Be nice and play with your friends: DS multi and the big jump

Originally posted at GameSpot on July 15, 2008

Playing a bit of catch up on the gaming front; my brother-in-law had some time before he stated his new job, so he can over last week on Monday (June 7) and Thursday (June 10). He and his girlfriend just bought a DS – one for each of them. How sweet is that?

Monday it was just him and I, and we played The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. This was the first time I had ever seen the game in action, and I was impressed; I hope to get this someday for my DS as well.

I was able to see some of the single-player action; from drawing the path of your boomerang to blowing out candles through the mic. The game play looked engaging, and I think it would be great intro for me into the Zelda universe.

Watching him play was fine, but the multiplayer was outstanding. Playing as either Link or the soldiers, each of you had to stop the other from reaching your respective goals. If Link, the goal was gathering jewels – if a soldier, your goal was stopping him from doing so. The warp doors, wind barriers, and vision tricks the game made each map have its own special craziness.

I especially liked the power-ups – cloning yourself, speed or strength, and then being able to run over and deny them from your opponent was great.

We closed the night with a little “Boarding Action” from Halo: Combat Evolved. He won, naturally – but I will say I enjoy that map a lot more than I used to. Some good moments.

Thursday had even more going on with four DS’s in my living room. My wife was able to try Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends, and she liked it. I was finally able to play some multiplayer for the first time on Star Fox Command, and it didn’t disappoint. Power-ups spread throughout the map were well-balanced, from bombs to various laser options, and barrel rolls while trying to get behind the enemy.

I won more of these battles; but to be fair he had never played the game before.

Other DS multiplayer action involved the New Super Mario Brothers. This is one of the best games for the DS, not just because of the tremendous single-player campaign, but for the fantastic multiplayer. We played some very intense ten star matches, each of us jumping or shooting fireballs like mad trying to crush each other.

Besides the “level” multiplayer, we played some of the mini-games as well. Card games, rolling snowballs, and bouncing Mario’s all made an appearance here – including my former best, the hidden faces! He dominated in a way I didn’t expect – I need some training. Perhaps a refresher course with some Where’s Waldo books?

You can’t play any new Mario without thinking of the old, and I showed him the GBA version of theSuper Mario World. I am currently stuck on a level, but I booted it up just to give him a little nostalgia.

I entered a world just to show him where I was at, and after commenting on how I found the game a little tough I promptly fell off the edge into nothingness. We lost it, laughing so hard at the perfect illustration of my current game progress. Oh course, funnier if you were there, but it was the best set-up I could’ve had.

He fell off once as well for good measure, and we figured it was time to put that baby down before wereally hurt our pride.

Even with all the DS goodness, we managed to get some Xbox in. After trying (and failing) to figure out the multiplayer of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, we ended up with Need for Speed Most Wanted.

I finally beat the “Get through 6 police roadblocks” on the challenges, but the real jewel of the evening came when my brother-in-law was trying to beat the same challenge. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best features of the game is at certain points of the city, the camera will snap back into a cinematic third-person view while everything moves in slow motion. It mixes up the racing very nice at key points, and I find myself trying to hit those “slow-mo points” with as many cops behind me as I can, just to make it a cooler shot.

Anyway, he had just come up to a road block and smashed through; happens all the time right? What was special about this time was the fact that his car was thrown in the air lop-sided, and it was just over a hill at a slow-mo part. So when he flew in the air, car twisting around, it was like watching our own action movie. The car flew up and we both could hardly speak due to all the awesomeness, and then he jumped up with an “Oh yeah!” that I was more then happy to second.

As the car landed he went back into first-person perspective, and we actually saw the landing through the windshield – the car flopping back into place. Simply put, it was a fantastic gaming moment that made us stand up and cheer. When we rushed upstairs to tell the ladies what had happened you could see the light in our eyes, describing how sweet a moment we had just witnessed.

They might not have shared our enthusiasm, but that didn’t matter. It was a great jump, and a great night.

Post tenebras lux

A big bowl of thanks

Originally posted at GameSpot on March 3, 2008

Being thankful isn’t something I do enough of. I know it’s cliché, but I need to strive at being more aware of the blessings I enjoy each and every day.

This is no different when it comes to video games, and I want take time out with this blog to review what an amazing 4-5 months it’s been in my gaming world.

Due to the generosity of family at Christmas and our tax return, I’ve been able to advance more in my game library is these past few months than I have in quite a while:

Xbox:

Chessmaster

Forza Motorsport

Jade Empire: Limited Edition

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders

Project Gotham Racing 2

Project: Snowblind

Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow

DS:

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)

Diner Dash: Sizzle and Serve

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Mario Kart DS

Mario Party DS

New Super Mario Brothers

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Risk / Battleship / Clue (GBA)

Star Fox Command

Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 (GBA)

TMNT (GBA)

Uno / Skipbo / Uno Freefall

Hardware:

Nintendo DS Lite (2)

Fanatec Speedster 3 Forceshock Xbox Racing Wheel

I look at this list with a sense of awe and intimidation, both excited about the purchases but wondering how I’m going to find time for all of them.

That’s the problem with my gaming hobby – I’m acquiring games faster than I can play through them.

I’m not the first person to have this problem, nor will I be the last – and as far as problems go, I think having an abundance of games is probably the best kind to have.

Post tenebras lux

New Super Mario Brothers – play this thing!

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 25, 2008

February 23, 2008, around 11:30 PM – Defeated Bowser to beat the New Super Mario Brothers game on the DS. I’m proud (or maybe I should be ashamed) to say it’s the first Mario game I’ve ever beaten completely on my own. I’ve had some help on the other games from either strategy guides or Game Genie (remember those?), but this time it was just me and my wits against Bowser Jr. and his crew.

This game has garnered a lot of praise, and I’m here to say it’s completely justified. Everything you remember loving about the world-famous plumber and his 2-D adventures can be found in spades here, from colorful worlds to excellent music. I haven’t had this much fun since Super Mario Brothers 3, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog this game will have a ton of replay value for me.

They say it’s not the destination, but the journey – and the New Super Mario Brothers proves that point. Standing in front of the final castle in World 8 was bittersweet, since I knew this was the end. Truly a great game and highly recommendable to anyone! Go out there and play this thing!

Post tenebras lux

The New Adventures of the Bros. Mario

Originally posted to GameSpot on February 22, 2008

There aren’t many positives when it comes to being sick, but playing the New Super Mario Brothers would have to be one of them. I’ve heard good things about the game and played the mini-games with a friend, but this was my first real chance to go through the single-player campaign.

In short, it’s fantastic. Since I’m currently playing through Super Mario World, I feel like I have something to compare it to – and I’m very impressed. The graphics are outstanding, the level design fun, and the time meter is longer! Just that last point alone means I’m having more fun with this game than the other.

So far I’m on World 3, and after finding the warp at the end of the World 2 castle I also have access to World 4.

I really enjoy the old school feel to the game. Fighting Bowers at the first castle on the drawbridge was a nice touch, and even some of the old platforms that were in the original Super Mario Brothers make a comeback.

Most games give me a feeling, and the feeling I get from this one is it’s something I’ll be able to enjoy and re-play for a long time to come. Much like Super Mario Brothers 3, this will be a game I can always pick up and know it will be just as fun as I first time I played it.

Post tenebras lux