Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Back and Gone... AGAIN

Hi guys, I just got back home yesterday. Unfortunately though, I have to leave YET AGAIN this Friday to go to a family reunion. I'm very sorry; my summer schedule is really getting in the way of my initial plans. Also, I was planning on finally getting that Tetris DS review up before I left again, but we have some very special company from Washington here until Friday. Sorry, people! Really, I am! 

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I told you a while ago that I planned to have a Tetris DS review up soon, but what I didn't realise is that I had a week-long trip to Bear Country scheduled.  I would have posted an absence notice, but the internet was down the day I left.  So, I just got back from that yesterday, and now again today I am heading out for another week again.  Sorry people, I have a busy sched.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Scoop

Since I haven't posted an update in a while, I thought I should let you know what's going on. The reason I haven't added a whole lot of content to this site for a while is that I've been working hard of the message boards. I'm not ignoring this site though, as I will probably post a Tetris DS review tomorrow (PROBABLY, depending on how my day goes). Stay tuned.

So, what do think of E3 so far? I think it’s great. I'm definitely buying Wii Fit. The balance board technology has a lot of potential. Mario Kart Wii is also a no-brainer. I wasn't sure if I was going to get Metroid Prime 3, but the new gameplay footage has officially sold me. Super Mario Galaxy looks absolutely brilliant, with incredible graphics and awesomely creative gameplay. It's unfortunate that we didn't get more Brawl content, but oh well. Nintendo is really spoiling us this year, giving us four must-own titles (one for DS, three for Wii).

Thursday, July 5, 2007

NID Forums: Preview

I haven’t done a whole lot of work on the message boards since I started this blog site, but these last few days I’ve started to take it more seriously. Here’s a preview of what is to come.

The NID message boards will be unique because they will be more than boards where messages are exchanged. There are already enough video game boards out there, and if I just try to clone them, people will have no reason to come to the NID boards rather than others. So what will make the NID boards special? Read on…

I have a few things planned that will make the boards unusual, but the most intriguing feature will be a virtual currency. The primary currency unit will be called the rupee. (Hmm, rupee, how did I think of that?) Much of the board will be centered around this currency. Every time a member posts, he/she will have five rupees added to his/her total. This encourages activity, but be warned, spammers; at least ten rupees will be subtracted for each illegal/spam post.

Posting is only one of the many ways to earn rupees. There will also be Wifi competitions, Member of the Month awards and lots more. At the end of every three, six, or twelve months (I haven’t decided yet), I will either send out a real-world prize or just give a slick signature banner to the member with the most rupees. There may also be awards for the second and third richest members. All rupee totals will then be reset so newer members have a chance to win next time. I hope for this system to add some friendly competition and help build the community. Don’t forget that the NID boards will still be message boards and regular discussion is more than allowed.

The board will look great visually. Myself and a few other people are putting a lot of work into the icons, skin and such so that the site is a pleasure to view. I may post some screen shots of the board as it continues to develop.
The NID forums will be hosted by the InvisionFree server because I find it to be the most customizable and user friendly. Also the InvisionFree server can be easily upgraded to the far superior Invision Power Board server when the time is right. Depending on how everything goes, the board should be launched between two and four months from now.

Questions, comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

NID Forums

Hey guys, just a heads up that I'm going to post a preview of the NID Forums tomorrow.  I was going to post it today, but I had company over (again).  Look forward to the boards; they're going to be sweet.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sonic and the Secret Rings: Wii: Review

Sonic is back, this time on the Wii, but can he break the bad reputation he’s made for himself in the 3D realm? Read on to find out.

A decade and a half ago, Sonic the Hedgehog made his debut on the Sega Genesis. His first game was a fun, unique, and FAST platformer. Three other major 2D Sonic platformers for the Genesis followed, and the blue hedgehog was giving Mario a run for his money as the top video game mascot. Things have since changed. The first 3D Sonic game, “Sonic 3D Blast,” was the beginning of the hedgehog’s downfall. This game was decent by video game standards, but in a 3D environment Sonic couldn’t stay at a high-speed for very long, which took away the element that made the four original 2D Sonic games so much fun.

Sonic has continued at a steady decline over the years. In the 2D world Sega never had to worry about the camera, but camera control in the 3D world is vital. Sega still hasn’t nailing it. They added absolutely horrid voice acting to the Sonic games, and replaced the awesome classic Sonic music with ear-breaking lyrical music. The story plots have been terrible. Sega added GUNS of all things to the beloved franchise! They’ve tried to blend the world of Sonic with the real world, which unsurprisingly has turned out miserably. The Sonic the Hedgehog next generation game for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 hit the absolute bottom of the well. So, Sega had nowhere to go but up with Sonic and the Secret Rings… uh, right?

The story and various environments in the game are inspired by the beautiful Arabian nights. Unfortunately, the story is crap from the very beginning to the very end. It begins with a genie telling Sonic to “rub the ring” so he will get transported to the land of the Arabian Nights and it ends with Sonic telling a genie to make a mountain of handkerchiefs. Like, what the heck…? Oh, and the horrible voice acting of previous Sonic games is back again in full force. The actors aren’t entirely to fault though; I think they were victimized by the laughably, abysmally, undeniably horrible script.

