Tag Archives: GameCube

XIII (PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Mac & PC)

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Paris, Southend Interactive (Xbox) & Feral Interactive (Mac)

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft, Marvelous Entertainment & Feral Interactive

Director – Elisabeth Pellen

Producer – Julien Barés

XIII was a game based on the comic book of the same name written by Belgian novelist Jean Van Hamme. According to then Ubisoft president Laurent Detoc, the game would create “a world so unique and enthralling that gamers will become instantly engaged”. Even with a very new form of visual presentation in video games, I wouldn’t entirely agree with this.

Graphics – 7/10

The graphics were fairly well done for the time. This was, after all, the first ever comic book style first-person shooter. Its visual style is indeed the best thing about the game not only that, but it is also very well polished. I couldn’t see any glitches or anything like that whilst I was playing through it. I think the weak point about the game’s style is that the settings are extremely similar to that of games like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye 007, which would suggest that influences were somewhat too obvious. For example, the level whereby rooftops have to be traversed in order to elude police recapture was very similar to the opening level of Perfect Dark in conceptual design.

Gameplay – 5/10

Although this game was revolutionary for its time in terms of visuals, it wasn’t in terms of gameplay. Even for the time, this is a first-person shooter, which plays out pretty typically for most games in the genre. Any element of challenge in the game is presented through the stealth mechanics, which again, are not as elaborated on as those found in games like Metal Gear Solid, or the first Sly Cooper. The game also has a small amount of incentive and variety, as the more the player progresses, the more the main character’s memory is regained, thus yielding more skills as the game progresses. But even so, this game can become very boring very quickly, in my opinion.

Controls – 7/10

The movement in this game is also particularly stiff. It can become an unnecessary chore to aim at times, and the auto-aim system can be particularly confusing, as the crosshair doesn’t fix itself onto targets properly. Also, the grapple hook used to traverse buildings or mountains can be difficult to get to grips with at first. But other than that, the game plays out fine in terms of controls.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

Typical of any standard first-person shooter, XIII can be finished within 6 hours. Visuals alone are never enough to keep people playing a video game. At the end of the day, it’s all about the gameplay, and there wasn’t enough of it in XIII to make it last as long as it may have been able to. The problem with developing linear first-person shooters, or even linear games in general, is that very few of them have side quests and therefore contain next to no replay value apart from playing through it on a harder difficulty.

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story is about a man named XIII, who wakes up on a beach with amnesia to find out he is the prime suspect of the president’s recent assassination, and he must fight his way through the FBI, the CIA and the criminal underworld in order to uncover his identity and clear his name in the process. The game’s story is actually not bad, to be fair. There are a few decent twists and turns to it but the voice acting is a bit off. The standout performances in my opinion are that of both David Duchovny and Adam West, who play XIII and General Carrington respectively. This was based on a fairly popular comic book series, so it was always bound to have some depth in story, at least. But overall, I think the developers chose to concentrate more on that and visual style than on gameplay.

Originality – 7/10

Obviously, the most significant features of this game are the stylised visuals, which would become a stable part of game franchises in the future, and the pretty compelling story. But as I keep pointing out, it’s all about gameplay ultimately, and there wasn’t enough innovation in that department to keep it enthralling in my opinion.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, I think first-person shooting fans should play through this game at least once, but I think it should probably be left at that. It’s terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the novelty wares off after a while, as there doesn’t seem to be enough substance in gameplay to keep it entertaining throughout.

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Wario World (Nintendo GameCube)

Developer(s) – Treasure

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Kouichi Kimura & Hitoshi Yamagami

Producer(s) – Takahiro Izushi & Masato Maegawa

Release somewhat late into the GameCube’s shelf life, Wario World provided a different take on what players had seen on that in particular console, but not so different to what they had already seen on past systems. I have played much worse games, but this is the first and last Nintendo game that Treasure ever developed, and understandably so.

