Archive for March, 2008

Harvest Moon

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Harvest Moon is a little odd for a game. It’s more like a kind of ‘life simulator’. The premise is that you’ve inherited a farm and have to do some work on it to get it productive. Along the way you interact with the folks in the neighboring village to build relationships. So you have to strike a balance between working on the farm to gain an income and going to the town to have a social life. Just like Real Life(tm).

A typical day will have you collecting eggs, milking the cows, plowing the field, watering the crops, harvesting the crops, going to the town for supplies, checking out the local town events and, if you have time, try to woo a wife.

It’s actually kind of tough to balance time in this game. Time goes by incredibly quickly. While you’re building up your farm you’re going to run out of daylight every day, then the town’s going to be closed and you just have to go to bed. After a while, though, once you start piling up a good income and the farm becomes self-sufficient you can go into town and make nice with the mayor, or do one of the festivals, or give gifts to the girl of your choice to try and court her and start a family.

It’s kind of weird how the game starts off so slowly and then ramps up to something interesting. I was tempted to give up after a while of just planting a few plants and pulling a few weeds before bed. But you just have to give it a little time, then the little charms start to slowly leak out of it until you’re so busy doing stuff that you’re going to lose track of it all.

I guess the only bad thing is that the story has a definite arc. After you get done with it you can keep playing to try and get your farm built up, but that’s about it. It’s more fun to go back and start again to try and change the outcomes of the different relationships, and to try to make your farm be better.

And no, it’s not really all that exciting, but it is oddly soothing and relaxing, and not like my own life, which is pretty awesome.

Taboo: The Sixth Sense

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Calling Taboo a game is a bit of a stretch. There aren’t any goals or anything, and it’s hardly interactive.

What it is is a tarot reader simulator of sorts. And does that sound boring?

You betcha!

So you start out by entering some info, name, birthdate, sex and a question. All of which is completely irrelevant. Then you get treated to the cards shuffling against a trippy background to some okay music, and then they’re dealt into positions. After that you get to see them one by one with its description, then you get some (unguaranteed) lottery numbers. And then you get to start over.


I thought this game looked kind of interesting when I saw it in some magazine or other. It’s too bad that I didn’t realize that you could go through a whole game in a few minutes. After I did realize that (i.e. after I played it once) I played through it a few more times just to see all the different cards. Once that hour was over I broke the game out a few more times to show to friends, but it never got much more play time out of me. Then I sold it back to the second hand store I got it from and got something fun.

Fighters Destiny

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

As a rule I don’t really care much for 3D fighting games. I’m more of an old-school 2D fighting game fan. But I was somehow mysteriously drawn to Fighters Destiny anyway.

Probably most of the reason for that is that the game is a little different than most fighting games I’ve played. In those games you and your opponent beat on each other until one of your life bars is gone. You then do this in a best 2 out of 3 contest to determine a winner. This one, though, has you scoring points to win. Each time you incapacitate your opponent you get a certain amount of points which depends on how you finished them off. You get more points for more difficult KOs, of course. Get enough points and you win!

One of the things I didn’t like about this game was that you had to actually earn the better special moves for your guys by finishing the game with them. What that means is that if I go to someone’s house who has the game, but hasn’t finished it with the same characters that I have, then I might have my strategy compromised. Kinda lame.

The other thing is that you really need another person to play this game against. The computer is just a little too good, so training against it was just an exercise in frustration. I didn’t have a regular opponent who was willing to play this game, so I did do a lot of losing to the computer, and that gets kind of old after a while.

But I did have fun in the mode where I got to fight against a bipedal cow. And though the challenges to unlock most of the hidden characters were well out of my skill range to do, I still got a good couple of weeks out of this game, which is more than I can say for some of my more unfortunate decisions.

Dong Dong

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Dong Dong is the name of one of one of the unlockable games in the first Wario Ware game. Shockingly, there’s nothing pornographic about it or in it. What a waste of a name.

Dong Dong is played with two players on one system. You have these straw-things that move up and down and you have to try and nudge rocks out of the center column to crush your opposition while simultaneously nudging the rocks your opponent is nudging back in his direction. It’s all about timing.

There’s really not much more to it than that. You just have to have better timing than your opponent and then you win! Though I suppose it’s kind of nice that you can play two players with the same Game Boy, but you’re going to get a little cramped doing it if you go too long.

I played this game a couple of times and it was kind of fun for a while, but I really just wanted to bring up the game because the title sounds so… naughty.



Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I don’t remember the story at the beginning of Glover having any words, but I think it went something like this: there’s this wizardy guy with a pair of magic gloves. He performs some spell or other that goes awry which causes his gloves to blow off, one of them to become evil, the wizard’s six magic crystals to be blown across creation, and the wizard to be transformed into a water fountain. So it’s up to the remaining good glove to track down the crystals, defeat the evil glove, and restore the wizardy guy back to his wizardy self.

