Posts Tagged ‘4.5 Stars’

Street Fighter IV

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Street Fighter IV

Yes, you read that right; a full-fledged version of Street Fighter IV that is in the arcades now. Okay, it’s only partially-fledged, but it is more than I expected and it’s a blast. Here’s the lowdown:

8 characters – Ryu and Ken, of course, Chun-Li, Blanka, Abel, Guile, Dhalsim, and M. Bison. Yes, it is missing a whole slew of characters and most likely your second or third favorite character is not there (…no Akuma!!!!!), but get over it. I might. Akuma is allegedly being released as DLC anyway.
4 buttons – Punch, Kick, Special, and Focus. That’s right, 2 punches and 2 kicks are missing. Hmm…
Moves – Most of the moves are present that did not require the missing buttons. They did, however, add pairings of a punch or a kick with directional taps, that adds several moves to each kit, which was clever.
Mechanics – Combos, Specials, Ultras, EX moves, Reversals, Technicals, Super-Cancels, and throw counters, all there, thankfully.
Controls – Better than expected. The virtual joystick works really well, once you get used to the enormous size of it. The controls work well enough, in fact, that I would have rather had an extra punch and kick button and if you couldn’t do the specials right, then tough KO, chump. Supers and Ultras can be executed by using the normal moves or by simply tapping the corresponding gauges. While this makes sense from an accessibility standpoint and even a gameplay standpoint, actually, it still feels a bit strange.
Modes – Tournament, Dojo (with a secret bonus), Free-Sparring, Training Room, and Versus…
Multiplayer – Affirmative; Versus = multiplayer. Local Bluetooth only, with local leaderboards; no online play or leaderboards. Waahhh.
7 stages - The backgrounds are noticeably flat, with no parallax; just a scrolling floor. I think it’s a good trade-off, particularly because it allowed for the next two bullet points.
Framerate – Excellent framerate on a 3GS, even during Bluetooth matches. Haven’t tried it on my antique 1st-gen yet, because I chose to get the review up fast, instead.
Graphics – The characters and particle effects look really good.  To me, the characters look like sprites generated from 3D models, but I could be wrong. They look good, regardless.

It is Street Fighter, it is fun, and it is on your iPhone. Those are the 3 biggest selling points, in my opinion. Several compromises were made to ship it on this platform, which is to be expected, and it was rushed out the door. I would understand if any of the aforementioned issues were a deal-breakers for people; personally, I would have given up the beautiful intro cinematic and any number of extra modes for more characters and online play. Having said that, though, it is still a must-have title for me and for SF fans everywhere. I’m having a great time experiencing the game all over again, only this time, while driving!

Capcom recently inked a deal with Gameloft to have them produce Street Fighter Alpha, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, and several other titles. Who’s to say what else Capcom has up their collective sleeves, because there is also a movie for Super Street Fighter IV included in this game…no official announcement for an iPhone version, but maybe if this one sells well…

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Final Fantasy

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Final Fantasy

Square Enix has repeatedly dipped their toe in the water, with regard to the app store, but they finally released what the fans have been craving; the original Final Fantasy, a time-honored classic. This is the first title in the long-running series, brought up to semi-modern day standards, and converted quite capably to the iPhone platform.

For me, this game will always hold a special place in my heart. Is it because I imported the original title from Japan, before people even heard of importing video games, and struggled through the game with barely any translation? Nope, I believe that would be Final Fantasy IV for the Super Famicom. You see, I realize I will have zero street-cred when I say this, but…I never owned an NES. There I said it. I spent my childhood in arcades and I couldn’t believe anyone would release a system without a real joystick. Even my Atari 2600 had one! I got over it, much later, when I played Sonic the Hedgehog, but I digress.

The real reason this game means a lot to me is because this game ushered my 3-year-old daughter into the world of RPGs. Not the original…the iPhone version, just last week. After playing for hours and hours, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and asked if I had any games like this “for the TV”. I bolted upstairs and then returned with armloads of Super Nintendo and Playstation titles, out of which she chose Final Fantasy IX. We played for quite some time, but she still liked the original better…true taste. I told her there was another series that was “daddy’s favorite” and in goes Dragon Quest 7. She loved it and we spent the weekend playing that and Dragon Quest 8. Best weekend of my life and out of all the games we played, Final Fantasy was still her favorite and we both enjoyed every moment of it.

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Thumpies

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Thumpies

What surprising and innovative rhythm game. At the beginning, it’s very simple; just tap the drum when the Thumpie bounces on it and you start to hear a rhythm emerge. When you reach the higher levels on hard difficulty, though, it can be maddening; four Thumpies bouncing every which way at breakneck speed, multiple drum positions and butterflies being snarfed up before you can tap them. That last point is important, because different numbers of tapped butterflies open up new Thumpies, including one called “Flippy”, thank you very much. On-beat drum taps fills the meter and moves you to the next level, but watch out, because letting it bottom out consumes one of your precious butterflies.

