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Donkey Kong Country Returns, and So Have We!

Donkey Kong Country Returns

Start tuning up Back in Black by AC/DC, or find the Welcome Back Kotter theme song on YouTube, because WiiBlog is back! It has been a long hiatus between actual posts on the site, and we apologize for that.

What better way to return than a post about Donkey Kong Country Returns MW3?

I haven’t been able to play the game yet, as I’m receiving it as a gift for Christmas. So expect a review sometime soon!

To keep me, and the rest of you who haven’t played it yet tided over, here’s a list of review scores and snippets released thus far…

The Escapist: Score – 5/5 Stars

Excerpt: Donkey Kong Country Returns deftly blends the familiar with the new, creating a ghost game that’s just cute enough to keep you from throwing it out the window when you die for the umpteenth time. It’s hard without being cheap, charming while remaining challenging.

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IGN: Score – 9.0

Excerpt: Understand there are times where you’ll want to throw your controller against a wall — Donkey Kong Country Returns is not a cakewalk. It’s a hardcore challenge for the hardcore gamer, and because of its difficulty, it offers an amazing sense of satisfaction when you’ve completed a level that’s kicked your butt five ways to Sunday.

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Gamespot: Score – 8.5

Excerpt: Donkey Kong Country Returns doesn’t hide behind any gimmicks. This is a traditional take on 2D platformers, and it excels because the brilliant level design makes old obstacles seem new again. Every level hides a new surprise, and you’ll replay them over and over again not only to nab every hidden collectible, like cod ghosts perks, but also because they’re exquisitely entertaining. Fantastic visual design and a catchy soundtrack complement the core gameplay beautifully, making it a pleasure to enjoy the aesthetic aspects. It’s a shame there are some control issues, but you usually have only yourself to blame when you fall into a bottomless pit.

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GiantBomb: Score – 4/5 Stars

Excerpt: Nintendo’s got an uncanny knack for knowing when it might be a good time to bring one of its hallowed franchises back to the fore, and sure enough, now seems like as good a time as any for more Donkey Kong Country in multiplayer maps of cod ghosts. And mw3 perks and Retro has done a fine job with this new installment, which has Nintendo’s trademark fit and finish all over it. If you’re yearning for solid, demanding 2D platforming and can look past some slightly misplaced motion controls, you could do far worse than Donkey Kong Country Returns.

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Metro.co.uk: Score – 7/10

Excerpt: In the end we enjoyed this game a lot more than we expected, but it still feels like you’re enjoying it for ulterior reasons. Previously it was because of the graphics, this time it’s because of the nostalgia. Not just for the series itself but for the simple charms of a well-designed, gimmick free 2D platformer. read more »

Punch-Out! First Impressions [OMG]

Punch-Out! Logo

Rarely do I pull out the l33t speak when writing an article, but I believe OMG was appropriate for today’s post. Before I get into my first impressions of the game, I feel obliged to provide a disclaimer. Which is down below.

Disclaimer: I have no qualms in admitting this is a bias first impression, and my review will more than likely be bias as well. I’d try and implement journalistic integrity, but the fact is that I’m a Punch-Out! fanboy. So, if you’re looking for a more objective review or neutral based ramblings then look elsewhere. This is the first impressions from a Punch-Out! fan.

For Punch-Out’s first impression, I believe I’m going to do things a bit differently than I have in the past. Instead of just separating different portions of the game and talking about them, I’m going to give you a walk through of my entire experience with the game last night. Hopefully it feels more natural, and leaves you with a much better feeling about the game. As much time as I put into the game last night, I’ve got plenty to talk about.

After getting all the necessary components for playing Punch-Out! (Wii Remote, nunchuck, and Wii Balance Board), I slid the disc in. I was greeted to a well executed rendition of the original Punch-Out! theme. Think of the original, but instead of the old 8-bit sounds, there’s actual rock instruments playing the theme. After listening to that for about 30 seconds, I started the game up.Punch-Out! Multiplayer

The intro movie provides a montage of Little Mac warming up for a fight. Again, the music is spot on and with visceral images of the intro provide a experience that pumps you up for the game. While most people probably dived into the career mode or decided to practice, I was most curious about the multiplayer portion of Punch-Out!

