Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

N: Be a Stick Figure Ninja Master

Of the thousands of Flash games on the Web, the simply-titled N stands out from them all with its unrivaled combination of style, simplicity, elegance and challenge. Packing hundreds of levels providing nearly infinite replay value, you can kiss work productivity goodbye.

In N, you are a stick figure ninja with superhuman speed, dexterity and jumping abilities thanks to “an amazingly fast metabolism.” Unfortunately that high powered metabolism also results in an insect-like lifespan of 15 minutes, which can only be extended by collecting gold and avoiding “inadvertently homicidal robots.” The subtle absurdity is well executed and adds a welcome bit of humor to the game.

But it would all be for naught if N weren’t fun to play. Fortunately it’s a blast! Launching yourself from a trampoline while dodging rockets and carefully placed mines in pursuit of the exit door is a true adrenaline rush. The incredibly intricate physics engine makes N a very unique game, where you can spend hours just marveling at the different ways to kill your ninja, sending his body flopping over ledges like a ragdoll. And N comes packed with more than a hundred levels that can be unlocked, and thanks to the included level editor, called Ned, you can create additional levels or download ones made by other players.

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A Better Game Review System

Video game magazines and web sites have been doing it all wrong for far too long.

Traditionally game reviewers are assigned to a system — a few guys on Nintendo, some on Xbox and a couple on PlayStation. But this makes absolutely no sense considering the abundance of identical titles that release simultaneously on every console. We only need one review of NCAA Football!

The problems start to set in when the guy doing the Xbox reviews happens to be a big sports fan and a hater of first-person shooters. Or maybe he loves platform games but can’t stand racing.

One way to fairly effectively avoid this random bias is to use a review score aggregator like Game Rankings or Metacritic. These grab the scores from all the major review sites and ‘zines and averages the numbers.

A better solution on the content providers’ end would be to assign review “beats” based on genre, not system. So there would be one guy on the racing beat, one on the sports beat, one on the puzzle beat, etc. This way, you’ll know the reviewer is an expert on the type of game he’s playing, and he can suggest a similar title that might be more worthwhile.

Hopefully that would ensure that games like Mario Kart: Double Dash!! don’t ever receive a perfect score. (I mean, let’s face it. That was the worst Mario Kart ever.)

Thank You, Nintendo: I Finally Picked a Winner

I’ve been playing video games since the mid-80s. That was also the last time I picked a winning game console.

I was weaned on my brother’s Nintendo Entertainment System. While there was an Atari 5200 in the house, NES got all the playtime. All the greatest games of the generation were developed for the system — well, just about every game was made for NES.

Many years later my brother purchased a Sega Genesis, packaged with a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. (And whatever happened with companies packing their best game along with the system? At least Nintendo brought it back with Wii Sports.)

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Bring Back 2-D Games

I miss old-school gaming.

I recently got into Marvel vs. Capcom for Dreamcast, an awesome two-dimensional fighting game, with some friends, and it really rocks just about any fighting game of the past 10 years.

In used to be able to turn to handheld games for my old-school fix, but having owned (and eBayed) a Sony PSP and Nintendo DS, it’s becoming obvious that development of 2D may soon come to a halt. (Although the hugely popular New Super Mario Bros. for the DS was incredibly good.)

It’s cool to see there’s still interest in the old style, with ongoing work on 2D versions of popular 3D games, like the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D. There’s a new video on YouTube (below) for a 2D version of the upcoming 3D platformer, Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii.

The old games are still hanging around in the form of PC emulators, Wii Virtual Console and Game Boy Micro.

I think hope we’re about to see a major revival, though. Nintendo Co. will soon allow indie developers to create games for a new download platform called Wii Ware. In theory this could usher in a whole slew of awesomely low budget 2D games.

I’m hoping there is enough interest from developers because there’s certainly a desire from consumers.

Console Gamers Say Bring on the Pricing Wars

Frugal gamers unite.

With Microsoft Corp. knocking $50 off the price of the Xbox 360 today and Sony Corp.’s Playstation 3 price drop storage capacity increase last month, conditions will only get better for us, the consumers.

We’re finally nearing that sweet spot in the console generation cycle where manufacturers assemble their products at a lower cost, and attract the customers who had been waiting for a price drop.

Microsoft is acknowledging that, after almost two years without a price drop, it’s time. “The fact that we have been able to keep our launch price longer than any other console while retaining our leadership position demonstrates that consumers believe in the value of Xbox 360,” said Mitch Koch, corporate vice president of Global Retail Sales and Marketing Group for Microsoft.

Sony has been struggling to give gamers an incentive to purchase its next-gen system. By losing exclusivity of the Grand Theft Auto series and with whispers of Metal Gear Solid 4 making its way to the Xbox 360, Sony needs to find other ways to push systems.

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Tell Crackdown Game Developer Your Sequel Ideas

Developers of the do-anything Xbox 360 game, Crackdown, are accepting ideas from fans for next year’s sequel.

Video game blog Destructoid will collect the Crackdown 2 ideas and present a list to developer Realtime Worlds. If you’ve got a good concept for a mission, weapon, character or feature idea, post it on the comments page.

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