i played through the next entry in the sonic series, sonic the hedgehog CD orig. released for the sega CD (although i played it via the sonic gems collection on gamecube; apparently a PC version was also released way back when and nowadays you can also get a downloadable version that runs on more-modern versions of windows).
anyway, although i’d enjoyed sonic 2 a few years ago, this iteration was just too same-y compared to the previous two games. the locales are all pretty much the same as are the general aesthetics (although defeated enemies turn into flowers instead of cute litttle critters), and although the past/present/bad future/good future mechanic was interesting the game doesn’t really provide much incentive to try to get the best ending. the bonus stage was too hard, and aside from the soundtrack, which was noticeably better than most games, there wasn’t much that was memorable about the game. the main exceptions would be the traditional animation of the intro and epilogue, and the introduction of sonic series staple, amy rose (called “princess sally” in the original US release), and baddie metal sonic (although it was preceded by mecha sonic in sonic 2). the game also has a race sequence with sonic vs. metal sonic, although that was memorable more because of how frustrating it was than being a cool experience.
apparently the game was created in parallel to sonic 2, which perhaps explains their similarities. i’m hoping that sonic 3 (which was originally released just two-and-a-half months after sonic CD) will be a step forward, but at least i’m making some progress on getting caught up on the series.
tuneful sonic CD links:
– easter egg of what happens if sonic is left idle for three minutes
– entry at sonic.wikia.com, which includes sprites of the enemies and a run-down of all the bosses
– entry at wikipedia
– entry at howlongtobeat.com
in order to get myself ready for the 3DS interation of the brain age series, i finished going through the 30 days required to unlock all the modes in brain age express: arts & letters on DSi. similar to how brain age 2 was a much slower and more boring experience than the original, this entry was much less engaging than its enjoyable companion brain age express: math. like that “express” title, this game isn’t just a subset of previous entries in the series, and includes 3 brand-new exercises, all of which include harder modes. i enjoyed two of the three new exercises (the exception being “meet and greet” in which you memorize names and cartoon faces), but of the 3 returning exercises the only one i really liked was “word scramble”, in which you have to unscramble a group of letters to form words. the “themes” were still enjoyable, and the challenge mode (10 levels unlocked when you achieve a brain age of 20) wasn’t too frustrating for the most part (see below for the list of challenges if you’re interested). the main exception there was the “3-back” photo recall challenge. this was one of the new exercises, in which you have to remember photographs while being presented with a constant stream of new photos, some of which are flipped horizontally. this type of brain training has actually formed one of the cores of the 3DS’s “concentration training”, so it’s been interesting to move from this experience to that one.
all in all this wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the other brain age express title, and concentration training has actually rendered both of them obsolete in most cases since it looks like the new exercises have been incorporated into that game. i was a bit leery of the challenges that i’d have to work through for the 3DS game, but so far i’m really enjoying it. more on that before too long.
don’t forget these brain age express: arts & letters links:
– FAQ at gamefaqs.com
– review at nintendolife.com
– if you’re curious about the challenges, here’s the list:
- 0: symbol match, < 35 seconds
- 1: word memory, memorize 20
- 2: word attack, < 1 min 20 seconds
- 3: photo recall (2-back), < 1 minute
- 4: meet and greet challenge mode (face, first and last name, occupation for all 8), all correct
- 5: word scramble challenge mode (i think they use the ones you’ve previously missed), < 3 minutes
- 6: connect maze, < 35 sec
- 7: dr. mario challenge mode, clear
- 8: piano player, get perfect on march from aida
- 9: photo recall challenge mode (3 back), < 1 min 40 seconds
although probably everyone has already played wii sports resort (which was released 4 (!?!) years ago) i just finished the majority of the swordplay sports modes so i thought i’d post some thoughts on the game. i’d enjoyed wii sports when it came out, but its sequel, like many sequels, improves upon it in every way. there’s a satisfying variety to the games, and each sport includes multiple modes, almost all of which are worthwhile to some degree and also available for multiple players. for better or worse the game includes “achievements” which definitely extend the experience, although the game doesn’t avoid the trap of making some of them fairly arbitrary and pointless. one of the game’s most brilliant features is that the action all takes place around a single location, wuhu island. the locale had previously been seen in wii fit, but here it serves to provide a unifying theme to all the sports as well as giving the feeling that you’re actually on vacation. the “island flyover” mode, in which you pilot an airplane and learn more about the resort by finding (i.e. collecting) information spots in classic 3-d platformer fashion, really brings the world alive.
