Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King – Review

Whew. Finally managed to get this review written. This game is awesome, one of my favorites ever, so I hope I do it justice. :P

 

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King

Console: Wii (WiiWare)

These Crystal Chronicles games just seem to be getting better. Ring of Fates was incredible; and while this game takes a turn down a slightly different path, even a much more risky one for the series, it does not disappoint.

Plot – [10/10] The story of this game takes place shortly after the events of the original Crystal Chronicles game. The miasma created by the Meteor Parasite has been dispelled, and the world has, for the most part, been reduced to nothing. The only remnant of the times before the miasma are the ambiguous crystals that reside in the towns.

Enter the world of the young son of Epitav, the nation’s king – he has been chosen by default to be the new king of the land. The only problem is the lack of citizens, and buildings.

Upon arriving in his old town, along with his father’s chief advisor, Chime, and noble knight, Hugh, the new king must make use of the promised land left for him by his deceased father, and the mysterious power of Architek, to form a new society.

However, soon after the town’s re-creation, disaster strikes, and a terrifying secret from the past resurfaces. Questions about Epitav himself, and his loyalty arise, and the entire kingdom is forced into a battle of good versus evil – but the lines between are blurry, and you are at the reins.

Gameplay- [10/10] Incredibly original. I cannot stress that enough. The style of this game is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Some classify it as a tycoon game, some an RPG, some an adventure – but it truly is everything in between.

Everything you yourself do is within an unlimited amount of short days, within the boundaries of your own town. The purpose of the game is, essentially, to build new structures with Architek, the magic used to build such structures. However, to fuel the Architek, you need a material known as Elementite. This is where your adventurers come in.

You commission adventurers to go out and seek Elementite for you, as well as other things, through royal beheths posted at bulletin boards in the town. While you do not explore the dungeons yourself, you are almost entirely responsible for your adventurer’s jobs, stats, weapons, armor, etc.

Most commands are completed through your advisor, Chime, with a flick of the Wiimote.

All in all, the game runs very smoothly, with basic controls that are easy to get used to.

Graphics- [9/10] Typical Wii graphics – there really is no change from the FFCC title for the Gamecube (which were albeit incredible graphics for the GCN). There is minimal lag, but usually only when buildings are being erected, and you attempt to move, or call Chime once more.

Final Score- [10/10] This game has by far surpassed the other two in the series in addictiveness. An excellent plot, simplistic controls that appeal to more casual audiences and a strategic element that attracts the more sophisticated gamer, and an overall unique experience that is unlike any other, make this game the the best in its series, and one of the best of the year so far. Square Enix walked in uncharted territory, risked the reputation of Crystal Chronicles, and pulled it off. Definitely go out of your way to buy this game. A+

Verdict: Buy it

Mario Kart Wii – Review

*walks in, stumbling over coffee table*

I finally… got it! Mario Kart Wii!

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Mario Kart Wii – Review

Console: Wii

Since the great disappointment that was Mario Kart: Double Dash for the GameCube, Nintendo stepped up their game with Mario Kart for the DS. So, that left fans wondering – could this series get any better?

That question was answered in April of 2008; and was it ever.

Playability- [8/10] (Replacing “Plot” with this, because there’s really no plot to Mario Kart)

While there is a lot to unlock in Mario Kart Wii, its only downfall is a lack of modes to play on. For me, the single most frustrating point is the lack of a mode that does not involve 12 characters, all racing at once. I personally enjoy a race with just two or three people [i]more[/i] than a gigantic Grand Prix. But that’s just me.

As I said before, there is plenty to unlock – there are a grand total of 15 unlockable characters (I’m partial to King Boo and Rosalina), as well as four hidden Cups with four new courses each, and lots of karts and bikes as well. While it can get repetitive, MK Wii has decent replay value.

Gameplay- [10/10] When you get the game, you will most likely spend a good ten minutes swearing and screaming at your television screen, while you get used to the Wii Wheel. But after that, it’s pure bliss.

The Wii Wheel provides an immerseful, intuitive gameplay experience that has been attempted by other games (Such as Excite Truck) but not truly perfected. Mario Kart Wii has perfected it, and it is smooth in the same way that the controls of Super Mario Galaxy were – completely faultless. The way that the turning of the wheel makes your kart turn on screen is addictive, and leaves you wanting more.

