Preview: Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure

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Have you ever found yourself playing a platformer and thought to yourself “This game could really use some puzzles right about now,” or conversely been playing a puzzle game and acutely felt the urge to run, jump and shoot stuff? If this sounds like you then EA may just have the game for you.

The game has been tentatively titled Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure and it’s being developed by EA Casual Studios for the Nintendo DS. While the press release doesn’t go into the puzzle gameplay very deep other than to call them “combo puzzles,” the platformer side of it seems pretty straight forward. From the press release: “Jump, fight, and shoot your way through more than 30 levels, including nearly a dozen hidden levels and take on outrageous world-ending bosses.” Continue reading “Preview: Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure”

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (Long title for a game with a long review)

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Sitting here in a hair salon just South of Boston, it occurs to me that, up to now, I’ve written about PC games, console games, and game modifications…But have left the subject of portable games woefully underrepresented.In recognition of this fact, I feel that it’s time to break my silence on the subject and bring my – admittedly slight – experience to bear on you: my adoring public.In fact, I’m so committed to the idea, I’m typing this with my thumbs on my recently-purchased LG Voyager phone.

So PSP, DS, GBA, Game Gear, Gameboy…Consider this my penance to the portable gaming world, as anybody who has “typed” anything of significant length with their thumbs can attest.

Continue reading “Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (Long title for a game with a long review)”

Review: Mega Man Starforce 2 Zerker X Ninja/Saurian



Mega Man Starforce 2 Zerker X Ninja is the first new Mega Man game I’ve played since I rented Mega Man X for my SNES many years ago. That means I never played any of the sequels to X or played any of the portable versions. That also means I never heard of the alternate Mega Man time line where instead of robot technology reaching ascendancy, network technology took the developmental lead. This is the setup for the Battle Network series of games released for the Game Boy.

Two hundred years after the events in those games take place – in the year 220X – a new hero will take up the moniker of Mega Man. His name is Geo Stellar and that, not the fact that he’s in fifth grade, should be your first hint that the story in this game is going to be directed squarely at a preteen demographic. In fact almost every character, location and plot point in this game has the intellectual complexity of an arithmetic test using only one digit numbers presented in a true/false fashion.

Continue reading “Review: Mega Man Starforce 2 Zerker X Ninja/Saurian”

My Word Coach: Vocabulary Training

Recently Ubisoft received a lot of praise from Nintendo for their My Word Coach title. Specifically, Reggie Fils-Aime said, “You got it. You guys got exactly the type of game we want for this machine.” And Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, went so far as to treat the Ubisoft team as an internal developer, sharing game design philosophies for the DS and Wii.

After spending a few days with the game, I have to say Nintendo was way off with their effusive praise but Ubisoft is on the right track nonetheless.

The stated purpose of My Word Coach is to improve your vocabulary. Sometimes the game achieves this goal and other times it fails miserably. The game was created in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy and in association with Dr. Thomas Cobb from the University of Quebec at Montreal. While it’s tempting to discount the game because Dr. Cobb teaches at a francophone university, he does have the credentials to be the creator of this game – not just a technical advisor. Continue reading “My Word Coach: Vocabulary Training”

Drawn To Life: DS Side-Scrollers Get Creative

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It’s been crazy here in Oxford, Mississippi, with football season going full tilt. In fact, for three weeks straight the restaurant has been slammed with hungry game fans waiting to get their eat on.

Unfortunately, this means I’ve had little time to get my game on. What with all that cooking… Still, I’ve had some time to play some games, especially with my trusty DS always nearby. In fact, lately I’ve been able to play something that allows me to be creative while still going to town on an old-school side-scrolling platformer. Well, old-school at heart anyway. Continue reading “Drawn To Life: DS Side-Scrollers Get Creative”

Touch the Dead: Camp Attack on the DS

Eidos’s Touch the Dead is the best shooter on rails for the DS. It’s also the only one I can think of. In concept, the game is as brilliant as Snakes on a Plane, but much like the movie, Touch the Dead doesn’t live up to its hype.