These six crystals, as it happens, are scattered throughout the six worlds connected to the wizardy guy’s wizardy tower. Inside each of the worlds is an assortment of stages and a boss fight that you have to endure to get your crystal back. The heck of it is, though, that you get the crystal on the very first stage of each world and have to take it to the goal while collecting ‘garibs’. Garibs are mysterious cards that are mysteriously floating all over the levels. Collect all the garibs and you get to fight the boss of the world. Beat all the worlds and you finish the game. Pretty predictable stuff.

Now it would be neato keen if Glover, being an ambulatory glove, could put the crystal in some kind of ‘inventory’. But it seems that he lacks pockets… or pants to put pockets on… or legs to put pants on… or… etc. So he can’t really carry the thing, but he can change its forms. He can change it into a rubber ball, a bowling ball, a little steel ball bearing, or its true crystal form (which gets you bonus points, but is very breakable). Which is fortunate because you have to use the various forms to get all of the garibs floating around all over the place.

Now, I thought it would be pretty awesome to play a game that consisted of, essentially, controlling Micky Mouse’s disembodied hand. And it was, for a couple of hours. Eventually, though, you have to jump up on top of the ball and ride it around like some kind of clown at a circus. This is fine in most cases, but when you do that in this game, your controls suddenly switch around backward. So you’re going along on your ridiculous gathering quest when all of a sudden down is up, up is down, left is right, and my controller became embedded in the wall.

Well, it would have been if my walls at the time weren’t made of plywood.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

After Mario gets done saving the various lands scattered around his world, I guess he retires to his own land, Mario Land. Unfortunately for him, though, Wario, Mario’s long-time rival that nobody knew about, has taken over Mario’s castle and has hidden the six coins needed to open the castle’s door in the far reaches of Mario Land. So, in other words, it’s the same old song and dance, just without the princess to be saved.

But unlike the last Mario game, which was hardly like a Mario game at all, this one actually looks like it takes place in the Mario universe, which is a step forward, I guess.

So it’s typical Mario stuff, so if you like that kind of thing, and I certainly do, there’s plenty to like here. Even though Mario gets a set of rabbit ears that he can flap to allow him to kind of glide around. Which is kind of cute, I’ll grant, but a little strange.

The first time I played this game a friend and I tag-teamed it during a marathon gaming session. We managed to collect all the gold coins and unearth all of the secret stages in the game, but we never managed to make it through the final level. You might notice that this is a recurring theme of sorts around here. But this one was different!

This game I actually felt compelled to go out and purchase. Even though I had, in the space of one long evening, managed to unearth all of its secrets. Maybe I was lured in by the thought of being able to control Bunny Mario, or hopping into a bubble blown by a hippo on the beach to take me out to space, or the thought that I could finally topple Wario after getting so close and then being denied.

Any of those would be plausible.

Super Mario Land

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

If you take everything you know about the Super Mario Bros. series and throw it out the window and then try to make a Super Mario game, you’re either going to end up with something like Super Mario Bros. 2 or Super Mario Land.

Super Mario Land has Mario running to the right in his quest to rescue princess Daisy of Sarasaraland from the evil alien Tatanga. Along the way he’ll have to contend with giant bugs, exploding turtles, giant boulders, those weird stone statues from Easter Island, and lots more stuff. Man, I wish I could make up stuff this… um… offbeat.

Now, I’m not saying that the Mario universe makes more sense than this game, but this game is like something that would happen if you had someone who learned about the Mario universe from the scrawlings on the back of a time-share scam pamphlet that they found stuck between the seats on the bus and then made a game about it.

But that’s OK. A little fanfiction never hurt anybody right? And just because the silly little submarine and airplane that Mario piloted along with the main antagonist, Tatanga, and every other part of this game, except Daisy, haven’t been seen in any other games since doesn’t mean that it’s a complete wash. And good ol’ Daisy. Filling up a spot in whatever sports game that ends up being short a female. She’s a trooper.

But I did have a lot of fun with this game. I liked to pretend that even though this game starred a guy named Mario that it wasn’t actually the same Mario from the other games. Once I did that, I moved through it pretty quickly. The game’s really pretty short, with something like 12 stages total. So if you get passably good at it, you can blow through it in about a half hour.

This is also one of the few Game Boy games that my mom would get into. I’m pleased to report that she was good enough at it to get all the way through it and only had to pass the game to me so I could finish up the last encounter, mostly because Tatanga is a jerk. He just refused to explode when she was playing the game. But that’s OK. Having a parent that would actually play video games with me on occasion was pretty awesome, it’s just too bad that so many parents these days can’t be bothered.

