Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo

29
Sep
09

Metroid: The Past

Most people have more than likely heard the name Metroid at some point – being one of Nintendo’s longer running series’, although perhaps not as successful as their other major titles, such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda. However, Metroid was possibly one of the most influential titles of it’s time, introducing a more free roaming, more mature style of platformer. It also introduced one of the world’s first gaming heroines – Samus Aran, a well respected bounty hunter that stormed the gaming world a full decade before Lara Croft appeared on the Playstation in 1996. As the first of a three part look at the series, today I will tell you a little about the roots of Metroid.

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The original Metroid was released on the NES in 1986, the same year as the first Zelda title. As well as the platforming and open world style common to Metroid, many other aspects of the title were introduced in the very first title, and carried on to the later games – concepts such as upgrades that improved Samus’ power as she progressed, but also allowed access to new areas in order to give the open world some restrictions and would guide the player around in a certain way without feeling linear or restrictive.

The original title also introduced enemies and bosses that remain consistent throughout the series, namely the Space Pirates, an alien band of miscreants, and their Commander, the dragon-like Ridley. Last but not least, the original of course introduced the series’ first Metroids – the most dangerous beings of them all. Somewhere between a jellyfish, a brain and a leech, the Metroid is a rather disturbing creature – hovering emotionlessly, the Metroid wants nothing more than to drain the life of it’s victim, has a nasty habit of multiplying, and is incredibly hard to kill.

a metroid

Metroid’s story, and its quality, has improved in stages over the years. Five years after Metroid came Metroid II: Return of Samus. Released on the Nintendo Game Boy, Metroid II was the first handheld title of the series, and was one of the most impressive handheld titles of it’s time – sporting graphics superior to the original home console version, and fluid controls, Metroid II found Samus hunting Metroids on a lonely planet called SR388.

Metroid2_boxart

 This title was the first Metroid I ever played, and was what got me into Metroid in the first place. Metroid II kept most of the major functions from the original, and also introduced some new weapons, however it is one of the few games to focus solely on Metroids as bosses, in various evolutionary phases, as no Space Pirates or other aliens are involved. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as it only helped enhance the cavernous feel to the empty depths of SR388.

In 1994, Metroid reached a new level with the coming of Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo. This title was the first to feature full colour graphics and improved on every aspect of the game – particularly the plot. Although the game continued to feel vast and open, Super Metroid saw the return of Ridley, and introduced perhaps one of the most useful features of all, a map. Whereas the older titles could feel confusing and hard to navigate, Super Metroid included a map that could be viewed on the fly, detailing not only the layout of the area, but save rooms and other places of interest. This feature would be implemented into all future titles, and was even mirrored in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night three years later, which was the first to implement a more Metroid style of gameplay and progression that would create the term “Metroidvania” which can be heard nowadays.

Super-Metroid-3

Sadly, Super Metroid wasn’t really appreciated fully at the time of it’s initial release. Although considered one of Nintendo’s biggest classic titles, the initial trilogy sold fairly poorly and production was cancelled.

However, all that changed in 2002. Alongside the new GameCube title, Metroid Prime (more about this in my next post), the team that developed Super Metroid released an all new 2D Metroid for the Gameboy Advance. Entitled Metroid Fusion, the fourth Metroid title pitted Samus against a new threat, a parasitic lifeform known as X. After coming into contact with the viral lifeform, Samus becomes surgically bound to some of the core components of her Power Suit, creating the Fusion Suit.

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Fighting against both Metroids and this new threat, hunted by a powerful doppelganger known as SA-X, Metroid Fusion yet again improved upon the game’s design in almost every way. Fusion did incredibly well, being named Handheld Game of the Year at the 2002 Interactive Achievement Awards, and recieving high praise from many gaming sites, and sold over 1 million copies worldwide. This success saw the rebirth of the series and Metroid continued to develop.

In 2004, Nintendo released Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the original Metroid on the GBA with graphics that perhaps surpassed even that of Metroid Fusion, and incorporating features and abilities from the more recent titles, such as saving capability and a selection of different abilities such as crouching, hanging, speed-boost running and much more.

