Karts and Clues

Originally posted at GameSpot on May 23, 2008

Had my first taste of Mario Kart Wii this past Sunday – and it was lukewarm. Where am I going with this tasty food metaphor? I guess I was expecting a bit more from Mario and the gang.

The game was fun, and I settled in with Bowser no problem – but it wasn’t that great of a leap forward. It didn’t have to be, but it did have to be as fun as Mario Kart 64 – my gold standard for Mario Kart games. And on this point, it wasn’t. The items were a non-factor, the remote didn’t always steer where it was supposed to, and the new tricks you could do just didn’t add that much.

It’s Mario Kart, and it’s always a good time – but this definitely isn’t the best version out there.

In other news, my wife and I have played through Professor Layton and the Curious Village. I have to say, I’m enjoying the game more than I thought I would. Each puzzle is unique and challenging in its own, and you really want to see one through to its answer.

The story is top-notch. The opening scene of Professor Layton and young Luke driving in the country was nothing short of charming; and I don’t believe I’ve ever used that word on a video game. But it’s a good thing here – as the car rolled over the hills, it reminded me of car trips down to my grandma’s house. An unexpected connection, to be sure…but isn’t that what this game of puzzles is all about?

Some of the puzzles are pretty tricky; I’ve given up trying to go through the game without using a hint. That said, it hasn’t lost being fun – which to me says a lot. I remember doing brain teasers like this in K-12 years, and I hated them. The fact that this game can present them in a fun and interesting matter is nothing short of remarkable.

It will definitely take me awhile to finish, but I know it will be a great ride while it lasts. Supposedly this is a beginning of a trilogy, so I’ll always have a ready supply of Professor Layton when I need it.

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Crimson and Black goodness

Originally posted at GameSpot on January 23, 2008

Yesterday it came.

Ah, the smell of a new DS Lite. I had it delivered to work, so I could only open it and stare. Got it home and after the kids were down to bed I was able to play some Mario Kart DS (which was a present from my wife before the system even arrived – how great is she?!). Really enjoyed it; not only is there some great track design with new and retro courses, but the items and characters are better than ever. I still fondly remember Mario Kart 64, and this title not only built on that love but added to it.

Still, at this point, I can’t believe I have the system. I’m also surprised at the small size, even though I’ve seen the DS Lite before. Simply put, it’s sleek, cool, and I can’t wait to get more games for it.

It’s already got me thinking about the game possibilities. Now armed with a portable system, I can play anywhere. It’s going to be fun to see how that plays out over time. Bus stops? Restroom stalls? Oh, it’s on now. . .

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