Tag Archives: DS

Super Princess Peach (DS)

Developer(s) – TOSE

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Akio Imai & Azusa Tajima

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto, Yasuhiro Minamimoto & Hitoshi Yamagami

Released in the early years of the shelf life of the original DS, Super Princess Peach was designed to be a unique take on the classic 2D side scrolling formula pioneered by Nintendo, whereby players take control of Princess Peach for the first time, as she assumes the role of the heroine as opposed to the damsel in distress. Though it does have some basis in uniqueness, I found the game to be particularly easy compared to most Mario games, and by proxy, nowhere near as good or interesting.

Graphics – 7/10

In lieu of Super Mario tradition, the atmosphere is happy-go-lucky, and the game has no shortage of vibrant and colourful environments and an array of different enemies and worlds. An interesting element of this game is Peach’s weapon; an anthropomorphic umbrella named Perry, which was actually a young man once, as revealed through various flashbacks throughout the game. Back when the original Super Mario game was relatively new, there was a cartoon film made of it in Japan, featuring a dog, which turns out to be Peach’s prince and it returned to normal at the end of the film. I can’t help but think that this in particular element of the film may have inspired this game in turn.

Gameplay – 6/10

As in most Mario games, the objective is simply to get from point A to point B. But in this title, there are 3 Toads to find in each level, as well as an array of different abilities for Peach to use in the form of different emotions. For example, crying projects water, which may be used to water beanstalks, growing them to advance. Though there is that small element of puzzle solving to it, it is still a particularly easy game, since Peach is at a great advantage with her umbrella, which can be used to attack enemies. To me, it highlights why it was such a bad idea that Nintendo originally wanted to give Mario a gun.

Controls – 10/10

As far as the control scheme goes, whilst there shouldn’t have been any problems with the basic layout (and so there isn’t any), at this point, it wouldn’t have been particularly hard to add other features to the mix along with them. I was pretty happy to see the touch screen being put to decent use, at least. Other than this, however, there isn’t much else to say about it unfortunately.

Lifespan – 4/10

Though it does indeed last around the same time as most other conventional Mario games, clocking at about 3 to 4 hours, the game’s paltry difficulty level can make it seem as if it lasts a great deal shorter than even that. The side quest can keep more intrepid players busy for a short while longer, but not as long as its world layout would suggest. The map looks a lot like that of Super Mario RPG, so I was somewhat disappointed to learn that it lasts nowhere near as long.

Storyline – 3/10

Not differing to any great extent from the plot most typically associated with Super Mario, Princess Peach, along with her umbrella friend Perry, are on a quest to save Mario and Luigi from Bowser as opposed to it being the other way round. Though the game didn’t necessarily need a decent story at all, what I don’t like about it is how much it contradicts the entire premise of the series. If Peach has always had these different abilities, then it makes me suspicious of why she couldn’t use them against Bowser whenever she is kidnapped.

Originality – 6/10

The game does have at least some basis in uniqueness at least, with the different range of abilities Peach has throughout the course of game. Ultimately however, it plays out essentially like any other Mario game, and doesn’t stand out to any significant extent. I think the developers could build on what they achieved with this game if they ever decided to make a sequel, but the first game in this potential series was a question of trial and error.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, Whilst Super Princess Peach isn’t one of the worst games I’ve ever played; it unfortunately doesn’t stand out as one of Nintendo’s better efforts. I cant help but think that with a bit more challenge, it could have been much more than what it turned out to be, but given the less-than-satisfactory sales figures this game has garnished, a sequel seems unlikely.

Score

36/60

6/10 (Average)

SteamWorld Tower Defence (Nintendo Dsi Ware)

Developer(s) – Image & Form Games

Before Image and Form Games introduced the SteamWorld mythos to mainstream platforms towards the end of the seventh generation of gaming with SteamWorld Dig, there was this hidden gem of a game; SteamWorld Tower Defence, currently exclusive to DSiWare. Similar to games such as Plants Vs Zombies and PixelJunk Monsters, it’s a pretty addictive game, and well worth it’s very modest asking price of £4.49.

