Saturday, April 28, 2012

Level Up: Wii Sports & Wii Play

How can I even introduce this game? You guys all know about the Wii and how it brought a new audience of casual gamers into the industry (whether you like it or not). With the simple “motion controls”, some of the games offered on it were pretty much accessible to everyone. And when people think of Wii games, Wii Sports will come to mind instantly; it is packaged with the system after all and as of 2009, it’s the best-selling game of all time. If you’re on the fence about getting this system and game, (or have been living under a rock) then listen up; here is Wii Sports for the Nintendo Wii.
Wii Sports is made up of 5 games: baseball, tennis, golf, boxing and bowling (everyone’s favorite). They all use motion controls which make these games very intuitive to play: swing the remote as if it were a racket for tennis, hold the Wii remote and nun-chuck in each hand and make punching motions for boxing, etc… Though there are slight difference (like holding A or B in baseball for different throws), you play most games in a similar manner to real life. After playing a match in each sport, you are rewarded points on your performance, and the more points you have, the more difficult the next challenge will be (except in Bowling or Golf naturally).
The real fun of this game is playing it with other people though. However, if you’re playing on your own, you don’t have to wear yourself out with full matches. There are mini-games designed to train you in some key aspects for each sport. This could mean practicing hitting tennis balls without missing, hitting baseballs in the right direction or dodging some balls to learn how to dodge punches. You’ll also be given a medal on how well you do, so try getting that platinum medal to be sure to beat your friends.
And if that’s not enough, there is still Wii Fitness mode. This mode you can play once a day made up of random selection of 3 of the mini-games. Once all three games are done, you will be given an age between 20 (the best possible score) and 80, all judged on your stamina, balance and speed.
So yeah, Wii Sports is a good package with the system. However, the real fun of it comes when you can play with someone else, but the Wii doesn’t come with a second controller. You can go out and buy one, or you can spend just 10$ more (usual price I’ve seen) and also get Wii play bundled with one. So, let me tell you about Wii Play now.
While Wii Sports is fun, it doesn’t demonstrate what Wii remote can really be used for. Wii Play has the goal to introduce players to most of the other things it can do. You’ll have to point at the screen, twist and tilt the remote around, move it back and forth and *gasp* even press buttons. These are all used in mini-games where you fish, play pool, shoot tanks and ride cows, among other things.
These games all do their jobs, however I found it all less fun than Wii Sports as a whole. Sure there’s more to do here, but nothing lasts long enough. Breaking this out at a family gathering or something is entertaining, as it allows everyone to have quick turns but the novelty will still wear off quickly. It feels kind of like Hogan’s Halley, in that, it’s just there to show what this gadget can do. Still, it gets the job done for something you’re likely to get with a remote you’re going to buy anyways, and it’s a decent and entertaining selection of mini-games.
So those are two Wii games you’re likely to just “get”. Wii sports is as fun as everyone makes it out to be, easily accessible, a good multiplayer experience and has enough to offer to make the single player entertaining. Wii play is more like a toy box: a bunch of short games you’ll get some fun out of, but nothing really to rave about, and it’s a good way to learn how to use the Wii remote properly in many ways (and again, worth buying if you want to get a second Wii remote). Both use the standard Wii/Mii look and the music is the usual elevator style stuff they use too, so no complaints there. If you’re asking me, you can’t go wrong playing either of these with a group of friends or family if you just want to have some quick fun. I give Wii Sport 9 and Wii Play 7 levels out 10.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Level Up: Mega Man 7

It seems that Capcom’s reputation right now has taken a significant turn for the worse. For those of you unaware, over a month ago, Street Fighter X Tekken was released. However, before the game came out, hackers revealed that there was data for more characters locked on the disk that Capcom wanted players to pay to unlock (along with other things it seemed Capcom lied about). Now two of the characters included in the locked away section were Pac-man and Mega man. Even worse, Capcom decided to be “funny” and make Mega man appear as a fat version of the North American cover art for the first game. Now I’m not the biggest Mega man fan, but it seemed like they were making fun of their own character. It all made me want to go back to when I first played Mega man and he seemed so cool. So for this edition of *Capcom Time*, I’ll be taking a look at Mega Man 7 (yes, I got into the series later than I should have) originally for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (but I’ll be playing it on the Mega man Anniversary collection).

Now at this point in the series, Mega man had everything that you associate with the usual Mega man game play (charge shot, sliding, Rush Power ups, etc...) and it had stayed that way for a few titles. So what would this game do to shake the series up? The really big thing would be Bass. There are characters that are remembered highly in the Mega man series, and Bass would be one of the top billed ones: he is Mega man’s evil duplicate after all. This is something that would heavily affect the series and its spin-offs afterwards, so yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.

Another change was the fact that you didn’t have all the robot masters to choose from at the start: you only had half. After beating those 4, you’d play a mini-stage, and then the 4 others would be selectable. The problem in this game is that the “rock-paper-scissors” pattern makes one big loop through all 8, which means it is impossible to have the weapon that Burst man is weak against when you first face him. In other words, this game clearly has a path the game makers wanted you to go through. I feel like this takes away from the non-linear feel the series normally has. Other than those elements, most of the rest of the changes will be chocked up to “better graphics”, so I’ll just get right to it.

The transition to 16-bit actually added a lot to the game. For example, this is the first Mega Man game where I clearly knew the weapon I was using was the correct one. Before, you had to watch the Robot master’s life meter and see which weapon did the most damage, but now there’s a signaling animation. Also, the advanced graphics allowed for new secrets where you need certain weapons to uncover areas, like using the flame wheel to burn away leaves in the foreground. This makes it fun to replay levels.

The music is a mixed bag though. On one hand, they use the advanced pallet to orchestrate some wonderful tracks inspiring a hope for the future. On the other hand, a lot of the tracks miss the “time for action” feel that made the music from Wily’s stage 1 in Mega man 2 so popular. Nothing’s going to hurt your ears, but I don’t feel the music adds much as it should. But the nail in the audio’s coffin is the sound effects. Jumping sounds more suited for a menu cursor, shooting could have sounded less like a pea shooter now and the dialog is just annoying bips at different pitches, just to name a few common examples. It’s all poorly chosen.

Having now played and beaten Mega man one through eight, I don’t regret starting with number 7: unlike a couple of the last NES titles, it feels like effort was put into stepping up the series. I am disappointed that the graphics weren’t more fondly remembered (though The Power Fighters did reuse the style to remake some robot masters), but I do get that there is the most nostalgia in the original 8-bit version. And yeah, despite the fact that this is the first Mega man game I played, I’m not completely uncritical of the game; the sound effects are bad and the design of the robot masters and levels lack a certain memorability to them. It’s not the strongest link in the series, but it is FAR from the weakest: it at least moved the series forward. I give Mega man 7 for the Super Nintendo 8.5 levels out of 10.