Graphics – 7/10

One aspect I don’t think I should criticize too much is the visuals. There is some diversity present in both level and boss designs, and the enemies and characters that can be found throughout the game are not as generic as they seem at first glance. To list a few examples, the five Spritelings to be found in each level (in itself a reference to the Jinjos in the Banjo-Kazooie series) closely resemble Pikmin, the fact that the Cractyl enemies are purple flying dinosaurs can be seen as a homage to Ridley from the Metroid series, and the Magon enemies found from the very first level closely resemble Bowser from the Super Mario series; the fact that there is a skeletal variation of the Magon would seem to clarify this even further.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

The game is a 3D platformer, but not made in the same vein as what was popular at the time; but rather made to be much more linear, and as a result, I think it suffered. I is enjoyable for a time, but it could be argued that it is far too easy; even for a Mario game, and even to complete it to 100%. Its level of difficulty made obvious to me by the fact that there are even the Magons in the first few levels don’t attack the player. However, it is interesting to be able to identify different influences the developers took to create the game’s play; not just from Nintendo games. For example, the level and world layout is very similar to the first three Crash Bandicoot games, and the ability to spin enemies around and throw them hearkens back to the strategy of defeating Bowser in Super Mario 64.

Controls – 10/10

Another thing I shouldn’t complain about is the game’s control scheme. Although it is an easy game regardless, it could have done with no complications in terms of controls, and thankfully, there are none.

Lifespan – 4.5/10

As a 3D platformer made in the same vein as classic Crash Bandicoot, the linearity of it unfortunately made for a particularly and disappointingly short experience of about 5 hours. Particularly from Nintendo’s point of view, I imagine that it would have seemed like a particularly underwhelming experience, since many other games released on that system, including 3D platformers, were made to last considerably longer, and provide much more entertainment.

Storyline – 6/10

The story of the game follows Super Mario antagonist Wario, who is on a quest reclaim his riches after they are turned into monsters by the evil anthropomorphic black jewel, which Wario had recently acquired. The only good thing I would say for it is that it is slightly different to most other plots across the Super Mario franchise, since it tells a story from the point of view of evil ass opposed to that of good, but it still can be seen as nothing overly special and pretty mundane.

Originality – 4/10

Although the game does have its charms here and there, in lieu of Nintendo tradition, it’s still bland enough and far too packed with recycled elements for me to be able to legitimately call it original; especially in terms of gameplay. After pioneering the 3D platforming genre with Super Mario 64, and then going on to make a ton of successful games in the same genre, it seems to me that with this game, Nintendo were actually going back on themselves; something that they rarely do. Nintendo had always pioneered themselves as innovators, but it’s evident to me that innovation wasn’t a watchword at Treasure during development.

Niiutral

Niiutral

In summation, Wario World isn’t the worst game ever developed, but it’s certainly not one of the best either. It was below par by any level of standards ever set by Nintendo, and gives testament to the fact that not all developer collaborations can work out well.

Score

38/60

6/10 (Average)

Vexx (GameCube, PlayStation 2 & Xbox)

Developer(s) – Acclaim Studios Austin

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Entertainment

Being the last original IP published by Acclaim Studios before filing for bankruptcy in late 2004, Vexx was a 3D platformer released to mixed critical success, and low sales figures leading to the cancellation of a planned port to the Game Boy Advance. Personally, I did find that the game had more than it’s fair of issues, but It’s certainly not the worst 3D platformer I’ve played, and not one of the worst 3D platformers released throughout the sixth generation. The game also has it’s finer points that are certainly worth highlighting.

Graphics – 6.5/10

One of these finer points is that the game’s visuals are about as wonderfully varied as many other more successful 3D platformers featuring a wide variety of different locations ranging from forests to volcanoes to dream worlds. The boss and enemy designs were also fairly well executed for the most part, suiting he tableau of each of their respective levels. My biggest concerns about the graphics were focused on the technical side of things. The game looks somewhat outdated for the time compared to a lot of games released prior, such as Luigi’s Mansion and Metroid Prime, and the lighting is also pretty inconsistent which will leave players struggling to navigate through levels when the night comes. It can be an especially annoying problem when players need to climb certain wall surfaces to reach higher ground, as the poor lighting can make it difficult for players to differentiate between walls that are traversable and walls that are not.

Gameplay – 7/10

The object of the game is largely reminiscent of that of some of the best 3D platformers ever developed, such as Super Mario 64 and the original Jak & Daxter; completing specific objectives to collect items needed to advance. In this case, it’s the hearts of dead wraiths, which gives Vexx a much darker undertone than either one of the aforementioned games. There is also an emphasis on combat and stringing combos together, which for the most part keeps things interesting. I did enjoy how tasks to complete in order to collect the hearts were surprisingly varied, and how there are a fair few hearts to collect in each level, giving players plenty to do. Interestingly, some of the hidden locations in the game that can be found relatively early on involve warping into and traversing through wall paintings, which are mechanics extremely reminiscent of the game Contrast, which involve players having to traverse shadow in order to get around. I can’t help but wonder if this game influenced Contrast.