Graphics – 7/10

The visual style of the game is actually quite reminiscent of Lego Ninjago; small characters inhabiting fairly sizeable worlds, except these worlds are of a steampunk old American West variety. There is also some diversity in level designs, taking place in barren desserts and deep mines. It’s also interesting to see where the entire SteamWorld mythos began, and to see which conceptual ideas were carried on into the next game, and what will most likely to be carried on into SteamWorld Heist.

Gameplay – 8/10

A tower defence game, the concept of it is to raise money by defeating enemies, and lay down different units of different kinds of fighters such as gunmen, turrets and sharpshooters, all to keep hoards of invading enemies at bay. The game also starts off challenging, but becomes progressively more so as it goes on; once more, not in a way that makes the game completely inaccessible, but challenges players to think on their toes.

Controls – 9.5/10

PC’s and touchscreens by some distance the best method of which to play tower defence games, and thus, there are next to no problems with the control scheme of this game. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it can be a little bit awkward to put down units at first, since there are specific dots in which they need to be placed across each stage, but before long, that criticism becomes a case of splitting hairs. The biggest deciding factor in whether a player wins or loses a stage is skill.

Originality – 6/10

There have been many games made in the same vein as this, but what sets this title apart from the many other tower defence games developed, especially across the Internet, is that the visual concept, which has been instrumental in establishing an entire mythology behind what has become a series of games. It may not be as unique or as outlandish as Plants Vs Zombies was, but the Image and Form are always contemplating new ideas that they can apply to the series, and it’s wonderful to watch where it all started.

Happii

Happii

In summation, SteamWorld Tower Defence is a diamond in the rough that holds up just as well as any other game of it’s kind; if not better than the average. It’s a solid and inexpensive gaming experience that is mostly definitely worth the attention of anyone with a 3DS.

Score

30.5/40

7.5/10 (Good)

Plants Vs Zombies (Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo DS, iOS, Android, Blackberry & Bada)

Developer(s) – PopCap Games

Publisher(s) – PopCap Games

Distributor(s) – Electronic Arts

Designer – George Fan

Inspired after playing Warcraft III tower defence mods, as well as one of his previous games Insaniquarium, George Fan and PopCap released the original Plants Vs Zombies back in 2009, when it received overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim, and eventually went on to become a cultural phenomenon. Personally, I was addicted to Plats Vs Zombies for quite some time after I started playing it. I would recommend anyone with any of the platforms its available on to pick up a copy.

Graphics – 8/10

Taking place in a strange world where zombies are a looming threat, and planting various types of flora are the only way to stop them, the game’s visuals are presented in a very cartoon-like style, and are extremely varied in it’s different level settings, characters and variations of different units to be either employed or combated against. It obviously took a great deal of imagination to come with a concept as outlandish as the one presented in this game. They’re the kind of ideas I love to see in games; the kind that may sound ridiculous on paper, but end up becoming something particularly special on a games console.

Gameplay – 9/10

The gameplay is unbelievably addictive as well as incredibly satisfying. Aside from the main storyline, there are also several other game modes to be experienced, such as the various different puzzle modes, side challenges, the Zen garden mode, whereby the player can grow plants in a garden to make money, and much to my own personal delight, a survival endless mode. That there is indeed an endless mode to this game of course means that it also has an infinite lifespan, and lasts only as long as an individual’s commitment to the game. It really is extraordinary how so much variety in gameplay was packed into such a title.

Controls – 8/10

One piece of advice I would be able to give to anyone who may be looking to try this game out (which I highly recommend), is that the best platform to play it on would most probably be a tablet, since of course, the controls would be touchscreen, and the screen itself would be sizable enough. Playing it on console is feasible, but it’s a bit more annoying, since the game was originally designed to work on PC, and commands can’t be issued quite as fast, which could theoretically cost players a match if factored into enough times.

