Posted by: peanutmaster | March 30, 2008

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Lucas Arts – DS

256px-lego_star_wars-the_complete_saga.jpgOk, I admit, Lego Star Wars surprised me on most consoles; the gameplay was like nothing I’d seen before! Then, of course, Lucas Arts had to make the risky decision of making a Ds version. The outcome wasn’t the best Lego Star Wars ever…

For a start, the gameplay is too easy. This always a bad sign in platforming games. Then there’s the graphics. Ok, they are alright Ok, but I have seen better. The poor camera angles don’t improve things in the visual section either. Wouldn’t it be alot better if the camera view  during the racing levels was behind you rather than above?!

At least the attention to detail is there; you can smash loads of stuff in the levels and if you look in the Cantina you’ll see a small band on a stage playing the music!

The minigames are not the best part of the game. WHO WANTS TO PLAY A MINIGAME WHERE YOU HAVE TO WASH A WINDSCREEN!! Ok, I do like the one where you’re controlling Grevious’ Wheel, dodging all the obstacles. A bit.

A better part of Lego Star Wars: A Complete Saga on Ds is actually in the Cantina. Here, you can buy more characters to play as, and even swap their body parts round (well, they are lego).

There is also alot to collect after completing the game, with means you won’t get bored quickly. Oh, and did I forget to mention that all the original sounds are still in there? Yep, Complete saga has all the famous Star Wars music and FX, making the whole game sound brilliant.

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Overall, this game doesn’t add much to the first games; if you’ve played them, you’ve played this. But despite the linear levels and easy missions, this game is just so darn addictive! In fact, I might just play it now…

RATING: 78%

It’s a game I love to hate!

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 30, 2008

Lifesigns: Hospital Affairs – Spike – Ds

Here’s my diagnosis: the actual surgery isn’t as good as Trauma Center, even though the process of identifying illnesses by rubbing girl’s bodies is quite smart and the artwork, overall, is much better. 

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The main problem with Hospital Affairs is that there just isn’t enough gameplay here to satisfy – most of the time you’re busy busy chatting with hospital staff. True, the character’s are better realised than in Trauma Center, and there’s a charming soap opera, but there’s more tedious reading than actual gameplay.

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Overall, the fact that Hospital Affairs is heavy on text and low on gameplay makes it less appealing than Trauma Center.

RATING: 59%

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 30, 2008

Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin – Intelligent Systems – Ds

 I love Advance Wars

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, though not the first Advance Wars title on the DS, manages to advance the tried and tested turn-based strategy formula that has made the franchise so popular. Days of Ruin is still very true to the series, despite having a number of improvements over its predecessors. Whether it’s worth the purchase will depend on how much you fancy multiplayer.

A hearty campaign ripe with character-driven conflict is at the core of the game; this time around there’s a markedly darker overtone to the tale. Most of the world’s population has died as the result of a meteor shower that leaves the Earth in ruins. The surviving superpowers rally the troops and begin to salvage land and resources in the hopes of rebuilding their empires. Naturally, scarce resources and tough times lead to hostility, which ultimately results in a global war.

The narrative is a compelling part of the game, but the battles will be what keep players rolling along. Thanks to some great improvements, Days of Ruin manages to enrich the Advanced Wars experience. Though the series may have gained notoriety for simplifying the strategy-RPG genre down to its core without making it easy, Days of Ruin has a welcome amount of additional complexity. The introduction of individual unit levels promotes more micromanagement, which does reduce the amount of rebuilding that you’ll want to do. Other changes include the downplaying of the “Commanding Officer Powers,” as well as the introduction of various new kinds of terrain.

The most significant improvement—and one of the biggest selling points—is the new multiplayer side of the game. In addition to voice chat-enabled online multiplayer, players can create, upload, and share custom maps, allowing for quite a bit more variety. For fans of the series, this alone will likely be worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, the time spent on the multiplayer does take its toll on the rest of the game in certain ways: aside from the campaign, there’s very little single player action. Notably, the “War Room” mode, which offered a variety of preset single-player missions that were customizable, has been gutted. Thankfully, the skirmish “Free Battle” mode is intact.