Controls – 8/10

For the most part, the controls are fairly simple to cope with, like most other 3D platformer that require the use if an analogue stick for movement, but I did find a couple of flaws. For example, the swimming mechanics weren’t handled particularly well, handled in a manner reminiscent of the swimming mechanics in Majora’s Mask. I also wished that combat could have been handled a little bit better. I thin that having a targeting system reminiscent of Ocarina of Time or Dark Cloud would have helped to significantly improve the experience and add a lot more fluency to it.

Lifespan – 6.5/10

Vexx can be made to last around 7 to 8 hours, which whilst may be much lower than the average lifespan of a 3D platformer, is still a length of time in which gamers will be kept busy by a lack of cutscenes and a fair abundance in gameplay. There are around ten wraith hearts to collect in each level, and a lot of the objectives required to get some of them are fairly demanding in terms of both time investment and challenge, making it longer than may other games released on the system. Although Luigi’s Mansion is ultimately the superior of the two games, Vexx can be made to seem much longer in comparison.

Storyline – 7.5/10

The story of the game follows a young villager named Vexx, who after being forced into slavery along with his grandfather Vargas by the evil wraith lord Yabu, escapes captivity, and vows revenge against him and his army after Yabu kills Vargas following an attempt by the latter to save Vexx from being killed by Yabu himself. I was surprised by everything about the game’s story, from how the tone is set to how the lot unfolds, and then right up to how it ends. Compared to many of the other games that this game was undoubtedly influenced by, there is a surprisingly dark and gritty aspect to it.

Originality – 7/10

Undoubtedly, the most unique aspect of the game is how mature and sinister the story is compared to many other games in the genre, and how the supposed hero isn’t always triumphant. For how innocent the game looks on the surface, players will inevitably be very surprised when and if they come to pick it up and play it. Better and more unique gameplay mechanics were pioneered in the sixth generation than what was seen within this title, and there are mistakes present that make it stand out for the wrong reasons, but for the most part, I found that it did the things it needed to do fairly well, making it worthy of at least one playthrough.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Vexx is a pretty enjoyable and wonderfully dark gaming experience. The gameplay is pretty well executed, the story is shocking well told, albeit with a few examples of bad voice acting, and even though the visuals were somewhat outdated for the time, the world of Astara is immersing and varied enough to be enjoyable for the most part.

Score

42.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

The Hobbit (Xbox, PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube & Game Boy Advance)

Developer(s) – Inevitable Entertainment, The Fizz Factor & Saffire

Publisher(s) – Sierra Entertainment

Designer – Chuck Lupher

Producer(s) – Jaime Grieves

Amidst the newfound popularity of the Tolkien mythos surround the Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and amidst an ongoing dispute regarding the rights to the Tolkien license, with multiple games based on the books and films being developed at the time, The Hobbit was released to mixed reviews from critics, who cited the gameplay as being uninspiring, and it’s failure to appeal to younger gamers. In the industry, licensed games have for the most part been generally frowned upon, and seen as simply being a modern form of shovelware, with the owners of their respective licenses simply releasing games to coincide with films for the moat part. However, there are a elect few license games, which go above and beyond what is expected of them, and end up offering some legitimately enjoyable gaming experiences. In my opinion, whilst The Hobbit may not be among the best, it’s certainly not among the worst, I find.

Graphics – 6.5/10

On aspect that the game falls short on somewhat, is the visuals. Whilst they may have looked fairly impressive at the time, they don’t hold up nearly as well on a technical level as many other games of it’s kind do, such as Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 to name but a few. Like the game based on the first volume of The Lord of the Rings trilogy developed by WPX Games & Surreal Software, it largely conforms to the same conceptual design as in the films, but there are a couple of standout elements that did fairly well to separate it from both the initial Peter Jackson film trilogy and the aforementioned game at the time of it’s release at least (before the Hobbit film trilogy came out years later as well as Lego The Hobbit), such as locations like Lake Town, Mirkwood and Erebor.

