Top Xbox 360 games of 2009

May 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Xbox 360 is still arguably the most popular next gen console out there, mainly due to an impressive array of exclusive titles found only on that console, and Microsoft's ability to flash enough cash to buy titles previously exclusive to other systems, such as Final Fantasy. With this dominant approach, the Xbox 360 continues to offer a range of great games. Nearly halfway through the year, we list the three most impressive games to emerge on the system thus far;

#3: The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

We covered this game in an earlier preview, and Dark Athena is certainly enjoying the praise it deserves. Not only a sequel but also more of an expansion, this title features a port of the original Butcher Bay Riddick game, adding new content and a multiplayer option that the fans were crying out for. This game is undoubtedly one of the best movie-based games ever released.

#2: Halo Wars

Probably one of the most well loved gaming franchises in the world, Halo continues to dominate even as the developers, Bungie, break into new ground. Halo wars is the first game in the franchise to break away from the First person Shooter genre, instead playing as a real time strategy game. It's art style is unique, combat is intriguingly diverse, and it's singleplayer campaign should be pretty interesting as well for fans of the series looking for answers. This expands the Halo universe even further and is a must have for fans of the series.

#1: Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Serving as a prequel to the wildly popular Star Ocean franchise, The Last Hope was eagerly anticipated by fans the world over. From developers Square Enix, this title was always going to be a deep, emotional and gorgeous game to play. Bringing the entire galaxy to bear in an adventure which will pit your RPG skills against a host of galactic enemies, Star Ocean: The Last Hope does everything you'd expect from a Square Enix game, and does it with style and beauty.

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NinjaBread Man: Just Say No!

May 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Here at Videogamenewsblog, we like to focus on the positive, bringing you reviews of the games we liked and exciting news of upcoming titles. However, from time to time we like to take the opportunity to warn you of certain gaming disasters, to spare you the anguish that a rubbish game can bring. This time around we have NinjaBread Man from developers Data Design, a game that has sold way more copies than it ever had the right to sell! Now, this is not a new game, so our warnings are a little too late, but hopefully we can deter any gamers from picking this up if they haven't already done so.

The game falls at the first hurdle with vastly miscalculating the gameplay. For a platformer, the controls in NinjaBread Man are frustratingly misjudged. But in NinjaBread Man, jumping is handled by shaking the Nunchuk, a task that requires coordination that I doubt many human beings consistently possess. Combat is also greatly frustrating, with the enemies you encounter being overly powerful. Normally this could be overcome with skill, but the Wii remote is so unresponsive in this game that most of your attacks go unregistered.

In NinjaBread Man, you either walk (which is excruciatingly slow) or you can run, which makes your character very hard to control. Losing your character off the edge of a platform is a common occurance due to the low quality controls. Story and plot are almost non existant, with the game lacking any cut scenes, although with only three stages, there's not a lot of time to get used to the game anyway.

All this would be almost forgiveable if Data Design were a young, up and coming producer with much to learn, but these guys have been around for years, and they really should know better. NinjaBread Man is another example of just how poor the Wii games can be - avoid it at all costs!

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Upcoming Nintendo DS RPGs

May 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Nintendo DS has always ruled the roost when it comes to handheld RPGs, with the developer prioritizing this genre in view of their more wholesome gaming outlook. Great RPGs such as Etrian Odyssey go hand in hand with amazing remakes of old classics such as Final Fantasy IV to mention but a couple of a diverse and popular genre. And since you can never have too much of a good thing, here we list three upcoming RPGs that are sure to join the impressive pantheon;

#3: The Dark Spire

Developers Atlus are harking back to the classic days of the RPG with Dark Spire, bringing us the original first person action adventure format in a whole new package. For fans of the classic RPG Wizardry, this will be like coming home. The controls and menu systems are designed to imitate the function of old classics, and so this game is definitely an acquired taste. To many of today's gamers, the format and gameplay will seem alien and outdated, but this will be the exact attraction to many hardcore gamers. This stylised approach is a large gamble from Atlus, and while it's sure to turn many people off, you can guarantee that hundreds of thousands of people are going to absolutely love it.