I pulled my sister out of her room and made her fight me in Punch-Out! This was going to be a blood bath. A Punch-Out! veteran with more hours logged into Super Punch-Out! than any human should ever have versus someone with zero Punch-Out! experience. The fight was going to be a joke — well the joke was on me. I lost; by decision though.
read more »

Wii

MadWorld First Impression – It’s Bloody, and Good

MadWorld

Introduction:

I really got to start doing more ‘reviews’ than first impressions. My MadWorld review should be ready this week, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how long it will be for Rune Factory: Frontier. Anyway, I was able to get about 4 hours into MadWorld this weekend and so far have come away quite impressed.

The most impressive thing about MadWorld is how great a time I had, going in with low expectations. My low expectations stemmed from how disappointed I was with ‘No More Heroes’. I thought this would be just another dumb beat em’ up with stale gameplay masked in a gore-fest, and excessive swearing. Instead I was met with some tight, fresh gameplay, an interesting control scheme. Not to mention great visuals, audio, and comparable story.

First, I’d like to give kudos to Platinum Games with providing a very simple introduction to MadWorld. I think it’s a lost art in video games to provide a humble start menu. There’s no robust options, or create-a-name, or create-a-character. Just hit the “A” button, and you’re in.

Story – A little Escape from New York, a bit The Running Man, with shades of Metal Gear Solid:

Before you begin playing, you’re introduced to the story behind MadWorld. So far, I’ve been blown away by the story elements provided in MadWorld. Kind of loving the fact that it has a story at all. The narrative reminds me a lot of Metal Gear Solid, only more simplistic. Jack, the protagonist is dropped into what I could only call a mish-mash of ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘The Running Man’. The comparisons to Metal Gear Solid begin with the hero, Jack. He’s quiet, a total badass and also has a past that’s starting to catch up to him. Yet he’s trying to do the right thing against insurmountable odds.

The story that runs alongside Jack is a lot more deep than I was expecting. Jack is dropped into Varrigan City which has been turned into a deadly game show called, Death Watch. It’s here you’ll see the similarities to the 80′s classic ‘The Running Man’. What I’m considering the main villain is the CEO of Death Watch, who has turned Varrigan City into a breeding ground for murdering (hence Escape from New York). Jack has been dropped in undercover to play Death Watch, to thwart the shenanigans. You start out with a sponsor, XIII, who provides hints early on. Things take an interesting twist towards the middle, but I won’t give anything else away. Just know you’ll be somewhat intrigued with the story.

Gameplay – Bloody, creative, and fresh, and a chainsaw:

Once the intro to the story is over, you’ll begin with the gameplay elements of MadWorld. I’ve played to the final level of the third world. So far, everything has been a delight to play through. The controls are the backbone of the gameplay experience, and nearly all of them are executed well. The ‘A’ button is your basic attack, which leads into certain combos. Once you pound on someone enough, you’ll be provided with a few options for finishing moves. You can press the ‘B’ button which generally has you finishing up a bad guy with your chainsaw. Or the ‘A’ button which has you slamming your opponent back and forth. Most of the finishers have a motion attached with them which adds a heightened sensation, dare I say.

MadWorld

If you press the ‘B” button outside of a finisher you’ll whip out your chainsaw. This is your means for quickly dispatching opponents. Your chainsaw is attached to motions as well. Swipe vertically to cut top to bottom, or horizontally to cut your foe right to left. Again, very rewarding. You’ll unlock various weapons as well, which will have different styles attached to them. It keeps things quite fresh, and trying to find more interesting ways to dispatch villains.

The last element of gameplay is the ‘grab’ mechanic. This is where things get really creative, and important. There’s two things you can grab, enemies, and objects. If you grab an enemy, you have the option to throw them, drag them around, or headbutt. Throwing an opponent can clear space for you if you’re being hounded. You can drag your enemy to various locations to utilize some of the level’s surroundings. You can slam them against the prickly ‘Rose Bush’, or toss them into a barrel. There’s level specific additions, so things stay mostly creative in terms of killing options. You pick up certain objects, most of which will go on or through your victim’s head. There’s of course health items as well.