Of course, if the Wii Wheel isn’t what tickles your fancy, you can always use the Wii Remote & Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, or the ever-popular GameCube controller.

Graphics- [10/10] The graphics are just about as good as a Mario game can get. It’s hard to make cartoon people look any more realistic. The game utilizes similar graphics to Super Mario Galaxy, which was incredible, so of course this game will receive the same score.

Final Score- [8/10] While Mario Kart Wii is lots of fun to play, and certainly the best Mario Kart title thus far, it’s not much different in playability than its predecessors, a fact which brings down the score to an 8. Overall, however, Mario Kart Wii is definitely a must-buy if you are a Wii owner. [b]A[/b]

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates Review

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates

Console: Nintendo DS

In all honesty, who doesn’t love Final Fantasy? Quite possibly one of the most popular video game series of all time, the incredible masters of RPG have done it again, and they certainly lived up to expecations.

I personally have been anticipating this game for ages, and seeing as I loved Crystal Chronicles for the GCN, I had high expectations. I was not disappointed.

Plot- [10/10] One of the most intelligent and interesting plot designs ever, in my opinion. In complete contrast to the many somewhat pointless subplots that were the downfall of the original game, Ring of Fates delivers an incredible storyline that will leave you wondering what is going to happen next. Along with this is the customizable aspect of Multiplay mode, which is similar to the original game, giving you the choice of either option.

In RoF, twins Yuri and Chelinka live with their father, Sir Latov, in a small village on the outskirts of Rebena Te Ra, the region’s capital (points if you know where the name is from). Their mother is long deceased, and the children miss her dearly.

Suddenly, monsters begin to appear in many places, controlled by mysterious red crystals embedded in their body. These crystals are somehow related to the Crystal Temple in Rebena Te Ra, and are viciously powerful and evil in comparison to the light crystals that the Yukes use for magic.

After a day at Mount Vaal, picking Moogle Plants with family friend Alhanalem, the children are looking forward to a quiet night alone with their father – one that will never come. Their village is invaded by the Blackguards of the Temple, and a strange wizard called Chaspel murders Yuri and Chelinka’s father, asking for “a replacement”. Yuri and Chelinka ward him off using magic, but at a terrible price; Chelinka can no longer speak.

Along with Alhanalem, Meeth the Lilty, and Gnash the Forest Selkie, the twins must get to the bottom of the terrible prophecy they are, unknowingly, a part of, and stop the demonic power of the crimson moon – before it is too late.

Gameplay- [8/10] After Crystal Chronicles, it takes some getting used to to play this game, and especially interchanging between the touch screen and the buttons while in combat. However, having a damage meter in place of the original game’s “heart system” is much easier.

Switching party members is also an issue. You need to touch their logo on the touch screen, but this happens while you are still being attacked – A fact that makes it nearly impossible to not take damage while you are doing it.

Graphics- [6/10] With all that is good about this game, the graphics are truly a disappointment. The short, animated “baby people” are annoying to watch on my DS screen, and they could have done much better, in my opinion.

Final Score- [9/10] An excellent, excellent game, and probably my favorite DS game thus far. Definitely a must-have, even if you didn’t like the original – It is less like a Crystal Chronicles and more like a true Final Fantasy title, which is still great. A+

 

-Brett, Cafe Editor

Super Mario Galaxy Review

Console: Wii

I’m not a fan of Mario games. Paper Mario, yes, but the attributes of games such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine are not typically something I look for in a video game.

Super Mario Galaxy, however, is an experience all in itself. I was wowed by the graphics, the gameplay and the enjoyable simplicity of the game. It has changed my opinion on Mario games forever.

Plot- [7/10] For the amount of good that this game brings to the world, it has a mediocre and extremely cliche plotline. Basically, Mario has been invited to attend the Mushroom Kingdom’s Star Festival, a sacred festival held every 100 years in recognition of the Power Star that gives power to the kingdom.

