Leaf’s Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Wii

Yes! I finally got myself a Nintendo Wii today along with three games for my new video game system – Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Wii Play.

I was not surprised to hear that all the Wii units were sold out on Friday as it proves to be the ‘must have’ Christmas gift this year.

Finding the accessories for the Wii proved more difficult than getting the console itself for those who didn’t pre-ordered… There were no stocks of the Wiimote or the Nunchuk controller, but luckily I managed to get one against the odds during my shopping trip in Central London.

Can’t wait to play the multiplayer games against my sister and family in Wii Sports!

Guitar Hero II

Guitar Hero II

RedOctane’s Guitar Hero was a surprising hit on the PlayStation 2 in which you use a mini Gibson SG guitar as a controller to strum to a collection of fantastic rock songs.

As with all rhythm games, pressing the right buttons at the right time is crucial when playing in Guitar Hero II.

For those who haven’t experience the wonders of this guitar-based video game, let me explain how to play. There are five coloured ‘fret’ buttons on the neck (green, red, yellow, blue, and orange in descending order) with a “strum bar,” and a whammy bar. Each rock song is presented as a set of five columns that scroll constantly. The five columns correspond to the five fret buttons.

To play a note, you must hold the correct fret button and press the strum bar. If you mistimed the strumming too early or late or not at all, then the three-staged “Rock Meter” will decrease…. The Rock Meter is an indication of how well you are performing and the crowd’s general opinion of your rock act. The meter’s stages are coloured red, yellow and green, in order of success. If the meter goes too far into the red, it will begin to blink red as a means of warning. If the meter is totally diminish, then you have failed the song… The meter can be restored little by little by playing notes correctly.

To play the single notes, all you need to do is to strum once. But for longer notes, an initial strum followed by a continued depression of the fret button is needed – as long as the note lasts.

As for chords this involve pressing two or more fret buttons at a time. Additionally, Guitar Hero II supports common guitar concepts such as the hammer-on and the pull-off just like playing the real instrument.

To enhance the gaming experience further, a new feature named ‘Star Power’ involves tilting the guitar controller upward, enabling more bonus points.

To reach this mode, you must accumulated from either successfully playing a sequences of special Star Notes or using the whammy bar on long Star Notes.

So we covered the basis of learning to play, now what about the selection of rock anthems to play in the new game?

To be honest, I find the choices of songs lacking compared to the original. In the original there was a magnificent range of tracks on offer including Deep Purple, Boston, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne. But with Guitar Hero II, it seems to be missing that magical ‘edge’… This is surprising as there are some great bands featured in the new version like Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Megadeth, Foo Fighters and Nirvana.

So what’s new in Guitar Hero II? Well, there’s a practice mode that allows you to prefect a specific section of a song you want, at any speed you want. The songs are broken down piece by piece, and you can pick any starting and stopping section you choose to wish.

As for multiplayer mode, this has been improved significantly – but it still lacks online play…. Nevertheless, playing with a second guitar creates more fun and instead of trading off sections of a song with one another, the new version lets both guitarists perform through the entire song together –as a lead and bass.

In terms of game play, Guitar Hero II feels the same. And yet, I must admit the encores – when the crowd demand that one final song – is a nice atmospheric feature.

The only criticisms will be track selection and the difficulty level when advancing through (it becomes harder for even the most experienced Guitar Hero fans). Despite that, if you looking for an entertaining rhythm based party game who enjoy the rock and roll scene, then pick up the ‘axe’ and prepare to rock to your heart content!

Nintendo: Life and Passion

Wii abstract

As a keen video game fan of Nintendo, I am pleased to have someone in my family working for this gaming giant in the New Year. My sister will have the unique opportunity to work in Germany as part of Nintendo Europe and be responsible for developing and playing the latest titles on the Wii and DS consoles.

My love affair with Nintendo started when I played that amazing light-gun shooting game – Duck Hunt – on the classic NES system. Back then the experience was truly astounding and it’s impressive to see over the last three decades that Nintendo are still going strong (compared to Sega) with innovative and fun games.

In addition, the handheld gaming system Game Boy was an absolutely delight when I played it back in 1989. I became addictive to Tetris so much that the famous music started ringing inside my head!

With the DS Lite, the enthusiasm continues with the stupendous Animal Crossing: Wild World. When I have the chance, I will play this great game everyday and spending hours collecting Bells and going fishing!

As for the consoles, I am particular fond of the GameCube, even though it did quite poorly in terms of third party software. I believe the quality of the games were better and more entertaining than the Sony PlayStation 2. Pikmin introduced cute little characters and it’s a joy to play. As for Super Monkey Ball, this is by far the most addictive game to play featuring adorable simians!

Now with the Wii coming out in Europe on December 8th – after two successful launches in the past few weeks – I am looking forward to a new gaming experience.

One of the titles I am particular interested is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. My sister is a big fan of this series (besides Super Mario and Metal Gear Solid) and can’t wait to sample the new motion sensor controller in the new adventures of Link.

As for me, I believe the future of Nintendo is bright and with my sister working for them in January, it will be fantastic period to see the Japanese game manufacturer back at its element of offering players creative and enjoyable games.