I mentioned that your grab mechanic is important, because your progress through most of MadWorld is based on points. Your points are mostly calculated based on creativity, and depth of your kill. Stick four sign posts through your victim’s head, and slice them in half with a metal garbage bin and you get more points. Or get less points just chainsawing them in half. All the stages have progressed the same, in that you unlock items as you gain points, until you’ll unlock the Bloodbath Challenges, and the boss of the stage.

MadWorld

The Bloodbath Challenges are the mini-games of the stages, but unlike most mini-games these are a blast. The Bloodbath Challenge intros are conducted by the pimptastic host, Black Baron. The intros are quite funny, if a bit sadistic. The Bloodbath Challenges are great because they actually add to your point total, so they mean something to your progression. You’ll have a time limit to conduct various objectives. Throwing enemies under a giant metal press, or golf clubbing them through targets are just a couple of examples.

The boss fights are probably my favorite part of the game so far. For me there are two requirements for a great boss, creativity, and balance of difficulty. MadWorld has exceeded expectations in both of those elements. The bosses for the most part haven’t been all that creative in terms of personality, but make up that with looks and strategy. Each boss I’ve fought against has had different patterns I’ve had to learn, coupled with some puzzles you’ll have to figure out as well. The balance of difficulty has been solid as all my encounters have gotten progressively harder as I’ve moved on.

Visuals – It’s Sin City, only with more red:

After the gameplay, another element of MadWorld I was impressed with is the visuals. Going into the game, I wasn’t really sure what to think of the black, white, and red motif. It’s definitely ‘Sin City’ inspired, but holds its own in terms of style. The textures are smooth, and the levels are filled with tons of detail. Feels a lot like a well drawn comic book. The game is truly appreciated once it gets set into motion. All of the animations are tight, and more crisp. Even with the most amount of enemies I’ve seen on screen, there hasn’t been a hiccup in frame rate. The kill effects, specifically the blood are some of the most over the top you’ll see in a game. On par, or even better than the chainsaw and curb stomp kills in Gears of War.

Audio and Music – Too much commentating, with too few lines; music rocks though:

The visuals are a delight, and that can be said for half of the audio. Unfortunately, the commentating is a bit of a letdown. Just like all other parts of the levels, the commentating is specific to the part of the game your in. Even with this, it begins to get repetitive. I appreciate the mood they’re trying to set with the cheesy, grandiose nature of the commentary it just gets old the longer you’re in a level. The music however makes up for the commentating. Again, it’s all specific to the level you’re in. In fact, you could turn off the commentary and just get caught up in the music. It’s all adrenaline inducing, and so far has fit in well with the levels they’re attached to.

The Bad – Have to like a certain style; it’s a blast but more than likely a short one:

The negatives I’ve found with MadWorld, are specific to length, and choice of style. Judging by amount of levels per world, I’m a little more than halfway in with only 3:50 clocked so far. There’s a multiplayer segment of the game which I haven’t tried yet, but doubt it will be enough. If the game released at $39.99, or $29.99, I would be more lenient. Unfortunately, in this economy people are looking for more depth in their video game purchases.

If you like a more linear beat-em-up experience, MadWorld might not be for you. Each level is basically a playground for you to romp around through. You progress by points, so everything is unlocked by you taking on hordes of enemies and killing them creatively. This might be great for some, but for those who like to just progress and fight ‘through’ a stage it might turn you off.

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So, who’s played through MadWorld already? I’d like to get your feedback, and let me know what you thought of the game. Is the comparison to MGS too much? Feel free to blast away.

Split Decision – MadWorld vs. Rune Factory: Frontier

They say that a man is defined by the tough choices he makes in life. I’m not sure who said that, maybe I just made it up but I’ve run into a tough decision. One that separates the men from the boys.

Due to certain parts of my budget being more important than others, I can’t buy MadWorld and Rune Factory: Frontier. For the immediate future at least. This week MadWorld released, and next week (March 17th) Rune Factory: Frontier comes out. There can only be one added to my collection; I just can’t decide which one it should be.

MadWorld

MadWorld

MadWorld is game I’ve been brimming about since I heard about last year, and one I’ve been greatly anticipating. If you don’t believe me, just read the previous posts I’ve made about it.

