Wii: Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekidou Impressions

Being a popular anime in Japan has it’s perks, it allows the series to get its very own game produced.One of the most anticipated titles is Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekidou which brings motion controls which will allow players to dance to their favourite Haruhi Tunes. Though there was a time where there were reports of this to be false or that the dancing was just a small mini-game, little did they know that the whole game is actually completely based around it. Having played through the first few hours of the game, there’s alot of things to like and dislike about it.

The story follows the SOS Brigade, led by the wacky Suzumiya Haruhi and her fellow comrades as they begin on another round of promoting their club. This time however, Haruhi rushes into the Club room with a Poster advertising a Dance competition which she forcibly enters. The result is 12 chapters, each with their own song piece to which players are required to mimic motions to. Fans of the show will be pleased to know that your favourite SOS Brigade Characters are featured in full 3D dancing to each of the respected songs on screen during the dance sections. Dancing is done by the Wii Remote held by pointing up the Remote in a vertical orientation and moving it up, down left, right following the directions given on a bar moving across the screen aka DDR with gestures. Performing each of the gestures correctly will allow you to chain combos and earn points for unlocking special features and items. Of course, if you have a couple of Haruhi fans at your side, you can opt to play with up to 3 players on a single song with a variety of multiplayer modes unlocked as you progress through the story mode.Dancing isn’t all that players will be doing as there are a few mini games which break up the long line of tedious dancing.

The game has just released in Japan and is proving to be a very unique experience, but it lacks the depth of gameplay and control found in Bandai Namco’s Happy Dance Collection which uses more advanced motion detection for the dances which I would recommend for a more comprehensive “Para Para” game.

Wii: Case Closed – One Truth Prevails: The Mirapolis Investigation

Cased Closed or Detective Conan as it’s known in Japan is a manga series by Gosho Aoyama. Having spawned an anime, a couple of movies and games the franchise makes its first installment on the Wii with Case Closed – One Truth Prevails: The Mirapolis Investigation utilizing motion and pointer capabilities of the Wii. Many anime to game adaptations in the past have been mediocre at best but does this one break the trend or is this one case not worth solving?

The story starts off with a flashback years prior with a scheme being hatched in a hotel room and a car accident. Fast forwarding to the present players follow Conan Edogawa and his friends, led by the beautiful Rachel Moore and her father, Detective Richard Moore to the opening day of the newly constructed resort “Mirapolis”. Upon reaching their destination through an underground tunnel they meet an upbeat maid C.J aspiring to become a detective who shows them around the Resort and it’s many guests. During their free time using the local arcade on the resort, Conan and Aida head off on a walk and upon entering one of the pools in the gym area they shocked to find a body lying on the walkway. The rest of the game has you finding clues and using deduction to solve the mysteries behind the murder.

Broken up into four acts, story progression is told through cutscenes which is just 2D character portrait conversations which have to be triggered while you are exploring. Each act has its own mysteries to solve by finding clues and piecing them together and then a small recap which requires picking certain clues from the various mysteries of that act. The story has some interesting twists and turns but is far too short as many players are able to get through the entire game in less than 6 hours. The only issue is that, the story never gives you any back story to the anime/manga so mainly fans will enjoy the story to its fullest extent but it does provide enough that those new to the franchise will still be able to understand the story.

Though the story had some interesting points, the gameplay didn’t. Simplistic at best, it becomes heavily flawed and for the most part, you’ll just be wandering the hallways and rooms of the resort finding clues told by certain characters to add to your notebook which you then use in a “Clue chain” to deduce the “mystery” behind each of the crimes. The problem is it’s never clear to the player exactly what you should be doing where instead you’ll just be wandering hallways time and time again and talking to the same characters until you finally find a “trigger” point to progress. The notebook does provide some idea about your objective but when it’s as ambiguous as “Talk to everyone for clues” and only 3 out of 10 characters have any clues it’s just tedious and annoying. The getting the clues themselves is also rather pointless, as they often refer to mystery elements you already know from the first cutscene and there’s usually nothing new to learn from them. You’re basically unraveling a mystery which you know a majority of already and it just reveals the way the developers tried to stretch out the length of the game.

