Wii and DS Post-Holiday Roundup

Rafiki 2/24/2008 

Here is a list of games I've played in the last few weeks or months conveniently reviewed after it could possibly matter. Bah-humbug, faggots.

Elite Beat Agents

I don't know if there's much else I can say about this that Creexul hasn't, but this is one of the best rythm games ever. Rythym. Hang on. Rhythm. Fuck that word.

The song selection could be better since I'm not sure if I really want to 5-star my way through Sk8r B0i or Material Girl, but every flaw in the game is made up for in the very first mission where you bullet pass a hotdog into a little girl's fat fucking face to shut her up. That was so crazy and unexpected I replayed the mission 3 times before moving on in the game, and that's how I'm going to babysit children from now on. Wailing hotdogs into their face until they stop crying from being full or concussive blows to the head. Thanks, Elite Beat Agents!

Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

I like Zelda games and all, which is why I keep buying them, but at some point Nintendo is going to have to hire some competent writers to provide a storyline that matters or just go the Mario route and have you do fucked up fun things just because. I'm not sure how many more times I can take talking to player's guide townsfolk to hear dialogue like, "There are stories that no one can sail to The Forbidden Island without the green medallion, which I hear is on this very island! I wouldn't go looking for it if I were you, it's protected by dangerous monsters!" I understand the need to give the player a clear idea of their goals, but goddamn.

The controls are entirely touch-screen based and are the ultimate in lazyman controls. Tap the edge of the screen to walk, tap a barrel or rock or bush to automatically walk over and pick it up and tap somewhere on the screen to throw it, and tap an enemy to walk over and attack it. This frees me up to lean back fatly in my chair and rest the DS on my belly and my chin atop my other chin. You can also swipe across the screen to do slash attacks or spin attacks, but you can also repeatedly bump into enemies and break pots to fill up your heart meter. I know which one requires less effort.

The Windwaker sailing is back, and it was almost perfectly implemented to fit the lazyman controls. Instead of controlling the ship yourself, you just draw a path on the map and the boat sails there for you. Awesome. I thought this would free me up to get up and get another Berries n Cream Dr. Pepper out of the fridge, but it turns out there's all kinds of bullshit hazards you have to avoid so you can't leave the DS unattended or you might die.

The gameplay is standard Zelda fare, except with tapping and drawing to do all the exploration and dungeon crawling. So if you like Zelda games you'll probably like this alright, and if you don't like Zelda games fuck you.

The sailing portion also has additional problems if you happen to play while traveling. And I mean real traveling where you leave the house and go to a remote location, not the kind where you change your desktop to Azul and sit around in your underwear drinking piņa coladas. When you have to draw the secret path to get through a foggy sea early in the game, the developers probably envisioned something like this:

But it turns out that when you're flying through turbulence at 35,000 feet you end up with something more like

It's not all bad, though. Apparently the ambient noise of plane engines is loud enough to register on the microphone, so you don't have to talk or blow into it and look like a fag.

Guitar Hero III

Guess which next-gen systems I don't own? I'm mostly just writing this for me, since I know everyone else is busy playing a better game and I secretly hate you all for it and wish for your throats to be slit.

Slipknot may very well be the worst band ever created. Them or Sex Pistols.

Hammer ons and pull offs are incredibly easy to perform now, and for that I am grateful.

Warioware: Smooth Moves

I bought this for my parents for Christmas because for no reason at all they decided to get a Wii "for the house," and I was happy I could finally get them a gift I knew something about unlike purses or old man shirts.

This game continues the tradition of surreal and insane minigames thrown at you one after another like the previous Warioware games, but tailored for the Wii remote. And there is really no reason at all to buy this game unless you have one or more people to play it with, because half the fun is watching other people perform all the fucked up things to win the games.

The scenarios are broken up based on what control styles they expect you to use. Every scenario introduces one or two new control styles and builds from there. The first one starts out pretty basic with The Remote (where you hold the controller like a remote, wow!!), and has you do things like shine a flashlight on a guy in the dark or shoot cans off a fence. But then it moves onto things like the Mohawk (put the controller over your head), the Thumb Wrestler (hold the remote upright and put your thumb over top), and the Big Cheese (hold your hands at your hips with the remote in one hand). The mohawk may have you do things like squats or parachuting onto a pillar, the thumb wrestler may have you do something like shake a bottle of champagne, and then remove your thumb from over the IR sensor to spray it, and the big cheese may have you do things like hula hoops or flap your arms to fly. And every time you're introduced to a new move it's delivered in a Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy style with explanations like:

The Big Cheese wrote:

"With the Form Baton at your hip, force your chest and hips forward. This stance honors the CEO, unsung hero standing proud on the back of his employees."

The Janitor wrote:

"Hold the Form Baton in both hands, as you would a mop. The right hand represents order, the left, filth. The Form Baton is the bridge between the two."

The Boxer wrote:

"Turn the Form Baton sideways and hold it firmly from above in your right hand. Let the spirit of the noble sucker punch guide you to victory."

Of course, if you want you can be a boring faggot who sucks the life out of the room and fake each position while dispassionately gesturing your way through the games and complaining that everyone would have more fun playing a Halo 3 deathmatch, but you could also be sociable for once. And to the designers' credit, the minigames are actually easier to win if you use the proper position. Props to fine tuning that.

Super Mario Galaxy

Remember how awesome Mario 64 was the first time you played it, and then every time after that?

Remember how Super Mario Sunshine wasn't nearly as awesome but you tried to convince yourself that it was anyways, and maybe said some things you shouldn't have to people in its defense, and then sometime after you finally beat it you realized it wasn't all that good but you were too proud to go back and admit it?

