play this game for more than, say, half an hour at a time. Any more than that, and the game began to feel tedious and repetitive.
The control scheme was interesting. You simply press Up on the d-pad to jump. Pressing left or right, on the d-pad, twice, in quick succession, would make Docomo roll in that direction. Splitting off a Roly-Poly is achieved by a simple click and drag on the touch screen. Certain aspects of the control scheme weren't quite intuitive, but they also weren't so bad that I couldn't accomplish anything.
I'll give the game play a 7 out of 10. The game is fun, but it is best suited for those times when you are simply bored and have 10 or 15 minutes to kill.

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics follow a very cartoon-like style, which, in my opinion, is perfect for this game. The animation is fairly smooth. Everything is easy to read and understand.
For all the reasons I mentioned above, I'll give the graphics a 9 out of 10. They work very well for what the game is.

Audio: 6/10
There is no voice-acting in this game, and the music is, quite frankly, forgettable. It was always appropriately upbeat, and fit well with the game, but there was nothing about it that made me sit up and take notice, at any given point.
I'll give the audio a 6 out of 10. No voice-acting is better than bad voice-acting, and the music was passable.

Overall Score: 6.25/10
This game was fun enough to pass the time at those moments when i needed to kill 10 or 15 minutes, but it wasn't really enough to keep me riveted, playing for hours on end. To be honest, I highly doubt i'd even bother playing through it a second time. I could, but I just don't feel the need.