Gameplay – 7/10

For the most playing out like a traditional 3D platformer, the game also has a few little side quests thrown in for good measure during the first half of it; like the previously mentioned Lord of the Rings game. Most notably involving completing the tasks for the dwarves before the party departs for The Lonely Mountain. There is also a small stealth aspect, which fits in fairly well with the tableau of the story of Bilbo Baggins being hired as a thief, and which I moderately enjoyed. Stealth can be quite a tricky aspect to pull off in games, as it can eliminate fluency if it requires players to play through the same area a certain amount of times, but for the most part, it’s done fairly well in this title in my opinion.

Controls – 10/10

As far as 3D platforming in this game goes, I had no gripes with it whatsoever; which in all fairness was to be expected I think, as the genre had well and truly took prominence at this time following the release of games such as Super Mario 64 and Jak & Daxter. Combat and stealth are also both handled adequately well, and there are no unnecessary complications with the game’s control scheme present to add any kind of unwarranted level of frustration.

Lifespan – 6/10

The game can be made to last an average of 8 hours even taking in the completion of side quests throughout the course of the game, which whilst isn’t great by any means, is still fractionally longer than the game based on The Lord of the Rings license, which can be made to last around 6 to 7 hours. As the game conforms to a very linear progression, it wasn’t expected to have a great lifespan in any case, but I cant help but think that with a little bit more imagination on the developer’s part, it could have been made to last at least a little while longer; certainly the first part of the game set in the Shire.

Storyline – 8/10

Depicting the events of the classic children’s novel written by JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit follows the exploits of Bilbo Baggins of the Shire, who is persuaded by the wizard Gandalf and his band of 13 dwarves to accompany them on an adventure to retake the dwarven city of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. The story itself isn’t an issue at all, since It’s enjoyable in any form that it’s told; be that through a game, a film, or most notably of course, the classic book. The biggest problem I had with it, however, is the voice acting is quite lacklustre, even by video game standards at that time, and thus, it’s much more difficult to take seriously than in other forms of media the story has, or would be told in.

Originality – 6/10

The game does retain a slight element of uniqueness, as it incorporates the aforementioned stealth element, which at this point was only really seen in the Sly Cooper games. However, for the most part, it plays out like most other 3D platformers that were released before its time, and consequentially, I don’t think it can be considered either evolutionary or revolutionary. The stealth mechanics in the Sly Cooper games were much more sophisticated than in this title, and in terms of normal 3D platforming mechanics, it fails to stand out amidst many of the classics in the genre that had been released prior.

Happii

Happii

In summation, despite it’s lack of originality and less than satisfactory voice acting, The Hobbit is nevertheless a fairly enjoyable gaming experience, and shouldn’t be entirely overlooked. Whilst the visuals may not hold up to this day on a technical level, and whilst more could have been added to increase the game’s longevity, the developers did a good job for the most part, and it’s certainly worth at least one playthrough; for both fans of the Tolkien mythos and the 3D platforming genre.

Score

43.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

Super Smash Bros (Wii U)

Developer(s) – Sora Inc. & Namco Bandai Games

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Masahiro Sakurai

Producer – Shinya Saito & Masaya Kobayashi

The latest Super Smash Bros game is a new variation of one of Nintendo’s most brilliant ideas for a series (one of which many gamers dreamed of before it was finally invented), with new characters, new game modes, new unlockables and new features in the form of compatibility with Nintendo’s Skylanders-esque Amiibo toy line. In my opinion, though it doesn’t match up to the quality of many other Nintendo games, and is not the best in it’s series, it’s certainly a worthy sequel, and one of the best video games on the Wii U so far.

Graphics – 8/10

Many people have argued the case that the newest game in the series either looks the same as Super Smash Bros Brawl, or even that Brawl actually looks better. Although I think there is some basis in the opinion that Brawl looks better, with more textural detail, there is also just as much diversity in stage design; if not, more so. So I happen to think that both games look as good as each other, since the visuals in both games have their own strengths, and they are played to extremely effectively.

Gameplay – 7/10

With most of my preferred features of the series kept intact, such as the trophy hoarding, variety in game modes and plethora of characters, I’ve found the latest game in the series to be particularly enjoyable, and definitely one of the standout titles of the 2014 holiday season following the disappointment I felt after playing Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. That being said, I was very sorry to see the departure of the story mode, since I believe that alone made Brawl the best game in the series in my opinion. The story mode was handled exceptionally well for one within a fighting game, and I see no reason why the same could be repeated and kept fresh at the same time with the inclusion of so many new characters, such as Pac-Man, Mega Man and Palutena from Kid Icarus.