Animal Crossing: The Movie

Animal Crossing Movie Poster

Based on the popular Nintendo game, Animal Crossing: The Movie, will feature Tom Nook and co heading to the big screens in Japan’s movie theatres.

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie will be showing in cinemas across the nation as of December 16th. Tickets are already on sale at our local convenience store run by that Racoon…

See the three TV trailers here:

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie – Japanese TV commercial 1

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie – Japanese TV commercial 2

Doubutsu no Mori: The Movie – Japanese TV commercial 3

Ridge Racer 2

The new hype-realistic arcade racing game from Namco is a rather familiar affair to this game reviewer. As a fan of the original Ridge Racers on the PlayStation, this new ‘sequel’ on the PSP seems to lack any new features that differential the launch title for the handheld console.

Sure it still features the over-the-top oversteer moments when ‘powersliding’ around the corners and as an arcade game, it provides thrills for a short amount of time. But the lack of new content in particular online play is disappointing.

Ridge Racer 2 should be branded as Ridge Racer Remixed as this new game only seems to provides new cars, music and tracks (from the past Ridge Racer games including Ridge Racer Type 4, Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution).

As a game, it still fantastic to play with the sublime handling and visuals. But you can’t help think that Namco has missed out on an opportunity to take it in a new direction.

There are two modes available in Ridge Racer 2 – Duel and Survival. But no Online play (which everyone wanted) unfortunately… As you can tell by the two names, Duel is a series of races in which you compete against a single opponent while Survival is a simple lap-by-lap knockout. Both these modes feel like filler than new content but fans of Ridge Racer will be pretty happy.

In conclusion, Ridge Racer 2 is great fun but a poor excuse of a sequel. It feels like a carbon copy of the original game including that dynamic difficulty curve… At one point you are winning the races in World Tour mode with ease and then the game goes into ‘cheating’ mode in which the AI-controller cars seem to have infinite boost…

In addition, the new cars don’t really look new either. More like a remodelled versions of the same old vehicles…

But Ridge Racer 2 is most definitely an improvement over the first game but by no means an essential purchase. If nine new tracks seems like good value to you, then you won’t be disappointed, as the core gameplay is as entertaining as ever, but don’t say you weren’t warned!

Photoshop challenge

On the Eternal Sunset forum, there are two threads challenging members to create some adverts for the Nintendo Wii and possible film posters featuring video game characters. Well, this looks like fun I thought and spent the next few minutes producing my masterpieces in Adobe’s Photoshop CS2.

My first image is a believable press advert to promote Nintendo’s new console, Wii. Playing around on the idea of a ‘hands on’ approach with the Wiimote and the slang for pleasuring yourself… In addition, included one of my favourite character in Super Monkey Ball. Nice.

The second image took me a while to do – finding the required elements on Google, adjusting the filter features in Photoshop – but the end result looks fantastic. Based on a movie I like. 😉

I wonder what everyone wil say about my Photoshop skills?

Singing sensation

Today I purchased the latest SingStar game for the PS2 – SingStar Anthems – and judging by the 20-track available on this version of the popular singing game, I feel the music selection is by far the weakest in the series.

Take That featuring Lulu – ‘Relight My Fire’ (No thanks)
Pussycat Dolls – ‘Don’t Cha’ (What?!?)
Charlotte Church – ‘Crazy Chick’ (Err…)

The only tracks that I seem to be able to sing (as I heard it on the radio) are Scissor Sisters – ‘Laura’ and Queen – ‘Radio Ga Ga’ (Looking forward to see that amazing music video).

I still prefer the previous SingStar games, with my favourite being the original and SingStar Rocks! In fact, I have achieved some fantastic scores on some of my most-liked tracks:

A-Ha – ‘Take On Me’ (I can easily get 9,000 points on this 80s hit!)
Atomic Kitten – ‘Eternal Flame’ (I am so good on this one. 8,000 – 9,000 points)
Madonna – ‘Like a Virgin’ (Classic but tricky. 8,800 – 9,200 points)
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Take Me Out’ (My favourite. 9,500 points )
The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’ (Absolute classic. Not a high score though… 7,000 – 8,200 points)
Nirvana – ‘Come As You Are’ (Fab song. 8,900 – 9,100 points)
Kasabian – ‘Club Foot’ (Around 9,000 points)

Impressive, non? And yet, I’m feeling a little disappointed by the reduced track list in the new game. Perhaps the PlayStation 3, with the ability to download new songs, can ‘relight my fire’ (sorry) as a singing sensation?

To be honest, I have been playing the excellent Guitar Hero more than singing. With rockin’ tunes and the ability to pull off amazing chords seems more rewarding for a ‘wannbee’ guitarist than a ‘Pop Idol’. 😉

Animal Crossing: the movie

My dreams have come true! Animal Crossing: the movie is based on my favourite game on the Nintendo DS and will be produced by Japanese director Jouji Shimura. The animated film should hit cinemas over in Japan in December.

See the trailer here (it’s not that long but does feature the gorgeous Rosie the cat whom I adore!): http://www.doubutsunomori-movie.jp/tokuhou/index.html

There’s still no word as to whether the Animal Crossing movie will make it to Europe… Despite that, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie and I wonder what the plot will be? Running around helping your animal friends and paying off that huge mortage to Tom Nook?