March 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

During the 90’s there was only two things on people’s minds Sonic or Mario?, or in other terms Megadrive (Genesis) or SNES?
Sonic and Mario were the stalwarts of the 1990’s gaming decade and defined the system they graced upon. Sonic the Hedgehog was the pin-up of Sega’s Megadrive (or Genesis) and Mario of course is the face of Nintendo and in the 90’s graced the Super Nintendo Entertainment System or the SNES.
Mario had been around the gaming world for a few years now, debuting in the Donkey Kong series and then having his own game series on the NES. During that period, there was no-one to rival the Italian plumber and his adventures to save Princess Peaches from Bowser.
That was until Sonic burst on to the scene in 1991, in Sonic the Hedgehog, (or Sonic 1 nowadays) for the Megadrive, which had been release just a few years earlier. It was an instant hit, gamers loved flying through the Sonic universe at blistering speeds collecting rings. It had everything from alternate paths, to Special Stages, to hard to get to areas with loads of rings, and cool boss fights.
The main aim of the Game was to stop Dr Robotnik from collecting seven of the Chaos Emeralds. You played through six zones, each with three stages, until you confront Dr Robotnik one last time in the game in the Final Zone.
To collect the Chaos Emeralds you had to collect at least 50 rings, which would unveil a giant golden ring at the end of the stage. This could only be done on the first two stages of a zone as the third stage is where you fight off Dr Robotnik. The golden ring would then send you to the Special Stage, where you get flung round a level like a pinball, avoiding pitfalls that would fling you out of the Special Stage. The Chaos Emeralds were always guarded by crystals that took numerous hits for them to disappear. Oh and lastly, Dr Robotnik had turned all the creatures of the Zones into evil enemies that would attack you and make you lose all your precious rings. If you spun attacked them then they would turn back into their fluffy and cute original state! What game has this!!
Anyway, Sonic the Hedgehog was such a huge success Sega released a sequel the following year and introduced a new playable character, Miles “Tails” Prower. Again Dr Robotnik was after the Chaos Emeralds, but this time use them to power his Death Egg. It was up to Sonic and Tails to stop him.
Sonic 2 built on the previous game with enhanced graphics, however, the core gameplay was the same. The only thing they tweaked was the ability to “charge” sonic up and then let him fly along the level in a ball of blue hedgehog. This new mechanism was a brilliant addition by Sega. Another new addition was Super Sonic. If you had collected all seven of the Chaos Emeralds in the Special Stages, Sonic could unleash his Super Form. to do this Sonic must have 50 rings and then jump into the air. When in Super Sonic mode, Sonic glows yellow and is virtually invincible.
Again, Sonic 2 changed things, this time with the Special Stages. Instead of pinballing around a level, Sonic and Tails ran along a course collecting rings and the elusive Chaos Emerald. Sonic 2 was yet another hit for Sega and continued Sonics' rapid rise in video game fame.
Soon after Sonic 2 was released, the inevitable Sonic 3 was rumoured, and to everybody's relief Sonic 3 was released to the masses. It again built on its predecessor, and improved on the graphics front (as much as you can with sprite graphics). It still included the Chaos Emeralds, Super Sonic and Dr Robotnik. However, there was a new Enemy, Knuckles. Knuckles tried to stop Sonic at every turn. The dastardly Dr Robotnik had tricked Knuckles the Echidna into thinking Sonic was a threat to his home.
Knuckles was an instant hit with the Sonic fans, and due to that Sega decided he warranted a game where he was a playable character, thus Sonic and Knuckles was born. Sonic and Knuckles worked as a stand alone game, but had the added functionality of a system called Lock-On Technology. This allowed the previous versions of Sonic to be plugged in combine the two games together and added new elements to the game, except for Sonic 1, which when plugged into the Knuckles and pressing the A, B and C buttons together, a minigame based upon the Chaos Emerald bonus levels is unlocked called Blue Sphere.
Sonic and Knuckles was the last Sonic game to be released on the Megadrive, and ultimately was the last decent Sonic game to date. Since his change from 2D to 3D Sonic entered a downward spiral of poor games, with equally poor gameplay that did not live upto the speed and skill needed for the original trilogy and Sonic and Knuckles. After the failure of Sega's Saturn and Dreamcast consoles, Sega dropped out of the console market and focused on creating and publishing games, and since 2000, Sega have published a Sonic game every single year, to which none of them were any good. Even the games Sega claimed would capture the essence of Sonic, which the fans craved for and was sadly missing, flopped with disgrace. For someone who grew up loving Sonic, this is a sad turn for the blue hedgehog. Personally, I would be happy if I never saw another Sonic game again, just so we are not disappointed again. However, this will not happen as today's kids still love Sonic, and rightly they should, the idea of a super fast blue hedgehog who has superpowers is just brilliant. But Sega has ultimately set their sights on this demographic, as their previous efforts failed to rekindle the older gamers love of Sonic.
So where does Mario fit into all of this? Well he still lives on strong and just keeps getting better and better. Since his debut in 3D on the N64, Mario has embraced the 3D world with relish. Mario absolutely loves it, and 3D loves Mario. The slower pace and platforming suit Mario perfectly, and has resulted in some f his best games - Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. So does this mean Mario has won the battle that has been going on between gamers for nearly twenty years? Maybe, but as long as there are still Sega Megadrives out there (and the emulators) we will always have Sonic at his best!