Controls – 10/10

With so many different kinds of peripheral compatible with the Wii U, including the GamePad, the Wii remotes, a third-party controller and even a compatible GameCube controller, there’s no reason why either fans of the series or newcomers shouldn’t find a style of play to suit them; especially fans of the series, since virtually every previous control scheme is available, bar the one from the original game. However, I would impose the same precaution as I did in my review of Hyrule Warriors if playing with the GamePad; regarding not to tense your hands around it too much, which can result in prolonged cramping in the hands and/or fingers.

Originality – 7/10

Though there isn’t much present to differentiate this game from other fighting games, especially since the basic premise of Super Smash Bros itself has been around since 1999, the series’ general formula has been kept relatively fresh with the inclusion of new characters, stages, game modes and incentive. There have certainly been many fighting games throughout the years that have come and gone trying to be the next Street Fighter II, and failing profusely; especially during the fourth generation of gaming. The difference with many of them compared to Super Smash Bros is that elements such as character design are much, much weaker.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, whilst not living up to overwhelming hype spanning over 3 years, is regardless an enjoyable game, and it comes highly recommended from me. I’ve been a fan of Super Smash Bros since the GameCube era, and this game does an excellent job of bringing one of my favourite Nintendo franchises into the generation of gaming.

Score

32/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Super Smash Bros Melee (GameCube)

Developer(s) – HAL Laboratory

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Masahiro Sakurai

Producer(s) – Masayoshi Tanimura, Hiroaki Suga, Shigeru Miyamoto & Kenji Miki

Developed as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube back in 2001, along with Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin and Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Super Smash Bros Melee made a multitude of significant improvements on the original game in every imaginable way, and it made for what was ultimately one of the greatest games on the system. Although the likes of Wind Waker and Metroid Prime were yet to have come along by that time, this game was more than just a suitable placeholder in anticipation of greater titles.

Graphics – 7.5/10

I don’t think that this game did as good a job showing off what the GameCube was capable of on a graphical as Luigi’s Mansion did with it’s very effective use of lighting and textural detail, Melee certainly makes up what would have potentially been lost points by including a level of variety in stage design comparable to any other great fighting game, featuring many different universes from Nintendo’s vast repertoire of game series’. In particular, they did a particularly decent job of presenting the Metroid universe, when by that time; they had considerably less source material go from than many other Nintendo franchises.

Gameplay8/10

The most significant improvements made on the original game were undoubtedly in the gameplay. There was increased variety, more unlockable characters, the advent of the unlockable trophies and additional game modes on top of that. It can be argued that Nintendo had to introduce variety on this kind of scale to continue to perpetuate the series in the long term, but the variety introduced in Melee was unlike anything I’d ever seen in a fighting game prior, and would have been a major factor in turning the series from a casual interest into a major system-seller for Nintendo.

Controls – 10/10

The control scheme employed in Melee was also a massive improvement on that of the original game, since more characters in turn, meant more move sets for each of the characters, and therefore made for more to do on a smaller controller than the preceding system; the Nintendo 64. Aside from that, however, despite the lack of the immensely popular combo system synonymous with the fighting genre, I find there to be no issues with the control scheme.

Originality – 8/10

At the time, the Super Smash Bros formula was fairly new anyway, but with significant improvements made after the first instalment, it felt like an entirely new game at this point, and in my opinion, surpasses the quality of many other great fighting games to have come before it as a result.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Super Smash Bros Melee is one of the best games of the sixth generation of gaming, and a must-have for anyone with either a GameCube or a Wii. The series may have gotten even better after this once Brawl came out, but for me, this was the instalment that said to me that Masahiro Sakurai meant business with this series.

Score

33.5/40

8/10 (Very Good)

Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)

Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Yoshiaki Koizumi & Kenta Usui

Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka

Following on from the immense success of Super Mario 64 back in 1996, Nintendo released Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube in 2002, and went on to receive overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim, with many publications giving it a perfect score, and Japanese website Famitsu also giving a near-perfect score; one of very few games at that time to achieve such an honour. Personally, however, although I can understand why critics and players alike appreciate this game to the extent that the do, with it presenting a new and outlandish style of play that had never been seen in a Super Mario game prior, it seemed like too much of a step down from Super Mario 64, and there were fundamentals that I feel the developers didn’t handle as well as they should have done.