A lot of mistakes were made with Super Mario Sunshine, but Mario Galaxy comes together so perfectly that Mario is one of the best games ever made again.

You've probably seen in videos or commercials where you play the game all over the levels. Not just in an XYZ area on top a flat plane, but running along the sides of objects and upside-down and around and all over the fuckin place. And it's not a one-time gimmick to make you think "neat," it's the entire game. Each object or planet or planetoid you can run on has its own gravity, but not like realistic gravity. You don't get automatically sucked off of a small object onto a bigger one, because that would be gay and not fun. Instead, you just run over to another planet, jump up in the air and automatically flip over and land on the other planet. You can jump back the same way. And there's no low-gravity/zero-gravity crap where you jump 3 times as high or float around, because that would also be gay. The game physics are consistent throughout. There are still areas and levels with standard 3d arenas that you can fall off of, but transitions between those and objects you can run around are seamless and well defined enough that you never get confused over which is which.

The level design gets better and better as the game goes on, and whereas other games might blow their wad somewhere in the middle, the final Bowser level is the best one in the entire game. It's exactly what a final level should be. The entire game builds to it, and it's the perfect realization of what Mario Galaxy was trying to do in both fun and challenge. There's 120 stars in the game again, but you only need 60 to beat the game. It's pretty easy, but getting all of them is hard. Legitimately hard. I died several times on some of the levels, and not to bullshit where the game cheats or expects you to have insane reflexes. I haven't gotten all 120, but I've had the reward spoiled for me and it actually sounds like one of the few end-game rewards that's worth it.

Camera controls are mostly automatic, and I don't think I can remember a time where I ever had a problem with a fucked up camera angle. The levels are well-designed enough that it usually switches to an angle where you can see everything you need to. You can still zoom in and make minor adjustments, though.

And since this game had to have been designed with a committee that determined what everyone else hated about the previous games, coin hunting is fucking gone. Coins still exist to replenish health, but you don't have to collect 100 on each level to get a star. There are no 8 red fucking coins to collect to get a star. Gone. All of it. You have to collect star bits to unlock bonus levels and stuff (sometimes over 1,000), but you don't have to run over them to collect them. You just move the remote pointer over them and it collects them for you, and you get like 50 just for killing a single enemy. It may sound tedious and boring, but it's impossible to not have hundreds more than you'll ever need at any given time since you'll just collect them while you're running and flying around and doing lots of awesome stuff, because your right hand needs something to do anyways.

God, what else? Bowser isn't a weepy misunderstood pussy anymore like in some of the spin-off games. He just fucking flies in on some fucking airships (with the airship theme orchestrated), and is all, "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR I'M KIDNAPPING THE PRINCESS EAT A BAG OF DICKS RAAAAAAAAAAAR" [FUCKING BLOWS UP THE WORLD AND STEALS THE ENTIRE CASTLE].

The one complaint I have about the game is that you don't get free flight in all of the levels, like with the wing cap in Mario 64. Free-flight does exist (and like everything else it's implemented perfectly and elegantly, so much so that I want to play an entire game that copies it), but it's limited to a few areas.

I have about 92 stars with about 13 hours played, and I think I had 60 at around 6- 8 hours. It's not Portal short, but the Fussbetts of the world should still be happy since you can experience most of the fun without a huge time commitment and it's easy to pick up and play in short bursts. You can get a star in like 8 minutes, which would equal like 700 stars in the time you might spend doing a single skateboarding trick over and over and over and over and over.

Metroid Prime 3

I had never played any of the prior FPS games on the Wii, so I never got to experience the bounding box style of control which reportedly sucked. Metroid uses the same style, but all the reviews say it's infinitely better and I'll side with them. Whatever flaws earlier FPS games had, I haven't seen it with Metroid. The learning curve for me was longer than what the reviews said (probably because I hadn't played the other FPS games), but once I got used to it navigating and fighting is as good as I've ever played on a console.

I'm probably a little over halfway through the game, and so far I'm liking it better than Prime 1. There's still time to sneak in a last minute "find the keys" hunt, but I swear to god if that happens I'm personally fisting every last person at Retro Studios. I don't know what kind of readership Caltrops gets, but if I have to find some motherfucking space keys then I hope this post makes its way to Retro so someone can recompile an edited copy of Metroid and sneak it into my apartment because otherwise their 2008 New Year's resolutions better have included Bondoing their assholes shut.

I can't remember if there was an explanation as to why you don't have all your suit powers again, but it's not like it matters at this point. You do start out with more abilities than previously, like the double jump, which puts us all one step closer to an FPS game starting you out with a complete arsenal and set of special abilities and then building a fun and challenging game around that.

The art direction in the game is fantastic, and each of the planets look and feel distinct. Whoever did the architectural design for Skytown deserves like 10 promotions, and whoever decided not to provide dramatic camera angles at some point to fully appreciate it needs to be slapped in the dick. It's been a long time since I've played a game where I was disappointed I couldn't maneuver the camera to get a good look at the environment. I fully support Valve hiring former Hollywood CGI artists that worked on Lord of the Rings to invent shaders to make the rocks in Half-Life look just as grey and eroded as the ones outside my bedroom window, but I still hold a special place in my heart for people that can invent alien worlds that are incredibly detailed and pleasing to look at.

Finally, I'm glad Ridley is inexplicably immortal because he returns for one of the best boss fights probably ever.


EBA: Buy
Zelda: Can do without buying but wouldn't be a waste of money
GH3: Don't buy if you can buy Rock Band
Warioware: Buy if you have friends and won't die alone and unloved
Mario Galaxy: Definitely buy
Prime 3: Buy