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Virtual Console Goodies

March 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Wii's Shop Channel features many NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx 16, NEOGEO, and N64 games that are available to be bought and downloaded. Many are classics, while others just have not aged too well. With all the games that are available, it can be hard to distinguish between what you are looking for and what just is not worth your time and money. Not all the best games on the channel are here, but instead three of the best EVER!

Paper Mario

Paper Mario is a classic RPG that was originally released in 2001 on the N64. It may seem dated in terms of the technical proficiency of the graphics, but the visuals themselves remain as absolutely beautiful as ever, not to mention unique.

The reason for this is that the characters and environments are portrayed in 3D, yet they themselves are 2D. Like paper cut-outs of a rich, detailed page of a book. As Mario, you explore a diverse overworld whilst getting people to join your party and fighting off monsters. And while Paper Mario adopts many aspects of RPG conventions, the mechanic that really stands out is the timed button presses in battle, a precursor to the over abused quick-time events that plague games these days, that increase the damage you do to your opponent, as well as decrease the amount of damage he does to you.

Overall, Paper Mario is an amazing and memorable accomplishment, both as a Mario game and as an RPG.

Super Metroid

Of all the games in the renowned franchise, perhaps it is Super Metroid that is the most spoken of. It was the last Metroid game to be released for a total of eight years. Eight years gamers waited, until Metroid Prime came along on the Gamecube; arguably the best Metroid ever, and that should say something because without Super Metroid, there would be no argument and without Super Metroid, Prime would be without a doubt the best game in the series.

Super Metroid is a side-scrolling shooter that relies heavily on exploration and discovery, as well as the adrenaline-pumping action that each boss battle presents. As in any other Metroid, bounty hunter Samus crash lands on an alien planet. Now, she struggles to reach the last surviving Metroid.

Samus is equipped with many awesome abilities. She can morph into a small ball for rolling through tight tunnels, she can fire a cannon beam attached to her arm, and perform a double flip-jump whilst flying through the air.

Many of the things the game is so well known for, such as it's exploration and atmosphere, have to be seen to be believed. All you need to know is that Super Metroid is a classic game that is definitely worth it. Your Wii needs this game, it is a gem of game and must be played by everyone.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time is still hailed as the greatest game of all time, still duelling out with Final Fantasy VII. Honestly, Ocarina of Time is in every way the best game ever. No game has aged as well as this one.

It may look like your typical action adventure at first, but it has one thing that separates it from the rest of the games, its epic story. You begin playing as Link, a child living in Kokiri Forest, where there is no pain or suffering. Or at least, it used to be that way. The guardian of the forest, the Great Deku Tree, is under a curse cast by the infamous villain Ganondorf. Link is chosen to journey inside the tree and kill the curse within. Link destroys the monster and breaks the curse, but it is too late, and the Tree dies. With his dying words, the tree tells Link to find Zelda. Only once you find Zelda can you save Hyrule from falling under Ganondorf's evil reign.