The artwork is amazing, both background and foreground, and you simply have to see these little guys bouncing around in 3D (well, 3D actors on a 2D plane). What’s really important in a rhythm game, though, is the music and rhythm and Thumpies scores high marks on both counts. What separates this title from others in the genre is the fact that you are discovering the rhythms, insead of trying to replicate them. Initially, you are just tapping when you see a Thumpie hit a drum, but later on, when there are several simultaneous Thumpies, the ability to recognize rhythm really helps. These quirky little creatures emit the strangest form of alien beat box too, which adds immeasurably to the charm of this title. The game really is lovingly crafted and I love pretty much everything about it, which is why I would also love some additional levels please…

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Miriel the Magical Merchant

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Miriel the Magical Merchant

This is an excellent entry in the Time-Management genre that is based in a fantasy world, with ten different towns to visit, each with 6 days of work to complete. The denizens of this magical realm aren’t well fed, apparently, and it is your job to remedy this situation. This can be compared Chocolate Shop Frenzy, because you tap a customer menu, tap the proper ingredient, grab it, and serve it to that customer. The ways in which it differs are the upgrade choices, recipes, and a mini-game. Every few levels, the player makes a choice between two new recipes to add. Recipes require you to tap the proper two core ingredients (milk+milk=cheese wedge), which must then be baked in the oven, before serving to the customer. When you have several recipes active, it can get hectic trying to remember them all, but luckily you can always tap the customer’s order to see the recipe. The pacing is exquisite, because the core ingredients like cheese and flour share the same prep time, but special ingredients like apples and strawberries differ in that regard. Some recipes even require previously baked items as ingredients, which compounds your problems. While all this is going on, you need to collect tips, trash incorrect ingredients, and hand out candy to keep patrons happy. To unlock new component upgrades or additional components, like a second stove, you have to complete a Same Game clone, in which you tap groups of ingredients to make them disappear, without letting them spill over the top.  One surprising feature of the game is that throughout your baking career, you also unlock actual recipes that you can bake IRL, like “Farmer’s Cheese” and “Grandma’s Pie”. It’s a really charming and polished product that is lesser known than top-tier titles like Sally’s Salon, but it really has a lot to offer.

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Doodle Army

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Doodle Army

This game owns. Your soldier enters Boot Camp, with nothing but a government issue pistol, and is asked to face an onslaught of hundreds. Hundreds of helmeted stickmen, that is. Don’t worry, along the way you’ll receive a generous portion of life power-ups and a Rambo-grade arsenal of weapons. Traversing the side-scrolling battlefields has you hopping over barbed wired, stacks of tires, and various scaffolding-style obstacles. This no simple affair, either; Boot Camp itself is 1000m long and is peppered liberally with hotzones. There is real decision-making and tactics needed, as well, so be prepared to learn which weapons pwn in which encounters and to conserve ammo. Believe it or not, the game actually models real-world weapons pretty effectively, noticeable both by their silohuette and their firing characteristics. This game has great pacing, hilarious style, and solid gameplay. It is so rewarding to hear the little stickmen scream. Dewd, there’s blood and heads everywhere; just buy the game!

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Canabalt

Friday, October 9th, 2009

If you’re worried that those ominous silhouettes in the background might be giant, death-dealing robots bent on destroying humanity, don’t worry because that would be…wait…OMG, they ARE…RUN!!! Canabalt is brilliantly conceived, beautifully crafted, and a perfect fit for the iPhone platform. Your character runs, you tap-to-jump, the speed increases to make it all an unrecognizable blur. That’s pretty much it and that’s one of the reasons I like it even better that the free PC version, because you can play a quick game of it anywhere. The soundtrack is absolutely top-notch; one part Chris Cunningham, one part spy thriller, one part techno, then add water. The choice of rendering the whole game in grayscale really drives home the ominous feeling of a city in ruin, crumbling beneath your feet. The style, music, art direction, tension, theme, and story all mesh together perfectly to make a game that feels so complete and well-designed that you can’t help but appreciate it. Online leaderboards are also being added to ensure that you keep playing.

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Tiger Woods Golf

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Tiger Woods Golf

Best golf swing meter ever. The typical semi-circular meter in every other game feels ridiculous, compared to how natural this feels. It’s not just timing, but also motion, as your swipe motion controls the drift of your shot. You also can adjust the flight path in mid-air, by swiping to represent the ball spin. I’m nowhere near playing through all the courses and can’t even report on the full-blown PGA tour mode yet. It doesn’t suffer from the framerate issues that Let’s Golf has, but the trade-off is that the character models and environments aren’t near as good. So what, it plays well and it has one-metric-ton of content. If you like golf games, you are buying this.

Update: Local Wifi and Bluetooth multiplayer has been added.

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Myst

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Myst

Myst is one of, if not, the most famous point-and-click adventure games ever produced. While some criticize it for being “just a slideshow”, respectfully, I think they are missing the point…and click. For its time, it was a brand new way of telling a story, one that included interaction from the “reader”. The player clicks through beautifully-rendered visions of a mysterious island, many with latent clues as to what went on there and why. Clues are sometimes subtle and don’t always make sense until you’ve explored more of the world, but that’s what makes it a compelling mystery.

Interaction consists of simple clicking and switch-pulling, in most cases, and while this level of interaction may seem limited (especially years later), it does serve its purpose to drive the story forward. While I don’t want to expose details of the story, I can tell you that the player enters various books that transports them to different “Ages”, each with their own riddles to solve.

Myst marks a milestone in game development, in which the sibling development team at Cyan, discovered and created a new form of gameplay. While it may not have been the first game to realize that the player could point at a hotspot and click, they did firmly grasp how computers could usher in a new form of storytelling and gameplay, and for that, it deserves recognition.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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