Sonic and the Secret Rings is supposed to bring Sonic back to his roots, or so Sega says. Like the classic Genesis games, the gameplay is fairly simple. You hold the remote on its side and tilt left or right to move left or right. The game is not played in a full 3D environment, but rather you play on-rails. Sonic moves forward no matter what you do. (Uh, Sega, if you were really trying to bring Sonic back to his roots, maybe you would consider giving the player some control over if he was moving forward or not. I don’t recall Sonic moving forward uncontrollably in the original games.) Other basic controls are braking (1 button), jumping (2 button) and a homing attack (forward motion). At the start of the game the controls are very sloppy, but over time you unlock responsive controls and new abilities. Honestly, how dumb is that? Unlocking new abilities is cool, but having to unlock responsive controls is completely stupid. Maybe you should have to unlock a good camera and decent music as well.

The camera is actually not all that bad. It has its bad moments, but compared to most other 3D Sonic games it does alright. The music, on the other hand, is probably the worst of any Sonic game so far. The main theme is alright and a bit of the other music is fine, but most of it is absolutely horrible. I warn you, fellow gamers, if your ears are of value to you, don’t buy this game.

The game consists of seven worlds, each of which contains several missions. You start off only having access to one world, but as you complete missions and get experience points new worlds and missions are unlocked. Unfortunately, few of the missions are actually fun. There’s a very large amount of them, but few different types. Many of them force you to go slow, which removes what is supposed to be fun about Sonic games. Also most missions get very repetitive since there are so many of the same kind. Far too many missions are completely based on memorization. You’ll be cruising along the path, when all of the sudden an enemy falls on your head. What the heck? You can’t see the enemy at all until he’s right on you, so there’s no anticipation involved. Sometimes there are lines of rings that steer you in the right path, but often there aren’t. On the other hand, there are some missions that require speed and racing. These are very fun, and usually don’t involve enemies falling on your head. The problem is there aren’t near enough of these.

There are loads of unlockables, but few of them are worth getting. In each one of the very many missions, there are three items called Fire Souls. These are used to unlock unnecessary bonuses, such as classic Sonic game box art… but if you really wanted to see box art, you could so a search on Google Images instead. The only slightly desirable unlockables are new characters in Party Mode (explained later). Nevertheless, if you’re a completionist, collecting all the Fire Souls will be a decent challenge and whether the unlockables are good or not, at least you’ll be getting something.

The presentation isn’t great. Sega says the story sequences are meant to look like an Arabian Nights story book. Lame excuse. Once again, Sega takes the easy way out. Aside from the story sequences, the rest of the presentation isn’t below average.

The graphics in this game are excellent. Some of the environments are gorgeous. There are a couple GameCube games that look better, in particular StarFox Adventures and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but nevertheless, Sonic and the Secret Rings is one of the better Wii games so far from a graphical standpoint. There is one CG-style cut scene at the end of the game that looks fantastic, but because of Sega’s laziness with the other story sequences we don’t get to see any more of that CG goodness.

Party mode isn’t much better than the rest of the game. There are four modes, which are all decent, but unfortunately most the mini-games are boring and many have sloppy controls. I had an okay time when I played it with some of my friends, but still, it was far from great.

Despite the negative tone of this review, Sonic and the Secret Rings actually isn’t THAT bad. It just isn’t great either. It’s one of the better 3D Sonic games, but it definitely does not return Sonic to his former glory. I would rank it lower than Sonic Heroes but better than Shadow the Hedgehog.

Final review:

Graphics – 17/20
One of the better outings on the Wii thus far. Some of the environments are absolutely beautiful.

Gameplay – 14/20
You have to unlock good controls, which is absolutely stupid. Many of the missions rely completely on memorization, but also some of them are pretty fun.

Sound – 7/20
Horrible voice acting plus horrible music equals one big ouch.

Story – 11/20
Some die-hard Sonic fans may enjoy it, but most of the story is horribly written and extremely cheesy.

Presentation – 13/20
The lazy story sequences hurt.

Final score – 62/100
There were some parts of this game that I had a good time with, but most of the game wasn’t fun. The thing that bugs me is that Sega said this game would bring the Sonic franchise back to it’s roots, but after playing Sonic and the Secret Rings I have a hard time believing they even tried. If they truly tried to bring Sonic back to his roots, they would have gotten rid of voice acting, gone back to non-lyrical, classic style music and they would put enemies in your line of sight so you would be able to avoid them, rather than making them appear right in front of your face at the last millisecond. Die-hard Sonic fans may enjoy this game, but it is not like the classic Sonic games in any way, shape or form, so if Sega truly attempted to bring this once great franchise back to it’s roots, they failed miserably.