#2: Blue Dragon Plus

Blue Dragon was originally released to the XBox 360 to wide critical acclaim. Famed for bringing back the classic turn based system which seems to rapidly be in decline, Blue Dragon was a favourite to those more diehard RPG fans. While Blue Dragon Plus will feature the same Akira Toriyama inspired style and the concept of characters, the game comes across as more of a real-time strategy. This perfectly compliments the style to create an awesome gaming experience.

#1: Dragon Quest V

it often surprises us Westerners to hear that, in Japan, Dragon Quest is even more famous than the Final Fantasy franchise. From developers Square Enix, Dragon Quest is simply one of the best RPG series of all time, and this installment on the DS (a port of the original SNES version) is no exception. First of all, it's got some of the series' greatest combat, featuring adjustments and changes that stayed on until much later in the series. Secondly, Akira Toriyama's signature artistic touches enhance the game's appeal greatly. Add to this an impressively large and detailed world for it's time, and you'll soon see why Dragon Quest is as respected as it is.

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RPGs for the PSP

May 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

As Sony's PSP begins its promised 'comeback year', it seems one element the handheld is looking to improve upon is the number of RPGs available to the system. These have always been a little thin on the ground, and the demand from RPG fans across the globe seems to have been answered in part. The following games aren't strictly RPGs per say, but do their best to cram in as many elements from the genre as they can;

Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?: More an action adventure game than an RPG, prinny makes it onto our list in that it ties into the SRPG (Strategy Roleplaying Game) world of Disgaea, as players take on the role of one of the many Prinnies. Prinnies are small, penguin-like comedic characters with a penchant for mischief. Don't let the cute image fool you though, these guys can fight, and you're going to need a lot of skill to take on the hordes of evil coming your way. Utilising a fighting scarf that can chain together multiple combos, you have a set time limit in which to complete specific areas and beat the game- fast, intense fun!

Class Of Heroes: A dungeon crawler game that harks to the many MMORPGs of the age, this game is all about character customization and creating a skilled and diverse team. You must take into account: gender, race, and alignment(good, neutral, evil) before breaking down further into classes, which include everything from Clerics to Ninjas. With a massive range of possibilities and combinations, this game provides great replay value as you construct a master team of motley powers!

Phantasy Star Portable: The main attraction to this game is the multiplayer experience it brings, which is quite unprecedented for the PSP. It features in-depth character customization, traditional exploratory elements and RPG style combat along with leveling up. This game definitely provides one of the most faithful and cutting edge RPG experiences available to the handheld medium, and coupled with the multiplayer capabilities this game is arguably the most important release of the year for the PSP.

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PSP- Child Friendly!

May 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The PSP has never had a great reputation for being a child friendly handheld. This is due mainly to the fact that it is competing against the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi, which have always staked their reputation on being family friendly and clean cut. The PSP also caters for many games considered overly violent, such as Grand Theft Auto and God of War. However, it shouldn't be said that the PSP is completely devoid of titles to offer the younger generations, as these fine examples prove;

Wipeout Pure: Arguably the most popular and outright fun racing game for the PSP, the Wipeout franchise have always delivered the goods on all consoles due to its sheer emphasis on speed. In this game dozens of futuristic hovering race cars rocket through obstacle courses in an attempt to reach first place. Offer both single and multiplayer modes, Wipeout is incredibly fun and, despite the frantic speeds, easily accessible for gamers of all ages.

LocoRoco: LocoRoco offers a fun and simple puzzle game, revolving around tilting a planet in strategic ways in order to control the forever-rolling LocoRoco creatures. With various levels and challenges to try, this game retains playability due to the scope of the gameplay and the cute themes and characters- perfect for little kids looking to get into some puzzle solving fun.

