Friday, October 24, 2008

Samba de Amigo Will Shake Your Maracas

Samba de Amigo is a classic arcade hit from the late '90s. The game featured novel maraca controllers that enabled the player to shake along with the music to score points. Since then, rhythm action games have had quite a journey, both in public arcades and on home consoles.

Here, Sega brings their much desired game to the Wii, replacing the maracas with the Wii-mote and Nun-chuck.

What Sort of Game Is This?
Rhythm action games combine the enjoyment that comes from creating music with the challenge of videogame scoring. The player is usually tasked with dancing on a mat, tapping a touchscreen, pressing a button, singing into a mic or strumming a fake guitar controller in time with the music.

What Does This Game Add to the Genre?
Samba de Amigo's gesture controls were revolutionary when it was launched in arcades and on the Sega Dreamcast. Even in the days of Wii-motes and Nun-chucks it is a rarity to find a rhythm action game that makes good use of movement (Boogie Wii and Eyetoy PS2 being some notable exceptions). The simple fact is that it is a tall order to get the technology to work consistently enough for the accurate demands of making music. Wii-Music shows that even Nintendo's own developers had to take a looser play-along style, rather than a direct one-to-one control.

In Samba de Amigo, the player uses the Wii-mote and Nun-chuck as they would a pair of maracas. Each track tasks them with making specific down/up and left/right movements in time with the musical markers. This works pretty well and allows two players to play with or against each other without the need for expensive additional peripherals. The best experience, though, is had by one player using two Wii-motes. The absence of the tethering cable and (the perceived) increased sensitivity of the Wii-motes enables more accurate controls and subsequently higher scores — and, of course, more fun.

The game continues its Mexican carnival theme throughout, both graphics and music being styled appropriately. Popular songs (both classic and modern) are rendered in the Calypso carnival style to make them suitable for the maraca percussion. Included in the mix are "Are you Gonna be my Girl" (Jet), "I Want Candy" (Bow Wow Wow) and the party pleasing "Mambo Mambo" (Lou Bega).

Although this all stays true to the original game, players may sense that rhythm-action games have moved on somewhat in the intervening years. Games like Rockband 360 and Elite Beat Agents DS can make Sega's originally ground-breaking game look a little tired.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Golden Axe Beast Rider

Anyone who was around in the 1980’s will remember all the classic games of the time that we couldn’t wait to get home to play, R-type, Sonic the Hedgehog and of course Golden Axe. All of these games have been remade at some point and now it is the turn of Golden Axe to return to the fray, this time on the PS3 and Xbox 360.

If there was one game that I always used to enjoy playing with my friends it was Golden Axe, it was a bit like a Medieval Street of Rage, swapping broken bottles for sword and axe, oh and it was good, very good. Unfortunately however the same cannot be said for the latest remake, Golden Axe: Beast Rider is to be frank, a game that should never have been made.

The premise of the game is to rebuild the Golden Axe to help you in your quest for vengeance against the armies of the Death Adder who have massacred everyone in the land. This will result in you pounding your way through level after level of enemy until either a) you fall asleep with boredom or b) you come to your senses and turn the game off before it puts you off gaming forever.

Now there have been plenty of games before which rely on killing hordes of enemies as the main draw, but at least these games bring something interesting to the party, Beast Rider on the other hand brings nothing but a weak combat system and poor graphics and to be honest that is me being kind. Combat is assigned to two buttons, one for a weak attack and the other for a more powerful attack, pressing both together will enable you to kick opponents. Dodging and parrying is pulled off by pressing one of the two shoulder buttons, when enemies attack they will glow a certain colour, so pressing the corresponding shoulder button and then quickly attacking will cause you to dodge/parry and then counter attack and this usually causes more damage. Unfortunately due to a delay in the animations when parrying you will usually end up flat on your behind, meaning that you are probably best just attacking and getting through the fight that way.

Another way to defeat enemies is by using magic, this allows you to use one of two spells to cast at the enemy providing you have enough mana, one spell throws a fireball at the enemies while the other will cause a flame to erupt around you and cause them to fall to the floor while remaining on fire.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spore: Creature Creator - Will Wright's next masterpiece!