Of course, you can guess what happens five minutes into the festival. His menacingness, Lord Bowser, appears with a few new tricks up his sleeve (such as a UFO Confused). He makes quick work of uprooting Peach’s castle (where have I seen that before? Razz), with Mario still in it. However, before Mario can do anything, he is whisked off to another planet and introduced to a mysterious race called “Lumas”, shape-shifting stars, and their mistress, Lady Rosalina, who live on a large space station/observatory that passes beside the Mushroom Kingdom only every hundred years. However, the power from their observatory has been stolen by Bowser and hidden around the universe in the form of many Grand Stars. In order to save Peach from Bowser in the centre of the universe, Mario must first rescue all of the Grand Stars, so the observatory can fly once again.

Bleh. Very predictable and, to be honest, quite boring.

Gameplay- [10/10] Intensely awesome. Some of the smoothest, easiest-to-use Wii controls ever, in my opinion. Mario has the ability to “spin” instead of punching, an invaluable technique, and to execute this ability, all you need is one shake of the Wii remote. Unlike Twilight Princess, where the sword would sometimes lag for a few seconds after you swing the remote, this is perfect and smooth. The B button is used for firing Star Bits, and it is easy to use at any time, in the heat of any situation.

The rest of the controls are almost identical to those in Super Mario 64. It takes some getting used to to walk upside-down without problem, but it’s not too difficult.

Graphics- [10/10] Bless the Nintendo people for putting so much intricate detail and time into the graphics of this game, because they certainly succeeded. On most Galaxies, Mario can walk upside-down and all around any object. The detail on everything is amazing, and the graphics are smooth and without lag.

Final Score- [9/10] While the plot sucks, everything else is fantastic. In my opinion, this is debatably the best Wii game released thus far. A+

Pokemon Diamond/Pearl Review

Pokemon Diamond/Pearl Version- Nintendo DS

We heard about it years ago: Two games, called Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl, are in the works. They seemed to take forever to come out with details, though, and only recently has any kind of actual information been released directly from Nintendo. But here it is, finally, the much-awaited game that brought even the most reluctant Pokemon players *coughcough* *ME* *coughcough* crawling out to their local Walmart to buy a copy. With millions of sales in the first day it was released, this truly is an amazing game.

Gameplay: 10

This game uses the innovative DS touch screen to make it so much easier for us players–Wheras in other generations of these games, one had to move the cursor with the control pad merely to select an attack to use on the opponent, with Diamond and Pearl it is no longer a problem! Simply touch the attack you wish to use, and you’re on your way.

The fun “Poketch” feature makes Gameplay even easier; With many different Poketch apps that you can collect, from a digital clock to a daycare monitor, it is a useful and invaluable tool.

The wireless functions of the game are endless. Not only does the game feature Wi-Fi connectivity, with Worldwide trading and battles, but you can also go “Underground” and dig for fossils, evolution stones, and more with your friends, all via the Nintendo DS wireless connection, of course.

You can also “migrate” Pokemon from a 3rd Generation game (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen versions) after you receive the National Dex. This can only be done by completing your ordinary Pokedex, but it is worth it, I guarantee.

There are TONS more features which I haven’t mentioned here, and if you want to find out what they are, I suggest you go out and buy the game for yourself. Wink

Story: 9

A criminal syndicate called “Team Galactic” which operates a facility beneath the Veilstone Space Station has been planning something for awhile. Something to do with the three lakes in Sinnoh, and three ancient Pokemon called Uxie, Azelf, and Mesprit…

An incident at Lake Valor confirms it–Galactic’s head, Cyrus, is up to something, something involving two of the greatest powers in the history of time… By harnessing the power of Time and Space, Cyrus will be able to destroy the world, and create a new one.

His world.

And time is ticking.

Difficulty: 8.5

Pokemon games have never been too difficult, and this one is no exception. Within a week, a player (or at least an addicted player like myself) can find and receive all eight gym badges, capture either Dialga or Palkia, and save Sinnoh from Team Galactic. For the more casual player, however, it could take months–It all depends on how much you play, and how experienced you are with past editions.

Final Score: 10

Fantastic. Truly fantastic. If you do NOT currently have this game, it woud be in your best interest to get out there and buy a copy right now. Yes, I’m talking to YOU. You, sitting at your computer screen, with no idea how amazing this game really is.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Review

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Retro Review (N64)

Three words: Best. Game. Ever. I got it very soon after it came out after I got my 64, way back in ’99…I think, and loved it immediately. I’m embarassed to say it, but before OoT I had never played a Zelda game before. Embarassed It introduced me to a world of video games that just can’t be beat–And did it with style.