Tokobot: This refreshing platformer revolves around controlling a team of the titular Tokobots, combining both fighting and puzzle elements. This is accomplished by ordering the Tokobots to execute certain formations, depending on the situation at hand. For example, executing "circle formation" cause the bots to surround you, making it possible for you to stomp on enemies and activate large triggers. Utilizing differing formations is the key to progression with this game, as you must shift your tactics dependant on the enemies you face. This game is perfect for kids, throwing back to the fun and immensely playable platformers of the 80s and 90s.

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Ninja Blade

May 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

At various gaming conferences last year, a new action/exploration game was unveiled entitled Ninja Blade. After a few rounds of demonstrative gameplay, the word on many people's lips was that this game borrowed a little bit too much from its similarly monikered rival, Ninja Gaiden. Viewers believed that Ninja Blade was looking to be little better than a rip off of the widely successful Gaiden, but we're here to fight the corner of this new game, and bring you a few reasons why Ninja Blade should be a title to look out for.

Ninja Blade asserts its frantic and exciting action style early on, with an opening sequence which sees the main character plummeting through the sky combating various deamons through use of in-sequence button prompts. These interactive cinematic sequences have become a common feature within many games recently, and finds a great way to combine stunning visual sequences with actual gameplay. From the outset, Ninja Blade hurls you into a fast paced action game that barely relents.

Ninja Blade also deviates from Gaiden's style in that the gameplay is much more reminiscent of Devil May Cry, focusing on multiple weapons to allow for a varied and fast paced emphasis on combos. As the missions begin, the main character is equipped with three weapons. Firstly, we have a lean sword used for well balanced attacks. There are also two shorter blades which are dual wielded in order to allow for fast paced combos. Lastly, there is a huge double handed blade which loses out on speed, but makes up for this with brute force.

The most attractive function of Ninja Blade is the mechanic named 'Ninja Vision', which can be activated at any time to take advantage of your mystical training. Ninja Vision allows time to slow to an extent, allowing you to dodge attacks and escape or position yourself easier. Also, as the screen dims to a deep red, weaknesses in your opponents armour or body will become pronounced, guiding you to the best area to strike. This is a great addtion which creates a great contextual feel within the game.

So there you have just a few reasons why Ninja Blade will be worth a look on the Xbox 360. Sure, it's being released in the wake of probably the most successful Ninja gaming franchise ever, but that's no reason to dismiss this game from the offset, because from what we've seen so far this game should be pretty damn good.

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Upcoming Wii Greats

May 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Word of mouth is stating that 2009 is going to be the year of the Wii. Developers are promising a range of impressive games that are going to push the console to its limits in terms of graphics and gameplay. Spring has already witnessed a steady stream of impressive games, such as Boom Blox Party, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Virtua Tennis 2009 and Puzzle Kingdom. All great games, but here we give a quick list of the three games we're most looking forward to;

Excitebots: This is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Excite Truck, one of the most popular launch titles for the Wii. This time around, players are promised an even quicker pace and a more technical reflection of high speed racing. Instead of racing a mere truck, players take control of mechanical bots that mimic both the abilities and attributes of specific animals and insects. While the turtle is slow, it's also heavy and steady, in contrast to the bat, who is extremely fast and can jump far, but lacks weight, and can be easily knocked aside. Also, an innovative addition has been added, allowing mini games to be played whilst driving, to give players an edge in the race proper. Sounds complicated, but the way it works is very impressive.

Klonoa: We've spoken of our excitement for Klonoa already over here, so we'll just say that this promises to be a highly innovative and successful game, if the original is anything to go by!

Punch-Out! is also a remake, and the first installment in the series in about 20 years. It's a style of boxing gameplay that has been revisioned in 3D by many developers, in games such as Ready 2 Rumble and Wii Sports Boxing. The series has always been a sure hit with fans and continues to deliver the goods, and so any further installment is always going to be a good thing!