Metroid_and_Metroid_Zero_Mission

They also expanded upon the game’s original plot, and even added an entirely new area to the game, including a section which, for the first time ever, allows you to play as Samus without her Power Suit for a more stealth-based chapter, dubbed “Zero Suit Samus” by Super Smash Bros Brawl, which incorporated this ‘naked’ version of the heroine as an alternate mode for her in the fighter series, which also turned a few heads in the process.  

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And thats as far as the 2D saga of Metroid has come to this date – I personally hope to see at least one more 2D Metroid in the future. But that’s not to say that Metroid ends there, oh no – the present has seen a change in Metroid’s style…

Stay tuned for Metroid: The Present, in the second of this three-part look at the series!

-Leon

26
Sep
09

What have Nintendo set in motion?

wiimote

I remember first hearing about the Wii and its new gameplay ideas, unveiling the Wiimote and its unusual point and click style of control. To be honest I wasn’t all that keen but I was willing to see how things went, and even got ahold of one on release day; although more for the upcoming Zelda and Metroid titles than for the new control style. Regardless, I played the console for a while; Metroid Prime 3 using the controls fantastically. However, mostly I found that few other titles actually benefited from the new system – sure, my grandparents played a few party games at Christmas, but there wasnt much else. Zelda: Twilight Princess was great for reasons other than the controls, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed the GameCube version equally.

Now, I applaud Nintendo for their clever marketing and acknowledge that they sold their console well, but in the end it just doesnt have the game lifespan of it’s competitors, often with months at a time before any solid releases – leaving it a lacking console for anyone with serious gaming needs.

So here I am now, with a Wii that’s used mainly to play GameCube titles, Zelda and Metroid Prime 3. When I’m not playing those (which is most of the time), the console just sits under my TV and gathers dust. And I’m quite happy with it that way – it’s there when I need it, but it leaves me alone most of the time and needs no attention from me whilst I play my PS3 and Xbox 360.

However, inside that little white console is a foreboding evil that waits to strike… After the Wii sold so well, other companies ran to look at the best-seller, wondering what it had that they didn’t. Before long, the Xbox 360 found itself covered with little Avatars of it’s players, for no apparent reason other than keeping up with what the Wii was doing with it’s Miis. Personally, I thought the NXE update was a big disappointment, and much preferred the old style of dashboard. However, it didn’t really influence me in a large way, so I quickly accepted the change, and continued my happy gaming life as usual.

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However, more recently I sense a disturbance in the gaming world… The Wii strikes once again! This time it looks like bad news… Although Nintendo were quite content in creating an unusual console that filled many of GAME’s shelves with throw-away titles, its begun to spread. More recently, Sony announced their own version of the Wiimote, a currently nameless ‘wand’ which uses the Playstation EyeToy camera to track a glowing ball which can be used to control an on-screen cursor.

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When I first heard this, I was a bit dismayed, but unsurprised that other consoles would attempt to take some of the Wii’s glory by creating their own motion controllers – what with the Wii’s sale figures, they obviously want their own share of the market. Expecting to see some gimmicky titles in 2010, much like the PS2’s EyeToy gaames, I was willing to ignore this new hardware and continue using my hardware in the same way I currently am. That’s OK, right?

Wrong.. It seems that the PS3 will be implementing this new hardware into some of its bigger titles – LittleBigPlanet and Resident Evil 5. LittleBigPlanet will incorporate a new tool that will allow players to manipulate certain objects in levels in order to progress – such as pulling down plaforms to walk across, or holding things back that would otherwise crush sackboy. What does this mean? Well – if I want to have full access to all of LittleBigPlanet’s features in the future, I’ll require a motion controller that I’ve already acknowleged I don’t want. However, if I choose not to purchase it, I’ll more than likely be swarmed with in-game options I can’t use, and levels that are inacessible to me.

As for Resident Evil 5, they are going to release a new version entitled Resident Evil 5: Alternative Edition. At first glance, one might think that this is much like Resident Evil 4, with its Wii counterpart which was released later on with a few enhancements. However, it seems that this new version of RE5 will feature a brand new campaign mode starring Chris and Jill, utilising the new motion controls.