Aside from the main story, there are a small number of mini games for earning points to unlock music and other items. One of them utilizes the IR pointer of the Wii Remote which works alright but the accuracy and reaction time of the pointer is mediocre as there is some lag to it. The others are based on motion controls and the direction you swing. The issue is that it never detects the motion correctly and most of the time you’ll be frustrated with doing the correct motion but having a totally different result which is only aggravated by the added lag. Aside from these minigames, there isn’t any incentive to play through the story again.

Visually, straight out, this game lacks any polish in presentation of a typical Wii title. This can be seen in its heavily polygonal and lack of detailed structures and character models, unintuitive menus and inconsistent quality so much so that it can be compared to either a gamecube title or even a N64 title. That said however, there is a consistant framerate which holds throughout the game. The buildings and floors themselves are repetitive; you’ll see the same wallpaper and same floor design as the floor below or above it varying only with certain floors which play a key role in the story. Most of the dialogue and cutscenes are portrayed with 2d character portraits on screen which works for the most part and is probably the most well delivered part especially when seeing the transition from exploring gameplay to a cutscene. The soundtrack however is highly repetitive with only 2 or 3 songs in the whole game, one of which plays repetitively every time you are exploring which is unfortunately, a large part of the game. Character voices themselves are taken from the Dubbed Anime series and doesn’t become too annoying with a well written script that doesn’t reek of clichés or cheesy dialogue. There is however times where characters seem too whiny but those who can’t stand the Dub will be pleased with an option for the original Japanese voices.

Case Closed – One Truth Prevails: The Mirapolis Investigation attempts to add another title to the growing mystery adventure genre on the Wii but ultimately falls short with its execution and design. The lack of any depth to its gameplay coupled with a cumbersome camera and short length hinder the experience one might want out of the title. The game will mostly appeal to fans of the Anime/Manga series and those new to the series or looking for a title with a richer experience should stay clear of this one.

Overall 5.2/10

Anime: Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~ Natsu no Sora ~

After watching through all of the episodes in this anime, it leaves me to think about how well crafted the whole series has been from start to finish so much so that I couldn’t just move on without writing my thoughts and impression on the whole series.

Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na koto ~ Natsu no Sora ~ is a continuation of the Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto (Someday’s Dreamers) series and while it doesn’t have any direct connection to the original , they both contain the same style narrative which isn’t at all a bad thing.

The Story follows Sora Suzuki, a Mahou Tsukai or magic user who travels to Tokyo to undergo training to become a Mage. The narrative is told through the everyday life of Sora and her companions as they face life’s ups and downs through their interaction with their clients who send requests to the magic council for service. Along the way, Sora learns about the reality of life, how important it is and the repercussions of being a magic user. The narrative starts off slow but eventually picks up as you get used to the style and contains a number of plot twists here and there. The fact is, that it is very well crafted with many important themes and ideas which allow the characters to develop essentially generating a bond with audience. This becomes increasingly so with Sora and Gota whom both have difficult pasts which anyone can relate to. Though surprising, the anime is very down to earth even given the magic nature of the story, to the extent where you could possibly switch that out for something else and it’ll still work. The only downside is the last couple of episodes which though is still well delivered through setup for the climax is abit disappointing but is crafted in a way that it tries to reduce the impact from it by presenting it from other characters perspective giving an optimistic look for the future.

Visually, this anime looks stunning. The production quality really shines through CG backgrounds which appear practically photo realistic and at times you’d probably mistake it for an actual photo. The only downside is that it does however give off an uncanny aspect where, for example, a field that looks real should have long flowing grass from the wind instead seems static and lifeless like as if time stopped. There are also times where they break the flow by showing these backgrounds while characters are speaking giving the impression that the video has lagged as they seem like slideshows, but this is only one small aspect that is easily overlooked by the great story and character development. The character designs themselves though more simplistic than other anime are still able to convey emotion and it’s simple nature further highlights the “slice of life” nature of it’s narrative.

