Archive for the ‘Nintendo’ Category

World of Goo – the best cooperative gameplay on the Wii yet

January 15, 2009

After checking out World of Goo on my PC and reading a few glowing reviews (particularly Eurogamer’s Wii review), I decided to buy it for the Wii using the WiiWare download service.

World of Goo - getting around

Multiplayer has always been my favourite aspect of the Wii, and Wii Sports/Tennis and Bomberman my favourite games on the console. (Haven’t had the time to play much Mario Galaxy or Mario Kart yet.) Both Tennis and Bomberman are competetive games – though the best part of Tennis is playing doubles – while World of Goo is a purely cooperative game (well, unless you have rowdy friends, at least).

Very briefly explained, World of Goo is about helping small gooballs get to the exit of a level by building structures with them. It reminds me of a classic game called Bridge Builder (or Pontifex). However, WoG’s puzzles are more varied, the art style is incredibly charming, the music is great, the gameplay is very well suited to the Wii remote, and best of all, the cooperative gaming is fantastic fun and totally hassle-free. When someone else is playing, you just pick up a remote and play along.

This is AWESOME, and the way every multi-player experience should be. Mario Galaxy does it, but the second player has too small a part in the gameplay to really compare with WoG. Left 4 Dead, where your squad of four players run around killing zombies in the first-person perspective, is the only other game I can think of right now that implements this so well (the L4D implementation is a bit more cumbersome, but then again it is a network game and a much more complex one at that).

Puzzle has never been this fun. We had a one-hour three-player session yesterday, and we careened back and forth between thoughtful placement of goo balls and total mayhem as we all extended the structure in multiple directions at once. I’ll give two examples –

World of Goo - building the bridge

One level has you building a goo ball bridge from one side of a spiky valley to the escape pipe on the other side. To make sure the goo bridge doesn’t get pulled into the spikes by gravity as you extend it, you place balloons on it. Place too many too fast in the wrong place, and the bridge will veer upwards, popping the balloons on the overhead spikes. Eventually, we figured out that placing the balloons as low on the structure as possible simultaneously with placing new goo balls worked well. Also, we could move balloons along the bridge as we extended it, to make more careful adjustments to its height. The fact that it really helped to be more people – we could do different things at once – makes the multiplayer gameplay feel very meaningful.

Another level requires you to build a huge tower of goo balls to get to the exit pipe far above. It took us a few tries to find the right balance of tower width at the bottom and narrowing spire at the top. Two times our tower project wobbled into chaos as we started madly extending the structure at the top. Total failures, but very, very, fun!

Try this game. Its single player mode is nice on the PC, but the gameplay really shines in the Wii cooperative mode.

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Wii!

December 24, 2006

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Friday December 8. I had the pleasure of sending a friend to stand in line at the local electronics store. It is a small store, quite a distance away from the city centre in Oslo, and they didn’t expect to see a line that morning, but they did. Fortunately, my friend occupied the first spot, and managed to secure one of the three Wiis available when the store opened at nine.

I remember being excited when talk of the Nintendo “Revolution” first arrived. When the motion-sensing controller was revealed, it seemed Nintendo might actually be able to deliver on their promise – a revolution in the way games were played. After a while, even the new name – Wii – seemed a sensible choice. But still a doubt lingered, that the new control scheme would prove just a gimmick – fun the first ten times, then relegated to the dustbin.

After playing quite a lot of Wii Sports over the last couple of weeks, I’m certain – this is definitely not a gimmick. Playing tennis on the Wii feels so different compared to how playing other tennis games feel. You get a whole different level of engagement with the game when you actually do the movements instead of pressing the buttons. That’s one side of it. I think that the sheer physical effort involved makes gameplay more intensive; you get worked up, exhilerated, excited. And that is a big part of gaming!

In addition to the fun I’ve had with boxing, tennis, bowling, baseball (which is tricky!) and golf, I’ve played through the minigames in Wii Play. They serve as a useful demonstration of what kind of games are possible. I am particularly fond of the Tanks game, where you drive a tank around using the joystick on the “nunchuck” attachment to the Wii remote and fire by aiming the Wii remote on the screen and pressing the buttons. This is a gameplay mechanic I hope to see replicated and enhanced in a full, stand-alone title. It doesn’t matter if it’s low budget – Tanks is just pure fun, and I would like more of it.

Gameplay, that’s what it’s about, and the Wii has tons of gameplay!

In addition to all the new possibilities, you can buy old games off the Wii Shop and download them straight to your Wii. I’ve downloaded Sonic the Hedgehog (originally for the Sega Mega Drive), Bomberman 93 (TurboGrafx 16) and Gunstar Heroes (also Mega Drive). These are all fun in their own ways, but I particularly enjoy playing Bomberman in multiplayer – a great party game – and checking out classics I’ve never tried, like Gunstar Heroes.

Bottom line? The Wii is a great console. I am really, really happy with mine (it is in my carry-on luggage right now, coming home for Christmas with me), and considering the fun I’m having with a first-gen title like Wii Sports, I can’t wait to see the fully fledged tennis, boxing and golf games that are en route!

The shortest Nintendo DS Lite / Brain Training review ever

July 9, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a DS Lite with the games Brain Training and WarioWare. The only game I´ve really played is Brain Training, and here´s the DS Lite / Brain Training verdict:

It rocks.

The DS Lite has gorgeous looks and bright screens. The handwriting recognition works quite well in Brain Training, which is a fun game – with a few exceptions. To those who know nothing about the game, it is a kind of maths / logic training game. Among the exercises you can run through are simple maths problems, sudoku puzzles, keep track of how many people are in the house as some leave and some enter continously and speak the colour of the word currently displayed (typically, the word “black” is written in yellow font).

The biggest problem with this game is that it is too talky – Dr. Kawashima, who is behind the brain training theory used in the game, insists on talking and talking and talking and talking, and you have to tap your way through it, talking bubble by talking bubble. It doesn´t keep me from playing, though. Also, I would have liked to have support for more than 4 profiles (they are used for tracking your progress in the game).

Overall, I really recommend Brain Training if you, well, enjoy training your brain!

I´ll make sure I post some pictures of the DS Lite alongside my black MacBook soon… :)