Plot- [10/10] The story is remarkably compelling, and would make an excellent movie, book, or fan fiction (*cough ME cough*). Basically a young forest boy is reckoned by the Deku Tree, the guardian spirit of his forest, to begin an ancient quest to stop the evil Ganondorf, king of the Gerudos. Link, the young boy, collects the three spiritual stones from the Kokiri, the Gorons, and the Zoras and then must use their power, along with the royal heirloom, the Ocarina of Time, to enter the Sacred Realm and wield the Master Sword.

…But there’s a twist–Before Link can do so, Ganondorf ransacks the palace in an attempt to kidnap the princess. He fails, but no sooner is he seemingly defeated than Link opens the Sacred Realm, leaving the way open for Ganondorf to grasp the power within…

Link must now find the six sacred Temples of Hyrule, and free the spirits of the Sages who guard the magic there. Using their power, he must then defeat Ganondorf–Once and for all.

Gameplay- [8/10] I’m gonna be honest–The gameplay of this game isn’t all that great. The action button makes it easy to do things, but I just wish you could jump upward! Targeting with the bow and arrow isn’t too bad, and the Hookshot makes it very clear to where it’s going, so the points will rack up to 8, instead.

Graphics- [5/10] Well, perhaps it’s just my 64, but from my experiences with this game… The graphics suck. They continually lag, glitch, and even stop about an hour into the game, at which point I have to reset the machine (which isn’t easy, as my Reset button is jammed with peanut butter). And while Adult Link’s nose is too pointy, Child Link has no nose. It’s not a good balance, but I guess it’s okay considering the technology back then.

Final Score- [10/10] I’ll revert to the intro when I say this: Best. Game. Ever. It pwns, honestly–You can’t beat the Ocarina. They keep trying, but they keep failing. This game will go down in history. A+

Nintendogs Review

Nintendogs
NDS Review

Ah, Nintendogs… I ♥ this game in ways that you could not even begin to imagine — One summer, I was so addicted, SO addicted to this game that I bought a Nintendogs DS Skin. Twenty-five dollars Canadian, and worth every penny.

Having my humble copy of Lab and Friends, I take pride in doing something that a casual Nintendogs gamer like myself would not ordinarily be able to do in such a short period of time (since Jan. 06, with not much play time)–collecting most dog breeds. I say most, because it’s freaking impossible to get ’em all when you play as little as I do–I’m serious, guys. NOT POSSIBLE.

Plot- [9.5/10] With very little plot line, this game is open to the wonders of the imagination by basically making it your own. There is no way that you must play the game, but the basic plot goes as follows:

A new dog trainer (yourself) goes to the kennel to purchase his/her very first ever dog. Depending on which version you own, you can choose from different dogs. You are then invited to join tournaments (hosted by the quarreling Archie Hubbs and Ted Rumsworth), go for walks, meet other dogs, shop for supplies, and so much more. With Nintendogs the exploration is more fun than even a Legend of Zelda game.

Gameplay- [8/10] The gameplay of Nintendogs is, in my opinion, irrelevant to how the game works, but in itself it is a wonder. Use the stylus to pet your dog, feed him treats, pull the leash…It also makes a convenient way to hit icons, sort of like a computer’s desktop. It also proves useful in competitions, especially agility trials. And using the voice commands to teach the dogs tricks, while sometimes faulty, is an added bonus that makes the game that much more realistic.

Graphics- [10/10] I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that these are quite possibly the best graphics I’ve seen yet on a game for the DS. The dogs look realistic enough to be believable, and some of the background scenery on walks is breathtakingly intense.

Final Score- [10/10] This game is fantastically original in its own respect, and even dwarfs countless other simulation games. With so many things to unlock, and so much to do, you always enjoy yourself when playing Nintendogs. A+

-Brett

Big N Cafe Reviewer

Brett’s Nintendogs, for those who are interested:
-Cappy, Labrador Retriever
-Lupin, Siberian Husky
-Munich, German Shepherd
-Flip, Toy Poodle
-Pugwash, Pug
-Trouser, Chihuahua
-*wants* a Daschund named Howie… Unfortunately, I lost my Nintendogs game… Crying or Very sad ‘S all gone… Sad