The Audio is great with a nice warm theme song “Fly Away” by Thyme whom I’ve come to love and even have their albums. There is also quite a number of original songs played on guitar in certain episodes that adds to the unique style of the narrative. The voices for each character are also well delivered especially Kuroda and Asagi both whom has a hostility tone but you can sense a kindness to them. Sora is especially well portrayed with an innocent and optimistic tone yet still has a lot to look forward to in life. Gota who is hard to like at first eventually grows and matures in character.

Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~ Natsu no Sora ~ has been a great watch and while most will probably be shrugged off by it’s slow pacing and animation style, those willing to devote their time into looking deeper beyond the surface will find a much rewarding experience.

Overall – 8.5/10

– I know this post needs pictures…will update later.

Wii: Taiko No Tatsujin Preview

Taiko no Tatsujin is a popular franchise from Namco Bandai in Japan and marks it’s first installment on the Wii. The game, just released in Japan, comes with an interesting new Drum peripheral which plugs into the bottom of the Wii Remote and brings with it a load of new songs with familiar faces in the game. Though relatively unknown elsewhere, the Taiko series is popular in Japan with games on PS2, DS and PSP and made it’s debut in the US on the PS2 as Taiko Drum Master though it only released one game. The game has players tapping to a drum following notes which scroll across the screen seen in similar rhythm games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band. The game play though simplistic is varied by where you tap on the drum, as you tap on the drum surface for red notes and on the side for blue notes. Rhythm game fans looking to import the game without spending a large amount on the drum will be pleased to know that the game can be played without the peripheral and that it supports both Wii Remote and Classic Controller Configurations assigning the drum hits to buttons instead.

The game also supports up to 2 players for simultaneous play and with a large number of different options for multiplayer . You can play versus with a friend or battle it out with items or just play together on a song. Mii Support is also included with appearances in certain songs but that’s as far as it goes. From what we’ve played, the game has enough to satisfy fans of the series with an additional challenge mode but doesn’t come with the Drum customisations seen in the DS version nor the minigames on the PSP. There is also no information on any additional downloadable songs like the PSP version from what we’ve seen so far. As said, the game is currently out in Japan and fans of Rhythm based games should surely pick this one up.

Happy New Year!

With 2008 come and gone, we make some wishes for 2009 looking at the 3 major platforms in the current generation.

The past-
What a year it has been for the Wii, with a lackluster E3 showing followed up with an excellent Media summit showcasing games to look forward to in 09. With no signs of slowing, the Wii has dominated the gaming industry. The DS is also no slouch, with a new redesign, the DSi and hit after hit each month of never ending software titles giving hardcore and casual gamers a run for their money. 08 also had a lot of remakes as well as brand new IPs.

The future-
With 08 full of shovelware releases and badly implemented games, let’s hope they start to realise that there still is the crowd that made them so popular in the first place. Let’s face it, the Wii is only selling because of Wii Sports and Wii Fit. Let’s hope Nintendo gets their priority straight and start churning quality software. With DS and the new DSi due out in late 09, the current supply of games is going strong and let’s hope it stays that way in 09.

The past-
The Xbox360 had a massive year in 08 with hit after hit of top releases. The year saw releases such as Gears 2, Fable II and hit franchises such as GTAIV on the console. The New Xbox Experience also rolled out a complete overhaul of the console making it a whole new experience again. The amount of exclusives also kept rising with Square Enix’s Rpgs and Sierra’s Left 4 Dead.

The future-
Let’s hope that in 09 they keep up the exclusives and also maybe give Xbox live a price drop since Sony is able to deliver a similar service for free.

The past-
The PlayStation 3 is in third place but the console shows no sign of losing as seen in 08. With many important and key franchises to the PlayStation network such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resistance 2 hitting the console. The PS3 also showed that it is more than just hardcore gaming with the launch of Home and Little Big Planet to bring community to the platform. The PSP had a lackluster year with a new redesign but virtually no new hit games on the handheld. Support for the device was worsened when God of War Developer SCE Santa Monica sent all it’s PSP dev kits back to Sony.