Yoshi’s Cookie

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Yoshi’s Cookie is, like most puzzle games, easier to show than to tell how it’s played, but I’ll give it a shot.

You have before you a grid with cookies laid out on it. You can shift the rows left or right and the columns up or down, and the ones that shift off the bottom, top, or sides will reappear on the opposite side they went off. Your goal is to arrange the cookies in such a way that either a row or a column contains only one type of cookie. That row or column gets taken away (to some kind of packaging operation, I guess), the puzzle shrinks, and you keep going. The goal is to get rid of all the cookies. Do that and you get to go on to the next level which moves a little faster and has some more cookie types.

I like puzzle games and everything, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to give it a look or two. But I found that the play mechanic of sorting cookies to be a little… dry, I guess. It’s probably because my brain doesn’t quite work in a way that lets me sort cookies by sliding them around on a grid. It’s the same reason that I’m not really that good at solving the 15 Puzzle. So after my token time with the game, I moved on to greener pastures.


Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Uniracers stands out for me as the singularly weirdest racing game that I’ve ever played. And by ‘weirdest’ I mean ‘completely awesome’.

The game stars a series of unicycles who are compelled to race around tracks. Why do they race? It doesn’t matter. All that does matter is that you have to race against phantom unicycles across various tracks and win in order to make it to the next more difficult track.

And, man, your unicycles are fast!

I don’t think I’d ever have pegged a unicycle as being a racing vehicle, but then I’ve only seen them underneath clowns and jugglers. It turns out that when they’re unencumbered by the weight of a person and manage to come alive they gain super speed and the ability to do tricks. This is kind of important to know because each time you successfully pull off a trick you not only get points but you also get a speed boost. So you end up having to perform a series of tricks while keeping your eyes on the course and looking ahead on the track. It’s like this game was tailor-made to require fantastic muscle memory.

There are three types of activity to do in this game: racing to the end of a track, racing around a circuit, and doing tricks, and each of those has three levels of difficulty. They’re all pretty self-explanatory, you either have to get to the end of the race before your opponent does or you have to do a required number of tricks to succeed. But, where I really had fun with this game was its stats.

Yeah, I said ’stats’.

This game lets you choose between 16 identical colors of unicycle (except for color). You can name them anything you like, kind of. Mine wouldn’t let me name mine ‘basscomm’ because it thought it saw a naughty word lurking in there. But you can name them after the folks that you play the game with, so they get their own record set. Then you get to see how you and your friends rank up against each other. I would spend a lot of time trying to make sure that my unicycle was at the top of every category. Which I totally managed to do… except for one.

I invited a friend over to play the game shortly after I bought it, and we had a good time with it. He would end up winning more games than I would that day, though. But I pressed on! I played and played the game until I felt like I was some kind of unicycle racing master or some other such nonsense. And indeed, I was top-ranked in every category by far except for ‘Winning percentage’. It turns out that in the short time that I had played against my friend that he had handily gotten the better of me, so his win percentage was pretty astronomical, and although I had won dozens more games than he’d ever played, my percentage was still low because I had also lost more games then he had ever played.

Stupid math.


Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

I don’t remember how many issues in a row, but there were several of my EGMs that told me, essentially, that

  1. Axelay is awesome.”
  2. Axelay is awesome!”
  3. Axelay is AWESOME!”

So I eventually decided to give the game a look.

It turns out that Axelay is a shoot-em-up. So you have to take your obscenely expensive and almost comically fragile ship up against wave after wave of enemies who are better armed, better armored, and more maneuverable than you, and try to shoot most of them down.

This isn’t really a problem for me, though, I’m an old hand at shooting games. I mean, yeah, I used the cheat to get 30 ships in Life Force, but I didn’t really need all of them, and the EGM review listed this game as ‘hard’ difficulty, but that can’t be too much harder than anything else I’d played, so I gave it a shot.

It turns out that I wasn’t as good at shooting games as I thought was.

I don’t really know what happened, but some friends of mine and I pooled our money together and rented it for a couple of days. We played it a bit, but immediately crashed into the brick wall that’s the learning curve of this game. Out of the three of us, none of us made it to stage 2.

I guess I must have thought that I had a bad night or that I had a broken controller or some other kind of malady because I rented it again a few weeks later, and you know what?

I failed again.

I actually had more success with the silly little toy that shipped with the game than with the game itself. The little junket presented you with a repeating image of some kind of spaceship and you could use the power of the Super NES to rotate it around and zoom the picture in and out.

It was about that time I decided that shmups just weren’t going to be my thing, I didn’t have the chops for them. What do I have the chops for? I’m still trying to figure that one out.