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Burn Zombie Burn

May 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The latest addition to Sony’s PlayStation Store, Burn Zombie Burn is a deeply addictive game. It much resembles Bizarre Creation’s Geometry Wars and House Marque’s Super Stardust HD in that you face waves of numerous enemies. The only difference is instead of different coloured geometric shapes or asteroids and spaceships, you have to shoot yourself through hordes of zombies!

The basic principle is you have to survive as long as possible by shooting zombies and getting a high multiplier to increase the points you get from each zombie. Sounds easy, yeah? Well there is a slight twist. You do not get multiplier points for killing a certain amount of zombies. No, you get multipliers from burning zombies! You have to set alight zombies with your flaming plank of wood and then blow some zombie brains.

This neat twist by developers Kuju, adds a new element to the game that is not seen in geometry wars or Super Stardust HD. In order to get huge scores, you need to have a group of zombies set alight to get your multiplier up and shoot none burning zombies to get maximum points and drop health pick-ups. Ok that’s fair enough. But burning zombies are much faster and hit harder so much be avoider, and they drop much better goodies but when you kill them your multiplier goes down and you get less points. So when playing you must have a constant balance of burning zombies and normal zombies. This intuitive gameplay element makes this game hugely entertaining, challenging and massively addictive, without it Burn Zombie Burn would be another arcade-style shooter.

As in any zombie shooter, its all about what weapons you have to kill the deadly horde of brain eating zombies. So in the zombie repellent case we have the default pistol and burning plank of wood. As the waves progress, you unlock machine guns, shotguns, TNT, chainsaws, baseball bats, cricket bats, flame-throwers, a brain gun (to distract zombies) and lawnmowers, yes lawnmowers, one of the most effective weapons to plough through a horde of zombies. The more you use each weapon, the more combo points you gain for that weapon. Once you attain 3 combo points for any mixture of weapon you can press a button in the map which will either make it start raining and puts out burning zombies, but increases your score, or sends the zombies into a crazy zombie dance.

Burn Zombie Burn has several two game modes arcade and challenge mode with each having freeplay, timed and defend daisy modes. The first two modes are self explanatory. The Defend Daisy mode sees you defend your girlfriend Daisy who is sitting in your car. You have to keep the zombies away, with burning zombies heal her, but do more damage and you have to keep the TNT away from her as that can hurt her too.

Burn Zombie Burn has a very polished feel to it, and looks brilliant with its cartoon graphics and it’s main protagonist straight from the 1950’s. Burn Zombie Burn sees mindless arcade shooting mixed with strategy and this mix works wonderfully, Kuju really have nailed it perfectly. The weapons, while some are standard zombie killers, are fun and inventive, especially the lawnmower and the various bats. Overall this is a great game to play to blow off some steam and doesn’t need to be taken seriously, unless your after those big scores.

Score: 8 / 10

Burn Zombie Burn is available on the PlayStation Store for the PlayStation 3.

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Forever is no more

May 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Duke Nukem Forever has been literally forever in the making. For a long time it was like Guns N Roses long awaited album Chinese Democracy, considered to be never released or even just a myth. However, Chinese Democracy was released last year and expelled its own myth of never going to be released. So, is the fact that I am writing this mean Duke Nukem Forever is on the horizon for release? Erm…No.

3D Realms, the creator of Duke Nukem Forever, has sadly gone bust due to lack of funds, which can be attributed to the economic climate. 3D Realms had been in the games industry since 1987 and popularised Shareware games. Shareware games are what we now consider to be demos. They were a trial version of the game, usually just the first level of the game, for consumers to try out before they bought the game.

3D Realms also brought us the fabulous Wolfenstein 3D first-person shooter and the beloved Duke Nuken character. Wolfenstein 3D was one of the first first-person shooters to be developed and inspired one of the most defining first-person shooters and if not game of all time, Doom. Duke Nukem started out as a side-scrolling shooting game, but later transformed into a first-person shooter with the hilarious, gory and strange Duke Nukem 3D.