The future-
Sony needs to rethink it’s position in the market and fix it’s major issues. The first being the high price of the console and it’s capabilities with the still missing PS2 support and features promised at the start removed. The second is the lackluster support for the PSP. Redesigning a console but having no support to move them doesn’t help and Sony really needs to rekindle the flame. The third is the whole online infrastructure with PlayStation Home and Trophies. With the terrible speed of Home, it’s loading times and making game launching a chore, why would someone ever use it?. Trophies also needs to be a standard on game releases, why are there still games are just released without Trophy support? These issues should be solve in time, let’s hope 09 is the year it is.

That’s it, Happy New Year Everyone!

Wii: Let’s Tap Impressions

Demonstrated at the Tokyo Game Show 08, Let’s Tap is a Wii exclusive from Sonic creator Yuji Naka’s studio Prope utilizing the Wii Remote in a brand new way. Let’s Tap uses the Wii Remote face down on a surface and detects vibrations using the remotes accelerometers. The game features a variety of mini games such as Tap Runner, Rhythm Tap, Visualizer, Silent Blocks and Bubble Voyager. Each game focuses on a particular way of tapping such as light tapping for running and hard tapping for jumping.

Having played abit of the game, the package feels more like a demo than a full featured game. The Visualizers are only there for a look and Tap Runner and Rhythm Tap feel more like demonstrations of the technology involved. While there are a few multi player modes and a battle mode for Bubble Voyager, there isn’t really any depth to any of them. Some of the games do suffer from tap sensitivity issues, Rhythm Tap seems to register Taps no matter how soft or hard it is and miss firing seems to occur too often in Bubble Voyager. Navigating through menus using the Tap controls is a chore, as often the game will register a single tap instead of double. The visual style of the game looks great though simplistic akin to the Rez feel and there’s never any slow down. The soundtrack is also lively and completely original with the large amount of songs used in Rhythm Tap. Overall the package has a fair amount of modes but the lack of depth and control issues hinder it’s experience. Let’s hope they fix this for the final release in our territories sometime next year.

XBLA: Braid

Puzzle platforming by reversing time? Surprising and aspiring, such antics can be found in Braid, a download-able Live Arcade game from independent developer Johnathan Blow. The game features a hub of worlds devilishly devised to stump even the most veteran puzzle fans. With a side scroll 2D design does Braid sparkle with innovation and design or is it time to turn back the clock?.

Utilizing a hub world, Braid presents itself with a series of 6 different worlds, each with their own set of levels presenting an additional unique game mechanic to each world. Though it does not present itself clearly to the player, there is a story to the game following protagonist Tim on his search for the princess. Though ambiguous at first, players soon find out all is not what is meant to be through the many books before starting each world. The core gameplay in Braid involves manipulating time to complete puzzles in 2d side scrolling levels. The objective is to collect puzzle pieces for each world scattered throughout it’s different levels to piece together the main jigsaw for the world and unlock the next piece of ladder to advance to the final stages. Though it sounds simplistic, the game is definitely not with enemies walking around on each level requiring players to think outside the box to complete a majority of them. Enemies play an an even more important role as you work through each of the worlds using them to help reach new areas or just killing off by jumping on them. As you progress, the levels gets more and more difficult and with the unique mechanic in each world gives each new world you reach a freshness. Controls in Braid is simple relying more on jumping by tapping A and involking Time control by tapping X and using the left and right bumpers to fast forward or rewind. Though the game has plenty of interesting elements in it’s design, it ultimately falls short with it’s overall length as the game can be finished in one sitting. However, puzzle platforming with the unique time mechanic is surely something everyone should see and experience.

Braid sets itself apart from alot of XBLA games and delivers in not only its unique style and story but also its unique gameplay elements that mesh to bring something fresh into the genre.
Braid is currently available to download from the Xbox Live MarketPlace for 800 MS Points.

Overall – 8.0

XBOX360: Mirror’s Edge

Free-running/ Parkour is nothing that we haven’t seen already but combine that with a first person perspective and platforming elements and it’s a shines anew. Mirror’s Edge, a first person platforming game from the developers of the Battlefield Series DICE, sets to break new ground by combining genres which we’d never think would go together into a package that delivers in innovation. Renown more for First Person Shooters, the Swedish Developer takes a break from the genre to produce an entirely different experience receiving critical acclaim from its showings, but does the Mirror still shine or has it become dull?