Graphics – 7/10

In terms of conceptual design, Nintendo were at least able to break away from many of the normal conventions there were within the series at that time, and take it to an entirely new setting with new types of supporting characters, very effectively expanding the mythos of the entire Super Mario universe; something that arguably needed to happen for some time prior to the release of this game. It was also the first time at FMVs had been implemented in a Mario game, which helped it to showcase what kind of graphics the Nintendo GameCube was capable of processing in it’s early shelf life.

Gameplay – 5/10

After the prolonged success of 3D platforming games on the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine was Nintendo’s attempt at bringing something new to the table, introducing new gameplay mechanics in the form of Mario’s new companion, F.L.U.D.D; a water hose which Mario must use to clean areas of land in order to get around and to use a weapon against enemies and bosses. The problems I had with this game, however, is that there are a number of game-breaking glitches throughout, which made me believe that it was left unfinished overall. It was highly unorthodox by Nintendo’s standards, making this game one of the first true signs of weakness I personally witnessed within the gaming industry. Yoshi’s Story did little to impress me when I was a kid, but I naturally expected much more from a Mario game, and unfortunately in this instance, my expectations were not met.

Controls – 8/10

Another way in which Nintendo could be seen as going back on themselves in this instance is in the game’s control scheme. It ultimately plays out almost identically to Super Mario 64, but the new mechanics can take some getting used to at first, and even after this, I found them to be somewhat unresponsive at times. Overall, it was a little dissatisfying to see this after Nintendo had pioneered such a sophisticated control scheme with Super Mario 64.

Lifespan – 8/10

One good thing I can say about this game, however, is that for those who may not experience as much of a problem with it as I did, there is certainly a fairly lengthy experience to be had. Lasting just as long as any 3D platforming Mario game, around 30 to 40 hours time can be clocked, which is pretty impressive. In general, it surprised me how such long games could be stored on mini discs when I first started laying the GameCube. I saw it with both Wind Waker and Metroid Prime, but his game is yet another shining example of this.

Storyline – 6.5/10

The story of Super Mario Sunshine takes place on a vacation island called Delfino, in which an unidentified figure has been vandalising large sections of the resort. Once Mario and company touch down ready to take their own vacation, Mario is immediately and wrongfully identified by the Delfino authorities as being the vandal, and is sentenced to clean what mess has been made with the aid of F.L.U.D.D. At first it seemed like a positive change from the damsel in distress story that had become synonymous with the series even at that point, but overtime, that’s exactly what it unfolds into, overall making it not much different to any other Mario game.

Originality – 7/10

Despite Nintendo unwilling to provide a great deal of uniqueness in terms of story, I do respect their willingness to have tried something new in terms of gameplay; which after all, is much more important than the former. There would be many more 3D platformers released throughout the sixth generation of gaming that would blow this title out of the water in my opinion, such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, but this game was able to at least stand out among these others to the extent that it did.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, Super Mario Sunshine is my least favourite 3D Mario game, but it’s by no means the worst game in the franchise overall. There are gamers out there who hold this title in much higher regard than I do, and this is understandably so, but to me, there were far too many faults I found with it to be able to call it a classic game.

Score

41.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Takashi Lizuki

Producer – Yuji Naka

Though I don’t believe it to be a great game by any means, I think Sonic Adventure is certainly the best direction that Sega has taken its long-running franchise. It’s the most enjoyable to play in my opinion, and also has the franchise’s best story attached to it.

Graphics – 8.5/10

From a technical standpoint, the Dreamcast was a gaming generation ahead of its time, with the most powerful graphics engine ever included in a home console. By that token alone, the visuals in Sonic Adventure were cutting edge. Though there were a few glitches left unpolished, nothing like had ever been seen. Conceptually, the game is a little bit weak, but for the most part, it’s as compelling as any other Sonic the Hedgehog game was before it. There were also some particularly enjoyable boss fights and enemy designs thrown in for good measure.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

What I like best about Sonic Adventure is the RPG element that was added to it in the form of multiple playable characters. Besides playing Sonic, players can go through the story as Tails, Knuckles and Amy as well as two new characters to the series: Big the Cat and E-102 Gamma. However, compared to other 3D platformers, I wish much more could have been added for how big the in-game world is and how much of there is to explore; especially as there was a lot more than this in many other games featuring primary video game mascots at the time, such as Mario or even Crash Bandicoot.