Now, perhaps these games will allow for alternate control methods that make them playable without the motion controls, but I’m doubting it – why allow people to choose how to play, when they can be forced to buy new hardware in order to play games that they already love?

The Wii had some interesting concepts, but I’m really feeling that the success of it’s initial sales have had a negative impact on all of Nintendo’s stakeholders – other consoles want to emulate that success, and are willing to appeal to the more casual markets in order to do so. However, I do wonder whether these companies might want to compare the costs of their consoles before pinning the success solely on the motion capability of the Wii. I’m very worried that the gaming market will be killed by torrents of cheap party games and ports with tacked-on motion controls – and is that really the future we want to see?

I have played some fantastic games recently, and I’m also looking forward to plenty more – such as God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII, Brutal Legend, Bayonetta, Halo 3: ODST among others, and none of them require gimmicky controls to interest me. They prove that games can still be played with regular controllers whilst still being interesting, exciting and involving. The day I have to imitate swinging Kratos’ Blades of Chaos by waving a pair of Wiimotes around my head is the day I quit gaming.

So I ask, for myself and for all gamers out there: Please Nintendo, keep your damn Wiimote in your pocket and don’t show it to the other kids!

01
Sep
09

Did you miss… Megaman Battle Network?

Megaman is a franchise that is well known – Nintendo seem to have a knack for platform titles, creating many well loved series’ over the years, such as Metroid and, of course, Mario. Over the years there have been many incarnations of Megaman, such as the original NES titles, the greatly updated SNES titles, and the Megaman Xseries – as well as some spinoffs, such as Megaman Zero (starring the light-sword wielding Zero), and some more obscure titles such as the one released for the N64.

Among these titles is the Megaman Battle Networkseries on the GBA. Although graphically weaker than the DS, I actually think that the GBA has a much larger range of good titles than the DS and PSP combined. (largely why I have no desire to get a DSi) As mentioned already, there are various Megaman titles and Metroid, but also a lot of other solid titles such as Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Golden Sun, Pokemon and many others. Although there are now sequels to most of these titles on the DS, the sheer gameplay and quantity of older titles hold so much play value – whereas the DS counterparts aren’t much of an improvement, the added use of touch screen often little more than a gimmick. I’m not saying the DS is bad – titles such as Phoenix Wright and the newer Castlevania titles are good additions to the collection – I just think it’s far too early to cut the DS off from the large quantities of fun the GBA slot can still provide.

Anyway, back on topic – The Megaman Battle Network series. The first was released in 2001, and was followed by 5 sequels, the last of which was released in 2006. Unconnected to the other Megaman titles, Megaman Battle Networkfeatures a boy called Lan, who lives in a world that is set some time in the future. As the Internet has grown, almost everything electrical is connected to it, and people use online avatars known as Navis to explore the web, which has taken a sort of virtual world within the net. As you may have guessed – Lan’s avatar is Megaman. While exploring the web, enemies appear as viruses that you must fight as you go, including some classic Megaman enemies such as the helmeted Mettaur.

You play the game as Lan, who lives a relatively normal life with his school friends, doing typical RPG-esque things such as exploring areas and talking to NPCs. However, most of the games action occurs when Lan ‘jacks in’ Megaman to an electronic device, entering the world within. Many of them link to the Internet which acts as an ‘overworld’ that ties them together.

Generally the story involves the crazy Dr Wily (or some other villain) and his cronies using powerful Navis in order to take over or destroy the Internet to cause worldwide chaos, and its up to Lan and Megaman to save the day by destroying the evil Navis and generally beating the bad guys in whatever electronic way they can come up with.