Mirror’s Edge takes place in an unknown city governed by a totalitarian regime which monitors all communication and surveillances it’s citizens in order to bring down crime and keep order. This Utopia however, is in fact a dystopia robbing the citizens of their privacy and removing any free speech against the government. An electoral campaign is underway with the current Mayor Callaghan seeking to retain his position. However, there is a new candidate Robert Pope, seeking to bring about vast changes in the way the government runs. This is where you take the role of Faith Conner, a “runner” skilled in the art of Parkour whose sister Kate becomes a suspect framed with the sudden murder of the new candidate. This leads Faith on a mission to prove her sister’s innocence and find the people responsible. The story plays out in both brief in game cutscenes and sequences of 2d cutscenes shown at the start of each level taking on the look and style of flash animations. The problem is that narrative development is devoid of any emotion because of the limited nature of the cutscenes and while in first person, you can never really become attached to Faith because you never see her. Another issue is its length; the story mode ends way too soon before you even feel a sense of accomplishment and with only 9 chapters to play through, skilled players can beat the game in a matter of 6-7 hours. Once you master story mode, there is a large number of speed runs which will give speedrun fanatics a good run for their money.

The game play revolves around the theme of freedom and speed. Most of the time you’ll be running to get from one point to another point clearing obstacles that are directly in your path using whatever path you want. There are however, times where you’ll be either chased or the chaser and these help to add variety to the main campaign. The environments are also mixed with different locales and buildings but most of them have the same look and feel. There are a few varieties with a subway, sewer and ship levels but other than that, you’ll be spending most of your time going up lifts and enjoying the vantage points of the rooftops. Though the game enourages finding different methods to travel from one point to another, the problem is when the game forces combat upon the player breaking the free roaming aspect of the game which occurs more often as you progress through the narrative. The Controls in Mirror’s Edge feels clunky at first but it eventually works and feels right as jumping over obstacles is controlled by your left bumper while crouching is by the left trigger. Combat in the game is broken up into 2 categories, gun and melee performed by either a face button or right trigger. Unfortunately, none of them are well executed. Gun combat is mediocre and melee combat is clunky and robotic as they serve as merely quick time events having to press a button at the right time.

Mirror’s edge uses a first person perspective for the large majority of the game and combining this with the Unreal 3 Engine delivers a vibrant world with mixes of colour to serve as runner’s vision. The use of the first person view for the game is unique and serves to give the player a more intimite feel as you attempt and perfom the acrobatics from a personal perspective.
The Mirror’s Edge world shows through the use of colour with the primary focus on white giving a devoid but clean feel to the environment emphasizing the totalitarian government’s hold on its citizens. The game runs at a crisp framerate which hardly drops in framerate which gives the speed factor a plus. There are occasional mid level loads but it does ever detract from the game.
The audio is also up to scratch with an original theme song and soundtrack specially made to give off an ambient feel to the environment which is lacking in life.

Mirror’s Edge is a game full of innovation and unique ideas and it shows. Regardless of whether players like the core gameplay mechanics or not, there’s definitely nothing like it before. While it does have a few issues, the overall package is one that is worth seeing.

Story – 7.5
Gameplay – 7.5
Video -8.5
Audio -8.5
Overall – 8.0

XBOX360: Eternal Sonata

Eternal Sonata is a sleeper title from the Sound Composer division turned developer of Tri Ace, Tri Crescendo. Released in 2007, the title focuses on the life of famed composer Frances Fredrick Chopin and manages to craft an original story around the composer and delivers a package that shines in production values. Tri Crescendo has taken the challenge to create one of the most beautiful and original RPG ever to hit the system but does the tune stay in rhythm or is it a broken note?