SPORE Creature Creator isn’t really a game, neither is it a preview in terms of what SPORE is going to be. Its just a small part of full game of SPORE that is going to hit stores in the first week of September. The Creature Creator is like play-dough on screen which you can mold into different creatures with a variety of heads, arms, legs and camouflage even. So lets take a look at what the creature creator offers.

Almost everyone out there has heard about SPORE, and even if you haven’t or aren’t the type of gamer that likes SPORE, you should definitely give it’s demo a try. The creature creator is so simple and intuitive that within minutes of installing it you will have your first creature ready and flipping over doing 360’s. There is a huge assortment of body parts available for you to start creating your masterpiece. You can also have a few backgrounds, a palette of colors for your creature and the ability to have 3 hatchlings after you’ve made your creature.

Monday, October 20, 2008

5 Reasons For Making 2D Video Games

With modern games like Halo and the Resident Evils, the video game world has become obsessed with the first person 3D format where you’re “virtually” mimicking your own real life movements. In a modern game like GTA, you’re given a 3D format where you’re able to move in all directions towards another point. What are all these games missing? In this article, we’ll discuss the fact that what’s missing from these games is mainly due to the 3D format of modern video games. With this in mind, we’ll see how the video game world needs to go back to 2D gaming to capture its lost greatness from the 8 and 16-bit era’s. The problems started happening at the 32-bit era. It’s time to move forward by taking a couple steps back.

1. Better Games: Why were games like Mario, Mega Man, and even Sonic (Yes Old-Wizard admits Sonic was OK!) great games? There were many reasons why these games were great, but one thing is common to them all. They were all 2D games. Even when Mega Man saw it’s ascent to the 16-bit format, it didn’t change it’s 2D style. If I remember correctly, the Mega Man X’s were great games also. The same holds true for Mario’s ascent to the 16 bit age. The games that will be remembered past this time will be the 2D games. The new 3D games are going to be seen as being too tied to the times, and specifically the times lack of substance.

2. You don’t want to play in the same dimensions you live in: You live in a “3D” world. You walk in it, you eat in it, you sleep in it, and worst of all you work in it. Why would you want to carry over these habitual characteristics to the video game world? I don’t want to think about another 3D universe when I go home to play games. I want to be taken into a simple 2D world with great story lines that have nothing to do with my own “real” life. Mimicking what we perceive as “reality” is not progress for the video game medium; it’s a lack of understanding of other dimensions, and more precisely, just another way of unconsciously privileging ourselves (ego) in all facets of the universe.

3. No more GTA’s: Although the first two Grant Theft autos were 2D games, the series found its first real success in the world of 3D. This is when it started to dominate the video game world. In a 2D world, there would be no more Grand Theft Autos, thank God (or at least they wouldn’t be as popular as they are now). There would be no more news stories of this hyper-urban game that found its success on bloodlust violence and man’s lack of good taste for immediate pleasure. No more having to see front covers who people who wear “bling” and are holding guns in front of them. This pathetic excuse for creativity in a video game would be abolished if the 2D world was able to reign supreme. The gamer would be back on an epic journey rather than living a pseudo-reality of gangster life that has nowhere to go except to modern violence.

4. Smoother controlling: Ever play Resident Evil? Ever play GTA? Don’t these games sometimes just piss you off in the controlling? It takes two fucking hours to turn around in Resident Evil. This isn’t real, its just fucking annoying. The blocky, slow movement of many of these 3D games takes away any sense of gaming moving forward by not replicating the real phenomena of the human body like it wants itself too. You’re getting eaten alive by zombies and it takes you literally 5 seconds to turn around and knock these bastards down. This isn’t fun.

5. Loss of focus on graphics: If the video games went back to 2D, there wouldn’t have to be so much of a focus on creating the “new graphical chip that will expand graphics to even more real life themes!” Game developers will be less worried about eye candy and more focused on story line, innovative levels, and how to specifically challenge the gamer. Starting with games like Virtua Fighter, gaming has sacrificed quality for graphical innovation. Once this unconscious drive for technological innovation is curtailed, video games can one again find their roots in which they first stemmed.
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