Originality – 7/10

There have been many different tower defence games to come along over the years, especially on the internet, but Plants Vs Zombies stand out among them all for it’s exceptional variety in gameplay, as well as it’s strangely compelling conceptual design. To me, it’s no wonder why this game has left such a durable legacy within the industry, and has spawned a sequel and spin-off series.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Plants Vs Zombies is one of the most satisfying games to play of the seventh generation. I was personally thrown by just how good a game it is; there’s much more to it than meets the eye.

Score

32/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Mini Ninjas (Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS & OnLive)

Developer(s) – IO Interactive, Magic Pockets & Robosoft Technologies

Publisher(s) – Eidos Interactive, Warner Bros. & Feral Interactive

Director – Jeremy C. Petreman

Producer(s) – Jonas Lind & Luke Valentine

Developed as a game that the creators personally wanted to be able to play with their children, Mini Ninjas was a combat-oriented adventure game, which was well received upon release and ever since, there has been fairly high demand for a sequel. To me, it all comes as no surprise after playing it for myself. Though perhaps too linear, it’s still a pretty enjoyable game for how long it lasts.

Graphics – 7.5/10

Making use of cel-shaded visuals, the game bears a striking resemblance to The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker; it’s not quite as strong in terms of conceptual design, but the attention to detail is extremely well adhered to. The scenery, particularly trees and grass, give it as realistic a feel as a game like this could possibly have. There’s also quite a bit of variety to be experienced in terms of individual level design, with the game taking place in a multitude of different locations; many representing the contrast between natural man-made structure synonymous with Japanese culture.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

Though there is quite some variety in level design, the true variety this game has to offer is in its gameplay. Eventually, the player will have access to six different characters, each with their own specialist abilities and fighting styles. The main character Hiro, in particular, has many different types of magic spells to attack enemies, stop time and possess wildlife among many other things. There are also a fair few side quests to add to the game’s longevity, but I couldn’t help but think how much better it would have been if set in an open world. That’s why I believe it would be quite easy to develop a better game in a possible sequel.

Controls – 10/10

The controls also come with no complications; despite the fact that there many different functions to be taken advantage of throughout the game, and many different functions mini games that must be undertook in order to advance. As well as regular gameplay, there are boat-riding mechanics, as well as context-sensitive sequences in most boss fights, which add an even greater element of legitimate challenge. Players may see it as being overly easy, but I’d personally have it this way than it being the other way round.

Lifespan – 4/10

Because of it’s linearity, the game can only be made to last around 7 to 8 hours, which I believe given the sizeable amount of variety in gameplay, is far too short a time for it to last. It’s a shame that the franchise has been left to languish since the release of this game, since I think there is a lot of potential in it, as well as a lot of leeway to expand on the game’s core mechanics, as well as room for introducing even more than what was offered with the first game.

Storyline – 7/10

The story of the game follows a young ninjas named Hiro, who along with his best friend Futo, set out to find and released four imprisoned ninjas, as well as defeat the evil samurai warlord, who resolved to dominate the world. The story is pretty basic in scope, and partly hearkens back to the days of when story in video games was scarce in general. But it’s kept relatively fresh with the comedy element that it has throughout. There are additional cut scenes to unlock, which also add more to that comedic element, but for the most part, the story merely offers even more leeway to expand on the franchise’s potential.

Originality – 6.5/10

Though it isn’t particularly unique to the entire gaming medium, this game certainly stands out among the many others released throughout the seventh generation. During an era when First person shooters had become the most prominent genre of games, it was refreshing to me to be able to play a pretty laid back adventure game hearkening back to the fifth generation of gaming. To me, it was like a breath of fresh air at the time. It had many elements that were not uncommon for its time, such as cel-shaded visuals and context sensitive gameplay, but it had a level of variety that made it stand out among many others.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Mini Ninjas is a quietly satisfying and fun game to play. Though there was room for improvement, it has most definitely been illegitimately overlooked, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a seventh generation diamond in the rough.

Score

42.5/60

7/10 (Fair)