Duke Nukem Forever was supposed to be the next generation follow up to the successful Duke Nukem 3D, however, at the turn of the millennium 3D Realms where left behind and development of Duke Nukem Forever slipped further and further behind. Screenshots of progress where released to the press but for years afterwards nothing was heard. Nearly a decade after being announced more screenshots were released, and they showed true promise that it was on the horizon.

Since this news hit, the likelihood of Duke Nukem Forever being released feels more and more like a no. Take Two planned to publish the game but split from 3D Realms because of the lack of progress with the title and due to the recent economic turmoil we see ourselves in who could blame them? This inevitably lead to 3D Realms going bust, and the possibility of Duke Nukem Forever becoming Duke Nukem Never.

It is a sad time as the prospect of losing another video games developer with true pedigree and a history of making great games. You never know, someone may take a gamble on them, but in this climate it is doubtful and the likelihood is we will probably never ever see the promising Duke Nukem Forever.

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Star Trek D-A-C

May 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Following the release of the highly anticipated new Star Trek film by J.J Abrams, it is clear it is not a continuation from the last Star Trek film Nemesis, which was the last voyage of the Next Generation crew, but instead a reboot of the franchise from the beginning. It will not try and remake classic Star Trek films like The Wrath of Khan, it is instead a Star Trek in an alternate reality.

So what does this have to do with games? Well, as most blockbuster action films come with video games so does the new Star Trek film, Star Trek D-A-C.

Star Trek D-A-C is simple top down space game based on J.J Abrams aforementioned movie reboot of the series. It pitches the Federation against the Romulan Empire. Star Trek D-A-C allows you to choose between three ships, each with its own unique abilities that can help turn the tide of war. On offer are nimble fighters, powerful bombers and the almighty flagships. The new, sleek looking U.S.S Enterprise is available to Starfleet commanders.

star trek dac cover 01 Star Trek D A C

The game features three modes of play, singleplayer, online multiplayer and online co-op. For each individual mode there are a further three more game types, Assault, Conquest and Team Deathmatch.

Star Trek D-A-C is not like most film-based video games. The film-based video games have a similarly “big budget” as there film counterparts do, though not usually the same scale. Film-based games try to have a side story to the film and try to enhance on what the film did in the theatre. Examples of these are the newly released X-Men Origins: Wolverine game and the upcoming Terminator Salvation game. Star Trek D-A-C is completely different. First off, Star Trek D-A-C is not available in stores but instead available for download through the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network services. Secondly, it looks to not have the budget these games tend to carry with them, which isn’t a bad thing. The top down 2d approach, similar in style to an RTS type game, works for Star Trek D-A-C. The not too fancy graphics also work, the lack of story to “complement” the film is also a good thing.

So your thinking there is nothing much too it then? Well yes, it is an incredibly simple game. Up to 6 people per side battle it out in a the depths of space. The game is classed as being 2D, but really it is played from a perspective that makes it look 2d. The game does, however, play on a 2D plane, which limits vertical movement, but in the background the developers have managed to create a sense of depth to the game, with lots of activity going on in the background. All the ships are rendered in 3D, and will even tilt when turning, other objects like space stations and asteroids are also in 3D.

star trek dac screen 01 Star Trek D A C

Star Trek D-A-C is not a master revision of any Star Trek games, mainly because there aren’t many good ones worth remaking, like the movie it comes from, nor is it a mastery revision of film-based video games. It is just a simple space combat shooter that takes influence from the new film, and so far it’s the only game where you can control the new U.S.S Enterprise! And that’s what makes it stand out from the rest. On a last note, Paramount Digital Entertainment have kept what the D-A-C stands for a tight secret and will announce what it means later. Have any guesses? Ours would be on the lines of the three game types, Deathmatch, Assault and Conquest, boring yes so lets hope it means something better!

Star Trek D-A-C is out this month initially for the Xbox 360 via the Live Arcade service, and will be released later for the PlayStation 3 via PSN and PC.

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