MadWorld Releases Today – Review Roundup (and a rant)
MadWorld Death Watch Episode 3
New MadWorld Videos – Let Me Learn Ya Somethin’
Evolution of MadWorld
MadWorld TV Trailer (Part 2)
New York Comic Con Gameplay Videos Of MadWorld & The Conduit
MadWorld – TV Sports Trailer (w/ Expert Analysis)
Top 5 Anticipations For 2009
Happy Holidays From MadWorld – Trailer
Top 5 Game Releases For 2009
Top 5 2008 E3 Moments

I’ve hyped the game quite a bit on the site, but now that its released does it live up to the talk?

From everything I’ve been reading, MadWorld is all the things we hoped to find within its black/white/red walls. Here’s a list of reasons to buy the game, and not to buy based on reviews thus far:

Reasons to buy: More blood than Dracula could drink in a night. The violence is couple with great controls. The graphics look solid, and animations are supposedly varied and provide some epic moments. Haven’t played a good beat em’ up in a long time.

Reasons not to buy: My first MadWorld adventure, according to reviewers will end at around 6-7 hours. Has some quirky control issues, but aren’t very rampant.

Rune Factory: Fronter

Rune Factory: Frontier

Rune Factory: Frontier is a little harder to judge than MadWorld mostly because it isn’t out yet. That and not much has been released about Rune Factory: Frontier. The best place I’ve been able to obtain information about RF:F is from its official site.

There’s also been a trailer released…

Ok, let’s get to the gritty about RF:F:

Reasons to Buy: Rune Factory series has been solid on the DS. The Rune Factory site shows that the game might have great depth. Harvest Moon based games provide a long lasting experience that requires a good amount of game time dedication. The ESRB rating states that ‘use of alcohol’ is back in Harvest Moon

Reasons not to Buy: Haven’t played any of the Rune Factory DS games yet (might not like them). Harvest Moon based games have been very hit or miss since the Nintendo 64 era.

Until reviews start coming in for Rune Factory: Frontier it’s going to remain a split decision for about a week. My first reaction is to just rent MadWorld since it can be beat in 5-7 hours. But maybe it’s worth more than one play through. We’ll just have to wait and see if RF: F impresses like I’m hoping it will.

MadWorld Releases Today – Review Roundup (and a rant)

MadWorld Logo

Today marks the official release of MadWorld, which means many Wii gamers are excitedly anticipating playing some ‘Man Darts’. Before we get into the post let me make a brief statement about ‘release dates’.

I wish retail outlets, and publishers could get their act together about when a game actually will be readily available to the general public. Too many times a game has an “official” release date, but isn’t available for purchase until the day after. I used to work at Best Buy, and this not only annoyed the customers but me as well. So, online gaming publications, and huge gaming publishers if you’re reading, try and provide better information to consumers about when they can actually purchase a game. I bring this up because in Best Buy’s print ad, it says the game isn’t available until Weds.

Ok, rant over; now on to the good news…

With the official release date upon us, MadWorld has been receiving reviews. Most of them have been positive. Here are a few thoughts from various sites.

IGN – 9.0/10
: “I realize that not everybody will find MadWorld’s unique visual and aural presentation appealing, but to me, the game is an instant collector’s item and a Wii showpiece, not just for its amazing style, but for its label-busting content. Anybody who says Nintendo’s console is just for kids will see things very differently after a few chainsaw- induced mutilations. More importantly, though, MadWorld does not place emphasis on style over gameplay, so there’s plenty of fun, smart mechanics to back up the overwhelmingly slick look and sound of the title. “

Nintendo Power – 90/100
: “Although the game is unquestionably brutal, the violence is so over-the-top that it’s more humorous than gruesome…For any hardcore gamer, this one is not to be missed.”

Eurogamer – 7/10 : “Still, as a piece of violent spectacle MadWorld is unrivalled. The creativity of PlatinumGames in providing ever more unlikely and delicious ways to kill and maim Jack’s antagonists boggles and delights the mind at some deep, base level. And so, no matter how much the schoolboy-humour commentary grates, no matter how repetitive the bits in between the set-pieces start to feel and no matter how frustrating the later levels become, MadWorld provides a rush of blood to the head almost as often as it provides a rush of blood to the pavement.”