The battles are really where the game shines – the fight taking place on two 3×3 squares that are joined together – one half for Megaman, and one half for the opponents. The fights are fought in real time, and you must move Megaman around his half of the grid to avoid attacks and shoot the enemies. However, the game offers a ‘Chip’ system, that allows Lan to send Megaman card-like chips which grant him abilities. These can range from various cannons to healing items, swords, elemental attacks or abilities that destroy or steal floor tiles. This is where the game really shines, allowing you to customise your ‘deck’ as you get new chips which grant new attacks. There are plenty of side quests and such which allow you to find hidden powerful chips as well, so there’s always plenty to do. The boss fights are perhaps the most fun battles – in true Megaman form you must battle various baddies (in Navi form), such as FlameMan, AquaMan, BeastMan, etc. Many of them have appeared in other Megaman titles, and some are new. Each of them have attacks that match their particular style and you must devise strategies to defeat each of them. Usually, you can also obtain special chips of each of these Navi’s which will allow you to summon them for a special attack that usually does lots of damage.

Also, the games offer various ways of upgrading Megaman, such as upgrading individual stats with upgrade points, or using the Navi Customiser, or NaviCust, to attach various upgrades into a clever grid like system, which can enlarged to allow bigger and better attachments.

With six games, the titles obviously all have their own little features, but personally my favourite is MMBN3. The third title, among all of the regular features, introduces something called ‘style changes’. By utilising certain types of chips regularly, Megaman will sometimes change, giving him a new look and some new attacks – such as Guts Style that makes Megaman red and grants him machine gun and flamethrower capabilities. The later titles offer strange transformations and character fusions, as well as allowing you to directly use other Navis, nice ideas – but I personally found this to be stepping the line a little too far and mixing it up more than necessary.

Megaman Battle Network 3-6 offer two versions of each edition, much like Pokemon, which offer some exclusive chips and a few differences from each other but are generally the same. This is a bit of an annoyance, especially if you are a completionist, as it requires you to link to the opposite version via a GBA link if you wish to acquire some of the very rare abilities. Other than that, however, the games offer a lot to do and a fair amount of gameplay time.

If you haven’t played this and fancy something both fun and challenging, or perhaps a more strategic game, give one of these games a shot. Although the stories are connected, you don’t need to play any others to understand them. However, the first one is still a great game, so I would think starting from the beginning is a good idea. If you don’t have time, though – I would recommend Megaman Battle Network 3.

Don’t ignore that GBA slot on your DS, make the most of it!

-Leon

03
Jun
09

Nintendo And Sony Take To The Stage (2nd Day Of E3)

Well day 2 is down for E3. All things nintendo and sony were out and about so what news caught my eye?

New Super Mario Bros Wii

The new super Mario bros game looks set to be a great game with 4 player co op play (as far as piking each other up and saving each other for danger) with Mario, Luigi and 2 toads. The use of the wii motion sensor is a big factor of this game. for example you ca lock on to a see saw and balance it to help you accomplice.

There are also a whole host of new Items such as the the propeller suit to fly high into the sky and for some reason you can change into a penguin.

wii mario bros

Super Mario Galaxy 2

The announce meant of this game is bound to set some Mario fans off. The first game was massive when it first came out and this one is set to better the last with Yoshi as a playable character who can be inflated to get to new areas.

Metroid: Other M

A new metroid is gonne hit wii. Yay! Not much is known as yest about the game but be sure to check here for more info for my E3 Wrap up post later this week.

Metroid M

New Wii Zelda!

Sounds great but there was not much said at all, no trailers really and only one piece of art work. But its coming…..sometime.

Golden Sun For DS

This is huge news for me, I love golden sun and to see a revamped DS game is awesome!  3D Issac and well here is the trailer!

Now onto the Sony side of things!

God Of War III

The long awaited game sequel to the franchise coming march 2010 has been demoed at E3! The game looks fantastic and with brand new physics new to gaming and Kratos looking shinier than ever this game is set to be a ground breaker. Here’s the demo in action!

Final Fantasy XIV!

But its another MMO. May be good news for some people, but I didn’t think  much of FF XI online. But t promises to be a great game.

FF XIV

PSPgo!

The new announced console was to be expected at E3 seeing all things have been leaked about it. What it does have is No UMD drive, but can still play old PSP games, You will have to download the to the console, also there is a 16 gig inbuilt hard drive for game saves and old psp games. It also has a slide function and to m looks quite interesting. Look for yourself.

Image from IGN.com

Image from IGN.com

Well that was day 2 down, wander what day 3 will bring?

Garv!