Controls – 8/10

Again, I found myself having the same issues with the controls as I had done in most other Sonic games I’ve played throughout the years. It was pretty annoying in this game, as players can move around the open world environment particularly quickly, and are consequently prone to banging into things very easily. It’s especially a problem whilst playing as Sonic, but it’s nowhere near as bad whilst playing with other characters, such as Big or Gamma.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

The entire game can be complete within around 7 to 8 hours, which is particularly underwhelming given that it’s a semi-open world game. Again, I’d put it down to players not having much to do outside the game’s main objectives, and there was definitely room for more to make this game as entertaining and as immersing as possible. It wasn’t as if side quests were unheard of even at the time, and I would point it out as the game’s most standout flaw.

Storyline – 7.5/10

Sonic Adventures follows Sonic and company as they resolve to collect the seven chaos emeralds before Dr. Eggman, who plans to use the emeralds to restore the monster Chaos to it’s full power and destroy the city of Station Square and build his own city. Though the story is simple in basic premise, there are certain sequences and individual character narratives that really stand out, such as E-102 Gamma’s own part in the game, for example. But what lets it down mightily is that the voice acting is particularly weak to say the least. There are moments in the game whereby the dialogue was embarrassingly scripted, and it makes the game at times pretty difficult to take seriously.

Originality – 6/10

Though it stand out from other 3D platformers in the way that there are so many playable characters and gives the game a considerable amount of variety in gameplay, it is overall fairly generic compared to other 3D platformers around even at the time. I can’t help but feel that if the lack of side quests had been addressed during development, Sonic Adventures could have been much more than what it turned out to be.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Sonic Adventures is without a doubt the best game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but it was easily improvable. I think the best and most effective way to revive the series would simply be to make another game like this, but to taior it in the manner of a typical sequel; have everything bigger and better than the former game.

Score

43/60

7/10 (Fair)

Second Sight (PlayStation 2, Xbox & GameCube)

Developer(s) – Free Radical Design

Publisher(s) – Codemasters

Lead Designer – Mike Armstrong

Back in the sixth generation of gaming, 3D third person shooting was more or less in its infancy; long before games such as Gears of War and Mess Effect would go on to populate and revolutionize the genre, and deliver some of the greatest gaming experiences to date. As a genre in it’s early stages, I had trouble enjoying many third person shooters on the PlayStation 2, including Max Payne, Operation Winback, Headhunter, and the subject of this week’s PlayStatement feature; Second Sight. Though I think it stands out better than most others of that time, not many of the fundamentals were done quite right, and the game suffered because of it in my opinion.

Graphics – 5/10

For what had been seen already on the PlayStation 2, such as Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X, the game’s visuals are not only substandard from a technical point of view, but also from a conceptual one. The settings are extremely bland, made up of what players would find in most typical Medal of Honour or Call of Duty games, and nothing about them makes it stand out from most other games; even for the time. The most positive thing I can say in terms of visuals is that it’s a very polished game with minimal glitches in sight.

Gameplay – 5.5/10

I have played much worse games than this, and much less variable ones too; indeed having psychic powers at your disposal certainly offers some diversity in gameplay. But as far the run-and-cover based shooting is concerned, I found it pretty frustrating; especially since some sequences can simply be bypassed by players with a sacrifice to some health, and where’s the fun to be had in that? I can appreciate that many of the game mechanics in Second Sight could be seen as precursors to some of the ideas seen in later classic games, such as the Mass Effect trilogy, but with this title, it was very much a question of trial and error; but with a lot more errors than I would have personally liked.

Controls – 6/10

As I mentioned before, third person shooting games had a long way to go at this point to being perfected, with many developers at the time focusing on genres such as first-person shooters, 3D platformers, and especially RPGs. Control schemes for those kinds of games had long since been developed almost to the point of perfection. But with third person shooting, it was a very different story in my opinion. Specifically in Second Sight, I found the controls for using psychic powers in Second Sight to be quite a chore, and at times, incredibly difficult to get to grips with. At the time, it wasn’t often that games in the genre to have even as much variety as there is in this title, and so it was always going to be a question of trial and error in this respect too.

Lifespan – 2.5/10

Even if it isn’t rushed, this game can only take about three and a half hours to finish. There are minimal side quests, and the main objective of the game seems to be only to find out what happens next in the story. I despair whenever I find a game that has little to no side quests when there was quite clearly room for at least one, since it would suggest laziness on the part of the developers to me.