as for the sports themselves, it’s surprising how deep some of the experiences really are. working through all the swordplay modes definitely takes some time, and the wii motion plus feels fantastic in this as well as most of the other sports. at the time i’d given skyward sword‘s swordfighting the upper hand, but now that i’ve mastered the mechanics in wii sports resort i’d definitely have to give it the edge. i also spent time with frisbee, which also feels great, and table tennis. some of the sports felt a little shallow on casual acquaintance, but i can already tell that in most cases if i delved into them more i would find them to be deeper experiences.
like the original, this is a game that you could pour hours into (and apparently people have: according to the nintendo channel the current average amount of time per wii is 37 hr and 19 min). i have little doubt that there will be a wii u iteration, but this is still a great game for the summer, and, for me at least, a nice substitute for actually taking a trip to a resort.
take a vacation with these wii sports resort links:
– basic info at the official site
– comprehensive list of all the tips ‘n tricks
– some info at strategywiki.org
– entertaining video of 4-man canoeing from thebitblock.com
– iwata asks feature
– snippet on the sports that didn’t make it into the game
– entry at wikipedia
although i haven’t gotten fully into it, it’s pretty clear that the DSi shop is an absolute treasure trove of addictive puzzle games. not too long ago i zipped through number battle in just a few marathon sessions, and this week i had a similar experience with art style: pictobits.
this was the first art style game i’d spent a significant amount of time with, and as most people know by now a trademark of the series is the top-notch presentation. with its NES trappings, including pixel art and classic remixed 8-bit tunes, the game is an easy sell for retro junkies like myself, but it was also fascinating to see how the core concept of the fairly forgettable early game boy title quarth has become completely reworked into an essential experience. you can read about the mechanics more in other reviews, such as this one at nintendolife.com, but suffice it to say that the combo system is quite nearly as satisfying as the puzzle league games.
i had a somewhat unusual trajectory with this game, where i really enjoyed the first half and mastering the mechanics, but playing through the hard mode actually made me less enamored with the overall experience (perhaps not coincidentally, i had a similar experience with the punishingly difficult pokemon puzzle league). in typical nintendo fashion the game isn’t artificially stuffed with levels, and although the game mechanics stay the same throughout, many of the levels, especially late in the game’s hard mode, provide wholly unique experiences. the problem was that the game’s “difficulty” started to become a distraction. it seems that other reviewers have also noted the game’s difficulty, and although it can’t help but sound a bit whiny to complain about it, in the final levels the speed at which you have to perform starts to erode at the game’s fun. the mental act of making chains (and getting higher scores) is already satisfying enough, so an option to choose a playing speed would have been welcome. if this had been a full retail title the inclusion of a vs. mode might have allowed for the single player mode to be a bit less obnoxious, so maybe we’ll see a better balance if there’s ever a sequel. in any case, although the game just barely missed a spot on my “greatest games of all time” list, i’m definitely hoping that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this gem of a puzzle game.
check out these stylish art style: pictobits links:
– page at nintendo.com
– craig harris’s review for IGN. i absolutely agree with his comment that it’s “an extremely unique action puzzle game that could only work on a system with precise, pinpoint controls like the Nintendo DS and its stylus driven touch screen”.
– entry at mariowiki.com
– video of all of the completed pixel art
– entry at wikipedia