Set in the dream of Chopin and broken up into 7 chapters each having a piece of Chopin’s music as it’s name, players begin as Polka, a young girl in Tenuto,a village within the kingdom of Forte.Polka however, is cursed with a terminal illness which has a side effect of the ability to perform magic in the dream world. This leads many people to be afraid of her for fear of contracting the illness. She makes her living selling floral Powder which unfortunately can’t complete with the tax free “mineral powder”, an addictive healing agent which is being supplied by Forte Castle. Eventually she meets up with Frederic Chopin who offers to help escort her as she tries to plead with Count Waltz to increase prices and the story unfolds from there into a war between the kingdoms of Forte and Baroque. Polka and Frederic are not alone for the journey however as they meet many new additions to their group such as the Orphans Allergretto and Beat, Herder Viola, Guardians of Agogo Forest Salsa and March and the group of Andantino comprising of Jazz, Falsetto and Claves.

The story is rich in many themes concerning war, love, life, messages of hope and courage each revolving around Chopin’s life and music. The characters are well written with a good amount of back story to each of them and throughout the narrative, they each show progression as they learn more about themselves and find the answers they were searching for. Polka is the most touching of them as you’ll feel an attachment to her by the time you reach the end. There is a lot of material to take in and the game doesn’t hold back from telling it, as a majority of the dialogue is well written with a large amount of philosophical phrases. The problem is that for some, it may be too much to take in and in combination with it’s slow pacing, does become a bit long winded at times but, if you can look past that, it is still a very rewarding and touching story with a large amount of depth, character development and attachment. Though the story is charming and beautifully crafted, it does come out a bit short clocking in at 20 hours for the main story and 30 for those who take up all the side quests.

The worlds in Eternal Sonata are filled to the brim with many musical motifs and has a healthy blend of imaginative environments with many locales having a strong music presence right down to their name. The majority of the time you’ll be exploring towns or traversing through new areas. Battle encounters are all on screen and can be avoided at will or running at them at a specific direction which are then taken into a random battle field. The battle system in carries on from the system you see in other games such as Tales and Star Ocean employing a roaming turn based system. You can give commands to attack, use special attacks, items and guard. While the system is fairly limited at first, gradually it evolves with limits to the amount of tactical time and placing depth into how you use harmony chains to string special attacks. Chaining the right attacks can add damage and help you out of difficult situations especially in the bonus dungeon at the end of the game and forcing the player to use normal attacks to build up echo chains reduces the abuse of using only special attacks. Of course, you are not the only one able to dish out damage as enemies can easily take out a member or two in a single move in later areas. This is where the guard button helps to get you out of difficult situations to the point where battles can only be won by learning to guard and leaving you dead otherwise. It does seem like a crutch at times, but you’ll be thankful for it once you’re in later portions of the game. Another mechanic, is the light dark system where you and your enemies change attributes depending on whether you’re in light or dark areas. These greatly effect the tide of battle and mixes the action making you choose the correct strategy to defeat them. The battles themselves are played out in short bursts so that players don’t receive any downtime when coming back to the main story. Level grinding is virtually non existence if you play the game normally and resist avoiding enemies but those who do will find normal battles to be fairly easy except for the occasional bosses and later areas. There are also a vast amount of customization with different weapons and abilities you can assign to your character. The only issue is that equipment placed on your character doesn’t show up on your character and only serve to change stat points.

One major problem of the game is the camera. By incorporating a fixed camera perspective, it makes it hard to enjoy some of the game’s visual presentation when traversing areas and quickly becomes a nuisance in battles since you have no control over it’s placement resulting in times where you’ll be obscured by a large enemy and cannot see where to place your character so you ending up hitting nothing.

There are also a number of side quests such as the score collection but most of these can only be completed on a second run through. The score collection mini-game has you collecting score pieces scattered throughout the game and playing them against an NPC to be either awarded a rank and collect an item or booed. While seemingly simplistic compared to other mini games in the genre, it does adds to the overall music theme and gives the player something to do other than the main story. The main issue with it is the trial and error nature as there is no real way to ideally mix and match score pieces but this is overlooked as it is an optional component.

As you traverse the environments, you’ll come to appreciate the colourful and gorgeous visuals the game has to offer. Each town or city you visit is enriched in detail and the character models are all unique and wonderfully animated. Story cut scenes are well scripted with only minor lip sync issues. Though the game has a large emphasis on the music of Chopin and contains a number of his pieces, there are also original compositions by Matoi Sakuraba which are all fully orchestrated. The voice acting is pretty solid but does get annoying at times where there is long dialogue.