Storyline – 7/10

By far, the best thing I can attribute to this game is its story. It follows a parapsychology researcher and former soldier named John Vattic, who is on an expedition to recover his memory and discover the reasons and machinations behind his newly found range of psychic abilities. There are quite a few twists and turns throughout to keep things interesting, and whilst the voice acting may be a little bit off at times (as was somewhat of a stable thing back then), the dialogue is pretty well written, and the story has a lot of suspense attached to it.

Originality- 5/10

The most unique things about this game are its added variety in gameplay compared with most other games in the genre, and of course, it’s pretty well conceived plot. But where it loses marks in is through its bland conceptual design, which hampers the game quite a bit. At times, it reminded me very much of Hitman: Contracts, which is one of my least favourite video games of all time. I can appreciate that there were signs of the developers wanting to deliver something very unique for the time, and it worked well for quite a lot of people; but not for me.

Angrii

Angrii

In summation, Second Sight could have been seen as a great game in scope, if the developers had gotten the basics right, but sadly, that wasn’t the case. Though it has become a cult classic for many other gamers since it’s release, I had too hard a time trying to see it’s full appeal, and am unable to completely appreciate it.

Score

26/60

4/10 (Poor)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 3 Xbox 360 & Game Boy Advance)

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

Director – Patrice Desilets

Producer – Yannis Mallat

Developed largely by the same team that created the original Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time critically and commercially went leaps and bounds ahead of the earlier attempt from both Red Orb Entertainment and Avalanche Studios to bring the franchise to the realm of 3D gaming. The intention behind the game’s creation was not only to revive one of gaming’s most recognizable franchises, but also to breath new life into the action adventure genre; and they certainly did just that.

Graphics – 8/10

Aside from the FMVs, which look particularly good for a sixth generation game, the game also excelled in terms of conceptual design, as well as in-game visuals. It’s interesting to witness how Ubisoft’s prolonged incorporation of Middle-Eastern culture in video gaming possibly began, which would eventually lead them to establish a base of operations in Abu Dhabi, and in turn, increase the presence of the industry on the continent in general. In this respect, the game has had more of an impact than what people may realize.

Gameplay – 8/10                

The game is a action-adventure 3D platformer, with a quite a heavy emphasis on stylised combat and puzzle solving. The combat system is incredibly enjoyable, with players being able to perform a vast amount of excellent-looking combos overtime. The dagger of time weapon also provides an extremely unique twist on gameplay. Some say the inclusion of it merely over-simplified it, but I disagree. The game still provides a pretty stern challenge regardless; especially as many of the puzzles in it can be quite testing.

Controls – 9/10

The platforming element of the game can take some getting used to at first, since the game also introduced a lot of new mechanics concerning the character’s acrobatic skills, including the ability to run across walls; this idea, among others, serving as precursors to Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed series. Otherwise, however, there are no other issues regarding the controls. The way the combat was handled is also particularly reminiscent of Ocarina of Time, which to me, was an extremely positive thing.

Lifespan – 8/10

The game can be made to last about 15 to 20 hours, which for a linear game, is fairly impressive. Normally, games like this can seemingly only be made to last for not even 10 hours, regardless of how many side quests developers may add. But what makes this even more impressive is that there are only one or two side quests. But it also makes me think that if there would have nothing wrong with adding more than that.

Storyline – 9/10

The story follows the young prince of Persia, whom whilst warring with a rival nation, comes across a dagger giving him the ability to manipulate time. When he, his father and the royal vizier discover a huge hourglass known as the sands of time, the prince is tricked into releasing the sands and infesting an entire palace with monsters. The prince resolves to defeat the monsters and somehow undo the damage he has done. The story is wrought with twists and turns, making it one of the most interesting that I’ve ever experienced in any video game before. It also deals with many major themes, including love, betrayal and the impact that time itself can have.

Originality – 8/10

With gameplay mechanics and a combat system extremely unique to gaming at the time, it’s no surprise to find just how influential a game this was. It would also go on to spawn not only two sequels, but also a live-action film published by Disney, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the prince, and whilst it wasn’t a critical success, became the highest-grossing film based on a video game. Some, including me, would also argue that it went leaps and bounds ahead of the classic games, which is a viable opinion, since they did merely follow the trend of what was popular at the time.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time is an extremely strong gaming experience, and I would highly recommend anyone who may not have played it to give it a try; especially as it is has since been re-mastered for seventh generation consoles. It’s an influential classic of the sixth generation, and worth any gamer’s time.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)