Putting the game on rails – that is, not allowing the player the freedom of movement – was a good first step as it keeps the DS from working too hard on the 3D environments. It also doesn’t allow you to get lost; you’re simply dragged along until the zombies get you or you escape.

Of course, being locked into your movements also means you’re locked into your view as well. This is especially frustrating when you’re trying to shoot a box or a crate for health or ammo and you’re only offered a brief glimpse of your target. Typically, bonuses and power-ups like these are only shown once and if you miss it, that’s just too bad – you’ll have to do without it. Continue reading “Touch the Dead: Camp Attack on the DS”

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords


Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords for the DS is a game everyone’s been waiting for but no one knew they were waiting. It’s a blend of traditional RPG elements and Bejeweled. Wait, huh?

The RPG aspects of this game aren’t what’s making it so popular, nor is it entirely the Bejeweled-like puzzle gameplay of the combat. Rather, the seamless integration of the two and the new gameplay that emerges from it are the true reasons behind this game’s sleeper success.

As I said, combat takes the form of a game of Bejeweled on an 8×8 “Battle Grid” with each combatant alternating turns. Damage is inflicted by matching a row of three to five skulls. You can also attack your enemies with various spells, which can be cast by using mana collected by clearing like-colored mana gems. Experience and gold are collected the same way and are represented by a purple star and a stack of coins, respectively.

The combat is fun, though the alternating turns take some getting used to. Continue reading “Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords”

Final Fantasy III: Final What?


Very rarely does a newly released game—or anything for that matter—come out and remind me of my childhood. Final Fantasy III D.S. does, however, meet my requirements for a full-on extravaganza of nostalgic delight. I know this is a much older title in its development in storyline and game style, but it was completely remade with the options of today and still retained its classic approach with more polished outcome. I am reminded of “the old days,” when I sat for hours, glued to a fantasy world brought to life with brilliant display.

Keeping it real with such aspects as crystals, airships, black-robed black mages and white mages, extremely hard to find elixirs and an overabundance of weapons that are lesser in point value than the one you acquired hours ago during game play. But I like these things and have grown biased to a classic rpg style that the original Final Fantasy’s revolutionized. Continue reading “Final Fantasy III: Final What?”

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin


I haven’t properly explored any Castlevania games since the second or third was released for the NES. I’ve seen the 3-D iterations come and go and I’ve heard all of the wonderful things said about them, so understand this is coming from a bit of an outdated perception of the franchise.

First off, I wasn’t exactly comfortable hunting Dracula without a proper Belmont by my side. I mean, for me, Simon Belmont was the heart of the story. That feeling quickly faded, however, as the story isn’t the heart of this side-scrolling, whip-cracking platformer. Continue reading “Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin”

Elite Beat Agents Are Go!


I had heard about how [s]Japanese[/s] odd this game was before I purchased it, but the full force of it doesn’t strike you until you’ve played through a couple of levels.

You’re an Elite Beat Agent. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find people stuck in sticky situations – like asking the high school quarterback to go steady, or saving the world from an alien invasion – and cheer them on to victory. That’s right, no super weapons or outright ass-kicking, you’re a secret agent/cheerleader.

This is a rhythm game with a unique DS twist: Instead of tapping buttons, you’re tapping the screen and following patterns with your stylus. I was surprised at the number of licensed songs in the game as well. I didn’t think the tiny DS carts could hold nineteen songs plus a game and animations.

While the game play may sound simple, the learning curve on this can be brutal. You may find yourself struggling to complete the easiest difficulty of the game. There’s even a story on the Internet of a disgruntled gamer viciously dashing his DS against the wall and then impaling it with a screwdriver after being unable to complete the last portion of a song. Sounds like a big ol’ crybaby to me! Continue reading “Elite Beat Agents Are Go!”