The new graphical style is attractive, but there is a slight disconnect between the cut-scene sequences and the map-level presentation. Map-level play maintains the original titles’ colorful, cartoon-inspired design, while the cutscenes and character art are styled with a harsher, more adult-oriented manga direction. This is especially noticeable due to the use of the patented “next-gen” color scheme: grays, browns, and other dark and drab colors dominate the color palette. 

Ultimately, it’s the game play that will keep players interested, and Days of Ruin certainly does not disappoint. The game’s mechanics have been improved with newly added layers of complexity that make combat a bit more interesting without sacrificing the game’s simplicity. The new multiplayer options significantly increase the game’s replayability: online multiplayer with voice chat is a big addition, as is the improved map editor that now allows you to share your maps online.

Unlockable: Characters
To unlock the following characters for use in the game, complete the corresponding missions during your campaign.

  • Caulder – Mission 26
  • Forthsythe – Mission 14
  • Gage – Mission 13
  • Greyfield – Mission 21
  • Penny – Mission 24
  • Tabitha – Mission 25
  • Tasha – Mission 12
  • Waylon – Mission 20

This title may be a little harder to get into than other Advance Wars titles, but if you want to expand the experience and enjoy some well-designed multiplayer, this is a solid title. Fans of the first game who simply wanted more of the same may want to give this a try before buying.

RATING: 79%

Advance Wars is perfect for the Ds.

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 30, 2008

SBK: Snowboard Kids – Rising Star – Ds

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Ever wondered what would happen if Mario and friends decided to get on a snowboard and go down some slopes? For those who do, Snowboard Kids is the closest thing to the answer!

Snowboard Kids is basicly a sweet, anime-esque game that sees some kids in strange clothes boarding down a few slopes from around the world. Nice. But underneath the surface lies gameplaythat owes alot to Mariokart. As you slide around downwards, tapping the screen to pick up speed and using the buttons to pull off tricks in the air, you can collect power ups to use against your opponents. Some power ups are very neat. Get hit by a snowball and you have to blow into the Ds mic to clear your view.

There are a few unlockables to get hold of, like weapon boosts and extra characters. To do this, you need to collect points from around each track. These range from China to Germany to Canada…

Mutiplayer is Okay with SBK: Snowboard Kids, with up to four people racing wirelessly. But it isn’t exactly Mariokart. At least the graphics are good.

 Sadly, this game isn’t anywhere near as good as the N64 original version; it’s just too short and simplistic, meaning this game won’t last you very long at all.

RATING: 53%

If you liked this, try the original N64 version.

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 30, 2008

Talkman – Sony – Psp

Sprechen sie foreign?

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Let’s face it: foreign languages are stupid. Masculine? Feminine? Accents? Umlauts? It’s a minefield of complication. If that’s your attitude, you need Talkman. Not so much a dictionary as a friendly-faced translator, it’s the shy person/idiot’s answer to parlezing in Francais, Deutsch, Italiano, Espagnol and Japenese.

It’ll take your english words and spit them out in flawless Euro-speak, then let your newfound friend reply via the magic of PSP.

That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, although the attached mic works reasonably well, the hassle and embarassment factor of whispering into a handheld means you’ll quickly abandon speech in favour of simply prodding the buttons. The layout of the menus, combined with the lengthy loading pauses, mean you’ll have to find a patient baguette-botherer, and the ‘emotional content’ option’s simply bizzare. What works much better is the learning aspect of Talkman – with more than 3,000 phrases to practice via pronunciation and listening games, a few days of dedicated practice should give you the skills to leave your Psp at home while you go out and talk proper foreign.

The gameplay is alright; the pronunciation games are weirdly compulsive, but the interface is fiddly. The lifespan of Talkman is great – with several languages to learn, it’s exhausting enough. But couldn’t they have found a cuter mascot? Like a talking prawn?

RATING: 61%

If you liked this, get a  proper phrasebook!

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 30, 2008

Daxter – Ready At Dawn Studios – Psp

240px-daxter_with_rating.jpgWho knew that the key to platforming sucess would be to put the sidekick in the spotlight?! And I’m am really not kidding, here; the levels are big, the graphics are great and the gameplay is amazing! 

Daxter is set just before Jak II, where Jak is freed by Daxter in the beggining of the game. This has been the main goal throughout the Daxter game.