Casual/Hardcore Appeal – 2/8

Thursday, June 28, 2007

No Review Today

Sorry guys, I said I would have another review up today, but I haven't been able to find the time. It's not my fault, I swear! I had some company over from another province and I couldn't just ditch them for a couple hours to write a review. Unless some other unexpected event pops up, my second review will be done by Friday or Saturday.

I recently purchased Tetris DS, so you can expect a review of that sometime. I've been playing it most of the day today and I'll tell you this much: any sanity I might have once had is being permanently driven out of me. That ****y game provoked the anger and might in me to punch a dent in the wall, and when I saw the dent I nearly threw my DS across my room. It was then that I told myself to take a chill pill and come write this.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Affiliate: The Hylia

We've gotten our first affiliate; The Hylia! I'm proud to be affiliated with such a high-calibre website. The folks at The Hylia do a phenomenal job of keeping track of gaming news. They also do occasional reviews and other features. The Hylia is one of my favourite and one of the most reliable gaming news sites on the web, so be sure to check it out. The link is on the right, under Affiliates.


Today I worked long and hard at creating a camera set up so I could make a Galaga gameplay video. I took a table top, attached legs to it with packing tape and put two thick books and on top of that. Then I put all this on a coffee table and put my camera on top, knowing that if the packing tape were to give out at any moment the camera would be done for. I centered up the camera up with the TV perfectly, so no borders were showing. I then pressed the record button, and began playing. It was an absolutely perfect gameplay video; the double shots were shown, I got to two challenging stages without dying, acing them both, and when five minutes of gameplay was recorded I pressed the record button again to stop. I watched the recording on the mini LCD camera screen, thinking about how delighted my viewers would be with this absolutely perfect recording. Then I plugged it into the computer and transferred the video. When the transfer was complete, I watched it… and screamed. Well, not literally, but my mind was screaming loud and clear. The video was horribly choppy, running at probably only four or five frames per second. The sound was fuzzy, and five seconds behind the video. When I watch the video on the Wii photo channel it is fine, but for some reason it gets all messed up when I transfer it to the computer. I'm probably not going to be able to do any video features until I get video transfer cables, which hopefully will be soon. I'll try transferring the video again tomorrow, because maybe it was just a one-time problem, but I have a feeling it's not.

I'm still debating whether I should review Mario Kart DS or Sonic and the Secret Rings next. Maybe I'll end up doing another virtual console review. Another review might be up tomorrow, but it’s safer to expect one on Thursday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More Site News and Info

Hi people, I thought I would let you know a bit more about what will be happening in the future of this blog/site. So, if you're in for another read...

A few people have asked me about what game comparisons I will be doing and when. Here's where it stands right now. First off, I won't be comparing any games that haven't been reviewed yet by me. I will be releasing as much content as I can related to each game I review, but a review will be done before any additional content is put up, including comparisons. This is why I will be reviewing some older games (like Mario Kart DS) or popular games that already have lots of reviews from various sources (like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess); reviews are just a doorway for additional content. After Mario Kart DS is reviewed, lots of additional content will follow, including videos of all the tracks, gameplay modes, Wifi matches, etc. After Twilight Princess is reviewed, lots of additional content will follow, including videos of different items in use, town explorations, etc. As you probably noticed, I'm placing a heavy emphasis on video, but I will do written features as well. Anyways, I hope you get the point. Reviews are not the primary feature of this website, but they're just a doorway leading to several other features.

Anyways, back to where I was. For those of you who want to see my list of planned future game comparisons, here it is. Many of these games are not released yet, but I plan on doing all of these comparisons in the future.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time vs. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Super Mario Bros. 3 vs. Super Mario World
New Super Mario Bros vs. (winner of Super Mario Bros. 3 vs. Super Mario World)
Metroid vs. Super Metroid
The Legend of Zelda vs. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Super Mario 64 vs. Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Kart vs. Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart DS vs. (winner of Mario Kart 64 vs. Super Mario Kart)
Donkey Kong Country vs. Donkey Kong Country 2

This is just a list of game comparisons I have definite plans of doing, but some others may be added, such as F-Zero vs. F-Zero X, Megaman vs. Megaman 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Now some other stuff you should know about. You may have noticed how I titled my Galaga review. I first put the name of the game (Galaga), then the platform (Virtual Console), and lastly the feature type (review). I will be titling all video game content I put up like this so it will be easier to find what you want in the archives (on the right-hand side of the screen). As you know, this is a blog, therefore it’s not built for easy navigation, but I still want it to be as easy to navigate as possible.

You can expect at least one more review this week. I am currently debating whether I should do it for Sonic and the Secret Rings or Mario Kart DS. If you people would prefer one over the other, please post a comment and tell me. I also hope to have a Galaga gameplay video up sometime this week, but I do not know how to videotape my TV while I’m playing. I’ll try to find a table that is the right height to set my camera on, but I may or may not find one. If you have any suggestions, then again, post a comment. I will be doing on-screen recording in the future, but I don’t have the right equipment yet to do that, so I have to use a digital camera for now.

Stay tuned, and tell your buddies about the site. I’m trying to get some affiliates but I’m not going to be able to until a lot of content is added and some major upgrades are made.