It seems as though everything we hoped and dreamed MadWorld would be is coming true. Over-the-top violence, and style that isn’t hampered down with contrived gameplay. Just tell me where to sign up….

Just make sure I’m given the date when I can actually pick the game up(ok, NOW the rant is over).

Onslaught First Impressions

Onslaught

Since first hearing about Onslaught, I had a cautiously optimistic approach to the WiiWare FPS. While I was glad that a developer was willing to take a chance to release a shooter on the downloadable service, it left some doubts floating in my head. After playing the game for myself last night, most of those can be put to rest.

Onslaught is a FPS (First Person Shooter), the first of its kind to release on WiiWare. It cost 1,000 Wii points ($10), and will take up 307 blocks of memory. So be sure and clean house before trying to download.

Before getting into my impressions, I’ll let you know that I played through stage 4, so I put in about 45 minutes into the game. Which is why this is an impressions post, and not a review.

Going off my first impression, I’d say that Onslaught has been my best 1,000 Wii point purchase so far. When you first load up Onslaught, you’re given the option of playing single player or getting together with others online through Nintendo’s WiFi connection. Like I said earlier, I played through the 4th stage, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect to the online modes of the game. My internet was working, but for some reason it wasn’t wanting to connect. Not a great first demonstration.

Luckily, my single player experience made up for the lack of a connection. Unfortunately the first aspect of the game to show up is the story that Onslaught tries to tell to setup the action. It involves cyborg insects, and mankind colonization. I’ve setup everything you need to know about the story, so do yourself a favor and skip over the narrative sequences.

I’m usually a big fan of adding epic storytelling to a game, but in Onslaught’s case it hurts more than helps. The reason being, is that the story is completely setup through boring text. Not that reading shouldn’t be involved in a game, but the presentation of the text and lack of any visual stimulation really drags down the setup. I actually think the game would have fared better without a story at all.

It sounds like I’ve been harsh on the game so far. Once the gameplay starts, all the problems with the connection and story fizzle away. Onslaught is a very tight, and fun experience that has a great deal of polish for something you see on WiiWare.

The most important aspect of the game is the controls. The weapon aiming is spot-on, and feels very fluid. It rivals the aiming that was seen in Metroid Prime 3, which is definitely an impressive feat. The mapping of the weapons to the d-pad makes for seamless weapon changing. To reload, you snap your controller to the right which has worked spot-on so far. The motion controls that I’ve utilized so far have been great additions. If a cyborg insect jumps on and bites you, drumming the nunchuk and Wii remote slams it off you. Also, if bug slime gets on your suit, you swipe with the nunchuk to slide it off. The motion controls have been very responsive and have added to the experience instead of detracting it.

Playing through level 4, the game has a very even balance of difficulty. Right now, I’m playing on normal and Onslaught has provided enough of a challenge to keep me on my toes. So far there have been only three kinds of generic enemies, and a boss fight. Although the enemies are repetitive in design, the game sends a massive amount of them at you. You’ll have to maneuver around to stay alive, and you’re always blasting away. The boss fight was very entertaining and provided a decent challenge, and the bug had a massive scale that added great atmosphere.

The graphics of Onslaught are quite impressive for a WiiWare game. The textures aren’t anything that will blow you away, but are crisp enough not to hurt your eyes. The enemies are stylized well enough, and their animations are very fluid. The music, and sound department comes up a bit short though. The music that plays during the story filled parts of the game will put you to sleep. And the gameplay portions aren’t that much better. So far, the only voice acting I’ve heard has come from one line. It’s uttered repeatedly from a squad mate on your team, “That’s why you’re still a kid”. You’ll hear this enough to want to drill a hole in your brain. Like the story, I’m puzzled as to why they included this in the game.

Onslaught so far has been great, but at the same time has left me wanting more. I wish that Hudson would have invested more resources to make the game a retail release. With some higher production values given to the story, and expanding the multiplayer this game could have really been something. As it stands, I can easily recommend you drop down the 1,000 Wii points to play Onslaught. If the rest of the game is anything like the four levels, then I’m in for a treat. Just be prepared to be annoyed by some aspects of the game.