Don’t be fooled; Daxter isn’t just a smaller version of the main game – it’s just as big and just as fun! The big differences are that Daxter’s main enemies are giant, metal bugs (you are working as a bug exterminator for an old man named Osmo – why Daxter thinks this going to help him rescue Jak I cannot answer) and the usual weapons have been replaced with quirky, large swatters, bug sprays and a flame thrower! The stages are layed out slightly differently to the ones in Jak – as Daxter you can crawl through tiny gaps and air vents.

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No levels are the same – One minute you are atop scaffolding in a construction site, the next you’re on top of a train in a subway. Daxter is never boring, and never repetitive – just pure platforming fun! You are also motivated to replay the levels again and again to find all the Precursor Orbs to unlock extras or minigames (play by jumping on your bed in Osmos shop):

Unlock videos:
1000 Precursor Orbs – Behind the Scenes
700 Precursor Orbs – Concept Art
600 Precursor Orbs – E3 2005 Trailer
900 Precursor Orbs – Game in Construction
800 Precursor Orbs – Intro Animatic
Unlock Minigames:
1 Precursor Orb – Matrix Minigame
100 Precursor Orbs – Braveheart Minigame
200 Precursor Orbs – Lord Of The Rings Minigame
300 Precursor Orbs – Indiana Jones Minigame
400 Precursor Orbs – Matrix II Minigame
500 Precursor Orbs – Lord Of The Rings II Minigame
CHEATS:
Indiana Jones Hat – get gold on the Indiana Jones Minigame.

Jak Mask – The Mask can be found in the prison level, in the second cell block with 3 guards patrolling it. If you sneak behind the guards, following the guards counter clockwise. You will find the key behind the second pillar. Now the first door you see(northeast) open it and smash the picture on the shelf. The Jak Mask is now yours.

Ratchet Mask – The Ratchet Mask is in the Subway level. After the part where you jump from train to train, you’ll come to a section where you have to climb up some net, while avoiding the energy going up it. When you reach the top, look down the side closest to the entrance to next part of the level. Drop down onto the ledge, smash the picture, and you get the mask.

Samos Mask – The Samos Mask is in the Lumbermill stage. After the first bug zapper, you have to pass a few saw blades. After that , if you look to your right, you’ll see a tunnel with a saw blade in it. Look towards your left. You’ll see a stream. Jump off the platform to your left, and hover, staying close to the wall. After a few seconds, you’ll come to a small space in the wall. Inside is the picture. Smash it, and you get the Samos Mask.

Clank Mask – The Clank Mask is in Tanker 1. After Several of the spring pads, you have to climb up a wall. When you get to the top, turn around. there’s another wall you can climb. Hover over to it, climb it, then turn around again. You’ll see the picture on the ledge across from you. Hover over, then smash it.

Human Daxter Mask – The Human Daxter Mask is in the Hotel Level. After the first pipe slide, you run up a slope. When you get to the top, trun around. You should see a ledge. After you get the Flamethrower attachment, you can reach it. On the ledge is the picture. Smash it, and You get the Human Daxter Mask.

Daxter has everything a great platformer should; good visuals, good controls, easy to switch between weapons, great levels – who would have thought that Daxter could have a game of his own – and a good one at that!

RATING: 97%

If you liked this, try Jak II.

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 17, 2008

Lumines 2 – Q Entertainment – Psp

270px-lumines_2_box_art.jpgThe puzzler for music-lovin’ blockheads…

It might not have set the Psp world alive with it’s amazing graphics, but the original Lumines was easily the handheld’s most playable game for months after it’s launch.

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It’s stupidly simple, like the best puzzlers. Blocks comprising of four smaller blocks coloured one of two colours drop onto the screen. You need top arrange tham so the colours form squares, which then clears them away. Simple, eh?

This sequel is even better than it’s predessesor, although it doesn’t really add much. The music is sweet, with techno beats from artists like Gwen Stefani and Fatboy Slim, and the gameplay is amazingly addictive. Lumines 2 is a classic and a must-have that needs to be played.

RATING: 92%

If you liked this, try Lumines on Psp.

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Posted by: peanutmaster | March 16, 2008

More Brain Training – Nintendo – Ds

And I still can’t get a brain age below 45…

Good old Dr Kawashima. Yes, that disembodied head that destroys your self-confidence and haunts your your dreams is back to patronise us some more.