Eternal Sonata does the Xbox 360 justice with an imaginative story and deep battle system which offers JRPG fans a rewarding experience. It maybe a bit cliche but the story is one of a kind and you won’t find anything else like it. Chopin’s tale has proved itself to be some worth hearing. This is definitely a must own title for all fans of the genre.

Story – 9.0 – exceptional but slow story telling with a large amount of themes and morals in combination with an original plot combining real and fantasy, background info of Chopin is excellent

Gameplay – 7.5 – Fun and evolving battle system with some depth, Camera issues, limited exploration, Linear environments

Video – 9.0 – Colourful and charming environments with plenty of detail, Excellent character and enemy models.

Audio – 8.5 – Orchestrated soundtrack with many piano pieces with real pieces from Chopin. Excellent composition, Voice acting sometimes annoying but passable.

Overall – 8.5

DS: Prince of Persia: The Fallen King

Hitting the DS for the first time for the franchise, the Prince of Persia series is back re imagined for the Nintendo Portable. Headlining the DS version is Ubisoft Casablanca responsible for the handheld versions of Rayman Raving Rabbits and while the Next gen versions have been praised highly for it’s reinvented style how exactly has the duel screens re imagined the platform genre for the prince?

The story in Prince of Persia : The Fallen King differs from it’s console counterparts where it begins with the Prince in danger. Whilst seeking sanctuary in a deserted kingdom, he finds that it has been touched by an evil “corruption”. As the Prince seeks a way to protect himself from the corruption, the evil has spread to warp the environment creating obstacles and traps. Along the way,the Prince discovers a creature who is partially corrupted, the Magus. The story is told mostly through stills and text and hence can be easily skipped and overlooked. It never really connects with the audience and Magus who becomes your partner rather than Elika in the console version doesn’t have the same sympathy and emotion as you feel for Elika.

The game is basically broken up into levels containing a number of stages. Each of these stages has various platform puzzles and jumps to get from start to finish. While it is fun to start off with, there really isn’t much to the stages as the top screen basically shows you where you start from to your finish point without much additional exploration involved. Half the time the puzzles will basically “guide” you to the finish. While the classic platform style of the original Prince of Persia is still here, the variety and depth surely isn’t. Half the time you’ll be performing the same kinds of puzzles again and again, only in a different order. To add to the limited puzzles is Magus’s magic which can fire orbs at enemies to knock them back or to grip and move rocks. There are a fair number of these different abilities and they do help mix things a bit but you’ll soon find yourself performing the same thing over and over, either jumping from one thing to another or using corruption. The main problem is in it’s controls. The majority of the game is spent using the stylus and a button to activate magic and while this may sound like it could work well, the execution of it isn’t. Sometimes you’ll find that the controls work well while most of the time it’ll either unresponsive or too responsive. This occurs a lot when trying to jump from platform to platform where you’ll find that you either jumped too late or not even at all falling into a pit below. It just becomes hellish annoying and really ruins the experience as a normal D-pad would have worked much better giving more response. Once you finish the main story, which can be completed in a few hours, there really isn’t anything else to do and you won’t find a reason to go through it again. The boss battles are interesting but a lack of multiplayer or goals and general lack of anything to do after you’ve beaten the game doesn’t help the value of the game.

While visually there isn’t anything that screams out amazing but what is there is solid with the art style having a more “kiddy” feel to them. Not everyone will like it, that’s for sure but we didn’t really mind it. The sound is your regular mix of clashes and grunts of enemies, other than that the music is fine for most part but doesn’t do anything to really stand out.

Prince of Persia: The Fallen King attempts to relive the classic Prince of Persia games and while it is a fun normal platformer which doesn’t do much to expand the genre, it’s annoying controls will probably be a turnoff for many. If you can get past the control issues, it’s an alright game.

Story – 6.0 – okay but can be easily skipped
Gameplay – 5.5 – bad controls, repetitive levels
Video – 6.0 – Decent 2d side scroll.
Audio – 7.0 – Some orchestral tracks
Overall – 6.2