And so it begins. Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game to be played from a third-person perspective. The land of Hyrule is a vast place filled with many characters, places and things to do. Combat is very friendly and simple to execute, but what the game truly strives at is the storyline, exploration, and the atmosphere. It's what Nintendo does best and the musical score is perhaps the most widely recognized in gaming history.

There have been many Zelda games since then, none of which have recaptured what Ocarina of Time accomplished. It recommended that if you check this game out, especially if you never got a chance to play it on the N64.

There have been many Zelda games since Ocarina of Time, but none have recaptured the magic that graced the Ocrarina of Time. If you have never played it, this is a definite purchase. If you have, why not relive the experience again, you know you want to.

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The Best Wii Games of 2008

February 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Lets take a look back at 2008 and rate the best games to have graced the Wii console- a perfect checklist for if you missed any of these must have games!

#5: De Blob

DeBlob is a platformer based on the indie developed game of the same name. In it, the player stars as a small, colorful blob in a world being taken over by Nazi-esque gray blobs, bent on ridding the world of color forever. Your objective is basically to go from level to level, plopping yourself into different colors of paint and spreading color across a dull, gray city. This game supports multiplayer you so and your friends can get involved in the messy action!

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#4: Guitar Hero World Tour

The fourth installment in this global phenomenon brings is doubtless the best so far, especially for the Wii. Introducing downloadable content to the mix, World Tour allows four way play online and supports Mii tour, adding a cute yet extremely addictive option to the guitar strumming mayhem! Throw in all the usual perks and excellence associated with the earlier games and you have an extremely worthy package!

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#3: Mario Kart Wii

This major franchise needs little introduction, With Mario and friends now having rampaged in their cute little karts across the years and consoles! This latest installment for the Wii introduces a mix up on the vehicles, allowing some players to utilize bikes, and also introduces online play to the game. This function has won wide critical acclaim, with Mario Kart being an extremely popular and crowd pleasing title, bringing the action online is a master stroke.

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#2: No More Heroes

Here's a game for the more mature Wii players out there, as you take control of the supremely named Travis Touchdown, a canny fellow who happened to secure himself a lightsaber over the internet! He then takes a part time job as an assassin, offing the top ten hired killers in the business.

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Traversing an open ended world either by foot or by motorcycle, the fighting in this title is fast, frantic and combo-orientated. Players also make extensive use of the Wii remote to grapple and deal with foes close up.

No More Heroes is a great achievement and a must-have for those who have been waiting for the mature experience on the Wii.

#1: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Another Mario title here, and its no secret that we love this game. The latest in the Super Smash series sees a large number of popular characters return to the mayhem.
Much like other reiterations on the Wii, Brawl is the first in the series to support online play, a feature that fans have been crying out for for years. And it doesn't dissapoint- there's nothing quite like pummeling those cute and cuddly characters whilst imagining some guy screaming at the screen from half way across the world!

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Super Mario Galaxy

February 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Although Super Mario Galaxy was released quite some time ago for the Wii, it remains one of the most popular and undisputedly enjoyable games available for the console. This game is well worth looking into if you're one of the unlucky few not to have played it yet.

We join the fray as, shock horror, Princess Peach is kipnapped by Bowzer once again. Mario drifts out to space, and is saved by star-like creatures called "Lumas". The Lumas take Mario to what they call their "mother", Princess Rosalina, who informs Mario that there is a way to save Peach. Mario must go and gather enough Stars to power the space station. Once they have enough power they can sally out to rescue the beleaguered princess.

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Super Mario Galaxy features a massively innovative level design, prompting our hero to negotiate every kinda of landscpae imaginable. By the time we're done, Mario will have swam, ice skated, ridden sandy tornadoes, and even performed a balancing act atop a bouncy, rolling ball through the game's amazingly vast amount of levels. The game also includes a transformation system which Mario can utilize to take the form of fire, ice and even a ghostly apparition. Negotiating gravity itself to hop from planet to planet, Super Mario Galaxy takes the franchise in a refreshing direction  beyond the confines of its earlier platformers.

Much of the gameplay has to be seen to be believed, but rest assured that this title won wide critical acclaim, with many top sites stating Super Mario Galaxy as the very best game of the year. Galaxy was competing against games like Halo 3, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Rock Band, and Bioshock.

So there you have it. Super Mario Galaxy is one of those rare, timeless games that you simply cannot afford to miss!

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