And rightly so, because since team Peanutmaster had last played Brain Training, our puny cortexes had withered away and died again. Lucky for us,  ten minutes a day of light (and often punishing!) mental taxation soon got us back in the cerebral saddle.

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Brain Training was never a gamer’s game and, to be honest, nothing has really changed.  A casual gamer’s dream, the beguiling combination of mathematical, cognitive and language-based tasks are as devious and clever as ever, but beaver away and within a couple of weeks I guarantee your calendar will genuinely reflect a marked improvement in your mental well-being – potentially helping make you top of the class in school, eminently employable and even ravishingly attractive to members of the opposite gender!

There is a lot to do in More Brain Training – with almost impossible puzzles like ‘Memorise All’ that asks you to… Well, memorise all. There is also over 100 different sudoku puzzles to keep you occupied.

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With unlockable tasks to keep you on your toes, a standalone sudoku game and the opportunity to go head-to-head with 15 other brain agers, this is an improvement – albeit slight – on the bestselling original.

RATING: 82%

If you like this, try Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training on Ds.

Posted by: peanutmaster | March 1, 2008

Tamagotchi Cornershop 2 – Namco – Ds

Caring for wittering, 2D blobs has worn a bit thin over the years, but Tamagotchi is still big news in Japan. This is why Namco made a sequel to the first bizzare (and…. Cute) Tamagotchi game.

Like before, this is made up of 12 mini-games – each being played in a different place, from a burger bar to a doctor’s surgery. Your goal is to make enough money to expand your shops and buy cut furniture for your Tama’s pad.

Everything is this game is incredibly simple – both the gameplay (which uses just screen-tapping controls) and the colourful graphics. And this what makes Tamagotchi Cornershop 2 so appealing. The conversations are hilarious – random lines of speech are delivered in speaky voices from each character. The childish chatter fits Tamagotchi perfectly!

You can’t fail to love it’s personality, but it’s the mini-games where some might falter. Like Electroplankton, it’s really more of an experience. In some shops you are given so much creative license it’s almost impossible to fail! Which is good for anyone who wants to create a bouquet of flowers, then send a photo of it to a friend. But not for those expecting a cute version of Wario Ware.

Tamagotchi cornershop 2 is a bit of a disapointment to anyone who just wanted a nice batch of minigames. Yes, this is overwhelmingly endearing to start with,  but it becomes very repetitive and is so puzzlingly simple, you kill 3 braincells from just playing it (ok, maybe not but that’s how it feels like!!!) The most enjoyable thing is making the cakes, I mean, everyone loves making cakes, right?!? Oh dear…

The graphics are simple and perfectly suited to the gameplay, but then, they aren’t the best around! Oh, and it is too easily completed!!! I would only reccomend this game to younger children who love simple minigames, or people that collect rubbish games.

RATING: 56%

Hint:  Strive to get all your shops approved by the Queen, and reap the amazingly boring rewards. Well, it’s kind of worth it, OK!!!

Well, that’s what I think, got any tips to make this a little more challenging? please leave a comment!

I know that a new version of this Puzzle Quest was released for other formats than the ones listed in the title, but I am only reviewing the original versions.

There is a brief moment, on your second day of colour-matching puzzling and stat growing that you’re covinced that Puzzle Quest is the greatest game ever. This is more than just addictive – it’s ’staying up all night whilst you’re eyes melt’ addictive.

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But, of course, it’s not the best game ever made – the presentation is a it rank in places for that. But it does marry two of the most addictive things in the world – ‘match three clour puzzlers’ along the lines of Zoo Keeper and Bejeweled and RPG style stat building.

Yes, it works brilliantly. There’s an RPG overworld to explore – chat to people, buy from shops and take on quests. And then the battles themselves take the form of puzzle matches. Rather than just scoring points though,  matching different icons deals damage and hoards EXP, money or mana with which to unleash special attacks and cruel spells.

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Puzzle Quest has all the properties of a solid puzzler. But beyond that, being inside a story and a character-building framework gives it a sense of purpose – something that Zoo Keeper maybe lacks a bit.

The graphics of Puzzle Quest are a bit of a let down. But you don’t notice this flaw much thanks to the addictive gameplay and the enormous lifespan! Yes, this is a brilliant game and a must for any Ds or Psp owner. I just wonder why this has not had more publicity…

RATING: 82%

If you liked this, try Lumines 2 or Zoo Keeper.

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