Archive for January, 2012

Keep Barrel Rollin, Rollin…: Star Fox 64 3D Review (3DS)

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Star Fox 64 3DI have a deep dark secret. Multiple in fact that keep awake at night, haunted by the ghosts of dead…well never mind, the point is I never played Star Fox on the SNES nor did I ever play Star Fox 64. In fact the only Star Fox game I had previously played was Adventures on the GameCube, which means that this recent re-release and upgrading of Star Fox 64 is the first time I have stepped into the cockpit with Fox McCloud.
Star Fox
            Originally released on the Nintendo 64, Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars in Europe) served as both a reboot of the series and a remake of the original game, with plenty of new features including some straight from the never released Star Fox 2 for SNES. As Fox McCloud it is up to you and your group of mercenaries to save the Lylat System for the devious, fiendish and down right evil Andross.

Star Fox Asteroid

Q-Games, best known for their PixelJunk series, has done an incredible job making this 14 year old game look fresh. They didn’t just slap a new coat of paint on the game; they have taken great care into rebuilding the textures and animations flying this game straight into the new millennium of video games. The original voice actors were even rehired to re-record their dialogue. Now that’s devotion.

Star Fox Boss

The game flows beautifully for the hour or so it will take you to complete your first run of the story. It looks, feels and plays like it was a brand new IP. You can choose to control Fox using either the circle pad or the 3DS’ gyroscope, both of which work incredibly (and surprisingly) well. However if you’re going to use the gyroscope controls I recommend turning 3D off because it is a difficult task to keep everything in focus while tilting and turning the system. This is a shame because the 3D is truly breathtaking. The depth and dimension that it adds to the game play is phenomenal, similar to the deep endless blue sky of Pilotwings Resort.

Multiplayer Star Fox

The multiplayer is Download Play, so only one of your friends needs to have the cart for up to four of you to play the game, but it’s over far too soon. Also limiting the multiplayer to local play only is a bummer and a missed opportunity to blast this game off into ‘must buy’ territory.
More Star Fox
While the game is only an hour in length there are multiple branching paths that can only be opened by completing specific tasks in the game. The first three times I played through the game I ended up in different parts every time which only makes me want to replay it more. You may not even fight the true final boss on your first trip through, that’s the kind of game this is. It almost demands multiple play throughs since you can see all of the planets you can visit on the solar system map immediately upon starting the game and are only left to wonder what they could be like and how to access them.
Star Fox Montage
However, the game is only an hour in length with no discount in price to reflect this. It’s a steep barrier to entry that seems to be catered to the nostalgic crowd who has disposable income and archaic to newer generations. A few new planets could have been added, or even just stretched out the campaign with the planets already present. While the updates and additions are great, some of them, such as the original voice actors, seem too much like they’re trying to capture lighting in a bottle for the third time. This might be a running theme amongst Nintendo games, but rarely is it this transparent.
Star Fox Crew
Star Fox 64 3D is a good game, any fan of the original will feel comfortable and happy with this port and the updates they made to it. The price point, lack of online multiplayer, and shortsighted game redesign due to nostalgia keep this from being a great game and even a system seller.
Grade: B-

The Colors, Duke, The Colors: Bit Trip Saga Review (3DS)

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Bit Trip Saga Box ArtYou may remember Commander Video as an unlockable character in the brutally rewarding Super Meat Boy but before that he was the star of the Bit.Trip games. Originally released on WiiWare these six games have a distinct and overt retro feel while still being, for all intensive purposes, rhythm games.

Of the six only the two book ends, Bit.Trip Beat and Bit.Trip Flux, are similar with each one resembling pong, albeit pong after a heaping dose of peyote, with the paddle in Beat being on the left side of the screen while the Flux paddle is on the right. The other four games are entirely unique.

Bit Trip Beat

In Bit.Trip Core you use the d-pad to fire a laser and destroy bits as they fly toward the screen. While this sounds simple the patterns will get confusing and over bearing quickly. You must be quick, but also patient and smart. As with all of the games in this collection repetition and pattern memorization is a must.
Bit Trip Void
Bit.Trip Void’s risk/reward style of play has you collecting dark bits while avoiding light bits. The more bits you collect the larger you grow, and the greater your score will increase, but hit a light bit and it is back to your initial size. You can also manually revert back to your original size if things get too out of hand (and they quickly will). You float around the screen with the circle pad, free from any kind of movement impediment.
Bit Trip Runner
Bit.Trip Runner has you take on the role of Commander Video who will perpetually run throughout the levels and you instruct him to jump, kick, block, slide and spring through each level. If you miss a ledge, run into a wall, or anything stops your forward progress you are immediately warped back to the beginning of the stage. There are gold bars to collect in each of the non-boss levels, collect them all in a stage and you can play an even more retro version of a Bit.Trip Runner stage and rack up the points.
Bit Trip Fate
Bit.Trip Fate has you controlling Commander Video once again, but this time he is on a rail as you traverse through space, avoiding obstructions, bits and foes alike. The circle pad moves the Commander on the rail and you aim and shoot with the stylus.

The better you do the more instrumental the music becomes, with layers being added to heighten the experience. Start to lose grip though and you’ll hear the music recede back to a more simplistic form, and if you don’t catch back up to the beat the screen will go black and white and the music will be nothing more than a single tone resembling that of a heart rate monitor. This is true for all of the games except Runner where the music (and a trail behind The Commander) will be determined by the number of power ups collected.
Commander Video
The 3D varies from incredible to unnecessary to an annoyance. There are times in Runner that the 3D environment will look amazing, the depth of field will be perfect and everything will be clear as day and going smoothly, but then all of the sudden the frame rate will drop and you may lose the position of The Commander to the background colors. This cannot be placed entirely on the 3D however because this frame rate drop will happen in 2D as well and can ruin a great session. The levels are short enough so it doesn’t matter too much and you may only lose a minute or two of game play, which should just be regarded as a practice run.

The short play times of these levels make it a great portable game and the variety inside these six games make sure that you’re never bored. If you’re starting to get sick of one style of game play, load up another one and enjoy the ride. It’s a shame that the extra levels included in the Wii version of this collection aren’t packed in here. It would have been a nice addition to it all but there is already hours of content on the cartridge. The content is addictive and you just may find yourself in a trance playing the same stages hundreds of times in a row to complete a perfect run, like the best puzzle games always make you want to do instead of need to do.

Grade: B